#SuperShort

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I’m doing things a little differently for this week’s #SuperShort. When I talked to my friend Addison the other day, I complained that my writing mojo was lost after my holiday vacation in Sweden, that I hadn’t prepared a Flash Fiction story for this week, and that I didn’t have any ideas for one. So, she offered to throw some prompt words at me.

I accepted, even if I’ve never used that method as inspiration before. These are the words she gave me (found here):

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They didn’t seem too impossible (like the words I sometimes throw at her on Fridays…but to my defense she asks for words and I’m just being a good, helpful friend…and she’s a pro at this 😁) so I mulled them over the whole day until an idea popped into my head.

And I’m so freaking proud of myself because I managed to incorporate all of them! I thought I’d might fix one or two, but not all five. Yay me!!

And thank you, Addison. I needed the virtual kick in the butt. 😁

Now, let’s get to the story, shall we?? (I might have taken some liberties with the words, but I figured it was allowed.)

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The First Meeting

I kept my gaze firmly on the winding road cutting through the woodlands even though it wasn’t car sickness that made my stomach twist in knots. We were alone, hadn’t met another car in ages, and Matt had stopped trying to talk to me several miles back, probably tired of my monosyllabic answers.

When my knee started its incessant bouncing for the tenth time the last five minutes, he reached over the center console and rested a hot palm on my thigh, stilling my leg with a light squeeze.

“Baby, you don’t need to be nervous,” he said.

I swallowed around a big lump in my throat that threatened to make its way into my mouth. “I know,” I croaked out. And I did. He’d told me many, many times. Mom is the nicest and most levelheaded person you’ll ever meet, he’d said. Heck, my dad even used to call her Mellow Meg. The silly nickname had elicited a smile from me but hadn’t really calmed me down. And now, less than five minutes before I would meet her, I had a hard time breathing.

It was the first time in my life I was going to meet the parents. Or parent, since Matt’s dad had died a year before we met. Thirty years old and scared to death to meet someone who apparently was the most agreeable person on God’s green earth and who had no problems whatsoever with Matt being gay if Matt was to be trusted. And he’d never lied to me before, so I had no reason to doubt him.

But it didn’t help. My own family had reacted badly when I came out, and I’d never met the parents of my only serious boyfriend before Matt because he wasn’t out to them. Meeting his family had never been an issue for the entire four years we’d been together.

Matt, on the other hand, was completely different. As soon as our relationship had turned serious, he’d wanted us to go see his mom. I want the two most important people in my life to meet, he’d said and curled his big body around mine where we’d lain in his cozy bed. His thick fingers had played with my treasure trail and short-circuited my brain, making it impossible for me to deny him anything.

Not that I’d ever been able to say no to him. Whenever I tried, he would just kiss me and kiss me and kiss me until my legs turned to spaghetti and a kaleidoscope of butterflies took up residence in my stomach. His warm brown eyes, his lush mouth, and his big hands with the thick fingers could convince me to do anything.

So here I was. About to meet his mom. Desperately hoping I wouldn’t faint like a damsel in distress on her doorstep.

Curling my hands into fists, I shuddered at their clamminess. I rubbed my palms on my pants because no one wanted to shake a sweaty hand.

A house materialized in the distance and my heart stumbled between two beats. The fist around my throat tightened.

What if Mrs. Johnson was fine with Matt being gay, but not him being with me? What if she didn’t like me? I wasn’t the most talkative of guys under normal circumstances. What if I did something to offend her? My parents had taught me manners, of course, how to be polite and correct when meeting new people, but nerves always made a knot out of my tongue and left me a stumbling mess.

My knee resumed its bouncing when Matt turned into the driveway leading up to the small, ranch-style house. It was surrounded by trees and looked nice and inviting. Like a real home. I groaned and ran my fingers through my hair.

Matt parked the car and got out after shooting me a quick smile. I followed him before I had time to change my mind and do something stupid, like climb over to the driver’s side and hightail it out of there. I trailed behind him on the path leading up to the house like a baby duck padding after its mama. Feeling just as small and vulnerable.

He didn’t knock when he stopped in front of the door. Instead, he turned to me and cupped my cheeks. And just like that, I could breathe easier. I looked up and met his gaze and the lump in my throat dissolved.

“Oh, baby,” he murmured as he leaned forward and nudged the tip of his nose against mine. “I promise she’ll love you.”

I bit my lower lip to stop it from trembling. How could he promise me something like that when my own mother had refused to speak to me for years because of who I was? How could he be so goddamned sure?

“And Ike?” He slid his hands down and ran his fingers through the short hairs on the back of my neck.

“Uh-huh?” Needing to be connected to him, I hooked my index finger in one of the belt loops of his faded jeans that made me want to fall to my knees and worship his muscular legs.

“Even if she doesn’t, it won’t change a thing. I love you. That’s all that matters.”

I tugged him closer and rose on my tippytoes so I could rest my cheek against his. “I love you, too, Matthew,” I whispered.

We stood like that for several minutes. His breaths puffing against my cheek and his caressing fingers made me forget everything but him. His woodsy scent found its way into my nose and I inhaled him, taking his essence into my body. My darling Matt. Steady as a rock, and mellow like his mom.

When the knot in my stomach had untangled, I pressed my lips against his stubbly cheek before taking a step back. “I’m ready,” I said.

Together, we turned to the door. I lifted my hand and knocked.

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That was fun. So, leave me some words in the comments and I’ll try my best to incorporate them in a story. But please, leave more than one so I can be picky…if you decide to not play nice and leave me a word like skullduggery… or diaphanous or something equally evil  😁

While you do that, I’ll browse through Instagram and see if I can find something inspiring. It’s best to have a back-up plan, don’t you think? 😁

Happy Friday, everyone!

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#SuperShort

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Ballet in the Snow

It was the first day of the new year. The snow poured down from the sky in big, fat flakes, blanketing the world in white, muffling the city sounds and making everything eerily quiet. I would never have left my apartment if I didn’t absolutely have to, but I got back from my parents’ early this morning and the fridge was empty. My choice was either starve to death or brave the weather, and my stomach had been growling angrily at me for hours already.

I hurried along the empty streets with my shoulders pulled up to my ears and my head down to avoid getting whirling snowflakes in my nose. Shivers racked my body: I needed to save up to a warm coat if this was an indication of the winter to come. I was deep in thought and if I hadn’t looked up at that exact moment, I would have missed him.

About to cross the street, I raised my head and did a double take when I noticed him. Poised in the middle of the road with one arm reaching for the heavens and a booted foot stretched into a point, was a man fully dressed for the weather. He had a scarf wound around a long neck, leather gloves on his hands, and wore an unzipped parka. Bulky clothing, worn with surprising grace.

I couldn’t take my eyes off him as he held his pose for a second or two before starting to move. It was small at first, his hand shifted in a way that could have been accidental, but it soon became clear it wasn’t. The movements became more flourishing and spread to his arm and the rest of his body until there was no mistaking what he was doing.

He danced.

And oh my God, he moved like he didn’t have a bone in his body. Like he was liquid.

I drew a quick breath and my mouth filled with snowflakes, but I ignored them. The flurry from the sky and the freezing temperature faded into something insignificant as he moved. His limbs flowed seamlessly from one position to the next, his arms and legs stretched and seemed impossibly long. He held his head high and his feet moved rapidly to a melody only he could hear.

It was mesmerizing.

Enchanting.

Without warning, he leaped up and for what seemed like forever he was suspended in the air. Defying gravity with legs split wide, chin raised, arms arched over his head, and every muscle taut.

I couldn’t breathe. My heart stuttered to a halt as I waited for him to return to earth. When his booted feet landed with a thump and continued their routine, I expelled all the nervous air from my lungs in a rush, unaware that I’d been afraid he would slip and fall.

He continued his dancing for a little while longer and ended in a magnificent pirouette, spinning around his own axis with one leg bent at the knee.

My hand flew to my mouth at the sight and I gasped. How could he do that with such devastating grace wearing those clumsy boots?

Just as abruptly as he’d started, he sat down his foot and stopped, spreading his arms wide as if he was embracing the world. With a heaving chest, he leaned his head back and let the snowflakes land on his upturned face. He didn’t move, just stood like that as if the snow didn’t bother him at all.

Had that just happened? I rubbed my eyes with stiff fingers, but he was still holding his position when I opened them again. He wasn’t a cold-induced hallucination. He’d actually done that. Danced. In the snow. In the middle of the street.

It was weird. I’d never seen anything more beautiful in my life.

It was magical.

“Wow.” The word slipped out of me.

His head jerked up and he looked in my direction. Redness crept up his neck and stained his cheeks, and he bit his lip.

“That was…amazing,” I said. I didn’t want him to be ashamed of something so glorious.

“Yeah?” One corner of his mouth twitched, as if he wanted to smile but didn’t allow himself.

“Yes,” I exclaimed and nodded for emphasis.

Now that the man had stopped dancing I became very aware of the snow and quivered. “I should…” I said and pointed my thumb in the direction I’d been headed.

“Sure.” He averted his eyes and brushed away the snow gathering on his shoulders. I took the opportunity to really look at him. His chocolate brown hair was dotted with huge snowflakes. His beard was neatly trimmed, and his eyebrows were like black slashes across his face. He was very handsome.

I took a couple of steps, but something about him pulled at me. “I’m Josh, by the way,” I said, reluctant to leave.

He smiled at me then. It was shy and reserved, but his eyes glittered as he let his gaze rove over my body. “I’m Tom.” A pink tongue darted out and licked his lips and sent a tingle down my spine. The way his eyes lingered on my chest and face made the decision for me.

“I, uh, was gonna grab a bite to eat. You busy?”

He tilted his head to the side. “You asking me out on a date, Josh?” His voice was breathy.

“I guess I am.”

“Why?”

I shrugged. How could I tell him that watching him dance in the heavy snowfall in the abandoned streets of the city was the most unexpected and beautiful thing I’d ever experienced in my life? That it had warmed my heart, even though my body was cold? “I loved your dancing,” was all I said. I looked away.

Why had I even asked? Of course, he wouldn’t want to go with a complete stranger. Which sane person would? For all he knew, I could be a serial killer.

I was just about to apologize when his warm fingers nudged mine. It was the lightest touch, but enough to send a buzz through my body.

“Okay,” he whispered.

I glanced up and he smiled at me. A real smile—the shyness from earlier completely forgotten—and it transformed his face, lighting him up from the inside. Making him irresistible.

“You sure?”

“I never could resist when someone as cute as you compliment my dancing.”

I shot him a grin. “You think I’m cute?”

“Don’t fish for compliments, it’s not attractive.” He winked at me.

“I apologize.” My smile grew wider. I wanted to reach out and touch him. To trace his eyebrows with a finger. Warm his cheeks with my hands. Kiss away the snowflake that had the audacity to land on his lower lip.

I did none of those things. Instead, I held out my arm to him in the manner of an old-fashioned gentleman and he took it without hesitation. We started walking and even though I could feel the snowflakes land on my exposed skin, I didn’t care.

All I cared about in that moment was his arm linked with mine.

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Inspirational image found on Instagram

 

Christmasvaganza: #SuperShort

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Today is the last day of 2017 and of Christmasvaganza. I told you on Friday that I switched places with the review and the Flash Fiction this week because I wrote a story taking place on New Year’s Eve. What I didn’t tell you was that the story is about Lenny and JJ, the two guys from my story The Christmas Day Date, featured in the anthology Make the Yuletide Gay.

It’s not standalone, but don’t fret if you haven’t read it yet. The anthology is FREE, so go ahead and download it and read it before you continue with this scene from their lives. The links are below.

iBooks | B&N | Kobo | Smashwords | Scribd | Amazon

I hope you like this glimpse into Lenny and JJ’s future. If you’re really lucky, they’ll show up here on the blog again. Until then I wish you a Happy New Year. Please, please, please, let 2018 be better than 2017 was!

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Decisions

It was thirty minutes until the ball would drop and I still hadn’t decided if I was gonna watch it or go to bed. I closed my eyes to shut out flickering lights from the muted TV and leaned my head against the back of the couch. A deep sigh escaped me, and I rubbed my fist against my chest.

My heart ached with loneliness…which was fucking ridiculous considering I’d spent most of my nights alone since I sobered up ten years ago. But seven evenings with the greatest guy I’d ever met was apparently enough to make me crave his company. To make me itchy when I was parted from him.

Had it only been seven days? It felt like longer…and not nearly long enough. Like maybe forever wouldn’t be long enough, but it was far too early to think about heavy stuff like that. Especially since I was still waiting for the other shoe to drop. For JJ to wake up one morning with a frown on his narrow face, and wonder what the heck he was doing with someone like me.

I would fly apart if his beautiful blue eyes turned cold and disdainful when he looked at me.

I shook my head and chuckled. Wrinkled my nose at my own stupidity. I could practically hear JJ scolding me. Stop putting yourself down, Lenny. It was good advice. Insecurities were a real turnoff and I didn’t want to make myself into a sad case of self-fulfilling prophecy.

Which should also be applied to the reason I was alone on New Year’s Eve in the first place, instead of hanging out with my new boyfriend. JJ’s friends had told him in no uncertain terms that they were welcoming the new year with dancing and drinks. He’d hesitated to agree. Said he wanted to spend time with me. And then he’d asked me the impossible.

To go with them.

I’d really wanted to say yes. To see his body wiggle in tempo with the music. To make out with him on the dance floor.

But I couldn’t. His pleading eyes, impossibly big behind his huge glasses didn’t help. I’d opened my mouth to say yes, but the thought of spending an evening surrounded by drunk people made my skin crawl worse than it had when I’d come down off the sauce.

What if I couldn’t keep my hands off it?

What if I drank myself into a stupor and hurt JJ?

I couldn’t risk it. He must have seen the terror in my eyes because he hadn’t pushed. Instead, he declared he would stay home with me, but I didn’t want to be the schmuck who kept his man from seeing his friends. So, I’d convinced him to go and kissed the slight pout he’d been unaware of, off his soft lips.

“Crap,” I muttered and stabbed the off-button on the remote. The apartment grew dark except for the light that filtered in from the outside and I rubbed my droopy eyelid with a knuckle.

I needed to do something about my hang-ups. I couldn’t keep hiding from the real world like a fucking loser if I wanted to be with JJ.

Leaning forward, I kneaded my neck. My knee bounced, and I had to force it to stay still by pressing down a palm on my thigh.

What if…

What if I went to the AA? Got myself a sponsor?

I’d stubbornly resisted going all this time. I didn’t want to rely on anyone but myself for my sobriety. I’d gotten myself into the damn mess and had been determined to get myself out of it. But maybe talking to someone who knew what I’d been through wouldn’t be all that terrible? Maybe they could even teach me shit that could help me cope with a situation where booze was involved? At least I’d have someone I could call if I was scared I was about to fuck up.

I waited for the anxiety to turn my stomach into a nest of angry wasps at the thought of going to a meeting and baring my soul, but it never happened. Instead, I felt lighter, as if someone had filled my body with helium and I was on the verge of floating away.

I flew off the couch and grabbed the key JJ had given me before he’d taken off earlier.

At least watch the fireworks from my place. I have a better view, he’d said and I wrinkled my nose when I remembered the half-assed promise I’d given him in return. No more of that shit. I stalked across the hall and stabbed the key at the lock, missing my target several times before I finally could let myself in. When I closed the door behind me, I was enveloped by a sense of home. Of peace.

The rainbow-decorated Christmas tree was lit, and the cheerful colors drifting from the living room drew me in like the moon pulled the tide. Even though I’d seen it every day this last week, it still had a profound impact on me. It was as if the twinkling lights colored my entire existence, transforming my boring, old gray life into a magnificent rainbow.

Or maybe it was JJ himself who did all that.

I shook my head. I was getting far too maudlin in the last shivering minutes of this old year. I needed to find some positive energy. Start the new year in the way I wanted it to continue.

Wandering over to the window facing downtown, I fished out my phone from my pocket and fired off a text to JJ.

hope ur having fun. gonna watch the fireworks from ur place. miss u

I jammed it back down my jeans and looked out. It was a cloudless night, perfect for fireworks, and cold seeped into my hand when I rested it against the windowpane. I shivered, happy to warm be inside. The city was awake and teeming with life, people celebrating and having fun. But I was right where I wanted to be.

I left my eyes drift closed. Funny how the loneliness had disappeared as soon as I set foot in JJ’s home even though he wasn’t there. Funny how my swirling thoughts unfurled and slowed down.

My eyes flew open when two cold hands slid under my sweatshirt and tried to steal heat from my tummy. “JJ? Whatcha doin’ home so early? I didn’t hear you come in.”

He moved closer, plastered his front against my back and buried his cold nose into the base my neck, mashing his glasses against my head. “Mmmm,” he hummed, and I shivered as his hot breath puffed against my skin. “I’m so happy to find you here.”

I tucked my hands under my shirt and laid them over his and he wove our fingers together. “Didn’t you wear your gloves? You’re ice cold.”

“I was in a hurry.” His lips touched my neck as he spoke, sending a quiver down my spine. He freed one of his hands and squeezed it between us, fumbling with the buttons of his coat, and started shrugging out of it. When he’d freed himself from one sleeve, he repeated the process with the other, until his coat thumped down on the floor behind us.

I reached back and grabbed his glasses, and pulled them off and put them away so he wouldn’t break them. I twisted my head and whispered, “I missed you, Julius.” I drew out the s in his name and it had the desired effect. His ballet slipper colored lips claimed mine as if he owned them, and his arms tightened around my waist.

He kissed the breath out of me and filled my belly with happy flutters. His fingers splayed on my stomach and tugged lightly on my sparse fur, but he didn’t move below the belt, respecting my limits.

His gaze was unfocused as he withdrew, and he rested his forehead against my temple. He let out a sigh.

“Did you have fun?” I asked.

“Mhm.”

The first round of fireworks exploded outside the window, but I didn’t move. Instead, I kept my eyes on JJ. The colors danced over his relaxed face and he looked so content.

“Why didn’t you stay with your friends?”

“Rob said we should start the year the way we wanted to continue it. He meant dancing and having fun.” He pressed his lips against my cheek. “But for me, it meant hanging out with you. So here I am.”

My breath hitched at his words. I’d thought the exact same thing a few minutes before he got home. And just like that, I knew how I wanted to start the new year.

Freeing myself from his embrace, I turned around. Cupped his dear face and looked into his icy blue eyes that shone with warmth and affection. A happy smile played on his lips. He took my breath away and it was definitely the right decision.

I stepped away from him, grabbed the back of my shirt, pulled it over my head, and dropped it on the floor. I ran my fingers down my chest, over my belly, and rested them on the button of my jeans.

His gaze zoomed in on my hand, and his pink tongue darted out and licked his lips. I wanted to kiss him. Suck on that quick tongue and mash my mouth against lips and not stop until his face was red and scratchy from my stubble.

“Lenny? What are you doing?” His voice was breathless and low. Red and green and blue flashed over his skin.

I flipped open the button. “You said you wanted to start the year the way you want it to continue.”

“Yeah,” he rasped and his Adam’s Apple bobbed in his throat.

I pulled down the zipper, but the heat in his eyes could have melted it right off the fabric.

“But you said…” He cleared his throat. “You said next time you had sex, it would mean something.” He kept very still, didn’t make a move or try to persuade me, but his eyes never left my hand and a slight tremble in his legs betrayed what he really wanted. His tongue darted out again, wetting his lips, making my dick twitch in my pants as if it had been the one being licked.

“And I meant it,” I said, letting my baggy jeans fall to the floor.

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Christmasvaganza: #SuperShort

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A Snowy Surprise

It started snowing when I walked home from work. As if I hadn’t had enough shit this year already. I was fed up with the crazy workload at school, with my crappy job, my car breaking down, and unhelpful parents. Most of all I was sick and tired of goddamn Christmas. I’d put in my earbuds so I wouldn’t be exposed to another crappy rendition of Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.

I wasn’t normally the impersonation of the Grinch, but I didn’t feel very cheery this year. All semester, I’d been looking forward to finally seeing Grant at Christmas, and then my useless fucking car had to break down and I had to use the money I’d saved for the plane ticket for repairs. And of course, my parents wouldn’t lend me the money. Instead, they’d taken the opportunity to lecture me. Consider this an important life lesson, Braddock. We can’t always get what we want.

“Fuckers,” I muttered and kicked the snow on the ground for good measure.

Grant had been so disappointed when I’d broken the bad news to him. His usual bright smile had dimmed and it was as if someone had snuffed out his inner light. I was pretty miserable myself. We’d planned to spend his two days off cuddling and having wild monkey sex, and now those glorious plans were canceled.

It was a miracle he even had any days off. He went to medical school—he wanted to be a brain surgeon—and his schedule was even crazier than mine. There was no way I could ask him to spend half his free time on a plane to come and see me.

Which was why I would spend Christmas all by myself. Not getting my brains fucked out by my gorgeous boyfriend.

Falling in love with someone who lived on the other side of the country sucked hairy donkey balls. I couldn’t wait until I graduated this summer. We’d decided I’d pack my stuff and move to his part of the country. With a degree and my mad computer skills, I could get a job anywhere. He, on the other hand, still had a gazillion years to go before he became a real doctor.

Ah, well. At least I didn’t have to work tomorrow or on Christmas Day. Meant I could order some greasy Chinese food and stay in bed all day. Not being tortured by carols or stressed out holiday shoppers was a blessing. Maybe I could even talk Grant into a Skype sex session?

I turned onto my street and was hit by a gust of wind so intense it knocked me three feet backward. I fucking hated snow. Especially when it came down sideways. But I soldiered on and soon I could see my apartment building. My parents didn’t mind paying for a place of my own because they didn’t want me living on campus, but they couldn’t fork over enough cash for me to go see my boyfriend who I hadn’t seen IRL for months.

I clenched my teeth. No use in agonizing over that now. That would only give me heartburn and grumpy lines on my face.

Smacking my hand over my ear to protect it from invading snow, I walked the last few feet. I didn’t really look where I was going, so I almost slammed right into him.

“Heeeey, careful,” he said and grabbed my arms and I looked up and my breath hitched and I almost fainted.

“Grant?”

“Hi, Brad.” He smiled, showing off his perfect teeth.

I squeezed my eyes shut and opened them again and he was still there. So he wasn’t a hallucination caused by snow-induced delirium. Good. Excellent. Now, talk. Say something, Brad.

“What are you doing here?” I sounded breathless as if I’d hiked a hundred miles without stopping even for a second. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. His blond hair with the bangs slanting over his forehead was windblown and adorable. His cheeks were red and his eyes were bright and I was so fucking happy to see him I was afraid I’d break down and cry.

“Surprise!” The twinge of uncertainty in his voice jolted me out of my shock and I flung myself at him.

He was cold as if he’d been waiting for a long time, but I didn’t care. I wound my arms around his shoulders and buried my freezing nose in the crook of his neck. He chuckled and pulled me close. “So you are happy to see me,” he said. “You had me worried there for a while.”

I slapped him on the shoulder for being an idiot, inhaled his scent, and then released my desperate grip on his neck. Instead, I grabbed his hand, fished out my key, and let us in. We took the stairs two steps at the time and soon we were inside my apartment. The heat felt divine against my cold skin, but all I cared about was Grant.

With stiff fingers, I fiddled with the buttons on his pea coat. “How come you’re here?” When his coat was off, I shrugged out of my own and kicked off my boots. “Shoes off,” I added and he complied.

“I managed to convince Rob to take my shift today in exchange for one of his next week. So, here I am.” Rob was one of the other interns and I was so grateful right now I would have kissed him if he’d been here.

“Mhm.” I fumbled with the button on his pants and clawed at the zipper.

“You seem happy to see me.”

“Fucking ecstatic. Get your clothes off!” I growled. He chuckled, batted away my hands, and shimmied out of his pants. I threw off my own clothes, not caring where they landed, and soon we huddled together under my blanket. He rested his icy feet on my shins and his cold hand on my stomach, making shivers race through my body. I wiggled my arm under his neck and hauled him closer, allowing him to steal every ounce of my body heat if he wanted.

I threw my leg over his thigh and he hummed happily. “I’ve missed you so much, Brad,” he whispered and everything was right in my world.

I was going to have a merry Christmas after all.

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Inspirational picture found on Instagram.

Christmasvaganza: #SuperShort

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All I Want For Christmas

I couldn’t take my eyes off him. He looked so…relaxed. His shoulders weren’t up by his ears like they usually were. He smiled all the time, flashing his adorable dimple, and whenever he looked at me his eyes sparkled with love, causing my stomach to flutter.

But best of all: he never let go of my hand.

We wandered down the sidewalk without a care in the world, all our troubles left behind. They would be there waiting for us when we got back home, but here— hundreds of miles from disapproving families—we could ignore them.

I squeezed his hand and he shot me a blinding smile, brighter than the sun that beat down on our heads. “I’m so happy I talked you into this trip,” I said and nudged his side.

“Me too.” He stopped and pulled me closer. When I was within reach, he leaned in and ghosted his lips against mine. Right there. In the middle of the street where anyone could see.

Electricity buzzed through my body and I had to lock my knees so I wouldn’t melt into a puddle. When he pulled back, I panted like we’d made out for hours instead of just brushed our mouths together. My heart hammered in my chest and my wide grin almost split my face in two.

He giggled and we resumed walking. We were on our way to the beach to find a restaurant. Neither of us mentioning that today was the last day of our trip, that we had to go back north tomorrow. Back to the stress that was bound to kick into high gear this last week before Christmas, with presents to buy, food to cook, and still hope we’d have enough time to get into the holiday spirit, even though we would spend it apart. Neither of us had said anything about how hard it would be to go back to hiding our relationship after a long weekend of glorious freedom.

I forced the morose thoughts from my mind, determined to enjoy this evening with him.

So, I did. We talked and laughed and ate our dinner, even though I couldn’t remember what I’d put in my mouth later. I focused on touching him every chance I got. Kicked off my sandal and let my naked foot caress his sun-warm calf. Took his hand that rested on the table and laced our fingers together, brushing my thumb over his soft skin. Licked my lips until he couldn’t resist leaning over and kiss me, and the look in his eyes told me he knew exactly what I was up to, but he indulged me anyway.

When the dinner was eaten, the dessert devoured, and we were on our second bottle of wine, he sighed. It was a deep, troubled sound and it settled uneasily between us. He looked away, eyes trained far in the distance at the sun disappearing into the ocean, and his face turned wistful.

“I wish…” he mumbled.

I lifted our joined hands and placed a tender kiss on each knuckle. “What do you wish, love?”

“I wish we could live like this all the time.”

His words pierced my heart. So did I. We’d been together for over three years and I could easily imagine forever with him. But his Catholic parents didn’t know about him and if they found out they wouldn’t approve. He would probably lose them. And his job in the conservative private school where he worked, too. They had a clause about immoral behavior written into the employment contract, and homosexuality was one of the things deemed unacceptable. If people found out about us, his entire life would be turned upside down. Destroyed.

I could never ask that of him. Sometimes, when loneliness and frustration got to me, I wondered if I’d be better off with someone else. Someone who was out. But just the thought of not ever seeing him again made me want to throw up. Picturing my life without him was impossible.

So, I put on a brave face and hoped my smile at least looked happy. “It’ll all work out in the end,” I said—like I always did—and emphasized my words with a squeeze of his hand. I had no idea how, but it would have to. Somehow.

He nodded, but the relief he usually displayed after an exchange like that never came. Instead, his eyelids fluttered closed. He opened and shut his mouth several times as if he wanted to say something but lacked the courage. His grip on my hand tightened and after several minutes of silence, he whispered, “I we could be open, would you want to live with me then? Like a…real couple?”

“Oh, Joe.” I reached for him, grabbed his chin and turned his face toward me. I waited patiently until he opened his eyes and looked at me. “Don’t you know I’d marry you in a heartbeat if you let me?”

Tears welled up in his beautiful hazel eyes. “You would?” he asked with a trembling lower lip.

I swept my thumb over it. Caught a tear that broke free and rolled down his cheek. “I would.”

“I…” His eyes searched my face and he blinked away the tears. “I think I knew that.” He scooted his chair closer to mine and rested his head on my shoulder. I slid my arm around him and hugged him close, rubbing my beard against his temple.

“I have enough savings to last me for maybe a year,” he continued and laid his hand on my leg, absently playing with the hair that dusted my thigh. “Or longer, if you’re serious. If we moved in together it would cut the expenses considerably.”

My heart jumped up my throat. “What are you saying?” I squeaked.

“I could probably get a new job before the money runs out anyway,” he said as if he hadn’t heard me.

“Joe?”

“I’d need to quit my job immediately. Everything would be worse if I didn’t tell them and they found out.” His warm hand caressed my thigh and he behaved like he wasn’t turning my entire existence upside down.

Was he saying what I thought he was saying? “Joseph!”

He tilted his head back and looked up at me. “Yes?”

“What…what are you talking about?”

“I’m saying I’m moving in with you. Your place is nicer than mine. But I’m not marrying you until you ask properly.”

My head spun, and my breathing stuttered. “But…your family?”

He twisted on his chair until he faced me and cupped my cheeks with tender fingers, threading them through my beard. “After these last few days…I can’t go back to the way it was before. I’m not saying it will be easy. But I’m saying I’m choosing you.”

“You mean it?” I leaned my forehead against his, and something blossomed in my chest. Filled me with a blinding light of happiness.

“I do.”

I kissed him. Slid my hand around his neck and pressed my mouth hard against his. Again and again, I kissed him as if my life depended on it until my lips ached. Finally, I pulled away and looked into his eyes. His pupils were blown and his gaze unfocused and he’d never been more beautiful. “Are you really, really sure?”

He nodded and pressed his lips to mine. “I’m really—” kiss, “really—” kiss, “really sure.” Another kiss. “Now take me back to the hotel and make love to me.”

I did.

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Inspirational image found on Instagram

Christmasvaganza: #SuperShort

christmasvaganza

The Sound of His Heart

The most beautiful sound in the world is the thumps of his beating heart. Comforting. Steady. Especially since I, for a short terrible while, thought I would never hear it again.

Two years ago, the second week of December, the first snow fell. At first, it was big, beautiful flakes floating down from the sky, melting immediately when they hit the ground, but after a while, it morphed into a blizzard. Turned treacherous.

On his way from work, he crept along at ten miles per hour so he wouldn’t slide off the road, careful as ever. Never taking unnecessary risks. Unfortunately, that didn’t help as another car came hurtling toward him. Lost control. Crashed into him.

I will never forget the look on my boss’s face when he interrupted the meeting I was in. There’s a call for you, Seth. You…you need to take it. Now.

I will never forget the look on my boss’s face…but for the life of me, I can’t remember more than fragments from the following conversation.

Car crash. Critical. Hurry.

He was alive when I got to the emergency room and they agreed to let me see him for a little while. His face was bruised. He had a tube down his throat. The heart-monitor beeped.

Until it didn’t.

He crashed fast. The sound grew irregular and before I knew what happened, it turned into a long, continuous beep.

People came running. They said things, but it was as if they were talking in slow motion and I couldn’t make out the words. I stared at his unmoving chest and I wanted to scream. Rise, dammit. Breathe.

Someone ushered me out of the room and I stood outside with my palm pressed to the window and my terrified heart in my throat. I wouldn’t want it to keep beating if his didn’t.

“Please, please, please,” I whispered. My vision grew blurry and I had to force my feet to keep still and not run into his room and climb on top of him and hug him and shake him and beg him to come back to me and shower his poor battered face with kisses.

And then. A miracle.

Beep.

Beep-beep.

His brave heart, his steady, wonderful heart decided not to give up on life. On us.

Two years later, he’s all healed up except for a slight limp when he grows tired and a scar at the corner of his left eye that he tries to hide behind a curtain of hair, but that I kiss every chance I get.

“Wear it with pride,” I always say and kiss it. Kiss him. Then, I rest my ear on his chest and listen for his heartbeat. Making sure it’s still there. So far it hasn’t let me down.

That’s where I lay one cold fall evening a month ago when he combed his fingers through my hair and asked in a breathless voice, “How about we get married, Seth?”

I think it was my heart that stopped beating then, if only for a nanosecond. Then it jumped with joy as I sat and stared into his warm brown eyes that no one except me ever seemed to notice. “You mean it?” I asked.

“Of course, silly.” And just like that, we were engaged.

“But I don’t want a ring,” I said.

“Why not?”

“I want something even more beautiful. Something permanent.”

He cried when I told him my wish. Cried and kissed me and whispered a million I love you’s in my ear.

This morning, the second week of December, we exchange I do’s. This morning I become Mr. Seth Jones-McIntyre, proud husband of Abe McIntyre. The entire time in front of the justice of the peace, my thumb sweeps over the inside of his sensitive wrist with the new tattoo. After he says his vows, he kisses my matching one, and I can’t hold back my tears.

His soft lips against his own heartbeat immortalized on my body is the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen.

And my heartbeat etched on his skin makes my love swell and grow so big I can’t contain it within me.

“You may now kiss,” says the JP.

And we do. I don’t plan to ever stop.

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Inspirational image found on Instagram.

Christmasvaganza: #SuperShort

christmasvaganza

During the Christmasvaganza, the Friday SuperShorts will be winter- or holiday themed. I hope you enjoy 🙂

The Clandestine Tree

I was stretched out on my tippy-toes, trying to make myself taller so I could reach to put the star on top of the tree. Damn my parents! Couldn’t they have made me a few inches taller, so I wouldn’t need to live my life this…vertically challenged?

“Pete? Where are you?” I almost fell on my face when my boyfriend’s voice interrupted what I was doing. Snatching back my hand as if I’d burned it, I hid the top star behind my back and looked frantically around the room. Would I have time to throw a blanket over the tree before he walked in on me? I groaned at my own stupidity. How exactly would I explain a big Christmas tree-shaped blanket to him? As a teepee blanket fort only I was allowed to use? Yeah, that would work. Not.

I ran out of time for coming up with another harebrained idea when he stumbled into the living room, barely awake, rubbing his hand over his face. His chocolate brown hair stuck out in every direction and he looked adorably sleepy.

“Honey, what are you doing awake so earl—” His eyes widened as he took in the giant Christmas tree I’d smuggled in that morning.

“I, um…” I didn’t know what to say, so I stared down at my feet and fidgeted. Technically, we had agreed to hold off a little with the tree. Or he’d wanted to hold off—saying that the weekend after Thanksgiving was too early—and I’d agreed. Reluctantly, since I would have put it up at the beginning of September if he’d let me.

“Oh, babe,” he sighed.

“’M sorry,” I muttered.

“Couldn’t wait?”

I shook my head, still refusing to look at him. He took a few quick steps across the floor, and then he gripped my chin, nudging my face up. He still had sleep creases on his face, but his gray eyes shone with amusement.

“You silly man.” He leaned down and stole a kiss.

“Ewwww, morning breath.” I giggled and twisted my face away from him.

“Sorry,” he said, not looking sorry at all. “How did you even get that thing in here by yourself? It’s huge!”

I shrugged. I was resourceful when I had to be. Especially when it came to Christmas cheer.

“So what are you up to? What are you hiding behind your back?”

I showed him the star I hadn’t been able to resist when I saw it at the store yesterday. It was the reason I had been unable to wait any longer to start decorating. It wasn’t really one star; it was a starburst with many silvery stars and it was so beautiful I’d had to swipe away a tear in the Christmas aisle.

Now I understand,” he said and smiled.

“Isn’t it gorgeous?”

“It is.” He cupped my neck with a large hand and pulled me in for another kiss. I didn’t object; I even let his tongue into my mouth without wrinkling my nose. “You need help to put it on?” he asked when he pulled away.

“Please?” I fluttered my eyelashes at him and he chuckled.

“Yeah yeah. Turn around.”

I did, and he bent his knees, put his arms around my hips, and lifted me high up in the air with a grunt. Laughter bubbled out of me, but I hurried to put the starburst on the top branch. It looked magnificent on the full tree and my stomach fluttered with happiness as if it was full of cheerful, dancing Christmas elves.

When he put me down again, I leaned back against his bare, muscled chest with a happy sigh. “Isn’t it beautiful?”

“Mhm, perfect,” he replied. But he wasn’t looking at the tree.

He was looking at me.

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Inspirational image found on Instagram.