Wednesday, September 26, 2018

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

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

In Pieces #21 (7.1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Mornin’,” he said.

“Good morning to you,” Ryan returned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

to be continued

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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #19 (6.3)

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

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

In Pieces #19 (6.3)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ryan heard Ben snort a laugh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

to be continued

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #20 (6.4)

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

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

In Pieces #20 (6.4)

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

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

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

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

“Don’t go, Abby,” Ben said.

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

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

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

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

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

“Was it something or someone?” Ben asked.

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

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

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

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

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

Who’s Brandon? Ryan wondered.

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

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

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

“If you say so.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Damn, what horrible timing that man had.

to be continued

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Wednesday Briefs: Butterflies in His Stomach

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

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

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

“I know, Will, I know.” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So why was he so intent on ruining Aaron Burr?

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

My dear Theodosia,

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

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

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

He set the quill to paper once more.

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

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

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

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