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Fiction: Legal Theft Project–Retail Therapy (501 words)

“It’s not my fault—There was a sale.”  

Charles looked around the room at the dozen, maybe two dozen, bags that surrounded Georgia. “Oh my,” he muttered softly, carefully picking his way over to his arm chair, sitting down carefully. “Oh, Georgia, what did you do?”  

“I only went in for one thing,” She insisted, making a faster path around the bags than he had, coming to sit on his lap, “But it was a sale. A summer sale. The biggest sale the store had ever had. What was I supposed to do, say no?”  

Charles knew there was no point in trying to explain to Georgia that he would have expected her to say no. She’d never been the type of person to pass up something shiny and new, nor the type of person to pass up a bargain—so put the two together and she would have been utterly helpless. He’d known all this about her when he’d agreed to marry her, and he guessed he had to pay the piper at some point. Or—he supposed—pay the credit card bill to be more specific.  

“How much did you spend?” He asked warily, reaching up to wrap one of her curls around his finger. No point in delaying it. Might as well find out the damage now.  

Georgia at least had the decency to look a little ashamed as she said it. “Four hundred thirty-six dollars and ninety-one cents.” Charles flinched at the number, so Georgia rushed to add, “But I saved six hundred and seventeen dollars. That’s one thousand and fifty-three dollars worth of stuff all for less than five hundred.  It’s a deal.” Georgia said it with such hope. All she wanted was confirmation that she hadn’t messed up too badly, that Charles still loved her in spite of this, that he wasn’t mad.  

Charles sighed again, trying not to think about how many times he would sigh before this was all said and done. He did still love her, of course, he still loved her, and in the grand scheme of things, he couldn’t even be mad.  This was what she did. And if he loved her he had to love her for the full package, not just the parts he liked best.  

“It is a deal,” he conceded, and before he could stop himself he added, “I probably wouldn’t have gotten all this stuff—but you cannot deny that it was a deal.” Georgia frowned up at him adorably, so he wrapped his arms a little tighter around him. “Oh don’t. It’s okay. I know you can’t pass up a good sale. It will all work out in the end.”  

“I just—It was a sale.”  

“I know, babe, I know.” Charles dropped a kiss on her forehead. “And you just can’t pass up a good sale.”  

She curled in a little tighter, and he pulled her in to snuggle closer. “I absolutely cannot pass up a good sale.”  

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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Fiction: Not Really Wrong (532 words)

“We’re going to get caught, aren’t we?” Nilo whispered to her, staring up at the sky.  He felt more than saw Saryn turn and stare at him with all her usual attitude.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, it can’t be this good for long, right? Someone is going to catch us, or one of us is going to do something to severely piss the other off or some other grand hell is about to descend on our heads because we’re trying to get away with this?” Nilo continued to speak up to the empty air rather than turning to face Saryn.

“Really? Is that what you think is going to happen?” Saryn asked, reaching across Nilo and forcing him to turn and look her in the face. “Are you that worried?”

“Well, two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead.  And, to be honest, I would rather our secret come out than one of us dying. As a general rule.” Nilo answered, turning into the roll so that she and Saryn were nose to nose.

“Well, yes, I’d like that too—as a general rule—but I don’t think it has to come to that. We are very careful. No one is going to find out unless we want them to. And that will be long enough after my husband’s funeral that people will actually believe us when we say that we didn’t start this until after he was gone.”

“Do we really care if people believe us, though?” Nilo countered, “If we just tell them outright that we are together, people can whisper all they want, we know the truth, we know we haven’t done anything wrong. Isn’t that good enough?”

Saryn smiled at him, which he felt more than saw. “I wish it was enough. I do. But, I don’t want people to even talk amongst themselves about Darel being cheated on or cuckolded or anything like that. That would be disrespectful to his memory, and to the memory of him in a lot of people’s minds.”

Nilo sighed and rolled flat on his back. He knew that Saryn still loved Darel even though he was gone. He knew that she would love him for as long as she was still alive. Hell, Nilo still loved Darel, he had been a good friend before he’d gotten sick. But a small part of him—the part that was deciding to rear its ugly head today—was extremely jealous that he’d always have to share Saryn’s heart with him.

“I’m sorry, I know,” Saryn propped herself up on an arm so she could look down into Nilo’s face. “This whole situation is a mess, and I’m not making it any easier or cleaner.  But—I don’t think there is a clean or easy way to do it. I just have to follow my gut.”

Nilo smiled again in spite of himself. She did love him. He knew that. It wasn’t fair to take out any frustration on her for things that neither of them could change. “No need to be sorry.  We’ll figure this out.”

“Yeah,” Saryn rested her head on Nilo’s chest, “We’ll figure this out.”

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Morning Routine (582 words)

I was so tired. I didn’t want to get up at all. But all I could see with my eyes closed was the list of things that had to get done today. So begrudgingly I opened my eyes and pulled myself up into a sitting position.

“Morning, sleepy head.” I turned and saw my husband sitting up against his pillows, playing with his phone.  Today was his day off, he could stay in bed as long as he wanted today—and when he did get out of bed, it would just be to move to the couch to play Xbox until it was time for him to make dinner because his only responsibility was to make our dinner tonight. And I kind of hated him a little bit for that. I told him as much.

“Aw, you’re my little go-getter. You’ll be perfectly fine today.” He smiled and blew me a kiss.

“I’m exhausted,” I countered, crossing to the outfit hanging on our closet door. “I’m fatigued. I’m burned out. I’m run down. Do you get it or do I need to keep going?”

“I’m thinking you might not have slept well.” He answered, putting down his phone, watching me start to get dressed. “Are you going to be okay driving?”

“Yes, I slept well enough that I’m not a danger to society.”

“Okay, just checking.” He crossed the room and wrapped his arms around me, preventing me from finishing the whole dressing process. “I don’t want you to run into a pole on the way to work.  That would absolutely ruin my day off.”

“Well, glad you’re so concerned.” I groaned. I half-heartedly tried to get away from him, before sighing and leaning against him. “I don’t want to go to work.”

“I know,” he answered softly, kissing me gently on the head, “But someone has to go make the big bucks, and that’s not me. This is what you get for getting that fancy college degree and working at the fancy desk job, and then marrying a lowly security guard.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I griped.

“But I cook for you. And I am quite the impressive chef. So—that counts for something?” He added hopefully.

“Yes, yes, that counts for a lot,” I had to ease his worry before he spent the whole day wondering if he really wasn’t good enough for me. “But right now, you have to let me go because if I fall asleep against your chest there will be no waking me up for work again.”

He made a ‘Mmm’ sound that I felt through his chest, while he considered making me fall back asleep, convincing me to call out of work sick and enjoy a day home together. But he knew that in the long run, I would feel guilty that I didn’t go in and work on all my projects, and if later down the road I needed that sick day and didn’t have it, I would irrationally blame him for it. So, he just kissed me on the head and let his hands fall to his sides.

“Tacos for dinner?” He asked, stepping away long enough for me to finish getting dressed.

“Sounds lovely.” I let him kiss me again, without holding me. If he held me again, we’d just be stuck in a cycle of embracing and letting go and embracing again, and I’d end up late for work.

“Stay safe out there,” he told me, crawling back into bed again.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Hating the Wait (533 words)

All River could do now was wait. They had fortified their defenses. Her army was at her it’s strongest yet. They had a good position around their base—and she was fairly confident that the could outlast any siege that the Brotherhood could bring around them.

But now they were just waiting.  They had to wait for the Brotherhood to decide to come and attack them. They all knew that it was only a matter of time—but they didn’t know what length that time would be.  She paced around the front room of the little fortified base, trying not drive herself crazy, or anyone else crazy. David was standing near the door to the barracks, leaning against the wall and watching her walk herself around in different circles and squares, and any other shape that her mind could create, as a pathetic attempt at a distraction method.

“Are you going to do that until they show up?” David finally asked when River finished was he was pretty sure was a five point star. “It could still be a couple weeks before their army is at our door. Your legs are going to get tired.”

“Hardy-har,” River replied in a monotone, starting a new shape around the border of the room.

“Seriously though, Riv, you’ve got to calm down. You’re going to drive us all batty sooner rather than later if you keep running around like that.” David answered

“I’m going to drive myself crazy if I sit still, Dave. I can’t just stand around waiting to be attacked.”

“Well, there is a poker game going on in the barracks. I’m pretty sure the chef can always use help in the kitchen. Or, if you’re thinking a little bit more one-on-one, I’m pretty sure there’s a nice little supply closet we can disappear to for a couple hours or so,” David waggled his eyebrows suggestively.

River stopped in her pacing to give David a look. “Really? That’s what you’re thinking about? With everything going on?”

“Well, of course—“ David shrugged with a smile. “It took us so long to get together. If we’re going to be under siege, I might as well try and get as much as I can before it’s all war all the time.”

The anger and tension slid out of River in one quick wave as she shook her head at David. “You are utterly ridiculous. You know that?”

“I am aware. I’ve been told a time or two. Mostly by you, in fact.” David pushed up away from the wall, but didn’t step forward. He raised his arms just slightly, like inviting River forward for a hug. She rocked back and forth on her heels for a second, before walking forward into his arms. He wrapped his arms tightly around her waist as she rested her head against his collarbone.

“I love you,” She muttered into his chest, “Just in case I haven’t said it enough.”

“I love you too,” He murmured into her hair. He waited a whole additional fifteen seconds before added, “So, that closet…yes or no?”

She gave him a half-hearted shove in the chest. “You’re ridiculous.”

“See?” He laughed, “There you go again.”

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2017 in River's Story, Stories

 

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Fiction: Legal Theft Project– Unhealthy

There was no hiding from sleep. I could avoid it for a little while—with a steady diet of coffee, sodas, and on the more extreme days, Kroger brand “Stay Awake” caffeine pills. But in the end, sleep always got me. Which is probably for the best, I guess, because they tell me that if you don’t sleep you die.

I digress.

And really, the truth of the matter is going to sleep isn’t the problem. Asleep, I dream.  And when I’m dreaming, everything is fine. He’s not dead yet, I’m still making money, and everything is okay. It’s nice to be happy and okay again.

Waking up is the problem. Because no matter what, I do wake up, and always sooner than I’d like.  And I’m alone in bed again. And in ways that I cannot properly explain unless you’ve felt it too—that sucks.

I know it will get better with time. I know that every morning that I wake up I will miss him—but eventually, it will get to the point where I don’t hate laying down to sleep, eventually it will get to the point where waking up isn’t the worst part of my day. But for now…Well, I’ll run from sleep as best I can.

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2017 in Legal Theft Project, Stories

 

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Fiction: Unintentional Change [Part 2 of 2] (574 words)

James swallowed hard a few times. “I what? I don’t have the ability to make anyone immortal. Do you? Is that something we develop over a few millennia or something?”

“It is something you can do. I can too, apparently. It’s just the circumstances are so weird that it’s not something most of us run into.” Matthew was less angry now that James wasn’t lying to him. He was in teacher mode instead of integration mode.  “Apparently, Protectors can influence mortals through extended contact and strong emotions. Right now, her DNA and blood samples match those of a protector, although she was clearly not born that way.”

James blinked at Matthew. “What?”

“Here, look,” Matthew shoved the open book at Matthew’s hand, “Start at this paragraph.”

James looked down at the page automatically, but it took him a little while to calm his brain down enough to actually start processing the words on the page.

Protectors live in a contradictory way with the mortals that they help protect. On one side of the argument, they must care for the mortals their lives touch in order to continue with their destiny of protecting and keeping the mortal lives balanced. Without caring for the mortals then the motivation to protect and save would fade away entirely.

However, Protectors also live for thousands of their mortals’ lifetimes, which makes it harder to connect with mortals on any kind of interpersonal level, often their problems are hard to relate to when they will be over in a comparably  very short time. Because of this, most Protectors stick to their core groups of two to five Protectors per case. Romantic relationships between Protectors occur only fleetingly because the population of Protectors very rarely deplete since very few mortals are capable of harming Protectors in any kind of meaningful way.

Even rarer is a genuine relationship between a mortal and a Protector. Physical relationships are not unheard of, but a genuine romantic relationship has only been documented six times in the study of Protector history. This is easy to document because of the strange effect that being in close contact with a Protector who cares for them has on mortal DNA.  The mortal, over time, begins to develop Protector traits, and if the attention of the Protector continues for long enough, the mortal’s DNA will change to almost identical to Protector’s DNA, with only the most researched in DNA studies being able to see the difference between original Protector DNA and converted mortal DNA. 

It is the attraction and attachment of the Protector that creates this effect on the mortal DNA, as there are many cases of mortals sharing homes and close proximity with Protectors without any of the mutations occurring, even a Protector and a mortal living isolated together did not introduce this change. (See The Forty Years Isolation Experiment, pg. 218) This lead many scientific minds to believe it is the romantic attachment of the Protector.

James stopped reading and looked up at Matthew shell shocked.  “I did this to her?”

“You did this to her,” Matthew answered bluntly, taking the book away from him, “Now, if I were you, I would go in there and start groveling because of the way you’ve been treating her the last few days.” Matthew snapped the book shut and headed back up the stairs.

James turned to face the basement door. What in the world was he going to say to her?

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Unintentional Change [Part 1 of 2] (518 words)

Cindy sat on a chair in the basement.  Matthew was pouring over book after book, comparing the blood that she’d given him under the microscope to the pictures covering his pages.  James sat slumped on the futon in the corner, trying to act casual, but he kept glancing back to Cindy to make sure she hadn’t moved. It broke his heart not to trust her. She had been such a good friend to them, for so long—but he didn’t know who she actually was. He wanted to believe that she didn’t know either. He wanted to believe she was just as shocked as he was to wake up after what should have been a fatal blow to the back of her head and neck.

But what if she wasn’t shocked? What if she was something he didn’t know, and he was there to hurt him, to hurt Matthew? What if she was the thing that Matthew and he had been drawn here to protect against?

He saw Cindy shift uncomfortably in her seat, and he realized he’d been staring at her for a while. He turned back to look at Matthew, who now seemed very still. That meant he was close. He’s almost figured it out and now he was just ironing out details before he presented his ideas to anyone else. James subconsciously relaxed. Matthew would have an answer soon. Whether it was good news or bad news it would be good to finally just have a concrete answer.

Slowly, almost like he was coming out of a trance, Matthew stood up straight at his work table.  After a moment, he turned to look at James, almost like he was in a daze. “James. I need to speak to you in the hall.  Now.”

It was the sharp tone in Matthew’s voice that caught James off guard. Matthew wasn’t the sharp-voiced type. It was that distraction that made James follow Matthew out of the room without thinking about the fact that they were leaving Cindy alone with several means to escape.

They had barely gotten into the hall when Matthew swung the door shut hard behind them, and pointed an accusing finger to the room. “Do you love her?”

There were two beats of silence, then James blinked and said, “No.”

“I’d advise you not to lie to me,” Matthew retorted, in full professor voice. It wasn’t often that James thought about the fact that Matthew was technically nearly double his age.  That was the problem of being immortal in a mortal world. Sometimes he forgot that he lived in a way that was unlike those around him.

James didn’t say anything else. He wasn’t stupid enough to lie again when he’d been warned. Matthew nodded his head sagely. “Well, why ask the question if you already knew the answer?” James countered, starting to get annoyed now. He had no idea what all this was about, and he didn’t appreciate the third degree in the meantime.

“I knew the answer, because if you love her—you did this to her. She’s immortal now—because of you.”

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2017 in Stories

 

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