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Stream of Consciousness Saturday: “Yes”

Yes.”

“You’re saying someone put this note right on your windshield? And you do not know who it was?”

“I’ve already told you yes, Piers. What more do you want me to say about it?” Xavier spun away from him, shoving his fingers into his hair.

Piers could only stare after him for a minute. There was a lot he wanted Xavier to say to him, not the least of which was about the note he still held in his hand. “Who would do this? Who hates you so much they would do this?”

Xavier let out a bitter laugh. Piers hated hearing that sound come from the other man’s lips. Nothing about Xavier should ever be bitter. “You want me to make a list? Hell, I could probably put you on it.”

Piers could only stare at him as that wound bled. “You actually think I would do this?” he finally asked. “You think I would try to frighten you like this?”

Xavier turned back and saw the pained look in his eyes, like his words had been a self-inflicted wound as well. “I didn’t say you would be high on the list. But, if we’re making one of people who hate me, you’d at least make the bottom of it.”

And the knife twisted. “I can’t believe you would think that. I have never once hated you.”

“I don’t blame you. I screwed up, so I can’t really blame you for it.”

Would they just continue to rip each other apart? Was that what was meant for them? Piers had laid down that ultimatum three years ago, an all or nothing situation, how could he take it back now when Xavier still wasn’t willing to give all? But, it didn’t mean he hated the other man. He didn’t think he was capable of that.

“I’d destroy that list before my name ever touched it. And anyone who did make it on there.”

Xavier stared at him, his lips slightly parted, even as Piers wished he could reel the words back. They exposed too much of him, too much of the rawness that had never fully healed. He couldn’t take the look in the other man’s eyes and turned away. he started for the stairs leading out of the apartment and back down to the office space below.

“Piers,” Xavier said, his voice sounding as raw as Piers’ chest felt.

He paused at the door and looked back over his shoulder. There was so much there between them, he wasn’t at all sure how they could ever bridge it. Xavier didn’t say anything else, though, and Piers turned back for the stairs. he’d spent the last several months, ever since he’d seen Xavier again for the first time in years, if he still love him. Could he still love him. But, the answer was pretty clear.

Yes.

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This was for this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt of “yes”, using it as either a word or as part of a word. I didn’t work on this story yesterday, so still had some more words to get down for it for this week. This doesn’t follow right after what I did have written, so I’ll have to fill that in later. But, this scene just kind of came to me with the prompt.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: ‘Date’

SOCS badgeBack for another edition of Stream of Consciousness Saturday and today’s prompt is ‘date’. We’ve got a busy day planned and it’s starting early with breakfast then going to look at a new motorcycle. Then, we have a surprise party(pretty sure the person doesn’t read my blog, but just in case, “shhh”). So, I’m going to get right into this. Still playing with my characters from Defending the Heart. I finished Piers’ back story yesterday. Next week, I’ll work on the antagonist’s then start the actual plotting.

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“Casey said you had a date today.”

Piers waited for Xavier to look over at him, hoping none of his feelings about that came out in his words. Xavier didn’t need to know that news had been like a dart thrown right at his heart.

“That’s right,” Xavier said, not looking away from his screen. “I’ve gotta leave soon to pick her up.”

Her? Xavier had a date with a girl? “When’s the last time you had a date with a girl?” Piers tried to keep his tone light, but it was difficult. Maybe in the three years they hadn’t spoken, Xavier had realized he actually was attracted to women, too.

“‘Bout two weeks ago. We usually go out twice a month.”

“Oh.” Piers chewed on the side of his thumb a moment, realized he was doing it, and dropped his hand. “Well, have fun then, I guess.”

“We usually do.”

Piers tried to concentrate on what was on his screen, but it was hard when all he could think about was Xavier wrapped around some dark-haired beauty. Although, who knew, he might go more for blondes or redheads. Why was he even thinking about this? He and Xavier were over. They both knew it couldn’t work. It hadn’t before. He was free to date whoever the hell he wanted.

Xavier pushed his chair back. “I better get going. Mags is expecting me to pick Josie up soon.”

Piers stared at him as Xavier grabbed his jacket from the hook beside the door. “Your niece? You’re taking your niece on a date?”

Xavier grinned over at him. Despite everything, that grin still twisted him up inside. “What did you think was going on, Piers?”

He didn’t even know. Not anymore.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Cash

We have another busy weekend. Last night we had a motorcycle ride that raised money for the drug and alcohol coalition. Today we have another one that’s raising money for the oncology department at a local hospital. There’s another ride tomorrow, one we did last year, that’s sponsored by the Riders Advocating Against Child Abuse, but we’re not going on that one this year. Instead, we have a picnic hosted by the Moose club we belong to. I’m going to be very peopled out by the end of Sunday.

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Anyway, we’re here for Stream of Consciousness Saturday right now. I’ve been using these prompts to explore my characters from the WiP I’m currently plotting out. It’s book 3 in the series, and I’m just about finished up with book 2(I wrote the climax yesterday, so just need to wrap the rest up). I’ve been focusing on Xavier, since I was writing his back story. But, I’ve started Piers’, so may  be looking at things from his perspective now. *This does reference what happened during that climax of  book 2, but it’s not all too spoilery.

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“You ever going to cash in that favor I owe you?”

Piers glanced over at Declan, one eyebrow twitching up. “Favor? I don’t recall a favor.”

“I told you I owed you for what you did. I wouldn’t have gotten Eva out of there if it wasn’t for you. I told you, whatever you want, I’ll find a way to do it. You haven’t said a word about it in months, though.”

“You were high on pain medicine when you said that,” Piers said, keeping his gaze on his computer screen. “I would never hold you to it. And, I told you then, you owe me nothing.”

To his surprise, his old friend didn’t push it anymore. Then, Piers glanced up and saw who else had walked into the office. He closed his eyes and rubbed his fingers over them. Right. Declan knew all about that now. Or at least how Piers felt about it. He hadn’t meant to let it out. But, there was nothing he could do to take it back now. And he didn’t think Declan would say anything.

“What is it, Xavier?” Declan asked. Piers wasn’t even sure he could speak.

The other man’s eyes met his then darted away again. Well, at least one thing between them was mutual.

“Case and Alex want to see all of us. I said I’d get you.”

Xavier had gotten him at one time. Every single thing about him. Not so much anymore.

But, there wasn’t much he could do about that either. Except try to move on.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Exit Strategy

Today’ Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt is ‘ex-‘. And we have internet this time! Woohoo! They actually sent someone out on Saturday to fix it last week. I was afraid we’d be internet-less until at least Monday. Which would have made me an antsy mess. But, it’s fixed. Something on the pole at the end of the driveway broke and had to be replaced. All better now, though. Not everything is better, though. One of the guys from the motorcycle club we ride with was involved in a hit and run accident Monday and passed away early Thursday morning. So, we have his funeral today, as well as a family reunion and my daughter’s birthday party tomorrow. Needless to say, my mind is kind of all over the place(which…isn’t all that different from any other time. Anxiety is *so* much fun).

Anyway, fiction helps me deal with all the craziness in my head. So, going back to visiting with Piers and Xavier from Defending the Heart. I’ve been working on Xavier’s back story this week and learning a lot more about him. And, damn, am I mean to my characters, especially during their back stories. Anyway…

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“You always have an exit strategy, don’t you?”

Xavier glanced over at Piers, who was already setting up at his computer at the table they’d selected. “That’s what they taught us, isn’t it? Twelve years is hard to just shut away, now that we’re out.” He went back to cataloguing all the doors and the routes they could take to them. But, he kept Piers in sight from the corner of his eye. Part of him worried the man would disappear again if he lost sight of him.

His nickname of Ghost fit for more than one  reason.

“There’s more to it than that, isn’t there?” He was tapping away at the keyboard now. “I noticed it all those years ago, too. When we first met at Basic. That was before they taught us anything but getting up at the crack of dawn.”

Xavier let out a soft snort of laughter at that and turned fully to Piers, even though he was still aware of what was going on around him. “You didn’t grow up in a farming community. I was already used to waking up then.”

“You’re changing the subject. You’re good at that, too.”

Xavier knew Piers was shifting the subject as well. This wasn’t just about knowing where doors were if they needed to make an escape. It was about them. “I never had a plan for exit, Piers. Things just…they happen.”

“You made me a promise and didn’t keep it. You had to know what would happen, X. Was that just easier than telling me you didn’t want to be with me?”

“That’s not the way it was,” he said, dropping his voice before people started looking at them. A cup hit against a table not far from them, and his heart jumped. His shoulders hunched up until he got his breathing under control again.

Piers’ gaze shifted to the noise then back to him. “You okay, X?”

“Fine,” he bit out. But, he couldn’t filter out any of the input from the room. It all crammed into his head until there wasn’t any room for his own thoughts. Piers’ large, warm hand covered his, and he jumped even higher. “Don’t.”

Piers withdrew his hand, but he just sat quietly for a moment. Then, he asked, “What’s wrong? You usually aren’t so jumpy.”

Xavier almost laughed at that. If only he knew. If only any of them knew. he couldn’t believe how well he’d hid it from his friends for so many years, not that all five of them had been together all that time. They each got out of the Marines at different times, except him and Piers. And it had always been him and Piers. Until he’d screwed things up. But, Piers was the one person who tore away all his defenses.

“I’m not jumpy,” he said, taking a deep breath and trying to force his nerves to settle. It was nothing he couldn’t deal with. he was always better when he was on a job and had something to funnel this into. “Let’s just get to work.” And he didn’t want Piers to know what he’d been before he’d learned to fight back.

Piers studied him for a moment then nodded and turned back to his computer. Xavier hated that he’d put that shuttered look in the other man’s eyes…yet again. But, it was better this way. He’d trusted someone with everything he was once before, and they’d used it to hurt him. He couldn’t risk becoming that victim again.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Art

We haven’t had Internet since Thursday night. I noticed it wasn’t working when I finished a book on my Kindle and tried to add the next in the series to my wishlist. Figured it would come back on. But, all day yesterday, it didn’t. Finally called and they’re sending someone out “by evening” to try and fix it.

In the meantime, I turned the data back on on my tablet (usually use it on airplane mode with the WiFi ) so I can at least get some stuff done. Like today’s Stream of Consciousness post. The prompt is “art”. I’m just starting to plot Defending the Heart  (book 3 in my BC Security series) so exploring these characters some more.

“It’s an art form.”

Xavier looked up from the computer screen and snorted. “You’re ridiculous sometimes, you know that?”

Piers’ lips barely turned up, just a ghost of a smile. It didn’t matter what they were talking about. Xavier would always get entranced by that smile. He shouldn’t have even looked up. They had to work together on this job, but that didn’t mean anything else would happen.

He was just lucky Piers would speak to him.

“It’s a computer,” Xavier said. “I see nothing artful about it.”

“And Alex said you were their best computer guy until I came back. I don’t see how that can be possible with that attitude.”

Xavier let out an undignified snort. “It’s a computer,  not oils on canvas. It’s about manipulating code, not. ..careful strokes and mixing colors.”

Piers’ gaze heated, and Xavier drew his bottom lip in between his teeth.  Maybe he should have rephrased that. Tension crackled between them until finally Piers looked away.

Hell. At this rate,  Xavier wouldn’t survive this case, let alone the rest of his career if Piers stayed on with the company. Somehow he’d have to deal with it.

And make sure he didn’t hurt Piers any more than he already had.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Second

Time for another Stream of Consciousness Saturday post. Today’s prompt is “second”. I’m almost to the point in Protecting the Heart where I’ll start outlining the next story. In this case, Defending the Heart, Piers and Xavier’s story. So, I think I’ll explore more of what’s happening between them.

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“Now, just wait a second.”

Piers turned slowly at the other man’s voice. “What, Xavier? I figured you would prefer it if I leave.”

“I know I’ve never said that. You’re the one who walked away from me.”

“Because you could not even keep a simple promise to me.”

“There’s nothing simple about it. I told you-”

“And I told you I would not be your secret anymore. But, that is just where you wanted to keep me, wasn’t it? Where you would still keep me if I let you.” Piers hated the flash of pain that went through the other man’s eyes, but he couldn’t do it. He just couldn’t.

“It’s not what I want,” Xavier insisted. “I just don’t know how to handle it any other way. Dad is-”

“You already told me you didn’t want to disappoint him. There are worse things, though, X. Mine barely spoke to me for a year. Even these last two, things have been strained. And all that for nothing because you refused to see your end through.”

“Are you done now? Or are you going to interrupt me again?” Piers scowled, but he didn’t open his mouth again. To his surprise, Xavier’s lips did pull up slightly. “As I was trying to say, Dad’s sick. He’s been having a lot of health problems for more than a year. I don’t want to add more stress on to him.”

“And you really think him knowing you love another man would add stress?” Or maybe love never had anything to do with what was between them. He didn’t want to accept that, though.

“And I’m not willing to risk it. I’m sorry, Piers, but I just can’t.”

So, they were still at a standoff. Just as they had been for the last three years. Only now Piers couldn’t avoid Xavier. They’d be working together. Maybe it had been a mistake to accept Alex’s offer after all. But, it was one he’d have to live with now.

Just like falling for Xavier in the first place.

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Oh, these two. I always knew Piers would get his own story, I didn’t realize until they ran into each other at the end of Guarding the Heart that they had a story to tell together. I also wrote that moment when things first fell apart back in April, if you want to take a look at more of their background.

Story a Day: Day 22 – Not Again(Take 2)

Today’s prompt was to take something from an earlier piece and do something different with it. Well, I decided to tell my sidekick story, Not Again, from Xavier’s POV this time. Dig into his thoughts a bit more. I have about to the halfway point of my outline drafted for Protecting the Heart(which this takes place during), once I get closer to having the end written, I’ll start outlining Piers & Xavier’s story, Defending the Heart.

Xavier didn’t have a clue what to do. He probably shouldn’t even be here. He was better at installing their security systems and even standing in as a bodyguard. But, Casey had told him to help Piers find any information that would help find that little girl. And that was more important than any of his feelings. He couldn’t help thinking about his niece, Josie. She was about the same age, and he knew how terrified his sister would be if something took her.

“Do you see that?”

Piers’ voice dragged him out of his thoughts, and he moved up behind him to see what he was pointing at on the screen. Even sitting, piers shoulders came nearly up to Xavier’s chest. A tingle went through him as his chest brushed over the back of those shoulders. He should move away, but he couldn’t make his feet to move.

He studied all the numbers on the screen and saw the same pattern Piers had. “Yeah, I do,” he said. “Just what are they up to?” And what did it have to do with Doug taking little Danica? “You ever call your boss that much?”

Piers didn’t respond at first, and Xavier worried his attempt at levity had been lost. They used to talk like this all the time, joke around, tease. And then he’d gone and screwed it all up.

“Do you?” Piers finally asked, lifting one eyebrow as he glanced back over his shoulder.

Something tightened in Xavier’s stomach. He wasn’t sure if it was the question or the way Piers looked at him. Either way, he could feel heat rising to his skin. Hopefully his darker coloring, from his Hispanic mother, hid at least some of it. “Jealous?” he asked, hoping the old teasing would hide more of it.

Piers didn’t respond, though. His face tightened just a moment before he turned back to face the computer. Xavier’s stomach dropped, and he squeezed his eyes shut. It shouldn’t hurt so much. It had been three years, and this was all his own fault anyway. He was the one who had screwed things up. Xavier shifted away, wishing distance would help. But, it hadn’t over the last few years. Why should it now?

“It would help to know what all they talked about on these phone calls,” Piers said, bringing Xavier’s attention back to the computer screen.

“You’re hacking skills can’t get us that?” Piers was about the only reason Xavier knew more than how to turn on a computer and run a search. He could do a lot more than that now. All those coding lessons had done good even though they’d always turned into make-out sessions.

Piers’ head tipped back, and Xavier was sure he was rolling his eyes, or at least looking up as if asking for some divine intervention for the heathen. He smirked a little at that.

“We don’t talk about that, remember?” Piers asked, and finally there was some amusement in his voice. Xavier had missed that. But, it disappeared again when Piers said, “And, no. Not without more equipment. It’s not a magic power.”

“Seems like it sometimes,” Xavier murmured.

Xavier saw red creep up the back of Piers’ neck at that, but the other man kept his eyes glued to the screen. “We should get the information we have to Declan. He won’t leave his woman, but he should see this.”

He knew Piers was right. And it would be better if they got out of here. He heard the printer start up and turned to grab the papers that came out of it. Piers nearly ran into him as he turned back around. Xavier had to step back, but the contact sent heat swimming through him. He bit down on his lip, as if that pain could ground him. And saw Piers’ eyes heat as they fell to his mouth. God. No. They could not do this. Not again.

“Come on,” Piers said, stepping around him. “We need to get them this information.”

Xavier followed him out of the apartment and couldn’t help checking out the rear view. It was as good as it had ever been. But, they couldn’t do this. All they ever did was hurt each other.

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