Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Good morning, Happy Hump Day and Happy St Patrick's 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. 

Chan's birthday has been perfect, and he couldn't be happier. But just because night time has fallen, and the kids gone to bed, that doesn't mean the fun has to stop! See what's happening in this week's chapter of Super Trooper. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Super Trooper #68 (16.2)

Chan shivered at Evan’s words, even as Evan claimed his lips in a searing kiss. How had he ever lived without this man’s love, he didn’t know… and he hoped he never would again. He planned to dedicate the rest of his life to Evan, and to his siblings… his perfect family.

Evan lightly pressed his tongue against Chan’s lips. Chan gladly granted him admission. Their tongues tangled in a playful duel which took Chan’s breath away. He slid his hands along Evan’s back, feeling the strength beneath his fingers. Evan wasn’t built like a bodybuilder but Chan thought his muscular body was perfect just the way it was.

When Evan pulled back, Chan was momentarily bereft, until he realized where his lover was headed, as he kissed a trail down Chan’s body. Reaching up beside Chan, he grabbed one of their pillows. “Raise up,” he instructed, then placed it beneath Chan’s ass for better leverage.

Lightly pressing against Chan’s legs to spread them a little more, Evan stroked the sensitive skin of Chan’s perineum. Lowering his head, he licked it lightly, ringing the base of Chan’s cock with the fingers of one hand. He stroked his way up the shaft and pulled back the foreskin.

“Oh yes,” Chan gasped as Evan ran his thumb across the exposed head, which was already leaking pre-cum. Evan lapped at the liquid before taking Chan’s cock into his mouth in one fell swoop.

Chan wound his fingers into Evan’s short blond hair, anchoring himself as Evan sucked on him. So good, so very good. No man had ever made Chan feel the way that Evan did, and none of them had even actually tried. Evan was undoubtedly the best thing to ever happen to Chan.

As Evan sucked, he continued to pump Chan with a firm yet gentle motion. Chan loved the face Evan made when he sucked him off, his beautiful eyes closed in intense concentration, almost as if he was praying. His cheeks hollowed as he sucked, and when he hummed around Chan’s dick, the vibration only served to add fuel to the rapidly growing flames of Chan’s desire.

At this rate, Chan knew he wouldn’t last long. But did that matter? He also knew Evan had other things in store for him. Very pleasurable things.

Until suddenly Evan pulled away, leaving Chan rather confused. Didn’t Evan want him to come?

“Change of positions,” Evan said. “Stand up for a moment.”

Chan did as requested, while Evan positioned himself on the bed, his head on the pillows now. “Kneel over me,” he said. “And hold on to the headboard. I want you to fuck my mouth real good.”

Had anything ever sounded so sexy?

Chan wasted no time into assuming the requested position, kneeling with one leg on either side of Evan’s head, his cock at mouth level. Evan obligingly opened his mouth. At the same time, he reached around Chan and held Chan’s cheeks firmly in his grasp.

What more invitation did Chan need?

 to be continued

Now go see what the other Briefers are up to!

Cia Nordwell

 


Saturday, May 8, 2021

Saturday is Horror Day #10 - The Flesh and the Fiends, The Thompsons

 The Flesh and the Fiends


In 1828 Scotland, medical research and anatomy studies depend on having cadavers to study. Dr. Robert Knox (Peter Cushing), an eminent surgeon, purchases bodies from a pair of ne'er-do-wells, Burke (George Rose) and Hare (Donald Pleasance), who are not above robbing a grave in order to supply the good doctor.








Before long, the lazy pair discover that they can get corpses without the trouble of digging them up and get more money for the fresher bodies, namely by killing people on the streets in the middle of the night! Dr. Knox remains oblivious to what they are doing, and never questions their methods,  although his assistants do. When Dr. Knox's niece Martha (June Laverick) comes to stay after an absence of three years, she catches the eye of Dr. Mitchell (Dermot Walsh), while student Chris Jackson (John Cairney) becomes enamored of a young woman, Mary Patterson (Billie Whitelaw), who is known to frequent pubs and likes to have a good time.


Burke and Hare come under suspicion as people begin to turn up missing. How long can Dr. Knox turn a blind eye to their shenanigans?





I am a long-time Peter Cushing fan and was thrilled to find this film I wasn't familiar with, on Shudder. It has the feel of a Hammer film, although it isn't one. Peter Cushing is great, as always, and I enjoyed watching Donald Pleasance play the creepily sinister William Hare. The film is based on the true story of Burke and Hare, and can also be seen in The Body Snatcher, with Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. The Flesh and the Fiends is a little known, underappreciated gem among horror movies. It has a definite dark and creepy atmosphere, and is well worth viewing, especially for the performances of Cushing, Pleasance, and Rose. I'll give it a solid 4 stars.

The Thompsons


The Hamiltons, now going by the Thompsons, have had to move on, their dark family secret having been uncovered. Knowing little of their late parents' past, their only clue is the name of a village in England, and the name Manderson. So it's off to Europe for the Thompsons!








Unfortunately, they run afoul of a couple of robbers, and Lenny is hurt. Now it's imperative that they find him help as soon as possible. Francis finds the small village in question, and the pub where he may find Manderson. But again, things go awry, and he gets more than he bargained for. Turns out the Mandersons are kinfolk, and that's not all they have in common.


The second movie begins where the first one ends, picking up in the middle of events as we find Francis trapped in a box, and of course he has to explain what led to this. Cue flashbacks. The entire movie concerns finding these relatives, who are even more sadistic and bloodthirsty than their American cousins, and who have their own plans for them. In particularly, for Darlene, as she seems to be the last hope for the continuation of their bloodline.

Frankly, the plot is thin at best, with not much more than the Thompsons vs the Mandersons. Mainly an excuse for fighting and bloodletting.... and more fighting and bloodletting. That wears thin quickly. The writers seem intent on showing the Thompsons in a more favorable light than in the first film, as if they are trying to make them out to be human. They're not vampires, they have a disease, one that requires them to have a diet of blood. 


Honestly, there just isn't a lot of meat to this one, and I found myself getting bored. Certainly not scary. The first movie wasn't great, this one is barely decent. And I'm being kind here. I'll just give it a soft 2 stars and suggest you find something else to watch. Like The Flesh and the Fiends.


Friday, May 7, 2021

Virtual Book Tour: Squealer by Christopher Calcara

 Good morning! Please welcome author Christopher Calcara to Full Moon Dreaming. He is here to tell us about his new release, Squealer. Christopher will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to one randomly drawn commenter via Rafflecopter during the tour. The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. To find the other stops on his tour, go here. Don't forget to look for the Rafflecopter at the end of this post!



 


Squealer

by Christopher Calcara

 


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GENRE:   Crime Thriller/LGBT

 

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BLURB:

 

With tongue-in-cheek and dark overtones, Squealer examines the life of an impressionable Midwestern Catholic Italian choirboy who grows into a mob-worthy assassin in order to avenge high school nemeses from his past.

As ‘Pete Casanova’ takes us on a journey through the heart-land, his early ethnic and religious experiences expose the motivations for his deadly actions. We come to realize why, for him, it’s never too late to seek revenge.

Squealer addresses topics of physical, mental, emotional, and sexual abuse inflicted on students by their teachers and religious authorities. It deals with the difficult subjects of homophobia, prejudice and bullying, but with wit … and suspense!

 

 

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EXCERPT:

 


 

Word had it that the mob boss controlled every rotten illegal operation between our quiet hamlet on the Missouri River and rough and ready Chicago to the east. Unlawful pursuits included prostitution, gambling (before it was legalized on riverboats), drugs, and booze (legal but susceptible to monopoly). No telling how many enemies he offed, or had offed.

           

I heard “the family” stuck their black hands in all the local gay bars, typical of controlling interests at the time. If you didn’t play hardball with them, you didn’t play at all. An adversary was typically dispatched in one of two ways: either their livelihood was lost to a mystifying incendiary fire or, if particularly scorned, they could be found dead, hogtied like a sausage in the trunk of their car, which was dumped at the airport.

 

On our journey across the river to Civella’s, Georgio would tell me how honorable a human being this mobster was, how generous a friend to his family the man had been. Having set up Georgio’s father in business, they were eternally and intractably indebted.

 

I was told of a secret tunnel in Civella’s basement that led across the street to the house of his brother, Carl “Cork” Civella. Georgio said that whenever the fuzz or the Feds visited Nick’s home, he’d have his punks run contraband through the underground to the safer surroundings at Cork’s. I suspected the reverse was pulled off if they hit up Cork. (Years later, I learned this hidden labyrinth never existed. With the law firmly in Nick’s pocket, there was no need for it. The fabled tunnel under my grandfather’s store probably never existed either, although I don’t doubt there was an excavator in our family.)

 

For all the buzz, I was afraid of the old man before I ever laid eyes on him. I pictured a menacing Marlon Brando type entangled in the tomato vines, brokering international power deals and assassinating those who crossed him with silencers in restaurant bathrooms.

 

We were let into the fortress by a tough disagreeable understudy who was plainly more than a butler or manservant. He had the bulk of a bodyguard, and I’m sure he was padded with impenetrable long underwear. Everything about this man said he was prepared to take a slug for somebody. Even his eyes seemed to say, ‘Do not fuck with me!’

 

 


 

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AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 

After earning a degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Calcara created marketing campaigns for businesses and institutions featured in print and broadcast media.

 

He writes fiction and semi-fiction, short stories, memoirs, plays, novels, and screenplays. He has collaborated with composers to write plays with musical scores. Joan is one such musical play that lyrically exposes the soul of Jeanne d’Arc—Joan of Arc.

 

Calcara was the only Charleston writer to win the 2011 South Carolina Arts Commission Fiction Project. His short stories have been published by numerous literary journals. He has lived in the South, Southwest and Southeast, and currently writes from the Midwest.

 

 

YouTube Channel

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNAGN_S_-Vr2s0JIn5nlYWw

 

Website

https://chrisjcalcara.wixsite.com/website

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21162911.Christopher_Calcara

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christopher.caruso.14

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CJCalcara

Amazon USA: https://www.amazon.com/Squealer-Growing-Gay-Catholic-Italian/dp/B08VRMMXST/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Christopher+Calcara&qid=1616537143&sr=8-1

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Squealer-Growing-Gay-Catholic-Italian-ebook/dp/B08TB6HTV8/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Christopher+Calcara&qid=1616537192&sr=8-1

 

 


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 The Questions – please choose at least 5

1) You’re marooned on a small island with one person and one item of your choice—who is that person and what item do you have?
2) Which musical would you say best exemplifies your life – and which character in that musical are you?

3) Take these three words and give me a 100 word or less scene using them: hammer, saucer, traffic lights.

Distracted by the unsettling breakfast conversation, she’d taken both the delicate tea cup and its matching saucer along with her when she left home for the office. Stopping abruptly at the yellow signal of the corner traffic lights, the cup tumbled from the dashboard to the floor and crash-landed on the cold steel head of Tom’s hammer peeping from beneath the passenger seat. The piercing sound of the shattering china and the sheer incongruity of the two items sent a shivering chill up her spine, as if both might somehow figure ominously in her day.

 

4) What is your idea of how to spend romantic time with your significant other?

5) When you start a new story, do you begin with a character, or a plot?

When I have some idea of plot in mind, that’s how the story (like SQUEALER) begins. But when a person or character appeals to me (as in the story mentioned in Answer #9), it’s usually their particular experience that stands out, so I write the story around the character. Simple answer: Both.

6) If they were to make the story of your life into a movie, who should play you?

7) Who’s your favorite horror villain and why?

James Whale’s 1931 Frankenstein, because he was misunderstood. He had the capacity to be a gentle man. Remember the scene where he attempts to play with the little girl or when he stumbles upon the hermit in whom he finds a “FRIEND”?  If he hadn’t been miswired by a loopy scientist, things might have turned out very differently for the monster.

8) Do you have an historical crush and if so, who is it?

Thomas Jefferson. Lawyer, statesman, diplomatic minister, governor, congressman, secretary of state, vice president, president, architect, author, philosopher, agronomist. Visit his home in Charlottesville, VA. You’ll learn that he is also credited with a number of inventions, including the Polygraph for copying his writings.

9) Is there a story that you’d like to tell but you think the world isn’t ready to receive it?

I’ve written a short story about a poor, under-educated, backwoods, put-upon mother who suffocates her latest infant with a Winnie the Pooh pillow that says, “Some people care too much; I think it’s called love.” Empathy for the woman is roused as her personally justifiable motivations are revealed. I’ve submitted it to a few journals who offer the same canned rejection: We enjoyed reading your story; however, it doesn’t fit our current needs.” Or something ridiculous to that effect.


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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Wednesday Briefs: Super Trooper #67 (16.1)

 Good morning, Happy Hump Day and Happy St Patrick's 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. 

Chan's birthday has gone very well, and he is beyond happy. Now the night is over, the children are in bed, what else can Evan have in store for him? See what's happening in this week's chapter of Super Trooper. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them! Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Super Trooper #67 (16.1)

“Thank you so much,” Chan told Evan for the hundredth time as they were getting ready for bed.

Evan laid his watch and his wallet on the dresser, then turned on the soft music they played at night, before turning toward Chan. “No need to thank me. You deserved everything you received,” he said. “And more.”

Chan’s smile grew even broader at his words. “Today was so… perfect,” he said, unable to think of a better word to describe how he felt. The only thing that could have raised his spirits any higher was if his parents had been there in the flesh, rather than in the beautiful urn they’d received from the funeral home.

Evan kissed him softly, and for a moment nothing was said.

Chan still couldn’t believe Evan had learned to make the traditional dishes of his maa, and Laksha had helped him. Her cake was very delicious, and the drawings made by Kamal were very good. And he was touched more than he could say by the sight of Madhu clinging to Evan for a good portion of the night. If he’d had any worries about his siblings accepting his love, those had all disappeared after today. On top of that, the gifts he’d received were all wonderful. He couldn’t have asked for anything else.

Well, there was one thing he would like, but he felt suddenly shy about asking, for some reason.

“Something on your mind?” Evan asked. He’d just closed the door to their room and locked it before he rounded the bed and lay down on his side.

To his surprise, Evan wasn’t wearing the sleep shirt and pants they’d both taken to wearing, what with having children in the house. Maybe Chan wasn’t going to have to ask for what he wanted.

“You,” Chan replied. “Always you.” He had been in the act of pulling on his sleepwear but decided against that and slid naked into the bed as well.

“Any particular part of me?” Evan said suggestively as he drew Chan to him, close enough so that Chan could feel his growing desire, matched by his own for Evan.

Oh yes, this was the most perfect day indeed.

“Your beautiful cock,” Chan blurted out. He was surprised he had the nerve to say such a thing aloud, even if it was true. Of course, he loved all of Evan’s body, every beautiful bit of it. But his cock was the stuff of wet dreams. So thick and so hard, and so perfectly fitted to Chan’s body, as though made just for him.

“I was hoping you’d say that,” Evan murmured against Chan’s neck as he nuzzled him, slowly rubbing against Chan as if he had all the time in the world with which to pleasure him.

Chan and moaned in happiness as he allowed Evan to take the lead, as he generally did.

“Would you like me to do anything special?” Evan asked, his tongue drawing a path along Chan’s jaw to his ear where he lightly nipped at the lobe, the way Chan liked.

“Everything you do is special,” Chan insisted. “Having you inside of me is what I love best.”

“I’m more than happy to oblige,” Evan replied. “But before I do that, there is something else I have to do.” He glanced up at Chan, his gorgeous green eyes glittering with lust.

“What’s that?” Chan was almost afraid to ask. Surely Evan didn’t have to leave him, not tonight? But his lover’s next words only served to turn him on all the more.

“I’m going to give you the best blow job I can.”

 to be continued

Now see what's happening with the other Briefers!

Cia Nordwell

 

 


Saturday, May 1, 2021

Saturday is Horror Day #9 - Suspiria (1977), Train to Busan

 Suspiria (1977)


On a dark and stormy night, American Suzy Bannion (Jessica Harper) arrives at the prestigious German ballet school where she has been accepted as a student only to be told by a voice over the  intercom to go away. Just as she arrives, she sees another young woman rush out of the building, who mutters some strange words before disappearing into the night. Suzy Bannion returns the next day to a much better reception.






From the beginning, Suzy shows herself to be strong-minded, a trait not necessarily desirable at the


school, which seems to be oddly controlling. Since a room is not immediately available for her, Suzy makes arrangements to sleep elsewhere and is settled in before going to her first rehearsal. There she falls perilously ill. Despite her protestations, the autocratic dance mistress pushes her until she collapses. The proprietress of the school, Madame Blanc (Joan Bennett) is very solicitous and Suzy is cared for the school's Professor Milius (Rudolf Schundler) who puts her on bedrest and a bland diet, although he prescribes wine to build up her blood. While she is asleep, someone has gone to her lodgings and brought her things back although Suzy was very clear that she did not want that!

Strange things are happening at the school, including an infestation of grotesque maggots on the floor just below the attic, which necessitates the girls on that floor sleep downstairs in a makeshift dormitory arrangement. Suzy befriends another girl, Sara (Stefania Casini), who tells her a story about a strange snoring noise. Sara wonders where the teachers go at night, since they all leave at 8:30, and what do they do?



The blind piano player for the school is cruelly dismissed by the dance mistress, and ends up meeting a horrible death. Suzy and Sara are determined to get to the bottom of whatever is going on at this school But at what price?

This movie was recommended to me, I forget by which site, as a  horror gem, but for the life of me I am not sure why it has garnered such great reviews. The sets are uniquely strange, and the cinematography isn't bad, sometimes rather effective. Ditto for the background music, with performances by a group called Goblin. The plot is more shocking than scary, and that has to be some of the worst movie blood I've ever seen. Straight up looked like red paint.



And the acting... oh, the acting.... Sorry, but it was horrible. I think I could do better, and I don't act. Joan Bennett you may remember from Dark Shadows. I also remember her from an old version of The Man in the Iron Mask. But her delivery has always been rather stiff and stilted, and nothing has changed there. Apparently, this was her last film. The lead, Jessica Harper,  turned down in a part in Annie Hall to do this film. I wonder how she felt about that later.

I read that the actors spoke different languages while shooting and all was dubbed into English later, which accounts for the bad sound of the dialogue. The ending doesn't provide a satisfactory explanation of what just happened. I leave it to you whether to even bother watching. I'll just give it a shaky 3 stars out of 5, and hope that the 2018 remake is better.

Train to Busan


Su-an Kim is a young girl who lives with her father, as her parents are currently separated. Her mother lives in Busan, and Su-an misses her greatly. But her father is a busy man, and he doesn't have time to take her to visit her mother. Seems like he doesn't have time for a lot of things. Su-an secretly telephones her mother and says she wants to see her the next day, and swears she can take the train alone. Her father overhears, and tries to placate her by giving her her birthday present early. Turns out Dad wasn't paying attention, and Su-an already has a Wii. So he finds himself agreeing to take his daughter to Busan to visit her mother.

As the train prepares to leave, a young lady manages to climb aboard, but she seems to be in a bad way. And as the train pulls out of the station, something very odd seems to be happening.



What began as a simple train ride becomes a fight for survival, as people become rabid zombies right before everyone's eyes. And this strange phenomenon is happening everywhere. Why and how did this start? And how can anyone survive/ Is there any place that is safe?



This was a very unusual zombie film, and I loved it. More than a simple horror film, it is about people and about survival, about working together for the common good. But the situation also brings out the selfish and the brutal in people, who can only see as far as their own needs. Everything in this Korean film is excellent, from direction to acting to story to cinematography. I am looking forward to seeing the sequel.

Word of advice - keep some Kleenex handy for this one, you'll need it. I give this film a very strong 5 star rating.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Book Review: Deathless Divide (Dread Nation #2) by Justina Ireland

 

Deathless Divide ( Dread Nation #2)     


Authors: Justina Ireland

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

American release date: April 6, 2021

Format/Genre/Length: Hardback/Young Adult Zombie Fiction/560 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

 

The Civil War has been called… on account of the dead! Ever since the dead first began to rise from the fields of Gettysburg, nothing has been the same. But sadly, some things do remain the same. Slavery may be illegal, but blacks and Indians are still downtrodden, second-class citizens, and they’re being thrown into the front lines to combat the dead menace.

Jane McKeene and Katherine Devereaux have been trained at the renowned Miss Preston’s School for Combat in Baltimore. But Jane’s impulsive and rash nature in regards to a certain young man named Jackson see them shipped out West to a supposed haven from the dead by the name of Summerland. Unfortunately, this is not the paradise it was intended to be. Things go from bad to worse, and the girls and their friends escape and head out to nearby Nicodemus.

As they travel, Jackson suddenly tries to dissuade them from going to Nicodemus, which makes no sense to Jane, but the stubborn boy refuses to talk… until he does, and what he tells her well nigh breaks her heart. No wonder he didn’t want to let her know the truth. Why did she ever trust him to begin  with?

The road to Nicodemus is not an easy one, and along the way, they lose someone they care about. When they finally reach Nicodemus they learn that Daniel Redfern is the mayor—how crazy is that?—and a number of refugees from Summerland are here as well. Which begs the question how long before this town run by blacks will be in the hands of the whites? And what can be done to combat that?

Quick thinking by Jane allows Katherine to pass as white, and she is sent to the nicer part of town, while the other girls end up bedding down in the local brothel, run by the Duchess. Jane is not surprised to see Gideon here, but is surprised to learn he’s made this a base of operations for some time. And he’s still hot on vaccinating anybody and everybody he can. Thanks to a terrible error of judgment on Gideon’s part, Nicodemus is overrun by the dead, who have become surely more savvy than before,  and while trying to escape, the unthinkable happens when Jane is bitten.

The second volume of the Dread Nation duology is written in two perspectives, both Jane’s and Katherine’s, where the first book was all in Jane’s voice. That becomes necessary when the friends are separated, beginning their own journeys.

I enjoyed hearing Katherine’s voice and learn more about her in her own words. She and Jane are so different from one another, but perhaps therein lies the attraction. Difficult times bring out the best and the worst in people, and that is very obvious in this book, as it was in the first. As abhorrent as the people of Summerland were, the people of Nicodemus are every bit as horrible with a few exceptions. And, as usual, Jane keeps putting herself behind the eight ball, so to speak, because that is how she is—strong-minded, and unwilling to let an injustice go unpunished. Even so, something happens which changes Jane, not necessarily for the better, and it will take everything these two girls possess to overcome this divide that has grown between them.

The second book is every bit as good as the first, and although there are no signs of a third book, the ending leaves that open to change, at least in my eyes. There is also a side book I intend to read, Three For the Road.

If you enjoyed Dread Nation, you are sure to love Deathless Divide. Looking forward to reading more from this author.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Wednesday Briefs: Super Trooper #66 (15.3)

Good morning, Happy Hump Day and Happy St Patrick's 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. 

Chan thinks everyone has forgotten his birthday and gone to work feeling rather sorry for himself. But that is hardly the case, as he receives an unexpected message to come home. See what's going on in this week's chapter of Super Trooper. Don't forget to visit the other Briefers and see what's up with them. Their links follow my tale! Enjoy!

Super Trooper #66 (15.3)

Everything had gone perfectly today, just as Evan hoped it would. It had been difficult to send Chan off to work looking like a wounded puppy because no one had acknowledged his birthday. But that would have given everything away, and he was sure his lover forgave him for that now.

Laksha had begun to bake as soon as Chan was out of sight. The result was the most beautiful carrot cake Evan had ever seen, completely with traditional fondant decorations. She seemed pleased with the praised he heaped on her, and helped him to prep for the food he was going to make for Chan’s birthday lunch. He couldn’t even pronounce the name of the main dish when he started, but with Laksha’s help, and a great deal of repetition, he got it. Murgh Makhani, otherwise known as Butter Chicken. At Laksha’s suggestion, he made a black lentil dish to go with it, naan bread, and a green salad.

Kamal offered to watch Madhu as well as decorate the dining room. He’d been drawing pictures ever since Evan confided the secret of Chan’s birthday to him—pictures of things he loved that he knew his brother would appreciate—and placed them about the dining room, along with balloons that he blew up (with a little help from Evan and Laksha).

Evan had never had a birthday party as a child, and didn’t have the first idea what they should look like. But Laksha assured him this was exactly the way their parents had celebrated the occasion of each child’s birth.

“Then this is how we’ll celebrate birthdays from now on,” Evan declared, winning him Laksha’s approval, along with a big hug.

Denise had played her part perfectly. Of course, she was in on their scheme from the beginning, and was more than happy to help. After taking Madhu to the park, she’d returned her and then gone home, calling Chan at the pre-arranged time. After hanging up with him, she’d called Evan and told him Chan was on his way and giggled when she told him that Chan sounded grumpy.

But that all changed when Chan walked in the door.

“You get to sit here,” Kamal commanded in an imperious tone as he pointed toward the couch.

“Yes, your royal highness,” Chan said with a grin. He ruffled his brother’s hair and then took the chosen seat. Madhu climbed up on one side of him, along with her precious wolf, and Kamal claimed the other side. Laksha gracefully settled into the arm chair, while Evan stood and beamed at them all.

Laksha and Kamal had each made birthday cards, which they presented to Chan. Evan, not having the same artistic bent, had purchased one and asked Chan to open it later. Not that he’d said anything the children couldn’t hear, but he considered the sentiments too personal to share, and nothing of interest to anyone other than Chan.

Chan loved all of his gifts and exclaimed over each and everyone. Evan noticed him wiping at his eyes more than once.

“Are you all right?” Evan asked, concerned.

“Yes. Very all right, and very happy.”

As they celebrated Evan scurried to and from the kitchen to check on the food, until Laksha gave him the official okay that everything looked perfect. She helped him to placed the finished dishes on the table, beside her beautiful cake and started to announce the meal was ready, but Kamal was ahead of her.

“Time to eat!” he announced in a loud voice. “And I’m starved!”

Everyone laughed as he made a beeline toward the table. Laksha shook her head as she followed in a more sedate manner. Chan bent down to pick up Madhu and carry her in, but the little girl pulled away from him and positioned herself in front of Evan instead. She reached up toward him, saying, “Evan!”

Everyone turned toward her in surprise. She had never once spoken his name, most of the time barely acknowledged his presence. And now she was asking for him.

Evan felt as though he might cry of happiness himself as he picked up the little girl and hugged her tight before they all entered the dining room.

 to be continued

Now go see what the other Briefers are up to!

Cia Nordwell