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Stream of Consciousness Saturday: “If/then”

Today’s Stream of Consciousness prompt is to start with “if” and try to end with “then”. I’m actually writing this Friday night(hope that’s not cheating) because we’re leaving early Saturday to drop the kids off with mother-in-law and going on a First Responders Appreciation motorcycle ride. So, I won’t have much time to get to it tomorrow. This is from Closing Time, which I’ve been struggling with this past week. I’m coming up on where this scene will likely appear, though.

“If you’re going to lean against the bar, you really should order something.”

“You know I don’t drink, Cameron.”

Cam had always hated the way his brother said his name. Like it was somehow beneath him. Like he was beneath him. “Then, I really don’t understand why you’d come into a pub. You want food, you should go grab a table. I’ll send a waitress your way.”

He heard a sound from behind him that he’d come to recognize as Gio’s amused exasperation. Really, he usually had better customer service. But, his brother had just showed up. It was over an hour drive just to come here to bother him. Not that Cam would have answered if Elliot had called first.

“I came to talk to you, Cameron.”

“And I thought I’ve made it clear to you I have absolutely nothing to say to you. So, take your private eye you sent snooping around, all your salvation talk, and go back home to Dad. I don’t-”

“He’s sick, Cameron.”

Those words stopped him. “What?”

“Dad’s sick. The doctors give him less than a year. He wants you to come home so you can make peace.”

Now, Cam felt sick. But, there was that sneer he was used to. His brother obviously had no interest in making peace with him. Not until he repented his sinful ways and saved his soul. Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen. He saw nothing sinful with the way he lived…or loved.

“Yeah, I don’t see that happening.”

“It’s the only thing he wants, Cameron. After all you’ve put him, our whole family, through the last years, it’s the least you can do.”

“No, the least I can do is nothing. And that’s just what I plan on. unless you’re going to order something, you should go.”

“You’ll regret it if you don’t even speak to him one last time.”

But, Cam just turned away from the bar and tried to act busy until he was sure Elliot had gone. When he looked up, Gio was looking right at him, something soft in his eyes. Cam had to look away from it, because it hurt. Especially with the way they’d been at odds the last several days.

“So, that’s your brother.”

Was that all he had to say? “Yep.” What else was there to say? That Elliot had been the one to out him to their father in the first place. The reason his last few months at home had been pure hell. And now he was the one trying to drag him right back to there again.

But, Gio didn’t ask any other questions just faced the bar beside Cam and took the next order. The tension that had been between them hadn’t quite disappeared, but it had faded. Well, that was something. maybe being forced to face his brother had been worth something after all then.

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Stream of Consciousness Saturday – “drink”

Welcome back to another Stream of Consciousness Saturday. Today’s prompt is “drink”. The story I’ve been plotting out is perfect for this one, since most of it will take place in a pub. 🙂

“Can I get you something to drink?”

Cam didn’t like the look of the man leaning against the bar, but he wasn’t visibly intoxicated, so there wasn’t a reason for him to refuse him service. He wished there was. He’d just have to serve him as quick as possible and hopefully he’d go find a table and not be back up.

“Actually I’m here looking for someone.”

“Well, there are a lot of people out there,” Cam said, nodding toward the nearly full dining area. “Most of them already have company, though. I don’t know if they’ll be pleased to have you join them.”

He heard a snort behind him and instantly recognized it as Gio’s. Thankfully his boss didn’t have a problem with his sense of humor. He actually seemed to enjoy it at times. The man in front of him didn’t seem to, though. The corners of his mouth twitched down.

“I meant someone in particular. I need some information on him. Heard he was working here.”

He felt tension crackle out from behind him, and Gio stepped forward. “If you need information on one of my employees, I’d at least like to know who’s asking.”

“I don’t see why that matters. I just need to know if he’s here.”

“Then, I need to know who’s asking. You have ID?”

The man grumbled, but he drew out his wallet and showed his identification to Gio. Cam didn’t catch the name on it, but Gio’s tension didn’t ease, either. “You can buy a drink or you can go, Mr. Boyce,” he said as the man put the wallet back in his pocket.

“His brother’s trying to find him,” the man explained, and it twisted Cam’s stomach. No, this couldn’t be happening. “They’ve been estranged, but it’s important he find him now.”

“Then, maybe he should come himself. I don’t have to give you any information about my employees, though.”

The man looked over at Cam, and he knew. Elliot was looking for him. He apparently hadn’t run far enough. And Elliot hadn’t gotten he hint the last time he’d packed up and left. “Can I take my break now, Gio.”

“Sure thing,” Gio said, not taking his eyes off the man. “I’ll watch the bar for you.”

Cam hurried out from behind the bar and into the back room. He could just go. He didn’t want to leave Gio hanging, and things had been going so well for him here. But, he could let Elliot drag him to the place he’d been before. He didn’t have to go, he reminded himself. He’d been away from his family without contact for more than a dozen years. For good reason.

He wasn’t going to run, he decided. And he didn’t have to let his brother drag him anywhere, to another state or back to that state of mind. And if Elliot did come here, he’d tell him exactly that.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Class

Today’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday theme is ‘class’. I thought maybe I’d write more about Hawk and Devil(or Gavin and Damon as they used to be called), but instead I have something else. I just started plotting out a companion novella to my Flames series yesterday. So, these two are still in my head. Neither are actually firefighters(which the series revolves around). One is the brother of a character from Flames of Retribution. The other was actually an antagonist from Flames of Restoration. He wasn’t really a “bad guy”, but he did a not great thing that could have made things really bad for one of the characters. He knows he screwed up, and now maybe he has a second chance at his own “happy ever after.”

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“I guess I missed that class.

Gio threw his head back and laughed. Cam seemed to make him laugh every shift they worked together. It was part of why he made sure he wasn’t in the office whenever Cam was behind the bar. The bartender shot him a look now, coupled with a slightly shy smile. That wasn’t a side he showed very often, certainly not with the customers. At least not the male customers.

“Flirting isn’t that difficult,” Gio said. “You do it all the time.”

With the male customers. But Gio had noticed he was a bit reserved even there. Cam had told Gio when he’d hired the man there had been an issue with a customer where he’d worked before. Though he’d never gone into just what had happened. He was careful not to let any of that go too far, but some mile flirting didn’t cause problems.

“Has someone complained?” Cam asked, suddenly looking tense.

Gio placed his hand over the one Cam had braced against the bar. “No,” he said, his voice soft. “If it was something like that, we’d be having this conversation in my office. And if there was any weight behind the complaint, you’d be taking a hike.”

Gio tended to be soft-spoken, and people usually took that to mean he could be pushed around. But, not when it came to managing his father’s pub. They had a zero tolerance policy for drinking on the job and for sexual harassment. He didn’t mind the mild flirting, but if someone asked them to stop and they didn’t, they’d be gone. A ‘no’ or ‘stop’ meant just that to him.

Cam seemed to relax a bit at that. Then, he turned to take an order from another customer. He didn’t flirt with this man, though. Gio recognized one of the firefighter’s his sister’s fiancé worked with. Did he have something against firefighters? or did he recognize the flirting might not be welcome. Gio knew all about being cautious around different people.

He watched as Cam drew two drafts with a  steady hand, but that same hand shook almost uncontrollably as he reached for a bottle of Rolling Rock in the cooler. Gio grabbed it for him setting it on the bar with the other drinks. “That it for you, Austin?” he asked since Cam had already turned away. What the hell was up with that?

“Yep. Looking forward to Caitie’s wedding.”

Gio smiled at the rookie firefighter. “So am I.”

When the man took the beers away, Gio turned back to Cam. “There a problem?”

Cam shook his head but wouldn’t meet his eyes. “Okay if I take my break now, though?”

“Yeah, sure. I’ve got things handled here for now.” But, he still watched Cam as he slipped out from behind the bar. Then, he turned his gaze to the table Austin had walked to. He knew all those men, particularly Nolan, his future brother-in-law’s best friend. They were all good guys. So, what had made Cam react like that to them?

He tried to push that thought away as he struck up a conversation with the next customer. But, it kept circling in his head for the rest of the night.

A-Z Challenge: G is for Giovanni Magaldi

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“Do I really have to talk to these people, Dad?” Giovanni asked, looking at the papers in front of him.

Dougal grinned at his son. “They’re potential employees, Gio. It won’t be so bad. And you’re good with people, at seeing what their strengths are and seeing through the masks they wear.”

That was only partially true. It was just one of the masks he wore on a daily basis. In the Magaldi clan, you had to be gregarious, or you stuck out like a sore thumb. So, he’d learned to at least act like it, even when all the socializing wore on him. There were enough other parts of him that made him stick out, he didn’t need one more.

“Why do we need more employees anyway? I already went through the hiring process once when we opened. It’s only been a few months. Shouldn’t have to do this all over again. Can’t you do it? I’ll go tend bar.” He always felt more comfortable behind the bar than outside of it. And once he hired another bartender, he wouldn’t have to do that.

His dad let out a rolling laugh. “I put you in charge of this location, Gio. Because I trust you to handle it. All the aspects of it.” There was a knock on his office door, and Gio ran his fingers back through his hair, pulling some of it from the short tail he had it in. His dad just stood up from his chair and clasped his shoulder. “I’m guessing that’s your first applicant. I’ll leave you to it.”

“You really don’t have to,” he murmured.

His dad just laughed again. Dougal Magaldi had always been one to laugh easily. Gio’s sister, Caitie took after him there. He opened the door, and Gio heard murmurs between his father and whoever stood on the other side. He couldn’t make out any of the words, though. He honestly didn’t try too hard. He was too busy trying to retain his composure as he pulled out the application for the man scheduled to interview right now.

Cameron Moreno.

He had experience, that was something Gio had noted right away. This wouldn’t be the first bar he’d worked at, though never in the pub setting before. He’d just left Tillman’s, on the other side of town. It was a decent place. Gio would have to find out the reason for his leaving.

At the approaching footsteps, Gio lifted his head. And instantly caught his breath. The man was beautiful. It was the first word Gio could come up with. And Gio appreciated beauty in all its forms: male, female, and everything that fell between that binary. His brown hair was shorter than Gio’s own strawberry blond. And those brown eyes. Gio thought he could get lost in them.

But, he cleared his throat. He needed to remain professional. His dad had said he trusted him with this place. So, he needed to prove that trust was warranted. The place had only been open for a few months, and everything had run pretty smoothly so far. Getting involved with an employee could change that really quick. And he didn’t even know if this man would be interested.

The other man took a seat and held out his hand. “Mr. Magaldi,” he greeted.

He had a nice strong handshake, something to take note of. And not let his thoughts wander over. “Call me Gio. Please.”

“Then, you can call me, Cam. Trust me, I’d prefer it.”

Some sort of tension there. Family issues? He’d noted he was from Ohio, so that likely wouldn’t cause problems here at work. “All right, Cam, let’s get started then. First, tell me what you like most about tending bar.”

They went through the questions Gio had written up ahead of time. And Cam’s answers impressed Gio. So did the way he kept eye contact. And Gio could be wrong, maybe it was just wishful thinking, but he was sure that was interest in Cam’s eyes, too.

“Why’d you leave Tillman’s?” Gio asked. “You were there nearly two years.”

“Time for a change,” he answered smoothly. Too smoothly. He kept his gaze intent on Cam, and the other man finally sighed. “It was a personal issue. With a customer. We’d been…involved. I figured it was easier if I left than have to face him when he came in.”

Gio perked up a little. So, there could be interest. No, no. That would be even worse than getting involved with a customer. “I trust that won’t happen if you work here.”

Cam hesitated for only a moment. “No. No, it won’t. I’m pretty sure I learned my lesson.”

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Note: Gio first shows up in Flames of Retribution. That was his older sister’s story. He had a minimal role there, but he pop up a few more time through the next couple stories. And while I was writing Flames of Restoration(which Cam has a big part in) I realized he had more of a story to tell. And so did Cam. I also wrote another little piece that shows something developing between these 2 and also something that might come between them.

Note2: Also, yes, Gio is pansexual. Also genderfluid.

Note3: Cam really hasn’t learned his lesson. 😉

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