Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #24 (7.4)

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

Ryan has barely begun his job, and is already being told what he can't do. What secrets lie behind Aiden's words? Will he run into other roadblocks? And when will he get the chance to tell Ben how he feels? See what's going on in this week's chapter of In Pieces. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what they've been up to. Their links follow my tale!  Enjoy!

In Pieces #24 (7.4)

“Now I think I’m ready to face the day,” Ben said with a smile. “Has Aiden been cooperative?” His fingers lightly stroked along Ryan’s arm, but his glance was for Aiden.

“What? Oh yes, very much so,” Ryan quickly said. “He was just telling me how you met, and the other bands you’ve been in together.”

“Hey Ben, what was the name of that first band we were in?” Aiden asked. “You know, back in Frisco? I told Ryan it was something like Bad Vibrations, but I couldn’t remember for sure.”

“Not exactly.” Ben gave a little snort. “Harmonic Hazard. Should have been toxic hazard. Rowan was pure poison.”

“Yeah, he sure thought the sun rose and set on him, didn’t he? I wonder where he is now?”

“Probably serving five to ten somewhere,” Ben said lightly. His glance shifted back to Ryan. “Did you eat yet? I was going to get some breakfast, but I wanted to make sure you ate. Did you?”

Was that Ben’s way of changing the subject before it got to Prime Wisdom, and his mother?  “Um, no, not yet,” Ryan admitted.

“I distracted him with a cup of coffee.” Ryan laughed. “And then we got to talking. Book stuff, you know. Trying to be helpful, like you told us to be.”

“Glad to hear it.” He glanced into Ryan’s cup. “Looks like you could use a refill. C’mon, let’s see what there is to eat.”

There was more Ryan wanted to know about the break-up of Prime Wisdom, and what Liza had to do with it, but he decided to wait. He wanted to know what he was dealing with before he broached the subject in front of Ben. He needed to gauge how potentially painful it might be, just in case.

“Sounds like a plan,” he agreed, following Ben inside. Just before he stepped through the doorway, Ryan turned on impulse to find Aiden watching them with a knowing look. Flushing, he forgot what he’d been about to say, and hurried after Ben, closing the door behind him.

The refrigerator was recessed into the wall. The pecan wood-paneled front was a direct match to the walls. Ice and water were available to be dispensed through the door. Ben was already rummaging inside. He emerged holding several pieces of fruit.  “Can you grab the coffee and I’ll take this to the table?” he asked Ryan.

“Yeah, sure. How do you take yours?”

“Black,” Ben replied.

Ryan watched Ben  as he sashayed in the direction of the breakfast nook, his hips swaying enticingly. For a moment, Ryan forgot what he was supposed to be doing. Oh yeah, coffee. He wrenched his gaze away from Ben’s ass, grabbed a second cup from the mug tree and filled it, then poured more for himself. He’d thought Ben took sugar and cream in his coffee, but obviously he was mistaken. He carried both cups carefully to the table and set one in front of Ben then took a seat beside him. Ben took a long appreciative sip of the hot brew, a pensive look in his expressive blue eyes.

“You okay, Ben?”

Ben didn’t answer immediately. His brows furrowed, as if in thought. Then he set down the mug and raised his eyes to meet Ryan’s. “What did Aiden have to say about… my mother?” he said at last.

So he had overheard that part of the conversation.

Ryan set his own coffee on the table and scooted closer to Ben. He laid his hand over Ben’s, warm from the steaming brew. “He said she was responsible for the break-up of your group, Primary Wisdom. That’s all.”

He felt Ben flinch at his words, felt him start to draw back. Without hesitation, he wrapped his arm about Ben’s shoulders and pulled him close, kissed the top of his head. “Don’t worry,” he said softly. “I won’t ever let her separate us again. I promise you.”

Ben shuddered beneath his touch, then relaxed with a long sigh, nestling against Ryan. “I don’t want to lose you again, Ryan. Please… promise me we’ll stay together.”

“Always,” Ryan vowed in a fervent voice. “Forever, Ben. You and me.”

Ben turned in his embrace, and Ryan wrapped his other arm about him, cocooning him in his warmth. He began to rub gentle circles on Ben’s back, breathing in Ben’s scent.  “Ben, I lo—”

“Morning, y’all. Looks like it’s going to be a glorious day.” At the sound of Cameron’s voice, Ben stiffened, then drew back, out of Ryan’s embrace.

“It is going to be a glorious day,” Ben replied, his voice sounding a lot more confident than before. 

Ryan hoped he’d helped him with whatever doubts and fears had momentarily assailed him. Why did Cameron have such shitty timing, though? The words he’d wanted to say would have to remain unspoken for now. But he would say them soon, and that was a promise.

to be continued

Now go see what the other Briefers have done!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #23 (7.3)

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

In last week's chapter of In Pieces, Ryan was given some boundaries by Aiden in regards to his twin, Abby. Will this make Ryan's job harder? What is going on with these people? Find out more in this week's chapter. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what they're up to! Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

In Pieces #23 (7.3)

“Yeah, sure,” Ryan stammered, even as he was wondering how he would get background information if he couldn’t ask questions about the band members’ backgrounds. Guess he couldn’t. At least, not all of them. Maybe some of them wouldn’t mind.

He made a mental note to discuss the situation with Ben later. For right now, he’d just leave the topic alone.

Don’t ask about transgender or family. Duly noted.

“So you and Ben are stepbrothers?” Aiden asked. At least the potential storm had passed, to Ryan’s relief,  leaving no trace, almost as if it had never been, and Aiden was his usual sunny self once more. Ryan was glad. He wasn’t one to court drama.

“Uh, yeah. My dad and his mom.”  He tried not to squirm. Why did that question make him so uncomfortable? Maybe because he didn’t want people to think of him and Ben as brothers, and even saying stepbrothers was a little too close for comfort. To consider them as being siblings would make his feelings for Ben inappropriate, to say the least. The truth of the matter was their parents had been married once upon a time for a few years. Okay, it had been a decade. But there was no shared blood between them, that’s what counted. The bond Ben and he had was something entirely different. Something special.

“I take it you haven’t exactly kept in touch with him,” Aiden continued. “I mean, you seemed so shocked to see him up at the airport. In fact, you were so surprised you fainted.”

Ryan’s cheeks heated at the memory. “I haven’t seen Ben in ten years,” he said, more than a little defensively. “This was the last place I expected him to be, much less involved with Salvation.” Who was asking the questions here? And why did he feel the need to explain himself  anyway?

“Well, it certainly is a small world, isn’t it?” Aiden took a sip of his coffee, watching Ryan over the rim of his mug.

Ryan ducked behind his laptop screen. He knew he shouldn’t allow himself to get so riled over a simple question. Aiden hadn’t meant anything by it, Ryan was just reading into what he’d said. He needed to stop being so sensitive where Ben was concerned. Especially now that they were together again. He didn’t want to do anything to fuck that up. Not before he had a chance to make things right, the way they should always have been.

“How long have you known Ben?”  Ryan redirected the conversation to where it should always have been. That had to be a much safer topic. Nothing taboo there, right?

“A couple of years, I guess. We met when we played together in a band in San Francisco.”

Ryan set his coffee aside and began to type.  “What was the name of the band?”

Aiden shrugged. “Ill Harmony.  Bad Vibrations.  I forget. It wasn’t much of a band, to be honest, and the music pretty much sucked. We were all glad when the lead singer decided to call it quits. I think he went into the porno industry.”

“Ben didn’t sing lead?” Ryan was surprised.

“No, but he should have. He was a lot better than that other guy. Maybe that was the problem. He was too good. He became a threat the other guy couldn’t deal with so he broke up the band. Then the three of us just moved on.”

“Is that when you formed Salvation?” Now they were getting somewhere. This was the type of information that fans would find interesting.

“Not right away.”

Ryan glanced up, fingers poised.  “Was there another group? Before Salvation?”

“Briefly. It was called Primary Wisdom, but it was short-lived.”

“Not good either?” Ryan was becoming curious. Was it normal to go from band to band like this? He didn’t really know.

“No, Wisdom was pretty good actually. Especially once we got Keanu and Deacon. We had a good sound going on.”

“Was it the same genre, church metal? And by the way, how would you define church metal? I’m sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t know.”

Aiden shrugged. “I can’t really define it. It’s just something you have to feel.  Like religion. But no, Wisdom was more rock and roll than metal.”

That was about as clear as mud. Not very helpful at all.

“So what happened to the group?”

Aiden didn’t reply right away. Several seconds passed before he finally said, “Internal strife, I guess you could say. Ben doesn’t like to be told what to do. Things got really tense, so we split. Headed in a new direction.”

“Who was trying to tell Ben what to do?”

“Ben’s mother.”

Ryan was shocked. Not once since being reunited with Ben had thoughts of Liza crossed his mind. He hadn’t even thought to ask Ben about her, how she was doing, was she still alive. Ben certainly hadn’t introduced the subject himself. Out of sight, out of mind.

A chill crawled down Ryan’s spine at the mere mention of her name. He’d never liked her, and he hated her what she’d done to his dad. And to him, when she took Ben away, keeping them apart for ten long years. Could that have been a deliberate ploy on her part? And why had that idea never occurred to him before? Maybe because he’d been too busy missing Ben to worry about her or her motives.

Lost in thought, Ryan was startled by a hand on his arm.  What the hell was Aiden thinking? But when he glanced up, he found Ben standing there, hair freshly damp from the shower, cheeks glowing. Ryan’s heart skipped a beat at the sight.

But what had he heard? And how would he react to the mention of his controlling mother?

to be continued

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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #22 (7.2)

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

Ryan tries to stay awake until Ben's return, but that doesn't happen. When he wakes, he's afraid to discover that Ben is gone. But that didn't happen. Of course, neither did anything else. See what's happening in this week's chapter of In Pieces. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them! Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

In Pieces #22 (7.2)

The temptation to join Ben in the shower was strong, but Ryan managed to resist the impulse. The sooner he dressed and headed downstairs, though, the better. The longer he lingered here, thinking about a naked Ben, the stronger the urge would become to throw open the door and let nature take its course and he might not be able to fight it. To distract himself, he set his suitcase on the bed and opened it. Get dressed and get out.

Casual would be the order of the day, he decided. At least until the band went on tour. He wasn’t sure how he was expected to dress for performances. He could ask Ben about that later. He selected a pair of comfortable gray slacks and a short-sleeved white shirt, unpacked the rest of his clothes into the dresser Ben had indicated for his use.  The toiletries could wait until later. He tied his sneakers, picked up his laptop, and quickly exited the bedroom.

He was beginning to get used to the layout of the house already and managed to find the kitchen without any problems. The only person in sight was Aiden, who stood by the counter, pouring himself a cup of coffee. Glancing up as Ryan entered the room, he flashed him a friendly smile.

“Want a cup?” Aiden offered.

“I’d love one.” Ryan returned the smile. “No one else up yet?”

Aiden took another mug from a tree next to the coffeepot and poured. “Not that I’ve seen. Cameron went out early. I heard him leave a while ago. Abby’s sleeping in a little. She had a bad night. Oh, you already know that, don’t you?”

“Yeah, I remember. How’s she doing?” Ryan asked.  “Whatever she saw last night really spooked her, didn’t it?”

“Yeah, it did.”

Ryan noticed that Aiden didn’t meet his eyes when he said that, but what was there to lie about? Unless, of course, he knew more about what had happened than he was letting on. Abby hadn’t struck him as the nervous type, not someone who would get easily frightened by ghost stories, but you never knew. Now her brother’s behavior spoke volumes, like maybe Ryan was on to something. But what?

Ryan decided not to pursue the subject. He wanted to make friends, not enemies. Aiden had no reason to trust him yet, or even like him. Besides, whatever the real reason it wasn’t likely to be something either twin would want to see in print, so not food for Ryan’s fodder. A change of subject was definitely in order, but Aiden beat him to the punch.

“Do you take cream or sugar?”

“Black’s just fine with me.”

“Black it is, then. Want to go out on the veranda? It’s a beautiful day.” Aiden swept his hand in a wide gesture. The outdoors did indeed beckon.

“I like that idea,” Ryan said. “Mind if we talk while we drink? I thought I’d gather some background material for the book, talk to the members of the band individually.”

“Sure,” Aiden replied.  “That sounds like a plan. Let’s get to it.” He opened the door for Ryan, who was fumbling both his coffee and the laptop.

“Thanks, man,” he said as he walked past Aiden, onto the veranda.

They took a seat at one of the tables. The wooden deck chairs were comfortably cushioned in shades of blue and green. Not a cloud married the beauty of the cerulean sky, and the matching umbrella in the middle of the table provided more than adequate shade from the direct rays of the sun.

Ryan opened his laptop, then brought up Word. He’d already made folders for each member of the band, to keep things organized. He was just getting background material for now. He still needed to discuss more about the book with Ben, in terms of what he really wanted out of this book, so he could get a better handle on what he was doing. Information gathering was good for now, but that only went so far.

He’d put Aiden and Abby into the same folder. He would make separate files, of course.

“Before we start, there’s something I’d like to get out of the way,” Aiden said. He held his cup of coffee in mid-air, his eyes locked on Ryan. The ready smile had disappeared, and Ryan knew something serious was coming his way. He braced himself for whatever Aiden had to say.

“You can ask Abby all the questions you like about being in the band, her music. Any of that stuff. But don’t question her about California, or becoming transgender, or anything about our family. All of that is off the table. Capisce?”

Ryan glanced up from his laptop in surprise. The normally amiable Aiden had just become a fierce defender of his sister. What was in their past that needed protecting, he wondered.

to be continued

Now go see what's up with the other Briefers!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

Just when Ryan thought things were going his way - foiled again! Can he never catch a break? See what's going on with him in this week's chapter of In Pieces. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what they're up to! Their links follow my tale!  Enjoy!

In Pieces #21 (7.1)

Ryan had meant to stay awake until Ben returned from his tête-à-tête with Cameron. There were so many things he wanted to say, things he wanted to hear.  Things he wanted to do. His libido was racing a mile a minute just thinking about Ben. About finishing what they’d begun so long ago. Ten years was a whole lot of anticipation.

 Opening his eyes to find sunlight bouncing into the bedroom told him he’d failed at staying awake rather miserably. The question was would he find himself alone again, or if he looked across the room, would he see Ben asleep in the other bed?

The answer to that question was both familiar and warm. And it was pressed up against him. A startled Ryan glanced down to find a tousled blue-and-mauve striped head burrowed into his side.  Not the Ben of years ago, but the Ben of now.  The sexy rock star.

Ryan breathed a soft sigh of relief. Ben hadn’t left him, he was still here. As though time had stood still between them, he’d found his way into Ryan’s bed.  Just like old times. That had to mean something, right? Something that transcended whatever was going on with Cameron, or even the other members of Salvation. Something special.

Since when had he become so possessive? Maybe when Ben had disappeared from his life without a word.

Without warning, a mechanical beep beep filled the air. What the hell’s that?

Ben rolled over and reached toward his phone, which lay on the night stand.

That explained everything. Ben must have set an alarm. Duh.

Ben turned off the alarm then rolled back toward Ryan. He obviously didn’t expect to find Ryan awake. For a moment, he thought Ben might bolt. They looked at one another for what felt like a very long time but was probably only seconds. Then Ben’s lips turned up in a shy smile. One that went straight to Ryan’s heart.

“Mornin’,” he said.

“Good morning to you,” Ryan returned.

The next moment, Ben had reached up and pressed a soft kiss against Ryan’s lips. “Sorry about last night. I didn’t expect that to take as long as it did.”

“It’s okay,” Ryan assured him. “Is everything all right?”

“Of course.” As he spoke, Ben rolled off the bed and stood, his back to Ryan.

Damn, he was naked. And man, what a view. Ryan had to fight to keep his jaw from dropping to the floor. He told himself he needed to resist the impulse to reach out and touch that glorious ass, but despite his best intentions, he found himself scooting closer to the other side of the bed. He wanted to lick and kiss every bit of Ben’s beautiful skin. But, to his disappointment, Ben moved away from him, headed straight toward the bathroom.

Calm down, Ryan admonished himself. Let the man take care of business.

When Ben reached the door, he listened for a moment then knocked. Ryan heard no reply, so maybe Deacon and Keanu were still asleep.

Ben turned back toward him, giving Ryan an even more breathtaking view.  Hallelujah for full frontal nudity! But then Ben’s next words threw him for a loop.

 “I’m going to take a shower. Why don’t you go down and have some breakfast?” Ben suggested.

 “Then maybe you can start talking to the band and get their stories. You know, a little color for the book. I’ll catch up with you later.” He slipped through the door and closed it behind him, not giving Ryan a chance to respond. He wasn’t even sure what he would say. Other than come back to bed.

Maybe getting to work wasn’t the worst idea. That’s what he was there for, after all. Time he started earning his keep. Maybe Ben wasn’t ready for anything to happen between them. Or maybe he wasn’t in the mood. Who knew? Certainly not Ryan. Ben’s mixed signals were making his head spin.

Ryan threw back the blankets, then realized. He couldn’t very well go anywhere or do anything until he took care of this hard-on Ben had left him with. He palmed himself, gently at first. But the more he thought of Ben, and what he’d just seen, the harder he began to pump, with a growing urgency, Ben’s face firmly affixed in his mind’s eye.

This was not what he’d had in mind at all.

to be continued

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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #19 (6.3)

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

Salvation's host and investor/angel, Cameron, has returned, but Ryan senses something amiss he can't put his finger on. He chalks it up to not knowing the group, other than Ben. Cameron takes the group to dinner, to make a special occasion out of Ryan's first night, and boy, does he know how to show them a good time! See what's happening in this week's chapter of In Pieces. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what they're up to. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

In Pieces #19 (6.3)

When Cameron said they were going somewhere nice for dinner, the man wasn’t kidding.  While Ryan wasn’t an expert on trendy places to eat by any means, he certainly knew who Chef Emeril Lagasse was, and to end up in his restaurant on his first night in New Orleans was beyond spectacular. On their arrival, the maître d showed them to a private room where Cameron immediately ordered appetizers for the table— buttery clams stuffed with crab and spicy chorizo, smoky mushrooms filled with harm, angel hair pasta and pecorino cheese, as well as crisp calamari, sticky duck wings, and barbecued shrimp on small rosemary biscuits.

When their server came, Cameron took the liberty of ordering for everyone—Ryan was getting the impression that the man was used to getting his own way— wagyu beef, served with cheesy oniony potatoes, broccoli ala plancha, and housemade Worcestershire. Of course there were drinks to accompany all the delicious food. That Cameron left to their individual discretion and taste. Ryan decided to try a Moscow Mule, made with vodka and lime juice and ginger beer, and found it to be quite good. Ben had gotten a Tchoup Collins which contained gin, citrus juice, wine, and was garnished with charred pineapple. They took turns sipping from each other’s drinks, which Cameron seemed to find amusing, but Ryan didn’t care. He felt too good to let anything bother him. It was good to see Ben smile and laugh, relax a little. Maybe they both got a little tipsy and giggled a little more than grown men should, but they didn’t give a shit. Deacon and Keanu sampled some of the microbrews the restaurant had to offer, and Cameron joined them in their quest to taste them all. Even the twins seemed more relaxed than they had that afternoon. Aiden told a couple of funny stories, which earned a smile from Abby. All in all, it was a great evening.

Afterward, they drove back to Cameron’s place and sat out on the veranda, enjoying a final nightcap. The moon was a thin sliver, barely visible in the night sky. Paper lanterns dotted the verandah, offering a muted light. They sat in a companionable silence, broken only by chirrups and whirrs, and occasional throaty bellows that Ryan assumed belonged to some sort of frog.

“Will you be dressing up for the party?” Ryan asked, curious to know how this would differ from a concert. Assuming it did.

“Absolutely.” Ben said beside Ryan, their chairs pressed as close together as they could get. Ryan stole occasional glances at Ben, admiring his profile, even in the semi-darkness. “The birthday boy’s gonna get the full Salvation treatment. Right, guys?”

Mumbled agreements were given in reply to Ben’s question. Ryan didn’t think he heard Abby’s more feminine voice among the others. When he looked for her, he saw, to his surprise, that she and Aiden were nowhere to be found. Probably gone to bed.

That thought reminded him of the sleeping arrangements, and a nervous shiver of anticipation crept along his spine. He tried not to read too much into the fact that he and Ben would be sharing a room. As Ben had pointed out, it was the only logical choice under the circumstances. Still, Ryan couldn’t help but think of long languid nights full of soft kisses and dreams of what could be.

He knew, without asking, that Ben was thinking of those nights too. Every few minutes, Ryan was aware of Ben’s touch. Whether it was the brush of his leg against Ryan’s, or the soft caress of his fingers along Ryan’s arm. When Ben leaned over and nuzzled Ryan’s cheek, Ryan could smell Ben’s desire, and he felt himself grow hard with the same yearning, so long denied.

Ben’s lips whispered across Ryan’s cheek before he pulled back, to Ryan’s disappointment. But then he stood, and Ryan understood what he was doing.

“It’s getting late,” Ben said. “Full day of rehearsals tomorrow. Lighting check too. Let’s all get some sleep, yes?”

“You don’t need to tell us twice,” Keanu said. “Wanna take a quick shower, Deacon?”

Without warning, Keanu stood and straddled Deacon’s lap, then reached down and tilted his chin up so their eyes met. Even in the dim light, Ryan couldn’t miss the mischievous smile Keanu wore. Deacon didn’t seem at all dismayed, but Ryan couldn’t imagine him getting angry, he was so laid back. He was probably used to all of Keanu’s antics by now, bad and good.

“Quick isn’t in your vocabulary, now is it?” Deacon responded.

Ryan heard Ben snort a laugh.

“Okay then, a long shower,” Keanu conceded. He rose from Deacon’s lap, drawing his partner along with him. Only then did Ryan notice Cameron was no longer with them. Wow, he was particularly unobservant tonight, wasn’t he? Probably due to Ben being so close and utterly desirable.

“’Night, gentlemen,” Ben said in amusement.

“Later gators,” Keanu responded, giving them a thumbs up, which Deacon mirrored. The two men disappeared into the house. Now there was just Ben and Ryan.

“I’m sure you’re tired,” Ben said in a voice that suggested the exact opposite. Ryan’s heartbeat sped up as Ben reached for his hand, raised it to his lips and kissed it softly.

“I guess we should go to bed too,” Ryan agreed. Why was his voice so shaky? He cleared his throat.

Ben cupped Ryan’s face between his hands and drew him closer, closer, until their lips met softly in the middle, and neither one moved or breathed for a long time.

Taking a quick breath, Ryan re-sealed their lips, winding his arms around Ben, pressing their bodies close. He breathed in Ben, a heady aroma which only made him want Ben more.

Suddenly the door behind them slammed and they were startled apart. Ryan could feel Ben’s frustration. He reached for Ben’s hand and found it clenched.

Turning toward the newcomer, Ryan saw it was Abby…and she was crying.

to be continued

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #20 (6.4)

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

Just as Ryan thinks he's about to get his chance with Ben, drama strikes in the shape of Abby! Why is she upset? What can they do to help? See what's going on in this week's chapter of In Pieces. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

In Pieces #20 (6.4)

“Abby, what’s wrong?” Ryan asked. His question was immediately echoed by Ben, who was already moving toward the distraught girl. Ryan quickly followed in his wake.

Abby seemed surprised to see them. Maybe she’d assumed everyone was in bed by now.  She swiped at her cheeks, but said nothing. Ryan thought he heard her sniffle. Maybe she was trying to pull herself together before she said anything.   Or maybe she just didn’t want them to know what was going on. When she did speak, it was in her usual calm voice.

“I didn’t know you guys were still out here,” she said, which was not an answer at all. “Sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt anything.  I’ll just go back in.”

Before Ryan could think how to respond, Abby had quickly spun back toward the house. She reached for the door, but at the sound of Ben’s voice she drew up short.

“Don’t go, Abby,” Ben said.

Abby froze. She took a deep breath then turned back toward them . “Did you need me for something, Ben?” she asked softly. “I was just about to go to bed. We have a lot to do tomorrow, don’t we?”

Ryan noticed she didn’t look at Ben, even though she was speaking to him, her gaze seemingly fixed on the distant stars.

“Did something happen to upset you?” Ben persisted, despite Abby’s obvious reluctance to discuss whatever had driven her outside at that time of night, in that condition.

“Nothing worth talking about,” she said lightly. “I just went downstairs to get a drink of water and I thought I saw something, that’s all.”

“What did you think you saw?” Ryan asked. He had the feeling she wasn’t being strictly honest with them. That whatever had upset her was something they needed to know about, maybe to resolve.

“Was it something or someone?” Ben asked.

“Maybe both, who knows?” Abby shrugged. “I hear these old Southern mansions are haunted, you know?” She raised her chin, staring at Ben almost defiantly, as if daring him to prove otherwise.

“So you think you saw a ghost?” Ben never paused.

“There are ghosts and there are ghosts,” she said enigmatically.

“How long since you’ve talked to Brandon?” Ben asked. Ryan couldn’t help but notice that Abby flinched at his question.

“A while,” she replied evasively. “We’ve both been busy.”

Who’s Brandon? Ryan wondered.

Perhaps it was the power of suggestion, but Ryan thought he saw a shadow move inside the house. He released an involuntary gasp, just as the door opened, and a figure emerged. With a sigh of relief, he realized this was no ghost, just Abby’s twin, Aiden.

“Abs, I was looking for you. Are you all right? What’s going on here?” His words were directed toward his sister, but his accusatory glance was for Ben and Ryan.

“I’m all right, there’s no need to worry.” Abby assured him as she touched his arm lightly. “Just had a slight scare, that’s all. Nothing to make a fuss about.”

“If you say so.”

Ryan didn’t think Aiden sounded convinced, but whatever Aiden was really thinking, he was keeping it to himself, at least in front of them. Hopefully, Abby would confide in her brother, even if she didn’t want to tell Ben and him what was bothering her. Ryan wasn’t really buying her sketchy ghost sighting. But unless she chose to break her silence, he realized they would likely never know the true story.

“We were just going in too,” Ben said. The twins seemed startled, as if they’d forgotten they weren’t alone. Ben’s words  werethe signal to head inside.

The house was eerily silent around them as they ascended the stairs to the second floor. At the end of the hall, Abby retreated quickly into their shared room, without a word. Aiden lingered for a moment. “See you guys tomorrow,” he said. “Thanks for looking out for Abby.” Then he too disappeared, closing the door behind him.

What had they actually done for her, though? Ryan felt as though he’d stepped into the middle of a scene out of a soap opera, with no clue as to what was going on, or how everyone related to everyone else.

He followed Ben into their room, which was just next door. Ben switched on a small lamp on the table between the two beds.

The sound of running water came from the bathroom they shared with Deacon and Keanu, as well as muffled sounds and moans. Looked like someone was having a good time.

An unexpected wave of shyness flowed through Ryan. He busied himself with cleaning off the bed, moving his stuff to the floor for now. He could finish unpacking tomorrow, it was too late now. He just wanted to crawl into bed and get some sleep, although paradoxically he wasn’t sure he’d be able to, every nerve ending on fire with the excitement of the day and being with Ben again.

But most of all he was afraid if he went to bed and closed his eyes, Ben might disappear before he got up. How silly was that?

Once the bed was clean, he set his laptop beside the head of the bed, in its case, where he could easily reach it if he needed it, then took a seat on the bed.

“Bathroom’s occupied, guess we’ll have to undress here,” Ben said. “I can step out, if you want…”

Ryan appreciated Ben’s thoughtfulness, but it wasn’t like they hadn’t undressed in front of each other, many times. Just not recently.

Ryan knew what he wanted more than anything. He wanted the closeness and warmth they’d once shared, and he was fairly sure if he said something, Ben would admit he wanted it too. So why not just come out and say what he wanted?


A light knock interrupted him. Cameron poked his head in.

“Ben, can I get a moment of your time, please?”

Damn, what horrible timing that man had.

to be continued

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: Butterflies in His Stomach

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! If it's Wednesday, then it must be time for more flash fiction from the Wednesday Briefers! We're a group of authors who bring you our finest flash fiction every week, 500 to 1000 words, inspired by one of our prompts.

Today I'm doing something a little different, taking a week off from my usual flash. My muse demanded something different, so what could I do but obey? This story has been in the back of my mind for some time now. It's about Aaron Burr, whom I adore, and it takes place the night of July 10, 1804 - in other words, the night before his duel with Alexander Hamilton at Weehawken. I wanted to peek into his mind and heart and see how he felt on the eve of such a momentous occasion. I hope you like it! Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale!  Enjoy!
Butterflies in His Stomach

“You’ve given him every opportunity to make amends, Aaron.”

“I know, Will, I know.” 

He is the one who is determined to go through with this. It’s not as though he hasn’t retracted such statements before.”

“But this time, he refuses. And this time he has gone too far.” Aaron Burr rose from his desk and in a few graceful strides approached the mahogany sideboard where he kept his liquor. Reaching for a cut glass decanter, he poured the amber liquid into two glasses. Taking one for himself, he handed the second to his young friend and fellow lawyer, William P. Van Ness. At twenty-six, Van Ness was some twenty-odd years Burr’s junior, but the two had a close bond, despite the age difference.

Burr took a seat beside Van Ness on the Aubusson settee which had only recently arrived from France. Done in the once popular Louis XV style, it had been smuggled to England during the early chaotic days of the French Revolution. From there it had been acquired on Burr’s behalf by an acquaintance acting on his behalf, and had been shipped from there to his beautiful home of Richmond Hill. Having lost his wife Theodosia to cancer some ten years before, and his only daughter, also Theodosia to marriage in 1801, Burr lived alone, except for his servants.

Burr took a long drink. To an outside observer, he might seem cool and collected, especially in light of what the next day would bring, but inside he was seething with emotions which he refused to display, even before such a close friend. The die had been cast, irreparably so, and tomorrow he and Hamilton would meet at dawn, across the river in Weehawken, a notorious dueling place. Although dueling was quite illegal, the authorities tended to turn a blind eye to such things, especially as most of them resulted in little more than opportunities for the parties involved to vent themselves before returning, somewhat ameliorated, to the bosom of their respective families. Burr, who was not very familiar with such affairs, had only been involved in one other, unlike Hamilton. He was not sure what the morrow would bring.

“All he had to do was retract what was referenced in that damnable letter,” Van Ness continued. “Explain himself, and explain what was said. But he refused, so this is on his head.”

“Indeed,” Burr replied. A silence fell between them. When the ornate clock in the hallway struck ten, Van Ness reluctantly took his leave. He’d suggested he should stay until morning, but Burr declined the generous offer, citing the dawn meeting and the need for both to rest. Once his friend had left, however, sleep eluded him.

Pouring another drink, he took a seat at his desk and pulled out his watch. Inside was the sole picture he retained of his late wife, who had not wished to sit for her portrait, especially once her illness took over, and Burr had not insisted. “Perhaps I shall join you tomorrow,” he said softly. “Oh Theodosia, I wish you were with me now. You always saw things as they were, unclouded with emotion or pretense. Maybe you could explain Alexander’s actions, for I surely cannot.”

Sighing, he closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair. He had once considered Hamilton a friend. Just when that had changed, Burr wasn’t sure, but over time their relationship had eroded. There were those who said Hamilton was jealous of Burr’s pedigree, of his family tree, his early entrance into the College of New Jersey. Hamilton was a self-made man. Overcoming being born in bastardy in the West Indies, he’d come to America at the young age of nineteen. Rejected by Burr’s alma mater, he’d gone on to attend King’s College. Both men had fought in the Revolution. Hamilton had gone on to become George Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury, his chief adviser. He’d married a wealthy young woman, become a successful lawyer, and had his own beautiful home.

So why was he so intent on ruining Aaron Burr?

Removing a piece of his personalized stationary from a drawer, Burr began to pen a letter to his daughter.

My dear Theodosia,

I seek for words with which to address this moment but I am uncustomarily at a loss. Normally I am more eloquent than this, but there is so much to say, and perhaps not much time to say it in.”

Burr paused, frowning at the paper. Normally, he could talk to his daughter about anything and everything. They had a very open and frank relationship, the father-daughter bond between them very strong. But tonight he was all too aware that perhaps these would be the last words he’d ever get to write to her, and the very thought brought butterflies to his stomach.

And what about Matty? Although he’d never openly acknowledged him as his son, Burr’s affection for Martin Van Buren ran deep. The decision to remain in the background of his son’s life had been done solely out of consideration for Matty’s political future. Burr was convinced that the son would succeed where the father had failed, by becoming the President of the United States.

He set the quill to paper once more.

Please, my dearest girl, do not lose touch with your brother, and be the able advisor to him that you have ever been to me. Don’t forget, also, to let Gampy know how much his grandfather loved him.

Setting the quill aside once more, he frowned, then crumpled up the unfinished missive. Rising swiftly, he strode across the room to the fireplace and tossed it into the flames before returning to the sofa and lying down to keep a wakeful vigil.

He didn’t know what tomorrow would bring, but he would remain optimistic for as long as he could. As the clock tolled midnight, he settled down to wait for Fate to arrive.

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