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Story a Day: Day 23 – No Matter What

Today’s prompt was to pay attention to the tone of your piece/use a tone you do well. Today’s “story” is really the next scene in Ready When You Are, which is at times serious, sweet, and even with some sexy thrown in. Right now we’re at one of the more serious sections, though.

Kelan didn’t know what he should do. He’d been staring at the letter for too long and still couldn’t figure anything out. He wanted to call Oliver. He seemed to be able to comfort Kelan better than anyone. But, he’d already gotten the other man involved enough in this. Which was evident by this last note that had been left for him. He spends time with dangerous people. Something might happen to him.

No. Kelan couldn’t let that happen. Oliver hadn’t done anything wrong. Hell. Kelan hadn’t done anything wrong. And yet somehow he’d brought the attention of someone who wanted to make him pay for…something. That still wasn’t clear. But, the best thing Kelan could probably do was keep Oliver far away from it. He had enough problems of his own right now.

But, he definitely had to do something. He didn’t know who was leaving these notes for him, but there had to be someone who could find out. This was probably the first time he was truly glad to have a contact in the police department. An added bonus; she was Oliver’s cousin. And he knew how seriously Caitie took family. She’d do what it took to keep him safe. Hell, she was practically part of Kelan’s family, since her fiancé had been pretty much drawn into the family since he’d become friends with Kelan’s younger brother more than a decade earlier.

“Caitie,” he said when she answered. “It’s Kelan. Are you busy?”

“No,” she said, but she sounded a little breathless. Like she’d been running, or…he heard a deeper voice rumble through the line, though he couldn’t make out the words. Yeah, he didn’t want to think too much about what he’d interrupted, but heat still rushed up his neck and into his face. “I have today off,” she said after murmuring something to the other person, who he was sure was her fiancé, Mark. “We were actually about to head out in a few minutes to finish up some wedding stuff.”

Right. That was in less than two weeks now. It made him feel a little worse about calling her about this. “I’m sorry, but I think I might need help with something.”

“A pseudo-sister-in-law kind of help or the cop kind of help?”

He almost laughed at the way she cut right to it. But, none of this was very funny to him. “Definitely the latter,” he answered. “I was trying to ignore it, but now Oliver may be in trouble, too.”

“I can be there in less than ten minutes,” she said, and he could sense she’d already gone into cop mode, just by the way her voice hardened.

“Thanks, Caitie. I appreciate it.”

“You’re like a brother to Mark, and Oli’s my cousin. There’s nothing to thank me for.”

He appreciated it anyway, but he didn’t say it again before hanging up the phone. He just really hoped she could help with this problem. He didn’t know where else to turn to.

His phone chimed with a message as he headed to his bedroom to change out of the clothes he’d worn at school all day. He glanced at it, and something quickened through him at Oliver’s name on the screen. Going to be late at work, he read. Talk to you later?

He couldn’t help it. Despite everything else going on, the words sent a giddy thrill through him. He knew he needed to step back, put some distance between them, for Oliver’s sake. But, he wanted to talk to him. Wish he could just let Oliver hold him. Right now that’s all he wanted. But, he couldn’t let himself take even that. Not if it would put Oliver in danger.

Call me when you can, he typed back. We need to talk.

This was going to kill him, but he knew it needed to be done. He couldn’t let Oliver be dragged down into this  and pay for what someone saw as Kelan’s sins. He’d protect the other man no matter what it cost him.

Story a Day: Day 13 – “Entitled”

I wasn’t sure about today’s prompt of antagonist. Especially since writing any of the ones from my WiPs would be providing spoilers. Which is why you may notice the other man in this piece is never named. I’m not even to this point in Ready When You Are, but I’ll probably be using this when I get there.

“I deserved to have that position. I never could believe they just gave it to you.”

Kelan could only stare at the man across from him. “I wasn’t given anything,” he insisted. “I’ve worked for everything I have.”

The other man sneered. “You didn’t have to work for anything. You get what you want because of who your father is.”

He had no idea what his father had to do with any of this. And he wouldn’t let him be dragged through it. “Leave my family out of this. None of them deserve to be pulled into your hate.”

The man laughed. “You think I hate you? I don’t think that much of you.”

“Then, what has this all been about? Threatening to expose my secret unless you get what you want. But, you never told me what you wanted. Apparently it was my job.”

“It should have been mine,” the man said again. “I applied for it, too. And they should have hired from within. People deserve to know they have a queer teaching their kids.”

Kelan’s stomach twisted hard at that word. Oliver had told him a lot of others were taking back the term, that it wasn’t necessarily a slur. And yet, right now, from him, it certainly felt like one. “No,” he said. “No one deserves to know that I don’t feel like sharing my sexuality with. And it doesn’t have anything to do with my teaching.”

“Well, maybe you shouldn’t be teaching. Maybe you should have stayed out of my way.”

And they were back to this again. Kelan didn’t understand why he seemed to think he deserved the job. “Do you even have any experience with CAD. Have you ever designed a house, a cabinet, anything? Did you spend your childhood on construction sites, seeing first hand how all those plans could come together?”

He waved a hand between them. “None of that matters. It’s a high school Industrial Arts class. I could have taught it. Anyone could have taught it.”

Kelan ground his teeth together. This man had risked everything for Kelan, his job, his relationship with Oliver, his future. And for what? Because he thought he deserved something he hadn’t worked for? “There’s more to it than that. I have more experience than you.”

“Then, why haven’t you built any of those houses you’ve planned.”

I wouldn’t even set foot in a doll house you designed.

Kelan shuddered a little as his ex-sister-in-law’s words went through his head once again. It had been nearly twenty years, and he still couldn’t shake them. “I decided teaching was more for me.” Not completely true, but he wasn’t going to lay his vulnerability out for this man to see and take advantage of.

The other man smirked at him. “You couldn’t do it, either, huh? And here you’re judging me.”

“I’m not judging you for that,” Kelan insisted. “I’m judging you for being an entitled little prick. I’m judging you for being hateful, for using blackmail to try to get what you want. You should be happy now, since I’m on administrative leave, pending the school board’s decision on whether to fire me or not.”

“I won’t be happy until you’re gone, and I have your position.”

Kelan shook his head. “Why do you think that’s going to happen anyway? They’ll just as likely hire someone else for it.”

“I don’t see them wanting to bring in another unknown. Not after you.”

Kelan clenched his fists under the table. Why was he making such a big deal about this? Kelan’s sexual attraction was limited to people he’d formed an emotional connection to. It didn’t enlarge the pool. So why were people being so weird about it?

He stood up from the table, not seeing any point in continuing this. “I guess we’ll have to leave this up to the board, then. But, don’t contact me again, or I will be taking everything to the police.”

Kelan didn’t pay any attention to the people looking at him or the hissed words from the man still at the table. He just needed to get out of here. Maybe he could find Oliver, and they could still work things out.

Word a Day: Hope

Today’s word for the Word a Day challenge is Hope. This is another theme that tends to run through my stories. Sometimes characters may not have a lot of hope at the beginning. But, by the end they always find it. They may not always end on a “Happy Ever After” but I always have at least a “Happy for Now”. And since I tend to write connected series, you can usually see that “For Now” turn into “Ever After”. It’s actually one of my favorite parts of writing this type of series. Being able to bring other characters back in and see what’s happening with them.

Just this morning I actually wrote a bit about hope in one of my WiPs. Ready When You Are is part of my Hunter Family series, which is a spin-off of my Flames series. I’m not too far into this story, but these two actually first met in the previous book(another thing I like about writing connected series…being able to set up future books/relationships). If two men kissing bothers you, you may not want to read on.

Something heavy felt lodged in Oliver’s chest. Was it hope or something darker? He knew the weight of hope and how sometimes it could bury you. He hoped Kelan would help lift him out if that started to happen this time. “Yes, to both of those.”
At the sound of shouted numbers from down the hallway, they both turned their heads toward the door. Nine. Eight.
“It’s almost midnight,” Oliver said.
“Sounds that way.” Kelan pushed up from the bed and took a step closer to Oliver.
Five. Four. Three.
Oliver met Kelan with another step, and one hand reached automatically for his hip. He’d promised to take things at Kelan’s pace, but the other man had come to him. “It’s tradition to kiss someone at midnight,” he said.
Kelan faltered a little, then he smiled. “So, it is. And my family’s pretty big on traditions.”
One. Happy New Year.
Oliver leaned forward, and Kelan met him halfway, their lips pressing together. He wasn’t sure how long it lasted, as he felt himself spiral away, falling deeper and deeper. Then, Kelan was stepping back. Oliver had to shake himself out of his stupor. Everyone was still cheering out in the living room, so the kiss couldn’t have lasted the years it felt like. It must have been less than a minute.
“Friday,” Kelan said.
Oliver gave a little shake of his head. “Huh?” he asked, still a little dazed from how Kelan’s lips had felt on his.
“Dinner,” Kelan said. “If you still want to do that anyway.”
Oliver winced a little. Kelan had apparently gotten the wrong impression from his stunned reaction. He lifted his gaze to meet the other man’s now. And saw some of that wariness in those [xx] eyes. “Of course I do. Especially if it means we can find a way to kiss like that again.”
Kelan’s shoulders lowered slightly. Maybe Oliver wasn’t the only one feeling the weight of hope. Friday was only two days away. It shouldn’t bury him too deep by then.

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