Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #9 (4.1)

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.

There's so much Ryan wants to know, needs to know, but apparently this isn't the time as he becomes distracted by the enormously long bridge, and whatever chance he had seems to evaporate. See what's going on with Ryan and Ben in this week's chapter of In Pieces. Then don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

In Pieces #9 (4.1)

So much for having a quiet conversation with Ben.  By the time Ryan managed to stop freaking out about the damn bridge, they were already across it and the conversation had veered to other things. Mostly the band. He learned this was going to be Salvation’s first actual tour. They’d played in various small venues in the South—mostly small clubs and private parties— but there’d been nothing as organized as this. Things had changed once they’d gotten a manager.  This tour was to support the release of their first CD, which was being produced by a small Indy label.

“I’m impressed,” Ryan said. “Looks like all your dreams are coming true. “

“Now you’re here, they are,” Ben said, flashing Ryan a confident smile. Ryan’s cheeks heated. Nothing had changed, apparently. Ben still had the ability to make him blush the way no one else could. Not even Cassie, although not because she didn’t try. It just wasn’t the same as when Ben did it.

Ryan cleared his throat, forcing himself to focus on something other than Ben’s hand on his knee.  Change in subject definitely in order. He needed to remember this was a job, not just a joyous reunion. “When I was looking up the band on the Internet, I was surprised to find you don’t have a website. Have you ever thought about making one? People need to know who you are, where they can find you, you know? You need to have a presence.”

“I know, I know.” With a sigh, Ben turned away from Ryan, taking back his hand. His gaze was fixed somewhere outside the cab. Fascinating scenery or avoidance?

Had Ryan said something wrong? Struck a nerve of some kind? He scooted closer to Ben, until their legs touched. “Ben…”

“There’s so much you don’t know,” Ben said, turning his crystal blue gaze on him. “Things you can’t know…”

“You can tell me anything,” Ryan assured him. He reached for one of Ben’s hands, clasped in both of us. He sensed there was something important that Ben needed to say, that he needed to hear. “I’m here for you. I’m here to stay…”

The cab gave a sudden lurch, throwing them back against the seat, as the driver pulled off the road and headed down a long drive. Ryan had long lost track of their surroundings, too focused on Ben to notice where they were. Apparently they’d arrived at their destination. And just that quickly, Ben closed up. He flashed Ryan a radiant smile, any sign of his previous distress gone. Had Ryan read too much into those few words? He didn’t think so.

He hadn’t known what to expect, to be honest. This mansion looked as though it came directly out of Gone With the Wind. He wouldn’t have been surprised if they were greeted by a Southern belle in hoop skirts, carrying a mint julep.

“This is Cameron’s house?” Ryan asked once they’d exited the cab and Ben paid the driver.

“This is it,” Ben confirmed. “Looks like the twins beat us here.” He nodded to a dark blue luxury sedan parked on the curved drive just in front of the house. “Guess Cameron went out. I don’t see his pickup anywhere.”

Ryan arched a brow. “He has a car like that and he drives a pickup?”

“He’s an unusual man.” Ben grinned. “Real down home, if you know what I mean. You’ll see when you meet him.”

“Can’t wait.”

“C’mon, let’s  go in and I’ll show you around.” Taking Ryan by the hand, he led him inside.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #8 (3.3)

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.

Ryan doesn't know whether he's coming or going right now, a feeling which is only intensified when he revisits an old fear. Can Ben calm him down? 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 #8 (3.3)

The feel of Ben’s lips on his triggered so many memories, memories he’d held onto, wrapped around himself as comfort in the wake of Ben’s unexplained disappearance.  Remembering  him was all he had left. He’d missed Ben terribly, and he hadn’t even had the consolation of knowing where’d he gone or why. If he was all right or if he was happy…

Every time he asked his father for information, his dad would tell him he didn’t know where they were, or if they’d ever be back. At eighteen, Ryan was hardly a child. He saw something in his father’s eyes, something that told Ryan he knew more than he was letting on. After a while he gave up asking for answers as being an exercise in futility. Ryan tried calling and texting Ben, but soon discovered that number was no longer in service, and his emails remained equally unanswered. All he could do was be patient and hope that Ben would get in contact with him.

But he never did.

Despite their rocky beginning, as time passed, Ryan began to resent Ben less and less as they were thrown into each other’s company more and more. When Liza—he never thought of her as Mother, and she never encouraged him to call her that—bought a model airplane kit for Ben, it was Ryan who helped him put it together. It was a Spitfire, he remembered, complete with a canopy that opened and closed and authentic looking decals. When they were finished with it, they showed it to their parents. Dad praised both boys for a job well done. Liza hugged Ben and told him how proud of him she was. She never acknowledged that Ryan had even had a hand in it. Looking back, he realized that was indicative of their entire relationship, although he was too young to understand it at the time.

Ryan opened his eyes and focused on Ben, ignoring the wide blue expanse around them. Safer to concentrate on Ben.

“I tried to call you,” Ryan said softly.

Ben flushed, but he never released Ryan’s hands, gripping them as if he’d never let go. “She took my phone,” he said, his tone miserable, his cocky fa├žade momentarily deserting him. He cast his eyes down to their joined hands. “She said I couldn’t keep it, it was part of the life we were leaving behind. She said Dad didn’t want us, and that if he found us, he’d hurt us.”

Ryan couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “That’s crazy. Dad’s not like that. He would never hurt anyone. He loved you.  He was very upset when you left. And so was I…” Ryan’s mind was spinning. He had to remind himself to take a breath.

“I missed you too,” Ben said, looking up at last. Ryan caught his breath at the sight. Tears glistened on Ben’s long lashes, casting an additional luminescence to his eyes. “I wanted to email you, but she said we couldn’t bring my laptop either, it wouldn’t be safe. I didn’t have a choice, Ryan, what could I do?”

They had stolen away, like thieves in the night. Ryan still remembered what would end up being their last night together.  Ben and he stayed up late, playing World of Warcraft together, then fell asleep in Ryan’s bed, which they often did when Ben was too tired or too lazy to go back to his own room.

“We’re gonna kick that guy’s ass next time,” Ben had said, referring to the game boss they’d been unable to defeat, but not for lack of trying.

“Next time,” Ryan said with a yawn. “But we might need some help. He’s strong.”

“Nah, we can do it,” Ben said with the all the assurance of youth. Ryan couldn’t help but love his confidence, one of the many things he loved about Ben.

Conversation quickly petered out. Finally, they kissed good night and fell asleep, Ben’s head nestled on Ryan’s chest. He never felt him move, slept through his leaving.  In the morning, Ryan discovered both Ben and Liza were gone, and Ryan’s world fell apart as it never had before. He’d been too young when his mother died, he had no memories of her. But Ben’s loss was beyond painful.

“Why didn’t you come to Dad’s funeral?” I needed you.

“I couldn’t.” Ben released Ryan’s hands abruptly, clenching his own into fists.

“Couldn’t?” Ryan echoed. “What do you mean—?”

For one brief moment, Ryan saw something in Ben’s eyes, something he couldn’t quite put his finger on. Anger? Guilt? No, something else. More like a cry for help. Or was he imagining that? The next moment, Ben was laughing, his expression unreadable.

“I knew you would come to me, all I had to do was wait. And now we’re together again.” He threw his arms around Ryan, nestling his head against Ryan’s chest. His next words were so faint, Ryan wasn’t sure he really heard them.

“Please don’t ever leave me.”

to be continued

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Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #7 (3.2)

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's still in a bit of shock at discovering that the band he's just started working for is led by none other than the stepbrother he hasn't seen in ten years. Guess they have some catching up to do. 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 #7 (3.2)

They joined a short line of passengers waiting at a taxi booth just outside the terminal. When it was their turn, they slid into the backseat of a bright orange cab. The driver was a matronly woman who looked to be about fifty. She wore her grayish-brown hair in a long plait that hung down her back and swung back and forth with every move she made.  Turning in her seat, she offered them a professionally courteous smile. “Welcome to New Orleans. Where can I take you?”

When Ben gave her the address, her eye brows raised slightly. “Mandeville? That’ll be a hundred dollars…” She paused, as if expecting an argument, or perhaps some attempt at negotiation. Ryan wondered why the fare was so outrageous, but he didn’t say anything. This wasn’t his business, and he wasn’t about to butt in.

“That’s fine,” Ben said.

 “Any luggage?”

“Not today,” Ben replied.

“Then let’s go.” The cabbie turned back around and adjusted her seat belt.

Ryan could see the driver’s curious eyes regarding them in the rearview mirror.  A crucifix dangled there, as well as a strand of what he assumed to be Mardi Gras beads.  She merged the cab into the steadily increasing airport  traffic and turned on the radio. Jazz  played soft and low in the background. Loud enough to be heard, but not too loud to be intrusive.  Ryan wasn’t surprised. This was New Orleans, after all. When Ben relaxed back into the seat. Ryan tried to follow suit, although he was suddenly nervous for no reason he could put his finger on. Maybe it was because everything was happening so fast.  He glanced up to find Ben regarding him with those amazing crystal blue eyes.

“Mandeville. I guess that’s where we’re going?” Ryan asked for the sake of saying something, although that was far from the first question on his mind.

How have you been? Where have you been? What happened to you?

“Yeah, that’s where Cameron’s digs are. We just arrived here yesterday ourselves. We’ve been checking out the city, waiting for you to come. Mandeville seems pretty nice, but it’s way out in the suburbs. The house is about a forty-five minute ride from here.”

That explained why it cost so much then.

“It’s nice of Cameron to let us stay there. Aiden said he’s one of your biggest fans. Will he be coming on the tour with us?” Ryan envisioned this Cameron as being something of a groupie. Wasn’t that considered a sign of success when a band began to accrue groupies?

 “Cameron’s more than just a fan, he’s our angel,” Ben said. He took one of Ryan’s hands, holding it between both of his as he stroked it softly. Ryan thought he could feel his pulse rate rise dramatically at Ben’s touch. He cleared his throat, attempting to focus.


“Think investor,” Ben explained. “Money man, if you like. I prefer angel. It has such beautiful connotations.” Damn, but Ben’s smile was dazzling. He’d only grown sexier over the years.

Ryan realized he had to get himself in hand or he’d never survive the experience. And that would be a shame, now that they’d finally been reunited.

“I’m sure Cameron will show up for at least some of our concerts. He’s more than welcome to travel with us, too, seeing as he’s footing the bills. I guess it depends on his schedule.” Ben placed two fingers lightly on Ryan’s wrist, right at the pulse point. Ryan struggled to even out his breathing, but that wasn’t happening. The effect Ben had on him had only grown stronger in the decade they’d been apart. If there had been an undeniable attraction between them then, there was an irresistible force sweeping through Ryan’s body now, one he fought to control.

Ben peeped seductively up at Ryan from beneath incredibly long purple-tinted lashes. “I see some things never change,” he said softly, just before he laid their conjoined hands over Ryan’s heart. “Ka-thump, ka-thump, ka-thump… Does it still beat just for me, Ryan?”

A flustered Ryan tried to frame a coherent response, but the words refused to come. Ben laughed. He dropped their hands onto Ryan’s thigh, his lips curled up into a self-satisfied smirk.

“You don’t have to speak, I can see the answer in your eyes,” Ben said.

“No… that is… I mean….” Ryan took a deep breath and started again. “A lot’s happened in ten years, Ben. You have no idea. What ha—” Before he could get out the question he longed to ask, Ryan became all too aware of their surroundings. More importantly, he saw what lay ahead of them, and in which direction they were going. Sure, he’d known there was a lake, but he assumed the highway would skirt the water. “Is that a… are we going on a bridge?”

“It’s the only way to cross the lake,” Ryan said. “Don’t tell me you’re still afraid of bridges?” Despite his words, his voice held a note of compassion.

“I’m not afraid of bridges,” Ryan protested, the trembling of his voice proclaiming otherwise. “I just wasn’t prepared, that’s all.”

“Ma’am”—he pitched his voice toward the cab driver—“can we go around the lake instead of over it?”

Her gaze met his in the mirror. “Sorry, hon, it’s the only way to get to Mandeville. Don’t worry, it only takes about twenty minutes. Then it’ll be all over.”

That’s what I’m afraid of.

“How long is it?”

“About twenty-four miles.”

Jesus Christ.

Ben squeezed his hand. “Don’t think about it,” he said. “Think about me instead. Think about us.”

Without warning, he swooped in and claimed Ryan’s lips in a soul-searing kiss. Every thought Ryan had had exploded at the contact.

In his mind, ten years fell away in an instant. Back to the way it had been and should have remained…

to be continued

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #5 (3.1)

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.

In last week's chapter of In Pieces, Ryan got quite a shock in the form of the stepbrother he hadn't seen in ten years. What is he doing here? What's going on? Coincidence...or much more? See what's happening 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 #6 (3.1)

He hadn’t fainted since he was a kid, and even then it was due to the heat, not this unexpected rush of emotions that had overwhelmed him at the sight of Ben. How embarrassing. His only saving grace was he hadn’t fallen on the floor and cracked his skull open. Ben must have caught him going down, and somehow he’d managed to end up cradled securely in his long lost stepbrother’s arms. Ben wore a bemused expression as Ryan drank in the sight of him after having been separated for so long.

Ryan had always thought Ben was possessed of an ethereal beauty, even as a teenager, but now he couldn’t help but notice the young man he’d become was breathtaking. Ben’s once curly blond hair hung in luxuriant waves to his shoulders, streaked with ice blue and mauve strands that only served to accentuate his eyes, as did the subtle application of guyliner. Ben had just begun to dabble with makeup as a teen. He would situate Ryan in front of him with a handheld mirror while he experimented with different shades of eye shadow and blush, asking Ryan’s opinion at every step. Looked as though he’d perfected the art since then. A hint of peach blush on his high cheekbones matched the gloss on his Cupid’s bow lips. 

There were so many things Ryan was dying to know, things he wanted to say, questions he needed to ask. He didn’t even know where to begin. “Ben,” was all he managed to get out. Ineffectual much?

“Of all the gin joints,” Ben prompted him with a roguish grin.

Ryan had to laugh in spite of himself. “I know, right? I can’t believe you’re here… after all this time…I mean, what are the odds?”

“Pretty good, actually,” Ben said mysteriously. “C’mon, let’s get you on your feet. Think you can stand?”

“Well yeah…. I think… I mean…”

Without warning, Ben leaned down and laid a soft kiss on Ryan’s forehead. Ryan’s thoughts dissipated instantly. He had no idea what he’d been about to say as he found himself gently lifted into a vertical position. Only then did he remember they were not alone. In fact, they had an audience of two very interested bystanders. Aiden was grinning broadly, but Abby’s expression was enigmatic, her eyes hooded.

“Wow, Ben, looks like you made quite an impact on our writer,” Aiden said. “Just think if you could do that with whole audiences.”

“I can and I will,” Ben said, never missing a beat.

Ryan was more confused than ever. He looked from one to another, his brain working to catch up with the evidence before him. These three obviously knew each other, coupled with the fact that Ben was even here, they were all here… everything began to fall into place.

“You’re with the group?” he asked. “You’re with Salvation?”

“Of course he is,” Aiden answered quickly. “Ben’s the heart of Salvation, I assumed you knew that. What were you thinking? How do you even know Ben?”

Ryan couldn’t speak, staring at Ben, open-mouthed. Ben… his Ben… a part of the very same group that hired him? After ten long years, surely that was no coincidence.

Ben fielded the question for him. “Of course Ryan and I know each other. He’s my stepbrother. C’mon, let’s get back to Cameron’s place. He’s waiting for us, and you know how he feels about being kept waiting. Grab Ryan’s bags, will you?”

Not waiting for an answer, he slid a protective arm about Ryan’s waist. Ryan was amazed at the strength in that slender limb.

“I’d ask if you were surprised, but I think that’s obvious,” Ben said as they made their way through the terminal.

Ryan was still trying to wrap his head around the fact that Ben was here, and not only that, he was part of the band which was Ryan’s new employer. Which meant he was working for Ben, didn’t it? “Shocked might be a better word,” he admitted. “I think this gives coincidence a whole new meaning.”

As they reached a bank of elevators, Ryan assumed Aiden and Abby were following them, but his attention and his focus were all given to Ben. He didn’t dare look away, afraid if he did, Ben might disappear again.

“This is no coincidence,” Ben said. Before Ryan could ask him what he meant, an elevator dinged open.  “Hold that thought,” Ben said softly.  He turned toward Aiden and Abby, who’d just caught up with them. “Where you parked?”

“In Short Term,” Aiden replied.

“Ryan and I are gonna take a cab,” Ben said. “Catch up on old times. Meet you at Cameron’s.”

Abby seemed less than pleased at Ben’s words, but she didn’t say anything. She was holding Ryan’s carry-on bag, which he’d completely forgotten about, so flustered was he at seeing Ben, while Aiden had his suitcase. She practically thrust the smaller bag into Ryan’s chest. He grabbed it quickly before it could fall.

“C’mon Aid, let’s go back to the house. I feel the need for a drink, what about you?”

“Ab-so-fucking-lutely,” Aiden agreed. He winked at Ryan and Ben. “Catch you back there,” he said, following his sister into the elevator. The doors shut and they were quickly lost from view. Ryan turned toward Ben expectantly.

“I knew who you were when I chose you, Ryan. It’s good to have you back again.” He pressed their lips together softly, taking Ryan by surprise. Not that he fought against it, either, reveling in the feel of Ben’s mouth on his. All too soon, the kiss ended,  and Ben stepped back, his eyes giving nothing away, although Ryan longed to know what he was thinking and feeling.

“Let’s go,” Ben said, and then Ryan was following Ben out to the taxi stand, and whatever moment they’d just had passed.

to be continued

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