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Category Archives: Short Story

FREE Sinners Short Story – Be Mine

by Olivia Cunning ©2012
“Do you think Myrna will be surprised?” Brian asked.

Trey chuckled. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure she’ll be surprised.”

He bit his lip, his handsome face twisted with worry. “Do you think she’ll be mad that I bought it without her?”

A part of Trey wanted Brian’s wife to be mad. Unreasonably mad. Kick-Brian-to-the-curb and take-half-his-shit mad, but the better part of Trey just wanted Brian to be happy—even if someone else was creating his happiness. “I’m sure she’ll get over it. She’s the one who sent you a link and told you it was perfect. She should know you well enough to realize you’d have to buy it for her.”

“You know me well enough to know that. She’s still trying to train me.”

Trey laughed and pounded Brian on the back. “Well, if she hates it, you can pretend it’s mine and I’ll buy it from you.”

Brian shook his head. “What on Earth would you do with a five bedroom house?”

Trey knew Brian hadn’t meant to point out that he was the quintessential bachelor, who’d end up spending long days and lonely nights alone in this modern-style goliath in the hills. “Party until all my guests need a place to crash.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a cherry sucker. After unwrapping it, he stuck it in his mouth. It wasn’t quite a substitute for nicotine, but it helped calm him.

Brian laughed. “You’d need a high-rise apartment building for that, party boy.”

A midnight-blue limousine pulled into the circular drive. Brian beamed. “She’s here.”

The car pulled to a halt and the driver stepped out to open the door, but Brian beat him to it. He reached into the car to take his wife’s hand and helped her rise from the backseat.

“A limo, Brian? Really?” she said.

“It’s Valentine’s Day, sweetheart. Let me spoil you a little.”

She wrapped her arms around his neck. “I think I need to spoil you a little. Is there a bedroom nearby?”

“Yeah, but it doesn’t have a bed yet.” He nodded toward the house which was set back from the driveway. Palm trees flanked its entryway and gave it a secluded feel.

Myrna turned her head and her eyes widened with surprise. “It’s the house I fell in love with on the internet. It’s even more beautiful in person. Are we going to look at the inside?” She squeezed Brian’s hand so tightly Trey feared Brian would never be able to play his electric guitar again.

“Yeah. Hopefully for the next sixty or seventy years,” Brian said, his lips close to her ear.

Trey chuckled. His best friend. What a sap.

“Are you planning to buy it?” she asked tugging her husband toward the front door.

Brian hesitated. Trey knew he didn’t like Myrna to get mad at him, but how on Earth could anyone be angry with someone who had his big, sappy heart that exposed. “Already did.”

“Brian!” she admonished.

“The realtor said there were already three bids on it. I didn’t want to risk losing it. We’re supposed to go sign the final papers this afternoon, but it’s ours, baby. We have a house and we’ll make it a home. Together.”

She embraced him and kissed him hungrily. “I love you.”

“Love you more.”

Trey’s heart twisted. He needed to leave. Should have left before Myrna arrived so he didn’t have to witness this. “I think I’ll take the limo back to Dare’s house,” Trey said. “Give you two some privacy.”

Myrna tugged away from Brian and offered Trey a smile of greeting. Her hazel eyes softened with genuine affection. It was impossible for Trey to hate her. He understood why Brian loved her. What he couldn’t understand was why Brian had never loved him. Not the way he wanted him to.

“Jeez, Trey, I’m sorry,” Myrna said. “I didn’t even realize you were here. How have you been, sweetie? I haven’t seen you in weeks.”

He shrugged. “Can’t complain.” At least not to her.

“Tell Dare I appreciate him loaning me the limo,” Brain said, obviously wanting Trey to leave now that his wife was present. She still had a few months before she quit her job at the end of spring semester so they didn’t get to see each other as often as Brian would like. Trey knew that because Brian griped about it constantly.

“Thanks for your help, buddy. You’re always there when I need you,” Brian said. He offered Trey a hug and he gladly took it.

Trey knew he shouldn’t hang on to Brian for those extra precious seconds or run his hands over the hard muscles of Brian’s back and clench his fingers in Brian’s soft T-shirt. He knew he shouldn’t press his cheek against Brian’s jaw to feel the rough texture of his beard stubble or inhale his beguiling scent as if it were an addictive drug. He knew he shouldn’t do any of those things, but he couldn’t fucking help it.

Let go, Trey’s inner voice insisted. You have to let him go.

No, a stronger voice refused. Never.

When Trey finally eased away, he forced his gaze from Brian’s lips, which he wanted to devour in deep, passionate kisses, to his intense brown eyes, which he wanted to get lost in for a lifetime. Trey was pretty sure every emotion of longing and love was written all over his face at that moment. Another thing he couldn’t fucking help.

Brian grinned and cuffed Trey on the side of the head. “Now get lost. Myrna and I need to go christen a kitchen counter or a wall or something.”

Trey forced a smile. “Should’ve known you two wouldn’t need an actual bed.”

“Bye, Trey. Happy Valentine’s Day,” Myrna said and grabbed her husband’s hand. They took off at a sprint toward the front door.

With his heart in his throat, Trey watched them laugh and love and tease each other until they closed the front door and shut him out. As miserable as he was, he was glad Brian had found what he wanted in life. He was glad Brian was happy. Trey figured he was overdue for a little happiness of his own, but that would require someone getting hurt. And he never wanted that someone to be Brian.

Trey turned toward the limo parked in the driveway. The driver stood outside the backdoor with his hands folded below waist level waiting for instructions.

“Take me to Dare’s house,” Trey said. It’s where he always went when he needed a rock to cling to in the flood waters.

It didn’t occur to Trey that Dare might be out with his current sweetheart, until he was standing in front of Dare’s sprawling mansion with his fingertip pressed against the doorbell button.

Dare’s servant, Harold, answered the door. He smiled a greeting. “Good afternoon, Terrance.”

Trey cringed. “Trey.” He must have told the man a million times not to call him Terrance. “Is my brother home?”

“Darren’s in the hot tub,” Harold said and stepped aside so Trey could enter the foyer.

The shining marble floors, mahogany wood trim, twenty-foot high ceilings and crystal chandeliers hinted at an elegant life-style that Dare did not live. Trey wasn’t sure why his brother had gone with traditional opulence. There were rooms in one wing of the house that were dedicated to his band, Exodus End. Those rooms seemed to fit Dare, but the entire rest of the house looked custom made for a spinster heiress.

“Is he alone?” Trey didn’t want to climb in the hot tub and find his brother otherwise occupied with a woman.

“Last time I checked.”

Trey lifted his eyebrows at the man. It seemed as if Harold had a pathological need to mess with him. Probably because Dare encouraged it.

“He’s alone,” Harold said. “Amaretto Sunrise?”

Trey grinned. It was hard to stay mad at a man who made his favorite drink to perfection and kept his love for that particular girly drink a secret.

“I’ll bring it out to the patio.” Harold turned in the direction of the kitchen.

Trey made his way through the house to the changing room off the side patio. He slipped out of his clothes and into a pair of swim trunks. Dare always kept a few pairs on hand so Trey wouldn’t insist on skinny dipping. Trey peered out through the French doors to make sure Dare wasn’t looking in his direction. Dare’s back was to the house as the view of the ocean was in the opposite direction. Dare sat there in the steaming water in introverted-Dare-style sipping his rum-and-coke and contemplating the meaning of life or some other boring bullshit. Trey grinned, dashed across the patio, leapt over Dare’s head and landed in the middle of enormous hot tub cannonball style.

When he emerged from the water, he expected Dare to be drenched and livid. Dare’s long, black hair wasn’t even wet, but his green eyes took on a devilish glint. A second later, Trey found a toe in his gut and himself underwater again. This time when he surfaced, he moved to the far side of the hot tub where it was safe.

“This is a surprise,” Dare said. “Not.”

“I wasn’t sure if you’d be home. Shouldn’t you be out with your current girlfriend…” Trey struggled for a name. “Christina?”

“Elaine,” Dare supplied. “And no. We broke up a few days ago.”

Which was to be expected. Dare was the king of three-month-long relationships and Elaine’s three months had been up a week ago.

“What are you doing here?” Dare asked.

Trey shrugged and wiped the water off his face with both hands.

“Something happened with Brian again,” Dare guessed.

Trey stared at the churning water before him. “He bought a house.”

“And you’re not invited there.”

“I’m sure he expects me to visit.”

“But not live there.”

Trey shook his head. He and Brian had been roommates for over ten years. Trey didn’t know how to live alone. He sure as hell didn’t know how to live without Brian.

“You can move in here if you want,” Dare said. “I have plenty of room.”

“I wouldn’t want to impose,” Trey said automatically.

Dare chuckled. “Yes, you would. Impose is your middle name. Just think it over. No pressure. No drama.”

Trey nodded. He wasn’t going to move in with his brother. He was twenty-eight-freakin’-years-old. It was about time he learned how to live on his own.

Harold exited the house and set a tray next to the hot tub. Trey eyed the two delicious cocktails and a cherry sucker. Living here with Dare wouldn’t be horrible. He was the best big brother on the planet and his servant already knew what Trey liked. The two of them would take good care of Trey. And maybe he would be less lonely. A little spoiled.

“Miss Stevenson is at the front gate again,” Harold told Dare. “She’s wailing about Valentine’s Day and calling you a rather colorful collection of names.”

“She’ll go away eventually. Do not engage with her.”

Harold set a fresh rum-and-coke within Dare’s reach and returned to the house.

“Why did you break up with her?” Trey asked.

“She wanted to move in with me.”

“You do seem to be looking for a roommate,” Trey said.

“That’s different. I love you.”

“You didn’t love her?”

Dare shook his head. “No. Are you surprised? You know what the tabloids say. I’m incapable of love. Dare Mills—The Man with the Iron Heart.”

Trey rolled his eyes. He happened to know that was far from the truth. “You don’t let that bullshit get to you, do you?”

“Nope.” He took a nonchalant sip of his drink. “Are you ready to give up Brian now?”

If only it was that easy. “Nope.” Trey chugged his drink and reached for the cherry sucker. “When he finally realizes he loves me, I’ll be waiting.”

“You’re setting yourself up for a hard fall, bro,” Dare said.

He’d fallen hard years ago and had yet to pick himself up.

He and Dare sat in silence for a long moment. This wasn’t the first time he’d discussed Brian with his brother. It was more like a habit between them than any sort of revelation.

When the long silence stretched into uncomfortable territory, Dare chuckled. “Aren’t we a fine pair of rich, rock star brothers? Hanging out alone together in a hot tub on Valentine’s Day. The only chick in sight is the debutante making a scene for my security cameras.”

Trey grinned. “She’d probably take you back.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of.”

“I should probably go home.” Home? Would that empty apartment even feel like home now that Brian was gone?

“You know where to find me if you need me,” Dare said.

“All pruny in the hot tub.”

Dare laughed. “For now.”

After the limo dropped Trey off in front of his apartment building, he walked to the corner drugstore and searched the rack of picked-over Valentine cards for one that said what he needed to say. He’d heard somewhere that there’s a card for every situation, but he couldn’t find one that said: I can’t stop loving you. I’ve tried. Please, stop being so wonderful to me. Just break my fucking heart and get it over with or remove your head from your ass and realize we were meant to be together. For the record, I prefer the latter option.

Nope. None of these shallow sentiments came even close to expressing how he felt. He settled for a card that was a little less specific.

When he reached home, he expected it to have changed in some way. Everything was just as he’d left it. Little signs of Brian were scattered everywhere. His sneakers were tossed haphazardly by the door. A picture of his little sister sat on the entryway table. His leather jacket lay discarded across the back of the sofa. An empty beer can rested on the coffee table. Trey supposed Brian hadn’t moved out yet, but he had moved on.

That big gaping hole in his chest made no sense. It wasn’t as if Trey would never get to see him. At the very least, he’d see him on stage during performances and on the tour bus as they travelled around the country from one show to the next. They weren’t home much anyway. Trey wouldn’t have to be alone often. Just tonight. Valentine’s Day. The most depressing night of the year.

Trey switched on lights as he made his way to his bedroom. He reached up into the top of his closet for a shoebox. He tossed it on the bed and lifted the lid. Nestled inside were cards sealed inside colorful envelopes—mostly red, some pink, some white. There was one for each year Trey had been in love. All sealed. All addressed to Brian. Brian had never read any of them and he never would.

Taking a pen from his nightstand, Trey sat on the edge of his bed and took this year’s offering from its small plastic bag. The front of the card was decorated with bright candy hearts—nauseatingly cute. Trey rolled his eyes at it, not sure why he’d bought the stupid thing. He opened it and read the message inside, pen poised above the white-space to record a heartfelt message. Trey wasn’t sure how long he sat there reminiscing about the good times and longing for things he knew he’d never have. He had so many things he wanted to say to Brian. Some of the sealed cards in that shoebox had lengthy outpourings of emotion, others had angry diatribes, a few had song lyrics, and the oldest ones were mostly lust-fueled. Funny how his feelings for Brian had changed and evolved with time, but the underlying foundation had never changed. Love. It was still there steady and true. He couldn’t imagine a time when it would falter or decay.

There wasn’t anything Trey could write now that he hadn’t written in the Valentine’s cards of the past. So this year, he just signed his name, tucked the stupid card in its bright purple envelope and licked the flap. He sealed it and hastily scrawled Brian across the front before tucking it in the shoebox with the dozen other cards that revealed everything he felt but could never say. This one had said it all with just two little words.

Be mine.

 
29 Comments

Posted by on February 14, 2012 in Short Story

 

Tags: ,

FREE Short Story – Wabbit Trouble

            Sed squeezed to stand between Jessica’s chair and the dining table. He leaned against the table’s edge in front of her and crossed his arms over his chest. Her stack of books blocked, Jessica looked up at him, her jade green eyes wide in question.

“You’re taking the day off,” he told her.

She shook her head. “I can’t, Sed. I have paper to write. Finals in three weeks. The sexual harassment lawsuit I’m working on. And I need to study for the bar exam.”

“All work and no play makes me a bored guy. One day off won’t hurt. You’ve been studying nonstop since I got home last week.”

“You’re sitting on my book.” She tried yanking the book from beneath his butt, but he refused to budge. These books were getting far more attention than he was.

“So…”

“It’s a library book.”

“And?”

She lifted both brows at him and shook her head. “You’re naked.”

“I’m surprised you noticed.”

“Sed…”

“Do you even know what today is?”

“Sunday,” she said.

Easter Sunday.”

“So…”

“So, we’re going to my parents’ house. My mom planned this huge family get-together and she said she’s expecting us at one o’clock. I haven’t seen any of my family since Christmas.”

Jessica rubbed her forehead and scowled. “You know I love your family, baby, but I really need to stay here and study. Why don’t you go without me? I’ll be fine here by myself.”

“I’m not going without you,” he said.

“I can’t go. It’s not that I don’t want to—”

There was only one way to get this woman to agree to anything. Kiss her senseless. He leaned close and brushed his lips against hers.

“Sed, I have to—“

He kissed her again, brushing his tongue over her upper lip as he drew away.

“—get this—”

He kissed her again and stifled a grin when her arms wrapped around his body. Her hands slid up his back and he shuddered. If she was trying to fend off his attempts at seduction, she knew better than to touch his back. Especially when he was already naked. He drew her from the chair and pressed her against the length of his body.

“Okay,” she gasped. “One quickie, but then I have to get back to studying.”

He nibbled her ear. “That’s not the correct answer,” he said.

“It’s not?”

“No, the correct answer is: I’ve been working too hard and ignoring my sexy fiancé. I know this family ordeal means a lot to him, so I’m going to take a break from studying for a few hours before I forget what the sky looks like.”

“Does it really mean that much to you?” she asked.

“Yes.”

She smiled and cupped is face in both hands. “Fine, I’ll go, but no complaints out of you tonight. I’ll have to stay up late studying and that means…”

His nose crinkled with displeasure. “No sex.”

“Exactly.”

“Baby, you’re going to wear yourself out.” And he wasn’t just saying that because he wasn’t going to get any tonight. She had dark circles under her eyes and a hollowness to her lovely face that concerned him.

“I’m already worn out, but it’s just a few more weeks. As soon as I pass the bar exam, we’ll go on a vacation somewhere. Just the two of us. And tour all kinds of public places for naughty fun.”

He brushed strands of strawberry blonde hair from her face. “You mean that?”

She smiled up at him. “Yeah, I mean it. I can’t wait.”

“You know I love you, right?”

“Yeah, I know. I love you, too, or there is no way I’d give up a day of studying.”

“We’ll keep the visit short. I don’t want you to miss out on sleep.”

She chuckled and planted a kiss on one of his pecs. “Still no sex tonight, Sed.”

“Damn.”

♥♥♥

            Sed stood in the shade of a tree at the far end of his parents’ perfectly tended lawn. Brightly colored eggs peppered the landscape. The younger members of his extended family—mostly cousins—were congregated on the patio near the sliding glass doors. The young gents were dressed in shorts or suits, with bowties or sweater vests. Most of them swung their Easter baskets around like weapons. A few of them pushed at the little girls (sweet angels in brightly colored sundresses), corralling them closer to the house, to gain some sort of advantage when they were set free on the unsuspecting eggs.

Sed was dressed in… well, he’d rather not think about it. He was sweating as if he’d just performed a six-hour-long concert. The guy Sed’s mother had hired to wear this stifling contraption had suffered from heatstroke for a reason. That guy was now resting comfortably in an air-conditioned hospital room. Sed was not so lucky.

“Are you ready?” Jessica asked.

He had to turn his head to look at her as his peripheral vision was blocked by the thing on his head.

She patted his butt, though he could scarcely feel it through all the padding—the thick, stifling, incredibly hot padding. Dear lord, how had she talked him into this?

“What do I have to get ready for? I just have to stand here and pretend like I laid a bunch of brightly colored eggs, right?”

“They’ll be excited to see you,” Jessica said.

“I’m sweating my ass off.”

“I love you,” she said and protruded her lower lip in a pout.

This was why he was the one wearing the damned rabbit suit instead of her. That and it was designed for a tall man, but not one quite so broad through the shoulders. He somehow managed to hold his giant Easter basket with one fluff-covered oven mitt, but he couldn’t lift his arms. The basket just sort of dangled down around his huge, fluffy feet. At least the guys of his band, Sinners, weren’t around. He’d never live this down in a million years.

The patio door slid open and Sed’s heart sank as his band’s drummer, Eric Sticks, stepped onto the patio. What was he doing here? Tall and lanky, Eric grabbed the nearest kid and proceeded to turn him into a human airplane, complete with all the appropriate flying noises.

Brightly colored eggs forgotten for the moment, the entire group of kids surrounded Eric’s long legs. They all chanted a chorus of, “Me, next. Me, next.”

Sed took a step back to stand behind Jessica, hoping that his fiancée’s beauty would distract Eric and he wouldn’t notice the six-and-a-half-feet tall rabbit (eight feet if you included the ears) near the fence. About halfway through the fourth airplane ride, Sinners’ bassist, Jace Seymour stepped on the patio. He rolled his eyes at Eric and shook his head. “Acting like a kid again?” Undeterred by Jace’s criticism, Eric laughed and deposited a five-year-old in Jace’s arms. Jace held the kid at arm’s length and stared at him as if he wasn’t quite sure what he was looking at or what he should do with it.

“You have an earring like a girl!” the kid declared.

Jace set the kid down without so much as a woosh or a shake for turbulence. “I thought Sed was out here,” he said to Eric.

“Do you kids know where your old cousin, Sed, is?” Eric asked, holding a kid perched belly-down on each shoulder as props in his biplane bit.

Sed hoped his white rabbit camouflage would allow him to blend in with the picket fence behind him. Not that it mattered. Twenty-some-odd, child-sized index fingers pointed in his general direction.

Hmm, so apparently his young cousins didn’t believe he was the real Easter bunny after all.

“I didn’t realize the guys were coming,” Jessica whispered apologetically. “Your mom must have invited them.”

Jace stared at Sed in abject horror.

Eric burst out laughing. “Priceless!” He dug his cell phone out of his pocket and started snapping pictures. “Oh yes, this is going on our Facebook page.”

“Eric, don’t you dare,” Sed growled in his most authoritative voice. It didn’t have quite the same affect when echoing around in a giant rabbit head. Sed waddled down the yard, attempting to avoid the eggs on the ground. Not really succeeding at that so well.

“What in the—“ Jace muttered.

“Okay, kids! Go get the eggs!” Eric shouted, using the chaos to distract Sed so he could take more pictures.

“Wait for your parents!” Sed yelled. Too late. A rush of young people darted in Sed’s direction. He was completely surrounded in seconds.

“You’re stepping on my egg!” one of his cousin’s said. Sed couldn’t see which cousin through the little eye holes in his huge, rabbit bubble head.

“Sorry,” Sed said and lifted one furry foot.

“The other foot!”

Something tugged hard on his butt. Or rather, on his adorable fluffy tail. A chorus of giggles drifted up from somewhere around hip level. Sed spun around.

“Get his tail!” Eric said from behind him.

Apparently, yanking on Sed’s tail was a lot more entertaining than hunting for eggs. As was taking a running leap and ricocheting off Sed’s big fluffy bunny arse. Someone grabbed his big fluffy bunny cheeks (the ones on his face) and spun the head of his costume ninety degrees. He couldn’t see a damned thing. He tried to right the costume’s head, but his arms remained trapped at chest level.

“He’s going for the end zone,” rhythm guitarist, Trey Mills’ voice came from his right. Something careened into Sed from the side. “Take down!”

Center of gravity completely off with his bunny legs holding his thighs together, Sed hit the ground hard. Lucky for him, the cushion on his big fluffy bunny hips absorbed the majority of the force.

“I’m gonna kill you guys when I get out of this thing,” Sed growled.

“Rabbit pile!” Brian, lead guitarist of Sinners, yelled.

Oh great, his entire band was witness to his humiliation.

“Omph!” Sed gasped as he was buried beneath a pile of bodies.

“Kill duh wabbit! Kill duh wabbit!” Eric sang in his best Elmer Fudd voice.

They were killing him all right. Sed struggled to rise, but to no avail. He tipped over, trapped on his back like a tortoise in the desert.

“Everyone off Sed,” Jessica said.

Saved!

Someone grabbed his long, fluffy bunny ears and tugged the head of his costume off. Taking greedy gulps of fresh air, Sed blinked in the bright southern Californian sunshine. Jessica appeared upside down above him.

“Are you okay?” she asked.

“Do I look okay?”

She bit her lip, her mouth twisting as she tried not to laugh at him. She snorted instead. She knelt at his head and touched his face with one hand. “You’re all sweaty.”

Several of the kids were climbing up his big bunny pop belly and sliding down the other side.

“I don’t know who gives me more grief: my band, my family, or my woman.”

“You have to admit that was pretty funny,” Eric said.

“You think bullying the Easter bunny on Easter is funny?” Sed asked.

“You’re right,” Eric said, somehow maintaining a straight face. “It’s not funny.”

“It’s hilarious,” Jessica said and burst out laughing.

It was pretty funny. Sed chuckled and shook his head. “I hope you know, this means war. We’ll be back on the road in ten days. The only one who might be safe from retaliation is Jace.”

“He joined in on the rabbit pile,” Brian said and gave Jace a hard shove in the shoulder.

Jace flushed and found what was left of a smashed dandelion-yellow egg in the grass incredibly interesting.

“No one is safe, then,” Sed said. “You guys are going down.”

Jessica leaned over and kissed him. “But not me, right? I saved you.”

“You can make it up to me in other ways,” he suggested.

She claimed his lips for a deeper kiss.

“Ewwww!” one of Sed’s young cousins complained. “Girl germs.”

“Tasty girl germs,” Sed murmured.

Jessica kissed her way along his jaw and whispered in his ear, “I don’t know if it’s the fluffy tail, the long ears, or the big feet, but when I get you home, you are so getting some. Forget studying. I’ll just have to take a B on that paper.”

Sed laughed. “Wow, you must be in the mood.”

“I think I have a previously undiscovered rabbit fetish.”

“Oh really,” Eric said. He retrieved the big bunny head with its freakishly large, violet eyes and put it on. He spread his arms wide and wiggled his hips. “Does this do anything for you, Jess?”

Jessica chuckled. “Sorry, Eric. Sed’s the only wascally wabbit I want.”

“Oh yeah. Sed’s a regular playboy bunny,” Trey said and laughed. “Are your sisters around, Sed? Last year they remembered to save me all their cherry jelly beans and I have a serious craving for some of that.”

“Touch my sisters and you die, Mills.”

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2011 in Short Story

 

FREE Short Story – Sinners Trick, Sinners Treat

Sinners’ lead guitarist, Brian Sinclair tugged at his restrictive collar and offered his best friend and fellow guitarist, Trey Mills, his most scathing look. “I can’t believe I let you talk me into this. I look like a complete idiot.”

Trey scanned Brian from head to toe. “You look great.” Trey bit his lower lip and snorted. “For a wuss.”

Brian ran a hand over his quilted vest and stared down at his slippers.Slippers! He was wearing freakin’ slippers. And he couldn’t consider those things on his legs socks, more like hose. Rock stars did not wear hose. Eyeliner? Sure. But not hose. Had men actually worn this lame stuff back in the Elizabethan era?

Trey stifled his sniggering by popping a pair of pointed teeth into his mouth.

“I’m wearing frickin’ capris and a cape, Trey. A cape!” Brian’s knee-length pants were purple (purple!) to match his quilted vest and both garments had fancy designs sewn all over them with golden thread. The cape fell to his hips, which was wrong on so many levels. Brian didn’t even want to think about the ruffles at his throat and the loose, flowing sleeves of his blouse. Yeah, he looked like a complete tool.

“I’m wearing a cape, too,” Trey said, his words garbled by his vamp teeth.

“Not quite the same, bro.”

Trey wore mostly black, except his face which was painted white with red rimming his vivid green eyes. Lined with red satin, the hem of Trey’s cape just brushed the floor.

He looked cool, not like a tool.

Trey rang the doorbell. Loud music and boisterous voices came from within Sed’s beach condo, but the door was locked so they had to wait for admittance. This party was for invited guests only.

“Besides, you make a lovely prince.” Trey moved out of Brian’s reach before busting out laughing. “Charming even!”

Before Brian could thump him in the forehead, the door opened. Their lead singer, Sed, who was ripped beyond belief, stood there in nothing but a loincloth. From the tropical smell coming off him, he’d applied a healthy slathering of coconut oil to draw even more attention to his disgustingly perfect physique. Sed took one look at Brian and joined Trey’s riotous laughter. “You forgot your purse, Brian,” Sed said, his baritone voice breathy from laughing so hard.

“I’m leaving,” Brian said. He didn’t want to be here in the first place. What fun was a party without the woman you loved? Myrna was still in Kansas City working at her professor job and he was stuck here alone. Again. Sometimes he wished she’d give up her career and be a constant fixture at his side, but then, she wouldn’t be Myrna and he didn’t want her to change.

“What are you supposed to be?” Trey asked Sed.

“Tarzan.”

“So where’s Jane?”

On cue, three fur-bikini clad young women plastered their bodies to Sed’s. Triplets. Where on earth had Sed found three hot triplets to act as his costume accessories?

“Here we are!” the three Janes said in unison.

When they noticed Brian their eyes opened wide in astonishment. He winced, waiting for the insults to start flying.

“Master Sinclair!” the three said in harmony. “You look so handsome!”

They moved away from Sed to wrap Brian in an enthusiastic group hug. While Brian was trying to untangle himself from long, female limbs, Trey moved up behind one of the young ladies, lifted a squeeze bottle, and trickled something red down the side of her neck. He lowered his head to suck the sticky syrup from her throat. She went limp in Trey’s arms and he pulled her into the open door of Sed’s condo.

“Do you really think Sinclair looks good like that?” Sed asked his two remaining Janes, a puzzled scowl on his face.

“Oh yes,” one of them said, “What girl wouldn’t want a handsome prince to sweep her around the dance floor? Will you dance with me, Brian?”

Jane Number 2 grabbed Brian’s hand and yanked him through the front door, leaving Sed with but one Jane of his own.

“I don’t dance,” Brian insisted.

“Wow,” Eric Sticks, Sinners’ tall drummer, said over the crowd. “Who’s the fine woman in the purple dress?”

Brian snarled at him. “Bite me.”

“Can do!” Trey headed toward Brian with his bottle of cherry syrup.

“Keep your fangs to yourself, Mills,” Brian said.

“My turn,” some attractive brunette said, intercepting Trey and tilting her head to the side to give him access to her long neck. Trey grinned and complied, sucking on her throat until she moaned in torment. A line of eager blood donors formed behind Trey’s current victim.

“Myrna is so gonna dump you for looking like a pansy,” Eric said to Brian, his own costume some mix of gangster, Rambo, and gladiator. Ammunition belts crossed his bare chest. A scabbard with sword hung from one hip. He’d strapped a pistol to his right thigh and had a small shield fixed to his left forearm. He was also wearing what had once been Brian’s lucky hat—a floppy black-leather fedora that had been tainted one steamy evening on a motorcycle with Myrna. Brian grinned to himself. If Eric knew what had happened in that hat, he would not be wearing it. Apparently, their bassist, Jace, who knew all about the events of that evening, could keep a secret.

Eric fished his camera phone out of the pocket of his low slung black cargo pants and aimed it at Brian. “I’ll send Myrna a pic. Maybe I’ll finally get my chance with her after she sees you like this.”

“You wish.”

“Damn, straight.”

Brian smacked the phone out of Eric’s hand and it landed in a nearby punchbowl. Punch sloshed all over Jace who was drinking the stuff like it was water. From his obvious sway, the punch must’ve been spiked. He apparently needed something to increase his confidence. And who wouldn’t if their costume consisted of ass-less chaps and a pink thong.

Brian grinned, feeling slightly less ridiculous dressed as a prince. “Jace, what are you wearing?”

Jace wiped the punch from his naked chest and licked at his fingers. He shrugged, refusing to meet Brian’s eyes and chugged another glass of punch.

“He lost a bet,” Eric boasted.

“Eric cheated.” Jace scowled. “I could have easily done a hundred pull-ups if he hadn’t used that feather duster on me.”

“Did you know Jace is very ticklish?” Eric chuckled.

Jace flipped him off.

“Eric always cheats, Jace. You should know that by now.”

A sexy cat woman wandered over to Jace and slid a hand over his bare butt. She whispered something into his ear and he blushed crimson to the roots of his bleached-blond hair. She slapped his butt with a resounding crack and slinked toward the spare bedroom. Jace tossed back the rest of his punch and followed. The vivid red handprint on one butt cheek wasn’t nearly as red as his face.

“I thought for sure the pink thong would keep the ladies away,” Eric said and slapped himself in the forehead. “That backfired.”

Someone tugged at Brian’s sleeve. He turned to find Jane Number 2, or 1, maybe 3 (he couldn’t tell them apart), looking up at him expectantly.

“Yeah?”

“Are you going to dance with me now?”

Brian didn’t want to dance with anyone. Well, Myrna. Maybe. If he were drunk enough and if she were present. God, he missed her. He felt so alone and exposed without her body pressed against his. “I think Sed is looking for you.”

Jane glanced across the room at Sed who was surrounded by the other two Janes and half a dozen additional women. “Doubtful.” She went to join him anyway.

Eric moved to the punchbowl and ladled his cell phone into a cup. “I lose more phones this way. Good thing it’s still under warranty.”

An expanse of ivory satin near the spiral staircase caught Brian’s attention. He could only see the woman’s back, but she was stunning. The wide skirt of her elegant ball gown brushed the steps as she ascended to the second floor. Her thick auburn hair was drawn up off her neck and fashioned into an intricate knot decorated with large pearls. Several tendrils of hair had escaped the severe style to caress the creamy skin of her neck and shoulders. She reminded Brian so much of Myrna his heart skipped a beat. Brian watched, transfixed, as her high-heeled shoe tumbled from beneath her skirt and down the steps.

Brian went after it instinctively. He collected it from the floor and looked up to find she hadn’t descended the steps to retrieve her shoe. She’d continued to climb, seeming oblivious to its loss.

“Miss, you dropped your shoe,” Brian said from the bottom of the staircase. When she didn’t respond, he started after her.

She climbed faster. When she reached the landing, she sprinted toward the back of the loft in the direction of Sed’s well-used bedroom.

Had Brian startled her? He hadn’t meant to. He probably should have just left her shoe at the top of the stairs, but he chased after her, not sure why his pulse was racing with excitement. He only had eyes for one woman, but for some reason he wanted to see this lovely stranger’s face. At the top of the stairs, he watched the hem of her ivory gown disappear into Sed’s bedroom. She must be one of Sed’s women. Maybe Sed had said something to hurt her feelings. The dude was notorious for crushing women’s hearts. For some reason, their tears always got to Brian. He couldn’t stand to see a woman cry.

Brian entered the bedroom and found the elegant lady seated on the loveseat. She had her skirt hiked just high enough to reveal one lovely barefoot and her face turned toward the large window along the far wall.

“Is everything okay?” he asked, his heart hammering with excitement. Why did this unknown woman unsettle him? Was it her mystery? Her elegance? That big freakin’ dress, which made her look impossibly feminine? When she didn’t answer, he eased further into the room. “You dropped your shoe.”

She wiggled her manicured toes, but still didn’t look at him. He had an unsettling feeling of familiarity when he looked at her. He carried her shoe closer and crouched down at her feet. When her delicate scent engulfed him, Brian’s eyes drifted closed.

Couldn’t make it, huh? Liar.

He didn’t know why Myrna was here when she’d insisted she couldn’t get out of work, but her scent was unmistakable. The sizzle of attraction between them undeniable. The instantaneous surge of lust to his groin unavoidable. He didn’t need to look up at her face to know it was her. It couldn’t be any other woman on the planet. No other woman drew this response from him. He dropped her shoe on the floor and massaged the instep of her foot with both thumbs. Her toes curled in response.

“Did you twist your ankle, miss?” he asked, his hands sliding up to her ankle. He chanced a peek at her face and found all but her mouth and chin concealed behind an elaborately decorated, ivory mask. Those pouty pink lips were definitely Myrna’s and he definitely wanted to kiss them.

She shook her head slightly.

His hands slid up her calf. “Did you lure me here to seduce me, princess? My lady’s out of town, so if we’re discrete, she’ll never kn—”

His teasing words were cut off by a hard foot to the chest. He tumbled back onto the carpet.

“What?” Myrna bellowed, standing over him with fists planted on either hip.

Brian laughed, reached up to grab her around the waist, and tumbled her to the floor. He pinned her beneath him with his body, knowing she couldn’t kick him with her legs all tangled in yards of satin.

“Don’t you dare touch me.”

He kissed her jaw. “I knew it was you, sweetheart.”

“Did not.”

“No woman stirs me up the way you do. But if you want to pretend you’re a beautiful stranger who lured me to bed by losing her shoe…” His lips trailed along her jaw line to her chin.
The tension drained from her body and her arms slid around his back to draw him closer.

“I’m supposed to be Cinderella.”

“So if I place the slipper upon your foot and it fits, you’ll love me forever?”

“I already love you forever. The shoe fits and I wear it.” She touched his face and claimed his lips in a kiss that made his skin tingle. When she drew away, she said, “You do make a handsome prince, Brian Sinclair.”

“You’re beautiful. Always.” He stared into her green-flecked hazel eyes. Something about the mask obscuring her face made his blood run hot. “That was a naughty trick to play on me, princess. Making me think I was going to have to spend Halloween without you.”

She released the leather band holding his hair at his nape and ran her fingers though his shoulder-length locks until they settled around their faces. “If you can figure out how to get this obnoxious dress off me, I’d say you’re in for one heck of a treat, my prince.”

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2011 in Short Story

 

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FREE Short Story – Welcome to the Family

Christmas Eve two years before the book Backstage Pass

The tour bus pulled to a stop outside the storage area. This was where Sinners stored their stage equipment when they were off tour and kept their private vehicles while they were on the road. Jace Seymour slung his duffle bag over one shoulder and lifted the case of his bass guitar with his free hand.

Home again.

Though Sinners had been on the road for most of the past six months, Jace would prefer they never took a break from touring. The tour bus was more his home than any brick and mortar structure.

“Do you have big plans for the holidays, little man?” Eric asked and poked Jace in the rib with the drumstick he’d been twirling.

No, but he wasn’t about to admit that to Eric. “Yeah. Lots.”

Jace massaged the small hoop in his earlobe and pretended to find the floor interesting.

When Jace didn’t elaborate on his lots of plans, Eric’s ADHD-self turned his attention elsewhere. “Sed? What time does the party start on New Year’s Eve?” he called to the lead singer, who was standing at the front of the bus, waiting for lead guitarist Brian to collect all his stuff and get out of the way.

Sed glanced over his shoulder and grinned crookedly so that one of his dimples showed. “I don’t recall inviting you, Sticks.”

“Will your sisters be there?” Eric asked, hopefully. He leaned in closer to Jace and whispered, “Hot, young thangs. Both of them. Certified Grade A–”

“If you touch my sisters, you die,” Sed warned in a baritone growl.

Jace smiled at the floor. He loved being caught in the dynamic of these guys, but as he’d been a part of this band for less than six months, he always felt like he was intruding on some sacred bond between them. Sinners had been together for almost ten years. It only made sense that they were a close-knit group. Jace didn’t mind looking in from the outside. It was enough.

“No worries,” Trey, their rhythm guitarist, said. He brushed his long bangs from his forehead, green eyes twinkling with their usually orneriness. “I’ll just consult my little black book and invite enough babes for everyone.”

“More like an encyclopedic black book,” Eric whispered to Jace.

Jace chuckled. Trey got around. A lot.

“You’re coming, right?” Eric asked Jace.

Jace shrugged. Sed hadn’t invited him. Actually, Sed hadn’t invited anyone. It was a tradition to party at Sed’s place on New Year’s Eve, but as this was Jace’s first year with the band, he wasn’t a part of any of those traditions. The guys in the band spent Christmas with their families and New Year’s Eve together. Jace was already dreading Christmas. He really struggled with holidays.

The band members shuffled off the bus, carrying luggage and gear. As Jace’s feet touched the asphalt, he crinkled his nose at the warmth and palm trees outside. Even though he’d lived in southern California for over a decade, he’d never get used to Christmas in a warm climate. Jace’s family had moved to Los Angeles from Montana right before his mother had died. The holidays just weren’t the same without snow on the ground. He still remembered playing Christmas jingles on the piano with his mother. Yeah, Christmas was supposed to mean family. Jace didn’t have one of those anymore, which all things considered, was for the best.

Laughing and joking all the way to their car, Trey and Brian left the parking lot together. The two guitarists were roommates and had been best friends since elementary school. Late for dinner at his parents’ house, Sed sped off in his Mercedes. Eric tried to coax his vintage, piece-of-crap Corvette into starting. Jace headed out of the parking lot on foot. It was only a couple of miles to his apartment and he liked to walk. Plus, he didn’t own a vehicle. He could afford one now. He just hadn’t gotten around to buying one.

After proceeding less than a block, a loud, knocking sound drew his attention to the road beside him.

Eric, his wild hair stirring in the breeze, grinned at him from behind the wheel of his emerald green convertible. “Need a lift?” he asked.

“No thanks, I prefer to walk.”

Eric shrugged. “Suit yourself.” He gunned the engine, probably trying to speed off with spectacular flare, and the car died. “Crap!” The engine whined as he tried to start it again.

“Maybe you should walk, too,” Jace suggested.

“Shut up, little man. She’s just temperamental.”

If that’s what he wanted to call it. “Later.”

He left Eric swearing at his temperamental piece-of-crap and continued towards home. While standing on a street corner waiting for a green crossing light, something brushed up against Jace’s calf. He looked down and a pair of inquisitive amber eyes gazed up at him.

“Brrroowww owww owwwn?” the black tuxedo cat meow-purred up at him.

The scraggly thing looked like it had just crawled out of the sewer. Jace nudged it aside with is foot–he didn’t like cats–and strode across the street. He chanced a glance behind him to find the creature on his heels. The cat trotted with purpose, its white paws rhythmically striking the pavement, its tail high in the air, its eyes never leaving its target. Jace walked a bit faster, hoping to deter the little pest. As he passed an alley, a set of tires screeched. Jace’s heart skipped a beat.

He turned to find the black scruff-ball cowering under the front axle of a huge SUV in the alley’s entrance. Jace set his bass case down and held up a hand to alert the driver to stay put. When he was sure he wasn’t about to be run over, he bent under the vehicle and reached for the cat. As he scooped the trembling mass of dingy fur into his arms, he couldn’t believe how light the animal was. The cat must have only weighed a couple pounds, tops. It crawled up his chest and planted the top of its head under his jaw, purring in earnest.

“Easy there,” he murmured and ran a hand down the cat’s narrow back. His palm bumped over its bony spine and he cringed. He lifted the cat around the middle and held it in front of him so he could look it in the eye. “You’re just looking for a meal, aren’t you?”

“Brrooowww owwwn,” it meowed within its motorboat purr.

“Alright, I’ll get you something to eat, but then I’m dropping you off at the pound. I don’t like cats.”

The cat grabbed Jace’s hoop earring with one claw, tugged him closer, and stared directly into Jace’s lacerated soul. He had to look away. The cat rubbed its face over the beard stubble along Jace’s jaw and rattled an even louder purr.

Jace cuddled the cat against his shoulder, holding it securely with one hand, and lifted his guitar case in his free hand.

“Do you have a name?” he asked the cat, feeling rather ridiculous talking to an animal.

“Brrrooooww owwwn.”

“So you’ve said. Are you a girl or a boy cat?”

He looked down at the cat when the purring stopped. The well-duh look she gave him made that perfectly clear. Definitely female.

“Alright, Brownie, what do cats eat? Mice, right?” He knew he didn’t have anything to feed Brownie at home. His apartment was small and sparse, but not mouse-infested. He’d have to stop at the store. There was a quirky shop near the end of his block that sold everything from snacks to sunglasses to action figures. He hoped they sold cat food, too. He tucked Brownie inside his jacket and she curled around his waist, purring so loudly they’d think he had a Harley hidden in his coat.

“Shh.”

She went quiet, as if she actually understood him. Strange creature. And a bit tickly as she stirred against his belly.

Jace hefted his duffle bag and bass guitar into a cart, thinking he probably should have dropped his baggage off at home first, and then perused the aisles. He found the cat-needs aisle and tossed every type of canned cat food available and a few small bags of dried food into his cart. He didn’t know what Brownie liked. He’d just take the extra food to the pound when he dropped her off later. He also decided to spring for the litter pan and some cat litter, just in case she had to go during her short visit. And she’d need a bowl to put her food in. And another one for fresh water. Maybe a toy or two. Some treats. He was eyeing the belled collars when he decided she didn’t need a collar. It wasn’t as if he planned to keep her or anything. As he headed up the next aisle to the checkout  counter, a set of claws dug into his side. Jace stopped. One paw protruded from above his jacket zipper as if pointing at something.

“What?” he whispered, moving in the direction the paw indicated.

The paw extended farther out his neck hole and batted a small red Christmas bulb on a decorated tree.

“Do you like that?” he asked. Why was he talking to a cat?

She let out a meow and reached for the bulb with both paws, squirming about in his jacket as she tried to reach the ornament.

“You’re making a scene,” he said, shoving her back into his coat and tugging the zipper higher.

Into his cart the little, gaudy decorated tree went. Brownie purred her approval.

By the time he’d lugged his duffle bag, guitar case, several bags of cat supplies, and a hideous Christmas tree upstairs, he was exhausted. Dropping everything in the corridor, he opened his apartment door, plagued by the emptiness that always filled him whenever he came home to nothing.

“Honey, I’m home.” His voice echoed in the barren living room.

Inside his jacket, Brownie meowed. He unzipped his coat and she sprang out, trotting into his apartment as if she owned the place. He let her roam while he dragged everything inside. While he was unpacking the impressive collection of canned cat food, Brownie jumped onto the kitchen counter and watched him. She placed a definitive paw on one can of food and meowed.

“Is that the one you want?”

The well-duh look she gave him made him chuckle. He rinsed her new bowl and emptied the can of fishy-smelling grossness into the bowl. She gobbled it up, purring between gulps. Jace extended a hand in her direction, knowing he shouldn’t pet her, knowing he couldn’t get attached. He was dropping her off at the animal shelter as soon as she finished eating. Her face still in the bowl, she twisted her body sideways until it collided with his hand. Her tail curled around his forearm. He didn’t have a choice but to pet her then. Stroking her soft fur was somehow soothing. Her purr settled the turbulence with him even further. He hadn’t expected that.

“Why were you out on your own?” he asked. “Someone abandon you?”

Licking her lips, Brownie lifted her head and looked up at him, those soulful amber eyes meeting his. He turned away and found the gaudy Christmas tree on the floor. He picked it up, set it in the living room in front of the window, and plugged it in. It was only knee high and the most pathetic excuse for a Christmas tree Jace had ever encountered, but it brought a smile to his face. Ten minutes later, the tree was bare except for its flashing colored lights. Red bulbs and garland lay in disarray across the floor. A very pleased cat lay amid the destruction.

Jace shook his head at her. “You don’t really think I’m going to keep you, do you?”

The well-duh look she gave him left no doubt in his mind. Brownie rolled onto her back, paws batting the air and tugging on heartstrings. Jace hated to admit it, but this Christmas he had a family again.

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2011 in Short Story

 

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