Flash Fiction Monday – Beacon

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The umbrella shone like a warning light at the end of the walkway.

Against the sodden wood and dreary sky, the red seemed eye-wateringly bright. Or maybe that was the tears.  Dana wiped them from her cheeks, although the misty rain had long ago reduced all of her to a soggy mess.  Her hair dripped, creating steady rivulets of water that meandered across her jacket and landed with a plop on her wool skirt. Her mother would scold her and bundle her off to bed with a cup of cocoa if she knew Dana was out here in the rain.

But how could she leave the park when any minute, Carole might come back?

A bone-deep chill had settled over her by the time shadows deepened  yet the park remained empty.  She could picture her mother, standing by the sink in her neat flowered dress and apron, staring out at the window with that little line between her eyebrows. She did that when her father was late getting home.  Hazard of being a policeman’s wife, Dana would guess.

Dana didn’t want to worry her mother, but she just wouldn’t understand about Carole. About the way she made Dana’s heart race and her hands tremble. The way it had felt to fall asleep together in Carole’s twin size bed, pressed close together under the pink, quilted coverlet.  The way she’d woken the other night with her hand up under Carole’s nightgown, cupping the soft swell of her breast.

Carole had liked it, Dana was sure of that. Dana had heard Carole moan softly and squirm against her. They’d both liked it when Carole had flipped onto her back and they’d somehow wound up kissing, legs intertwined, rocking and grabbing at each other until something in her seemed to break free and send a warm flush through her whole body.

Dana knew there was something vaguely wrong about what they’d done, but she figured as long as they didn’t talk about it, it would be fine. But Carole couldn’t look at her over the pancakes Mrs. Andrews made them.  And the next day at school she’d acted like Dana didn’t exist. They’d been friends since kindergarten for goodness sake.

It had taken a week of begging and pleading to even get Carole to meet her in the park after school, but she’d seemed like a different person as she stood under her red umbrella. Her long ponytail swished back and forth as she shook her head and told Dana they were no longer friends.

And now she was gone, leaving nothing but the umbrella she’d left in her haste to get away.

“Dana Price, your mother was worried sick! What on earth are you doing sitting here in the rain?” Dana tore her eyes away from the umbrella to find her father striding toward her, his uniform making him look even more imposing than usual.

Dana opened her mouth, but the words wouldn’t come out.  Kevin Price’s  scowl deepened, but there was an edge of concern. “Come on, we’re going home.”

Too tired to argue, she stood and let him tuck her under his arm.  He bundled her into the police car, wrapped a blanket around her shoulders, and turned the heater on full blast.  He didn’t drive away immediately though and as warmth began to seep into her chilled limbs, she began to shiver.

“Dana.” His voice was deep. Concerned. “What happened? You’ve seemed upset all week. Did someone hurt you?”

She turned to face her father, looking at his worried hazel eyes and the words spilled out her mouth before she could stop them.  She told him everything, blushing and embarrassed as she described what had happened in Carole’s bed, and how it had made her feel, but they’d always been close and she couldn’t keep this bottled up anymore.

By the time she finished, she was sure he was going to open the door of the car and tell her to get out, or take her off to the county jail.  But instead, he leaned his head against the back of his seat, closed his eyes, and let out a heavy, exhausted sigh.  “Oh, Dana.”

She wiped at her eyes.  “I’m sorry, Daddy.” She hadn’t even realized she’d started crying again. “I won’t do it anymore and I’ll go to church and I promise I’ll never, ever—“

“NO!” His voice was harsh and she flinched, unused to hearing him raise his voice. He turned to look at her. “No,” he said more quietly, “No, that’s not the answer, Dana.  That’s what I did for far too long.”

She frowned at him. “What do you mean, Daddy?” She hadn’t called him that in years, but right now she needed to pretend he could protect her from all of the scary things in the world.

“Do you remember Uncle Dan?”

She nodded, but her frown deepened. Of course she did, but what did her father’s best friend have to do with this? They’d been so close all through the police academy that her father had even named her after him.  And then at some point, he’d just stopped coming around.  Her mother’s lips had tightened every time she asked why Uncle Dan was never around, so she’d finally stopped asking. “Ohhh.” She blinked at her father through the damp fringe of her bangs. “You and Uncle Dan? You were like Carole and me”

Her father nodded. “I loved him.”

“But Mom?”

He looked down at his hands where they rested on the blue fabric of his uniform pants. “I love your mother, but in a different way. I thought I was doing the right thing, hiding, pretending like I was normal.”

“Does she know?”

“I don’t know.” He sighed. “Maybe. I think so. One time Dan and I were down in the basement rec room and we weren’t as discreet as we should have been. She might have overheard something. I never asked and she never confronted me.”

“That seems sad,” she said.

“It is, Puddin’,” he replied, using her childhood nickname , and she almost managed a smile. “And I don’t want that life for you. So I want you to be real careful until graduation, then go off to school, and find a way to be happy. I can’t promise it’ll be easy or that you’ll have the kind of life you deserve, but it’s gotta be better than what I have in this little town.”

“What’ll we tell Mom?”

“We’ll tell her you and Carole got in a fight over a boy. And I’ll convince her to let you go to the school in California. Maybe out there things will be easier for you. I’ve heard rumors that there are more people like  … like us out there.”

“Really?”

He nodded and shifted the car into drive. “It’s a whole different world out there, Puddin’. And you’re gonna go live the life we both wanted.”

“Thank you,” she whispered.

As they drove away from the park, Dana could see the red umbrella in the side mirror, like a beacon of hope.


Obviously, at nearly 1,500 words, I went WAY over the word count for the week, but once the story began to unfold in my head, I couldn’t stop.

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

I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

 

 

Mittens and Clay

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Clay swirled his brush across the paper, filling in the sky behind the little red house he’d painted.  Below, two stick figures with dark hair held the hands of the smaller figure. The one with bright yellow hair just like Clay’s.  Mittens wound around his ankle as he dipped the brush into the water, then traded the blue paint for black.

His tongue poked out from between his teeth as he carefully drew a few more lines and added ears. “There, I put you in the picture too, Mittens. They promised you’d come home with us.”

The cat jumped onto the table and chirped, “mrrow”.

“Do you think they’ll like the picture, Mittens?” Clay whispered.

This time, the black cat dipped her paw in the mug of water in answer.

He looked at Mittens and gave her a tremulous smile. “Do you think they’ll like us?”


Please visit the flash fic group on Facebook and check out the links to the other authors’ flash fics! This week, Helena made me cry.

I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

Flash Fic Monday – Dive

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Charles watched, heart in his throat, as Emanuel leapt from the cliff.  His form was perfect, his body knifing through the air as he plummeted to the pool of water below. A cry went up from the people around them, and Charles realized his arms were upraised too, his throat hoarse from screaming, although he could hear nothing over the roar of the waterfall.

Before Charles could blink, Emanuel was gone, disappearing beneath the churning water.  Charles’ gut felt full of lead and his cheeks were wet.  He closed his eyes, not sure if it was the roaring water or the pounding of his heart he felt surging through him.

Emanuel had been planning this for months, meticulously researching every aspect of it.  When he announced to Charles that he was finally ready, Charles had calmly walked into the bathroom, closed the door, and heaved up the contents of his stomach.

He wasn’t ready. He could never be ready for something like this.  And yet, there was no dissuading Emanuel.  They hadn’t slept at all the night before, lying in each other’s arms and whispering to each other. Charles spoke until his voice was raw and nearly gone, yet he hadn’t said the one thing he wanted to.

Don’t do it. 

Please, don’t leave me.

He wanted to scream them, but now … it was too late.

Of course, if it hadn’t been this it would have been something else.  The disease had slowly been robbing Emanuel of his life. Charles would have lost him at some point, but he’d selfishly been hoping to have more time together. But Emanuel had refused to let himself wither away like most and had planned this mad journey and jump from the waterfall.  The impact should break his neck. If not, the icy water would do the rest.  Their friends and Emanuel’s family had come to support him, won over by the man’s quiet determination.  But none of them loved Emanuel the way Charles did.  No one would ever love Emanuel as fiercely.

Resolute, Charles opened his eyes, ready to leave the place where he’d unwillingly said goodbye to the man he loved.  It was over.

His eyes dry now, Charles squared his shoulders and took a deep breath.  He sputtered on the inhale as something—no, someone—broke the surface of the churning water.  Unblinking, Charles stared.

Emanuel was nude as he stepped onto the shore, water sheeting off his muscles, his expression serene. Charles had heard the legend of course, but he’d never believed it.  Never dreamed for a minute that the rumors and whispers could be true.

Directly in front of him now, Emanuel stared straight into Charles’ eyes. He couldn’t move, couldn’t even lift his arms to embrace the man he loved as the distance between them disappeared. Shock rendering him mute and motionless. Emanuel’s skin was warm, his body solid.

It was true then.

Only those who were willing and ready to die, were reborn.


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

I look forward to seeing you next Monday!

Brigham’s Recommendations – “The Bohemian and the Banker” by Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon

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Summary:

A night lost in Paris finds two hearts changed—forever.

Sent to Paris on business, Nigel Warren doesn’t quite understand why his colleagues’ eyes twinkle as they tell him to meet them at a local night spot.

When he discovers it’s a drag cabaret and his acquaintances aren’t there, he realizes he’s the butt of a joke. Yet he finds himself quite undone by a singer dressed in an elegant gown, crooning a spellbinding ballad.

It’s not unusual for Jay, a former Londoner, to bring a new “friend” home from the cabaret, but he’s never had a guest quite like Nigel, whose straitlaced manner hides an unexpected passionate streak.

One romantic night on a rooftop under starry skies, followed by an afternoon enjoying the excitement of the 1901 Paris Exposition, bonds these opposites in a way neither can forget—even after they part.

Their spark reignites when Jay comes to London, but he’s not sure he can go back to hiding his true self, not even for the sake of love…unless Nigel is willing to shed his cloak of staid respectability and take a leap of faith.

Review:

I’ll be the first to say I’m a sucker for a well-written historical romance. Thankfully, “The Bohemian and the Banker” falls squarely into that category.  I wouldn’t claim to be an expert in history, but I know enough that errors can be pretty glaring and pull me out of the story.  This book was beautifully written though. The historical accuracy kept me rooted in the time period and immersed in the plot

I adored the characters. Nigel, an uptight British banker, and Jay, an American expatriate living in Paris and working as a performer at a drag cabaret, were perfect for each other.  Nigel’s naiveté was a great foil to Jay’s somewhat jaded attitude.  The cast of French artists who wandered in and out of Jay’s apartment were well-written and added a wonderful depth and bohemian flavor to the story. It was a such a contrast to Nigel’s reserved anti-social life in London.

Their meeting and first night together was electric, and the struggles they both faced were very realistic.  I never felt that either the conflict or the resolution was contrived and the way the story wrapped up was extremely satisfying.  The authors did an excellent job making both Paris and London come to life.

Both characters’ journeys were interesting and well thought out, although I particularly liked Nigel’s understanding of the two sides of Jay.  Jay, the everyday man he fell in love with, and Jean Michel, the drag performer. His growing appreciation and understanding of the man he loved really made the story something special. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and I’m definitely looking forward to reading more books by these authors.

Buy Links:

Amazon

Samhain

Flash Fiction Monday – Flying

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Hollywood wasn’t good for much of anything, but Michael had to give it some credit. Over the years it had proven quite useful. History and legend had done much to confuse the world about the power of witches, but Hollywood had done even more. According to the movies and TV, witches were either ugly old hags or pretty young girls who wore a lot of black. No one knew the truth.

But they would, soon.

He glanced upward. It was mid-afternoon, but the sky was tinged an odd, sickly color. The sound of flapping wings filled the air and dark, winged creatures surged and drifted on the currents. In their midst, the solid bulk of Michael’s lover, Fermin, filled the air. It seemed to defy gravity and the laws of physics Michael had spent the better part of his life studying. That was how they’d met—Michael and Fermin—and while it hadn’t been love at first sight by any means, it was a solid thirty odd year relationship. And now Michael was terrified of what his research had uncovered.

Michael had delayed as long as possible, trying to stretch out the time as much as possible, but he was pretty sure his research team had a spy in its midst. The thought saddened him and he’d spent too many nice searching his memories for clues, but he still wasn’t sure who it was. It didn’t matter, in the end. His relationship with Fermin and the safety of every gay man was at risk. Because of what Michael had discovered.

Not that Fermin blamed him—despite his gruff exterior he was a softy inside—but Michael had enough guilt for the both of them. He’d never dreamed that the gene associated with homosexuality also controlled the portion of the brain that involved flying. It turned out the only witches out there were gay men. Well, that wasn’t entirely true, lesbians had their own magic, but it didn’t involve flying. But Michael’s interests—personal or professional—had never included women.

Above him, Fermin whirled and soared with the birds, enjoying some final moments of freedom.

Flying wasn’t magic. Hell, witch was probably an entirely inaccurate word for the men who flew, but it was what most of them identified as. Michael’s discovery of the genetic component—and subsequent ties to homosexuality—left them vulnerable. Left his lover vulnerable. Any day now he’d have to turn over the final pieces of his research to the government and who knew what would happen after that for the witches. Internment camps? Torture disguised as research? Military conscription? A shudder worked its way up Michael’s spine.

He was so lost in his thoughts that Fermin’s arms wrapping around him startled him.

“Hey, it’s just me.” The low rumble of Fermin’s voice and the solid bulk of his body was reassuring. Michael sagged back and closed his eyes.

“I’m so sorry.”

“I told you, no more apologies. You had no idea until it was too late. And you had nothing but good intentions when you began your research.”

He swallowed past the lump in his throat. “I’m afraid for you. For us. For all of us.” He wasn’t a witch himself. Witches were gay men, but not necessarily the other way around. The gene hadn’t expressed itself in him. But as the lover and long-term partner of one, he belonged to the community. The thought of how they’d view his betrayal sickened him.

“We still have options. Plans are being put into place. You gave us enough warning that we might still come out of this okay.” Michael didn’t see how, but Fermin had always been more optimistic. “Trust me,” Fermin coaxed.

Michael turned and buried his head in the crook of Fermin’s neck. “I trust you,” he whispered.

Fermin’s strong, solid arms wrapped around him and the feeling of peace that Fermin had always brought washed over him. He didn’t need to fly, not when he had Fermin to anchor him.

Whatever the coming weeks and months brought them, he’d have Fermin.


Please visit the flash fic group on Facebook and check out the links to the other authors’ flash fics! Helena has a wonder dark fic this week.

I look forward to seeing you next Monday!