RSS

Monthly Archives: April 2017

Fiction: Legal Theft Project–Arrested (1031 words)

Careful so the guard wouldn’t notice, he tossed his handkerchief over the side of the cart, someone would find it.  Whoever would pick it up would notice the Crest of the Lake Family, and take it to return it to Annamarie in the hopes of getting a gold piece or two.  She had to know that Lewis wouldn’t have lost it on accident. She had to realize that he usually wore it close to his heart, where it could never just fall loose onto the road. And he could only hope that she would follow the train of thought and realize he’d dropped it as a plea for help.

Lewis looked across the cart at Marcus, also sitting with his knees tied together, his wrists loosely bounded, pretending to be far more restrained than he actually was. An old trick they had learned from Marcus’s less than reputable biological father, who didn’t understand was appropriate for entertaining seven-year-old boys. Of course, Marcus and Lewis thought it was great fun.

Marcus raised his eyebrows at the careful little toss but said nothing. Lewis smiled a cheeky grin and gave a little shrug. Like this was just a silly night out on the town that they had done a thousand times, rather than an arrest by the royal guard. Marcus rolled his eyes, slumping back against his side of the cart.

It wasn’t that long of a ride. They hadn’t been walking too far from the high city jail when the guards had demanded they face the wall and stand still, waiting to be tied and all but tossed into a cart.  The guards unloaded them with all the care of a sack of potatoes, and lead them down two flights of stairs, awkwardly waddling with their knees together, until they reached a stone room with a barred door.  They sank together onto the rough wooden bench, waiting silently until the guards finished sneering at them, and returned to their desk at the top of the stairs just outside their door.

“So—What was that?” Marcus asked in an undertone.

“Nothing that needs mentioning right now,” Lewis replied sweetly. “If it works, I’ll explain it, if it does not—well, I’d rather not embarrass myself.”

“A little late for that,” Marcus sighed, resting his head against the wall behind him. “Wake me up if they decide to kill us so I can go out of this world screaming like the baby I was when I entered it.”

“Of course,” Lewis laughed, tapping his foot nervously in his waiting.

He didn’t have to wait long.  She wasn’t the kind of woman to do anything subtly, so he heard the ripple of her arrival as soon as she entered, even three floors down. Moments later, she heard the commanding voice.  “Well, the people upstairs tell me that you are holding my men here? Are they right or do I need to contact someone about the way this place is run?”

“Your men?” some poor soul asked, unaware of exactly he was facing, “They are your men?”

“Of course they are my men,” She answered, portraying her anger without actually raising her voice, “Do you think that I would come all the way down here to free some ruffians off the street?”

“Who is that?” Marcus whispered, causing Lewis to jump. With Annamarie’s arrival, Lewis had forgotten all about him.

“It’s complicated…” Lewis began.

“Well, they weren’t wearing the Lake Crest,” the poor man upstairs continued to stutter.

“Good man,” Annamarie’s voice was somehow even cooler than before, “I was raised to believe that the City Guards and Royal Guards were some of the bravest and truest men of the nation, but I am beginning to believe you are a few marbles short of a full game.”

“Ma’am?”

“Do you ever see the Crest of the Noble Houses on the street without an armed guard? If I sent two men out to do my shopping covered in the Lake Crest, aren’t I just inviting them to be pickpocketed or mugged during the errands? Do you think that the Noble Houses keep their wealth by advertising on the street what their servants carry in their pockets?”

Lewis couldn’t help but laugh at that, and when he did, he heard the quick walk of Annamarie’s shoes come towards the stair, her shadow darkening down to his view. “Lewis? Are you down there?”

“Yes, Milady,” Lewis called back, laughing, “I’m down here with Marcus. We regret to inform you we were not able to complete your  shopping list today.”

“I suppose that I will have to let it slide this time,” she yelled down the stair again, and then her shadow disappeared. “Well, are you going to release my men or not?”

There was a great commotion as the guards scrambled for keys and rushed down to untie the two prisoners, all bows and apologies now that a Noblewoman was upstairs waiting for them. Marcus was at least well-versed in the art of deception to keep his amazement and confusion off his face. They made their way upstairs, and both dropped into low bows in front of Annamarie. Lewis fought to keep the cheeky grin of his face. This would go very badly if he smiled at her like he’d seen her naked.

“Well, that took long enough,” Annamarie sniffed, “Come along, boys. I suppose I will have to wait until tomorrow for my goods.”

She led them out to the street and crawled into the awaiting carriage. Lewis and Marcus followed her in as if it was something they did every day.  It was only after they started to move, that Annamarie dropped her cold demeanor and dissolved into a fit of giggles. “Oh, Lewy, what did you do to get yourself there?”

Lewis let that grin he’d been fighting before spread across his face. Marcus looked back and forth between the two of them with an eyebrow raised. “Okay, what is going on here?”

“It’s a long story,” Annamarie offered.

“I’ve got time,” Marcus countered.

Lewis looked to Annamarie, who shrugged and gave a dismissive little hand wave. “Alright then,” Lewis smiled, “Let’s start at the beginning.”

 
1 Comment

Posted by on April 28, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

Tags: , , ,

Fiction: Happy Memory (212 words)

Her earliest memory was of her mother cooking. Lisa couldn’t have been much older than four or five years old, sitting on the kitchen island, kicking her little feet against the cabinets while her mother moved around the pots and pans and cutting boards with a grace that Lisa never saw anywhere else. Her mother would teach her even though Lisa’s toddler mind couldn’t even begin to process the intricate details of a sophisticated pallet while cooking.

But Lisa remembered feeling safe and warm and happy. She remembered eating little scraps of food that her mother offered her during the process.  She remembered laughing at the look on her father’s face as he complained that Lisa got pieces while he got hit with the spoon if he tried to take a bite. Her mom would tease, “Well, clearly, I just love her more,” and then kiss him so long that Lisa would make grossed out sounds from the counter and inform both her parents that kissing was gross.

She remembered being unconditionally happy, and unconditionally loved. She held onto that memory as tightly as she could, even when life got rough after that. She couldn’t help but believe that if it had happened once, she could make it happen again. Somehow. Someday.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 27, 2017 in Stories

 

Tags: , , ,

Fiction: It Was Mutual (99 words)

I guess this is goodbye. I know—neither of us wanted it to end this way. If we could somehow make it perfect, I know we would—but it’s not fair of either of us to conform to the other ideals of perfection, now is it?  No, we have to admit that we are simply not right for each other.

So—No hard feelings, right? We will have good memories of each other and look back on our relationship fondly, but if any kind of luck is on our side, we will never have to see each other again.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 25, 2017 in Stories

 

Tags: , , ,

Fiction: Sneaking Out (524 words)

They met after curfew. Of course, they could see each other earlier as well, as an engaged couple, no one would fault them for sneaking away for a little bit of alone time when they got the chance, but there was something fun about the scandal of sneaking out. That, and there were significantly less “knowing looks” from the older members of the group, which always made her feel a little slimy.

She made her way quietly down the hall where they had aggressed to meet, her eyes straining in the dark to try and find him.  An arm reached out from an even darker alcove, slipping around her waist and pulling her in close. She still couldn’t see him very well, but she knew the feel of his arm settling around her waist and his chest under her hands as she reached out to steady herself. Then, if she wasn’t quite sure yet, his lips were on hers and there was no doubt about who she was with.

After a moment, they separated slightly, their arms still wrapped around each other. He leaned his forehead down against hers and sighed. “This is absolutely my favorite part of the day.”

She gave a little moan of agreement before adding, “I am torn, though.”

“Oh?” He pulled a little farther away to peer down at her in the darkness, “About what?”

“Well, I can’t wait until we are married, so we don’t have to do this anymore,” She mused, “But, I’ll be disappointed when we are married because we don’t get to do this anymore.”

He laughed as he pulled her in tight against his chest again. “I see, that is quite the dilemma you find yourself in.”

She let herself mold against him, trying to get as much contact between them as she could. “It is absolutely the best problem I could ever hope to have.”

“I guess we will just have to enjoy it,” he squeezed her a little tighter. “We are going to have to embrace this next two months of sneaking around and enjoy our last couple of weeks of this silly guilty pleasure. Because as much fun as it is, I won’t delay marrying you, not for the world.”

She sighed as if she wasn’t thinking the exact same thing. “Well, fine. If you insist.”

“I absolutely do,” He kissed her on the top of the head.  “Now, I hear there are a few bedrooms in this wing that aren’t being used this season. Do you think you’d like to go on a search for them with me?”

“Nothing better to do, I suppose,” she teased. They stepped out into the main hall again, his arm around her shoulders, her arm around his waist. She was going to miss this after their wedding, but she was going to heed his advice and enjoy these last few weeks of this silliness.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 24, 2017 in Stories

 

Tags: , , ,

Fiction: Legal Theft Project–Broken (535 words)

His magic had never failed him before, and now a boy was dead.  He stood there, numbly, his hand still outstretched, fingers spread.  The shield had come down. He hadn’t been strong enough. He hadn’t been able to hold it all together.

Mark hadn’t even turned around yet. He only knew that Chad was dead because of the screaming behind him. Sarah was crying “No, no, no,” and Shaun’s unnervingly calm voice declared, “It was a direct hit. He’s gone.”

Mark stared at the empty spaces between his fingers, seeing straight through them without the crackling of magic running between them. He’d been able to face down any enemy before. Very few people could even manage to make him sweat. No one could beat his defensive magic.

Mark let out a strangled noise, somewhere between a sob and a laugh, and let his arm fall to his side. He couldn’t really say that anymore, could he? Someone had beaten his defensive magic when it mattered the most.

Chad was dead.

He wanted to turn around. He wanted to try to apologize to Sarah though he knew he would never be able to make up for the loss of her brother. He wanted to demand that Shaun explain to him what went wrong—how had the shield failed him. He wanted someone, anyone, to tell him that it wasn’t his fault—even though it was most definitely, unerringly his fault.

He couldn’t move though. Lowering his arm seemed to be the last movement he was capable of. He couldn’t turn. He couldn’t run. He couldn’t do anything. He was petrified by fear and grief and blame and guilt.

But then there was a hand in his. A small, soft hand, so gentle that it was almost like it wasn’t there. Mark turned to see Adam there, standing next to him, his back also turned to the horrors behind them.

“They don’t need us here right now,” Adam whispered, his words almost drowned out by the commotion behind them. “Let’s go get you cleaned up, okay?”

Mark let himself be led away from the battleground. He let Adam guide him into the tent. He let himself be stripped down to his underwear, and the dirt and grime and (oh god) blood be wiped off his face, and the back of his neck and away from his arms and hands.

Eventually, Adam led him over to one of the identical little cots and be tucked away under the little blanket.  Mark felt so empty, frozen, but he had to say something. He caught Adam’s hand as he tried to walk away, and pulled him close to the cot. “I don’t…I didn’t mean…I’m sorry.  They need—Someone should say…I’m sorry.” The sentence fragments came tumbling out of his mouth, and he knew he sounded like a madman, but it was the best he could manage.

“It’s okay. I know. They know. It’s okay.” Adam reached out and brushed a piece of hair away from Mark’s forehead. “Sleep, Mark. Sleep.”

Mark didn’t know if it was his own emptiness or Adam’s gentle magic, but his eyelids grew too heavy to stay up, then he was asleep.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 21, 2017 in Legal Theft Project

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Fiction: Threads [Part 4 of 4] (752 words)

For a brief second, Rose shut her eyes and leaned her cheek flush against Henry’s hand.  In that instant, she was trying to memorize exactly what this moment felt like.  She didn’t believe that she would be lucky enough to not have this blow up in her face.  It had to end soon. She opened her eyes again as Henry spoke.

“Can you make me a promise, Rose?”

“I can try.”

“Can you promise me you’ll never try to get another man on the line again?”  Rose’s confusion must have shown on her face, because Henry continued, “If I am signing up for forever and for always, I want to know that it is just you and me forever and always.”

“Henry?”  She was confused. Was he actually saying…? Could she trust him to keep that promise? She couldn’t bring herself to ask him, so she just repeated his name, “Henry?”

“Yes, If you want me, yes.”

Rose tried to slow her heart. She couldn’t believe this was happening. Her answer was a small motion, but Rose knew that with his hands on her face, Henry would feel her nod.

“Okay then,” Henry said simply, before lowering his face and kissing Rose, very softly at first, before pressing himself against her.  Behind her eyelids, Rose saw fireworks.  She had counted once, a couple of years ago, just how many men she had kissed, and it was well into the hundreds.  None of them had even come close to the rush of pleasure, of happiness, or of complete and utter joy that this kiss gave her.  Rose suppressed a groan as Henry stepped away from her.

“Oh, wow.”  He said, his hands dropped away from her face before he interlocked his fingers over his own forehead. “That’s trippy.”

Rose knew what he meant.  She was feeling it right now, too.  The first time you got a thread from any given person.  That momentary thrill of power.  The rush of suddenly being very aware of the other person.  But this was more than that.  Mixed in with all of that was the feeling of actually being in love.  Rose looked at Henry for a moment, and he grinned back at her.  She felt herself willing him to kiss her again, but at the same time, she could feel his will pulling her towards him.  With a smile on both of their lips, they met in the middle, kissing even more passionately than the first time, egging each other on, both with pure physical contact and with the power of their wills on each other. Henry’s hands were caressing her face, tangled in her hair, and running down her back and sides.  Rose’s own hands were touching everything that they could, trying to memorize every inch of him so she could recall it at any time in the future.  Henry’s hands settled at Rose’s waist, helping to stabilize her as he walked her backward, around her suitcases, towards her bed, without breaking off the kiss. Her legs hit the bed, and she stumbled a little, laughing.  With a soft growl, Henry’s lips broke away from her own, kissing her cheek and down to her neck.

Rose opened her eyes briefly. “The Door.”  She said softly.  It was open, but she couldn’t make herself understand why that was an issue while Henry was kissing her neck the way that he was.  Henry growled against her neck, which sent shivers down her spine.  He seemed to consider for a moment, but then with a soft bite to her neck, he ripped himself away from her and made his way quickly to the door. It took every ounce of his willpower to not slam the door shut.  Rose sank onto the bed, sitting with her arms wrapped around herself.

Henry turned around and saw her sitting like that.  He asked, “Should we stop?”

“Oh, don’t you dare!”  Rose answered, almost desperately.  With an almost animalistic grin, Henry crossed the room in two quick strides, catching Rose with a fierce kiss and knocking her back onto the bed.  He laughed against her lips as she groaned and squirmed with the anticipation and frustration of having him so close, and yet so far away.  She had never wanted anyone as badly as she wanted Henry right now, and it was killing her to not get what she wanted.

But she knew—he had said forever and always. She had plenty of time to get used to him.

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 20, 2017 in Stories

 

Tags: , , ,

Fiction: Threads [Part 3 of 4] (582 words)

Rose felt the weight of the bed change and opened her eyes to find Henry on his feet now, pacing the length of the room.  When he spoke, he turned to Rose but paced while he waited for her answers.

“So, you have slept with how many men?”

“A lot.”

“But you haven’t found any of them attractive.”

“Physically, a little, not serious attraction. Nothing Romantic as it were. Some men were absolutely disgusting, but most are just neutral. Whatever. Blah.” Rose shrugged, “It was just a means to an end.”

“Then, how did you…forgive me if I’m being crass but if they were so blah then—“

“Well, at first I made up the kind of man I wished I was with, and recently, forgive me if I’m being crass now, but I pretended I was with you.”

Henry blushed, and Rose couldn’t help but be pleased. “So, you didn’t kiss me because…”

“Because if I kiss you I want to know that means you are in this forever and for always.  There is no way for me to fall out of love with you; it’s as simple as that.  You and I would be a forever deal, and I couldn’t be sure that you were in for that. I couldn’t be sure that you wouldn’t come to abuse that connection.  So, I didn’t kiss you.”

Rose sat quietly, feeling more drained and exposed than she had ever felt in her life before. Finally, Henry stopped pacing.  He turned to look Rose in the eye sternly, and Rose knew what was coming.  The heart-breaking words of ‘I can’t do this forever’, or the even more heartbreaking words of ‘I didn’t really think of you in that way,’ or even, ‘You aren’t a keep around forever kind of girl.’ All those things that her father said or implied to her mother. All those things Rose knew had to be true of a woman of her powers.

But still, this heartbreak would be easier to get over since she hadn’t kissed him.  She would be able to get over him eventually this way.  Rose tried her hardest to concentrate on that bright side.

Henry opened his mouth, then seemed to think it over and shut his mouth again.  He looked Rose over again for a moment, and then finally said, “Stand up.”

“Excuse me?” Rose asked.

“Please stand up.”  Less of a demand, more of a question this time.  Rose got to her feet and stepped around one of her open suitcases into the open part of the room near Henry.  “How many men do you have on the line right now?” Henry asked.

Helen had asked her that earlier. The answer was supposed to be none. She had told Helen none. “A handful,”  Rose answered honestly.

“Can you cut them loose?”

“Yes.”  Rose shut her eyes, and slowly let each handful of threads fade away.  It was a strange feeling for Rose to be all alone in her own head.  It had been years since she had nobody at all on the line.  When she finally opened her eyes again, Henry was much closer than before.  Very slowly, and very carefully, Henry raised his hand to touch Rose’s cheek.

“How many men do you have on the line right now?” Henry repeated.

“None,” Rose answered, her voice barely a whisper. “It’s just me in my head.”

“Good,” Henry smiled, and then raised his other hand, cupping Rose’s face between his hands.

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 19, 2017 in Stories

 

Tags: , , ,