Welcome to 2017’s first promptly penned. And I have to say, I’ve been looking through the snippets and scenarios for this year and Bronwyn and Jess outdid themselves. They are brilliant. So without further ado, here’s the first prompt and the resulting story.
S/he showed up at his/her door, soaking wet, bruised and covered in glitter.
Kameron groaned as pain thrummed through her head, the loud banging echoing inside her skull making every nerve feel overly stimulated. She palmed her temples, blinking open her eyes. Grey light brightened the curtains of the large picture window on the far wall, the hint of brightness igniting another jolt of pain. She closed her eyes, determined to drift back into the darkness when more banging resonated through the room.
She squinted at the door, muttering under her breath when she realized it wasn’t her head that was pounding but some jackass trying to break down the door. She rolled off the sofa, stumbling half across the room before gaining her balance. She tripped against the wall when the floor seemed to tilt, finally righting herself as the asshole slammed the door again.
She clicked over the lock then yanked open the door, barely getting out of the way before a wall of male muscle barged through, his footsteps ringing loudly across the linoleum floor. He paced across the room, spinning once he’d reached the window. Dark circles stained the skin beneath his eyes, one coloured in shades of purple, and his brown hair was spiked up in all directions.
Kameron sighed as she closed the door, leaning against it in the hopes of not falling on her ass. She arched a brow when the guy copied her stance, his green eyes watching her. She shook her head then crossed her arms over her chest. “Do I want to know what happened?”
Confusion shaped his features before he tipped his head back. “Not sure what you mean.”
“Please. Your clothes are soaked, your eye is five shades of blue and you’re covered in glitter.” She cracked a hint of a smile. “Either some serious shit when down after you dropped me off or you went down on the wrong pixie, and she packs one hell of a punch.”
His lips twitched. “Always was partial to a gal with wings.”
“Right. So why don’t you go back to your room, spoon with your faery friend and come back later. Much later.”
“No can do, sweetheart. Duty calls, or have you forgotten?”
She chuckled. “I’m not your sweetheart, and it’s five am.”
Branch shrugged. “You know what they say…no dark of night stops the marshal service from getting their man.”
“I believe that’s the postal service from delivering the mail. And it’s only been a couple of hours. Pretty sure I’m entitled to at least six.”
“Try fifteen minutes.”
“Fifteen minutes since what?”
“Since I left you here.”
“What?” She scrunched up her nose. “No. You left here around one.”
“The first time, yeah, but not the second.”
She sighed, then picked her way over to the small kitchenette. She grabbed the coffee pot, filling it with water before emptying it into the machine. The crinkle of the packet tearing made her eyes roll slightly before she flicked on the switches. Though she wasn’t sure even a strong cup would be enough to clear her head.
She glanced back at Branch as he fell into one of two chairs pushed up against a small round table. “You’re not making any sense, though judging by that eye, you probably have a concussion.”
“I’m not the only one who looks like shit.” He lifted his hand, holding up three fingers. “Can you tell how many or are you still swimming with Captain Morgan?”
“Three, smartass. And I switched to Patróne after you left.”
“Tequila? Really? You know how you get when you drink that shit.”
“Yeah. Drunk. Which was what I was going for.” She jumped when a drop of coffee hissed against the hot plate before getting a couple of mugs. She poured them each a cup, sliding it across the table to Branch as she claimed the other seat. “Your turn. Who gave you the shiner?”
“Same guys who tossed me in the pool.”
She nodded, not that she had a clue what he was talking about. “And the glitter?”
He stilled, staring at her as if she’d spoken another language. He pushed to his feet, stomping away before turning. “You’re serious? You really don’t remember?”
“Which part? Where we got our asses handed to us by those bounty hunters who didn’t take lightly to two marshals showing up and claiming their prize? Or the part where we picked the wrong bar to drink away the pain and embarrassment of nearly losing that convict?”
“That part after that.”
She frowned, trying to rerun the events of the night, but all she got was a big, empty space. “There wasn’t anything after that. You dropped me off here, I had a few shots of tequila then passed out on the couch.”
“So that ring on your hand?”
“Ring? Are you high, I don’t have…” Her voice rasped into a harsh breath as she stared at the shiny diamond wrapped around her finger. Panic clawed at the blank spaces, but nothing surfaced but nerves.
Kameron forced herself to swallow, slowly raising her gaze to Branch’s. She made a point of searching his left hand, nearly falling off the chair at the gold band on his ring finger. She opened her mouth, then closed it.
Branch walked back over, once again taking the seat opposite her. “If you could see your face—”
“Don’t! Don’t fucking sit there and pretend that this is all some kind of joke and tell me what the hell happened. As far as I know, you dropped me off and I passed out.” She held up her hand. “And I’m damned sure I wasn’t wearing a ring.”
Branch raked a hand through his hair, half staring at the ring before folding his hands on top of the table. “Yup. I saw you to your door then went next door to my room. Fell asleep nursing a beer watching some infomercial. I came to a couple of hours later on a bench in a chapel. You were draped across my lap more than a little out of it and we were sporting matching jewelry. Some lady with an annoying accent handed me our wedding certificate then told me our limo was waiting outside. I didn’t see many options at the time, so I picked you up, and carried you out.” He smiled. “Didn’t realize you knew the words to every John Legend song.”
She ignored the comment, snippets of one of the songs playing in her head. “So, I sing when I’m smashed. That’s no great secret. Then what?”
“Brought you back here with every intention of sobering you up with a cold shower. Praying you had a clue what was going on—how we’d gotten to that chapel. Where the hell we even got rings. Then these two guys showed up, claiming to be your brothers. They managed to wrestle me outside and one punched me in the eye. I fell into the pool and…well…”
“They took off. I came back here but the door was closed. You know the rest.”
Kameron stared at him, still trying to follow all his words before snorting. “First of all, I don’t have any brothers. A sister, but she’d be hard pressed to do more than break a nail if she ever tried to punch someone. And I don’t remember any of what you’re saying.”
“So the wedding…”
“There wasn’t any wedding. Who in their right mind would marry two people in our condition. And I can assure you I wasn’t in any shape to walk out of this room last night. Not after the fight then the alcohol.” She held up her hand. “Obviously, this is a joke. Probably Johnson. You know he hates the fact we get the fun runs.”
“Tracking down a convict in Vegas isn’t a fun run. And this isn’t a joke.” He reached into his pocket then placed a sheet of paper on the table.
She turned it toward her, reading the words stamped on the page. Her heartbeat echoed in her ears as she stared at their signatures scribbled across the bottom, before gazing at Branch. “This…no. It can’t be.”
“No. This is Vegas. It doesn’t mean anything.”
“Actually, it’s legal. And binding. Not that it can’t be changed, but…for right this moment, we’re husband and wife, sweetheart.” He smiled sweetly at her. “You were going to take my name, right?”
She gained her feet, regretting it when the world tipped again and she swayed to her right. Branch caught her, tugging her against him as he wrapped his arms around her. She closed her eyes, doing her best not to breathe in the scent of spicy cologne and chlorine. Her stomach fluttered, but she didn’t think it was from the alcohol. She was married. And not just to anyone. To her damn partner. The same guy she’d been secretly in love with for the past six months.
Branch sighed, laying his chin on the top of her head. “See, I told you shit happens when you drink tequila.”
She gave him a shove, hoping he’d think the flush she felt heating her cheeks was from anger, not because she wanted him to do so much more than simply hold her. “This wasn’t from the tequila, unless…” She groaned. “Someone drugged us.”
“Seems so. Though it was most likely at the bar. We’ll have to give up some blood. See if we can trace it. Figure out what happened.”
“Why would someone drug us then take us to a chapel to get married? If we were that out of it, why didn’t they do something worse?”
“Like kill us?” He shrugged. “No idea. Thinking it’d be best if we found out.”
She nodded, still trying to take it all in. “Wait. That explains the clothes and the eye. What’s up with the glitter?”
His smile was nothing short of sinful. “You might want to take a look in the mirror.”
She frowned, then made her way to the bathroom, cursing the flash of bright light as she flicked the switch. Her reflection glared back at her, the sparkly dots on her face casting coloured spots on the mirror.
Branch’s face appeared behind her. “The glitter’s from when you kissed me just before those guys showed up.”
She slowly turned to face him. “I…kissed you?”
“Well, kiss is a bit of an understatement. It was more like a carnal act of war.” He moved in close, hovering dangerously within reach. “One I plan on answering, Mrs. Wilson. So…do you want to shower before I do that? Or after?”
And that’s all for me. I had hoped for short, but…now hop on over to the other ladies.