Thursday, February 21, 2019

Virtual Book Tour: The Moment Between by Gareth Frank



Good morning and please welcome author Gareth Frank and Goddess Fish Promotions! Gareth will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. The more often you enter, the better your chances of winning. To find the other stops on the tour, go here.




The Moment Between

by Gareth Frank

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GENRE: Psychological Thriller

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BLURB:

After four years of mourning, Doctor Hackett Metzger is determined to stop letting his wife's death control his life. He is finally beginning to live again, but his recovery leads to an unexpected fight for his own survival and startling revelations about what happens to all of us in The Moment Between.

Hackett, a brilliant neurologist, is a skeptic. He doesn't believe he will one day be reunited with Jean, or dwell with God in heaven. What he does believe is that he should have seen the warning signs of her heart attack; he should have saved her. He also cannot accept the possibility that his clinical study of near death experiences could prove the existence of a conscious afterlife. When Hackett falls for the mother of a patient, grief finally begins to fade. But he has no idea his new love is hiding her dangerous past. Will Hackett's damaged spirit endure another heartbreak?

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EXCERPT:



Yu Lai’s eyes radiated sadness, and there was a slight tremble in her lips. Hackett could see her trying to flush out her emotions before speaking.

“Nobody really knows what death is, when it starts or when it is complete,” she said. You and I both know the body dies gradually. Under the right circumstances, someone whose brain stops functioning and whose heart stops beating can be brought back to life an hour later, even more. The cells of the brain don’t just die the second blood flow is cut off.”

“What are you saying, Doctor? Are you advocating that we outlaw transplants?”

“No. You know I’m not. I guess I was just spooked by the way her arms lifted up. It was clear that Mrs. Carrollton wasn’t coming back, but I don’t know if she was truly and totally gone.”

Hackett wanted to yell, wanted to shut her up. Death was death. When the brain died, the conscious mind went with it. Hackett had learned the hard way that it was better to face that fact.


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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Gareth Frank is a former union organizer and administrator. He received a Master's Degree at the University of Wisconsin and later studied at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland. The Moment Between is his first published novel. His short stories have been published in various journals and have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize as well as the Silver Pen Write Well Award.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GarethFrankAuthor
https://www.amazon.com/Moment-Between-Gareth-J-Frank/dp/1732294208




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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE

Gareth Frank will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

RAFFLECOPTER CODE:



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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #40 (10.3)

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 is about to play a concert at an underground club in Houma, Louisiana. Ben sends Ryan and Abby to pick up some food from a local restaurant before they go on. Good chance for Ryan to get to know Abby better. See what their conversation brings 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 #40 (10.3)


The general consensus of the other members of the band was they’d be fine with whatever Abby and Ryan chose to get, so they decided to go with that.

At her request, Abby drove. Ryan didn’t mind. She knew how to use the GPS system better than he did anyway. He’d never had one before, in St. Louis. When he needed to go somewhere unfamiliar, he relied on Mapquest.  When she put in the address of the restaurant, they learned their destination was only fifteen minutes away. Traffic was light to moderate in this part of Houma, swelling a little as they went. The restaurant was no great shakes at first sight, but judging from the smells that hit their nostrils as soon as they walked in the door, the food was something special. A number of the tables were full, even as late as it was. The atmosphere was relaxed and tension-free. Ryan was sorry they didn’t have time to sit here and enjoy their meal.  Another time, hopefully.

Studying the menu, they decided to get a selection of appetizers: crab claws and stuffed jalapenos, fried pickles and fried cauliflower, as well as oyster brochettes. Just in case someone wanted to satisfy a sweet tooth, they also ordered some funnel fries. If they were still hungry after the show, they could always find something else then, but there was no sense in loading up too much right before they went on. Ryan placed their order, then handed the girl behind the counter the credit card Ben had given him to use, not surprised to see Cameron’s name imprinted on the plastic. Once he gave her his name, they found a table near the order pick-up where they could wait.

“What are those brochettes? I’ve never heard of them,” Ryan confessed.

“I’ve had them before. They’re skewers of oysters and bacon, deep fried, usually served on some kind of toasted bread, with a sauce,” Abby replied.

“Sounds good. I’ll trust your judgment.” He smiled at her.

Abby gave him a long studied look, not saying a word.

“What?” He glanced away, wondering if he’d said something wrong.

“I was just thinking how much you’ve changed in just the few days I’ve known you, Ryan.”

“I have?” He’d picked up a salt shaker, sliding it idly back and forth across the table, from one hand to another. He looked up at her in surprise.

“You seemed nervous and apprehensive at the airport. Kind of unsure of yourself. Not unhappy but not happy, either, if you know what I mean. Now… well, now you’re positively radiant. Not that I don’t know the reason why.”

Ryan’s cheeks warmed. He knew exactly what Abby meant, but he hadn’t realized how apparent his new outlook on life was to the other members of the band. Must be pretty obvious, since they really didn’t know him at all. Not like Ben did.

“Don’t be embarrassed, I think it’s wonderful.” Abby reached out and laid one of her hands over his. “I see how you and Ben look at each other. He’s just as happy as you, trust me. He hasn’t glowed like this in…. well, ever. Not since I’ve known him.”

That was good to know. The thought warmed Ryan, inside and out. He knew he must be flushed pretty red, but he didn’t mind. Abby was hardly judgmental.

“Love is a grand thing.” He couldn’t read her tone, it sounded somewhat enigmatic for all her talk of romance. She squeezed his hand, then withdrew her own.

“Are you in love?” he asked without thinking, then wished he hadn’t spoken. “I’m sorry. That’s none of my business. Forget I asked.”

“No, it’s okay. You can ask me anything.”

He raised his eyes from the table apprehensively. She wasn’t smiling, but she didn’t look angry either.
“I have a boyfriend, if that’s what you mean,” she replied.

That wasn’t exactly an answer to what he’d asked, but remembering Aiden’s rules, he wasn’t about to press the issue with her. Not unless she seemed willing to discuss it.

“Brandon?” he asked. He ran his thumb over the top of the salt shaker. Some of the holes were caked with old salt, he noticed. Maybe the humidity caused that.

“That’s the one,” Abby said lightly. “There’s a chance you might get to meet him tonight. He said if he could, he’d come to the show.” She shrugged, as if his attendance wasn’t of great importance to her one way or another. Ryan wondered what sort of relationship they had. Just thinking about being with Ben made him smile. Shouldn’t she be a little more eager to see this Brandon?

“It’s complicated,” Abby said slowly, as if she’d read his mind. More likely, she could just follow his train of thought. “You see, I’ve been saving money for a while now… to get… the surgery I need…”

Ryan nodded, not sure where this was going, but it answered the question of just what surgeries her dad paid for. Top, but not bottom, apparently.

“Brandon… has different ideas about the surgery then I do. He doesn’t want me to get it.”

That was a surprise. And very confusing. “But… but why… I mean, if it’s something you want…”

“Exactly.” Abby offered him a sad smile. “He tells me he likes that… little extra I have. He doesn’t understand that it isn’t part of who I really am, it’s part of me that should never have existed.”

That made sense, but it was also sad. If this Brandon loved her as she was, why would he want her to keep something was anathema to her? What kind of love was that? Why was it that all the men in her life, other than Aiden, were no good?

“If he doesn’t understand that, then he doesn’t deserve someone as special as you,” Ryan said without thinking.

Abby’s eyes glistened.  A lone tear trickled down her cheek as she offered him a sad smile.

to be continued

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Monday, February 18, 2019

Virtual Book Tour: The Mages Tales Prequel


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ilana Waters will be awarding a $75 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

From USA Today bestselling author Ilana Waters:

Vampire. Witch. Hero. Monster.

Titus Aurelius is all of these things. Ever since he rose from the ashes of ancient Pompeii, this former Roman general has fought for survival.

A few millennia later, bloodseeker Titus isn’t looking for trouble—just a quick meal. But when his path crosses the witch Abigail’s, that plan gets shot to Hades. They find out the Paranormal Investigation Agency (PIA) is plotting something monstrous—something that involves exploding gas mains, lethal bird-shifters, and sadistic vampire minions.

Will they uncover the PIA’s murderous secret before every supernatural in its path is destroyed?

And what is Titus and Abigail’s connection to the mage who, almost twenty years later, is exiled to a paranormal boarding school? Can this mage solve a mystery concerning a stolen potion and ghostly figure before students—including him—wind up dead?

Together for the first time, the Mage Tales Prequels: Books 0-II are action-packed, edge-of-your-seat suspense stories shot through with a megadose of snark. If you love authors like Kevin Hearne, Lev Grossman, and Ilona Andrews, give these a try! This box set contains one novella and two full-length novels:

When Darkness Falls
Blood and Magic
Mage Lessons


Read an Excerpt

From Blood and Magic:

Abigail knew it would take more. They had to make the current even stronger. What was it Mom said about never dropping a hair dryer in the bathtub? She was about to do the equivalent—on a much larger scale.

I need you, she thought to the sky, the sea. The whole world. To magic, to energy, to life itself. We need you. Come to us!

The rain hit the ship like a meteor. Waves rose up over the sides. Tunnels of water bore down. The ship lurched violently from side to side. Abigail rose in the air a little so she wouldn’t fall onto the deck. The sound of thunder filled her ears.

But that was nothing compared to the fireworks of electricity coming from the net. The addition of the rain had made it absolutely lethal. The wind blew Cunningham’s hair and clothes behind her, as if she were standing in front of a giant fan. She fought not to go backward into the web of death, and even managed to advance several steps. Abigail’s heart hammered against her chest. Blood raced like quicksilver through her veins.

“She’s getting away!” Abigail shrieked. “Dammit, Titus, do something!”

About the Author:

Hi! I'm Ilana Waters, USA Today bestselling author of the Mage Tales.

I write urban fantasy for those who like it fast, funny, and fierce. If you're into cross-blended creatures (think witch-vampire hybrids and half-breed mages) and supernatural ass-kicking, I'm all over that. Ditto if your book turn-ons are equal parts creepy and action-packed (think ancient cities and crypts combined with beheadings and bombs).

Sign up for my newsletter here, and I'll give you a free book: http://tinyurl.com/zp7q9u8

Website: http://www.ilanawaters.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ilanawaters
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ilanawatersbooks

Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07MJT1RWB/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i0

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #39 (10.2)

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.

Today, we return to In Pieces, after my tribute to Aaron Burr last week. Ryan and Ben are pretty happy and looking forward to Salvation's next gig at an underground club in Houma. Catch up with them in this week's chapter. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!


In Pieces #39 (10.2)


“What’s on the schedule for tonight?” Ryan asked Ben as they crossed the back lawn, hand in hand.

“We’re playing at a place they call The Dive,” Ben replied. “It’s an underground club in Houma, about an hour and half from here Sorry, we’ll have to go across the bridge again. That’s the fastest way there.” He glanced at Ryan, offering him an apologetic smile that was also filled with concern.

“No worries. It’s not scary at all when I have you beside me,” Ryan said sincerely. He stopped moving and gave Ben a kiss of reassurance. “Besides, it’s time I got over that. I’m not a kid anymore. I’ll be thirty in less than two years.” Sometimes he found it hard to believe he was actually that old, he didn’t feel any different then when he was in high school.  But at other times he felt older, like time was slipping by him too quickly. At least he felt that way until he found Ben.

“Yeah, but fears are fears,” Ben countered. “You can’t always make them go away by wishing. “ He returned Ryan’s kiss with one of his own. “I’ll always be there for you, just remember that.”

“I will,” Ryan promised. “Same goes for you. There’s nothing you can’t tell me, nothing I wouldn’t do for you.” As he squeezed Ben’s hand, he thought he saw a shadow cross Ben’s face. Ben mumbled something he couldn’t quite make out, but Ryan thought he heard him say it wasn’t as easy as that.

“What did you say, Ben?” Ryan asked.

“I just said I love you very much,” Ben replied. “I hope you don’t get tired of hearing that. If you do, just let me know.” His last words were spoken in a light-hearted tone, but Ryan sensed something darker beneath. They’d reached the one-time storage building now. Ryan could hear voices from inside. He started to ask Ben to wait a minute so he could frame his next question, but Ben reached for the door handle before he could get it out.

“Once more into the fray,” Ben said. “Shall we?” Not waiting for an answer, he pushed open the door and they entered the dimly lit interior. The moment had passed. Ryan was pretty sure Ben wasn’t being entirely honest, but he didn’t feel the need to argue the point. He wasn’t big on confrontation. Why spoil a good thing? If that made him a coward, then so be it. He was probably making a mountain out of a molehill anyway.

The practice went well, including the changes in the light show that Keanu proudly showed off and which met with everyone’s satisfaction. Several hours later they headed out to Houma. The Dive was situated in an industrial-looking area which seemed rather desolate, surrounded as it was by boarded-up buildings whose walls were drenched in colorful graffiti—from stylized art to pornographic ditties—as well as small houses  crammed together  in an uncomfortable intimacy that had obviously seen better days.

“There’s better parts of town,” Ben said. “Beautiful mansions, the whole nine yards. But this works for them, I guess. Road less traveled means the people who do show up are supposed to be here. Hopefully to see us.”

That made sense if your intention was to keep out the more mainstream people. Some of them could be somewhat judgmental when it came to people and things they didn’t understand. The idea of church metal itself was innovative and different, so Ryan realized it was open to be misunderstood. Salvation would probably be considered by some to be a fringe music group, while other people might downright hate them for what they thought the band represented. Didn’t mean Salvation couldn’t catch fire and make it big. Ryan believed in them. He knew they’d succeed. How could they not, with Ben to lead them?

 Deacon and Keanu arrived at the same time as they did and backed the van up as close to the building as they could get. Ryan was prepared to help them schlep the equipment in, but Ben caught his arm before he could grab anything. Apparently he had something else in mind.

“I was just thinking,” he said. “There’s a Cajun restaurant not too far from here. I read about it on the Internet.  Menu looks great, and the reviews are pretty stellar. Since we didn’t yet, I thought we should something a little better than bar food before we go on. Would you mind going there and picking up some dinner? Take Abby with you, why don’t you? We have plenty of time before the show. I’d say let’s go and eat there rather than do the carry-out thing, but I’m afraid I’d be tempted to stay too long, sampling the menu and the drinks.” Ben laughed.

“That’s a great idea.” Ryan liked Abby. He didn’t mind the idea of spending time with her. This could be his chance to get something from her for the book.  And nothing about the taboo topics Aiden had warned him about—California, becoming transgender… or family. Didn’t mean she couldn’t bring it up herself, though, did it? Maybe she’d be more open than her twin gave her credit for. That would be up to her, naturally.

He turned toward Abby, who stood beside her brother. She made a very beautiful nun, he thought. If he were into women, he could see himself being attracted to her. Maybe that was messed up, though. Nuns weren’t supposed to be looked on a sexual beings, were they? Didn’t matter. He wasn’t drawn to women, and that was that. In fact, there was only one person who held any allure for him, and that was Ben. End of story.

“Do you mind coming with me, Abby?” he asked, not wanting to assume.

“Not at all. Let’s pull up the menu and see what everyone wants.”

“Thanks, baby.”When Ben kissed Ryan’s cheek, he couldn’t help but smile.

to be continued

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Sunday, February 10, 2019

Guest Blogger: Carol Pedroso

Please welcome my friend and fellow Briefer, Carol Pedroso, who is here to tell us about the release of her newest story, Wrong Becomes Right!   

NEW RELEASE - OUT NOW


Wrong Becomes Right is a contemporary short read, great for a lazy evening on the couch with a nice hot drink to escape the cold winter.

When Kevin receives a message meant for someone else, little does he know how his life will change.

Blurb

Kevin receives a message via a dating app, but his hopes are dashed when he realizes it’s meant for someone else. The guy sounded perfect. He tells the guy he has the wrong user and thinks nothing of it until he gets another reply, and then another. Before he knows it, he has a new friend in Brian. Brian is as perfect as he first sounded, and if Kevin harbors lustful thoughts about his new pen pal? Well, no one knows but him. Right? Then a fall and an interfering sister intervene. Add in an unwanted birthday party and an overeager twink, and who knows what will happen?

Buy Links

 

About the Author

Carol is a stay at home mum from the UK, as well as an active volunteer within her community. She started writing gay romance in 2014, when she came across the Wednesday Brief Writers Group on one of their member’s websites. She has since started her own blog and also posts to GayAuthors.org. When she isn’t writing she enjoys all sorts of activities, including; crocheting, walking, and of course lots of reading. She is very thankful to her husband and daughter for all their support and for not complaining too much when she ignores them for long periods of time. She always loves to hear from readers and enjoys getting to know them better. You can find Carol on the internet at: www.cazpedroso.wordpress.com https://www.gayauthors.org/profi le/21914-caz-pedroso/ https://www.facebook.com/carolpedrosoauthor https://twitter.com/cazpedroso a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Wednesday Briefs: Waiting for Theodosia



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.

This week, I'm stepping away from my usual flash. But don't worry, In Pieces will return promptly next week, never fear! Today, however, is a special day, so I wanted to commemorate it in a special way. Today is the birthday of my favorite founding Father - Aaron Burr. Born Feb 6, 1756, he is 263 today. Happy Birthday to Aaron. I hope you enjoy this little tale. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Waiting for Theodosia

Spring in New York City was iffy at best. Surprisingly lamblike at times, more often it revealed the face of the lion in its chilly ferocity. Tonight was a night of infinite leonine grace. Aaron Burr pulled his cloak tighter about himself, fending off a stiff breeze. The cold in and of itself was not worrisome to him. He’d endured far worse as a soldier during the ill-fated march to Quebec. His concern was entirely for his daughter, Theodosia. She would be arriving soon, and he did not wish her to catch cold.

The docks of New York were quiet at night, silent ships riding gentle lapping waves. A stark contrast to a time when British ships held sway. So many ships they’d resembled a veritable forest.  Thirty-two thousand troops under the joint command of the Howe brothers. But that was long ago now.

He’d expected to sight Theodosia’s ship earlier in the day, but so far there had been no sign of the Patriot. Delays at sea were not uncommon, so Burr was not overly concerned. She would be with him soon, and that was all that mattered.

“Burr!”

Lost in thought, Burr had failed to hear anyone approach. He made a graceful pirouette to face the speaker. Being recognized was a common occurrence for Burr, especially here in New York where he had spent so much of his political career. And of course his stint as vice-president of the United States carried its own infamy.

This was one face he hadn’t expected to see, however.

“Hamilton!” Burr exclaimed. The two men shook hands.

“Damn cold out here,” Hamilton complained. “Just when you think winter is over and done with, it comes creeping back like a thief in the night.”

Burr repressed a smile at Hamilton’s outrage. He knew the other man was more bluster than anger, although he could be hotheaded and one would do well to be wary of him at those times.

“I’m surprised to see you down here at this hour,” Hamilton continued. “Taking the air? Sea air, that is?” He smirked, as if he’d said something very humorous.

“I’m awaiting my daughter,” Burr replied, not bothering to address the witticism. “The Patriot is expected today, but she must be running a little late.”

“Ah, Theodosia,” Hamilton said. “So much like her dear mother, isn’t she? And yet very much her father’s child.”

“I like to think so,” Burr murmured. Theodosia, named for his late wife, was indeed the apple of his eye, his reason for living. He had missed her sorely since her marriage and removal to the wilds of South Carolina. The only blessing which had been bestowed was his one and only grandchild, Aaron Burr Alston, whom he nicknamed Gampy. The child had taken to calling Burr Gampy as well, which was sometimes confusing to everyone but the two of them. “As much as her son is like his mother.”

“Indeed,” Hamilton said. A brief silence ensued. Burr eyed Hamilton curiously. No wonder the man complained of the cold. He was dressed as though he’d just come from the theater, bright colors and jewels, but not so much as a warm coat. What had he been thinking? Come to think of it, where had he been? With his latest mistress, perhaps? Maybe his sister-in-law, Angelica Church?

“What brings you here at this time of night, Alexander?” he asked.

Hamilton seemed momentarily taken aback, as if he’d not expected to be questioned in return. He fidgeted slightly. Burr, feeling sorry for the man, deftly changed the subject.

“How are you succeeding with your notion of starting a bank?” he asked solicitously.

Hamilton relaxed slightly, as if on more solid ground. In the wan moonlight which struggled to pierce the clouds which shrouded it, he still seemed more than a little furtive. What did this portend?

“I have gained my support,” he said cagily. “All is well.”

That was interesting news. Burr made a mental note to see what he could find out about the matter. If it was true, it might pave the way for others to do the same. After all, what sense was there in committing all of one’s eggs into one basket?

“You haven’t seen my son, Phillip, have you, Burr?” Hamilton’s next question seemed odd, being asked without any sort of context. Burr was momentarily confused.

“Seen your son?” he echoed. “No, that I have not.”

A frown marred Hamilton’s otherwise smooth forehead, his eyes uneasy. A heartbeat passed between them before Hamilton’s expression became peaceful once more. “Ah, young men. I’m sure he’s out and about, doing the sorts of things we did at his age.”

“Still do.” Now it was Burr’s turn to smirk. “Do you remember the time we were both seeing the same young lady, but neither was aware of the fact?”

“How could I forget? She played us both like a rare violin, did she not? Whatever became of her?”

“Last I heard, she married well and moved west. Maybe as far as Ohio.”

“That far?” Hamilton whistled softly.

Or was that the whinny of a horse?  The sharp clop-clop of hooves. A wandering traveler, perhaps? Or someone else waiting for the Patriot?

Burr turned back toward the sea. Where was that ship? A feeling of unease rose in his chest, a feeling of panic mingled with sorrow that he could not explain. A deep sense of dread.

Anxious for no reason he could name, he turned toward Hamilton. But no one was there.  Realization flowed through Burr like a chill.

How could he be? Burr had shot him in a duel, back in ‘04. His son dead two years before that, defending his father’s honor. Poor little Gampy dead of malaria at the age of nine. And his darling daughter Theodosia lost at sea. No matter how often he roamed the docks in search of her.

Gone, all gone.

Feeling incredibly alone, Aaron Burr fell to his knees and began to sob.

Happy Birthday, Aaron!

                                                                                                                               
















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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #38 (10.1)

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.

Dreams sometimes do come true. At least for Ryan and Ben they have. After a decade apart, they consummate their love and vow to stay together forever. See how they're doing 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 #38 (10.1)

The warmth of Ben’s body against his was soothing. Ryan couldn’t remember the last time he’d slept so well. After they’d made love, he’d fallen asleep, wrapped around Ben. Even now, he was reluctant to open his eyes, start a new day—he wanted their first night to last forever… or at least as long as possible.

He felt soft lips touch his own, eliciting a smile at the thought of Ben.

“Morning, sleepyhead,” Ben whispered, then kissed him again. “I forgot how adorable you look when you’re sleeping.”

Ryan cracked one eye open, just enough to peer into Ben’s face, hovering just over his. No one had ever called him adorable before. His heart swelled at the words, even as he couldn’t help but think what a lovesick fool he was. But he didn’t care. If Ben wanted to call him adorable, he could, even if that word applied to Ben much more than him.

“Why are you awake? Let’s sleep a while longer.”

Ben’s smile was dazzling, and yet wistful. “Wish we could, but it’s going on noon. We have a show tonight, things to do.”

Almost twelve? Jesus. Ryan couldn’t remember the last time he’d slept in so late. Normally, he wasn’t one to linger in bed.

“I wish we could stay here all day,” he blurted out without thinking, then blushed.  His mouth was running ahead of his brain, which was still half-asleep. He didn’t want Ben to think he was avoiding work, that had nothing to do with anything. Ben’s pleased expression told him he had nothing to worry about.

“I wish we could too.” A slight crease furrowed his brow, and he cast his gaze down, not meeting Ryan’s. Ryan’s heart skipped a beat in concern.

“Is something wrong?”

Ben didn’t answer immediately. Ryan reached for the hand that was pressed against his chest, lifted it and kissed each fingertip. “Ben….?”

“I was just wondering….” Ben began then paused. “I mean… was I…. okay?”

Oh, so that’s what the problem was. Ryan felt himself relax. He turned Ben’s hand over and gently kissed the palm. “You were magnificent,” he said softly. “Everything I ever dreamed you’d be…” Damn, did he say too much again?

Ben glanced up, eyes filled with wonder. “You… you dreamed about us being together… you and me?” He sounded incredulous and excited both.

“Of course I have. I’ve loved you for a long time, Ben. Losing you was the worst thing that ever happened to me.” That was his heart speaking now. Nothing but the truth between them, from now on.

“I’m sorry, Ryan. So so sorry…”

As Ryan watched, a tear fell from one of Ben’s eyes, then another. He quickly brushed at them, but Ryan was faster. He brushed his thumb across Ben’s cheek, trying to stem the tears. “Please don’t cry,” he said. “It wasn’t your fault, it was…. It wasn’t your fault,” he amended hastily. He didn’t want to bring up his stepmother. Maybe he didn’t care for her, but she was still Ben’s mother and he had to respect that. He didn’t want to upset Ben by badmouthing the woman, whether she deserved it or not.

He suddenly realized, though, that Ben had not mentioned her once since they were reunited, except to explain that Liza had taken away his phone and laptop, so he’d been unable to communicate with Ryan. He pushed the thought away. What did that matter? At this moment, It didn’t.

Several moments passed in silence. But it was a comfortable silence, not an awkward one. Ryan felt as though he could gaze into Ben’s eyes forever. But alas, all good things must come to an end. At least that’s how the saying went. Unfortunately for Ryan, his bladder was becoming insistent on being dealt with, and he certainly couldn’t do that there.

As if he could read Ryan’s mind, Ben leaned down and whispered, “We have tonight, my love, and every night from here on.” God, how good those words sounded.

“You know it,” he replied. “You and me. Forever.”

Without warning, Ben pulled off the light blanket that covered Ryan, his gaze roaming along his naked body before settling on his crotch.

“Got wood?” he said mischievously. Leaning down, he planted a soft kiss on the head of Ryan’s cock. Ryan moaned. Damn, why did he have to get up?

“Come on, we should get moving. I’m surprised they haven’t beaten the door down yet.” Ben reluctantly rose, his hand trailing across one of Ryan’s bare thighs. “Damn, I hate to see you cover that.”

Ryan blushed fiercely, but before he could respond, a knock sounded at the door.

“Looks like I jinxed us.” He winked at Ryan, before calling out to their unseen visitor, “Be down in a few.”

“About time,” Ryan heard someone mumble, but he wasn’t sure who it was, and he didn’t really care. Groaning, he pushed himself up, then swung his legs over and forced himself to rise. Ben was already rummaging in his dresser, pulling out articles of clothing.

Guess he’d get this over with so they could attend to business. That’s why they were there, after all. And Ben was right… they had tonight, and every other night for the rest of their lives to be together. Nothing would tear them apart now.

to be continued

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