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Posts tagged ‘Jeff’

Story a Day: Day 24 – “Disappearing Act”

Today’s Story a Day prompt was to tell a story that features a disappearance. I visited with Jeff, from Craving You, again for this one.

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

“Where is it?”
Jeff looked up to see his father standing in his bedroom doorway, his arms crossed over his chest. “I don’t know, Dad,” he said slowly. “What is ‘it’?”
His father glowered at him. “You know what I’m talking about, Jeff. What did you do with it?”
Jeff wanted to throw his hands up in the air. But, that would take too much energy, and he was already exhausted. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Dad.”
His father took another step into the room. “Quit this, Jeff. Just tell us what you did with your mom’s figurine set. You know her grandmother gave that to her. Tel me what you did with it, so I can get it back for her.”
Now, Jeff did throw his arms up in the air. “Something goes missing, and your first assumption is ‘Jeff must have taken it and sold it for drugs’. You want to test me, Dad? I’m clean. And I didn’t take any of Mom’s stupid figurines. When would I have pawned them? If I’m not at physical therapy or work, I’m here. None of you trust me enough to even leave me alone.” He ran a hand through his hair, gripping the ends and tugging. “It doesn’t matter what I do, you’re never going to trust me again.”
“What do you expect us to think? It wouldn’t be the first time, Jeff. And who else would have a reason to take something with more sentimental than monetary value?”
“I did,” a voice said from behind his father. Then, his twin brother, Jarrett stepped around him and into Jeff’s room. “I took it, Dad.”
“Really, Jare,” their father said, rolling his eyes toward the ceiling. “You don’t have to lie for your brother.”
“I’m not,” he said, his voice firm. “I noticed a couple of the figurines were chipped and looking dirty. I was going to clean them and try to fix them up. It was supposed to be a surprise for Mom. I didn’t think she’d notice they were gone for the few days I thought it would take me. But, I got busy and just finished them this morning. I was going to put them back.”
Jeff stared his father in the eye, waiting. Not that he actually expected to get an apology from the man. He was right. It wouldn’t have been the first time Jeff had taken something from them. There was a reason they didn’t trust him now, despite the fact he kept trying to be a better person.
But, to his surprise, his father said, “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions. I’ll go tell your mom they’ll be back in place soon.”
Jeff waited until his father left the room then looked at his brother. “Thanks.”
“I didn’t do anything for you. I really was trying to fix them up. But, you could try a little harder. Then, maybe they wouldn’t automatically think you’re behind things.”
“I have been trying. What else am I supposed to do?”
Jarrett shook his head. “Shutting yourself in your room when you’re actually home isn’t really trying. And if you’re not willing to figure it out, none of us can help you.”
He turned and headed out of the bedroom. Jeff dropped his head back against the wall. What else was he supposed to do? He didn’t think anything would ever be enough.
He would never be enough.

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Writing Wednesday: Cruising Along

Taking Mondays off from writing seems to be doing the trick for keeping my motivation up. Last week I had all my writing goals done by Thursday afternoon. This week, it’s looking like they may be done sometime today. Yesterday I managed to get through writing, editing, and half of plotting goals. Finished the plotting goals already this morning. I’m a bit behind on the reading goals, so I’ll catch up on those after I get the last of the writing goals done then probably start on next week’s writing goals.

I haven’t moved on to the next goal yet, so we’ll still count Craving You as what I’m working on and share more from one of the pieces I’ve written for Story a Day. This is from the other main character’s, Jeff, POV. Easy math today, 23 sentences for the day.

Someone dropped into the seat across from him, and he jerked his head up. “What are you doing here?” he asked Erik. That should be obvious, though, since he had an apron on over his clothes.
“I was back in the kitchen. Anna mentioned you were out here, looking upset. What’s wrong?”
“Not a thing,” Jeff said.
“Come on, man. I know you better than that. Something’s eating away at you. Why don’t you tell me what it is?”
Because he was part of it. Why couldn’t he see that? “I said I’m fine. I don’t need you of all people to be coming down on me.” He almost expected Erik to make some innuendo-laced joke. He usually did.
Instead the other man’s face paled, and he pushed up from his chair. “Fine,” he said. “I’ll just leave you here to wallow in whatever misery’s coating you. Have fun with it.”
“Shit,” Jeff said when Erik had returned to the kitchen. “What is wrong with me?”

What is wrong? Will Jeff keep lashing out? Or will he eventually let Erik in?(If he doesn’t, it wouldn’t be Romance, so I think we know the answer there).

Color Code:

Finished/Monthly Goal Met

Progress

Nothing Done

Set Aside

Plotting:

  • Primary: Craving You – Story Toolkit 
    • This Week – Locations, Act 1 Beat Sheet, Act 2 Beat sheet, Act 3 Beat sheet, Act 4 Beat Sheet, Timeline
  • Secondary: Craving You – Outline Act 1 
  • Tertiary: Flames of Knowledge – Outline Acts 3 
  • Stretch: Heart to Heart – Brainstorm

Writing

  • Primary: Flames of Knowledge – Chapter 28 – 12221/~15000 words
    • This Week: Get through Chapter 27 – Through Chapter 27/27
  • Side Projects – 3350 words – 2837/3350 words
    • This Week: Riley Fire – 1000 words – 0/1000 words
  • Jonas & Isaac – 15 pages – 11.5/15 pages
    • This Week: 2.25 pages – 0/2.25 pages
  • By the Gun – 6 scenes

Editing

  • Primary: Flames of Renewal – Beta edits(I wasn’t sure if I’d get these back before the end of the month, so I hadn’t initially included it. But I did) 
    • This Week: Compile comments through Chapter 24– Through Chapter 24/24
  • Primary2: Stained Blood – Beta edits
  • Secondary: Short Story Collection
    • Bree & Jenny
    • Goin’ Down
    • Meeting Jonas*
    • Changing History
  • Tertiary: Paint Me a Picture – Transfer to Scrivener
  • Stretch: Law of Choice – send to CP 

Reading:

  • Read: 20 books – 14/20
    • Inkmistress(Audrey Coulthurst) – Started this Sunday night. On page 201/387
    • Shelter By the Sea(Elena Aitken) – Started this Wednesday afternoon. At 38%
    • Exposed(Various) – Started this Friday afternoon. At 63%
    • Safe From Harm(Kate Serine) – Started this Monday morning. Finished it Monday night.
    • Ever Touched(Erin Zarro) – Started this Tuesday afternoon. At 37%
  • Listen: 5 books – 17/5 books
    • Happily Ever Ninja(Penny Reid) – Started this Monday morning. On Chapter 11/26
    • Dating-ish(Penny Reid) – Started this Monday afternoon. Finished it Tuesday afternoon.
    • West Cork: Aftershow(Sam Bungey, Jesse Baker & Jennifer Forde) – Listened to this Tuesday afternoon.
    • The Knocked-Up Plan(Lauren Blakely) – Started this Tuesday afternoon. On Chapter 31/43

Social Media

  • Primary: Post 5 regular weekly posts – 16/21
    • This week:
      • Writing Wednesday
      • Fiction Friday
      • Stream of Consciousness Saturday
      • Weekend Writing Warriors
      • Sunday Summary
  • Secondary: Post 31 stories for Story a Day – 22/31
  • Tertiary: Make 3 Patreon posts2/3
    • This week: Post: Coming Soon

Crafting

  • Knit: Dunfallandy Baby Blanket
    • This Week – Finish Side 3 – 40/56 rows
  • Crochet: Boxy Blanket
    • This week – Get through Row 90 – 84/90 rows

Story a Day: Day 13 – “Heed the Signs”

Today’s Story a Day prompt was to use the Hansel & Gretel story structure.

Start with a life-changing moment and lead your characters through the story to show us who they become.

I started with a moment that happened during Friday’s story, “Ruin It”. That was from Jeff’s POV but today’s is from Erik’s. It took a turn I hadn’t really expected, so I will warn that there’s some mention of suicide/suicidal thoughts.

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

Erik glanced out the window from the kitchen into the dining area for about the millionth time in the last hour. He should be focused on what he’s cooking, not what was going on out there.
“Why don’t you go out and talk to him?”
Erik glanced over at Anna. “What are you talking about?” he asked his boss.
She just lifted an eyebrow, and he laughed. “Is it that obvious?”
“To anyone with eyes in their head. Go out there and see what’s up with him. He’s been upset since he came in.”
Anna took over stirring his soup, and Erik headed out into the diner. Jeff did look really upset. What had happened to make him that way? Sure, he was usually outwardly angry. Erik got that. But, this was different. He wanted to make it better, no matter what had caused it.
Erik dropped into the chair across from Jeff, noting he had his walker with him today instead of the chair. He hoped that was a good sign.
Jeff’s head whipped up. “What are you doing here?” he asked Erik.
Erik figure that should be obvious, though, since he had an apron on over his clothes. “I was back in the kitchen. Anna mentioned you were out here, looking upset.” Okay, that wasn’t completely true. But, Jeff didn’t need to know just how much Erik noticed him. “What’s wrong?”
“Not a thing,” Jeff said.
“Come on, man,” Erik said, leaning a little closer over the table. “I know you better than that. Something’s eating away at you. Why don’t you tell me what it is?” It wouldn’t be the first time they’d talked through issues as they recovered from their own injuries.
Jeff looked away from him. “I said I’m fine. I don’t need you of all people to be coming down on me.”
Erik tried to come up with a joke to that to cover the hurt that slashed through him. But, he just couldn’t do it. So, he pushed up from the chair. “Fine,” he said. “I’ll just leave you here to wallow in whatever misery’s coating you. Have fun with it.”
Erik heard Jeff curse as he headed back toward the kitchen. He wanted to turn back, but what was the point? Jeff had been trying to make it clear he had no interest in Erik besides maybe being some kind of friends. It was probably time to start heeding those signs.
***
Erik walked into the house and threw his apron on the kitchen table. He should take it back and throw it in his hamper, but he wasn’t sure how much farther his legs would carry him. It hadn’t even been that busy of a day. This wasn’t a physical exhaustion.
It was emotional. He shouldn’t have let what Jeff said get to him. Usually he’d brush it off. But, maybe that confrontation at the store with his dad was still digging away at him.
What was his problem?
He dropped into a chair at the kitchen table and rested his head in his hands. He didn’t even lift it at the sound of footsteps coming into the room. “Erik?” his roommate asked. “What is it? Did something happen at the diner? Please tell me your father didn’t come in there and give you a hard time.”
Erik shook his head, still bent down. “I haven’t seen him since the store. It’s not him.”
“Then what is it? You worry me when you act like this. Anna didn’t fire you, did she?”
Erik let out a choked laugh. “No. She wants to give me a raise.” He finally looked up then pushed himself to his feet. Gabriel was standing so close, and Erik had all these…feelings rioting through him.
He was sure he could see some of them reflected in Gabriel’s eyes. Gabriel even lifted his good arm and brushed some of the hair away from Erik’s face. “What’s wrong?” he asked again softly.
Erik couldn’t stop himself. They’d used each other for comfort since Gabriel had offered Erik his spare room after Erik’s father kicked him out of the house. It had changed after Lora came into the picture, but not that much. And Gabriel was standing so damn close, was touching him, and he needed to feel something besides this ache piercing through his chest.
His lips brushed over Gabriel’s. For a moment, he thought the other man might pull back. Gabriel had a girlfriend now. What was he doing? It didn’t matter what they’d shared between the three of them that one night months ago. They’d agreed to that, not this.
But, Gabriel didn’t back away. If anything, he moved closer. His fingers slid up into his hair as their mouths stayed locked together for a full minute, maybe two. Finally, Gabriel pulled back, his grey eyes serious. “What’s wrong?” he asked softly.
And Erik realized there were tears running down his cheeks. He swallowed hard, but before he could figure out whether he’d answer truthfully or just lie, the door opened. “Hey, Gabe,” Lora said then trailed off as she saw them standing there together.
Erik spun away as fast as he could. The rod in his right leg pulled at the quick movement, but he didn’t let that stop him. He didn’t want to see whatever look was in her eyes from seeing the two of them together. Or when she realized he was crying. He slammed his bedroom door then collapsed on his bed.
Could this day seriously get any worse?
***
A knock sounded on Erik’s door some time after he had slammed it. He had no desire to get up off his bed and answer it, though. A closed door wouldn’t keep Gabriel out if he thought Erik was close to the edge. And he really hoped Lora would just walk away. If not, she could just scream at him through the door. At the second knock, he muttered, “Go ‘way.”
“Not a chance, Erik,” Lora said. “I hope you’re as decent as you possibly can be because I’m coming in anyway. Not like I haven’t seen you much less than decent.”
A sob broke out of him when he tried to laugh. “I’m never decent, Lora. Didn’t you know that?”
The door wasn’t locked, so she pushed it right open. And came to stand at the end of his bed. He was curled on his side, but he could see her there, her hands on her hips. “What is wrong with you?”
He let out a watery laugh. “That seems to be the question of the day. What’s the point in even trying to figure it out?”
She drew in a harsh breath, then she was sitting on the edge of his bed. “What’s the point? Do you really even has to ask that?”
“Apparently I do. What’s the point?” he asked again. “My family doesn’t want me. I’m a third wheel here. This town wouldn’t care if I was gone. There’s no one for me. No one who looks at me like Gabe does you.” He drew in a deep breath. “It would be better for everyone if I was just gone.”
She smacked her hand hard against his arm. He didn’t even both rubbing the sting away. He didn’t bother moving at all. “You know, that’s what Aaron thought, too. And trust me when I tell you, it didn’t help anyone at all when my brother took himself out of all our lives.”
“Lora,” he said, turning toward her. “I didn’t mean…” But, he couldn’t finish at the sight of the tears hanging on her lashes. It had been a few years since her brother’s death, but Erik knew it still hurt.
“Don’t say it, Erik. I’ve heard that brush off, too. You did mean it, and I’m telling you, you would be missed. You would be missed so damn much. That is the point. Your father’s an ass. We all know that. Neither Gabe nor I think of you as a third wheel. You’re the one who decided you didn’t want to continue what we started. If you did, both Gabe and I would be up for it. And I don’t blame you for kissing him today. When I’m upset, his lips make everything better.”
He let out a laugh at that. She squeezed her hand before continuing. “As for this town, they don’t know what they’re missing in judging you as you were as a teen boy.”
“I was a real asshole then, though.”
“Sometimes you still can be,” she said but smiled. “And I know there is one person in this town who doesn’t think of you that way.”
He looked up at her then. “You can’t be serious.”
“I saw him leaving the diner with his brother. And I went in and talked with Anna. He looked wrecked. Maybe you should go see what’s going on with him. You know, you’re not the only one who sometimes thinks there’s no point.”
“I don’t even know where he is.”
“Pretty sure his brother was taking him home. Maybe you should start there.”
“And if he doesn’t want me to ‘come down on him’?”
Lora’s lips twitched. “I thought that was exactly what you wanted to do to him.”
Erik burst out laughing at that. “You have been spending way too much time around me.”
“No such thing,” she murmured, brushing her lips over his cheek.
***
Erik stood outside the Holland’s house, wondering if he should just turn around and go home. Hadn’t he been planning to heed the signs Jeff kept throwing out? He wasn’t doing too good a job of that. No, he’d just had to listen to Lora’s advice. And it was going to get his heart crushed.
He was being an idiot. He just needed to go back home. He shouldn’t have brought over a dish of the soup he’d had cooking at home all day. He shouldn’t have come at all. Why had he listened to Lora and then Gabriel, who’d seconded her advice?
Jeff was just going to turn him away anyway, so why was he just standing there?
The front door swung open. “Are you going to come in or just stand there all day?” Doren asked, his arms crossed over his chest.
“Is Jeff home?” he asked. Doren had never intimidated him. They’d played on the football field together. But, now his hands were slicked with sweat, despite the still cool temperature.
Doren jerked his head toward the house then just turned and went inside. They might have played football together, but they’d never exactly been friends. He figured that was the most invitation he’d ever get from the man.
Erik followed him into the house and saw Jeff sitting at the kitchen table. His parents were there, looking concerned. Jeff had his face buried in his hands. Erik sat the dish of soup in front of him then took the next chair at the table. “I brought that for you,” he said softly. “I hoped we could talk.”
“Good luck,” Jeff’s father said. “He hasn’t spoken to any of us since he got home with Jarrett.”
To Erik’s surprise, they left the room, leaving him alone with Jeff. Erik reached over and took his hand, pulling it away from his face. “Will you talk to me?” he asked quietly.
“I can’t,” Jeff whispered hoarsely.
“Why not?” Erik asked. “We’ve talked before. Why can’t you tell me what’s going on now?”
“Because I don’t know. I don’t know what’s wrong with me? Why I can’t control these outbursts. Why I bother to even keep fighting.”
His words sounded way too close to the same words Erik had voiced to Lora earlier. He wasn’t sure he could say the same thing to Jeff that Lora had, though. “I wonder the same thing sometimes, too,” he admitted instead. “Sometimes ever day is a battle I’m not sure I want to fight any more. I thought I’d left war behind when I was discharged from the army. This enemy is even harder to fight, though, because it’s in my own head. But, I still have a unit that fights with me. You need to let yours help you fight, too.”
“I think they’re ready to give up on me.”
That wasn’t what he had seen when he’d walked in here. But, he thought it would take more time to convince Jeff of that. So for now, he just said, “I’m not going to give up on you.”

Fiction Friday/Story a Day: Day 11 – “Ruin It”

Today’s Story a Day prompt was about using the Cinderella structure for a story.

Write a story in which your hero wants something, tries and fails to get it, and eventually has their life-changing moment at the end of the story.

I also combined this with the dialogue prompt of: “That’s the problem! You don’t think you deserve something so you ruin it.”

I have more of Jeff’s POV here for this one. Some context: Earlier in the series, Jeff was in a motorcycle accident, leaving him with an incomplete spinal injury. He’s still dealing with the physical and emotional effects of that.

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

Jeff threw the ball against his bedroom wall and caught it as it came back toward him. His parents had griped about the noise it made until his physical therapist mentioned it could actually help him. Then, they were all for it. Anything that would speed up his recovery and get him out of their house.
He shook his head and took a moment to try to work through that thought. He was getting better at recognizing what were his own thoughts he projected on other people. It still didn’t come naturally, though. It was easier to assume other people thought poorly of him than to admit he hated himself.
“Dinner’s ready,” his mother called from out in the hallway just as he’d let the ball fly again.
He didn’t react quickly enough, and the ball smacked him in the shoulder. “Damn it.”
“What was that?” his mom asked from the doorway.
“Nothing, Mom,” he said. The ball had fallen to his bed, so he just left it there as he slid to the edge of the mattress. He reached for the walker but remembered his physical therapist had told him to try at least getting to his feet without aid.
So, he did. His legs trembled, though, and he weaved in place. His mother looked like she was about to dart to his side. But, he needed to do this on his own.
He’d like to at least walk to the door on his own, too, but he was sure that wasn’t going to happen. So, he did grab onto the walker now. His mom’s shoulders relaxed slightly. They both knew a fall could set his progress back, and that was the last thing he wanted.
What he did want was for his family to stop looking at him with that wariness in their eyes. Like he was going to go out and screw everything up again. And, oh joy, everyone was here for dinner tonight. He’d expected at least Jarrett, since it was spring break for him. And his twin brother didn’t have a life.
But, then Susan had to be here with her girlfriend, too. Even here, they couldn’t seem to keep their hands off each other. Kendall was leaning into his sister, whispering something as Susan put a hand on the other woman’s knee. Jeff looked away from them.
Unfortunately that had him looking right at his older brother. His hand was wrapped around his girlfriend’s, too. But Jeff still saw the ring on her finger. Not just a girlfriend anymore apparently. “When were you going to tell us about that?” he asked.
But, no one else looked surprised as he glanced around at them. So, he was the only one who hadn’t been told. “I see,” he said. “I’m the only one not important enough to get the news. Why am I not surprised?”
“Jeff, that’s not…” Doren started to say, but he didn’t even bother to finish the lie.
“Whatever,” Jeff said, but he couldn’t bring himself to sit at the table with all of them. “You know what, I’m not even hungry.”
He headed toward the living room where his chair was. “Where are you going?” his father called as he switched to the chair and started wheeling himself toward the front door.
“Out,” he called back. “Not like any of you even care.”
***
Jeff didn’t want to get out of bed. He’d stayed out the night before until it was getting dark. Which hadn’t been all that long after he’d left the house. He just hadn’t been able to bring himself to go back and face his family.
It had only taken a few minutes of rolling out in the chill air to realize he’d overreacted. So what if his brother hadn’t told him about his engagement yet. Maybe he’d planned to do it at dinner tonight. But, the hurt had been crushing. Hadn’t he been trying to prove himself to his family since he got out of the hospital?
And yes, he knew he kept screwing it up. Losing it on Susan when she’d come out to the whole family. That had taken a lot of guts. Something Jeff didn’t seem to have any of. He could barely even admit his attractions to himself, let alone anyone else.
And he kept lashing out at his parents, when they were just trying to help him. He’d made it seem like he blamed Doren for the accident, even knowing the whole time all the fault laid on himself. He was the only one who had screwed his life up. But, he was making his family pay for it, too.
He was going to try to do better. He had to.
The knock on his doorframe had him twisting his head, but that was the only part of his body he moved. His father hovered in the doorway. “Your mom said to get you. Breakfast is getting cold, and it’s time for your pills.”
Jeff groaned and just turned his head back toward the wall. He hated taking the pills. But, he couldn’t deal with how bad the pain got when he didn’t take them.
He thought his dad would just leave, but he could feel his presence near the bed now. “What’s wrong?” he demanded harshly. “Do we need to take you to the doctor?”
Jeff almost thought there was a crack in his father’s voice at that. But, that couldn’t be right. It used to be Doren their dad visibly disapproved of, but he’d now transferred that to Jeff. All it seemed to take was wrecking your life. Except it turned out Doren actually hadn’t been responsible for that, either.
“I’m fine, Dad,” he said.
“Good. Then, come out and eat your breakfast, so your mother stops worrying. Then, you can come out and help me in the workshop.”
He must have imagined that quiver in his father’s voice. It certainly wasn’t there any longer.
Jeff waited until he heard his father’s step cross the room and head down the hallway before he forced himself to roll over. And held back a cry at the pain that shot through his lower body. He took a few more minutes before he finished the process of getting out of bed.
Thank goodness the walker was right next to his bed. There wasn’t going to be any getting up on his own right now. Not when pain was stabbing through him with every moment. He barely kept himself from collapsing into the chair when he finally reached the table.
His father didn’t look up from the newspaper at his appearance. “Must be a fascinating story,” Jeff muttered.
Neither of his parents said anything. His father turned to the next page of the paper. His mother set a plate of pancakes and sausage in front of him as well as a glass of orange juice and three pills. He eyed the last distastefully, and decided to ignore them until the last possible moment. But, he could feel his mother’s gaze on him as he ate his breakfast. So after he’d swept the last bite of sausage through his leftover syrup, he popped each pill into his mouth and swallowed.
His father pushed out from the table as soon as Jeff had finished them. “Come on,” he said. “We have things to do.”
He just wanted to go back to bed. But, he knew if he said that, his parents would get that concerned look again. He didn’t care what the therapist said. He wasn’t depressed. He just didn’t see the point. But, he knew he’d upset his mother enough the night before. He didn’t want to give her more reason to worry. So, he shuffled along behind his dad with the walker.
His father didn’t say a word as he unlocked the workshop door. It wasn’t really more than a shed. And half of it contained the debris of Jarrett’s various art projects he’d started. The other half had his dad’s work bench and tools. He didn’t know why his father had brought him out here. Other than to give him a lecture for his attitude the night before. But he still hadn’t spoken a word since they’d left the house.
“What exactly do you want me to do?” Jeff asked as his father settled into a chair in front of the workbench. Jeff found a stool and rested on it.
“You could try to fix that that little cupboard. Your mom’s been on me about it. It just needs new brackets for the shelf.”
“Then, why haven’t you done it?”
“Watch your tone, Jeff. Your mother lets you use your pain as an excuse, but the rest of us are getting tired of it.”
“Join the club. I’m tired of it, too.” He picked up a small hammer and the brackets for the cupboard.
“Then, stop using the rest of us as your emotional punching bag. I’m not going to let that continue.”
“When?” He couldn’t look up. So, he started tapping in the first nail.
“What?” His father asked.
Jeff flicked his gaze up through the hair hanging in his face and saw his father staring back at him, his eyes wide. “When are you kicking me out?”
His father just shook his head and looked back at the bench. “I’m not kicking you out. Where would you go?”
Jeff felt his face flood with heat, and he looked away. His father swore. “I didn’t mean it like that, Jeff. We’re your family. Family helps out when you need it.”
“So, I’m a burden. Just what I’ve always wanted to be.”
“Damn it. Do you have to twist everything anyone has to say to you?”
A silence fell over the workshop after that. How was Jeff even supposed to answer the question. The only noise was Jeff tapping the nails in for the brackets, and the scratching of his father’s pencil. “What are you designing?” he finally asked.
“Dollhouse,” his father responded without looking at him. “For the kid Susan and Ken are going to be fostering and possibly adopting.”
“What?” Jeff asked, turning to look at his father. “Is this something else I wasn’t going to be told?”
“Well, if you hadn’t stomped out of the house like a tantrum-throwing toddler last night, you would have heard the news at the same time as us.”
Jeff felt like the anger was choking him. Anger at himself. Anger at his family. Anger at this whole situation. Before he realized what he was doing, he let the hammer fly at the wall. Cold shame flushed out the heat of anger instantly. What was he doing?
His father swore, but Jeff was already shuffling out of the workshop. He couldn’t stay in there. Couldn’t stay here. How was he ever going to prove that they could put their trust in him if he kept losing it?
Maybe they were all right about him after all.
***
Jeff sat at a table in the corner of the diner. He knew he should just go back home. His mother would be worried. But, by now, she likely knew where he was. And he hadn’t been able to walk around town any longer, so he’d come in here and sat down. Anna had brought him a hot chocolate without him even ordering it.
He hadn’t planned on going anywhere, so he didn’t even have his wallet with him. How was he supposed to pay for this?
Someone dropped into the seat across from him, and he jerked his head up. “What are you doing here?” he asked Erik. That should be obvious, though, since he had an apron on over his clothes.
“I was back in the kitchen. Anna mentioned you were out here, looking upset. What’s wrong?”
“Not a thing,” Jeff said.
“Come on, man, I know you better than that. Something’s eating away at you. Why don’t you tell me what it is?”
Because he was part of it. Why couldn’t he see that? “I said I’m fine. I don’t need you of all people to be coming down on me.” He almost expected Erik to make some innuendo-laced joke. He usually did.
Instead the other man’s face paled, and he pushed up from his chair. “Fine,” he said. “I’ll just leave you here to wallow in whatever misery’s coating you. Have fun with it.”
“Shit,” Jeff said when Erik had returned to the kitchen. “What is wrong with me?”
“The fact you think there’s something wrong with you.”
Jeff glanced up and saw his twin brother had taken Erik’s place. “What do you want?”
“Mom sent me to see if you were ready to come home yet. She’s worried about you. Dad said you were quite upset.”
“Yeah,” Jeff scoffed. “I’m sure that’s what he said. Probably more like Jeff went and screwed up again. Big surprise.”
“Stop that,” Jarrett said sharply. “He doesn’t think that. None of us do. But you can’t keep getting angry when all we do is try to help.”
Jeff let out a huff of air. “Maybe I don’t deserve your help.”
“That’s the problem!” Jarrett said, his voice rising. “You don’t think you deserve something, so you ruin it. Just like you did to Erik before I got here.”
Jeff went cold. “What are you talking about? I didn’t do anything.”
“You think I don’t know? Twenty years as your twin, and you think I don’t know you. I don’t know why you think you have to deny it, but you don’t with me. You can try to ruin us, too, but I’m not going to let it happen. You’re my brother, and nothing will ever change that. No matter how you try to sabotage things. Do you get that?”
Jeff just stared at his brother. He couldn’t remember ever hearing him be so forceful about anything. “Yeah,” he finally managed to choke out. “I get it.”
“Good. Let’s go home then.”

 

Story a Day: Day 10 – “Jeff”

Today’s Story a Day Prompt was to make a story flash.

The Prompt
Write a story in under 1000 words focusing on creating one brilliant image in your reader’s mind.

I don’t think I quite hit the prompt. But, I did write a bit for the other character in Craving You(Erik’s story). I wrote this in 1st person present tense, which is not what I usually do. If this does make it into Craving You, it’ll be 3rd past, but this worked better for this. This is the first time I’ve written from Jeff’s POV. Everything else we’ve seen from him in the series, has made him seem very angry, but maybe that’s not quite the case.

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

I don’t want to be here. It’s not a terrible job, but being here makes me remember just how much I’d royally screwed my life up. A year ago I hadn’t been expecting to be working at a pizza joint, wheeling myself between the tables and the kitchen because walking is too painful and exhausting.
The worst part? It was all my fault.
I’m still paying back my debt, so I don’t have a choice but to show up.
And it seems today will be worse than any other. Why does he have to be here?
“Hey, Jeff,” Erik says from his table with a few of his friends. Unfortunately one of those friends is my older sister. She frowns at me. I try to ignore that. Susan always seems to frown at me these days.
“What can I get you for drinks?” I ask, not letting myself look at Erik.
And he does look good today. Of course, Erik looks good every day. But, there’s something different about him today. Something’s wrong.
Maybe it’s just because he’s not flirting with me. Erik always flirts with me when they come in here.
I try to watch him from the corner of my eye. But other than the lack of flirting, he acts like he normally does. Maybe he’s just tired of me not reacting to it. Maybe he’s given up on me like everyone else.
Maybe it’s for the best.
Once I have their orders, I wheel myself back to the kitchen. I have gotten the hang of this at least. Just like filling the cups with pop, setting them on a tray, and getting them back to the table without spilling anything. It’s a little thing, but I’m still proud of it.
Erik had his head down when I return to the table, his blond hair hanging in his face. His leg, his good one, is shaking, like he can’t hold himself still. Something is wrong with him, and it doesn’t have anything to do with him not flirting with me. I want to ask him what is it, but I’m sure it will be a mistake. So, I just put his drink in front of him. He looks up and meets my eyes. It only takes that one look to have heat flooding my face.
I spin away from the table at that, needing to get away from him before I make a total fool of myself.
“Jeff,” Susan calls after me.
“What?” I snap back at her.
“Are we allowed to order some pizzas, or have we been banned for some reason?”
Her girlfriend squeezes her arm then smiles at me. Her eyes are wary, though. Great. I have been trying to act less sullen lately, but I don’t know how to deal with the feelings Erik always stirs up in me. “Right,” I say, grabbing my pen and holding the pad on my lap. “What do you want?”
Susan is still watching me, but I don’t look at her. She just needs to let her girlfriend distract her and stop worrying about me. The sooner they get their food, the sooner they can leave. Then, I can breathe again when Erik isn’t here.
Not that it means I’ll stop thinking about him. Nothing seems to be able to help with that.

 

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