No GRL For Me

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Today’s the sign up for GRL this fall and I’m sad to say I won’t be going.  I left it last year planning to go as an author but the closer sign up got, the more I realized it wasn’t feasible this year.  October is a busy month for me under the best of circumstances, but with two friends getting married (one before, one after GRL) and not as many books under my belt as I’d hoped, I made the decision a few weeks ago not to go.

Time and money are in short supply these days and I think it’ll be better for me to not go, but when I saw sign up announced I felt a twinge of sadness.  I had truly hoped to be there and I’m disappointed that I can’t make it happen.

So, my new goal is to work my butt off and make it in 2016.

And if you’re going to be at home during GRL 2015, well, I’ll be right there with you (virtually anyway).

Scent Memories

Scent is a funny thing.  It triggers so many memories and there’s no controlling them.  The memories leap out when you least expect them.

I work for a hospital but not in the hospital, so when someone is seriously ill or injured in the building, paramedics get called to transport the patient over to the Emergency Room.  It happened today.  Part of my job is to use an override key for the elevator to get the paramedics to the patient and back as quickly as possible

Like many cities, the fire department is also trained as paramedics so today we had an ambulance and a fire truck show up.  Normally, the guys in the truck show up in their blue uniforms or clean fire gear, but today two of them were wearing slightly smoky fire gear.

The moment I got in the elevator with them I could smell it.  The smell took me right back to nearly nine years ago when Mr. Vaughn’s apartment burned.  It was a hot, muggy Memorial Day.  We were in his tiny apartment, trying to keep cool.  We smelled something burning, a nice woody, campfire type smell.  We even commented on it.  “Hmm, smells like someone’s grilling in the park across the street.”

An hour later someone pounded on the door screaming, “There’s a fire, get out!”  I had on nothing more than a bra and miniscule shorts–trying to keep cool–so I threw on a robe and stuffed my rabbits into a carrier.

I spent the next couple of hours sitting in a parking lot in my robe, trying to keep my rabbits calm as they put out the fire.  It was surreal and such a vivid memory I’ll never be able to get it out of my head.

Fire

All things considered, we were lucky.  All of the humans and animals made it out of the fire unharmed.  Mr. Vaughn lost nearly all of his possessions, but he had renter’s insurance.  I lived elsewhere, so I still had my belongings and we had a place to sleep that night.

The next day we were able to walk through the apartment and see what was left.  Most of the fire was contained in the ceiling and it was an old house that had been converted into apartments so the majority of what burned was wood and cellulose insulation.  The scent of smoke and water was overwhelming but it still smelled like a huge campfire.  There was none of the acrid sting of burning plastic.

The next few months were utter chaos and some of the most stressful in my life.  We spent the time battling the insurance company to get every penny Mr. Vaughn was owed.  The 4th of July made me anxious that a firework would start a fire, and the smell of wood smoke made me uncomfortable.

Now, I can happily sit in front of a bonfire or a fire in the fireplace and feel relaxed.  But the smoky scent of fireman’s gear will always take me back to that rush of anxiety I felt as I ran out of a burning building and I know it will never fully go away.

 

Flash Fiction Monday – Hitched

Week Eight

 

Notes: This week I decided to revisit Van and Bobby from a previous week’s flash fic. 

 Hitched

The sight of Van in well-worn jeans and chaps never failed to made Bobby weak in the knees, so when he suggested they take a few days to camp out under the stars and check the fence on the far west side of the ranch, Bobby didn’t stop to wonder why.  He should have, but he was too distracted trying to get those jeans open and taste Van to really stop and think.

Van had taken to ranch life surprisingly well in the year and a half since he moved in with Bobby.  There was the incident with the cow shit that Bobby refused to let him live down and another one with a snake in his sleeping bag that had him screamin’ like a four-year-old, but overall, he’d done quite well transitioning from a city slicker to a country boy.

A long day in the saddle still made Van cranky as hell, but he was gettin’ there.

Now here they were at the end of their first day out and as Bobby slid down from Sadie’s back to make camp, Van bitched and moaned about his sore ass.  “Then why the hell did you suggest this camping trip?” he grumbled.

Van went silent and Bobby rolled his eyes as he grabbed Sadie’s reins.  He turned and saw Van down on one knee, with Amigo’s reins in one hand.  He blinked stupidly, dazzled by the sunset in his eyes and Van doin’ something Bobby never expected to see.

“What do you say?” Van asked, his smile nearly as blinding as the sun.

“This is why you wanted to come out here?” Bobby asked.

“I believe I promised to make an honest man of you, so I thought it was about time I made good on that promise.”

“You’re happy here on the ranch?” Sometimes it worried Bobby that Van had given up too much for him.  They took trips into the city when they could, but Van swore up and down that he was enjoying the country life.  Bobby wasn’t sure how he’d cope if Van ever changed his mind.

“I am.”  Van grinned.  “I’ll take all the shit and snakes in the world if it means I’m with you.”

Bobby’s bark of a laugh made Sadie jerk and shy back.  He patted her.  “Easy, girl.”

“Come on, Bobby, don’t leave me hangin’ like this,” Van said softly.  A flicker of worry crossed his face.  Bobby took a step toward him and Van took his hand.  “What do you say, Pardner, wanna hitch your wagon to mine?”

“Not if you keep talkin’ like that.” Chuckling, Bobby leaned in to kiss him. “But yeah, I’ll marry you.”

He pulled Van up and into his arms, kissing with a ferocious hunger that belied their exhaustion after a hard day’s ride.  “I hope your ass isn’t too sore from a day in the saddle,” he murmured against Van’s lips.

“Not too sore for you.”

Soft, grass scented lips nuzzled the back of Bobby’s neck and he jerked, feeling Sadie’s slobber slide down his neck.  “Damn it, we’ve gotta take of the horses first,” he muttered, pushing her muzzle away.  “Sure you want to marry a rancher?” he grumbled as Van reached for Amigo’s discarded reins.

 


If you haven’t joined the flash fic group on Facebook yet, be sure to check it out for the links to all of the flash fics for this week’s prompt!

Be sure to come back next Monday for the next round.  I can’t wait to see you there!

 

 

 

Flash Fiction Monday – Lights, Camera, Valentine’s Day?

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Lights, Camera, Valentine’s Day?

Boyce sat up as he mimed taking a bite of the chocolate covered strawberry offered by the guy straddling him.  Shoots like this were always tedious and the Valentine’s Day vomit around him didn’t help.  Silk rose petals, a cheesy stuffed bear, and more tacky decorations than he could shake … well, his dick at.  Gross.  Who the fuck made Valentine’s Day porn anyway?  Well, he knew who made it—apparently he did, when offered enough money—but who the fuck watched it? Barf.

Still, the paycheck was nothing to sneer at.  Boyce dutifully ran his tongue along the tip of the strawberry and tried to look sexy.  Jamison leaned in and kissed Boyce, working his way from Boyce’s lips to his ear.  “At least try to look like you’re into this,” he hissed.  “I don’t want to be here either, but the faster we get this over the faster we can go home.”

It took about twelve seconds for Boyce to process that and decide Jamison was a hell of a lot smarter than he looked.  He could work with someone who wasn’t eating up this fake romance crap any more than he was.

He threw himself into the scene and, hours later, when his whole body ached and he was covered in lube and sweat, Jamison’s words kept him going.  Right until the very end when the director finally called out “cut” and he and Jamison finally trudged to the showers to clean up.

“Well, we’re not out as early as I’d hoped,” Jamison said a while later as he lathered his underarms with the surprisingly unsexy choice of Irish Spring soap.  “But thanks for playing along, Boyce.”

“No prob.”  He soaped his balls and glanced up at the guy in the shower next to him.  “It’s, uh, Brad, actually.”

“No shit?”  Jamison grinned.  “Mine’s Melvin.”

He snorted.  “Melvin? No wonder you changed it.”

“It’s a family name.”  Melvin turned off the shower.

“Shit, sorry.”  Brad rinsed and did the same.

“It’s cool.  Not sexy enough for porn but my friends call me Mel.  So can you.” His grin was crooked.  “After all, your dick’s been in my ass …”

Brad grinned back and toweled off.  “There is that.”

The made small talk as they dressed and it wasn’t until they were on the sidewalk in front of the studio that Brad remembered to thank him.  “Really couldn’t have made it through this without your encouragement.  I owe you.”

“How about a date as repayment?” Jamison—no, Melvin—replied.

“I’d like that.”

Three hours later when they reluctantly left the restaurant, Mel turned to Bradley.  “Wanna come home with me tonight?”

“Not sure my ass is up to it.”

“I was thinking maybe we’d just sleep.”

“Sounds good.” Brad took his hand and felt a new fondness for Valentine’s Day.  If things with Mel were still going well in a couple of months when it rolled around, he might even splurge on some chocolate covered strawberries and feed them to Mel.  Without the cameras rolling.  And no stuffed bears anywhere.

 

 


I’ve had this picture for quite a while now (long before Helena asked me if I wanted to write flash fics with her) and the whole time I knew there had to be more to the explosion of Valentine’s Day decorations.  I liked the idea of one of the guys being rather anti-Valentine’s Day and just playing along for the cameras.  Hope you enjoyed it!

We have several new authors joining us this week, so be sure to visit the Facebook group and look for the links to all of the stories there!

And be sure to come back next Monday for the next round of flash fics.  I can’t wait to see you there!

 

 

 

Valentine’s Day Giveaway

Red hearts

Some people love Valentine’s Day, others absolutely loathe it.  Me? I’m somewhere in the middle.  I like spending the day with my husband, but we focus more on what we do together than what we buy each other.  There are years we’ve splurged and bought each other gifts, but there’s never the expectation that we have to spend a lot of money on each other. This year, with a new roof for our house in the near future, we decided to keep it simple.  We’re doing a 90 minute couples yoga class, getting takeout sushi, and settling in for an evening of Scrabble.  No, that’s not a euphemism, we really ARE planning to play Scrabble.  We even upgraded our board to a nicer one since we’ve been playing so much lately.

Oh, and don’t tell Mr. Vaughn, but I made chocolate chip cookie dough last night so I can make ice cream sandwiches for a special treat.  Why those?  No idea, they just sounded good.  Probably not a traditional pairing with sushi, but I have yet to see the man turn down anything with chocolate in it in the last ten years so I’m pretty sure it’ll go over well.  😀  T he real question is, what kind of ice cream should I use?  Vanilla? Coffee? Salted caramel?

Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandiwch

While I don’t disagree with the people who say Valentine’s Day is just a made-up, commercialized holiday, I think it can be whatever you make of it.  I usually send cards (mostly virtual these days) to the people I care about.  Because there are a lot of people I love in a non-romantic way too.  After all, not everyone has or wants romantic love in their life.  But I think everyone likes to know that someone is thinking about them. So, this Valentine’s Day, why not take the time to show your appreciation for all of the people you care about?

BrighamVaughn

The wonderful Meredith King did just that.  She put together an amazing giveaway on the Diverse Reader blog.  She pulled together eighteen authors who will each be giving away a story of theirs to celebrate Valentine’s Day.  I am incredibly flattered that she included me in the giveaway, especially alongside so many phenomenally talented authors. And I want my readers to know how much I appreciate them!

See the blog for the full details, but basically all you have to do is enter the rafflecopter on the giveaway post and on February 14th you will be paired up with an author to receive ONE of their ebooks (your choice).  The giveaway is winding down so hurry over to her blog and enter!

And have a lovely Valentine’s Day, however you choose to celebrate it (or not).

Flash Fiction Monday – Anniversary

Week Six

Note: This week’s story is a little different.  I wrote it using characters from a short story I have published.  If you’ve read Not So Suddenly, awesome, you’ll get a glimpse of Austin and Spencer’s future.  If you haven’t, no worries, it works as a stand alone story.

 Anniversary

“I’m sorry it’s not Antigua,” Spence said with a frown.

Austin shrugged.  “A sunset walk on the beach isn’t exactly a bad way to celebrate our anniversary, no matter where we are.”

“But I wanted to take you back to where I first told you I loved you.”

Austin smiled.  After four years, Spence was still the most romantic guy he’d ever met.  “That would have been nice,” he admitted.  “But we can’t afford it right now and we’ll just have to go back in a couple of years when we can.”  Truthfully, it was probably going to take more than a couple of years; their budget had taken a serious hit lately between the move and Austin’s trouble finding a job.

Spence echoed his thoughts.  “I just hate that this move was so expensive.  You uprooted everything to move cross-country for me and …”

“Pacific University has a great physical therapy program, they accepted you, and gave you a small scholarship.  We’ve gone over this a million times,” Austin pointed out.  “Besides, Oregon is way better than Jersey. I sure as hell don’t miss living there.”

“I’m just afraid you’re going to regret the move.  Resent me from taking you away from your family,” Spence muttered, letting their hands swing between them.

Austin stopped, tugging Spence toward him before letting go of his hand.  He cupped Spence’s face in his hands and looked his boyfriend in the eye.  “We’ll fly home to visit our parents when we can, and they’ll fly here.”  He stroked Spence’s cheek with his thumbs. “Yeah, I’m not gonna lie, the past few months have been hard.  But I’d rather be with you than anyone else in the world.  Wherever that is, I want to be by your side.  You are the most important thing to me.”

Spence softened, pushing closer.  “You’re the most important thing to me too.  That’s why I worry.”

Four years ago, Spence had promised that as long as they were together life would be perfect.  It hadn’t been, not even close.  They struggled like any other couple, but every night when they went to bed together Austin took a moment to remember what was so good about it.  The solid base of their friendship had helped them build a great relationship and no matter how much he wanted to strangle Spence sometimes—and no doubt Spence felt the same way about him—it was worth it.

Sure, Austin had been feeling a little low lately about the lack of job prospects and that had taken a toll on things, but they’d worked through it.  They’d continue to work through it.  “I’m just glad you suggested this camping trip,” he said.  “I think we needed this.”

Spence smiled.  “Me too.  Think you’d be willing to stick by me for another four years?”

Austin leaned in to kiss Spence, murmuring his answer against his boyfriend’s lips.  “Multiply that by ten and it’ll be closer.”


Big thanks to Theo, who provided the pic prompt again this week.

And, Helena and I are trying something a little bit different starting this week.  We created a Facebook group and are opening up the Monday Flash Fics to everyone.

Rules for Taking Part:

1. Join the Monday Flash Fics group on Facebook.
2. On Monday, Helena or Brigham will post the pic prompt for the following week.
3. Write your story and keep it under 500 words.
4. Post it on your blog on Monday.
5. Post a link in the comments of the pic prompt in the Flash Fic group.

It’s meant to be a creative exercise for authors and something fun for readers to enjoy, so don’t sweat it.

Authors:
Join us when the mood strikes and you have the time. If you can’t manage to keep it under 500 words, well, we’re not going to hunt you down. It’s a good challenge to limit the word count, but don’t stress if your final word count is more like 507.

Readers:
Share links and comment on the blogs.

Everyone:
Feel free to submit inspiration pics in the group by attaching it as a file or sending a PM to either Helena or Brigham.

The links to all of authors’ blogs can be found in the group and later today we’ll be posting next week’s prompt.  Please, come join us!

Flash Fiction Monday – Bouncing Back

Week Five

Bouncing Back

The house sat—vacant and alone—for many years.  The roof sagged, the paint peeled, and the house lost hope.

It slumbered until the rumble of low voices awoke it.  It creaked and groaned as the men inspected it, caught snippets of words like “great bones” and “so much potential.”  It was afraid to hope, but one day the men moved in.  The work was endless and the house shuddered as its roof was replaced and the floors were resanded.  But there was happiness in the house too, murmured “I love you’s” and once a “will you marry me?”.

The work brought the house back to life as the couple lovingly painted the siding white and planted flowers.  The house settled in for a long spell of contentment but it was broken by the loud screech of a very small person.  Alarmed, it watched the small one, unsure of what it was doing.  The scribbles on the wall tickled and the constant screeching made its timbers shudder.

One afternoon, when the sunlight glazed its windows gold and the birds hopped in the branches outside, the house felt something strange beside it.  It looked like a house, but was brightly colored and tethered to the ground like a balloon.

“Hello?” The white house said.

“Oh, hi,” the brightly-colored house replied.

“What are you doing here?”

“I’m a bounce house.  Here for a party. “

“There’s a party?”

“Yes. Don’t you see the streamers and balloons?”

Soon both houses were swarming with guests.  The house shuddered at the cacophony of sounds.  The smallest people seemed to make the most noise.

But then all of them disappeared into the bounce house and soon the white house was empty.  It felt a pang of loneliness as the little ones shrieked and squealed and the big people clapped and took pictures.

Even the three people who lived in the white house had abandoned it for the bounce house.  What if they never came back? The white house liked the men and the small girl they’d brought home.  Despite the sticky messes and the loud noises, it missed the laughter and the patter of little feet on its stairs.

It thought of the long, lonely abandoned years and the faucets began to trickle with sorrow.

Then a door slammed and small feet returned to the stairs.  The house felt little fingers brush its walls and it felt contentment again.

“You’re lucky.  You have a great family,” the multi-colored house said, a little wistful as the people moved from the bounce back into the white sided home.

“A what?”

“People who live with you and take care of you. I don’t have that.”

The white house considered that for a moment.  “Yes, I do.”

Later, as the house quieted and the family settled in for the night, it thought about the three people living in it and decided that the bounce house was right.  It was lucky.

“You could come visit again,” it told the bounce house.

“Maybe next year,” the little multi-colored house offered.


This week’s pic prompt was from Theo and let me tell you, it was a challenge.  I enjoyed it though and I’m quite pleased with the way it turned out. Something a little bit different than the usual. Check out Helena’s blog for her story and this week Jaycee did one as well!  So much fun.

Don’t forget to come back next Monday for the next round of flash fics.