Monthly Archives: February 2016

I CAN’T TELL YOU WHY

It’s random Wednesday and time for another writing post. This week’s topic is —Why I Write. I guess I can tell you why, lol… it’s just, I’m not sure I have more than the generic standby answer that everyone will probably list. Though, in the end, it’s the truth, so…

I’ll start by saying I didn’t always dream of being a writer. I dabbled a bit in high school… have some fond memories of writing a few stories for English class, but… it wasn’t what I was planning on for the future. And I went on to have a … um … few other careers. But that’s another story.

What I’ve discovered is that, at the end of the day, writing is undoubtedly my passion. A true love. Which is, the main reason I write. It brings me joy. Unmeasurable joy.

I realized that part of the reason I didn’t stay with other jobs was because once I’d conquered the challenge of obtaining them, the love affaire died. It became just another thing I did. And I always wanted the next adventure. But with writing, it is the next adventure. I can still be a pilot, a dispatcher, a boat captain. But I can also be a doctor, a paramedic, a spy or … a writer. I get to research and, in essence, be all of these amazing careers through my characters.

Yeah, I know I’m not really a doctor, or a spy, but… that’s not the point. It’s getting to see a story through the eyes of different characters that’s the allure. Being able to put my other loves…mountaineering, rock climbing, adventure racing…to good use. Knowing I’ll be able to keep learning, keep growing without ever outgrowing my passion.

I know, that all sounds a bit… corny. But… it’s true. However, writing isn’t all sunshine and puppies. So I’ve put together a little collection of what it’s like on this side of the paper…

It starts like this… all the good intentions in the world.

Then this…

But it’s okay. You’re merely processing (that’s PROcessing). Then this…

Which quickly downgrades into this…

And then… this…

and finally…

FORTUNATELY… it cycles back to the top, and on good days, you get to stay there for a bit. Writing all the things.

So, not sure I answered the blog topic, but… this is what you get. Now skip on over to the other ladies and see what they have to say.

Bronwyn Green  |  Jessica De La Rosa  |  Paige Prince

 Kellie St. James  |  Gwendolyn Cease

 

YOU MUST REMEMBER WHEN…

NNSongs

It’s Wednesday and time for a new topic. Every so often we will be doing a post called NOSTALGIC NOTES, each one themed at something different. This month it’s looking at SONGS. And who doesn’t have those special songs to mark memories? Some good, some crappy, but I know for me, songs stick in my head.

Now, I could honestly list like a thousand freaking songs. I’m very much the music person and I tend to put songs to a lot of my memories. Even if it’s just in my head. But I’ll try to keep this to select events. I said try, people.

Okay, in no particular order, because I’m sure I’ll pop back and forth along the timeline.

No Reply At All, by Genesis.

And pretty much a lot of Genesis’ work. It was really the first band I started listening to, beyond what my parents had. And… it was because the ‘cute’ boy at school loved the band. I, obviously wanted to relate, so started listening to them. I’m proud to say I fell in love with the band for all the right reasons, and didn’t give a flying fuck about said cute boy.

Paradise By The Dashboard Lights, by Meatloaf

I honestly don’t think any explanation is needed for this song. It’s about sex. And I was young.

Hotel California, by The Eagles.

With the passing of Glenn Fry, it needs to be noted that this song started my love affair of the Eagles and pretty much Don Henley and Glenn Fry. I was away from home for the first time at a Horse camp. And this song played everyday. I remember listening to it to help not be homesick.

Stairway to Heaven, by Led Zeppelin

God, they played this freaking song at EVERY school dance. And you were either thrilled or horrified depending on who asked you to dance because… it lasts forever. And ever. And ever.

I Want a New Drug, by Huey Lewis

Huey Lewis was the first band I saw in concert, with, arguably my first, real boyfriend. So…

Just The Way You Are, by Billy Joel

While my marriage didn’t last, my love of all things Billy has. And this was the song on that day. I still love this song…and I guess the memory is bitter-sweet.

Isn’t She Lovely, by Stevie Wonder

The birth song. Period. I still love this one.

Rockstar, by Nickelback,

You knew they’d be in here. And this was the song that started my love of this band. Still love pretty much everything they do. I know… you won’t shatter my devotion, no matter how much you trash them or tease me.

Thinking Out Loud, by Ed Sheeran,

This was Sydney’s song choice to one of her very first solo aerial routines. Okay, the first was Sail, but, this one was special. It made me love Ed Sheeran, but it’s what started her down this path…one she might just take all the way. Now, I have a link to her routine, but in preview mode it was horribly slow. It’s too long to upload directly so… you might be able to click and let it load, lol.

Syd’s Aerial Routine

Take the Money and Run, by the Steve Miller Band

Amazing trip through Alberta and BC before I moved out west. Iconic, really.

Horse With No Name, by America

This was Kyle’s ‘lullaby’ when he was wee.

Carry On Wayward Son, by Kansas

This is Kyle’s song, now. For so many reasons.

Part of Your World, by Jodi Benson from The Little Mermaid

This was Syd’s go to lullaby, along with Return to Pooh Corner, by Kenny Loggins. I can honestly say I began to hate that damn mermaid.

I See Fire, by Ed Sheehan,

This one is Syd’s song now. And yes, my kids have a song, lol.

Sweet Baby James, by James Taylor,

This was Jared’s song. And I sang this mother every damn night for forever. I’m sure James Taylor died a bit each time I did.

Jared doesn’t have a song now, but he has the ‘fuck’ skit from South Park.. again, for so very many reasons. So many, many reasons. You can watch it below if you like…warning… the word ‘fuck’ might come up. A few times.

Finally, Tennessee Line, by Daughtry.

Not sure why, but this is my mom’s song. I played it over and over during her last few days. Thinking she must be somewhere still singing it. Miss you tons…

And I’ll stop there. There are tons more songs that mean stuff to me. That I love. But… this post has to stop somewhere. Now head over to the other ladies and see what’s playing.

Bronwyn Green  |  Jessica De La Rosa  |  Kellie St. James  |  Paige Prince

SONG FICTION ~ TRY

It’s inspired by a melody time again, folks. This month’s pick is TRY, by the BACKSTREET BOYS. No surprise here who picked the song 🙂 It’s one I haven’t heard before by them, but they’ve always had a pretty good sound, so…

Here’s the link video if you’d like to give it a listen. Otherwise, let’s do this…

“Damnit, Kate, I know you’re in there.”  Kurt Baxter banged on the door. Again. “Either open the damn door, or I’ll just kick it in.”

He waited, heat burning beneath his skin as he listened to the silence beyond the closed slab of wood. He’d give her one more minute before he broke the fucking thing down. Muffled footsteps sounded from within the apartment before the lock tumbled over with a resounding click. More footsteps padded away from the door, then nothing.

Kurt reached for the handle, sighing when it twisted within his grasp. He pushed open the door, getting his first look at Kate’s apartment. Modest furniture with a few black and white photos gracing the walls—it was refreshingly comfortable. Not quite the sterile environment he’d anticipated. Not after all he’d learned about the detective. How she’d been orphaned young. Spent the majority of her childhood in foster care before signing up with the Navy. She’d done a few tours in the NCIS then jumped ship—literally— finding her way onto the Seattle police department. She’d made detective within her first year and hadn’t slowed down since. Anything he’d heard about her painted a very professional picture. Honourable. Determined. Detached.

He grinned inwardly. He had a feeling the good detective wasn’t quite as detached as she’d led most people to believe. Which was why she’d holed herself up in her damn apartment for the past two days. God forbid anyone realize she had a heart. That she felt anything.

A voice in his head laughed at him. As if he was anyone to judge. He’d buried any semblance of his humanity the day his father had been killed by the very monster Kurt believed was behind the recent string of murders. And he hadn’t looked back, since. Hadn’t bothered with anything more than quick hook-ups and even quicker goodbyes. Then he’d stumbled upon Detective Kate Stevens six months ago during a joint investigation, and he’d been annoying preoccupied by her ever since. Hell, he’d worked hard to find ways to bump into her under official pretence. Any excuse to spend a hour or a day with her, even if it was going through some evidence just to conclude their cases weren’t linked.

Of course, he’d known that before he’d ever approached her, but damn, there was just something about her. A pull he couldn’t quite explain. One that was slowly driving him crazy—his presence at her apartment case and point. He didn’t make a habit out of checking up on colleagues. If they needed some time to deal with a particular situation, he’d always been happy to give that person some space. He wasn’t a shoulder to cry on, and he sure as shit wasn’t the kind to cuddle on the couch, proclaiming things would be all right.

Things were seldom all right unless taken by the nuts and forced into submission. Not to mention the fact, monsters were real. And the dark was something to be very afraid of.

He kicked off his boots, making his way into the main room. Kate had sequestered herself onto the end of the couch, whiskey bottle half empty on the coffee table, a fresh drink sitting in front of her while an empty glass sat next to hers. She didn’t speak, merely pouring another drink before shoving it towards him.

He walked over to her, lifting her legs off the cushions as he sat next to her. Her breath hitched at the seemingly innocent contact, her muscles stiffening until he placed her legs over his thighs, absently giving one calf a squeeze before taking the drink. He offered a mock toast then downed the brown liquid in a single gulp. Soothing heat burned down his throat and into his gut, finally settling it. He grabbed the bottle and poured himself another, topping hers off. A tentative smile tugged at his lips as he gazed over at her.

He motioned to the liquor. “And here I thought you’d be in the corner, drowning yourself in self blame.”

She glanced at the far end of the room, shrugging. “The floor’s harder than shit. I prefer to self loathe in comfort, if it’s all the same to you.”

He sighed, taking a swig of his shot. “That’s kind of the point. Dave’s death wasn’t your fault.”

Kate’s chin quivered for a moment before she visibly steeled herself. “The hell wasn’t.”

“Kate—”

“Dave was at that damn warehouse because of me. Because I’d asked him to do me a favour.” She looked pointedly at him, chin quivering again. “Because I was too assed to go over and meet him. I never should have left him alone.”

“He was a trained officer.”

“But he wasn’t a match for…” She waved her hand in the air. “This. Whatever this fucking thing is.”

Kurt drew in a deep breath, trying to gauge his best line of reasoning. Though he suspected she wasn’t looking for excuses. For a way out. What she needed was to put all that energy into something else. Something raw. Primitive.

HIs dick pulsed at the thought, and he silently willed the damn thing to back off. First, he needed to get her to understand nothing could have saved her friend. Then…

He reached for her, lifting her chin with a single finger. “As I recall, you were investigating another lead with me when Dave called you. Even you can’t be two places at once. And for the record…if I’d thought for one moment he’d be at risk, I would have dragged both our asses over there. Everything pointed to our location, not his. I should have been the creature’s next target. I fit the profile, not Dave.” He released a weary breath. “Which means, I screwed up. I missed something. If you need to blame someone, I’ve got shoulders to spare.”

She sighed, placing her drink on the table as she curled her legs beneath her. “I don’t blame you, Kurt. Dave was my responsibility. I sent him in blind. If I’d given him more information—what to expect—”

“Right!” Kurt laughed, but not because the situation was funny. “Because folks are so eager to believe that Supernatural creatures are running amok. I mean, it only took, what…having that thing damn near kill both of us for you to jump on board. I’m sure Dave would have embraced the knowledge with nothing more than your assurances.”

She glared at him.

He shook his head. “Sorry. The last thing you need is me acting like a petulant ass. It’s just…we still don’t know what we’re up against. This…thing…it’s behaving differently. Dave’s the first victim without one of those crazy notes. It attacked him in the middle of the damn day at a location that’s way outside what I suspect is its home range. None of it makes sense.”

Kate leaned toward him, taking his hand in hers. “We’ll figure it out. Keep trying until we nail its ass.”

He nodded, lifting her hand to his mouth before dropping a kiss on the back. “That’s my girl.” He motioned to the whiskey. “Another?”

She glanced at the bottle, her expression falling. “It’s not helping.”

“Did you really think you could drown the pain?”

She snorted. “My ex didn’t seem to have any problems drinking anything and anyone out of his head.”

“That’s because he was a douche. I have to say, for a woman of your intelligence, your taste in men…”

She snorted. “So, the fact I’m attracted to you, means… Shit.” She covered her mouth, stumbling to her feet, trying to break his hold when he grabbed her to stop her from falling on her face. “I…forget I said that. It’s the whiskey talking.”

He smiled, holding her still as he closed the distance. “Oh, my dear Kate. Alcohol can be blamed for a number of ill-conceived ideas, but it doesn’t make people lie. Quite the contrary. Though that does present a problem.”

She seemed to swallow with effort. “What’s that?”

“Where do we go from here, because sweetheart, I’m having a very hard time coming up with a single reason why I shouldn’t pick you up and take you to bed.”

 

And that’s it for me. Now that I’ve written it, I’m not sure about it fitting in with the song, but…it’s what popped in my head, folks. So… that’s that. Now go check out the other ladies. They might have even made it relevant to the song;)

Bronwyn Green  |  Kellie St. James  |  Jessica De La Rosa

PROMPTLY PENNED ~ FEBRUARY

Promptly Penned

Yup, it’s that time again. I was just gearing up for the next song fiction but bam… it’s a promptly penned post. So, let’s pull something out of thin air and see where it goes. And I’m determined to try and use the given snippet at the beginning. Not sure it will hold through for the entire year, but…. let’s give it the college try, shall we?

 

“This is where you make up some stupid excuse to leave early and stop returning my calls.”

Joshua Kinkade leaned back in his chair with a sigh. He hadn’t realized he’d spoken out loud until the last word had hung in the air, like a damn death sentence. What the actual fuck was wrong with him? That was something he should have kept inside his head, not broadcast to half the restaurant. Now, he’d ruined any chance at an enjoyable evening. But shit, his date—if he could even call her that—hadn’t stopped texting for the past thirty minutes he’d been trying to engage in some meaningful form of small talk. Hell, he wasn’t even sure she’d heard him.

A disgruntled huff was his only warning before her glass of water splashed across his face, the sharp tap of her heels quickly fading into the hushed murmurs of the room. Joshua released a weary breath, calmly grabbing his napkin as he dabbed the drops of water off his face.

“Wow, Kinkade.  I always knew you were smooth but that…that was spectacular.”

“Bloody hell.” Josh glared at the woman as she slid into the chair, tossing the damp cloth onto the table.  “Are you stalking me, Jinx? Because that explains the string of bad luck that’s followed me since I left my apartment.”

“You know I hate that nickname.”

“Which is why I keep using it.”

“And you wonder why all your dates end like this. You’re a dick.”

“I prefer to think of myself as an adorable ass. Now back to my question. Why are you here?”

A stunning smile lit up her face as she tore one of the dinner rolls in half, spreading on a thin layer of butter before taking a bite. She practically moaned as she chewed, shaking the remaining hunk of bread at him. “Damn, this might be the best freaking roll I’ve ever had. I’ll give you this much, Kinkade, you have excellent taste in restaurants.” She motioned toward the door. “Women, however…”

“While I appreciate the compliment, and the observation, it doesn’t explain why you’re sitting across from me, eating the Holy Grail of buns.”

She shrugged, swallowing another bite.  “Knowing your track record with the ladies, I took a chance that you’d be free and decided to crash your party. Guess my bet paid off.”

Joshua carded his hand through his hair, ignoring the wet strands that seemed to flop back onto his face. Grace Spelling was irritating at the best of times. Having her show up and witness his fall…he’d never live the date down. Though he had to admit, just watching her enjoy the damn diner roll made his stomach do an odd fluttering action. One that felt at distinct odds to the annoying heat that seemed to burn just beneath his skin whenever she was around. Of course, being assigned as her partner for the past six months meant damn near every minute of every day.

He shook his head. “So you are stalking me.”

“Was not.”

“You just said you crashed my date. On purpose. Sounds like a stalker move to me.”

“I was merely playing a hunch.” She pressed back in her chair as she crossed her arms over her chest. “And you seem to have conveniently missed the part where I was right.”

“With my luck, you probably paid the poor girl off.”

“If I’d paid her off, she’d be under the table giving you the best blowjob of your life.”

He couldn’t stop a smile from lifting the corners of his mouth. “Are you speaking from experience in such matters?”

“I’m not really the kiss and tell type. But for the record, you wouldn’t last five minutes.” She arched a brow. “Though I’m thinking you didn’t miss much. You never had a chance with that girl. You know she was just using you to get a good meal, right?” She snorted at his levelled glare. “Please. That dress? Still had the tag on it, and she switched into another pair of boots before she walked outside. She was playing you, Kinkade. Which means you should be thanking me.”

“Or taking out a restraining order on you.”

“That’d make being partners a bit…challenging.”

“That’s the point.” He eased forward, bracing his elbows on the table as he rested his chin on his knuckles.

Damn the woman was beautiful. Long auburn hair with even features gave her an almost Hollywood quality, but her eyes—fuck they were big and unbelievably blue and so damn pretty they made the rest of the world dull in comparison.

He pushed the irritating thoughts out of his head. The last thing he needed was to develop a crush on his new partner. “So, what was so important you crashed my date?”

Her expression sobered, the glint in her eyes dimming slightly. “There’s been a development with the case.”

He furrowed his brow. “The case? I wasn’t aware we had an open one. Which was why I was on the damn date. First night off in a long ass time.”

Her gaze dropped to the table, a small shiver trembling through her hands before she drew a deep breath, visibly bracing herself. “Yeah, about that. Thinking we closed the Walker file a bit too soon.”

“The suicide?” He tugged at his collar, loosening his tie. “I know it’s hard to accept a fellow agent took their own life, but…shit, Grace, there wasn’t anything to suggest it was something other than depression rearing its ugly head. She’d been self medicating for months. You saw her medicine cabinet. Hell, she even left a note.”

Grace snagged her bottom lip, looking oddly vulnerable as she reached into her jacket pocket. Paper crinkled in her hand as she placed the folded sheet on the table, sliding it over to him. “You might want to take a look at that.”

He frowned, opening the offering before scanning the words scribbled across the page. A chilling numb settled in his gut as he read the note, staring at Grace’s signature written across the bottom before looking up at her.

He opened his mouth, then closed it, trying to sort through the questions tumbling through his head before meeting her gaze. “What the hell is this?”

She swallowed, nodding at the paper. “It’s what you’d call a suicide note.”

“I know what the fuck it is, what I want to know is why did you sign it? And why the hell is it identical to the one we found in Julie’s apartment?” He fisted the sheet in his hands. “What the hell, Grace?”

She glanced around the room, motioning for him to settle. “That’s the point. I didn’t write that and I sure as hell didn’t sign it.”

“It certainly looks like your signature. As in I’d recognize it anywhere.”

“And yet, I didn’t write it.”

“Where did you get this?”

She sighed, her shoulders drooping. She looked broken. Hell, she looked scared. “There was someone in my place when I got home—”

“There was what? Why didn’t you call me?”

“You had a date.”

“Damn it, Grace—”

“It’s fine. Whoever it was took off when they realized I’d walked in on them. And I was armed. I thought it was just a routine robbery, but I found that on the back step when I went to lock everything up. I assume the bastard dropped it when he practically knocked the damn door down trying to get out.” She rubbed her arms as if she were cold. “Creepy as hell, really.”

“Creepy?” He sucked in a quick breath. “You know what this means, right?”

“It means that Julie didn’t kill herself.”

“It means you’re next on the killer’s list, is what the fuck it means.” He scanned the restaurant, but no one seemed remotely out of place, not that he’d really paid that much attention.  He’d been looking for a quick hook-up. A hot, sweaty night between the sheets. Not casing the joint for possible targets. But now…

He pushed back his chair, offering Grace his hand. “Let’s go.”

She stood, walking around the table. Her breath hitched when he palmed the small of her back, leading her toward the exit. “We heading to the office?”

“Hell no. Not until I get some answers, and I know who we can trust.”

“You think—”

“What I think is that we get you secure, first.  Worry about whose feelings we bruise later. So for now, I’m taking you somewhere safe.”

She paused at the door. “And where’s that?”

“Somewhere private. Somewhere no one else knows about. Not even the agency.” He grinned. “My cabin.”

 

And that’s all for me folks. Now go check out the other ladies and see what they created.

Bronwyn Green  |  Jessica Jarman  | Kellie St. James

 Jessica De La Rosa  |  Paige Prince

A DEAL WITH A CROSSROADS DEMON

Okay, so the actual post is really, MY IDEAL DATE. But let’s face it folks, it seems as if that’s what I’d have to do to have an ideal date. Hell, any date. Because dating when you’re over thirty (okay, okay, possibly forty. Screw off, this is my post) is hard. Why, you ask? And no, I don’t care if you didn’t. Here’s the thing…meeting people is hard. All those old standbys? Gone. And why is it your friends never seem to know any ‘single’ people. Like, not one?  As in none? Not a single, freaking guy who might may your lady parts go all aquiver. Naturally, one turns to Internet dating… only, you get this.

Expectations…

Reality…

And in the end, this is me…

What was this post about again?

Right, my ideal date. Wow, kind of got a bit off track. Okay… IDEAL MOTHER-FUCKING DATE. I GOT THIS.

Now, this may be shocking to some, but my ideal date doesn’t involve dinner in a fancy restaurant or dressing up. Hell, it doesn’t even involve civilization. In fact, quite the opposite.

Note… let’s assume this is the perfect date with a guy I’m crazy about. You know, as if I HAD a guy:)

The day would start with a drive to somewhere remote. This would probably require the aid of four-wheel drive and good navigation skills. When the poor excuse for a dirt road becomes impassable, we’d ditch the Jeep and head out on foot. Armed with backpacks and cameras, we’d spend the better part of the day hiking up ( as in lots of elevation gain )  to a remote cabin up in the mountains.

And yes, cabin. This is my IDEAL date. In this scenario, I get a reprieve from a tent.

We’d of course, stop along the way—take pictures of the view. Eat dried fruit and granola. Selfies to prove we were still alive which we’d text to a member of the family, though the kids would probably be having some kind of keg party, so they wouldn’t really care, nor would they even hear their phones chime.

The entire hike would be filled with easy conversation, non-awkward silences (again, IDEAL), and we’d get brief chances to hold hands, kiss. I’d admire his map-reading skills and he’d admire my ass. Oops, sorry, Freudian slip there. He’d admire my enthusiasm. Right. Enthusiasm. We’d reach the cabin before sunset, but take the time to watch the sky bleed into yellows and reds from a comfortable swing on the porch. (Yes, this cabin could exist. Don’t crush my dreams, folks.)

We’d start a fire in the wood stove and he’d cook me dinner. Okay, he’d probably just heat something up from a freezer bag. Or we’d eat chocolate and sandwiches. I’m actually not picky. Hell, if things went well, we could skip dinner…wink wink.

There’d be candles and crickets and wolves howling in the background. Slow dancing and this…

lots of this…

And, well, sleeping. Some. Sleeping. Okay, not much, but… sigh.

Of course, the next day would be awesome because we’d hike back, get to share a shower… yeah, this.

Wondering what the other ladies consider their ideal date? Go check them out…

Bronwyn Green  |  Gwendolyn Cease  |  Jessica De La Rosa  |  Paige Prince

 

A PICTURE SAYS A THOUSAND WORDS ~ FEBRUARY

It’s picture flash fiction time again, and I love this image. Not that it makes writing a piece easier, but it’s just a cool photo. I’m wondering how many ladies will have this end…poorly, lol. Because yeah, he looks as if he could just jump right off.

For me, after looking at this, I decided to continue a previous one…after all, those boys were from Atlantis and this kind of screams that sort of story to me. If you’d like to read the first bit, you can go to Atlantis part one… other wise, just jump right in.

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 He’d failed. Again.

Declan O’Toole stood at the edge of the rickety dock, watching Zeke—fuck, his best friend and true soul—amble out towards the end. Despite the beautiful image his lover made—the dark blue of his hoodie making his wiry silhouette stand out in harsh relief against the pale tones of the endless horizon—Declan couldn’t fully appreciate the scene. Not when he felt the pain in Zeke’s heart as the man stopped at the edge, staring at the endless expanse of water. God how long had it been since they’d truly felt at peace? Since they’d woken to more than another day filled with searching…but never finding.

“Stop. This isn’t your fault, Dec. We both know that.”

Declan shook the thoughts from his head as he looked up at Zeke, the man’s voice seemingly hanging in the heavy air around them. Their gazes clashed as his lover glanced over his shoulder, the blue in his eyes so damn brilliant, it stole Declan’s breath. God, the man was stunning.

Guardian. Zeke wasn’t just a man or an heir to Atlantis, but the damn guardian of the entire realm. A fact Declan had managed to shove aside until they’d unearthed the lost tomes and sparked their first real chance at ever returning home.

Zeke sighed, turning back toward the water. “I’m no different than I was yesterday, or last week. Hell, last year. Nothing’s changed.” He tapped his head. “Still the same guy.”

“Right. The same guy.” Declan walked out onto the dock, his heart kicking up at the familiar sound of the water lapping at the old wood. God, he missed feeling part of the sea.

He stopped beside Zeke, nudging his shoulder. “Except for the part where we found the maps and finally have a real possibility of returning to Atlantis. Of you breaking the protection barrier the previous guardian erected in order to prevent the entire kingdom from falling prey to Xander and his army of demons. All of which won’t happen unless I can decipher the bloody notations on those godforsaken scrolls and actually find the portal back.”

A hint of a smile tugged at Zeke’s lips. “As I recall, you’ve found more than a few portals.”

Declan slapped Zeke’s shoulder. “Shut up.”

The smile flourished, accentuating the slight dimples in Zeke’s cheeks. “Hey, who knew that most of the portals simply lead to another location within the human world. I was as surprised as you were.”

“You’re a fucking terrible liar, you know that?”

“What?”

“You knew.” Declan held up his hand. “But I appreciate the element of surprise you injected into your voice when we walked out of that last one to find ourselves beside the very spot we’d entered. That was a nice touch.”

Zeke’s grin faded. “Yeah, well, you’re not the only one who should be able to decipher those markings on the maps. What good is being the next guardian if I can’t even read my native tongue.”

“Zeke—”

“I mean it, Dec.” Zeke took a few heavy steps away before spinning, raking his hands through his hair and spiking it up in every direction. “Let’s say for a moment that we find this elusive portal and actually reach Atlantis. Then what? I can barely string a couple of phrases together let alone counter a spell a master warlock concocted over a century ago.” He clenched his jaw, glancing back at the water. “I’m no guardian. I’m nothing more than a damn joke.”

Declan closed the distance. He smoothed his palms along Zeke’s ribs, stopping with them pressed against the other man’s chest. Zeke’s heart thrummed beneath Declan’s fingers, the increased rhythm activating his protective instincts. He tugged the man against him, resting his forehead on Zeke’s, drinking in the spicy scent clinging to Zeke’s skin, wanting nothing more than to heal the wounds he sensed in his lover’s soul.

Zeke closed his eyes, his breath mixing with Declan’s as Zeke’s heart rate finally slowed. His chest pressed into Declan’s with each ragged inhalation. Declan held firm, waiting until Zeke pushed against his hold before easing back. His lover shook his head, leaning in for a fleeting kiss before slowly backing away.

Declan sighed, shoving his hands in his pockets to resist the urge to shake some sense into Zeke.

“You? Resort to violence?” Zeke winked at him. “So unbecoming a future spiritual leader.”

“Stop reading my damn mind, you jerk.” Declan scrubbed his hand down his face. “And who said anything about me becoming a spiritual leader? You’re the one with the predetermined destiny, remember?”

“So that mark on your shoulder…”

Declan huffed out his next breath. “Is just that. A mark.”

“Or…it’s the ancient symbol all healers are born with. One that will flourish if we ever return to Atlantis.”

“When we return. And it’s just a mark. You, on the other hand.” He cocked his head to the side when Zeke rolled his eyes. “Dude. Seriously. Cut yourself some slack. Part of that damn ritual was us losing the majority of our memories. It’s taken us this long just to piece together who we are and why we aren’t like all those human mulling around us. You can’t expect yourself to simply pick up where you left off. We’d just started our schooling when Xander attacked the kingdom and your predecessor sacrificed his energy to seal Atlantis away.”

“By sacrifice you mean he banished us…here. Without a clue of who we were or what we needed to do.”

“He was trying to save our world. But he knew you’d never be able to break the spell if you were trapped inside. Hell of a choice to make, if you ask me.”

“Then why erase our memories?” Zeke kicked at the damn wood beneath his feet. “Why risk that we wouldn’t ever find our way back?”

“Like I know. Shit, Zeke, I’m as much in the dark as you are.” He tapped his head. “Damn thing got all Matrixed along with yours. Christ, at least you were able to break that spell in the cabin and get the books. All I’ve done is lead us on one missed adventure after another. It’s just a damn doorway. You’d think I’d be able to find it.”

Zeke’s expression softened and he eased over, taking Declan’s hand in his. “If it were easy to find, anyone would waltz on through. It’s hidden, and hidden well for a reason.”

“Yeah, to keep losers out. Which I’m feeling very much of right now.” He shoved Zeke when the man leaned into him. “I don’t want your damn pity. I want to be able to read those fucking notations and just unearth the damn portal.”

Zeke held up his hands as if the motion would soothe Declan. “How ’bout this? We’ll go for swim, get some food. Maybe release that tension turning you into a freaking drama queen, then sit down and figure this out. For real.”

“Like I’m the only drama queen, and you’ve turned down my last few advances. Started to think you’d become some born-again virgin.”

“Just distracted. And tired. But, I realize shutting you out was the worst thing I could have done. We both think better when we’re…sated.”

“God, you make it sound as if you’re going to pity fuck me.”

Zeke laughed. “Fuck you, yes. But I believe the term you’re searching for is love. Because I do. Love you.” He cracked a smile. “Unless, of course, that mark turns into some god-awful tattoo once we get back to Atlantis. Might have to dump you if that happens.”

“We’ve already bound, jackass. So you’re stuck with me.”

Zeke smiled. “I like that sound of that.” He reached for the neck of his hoodie, yanking it off then tossing it on the dock. “First one in gets to choose how this night ends, so…I’d get stripping if I were you.”

“And you’re cheating, as usual.” Declan kicked off his shoes. He already knew how the night was going to end. He just hoped it isn’t their last.

That’s it for me. Please check out the other lovely ladies and see what they dreamt up.

Bronwyn Green  |  Jessica Jarman  |  Gwendolyn Cease  |  Paige Prince