My monthly newsletters include a fresh piece of flash fiction, which is sometimes a bonus scene for one of my published stories, sometimes featuring recurring flash fiction characters, sometimes completely unrelated to anything I’ve written before. One thing they’ll all have in common is that I’ll write each one to be able to be understood/appreciated whether or not you’ve read the book/characters featured within the scene.
Anyway, that bit of monthly newsletter flash is promised to be exclusive to subscribers for at least a month before being posted on my site. Only one more to go (which I’ll post shortly before the next newsletter goes out), then I’ll be all caught up!
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Although Harrison and Mason are ongoing characters in one of my flash fiction series, each individual scene is written so the reader can understand and enjoy it even if they haven’t followed the couple’s journey so far.
Originally posted in my May, 2020 newsletter, using the prompt words in the image, above.
Told from Harrison’s 3rd-person POV:
Sitting with his feet up in the living room, Harrison scratched lazily behind the ears of the family’s ginger cat, then startled and grimaced when Pickles dug her claws into his thighs when Mason stalked out of the den and into their bedroom.
Gramps harrumphed. “That grumpy Gus is turning into a misanthrope.”
Harrison snorted but shook his head. Mason’s personality type didn’t mesh well with social distancing and stay-at-home directives, but he wasn’t to the point of loathing people in general, let alone his own family. Harrison flashed a wink at Grampy. “What’dya think? Should we be on the lookout for a gory trail leading to a tortured baby bunny tucked behind the shed? Or has he merely morphed into a top notch sarcast, irritating his team members between his effusive apologies.”
Mason didn’t actually shout when he reached the end of his patience during conference calls, but his voice occasionally carried out to them. Harrison’s depiction was an exaggeration, but nevertheless, while Mason wasn’t outright monstrous, it was clear that he wasn’t his usual charming self. Points to Mason’s team members for not finding ways to “accidentally” end the connection during some of those meetings, because no doubt they were feeling the strain, too.
Gramps’ grumble turned into his distinctive chortle. “Nah. I’m pretty sure this is temporary. Besides, Jaxon would’ve discovered it already if Mason’d done anything so mafia-esque.”
All true. One way or another, the pandemic would eventually end. In the meantime, they would do was their best to keep it out of their home, because Gramps was in no condition to weather that storm.
They both turned to look out the glass patio doors to where Harrison and Mason’s son, Jaxon, stood painting a mural on their wooden privacy fence. It was quite good, actually, especially considering the boy was only eleven.
“Those clouds look almost real,” Gramps said. “His art lessons are paying off.”
Harrison nodded. Well worth it. Jaxon loved all-things creative, and this artistic release was helping him cope with the constraints of social distancing.
So Jaxon wasn’t a concern. Perhaps he didn’t laugh as boisterously—downright cachinnate—like he usually did, but his merriment hadn’t disappeared altogether.
Harrison heaved a weary sigh and stared for a few moments at the closed bedroom door. He’d taken Mason’s quirkiness and perkiness, and the sparkle and lustre in his eyes for granted, never consciously realizing how much those things elevated the mood of the household…until they were gone.
Well, not precisely gone, but dampened.
And darn it—Harrison gave himself a tight, decisive little nod—he was going to do something about it. He stood and raised a brow in Gramps’ direction. “Keep an eye on Jaxon?”
Gramps’ chortle morphed into a titter. “’Course! Go get ’im, Tiger.”
Harrison’s face warmed, but following through on Gramps’ innuendo was probably just what Mason needed to boost his mood. Plumbing sounds indicated Mason was taking a shower—a tactic he’d used lately to calm himself—so Harrison detoured through the kitchen.
Something fizzy and fruity was called for. Wouldn’t hurt, anyway. A generous helping of Japanese plum wine, some sparkling water, a couple splashes of lime juice, and a few lime wedges later, and he’d put together a pair of nice looking spritzers. He placed them on a tray with a plate of the raspberry jam thumbprint cookies Gramps and Jaxon had made that morning then headed for the bedroom.
Steam rolled out of the cracked en-suite bathroom doorway as Harrison softly snicked closed the bedroom door. And pointedly turned the lock.
He placed the tray on the bedside table then slipped out of his clothes. Maybe he could still join Mason in the shower. But that pleasant thought had no sooner crossed his mind when the swoosh of falling water was replaced by a sudden silence, then the double click of the shower door opening and closing.
Harrison breathed in the steamy, herbal scented air as the softer sounds of a sigh and a fluffy towel rubbing along wet skin wafted out.
He regarded the bed. Should he lie on it or remain standing? Setting up romantic scenes was usually more Mason’s purview than Harrison’s. Harrison gave himself a mental kick in the ass for not thinking ahead and picking some lilac branches off the bush currently in full bloom in the back yard. Mason loved that scent.
Harrison jumped at the sound of Mason’s voice, with its far jauntier timbre than what had been drifting out of the den just minutes ago. Harrison grinned. “I thought you might like to…ah…partake of a little afternoon…snack.”
The sparkle returned to Mason’s eyes as he raked his gaze up and down Harrison’s body. “I know what I want to snack on.” He dropped the towel he’d been holding around his waist and swiftly crossed the room. He pulled Harrison into his arms and murmured, “This new dress code is an upside to working from home. Do you think I could get away with it in a video chat?”
“Might be distracting.” Harrison’s lips quirked. “I dare you to do it for a regular conference call, though.”
Mason snorted a laugh. “Any time I feel my blood pressure rising, I’ll just think, ‘I’m sitting here bare-assed naked, and you jokers have no idea.’”
“Double dog dare.” Harrison picked up the spritzers and handed one to Mason.
Mason clinked the glasses together. “Here’s to finding creative ways to make it through these dark days without losing who we are.”
“Or ending up in jail.”
“Check. No nude video chats.” Mason’s eyes narrowed to slits with his wide grin. “But if you hear the lock click on the den door, you’ll know what I’m doing.”
Harrison giggled. “I love you.”
One long kiss later, Mason murmured, “I love you, too.”