Flash Fiction Monday – No Rest for a Cowboy

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No Rest for a Cowboy

Danny’s breath steamed in the icy January air as he hefted another bale of hay and tossed it carefully over the edge of the hay loft. Panting, he stopped for a minute. His back ached from the strain and his cold, cramped fingers were sore from the twine digging in.

 Thunder rumbled through the air and Danny froze. Thunder? In January? That seemed unlikely, but if it wasn’t thunder, it was probably  …fuuuuuck

He ran to the window and saw over almost two dozen horses streaming out of the paddock and into the un-fenced portion of the ranch. He nearly shit himself. All that work. All that money. Wild horses attempting to return to the wild.

He thundered down the rickety steps and tore through the barn door, hollering for Abraham to come help. Danny was sure that their plan to buy mustangs to train for barrel racing and pleasure riding was about to go up in a cloud of dust. They’d spent every last penny to buy the ranch and the horses. If they lost the mustangs they were fucked.

Abraham caught up to him and grabbed his arm. “Hey, calm down, Danny. You’re just spooking them more.”

Danny froze and nodded tightly. “How are we going to get them back though, Abe?”

“Let’s grab some grain and a couple of lead ropes. We’ll have to try to lure them back with it, but I have a plan.”

An hour and a half later, wrung out from fear and adrenaline, Danny collapsed against his boyfriend’s chest. “I can’t believe that worked.”

“I told you.”

Danny gripped his boyfriend’s face and brought their foreheads together. Relief made him weak-kneed. “We could have lost all of the mustangs. But we didn’t.” Danny drew back to look Abraham in the eye. “Thank you. Without your cool head  …”

Abraham smiled and kissed him. “Now we know not to leave the gate unlatched.”

Danny groaned. “That was all me.”

“Hey, we’re a team, right?” A nose nudged Danny’s arm and he glanced over to see Lady, the chestnut mare who had established herself as leader of the herd.

Danny let go of Abe to rub behind her ears. “And it’s a good thing you’re in charge of these yahoos.” He gestured toward the rest of the horses who were crowding closer, searching for more grain. For a while, it had looked like utter chaos as the horses galloped, tails and manes streaming in the wind. They were gorgeous, no question about it, but terrifying as well and Danny had felt like he couldn’t breathe as he prayed none of the horses or him and Abe would be injured.

Abe’s plan to round them up had involved bribing Lady with grain to get close enough to throw a lead rope around her neck and walk her back into the paddock. The rest of the herd had reluctantly followed, the few stragglers coaxed in with a little grain.

They spent a little while checking the horses over, making sure none of them had injured their hooves or legs, but everyone appeared sound. Abe gave Marigold a pat on the rump. “Back to work, I guess.”

Danny groaned. “I just want to go take a long hot soak in the tub.”

“You have to finish getting some hay down and I have to check the fences.” Abe grinned and draped an arm over his shoulders. “No rest for a cowboy, I’m afraid.


Sorry I’ve been so intermittent about writing and posting flash fics. I was glad to be able to join in this week!

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 – 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 – 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!

Flash Fiction Monday – Missed Connection

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Missed Connection

Benjamin Kimura sank to the paving stones beneath him as his knees went out from under him.  The clank and rattle of the train were a distant, dim annoyance as he drank in the words Antonia had written.  It rumbled and hissed to a stop as the words swam in front of his eyes.

Why had he never listened before?

Since the moment they met in grad school, Ben had loved Antonio with the kind of single-minded intensity he usually reserved for his beloved books.  So when Antonio slowly, haltingly revealed that he’d been keeping a secret, Ben had seen it as a betrayal. A loss of the man he loved.  A sign that his idyllic life with Antonio had been a farce.

But the book Antonia had published?

Oh, that told a different story.  Because while the names and details had been changed, the soul of the person in the pages was the person Ben had planned to spend the rest of his life with.  The book was a love letter, a reminder of what they’d shared.  If Ben could recognize the love of his life on the pages—despite the changes that took it from being an autobiography to fiction—why couldn’t he see that in real life?  Why couldn’t he see that all of the truly important parts of Antonio were still present in Antonia?

Yes, it was a mind-fuck to go from being a gay man in a relationship with another man to a man in love with a trans* woman, but why did his discomfort have to be a deal breaker?

Why hadn’t Ben seen that Antonio’s revelation was a sign that he—she?–trusted Ben enough to reveal the deepest parts of his—her?—identity?

Fuck, he wasn’t prepared to deal with any of this.  He scrubbed his fingertips against his scalp in frustration, ruffling the thick dark hair that was the legacy of his father.  He froze when he considered his own identity.  He’d grown up in two worlds, blending his father’s Japanese culture with that of his mother—a Caucasian woman from America—all while growing up in London. Ben had fallen in love with a second-generation Italian-Spanish man and his entire world was a hodge-podge of multi-culturalism.

If his parents hadn’t seen beyond the cultural divide, Ben wouldn’t exist.  If Ben had been closed-minded, he’d never have met Antonio in the first place.  So why was he limiting himself? Why was he letting his fears keep him from being with someone he loved?

Ben snapped his tablet cover shut and stuffed it in his rucksack.  Standing, he dusted off the back of his jeans and headed for the exit.  He’d wasted money on a train ticket to Oxford to see his parents—he’d been running to them to escape his confusion—but that wasn’t the end of the world.  Losing Antonio—Antonia—was.

The anxiety in his stomach grew as he walked to the flat they shared.  Lately, it had been filled with strained silence and tense discomfort.

Rather than use his key, he knocked on the door. The person who opened it wasn’t the man he’d fallen in love with.   The long, runners legs Ben had loved to feel tangled against his own were now covered in a gauzy, bohemian print skirt rather than the trousers he was used to seeing.  The soft dark waves he’d loved to run his fingers through were now cut in a stylish, curly bob that looked vaguely flapper-esque and softened the square jaw.

The corner of the mouth he’d kissed a thousand times before—familiar, yet changed by lipstick—trembled.

He stuck out his hand. “Antonia, right?  I’m Ben.”

Her throat bobbed as they shook hands and Ben saw the shimmer of tears in the soft brown eyes he’d fallen in love with.  He continued, not sure if this was the right approach or not, but knowing he had to try.  “I read your book and I’d really like to get to know you better.”

Her voice was husky, softer than he was familiar with, but the words were all that mattered.  “I’d like that.”


I went over the word count this week by a few hundred words, but the story demanded it.

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!