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SOCS/Story a Day: Day 27 – “Romance in the Air”

Fadil walked down the sidewalk, pushing his mom’s chair ahead of him. He knew she could do it herself, she’d told him plenty of times, but he liked being out here with her. It gave him something that made him feel useful at least.

“You’ve been quiet lately,” his mother said suddenly. “Ever since you got back with my medicine yesterday really. Did something happen?”

A snorting laugh nearly escaped him at that. Did something happen? Yeah, something had certainly happened. He wasn’t sure he really wanted to talk to his mother about that, though.

“It was fine. I told you about it.”

“Yeah,” she said, and he could hear the tension in the voice. “I still want to call my sister and have it out with her. She promised she’d take care of everything so you wouldn’t have a problem picking things up for me.”

“Aunt Janine has never liked me. That’s not your fault.”

“It isn’t yours either, my sweet boy.”

Fadil did snort at that. It had been a long time since she’d called him that. A long time since he’d felt he deserved it. His mom chuckled then and it took him a moment to realize her amusement wasn’t over their conversation but something that had caught her attention in the park.

He turned his gaze that way and nearly stopped breathing. A man had his head thrown back, a laugh bursting out of him. Even from this distance, Fadil could hear the joy in it. He licked his lips, but his tongue and mouth and throat felt suddenly dry. Then, the little girl jumped up from the ground where she’d fallen in the middle of a cartwheel and put her hands on her hips.

What had Mike called her the day before? Right. Alexa. He couldn’t hear what she said to her father, but her face was fierce. And Fadil’s mother was still chuckling. “We should go over and say hi to them,” she said.

“No,” he answered automatically, his face already feeling warm.

His mother tipped her head back so she could look up at him, and he averted his gaze. He didn’t want to know what she would see there. “Fadil,” she murmured, “my sweet boy. What do you seem to think you have to be ashamed of.”

“Nothing,” he lied. He hadn’t given voice to it since those first days after the accident. When his father was being buried and his mother was still laying in a hospital bed. When the guilt and grief were ripping him apart.

“Fadil,” she said again, tapping her hand on the arm of the chair.

He came around and knelt beside her. “I wasn’t here,” he said, the word torn from him. Dad died, you were hurt, and I didn’t even know for hours because I was with…someone.”

He felt her fingers trail through his hair. “A boy,” she said. “You can say it. He was your boyfriend. We thought he was a nice boy, but he didn’t stick with you when you were hurting.”

“I was an asshole,” he said, wincing slightly at the term. He’d always been careful not to curse around his parents, but it was the only way to describe how he’d acted back then. “He was right to leave.”

“You were grieving. He should have understood that.”

He shook his head but didn’t know what else to say about that. There had been more to his actions than grieving, but he couldn’t find the words to explain it to her. She lifted his chin. “You haven’t spoken of any relationships since then, but you deserve to be happy just as much as anyone else.”

He hadn’t had any relationships to speak of in that time, but he wouldn’t mention that. It would likely only worry her more. But, he lifted his gaze and saw Mike watching them, his hand wrapped around his daughter’s. Fadil’s mother glanced that way then back to Fadil. And a smile curved her lips up.

“Do I smell romance in the air?”

“No,” Fadil said sharply, standing up and brushing his knees off.

“Mike’s a good guy,” his mom said. “I think-”

“No, Mama,” Fadil said, taking the handles of the chair and starting on their way again. “Just let it go.”

Her shoulders slumped, and she heaved a sigh. “Fine. Have it your way.”

He figured that was best. No matter what else he might want. Taking what he wanted only ever seemed to bring sorrow his way.

No, he thought this was definitely better.

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I combined prompts for Stream of Consciousness Saturday and Story a Day again. For SOCS, it was to use smell any way you want. And for Story a Day, to write a non-traditional love story. In a way, this is a love story between mother and son, her offering him forgiveness she doesn’t even think is necessary. It’s also the start of a romantic relationship between Mike & Fadil(shh, don’t tell Fadil he’s already a goner). Which is also non-traditional according to Julie’s tips(Mike is black & bisexual, Fadil is of Middle Eastern descent & gay/bi –he hasn’t told me exactly).

SOCS/Story a Day: Day 20 – “All or Nothing”

“All I was asking,” Carisa said, “was what made you buy this place. It wasn’t a judgment, Carlos. I’m just curious.”

Her brother relaxed slightly. She really hadn’t meant for the question to sound judgmental, but that was apparently how it had come out. Or at least how he had heard it. Did he really still think she was so much like her father? She’d have thought he’d have known better by now.

“Before I bought this place,” Carlos said, “I was working as a cook at another restaurant. Aberto hired a lot of people just out of prison. Gave ’em a chance. One chance. If you screwed up, broke one of his rules, you were gone. Roman and Cristine knew him and helped get me a job as a dishwasher there when I was released. Roman had already done enough by getting me a very reduced sentence. This was so much more than what he had to do.”

“Because Tereza asked him to help you. And he promised to do what he could as long as she didn’t see you again.” She knew that part of the story.

His lips curled up a little. “Yeah. It was smart. We would have ruined each other back then.” But, he ran a thumb over the ring on his left hand. They were married now and so happy. She was happy for her brother. Even if she was a little jealous, too.  “Anyway, Aberto was killed in a drive-by and his place shut down. I’d been thinking of opening my own place by that time, and Cristine helped me get started.”

“I know all that, Carlos. What I was wondering, why this place? This neighborhood. Isn’t this where you grew up?” It had to hold hard memories for him to deal with. It did for her, and she’d been young when her father had moved their mother, her and her only remaining sister to another city.

“That’s why. And I wanted to continue what Aberto had been doing. I was given a second chance, so I wanted to give that to others, too. And this place was available and in my budget.” His lips curled up even more at that. “You should have seen it. It was only a step above being condemned. It took a lot of work, but I turned it into this.”

“And it’s a good place.” She’d seen the good he’d done here, the people he’d helped. It wasn’t enough for her father to ever forgive him, but he was holding a grudge against Carlos that wasn’t his fault. So nothing would ever be enough.

He gave her a quick hug. “Thanks, little sis. I’d better get back in the kitchen or no one else will think so.”

She smiled as he did just that. She was so glad she’d re-connected with her brother, even if it had taken another death to do so. One had ripped them apart and one to bring them back together. But, nothing would take her from his life again. Nothing.

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I combined Story a Day and Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompts again. Story a Day was to focus on worldbuilding. So I decided to go with how Carlos did come to have his restaurant. And for Stream of Consciousness was to use all or nothing, Use one or both and bonus points if you start and end with one(or each) of them.

SOCS/Story a Day: Day 13 – “Language”

“You could at least speak in a language I know,” Carisa said. “Then I would misunderstand what you’re saying.”

Carlos smiled at her. “You sound like Brent.” A sadness washed over his face then. He was still taking their brother’s loss hard. She’d  barely known him, though. Had barely known Carlos, either, since her father had refused to let him have any contact after her older sister, Adriane, had been killed. But, she was all grown up and could make her own decisions now.

Her dad really hadn’t liked that.

She’d already lost half her siblings. She wasn’t going to let her father keep her from another one. Even if that meant her dad barely spoke to her now. She was used to his tantrums. He’d get over it.

“What’s going on, Isa?” he asked, resting his hands on the table beside her. She had vague memories of him calling her that when she was younger, though he’d been out of their lives since before she was three. So, she’d convinced herself she’d made them up. No one else had ever called her that, either.

“Nothing,” she said softly. She didn’t even know if something was going on, so how would she explain it to him?

“You sure?” he asked, settling into a chair at the table.

He hadn’t judged her for any of the choices she’d made so far, but still she hesitated. This was different. And she really didn’t know I there was anything to talk about. So, she just said, “Yeah, I’m sure. What are you making me for lunch today?”

He laughed and leaned over to kiss the top of her head. “I’ll be back with it.”

She watched him leave then ran her hands over her face. She’d have to figure this out on her own. But, she would figure it out.

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Combining my Stream of Consciousness Saturday post with today Story a Day again. The SOCS prompt was to use “language” any way you like. For story a day it was to use a moment of misapprehension. This actually comes after that. Carisa is Carlos’ youngest half-sister. And I just started plotting out her story(which doesn’t have a title yet and I won’t be writing until probably October). I have an idea of what it is she’s trying to figure out, but I’ll keep that quiet for now. 😉

SOCS/Story a Day: Day 6 – “He’s Gone”

It’s Stream of Conscious Saturday and also Day 6 of the Story a Day challenge, so I’m combining the two(will probably do that each Saturday this month). The prompt for SoCS is to use the prefix “inter” in some way. For Story a Day it is to explore a character’s emotional wound. As I have been using SOCS to explore the characters of the novel I’m currently plotting, so today we have a bit with Austin, though this will be from way before the story starts.

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Austin looked down the length of the table. There were almost a dozen other boys sitting there with him. Not that any of them were interacting with him. Why would they be, though, when they all had their fathers sitting across from them? He picked up one of the pre-cut pieces of wood and ran his thumb along it. The roughness of it against his skin distracted him from the burn behind his eyes.

He looked across the table at the empty chair sitting there. Uncle Scott had said he’d be here. He’d known his father wouldn’t be. He wouldn’t recognize him if he did show up. But, Uncle Scott always kept his promises. So why wasn’t he here now?

He held the piece of wood in his hand again. It was only a little darker than his own skin, closer to his mom’s. With a sigh, he set it down and reached for another piece so he could glue them together like the instructions said.

“Austin,” the group leader said from beside him, “do you want to try to call your father again. Maybe he’s just running late.”

“I can’t,” Austin said, not looking up at the man. He’d always been nice to Austin, but he didn’t want to start crying now. The other boys wouldn’t let him forget it. “He’s gone.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t know you’d lost him.”

Austin didn’t know what the sound was that came out of his mouth. It wasn’t really a laugh. “I didn’t lose him. He never wanted me.”

The doors at the front of the social hall opened, and he looked over at the sound of rushing feet. “I’m sorry, Austin,” the man said. His mom’s friend, Jai. Except Austin had seen them kissing the last time he’d been over at the house. He might only be seven, almost eight thank you very much, but he wasn’t stupid. “Your uncle called from the hospital to let your mom know he wouldn’t be able to make it. So, I came over.”

That had the pieces drop from his hands. “Is he hurt?” Austin asked. “Did he get hurt in a fire?”

Jai shook his head as he pulled out the chair across from Austin and sat down. “No, but one of the other firefighters was. You know he wanted to be here.”

Austin didn’t though. He’d been whiny the last time Uncle Scott had been at the house. Maybe that was why he hadn’t come. But, Jai said it was because one of the guys Uncle Scott worked with was hurt. But, he needed to be better or Jai might leave him and his mom, too.

“Where do we start with this?” Jai asked.

Austin pulled the instructions over and pointed to the first step. “We have to glue those two pieces together.”

Jai smiled at him, and it had a funny feeling spread through his chest. He didn’t know what it was, so he focused on what they were making instead. If he didn’t screw this up maybe Jai would stick around.

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I just want to give that little boy a hug. And 18 years later, he’s still dealing with those abandonment issues, although Jai does stick around.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: “Yard”

Jess walked into her parents’ back yard and looked around. It seemed everyone else was already here. All her brothers were scattered around, their significant others not far from them. Nolan’s two younger stepkids were running around, the oldest sitting near her mother and talking to Jess’ second oldest brother, Kelan.

And she was here all alone. Nothing unusual about that. She’d never thought she’d feel lonely around her family, but that’s exactly how she felt lately. And she was tired of it. She wasn’t going to let herself feel this way anymore. That’s all there was to it.

“Hey, Jess.”

She spun around to see Austin Melnik walking toward her. She barely held back a groan. Just what she didn’t need right now when she’d just made the decision to stop feeling things. Apparently her parents had invited more than family. As more people spilled into the yard, she thought they might have invited both fire departments for the day. Which was pretty much the same thing as family to them.

But, she could barely take her eyes off of Austin. And the pink bundle he carried. How long had he been here if he’d already got his hands on her baby niece. Her mouth went dry at the sight of how comfortable he was with her. “Melnik,” she greeted him, trying to keep her voice neutral.

But, his eyes narrowed, then his lips quirked up. As if he knew exactly what she was doing. Hell, he probably did. It wouldn’t be the first time he called her out on her bullshit. Damn those lips. Even now she wanted to kiss them.

So, she turned away and headed into the middle of her family. They would keep her safe from doing something stupid. Like falling for someone who deserved a lot better than her.

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This week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt was to use “yard”. I’m still plotting out Still Burning. This will probably take place before it starts or close to the beginning. Jess has quite a bit to work through.

“Stream of Consciousness: “Spell”

“Do I really have to spell it out for you?”

“Yeah,” Jace said as he rinsed the paintbrush off. “I really think you do, Jess.”

Jess leaned against the doorframe to the little bathroom in her brother’s new house. “You wouldn’t get it, Jace.” She ran a hand through the back of her hair. It wasn’t what most would call long, but she was antsy to get it cut again. “You’ve got everything here. A pretty little wife.”

“Aw,” Kammi said, coming up behind her. “Your sister thinks I’m pretty, Jace. Even though I feel like I’m about ready to explode.”

“If that’s how birth works,” Jess said, “I definitely don’t want to have any kids.”

Kammi laughed and gave her a quick hug. She was pretty sure she felt a foot in her side even during the brief contact. “My sister’s here, Jace. We’ll be back later.”

He moved over to her and gave her a hug and a long kiss. Jess had to look away from the intimacy of it. When Kammi had left, Jess finally looked back at her twin brother. “See? You have everything. Kammi, your painting, a baby pretty damn soon.”

“And I almost lost all of it because I thought it would be better to send her away,” Jace reminded her. “And I still don’t see what that has to do with you not deserving the same thing.”

She wanted to pull her hair out, not just at irritation with her brother for being obtuse, but with herself for not being able to find the right words to describe how she felt. She’d never been good with words. She was a lot more like her oldest brother than any of the others. “Never mind,” she said. “I need to get to the work site anyway.”

“Jess, I’m sorry,” Jace said, putting the brush down and moving to intercept her. “I’m trying to understand, but I just don’t get what you think the problem is.”

“I’m not angry with you.” No, the problem wasn’t with her brother. It was something wrong with her. “But, I really do need to get to work.” And she hurried out before her brother could try to dig any deeper.

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It’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday ad today’s prompt was to Use the word “spell” any way you’d like. Bonus points if you use it in the first sentence. I’m still plotting out Jess and Austin’s story, so I decided to use them again today. I’ve felt some of what Jess is going through, though I didn’t go into exactly what that is here. It will be explored more in the actual story, though.

Stream of Consciousness: “Moo”

“Moo” Jess laughed and put the little stuffed cow back on the shelf. Yeah, she couldn’t see her brother appreciating that gift. She’d have to keep looking.

“So, which of the coming babies are you shopping for today?”

Jess turned at the voice behind her. Austin stood a few paces away, holding a small firetruck in his hand. It was a good question. Two of her brothers’ wives were having babies this summer. “Jace and Kammi’s,” she answered. “They’re up first after all.”

Austin laughed at that. She loved the way he looked when he laughed. It made her want to step closer and soak in some of the joy. If only she wasn’t afraid she would blemish it.

“Maybe I should be looking in art supplies. You think Jace would appreciate that?”

Austin laughed again. “I think you have some time before the baby would follow in your brother’s footsteps. Maybe something a little more age appropriate would be better.”

“You got any ideas? I don’t have a clue here.”

Even better than a laugh, she got a warm smile from him. Even though she knew she didn’t deserve it at all. Not as many times as she’d pushed and pulled him around. She didn’t know why he didn’t hate her by now. She thought maybe he didn’t have that emotion in him.

“Come with me,” he told her. “I think I know the perfect gift.”

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Today’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt was to “Base your post on the word “moo” or a word that rhymes with it. Bonus points if you actually use the word “moo” in your post.” This week, I started working on plotting out Still Burning, which is Jess & Austin’s story. So, today you get some of them. And I’d say Jess is unaware of how deep some of Austin’s feelings go.

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