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Posts tagged ‘Break on Me’

SOCS/Story a Day: Day 10 – “Enjoying the View”

Today’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt is to use “view” in some way or another. I’m also still participating in the Story a Day challenge, so once again, I’m combining the two of them. Today’s Story a Day prompt is to write a Hansel & Gretel story structure(life-changing moment then a series of progress/setbacks). I finished my word goal on Closing Time for the week, but didn’t do anything on Break on Me, so I’ll be visiting with those characters for today. I haven’t written the scene that comes before this yet, but needless to say, it was a slightly life-changing moment for both of them. ūüėČ

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Lora ran her hand down Gabriel’s side, wanting to revel in the feel of just being so close to him. How many times had she imagined this? How many more had she not let herself?

That didn’t matter now, she told herself. Being here with Gabriel did. it’s what she’d wanted almost from that first time she’d seen him on the video chat with her brother. What would Aaron think of this?

No. She shook that thought off almost before it had finished processing. Her brother had no place in all of this. But, the question still nagged at the edge of her mind, not letting her drift back to sleep. She rolled over, drawing her hand away from Gabriel’s side,¬†and stood up from the bed. She shivered, and spotting the afghan over the back of a chair, grabbed it to wrap around her shoulders.

She walked through the house, glancing down the hallway. but the light in the other bedroom wasn’t on. maybe Erik hadn’t come in yet. it was getting rather late, though. “He’s a grown man,” she muttered. “Doesn’t need you to be a mother hen.”

Aaron had always accused her of that, too. Like trying to look out for her older brother was a bad thing. She’d known something was wrong, though, no matter how many times he insisted he was fine. Turned out, he wasn’t, and she should have worried more.

She braced her hand against the window frame and tried to shut those thoughts away, too. it wasn’t her fault. She’d done as much as she was capable of to help him. But, it still hadn’t been enough. Maybe nothing would have.

An arm wrapped around her waist. “What are you doing out here?” Gabriel asked her.

“Enjoying the view,” she said as snow fell on the other side of the window. Not that she’d really noticed it with all the other thoughts going through her head.

“Me, too,” he said, amusement in his voice.

She glanced back, but Gabriel’s gaze certainly wasn’t on the window. She laughed and turned into him. “You’re bad, Gabriel Saranno.”

The corner of his mouth tugged up. “Only around you, Lora Price.”

“Now, I don’t believe that for a second.”

“You should,” he said, his lips grazing the side of her forehead. “And you should come back to bed.”

That she could do. And maybe it would help keep these other thoughts out of her head. So she let him guide her back to his bedroom, where she dropped the afghan to the floor and slid back into his bed.

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So, that may not fit the Hansel & Gretel story structure quite so much. But, it’s what came out.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Concentration

Today’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt is “concentration”. Haha, this is funny. I can’t even concentrate enough to get through this intro. ;p Maybe once I get started on the fiction, it will come better. The thing with Gabe, Lora, & Erik that’s referenced here hasn’t actually happened in Break on Me(and may not, we’ll see), but this would take place sometime after that story and before Erik’s own story. The first line popped into my head, but I wasn’t even sure who said it until I started writing.

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“You’re so totally messing with my concentration.” Gabriel ducked his head as the pencil his brother had been tapping against the desk came flying toward his head. “Was that really necessary, Chris?”

“You’re just being a grump ’cause Lora’s out of town.”

“You’re nuts.” Except he wasn’t. Lora had been out of town, tying things up at her old job and packing her stuff up before she moved up here, for three days. Two more days, and she’d be back. But, he was getting antsier the more days that went by without seeing her.

“If you just need to get laid, I’m sure Erik-”

“Enough,” Gabriel growled. “That was a one time thing. Lora and I are in a committed one-on-one relationship. Erik’s the one who took that step back, so just-”

“Easy,” Chris said, holding his hands up. “I was just joking.”

Gabriel ran his hand over his face. He usually would have known that. Maybe more than Lora being out of town had him antsy. Considering they were still living under the same roof, Erik was doing a damn good job of avoiding him. It was awkward now, but there was no way Gabriel would ever ask him to leave. Not unless he knew Erik had a place, and he’d be okay on his own.

And that had been part of the problem. Erik didn’t want someone taking care of him. Didn’t want to share, either, which Gabriel couldn’t blame him for. He’d known that wouldn’t be a long-term arrangement.

“What about you?” he asked, needing to get his mind off this. “You seen Reagen again?”

“Every damn day,” Chris muttered. “This town isn’t big enough. And she’s still with her girlfriend, so you can let it drop.”

“Fine,” Gabriel said, doing just that. He could sense his brother was more upset about the situation than he’d admit. So, he’d let it go. He was getting better at doing that.

He turned back to his desk and tried to get back to work, but his concentration was completely shot by now. “Come on,” he said, standing up and grabbing his keys. “Let’s cut out early and grab some lunch. We don’t have much going on, so I doubt Dad will mind.”

“Not like he’d fire us if he did. Just give us that disappointed look.”

Gabriel laughed, for what felt like the first time in days, and headed for the door. “Sometimes I think that’s worse.”

Story a Day: Day 31 – Reasons Upon Reasons

The last day of Story a Day, and today’s prompt was to “Go Big”. Taking everything we’ve done this month and put it toward something new. This takes place shortly after “Put the Brakes on“.

Gabriel opened the door, not sure he’d ever been this nervous. Which was rather silly. It was Lora. His friend’s little sister. Who he’d talked to enough times through the computer. No screen, or thousands of miles, between them now, but it didn’t have to be any different.

And then he saw her. Gabriel imagined she thought the outfit was professional, and he was sure it was. But, it clung to every curve, giving him just a taste of what was under it. Stop it, he scolded himself. She was here for business, and he’d promised himself he wouldn’t let his thoughts go there. He’d made a promise to Aaron, and just because the man wasn’t here to make sure he’d keep it didn’t mean Gabriel would go and break his word.

“Come in,” he said when she looked at him curiously. He must look like an idiot just standing in the doorway, staring at her.

She stepped inside and let out a little shiver as she slipped off her sweater. “I thought it was warm when I left the bed and breakfast.¬†I would have grabbed a coat, too, if I’d realized the temperature had dropped so much.”

He couldn’t say he was too disappointed that she hadn’t. Then, he reminded himself, again, that he wasn’t going to think like that. “We’ll get you warmed up,” he said and hung her sweater on a hook by the door.

He caught the way her eyes darkened as the words slipped out of his mouth. Shit. He hadn’t meant it like that, but now he couldn’t stop thinking about it. “Roommate threw some soup in the slow cooker this morning. House has smelled amazing since¬†I got home.” Which had been fairly early since there wasn’t much to do, even in the office. And he’d needed to clean the house up anyway.

Her face tilted up, her nose twitching as if smelling the air. “You’re right,” she said, “it does smell good. Is it ready?”

“He said it would be whenever we wanted to eat.” Had he told her who his roommate was? He couldn’t remember now, though he wracked his memory for it.

“Is he joining us?”

“I don’t think so.” Actually Erik had made it pretty clear he wanted to be anywhere but near them tonight. And he knew his roommate had reasons upon reasons for that.

Gabriel led her into the kitchen. “Have a seat,” he told her. “I’ll get the bowls.”

He took a moment to draw and release a few breaths as he took the bowls out of the cupboard. Being here with her shouldn’t be dragging this response from him. They were going to eat and go over the proposal. That was it. And yet, this felt awfully close to the panic he’d found himself fighting off nearly daily when he’d first come home. He hadn’t dealt with that for a while now, though. He’d thought he was over it.

“Gabe, you okay?” Lora asked from over by the table.

He drew in another breath and said, “Fine,” on the exhale. And he was. This wasn’t a typical panic attack. It had felt like it at first, but the feeling was changing. Still, he breathed through the feeling as he dished out the stew Erik had made then cut¬†a few slices of the bread he’d brought home.

When he carried the first of the bowls to the table, she still looked vaguely concerned. “I could have helped you with that. I should have. Your hand-”

“It’s fine,” he said, almost snapping the words. Even though relief nearly flooded him when she did. His father and brother nearly refused to acknowledge that anything was different and he had to make certain accommodations because of it. Having someone note it without acting like nothing had changed was a relief.

She jerked back, and he winced. “Sorry,” he said. “It’s been a little rough. Had an argument, I guess, with my roommate. Did I tell you who that was?” He rubbed at the side of his head, it was aching a little. Like it always did when he felt a small detail escaping from him. The blast had done more than take part of his arm, though most of the time the other issues didn’t affect him as much.

“Yeah,” she said, that curious look on her face again. “You’d said Erik was living with you.”

He cringed at the way she said that. But, she had to know. If they were going to be working together, she’d hear what everyone else in town said, so he should set her clear now. “We live in the same house, yes,” he said, testing his words carefully. “People may tell you there’s more going on, but that’s really all there is.” Except those few times. But, he wasn’t going to mention those. It wasn’t anyone else’s business how they both managed to cope late at night.

“I never thought any different,” she told him, still with that slightly curious look on her face.

Of course she hadn’t. Aaron had known,¬†but he’d¬†never told anyone. Not even his sister, despite how close they’d been. He turned and grabbed the other bowl of stew, but before he had turned back, Lora was reaching around him for the bread. He had to stop and take a breath, calming himself at the feel of her so close.

By the time he’d set his bowl on the table, Lora had taken a tub of butter out of the refrigerator and was heading back. It was like she belonged there. No. He couldn’t think like that. She didn’t belong here, not with him.

But, when he looked up after taking a bite of stew, she was watching him. He couldn’t exactly say what the look encompassed, though. Some curiosity, certainly. He was acting strange. He knew it, even as he couldn’t do anything to stop it. But, there seemed to be something else, too. He dropped his gaze again before he could think too much about it.

He couldn’t let himself go there.

But, she reached across the table and laid her hand over his. As if she knew the thoughts were bouncing around in his head, and that touch was the one thing that seemed to slow them down. How could she know that, though, when he’d never told anyone else? Still, there was something there between them. He couldn’t deny it, even if he’d never act on it.

He owed his old friend that much at least.

 

Story a Day: Day 26 – “Talk to You”

Today’s prompt was to focus on drawing out emotions. This is something I’ve been told I’m pretty good at. I do like to dig down into a character’s emotions and twist them as much as I can(yeah, I’m mean like that). And this works perfectly for where I’m at in Break on Me. This comes after To Forget and Every Sunday but before Put the Brakes on.

Gabriel kicked at a clump of snow on the sidewalk to the office. Someone had already taken the time to shovel it off at least. Which meant either Chris or their dad had probably beat him into the office. Possibly even both of them. ¬†He sighed and ran a hand over his face. He’d have to let them know how the meeting with Lora had gone the day before. Not that any of it had been bad. They’d gone over the points of the proposal, and Lora agreed they were solid. But, it still depended on what the town wanted. They wouldn’t be able to move forward until the council made a decision.

Just thinking about Lora had everything in him tensing up. It had been good to see her, knowing how she was doing since the funeral. He’d tried calling her a few times, but she never returned them. He’d figured she just didn’t want anything to do with someone who would only remind her of Aaron, so he’d let it go. But, it had definitely been a shock to see her again. He hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her, even when he’d gone home. He’d been silent through the dinner Erik had made, though he did listen to his roommate talk about his first day of work at the bed and breakfast.

He hadn’t gone to Erik’s room that night, though.

Erik had looked a bit rough this morning, like he hadn’t gotten much sleep, either. Gabriel had asked him if he was all right, and he’d assured him he was. Gabriel wasn’t sure he totally believed it, but he’d let it go. He still thought the other man should get in to talk to someone about his likely PTSD, but he knew pushing the issue wouldn’t do any good. Still, he worried.

Gabriel pushed into the office and saw his dad sitting at his desk. Other than that, the office was empty. “Chris hasn’t made it in yet?” he asked, letting the door close behind him. Their major projects had been set aside until the spring, but they still had some remodeling work on the table. It would be just enough to keep their guys working until it picked back up when the weather cleared.

“Sent him out to the site already. Boy’s been itchy lately.”

Meaning Chris felt cooped up here in the office and was driving their father only slightly crazy. Gabriel moved over to his own desk. There wasn’t really any designs for him to work on. Not until they got back to building in the spring. He could start figuring out the layout of this development, though. Or at least some different ideas for it. He didn’t have to wait for the town to approve it to do that. And it might help if he could take those drawings to the meeting.

But, he also had to make sure they stayed on top of all their bills and the other paperwork even during the slow months. Neither his father or brother were good at keeping up with that. So, it fell to him. He was fine with that. Most of the time. Today he wasn’t sure he could concentrate on it.

“I also wanted to talk to you.”

Gabriel’s head came up at that. He had no idea what it had to do with sending Chris to a job site early. But, he heard the concern in his father’s voice. A tone he hadn’t heard in almost five years. When he was sinking fast in depression, barely managing to cope with the loss of his arm and his future, to his thinking. That was when his father drove him to the VA center, and sat there with him until Gabriel gave in and went inside.

And he saw that concern in his father’s dark brown eyes as well. A lot of the time his father seemed detached from emotions. Which Gabriel figured was his coping method from losing the woman he loved and almost losing his oldest son.

“What is it, Dad? I’m fine, you know. Not every day, but I’m not where¬†I used to be.”

“Good to know, but it’s not that.” His dad moved from his desk to the other side of Gabriel’s. “I’ve heard some talk in town.”

“I didn’t think you listened to gossip.”

His dad snorted. “I try not to. But, sometimes the busybodies shove it right in my face. I knew that stuff about Chris, Sue, and Ken was garbage. Anyone who looked at Susan and Kendall could see they loved each other. Buncha bullshit, you ask me, what the town tried to put those girls through.”

Gabriel agreed, but he still had to rub his sweaty palm along his jeans. He was afraid he knew where this was going. He just really hoped he was wrong. “What did you hear, Dad?”

“I knew that was garbage because anyone with eyes could see. But, you keep things all wrapped up tight.”

“Dad,-” Shit, shit, shit.

“I know you asked that boy to move into the house with you. No matter what his father said about the reason, I know the truth, Gabe. There’s never been love lost between Jakob Morrey and me. I thought his son was like him, but if you consider him a friend, I’m sure there’s more. And I know what you were thinking when you made the offer. Saving him doesn’t bring anyone else back, though.”

“I know,” Gabriel said, but it was hard to get the words out through the tightness in his chest. “Nothing will bring Aaron back. But, I can at least keep from having to bury another friend.” He swallowed hard, hating that his eyes burned from the pressure of tears he tried to fight back. “What did you hear, Dad?”

His dad let out a long sigh. “People are claiming there’s more than friendship between you and the Morrey boy. Something his father started from what I heard. Says the boy likes other men so it’s more than likely you two are…”

Gabriel lifted a trembling hand to rub over his mouth. God. He’d known Jakob had started spreading stuff around about Erik, none of it completely untrue. But, still. “Erik’s not gay, Dad. He’s…” Shit. He didn’t have Erik’s permission to say anything. But, his dad wasn’t one to spread things around. He hoped the other man would forgive him. “He’s bisexual, Dad.” He drew in a deep breath, letting it slowly back out. “So am I.”

His dad stared at him, and Gabriel held his breath while he waited for the judgment to come down. But all his father did was rub two fingers over the bridge of his nose. “So, you like both you mean?”

“That’s the over-simplified version, but yes. I’m attracted to more than one gender, but I do prefer women. It’s not always a 50-50 thing.”

His dad kept running his fingers along his nose. “I’ll admit I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around it. I only ever loved your mother.”

Gabriel didn’t say anything and finally his dad dropped his hand and met Gabriel’s eyes. “That doesn’t mean I don’t understand it works differently for other people. So, you and Erik-”

Gabriel shook his head. “Not like that. We’ve kissed and a little more, but it’s not like he’s my secret boyfriend. I really did just want to make sure he had a safe place. But, sometimes we both needed a way to forget everything that haunts us.”

His dad’s eyes darkened a little at that. “I wish you didn’t have anything haunting you still.”

“I know it, Dad,” Gabriel said, “but it’s never going to go completely away. I’m coping with it, though.”

His dad moved closer, gripped Gabriel’s good arm and pulled him closer. “I don’t know why you thought you had to keep anything from me. But, you didn’t. You’re my son, not one thing will ever change that or that I love you.”

It was rare to hear those words from his father. Not that he’d ever doubted the truth of them. But, his dad tended to show his feelings more than talk about them. “I know, Dad, but thanks for the reminder. “Now, I should probably get to work.”

His dad stepped back, a smile playing around his lips. He knew an evasion tactic when he saw one. “All right, son. That would probably be a good thing. “Was that woman in about the veterans’ project in yesterday?”

“Yeah,” Gabriel replied. “Give me a few minutes, and we can go over that.” Then, he pushed away thoughts of Erik, his own feelings, his father’s new knowledge of him, and everything else but what he needed to do for his job.

SOCS/Story a Day: Day 21 – Put the Brakes on

I combined my Stream of Consciousness Saturday post and Story a Day entry again today. The SOCS prompt was to use brake/break somewhere in it. And for Story a Day, it was to use the opening line: “Huh!” he said. “I never would have thought that would fit in there.” The next line came right to me and apparently I had these two in my head because it just rolled right out from there. I’ll probably end up fitting this in to the Break on Me WiP later on. Warning for mention of suicide.

“Huh!” he said. “I never would have thought that would fit in there.”

“That’s what he said.”

Gabriel looked over at his roommate and shook his head. “You are terrible, Erik.” But, he couldn’t be taken too seriously when he couldn’t wipe the smirk from his own face. “Can you grab a few of those papers over there. I’d like to have this place cleaned up before Lora gets here.”

“Who is this girl anyway?” Erik asked as he moved to help. “I haven’t seen you on¬†a date since you let me move in.”

Gabriel was sure this could be a touchy subject, but as much as he’d like to put the brakes on it, it would be better to iron it all out now. He and Erik hooked up sometimes, late at night when neither of them could sleep. But, there was never more to it. He was afraid he hadn’t made it completely clear there never would be. He might be sexually attracted to me, but he’d only ever been in relationships with women. He didn’t see any of that changing. Even if Lora wasn’t here, he didn’t see him and Erik ever dating. He just hadn’t found the right way to break that to the other man.

“Erik, look-”

Erik waved a hand at him. “Don’t, Gabe, really. I know how things are. It’s fine.”

It wasn’t, though. He could see it in the tight lines of Erik’s shoulders as he turned to pick something else up. He’d never seen what they were doing as something shameful or even really a secret. Just because you didn’t tell everyone a thing didn’t make it a secret. Just private. And he had finally told his dad. And his siblings. They were the only ones who really mattered. It had gone better than he’d expected. He’d never¬†been too worried about his siblings. Chris had been dating Susan when she realized she might love another girl–turned out she did. And he’d taken that well enough. His father had been the real surprise, but he never should have doubted him. He’d been worried about how it would affect them all working together, as much as what it would do to the family.

“It’s really not you, Erik. It’s me. I’ve told you.¬†I might be attracted to men, but I prefer women.”

“I know,” Erik shouted, throwing the remote he’d picked up across the room. “God. Can’t you ever just let anything drop? I said it was fine.”

But, it wasn’t and neither was Erik’s sudden burst of temper. But, Gabriel stood where¬†he was. When¬†Erik got like this, it was better not to approach him. This wasn’t even about the conversation they were having. Gabriel knew that, even though Erik wouldn’t admit it. It had a lot more to do with the fact Gabriel was still pushing about Erik going to talk to someone.

Gabriel drew in a breath and let it out again before going to pick up the remote. “I’m sorry. I just wanted things to be clear.”

“They’re perfectly clear to me. You don’t have to worry about that or me.” Gabriel watched as Erik drew in several breaths, apparently trying to calm himself.

Erik might think he didn’t need to worry about him, but Gabriel did anyway. “I’ve lost one friend because he refused to seek help after he came home. I don’t want to have to bury another.”

“I’m not Aaron,” Erik spit out. “I’m not going to kill myself.”

“I don’t think he thought he would, either. Not until it got to be too much.” He drew in a shuddering breath. It always hurt to talk about Aaron. Every damn time. And speaking of…”Her name’s Lora,” he said, answering Erik’s earlier question. He watched him process and try to catch up to the change in conversation. “And it isn’t a date. She’s only here because of the project the company is working on. And,” he added, glancing away, “she’s Aaron’s sister.” Just as much reason that he couldn’t go there.

Erik shifted away at that. “So, she probably already hates me.”

“What would make you say that? She doesn’t even know you.”

“Her brother did. And he made it perfectly clear what he thought of me. I wouldn’t doubt he told her. Weren’t they really close?”

“Yeah. But, you don’t know she’s like that. She never agreed with everything he thought. She does have a mind of her own, you know.”

“Right. Well, I think I’ll make myself scarce until she’s gone anyway.”

Gabriel watched Erik stalk away then let out a sigh. That hadn’t gone well. Hopefully his meeting with Lora would go better. He just needed to finish getting this place cleaned up.

Story a Day: Day 18 – Perfect Coincidence

Today’s prompt was to write a story based on a painting. I used one of the examples on the Story a Day page for the prompt. The two girls in this aren’t quite the same as in the picture, but I used more the idea of it for this. And this will fit perfectly into where I’m at in Break on Me. Love when that works out.

Lora headed out of the bed and breakfast and looked both ways as she reached the sidewalk. It shouldn’t be too hard to find her way around this town. She’d grown up in what she thought was a small town, but this one beat even that. And she’d spent the last year and a half in a town several times larger. How did people even live in a place like this?

She shook off that thought and headed down the sidewalk. The mechanic who had brought her car in the night before had dropped her off at the bed and breakfast, but he’d told her how to get to the garage so she could see about her car. It shouldn’t be hard to find it. And everyone seemed to have already shoveled the snow that storm had dumped on them. She’d grown up in the opposite corner of the state, where it wasn’t normal to see snow at the beginning of November. But, since she’d moved up this way, she’d learned it was here. Something else to get used to. Like living in a world without Aaron.

She pushed away thoughts of her brother. He was part of the reason she was here, but the grief wasn’t going to help at all. She’d found it best to keep it locked away in its own box until she had time to deal with it. She’d had enough people tell her she shouldn’t feel the way she did, since he’d done it to himself. That didn’t change the fact she’d lost the last of her family. She hadn’t fought those battles in his head, so she couldn’t say why he’d ended it all. She only knew she still missed him.

She was just passing the parking lot that seemed to house a grocery store, with a couple gas pumps next to it, a hardware store, and on the other side a diner. She’d have to remember the diner and check it out later. It seemed like a lot of those places were dying out, being replaced with Subways and other chains.*

She saw two women heading away from the diner, coming right toward her. Though neither seemed to see her. One had her head bent slightly, her hands moving with her words. The other woman tipped her head back slightly, dragging her hands through auburn hair, then let out a laugh. Lora couldn’t stop watching them. Something about this interaction struck her. Then, the first woman took the other one’s hand and pulled her a little closer, going up on her toes until she could put her mouth on the other woman’s lips.

Oh. Lora did turn away now. Not because she felt there was anything wrong with that. But, it seemed a little intimate for her to watch. But, then they were walking toward her again. She really should keep walking. Her toes were already starting to feel a little frozen in her boots. Yet, these two seemed perfectly comfortable in their jackets, no gloves or hats as they walked arm in arm now.

She saw the name sewn on the jacket the shorter woman wore. Kurztown Auto Repair. The same as what had been on the side of the tow truck the night before. Well, that was just a perfect coincidence, wasn’t it? “Excuse me,” she said, stepping forward.

Both women turned toward her, the auburn-haired one eyeing her warily. But, she saw the other woman squeeze her hand, and she didn’t let go of it. “What can we do for you?” she asked, her voice light.

“You work at the garage?” she asked, gesturing to the name on the jacket.

She kept smiling and nodded at Lora. “I do. Name’s Kendall Gosslar, most people just call me Ken, though. What can I help you with? You need your car brought in?”

“No. Actually, it should already be there. I went off the road in that storm last night, and uh, Doren I think was his name, brought me into town. I just, well I thought you could help me find my way there. He gave me directions, and this place is small enough, I’m sure I could find it. But-”

“It’s too cold to be out here wandering around hoping you find your way,” Ken said, still smiling at her. “And Doren isn’t the best at giving directions, no matter his talent at working on cars. I have to get over there anyway. You can walk with me.”

The other woman was still studying Lora. “You’re the one Jarrett found. The one Doren went out in that storm for.”

She almost thought she heard some judgment in those words, but she had to be imagining it. “Yeah, but it’s not like I planned for my car to skid off the road and get stuck. You know them?”

“It’s okay, Sue,” Kendall said, squeezing her hand and pulling her in closer. “They both came home last night.”

The woman–Sue, Lora filed the name away for future reference–drew in a long breath then nodded before focusing on Lora again. “They’re my brothers,” she said. “I just…I worry. But, Ken’s right. They’re fine, and it wasn’t your fault. I’m sorry.”

She understood worry. She’d worried about Aaron every day he’d been deployed. Even most days he was stateside, hearing too many stories about training accidents. She’d thought that was over when he’d left the Army. It had only gotten worse, though.

Kendall turned into Sue and kissed her again. Lora turned away, her face warming a little. “I’ll see you after work, right?” Kendall asked the other woman.

“Yes.” From the corner of her eye, Lora saw Sue reach up to caress Kendall’s cheek. “I’ll come by the garage when school’s out.”

Lora waited until Kendall joined her and started off down the sidewalk. “So, your girlfriend’s a teacher?”

Kendall stopped and turned to look at Lora, her eyes wary for the first time. “Yeah. You got a problem with that?”

“Nope,” Lora said, shoving her hands in her coat pockets. Even with gloves on, the cold got through to them. “Just making conversation.”

Kendall’s shoulders relaxed, and she fell into step beside Lora again. “Sorry. We had some problems in town because of our relationship. She almost lost her job because of it, but neither of us are willing to hide anymore.”**

Lora actually thought it was kind of amazing that someone could love enough to take that kind of risk. She knew not everyone would see it the same way. And she wasn’t sure what else to say, not wanting to put her foot in her mouth again. So, they walked in silence until the garage was right in front of them. Kendall took out a set of keys and unlocked the door to the front office. “Doren lives in that house right behind the garage,” she told Lora. “He’ll be in soon. Saying good-bye to his girlfriend, too.”

Lora looked in the direction she’d gestured and saw the man from last night with his arms around a darker girl. She looked away again, once more feeling almost like a voyeur. Kendall must have seen the blush in her cheeks because she let out a soft laugh. “Come inside,” she said. “I can start some coffee, and you can get warmed up. Doren will be over soon.”

“Thanks,” she said and wandered into the office. But, this gave her too much time to think. About Aaron, how he would have reacted to the moment between Kendall and Sue. Though she didn’t really know, but she knew his opinion about homosexuals–and women–¬†in the military. She’d never agreed with him on either point, but the arguments had gone round and round.

Then, her thoughts wandered to what she was really doing here. Would she see Gabriel? She shook away that question. Not likely. She hadn’t seen him since Aaron’s funeral. She’d made sure of that. She’d lost her brother, but she didn’t need someone else who treated her like a little sister. Just because he shared a last name with the company she was consulting with didn’t mean anything. Even in a town this size, she could probably avoid him.***

Feeling a little better after convincing herself of that, she accepted the cup of coffee Kendall handed her and waited to see if she’d be able to drive her car away from here this morning.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*Diner in my hometown, that this is modeled after, actually has been replaced with a Subway

**Events that happened in Love Who You Love

***Hahaha. Keep telling yourself that, Lora.

Story a Day: Day 10 – To Forget

The first scene of this starts during a scene in Love Who You Love, book 3 of my Kurztown series. I never wrote about what happened after they left the garage, though. Also didn’t realize quite how many sparks there were between Gabriel & Erik. I don’t think they’ll end up together, but my characters have surprised me before. Either way, it will certainly add more conflict & tension to Break on Me than I’d expected.

Gabriel looked over at a man he’d fought with, trained with, nearly died with. A man whose father had kicked him out, now, because of some idiotic bigoted views. “I guess this means you don’t have a place to stay.” He couldn’t help but think of another friend who hadn’t had a place to stay when he came home. He couldn’t help Aaron any more, but he wouldn’t let that situation happen again.

“Just my car when¬†her brother¬†gets it finished,” Erik said, gesturing to the woman standing¬†behind the counter of the garage’s office.¬†Kendall had called her brother in to help with the cars since her boss was out and something had gotten screwed up with the schedule. Gabriel was pretty sure she was helping to break his own brother’s heart right now, no matter how much Chris tried to downplay it. But, that was a worry for another time. Erik kept on talking. “I might be able to find a bed in a shelter somewhere.”

“Absolutely no way, man,” Gabriel said before he’d been able to think it through. Aaron had needed to make use of shelters, but it was only a temporary solution and not the best one. “I won’t let a fellow soldier go through that.” Not again. “I’ve got an extra room at my place. You can crash there as long as you need.”

“You sure about that?” Erik asked. “You won’t be worried I’ll try to come on to you?”

Gabriel laughed. “You forget. I still got both my legs. I can still kick you ass. I don’t need two arms for that. And, it comes down to it, I can always outrun you.” He didn’t know how Erik would take him joking about both of their amputee statuses, but it usually helped him to make light of things. And Erik knew he wouldn’t be completely opposed. No one else did, though.

His brother drew in a sharp breath, probably worried how Erik would take it, Chris was always sensitive about Gabriel’s prosthetic arm. But, Erik just laughed and said, “Leave it to you, Sarrano.”

Still smiling, Gabriel turned to the counter and asked Kendall, the woman who worked there, “Any word on my truck?”

She looked amused as she shook her head. “Doren told you last month that unless you want to put more money into it than that thing’s even worth, there’s nothing he can do.”

“I hoped by some miracle that had changed,” he said then turned to his brother. “Can you fit an extra body in your truck?”

His brother looked a little unsure, but he said, “Yeah, I can.” Then, he shifted his gaze to Erik. “I’ll even help load and unload your shit, Morrey. As long as you swear you’re not still the asshole you used to be. You hurt a lot of people back then.”

Erik gave a little nod at him. “Most of all your best bud’s girl. I know. I’ve made amends with her, and I hope I can with the rest as well.”

“All right,” Chris said, apparently satisfied for now. “Let’s get going.”

***

Gabriel hadn’t thought this through too well. It had been rather impulsive, inviting Erik to live with him. And there were likely to be consequences. But, he didn’t think he’d be able to live with himself if another buddy was buried because he didn’t do enough to help fight the battles they brought home with them.

But, now he stood in front of a pile of boxes and bags and had to figure out how they were going to do this. Erik was still a little unsteady on his new leg. Picking any of the items off could throw him off. Gabriel could pick up the bags easily enough. But without having any real feeling in his right hand, he wasn’t sure it would be a good idea to lift any of the boxes. Yeah, he really should have thought this through a little more. Usually he was good at doing that for just about every situation. He didn’t want to get stuck in one where his artificial limb got him in trouble. And yet Erik had him doing just that.

“So, where do you want to start?” Chris asked, coming around to stand with them.

Right, his brother was here to help. But, he hated having to depend on anyone, especially his little brother.

“Boxes first,” Erik said. “The bags will fit around them.”

Which meant there wasn’t much Gabriel could do for now. And damn, he hated feeling useless. He’d fought back from that feeling. He’d used the money from the Army to go to school so he could design the buildings his father and brother constructed. Since he could no longer swing a hammer or work a saw. It was the only thing that still made him feel useful to the company.

He hated standing there awkwardly while his brother lifted boxes and slid them around in the bed of his truck. “Hope nothing’s too fragile,” he said, trying to joke around. “He’s used to loading lumber and nails, not handle with care items.”

Erik squeezed Gabriel’s shoulder. “It’ll be fine, man. You offered me your house. You don’t have to do everything, you know.”

How did he seem to see everything? Everyone else always appeared to be fooled by his easygoing attitude. But, not Erik. Yeah, this definitely may have been a mistake.

Chris finally had all the boxes situated in the bed of the truck, so Gabriel grabbed the first of the bags and carried it over to him. He could do this. It would keep his brother from having to keep jumping down from the truck. Then, he turned back toward the bags that were left and saw the man standing just a few paces away. Rage boiled under his skin at the way he glared at Erik and the truck parked at the curb.

“I expected you to have all this shit gone by now.”

Gabriel moved to Erik’s side, but at the way the older man’s eyes narrowed, and he sneered at them, he thought that might have been a mistake. “We’re working on getting that done. Did you come out to lend a hand?”

“No.” Jakob Morrey put all the contempt he probably could fit into the one word. “I came to make sure you get off my property. You better watch it, Sarrano, or my son’s going to turn you, too.”

Gabriel very nearly opened his mouth to tell him it was too late for that and none of it was on Erik’s shoulders. But, before he could, Erik stepped forward. “Thanks, Dad. Love the care you took with all my stuff. So nice to have it thrown out in the yard.”

“Just get your stuff and go,” Erik’s father said then turned back toward the house.

Erik stepped back, brushing his arm against Gabriel’s. “Sorry about my dad. If he hasn’t already started spreading the word about me, about my sickness as he sees it, he’ll be adding your name to it, too. I shouldn’t have brought you into my mess.”

“Just shut up,” Gabriel said softly and stepped away. He had to before he compounded his mistakes today. “Let’s get the rest of your stuff and go home.”

***

Gabriel stared up at his ceiling as he listened to his new roommate moving around in the room across the hall. Two weeks. Erik had been living with him for two weeks. During the day, there weren’t any problems. Of course, Gabriel was usually heading out to the office by the time Erik was getting out of bed. He didn’t know exactly how Erik spent his days aside from physical therapy appointments, and he said he was looking for a job that could be flexible with him. He did know, though, that when he came home the house always seemed clean and Erik was getting dinner on the table.

It was all so damn domestic.

Then, nighttime came. They sat on opposite ends of the couch, attempting to ignore some simmering tension between them. And when they finally went to their own beds, Gabriel laid here awake most of the night. And the whole time he could hear Erik moving around in the other room. Gabriel never did fall asleep until the noises finally ceased.

He should have known inviting Erik to stay here would be a mistake. The town wasn’t that accepting, there were already rumors going around about Kendall and Susan, and they were having to deal with that. He could only imagine what would happen if someone thought something was going on between him and Erik. Especially with the rumors Erik’s dad had already started spreading. He’d kept Gabriel’s name out of it so far at least. He didn’t want to think about having to explain to his father that there was some truth to them. Not that he should be ashamed of the way he felt. He just didn’t know how his father, a traditionalist in most ways, would react to the truth.

And he didn’t want to screw up their living arrangements by succumbing to these rioting feelings. He wouldn’t kick Erik out. Not to go stay in a shelter, or worse, on the streets. Maybe someone else would take him in, but he wasn’t going to take that chance.

Gabriel rolled over and punched his pillow with his good arm, but even that didn’t help. With a groan, he rolled onto his back again. Then, he heard a thud and a groan from across the hall. He threw his blanket off and stood from the bed. he went to reach for the door with his right hand then remembered he wasn’t wearing. He grumbled but used his other hand to open the door. If Erik had done something to hurt himself, he wasn’t going to waste time going back to put his hand on.

Erik’s door stood slightly open, so Gabriel pushed it open a little more as he asked, “You okay in here?”

“Fine,” Erik said. “Just dropped some of my books.”

Gabriel glanced around and saw a pile o books on the floor. “Thought you’d already put these on the shelf,” he said.

“I had. I wasn’t happy with how they were arranged.”

“So you were changing it after midnight? What’s really wrong, Erik?”

“Nothing,” he said but turned away from Gabriel.

Gabriel caught his wince as he moved, though. “You’re overdoing it, aren’t you? Didn’t they warn you about trying to do too much? You’re going to do more damage to your leg.”

“I just couldn’t sleep. Once I get this done, I’ll be able to.”

“You haven’t been able to sleep every night for the last two weeks then.” Aaron had complained of insomnia after he came back, too. Erik had been back for about a year. Though, he’d been medicated a good bit of that time. So, that might have masked any issues he was having. “Erik, if you need to talk…”

“I don’t want to talk,” Erik said. “I just want to forget. And I can’t. Not even long enough to fall asleep. I don’t know what to do with myself.

Gabriel didn’t think too hard about what he was doing. He just moved over to where Erik, sat on the edge of his bed. He sank down onto the mattress beside him. “You’re going to be fine. But, there’s no shame in talking to someone. Hell, talk to me. I’ll understand. Did you know my dad forced me to talk to a counselor after I came back? I was drowning, feeling a lot like you are. It was probably the best thing he’s ever done.”

“I’ve talked to enough shrinks since I got back. Going over everything doesn’t do a damn bit of good.¬†I want to forget,” he said again.

He’d never seen Erik look so vulnerable. And it had those feelings pushing up at him again. It didn’t seem to matter how much he tried to shove them down. So, he shifted to face Erik a little more and reached out to clasp Erik’s shoulder. “Then, let’s forget,” he murmured. “At least for tonight.”

As he pressed his mouth to Erik’s, he thought again that this had all just been one big mistake. But, all he could do now was deal with it.

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