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Don’t Date Dorian – Chapter 2 (#FlashFiction)

Serial Ch. 2

Two weeks. It’s been two nerve-wracking weeks since that night at Dorian’s – the night we made out like horny teenagers on his living room sofa, high on wine, lust, and his intoxicating scent, while his kids slept soundly upstairs. We parted ways that night with such sweet promise, but since then, the only taste I get is my early morning views of him from my bedroom window.

Maybe I just imagined the intense attraction between us, the unmistakable chemistry, the scorching heat that had both our bodies on fire and aching to take it just a step further, even though we somehow managed to keep it at kissing. Okay, and a little dry-humping. I mean, I was straddling his lap with his strong hands on my hips, guiding my movements up and down, back and forth across the thick, luscious bulge of his jeans. Yes, he drove me crazy with desire, but I hadn’t intended for it to go that far that soon, and when I’d whispered as much against his mouth, he’d put on the brakes, undoubtedly for my sake. Maybe to keep my imagined virtue intact. Who knows?

What I do know is, the taste I had of him wasn’t enough, but I haven’t had a single window of opportunity to construct another run-in, nor has he made the next move. Normally, I wait for the guy to make the first move, so the fact I made the first move in this scenario should tell you just how much I wanted something to happen with this guy. Now that I’ve made the first move, though, I’d be breaking every rule in the book to make the second one.

Who the hell ever liked rules, anyway?

A week ago, I started hitting the treadmill extra hard at my gym, in hopes that I can run into him on one of his morning runs soon and be able to keep up, instead of just watching him like some pathetic, desperate weirdo. Yes, the thought has crossed my mind that he may already think I’m a nut job the way I watch him every morning, but then if that were the case, why would I get that hint of a wry smile and that small wave I get every day from him since our little sample night? Why wouldn’t he run in the other direction instead of past my house, or keep his head down like he doesn’t see me sitting there drinking in the sight of him?

I feel the sharp end of a towel whipping at my butt just as Ashley, my best friend and partner in crime, jumps onto the treadmill next to mine in the brightly lit, near-empty cardio center of our local health club.

“Looking good there, Nic. You’re sweating like a parolee at a drug screen, but your form is on point, sister.” Ashley quips as she punches at the buttons on the dash of her own machine, getting it started.

“Thanks,” I huff out, slowing my speed. I grab for my towel to wipe the sweat from my forehead and back of my neck.

Ashley leans over to get a look at my stats. “Damn, girl. Since when did you get so serious?”

Still panting, I answer, “I’m just trying to be on my game.”

She gives me the side glance. “Yeah, I invented that game. Spill,” she demands.

I give her a sly smile, but instead of answering, I face forward, punch the up arrows to jack the treadmill speed back up to a full sprint, and feeling pretty smooth for having avoided her grilling questions, spare a small glance back at her. I notice she’s giving me that unimpressed eyebrow lift, but there’s no time to worry over it when there’s work to be done and progress to be made.

“Mm-hmm, I see how this is. You know, you can’t run from me forever,” Ashley mumbles beside me. Then, louder, she says, “Hey, isn’t that him?”

Overcome by my sudden curiosity, I turn my head just enough to see where she’s pointing to near the front entrance, my eyes darting from left to right in search of the gorgeous man I call my neighbor. Despite my raging heartbeat already pounding from my sprint, I feel adrenaline pulse through me in heavy spurts, just enough to push my limits and cause me to lose my momentum. I feel my ankles begin to wobble, and before I know it, I catch air, watch the belt of the treadmill beneath me that I’m suddenly somehow parallel to – that can’t be a good sign – and I push my arms out in front of me to attempt to break what I know is going to be a treacherous fall.

As soon as my outstretched hands hit the rapidly moving belt that my feet should be on and not my face, I hear the “Oomph!” escape me when the weight of the rest of my body bears down on my hands that the treadmill, still moving at sprinting speed, sends shooting down the way. When my palms reach the edge of the machine and collapse the several inches down to the floor, it catches me off balance once again and my chin bounces off the edge of the still spinning contraption I’ve now deemed a deadly weapon of mass destruction.

I manage to push myself up the slight amount so the belt won’t continue rapidly rubbing a burn on my chin, and about this time, I begin to notice the shooting pain radiating up my left arm beginning at my elbow.

“Oh, shit, Nic!” I hear Ashley yell in conjunction with the rapid beeps of her hitting the Emergency Stop button on her own machine, then mine, and she hurries to crouch down next to me on the floor.

Panicked that she really did see Dorian come in, and that there was even the slightest chance he just watched me completely and royally bust like that, I look around to see who might be watching and quickly try to compose myself and rise to stand.

“Are you serious? Did you really see him?” I ask quietly, unable to spot him in the crowd of faces who all seem to be staring straight at me. Fantastic.

Ashely works to contain an indeliberate chuckle, covers her mouth with one hand, and shakes her head. “No,” comes her muffled reply.

This makes me angry. Is she kidding me? I just completely busted ass in the middle of the gym like some bad YouTube video and didn’t even have the wherewithal to play it off with a pushup afterward, and it was all from a joke?

“Not cool, Ash. Not cool,” I accuse, using the arm that isn’t throbbing at the elbow at the moment to reach up to cup my chin. Bleeding, of course, and now that I make myself aware of that, it starts burning, too.

She takes the towel hanging from the arm of her machine and tries to approach me with it to help me wipe the dripping blood away as I hear some gym employee, probably a personal trainer of some sort, inch closer and ask if I’m okay. I wave him and her both off with my good hand that’s now covered in chin blood and start making my way to the door.

Ashley follows. “I didn’t know you’d tank like that. I was just teasing you. Wow… I’m really sorry. Seriously, are you okay? Do we need to have someone call a medic to look you over or something?”

“No! No medic. I just need to get home and lie down for a minute.” I start feeling a bit woozy, but I’m certain it’s the heavy dose of reality that hit, or the massive shock of embarrassment I feel at the moment like some kind of public stage fright. I grab my keys from the hook they hang from next to the exit and wipe my hand on the thigh of my workout pants, smearing the blood across the tight, thankfully black fabric before pushing the door open with the same, good hand.

We get outside, Ashley trailing right on my heels, and I try to make a beeline to my car, albeit a crooked one, judging from the way my head is now spinning.

“Seriously, you don’t look so good. Do you maybe need some water or something? Are you sure you should drive right now?”

I lean against my car to steady myself for a moment. My arm is throbbing. My chin burns and blood still trickling down from it has me feeling plain old nauseous at this point. I open my mouth and draw in a breath to push out a rebuttal, but my rebuttal never makes it past my lips. Little dots start forming around the edges of my vision and they start closing in, forming a tunnel that starts going dark.

*

The doors of what look to be the inside of an ambulance open wide, letting bright lights of an emergency room flood my waking vision as I am rolled into a hospital. Oh, my goodness, y’all, could it really get any more humiliating at this point?

I try to sit up, but it’s this moment that I notice my left arm has been stabilized against my side, making it hard to gain the momentum my body needs to do such a menial task as get myself upright, go figure. I feel a big wad of gauze taped to my chin, which I can only assume will be a barrel of monkeys to pull off later – and consequently, I am now kicking myself for not opting to wax my facial hair, peach fuzz though it may be, because that’s going to be a fun time peeling away ultra-sticky medical tape from.

“Nicole? Are you awake? Is she awake?” I hear Ashley call to one of the paramedics wheeling me down a corridor and into a curtained off space in the back area of the ER department.

“I’m awake,” I say groggily.

I see her head pop up next to me as they park me and kick the stopper down on the wheel of my roll-away gurney-bed. I assume her eyes are wide with worry. That is, until she looks over to her left, my right, and my eyes follow her line of sight.

No…

Seriously, no…

Oh, fresh hell, y’all, please tell me I’m still unconscious and having a treadmill concussion-induced nightmare.

“Nicole?”

Yep, if there was any mistaking that gorgeous face and that tall, well-formed body wearing a pair of light-blue scrubs walking directly my way, the sound of his voice would be a dead giveaway.

A nervous chuckle escapes me when my eyes lock on to his. “Dorian…”

 

Did you miss Chapter 1?

FLASH FICTION
Read the first chapter here!
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#FlashFiction – Valentine’s Day Fantasy of a Single Romance Writer

FLASH FICTION

There he was. Dorian Le Blanc, the man who played the star role in all my wildest dreams. The hot, recently divorced, finally single dad I’ve been pining away for since he moved in next door two years ago. Two long years, people.

Let me put this into perspective for you. That tall, dark, mysterious, and handsome romance Hero in all the best, steamy, romance novels? Yeah, that’s him. The one with the perfectly messy, full head of dark hair you just want to grab tight, lecherous handfuls of. The perpetual five o’clock shadow you can just tell he could easily grow into a full beard if he ever let it go for a few days. Dark, brooding eyes like deep pools of promising, morning sunrise, like magical telescopes with the power to see straight into your soul. A body like sex in the flesh that’ll have any hetero female crooning Shakira’s “Underneath Your Clothes.” A deep, growly voice, the tone of which shoots hot, aching desire down into all your girly bits. Yep, that’s him.

hot guy.gif

This is a guy who, every morning, before the world wakes, I drag my blankets with me over to my bedroom window and curl up on the bench to lean my head against the pane and watch. Just like clock work, he will emerge from somewhere around the back of his house, and his feet hit the pavement. Heavy sweat pants hung softly from his waist, dark hoodie with the hood covering his head. And he runs.

Voyeuristic as this may be, I can’t help myself. For one, it’s one of the few chances I get to really see him, when he doesn’t know I’m watching. But seeing his physical prowess, his powerful strides, the way his body seems to relax, even amidst the physical exertion. I wonder what kind of struggles must weigh him down so much for the rest of the day that those brief moments in the not-quite-light hours of the morning are the only time I see the strain and worry fall away from his gorgeous face.

Ever since I found out two months ago that he’d filed for divorce – yes, the fight that ensued when he’d apparently broken the news was probably something everyone on our block either witnessed or quickly heard about – I’d been dreaming of ways to somehow, “randomly” run into him. Ask him to hang out sometime. Do people still do that now at our age?

But tonight, I had the perfect idea, and my stomach flutters with nerves just thinking about putting said plan into action.

tenor

 

That’s why I’m standing here now in the soft glow of the light on his front porch, seeing the soft outline of him sitting on his living room sofa through the blurry glass of his front door, as I’m holding a bag of takeout in one hand, a paper bag with wine and dessert in the other, and psyching myself up to reach forward and press the doorbell.  I waited for the lights to go out in the kids’ bedrooms before walking over, and I know I’m making a bold move here that could go one of two ways – one being a pleasant reward to my courageous gesture, and two being a phone call to a realtor tomorrow.

I channel all the inner Wonder-Woman vibes I can muster and lift the arm holding the wine and dessert, reaching a finger to press the doorbell and seal my fate.

wonder woman gif

My heart begins to pound violently in my chest, and I have to work to keep from rattling the bags in my hands from shaking with nerves, but there I see him stand from the couch and walk this way. Excitement swells in my chest the closer he gets. This is it! The door opens, and his dark, questioning eyes pierce me, his full lips twitching up in the faintest hint of a curious smile.

I smile back. “Hi, I’m Nicole. I live next door.” I look over my shoulder toward my house and then back to him, just in time to see him nod, still clearly confused about what I’m doing here, so I continue. “My date kind of cancelled on me tonight, and I have all this food. I thought I’d come by and share, if you’re up for it.”

Okay, so there was no cancelled date, but it wasn’t really George Strait’s chair, either, and look how that turned out for him.

He looks down at the bags I’m holding, probably smelling the soft aromas of warm food I carry in my left hand, then to the top of the wine bottle poking out of the bag in my right hand. Then his eyes meet mine. “What kind of date stood you up?” he asks with disapproval of the imaginary guy as he opens his door wide and gestures me in.

come here

I smell him as I walk past him inside his home, my nerves prickling across my skin as I sense his closeness. He smells so good, like he’s recently showered, and he’s wearing a long-sleeved, cotton shirt with a worn pair of jeans hanging comfortably at his hips. He looks good, y’all, and he smells even better, like pure, sexy man.

“We didn’t really know each other well. I guess something just came up. I didn’t see any reason to let all this go to waste. Do you like braised chicken?” I ask as he takes one bag from me and then the other.

“Usually,” he says.  “I’m Dorian. It’s… nice to meet you.” An apologetic smile crosses his lips and gives just the slightest hint of a rosy tint to the apples of his cheeks. “I’m sorry, I guess I don’t know many of my neighbors. I should probably be better about that.”

He motions for me to follow him into the kitchen of his nice, open concept home.  I trail behind him, disbelieving of my awesome luck so far, and watch as he lifts the bags onto his counter.

“I understand. You seem like a busy guy. I hope I’m not bothering you,” I offer, and ladies, you know damn well I’m hoping he’s going to tell me I’m not.

“Not at all. I’ve already put the kids to bed,” he replies, and the smile on my face lingers as he begins to unpack the contents of my offerings.

I grab the bottle of wine and hold it up in a silent question to see if he wants some.

bubbly

“Here, let me get some glasses for that,” he offers as I begin to untwist the metal wire caging the cork onto the bubbly brew. He sets the wine glasses down in front of me before taking the bottle and uncorking it with a loud pop and begins to pour.

“Thank you,” I say, smiling like a Cheshire Cat, taking the glass from him. “You know, I’ve wanted to come by and introduce myself for a long time now. I guess the timing just wasn’t ever right.”

“Really?” he asks, sounding surprised. “You should have. It’s a nice surprise,” he admits, and he gives me a look… Y’all know that look – one that says he’s flirting back with me! It sends a rush of excitement through my veins, and it emboldens me to settle into a mindset that this night is definitely taking a turn for the better.

love

We have some light conversation over the impromptu dinner. I’ve just about already fallen in love with the way he laughs, and as I help him clear away plates and glasses, he offers to pour me another glass and move the party into his living room.

“I was just about to settle in and find something to binge-watch on Netflix. You’re welcome to join me… unless you’ve got to get back.” He watches and waits for my response.

I shake my head. “No, I don’t have anywhere else to be tonight. I’m all yours!” And I mean all yours, Dorian Le Blanc.

“Good,” he says, and I swear, I can see a mischievous glint in his hazel eyes that tells me he’s thinking as naughty as I am. I can barely contain the excitement bubbling up and trying to spill over out of my chest.

smile

I take my topped off glass of wine and follow him to sit on his sofa. He waits to let me sit down first, and I’m unsure of which seat exactly to take… The end seat? Somewhere toward the middle where I’m closer to him? I want to get closer to him, but I don’t want to come on too strong and end the night way too soon. I err on the side of caution, taking the spot at the end, and he takes the other end but angles his legs toward me and reaches an arm to rest across the back of the couch.

He gets the show going, and we exchange a few playful comments. The next thing I know, we’re both leaning toward each other like we both want to get closer but are both afraid to. Between the dinner, the playful banter, and the chemistry I feel like we’re both feeling between us – at least I hope we’re both feeling and not just me – I decide to engender the bold, courageous woman I know I can be and just go for broke. I straighten in my seat and move my derriere over closer to him.

He watches me move in closer, and I wait to measure his reaction. I’m close enough for him to easily reach out and touch me now, and if he’s going to, now is his perfect opening. He’s quiet for a minute, and I start to second guess myself. Was it too much, too soon? Should I move back over? Should I get up and ask for the restroom to play it off?

oh shit

But then, he reaches to grab my hand and moves in to close the remaining distance between us. He’s staring me in the eyes, and his gaze travels down to my lips that I involuntarily sweep my tongue over in response.

“You smell very good,” he says, his voice even deeper than it had been earlier.

I chuckle softly, caught up in the feel of his warmth wrapped around me. “So do you,” I murmur. I sidle in close to him as his gaze now penetrates mine in the dim light cast by the tv screen neither of us is watching any longer.

“Would you be offended if I told you I’ve been hoping we could meet?” His eyes shift between mine, waiting for the answer, and I can almost feel the wisp of his breath against my face.

about to kiss

My own breath hitches at his oh-so-sweet confession, this music to my ears, this food to my soul, and my heart pounds at the thought of making a confession of my own.

“Would you be offended if I told you I didn’t have a date who stood me up?”

Oh, my goodness, y’all. The secret is out, and I hang precariously on the edge of a precipice. He could either grab hold of me or push me over it. Either way, fate is out of my hands now.

I wait for him to say something, anything, as he sits motionless before me, his eyes not leaving mine. Seconds tick by. Shit! Why would I admit this and risk ending it all before it even begins? Why…

face palm

His lips crash down onto mine, fierce and uninhibited. His hands are in my hair, gripping handfuls and pulling me closer into him. Within seconds, my initial shock wears off, and I lightly moan my appreciation as I kiss him back, my hands gripping tightly on his shirt.

passionate kiss

His kiss… it’s hungry and needy as his hands trail down my face, brush my hair away from my neck, and slide down the curves of my body, settling at my hips that he locks his fingers onto and guides me up to straddle his lap. Of course, I eagerly oblige, reveling in the explosion of sensations flowing through me with every touch, every finger tip to my skin, every brush of his lips against mine.

*

I wake up the following morning, just before daylight. I look at the soft glow of numbers on my alarm clock and slide out of bed, grabbing the blankets to drag with me to curl up on the bench at the window. I rest my head against the pane and wait.

Thoughts of last night fill my mind, and my heart is giddy at the possibilities. My pulse quickens when I see the familiar rustle of movement and I watch Dorian Le Blanc come jogging around from the back of his house. My forehead presses against the window as I take in the sense of longing, deeper now than it ever has been.

Where this will go? Who knows, but I smile when I see him look up at me and wave.

READ THE NEXT CHAPTER!

Serial Ch. 2

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#FlashFiction – Fairy Tale Romance

Flash Fiction 3

This wasn’t some fairy tale story with a happy ending.  The fact Mila was wandering these darkened woods had nothing to do with a trail to grandmother’s house, and the so-called, big bad wolf wasn’t going to be found lurking in the shadows out here.

No, that ghastly, pompous, arrogant, egotistical… you get the picture… he was the guest of honor at the Burkshire Spring Gala, the event of the year for this uppity, small, mountain town.

Everybody who was anybody was there, and they’d all bared witness to the disaster she had just endured at the hands of Rupert St. Cloud.

Okay, so she’d been out with the guy once or twice, but she would have much rather forgotten the whole thing and pretended none of it had ever happened, much like the horrendously public display she’d just left.

The sound of her phone ringing the tune of Justin Bieber singing about being the one started playing in muffled tones, so she reached into her cleavage to pull her cell from its admittedly moist hiding place.  Another less-than-brilliant idea she could add to the list for the night.

“Charlie, don’t even say it.  I don’t want to hear it.  I already know what you’re going to say, and… just don’t.”

She heard her friend’s melodic chuckle through the phone before Charlotte Johnson, endearingly called Charlie, said, “Oh my God, Mi, you just got the proposal of the century.”

Mila’s hand went to her forehead and covered her eyes.  “I told you not to say it,” she grumbled.

“Though, I have to admit, as unexpected as it was, you bolting out the door… nobody saw that coming.  I think he’s about to send his posse out looking for you.”

Mila groaned.

“Oh, God, I’ve got to get out of here.  And who says the word ‘posse’ anymore?” she added.

Mila looked around, trying to decide which way to go.  The sun was already starting to go down, so wandering the woods all night probably wasn’t the best idea.  Going back toward the Gala was out of the question, but she knew if she went south a little way, she’d come out on the main road.

“Charlie, tell my dad to send the car for me.  He can find me on Red Oak Highway in about fifteen to twenty minutes. And don’t you dare tell anyone else where I am.  I’m never going to live this down.”

“Suit yourself, sister,” Charlie sang before hanging up.

Mila stuffed her phone back down into the cup of her strapless bra and hefted the layers of her long, satin skirt to maneuver through the terrain.  The heels of her strappy shoes sank down into the earth with each step, and the sticks, rocks, and leaves made for a trek that was anything but smooth.

What had Rupert been thinking?  The dates they had been on hadn’t exactly been awe-inspiring, to say the least.  Once she had gotten past his long lashes, dimples, and British accent, she’d found there just hadn’t been much to the guy.

Nothing she had found interesting, anyway, which wasn’t saying much, she supposed.  She had yet to find any guy half way interesting in this town, and had it not been for Charlie, she’d have probably gone crazy with boredom by now.  It was like all these townspeople were the same – walking, talking clones of each other, like they didn’t have minds of their own but one, dull, collective mind.

The sky was getting darker by the minute, and she realized it was taking longer than she’d thought to get to Red Oak Highway.  She pulled her phone out again, thinking she’d better call her dad to see where he was and let him know she would be a little longer getting to the road than she had initially thought.

She rubbed the screen of her phone against the fabric of her dress at the waist, removing the moisture it had accumulated from the sweat she had worked up, pillaging through the woods in heels and a long gown.  She brought the phone to life and tried to dial her father.

“Crap,” she cursed under her breath.  No signal.

With her eyes on the phone screen instead of the path, she didn’t see the dip in the ground ahead as her foot stepped down, her ankle twisting at a painful and awkward angle, and it sent her toppling straight to the ground.

“Ow!” she cried, pushing herself up to sitting and reaching for her now throbbing ankle.

She sucked in a hissing breath between her clenched teeth as she tried to barely rotate her foot, but the shooting pain made her think better of it.

The panic crept up in her chest as she took a look around at the darkening forest.  Nightfall was already settling upon her, and the canopy of trees overhead lent their shadow beneath, darkening her path even further.

She looked around for her phone that had plummeted to the ground at some point during her fall.  It was her only hope at this point of getting anywhere, and the chances of it magically having service now when it hadn’t only a few seconds ago was undoubtedly slim – if she could even find it.

She scraped her hands along the leaves, dirt, and grass of the forest floor, feeling for any sign of the phone.

“Where are you?  Where are you?  Come on, don’t do this to me, not now.”  She tried to widen her radius, shifting so her throbbing ankle was out of the way.

Finally, her fingers grazed over the smooth surface of the device, and she clutched it tightly in her fist, rejoicing with her victory.  Her excitement, though, was short lived once she brought the phone to life, only to see it still had no signal.

She thought for a moment, taking a look around as her eyes adjusted to her darkened surroundings.  She had to keep her head.  If she gave up, that would be as good as Rupert St. Cloud winning, and she would be damned if she let that arrogant prick get the upper hand on her.

She would have to suck it up and find her way out.  The trouble now was, she had somehow gotten herself turned around and couldn’t tell which direction was which with the sun no longer showing in the sky to indicate any semblance of a hint of which way she was going.

Her gaze traveled from left to right, desperate to recall any landmark that might give away the direction she had come from, but it was just no use.  She couldn’t very well sit here on the floor of the forest all night, though, either, so she braced herself and pushed off the ground to stand.

Dusting herself off, mostly to stall walking, she made up her mind.  This was the way she needed to go.

She put her lame foot in front of her and quickly stepped forward, pain lancing up through her leg until the other foot stepped down and accepted her weight again.  This was not good.  She would have to rally her strength and push through this.  Camping had never been her thing, much less alone, knowing her dad would be waiting for her and probably already was.  

One step.  Ow!

Another.  Then another.  Each step she took felt more painful than the last, and she felt the tears begin to spill down her cheeks, not realizing she had been crying.

When the shock finally took over her, stealing her consciousness, she toppled, a dead weight, and her head hit hard on the solid root of a massive oak tree when she met the ground.

*

His wolf picked up an unusual scent as he passed through the darkness in pursuit of his secluded, mountain home.  He’d been making his usual rounds, checking the perimeter and the boundaries of his territory, letting his animal run free, when the scent drew him near to see what it was.

A woman.

Who was she, and where had she come from?  These woods were no place for a woman, especially at night, and he could smell the lingering scents of fear and pain on her.

He shifted into his man form and slowly approached her in the shadows, remaining hidden.

He noted the slow, rhythmic, rise and fall of her chest and the way the air pushed from deep within her lungs that she was asleep.  He moved in closer to see her better.  He observed the formal dress, the heels, and the dark, silky curls that fanned out on the ground like the halo of a beautiful, sleeping angel.

Something wasn’t right.  Had she been dumped here?  Her clothes showed no signs of being dragged.  Nothing was torn or tattered that he could see.  There were no signs of struggle, other than her swollen, right ankle.  He could sense its heat like a fever.

What to do with her, though?  He couldn’t just leave her out here in the wild.  It wasn’t safe.  Taking her home would be a mistake, though.  He could just see her reaction at first glance of him, but what choice did he really have?

He shifted back to wolf form.  He would need the speed and grace of his animal to get her there as quickly and smoothly as possible.  He nuzzled his way beneath her and lifted so she rested on his back.  He waited for a moment in case she woke, but after several seconds, she remained un-moving.

He began at a slow pace to adjust to moving beneath her weight while balancing her so she didn’t slide off him, until he managed to work his way up to full speed.

Within an hour, he slowed as he came upon the stoop of his home tucked deep within the woods.

He knelt his large frame to the ground with the woman still lying across his back.  He eased out from beneath her and shifted again to man form so he could carry her inside.  He spared a final glance over his shoulder before he pressed his foot against the door, pushing it closed.

*

When she awoke, the sunlight colored the backs of her eyelids, and she squinted them tightly to keep the intrusive brightness at bay.  When she thought she was ready, she opened her eyes.

A high ceiling with exposed, wooden rafters came into focus first.  The next thing that registered was the smell of bacon cooking.  She turned her head, looking to one side, then the other.

Where am I?

She leaned up onto her elbows.  There had to be someone here, or she wouldn’t smell food.  Delicious-smelling food, at that, she thought, as her stomach reacted with a growl.

“Hello?”  she called, but the sound came out low and timid.  No one could have heard that, not from another room.

She took a breath to try again, but instead, she was startled by the sight of a man who appeared in the doorway of the room.  

He was tall, unusually so with a thick, solid frame.  He wore a tee-shirt that hugged his form, and a pair of dark jeans hung low on his hips.

His arm and shoulder muscles were showcased as he gripped each side of the door frame.  He had more than a few days’ worth of stubble cover his jaw, and a thick mane of unruly hair fell around his face.  His eyes were hazel, an intense mixture of brown and green, and they looked severe and intimidating as he eyed her from across the room.

She recoiled, unsure of who he was or whether he could be trusted.

“Wh-who are you?” she stuttered.

His voice came out deep and growly when he replied, “Brody.”

Her eyes dared to leave him for a moment to look around.  “Where am I?”

He didn’t move from the door.  “You’re in my home.  We’re… a few miles outside of town.”

She looked out the window and saw an incredible view of the horizon, as though they were high up somewhere.

She looked back to him, appraising him and whether he seemed like a threat.

“And how did I get here?” she asked, defensively.  

He dropped his arms to the side, and she flinched.  He held his hands up and waited for her to give him the okay to move closer.  

When she nodded her permission, he came into the room and stood at the foot of the bed.

“I found you last night, passed out, alone in the woods.”

She looked downward to the blanket that rested over her, trying to think.

“Do you remember how you got there?” Brody asked.

She looked up at him with a near blank expression.  She shook her head, no.

“Where were you going?” he asked.

“I was… I… don’t know,” she admitted.

His lips formed a straight line as his brows furrowed. “What’s your name?”

Her eyes met his and her mouth opened as if to answer.  Nothing came.  The words had evaded her.  She tried to clear the fog from her brain, but there was no answer.

She became afraid. “Oh, God, I don’t remember my name.”  She held her hands to her face as realization hit her.  “I don’t know who I am.”

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#FlashFiction – June 23, 2017 #UF #PNR

Flash Fiction 1Lizbeth emerged from the shadows of the dock, looking down into the depths of dark, murky waters below.  The lights of the city burned in the distance, and a temporary calm settled inside her knowing she was miles away from the chaos that had come to define her everyday life.

She crouched at the edge of the lift and watched as the waters swayed beneath her, light dancing off the oscillating ripples. It reminded her of the lights that danced in a pair of smiling, jade eyes that had come to frequent her thoughts in quiet moments such as these.

“Where are you?” she muttered into the night.

Of course, the night didn’t answer.  It was a fickle bastard like that. The night only served to hide, trick, and deceive what the light wanted to reveal, and it was all she knew, all she would know of the world.

The hope was a useless one, she knew, because finding him would have meant disastrous implications.  He’d been gone for over a year now, and this was how it had to be.  It’s what she wanted for him and what she knew he had to do.  That didn’t make the ache inside her, the constant reminder of his absence, any easier to endure.

Did he ever long for her in quiet moments like this, or wonder where she was, what she was doing, or if she was safe?  Alive?

Her fingers went to the hidden locket she wore that hung close to her heart.  She felt the warmth of it as she rubbed its smooth surface, and the memory of the way her fingertips had smoothed over the soft flesh of his tender, languid lips in just the same way intruded into her mind.  Her eyes closed as she let the rays of moonlight penetrate her skin and comfort her.

The slightest rustling sound behind her set her senses on alert.  She tucked the locket back beneath her shirt as she cast a quick glance over her shoulder in the direction of the nearly inaudible disruption, scanning the shore and the single, center console boat that bobbed and thudded against the wood it was anchored to. Her eyes scanned her surroundings, but saw nothing out of place.

Uneasiness swept over her, and she moved with stealth, backing away from the ledge to take cover in the shadows.

“I thought I’d find yeh here,” a familiar, rugged voice with an Irish lilt called from the boat, startling her.

She gasped, and her arms went up in front of her as she took a defensive stance.

“Brick!” she blurted as recognition set in.  “What are you doing here?”

He leaned casually on the ledge of the boat, and the breeze coming off the water sent the overgrown waves of his hair ruffling across his forehead in a messy array.

“Charles is lookin’ for yeh,” he called as he climbed up over the edge of the boat and jumped down onto the dock, landing with a muted thud.

Lizbeth emerged from the darkness to meet him.

“I told Charles I’m done.  Tell him to find someone else.”

Her arms folded across her chest as she stood with her feet planted widely apart.  She was taking a stand, once and for all.

Brick scoffed.  “Come on, Lizbeth, we both know that’s not the way this wurks.”

He closed in toward her and reached to grasp her arm.  She jerked her shoulder away and out of his reach.

“I’m sorry, did I stutter?  I’m not going,” she reiterated through gritted teeth.

Brick shifted back a few inches to keep from setting her off even further.  His dark eyes grew serious and he rubbed his rough, masculine hand over the dark stubble of his jaw.

“Okay, far be it fer me teh force yeh… but I tink yer going to want to be there fer this one.”

His flippant tone wasn’t fooling her.

“Doubtful,” she muttered, keeping her eyes trained firmly on him.

He shrugged.  “Suit yerself.”  He turned his back to her and retreated unhurried up the path of the dock.  He was still within hearing range when he called over his shoulder.  “By the way, we’ve found Remy.”

Jade eyes flashed through her mind, intruding on her thoughts for the second time that night, but this time it brought a sense of panicked urgency.

“Remy,” she whispered, then bolted into a sprint to catch up with Brick.  “Wait!” she shouted.

If they’d found Remy, there was only one thing for certain.  He was either already dead, or he wanted to found.  She didn’t like either implication, but there was no question, she had to find out what was happening.  More than that, she had to see him.

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Flash Fiction – Mistletoe and Fire Glow

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mistletoe-and-fire-glow

Chapter 6


Cordi felt like such an idiot.  Was this some kind of game being played at her expense?  She had really liked Russ, and now?  Well, now she didn’t know what to think.

She had taken a cab to get to Marta and Jake’s house that evening, and it was going to be a long wait or a long walk in the freezing cold.  Now that she thought about it, it probably hadn’t been a good idea to just run out on everybody.  It was an impulsive move that she already regretted.

“Cordi, wait!”  She could hear Russ calling after her, or was it Graham?  She didn’t know what to call him now, and wasn’t sure it even mattered.

She turned to see him jogging toward her, as quickly as he could in the snow and ice.  When he caught up to her, he slowed, as though he were afraid he would scare her off once again.

“I’m sorry,” he said.  “Please come back inside.  I’d like to explain myself if you’ll let me.”

The lights from the house and neighboring houses blinked, and their glow shone on his face as she looked up into his eyes.  Could she trust the look of sincerity, or did Christmas lights make everything look pure and magical?  She hesitated, not knowing what she should do, and began shivering as her breath formed a fog of ice crystals in front of her.

Russ shrugged out of his coat and moved to wrap it around her over her own.  “Here. Please, it’s freezing out here.  Let’s get you back inside where it’s warm and we can talk,” he said, hoping she would allow it and go back in with him.

At last, she conceded, and he wrapped an arm around her as he walked her back inside.

Once they got back in, he suggested they go talk in an empty bedroom.  “Go ahead, and I’ll meet you there,” he said.  “I’ll get us something warm to drink and I’ll be right in.”

When he came in with two cups of hot cocoa, he found her standing at the window, looking out onto the snow covering the front yard.  She turned to see him and took one of the cups from him, letting it warm her hands.

“Why didn’t you just tell me who you were at the diner the other night?” she asked in a calm, resigned voice.

“I know it looks bad, but I wasn’t trying to deceive you.  At least, not in a bad way.  Wait, that didn’t come out right.”  He was fumbling with what to say, and he had a feeling he was only making things worse.  She said nothing, but her eyes widened.

He sighed, frustrated with himself, and sat down on the bed.  “What I meant was, I just wanted you to feel comfortable talking to me, and I wanted a chance to get to know the real you without the expectations that go along with being on a date,” he explained.

Expectations?  How do you know what my expectations would have been if you don’t even know me?” she asked.  “You know something, though?  Maybe you were right, because the only thing I expected going into that date was to be disappointed.  Turns out, I was right.”

Russ stood and went to her by the window.  “Don’t say that.  The truth is, I had a great time with you that night.  I’ve just had a lot of bad dates, and didn’t know what to expect, myself.”

That resonated with Cordi, and she found herself slowly warming to him once again.  She thought back to the carefree banter they had shared that night, and had to admit that it would have undoubtedly gone a lot differently had she known that Russ was the guy she had been there to meet.

She looked down to her feet, and when she looked back up at him, he could see the warmth that had returned to her eyes.  He took her hands in his and moved in closer so that only inches were left between them.

“Can we start over?” he said, barely above a whisper, as he looked at her expectantly.

She nodded her consent.  “I think I would like that,” she said.

When they rejoined the party, another Tim Halperin song filled the room, Under That Christmas Spell.  Russ and Cordi were hand in hand, and Marta squealed in delight as she watched them approach.

“I knew you two would work it out,” Marta bragged as she snuggled up to Jake who stood beside her.

“I guess we owe you a thanks for introducing us,” Russ said to Marta, before smiling back at Cordi.  Cordi’s heart warmed even more.

Marta gasped as though she had just gotten a grand idea.  “Oh!  Come over here by the fireplace.  I want to show you something,” she said, and darted off for the others to follow.

Once they got to where she wanted them, a mischievous grin spread across her face.

“Marta, what is it?” Cordi asked, suspicious of what her friend was up to.

Marta didn’t speak, but her eyes trailed up to the ceiling.  They all followed her gaze and realized she had them standing beneath mistletoe that had been hanging from an exposed wooden rafter.

Russ and Cordi chuckled, but Russ looked down at her, a question in his eyes.  Cordi nodded, excited at the thought of their first kiss, and Russ decided to go for it.

He brushed a thumb across her cheek as his mouth drew closer to hers, and her eyes closed in anticipation.  Then their lips pressed gently together, and she could taste the sweet cocoa on him as he moved in and pulled her closer to him.

It was over all too soon, and when Cordi opened her eyes again, she couldn’t wait until the next one.

Mistletoe and fire glow, she thought, as the fire warmed them from the hearth, her growing feelings for Russ warmed her from within, and Barbara Mandrell sang to them what began their first of many Christmases together.

It Must Have Been the Mistletoe.

The End