Home of a mother, wife, writer

Posts tagged ‘Xavier’

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.

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

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.

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

“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.

SOCS badge

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.

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

“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…

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

“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.

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

“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.

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.

SOCS/Story a Day: Day 14 – Not Again

“Do you see that?”

Piers felt Xavier move right up behind him to look over his shoulder. Sometimes he was sure the other man did that on purpose. But that wasn’t likely. He’d had his chance. Piers had even been willing to give him another.

He hadn’t taken it, either.

“Yeah, I do. Just what are they up to? You ever call your boss that much?”

Piers hadn’t had a boss since he’d left the Marine Corps over three years earlier. “Do you?” he asked, raising an eyebrow as he glanced over his shoulder at Xavier. He almost laughed at the flush that rose up into the other man’s cheeks.

“Jealous?” Xavier asked.

Something hard settled in Piers’ stomach. That was certainly one word for it.  But, he wasn’t just going to hand that information over. Certainly not to the man who had once been one of his best friends. And a whole lot more. He turned back to the computer instead of responding to that.

Xavier shifted slightly away from him. Piers wished they could get past this. They’d be working together a lot if he ended up taking Alex’s offer to join the company. “It would help to know what they talked about on all these phone calls,” he said instead of thinking more about that.

“Your hacking skills can’t get us that?”

Piers rolled his eyes toward the ceiling. “We don’t talk about that, remember? And, no, not without more equipment. It’s not a magic power.”

“Seems like it sometimes,” Xavier murmured.

Piers felt his own face warm at that. But, he wouldn’t let Xaviersee how much his words pleased him. “We should get the information we have to Declan. He won’t leave his woman, but he should see this.”

He printed out the records they’d found and went to grab them, almost running into Xavier when he turned around. The other man already held the papers. Piers’ gaze caught on Xavier’s mouth and wanted to soothe the lip the other man was currently biting. Instead, he turned sharply away. He just couldn’t do it. Not again.

“Come on. They’re waiting for this information. Let’s go.”

I combined the prompts for both Story a Day and Stream of Consciousness Saturday again today. For Story a Day, it was to write about a sidekick. And for SOCS it was to start with a two letter word(and bonus points for ending with another one). Xavier has filled the role of sidekick before, mostly in Guarding the Heart. He hasn’t shown up too much in Protecting the Heart(which is where this will occur, though I’m not sure it will make it on the page), of course that’s because he’s probably trying to avoid Piers as much as he can. As you can probably tell, they’ve got some history(which I wrote about for the A-Z Challenge here, here, and here). Eventually, he’ll stop being the sidekick and have his own story. Along with Piers.

A-Z Challenge: X is for Xavier Urban(take 2)

X

Spoiler Warning: This takes place during Guarding the Heart, though his part actually occurs off page in that one. But, it does refer to some events in that, so if you don’t want to be spoiled for when that comes out(probably not until the end of this year or sometime next year), you might want to skip this one.

“Hey, X.”

Xavier looked over his shoulder to where Alex’s voice came from the doorway. “What?” He hated how his voice cracked and was sure the other man could tell he’d been crying. But, Alex didn’t say a thing about that.

“They’re here,” Alex said. “Why don’t you come out so we can all talk?”

Xavier hunched his shoulders. He didn’t want to. He looked back at his friend on the bed in front of him, who still hadn’t opened his eyes yet.

“He’s going to be fine, X,” Alex said, though even his voice wavered on the words. “The doctor said all we can do is wait until he wakes up. He will wake up.”

Alex couldn’t know that, though. He wasn’t the one who had found Casey crumpled on the floor, bleeding from his head. For a moment, he’d been sure his boss, his old friend, had been dead. He’d almost forgotten Emelyn was missing in that moment of grief. But, he couldn’t forget. They had to get her back. But, he couldn’t just leave Casey, either.

“You talk to them. I’m staying here.”

“What the hell, X? You and Piers used to be best friends. I’d think you’d be happy to see him again. Even if the circumstances do suck.”

Xavier cringed. Alex didn’t know. No one knew about the last time he’d seen Piers. About the things the other man had said to him. And that Xavier had deserved every one of them. Even more than three years later, and he still wasn’t sure he could face him.

“You need to come out, X.”

Yeah, that was what Piers had thought, too. That wasn’t what Alex meant, though, and Xavier couldn’t really refuse. Alex was still his boss, too. “Fine. But, I don’t know how much I can tell them that you can’t. I wasn’t there tonight.”

“And I haven’t been with it for nearly a week. Not since Sarah was taken and brought back hurt. So, there’s even less I can tell them.”

Xavier tried to control his breathing as they walked down the hallway and wished he could control the rest of his body’s reactions to anxiety. But, his hands were still sweating, his heart speeding along, his chest was tight. Piers had been so angry the last time Xavier saw him. And Xavier couldn’t blame him for that. He’d handled everything wrong. But, even now, he wasn’t sure he would have done it any differently.

His feet dragged a little more as they neared the waiting room. But, his gaze went right to the big man sitting in the corner. Another man sat beside him, skinnier but just as tall. That red hair was instantly recognizable. “Declan,” Xavier greeted the redhead.

“Nothing for me, X?” Piers asked.

Xavier couldn’t even bring himself to look at the other man. If that love he’d once claimed to have for Xavier had turned to hate, he wouldn’t be able to handle it.

“Still a coward then,” Piers murmured.

Xavier could feel Alex looking between them. He didn’t respond, though. Alex sighed. “Piers, you know as well as I do that X is one of the bravest men there is. I’d trust him to have my back. In fact, I have, more than once in the last few years he’s worked for Casey and me.”

“Oh, Oui,” Piers admitted, and Xavier was sure he felt Piers’ eyes burning into him. “You can trust him with your life, just not his word.”

Xavier spun around, not able to take it any longer. “I’m going back to Casey. Y’all can figure this out.”

“Yeah, you’re pretty good at walking away from me.”

That stopped Xavier in his tracks, and he spun back. “You walked away from me, Ghost. You lived up to that name pretty damn well, in fact. Just disappeared. I couldn’t have found you if I’d wanted to. So, don’t put it all on me.”

He turned back around again, and headed for the door. “I’m going back to sit with Casey.”

“What the hell?” he heard Alex say as he exited the waiting room. “Just what the hell was that all about?”

Rien,” Piers responded. “It was nothing.”

Xavier could only wish that was true. And that there was even a chance of there being something again. He missed the man who had seemed to get everything about him. But, it was obvious now that his mistake, his inability to do what he’d promised to, had completely broken anything they’d had.

And that was something he couldn’t blame anyone but himself for.

Note: These two just break my heart. If you missed the other parts of the story: Piers realizes his comrade has feelings for him, too, but then Xavier doesn’t follow through on a promise made. I’m still writing Declan’s story, Protecting the Heart, but once that is done, I’ll be starting on Piers & Xavier’s, Defending the Heart.

A-Z Challenge: U is for Xavier Urban

U

Xavier Urban sat at a table near the window. He’d see Piers as soon as crossed the street to the diner. His hand shook slightly as he reached out to pick up his coffee cup. He set it right back down, not really wanting to spill it on his hand.

“Coffee not quite up to your standards, big brother?” a voice said behind him. “Don’t tell me the Marines actually served you better.”

He turned his head and grinned at her. “Just letting it cool off, “Magdalene.”

“Oh, Poor Xavier, the big bad Marine, scared of burning his mouth.”

He reached out to smack her arm. “You’re still just as much of a brat as when I first joined up. How does that husband of yours put up with it?”

“He’s in the kitchen. I could send him out so he could tell you himself. You know if you’d order more that ‘just coffee’.”

He almost laughed when she made quotes round the last two words. “I’m not hungry right now.” At least he didn’t think he could eat anything. At least not until after Piers got there, and they talked. And it would be best if her husband didn’t come out to see him. Xavier always seemed to make a fool of himself in front of the other man.

He turned his head at the sound of the bell on the door. And watched as Piers walked into the diner. Damn, that man looked fine. Always. In a t-shirt and combat pants. Decked out in his combat gear or dress blues. Or wearing a dress shirt, tie, and slacks as he was now.

And that smile he flashed now. It always did something to Xavier. Which was going to make this so much harder.

Magdalene smiled. “Welcome, Piers. Let me guess, you want ‘just coffee’ too.”

“I assume I’m missing a joke there. But, yes, I would like that, Mags.”

When she turned away, Piers leaned over the table. Xavier pulled back, though. “Not here,” he hissed.

Piers narrowed his eyes, but he slipped into the chair across from Xavier. When Piers reached for his hand, Xavier pulled that back, too. “I said not here.”

“You’re shaking. Qu’est-ce qu’il y a?”

What was the matter? At least he was pretty sure that’s what Piers had asked. Where to start? “Nothing. It’s nothing.” It was everything. It was the only promise he’d ever broken to Piers.

“You didn’t tell them yet,” Piers accused.

Xavier dropped his gaze to his coffee. “I couldn’t,” he said quietly. “I just couldn’t do it.”

“Seriously? I came out to my strict Marine father and ultra-Catholic mother, and you can’t even be truthful with the people who once put you in private school they couldn’t afford to get you away from vicious bullying. Isn’t that what you told me?”

Xavier nodded. “The bullying didn’t stop with that, it just changed.”

Piers reached out and pulled his own hand back this time, as if he was fighting with himself. “We said we were both going to do this. We’re out of the Corps, we won’t face any blowback there. Our families will come around. But, we said we weren’t going to do this in secret any more. My father would hardly even look at me, but I did it so I could be with you. In the open.”

Xavier finally looked up from his coffee. “You didn’t see them when I came home, Piers. So damn proud. They’d never looked at me like that before.” He was having trouble keeping his voice down, but his sister hadn’t come back out of the kitchen at least. “I couldn’t tell them I’d lied about not being attracted to guys anymore. That I was in love with one.”

Piers snorted. “In love? I’m obviously the only one who suffers under that condition. But, I won’t do it in secret.” He pushed back from the table. “Let me know if you’re ever brave enough to be honest with yourself, let alone your family. I’ll let you know if I still suffer from it.”

The parting words were almost more than he could take. He pressed both hands on top of the table, as if that would get them to finally stop shaking. It didn’t work. And almost before the bell had stopped chiming at Piers’ departure, Magdalene was beside the table, filling a second cup with coffee and joining Xavier.

“What’d you have to go and break that man’s heart for, X?”

He jerked his head up at that. “I…I don’t know what you mean.”

“Oh, you certainly do. I saw the way you were looking at him.”

“You were spying on us? I’d have figured you’d grown out of that by now.”

“Never, big brother. And I have the right, maybe even the responsibility, to keep an eye on my customers.”

“You are delusional.”

“No, X, just worried about you. Mom and Dad might have bought your story that being gay was just a phase, and the Marines turned you straight again, but I never have. Even before I saw you looking at him.”

“Don’t tell them. You aren’t going to tell them, are you?”

“Of course not. I’ve never spilled any of your secrets before. I won’t start now. But, you should. You’ll never be happy as long as you’re living a lie.”

“Let me worry about my happiness.” But, he couldn’t help looking out the door, even though Piers was long gone by now. Xavier wondered if he’d ever see him again.

Note: Some time has passed since Piers and Xavier first met and realized they had feelings for each other. About twelve years, in fact. I didn’t “meet” them until about three years after this. And it was obvious there’d been something between them that had broken. I didn’t know exactly what it was until I wrote this. Can’t wait to get to their full story and start to mend things for them.

Tag Cloud