Flash Fic Monday – Mural

Mural

Mural

Annie stared at the leaden sky as the scent of manure filled the air around her.  “Goddamn cows,” she muttered, but she didn’t move.  She couldn’t.  Her gaze kept wandering to the mural on the side of the old, crumbling castle.

It was of her.  Of them. Annie and Siobhan.  The photo had been taken a few years ago after a gallery show featuring Siobhan’s work.  The turnout had been dismal, the sales worse, and Siobhan was despondent.  Seeking solace, Siobhan had slipped behind Annie and rested her forehead on Annie’s shoulder.  Annie treasured the photo a friend took of that moment.

That night, Siobhan had the wild idea to move back to her homeland.  Annie would have done anything to put a smile on Siobhan’s face again, so she agreed.

The problem with being in a relationship with a half-Irish artist was that her dreams were wild and huge, practicality falling by the wayside in favor of enthusiasm and zeal for adventure.  Now Annie lay in a pasture covered in a shit as a cow nudged her hand with a damp nose as if wondering why she was lying there.

“Well, Angelica,” Annie said to the cow as she rolled out of the muck and onto soft green grass before standing, “I followed a beautiful woman to Ireland so she could find her inspiration again, let her talk me into becoming a caretaker for a farm that includes a fifteenth century castle, and now she’s in her studio painting while I take care of you.”

Angelica’s placid brown eyes looked up at Annie as she lowered her head to the ground and began to eat again.  “And that’s all the thanks I get!” Annie shouted.

Stomping in Wellies on soft, rain-soaked ground was near-impossible, but Annie did her best as she returned to the farm house.  As she approached, Siobhan burst out the door wearing nothing but a thick white sweater and green Wellies on her feet. “Did you see it? Do you love it?”

Annie blinked at her lover.  “See what?”

Siobhan ‘s gaze turned crestfallen. “The mural.”

“Yeah. I was so busy staring at it I tripped and ended up flat on my back in a pile of cow shit.” Annie’s voice softened as she saw the glisten of tears in Siobhan’s eyes. “It is beautiful though.  That’s my favorite picture of us.”

Siobhan’s voice was soft as she walked closer, gripping Annie’s thick, sensible work coat.  “I wanted to thank you for following my wild dream to come here. It worked. I’ve been painting like mad. I found my muse again.”

Annie softened.  “I’m glad. I do love you, you know. It’s just taking me a while to adjust.”

Siobhan pressed their foreheads together.  “I love you, aghrá.”

She didn’t speak Irish often, but when she did it made Annie melt. Her fingertips brushed across Siobhan’s bare thighs, pebbled with goosebumps from the cool air. “Come inside, my love.  We could both stand a hot bath.”


Please visit the flash fic group on Facebook and check out the links to the other authors’ flash fics for this week!

I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

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Paperbacks Are Available!!!

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I can honestly say formatting and building a paperback was one of the most frustrating experiences of my life. I understand why authors go through publishers and pay formatters oodles of money to do the work for them. It is some of the most fiddly, exasperating work I’ve ever done.  And yet, I’m really glad I did it.

I learned an enormous amount, I accomplished something I thought was out of my reach, I pushed through the moments when I wanted to tear out my hair and scream, and I have some beautiful work to show for it.  I even figured out my business name and put together a logo.

Two Peninsulas Press Logo

I did a ridiculous (if completely necessary) amount of research before I began creating the paperbacks.  Even then, I found myself flying by the seat of my pants with some of it.  Wait, where do I put the section break? How do I unlink from the previous section? I couldn’t have done it without Mr. Vaughn (who put in at least $1,000 worth of work per book, if he billed me what his office bills his clients at his tech geek job).  He’s a whiz with headers, footers, and table of contents pages.  Plus, he took my original cover images and text and combined them into two beautiful covers.

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I went through a number of possible versions before I decided to combine the four novellas into two volumes.  It seemed like it would give you guys the best value for your money.  Volume One (Equals and Partners) is 272 pages (about 90,000 words), while Volume Two (Family and Husbands) are 230 (just under 70,000 words). I perused Amazon and compared my work to other m/m authors with books of similar length and arrived at $13.99 and $12.99 for the paperbacks.

They are available on Amazon and CreateSpace.  Did you know that authors get a larger royalty when the books are purchased directly through CreateSpace? I certainly didn’t. Amazon is certainly easier to purchase through, so you won’t get any complaints from me if you buy the books there, but if you have a few extra minutes and want to buy through CreateSpace it would be greatly appreciated.

Amazon                                                                                Amazon

CreateSpace                                                                          CreateSpace

Oh, and if you want signed copies? Give me a week or so and I’ll have some available.  I’m still working on that part.

Brigham’s Reccomendations – “Dead Man & The Restless Spirits” by Lou Harper

Dead Man & The Restless Spirits by Lou Harper

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Summary: 

Denton Mills has a secret: he can see dead people. Or rather, how they died. It’s quite a drag in a city like Chicago, teeming with the echoes of the no-longer living. Rather than whine about it, Denton has learned to live with his troublesome talent. His adaptability comes in handy when he meets his enigmatic new neighbor.

Denton Mills has a secret: he can see dead people. Or rather, how they died. It’s quite a drag in a city like Chicago, teeming with the echoes of the no-longer living. Rather than whine about it, Denton has learned to live with his troublesome talent. His adaptability comes in handy when he meets his enigmatic new neighbor.

Bran Maurell catches Denton’s eye right away, but unfortunately Mr. Tall, Dark, and Mysterious is as standoffish as he is alluring. However, after an unexpected introduction from Bran’s cat brings the two men together, Denton discovers they have a mutual interest in the spirit world. Herbalist by day, Bran moonlights as a witch, performing house cleansings for a fee.

From Bran, Denton learns that his knack for interacting with the dead qualifies him as a necromancer. It makes good business sense for them to team up and rid Chicago of its pesky spirits one grateful client at a time. Amongst ghostly adventures the attraction between the men is impossible to ignore. They seem like perfect partners—unless Bran’s not-so-little secret comes between them.

Warning: men loving men, ghosts with attitudes, and a portly feline with hidden talents.

Review:

It’s no secret I’m a big Lou Harper fan, I’ve read a number of her books and loved them all.  The Sanguine Series, in particular, is a favorite.  Why it took me so long to read the Dead Man Series is beyond me, but I picked up Dead Man & The Restless Spirits recently, devoured it, moved on to the free short (Dead Man & The Lustful Spirit), and the second novel (Dead Man & The Army of Frogs).

I love Denton.  He’s sarcastic and funny and such a wonderful contrast to Bran’s serious, reserved nature.  The secondary characters were equally wonderful.  They were all interesting, unique, well-rounded characters although my personal favorite is Murray the cat.  Denton’s ability to see the dead and Bran’s training as a witch lead to them working together to banish restless spirits, but that isn’t always easy. Bran’s upbringing (and his secret) lead to plenty of conflicts, but I love the way every case brings them a little closer.  And Bran’s secret was a rather delightful twist.  The book was wonderful, start to finish, and the sequels were equally enjoyable.

If you love paranormal and mysteries, you really don’t want to miss this story.

Buy Links:

All Romance

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

Flash Fic Monday – Strange Comfort

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Strange Comfort

Alex traced a finger across the cool glass, wanting to feel the raindrops on the other side.  The bus slowed, pausing at a light.  Just a few more stops and it would arrive at the train station where Alex was supposed to get off.  The one half a mile from the hospital where Alex’s father lay dying.

They hadn’t spoken in three years.  The fight had been stupid, the estrangement even more so, but with every day that passed it grew more and more difficult to bridge the gap. Then the call came from Alex’s stepmother.  Congestive heart failure.  He wasn’t going to survive it, not with his other health problems.  So Alex squashed down the fear and hurt, forked over money that should have been spent paying the bills, and traveled through three states to get to him.

Now, turning back sounded like the most sensible thing to do.

A weird, hitching breath caught in Alex’s throat and it was a struggle to keep the tears at bay.  A moment later, a cool, slender hand wrapped around Alex’s. Strong, steady, it didn’t matter that Alex had no idea who the hand belonged to.  At the last stop, Alex had been too busy looking out the window to see if the person in the adjacent seat was male or female, young or old.  Wasn’t important though; the firm grip was all that mattered.

Fear quaked through Alex’s body as the bus hissed to a stop and passengers struggled out of the seats. With one last reassuring squeeze, Alex’s seatmate let go.  In a daze, Alex stood and wiggled out of the seat, stopping to grab the duffle bag from the overhead storage.

Just before reaching the door, Alex glanced back, hoping to catch a glimpse of the mysterious stranger, but the side of a face was all that was visible around the seat in front.  Alex could see a shock of dark hair, a single blue eye, and a smile.  It was enough.

Reassured, Alex stepped into the rainstorm, ready to brave the past and find the peace both father and child needed, before it was too late.


Please visit the flash fic group on Facebook and check out the links to the other author’s flash fics for this week! There are some really incredible ones.

In particular, be sure to read Helena’s flash fic today.  Ireland’s Marriage Referendum will take place this coming Friday and her story is a beautiful reminder of why it’s so important to vote yes.

I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

Brigham’s Recommendations – “Dragons” by Jaycee Edward

Dragons – Jaycee Edward

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Summary:

A chance encounter in a hospital waiting room between twenty-two year old Will Messina and sixteen year old Josiah Pinkerton ends with a gift of a stuffed dragon off the hospital gift cart and a memory neither of them can shake.

Five years later, when a lonely, buttoned-up Will ventures into a gay club, he spots a pale, leather-clad specter with violet eyes tracking his every move. Will realizes he’s being watched by the grown version of the boy who’s haunted his thoughts for years.

Joey recognizes Will, but he’s no longer the sweet, brown-eyed boy worthy of Will’s attention. He’s damaged and defective and lives in a different world than Will now. When his childhood crush makes his way across the bar, Joey doesn’t have time to decide whether to be enchanted or dismayed because, unless he turns and runs, those worlds are about to collide.

Review:

From Will and Josiah’s very first meeting to their chance encounter five years later “Dragons” is a very sweet yet substantial story. Sometimes sweetness implies a lack of depth, but Jaycee always seems to know how to tug at the heart-strings and create full, fleshed-out characters. She consistently gives those characters an emotional, layered depth in a relatively short period of time. She made me want to scoop up Joey and hug him.  He’s been through so much.

I am a fan of short stories, so you certainly won’t hear any complaints from me about the length, but I did think it would have been interesting to explore more of what happened in Joey’s life in those five years and how he got to the point he’s at when Will runs into him at the club.  I loved Will as well and the fact that he had such a deft touch in dealing with Joey’s fears.  He knew when to push and when to back off.   The epilogue was perfect and had me grinning and laughing through it. “Dragons” was a wonderful story that you shouldn’t miss!

Buy Links:

Amazon

Evernight Publishing

Monday Flash Fic – The Marrakesh Machine

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The Marrakesh Machine

Eldon’s blunt nails dug into his palms as the Marrakesh Machine rose, lanterns glowing with hues of deep purple, orange, and gold. Fly, fly, fly, he silently urged the machine as he watched from the ground. It rose jerkily—making his stomach wobble with nerves—before the convection currents stabilized. Fifteen years of designing ,modifying, and begging for money to build his invention had gone into this moment. Along with three years of toadying to Lord Withrow Nelson III’s every whim.

Involuntarily, Eldon gave a brief glance at the man who’d funded this project and caught him staring. Lord Nelson was infuriatingly handsome, with brown curls and the most arrestingly angular features Eldon had ever seen. Eldon felt a curious quiver in his stomach that had nothing to do with the flight of his beloved invention and resolutely turned away.

The Marrakesh Machine continued to rise, soaring into the clouds as the sun began to appear over the trees, the pilot barely visible as a dark speck inside the glass carriage. Eldon’s heart soared with it. He’d wanted to be the man to fly his invention but Lord Nelson wouldn’t hear of it. The man’s supercilious attitude vexed him, but he had deep pockets.

“You’ve done it, McCreary. Brilliant work.”

“I owe you, Lord Nelson,” he said gruffly.

The man had spent every idle moment needling Eldon, questioning his design choices. Eldon McCreary was the professor and inventor; he was the expert, not the wealthy young lord. But said lord was the only one who believed in Eldon’s invention, the only one willing to risk money on a wild flight of fancy. In three years they’d often come to verbal blows, and nearly physical ones, but his patron had improved Eldon’s original design. He had a sinking suspicion the machine would never have worked without Lord Nelson’s suggestions.

Lord Nelson stepped closer, dark eyes strangely intent. Eldon knew Lord Nelson was a gentleman of a certain persuasion—according to the whispers in London—but Eldon was not. Or at least he’d never considered the idea until recently. Much as he hated the man, he stirred something in Eldon he didn’t find entirely comfortable. Relationships between men weren’t expressly forbidden, but they were hardly encouraged.

“It seems our partnership has nearly ended,” Lord Nelson said, reaching out to grip Eldon’s waistcoat with his brown leather clad hands and Eldon’s back stiffened.

“Indeed.” Eldon’s stomach felt as though there were convection currents at work in there as well.

“Unless you’d perhaps consider one of a different sort.”

Eldon’s eyebrows rose. “After we debut The Marrakesh Machine?” Today was merely the first successful test flight, they wouldn’t be debuting it to the world for another few weeks. “I have a number of designs in the works. There’s one that will revolutionize the world—”

His words were cut off by Lord Nelson’s mouth against his own, the kiss skillful and demanding. He wished he could say he hadn’t seen it coming, or that he disliked it, but that wasn’t the case. What that meant for the man’s patronage….

“Lord Nelson!” He protested as he pulled back.

The man’s mouth turned up at the corners. “I think under the circumstances you can call me Withrow, or at the very least, Nelson.”

“Nelson,” he managed.

“Now, McCreary.” He’d never heard the lord’s tone sound so soft. “I’ll come by your rooms later to discuss the terms of our new partnership. I think it’ll be every bit as successful as our current one.”

Glancing up at The Marrakesh Machine as it began to make a gentle descent, Eldon felt as though he was still flying, but whether it was from the success of his invention or the touch of the man beside him he wasn’t entirely sure.

A successful partnership indeed.

 


I definitely went over the word count this week and could have written more, but I tried to keep it concise as possible.

Please visit the flash fic group on Facebook and check out the links to the other author’s flash fics for this week! There are some really incredible ones

I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

Brigham’s Recommendations – “Falling for Ramos” by Sue Brown

Falling for Ramos by Sue Brown

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Summary:

A glimpse of a group of businessmen in a newspaper tells Colin Hess his old love, Alejandro Ramos, is back in London a decade after they split up.

They met by chance as students, when Colin was pushed into Ramos’s lap at a party. Despite the disapproval from Ramos’s parents, Colin and Ramos were inseparable from that moment and settled in their own place as soon as they finished university.

But when Ramos’s father fell ill, Ramos was forced to return to the family vineyard, leaving Colin behind. When Colin joined him for a holiday, the plans Ramos’s parents had for their son became painfully clear—and those plans did not involve Colin.

Colin knows it would be stupid to rekindle their old love after the devastating end to their relationship. Still, neither can deny that they still have feelings for each other from the minute they meet, and Colin learns the meeting might not be as random as it seemed.

Review:

For some reason, I’ve had “Falling for Ramos” on my tablet for a long while.  It must have been because I’m busy because I always enjoy Sue Brown’s work (adored “The Isle of Wight”) but something about the book called to me this morning and I devoured it without stopping.  Colin and Ramos were both wonderful characters, but Ramos?  *sighs* He was perfect.  Not as in “un-flawed” because he certainly had flaws and made mistakes along the way, but the way he was written was so utterly perfect.  He absolutely leapt off the page and I couldn’t help but fall for him too.  Colin was equally endearing and the depth of their connection was incredible.

Their path was rocky, and considering the way the time jumps and flashbacks happened it the story could have become very confusing.  But even without the handy date at the beginning of every chapter the author made it easy to figure out when the action was taking place.  It made for a beautifully layered story that all came together for a wonderful ending and I truly enjoyed every minute.  The journey the men take as they struggle to be together was wonderful.  If you’ve been thinking about reading this book, don’t wait another second!

Buy Links:

Amazon

Dreamspinner Press

Equals Series Outtake – Stephen and Jeremy’s First Meeting

Notes: I’ve had an idea for this scene since I wrote Equals.  Jeremy is such a compelling character for me and I love Stephen so much.  I couldn’t stop imagining what their first meeting was like.  I haven’t been able to do much writing lately, but recently I felt the urge to write and I wanted to work on something I didn’t need to do any research for.  This scene flowed right out and I hope you enjoy it.  It is unbeta’d so ignore any wayward commas.

This is set 15 years before Russ and Stephen ever meet.


Young Jeremy                           Young Stephen

Inspiration for Jeremy                                              Inspiration for Stephen

Meeting

“…in conclusion, being out in the business world does not have to mean sacrificing a successful career. In fact, under the right circumstances it can lead to a more positive working environment that benefits all employees.”  Stephen tidied the notes resting on the lectern and smiled at the crowd, trying not to let his gaze linger on the young man in the second row who’d been eyeing him since he began his speech.  “Thank you for having me here today. I wish all of you great success with your future careers.”

He acknowledged the applause with a nod of his head and stepped back.  He took a seat again as the final speaker stepped forward and began.  Despite his best efforts, his gaze wandered to the young man again and was rewarded with a wink.  Stephen’s mouth quirked up at the corner in response.  Like most of the students here, the guy appeared to be in his early twenties.  He had a square jaw and a smirk that wouldn’t quit.  He hadn’t taken his eyes off Stephen since the lecture began and Stephen couldn’t deny that he was flattered by the attention.

Taking part in the guest lecture series offered by the UGA gay-straight alliance group was something Stephen enjoyed, but he certainly hadn’t come expecting to pick up a man. It had been a long dry spell for him though–nearly a year–and he couldn’t deny how attractive the guy checking him out was. There was no guarantee they’d hit it off once they got to know each other, but Stephen definitely had plans to ask him out to dinner.

By the time the final speech was done, Stephen was half-hard from the attention and not entirely sure if his increased heart rate and the fluttering feeling in his stomach was from nerves or anticipation.

As expected, the moment the speeches ended and the students and guest speakers began to mingle, the young brown-haired man made a beeline for Stephen.  Unfortunately, Stephen got caught up in the crowd and had to spend far too long making small-talk with fellow business leaders congratulating him on his speech and students asking him questions.  With half his attention focused elsewhere, Stephen eventually managed to wrap up the conversations and excuse himself. The moment there was an opening, the young man crossed the room, headed straight for Stephen.

Between the slight swagger in his walk and his direct gaze, he gave off the kind of confidence Stephen envied.  He’d come a long way, but in college he’d had to work for that kind of self-assured attitude. It had never come naturally for him.

“Hey there.”  The man greeted him, his gaze traveling up and down Stephen’s body as his tongue peeked out briefly to wet his lips.  “Great speech.”

“Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it.”

“Stephen, right?” The young man stuck out his hand.  “I’m Jeremy Lewis.”

“Yes, Stephen Parker.” They clasped hands and the touch lingered longer than most handshakes, ending with a swipe of Jeremy’s thumb across the back of his hand. Up close, Stephen could see that Jeremy’s eyes were hazel, somewhere between a warm brown and green and he had a cleft in his firm chin. Damn, he was handsome. “Nice to meet you, Jeremy.”

He was rewarded with another smirk.  “Look, Stephen I could bullshit you and tell you I wanted to buy you a cup of coffee so we could talk more about being gay in the business world, but I hate making small talk.  We both know it would just be a prelude to me inviting you back to my apartment, anyway.  Why don’t we skip the preliminaries and get to the good stuff?”

Jeremy’s voice was pitched low, but Stephen still glanced around to see if anyone was listening to their conversation.  They didn’t appear to be, but he leaned in anyway, his eyebrows raising in question.  “The good stuff?”

“Sure,” Jeremy said.  “You, me, a box of condoms, and enough lube we could swim in it.”

The loud bark of a laugh that came out of Stephen seemed to startle them both.  Jeremy grinned, revealing white, even teeth.  Stephen wasn’t sure how they’d gone from introductions to discussing the potential for sex, but he couldn’t deny that a part of him responded to Jeremy’s assumption that they would be lovers, cocky as it was.  “I’m afraid I don’t have that much lube.”

Jeremy shrugged.  “That can be remedied.   So, my place or yours?”

Stephen crossed his arms over his chest and gave Jeremy and assessing glance.  “What makes you think I’m even interested?”

“Because the eye-fucking we’ve been doing definitely hasn’t been one-sided.”

Grinning, Stephen acknowledged the truth of the statement with a nod.  “Fine.  I’m not denying I’m interested, but I am a little taken aback by the speed at which we’re going about things.  I typically prefer to get to know my partner first.”

Jeremy rolled his eyes.  “Don’t tell me you’re the sex-only-in-relationships type?  How depressingly heteronormative of you.”

“I never said that,” Stephen countered.  “But I find sex is better if I know the man under me.”

“Jeremy Christopher Lewis.  Age twenty.  6’1” tall.  Born June 5 in 1979.  Gemini.  Business Administration major.  HIV negative. Versatile. And gagging to suck you off.  Any other questions?”

Stephen coughed and cleared his throat.  “That wasn’t quite what I meant.”

Jeremy shrugged, the impish grin never leaving his face.  “Look, we can go out for coffee and get to know each other if you want, but I think we’d both be lying to ourselves if we pretend like we’re thinking about anything but getting each other off.”

Grinning back, Stephen admitted defeat.  “Fine.  But how about after the first orgasm each, we take a little time to get to know each other, verbally rather than physically?”

“Deal.” Jeremy stuck his hand out to shake and they began to move toward the exit. “So, should I call you Daddy?”

The nickname made Stephen shudder.  “No. God no.  Calling me Daddy is the quickest way to end this before it even begins.”

Grinning, Jeremy nodded.  “I’ll remember that.”

Stephen rested a hand against Jeremy’s lower back as he held the door open, ushering him out into the warm evening air.

Jeremy paused outside the building and gave Stephen a speculative look.  “So, my place or yours?”

“I have a king-size bed,” Stephen offered.

“I like the way you think.”

Stephen glanced around to be sure no one was watching them before he leaned in spoke in Jeremy’s ear.  “You’ll like it even better when I have you bent over that bed, begging for my cock.”

“I was starting to think you might not be able to keep up with me, old man,” Jeremy teased.

Stephen slung an arm across Jeremy’s shoulder.  “Oh, I won’t have any trouble keeping up with you, pretty boy, don’t you worry.”

Flash Fic Monday – Wrist

Wrist

Wrist

All around them, their friends laughed and joked.  Some studying, some playing Frisbee, some flirting as they enjoyed the Indian summer day.  They were all oblivious to the turmoil going on inside Sean.

He stared down at the plaid blanket beneath him, trying not to let his eyes wander to the bare knee nearby.  George wore shorts and a hoodie with his sleeves pulled up and no matter how hard he tried, Sean couldn’t stop sneaking glances at the bare skin.  It was lightly furred with dark hair and Sean knew it was soft.  He knew how it felt against his own skin, how it looked damp from sweat, or wet in the shower.  He knew where all of George’s tattoos were and what his skin tasted like.

George was his roommate and his lover.

And he hated, hated that their relationship was a secret.

At first they hadn’t told anyone because they were only fooling around; getting off when they were horny or bored.  Sometimes when they were drunk.  But they hadn’t told anyone even after they started sleeping in the same bed every night and waking up together every morning.

They’d kept it a secret even when George’s mom took one look at them together and gave them a knowing smile.   Even when they’d stopped seeing anyone else.  When Sean knew beyond a doubt that after graduation, he would rather cut off a limb than be apart from George.

All he had to do was tell their friends.  George had begged him weeks ago but Sean was scared.  He didn’t know why exactly.  He didn’t think their friends would stop talking to him and George because they were sleeping together.  They might be pissed that it had been kept a secret, but that would blow over.

No, his fears were much vaguer than that.  Just a stomach-churning sense of unease that everything would change once they came out.  After all, neither him nor George had ever dated a guy before.  It shouldn’t matter, but somehow it did.

He felt the soft brush of George’s leg hair against his hand and Sean realized that while he’d been thinking about his relationship with George, he’d shifted closer to him.  He lay on his stomach, forearm pressed to George’s knee, mouth just inches from his wrist.  He stared at the freckle there and felt a sudden need to kiss it.  He took a deep breath and leaned in, pressing his lips to the spot he’d been eyeing.

One by one, the voices around them trailed off, growing silent, and he could feel the weight of their friends’ gazes on him and George.  He stayed just like that for the longest time and heard George whisper, “thank you” before the babble of confused voices broke over them again.


Please visit the flash fic group on Facebook and check out the links to the other author’s flash fics for this week!

I look forward to seeing you next Monday!