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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.

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

“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.

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

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.

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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.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Embrace

Today’s Stream of Consciousness prompt is to use a word with the letters “mb” in it in that order. Which had me going: how in the world am I going to find a word to use(okay, there may have been other words in there). So, I went to my handy-dandy dictionary app and started searching. There were a lot more words than I’d figured. So, I chose one and instantly thought of where I’d left off last week’s post with Devil and Hawk’s(though they went by Damon and Gavin back then) history together. So, I’ll pick up with it this week(and it turned out a lot longer than I’d expected. Oops).

Damon wanted to embrace this boy, but he shoved that feeling down as far as it would go. He was still reeling from what Travis had done. His head was ringing from hitting it against that brick wall. But, he wasn’t going to let this boy see that weakness. Trusting Travis had gotten him in this situation in the first place. Blindly trusting someone else wouldn’t get him out of it.

Still he followed him out of the alley. Hawking, Alex had called him. Damon figured that was probably a last name, though. He didn’t ever know the guy’s first name, and he was going along with him without question. His father would call him an idiot if he ended up getting mugged.

It wouldn’t be the first time his dad called him that. Or worse.

“You got a safe place to go once you’re fixed up?”

Damon didn’t know why the man’s voice kept taking him by surprise. Everything about him screamed: “I’m a big, tough guy.” And yet that voice was soft, gentle. It felt like a caress over everything that was still aching in him. It made him ache in a totally different way. But, he knew what would happen if he let that get out of control. His father had made that clear. And it scared him.

He’d thought Travis was worth it, but the other kid had only been using him. This guy probably wasn’t any different, though he hadn’t made a move yet. And that worried him. What did he want anyway?

“I’m not homeless,” he snapped out.

“That’s wasn’t what I asked. Damon, wasn’t it?”

Not what he’d asked. But, he’d asked if he had somewhere to go. No, somewhere safe to go. Like home might not be. And he looked so worried right now, Damon had to wonder if he was asking from experience. Did he save people every weekend? “Yeah,” he said, wanting to wipe that worry from the guy’s face. “And yeah, I can go home. I was grounded, so they’ll yell that I left the house. But, yeah, it’s safe.”

Damon grew more anxious as they approached the store Hawking was taking him to. What if this guy did ask questions instead of just fixing up the cut on his head? He didn’t want to tell anyone what Travis was going to make him do. It hadn’t happened, so it didn’t matter anyway. Even though just the thought made him sick.

But, the old man didn’t ask anything. Only some question to the other kid about books. Books of all things. Then, he walked with hem to the back room, cleaned the cut and put a bandage over it. There’d been more blood than the cut called for. Then, Hawking–Gavin, the old man had called him–walked him out of the store.

“You don’t really have to walk me home. I can get there on my own.”

“I’ll worry if I don’t know for myself you’re safe.”

“You really do think you’re everyone’s savior, don’t you?”

Gavin went silent at that, and Damon wished he hadn’t shoved his foot in it again. He was always doing that. At least he didn’t live far away. Gavin could go once he was back home. He didn’t want Gavin to go.

“Don’t tell them,” he said quickly. “They can know I was in a fight, but don’t tell them the rest. Don’t even tell ’em it was Travis. He’s the reason I was grounded in the first place.” Because his dad had caught them kissing. And his dad was apparently trying to save Damon’s soul from hell.

“I won’t say a word,” Gavin promised. “Tell them whatever you need.”

But, something about him had gone still even though he was still walking right beside Damon. Finally, they reached his house, and Damon’s hands grew wet with sweat as he approached the front door. It opened before he could reach for the handle. His dad’s hand came out wrapped around his arm and jerked him through the door.

“What do you think you’re doing, boy? You weren’t supposed to leave the house.”

“Sorry, Dad,” he said without looking up. “I shouldn’t’ve broken the rules.”

“You’re damn right about that.”

“Sir,” Gavin said, stepping forward, “your son-”

Damon wanted to shake his head at Gavin, tell him to just turn and go. But, he saw the concern in his eyes and knew it wouldn’t matter. “I don’t know who you are, but you don’t need to be here. You don’t need to be twisting my boy’s mind more than it already is.”

I winced at that, one of the accusations he always threw at me. The reason I liked kissing boys as well as girls. Gavin’s eyes came to mine then, and they held another accusation. I’d said I was safe here, and he didn’t believe me now. “It’s fine,” I told him.

“You said you were safe here.”

His dad’s face turned dark at the accusation in his words. “I don’t beat my son, even if he deserves it. Get out of here.”

“There’s more than one kind of harm,” Gavin murmured even as the door swung shut between them.

Dad turned on me then. “What the hell are you telling people, Damon? That I hurt you?”

He shook his head. “I didn’t.” He saw his little brother peek his head around the corner and hoped his dad would keep the tongue-lashing to a minimum this time.

He just sighed in disgust. “Go to your room. I don’t want to see your face until your mom has dinner ready.”

***

Damon opened his door at the soft knock. His little brother, Andy, stood there. Damon had only been allowed out of his room the last two days for meals and to use the bathroom. His parents hadn’t even let Andy come in to see him. Nothing like being put in solitary confinement. He was surprised his dad hadn’t boarded the window shut so he couldn’t sneak out.

“What’s up, buddy?” Damon asked. “You shouldn’t be here. Don’t want you to get in trouble.”

“Some guy dropped this off for you,” he said, holding a book out to Damon. “Said it was for you to keep safe.”

There was that word again. Had Gavin brought this to him? But, why? “What did he look like?”

The boy shrugged. “Some old guy. Just said to make sure you got the book.”

It must have been the guy from the bookstore, then, not Gavin. He shouldn’t be so disappointed by that. “Thanks, buddy. You should go, though, before Dad catches you.”

“He shouldn’t get so mad at you.”

Maybe not. “But, he does. It’ll be all right. They’ll get over it soon.” He hoped. He had a little more than two years before he could get out of here. He hoped he didn’t spend the rest of it banished to his room.

Once Andy left, Damon took the book to his bed. He didn’t read, except when he was forced to for school. Even then, he barely skimmed it. But, he ran a hand over the cover of this book. Gavin hadn’t brought it himself, but it had to be from him. “The History of the United States Marine Corps,” he read. Then, he flipped open the cover. A sheet of paper slid out into his lap. He set the book down and picked up the paper. His name was at the top.

Hope you weren’t in too much trouble the other day. You said your place was safe, and I’m holding you to the fact you meant physically. That doesn’t say anything for emotionally. But, I’ll be back on base by the time you see this, so there’s not much I can do to make sure of either. I don’t know when I’ll be back around, but I want you to have my address so you can get in touch if you want. After what we talked about, I thought you’d like the book, too. I hope I’ll hear from you sometime, but if not, keep yourself safe anyway.

Gavin Hawking

Damon stared at the note for a few minutes then slipped it into the top drawer of his desk. He didn’t know what he was going to do, but he hoped this wasn’t the last time he ever heard from Gavin.

SOCS/Story a Day: Day 7 – “It’s Apparent”

It’s time for another Stream of Consciousness Saturday. It’s also Day 7 of Story a Day, so I decided to combine them. Today’s prompt for SOCS was “apparent/a parent” and the prompt for Story a Day was to write a dialogue-only story. This takes place between Devil and Hawk somewhere in the future of Dance with the Devil.

“It’s apparent you don’t know how to listen.”

“I just-”

“You just did the exact opposite of what you were told. You’ve been making a habit of that lately, Devil.”

“Shove it, Hawk. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Get back here. And I do know. I’ve known you a long time. Longer than any of them. Better than any of them.”

“Don’t. Just don’t, Hawk.”

“I didn’t anything. I was just sayin'”

“Well, stop saying. Those days are over. I thought you were supposed to be out here lecturing me.”

“I am, but maybe it’s not what I want to be doing.”

“I told you-”

“Yeah, I know. You don’t do that anymore. And it’s not what I meant. Just saying I don’t completely disagree with you. But, we were told to keep our distance. Which means you don’t go up and confront one of them. You keep walking right on the edge, and you’re going to end up falling over one of these days.”

“Thought you said you’d always catch me.”

“I’d do just that if you weren’t always running from me.”

“I…you know what? It doesn’t matter. They kicking me?”

“No. You keep pushing, and that’s what will happen, though. Just…let up a bit, will you?”

“Yeah, sure. Whatever.”

“Guess that has to be good enough. Come on, let’s go inside.”

So, just what is between these two? And what brought this argument about? Will they resolve it?

You can find my other Story a Day pieces here. And if you come back to the blog later today, there’ll be another snippet from Devil’s story.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: “Ha”

It’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday again.(though apparently pingbacks are not working) Today’s prompt is “ha”, either use it as a word itself or the beginning of a word. And I’m visiting with Carlos again, through a friend’s perspective this time, though.

“Hallie Catarina.” Carlos bounced the infant gently as he said her name, gently as if it was a prayer.

Melanie couldn’t help thinking they made a strange picture. The big man, tattoos up his throat and down his arms, but his scarred hands were gentle against the back of her daughter’s head. Even at barely a month old, frizzy red hair poked out from beneath the hat she wore. Carlos leaned back in the chair in the dining room of his restaurant, and looked as relaxed as he could be.

“You’re good with her,” Melanie said, smiling at the two of them. “Almost better than me sometimes.”

His smile was soft as he looked back up at her, and Jared who stood right behind her, one hand resting on her shoulder. “I’m sure that’s not true. But, yes, I’ve had experience. Three little sisters will do that.”

“And a brother,” Jared murmured.

Carlos nodded, but his gaze had returned to the infant’s face. “But, I was only three when he came along. Nearly ten before Adriane did. Then, there was Analise and Carisa.”

Melanie watched him for a moment then tipped her head up to look at her husband. Carlos never spoke much about his family, not even in the two years she’d known him. But, from the sympathy she saw in Jared’s face, and maybe some of his own sorrow as well, there had to be a lot more to this story. She’d learned not to push too hard. People around here tended to shut down when she did that.

“She’s pretty much a daddy’s girl, since the day she was born. She’ll tolerate me feeding her then wants him again.” That made for a long day when he was at the clinic. She couldn’t wait to get back there herself. She loved her daughter, even if it hurt a little when she seemed to prefer anyone over her, but she missed her patients as well.

Carlos whispered something in the girl’s ear. Melanie couldn’t catch the words, or understand them, but she heard Jared huff out a laugh. Then, Carlos handed the baby back to her. “I should get back to work. I hear the boss likes to crack the whip.”

She laughed but turned her face for the kiss he always brushed over her cheek when they visited. “You are the boss, Carlos.”

He grinned at her and winked. “I may be the one spreading those rumors. Keeps ’em on their toes.”

Melanie just laughed again and shook her head. “Pretty sure anyone who’s worked for you long knows better than that.”

She started buckling Hallie back into her carrier to take her out to the car, but Carlos paused in the kitchen to look back at them. “Don’t doubt for a moment that baby girl loves you, Melanie. You’re her mama, and the best one she could have.”

She tried not to let it get to her, though it had been more of an adjustment than she’d expected becoming a mother, when she thought all she’d ever be was a doctor. But, his words warmed her, and soothed the doubts that she was doing something wrong. “I’m sure you’re right, Carlos.”

“Of course I am,” he said with another grin.

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: “Real”

Welcome back to another Stream of Consciousness Saturday. This week’s prompt is “real”. Let’s see what I’ve got for that.

*This follows after this other piece I wrote a little while back.

“I can’t believe you’re really here.”

Lora looked across the table at Gabriel. She could say the same to him. But, she did believe it. He’d told her, and so had Aaron, how close he was to his family. So it didn’t surprise her that he’d ended up back in his hometown. “Well, I am,” she said. What was her problem? She made a living speaking, and yet she was having trouble stringing more than a couple words together around him. It’s not like she’d never spoken to him before. But, it had been different with a computer screen and thousands of miles between them. And the last time they’d spoken face to face had been at Aaron’s funeral.

She could still feel that grief hanging between them.

They were supposed to go over the projected plans for the housing project, but she couldn’t bring herself to put that between them right now, too. “What have you been up to, Gabe? It’s been a while.”

“Almost two years,” he confirmed. And they hadn’t talked much then. He’d held her, comforted her. But, they hadn’t spoken many words. She’s used up most of hers for the eulogy. “And there hasn’t been much,” he admitted. “Designing projects for Dad and Chris to work on.”

“Do you miss actually being on a job site?”

He shrugged one shoulder, but she sensed something under it. “I like the design work,” he said. But, he didn’t deny missing working on construction sites. That told her more than his words.

“And is that all you do? Work?” God, she needed to shut her mouth. His personal life wasn’t any of her damn business.

The corners of Gabriel’s mouth twitched, though. “No, it’s not all I do. No serious relationships, though. I did recently get a roommate when his dad kicked him out of the house. He served with us, too. Erik Morrey.”

Her mouth turned down. “Aaron mentioned him. Said he was a bit of an asshole.”

That had Gabriel laughing now. “He’s got his moments. But, he really is a decent guy. If you knew his father…” Gabriel shook his head. “Best you don’t. Now, he really is an asshole.”

Lora wasn’t quite sure what to say about that. Aaron had told her a lot of things about Erik Morrey. She wondered if Gabriel would still want him as a roommate if he knew some of them. Maybe he did know, and it didn’t bother him. It had bother Aaron, which she’d lectured him about enough times. But, despite only being a year older than her, he’d had an “old-fashioned” way of thinking. His words, but she’d had others for it.

“You okay?” Gabriel asked, reaching across the table for her hand.

“Yeah,” she said, coming back to he present and him. “I was just thinking about Aaron and how he wasn’t so perfect.”

Gabriel’s eyes were sad, but his lips lifted a little. “No, he wasn’t,” he agreed. “But, we loved him anyway.”

Yes, they had. She and Aaron hadn’t had much of a family, but Aaron had always said Gabriel was like his brother. So, she didn’t doubt that love.

“So,” he said, “I guess we should start going over the proposal.”

 

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Egg

It’s Saturday again, which means time for some stream of consciousness writing. Today’s prompt is “egg”. So, let’s see where I can go with this. (Apparently I had my BC Security guys on the brain, since they’re the ones who took over. I seriously didn’t know until the third line. This will take place between Protecting the Heart and Defending the Heart. Small spoiler at the end to Protecting…though it’s pretty much a given for me. And Protecting the Heart isn’t even finished it, so that’s the only bit of the end I really know).

“There’s really no reason to egg him on.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, brother.”

Declan eyes his old friend. “Piers, come on. You know Xavier never turns down a dare. Especially when it comes from you.”

Piers turned away from him. “You don’t know what you’re talking about, Dec. Just leave it.”

“Granted, I do talk a lot,” Declan said as he fell into step beside Piers as they headed across the ranch yard. It had been transformed for the day. Tables and chairs setup, a dance floor improvised in the middle of the yard. “So, occasionally there is something I don’t know about. But, this isn’t one of them.” Piers didn’t respond, so Declan continued. “I saw you slip him that ten to cut in on Emelyn and Casey. What was the dare? To see if he could get decked by the groom, or to see if he could do it without a punch?”

Piers threw his head back and laughed. That was good to see. Declan had been worrying about his friend lately. He insisted nothing was wrong, but there was something missing. A light that didn’t shine in his eyes anymore. Except the occasional time he caught him glancing at Xavier. What had happened between those two?

Declan knew some of it, or had put it together at least. But, he wasn’t sure what had broken both of them.

The laugh died off when Xavier glanced back at them. He was nearly to the dance floor, where the bride and groom, and several others, were dancing. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen Casey so happy. It was good to see, after everything the man had been through. He deserved this happiness now.

Xavier smirked at them, but even rom here he could tell it didn’t match the look in the man’s eyes. They were shadowed, as they had been for a while now. Almost since Declan himself and Piers had joined up with Casey and Alex’s security company. He wished he could figure out what was wrong and somehow fix it.

“Like I said,” Piers said, his voice low and rough now. “You don’t know what you’re talking about. There’s at least one dare he refuses to take. He won’t-” He broke off on a curse and stuffed his hands in his pockets. “Never mind.”

Declan wasn’t sure what to say to Piers, but he still wanted to make things better. Before he could, Piers let out another laugh. “Leave it to him,” he murmured. “Only one who could get away with that.”

Declan glanced back to the dance floor, and saw Xavier swinging Emelyn away from Casey, and she was laughing as they went. Casey just stood there, shaking his head at them. Piers clapped Declan on the back. “I’m going to get a drink. Want to join me?”

Piers was trying to act like nothing mattered, but Declan could see under that. But, there was nothing he could do if his friend wouldn’t let him in. “No,” he said, “I’ve got to get back to my girls.” he glanced back toward the table where Eva and Dani sat. His girls. He’d never thought he’d say that or still feel so protective of them. But, he’d nearly lost them once and would never chance it happening again.

Piers squeezed his shoulder then stepped away. When Declan reached Eva, she grinned at him. “You’ve got a bunch of colorful friends, Mr. Portor.”

He grinned then leaned over to kiss her. “That’s a nice way of putting it, Mrs. Portor.” That still felt so shiny and new, it gave him a thrill to say. “We’re a bunch of colorful eggs, aren’t we?”

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