Flash Fiction Friday – March 24, 2017

Flash Fiction Friday

I’m doing something slightly different today. I waited (for the 3rd week in a row) until Thursday afternoon to write the post, but that turned out to be a good thing because I stumbled upon this “daily writing prompt”…

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…over at the Writers Write blog on Thursday and decided to use it along with the one prompt word (disappointment) that was left on last week’s post.

So here you go—10 items found in the rubbish, and 1 prompt word. Although this does continue with the same characters from last week, I’ll file it under Random Standalone Flash Fiction because I don’t intend for them to become recurring characters. I’ll revisit that if I change my mind down the road.

It had to be in here. Grant used a finger and thumb to gingerly pick up a rotting banana peel and toss it aside. He shuddered. Who put food remains in their bedroom trash can, anyway. No wonder the room reeked.

“Ew,” he muttered. The used condom could sift to the bottom. He wasn’t touching it despite the fact that Dreamy Daniel from the carnival had worn the thing. At least he assumed it had been Daniel and not Andy wearing the rubber. Either way, no doubt it was a contributor to the funky odor. The crumpled tissues and wet wipe were probably related, and also not anything Grant wanted to touch. He fetched a pair of tongs from the kitchen, because clearly this job needed either that or rubber gloves. This mission had better be worth it.

An empty chocolate syrup container, a candle stub, and an empty can of Reddi Whip came out next. Grant shook his head. Had they made banana splits in the bedroom, or drizzled this shit all over each other and licked it off? He could get behind the latter option, at least if he was one of the participants.

Good grief. An empty champagne bottle and about a dozen bitten off strawberry tops? On a first date? Andy’d pulled out all the stops for this guy. Even if Grant managed to finagle a date with the man, he’d be hard put to compete with this shit.

As he lifted off the last few strawberry greens the paper he was after emerged. Grant’s shoulders slumped with disappointment when he saw it. Daniel’s name was readable, but the ink for the phone number underneath it had run and speared into an illegible mess. Andy’s phone was the only hope of retrieving it, now. That or flirting with the man right in front of Andy. No, he felt low enough going through Andy’s trash. What plausible excuse could he have given even if he’d discovered the number, anyway? It was time to concede defeat. He sighed and returned the garbage to the plastic can.

Andy stood in the doorway with a hiked eyebrow when Grant turned to leave. “Find what you were looking for?”

“My self-respect? No, left it behind.”

Leave a prompt word in the comments, below, and I’ll use it in next week’s Flash Fiction Friday post. One word per commenter, please, up to 15 total.

Flash Fiction Friday – Prompt Word Ficlet – March 17, 2017

Flash Fiction Friday

This week I’m using 15 random prompt words for my Flash Fiction Friday story scene. I got one word (hamburger) from the comments of last week’s post, and 14 words (screw – conduct – degree – square – print – clever – existence – boot – famous – crack – hungry – hands – ignite – stiff) from a random word generator (screenshot below).

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This week I wrote another random standalone scene, unrelated to any of my existing publications or returning flash fiction characters. I think it might be my shortest non-drabble to date, coming in at only 244 words:

Screw that,” Andy said. “I’m hungry. Let’s go get some hamburgers or something before we get on any more rides.

“The line’s not going to get any shorter, you know.” Grant stood stiffly with his hands on his hips, tapping one gleaming ankle boot on the asphalt, and one eyebrow hiked up so far its very existence was in question, since it was out of sight behind his—admittedly long—side-swept bangs. Grant was famous among their circle of friends for his over-the-top theatrical conduct. “And I can’t stay late, I’ve got to get up at the ass-crack of dawn for work tomorrow. Boss-man from hell doesn’t care that today’s St. Patrick’s Day.”

“But I’m so hungry, I could…” Andy’s gaze landed on a strikingly good-looking man with green-streaked blond hair who’d just gotten into the line in question, and his attitude took a sharp one-hundred-eighty degree turn. It wasn’t a guarantee, but there was a good chance the guy was gay, wearing a shirt with rainbow lettering printed on a black square, stating, “He who is born round won’t die square.” Which was a clever Sicilian proverb meaning people don’t change their fundamental nature. So, yeah, the rainbow lettering was a clue. “Actually, come on. Like you said, it’s not getting any shorter.”

Grant’s eyes about popped out of his head. “What the hell ignited a—oh.” He turned and started walking. “Just because you saw him first does not mean you have dibs.”

Leave a prompt word in the comments, below, and I’ll use it in next week’s Flash Fiction Friday post. One word per commenter, please, up to 15 total.


If you’d like to enter a big giveaway that includes signed print copies of ’Til Death Do Us Part (which includes the short story, From This Day Forward), To Love and To Cherish, and Snapshots (my collection of eleven short stories), then hurry on over to Day 4 on the Diverse Reader week-long March Madness party: http://diversereader.blogspot.com/2017/03/march-madness-week-long-giveaway-day-4.html

 

Flash Fiction Friday – Prompt Word Ficlet -March 10, 2017

Flash Fiction Friday

This week I’m using 15 random prompt words for my Flash Fiction Friday story scene. I got one word (champagne) from the comments of last week’s post, and 14 words (bike – aromatic – bad – limit – hiss – bow – squeeze – train – soap – snow – improve – rainy – pain – grass) from a random word generator (screenshot below).

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This week I wrote a random standalone scene, unrelated to any of my existing publications or returning flash fiction characters:

Darren squeezed through a group of passengers standing near the exit and stepped off the train. He pulled up the hood of his jacket and hummed “Rainy Days and Mondays” as he made his way to the bike rack. A deep-toned hiss behind him indicated the doors had shut and the train would move on to its next stop.

Mondays were usually bad enough, but he’d reached his limit today when his pain-in-the-ass boss had dumped another project on his desk and announced he’d probably have to work through the next weekend to meet the deadline. There hadn’t been much he could do except bow his head in acceptance of his employer’s decree. Could his day—no, week—possibly get any worse?

“Could be worse,” a deep voice behind him said, as if its owner could read his mind. “At least it isn’t snow.”

Darren turned toward the holder of that sonorous sound, and his heart leapt into his throat, blocking the automatic reply he’d intended. Instead, he stood with his mouth hanging open, staring at the greenest eyes he’d ever seen. They were green as fresh grass on an early spring day, and framed by strawberry blond hair that seemed the perfect accompaniment to the aromatic cologne or soap the man wore that hinted of the apple-y floral scent of a fine French champagne.

Instead of raising a haughty eyebrow at his graceless reaction, the man smiled widely as his head tilted inquiringly to the side as if he both recognized and returned Darren’s undefended interest. “Hi.” He put out a hand for Darren to shake. “My name’s Stuart.”

Darren grasped the offered hand and found his voice. “Darren. And you’re right. It could be worse.” In fact, it was starting to improve already.

Leave a prompt word in the comments, below, and I’ll use it in next week’s Flash Fiction Friday post. One word per commenter, please, up to 15 total.

Flash Fiction Friday – Photo Shoot Bonus Scene – 15 Random Prompt Words

Flash Fiction Friday

This week I’m using 15 random prompt words for my Flash Fiction Friday story scene. I got one word (coffee) from the comments of last week’s post, and 14 words (build – office – furtive – approach – near – upbeat – receipt – open – undesirable – string – pen – note – smell – lackadaisical) from a random word generator (I used a new one this week).

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This week you’re getting a bonus continuation scene for Photo Shoot, one of the short stories in my Snapshots collection. This is from Eddie’s 3rd-person POV:

Eddie cast furtive glances down the halls of the fine arts building as he passed near the art department offices. The smell of coffee hung in the air, and an upbeat instrumental melody of mixed string instruments drifted out as he approached the open door to the studio where he was supposed to meet Trent.

Ever since posing for that nude photo shoot for his now-boyfriend’s project, he’d been reluctant to go anywhere near the department where the panel of instructors who’d passed judgment on the assignment might be hanging around, and—God forbid—recognize him. Trent knew it, too. He knew Eddie would come up with excuses if Trent asked to meet him anywhere in the building. He knew this from experience. That’s probably why he’d left a cryptic note written on the back of a receipt—so Eddie wouldn’t have the opportunity to come up with some pretext for not meeting him. He’d used that purple pen with ink that smelled fruity as if that would sweeten the deal. It hadn’t.

A woman walked briskly out of the room in question and did a double-take as she strode past. “Trent’s already in there. Go on in.” She turned the corner before Eddie had even registered she was talking to him.

Heat infused his face, and he stopped short of the door. He’d never met that woman before. How did she know he was meeting Trent? Had she seen—

“Eddie!” Trent appeared in the doorway, a huge smile on his face. “You made it!”

More voices drifted out of the room, so he could discount the notion that the woman had made a logical assumption based on Trent being the only one in there. “Yeah. You ready to go?”

Trent seemed confused as he scratched the side of his nose. “Go where?”

“Huh?”

Laughter and a middle-aged rail-thin woman wafted out into the hall. “Ah, there you are, Trent.” She smiled in Eddie’s direction. “And I see your Eddie’s arrived. Come in and join the party.”

Party? Eddie’s eyes widened, but Trent took his hand, possibly sensing Eddie’s urge to run in the opposite direction. “The department’s having a little celebration. One of the professors is getting married.”

“I’m Celia Hall,” the woman continued. “Has Trent had the chance to explain my offer to you, yet?”

Oh, dear God. Did he want to know? “Offer?”

“I need a model for my sculpture class. I think you’d be perfect.”

Perfect? The way Trent looked at him, he’d come to accept he wasn’t exactly undesirable, but he was hardly flawless. Of course, artsy folks maybe wanted imperfections to make things interesting.

“Oh, uh, geez. I don’t know…”

“It pays twenty dollars per hour.”

Eddie’s eyebrows shot up. His gaze darted to Trent, then back to Professor Hall. He opened then closed his mouth. Twenty dollars per hour? He could really use that extra money. He had to at least consider it. “Clothes?”

She shook her head. “Nope.”

His cheeks puffed out as he slowly released a stream of air. Could he really do it? He hadn’t thought he could handle posing for just Trent, but in the end, he’d felt comfortable enough. Maybe it was all about the attitude. He couldn’t walk in there all red-faced and obviously mortified, but if he could cultivate a lackadaisical mien, he could maybe bluff his way through the experience.

“Twenty, huh?”

She smiled, looking every bit like she knew she had him hooked. “Per hour.”

With a soft groan, he closed his eyes. When he reopened them, Trent winked. Bastard had no shame, whatsoever. Eddie’s “okay” sounded a bit whiney, but she didn’t seem put out by the tone.

“Wonderful. I’ll get your contact information from Trent and be in touch.”

Mission accomplished, she returned to the party.

How Trent managed to look so innocent standing there was a mystery. “You tricked me,” Eddie said, but the words lost some of their intended effect since he had trouble resisting a spontaneous grin in response to the thumb Trent was rubbing across his wrist.

“Aw, you’re too self-conscious. There was no reason for you to avoid showing your face in this building.” Trent leaned in to kiss his cheek. A delicious shiver rippled through him as Trent’s warm breath floated across his ear. “And, I’ll be sure to show you how much I appreciate you joining me here, later.”

Leave a prompt word in the comments, below, and I’ll use it in next week’s Flash Fiction Friday post. One word per commenter, please, up to 15 total.

Promo - Teaser - Snapshots

Click here for more information, review snips, and  purchase-links for Snapshots. Information on all my publications can be found in the menu at the top of the page.

Flash Fiction Friday – To Love and To Cherish – Bonus Scene

Flash Fiction Friday

This week I’m back to using 15 random prompt words for my Flash Fiction Friday story scene. I got one word (patriarchy) from the comments of last week’s post, and 14 words (level – cleanwaitcrimeapparelrocktestyagreeableunhealthyhangchannelbackrelyisland) from a random word generator (got them in three batches, otherwise they’re blocked by ads—screenshots below).

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I should get bonus points this week for getting the word “island” and not using it for a scene from ’Til Death Do Us Part. 😇

“Oh, please. Don’t even try to tell me patriarchy isn’t alive and well.” Nash’s head snapped up as Angela’s voice carried over to where he and Emmitt were arranging a tray of fruit and vegetables to offer their company. “Did you read that idiotic letter to the editor some fool politician in Utah wrote?”

“No need to get testy with me.” Harley put his hands up in surrender. “I didn’t say it wasn’t still a concern, only that my company doesn’t discriminate or pay women less. I run a clean business.”

“Misogyny should be a crime,” Angela grumbled. “And don’t get me started on the sexism rampant in children’s apparel, either.”

“Lock ’em all up,” Harley prodded. “Send ’em all to ‘The Rock.’ Lower level, in solitary.”

Angela’s eyes narrowed. “I can always rely on you to stir in a little hyperbole.”

“I don’t suppose,” Emmitt whispered, “that it would be a good idea to inform her the Utah guy resigned two days later due to the backlash, would it?”

“Go ahead,” Nash snickered. “I’ll hang back here and wait while you go over and point that out.”

Emmitt chuckled and picked up the tray. “Not on your life.”

Nash grabbed a bag of chips out of the pantry since Harley had requested “something unhealthy” to go along with the nutritious stuff he’d known Emmitt would select.

“Or better yet,” Harley said, “ship the offenders off to that little island where Nash’s—“

“How about we change the channel,” Angela’s husband, interjected, “to something more agreeable than the news?”

“Good plan.” Harley’s fiancé, Oliver, picked up the remote and switched to a music channel. “Get us in the right frame of mind before we head out to Winterfest.”

Nash sat next to Emmitt on a sofa, and snuggled up under his husband’s arm with a spontaneous smile on his lips.

Harley raised an eyebrow and smirked. “Honeymoon’s still not over?”

Emmitt’s body shook with restrained laughter. Nash said, “Never. Is yours?”

“We’re not even married yet!”

“But you live together.”

“Not for that long. Not alone, anyway.” Harley waggled his eyebrows at Oliver, then pointed his finger at Nash. “It’s only been a few months since you moved out.”

Nash shuddered. “That was a fateful day.” The injury he’d sustained during the drive to move the last of his belongings to Emmitt’s condo had affected his life in so many bizarre ways.

“I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again,” Harley declared. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to you.”

Nash wouldn’t have accepted that statement while enduring the pain and confusion of his recovery, but as Emmitt’s arm tightened around his shoulders, pulling him in for a hug, that familiar warmth spread through his chest, and he knew Harley was right.

Leave a prompt word in the comments, below, and I’ll use it in next week’s Flash Fiction Friday post. One word per commenter, please, up to 15 total.

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Click here for more information, review snips, and  purchase-links for To Love and To Cherish. Information on all my publications can be found in the menu at the top of the page.

Flash Fiction Friday Feb. 17, 2017 – Drabble – Adventures with Harrison & Mason

Flash Fiction Friday

I’m going with a drabble this week—a precisely 100-word scene. It’ll be based on the image below, as well as use the word I got in the comments from last week’s post: cookie.

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This week will be another installment in my Adventures with Harrison and Mason series.

“How is he not freezing his buns off out there?” Harrison peered out the window at Jaxon with his friends.

“They stay warm running around.” Mason approached and laid a hand on Harrison’s shoulder. When he saw the snowman the kids had built he burst out laughing.

“You didn’t give them that idea, then?”

“To build it upside down? No, but I like it. What’s that they’re using for buttons?”

“I brought out a tray of those cookies I baked. I guess they had extras.”

“Those were good.” Mason nuzzled Harrison’s neck. “Mm, but not nearly as tasty as you.”

Leave a prompt word in the comments, below, and I’ll use it in next week’s Flash Fiction Friday post. One word per commenter, please, up to 15 total.

15 Random Prompt Words – Flash Fiction Friday – ’Til Death Do Us Part

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For this week’s 15 random words I’m using:

tadpole

mix – vegetable – disagreeable – immense – aboard – invincible – food – intend – old – hand – alike – romantic – muscle – bad

Above are screen prints of the words it gave me (I got them in 3 batches because otherwise they were covered by ads).

Flash Fiction Friday

This week I went with an alternate POV scene from ’Til Death Do Us Part. It won’t be obvious from the start, but this is a scene that occurs in the story. This time it’s told from Devon’s 1st-person POV.

At the same time, it seemed like only yesterday and yet forever ago that I’d felt invincible. I frowned, remembering how the lyrics of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” had run through my mind aboard that damned plane. I’d been flying high, both figuratively and literally, having just completed a successful freshman year as a linebacker for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and was on my way to a fun-in-the-sun vacation with a couple buddies. I’d felt on top of the world…right up until we’d dropped out of the sky. Being one of only four survivors of a plane crash should arguably reinforce that feeling of invulnerability, but it didn’t.

Sitting in the shade, a few yards into the northern tree line, I looked out over the immense expanse of ocean and shivered despite the heat. I used to think of myself as a romantic, but now, sometimes if felt as if the only thing keeping me from acting like a disagreeable old man in a perpetual bad mood was the kid, “Buddy.”

I didn’t intend to be difficult, and mostly I kept the ever-lurking hopelessness that triggered the occasional outburst at bay.  I rolled my shoulders and shook out my hands to metaphorically push the threatening melancholy away.

I sighed and stood, listening for Buddy, then cut through the interior toward the large rock where we tended to gather. It was our “table” for meals, and it was where Henry kept a basket with extra food for snacking. Fish, fruit, nuts, seeds, and seaweed…day after day after day. Henry tried to mix it up with his meal prep, but after a while, they all seemed alike. Maybe, not entirely, but the menu was short. What I wouldn’t give for a big juicy steak, or a piece of fried chicken, or a hamburger. I even craved vegetables—the non-seaweed variety.

The thought of food reminded me I was thirsty, so I detoured by the Papaya tree grove where our little fresh water “spring” was located. It was little more than a deep puddle that slowly but continually refilled itself, but it was one of the key reasons we’d survived all these years.

With my hands cupped, I scooped a couple mouthfuls before noticing a batch of tadpoles had hatched. We would have to be careful with the water for the next couple months so we didn’t harm them. Henry had schooled us early on about how the tree frogs on the island kept the fruit flies in check. Without the frogs, the flies could easily decimate our fruit supply.

Startled, I jumped to my feet when a scream pierced through the background noise of the ocean’s waves. Buddy! Something had happened. Something bad. My gut twisted with fear as I took off running toward the heart-rending sound, then spun, because Buddy was apparently darting around the corner of the island as he shrieked.

I turned to take the path that led to where the screams had come to an abrupt halt, but now Garrett was hollering my name. Like Buddy, his voice was a moving target so I kept going in the direction I was already headed.

When I burst out onto the beach, Buddy’s arms and legs were wrapped around Henry, with his face buried in the man’s neck, and Garrett’s head spun back and forth. He turned and ran back in my direction, then veered toward the water’s edge with his arms waving. I ground to a halt with my heart in my throat, confused, until I saw it.

A plane—no, it was close, silent, and too small to be manned—a drone was flying past us. I chased it, screaming, “Stop! Stop!” and waved my arms like a lunatic until it was out of sight. But it circled and returned from the other direction.

Circling meant we’d been spotted. The drone operator knew we were here. It couldn’t actually stop, as I’d reflexively yelled, but did he (or she) realize we needed help—that we were stranded? Probably. Our general appearance would make that apparent, and if not, our hysterical chasing and arm waving would’ve put any doubts to rest.

The three of us came together in a huddle on the beach. Henry patted Buddy’s back, but his ragged breathing and wide eyes belied his own fears for the future, mixed with his obvious excitement. Garrett panted. “Sticks. We need sticks so we can write in the sand.”

“Of course,” I said. “I’ll get some.” I brushed my hand across my eyes to clear the tears of relief that welled up as I ran down the path to our wood-stand. When I arrived, the muscles in my legs gave out, and I stumbled to a stop and leaned against a tree for support.

“I’m going home,” I whispered to the universe. I pictured the look of shock that would appear on my parents’ faces when they got the news. My brothers—after five years they wouldn’t look the same. I snickered, remembering how I’d just been thinking about the foods I missed as if they were what was important. No, that craving was overpowered by the yearning to see my family—a longing I’d suppressed for too long to keep despair at bay. I’ll see you, soon, I added silently, then I grabbed three sticks from the kindling pile and dashed back to the beach.

As always, because I can’t resist a good challenge, I’ll take the first 15 prompt words given to me in the comments, below, for next week’s Flash Fiction Friday post. One word per commenter, please. I’ll make up the difference using a random word generator site if I don’t get 15 here.

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Quick links to my website pages with buy-links, blurbs, excerpts, review snippets/links:

’Til Death Do Us Part | From This Day Forward | To Love and To Cherish


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15 Random Prompt Words – Flash Fiction Friday – Vows Series

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For this week’s 15 random words I’m using:

sudoku

carrot

lighten – level – self – language – wistful – warn – precede – end – weak – stiff – simple – wobble – fine

Above are screen prints of the words it gave me (I got them in 3 batches because otherwise they were covered by ads).

New rule…up until now I’ve used the words exactly as they show up on the random word generator lists. Starting this week I will only promise to use a form of the word. One issue is I write in past tense, and the verbs on the list are always present tense. That can make for some awkward wording if I’m not allowed to modify the form of the word. 15 words is enough of a challenge…I want a little flexibility overall.

This week I went with a bonus missing scene that would be primarily from ’Til Death Do Us Part, but it could also arguably fit in with Nash’s flashback dreams from To Love and To Cherish. I’m going to include it in the bonus scenes links for both since it features an MC from each and is pertinent to both stories. This scene takes place right after Henry has arrived back home, Sam and Nash clash, and Henry and Buddy are leaving to go stay for a short while with Sam’s parents, so Sam and Nash can have their much-needed discussion in private.

I’d originally included a similar scene in ’Til Death Do Us Part, but ended up removing it in favor of keeping the readers in suspense (along with Henry) as to how things would resolve.

It’s told from Sam’s 3rd-person POV.

Flash Fiction Friday

Sam would’ve rather been anywhere, doing anything, than staying where he was, watching Buddy precede Henry as they walked out the front door with Harley. He’d rather stand in front of a classroom full of incoming freshmen and use the words “epic fail” to describe his recent actions—or lack thereof. He’d rather have his career depend upon the outcome of his entry in a timed Sudoku contest against the math department professors. Hell, he’d rather get his balls waxed. In other words…anything.

If he needed a carrot on a stick to motivate him to turn around and face Nash, he supposed it could be the promise of getting Henry back after he’d suffered this long-overdue conversation.

Henry had been correct. Sam needed to do his level best to handle this properly. Much as he’d love to lighten the mood, to do so would be unfair to everyone involved. Sam straightened his shoulders and cast one more wistful glance out the window as Harley’s pickup backed out of the driveway, then turned to face his now-former fiancé.

Nash still stood with his arms stiff at his sides, his fists clenched as if he’d like nothing better than to unleash his admittedly righteous fury on Sam.

“I’m sorry,” Sam said, hoping a simple, sincere declaration would be a good start.

But, Nash’s face grew even redder. “Fuck you!” he shouted. Shrieked, really.

Sam wobbled on weak knees. Where the hell had that come from? Sure he’d known Nash was upset, as he should be, but they’d never raised their voices, let alone shouted at one another. That had come out of nowhere, with no warning. Language deserted Sam as his jaw dropped.

“First you couldn’t make a straightforward decision. Him or me? Do I stay or do I go? Then when you finally fucking did you couldn’t even pick up the goddamned phone and call me? Fuck! You!” At least Nash wasn’t yelling anymore, but his voice was cold and hard as he bit out the words.

What Nash said wasn’t entirely fair. Nash had contributed greatly to Sam’s indecision. He was the one who’d made the point that Henry would certainly have changed in five years and might not even want to get back together with Sam. It was almost as if Nash had seen the writing on the wall and actively lobbied to sway Sam’s decision.

But Sam didn’t want to make this about himself. This needed to be about helping Nash cope with the abrupt end to their engagement.

“I am sorry,” Sam whispered. Tears threated to fall as he ran a hand through his hair. “I do love you. Please remember that. You deserved better than a breakup over the phone, but I should have thought about how that reunion scene was being broadcast on TV.”

Nash stared at him for a moment, then his eyes became unfocused, and his gaze dropped.

“I didn’t want to hurt you,” Sam continued. “I would never have caused you pain deliberately.”

Nash sniffed loudly and lifted his gaze. The torment in Nash’s eyes ripped through Sam’s heart. Sam stepped forward instinctively to offer a hug, but Nash put up a hand, palm out. “No.” Nash shook his head. “That won’t help me anymore. It would hurt.”

Sam stilled, and his arms dropped. “What can I do to help.”

Rolling his shoulders and clearing his throat as if consciously trying to pull himself together, Nash looked around the room and said, “You know what? I’ll be fine. The sooner I clear out of here and move on with my life, the better off I’ll be. If you want to help, take a pass through the house and see if there’s anything I’ve missed packing.”

“Of course.” But Sam couldn’t bring himself to move his legs.

Nash wiped the back of his hand across his wet eyes. “I want to be ready to leave when Harley gets back.”

Stomach clenched, Sam nodded and stepped away. Nash might not want a hug, but Sam needed one desperately.

“Sam?”

Sam turned at the sound of the softly spoken word.

“I…I love you, too. That’s why…” Nash snuffled. “You know.”

“I know,” Sam murmured.

“Maybe…maybe one last hug for the road. I don’t want to end things like this.”

Sam’s hands trembled and one of the tears that had been threatening finally traced down his cheek. He opened his arms, and Nash stepped into them. “Thank you,” Sam whispered into Nash’s hair.

As always, because I can’t resist a good challenge, I’ll take the first 15 prompt words given to me in the comments, below, for next week’s Flash Fiction Friday post. One word per commenter, please. I’ll make up the difference using a random word generator site if I don’t get 15 here.

ku-raru-1200x700

Quick links to my website pages with buy-links, blurbs, excerpts, review snippets/links:

’Til Death Do Us Part

From This Day Forward

To Love and To Cherish

15 Random Prompt Words – Flash Fiction Friday – ’Til Death Do Us Part

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For this week’s 15 random words I’m using:

Saturn

rainy – immense – blue – sweet – gorgeous – club – bone – wilderness – jolly – shock – endurable – rail – shaky – muscle

Above are screen prints of the words it gave me (I got them in 3 batches because otherwise they were covered by ads).

This week I went with a sweet little bonus continuation scene for Henry and Sam of ’Til Death Do Us Part. It’s told in Henry’s 3rd-person POV.

Flash Fiction Friday

As always, because I can’t resist a good challenge, I’ll take the first 15 prompt words given to me in the comments, below, for next week’s Flash Fiction Friday post. One word per commenter, please. I’ll make up the difference using a random word generator site if I don’t get 15 here.

Henry cracked open one of the French doors leading outside to the patio and whispered, “What are you doing?”

Sam turned from where he stood gazing at the predawn southeastern sky and smiled. “No clouds in this direction. Come look at the stars with me.”

Likely it would be rainy later, but it was nice to get this glimpse for now. Henry slipped out and joined Sam under the large blanket he’d wrapped around himself. Sam’s arm muscle flexed as he pulled Henry close.

Pointing toward the horizon, Sam said, “Mercury’s rising.” Trailing his finger in a line up and to the right he added, “That’s Saturn next, then that bright star is Antares. Just past the moon is Spica, and that’s Jupiter right above it.”

“Back on the island…” Henry’s voice was shaky, and he paused to take a deep breath. They were seeing a therapist together as well as separately to help them deal with this upheaval in their lives, and he’d learned that bottling his feelings was a big no-no. “I, uh, would do that corny thing people make fun of in movies—I’d look up at the moon and wonder if you were doing the same.”

It was such a cliché, but it had helped make the separation more endurable. Then in the daytime sometimes he’d looked out over the immense expanse of wide blue ocean and tried to determine the exact direction that would point to home. Home to Sam with his gorgeous, always-kind eyes and sweet quirky smile.

Sam landed a kiss to Henry’s forehead and held him tighter. Sam was as sensitive and serious as he’d been before their separation, but he was also happy. Not in a boisterous jolly kind of way, but it was clear enough to Henry.

“I did the same in the early days, before giving up hope,” Sam murmured into Henry’s hair.

“I worried so much about how you were managing.”

“It was such a shock. I felt like I was all alone in the wilderness trying to make sense of my life. All I wanted to do was rail against the airline, the bomber, fate…the universe.”

“Welcome to the club.”

Sam snorted, then shivered. “I’m chilled to the bone. Let’s go inside.”

“Aiden should sleep for another couple hours, at least.” Henry waggled his eyebrows.

Sam’s crooked grin appeared. “That sounds much better than the coffee I was planning.”

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Wednesday Words – Jan. 18, 2017 – Adventures with Harrison and Mason

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P.T. Wyant posts a weekly prompt for writers, and followers of the blog are encouraged to write a bit of flash fiction (approx. 500 words) using those words/ideas. Last Wednesday’s post gave the prompts: a snowman, a park bench, and an empty bottle.

I went with a drabble—a precisely 100 word scene—featuring my recurring characters, Harrison and Mason along with their son Jaxon. I also found a fun image to fit the words:

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This is my drabble using that prompt:

“He looks so sad,” Jaxon said. The snowman on the park bench sat with its head in its hands.

“I wonder why he’s so unhappy.” Mason said.

“Maybe he’s lonely,” Harrison replied.

Mason squeezed Harrison’s hand then quirked an eyebrow at their son. “Jaxon?”

“I think he’s thirsty.” The boy placed his empty juice bottle between the snowman’s legs.

“Hmm,” Mason said. “Maybe we should recycle that for him.”

“Oops.” Jaxon handed it to Harrison, then squatted to pick up a piece of black cloth and draped it over the snowman’s leg. “Maybe he was sad ’cause he dropped this.”

15 Random Prompt Words – Flash Fiction Friday – Cultivating Love

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For this week’s 15 random words I’m using:

elephant

advise – develop – overrated – obnoxious – notice – ludicrous – connect – toys – muddled – sophisticated – warm – balance – ray – chop

Above are screen prints of the words it gave me (I got them in 4 batches because otherwise they were covered by ads).

Below is the story scene I wrote using these words. This week I felt motivated to write a bonus scene for Ed and Joe of Cultivating Love. This is from Ed’s 3rd-person POV:

Flash Fiction Friday

Bonus Scene – Cultivating Love

Ed looked up from the chaos masquerading as a half-made casserole on the kitchen counter when the front door opened announcing Joe’s return from an errand in town. He stomped the snow off his feet and tossed his coat onto the rack.

“Ran into Eliza at the grocery store.” Joe handed Ed the can of flaky biscuits he needed for the “taco bubble-up bake” he was attempting.

“Yeah? What’d she have to say?”

“She’s collecting stuff for a white elephant sale they’re having down at the church this weekend.”

“That’s not much notice.” Ed replied.

Joe shrugged and rubbed his hands on his biceps then held them out toward the preheating oven. “Damn, it’s colder than penguin snot out there. Kitchen’s nice and warm, though.”

“Anything in particular they’re looking for? Can they use clothes? We’ve both got some we never wear anymore.”

The obnoxious Ray Comfort propaganda movie Joe’s brother had given them for Christmas also came to mind, but he didn’t want to encourage anyone in town to watch that ludicrous nonsense, either. That thing was destined for a bonfire. They’d probably end up wrestling for the right to throw it on.

“They’ll take anything, but she says toys are usually most popular. If we had more time I could ask my sister if she has any old Barbie dolls or whatever.” Joe peered at the jumble of ingredients on the counter. “What can I do? Want me to chop those green onions?”

“Yeah, thanks.” Ed slid the cutting board toward Joe. To hell with grand romantic gestures. That shit was overrated. Give Ed a man that would run out for a forgotten ingredient without complaint, then join him in the kitchen as they strived to find a good balance to sorting out household chores.

Joe grinned and leaned over for a kiss that started out as a quick peck, but as he pulled away, they locked eyes. Joe stopped his retreat, and Ed pulled him back.

The kiss soon threatened to develop into a trip to the bedroom. Joe was flushed and breathing heavily when they came up for air. “Damn, if I wasn’t so hungry… How long does this take in the oven once we finish up the prep?”

“Only twenty or twenty-five minutes.” In other words, not enough time to get down to any serious fun while it was in the oven. Not without rushing, anyway. Which should he advise, putting the ingredients aside, or waiting until it was out of the oven—and likely eaten?

“Nuts.” Joe frowned.

Ed laughed at the comical grimace on Joe’s face. Joe might not be particularly sophisticated or refined, neither of them were, but they muddled through. No, they did better than that now. “Muddled” described their past. They acknowledged their love now, and the future looked bright.

The words of Steve Jobs came to mind: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

Maybe so, but he could do his best to at least line up those dots.

Ed hitched his head toward the hall that led to their bedroom and smiled. “Come on. It won’t hurt this stuff to sit awhile on the counter.”

Joe’s answering grin confirmed that was the right decision.

Once again, #sorrynotsorry for ending it here. 😜

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Yes, I realize it’s a farm in the UK, not Nebraska,
But we can use our imaginations, can’t we? 😉

As always, because I can’t resist a good challenge, I’ll take the first 15 prompt words given to me in the comments, below, for next week’s Flash Fiction Friday post. One word per commenter, please. I’ll make up the difference using a random word generator site if I don’t get 15 here.

Blurb – Cultivating Love

A man of few words, Joe is a hard-working farmhand who likes his simple, uncomplicated life. Ed is satisfied with his existence as an auto mechanic, but thrilled when an unexpected development in his life allows him to help Joe realize a dream.

It forces them, however, to reevaluate the casual, undefined nature of their relationship. They’re too macho to speak of love, and neither would ever dream of acknowledging he doesn’t really mind when it’s his turn to bottom. When life throws them a curve ball, and the rules of their game get old, Ed makes an effort to take every aspect of their relationship up a notch. Will Joe be able to adapt to the open sentimentality Ed’s injecting into their relationship, let alone the new spice in their bedroom activities?

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Follow the links in the menu at the top of the page for information on my published works.

15 Random Prompt Words – Flash Fiction Friday – January 6, 2017

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For this week’s 15 random words I’m using:

transporter

trick – pat – deep – passenger – valuable – oil – trail – bubble – hideous – stay – silent – existence – huge – flippant

Above are screen prints of the words it gave me (I had to get them in 3 batches because otherwise they were covered by ads).

Below is the story scene I wrote using these words.

Flash Fiction Friday

Austin raised an eyebrow in Clarence’s direction as the man unleashed a wide—and loud—yawn.

“Sorry,” Clarence muttered, shaking his head. “I’m not bored, just drained. Coffee, I need more coffee before we continue sightseeing.”

Austin laughed and placed a hand on Clarence’s shoulder. The poor man was usually a morning person, but they’d burned the midnight oil last night. After enjoying a late dinner and drinks at Hogarths, they’d giggled their way through a shared bubble bath back in their room at the Queens hotel. They were both determined to make the most of their short stay in Newport, Wales—one of several stops on their honeymoon tour.

“Come on.” Austin cocked his head to the left toward the Pot Café. “Let’s go ahead and get lunch. The reviews say their coffee is good.”

Clarence nodded. “Sounds great.”

Austin let his hand trail down Clarence’s arm. “Want to go take a closer look at that transporter bridge afterward?”

“Definitely. That thing looks cool. Pure engineering genius.”

“I know, right? I’ve never seen one in the states. Didn’t even know of the existence of such things.”

“It’s perfect, though, for a spot like that. The bank’s too low for a bridge high enough for ships to go under it without outrageously long ramps leading in, and the water’s too shallow at low tide for a regular ferry.”

Inside they were quick to place their orders—steak pie with mash, gravy and veg. Thankfully the coffee arrived soon afterward.

“Mm…that hits the spot.” Clarence grinned and returned his cup to the saucer.

Austin reached out to pat Clarence’s hand. “Penny for your thoughts? You’ve got a faraway look in your eyes.”

Clarence blushed. “Oh. I was thinking about the wedding. Again.”

“Your great-aunt Mabel’s hideous hat?”

Clarence covered his mouth to muffle his snort in response to Austin’s flippant comment. “Speaking of engineering marvels. I want to know the trick to keeping that thing perched on her head.”

Austin snickered. “Probably just simple hat pins, but yeah, it did seem to defy the laws of the universe.”

They fell silent when the waiter returned with their lunch plates. The servings were huge, but then so were their appetites.

Outside the window, a double-decker bus pulled to a stop and a lone passenger got off. Clarence dipped his head toward it. “We need to ride on the top level of one of those.”

“Yeah, let’s check the bus schedule. We’ll take one that goes over that transporter bridge.”

Clarence nodded, then got that dreamy preoccupied look in his eyes again. He picked up Austin’s hand and fiddled with the new wedding ring, spinning it on Austin’s finger. Clarence’s voice was deep and husky as he said, “They’re simple bands, but so much more valuable to me than their monetary worth.” He lifted his gaze to peer into Austin’s eyes. “I’m so glad I found you.”

Austin turned his hand to capture Clarence’s and gave it a squeeze. “I love you.”

“Ditto,” Clarence whispered.

Once again, because I can’t resist a good challenge, I’ll take the first 15 prompt words given to me in the comments, below, for next week’s Flash Fiction Friday post. One word per commenter, please. I’ll make up the difference using the random word generator site if I don’t get 15 here.

Follow the links in the menu at the top of the page for information on my published works.

15 Random Prompt Words – Flash Fiction Friday – Dec. 30, 2016

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For this week’s 15 random words I’m using:

peanut – mermaid

thaw – side – laughable – paint – forgetful – stare – zonked – five – furry – closed – farm – yawn – untidy

I switched random word sites because the one I’d been using was giving me duplicates. Above are screen prints of the words it gave me (I had to get them in 3 batches because otherwise they were covered by ads).

Below is the story scene I wrote using these words. It’s another Adventures with Harrison and Mason episode, flashing back slightly to add to their recent Hawaiian vacation.

Flash Fiction Friday

 

“What is that?” Harrison asked, pointing toward the ocean. He actually knew what it was but wondered what his son would come up with.

Jaxon turned to look, then stood to stare at the spot where Harrison was pointing. “I think it’s a mermaid. What do you think, Pop?”

The little boy turned to Mason, lying on a towel with his eyes closed. “Aw, Pop’s zonked.”

Mason rolled to his side then sat up and stretched, unleashing a wide yawn. “I’m awake. Where’s this mermaid Daddy spotted?”

“There!” Jaxon aimed a finger over the water.

“I don’t see it.” Mason shaded his eyes and craned his neck.

Harrison coughed. “It’s…uh…whale-sized, so it’s hard to miss.”

Mason laughed. “I see it, now. Kinda big for a mermaid. Maybe it’s a Kraken.”

“Yeah!” Jaxon bounced. “That’s even better.”

“Hmm, not for the people on that boat over there,” Harrison said.

“Think it’ll eat them?” Jaxon asked.

“Speaking of food…” Mason patted his belly. “Is it time to crack open that picnic basket yet? What did you pack?”

It was laughable how easily Jaxon was distracted. The “kraken” forgotten, he knelt at the basket and opened it. “Five peanut butter sandwiches and a bunch of furry lychees.” He turned to Harrison. “Are those from that farm we went to yesterday?”

“Orchard,” Harrison replied. “But yes, so they’re pretty fresh.”

“Did that jug of juice thaw?” Mason asked. He’d suggested they freeze it so it would keep the rest of their food chilled and still be cool to drink by the time they wanted it.

Jaxon hefted it up and swished it so they could see. There was still a frozen chunk in the middle, but plenty was drinkable. Rifling through the basket, Jaxon asked, “Where’s the cups?”

Harrison slapped a hand to his forehead. “Nuts, I’m so forgetful today.”

“No problem, hun,” Mason said. “We’ll just pass the container around.”

Just as well, as that would fit with their generally untidy and wrinkled appearance. It was their last day in Hawaii, and they’d misjudged how many outfits they’d go through. Harrison and Mason were both wearing shirts they’d had on the previous day so they’d have something clean to put on for the trip home tomorrow.

“Yeah! We can chug out of the jug,” Jaxon added.

Harrison laughed. “This has been a great vacation. I’m going to miss Hawaii.”

“It’s paradise,” Mason said. “What was your favorite part?”

“Volcanos!” Jaxon exclaimed.

“Beaches, beautiful blue water as far as the eye can see, fresh fruit, flip flops every day, palm trees, so many stars visible at night, snorkeling.” Harrison sighed happily. “I could go on and on.”

“You paint a pretty picture of it, that’s for sure.”

“How about you, Pop, what’s your favorite part?”

Mason grinned widely. “Everything you both said, of course, but I think seeing the huge smiles on your two faces was the best part for me.”

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Once again, because I can’t resist a good challenge, I’ll take the first 15 prompt words given to me in the comments, below, for next week’s Flash Fiction Friday post. One word per commenter, please. I’ll make up the difference using the random word generator site if I don’t get 15 here.

Follow the links in the menu at the top of the page for information on my published works.

15 Random Prompt Words – Flash Fiction Friday – Dec. 23, 2016

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For this week’s 15 random words I’m using:

mistletoe

trick – survivor – deck – robot – migration – define – fountain – essay – sugar – element – quality – cucumber – shallow – spontaneous

Below is the short-short I wrote using these words. This week I turned the words into a another scene in the Adventures with Harrison and Mason series, this time told from Mason’s 3rd-person POV.

Flash Fiction Friday

 

The Piano Guys awesome version of Carol of the Bells flowed through the house as Mason quietly closed the front door. Jaxon glanced up from where he sat, writing at the coffee table in the living room. Mason placed his index finger to his lips, silently imploring his son to keep his arrival home a secret from Harrison.

Mason knew darned well Harrison was awake even though he was stretched out in the recliner with a cucumber slice over each eye. Jaxon smiled his agreement, and Mason tiptoed to the kitchen.

He quickly rifled through the junk drawer and came up with a tack, then reached up to secure the mistletoe he’d purchased to the header of the doorway between the living room and kitchen.

“Are you going to trick Daddy?” Jaxon asked when Mason approached.

Harrison sat up, peeling the cucumber slices from his eyes. He grinned at Mason. “I wouldn’t be surprised. What are you up to now?”

“Moi? You’re imagining things, my lovely sugar plum. I’m not a planner. I’m Mr. Spontaneous.”

Harrison’s snort would’ve made a rhinoceros proud. “Depends how you define ‘spontaneous.’”

The holiday playlist switched over to some lame version of Deck the Halls, and Mason turned his attention to Jaxon. “Got another essay for homework today?”

Jaxon shook his head. “Nope. I’m writing a story, but Daddy wouldn’t let me use your new fountain pen.”

“That’s ’cause Daddy’s a wise man,” Mason replied. “What’s the story about?”

Jaxon’s eyes lit up. “I’m a survivor after aliens attack Earth. You and Daddy are, too, and I join a bunch of people to go get a really big robot that’s going to save the world, and a bunch of other people are walking and walking to go somewhere safe.”

“Cool!” Harrison said. “Are Pop and I part of the big migration or do we get to go on the hero adventure with you?”

“Well, you wanted us all to go to the safe place, but Pop and I convinced you that we needed to help fight the aliens.”

Mason grinned. “It’s a quality of life thing. No place would’ve been safe for long unless the aliens were defeated, right?”

“Right! I knew you’d understand, Pop.”

Harrison opened his mouth like he was going to say something, then shut it and stood. Mason opened his arms and Harrison kissed him. “I love you,” Harrison said.

“I love you, too.” Mason loved Harrison with all his heart. And he knew Jaxon loved them equally even though the little boy and Mason were the ones who more often clicked when it came to creativity. Harrison wasn’t shallow and understood that, too.

When Mason turned to ask Jaxon another question, the little boy was no longer sitting at the coffee table. Harrison laughed, and Mason spun to follow his husband’s gaze. Jaxon was leaning against the door jamb under the mistletoe, apparently trying (but failing) to look casual.

So much for the element of surprise, a tactic Jaxon had yet to master. Harrison had probably known what Mason was up to, and this was more priceless than what he’d planned anyway.

They joined Jaxon under the mistletoe and each planted a kiss on the little boy’s cheek as he giggled. That’s what Christmas was all about…love and laughter.

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Once again, because I can’t resist a good challenge, I’ll take the first 15 prompt words given to me in the comments, below, for next week’s Flash Fiction Friday post. One word per commenter, please. I’ll make up the difference using the random word generator site if I don’t get 15 here.

Follow the links in the menu at the top of the page for information on my published works.

15 Random Prompt Words – Flash Fiction Friday – Dec 16, 2016 – To Love and To Cherish

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For this week’s 15 random words I’m using:

obfuscate

cool – retain – rubbish – indication – sip – communication – heart – chart – fantasy – relinquish – ritual – spine – cell phone – nervous

Below is the short-short I wrote using these words. This week I turned the words into a continuation scene for To Love and To Cherish told from Emmitt’s 1st person POV.

Flash Fiction Friday

“Hey, Emmitt,” Nash said, looking up from the bench in the dressing room. He bit his lip. Was he nervous? Troubled?

I’d put a bottle of champagne into a bucket of ice to cool, strategically placed on the other side of the huge round tub in the bathroom. I didn’t think Nash had seen me put it there, but why would he be uneasy even if he had? Maybe he wasn’t in the mood and was concerned about hurting my feelings.

There was no doubt he generally loved it when I injected a little fantasy role-playing, or even just an extra heavy dose of romance into our love life. It wouldn’t bother me if he didn’t want to play tonight. It would trouble me if he humored me when he didn’t feel up to it.

“What’s the matter?” I asked.

“Nothing’s the matter,” he replied. “I was just thinking about stuff, and wondering…”

I approached and knelt next to him and picked up his hand. If I knew anything, it was that the cornerstone of a healthy relationship was about keeping open the lines of communication.

“Tell me.” I brought his hand up to my lips and lightly kissed the palm.

Nash’s mouth quivered, and the dilation of his pupils was a good indication that I’d distracted rather than encouraged him. I nodded reassuringly to prod him to get it off his chest.

“I…uh…was thinking about when we first got together. What do you think we’d be doing right now if I hadn’t lost my memory and assumed we must be a love match?”

“We are a love match.”

“Well, yeah…now. But when we first agreed to get married we both said we didn’t believe in love.”

“Physically, we’d probably be going through the same evening ritual we are now. Emotionally? I’m sure I’d be a mess.”

“Yeah, me too.”

Because we’d have fallen in love despite our misguided attempts to obfuscate the reality of our natures by telling ourselves love wasn’t real. We’d each have hidden our feelings, assuming they would be unwelcomed by the other. My heart would have broken. Instead I’d managed to retain it intact. It had thawed when Nash had looked up from the hospital bed, a weak but open and natural smile on his lips, and said, “I can see why I fell in love with you.”

“We’d have gotten here eventually,” I said. “I was already halfway in love with you when I first asked you to marry me. I just wasn’t able to acknowledge it to myself.”

“We talked ourselves into believing a bunch of rubbish,” he said.

“That we did.” I nodded. “But we figured it out. I love you, Nash, more than I ever thought I was capable of loving another human being.”

“I love you, too.” The smile that spread across Nash’s face could have lit the room, and the hunger in his eyes told me I’d been way off base thinking his issue might be that he wasn’t in the mood. I quickly stripped and joined up with my husband in the tub.

“First things, first.” I popped open the champagne and poured two flutes.

“To love.” Nash raised his glass. I tapped it lightly with my own and echoed his toast.

I took a single sip before putting it down and reaching for Nash. He swallowed a couple gulps and placed his glass next to mine, then melted into my embrace.

We were well-matched in that I enjoyed taking control for our sexual activities, and he liked to relinquish it. We shared a kiss, then I began to chart a course along his collarbone, licking and nipping before heading south to one of his nipples.

A delicious shiver ran down my spine at the sound of my husband’s soft groan, then we both stiffened at the sound of Nash’s cell phone. I quickly recognized the Scooby-Doo theme song, which was the ringtone Nash had assigned to his best friend Harley.

“Fuck ’im,” Nash muttered. “I’ll call him back later.”

I smiled and moved back to his mouth for another kiss. “Don’t want to fuck him,” I teased. “Want to fuck you.”

Nash’s body vibrated beneath mine with his suppressed laughter. “Good.”

“Or…” We hadn’t switched things up, yet. Nash had once indicated that he was versatile, although he’d never pushed to top. Perhaps he was waiting for me to say something?

“Or what?” Was that a spark of hope in Nash’s eyes?

“Or you could fuck me.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

The Grinch himself would have been envious of the sly grin that spread across Nash’s face.

#sorrynotsorry for ending it here. 🍾

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Once again, because I can’t resist a good challenge, I’ll take the first 15 prompt words given to me in the comments, below, for next week’s Flash Fiction Friday post. One word per commenter, please. I’ll make up the difference using the random word generator site if I don’t get 15 here.

Follow the links in the menu at the top of the page for information on my published works.

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