Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Wednesday Briefs: In Pieces #83 (20.1)

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.

After an unfortunate encounter with Cameron, Ryan and Ben are on their way to St. Louis to spend some time with Ryan's friend/stepmother Cassie. Maybe this is just what they need, a chance to get away from things, focus on themselves. Will it last? 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 #83 (20.1)

The flight to St. Louis was uneventful. Cassie had managed to book them a non-stop flight, luckily. It seemed as though they had barely left New Orleans when they were already arriving at Lambert. Cassie picked them up in the parking garage for Terminal One, where arrivals were being diverted due to construction. Ryan spotted her car immediately as she pulled to the curb and jumped out, squealing excitedly at the sight of him. Rounding the front of the vehicle, she enveloped him in a warm hug, then turned to Ben and did the same.

“I’m so happy to meet you at last, Ben! I’ve heard so much about you from Ryan!”

Ben seemed much more relaxed, now that they were out of New Orleans. He returned Cassie’s hug without hesitation. “I’ve only heard nice things about you. Thank you for allowing me to stay with you.”

“Well of course, you’re family too! Those all your bags?” She pointed to the luggage at their feet.

“Yeah, I have it,” Ryan quickly interjected. “Can you pop the trunk for me?”

“Sure, sweetie.” She clicked her car fob, and Ryan opened the lid, stowing their things.

“Let’s get out of here,” Cassie said. “You guys want a drink or something?”

Ryan and Ben exchanged glances. Ryan knew just what Ben was thinking. “Coffee sounds good, if that’s okay with you.”

“Coffee it is,” Cassie said cheerfully. She waved them toward the front seat. “We can all fit.”

Ryan sat between Cassie and Ben. He took Ben’s hand in his and held it on top of his leg.

“How’s the tour going?” Cassie asked. She’d taken the interstate that led to the area of St. Louis County where she lived, where Ryan and Ben had both lived. Although early evening, the summer sun held sway, and a number of people were out and about, taking advantage of the warm but not overly warm August weather.

“The tour’s going well,” Ryan said. “I can’t wait for you to hear the band. They’re amazing. And Ben has the most amazing voice.”

“You might be a little prejudiced,” Ben said modestly, but Cassie stopped him.

“No, he’s right. You have an amazing voice. I bought a copy of your CD, been listening to it.”

“Thank you, I’m flattered,” Ben said. Ryan glanced at him to find the color rising in Ben’s cheeks. Without his make-up and contacts, he still looked incredibly sexy, and at the same time somewhat innocent. Just looking at him made Ryan’s heart swell.

“I can’t wait to hear you live,” Cassie continued. “I’m not sure if I can wait till the tour gets to St. Louis, though. I might just have to take a road trip or something.”

“Are we playing St. Louis?” Ryan asked. He’d never seen a full copy of the itinerary, he realized. It had never mattered to him where the band went, just as long as he could be with Ben.

“We are,” Ben confirmed. He cocked his head to regard Cassie. “How did you know? I didn’t think there was any advertising yet?”

“Oh, a little birdie told me.” Cassie gave them a swift glance and a quick wink before turning back to the road before her. She signaled a turn and exited the highway. “I know just the place. You guys want coffee or something else? They make a really good Frappuccino. Sea salt caramel with a touch of fudge and lots of sprinkles.”

“Frappuccino sounds good,” Ben said, and Ryan agreed.

“Then three Frappuccino it is.” Cassie turned into a nearby coffee shop and headed to the drive-thru, where she placed their order. Within a few minutes, they’d received their drinks and were on their way.

When they reached the old neighborhood, Ryan cast an anxious glance at Ben, wondering how he would be affected after all these years. He seemed to gaze with interest at their surroundings. Some things had changed, of course, over the last ten years, but he didn’t seem troubled by anything. Not even when Cassie pulled up into the driveway of their childhood home.

“Want to drink these on the back patio?” she asked. “We can bring in your bags later, if that’s okay.”
That sounded like a good plan. Carrying their Frappuccino, they followed Cassie inside the house and through it, to the back. She unlatched the sliding glass door, and they stepped out onto the patio. A white wrought iron table with a glass top sat there, with matching chairs beneath a pale blue umbrella.

“This is new!” Ben exclaimed.

“Dad and Cassie did this,” Ryan said. “Cassie planted all the flowers and bushes too. There’s a pond in the back, with a little bench beside it. Just perfect for two.” He gave Ben a significant look he couldn’t possibly miss.

“I can’t wait to see it,” Ben said. “This is so beautiful, Cassie. You’ve done wonders with this.”

“Thanks,” Cassie said with a smile. “I’ve become very fond of this place. For many reasons.”

Ryan knew just what she meant. He couldn’t imagine what his life or his dad’s would have been like without her. He thanked his lucky stars that they had met and made her part of their lives.

They took seats around the table, Ryan and Ben pushing their chairs close together, across from Cassie. Ryan was grateful that the humidity was uncommonly low for August in St. Louis. A pleasant breeze was blowing, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and all was right with the world. He couldn’t help but wonder how long would this last?

to be continued

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