Friday Flash Fiction – Where it Began

Today’s Friday Flash Fiction prompt made me think of Matthew Stirling, one of the wizard characters in my Triad books, who also appeared in “Bound,” a short story in Not Just Another Pretty Face. There, Matthew is trying hard to get a gift for prescience under control—and is led to a handsome werewolf named Jace for the solution. Since the two got together, Matthew’s got his gift under control for the most part, but sometimes it still pops up without being asked. And he’s learned to pay attention when it does.


Flash Friday

Where it Began

The snow was more wet than cold. Matthew raised his umbrella. It was still snow, though. It was definitely snow.

In London.

“I feel like maybe I should order beef chow mein.”

Matthew turned. Jace walked up to him holding two cups that steamed in the cold air.

“What?” He took one of the cups, grateful for the warmth and the coffee. Jet lag sucked.

“Beef chow mein? From Lee Ho Fook?” Jace wagged his eyebrows.

“I don’t know it,” Matthew said.

“Children today,” Jace said. “No ear for the classics.”

“A-ooo!” Matthew howled quietly, and poked Jace in the chest. “A werewolf in London.”

“You had me going.” Jace wrapped one arm around him. “So. Where to next?”

Matthew exhaled a small cloud into the air, a huff of frustration. “I’m not sure. It’s…” He bit his bottom lip. “This is exactly what I saw, but…”

Jace squeezed him. The big man regarded him for a few long seconds. “We should have dinner.”

“Beef chow mein?”

“Nah. Something local. Fish and chips, right? That’s a London thing.” He grinned. “And some good stout. I’ve never been out of Canada, and I know we’re not here for fun, but why not?”

Matthew nodded. “Good idea. Although I have no idea what time it is in my head.”

“I’ll go ask where the food is good,” Jace said, and with a quick kiss to Matthew’s forehead, he stepped away from the umbrella, walking back to the stall where he’d gotten their drinks.

Matthew took a sip, and stared back across at Big Ben.

Exactly as he’d been dreaming it, the snow that was almost slush. The few people. The umbrella.

Why here? He knew the Stirlings could trace itself back to London. Hell, most of the Families could. But why a vision of London? It almost never snowed here, and yet here he was, with Jace, coming all this way just for a weekend in December because his dreams—his gift—had shown him this.

Water was his element. Snow and rain. Matthew Stirling closed his eyes, gathered his thoughts, and then opened again to look.

“It started here,” Matthew said. The words were out before he even knew he was going to say anything. His gift was like that sometimes.

Now he just had to figure out what it was.

Jace waved. Matthew turned, smiled, and lowered his umbrella.

This was a long way to come just to figure out he needed to dig through history to figure out what was coming. Still. Jace had a point.

As he walked over, Matthew admired the wideness of Jace’s shoulders beneath his jacket, and the way he moved his hands when he talked to the guy in the coffee stand.

They’d fly back on Monday. After that? He could start trying to figure out what dark thing had begun here that was sneaking its way into his dreams.

And in the meanwhile, he was with a werewolf in London.

“A-ooo,” Matthew said.

 

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Monday Flash Fic – Motivation is Everything

I’m coming in just at the last minute today, but the flash fiction group, Monday Flash Fics had a picture I couldn’t resist that reminded me of my heroes from Light. This one definitely, however, invokes a spoiler warning. If you haven’t read Light, you’ll want to skip, but since Light came out four years ago now, I feel safe returning to the characters.

Monday Flash Fic
Motivation is Everything

“I am never going to get this right.” Sebastien’s voice dropped to a growl.

Kieran, sitting cross legged on the floor, looked up at him and grinned. “You’re doing fine.”

Sebastien crossed his arms, and given he was currently wearing thick socks, a black jockstrap, and a leather harness, Kieran got to enjoy all the many things the crossing of Sebastien’s arms did to his chest and shoulders.

“I’m not doing fine.” When he got frustrated, his French Canadian accent got stronger.

“Try again. I’ll help.”

Sebastien exhaled. “Fine.”

Behind those lovely, muscular, hairy legs—seriously, Sebastien’s thighs alone inspired very many thoughts—Sebastien’s left boot tipped itself up.

So far, so good.

After that, though, it just sat there, upright.

“It’s not lifting,” Sebastien said.

Kieran leaned forward, and reached out with his mind. A moment later, he could feel Sebastien’s frustration like a hum in his own brain. Also there was a stream of thoughts in French that were going by too fast for him to even try translating. And beneath that, he could feel the teke Sebastien had formed.

It was fuzzy, and unlike the man in front of him, not very strong. Normally, Sebastien’s teke was decent, but today he was trying to teke something he wasn’t looking at, which was a new challenge.

Kieran reached out with his own teke, and it snapped into being with a speed he wasn’t used to. He dialed it way back, and did his best to help Sebastien tighten the mental hand he was wielding behind him. His own teke nudged the one Sebastien had tried to make.

“I can’t do this when I can’t see what I’m looking at.”

“It takes practice.”

“It’s impossible.”

“Says the man who held an entire float above our heads.”

“You did that.”

“No,” Kieran held up his hand. “Nope. That was you. You were the one handling the weight.”

Sebastien sighed in frustration again, frowned, and concentrated.

Kieran nudged his teke, just a little.

The boot rose an inch of the ground. Thanks to Kieran’s help, it also glowed a pale yellow.

Kieran grinned.

Sebastien’s eyes widened. “It worked, didn’t it?”

“It did.”

Sebastien raised his fists in the air. That also did amazing things to the muscles on display.

The boot thudded back onto the ground.

“I dropped it,” Sebastien said, annoyed. He lowered his hands.

“Hey, relax,” Kieran said. “It took me years to teke something behind my back. Years. You’re almost there and it’s been, what, three weeks? You’ve got something I didn’t have.”

Sebastien raised an eyebrow. “I do?”

“Me,” Kieran said. “You have me to show you the way.”

Sebastien’s smile turned wicked. “This is not how I’d like to have you.”

“We talked about this,” Kieran said, and took the opportunity to stretch his legs where he sat on the bedroom floor. “Once you can get both boots in the air, you get to decide what we do next.”

Sebastien closed his eyes to try again.

 

 

Friday Flash Fiction – Mr. August

The wonderful Friday Flash Fics challenge continues. Today’s characters aren’t from one of my published pieces, but instead from my Village project, a series of Novellas set in a fictional version of the Ottawa gay village where a bit of magic happens to come through. There’s no actual magic happening here, but as you can see from the picture that inspired it, there’s all kinds of magic.


Flash Friday 4

“I look ridiculous.”

Caleb lowered his camera and waited. Beside him, Jian tapped a thumb against his bottom lip, a line appearing between his eyebrows.

Uh-oh.

“You’re right,” Jian said.

That was a surprise.

Jian stepped forward and picked up the drafting pencil. “Put this in your mouth.”

The shirtless, muscular man in front of them both stared at Jian.

“Are you kidding?”

“It’ll add sizzle, Angelo.” Jian waved the pencil like a wand.

“No one does woodwork half-naked with their jeans hanging off their ass.” Angelo raised the saw in his right hand. “This isn’t even the right saw.”

“No one will be looking at your saw.”

Caleb couldn’t hold it back any more. He snorted.

Both Jian and Angelo turned to him with twin looks of annoyance.

“Sorry.” Caleb tried not to draw attention, usually. Not on purpose. Odd things tended to happen when he paid too much attention to people.

“Pencil,” Jian turned back, holding out the pencil again.

Angelo crossed his arms and raised his chin.

Enough. At this rate, they’d never get a good shot. Caleb put his camera down. “Angelo? Jian?”

Both men aimed their angry glares at him. He flinched, but he cleared his throat. He liked things better when he had his camera between him and the world. Especially when the world was made up of a shirtless hunk and an annoyed drama bear.

Caleb cleared his throat. It took him a second to find his voice. “This is for charity. This is our first shoot. There are eleven more months after this, and it would be fantastic if we could have the calendar actually ready to sell before, y’know, next January.”

Jian opened his mouth.

“Not done,” Caleb said. “Jian? We all know you know your stuff. No one sets a stage like you. We’ve seen your plays, you’ve worked magic and it totally looks like a woodshop in here. But if Angelo says it’s the wrong saw? It’s the wrong saw.”

Angelo grinned and opened his mouth.

“Still not done,” Caleb said. “Angelo, we are so, so appreciative you’re doing this. And while I get you’d like things to look professional, here’s the thing: this isn’t a woodworking manual. The VBA is counting on this calendar. You’re our August. Decks, deck-building, deck-weather. And you look…” He swallowed. “Well…trust me. Jian’s lighting, the make-up? You’re many things Angelo, but none of them are ridiculous.”

Caleb waited. Both men were staring. They looked a little shell-shocked.

“Oh,” he said. “I’m done.”

“Sorry,” Jian said, at exactly the same moment Angelo said “My bad.”

They grinned at each other.

Caleb raised his camera. “Shall we?”

Jian stepped back. But Angelo raised his hand. “Wait.”

Caleb sighed. So much for speaking up. He wasn’t sure what else he could say, but—

“Pencil,” Angelo said.

Jian handed it to him, and Angelo put it in his mouth, picked up the saw, and stood over the piece of wood.

Caleb raised the camera and started shooting.

 

Monday Flash Fic – Glimpse

It’s possible I found another flash fiction group, Monday Flash Fics. I don’t imagine I’ll often manage both Mondays and Fridays, but the Monday pic just posted was so perfect for two of the characters in my Village novella project that I couldn’t help myself.


Monday Flash Fic

Caleb yawned. After a long day photographing animals for Furever’s rescue program, he’d finished cropping and retouching any obvious problems. The photos finished uploading to the shared folder. Justin and Mat would put them together for the new website, and then the rescue program would be ready to go.

Caleb yawned again, and eyed his bed.

How many people had he made eye contact with today? Too many. But he couldn’t stay awake forever. He brushed his teeth and stripped down to his boxers. Crawling into bed, he set his alarm and exhaled.

Just like every night, Caleb looked up at the ceiling and asked the usual.

Nothing awful, please.

Caleb closed his eyes.

*

Justin and Gabe were married. It was a gorgeous day, they looked amazing, and the light was perfect. Caleb couldn’t help it, he always thought with a photographer’s eye.

Even when the eyes he was using weren’t his.

He half-heartedly hunted for clues, but didn’t find any. Sometimes he’d glimpse a newspaper, or whoever he was checked their phone, but not right now. Someone was giving a speech—Marion, he thought, just a second before his head turned and she came into view, proving him right. The older woman looked much the same as when he’d seen her in the park that afternoon, only now she wore a gorgeous peach suit and held up a glass of champagne.

“I’m going to let you in on a secret,” Marion said, with a tiny smile. “These two? Only got together because of me.”

Whoever’s point of view it was that Caleb was enjoying stole a glance at the grooms. Justin leaned in and whispered something in Gabe’s ear, and Gabe laughed. Just for a second, Justin leaned his forehead against Gabe’s, and they both closed their eyes as Marion described how a flustered Gabe had needed a push to even introduce himself to Justin—a push she’d been happy to provide. Both men laughed.

*

The alarm woke him. Caleb stretched.

Thank you, he thought, eyeing the ceiling. As futures went, that had been a lovely one to glimpse.

He was the last one to their small office. Justin leaned over Mat’s shoulder, pointing at something on the screen.

“Good morning,” Justin said, when Caleb came in. “You were up late.”

“These are great.” Mat nodded to his computer. “Furever is going to run out of animals.”

“We can hope.” Caleb lifted a paper bag. “I stopped at Sweet Temptations.”

“I love you,” Justin said.

“Don’t let Gabe hear you say that,” Mat said.

Caleb glanced down. “How are you guys doing?”

“Great.” Justin grinned. Then it faltered. “Too great?”

“Oh my God,” Mat said. “Why can’t you enjoy a good thing?”

“It’s just…” Justin blew out a breath. “It’s new. I shouldn’t jinx it.”

Caleb smiled.

“What?” Justin said.

“Nothing. But, I think you two are good for the long run. Didn’t Marion introduce you?”

Justin blinked. “Sort of. How’d you know?”

“I heard it somewhere.”

 

Friday Flash Fiction – The Next When

The wonderful Elizabeth Lister‘s Friday Flash Fics challenge continues. Today’s picture suited perfectly for a moment that takes place in Ian’s life shortly after the events of one of the stories in my upcoming collection of short fiction, Of Echoes Born, so I decided to flesh it out a bit for the challenge. I have a feeling you’ll see more of the characters from that collection as these challenges continue.


Flash Friday 3

Ian woke early. Three hours ahead as far as time zones were concerned, he had all the joy of watching the sunrise and none of the grogginess. As far as first days on vacation went, it didn’t completely suck. He had a whole week on his own ahead of him.

He eyed the other side of the bed. Empty.

Okay, he had the whole of forever on his own ahead of him.

That hadn’t been the plan. But this morning? He didn’t mind.

That Ian had a lot to look forward to at the end of the week didn’t hurt. Friends. Big decisions. Huge ones.

The kettle whistled. He made a pot of tea, grabbed a hoodie, and settled on the deck of the cabin, waiting. The pale light in the distance gave way over two cups of tea, living up to the website’s promises. The strait blazed with reds, oranges, golds and, eventually, yellows.

He smiled to himself, thinking of colours, and pushed.

There wasn’t much here, but his gaze caught on the edge of the deck, near the steps, and the world fractured where he looked.

A couple appeared. Much later in the day, and unless he was mistaken, a warmer time of year. He couldn’t quite pinpoint the when, but the two were in their seventies or so, holding hands as they stepped down, the man pausing at each step for the woman to catch up.

Ian rose, holding on to the sight. He followed them down gravel path, and then along the road itself. They were in no hurry. Twice the man pointed at something. The woman would look, often smiling at him after, nodding, and touching his arm.

A bird? A flower?

Ian smiled, content to never know.

They held hands again, walking on.

Ian followed, sliding his hands into his hoodie pocket, feeling the rising sun start to nibble some of the chill from the air. A light rain began to fall—not touching the older couple—and Ian pulled up his hood.

It was getting easier. He shouldn’t be surprised, of course. Not that long ago, it had been second nature to look the way he could look. The colours had never gone, the auras around people, those he couldn’t shut out, but this other thing, this way to see into another when

He’d closed that door.

The couple paused again. Ian almost glanced where the man pointed, but there’d be nothing there. Not in the now.

He’d come a long way down the road with them. A sign ahead noted a curve.

Ian stood still, watching the couple once they started walking again, and only letting go of the vision once they slipped around the bend, a little piece of a sunny when.

The fractures in the air mended.

Even he couldn’t see around corners.

It made him smile.

Ian turned, and started back for the cabin. Breakfast. And then…

Then whatever happened after would happen.

 

Friday Flash Fiction — Morning After, After Mourning

The wonderful Elizabeth Lister‘s Friday Flash Fiction challenges continue. I missed last week, but I’m back for the third, with this lovely piece of inspiration, below. These involve characters you’ll meet in my upcoming collection of short fiction, Of Echoes Born, from Bold Strokes Books. I went a bit over word count this week, but come on. Look at that guy.


Flash Friday 3

“I have tea.” Michel held up two cups.

Clive barely moved his head, cracking a small embarrassed smile. “You’re a saint.”

Michel put one on the bedside table, turning to go.

“Wait,” Clive said.

Michel stopped.

“Thank you.”

“It’s just tea,” Michel said.

Clive shook his head. He stretched in the bed, and Michel worked hard to keep his eyes on Clive’s face. Shirtless, with the covers so low Michel was afraid to find out what else Clive shucked overnight, the bartender had an actual six-pack. The tattoo Michel had only glipsed fully revealed itself, crossing Clive’s left arm and shoulder, and some of his chest.

Michel felt tiny.

“Not for the tea.” Clive’s grin was somewhere between sleepy and amused. “For stuff I’m only vaguely remembering from last night.”

“Ah.” Michel’s face burned.

Clive shifted—eye contact, eye contact! He picked up the paper cup, taking a generous swallow.

“From NiceTeas?”

“One of Ivan’s ‘recovery’ blends.” Michel nodded.

“I’m okay,” Clive said. “No hangover.”

“That’s so unfair,” Clive said. “I had a headache like you wouldn’t believe, and I only had three drinks.”

“Did I throw my shirt at you?”

“Uh. Not… I mean, yeah, but…” The question tripped up Michel’s tongue. “Yes. It was raining after the wake…” He sipped. Maybe ‘recovery’ worked on brains.

“So you took me home to have your way with me?” With Clive’s hair tousled like that, the smile, and his beard, he was pretty much the sexiest guy ever, and…

Wait. What?

“No!” Michel said. “Of course not. You were a bit…”

“I was a lot.”

“Okay, yes. A lot drunk. My place was close. I couldn’t use my umbrella and help you walk—you’re heavy—and…”

“Breathe, Michel.”

Michel breathed. “Sorry.”

Clive looked around. “I don’t remember you joining me.”

“I slept on the couch.”

Clive’s eyebrow rose. “I fell all over you, you carried me home, I threw my clothes at you—”

“Because they were wet and I have a dryer.”

“—and you gave me your bed?”

Michel nodded.

“And now you get me tea. How’d you know I liked tea?”

“You said you only drank tea when Danya offered coffee after the wake.”

Clive lifted himself into a seated position. Muscles played along his chest and stomach. Michel stared into Clive’s eyes with nothing but prayer and willpower.

“I don’t normally get drunk.”

“You said that, too.” Michel couldn’t help but smile.

“Are you teasing? Is this you teasing?”

“Little bit.” Michel blushed. “It’s okay. You and Hans were close.”

“Like a second father. Or first, honestly, given what mine was like.” Clive took a deep breath. Michel tried not to watch what that did to his chest, and failed.

“Hans was an amazing man. If not for him, I’d never have opened the gallery.”

“Really?” Clive said. “Wait. We talked about that last night.”

Michel nodded, sipping.

“And you called me a hottie?”

Michel choked. He recovered after a moment, and put his cup down. “So, I don’t normally drink, either…”

Clive patted the empty space beside him. “C’mere. It’s Sunday; it’s raining. Relax. Drink tea. Tell me your Hans stories. And maybe a few more confessions. Sober ones.”

Michel stared for two long seconds before he stripped off his shirt, and threw it.

Clive caught it with a grin.