Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Wednesday Briefs: Dallas in Wonderland II: Chapter Two

Our group is certainly expanding by leaps and bounds! Not to mention we have a website, thanks to the generosity of Andrew Q. Gordon. Have you checked it out yet? You should! Go here and see what there is to see!

And of course, it's Wednesday, so it's time for the Wednesday Briefers to show you what we got!

Last week, I began the second Dallas in Wonderland book. For lack of a better title, I'm calling it Dallas in Wonderland II lol But I am open to suggestion. Our story started six months after the first book ended. Dallas is back in his apartment, having spent some time with his sister in hers. Things are not looking well for him. He lost his job, his lover, and had to quit school. The only bright note is his new neighbor, Campbell Cain. Who just gave Dallas some disturbing intel. Don't forget to check out the rest of the Briefers, whose links follow my tale. Enjoy!

Dallas in Wonderland II: Chapter Two

Dallas’ hand began to shake. Campbell gently removed the cup of coffee from his grip and set it on the maple end table next to the couch. He set his own beside it then claimed Dallas’ hand. Dallas felt two fingers against his wrist. He knew from experience that Campbell was taking his pulse.

“A little fast, but not life threatening,” Campbell fretted. “Is something wrong, Dallas?”

Dallas tried to wrap his head around the question and make sense of it in the current context.  The easier question would have been is anything right. That he could answer in a single word: no. Nothing had been right in a very long time.

But he wasn’t about to admit that to Campbell. He’d like to preserve the illusion that not everyone in the known world knew Dallas Crosby was a card-carrying member of the lunatic fringe for as long as he could. He needed all the friends he could get.

 He had Paris and Oz, of course. It was ironic that he’d always considered Paris to be the iffy sibling. To think that she was now considered to be more sane than him was a sobering thought. There was their brother too, but Frankfurt tended to live in his own little world. Dallas wasn’t even sure what he was doing these days. Other than being a certified genius.

No, he didn’t want to lose Campbell, that was for sure.

“Wh-what did he look like?” Dallas tried to steady his voice, to bolster the illusion that he was fine, but that didn’t work at well as he’d hoped. He realized he hadn’t answered the question either, but maybe Campbell wouldn’t notice.

Campbell placed the back of his hand against Dallas’ forehead, not answering immediately. “Cool to the touch, not running a fever.” He reached for the coffee and handed it back. Dallas was grateful for the return of the warmth and took a long, slow sip.

“I didn’t get the best of looks at him, I’m afraid.” Campbell reclaimed his own cup and leaned back, stretching out his long legs and crossing them at the ankle. “I heard a noise in the hall. Thinking it was you, I went to my door, even if it was a little early.”

“How long ago?”

“Hmmm, maybe fifteen minutes before you got here? I remember being surprised your boss let you go early, so I rushed to the door to make sure nothing was wrong. “

She works hard for the money.

Dallas almost jumped out of his skin until he realized it was Campbell’s cell phone, the ringtone one he’d set for the hospital he worked at. “Sorry,” he murmured as he jumped up and carried the phone into the bedroom. He pondered the question of who’d been at his door until Campbell returned and resumed his seat.

“Guess I’m going in after all,” he apologized.”So much for having a day off.”

Dallas waited the space of a heartbeat. “And the man...?” he prompted.

“Oh yes, the man. Sorry. Lost my train of thought.” Campbell flashed a quick smile and Dallas’ impatience melted. “Like I said, I didn’t get a good look at him, though not for lack of trying. Once I realized he wasn’t you, that is. He was stooped over in front of your door. I thought maybe he was tying his shoe or something. But then he straightened up, really quickly. Like he knew I was looking at him. And he turned toward me...”
“And...” Dallas held his breath, hoping against hope... Could it be... just maybe...

“And then I guess I blinked. The next thing I knew he was heading down the stairs, and I never did get a good look at his face or anything.”

Disappointment surged through Dallas like a machete had been pounded into his heart. How foolish to think Samuel would come looking for him, here of all places. That would be an admission, wouldn’t it? Of something between them?

Besides which, if he wanted to see Dallas, he knew where Dallas would be that afternoon—in his office. Foolish, foolish Dallas to dare to hope. Hopes were for kids. For those who hadn’t lived long enough to learn the definition of disillusionment.

“Sorry I wasn’t any more helpful,” Campbell apologized again, and Dallas resisted the urge to press a kiss against Campbell’s soft cheek and tell him not to fret, sugar, but he didn’t want to give him the wrong impression.  

Campbell drained his cup, glanced into Dallas’ and left it with him. He rose and walked the short distance to the kitchen, rinsed it out and set it in the drainer before crossing over to the bedroom. He didn’t close the door and Dallas could hear the sounds of him getting dressed—the snap of a hanger as he pulled off a clean uniform, the wooden slap of a drawer as he reached for fresh socks. Dallas was familiar with these noises, and thought nothing of them.

“It was probably nobody anyway,” he offered. “Someone selling magazine subscriptions. Or Girl Scout cookies.”

That produced a giggle from Campbell. He walked from the bedroom, his transformation into male nurse complete. His long dark hair was held in one hand as he put it into a tail. “I think I would have noticed a grown man in a Girl Scout uniform. That’s not something you see every day.”

“No, you’re right there,” Dallas agreed. This was his cue to leave. He finished off his coffee and hurriedly rinsed it out to join its mate in the drainer. “Guess I’ll get some sleep while I can.” And pray for no dreams.
Campbell walked him to the door, leaning against the doorjamb as Dallas stood in the hall for a moment. “Don’t work too hard.”

“I won’t.” Campbell smiled.

Dallas turned.

“Although, come to think of it, the man did have rather long hair. I just remembered that. Maybe red. No, more auburn.”

Dallas thought he might just faint.

 to be continued

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