Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #16 (5.4)

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 got a big surprise last week when he listened to Salvation play, especially when he learned that Ben composed the music and the lyrics. There is no doubt in his mind that he's still in love with Ben, even if he isn't sure what to do right now. But things have changed, right? They're both older now. See what's going on in this week's chapter of In Pieces. Then go visit the other Briefers and see what they're up to!  Their links follow my tale!  Enjoy!

In Pieces #16 (5.4)

By the time Ryan reached his room, he decided sitting down was not only a good idea, it was required. He grabbed his laptop from his luggage and tossed it on one of the beds, then took a shaky seat beside it while he collected his thoughts. Everything seemed to be catching up with him at once. His dad’s death and funeral. Getting a new job and having to postpone his first day. The flight to New Orleans. And the biggest shock of all—running into the person he’d wanted to see more than anything in the world.

Cassie would flip when she heard the news. She’d be very happy for him too, he knew. He’d confided in her as much as he dare reveal about his feelings for Ben. He’d still been sorting everything out at the time Ben had disappeared. Cassie was very perceptive about things like that, as well as being very kind-hearted. No wonder his dad had been drawn to her.  She never sat in judgment on him, simply listened, and provided a strong shoulder to cry on, when needed. If Ryan was into women—and if she hadn’t been his stepmother—he could see himself with Cassie. But his heart belonged to Ben, and had for a long time.

Not that he hadn’t dated anyone after Ben left. He was only human, after all. There’d been a few guys over the last ten years. Nothing serious. And nothing physical. That had usually been the kicker. The straw that broke the camel’s back. Not like Ryan hadn’t been interested, or hadn’t tried to do what he thought they wanted. But his body refused to cooperate, as if it knew better and wouldn’t settle for second-best. His few boyfriends had given up in frustration and a certain amount of disgust. Some belittled him for his failure to properly respond to their charms—in blunt terms, for not being able to get it up with them— and some accused him of being everything from a eunuch to asexual or a woman in disguise.

The truth of the matter was that in the privacy of his bedroom, Ryan had no problem in getting hard… when he thought of Ben. And that was the problem. No one else moved him the way Ben had, and his heart refused to cooperate, his body following close behind. Eventually, he gave up and resigned himself to a solitary existence.

And now here Ben was. Surely that was some kind of a sign that they were meant to be?

Even in the short time since their reunion, it was more than obvious to Ryan that Ben felt the connection between them as much as ever. Things had changed drastically, but in a good way. Ben wasn’t fifteen any more, and the three year gap in their ages wasn’t nearly as wide as it had been then. Back then, Ryan had been all too aware that Ben was still young—a minor, in the eyes of the law, and in Missouri they spelled that statutory—so nothing had happened between them.

Nothing except for a whole lot of kissing, furtive glances, and deep sighs. And “accidental” touches which frustrated far more than they satisfied. Torture of the sweetest variety, which all ended abruptly the morning Ryan arose to find Ben gone, leaving him with an unbearable pain in his heart. One he’d had to deal with alone, since he couldn’t burden his dad with it. Not when Dad was going through so much himself, with the loss of his second wife. So Ryan pushed everything deep inside and focused on being there for his dad. It wasn’t until Cassie came into their lives that he was able to find any relief from his pain. That and writing his book. How was he to know that Brothers would be the key to their reunion?

So what was he so freaked out about? Ben was here, they were together. He was going to write another book. Everything he’d ever wanted in his life seemed to be coming true for both of them.

He knew what was bothering him, without having to analyze the question too deeply. If he were to be honest with himself, he was afraid all of this would turn out to be an illusion. A temporary fix for what ailed him. One that would only end with Ben disappearing again… maybe for good.

Ryan didn’t think he could take another heartbreak.

The very thought was enough to bring tears to Ryan’s eyes, along with a sudden trembling.  He squeezed his eyes shut, and worked at controlling his breathing. Stay calm, everything’s going to be all right.  He couldn’t return to Ben until he overcame this, whatever this was. He didn’t want Ben to think he doubted them in any way. He only wanted what he had always wanted— to make Ben happy. But he had to be in his life to do that, right?

What was that? He raised his head in alarm. Was that a door? Had Ben come to see what was taking him so long? Ryan hastily swiped at his eyes and cheeks. He began to formulate excuses in his mind for what he was doing, although he wasn’t sure any of them made sense. Jumping up, he grabbed his laptop and took deep even breaths.

Come on, dude, Ben’s waiting. Don’t let him see me like this.

Too late. Someone was already standing in the doorway. But it wasn’t Ben.

“Well, well, and who do we have here, you little cutie?”

to be continued

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Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #15 (5.3)

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 Pieces continues as Ryan hears Salvation play for the first time. What the heck is church metal? Join us and find out! Then don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what they're up to. Their links follow my tale!  Enjoy!

In Pieces #15 (5.3)

Ryan had never heard a sound quite so glorious in his entire life.  The single note was plaintive and yet intense. As Ben’s voice began to rise in tone, the sound flowed around him and through him. It seemed to penetrate into the depths of Ryan’s soul, to places that had been untouched for a very long time. He couldn’t explain the feeling, but neither did he attempt to fight it. Rather, he embraced it.

He couldn’t keep from staring at Ben as he sang. Ben’s eyes had closed, an expression of utter serenity suffusing his face. Ryan thought he looked almost like an angelic choir boy.  Paradoxically, the single note was sensuous and enticing, producing an almost palpable ache inside of Ryan which was a far cry from angelic.

Ben’s acapella solo continued for close to half a minute before being joined by the voices of the other members of the band.  “Glorioso,” they sang. “Glorioso luminos.” The rich harmonies soared for maybe another thirty seconds, and then the keyboard made its entrance, followed by the lead guitar.

Ryan closed his own eyes and floated bonelessly on waves of pure pleasure. Salvation’s music evoked a myriad of images both religious and irreligious. In his mind’s eyes, he saw a lofty buttressed cathedral filled with rows of priests, knelt in prayer.  Ethereal angels descended from on high above them. They struck provocative poses, enticing the priests from their orisons. The angels were all male, and they were all most gloriously endowed.  Priests and angels began a seductive dance to the music which swirled about them, shedding clothes along with inhibitions. Ryan was both fascinated and shocked by what his mind had conceived.  His hand began to reach down to assuage a growing ache…

With a start, he snapped his eyes open to find Ben’s piercing blue gaze fixed upon him. At that moment, a short burst of drum beats announced Abby’s entrance into the fray, a sound which was echoed by Keanu’s throbbing bass guitar. And suddenly Ryan understood why they called it church metal. This was the most amazing thing he’d ever heard, an erotic combination of piety and sensuality. He’d become so absorbed in what he was listening to that he’d almost forgotten himself to the point of wanting to masturbate in public. One look at Ben, and Ryan knew he understood completely.

Ryan brought his thoughts and his breathing under control as the song continued. It was the story of an angel and a priest, and it spoke of innocent sins and wanton desires and passions. If this song was indicative of what Salvation could do, Ryan had no doubt this group would go far.

The song ended with a flourish and then died away. Ryan could have kept listening for much longer, given the opportunity. No one said anything. Ryan realized with a start they were looking for some sort of reaction from him.

“That was amazing,” he said honestly. The momentary tension dissipated, and everything was at it was before.  Ryan glanced at Ben, and was surprised to catch a flash of uncertainty in his beautiful blue eyes. Without thinking, Ryan held out his hand toward him. Ben leapt off the stage and grasped it.

“Did you really like it?” Ben sounded almost shy.

“Like it? I loved it. That song… your voice… everything was…” For being a writer, Ryan found himself unexpectedly at a loss for words.  “I’ve never heard anything like that. I can’t wait to hear more.”

Ryan’s words seemed to relieve Ben. His sunny smile returned, his cheeks more than a little flushed. “I’m glad you liked it, Ryan,” he said. “That was the first one I wrote. I’m kind of partial to it.”

“You… you wrote that?” Ryan was even more impressed than he was before. “I didn’t know…I had no idea you wrote music.”

“You probably don’t remember, but I wrote poetry when I was younger, back in the day. Lyrics are just poems set to music.”

That’s right. He remembered now. How could he have forgotten Ben’s lush poetry? They’d read them together in their room in the middle of the night. Ben hadn’t wanted his mother to see what he’d written, so those became private moments between Ben and him.

“I still have some of your poetry, actually,” Ryan said. “I always thought it was beautiful.”

Ben pinked even more. “We have a lot to catch up on, don’t we?” he said, dropping his voice.

Ryan swayed toward Ben, tempted to kiss him, wanting to kiss him so badly he could taste his desire for Ben. How could he have ever doubted his feelings for Ben had changed? He’d kept them alive all through their separation, and now they were as strong as ever. The difference was that now there was no one who could separate them ever again.

But he was paradoxically aware that they were far from alone. And much as it pained him to do so, he forced himself to put on the brakes, to slow himself down. Then he remembered they were sharing a room. Their time would come. Later.

“We do,” he said. “I should probably grab my laptop and my camera and get to work. I can get some pictures of you while you rehearse. Some behind the scenes stuff. I thought I’d talk to everyone individually get some background. What do you think?”

“I think that sounds like a great idea. Go get your stuff. We’re not going anywhere.”

For a second, Ryan thought Ben might initiate a kiss, and he felt his own lips part involuntarily. But then Ben turned back toward the band, the moment had passed, and Ryan seized the opportunity to head back toward the main house.

to be continued

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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: August 1, 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.

Ryan is finally meeting the rest of the band, Salvation, but he hasn't really had a chance to put his thoughts into any semblance of order. It's hard to think when Ben is around. Especially after finding out Ben read his novel. 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're up to. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

In Pieces #14 (5.2)

 “It’s about time,” Keanu muttered.

Ryan shot an anxious glance at Ben, afraid of what his reaction might be. He braced himself for another show of dominance, or at the very least a scathing retort. But Ben ignored Keanu’s words entirely. His good humor seemed to have been completely restored. Keanu’s boyfriend spoke instead.

“Come on, you. Quit grumbling and show our author what magic you can make on the keyboard.” Deacon pulled Keanu into a brief hug, gently stroked his hair. As Ryan watched, Keanu’s face visibly relaxed, his scowl disappearing. They clung together for a moment, before heading up on the stage. Abby and Aiden were already in place.

“I want you to hear what we sound like before our concert,” Ben said. “Give you a taste of who we are. How familiar are you with church metal?”

“I never heard of it before I got the job offer,” Ryan said honestly. “I’ve always loved music, you know, I’m just not in touch with what’s in anymore. I don’t claim to be a music expert, by any means, but I go to concerts whenever I can. Mostly local bands. The tickets tend to be cheaper.”

Ben snorted. “Yeah, don’t I know it. We’re not exactly in a position to pull down the big bucks ourselves. But hey, you do what you can, right? Until you make it to the big time, anyway.” As they approached the stage, Ryan wasn’t sure where he should stand. He waited for some kind of sign from Ben.

“Big time, yeah,” Aiden echoed. He stood near the front of the stage, electric guitar hanging before his shoulder, held up by a wide strap covered in what looked like death heads. “Actual concert venues and stuff. People just dying to scalp your tickets for hundreds of dollars over face price. Then you know you’ve arrived.”

Ryan hated people who bought tickets only to force the price up to ridiculous levels. Wasn’t that illegal? It certainly went against the spirit of concert-going. Those people were only in it for the money, they had no appreciation for the music. They didn’t care how hard it was for some people to afford to go at all, much less at such inflated prices. But he held his tongue. He didn’t think the band would appreciate his point of view, and he didn’t want to risk antagonizing them. He just wanted to hold on to this job for as long as he could. He’d worry about what next when the time came.

“You think we’ll play the Hollywood Bowl someday?” Keanu teased. He looked up from his keyboard, where he’d been throwing switches and running his fingers across the keys.

“You know it. And the Greek,” Ben said. “And don’t forget Vegas. We’ll be playing Caesar’s Palace and the MGM too, right up there with people like David Copperfield and Penn and Teller . You’ll see.” He winked at Ryan. “And, of course, the Fabulous Fox.”

The Fox Theater in St. Louis. Memories flooded Ryan’s brain at the mere mention of the venue. Ryan had taken Ben there, just a couple of months before his mother took him away. He couldn't even remember what group it was they’d gone to see. What stuck out most in his mind was how excited Ben was, and how eager to see everything. They’d walked upstairs and down, took in the view from the balcony that overlooked the lobby, rode the old-fashioned elevator with its actual operator—neither one of them had ever seen such a thing before, accustomed as they were to the push-button self-serve kind. The interior of the Fox was as fabulous as its name, all red and gold, plush and elegant, filled with amazing architecture, statuary, and the hugest chandelier Ryan had ever seen, which hung high above the orchestra section.

That had been a special night—in more ways than one.

Ryan’s thoughts were interrupted when Ben squeezed his hand. “I won’t even ask you what you were thinking of,” he said, dropping his voice to a level intended for Ryan’s ears only. “I already know.”

Ryan felt his cheeks warm. Ben squeezed his hand again before dropping it. “Stand as close or as far as you like, it’s up to you,” he said in a more normal tone, turning and taking his place on stage. Ryan decided to stand closer than not. Center stage. Right in front of Ben. He didn’t want to be any farther away than he could help. Not until he got used to the idea that Ben wasn’t going to disappear again. And maybe not even then. Though he wasn’t about to admit it, either. Who was he kidding? He’d never been able to pull anything over on Ben.

His choice of location produced a smile from Ben. When Ben smiled like that, Ryan knew he would do anything for him.  That smile alone made everything worthwhile. Even if the music ended up blasting his eardrums at such close proximity, he’d survive. Hell, he’d been to heavy metal concerts so loud that the bass reverberated through his whole body, and he’d lived through that. Whatever this church metal was, he was sure he could handle it.

“All right, guys,” Ben was saying to his band. “Glorioso.”

Ryan braced himself for something loud, maybe even abrasive. But when Ben began to sing, a single low note, it took his breath away.

to be continued

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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #13 (5.1)

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.

Last week, Ryan found out a couple of things. First, that he's going to be rooming with Ben, and more importantly Ben knows about his book. The house tour concludes in this chapter and on to meet the rest of the band. See how that goes in this week's In Pieces. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what they've been up to! Their links follow my tale!

In Pieces #13 (5.1)

Ryan found his concentration completely shattered by the revelation that Ben not only had read Brothers but had seen through the apparent fictional fa├žade to the heart of what lay beneath. He’d be lying to himself if he said he had no idea what Ben was talking about, because he did. He’d written it, hadn’t he? Maybe at first glance his book was about two actual brothers, which he and Ben weren’t. And maybe nothing had ever happened between Ben and him, which it certainly had in the novel. But there’d been something there between them, something palpable, when they were teens. Something that drew them together.  Which made Ben’s sudden disappearance all the more painful. And why he could never talk about it to anyone. Especially not his father.

Brothers had been catharsis of a sort. It was him trying to come to grips with feelings he didn’t know how to deal with. Maybe he should have published it under a pseudonym. Not that it would have made a difference. He’d had his book torn up by a small group of vicious so-called reviewers on a popular book site. They’d trashed the story and trashed him as well. Never mind that none of them knew him, or had any idea what he was like. One review was particularly galling because it had been written by someone who admittedly hadn’t even read the book, but based it on a friend’s review. They’d called him perverted and sick. Smeared his heritage and shredded his family name.  One person had even accused him of being a woman pretending to be a man.

He didn’t respond to their accusations, didn’t even try to refute any of it. What use would it have been? He kept it all from his father, but Cassie knew and she tried to make him feel better, even if she didn’t know the whole story behind his novel. Nothing he’d done since then had fared very well. Publishers rejected him right and left. The last couple of books he’d had accepted ended up with fly-by-night outfits who took the money and ran. He didn’t know what was worse—not making any money or making it and having it stolen. He’d just about given up on the idea of being a successful author when this opportunity had arisen, a chance to make a fresh start.

And that fresh start turned out to be Ben. Ryan had come full circle to where he’d started. So how would the story end this time?

Ryan pushed the thought aside and followed Ben downstairs, across the veranda, to the back of the house. A driveway wound around from the front of the house. The drive led to a large garage, where an assortment of vehicles was housed in several bays, before it branched off to a smaller building.

“This was just used for storage at one time,” Ben explained. “Cam renovated it for the band’s use, put in acoustics and stuff. He’s a great guy. I’m sure you’ll like him.”

“I’m sure I will,” Ryan said automatically. He hoped his voice didn’t reflect the perturbation that was fighting for dominance in his soul.

Ben opened a small door and beckoned Ryan to follow him inside. The interior was surprisingly dim after the bright Louisiana sun. Ryan stopped just inside the door to let his eyes adjust. He wasn’t sure what he’d expected, surely not a light show? He wasn’t even sure who did the lighting, come to think of it. His knowledge of bands was limited to what he’d seen at concerts.

As he grew accustomed to the dimmer light, he noticed a small stage, empty except for various instruments—a couple of guitars, a drum set, and a keyboard. But no musicians.

Glancing around, he quickly spotted the rest of Salvation.  A lounge area had been set up, probably for the band to relax between rehearsals. A comfortable-looking couch, a love seat, and several ottomans. Aiden and Abby sat together on the couch. Keanu paced back and forth before the love seat and the man who lounged there. This must be Deacon, Ryan reasoned by process of elimination. He’d met everyone else, and this man was too young to be Cameron.

“I told you they’d come out here, you worry too much.” Deacon unfolded himself from the loveseat and rose, patting Keanu’s cheek as he passed by.

Deacon was a very striking young man, Ryan noticed, with skin the color of very lightly creamed coffee. Dark curly hair fell to his shoulders in a wave. He moved with a singular grace toward Ben and Ryan. “I’m sorry if my significant other made a bad first impression,” he said, directing his attention to Ryan. “He means well. You must be Ryan, I’m Deacon. Good to meet you.” He held out his hand and Ryan took it. Deacon’s hand was both firm and soft. He had mocha eyes and a killer smile.

“Nice to meet you,” Ryan replied.

“Now you’ve met all of us,” Ben said, reclaiming Ryan’s hand somewhat possessively. “Now you get to hear us play.”

to be continued

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #12 (4.4)

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 isn't sure what's going on, but he's going along... for now. He's happy just to be with Ben again, as he continues the house tour. They end up upstairs, where Ben apprises him of the sleeping arrangements. Is anyone really surprised? See what's going on in this week's chapter of In Pieces. Don't forget to check out the other Briefers and see what they're up to. Their links follow my tale. Enjoy!

In Pieces #12 (4.4)

If the living room was the naughty pleasure room, then the family room was the comfort room.  Plump pillows were scattered invitingly across the floor. Ryan could just imagine the members of the band ignoring the more conventional armchair and sofa in order to lounge on the floor, sprawling over the pillows and doing whatever they did to relax between gigs. A large screen TV hung on one wall, inbetween a built-in bookcase and a well-stocked bar. Ryan could see himself writing in this room.  If it wasn’t too noisy, that is. Opening from the family room was a breakfast area and then the kitchen. Ryan half expected to see a housekeeper or cook lurking there, but no such person was in sight. Maybe the band fended for themselves? Or maybe she existed but she was in another part of the house right now.

She or he. Ryan reminded himself not to be sexist. No reason a housekeeper couldn’t be a man, was there? “Where to now?”

“I’d like to take you upstairs before we go out back and join the others,” Ben said. “You can see the veranda then. C’mon, this way.”

“I’m sorry for throwing you off your schedule,” Ryan apologized as Ben led him through a doorway, back into the foyer, and up the staircase he’d seen when they first arrived.

“Don’t pay attention to Keanu,” Ben said. “He gets dramatic sometimes. He also gets over it. We’re fine.”  He shot Ryan a reassuring smile. “There are only four bedrooms, by the way, so everyone’s doubling up. Except Cameron, since it’s his house.”

It had never occurred to Ryan that he might end up with a roommate. He hadn’t shared a room since he was a kid, and they’d put Ben into his room.  He’d hated that… at first. “That brings back old times.” He laughed, maybe a little nervously. Ben didn’t laugh in return. Maybe he was remembering Ryan’s initial reaction to his arrival. How he wished he could take back the actions of his younger, more stupid self.

“Cameron’s room’s there”—Ben waved toward a closed door—“It’s the master bedroom, has its own bath and everything. “Down there”—Ben gestured along the hall to a room at the far end—“is where Aiden and Abby sleep. They have their own bath. We decided that would be best, give Abby a little privacy. Cam said she can use his room when he’s not around.”

“That’s generous of him,” Ryan commented.

“Yeah, he’s like that.” For a moment, Ryan thought he was going to add something else, but he didn’t.
Ben pushed open a door across the hall from the master bedroom. “This is where Keanu and Deacon sleep. This room shares a bath, right through here.” He led Ryan across the room to a small hallway. “Extra towels over there, and bath here, on the other side. Shower in tub.  Only one mirror, I’m afraid. And here”—he opened a door at the end of the hall—“is the fourth bedroom.”

Ryan entered the room, just behind Ben. Two twin beds, two dressers, and two windows overlooking the back of the house. On one bed sat his suitcase. This must be his assigned space. If so, that meant… He glanced at the other bed, and then at Ben. “Does this mean…. Are you and I…?”

“Roommates?  Yes. At least while we’re staying here. I hope it’s not a problem. I mean, Deacon and Keanu are a couple, so of course I gave them their own room. And I didn’t think we should put Abby with anyone but her brother. I hope you don’t mind?”

“Mind? Of course not,” Ryan assured him. What he was saying made sense. Not like they hadn’t done it before.

“I left you half the closet,” Ben said. “But we each have a dresser. You can put your toiletries in the bathroom. There’s plenty of room, at least right now,  although it remains to be seen how that’ll work on show nights if we all try to put on our make-up at the same time.” He winked at Ryan, who couldn’t help but laugh.

“Don’t worry, I don’t wear any,” he said. “I’ll leave it to you guys.”

He glanced around the bedroom. It wasn’t quite as large as the first room they’d gone through, but not by much. The wallpaper was the same small floral pattern interspersed with stripes which seemed to be repeated all throughout the second floor. Everything seemed to be well taken care of. A comfortable enough room for whatever time they would spend here.

Ben had already set a few items on his dresser, including a couple of worn-looking paperbacks. Ryan frowned. Those covers looked familiar. Maybe something he’d read before? He stepped toward the dresser, focused on the books, then stopped in surprise. No wonder he recognized them. They were his books. What in the world was Ben doing with those?

Ryan’s eyes widened as the full import of what he was seeing struck him. Ben knew about Brothers. If the book’s appearance was any indicator, he’d read it, too—more than once. He should have realized Ben knew about his books. He hired him in his capacity as an author, right? He just hadn’t expected him to own a copy of any of them. Especially not the one that had proven to be the most controversial. The one that had all but ruined his career.

“Maybe you can sign it for me,” Ben said softly. He’d come up behind Ryan, who’d been too focused on the books to note. He rested his chin on Ryan’s shoulder and gave a small sigh.

“I’ve been so lost without you, Ryan. I was afraid I’d never see you again. I found your book, and I knew you felt the same way too. I knew we’d end up together again, somehow.” He tilted his face toward Ryan, blue eyes glittering. “Forever, this time,” he whispered.

to be continued

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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #11 (4.3)

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.

Ben is showing Ryan around the vacation home which will be the base for Salvation's tour, and shows Ryan some of Cameron's naughty knickknacks.Ryan feels that something is wrong with Ben but when he tries to find out, they are interrupted. See what's happening in this week's chapter of In Pieces. And don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what they've been up to!

In Pieces #11 (4.3)

“We’ve been waiting for you, Ben. We need to quit screwing around, we need to practice, dude.”

 Despite his words, Ryan had the impression that he wasn’t upset, just impatient. He gave off definite energy vibes, as if he was overly caffeinated or something. Before Ben had a chance to make any sort of reply, the newcomer had diverted his attention to Ryan. Changing course, he circled him, eyeing him curiously.

“Well, well, what do we have here? Or should I say who? Don’t tell me. You must be that fabulous writer Ben’s been raving about so much. I was beginning to wonder if such a perfect creature even existed.”

Ryan felt his cheeks warm. He couldn’t help but wonder what Ben had been saying about him, but it must be good, right?

“Guilty as charged,” he confessed. “Writer. Not sure about fabulous, and definitely not perfect.”

“Keanu, don’t harass Ryan before you even get to know him,” Ben said. “Give him a chance to get used to everyone without scaring him off, if you don’t mind.” He rose from the couch, all signs of his previous despair having disappeared, and put a protective arm about Ryan. “We just got in from the airport. I was giving him the tour of the house. So cool your jets, please, if you don’t mind.”

Never missing a beat, Keanu turned gracefully toward Ryan and held out his hand. “Then I’ll just introduce myself and play nice. Keanu Nakamura. Aka Bishop. I play bass.”

Ryan took the hand that was being offered and gave it a shake. Keanu’s hand was warm and firm. His dark eyes were slightly uptilted at the edges, giving him an exotic look which matched his golden skin fairly glowed.  Was this band filled with nothing but beauties?

“Ryan Fremont,” he said in return. “Writer. Oh wait, you just said that. Sorry.”

“No worries, it’s all good.” Keanu dropped Ryan’s hand and turned back to Ben. “I can see why you took your time getting back,” he said with a wink. “I would too, if it meant getting to spend time with such a cutie.”

“I wouldn’t let Deacon hear you say that,” Ben retorted, a slight edge to his voice. “He might not understand.”

Keanu laughed. “Deacon is the least jealous person I know. He knows he’s the only one for me. But he also knows I’m not blind. And neither is he. I think we’ll both enjoy spending time with you, Mr. Writer.”

Ryan felt Ben’s arm tighten just a fraction. Surely that wasn’t in response to anything Keanu said? Than again, Ben had always been somewhat possessive when it came to Ryan. Once they overcame their initial antipathy, that is. Ryan found himself leaning in to Ben just a little bit, even if by doing so, he was reinforcing his behavior. He found Keanu to be just a little… overwhelming.

“Where’s Deacon now?” Ben asked.

“Out back, with Aiden and Abby. Rehearsing. We’d sound better if you joined us. Naturally.

Ben’s grip tightened a little more. Tension seemed to flow through him, sending an unexpected shock through Ryan, which left him speechless. What was really going on here? Other than some strange kind of pissing contest?

Without warning, Ben removed his arm and stepped away from Ryan, toward the bass player. He drew himself up to his full height, standing toe to toe with Keanu. The other man was slightly taller, but something about Ben seemed to create the illusion of height, as if they were actually eye to eye.

A long moment passed as they stared one another down. Then Keanu shifted his gaze to the floor, as if something very interesting there had just caught his attention.

“I’m going to finish giving Ryan the tour of the house and help him get situated. Then we’ll both be out. Tell the others. Are we clear?”

Keanu nodded. “Perfectly,” he said in a quiet voice, a far cry from his earlier cheeky tone. Ryan glanced between the two men in confusion. What had just happened?

Keanu spun on his heel and exited the room as quickly as he had entered, but without any of the bluster. Ryan glanced at Ben. He was all smiles and sunshine. Probably because he’d just gotten his own way.

“Let’s continue with the tour,” he said, taking Ryan’s hand in his.

to be continued

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Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #10 (4.2)

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.

In Pieces continues as Ben takes Ryan on a tour of the elegant home where the band will be staying when they're not on the road. It seems as though their host has unusual tastes. See what's up 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 #10 (4.2)

Swallowing a sigh, Ryan followed Ben up the wide front steps and into the house. Questions would obviously have to wait for now.

“Starting the tour of Le Grand Mansion, here we have the foyer,” Ben said in a faux tour guide voice as he gestured widely. “What you and I might call the hallway.” He winked at Ryan, drawing him in as if they shared a private joke. Ryan understood what he was saying—neither one of them came from money, this was how the upper class lived. He couldn’t help but think Ben intended to change that with Salvation.

A circular wrought iron staircase wound its way to the second floor. That was something you didn’t see a lot of in St. Louis, more of a New Orleans thing. French architecture and all. He couldn’t help thinking this place looked far too elegant to be someone’s vacation home. He’d pictured something more along the lines of a cozy cabin, all knotty-pine and chinking. This was a far cry from being that.

“And there’s the dining room.” Ben waved toward a room to their left. “It comes complete with its own fireplace. As does the living room, which is right over there. Want to see?” Not waiting for an answer, he gripped Ryan’s hand and tugged him along behind him. Ryan didn’t even think of resisting, but in the back of his mind he couldn’t help but wonder when had Ben developed this dominant streak? Once upon a time, their positions had been reversed. Ryan had led the way and Ben had followed. He’d certainly changed in the ten years since Ryan had last seen him. Had this newfound confidence come with age? Or something else?

The living room proved to be warm and inviting, a warmth that had nothing to do with temperature but with the way it was furnished. A thick russet carpet spread wall-to-wall, just right for bare toes and bare feet… as well as other bare things. Such as stretching out across the floor, naked and cat-like.  Ryan felt his cheeks warm at his unexpected thought—what the hell had brought that one?— but luckily Ben seemed oblivious to his musings so he forced himself to focus on other, safer things.

The stone fireplace sat against the wall to their left as they walked in, flanked on one side by a built-in book case, on the other by a luxurious pecan wood cabinet. The cabinet was crowded with an assortment of figurines and knickknacks. Ryan wondered what they were. Something pricey and pretentious, no doubt. Maybe Hummel, or even something more expensive. He wouldn’t have been surprised to find a Faberge egg or two.

“We call this the naughty room. Cam refers to it as his play room.” Ben laughed at Ryan’s confused expression.  “Come take a look at this. It’s part of Cam’s private collection. He has more upstairs.” They drew closer to the cabinet and Ryan realized he’d been entirely off about these decorations. These pieces had certainly not been made by Hummel or Precious Moments, or even Faberge. No cute kittens or wide-eyed children here.  No, these colorful porcelain figures were pornographic in nature—naked men and women, lithe limbs twisted about one another as they enjoyed themselves with explicit abandon. Nestled among these, Ryan noticed a variety of phallic objects. To his surprise, these turned out to be dildos, in assorted sizes and colors, as well as a number of butt plugs. He suspected that far from being decorative, these items served a more useful purpose, hence the name of the room.

Ryan had no doubt this room had actually seen a great deal of naked romping and rolling on the carpet in its time. And more…

“You’re not shocked, are you?”

Ben’s voice drew him back into the moment, away from the precipice he’d been about to fall over. He shook his head in an attempt to clear it. “Shocked?” he repeated, his voice breaking on the word. He cleared his throat of its momentary frog and continued. “Why would I be shocked?”

“I dunno. Maybe I was thinking you were still kind of innocent or something. My bad.”

Ryan gave Ben a sharp look, holding him in his gaze. For just a second, he thought he caught a glimpse of something in Ben’s eyes, something he couldn’t put his finger on. Something wistful, maybe? Hopeful, even? The next moment, Ben’s expression had changed, as if he’d drawn the shades on some inner emotion he didn’t want Ryan to witness.

That was the writer in him, of course. Real people didn’t think in those terms. Leave it to the mind of an author to conjure up something fanciful at every turn.

“I’m hardly innocent, not at my age,” Ryan protested, even as a small voice argued that he didn’t exactly have a lot of experience either. He told that voice to shut up in no uncertain terms. Okay, he’d been something of a late bloomer as far as sex was concerned, but he was no virgin. He turned his attention to the rest of the room, pushing thoughts of the obscene little figures out of his mind. For now.

“Innocence… experience. Nothing really matters in the end, does it?”

Ben flopped dramatically onto a butterscotch couch with thick cushions which sat in the center of the room.  Closing his eyes, he pressed one hand dramatically to his forehead as if striking a pose. Ryan stared at him in confusion. What the hell?

And then he remembered he’d seen this act before. This was Ben’s avoidance technique, his way of deflecting things he didn’t want to deal with. Play the diva and change the subject. It had been a while, but he’d know this performance anywhere.  Well, it wasn’t going to work, not this time.

“Ben, what’s wro—”

Before he could finish the thought, another voice intruded.

“For Chrissake’s, Ben, when do you plan to rehearse?”

to be continued

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