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Monthly Archives: April 2014

Fiction: Post Mortem Presents (818 words)

“Hey Bess?” Dean’s voice was soft from his side of his bed.  He didn’t want to wake her if she’d finally managed to drift off.  But if she was awake, he wasn’t sure if he’d have the balls to ask it later.

“Sorry, am I blanket hogging again?”  Bess answered and Dean’s heart leaped into his throat.   He’d really been hoping that she was asleep so that he could tell the curious part of his brain that it was a sign that it was none of his business.

“No—no. It’s not that.  I just wanted to ask a personal question.”

“Oh-“Bess’s voice was softer—more guarded this time, “You can ask. I can’t promise that I’ll answer.”

“Fair enough.  I was just wondering-uh—I was wondering if you could tell me—well, why were you and Tay there during the accident?”  For a long moment there was nothing but silence, and out of panic, Dean began to ramble. “Of course, you don’t have to tell me—if it was just something between you and Tay I understand that completely—I just wanted to ask, but I’ll just shut up now.”

“No. No, I can tell you.  In fact, I think it might be good to tell someone.  But—uh—if I tell you…you have to promise to not to tell Shauna anything.  It’d break her heart.  I mean—worse than it already is.”

Dean’s breath hitched in his chest and he felt a little sick.   Was she suggesting what he thought she was suggesting?  “Are you saying that the tabloids—I mean—that you and Tay actually were—“He cut off, unable to complete the accusation.

Bess sat up quickly. “Oh, Ew. No. God no. Taylor and I were not having an affair.  I don’t mean to speak ill of the dead, but he wasn’t my type.”

Dean sat up as well, relieved to hear that his mental image of his best friend wasn’t irreparably tarnished.  That being said,, he felt the need to defend his best friend.  “What? Successful, well-tanned, fit men with great personalities aren’t your type?”

“Men who are madly in love with their wives are not my type,” Bess countered with a smile, before frowning slightly.  “I miss him.”

Dean nodded but decided to try and move the conversation along, to keep them from falling into that now all too familiar silent funk.  “What am I note telling Shauna about that doesn’t involve you sleeping with her husband?”

“Uh—right. You know about The Hughs, yeah?”

Dean raised an eyebrow.  “The band? Shauna really likes them.  Am I thinking of the right group?”

Bess nodded.  “According to Tay, they are her absolute favorite.  I went to high school with their manager, so when Tay said he was going to try and get them to play Shauna’s birthday I thought introducing him to their manager might help that process along.  We were all the way out there because it was closer to her house and it fit her schedule better.  She’d already left, about ten minutes before, but we’d each gotten one last drink to celebrate that it looked like she was going to be able to convince them.  He was so happy.”  Bess stopped as her voice caught in her throat.  She took a deep breath to regain some composure.  “So—you can’t tell Shauna.  Not yet at least.  She would blame herself for the fact that he was there, even though it was so not her fault that it almost hurts to explain.”

“No—I get it.”  Dean nodded in agreement.  “It’d be too much for her.  She wouldn’t take it well.”  Dean fidgeted with the edge of the blanket, weighing the pros and cons of what he was thinking.  “Do you think we can still get The Hughs to play?”

“What?”

“I mean—we don’t need to tell her that’s why you guys were there—but w could still set up the concert.  You know, one last present for Shauna from her husband.  I think she’d like that.  And I think it would make Tay happy if we could still make it happen for her.  You know—a kind of honor his memory kind of thing.  Can we make that happen?”

Bess was quiet for a long time, thinking.  Dean waited, knowing that patience was the only way to get a decision from Bess.  “You’d think she’d like it?  It wouldn’t be too much?”

Honesty is the best policy.  “I think it might make her a little sad, but I think it would make her happier than it would make her sad in the long run.”

Bess nodded.  “I’ll talk to Ashleigh.  I’ll see what we can get together.”

Dean smiled.  “Thank you.  We should probably get some sleep now, yeah?  We should both go to work tomorrow.”

“Sleep is good,” Bess agreed.  The both laid back down, settling into their own sides of the bed.  Dean laid there for a long time before sleep finally took him.

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Posted by on April 30, 2014 in Stories

 

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Fiction: The Family Way (Part 14) (695 words)

Marta’s pregnancy had consumed our Christmas break.  We dealt with the ramifications of being kicked out of our house, including looking for apartments to stay in and trying to decide if we could still afford the colleges we’d been looking into.  I was still practically shaking with the rage of the baby’s father’s response to Marta.  Discussions about whether or not Marta wanted to raise the child or put her up for adoption were still in their infancy.  I’d slept in my boyfriend’s bed with my sister, a guest bedroom with my boyfriend, and a couch when I didn’t want to deal with either of them for a couple of hours.  Since our birthday, I can honestly say that I didn’t think of much else.

It was such a culture shock to go back to school.   It never occurred to me that people there didn’t know what had happened.  Other than the guidance counselor we’d spoken to the other day about what we needed to do now that our parents were no longer our legal guardians who knew we’d left home, and presumably the father of the baby who knew about the pregnancy, no one knew a thing.

Marta was in her element.  She smiled and laughed and hung out with her group like nothing had happened.   She discussed the break like it’d be perfectly relaxing.  She complained offhand about an argument with our parents as if it was nothing, not an incident that left us practically homeless and her in bed for the better part four days.

“How does she do that?” Bradley asked, turning to me.  He looked as exhausted as I felt.  We’d been in school for almost ten minutes, and it already felt like too much for me.    I was so ill prepared for this.

“I don’t know.  I’ve never felt so different.”

“Right.”  Bradley rubbed a hand over his face and leaned in to give me a kiss. “I’ll see you in study hall?” I nodded and he went his way.

 

I found it really hard to concentrate on school.  In spite of my promise to Marta, any time a boy talked in class I couldn’t help but wonder if he was the jackass that cut my sister a check to cover up a mistake that was half his. Somewhere in the middle of physics, it occurred to me that my parents weren’t going be asking to see my grades anymore, so why did I give a rats ass about science?  The only class I suddenly felt the need to really understand was “Independent Living” the P.C. name for Home Ec class.  It felt really important that I knew how to do to my own taxes all of a sudden.

At lunch, Marta found me and told me she was going to go back to Natalie’s house after school.  She was going to tell the group there about the pregnancy, and if anyone asked me the father was one of Momma’s friend’s sons from the summer camp in Maine. Once she told the group, she was going to work out a plan to get it subtly told to Nathan Carpenter, editor of the school paper and one of the biggest gossips known to man.  “It’ll be everywhere by the end of the week,” Marta said gravely, “Like ripping off a Band-Aid. Just thought you should know if you wanted to brace yourself.”

I warned Bradley as well.  He teased that the people who couldn’t tell the difference tonight would probably think I was the pregnant one considering how I was the one with a boyfriend and all.  I laughed at his joke but ended up falling asleep on my arm during the hour-long study hall. It was a sign of how rough I looked that the teacher let me sleep until the bell rang and didn’t report me for after school study hall.

As I got into Bradley’s car at the end of the day, I’d barely sat down before I started to cry.    Bradley took my hand carefully but didn’t say anything.  “There isn’t even a baby yet,” I said pathetically before I allowed myself to openly sob.

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2014 in Avery and Marta

 

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Fiction: Rest In Peace (99 words)

One of my favorite things about her was the way that she genuinely loves to see other people happy.  There wasn’t a jealous bone in her body.  She was never disappointed to see that someone else got something that made them happy—even if she wanted it for herself.  She said things like “Life’s not a competition” and “Any happiness in the world is good.”  And she meant it.  There aren’t too many people in the world who could say that honestly. Maybe she always knew that she wouldn’t have enough time to spend any of it being bitter.

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2014 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Sisterly Love (1064 words)

In so many ways, I still couldn’t quite believe that this was happening.  Literally three weeks ago, I was single, living as a housemate to Finn, a man who was practically plucked from my dreams, but I was too chicken shit to make a move and sure that I’d never be able to get him anyway.  Then a mutual friend made a joke about the two of us together, and by the end of the week, Finn and I were engaged.

Okay, so we hadn’t technically dated, but we had been housemates for the better part of three years.  I’d seen the best of him and the worst of him.  Heaven knows he’d seen the best and worst of me.  And, although I never would have admitted it without his admission first, I was in love with the man.  Head over heels in love. Crazy in love.  And it was really nice that he loved me back.

So, we were getting married in about a month’s time.  Because why not? We already lived together, and neither of us wanted to do something big and overly fancy—so why wait?

I was flying back to my home in Virginia, to break the news to my family.  I twisted the beautiful engagement ring Finn had gotten me nervously.  I wasn’t a hundred percent sure how my family was going to react.  That’s why I’d made my visit home a surprise.  Only my sister knew I was coming, so she could pick me up from the airport and so that I could crash on her couch.

I was going to tell her first—one so I could ask her to be my maid of honor and two so I could use her as a litmus test for how the rest of the family was going to react.

So, after the welcome homes and the post airplane shower, I curled up on the couch with my sister and a glass of wine.  The engagement ring was snuggly in my pocket now, so that it wouldn’t give me away, but where I could get to it as soon as I told her. “So—I’ve got some big news.”

“Oh yeah?” Grace took a sip of her wine, “What’s that?”

“I-uh,” I could feel the smile creeping up my face, even though I was trying to seem serious so that Grace would take me seriously.  “I’m getting married.”

“Pft. No, you’re not.” Grace was flippant.  I’d expected that.

“No, I really am.”   I pulled the ring out of my pocket, slid it on my finger, and held out my hand for my sister’s inspection.

“Oh, my god. That ring is perfect for you.” My sister gaped for a second, “I didn’t think you were seeing anyone.”

“Well, I technically wasn’t.”

My sister gave me a look. “Well, if you’re not dating anyone, who are you marrying?

“Finn.  You remember my housemate?”

“So—you two were actually secretly dating?”

“Uh—no.  He just kind of confessed his love for me a couple of weeks ago, and I’d been fanning a bit of a flame for him too, so we decided to get married.”

“When?”

“I’m sorry?”

“When are you getting married?”

“Oh.  Well, we’re not exactly sure yet because we want to make sure our parents can get out to LA for the wedding, but probably sometime next month.  Speaking of, Grace—“

“Are you pregnant?” Grace interrupted.

“What? No!”  My hands immediately went to my shirt, pulling it away from my skin.  “I know I gained a little weight but—“

“No, you look good.  If you are pregnant, you can’t see it yet.  But that’s it, isn’t it? You and Finn got drunk, forgot protection, you’re knocked up and now you’ve got him by the balls.”

“Wow.  No.  I’m not pregnant, believe it or not, a man loves me even after living with me for three years and I don’t have to have him ‘by the balls’ for him to want to marry me.”  I wasn’t proud of the anger rising in my voice, but I was more than insulted by what my sister was implying.  I began to wonder if it was a mistake to tell my family at all at this rate.

“I’m sorry—“Grace backpedaled immediately, “I didn’t mean to imply he doesn’t love you.  I know he does—I could tell that even when I met him last year. I know he loves you.  I’m just shocked by the speed of it.”

“Well, I wish you would have said something last year about him loving me.  We could have started this whole thing a lot earlier.”

“But—a month?  That a real quick wedding, Bette.  Like, really quick.  You’ve got to admit that that timing looks suspicious.”  Grace stared at me in silence for a moment longer, since I didn’t really have a response for her.  Then she leaned forward a little bit and whispered, “Are you sure you’re not pregnant?”

“Yes. I’m sure I’m not pregnant.”   I was laughing now. She had a point, with a wedding this close there would be whispers, I might as well start to find it funny now or else I’d go mad.

“Well, then why are you getting married so quickly?”

“Because we’ve wasted an awful lot of time already.  We already live together and we know that works for us so why wait?”

“Not pregnant?”

“Not pregnant.”

Grace downed her wine and then stood up.  “Come on,” she ordered, crossing to the foyer area at the front of the apartment

I got up, followed her over, and found her slipping on her shoes and putting on a coat. “Where are we going?”

“If you’re not pregnant—“

“I’m not.”

“—then you won’t mind peeing on a stick.  We’re going to CVS to get a home pregnancy test.”

“Grace. You have got to be kidding me.”

“I’ve got my suspicions—and this will resolve them.  If you want me to be your Maid of Honor, then isn’t it best if all my suspicions are resolved before the wedding?” I stared at my sister in shock for a long time.  “What? You were going ask me to be your Maid of Honor, right? Because you’ll most definitely be mine.”

“You’re a brat, you know that?” I finally turned to my own shoes and coat

“It’s in my job description as the little sister.  Now, to the CVS before it closes.”

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2014 in Stories

 

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Fiction: That Psychic Twin Connection (550 words)

They weren’t expecting Mara to come through the doors.  She had retired and all the codes had been changed at least a dozen times since she’d last been a part of their team. By all rhyme and reason–she shouldn’t have been able to get in.

But then again–if anyone was going to get in–it would most definitely be Mara.  “Where’s Andrew?”  She was barely in the room before she was yelling, “Where is my brother, I swear to god–”

Diane looked at her in shock, but Ava and Colin both jumped out of their seats in immediate crisis mode.  “We don’t have Andy–” Ava admitted slowly, staying out of Mara’s reach, “But we know where he is, we know he’s okay, and we’re going in to get him back.”

Mara looked up at Colin, knowing that he couldn’t look her in the eye and lie, not about something as important as this.  “Do you have a good plan for getting him back?”

“We’ve had better–but this one should work with minimal complications,” Colin confirmed.

“Is there a plan that works better if I agree to be on the team again? Is there a better plan for four?” Mara demanded.

Colin didn’t answer–which spoke volumes. Mara turned to look at the other women in the room.  Ava didn’t say anything either, but Diane stood up. “Yes, we have a plan that would work very well with four trained members.” Diane walked towards Mara, “but you’ve been off the team for two years. How do we know you’re even any good anymore? How do we know that you won’t be a hindrance?”

“Mara untrained is still better than you trained,” Colin burst out before he could stop himself.

Ava waved her hand sharply and cut off Diane’s argument before it could start.  Colin even had the decency to look a little ashamed of himself for his outburst.

“I’m sorry, Diane. Colin might have exaggerated a little, but not by a lot. Remember this was Andrew and Mara’s vision.  Together, they have been training longer than you, Colin, and myself combined.  If Mara wants back on the team, we let her back on–and go with the better plan.  Can we all agree to that?”

All three of them nodded, although, Diane did look a little grudgingly as she did so. “Okay,” Ava waved her arm again.  “Let’s all head down to the strategy room and go over the new plan.”

Diane stormed out of the room, and Ava was close behind her, preparing to sooth the wounded ego.

But Mara called Colin’s name before he could leave the room.  He stopped, stuck his thumbs in his pockets and gave her a little half-smile. “Thanks for sticking up for me to Diane.”

Colin shrugged, realizing they were very close to the thin line that they could never cross, not again.  “I just told her the truth.  Andy would have said the same.”

Comparing himself to her brother–a seemingly casual and yet very calculated move.  Mara took the hint with grace. “Well, thank you nonetheless.”

“My pleasure.  Should we join the girls?” Colin suggested quickly Mara nodded and followed him out of the room.  They’d rescue Andy, then Mara would worry about her head getting screwed on straight.   Only one panic-inducing thought at the time.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2014 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Ixi Agency (Part 13)

–Joey–

Joey never appreciated just how many people kept the Ixi Agency up and running until he had to interview all of them. Still, all of the preliminary interviews were done now, and there were most certainly worse missions that Joey had been on in the last century alone, so he probably shouldn’t complain ‘too’ much. But he was exhausted, and to not complain wouldn’t be in his nature.

“Mmph.” He said very helpfully as he laid his head down on the table.

“Very well said,” Darryl added in agreement, stacking papers neatly on the table.  “These are the people who lied to us.  I have the feeling that a lot of them are just going to be stupid little things: For instance, I know for a fact that two of Hank’s workers, Kathryn and Darren, are secretly dating, and that’s why they lied to us.  But still, I think we should call them all back in. It wouldn’t hurt to ask them all again.  And besides, Laurel said that she wanted us to be through, so we will be very through.”

“Mmph.” Joey repeated, his face still squished against the table top.

“Well, I’m going to take that as an affirmative, and I’m going to go ahead and schedule these appointments. But I’m going to do it tomorrow.”  Joey raised his head just enough to watch Darryl rub at his eyes, and then lean back in his chair. “I think it’s time to call it a night.”

“As the leader of this mission, I second that,” Joey stood up and scooped Darryl’s stack of papers into a folder, and together they started down the hallway back to the bunks.

“So, do tell, how did Willow manage to get out of the late night meeting?” Darryl asked.

Joey, suddenly very aware of who he was speaking to, worded his response very carefully. “She was tired, and Willow isn’t the best of help with paperwork when she is in the best of moods, so I figured having her around would actually be more a hindrance to productivity rather than any kind of help.”  He didn’t mention the way that Willow turned on the puppy dog eyes, and ask if he wouldn’t mind too terribly if she skipped to on it this time. He also didn’t mention that, really, Willow could ask him for pretty much anything, and if it was in his power, he would gladly give it to her. He was just that kind of pathetic.

Darryl smiled a knowing smile nonetheless, and shook his head.  “Be careful not to let her get too wrapped around your finger, Joey boy. Very little, if any good, will come of it.” Joey turned to ask Darryl just what he meant by that, but then Darryl said “Good night” and dipped into his own bunk.

Joey decided that he was just overly tried, and reading into things, becoming more paranoid than usual. In the morning, the comment would seem like nothing, because it probably was nothing.  Joey turned into his own bunk, fell onto his bed, and was almost instantly asleep, fully dressed and all.  When he woke up, he didn’t even remember Darryl’s comment at all.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2014 in Ixi Agency

 

Fiction: Time to Be Badass (356 words)

It was the code word she hadn’t realized that she was waiting for.  They had worked their magic so well last time, and for the past two years she had practically forgotten all that she had been trained to do.  All of the things that she had done.

But with three small syllables, it all came rushing back to her, hitting her like a cool breeze.  She stood up a bit straighter and rolled her shoulders in a stretch.  She felt good. She felt tall.  She felt strong.  For the first time in years, she felt free.

She blinked a couple of times and scanned the room.  It was a very crowded mall food court.  There were easily a hundred people in the immediate area.  But her eyes were drawn to him.  There was nothing particularly special about him, not in the way he looked, but to her it was almost like he was standing in a spotlight.

She gave up all pretense of trying to act mature or normal, and all but ran towards him, easily avoiding everyone in-between them.  He caught her quickly by the waist, swinging her in a small circle before putting her back on her feet and holding her tightly.  She leaned back in his grip so that she could study his face property.  He was one of those completely beautiful men; dark hair, bright blue eyes behind black rimmed glasses, nice cheekbones, and when he smiled everything on his face lit up and women took notice.  Even now, out of the corner of her eye, she could see women checking him out rather bluntly.

But that didn’t really matter because he was smiling just for her.  “Oh, I’ve missed you.” He whispered.  Oh that’s right. He had an accent.  Be still her beating heart.

“I’ve missed you too.  Is it time to be bad ass?”

“I don’t know. Let’s go find out.” And just when she thought he never would, he leaned down and kissed her, hard and quick and it sent a shiver right up her spine.  They broke apart, and headed hand in hand out of the mall.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2014 in Stories

 

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