Flash Fiction Monday – And Owen Makes Three

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“You two are ridiculous.” Byron’s tone held a faint note of mingled annoyance and fondness.

“You love us.” Wade sat up and propped his hands on the concrete patio as he glanced up at his boyfriend. Bryon’s lanky good looks were set off by ripped jeans and a threadbare T-shirt. He was too damn good looking to be behind the camera, but he’d never liked having his picture taken. “Did you get a good shot?”

“Yes.” Byron settled the lens cap over the end of the zoom lens. “It’s adorable. And ridiculous.”

Wade turned to Owen and held out a fist. “We are adorable.” The cat head-butted his knuckles in agreement.

Byron chuckled. “I can’t get over how much that cat seems to understand. He’s so well-trained.”

The look Owen threw him was so disgusted Wade was grateful that Byron missed it. Shit, maybe he and Owen were going to have to be a bit more careful in the future.

“Cats are smart,” he said and held a hand out to Byron, who effortlessly pulled him to his feet.

“I know that.” Byron’s hands settled on his ass and squeezed, pulling their bodies closer together. “It’s just uncanny sometimes.”

Uncanny is right, Wade thought guiltily as Byron kissed him. If only he knew …

The kiss turned hot and needy and Wade’s thoughts were swept away in a haze of lust as Byron dragged him into the house and spread him out on the bed.

After, when they were spent and sweaty and sprawled on the bed in a post-sex haze that Byron brought up the subject again. “Look at that.” He pointed to Owen who sat on the dresser staring at them. “I would swear that cat is jealous. He’s always watching.”

Wade swallowed and tried to keep his voice light. “Come on, pets always do that. I had an ex whose cat used to lay on its belly and stare at us through the crack under the door when we had sex.”

“It’s weird.” Byron sounded vaguely disgruntled like he always did when they discussed this. “You know I like Owen, but the way he looks at me sometimes … I dunno. I would have sworn he was looking at my cock and licking his lips the other day.”

A snort escaped before Wade could stop it. “Seriously?”

“Yes!” Byron laughed. “It’s unnerving. I swear one of these days I’m going to find out he’s actually a shape-shifter or something.”

Wade flipped onto his stomach and stared at the wall. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.

“Hey, what is it? You went all tense on me.”Byron’s hand slid across his back. “If the jokes about Owen are making you uncomfortable I’ll lay off. I know you get touchy about that.”

Wade glanced over at Owen who was still perched on the dresser, watching them intently. Wade gazed into his eyes, needing the reassurance that Owen was okay with him finally confessing the truth to Byron. Owen squeezed his eyes together tightly and gave him a quick, almost imperceptible nod.

Wade took a deep breath and let out with a shudder before he turned to Byron. “It’s not the jokes. But uh, there’s something I haven’t been honest about.”

“Okay?” Byron sounded apprehensive, and who could blame him.

“You know how I talked about the guy I was dating before you?”

“Tyler? Yeah.”

“Well, that wasn’t the whole truth. His last name was Tyler.” Byron blinked at him and a moment later the muffled thud of a cat hitting the bed. “His full name was Owen Tyler.”

Wade gently ran a hand down Owen’s soft back. “He disappeared one night and the police said Owen just vanished with a trace. For a while, they even thought I had something to do with it.A few days after the man disappeared, this beat-up tabby appeared at my doorstep. It took the cat a while to heal and even longer for me to accept the truth, but …”

Byron stared at him, open-mouthed.

“I know, it’s crazy,” Wade said weakly. “I can’t explain what happened. Owen—now that he’s a cat—and I found a way we could sort of communicate using those little magnetic refrigerator letters. He bats them around on the floor to make words when he really needs to tell me something. But the best we can figure is that he was cursed.”

“You’re telling me this whole time you’ve been in a relationship with me, you’ve still been living with your ex?” Byron gestured toward the cat. “Who is a fucking cat.”

“Yes?” Wade said. “I didn’t know how to tell you.”

Byron stared at Owen with an inscrutable expression. Wade could almost swear they were silently communicating like he and Owen did all the time.

“So,” Byron said, after what felt like hours, “Did you and Owen ever discuss polyamory? Because I think I may be able to help undo the curse, but I’m not losing the man I love in the process.”


This went over the usual word count, but it was difficult to set up and then conclude in 500 words. Big thanks to Helena for helping me figure out how to wrap it up.

Unfortunately, this has turned into another plot bunny for me. When am I ever going to get time to finish writing these stories??

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!

Flash Fiction Monday – Queen Cecile

In June of last year, I wrote a flash called Protector of the Night Spirits. The photo below sparked an idea and I’ve continued the story.

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Cecile closed her eyes. The small boat continued to glide forward through the water, sunlight glinting off its surface. She didn’t need to see the path ahead of her to guide the craft, or its precious cargo.

The war in Lyman city had been raging for nearly a year. Even with an ocean between them, Cecile had heard stories of the horrors taking place. The ministers and advisers had warned Cecile not to get involved, after all, it wasn’t their fight.

“Why should the people of Reddick risk their lives for the Lymanites?” they’d argued.

But as reports filtered in of magical creatures being captured and tortured, Cecile had grown increasingly heartsick. How could they sit there and do nothing? How could they allow that to happen? Wizards were nothing to be trifled with, but Cecile’s magic was older. Less showy, perhaps, but more powerful. How could she, as ruler, allow these atrocities to take place?

When the news spread that The Protector of the Night Spirits had been found, Cecile knew it was the sign she’d been hoping for.

Unwilling to risk her troops, she made a plan in secret. She sent messages to The Protector, using her flock of birds. It was the only communication she could be sure was safe from wizard monitoring.

In the wee hours of the night, Cecile had cloaked herself in invisibility and made for the shore. Alone. The sky had barely begun to lighten as the wooden craft, carrying a burlap wrapped seedling, had set out for Lyman. Now, at midday, the tree had grown toward the sky, thick-trunked with spreading, leafy branches. The small portal glowed within, its magic kindling.

It was dark by the time Cecile reached the far shore north of Lyman city. A lone figure stood on the beach. She was several years younger than Cecile, but her face looked worn and weary. Physically still a young girl, but mentally far from that. She was dressed as an aviator, covered in soot, and she greeted Cecile with a short, sharp nod.

“Your Majesty.”

Cecile stepped from the bow of the boat and held out a hand to young, weary Protector of the Night Spirits. “Call me Cecile. I’ve come to help.”

She shook it firmly. “Delia Caldwell.”

Cecile had no interest in wasting precious time. “I’ve brought the portal.”

For the first time, a crack appeared in Delia’s hardened demeanor. “You’ve come just in time, then. My plane was shot down yesterday and we can’t seem to get it running. I was beginning to lose hope,” Delia admitted.

Cecile lay a comforting hand on the girl’s shoulder. “Let’s sit and make our plan then. We have much work ahead of us to save the magical creatures of Lyman City.”


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!

 

Flash Fiction Monday -Ironwood Forest

Ironwood Forest

As the mist parted, I found myself face-to-face with the tip of an arrow, so close my eyes crossed as I tried to focus on it.

I’d watched liked a hawk as I picked my way through the forest, carefully, quietly, afraid that even the slightest crunch of the leaves beneath my feet or the crack of a broken tree branch would give me away. I’d been scanning the forest for hours and my eyes were accustomed to the murky gloom. I should have seen the archer coming. A cursory glance at the hand below where the arrow rested told me the archer was a man. Where he’d come from or how he’d found me were a complete mystery, however.

The forest was silent except for my suddenly ragged breathing.

He lowered the arrow from where it had been aimed at the spot between my eyes to my chest. Hardly a relief, since the bowstring hadn’t loosened a fraction. At this range, it would certainly kill me.

It did allow me to examine his face. A hood covered his head, although I caught a glimpse of dark hair at the edges, and above the green-grey fabric covering his mouth and nose I saw dark eyes ringed with something sooty. There was nothing kind or welcoming in his gaze.

I jerked and tried not to flinch as another hooded figure appeared on my left, disarming me of my sword before I could reach for it. Another set of hands gripped my upper arms and in moments, they were bound tightly.

Only then did the arrow lower and the tension on the bowstring relax.

He slung his bow over his shoulder and gripped my upper arm.  A cloaked figure appeared on the path in front of us and set a brisk pace. The archer jerked me forward and it was all I could do to right myself and keep up.

I wanted to shout, wanted to beg for an explanation, ask who he was and where they were taking me, but the hush of the forest seemed oppressive and my tongue felt thick in my mouth. I stared at the archer beside me, trying to discern who he was. Certainly not the King’s men I’d been hiding from.

It wasn’t until a breeze ruffled the hood of his cloak and I caught a glimpse of a finely sculpted ear tapering to a point that I realized who held me captive: an elf.

Fear made my stomach churn.

The only thing worse than the King’s men were the elves of Ironwood Forest.


I don’t have any plans to write fantasy novels, but it’s a lot of fun to do in flash form!

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 – Irregulars (Anthology)

Summary:

It’s a secret international organization operating in cities on every continent. It polices relations between the earthly realm and those beyond this world, enforcing immigration laws, the transfers of magical artifacts, and crimes against humanity.

The agents who work for the NATO Irregular Affairs Division can’t tell anyone what they do, or how hard they work to keep us safe. It brings a colorful collection of men together:
Agent Henry Falk, the undead bum. Agent Keith Curry, former carnivore chef turned vegetarian; Agent Rake, Babylonian demon with a penchant for easy living; and Agent Silas August, uncompromising jerk.

Four cities, four mysteries, four times the romance. Is your security clearance high enough to read on?

Review:

I first discovered the agents of the NATO Irregular Affairs Division in the Charmed and Dangerous Anthology. If you haven’t read it, you really should.  Some of my favorite authors were involved and all of the stories are fantastic.  It’s also where I first met Keith and Gunther.  I loved the world they were a part of and when I found out they were from the “Irregulars” anthology I bought it immediately.

All four stories in “Irregulars” are spectacular. Every single one was rich and detailed and truly brought the magical (and non-magical) world to life. The way the stories intertwined was particularly enjoyable and kept me glued to the book. All four authors had distinct voices, yet their styles meshed so well it felt like the stories seamlessly transitioned from one to the other.

The anthology had stellar pacing. It was satisfyingly  long without feeling like it dragged, yet I would have happily read more stories in this world. I loved all of the characters. They were interestingly flawed and the way magic impacted their relationships was fascinating.

I tried to pick which of the four stories I liked best: “Cherries Worth Getting” by Nicole Kimberling, “Green Glass Beads” by Josh Lanyon, “No Life But This” by Astrid Amara, and “Things Unseen and Deadly” by Ginn Hale. It was an impossible choice. I loved all of them and each had their merits.

One of the biggest compliments I can give the anthology is that I want to read it again. That’s something I rarely do, but this one is begging for a re-read.

Buy Links:

Amazon 

Blind Eye Books

Flash Fiction Monday – Fairy Tales

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Prince Augustus buried his head in his hands, fighting back the wave of anxiety that swept over him every time he caught a glimpse of them. Every morning when he woke up, he prayed that they’d return to their normal skin tone, but every day the blue hue and icy coldness deepened and spread further. The color moving up his legs and torso had been easy enough to cover, but his hands were more difficult to hide. It had been an unseasonably cold spring, and he’d worn gloves as long as he could, but a sudden warm spell had swept across the kingdom and he was starting to get odd looks from the castle servants—not to mention his father, the king—every time he wore the heavy, black leather gauntlets.

He’d been researching like mad, searching every book in the castle library and consulting with the royal doctor, who’d pursed his lips but agreed to keep it a secret from King Weston.  But nothing they tried seemed to be working.  Augustus had even gone to the fields to spend the day in the sun, hoping that the heat would cure the spreading ice, but nothing had done the trick.

The secret had isolated him from his family and his fiancé, Princess Luciana. Truth be told, he wasn’t heartbroken over that. At best it was an arranged marriage. At worst  … well, he didn’t want to think about that either.  He’d rather spend his time with his men at arms than with his bride-to-be, something he knew wasn’t entirely normal. Especially not for a prince.

“Augustus!” The sound of his name being bellowed across the fields made his head snap up and he caught sight of Sebastian, one of his knights and his best friend barreling toward him on his chestnut charger.

He scrambled for his clothes, snatching them up in his haste to cover the embarrassing hue of his skin.  “Go away, ‘Bastian” he shouted. “Is it too much for a Prince to have a moment alone?”

But Sebastian pulled his heavily muscled horse to a stop in front of him.  Its skin steamed in the cooler air and he wondered how hard and fast Sebastian had ridden it.  He’d managed to tug his pants on, but his shirt still lay in a tangled heap on the ground and there was no hiding his skin.

Sebastian slid to the ground with a heavy thud, letting go of the horse’s reins. It wandered away to munch on grass as he stared open-mouthed at Augustus.  “August, your skin  …” he whispered. “Why didn’t you tell me?”

Augustus closed his eyes in shame before opening them to look his friend in the eye. “I’m sorry, ‘Bastian. I didn’t know what to say. Something’s wrong with me and I don’t know what’s caused it or how to treat it.”

“You really don’t know?” Sebastian stepped closer, the heat of his body warming Augustus’ chilled skin.  “You’ve never heard the legends?”

He shook his head. “Legends? I don’t understand.”

“Just trust me,” Sebastian whispered.  Before Augustus could react, he felt the press of ‘Bastian’s lips against his. They both shuddered and, involuntarily, Augustus’ hands reached up to grip Sebastian’s leather tunic. He smelled of sweat, leather, and horse and the scent did something to Augustus that the flowery scent of Princess Luciana’s perfume had never done.

“What are you doing?” he asked in bewilderment as their lips parted, but he didn’t pull away from his friend in horror like he knew he should.

“Look at your hands, August,” Sebastian whispered.

Augustus looked down to see the normal rosy brown hue returning to his skin, the icy cold and blue color retreating like the snow in spring. “What? I don’t understand  … how did you …?”

‘Bastian’s impish grin was so familiar it made Augustus’ heart ache. “You really don’t know the legends then. You’ve been cursed. We’ll have to speak to my mother to discover who placed it on you, but don’t you know what always cures a curse? Think about all of the fairy stories your nurse told you as a child.”

Sebastian thought about it for a moment, then his face split with a wide grin.  His heart felt light for the first time in months. “True love’s kiss.”

“From a handsome prince—or in this case a knight.” ‘Bastian winked at him. “Come. As you well know, my mother’s powers as a healer and wise woman are legendary. She’ll have a solution for us. One even your father will be able live with. Happy endings aren’t just for fairy tales, you know.”

Dazed and disbelieving, Augustus finished dressing and hopped up on the chestnut stallion behind Sebastian.  As the horse’s hooves thundered over the ground, he buried his head against ‘Bastian’s neck and allowed himself to hope.


 

I went a little over the word count again, but I was very pleased with the way the flash turned out.

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

I look forward to seeing you next Monday!