Saturday, February 26, 2011

Snapple Apple 450 Week 40: I Wanna Do Bad Things With You

SnappleApple 450

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SnappleApple 450's Choice: both

I Wanna Do Bad Things With You

The summer breeze felt good against my skin. I was under the shade of the porch roof so the sun couldn’t beat down on me. I was so glad for summer, the last summer of my childhood. I had finally graduated high school, thank god. Most of my friends were taking trips before they had to go to college, others were panicking with going to college, and some weren’t even going to college. Me? I was enjoying the summer breeze on my porch swing.

People worry too much about the future. My best friend, Meg, was such a drama queen when it came to school. She was kicking herself for not getting an A on some test she took in Biology back in 9th grade. Who does that? Regretting the past only makes the future a dismal place. And then my other friend, George, already has a five year plan for his future and just so you know, nowhere in those five years is a plan to party. It’s college for God’s sake! Lighten up!

Not to say anything bad about people that are prepared, but half the fun is finding out. I have no freaking clue what I want to be when I grow up. As far as I’m concerned, I’m still a kid and therefore I can still choose to be a fairy. Not that I ever would, I was never into girly-girly two-shoes or whatever that term was. My answer was and never had been consistent from my kindergarten teacher’s question to my aunt from Toronto’s at Christmas. “What do you want to me when you grow up?”

Kindegarten: “I want to be a princess and kill dragons with my sword!”

3rd Grade: “I want to be a cowgirl and take out all the cowboys with my whip!”

7th Grade: “I think I’ll be a rogue astronaut so I can take over Pluto as my own planet and banish all boys or turn them into my slaves.”

8th Grade: “I’ll marry a rich old dude so I can have his money. Then I won’t have to work!”

9th Grade: “I don’t want to work for any company that’s run by men.”

10th Grade: “Maybe I’ll be a writer so I can legally kill off guys and get away with it.”

11th Grade: “I decided being a bum has its benefits. No one cares where you sit or what you say and they don’t ask you to shower.”

12th Grade: “Who the fuck cares?”

And then, at graduation, my parents asked me with smiles on their faces and hope in their hearts. They’d seen me through my innocence, my rebellion, and through my “don’t care” attitude.

“So now what are your plans, sweetie?”

I remember staring at them for the longest time, their smiles slowly diminishing with each passing second. Then I shrugged and simply said, “I dunno,” and walked off. They haven’t really asked me about it since the graduation party, but don’t think I haven’t noticed the looks across the dinner table. I know they’re probably freaking out, thinking I’ll never move out and be a life-long bum living in their basement. That’s a nice thought. No rent, free food, always clean clothes. But who wants to live with their parents all their lives?

I thought about the house across the street where Dewey Browinski lived. He was 38 and “taking care of his mom” allegedly; looked to me like she was still taking care of him. Talk about loserville.

So that was my take on the whole situation of life. I don’t have a solid plan. I don’t regret a single thing I did in the past and I sure as hell don’t think about the future problems I’ll have. That’s why I can lay so still on my front porch swing, kicking my legs over the edge lazily and care-free. I have no worries and no worries have me. That doesn’t make much sense, but that’s how care-free I am.

“I don’t think I’ve seen you move even once this entire time.”

I screamed, falling off the swing and hitting the ground. “Nick, you asshole! Get off my property!” I yelled angrily as I rubbed my bruised ribs.

He tossed his head back and laughed, his brown hair blowing in his bright green eyes. “That’s what I get for coming to see you? I could be in—“

It suddenly dawned on me right before he said it. “Oh my god, you’re supposed to be in New York!” I ran up and hugged him. He spun me around in his arms making me lightheaded and dizzy. He placed me back on the ground and I wobbled a bit before regaining my balance.

“Yeah, I changed my mind,” he shrugged.

I raised an eyebrow. “Changed your mind? It’s taken you two weeks to tell me you changed your mind?!”

He laughed. “No, I went to New York and had a blast, but then I decided I missed my hometown too much and wasn’t ready to leave off to some foreign city.”

“New York isn’t foreign. It’s in the same country we’re in moron,” I teased him.

He rolled his eyes. “It’s foreign to me.”

“Did you bring me back a souvenir?” I grinned.

He smirked. “Do I get a welcome home present?”

“Yeah me not calling the cops about a suspicious pervert in my yard watching me daydream,” I said sarcastically.

“I like watching you daydream,” he smiled.

I wrapped my arms around his neck and kissed his lips briefly. “Welcome home, Nick.”

He made a content sound like the sound I make when I dipped my finger in a freshly opened Nutella jar. I was his Nutella jar. “As a matter of fact, I did bring back a souvenir.” He pulled back and reached into his backpack.

I laughed when I saw the t-shirt. “New York only likes you as a friend?”

He chuckled. “You know how I get jealous.”

I nodded, hugging him again. “That is probably the sexiest thing about you.”

He shook his head and laughed. “I knew you made me jealous on purpose!”

I pressed my lips to his to shut him up, he got the message and quickly kissed me back. He placed his hands on my thighs as I wrapped my legs around his waist. “I missed you so much,” I said between breaths. He chuckled against my lips. “How about we go somewhere so I can show you how much I missed you?”

I pulled back and hopped down, grabbing his hand. “My parents won’t be home till five so we’ve got time.”

He stopped me and yanked me back into his arms. “Is your mind always on sex?” He asked condescendingly.

“Oh, like yours wasn’t?” I teased.

A smirk pulled at his lips. “I was just asking if yours was too.” He ran for the house with me in tow.
As soon as we were in the safety and out of the public’s eye, clothes came off. Well, I’m pretty sure his jacket was lost on the way in, but most of the clothes were inside. I giggled as he trailed kisses along my neck. He picked me up again and walked to the couch, our lips never breaking contact. I never liked the couch, there’s no room. I think that’s why he liked it so much though, no room for me to flip him over. His eyes were hungry as he finished taking off my clothes. I twisted my fingers into his hair and kissed him again. He broke away for a split second to take his clothes off and was back on me again.

“So you missed me in New York?” I asked breathlessly.

He pushed himself deep inside me making me gasp. “So very much,” his voice was gruff.

We continued to make love until we were both exhausted and gasping for air. Our bodies pressed against each other, sweaty and naked. He finally let me on top and I lay against his chest. He kissed me again and smiled. “Oh yeah it was totally worth it coming back early.”

I laughed softly. “Now that you’re back, I guess I have to cancel my other date.”

He nodded with a cocky grin. “I think you should unless they have something better to offer.”

I thought about for a minute and laughed. “At least they’d buy me a shirt in my right size.”

Nick rolled his eyes and kissed me again. We closed our eyes and lay in silence and happiness. Most kids my age were freaking over school. I wasn’t even worried about what happened when my parents get home. We’d be fully dressed by then, don’t worry, but now that Nick was back, my summer had just got better.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Burntcore Week 40: Left Behind


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Burntcore's Choice: Picture 1

Left Behind

Today is supposed to be a happy day, a day of remembrance and honor. Today is Memorial Day. All across the country, communities are honoring their men and women who served in the armed forces - for the sacrifice of their time, their energy, their youth, and even their lives. Parades are being held, people are cheering, all is right with the world. Everyone feels a little more American, a little more patriotic.

Except for me.

I can’t celebrate. I can’t feel patriotic. I used to; I want to, but I can’t. I can’t join in the festivities that honor our government and our armed forces when my own sacrifice isn’t even acknowledged, isn’t mentioned. There is no honor as far I am concerned. What honor was there when you are forgotten?

My older brother and I grew up believing in our country and what democracy stood for. We were just kids during the first Gulf war, but old enough to know what was going on. Even before 9/11, my brother enlisted into the military. He wanted to make a difference. Never was that needed more than after the towers fell and we as a country cried and gasped in horror.

When my brother was shipped out to the Middle East, I thought it was going to help settle a war-torn country, to bring peace and safety to the innocent people there. I didn’t worry about him too much, he was a part of the US military might, after all. He had the best training possible and he was a good man.

He came back much the same, but the time spent in Iraq had changed him. He was more careful, quieter, older. I had hoped he’d be able to stay home and maybe be discharged, but he said there was still work to do. I was proud of my brother and the good he was doing for the world, for people he didn’t know and had never met.

Another deployment. I stood with my sister-in-law, her belly barely swollen with their first child, as we watched Tom depart with the rest of his company for Afghanistan. I was still proud. I worried more now, things in Afghanistan didn’t look good--things were wilder, more dangerous. Now, Tom had a family of his own, he had something at home to be concerned about. Debbie tried not to let her anxiety show, but her grip on my hand was painfully tight as she watched her husband leave. I agreed to stay with her at their house on base for awhile. She said she needed help with the baby coming. I think she didn’t want to be alone. I didn’t want to be either.

It was four months later, with Debbie quite visibly pregnant, that things changed. Up to that point, we had heard from Tom periodically while he was overseas. Debbie and I clutched one another’s arms as we watched the evening news describe a particularly bloody battle in eastern Afghanistan. Tom was foremost in our thoughts that night. We didn’t know exactly where Tom was, just that he was somewhere in there. Due to the nature of his orders, he was not allowed to reveal his location. Our thoughts were buoyed with hope that he wasn’t there, that he was somewhere else in that vast desert of a country.

Those thoughts were dashed a week later when a uniformed man came to Debbie’s door. His face was drawn and haggard. I opened the door full of dread, already knowing what this visit must mean. I was very glad I was the one that opened the door and not my very pregnant sister-in-law.

The officer identified himself and asked for Debbie. I told him that she was resting but he could talk to me; that I didn’t want to disturb her as the last months of her pregnancy were hard on her. He took the hint and we sat down in the living room, as far from Debbie’s bedroom as possible.

“What do you mean, missing?” I demanded, furious tears streaking down my face. “How can a US soldier go missing in the 21st century?”

“Ma’am, I’m sorry, I don’t know all the details,” the officer replied in a conciliatory manner.

“Well, who does know the details? What am I supposed to tell Debbie? What is she going to tell the child that is growing inside of her that her father is missing? That the US government lost one of their soldiers?” I questioned, whispering harshly.

I stood up and paced the room in my anger. It was bad enough to know that my brother was probably dead, but to find out that they couldn’t find him? That was just not acceptable.

“Ma’am, I am truly very sorry.”

I whirled on the poor messenger, my eyes narrowing. “Sorry doesn’t bring me any answers does it? It doesn’t find my brother, does it?”

The man hung his head as he stood slowly. “No, ma’am, it doesn’t. But it doesn’t mean I can’t be sorry and empathize for you. You aren’t the only one who has lost someone today.”

His last sentence struck me cold. I was projecting my anger and frustration at the wrong person. My shoulders sagged.

“I...I apologize for yelling at you. You are only the messenger... and you are correct. I am not the only one hurting right now. We saw the news the other night about what happened. I guess now we know.”

The officer looked down at me with sympathy and patted my arm. It was awkward, but he was trying. He pulled out a business card from his pocket and handed it to me.

“You can call this number to get any additional information available . However, we will let you know anything as soon as we can.”

I took the card from him numbly. We walked slowly to the front door, grief weighing down my steps. Before he left, I turned and asked him one final question.

“Is there any hope of finding him?”

The officer looked pained but answered me honestly. “I don’t know, ma’am. The rules aren’t the same over there. We are fighting a different kind of enemy.”

I nodded and opened the door for him. He quietly took his leave of the house to the waiting car in our driveway. I stood by the door and watched through the glass as the car backed out into the street and headed down the road. My head whirled as I tried to think of the least painful way to tell my sister-in-law that my brother was probably dead.

That conversation wasn’t an easy one. There was no way to butter it up or make it any more than what it was. In case the stress was too much for her, I had my cell phone ready to call 911. It turned out I had good cause.that. Debbie collapsed when I told her. She managed to not land on her stomach but the stress put her and the baby in jeopardy. My nephew was born a few hours later, small but healthy. Debbie came out of it okay as well, if but only physically. Emotionally and mentally, she had withdrawn into herself... where she would remain for some time.

The months went on, and still, no word about Tom. In the beginning, I called every day to try to get more information. Then it became every other day, to every few days, to now where I called just once a week. Never anything new, just apologies and sympathies. Some people had even advised Debbie to declare him dead. Neither one of us were ready for that, yet. We weren’t giving up.

And now, Memorial Day two years later, a parade, balloons, confetti, men and women in uniform walking proudly. What you don’t see are the kids without mothers and fathers, mothers or fathers that are deployed, missing, or dead. I stand with Debbie and little Tom and try to be proud and try to be happy, but it brings too many feelings, too many thoughts. I love my country and I am proud of our military, but I am angry, so very angry. My sister-in-law is in a similar state, except she is incredibly sad. She knew that this was possible when she married a military man, but never thought it would actually happen to her. For her son, she tries not to be sad all the time, but it is difficult for her sometimes. Sometimes like today.

I watch as a bunch of balloons broke free from a float and drift upwards until they are caught by some power lines along the road. Somehow, they don’t burst. They remind me of my brother, lost and adrift, in a dangerous place, and all alone. I choke back a sob as little Tom sees the balloons and tries to reach for them, his tiny hands uplifted and straining.

“Momma,” his small voice cries out.

Debbie looks at her son in her arms, almost a mirror image of her husband, with affection.

“Yes, baby?”

“The balloons, Momma. They lost.”

“Yes, they are,” she replied sadly.

“How they get home?”

“Hopefully they’ll find a way.”

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kimmydon Week 40: Afternoon Delight


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Kimmydon's Choice: both

Afternoon Delight

I opened the door quietly, just in case someone was home. No one should be; I was cutting class. The day was simply too beautiful to spend inside, but I wanted to change into something less... civilized before I went down to the pond to fish a while.

Mom would have a fit if she knew any of it. She’d be livid that I was fishing, dressed like a boy with my hair in a hat. She was trying so hard to break me of all the habits I’d picked up from my father and brothers. She’d wanted a little girl so long that she was disappointed her only girl preferred chasing frogs and throwing footballs to picking flowers and having tea.

I couldn’t help it. I did pick flowers, and rocks and mushrooms too. I loved to be outside, that was all. And fishing was a great thing to do while listening to birds, watching the clouds, breathing the fresh air...

Someone was home. I stopped in the entryway seeing my brother’s beaten up old converse shoes on the sill. The youngest of my brothers, the only one still home. Jason was a good student, unlike Jimmy and Leon, who had left home to work on oil rigs. I couldn’t quite imagine him skipping class. He wasn’t alone either. A pair of shoes that might fit my feet sat on the floor, ones with a slight heel - girl shoes. Jason hadn’t said anything about a girlfriend. Tiptoeing, I passed the kitchen into the hall.

I heard them before peeking through the crack in the door. The sounds they made were unknown to me. Happy sounds, certainly, but heavy, breath coming in pants and gasps. I had to pass Jason’s door to get to my room, and it wasn’t shut. Peering in, I froze. He wore only his shorts, and she was down to just panties. They were twined together, legs and arms tangled around one another, kissing. Her fingers clutched his hair while their lips met between groans and moans. His hands were around her waist, fingers slipping into those polka dot panties.

I shouldn’t watch this. I should change and run to the water hole, but I was entranced. I had only kissed one boy in my fourteen years. Mitchell was cute, but it had been a dare, not a real kiss, nothing like that. My friends, the ones much less tomboy-ish than me, had all been kissed several times, but I was certain even they had never...

Jason kicked off the shorts that the girl had pushed down. “Damn, Carla,” he murmured into her neck. So that was her name. I’d seen naked men many times. With four in the house and one bathroom, it was nearly impossible not to run into one of my brother’s standing and peeing. I’d never seen a penis look like that though. Not limp and down-curved, but thick and upright, larger than I had realized it could get. I gasped, and covered my mouth quickly. Of course, I wasn’t heard among Carla’s gasps and moans. They were going to have sex. I knew the mechanics, but watching it was something else.

“Oh my God!” Carla gasped, pulling her arms across her chest and rolling away from the door. Shit, she’d seen me.

“Sorry! Sorry! I’m gone!” I yelled as I turned and ran for my room. I pulled off my pretty shirt with lace at the collar and nice corduroy slacks, pulling out worn and torn jeans and t-shirt. I hadn’t gotten them on though and was standing in my underwear when Jason tapped on the door. He had his shorts on again, but nothing else.

“What are you doing at home?” he asked, not really angry, just miffed. I was glad for that. I loved my brothers. As much fun as it was to tease and play-wrestle, I didn’t want any of them angry with me.

“Too nice for school.” My head popped through the t-shirt, which dropped past my hips.

“You’re getting bigger,” he commented, eyes widening a little. I wore a training bra now, my breasts finally coming in, and I had hips, unlike him. He had always been stick straight.

“Yeah,” I mumbled, not sure what he was getting at. I sat on the edge of the bed to pull on my pants. “I really didn’t mean for you to see me, and I didn’t mean to watch either... I just couldn’t...” I looked at my hands on my thighs, then shook my head and stood, pulling the denim the rest of the way.

“No harm, no foul. You aren’t going to tell Mom and Dad, are you?” he asked, looking sheepish.

I snorted. “As if, and admit I was skipping class?” I pulled my hair through the back of my ball cap. “I am telling them you have a girlfriend, if you don’t do it first.” I stuck my tongue out at him and he chuckled.

“I will. Thanks, Nina.” He looked over his shoulder. “Damn.” He turned and hurried down the hall, but I heard the door closing. Carla had made a run for it.

I was right behind Jason as he punched the door-frame. “I’m really sorry,” I said again, peeking from under the brim of my cap.

He sighed. “Unlucky today. She’ll forgive us, I hope.” He leaned his back against the jamb and punched my arm. I jabbed him back in the ribs. “I’m going to shower. I might meet you at the hole,” he said pushing off and heading for the bathroom.

“Cool.” I smiled, glad he wasn’t mad at me. Stopping at the shed, I grabbed my pole and tackle box.

Leaning against a poplar, I listened to a robin whistling somewhere nearby. My line dragged in the water, but I wasn’t using any real bait. Catching a fish wasn’t the point today.

In my head, I saw Jason again, only this time, it wasn’t him and Carla, it was me and Mitchell. I felt my face hot, thinking about being kissed like that, being naked with a boy, an engorged penis. I nearly jumped out my skin when I heard a twig snap nearby.

“Holy crap, Nina. Something bugging you?” Jason asked, sitting beside me and casting his line. “That’s a stupid question,” he muttered.

I hunched a little. There had never been anything I had trouble talking about with my brothers. That was how I had learned the mechanics of sex in the first place. Now I was uncomfortable. The longer we sat without talking, the more I relaxed. Finally, I asked about something safer, applications for university.

“Yeah, I haven’t decided yet, but I’ve applied for sciences at the U of A. I can pick a major or switch faculties easily from there.” He shrugged. “What about you? Any closer to knowing what you’re going to be when you grow up?”

I snorted. “I’m not going to grow up. What’s the point of that?” I grinned and saw it reflected on his face.

“Going to find some sugardaddy to look after you?” he asked, laughing.

I stuck my tongue out at him. “No,” I moaned, dragging the single syllable out. “I’m going to...” I searched for an answer, “be a hermit. I’ll build a shed in the middle of nowhere and hunt for my food.”

He laughed harder. “I watched you when you shot that deer. You’d never make it.”

I scowled, knowing he was right. Dad and Uncle Joe had let me come along with the boys hunting. They were using bows and arrows, so there was little chance I’d hurt anyone but myself. It was a complete fluke that I’d hit the deer. I mean, I’d seen it and aimed, same as Jason and Leon, but my arrow had been the one to hit the back of the leg and lame the animal. It ran far before we managed to find it and shoot it again, full of fear and pain.

“Okay, not a hermit. I’ll think of something.”

“Something to give Mom grey hair, no doubt,” he said with a snort of his own. “You know you don’t have to do boy things with us.” It wasn’t the first time it had been pointed out to me. “You can be a girl anytime you want to.”

I sat a little straighter and took a deep breath. I watched his eyes fly to my chest for a minute. Exactly what I wanted. “I am a girl,” I twitched my line, making it skip along the water. “A girl who likes to fish and hike. I’m sure there are boys who like girls like that.” I didn’t quite look at him.

He chuckled. “There are, and you’ll snag one.” He flicked the brim of my cap and I grinned at him again. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about Carla,” he said quietly. “We... She...” He stumbled for a while before I shook my head.

“I don’t care,” I said happily. “You’re happy? That’s all that matters. If you’re just going to jump her and run, though, I am SO telling Dad on you.” I glared at him. Leon had done that. It had been Jason who busted him, finding a condom in the car. I never learned what Dad had said to Leon that night, only that he had been grey-faced and quiet for the next week. He could have any number of girls now, but I was sure he didn’t.

Jason looked scared. He probably didn’t know what Dad had said either, but he’d seen the result. “I’m not!” he shouted, jumping to his own defense. “We’re just... new.”

I furrowed my brow. “Really? You do that... new?” I didn’t really know how to ask. “Don’t you have to... I don’t know, go on a few dates or something?”

He shook his head. “Not always. It’s hard to explain, Nina. Sometimes, the moment gets away on you.” He turned red in the face and I looked back to the water, twitching my line again. “I mean, when she started touching me... I would do anything to keep her from stopping.” He looked to me and must have seen the lack of comprehension on my face. “Um... how about, like running downhill.” I nodded once, following that. “You can fight it, and step heavy, or you can let your feet go and...”

I smiled, thinking about gravity pulling my down a hill. It felt so much better than the jerky walking to try to go slow. Nodding, I twitched my line again. “I think I get it.” His jaw dropped. “I don’t really get it, obviously,” I said, shaking my head and rolling my eyes. I continued twitching my line, a little irritated. Did he really think I’d...

“Have you had sex, Jason?” I asked, suddenly very curious.

His line sunk low and he began coughing. “What?”

“Have you already had sex?” I asked, taking advantage of the return to my comfort zone. “I mean, it’s pretty obvious you were about to with Carla. Would that have been your first time?”

He was bright red, and I didn’t think it was from coughing. “Yes. I’ve... gotten to second before. Do you know-”

“Yes,” I cut him off. “Touching.” I shook my head.

“Um, yeah. I’ve done that with girls before.” He wasn’t comfortable anymore. Suddenly he broke the awkward silence with a heated, “Please tell me you haven’t...”

I punched him, hard. “No. I’ve been kissed exactly once, on a dare. I think the boys still see me as a pal,” I admitted, slightly sullenly.

He nodded. “That’s the problem with being a tomboy. It’s a benefit, too,” he added with a grin. “Once they do notice, you’ll have your pick. They’ll all know you, and know you’re cool.”

I grinned, too. “Soon,” I said, flicking the line again. “I caught a boy watching me walk to class the other day.” It was Preston. I’m pretty he looked at anything with hips, which I definitely had now. I only wished Mom’s thighs hadn’t come with them. I missed my skinny legs.

“Who?” Jason nearly growled. I laughed at him. He would be the only one left to ‘defend my honour’ when the time came, and apparently he planned to take his job seriously. I was still laughing when my rod nearly pulled out of my hands.

“Shit, I’ve got something.” I started pulling and reeling, Jason encouraging me and leaning over the shore of the creek. He began laughing. That couldn’t be good.

I pulled back one last time and an old shoe came out, nearly hitting Jason in the nose. Frowning at him and the shoe, I untangled my hook.

“We better get home. Mom’ll have supper on soon.” Jason reeled in his line and put his rod on his shoulder, taking my hand.

“Are you mad at me at all?” I asked as we walked.

He chuckled. “No. I’m kinda glad actually. I really should introduce her Mom and Dad first.” He looked at his feet, the same beaten up old Converse. “I’m not sure I’m ready.”

“Looked like you enjoyed running down the hill,” I teased with a grin.

“Shut up, you,” he said, glaring at me. “Running down isn’t always the best idea, as you know.”

I hung my head slightly, abashed. I’d nearly broken my leg running down a wooded slope, tripping on a root. I had face-planted and flipped once, leading to the small scar on my jaw. “It was still awesome,” I told him.

He sighed. “Yes, it was.”

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Destinee Week 38: Dare (Part 2)

Destiny Cullen

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Destiny Cullen’s Choice: both

Dare (part 2)

We walked back to the group soaking wet and still laughing. The sun was just starting to set over the horizon and Dustine smiled as she looked over her shoulder at it.

“Look Ayden! It seems little Dustie got laid!” Juniper snickered.

“I’ve never seen her smile so big in her life! Must have been a great piece of ass.” Ayden chimed in to Dustine’s dismay.

“Shut up you two! Unless you want me to tell the boys here all about that ‘incident’ in New Mexico.”

The girls’ eyes bugged and they suddenly found something else to talk about.

When we finally gave up our beds to the girls late that night, the guys and I made a plan to make them stay until the police found their car, and hopefully after that too.

“Declan you’re really suggesting that? I don’t think they’d go for it.” Cooper said while him and Tyler glanced down the hallway to the group of rooms Ayden, Dustine, and Juniper where in.

“What else do you suggest? You guys talked to them more than I did. Besides Dustine and I didn’t really talk we just…laughed and had fun. I just hope she’ll agree to this.” They looked at me and mumbled, “We do too.”

Early that morning I woke up to the front door closing and I jumped up running to check the room where the girls were staying, and they were nowhere to be found. I rushed back to the living room shaking the guys. “They are gone we gotta get them!”

I ran out the door without a shirt on and found them down the beach. I ran as fast as I could down the shore to catch up to them. Dustine’s back was to me as she was fighting with her friends.

“Ladies,” I stopped behind Dustine and took a deep breath. “Why did you ditch us? We’d love to have your company until the cops find your car.” Please, please agree.

“We have to get going. You know places to go, people to see.” Dustine said without turning around.

“Okay,” I said with a sigh. “I heard your conversation yesterday. You have nowhere to go and we have a house right here for you guys to stay until you get your car back.”

Her friends were nodding vigorously and she dropped her shoulders and nodded with them.

“Thank you,” she whispered. “Dee, we’ll see you inside.” I turned to see them run to Cooper and Tyler who were still trying to make their way down to us.

“Hey, I’m sorry if I embarrassed you. It’s just that we like you guys. You’re fun and we haven’t seen lots of girls out here that aren’t fake.”

She wiped her face and turned to look at me. “Thanks for letting us stay here with you guys. I’m going to go for a walk. Tell Juniper and Ayden I’ll be back soon.” She turned to walk off, but I took her hand in mine.

“How about some breakfast first?” I asked as she looked at my hand in hers.

“Um,” she paused loosing her train of thought. “Uh, I don’t really like being inside a lot.” She looked away as if embarrassed.

“Well how about I walk with you and then we can have breakfast outside?”

She tried to smile but the glimmer was gone from her eyes. “That sounds like plan.” I still held her hand as we started to walk down the shore. The sun started to rise higher and more people filled the beach. Suddenly an idea sparked and I glanced over at her.

“Dustine?” She shook her head to clear it and looked at me in question. “Would you like to see something with me?”

Her eyebrows furrowed. “What do you mean?”

I combed my fingers through my hair and looked into her eyes. “There is something that I want to show you but its not here on the beach. Would you like to go and see it?” I asked- more like pleaded.

“What about your friends…and mine? I don’t want to leave them alone.”

I smiled thinking about what the guys had in store for her friends. “Don’t worry, my friends have something planned for them. Nothing ‘serial killers’ would think is fun, promise.”

She laughed and nodded her head. We headed back to the house and got changed. Cooper found some old clothes of his sister’s in the spare bedroom so the girls could change. After Dustine talked to her friends and deemed them safe to stay with Cooper and Tyler, she let me take her to my car and on the road.

I rolled down the windows once we were out of the city and the fresh air whipped through the car filling our lungs. She smiled as she took in the mountains and trees. “So where are you taking me?”

“You see that huge mountain right in front of us with the snow on top? We are going to the other side.” I smiled at her expression.

“Why are we going there?”

“It’s the only place that makes me feel like I did in Ireland.” I said cryptically.

“How did you feel in Ireland?”

I smiled as I took my eyes off the road to look at her. “I felt at home.”

Something flashed through her eyes and she looked out the window. Suddenly the life in the car was gone and I reached over the seat to take her hand in mine. Her head snapped to look at me touching her and then she looked at me with tears in her eyes.

“What’s wrong?” I asked as I pulled to the shoulder and parked the car. “What happened to you?” I pulled her into my chest and she started crying freely. I ran my hand soothingly down her back while holding her tight.

The crying finally eased and she pulled back to look at me. “I’m sorry.” She wiped her eyes, trying to stop the tears from coming down.

“Dustine please tell me what’s wrong.”

She took a deep breath and nodded toward the road. “Drive and I’ll tell you.” I started the car back up and continued down the road to the special spot I’ve never shown anyone before.

“Remember when I told you that I met Juniper and Ayden when I was 16? Well the whole reason I left Arizona, besides the fact that I wanted to see the concert, was because I had to get away from that life in New Mexico. I was a runaway at sixteen and you might think it was teen angst as most people do but it was more than that.”

She started to fidget with her fingers before she continued on. “I had the worst kind of life. I was perfect to the outside world but inside my house I was anything but. I brought home perfect grades, but I was still stupid and got beat for not getting one hundred percent in all my classes. I was never allowed outside the house except for school. Which is the reason I hate being inside most of the time. But the topping on the cake was my stepfather. He,” She choked on a sob and had to stop for a while.

Her sobs slowed as we rounded the mountain almost to our destination. “He um, he abused me.” Her voice broke but continued. “I had to get out of there since my mom didn’t believe me. I took the money I saved up and headed straight for Arizona and never looked back.”

After a few moments, the mountain opened up into a small lake with green all around it. You could even see the snow on the very top. “You never told anyone before me?”

She shook her head the tears finally ceasing. “No one but Juniper and Ayden.” I nodded my head as I parked the car close to the shore.

She wiped the tears off her cheeks and whispered to herself. “I’ve never felt at home before. I guess you need to have a home first.” I smiled sadly and got out to open her door for her.

“Dustine, it would be my pleasure to show you around your new home.” I held out my hand to help her out and she had a half smile. Which was improvement from her tears.

“I found this place when I needed to get away from everything. I just drove and drove, and the road lead me here. I never showed this place to anyone else before.” I kept her hand in mine as I lead her across the shore.

“It doesn’t even feel like California here.” She raised her head into the breeze letting her hair get caught in the wind. I smiled at the sight.

“Exactly why I love it here. Come this way, there is a small cabin hidden in the trees.”

She laughed as I raced her toward the wooden cabin. Once we caught our breaths on the porch I walked over to the hidden key and unlocked the door for her. “It’s not much but, it could be home.”

She walked in front of me and I placed my hand on the small of her back giving her a tour of the two rooms and one small kitchen and tiny bathroom. “This feels nice,” she closed her eyes to take in the moment. “You’re right Declan. This could be home.”

The light was back in her eyes and made the deep brown sparkle with life. I smiled and brought my hand to cup her cheek, leaned down and kissed her soft lips.

When I pulled back to look at her, her eyes were pooling with tears and I started to panic. “I’m sorry Dustine-” She pressed her mouth to mine and cut off what I was going to say. She cut off all thoughts that didn’t involve her with me.

She released her hold on me and laughed as she wiped the tears from her eyes. “Thank you. Thank you so much, Declan.” She grabbed my hand and pulled me toward the window that looks toward the lake. “I think I may have felt what it feels like to be at home. I never want to leave, I never want this feeling to go away.”

“It doesn’t have to, Dustine.” I cupped her face tenderly. “You can stay here, with me. As long as you like.”

She smiled but then looked away. “I can’t leave my friends.”

I laughed. “I wouldn’t worry about that. I think Tyler and Cooper have their own plans to keep your friends with them.”

“Hey, I thought you weren’t going to use you’re Irish charm on me.”

I smirked. “You know my lady, you should never trust an Irishman when he says he’ll never use his Irish charm on you.” She smiled and I brought my lips to hers once more.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Snapple Apple 450 Week 39: Something About Windows

SnappleApple 450

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SnappleApple 450's Choice: both

Something About Windows

There’s just something about windows that makes me smile. Something about them that makes me feel something great. When you stand and look through a window, are you on the outside looking in? Looking in on a happy family? A dog curled up at his masters’ feet while the children ran around before supper. Or are you like me, where you’re locked inside wanting out?

I wish I could go outside right now. The weather feels amazing during the spring. The wind is cool and the world is beginning to blossom again after the harsh winter. I wish I could go outside. They promised I could leave in March, next month. They promised I was better. I promised I was better… I knew I was better. I had no reason to be sad anymore. I had no reason to hurt myself anymore. I was happy now. I was in love now. Things change when you’re in love.

His name is Terry Disher. He was here for longer than me and knew all the in’s and out’s of the facility. The rules were simple. The workers made it very clear all the time. You’re not here to make friends and socialize. You’re here to get better and get back out into the world.

The boys slept in a completely different building than the girls, that’s how they kept them separated. The buildings were separated by a small courtyard off limits to patients. The only time boys and girls mixed was when we ate. That’s how we met. I was freshly admitted and he offered me a seat at the table. We hit it off immediately.

But I didn’t belong in this place. This was a place for crazy people. I wasn’t crazy. I was depressed and I’d hurt myself, but never suicidal. I never got that term “suicidal.” If you’re suicidal, it means you killed yourself. I don’t understand how people can fail at killing themselves. How hard is it to end this so-called fragile life? I personally think they’re all cowards. Too scared to take their own life, and if they do succeed then they were too scared to live their life. You can’t continually kill yourself therefore no one can technically be deemed suicidal. It doesn’t matter anyway. I was never suicidal despite what they called me.

I was here because my dad was worried about me. He hated to see me like I was. But I was better now. I’d be out in March. Terry got out back in December. He promised to wait for me to get better. He’d write to me on the outside. I knew he was keeping his promise. We’d both used to look outside our windows at each other. His window was directly across from mine and we’d hold up notebooks with messages or pass notes at lunch. It was kind of romantic but more than anything it was frustrating. We didn’t even have our first kiss yet. I guess it really brings awareness to what matters right? Abstinence and all that jazz they teach us. Our relationship isn’t physical. The most we could do was hold hands under the table so the workers didn’t know and separate us.

Now he was waiting for me outside the gate. Waiting for me outside the window. I was on the inside looking out. Looking out at what could be my life. Looking out on what would and will be my life. My birthday is in March. They are releasing me a week before I turn eighteen. Terry promised to wait for me. My dad was happy that I was coming home and that I was better. My scars were completely healed, and for once, no new ones took their place. I was healed. I didn’t find Jesus like some in this place. Personally I’d have better luck finding Waldo. I didn’t have an epiphany making me realize my life should be a happy one. I just up and decided one day. The workers thought I was lying for a long time. How could someone they said was extremely depressed and a danger to herself suddenly be happy?

Depression isn’t a disability. It’s not a real terminal disease. It’s not contagious. It’s not a life choice. But then again, neither is love. I look out this window knowing Terry is looking out his until the day comes when we can both be that happy family that people look in on and smile with envy. Like my dad said when I came in here, “when life closes one a window.”

Friday, February 18, 2011

Burntcore Week 39: Heaven


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Burntcore's Choice: Picture 2


This was my perfect. This was my little slice of heaven. Nothing in my life was better than where I was at this moment. My perfect heaven was being wrapped up in Devin’s arms, no matter the location.

Today, he and I were out in the city park during a cloudy early fall afternoon. Despite the cooling temperatures, I refused to give up summer and wore a denim mini-skirt.Devin’s arms were wrapped around me as I sat on his lap. His guitar was propped up next to Devin against the stone bench we sat on.

This was how we spent most of our summer, entangled in each others arms, only separated when he played his guitar for me. My perfect, little slice of heaven.

Today was different. Today, I was still there, in his arms, but it was bittersweet. Devin was leaving soon for college while I toiled away during my senior year alone. He originally said he was going to wait for me so we could go together, but I couldn’t hold him back like that. Devin had received a music scholarship and if he didn’t go this year, he wouldn’t get another chance.

I had to keep reminding myself that my perfect heaven was moving but not leaving. He wouldn’t be so far away that I couldn’t visit him every once in awhile. He would always be there, it would just be a matter of where that was. I had a car and a part-time job. I could go and see him and be in my heaven anytime.

“I’m gonna miss you, silly girl,” he murmured as he nuzzled my neck. His fingers danced over the skin of my upper legs making goosebumps erupt all over.

“You better,” I giggled. “I wouldn’t want any of those older college girls to catch your eye.”

“They can’t catch my eye if I’m not looking.”

One of Devin’s hands slipped under the hem of my skirt and began caressing the back of my leg, grazing the edge of my panties. I shivered and leaned back into his chest. Feeling adventurous, I shifted and swung my legs up so I was sitting across his lap. Devin’s hands traveled down my legs to my ankles and back up again.

“I remember when you got this,” he said as his finger traced two parallel scars down the side of my shin.

I shuddered as memories from the accident flashed through my mind. Devin and I had grown up together, almost literally. He was my next door neighbor... and I was the proverbial girl next door. We were just kids riding our bikes through the neighborhood, taking a short cut behind some businesses. I lost control and fell, cutting myself on some metal sheeting that was piled up behind one of the buildings. Devin came running over when he saw I crashed but almost passed out from all the blood gushing down my leg. I was a bawling mess, so I wasn’t much better.

Devin retained control of his stomach and tried to help staunch the flow of blood with his t-shirt. It was a bit eye-opening for me at that age to see Devin bare-chested. We were still kids, not even through puberty, yet seeing his pale, bare skin brought a flush to my clammy skin. Carefully, he carried me home where my mom proceeded to fuss and work herself into a tissy over the cuts. They were deep, sure, but not so deep that it was a major issue. Once she realized that I wasn’t going to bleed out, she wrapped up my leg again and took me to the hospital.

Now, years later, I had the lovely scars on my leg to remind me of that day.

“I remember too,” I said with a smirk.

As we talked away that afternoon, his hands continued to graze across my skin, as though he was trying to remember everything. It just made me more eager to get home and show him how much I loved him.

“Come on, baby,” I whispered, pressing myself against his body. “Let’s go.”

A shudder went through Devin’s body in response to my actions. He gazed down at me full of love and lust and affection. “Alright, sweet girl.”

Later that day, we were wrapped in one another’s arms, skin sliding along skin, whispers floating around one another. This was my perfect. My little slice of heaven. Even when he left, we’d still have that.... I’d still have that, I’d still have him. My heaven wouldn’t be right here, but he would always be near.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Kimmydon Week 39: Green


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Kimmydon's Choice: both


I sat back in his chair and put my feet on his desk, crossing my ankles. It felt weird to be in the office in my jeans, but I was only here to deliver a message anyway. Part of it was written on my shoe. I didn’t care. Not anymore. My limit was reached and I had a way out. In my hand, my resignation. I wondered what he would say when I gave it, what desperate offer he would make to try to keep me. It wouldn’t work. I was done.

I fanned myself with the paper, waiting patiently. One hour ticked by, then two. After three I rose from my perch and walked out to the reception area.

“Are you expecting Mr. Howard soon?” I asked Lacy, his receptionist.

“Nancy! I completely forgot you were waiting. He called to cancel his afternoon, hit the greens.” She started scribbling on a post-it. “Here’s the course address. He should be three or four holes in by now. I would have come and told you, but...”

“You forgot,” I echoed. “It’s alright. Thanks.”

“See you Monday?” she asked as I pushed the button on the elevator.

“Not likely!” I called as the doors closed, grinning madly.

The course wasn’t far away, a large park in the middle of town. How much did the real estate cost, I wondered, trying to tally up a bill. It would be astronomical. No wonder it was members only. I entered the club house holding my resignation.

“I need to deliver this to Mr. Howard. Shall I wait here?” I asked the bartender.

“Nah, go on and find him.” He waved me on. As long as I wasn’t playing or interfering with play, he didn’t care.

My jeans blended in just fine here, but my heels didn’t. They kept sinking into the soft soil, and at one point, I pulled them off, walking barefoot in the cool grass. It felt marvelous. I would definitely being doing more of this in my free time. A lot more free time was coming my way. Well, less structured time anyway. Self-employment - blessing and curse. I’d be always working, but I could work anywhere. I could work here. Surveying the green and trees, I thought it wouldn’t be a bad place to work, actually.

I found the quartet at hole six. Howard’s trophy wife was wearing lemon yellow shorts and white sneakers, preparing for a putt. Honestly, the girl was years younger than me. I had no idea what he saw in her. Probably just C cup. The other couple was familiar as well. Denis Ullman and his wife had attended a number of company functions.

“Excuse me Mr. and Mrs. Ullman, Mrs. Howard. I need to give this to Mr. Howard.” I held the letter out to him, grinning.

He took it as his wife continued her putt. She sunk it and cheered, but he didn’t congratulate her, didn’t respond at all.

“Bad news, Barry?” Mr. Ullman asked.

“Yes, urgent actually. You’ll play on without me?” he asked the three, who shared startled looks but nodded. “Come with me, Nancy?” He started walking toward the clubhouse. That was the way out, so I followed. When we’d gone halfway, he asked, “Are you serious about this?”

If I’d had a tail, it would have twitched in pleasure. “Positively. I have enough clients of my own - I’m going independent.” I slipped on the shoes still slung over my shoulder as we hit pavement.

He nodded slowly. “I see. We would be very sad to see you go. Not only for the portfolio you just mentioned. You are an integral member of our team.” He held open the door to the club house for me and I stepped in alongside him.

I took a moment to regard him as I passed. He only had a handful of years on me, so he wasn’t old, and he’d kept in shape. His chest was broad and the tight shirt showed the cut of the muscles beneath. I scolded myself. I’d long since gotten over my crush on Barry Howard. He was an ass that used me, never giving me near the credit I deserved, and I was happily out from under him now. Still, one more thought of running my fingers through his thick black curls ran behind my eyes before I turned to the bar.

The bartender was filling a drink for another member, an elderly gentleman sitting on one of the stools. “Gary,” Howard asked, “I’m going to snag one of the private rooms. I have some business that needs attending.” Gary nodded and I felt Howard’s warm hand close on my elbow, fingers pressing into the joint. I nearly ripped it out of his hold, but he tugged very lightly in the direction he was nodding before letting go.

I huffed but climbed the stairs he had indicated. They rose to a hall of doors, all open, facing onto the course. I heard a click after the door closed behind us. I turned, crossing my arms, still smiling. I was the one in control here. It was a nice feeling.

“What can I do?” he asked. His husky voice was irritated and angry. Not nearly as desperate as I’d hoped it would be. “Make you a partner? Put your name on the door? What is it, Nancy? What do you want?”

I gaped for a moment. Partner? That had never been on the table before. I must have said that aloud because he answered.

“If that’s what it takes. You are instrumental, Nancy. We can’t lose you.” He took a step closer, his nose just above mine for his few inches height. “I can’t lose you.”

My eyes narrowed. He knew the infatuation I’d had and used his sex appeal to sway me before. It wouldn’t work this time. I tapped my foot remembering the message written there. “You can’t lose me. You who has a playboy bunny. You who has a receptionist that rarely wears a bra. You who keeps his desk immaculate.” I didn’t need to say that it was so he could spread women on it. He got the picture.

His hands closed on my biceps, and I did wrench them free.

“Let go of me. You have no right to touch me, Barry Howard. None at all.” My throat tightened as my voice ran into higher registers, nearly squeaking. That wouldn’t do. I took a deep breath fighting tears that had sprung from no where. There was no reason to be so upset.

“I need this,” he said, flicking my forehead with a finger. “I mean, I won’t turn down all the rest,” he said leering slowly down and up my frame. “This is what I need though.” This time he leaned forward and placed his lips gently on my forehead.

He shouldn’t know me so well. He did - we had worked together almost a decade, making HowTwo a top name in design.

I melted at the small gesture, the way I wouldn’t have if he’d done something grandiose. All thought of the trials he’d put me through were gone from my mind.

His lips brushed mine, breaking me from the moment. “No!” I shouted, backing up. “It’s too much. I can’t do this anymore. I’m tried of being in the background, being pushed aside. It’s time for me to step out from behind you, Barry. I’ve been in your shadow too long.”

“I know,” he said softly. “I should have done something sooner, before it came to this.” He took my hands now, just holding them. “What can I do?” he asked again. The bitterness from before was gone, and he pleaded, just as I’d hoped to hear. Or as I thought I’d wanted. Looking up at him and seeing the loss painted on his face, made me less sure. “Name it. I’ll change the name. I will,” he insisted, tightening his grip and pulling me closer again. “HowStan is just as good. Or HowFord.” My name was Stanford.

I snickered. “Stanward?” I asked. He rolled his eyes. There was good reason to keep the name, it was already known. “No, I don’t want you to change it.”

“Then what? You need more time off?” He looked past me out the window. “Maybe a membership here? We can arrange that. I push you because you do this so much better than me, but you could do more of what I do, work from a place of comfort.” He was actually working, pitching and feeling Ullman. I’d known him to do it before, but always scoffed. Since I’d had more clients of my own, I understood his tactics better. Learning about the person outside their office helped you better meet their needs.

That had been part of what I was looking for. “More autonomy. I want to make my schedule and choose my projects, not you.” I watched him for a reaction. He pursed his lips, but nodded.

“I’ll take a new junior to foist that onto. I’ll pass them by you first, though, so you can grab what you like,” he suggested, watching me.

I nodded, agreeing to that. He sighed in relief, letting our hands drop slightly. I couldn’t help but chuckle. He had been more desperate than he let on. It reminded me of the few times we’d played poker. We both had excellent game faces.

Arms wrapped my shoulders, pulling me in under his lifted chin. He squeezed me carefully. “You had me scared, Nancy,” he murmured. “You weren’t bluffing, were you?”

I shook my head. “I actually made plans for Monday,” I admitted with a grin.

He groaned. “Keeping them?”

“You bet your ass. I have a pedi with Grace Newman and tea with Darlene Herter.” Both were clients of mine. Ones I had planned to usurp, but now would just field for new projects.

He smiled, following the ball. “You’ll let me know how they go?”

“Tuesday?” I asked.

“Monday evening?” he met my eyes again, his blue ones more expressive than I was used to.

“Uh, sure. You bringing Angela?” I asked, thumb to the window where she would be playing with the Ullman’s.

He shook his head. “She’s... visiting her mother next week. She’s...” he sighed. “Why did you let me marry her?” he asked, his head hanging.

I snorted from laughing. “Let you? I think you’re quite old enough to choose your own spouse.”

“You know what I mean. It was a terrible idea. We have absolutely nothing in common.” He grimaced. “Not even sex anymore...” That was whispered.

I had to cover my mouth to keep from laughing louder. “I’ll see you Monday night, Howard. Where?” I stepped past him reaching for the knob.

He turned, covering my hand to stop me. His other hand he placed palm down against the door beside my head. “I should have married you.”

Oh no. Oh no, no, no, no, no.... I jiggled the knob, twisting it under his hand, but he’d locked it. I couldn’t take this. “No, Howard. Open this door.”

“You can call me Barry. I’ve told you that before.” He leaned in closer again. “I’m not trying to keep you, now. You’ve already agreed to stay.” His breath tickled my ear. I closed my eyes, willing resistance my body couldn’t seem to muster. Already my stomach had fallen and my knees shook.

Agreeing to stay didn’t make it any better. “You can’t keep me,” I declared. “You can’t keep yourself to one woman for more than a week. No wonder Angela is leaving you.”

His face hardened. I’d struck a nerve. As soon as he’d said Angela was going, I knew it had been her decision. Even if he was unhappy, he would never put her out. It was too convenient to have someone to go home to. He’d complained about compatibility before, in conversations I did my best to forget after they occurred.

“Please, Nancy. Let me try?” His voice was soft again, caressing. His hand dropped from the door to my cheek. “I will tell you. That’s better than I did for any of them, right? And maybe I’ll succeed. Maybe having someone like you...”

While his blue eyes bore into mine, I jiggled the knob harder, needing out.

His lips found mine, pressing me against the door. I whimpered slightly, feeling my resolve melt away. Had he been bluffing? Why would he? He had me, as he said. This wasn’t for the company. This was for him.

The kiss was chaste, his lips closing on first my top and then my bottom lip before backing away and unlocking the door for me. My breath was still coming in small gasps, preventing me from opening the door immediately.


“Yes, Nancy?” He asked running his nose along mine.

“If you ever do that again, I’ll sue for sexual harassment.” I opened the door and fled.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I Wish I Was Esme Week 39: Moving

I Wish I Was Esme

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I Wish I Was Esme's Choice: Both


We were leaving the only home I had ever known. Dad had gone into bankruptcy, so we had to downsize. That was easier said than done though. Mother wasn’t used to going without. She had come from a rich family. She tried to tie everything onto our little car, it reminded me of one of those clown cars trying to get everyone in a tiny car.

I didn’t care much that we had to move, that was life. Other people had it worse than us. We were safe and healthy that was all that mattered, at that time in life.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Destinee Week 38: Excuse Me

Destiny Cullen

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Destiny Cullen’s Choice: Picture 1

Excuse Me, That’s My Life You Just Walked Into

“Do you love me?”

The question hung in the air, kissing the wind with all its emotions as it floated to his ears. His chocolate eyes swam with unsaid thoughts and dreams that were locked behind bars. His mouth parted and every exhale could be seen in the frozen air. Slowly his tongue touched the top of his mouth as his lips formed the condemning word.

“No.” He couldn’t pull himself to stare into her wounded soul any longer. “I’m sorry. Goodbye Ana.”

Her heart stopped, she forgot how to breathe as he walked away with his hands shoved deep in his coat pockets. Snow began to fall around her. Anastasia refused to move. She wasn’t cold or tired so she stood. He had been with her for 2 years, 7 months, 27 days, 3 hours, and 56 minutes to the very second. And now he wasn’t. Why wasn’t he? Why did he just now figure out he didn’t love her? He could have saved her 3 years of her life counting the 4 months of passing glances and smiles in the beginning. Why now? The eve of Valentine’s Day. February 13th at 7:15 at night. Snow was on the ground and swirling in the air, hearts were plastered on store windows announcing their extensive collections of cards and chocolates.

“Ma’am?” Anastasia looked up to see a man in front of her. “You want to come inside? It’s pretty cold out here.” He breathed into his cupped hands as he bounced on his feet. She was standing outside a fancy French restaurant on the main street.

She wiped her eyes, not realizing she’d started crying. He didn’t realize it either. “Ohh, I’m sorry, ma’am. Those look like heartbroken tears.” He quickly pulled out a tissue and handed it to her. She took it graciously as he led her inside the restaurant.

A dressed up waiter took them to a table where a bottle of wine was waiting. He obviously had reservations. He pulled her seat out and she took it. Once the waiter left, the man spoke.

“These tears weren’t premeditated or planned.”

“How would you know?”

He gave her his folded up napkin to dry her eyes. “You would have worn waterproof mascara,” he chuckled.

She wiped her eyes, embarrassed.

“So this must have been an unexpected breakup?” He poured some wine.

“Dreaded, but not unexpected. And I had hoped to be stronger than this. Maybe if I knew it was coming it would lessen the blow.” She admitted.

She didn’t notice the shadow cross his brow. “Why did he break up with you?”

“He didn’t love me anymore.” She wasn’t going to admit how bad that hurt her. Was she not worth loving? Quietly she gulped her wine down.

“Did he buy you that dress?”

She looked down at her silky red, low-cut dress she was wearing. “Yes, he bought it for my birthday last year.”

“Isn’t it a little cold outside for that dress?” He raised a curious eyebrow.

She nodded slightly with a bitter smile. “I wanted him to see me in it. Maybe remind him of the time he loved me.”

“Did it work?”

She was silent for a long time, staring at the man in front of her before finally answering. “No.”

He poured her another glass of wine. “How did you two meet?” he asked.

“I’m a photographer. I was taking a picture of the park one day, about to capture the perfect picture when he blocked my view and ruined the shot,” she laughed as she drank her wine down. “I still have that picture, framed in my apartment… I think I’ll burn it later.”

He nodded, taking in every detail as he listened intently.

“What about you?” she finally asked. “Seems odd for me to dominate the conversation.”

He smiled. “I’m not the one crying, am I?”

A ghost of a smile showed on her face as she stared at him. “I guess not.” He was really handsome now that her eyes weren’t watering. His hair wasn’t long, but it had just enough length to subtly wave over his forehead. His eyes were vibrant blue and he had a five o’clock shadow, but not in the lazy sense, more of the hot gruff look.

The waiter came up with their food and gently placed it in front of them. “Bon appetit,” he said with a slight French accent.

“Thank you, Frank.”

“No problem,” he said with a normal accent.

She stared at his retreating figure with a laugh. “I…didn’t order,” she said confused at the place in front of her.

“You don’t want it?” He asked cutting his filet mignon.

“I’m a vegetarian,” her voice was thick with apology, feeling like she imposed on his night already.

He smiled softly, putting his knife down. “So was my wife.”

“Oh, she left you?” Anastasia was sad for him, knowing how he felt.

The man stared into her eyes. “Yeah about 5 years ago. Today was our anniversary.”

“Why did she leave?”

He didn’t say anything for the longest time until finally he smiled, taking in a deep breath. “Our time together was just up…even if I wasn’t ready for it.”

Anastasia smiled kindly. “Maybe you should have worn waterproof mascara too.”

He chuckled. “Yeah, I guess so.” He called the waiter back and asked for a vegetable dish for the two of them. They ate in silence until dessert came.

“You know, I wouldn’t normally have dinner with a stranger,” she said casually.

“I guess under the circumstances, it’s okay,” he replied.

“Yeah, I guess…” She bit into the moist cake and smiled. “Thank you.”

“For...the cake? Yes, it is quite amazing. My favorite dish on the menu.” He took a bite.
“I mean thank you for this night. For talking to me when I’m so brokenhearted,” she said sincerely.

“You don’t look so brokenhearted to me.”

She smiled. “Not anymore.”

He cleared his throat and placed his folded hands on the table, leaning forward thoughtfully. “How long?”

She cocked her head to the side. “How long…”

“Your boyfriend. Ex, I should say.”

She was still confused. “How long had we been together? About two and a half years.”

“How long did it take him to realize he didn’t love you?” He asked.

She sipped her wine thoughtfully. “About as long as it took him to find a new girl at his office, I suppose… At least, that’s what I heard his friends talking about.”

“And how long did it take you to realize you didn’t love him anymore either?” His eyes fixed on hers intently.

Anastasia froze with the glass to her lips, slowly she lowered it, keeping her eyes on his. “I guess a few minutes before I asked him if he loved me…” she whispered.

He nodded with a warm smile. “You’re not sad about losing the man you loved, you’re only sad about losing those years of your life with him.”

She just stared at him. “Yeah,” was all she could say. He was right. It wasn’t like she missed her boyfriend, he was gone and out of her life for good. It was the life they had that was now gone that she missed. She smiled narrowing her eyes slightly. “Are you a psychiatrist?”

He chuckled, leaning back again. “Just a really good observer.”

Suddenly his phone rang and he gave her an apologetic smile. She waved him off saying it was fine as she sipped her wine some more thinking about what he said. “Hello? Hey, sweetie, what’s going on? Did you finish your homework? Alright, two friends, max. …Fine, four, but I’m not paying for the pizza - you guys have to figure that on your own. I’ll be home in a little bit. I love you, too. Bye.” He hung up and smiled.

“You have a daughter?”

“I have two. That was my oldest. She’s fifteen.”

“That would put you at age…”

“Too old to have at slumber parties. I’m 34 now. Had her when I was nineteen and freshly married.”

“I always wanted kids. Promised myself after college,” she laughed. “I’m 32 and single again.”

The man called for the bill. “You’ll have them. Don’t worry.”

She smiled again, not really believing him.

“Well I have to go chaperone a slumber party. You’ll be fine?”

She nodded. “Yeah, I’ll be alright. I never got your name.”

He stood up and grabbed his coat. “I’m Ned.”

“Well, Ned, your wife made a mistake when she left you.”

He chuckled to himself. “That’s what she told me right before she died.”

Anastasia’s face went blank with shock and embarrassment. “Oh I’m so sorry! I didn’t... I thought you meant... When you said she left you—“

“It’s alright,” he laughed.

“And today was your anniversary, too,” she wanted to cry of embarrassment as she covered her face with her hands.

“It’s alright. I promised my wife I’d meet someone else on our anniversary. I’ve failed for the past five years, but as if by some miracle… I met you.” He smiled, pulling her hands from her face.

“I’m Anastasia,” she whispered.

“Nice to meet you.” He shook her hand. “Have a good Valentine’s Day. I have reservations for this same table tomorrow. Maybe I’ll see you outside again.”

“Maybe,” she smiled as he walked away.

How long did it take for her to realize she never loved her ex? Roughly two and a half years. How long did it take to realize this man just walked away with her heart? Roughly one minute upon meeting him.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Snapple Apple 450 Week 37: Where Do You Go When Nobody Wants You? (Part 5)

SnappleApple 450

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Picture 2

SnappleApple 450's Choice: Picture 2

Where Do You Go When Nobody Wants you? (Part 5 - finale, I promise)

Who do you go to when nobody wants you? Where do you go when nobody cares what happens to you? Oh sure, people say they love you, but they are all in it for a reason. I think for me, Bianca Stratford, it’s for money. Being a wealthy heiress has its perks, but don’t knock it til you’ve tried it. People say money makes the world go round. I say it makes the world blind. So what do you do when when you’re blind? You grope in the dark for the answer. Just when you think you find the Northern Lights to guide you, a cloud covers them. When you think you find love, it’s a lie. Don’t give someone the key to your heart, throw it to the wind and hope nobody finds it. And if someone does find it? Deny it’s yours.

“Happy birthday, Bianca!” Mr. Stratford knocked on his daughter’s door.

She buried her face in her many pillows. “Go away.”

He opened the door anyway. “No, it’s your birthday. You’re leaving soon and this is my last chance at being your dad.” He sat on the edge of her bed and sighed. “You should be happy.”

“I should be tired. It’s eight in the fucking morning.” She ignored what he was trying to say. Everyone knew she was a little depressed when she returned from Alaska. She didn’t go out partying with her friends anymore, drugs didn’t seem worth it anymore, drinking seemed pointless so her mom was all around happy with the results, not caring about the emotional damage it had on her.

“You got a letter in the mail. I thought you’d want to read it.”

“Ask me in 2 hours,” she mumbled.

“It’s from Christopher Bowers…”

Bianca sat up with so much anger coursing through her. “Burn it and return to sender.”

“Sweetheart, I read it first to make sure it wouldn’t cause you pain—“

“Too late.”

“I think you should read it,” he pushed.

“What could he say that would make things better?” She spat grabbing her robe. The anger was enough to wake her up.

“He could say sorry,” her dad was soft.

“Not good enough.” She cinched her robe tight and put on her slippers.

“Just read it sweetie.” He placed it on her bed and walked out.

She stared at the letter, anger slowly leaving her body. Is that all she wanted to hear? An apology? I’m sorry for taking your heart and running it deep into the snow. She picked up the letter and opened it.

Bianca Stratford, I’m sorry. I know I’m lucky enough if you at least read that much. I’m sorry you left without saying goodbye. Under the circumstances, I can understand why. My parents told me about the plan to set us up. Please know I had nothing to do with it. I really do love you. It wasn’t part of a scheme to steal your money. Only your heart. Forgive me, Bianca. I know I’m just some guy to you…but you’re the world to me.

She dropped the letter and sat down. He wasn’t in on it? So everything with him was real? Unless this was still another scheme. How would she ever know? She shook her hair out of the messy bun she had it in for the night and headed for the shower. Once she got out and dressed, her dad was waiting for her.

“Happy birthday?” he said hesitantly, not sure what mood she was in.

Bianca’s face had a ghost of a smile, something she hadn’t had since returning from Alaska. “Thanks, Daddy.”

“You want to spend the day together? No big party, no presents, just you, me, and a delicious pretzel in the middle of downtown?” He smiled warmly, holding out a Yankees hat he always wore when he was being “normal dad”.

“Maybe later?” She asked.

Mr. Stratford sighed and nodded. “It’s your birthday, Bee. Celebrate it in whatever legal way you want.”

She hugged him on her way out of the room. “Thanks, Dad.”

Bianca didn’t want to leave the house today. She was in a hermit mood and decided to stay in her dad’s study and read. He had stacks of books, but never touched them. She used to think they were just there for looks, but when she came back from Alaska she found reading a better use of her time. She grabbed the latest classic, Pride and Prejudice, and opened it to the chapter she last stopped on. Mr. Darcy was just admitting his love to Elizabeth.

“Bianca?” She heard a voice.

Quickly she looked up. Christopher was standing in the doorway. She stood up with a shocked look on her face. “Chris?”

He didn’t move, just stood there taking in the goddess before him. He smiled hesitantly. “I didn’t know if you got my letter… I never got a reply.”

“I just received it today,” she admitted. “Guess it takes a long time to get from Alaska…”

He nodded, happy to know it wasn’t because she was intentionally ignoring him. “I wasn’t going to wait for a reply… when my parents heard I sent it, they started…planning again and I-” He walked towards her. “I left.”

She didn’t know how to respond to him. “So…you really do love me?”

Chris nodded. “I really do. I don’t care if you’re broke and living on the street or have a million huge sunglasses and running Wall Street. I love you.”

Bianca’s face burst into a smile as she threw her arms around his neck and kissed him. “I love you too, Christopher!”

He kissed her again and swung her around in his arms while Mr. Stratford watched from the open door with a smile. He had flown Christopher out for her birthday, knowing she loved him. All he wanted for his daughter was happiness. That’s all he ever wanted for her; pure happiness, not drug-induced. That’s why he sent her to Alaska. He knew about their son and sent her in hope she’d find a decent guy. Christopher’s family was corrupted, but so was Bianca’s. As long as they loved each other, nothing in the world could be wrong.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Burntcore Week 38: Run to the Water


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Picture 2

Burntcore's Choice: Picture 2

Run to the Water

Cory had been acting so weird this past week. Not a bad weird, but just weird. I wasn’t worried that he was drinking again. It wasn’t that kind of weird. He was just being different. It almost made me think he was hiding something from me but I couldn’t put my finger on it. My friends were being goofy too, especially Moira. She was always a little kooky, but this was goofy for even her.

I had come home in the early afternoon from the Center to an empty house. Cory’s work shirt was draped over the couch but that was the only sign that he had been home at all. I was hoping to come home and spend the rest of the day with Cory relaxing on our balcony and listening to music. Our work schedules didn’t always mesh so this was going to be a special treat.

It had been about a year since Cory and I moved in together. Instead of him just moving into my place, we chose a new place together, someplace that was new and ours. It was a big step for us. He had been sober for two years by this time. While he would never be free of his alcoholism, he was in control of it.

After that disastrous night out at the bar I insisted that we he drank, we took a step back and re-evaluated how we were treating his illness, or more specifically how I was. I thought that I understood, going to the Al-Anon meetings but it clearly wasn’t enough. I didn’t understand fully the situation with Cory until that night. After that, the meetings and counseling seemed to have deeper meaning. I was finally getting it.

Once that epiphany occurred, things started to go more smoothly. Our relationship seemed to make some real progress. I felt like I could truly trust him. Beforehand, I had kept waiting for that first slip, afraid that when it happened, it would be over. Now that it had happened and we were still together, the fear I had was gone. We’d got through it. We would be able to get through anything.

Since then he had a few close calls where he almost broke down. He called his sponsor and was able to walk away before taking that drink... all except once. Since that night at the bar, he has only had a drink once. I’m not even sure how it happened. He had a bad day at work, I was tired and cranky, which meant we got into an argument. It was over something silly, as they usually tend to be, but it just made the bad day worse. We yelled, we made gestures, we stomped, he left, I cried.

He came home later that night in tears and alcohol on his breath. He begged me not to leave him. He begged me to forgive him. I begged him to believe in himself. After he had calmed down, we both apologized, and I encouraged him to call his sponsor. He would need to know what happened with Cory. Taking his cell phone in his hand, with an expression on his face that looked like his puppy just died, he called his sponsor. I left the room to give him some privacy. This let me collect myself as well.

This time I knew it wasn’t my fault that made him drink, but I still felt bad about the fight. It was stupid. At least it was over and done with. I was shocked that he drank, but I could see that he genuinely felt very guilty about it. We’d get through it just like we had everything else.

And now, after living together for a year, things were good. Things were better than good. Our relationship hadn’t merely started where it left off, but was completely different. We were different. It was like a completely new relationship except we already knew one another.
Which made his behavior this week that much more different. He was definitely up to something. If he didn’t come clean soon, I was going to have to call him out.

As I walked through the apartment, I picked up his work shirt from the couch and carried into the bedroom. I threw it in the hamper by the closet and dug around for a change of clothes for myself. After picking out a comfy pair of jeans and a coupe of layered t-shirts, I disrobed on my way to the bathroom to take a shower.

The soothing water helped settle my disappointment of Cory being gone and my confusion over his behavior in the past week. I decided that if I didn’t hear from him within an hour, I’d call his cell just to make sure he was okay. Stepping out of the shower, I felt much better.

I walked back into our bedroom with just a towel wrapped around me as I hummed to myself. I had just slipped my jeans on when I saw a note taped to the mirror of my dresser.

Meet me at the creek once you read this. Moira told me you only worked a half day I hope I see you soon.

I pulled the letter from the glass and touched it in wonder. The creek? We hadn’t gone down there in some time. It was just getting warm enough to go walking through the woods again. He really was up to something. Smiling hugely, I finished getting dressed and rushed out of the apartment.

The creek was about a block from our apartment, just a few minutes brisk walk in the pleasant but cool spring air. As I walked, my cell phone vibrated in my pocket. I flipped it open and saw a text from Moira.

-Beautiful day today-

Whatever Cory was up to, Moira was definitely in on. I decided to mess with her a little.

-I wish I knew. I’m still stuck at work.-

-Whatever. I just called the Center & they told me you left already.-


-I did, but I have other stuff I’m doing.-

-Like what?-

Figures she would ask. Why does she want to know what I’m doing so badly today?

-Just stuff. Why do you want to know?-

-I was curious what my bestie was up today.-

Hmm. Now I was intrigued.
-I’m out for a walk right now to clear my head. -

-Why? What happened?-

-Cory and I got into a fight again. I think this was it.-

The text was a total and utter lie but I wanted to get her goat. If she was in on Cory’s plan, she’d be going nuts right about now. The entrance to the park was drawing near as I waited for a response from Moira. I nearly dropped the phone when it started ringing. As soon as I answered it, I could hear Moira yelling through the phone.

“What do you mean you got into a fight? It can’t be that bad, can it?”

I had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from laughing. I took a deep breath before I responded.

“It’s just too much, Moira. I’m tired of the games. All I asked was for honesty and he can’t seem to deliver it.”

I tried to put as much sadness in my voice as I could. I must’ve done a good job based on her reaction.

“Holli, give him a chance. You guys have come so far. I’m sure he has a reason.”

“Oh, really? Like what?”

“Maybe he wants to surprise you.”

“He can surprise me by being honest and not keeping things from me.”

“Holli, listen to me. I can’t tell you how I know, but I know he has a surprise planned for you. Just keep the faith with him, okay?”

“I knew it!” I laughed. “I KNEW you knew what was going on! Ha!”

Moira sputtered on the phone. “What?”

“Moira, Cory and I didn’t get into a fight. I was messing with you. I’m on my way to meet him now. He and you both have been acting weird this week so I figured something was up. If I didn’t know you guys any better, I’d swear you two were seeing each other behind my back.”

“Well played, Holli. Well played,” Moira crowed, laughing.

I giggled along with my friend. “I’m at the park now so I need to go. I’ll call you later, okay?”

“You better. I want to know the details.”

“Ya, ya, ya… bye.”

After hanging up with her, I stuffed my phone in my jeans pocket and walked through the arched entrance to the park where the creek was located. It didn’t take very long before I found Cory standing by the creek bed with his back to me. He stood with one foot resting on a rock and his hands in his pockets. His long sleeved shirt followed the lean lines of his body, covering him but not concealing.

“Hey,” I said softly.

He turned around with a gentle smile on his face. “Hey baby.”

“What’s up?” I asked as I walked up to him and wrapped my arms around him.

Cory kissed the top of my head and pulled me closer. After a few minutes, I pulled away slightly. Cory kept me within the circle of his arms and I kept my hands on his arms.

“I love you, Holli.”

“I love you too, Cory.”

He was being very sweet but I was still puzzled about what was going on.

“Baby, you mean so much to me, you know that?”

I nodded.

He touched my face tenderly, his eyes soft and loving. “I am so thankful every day that you let me back into your life. Thank you for sticking with me through all of this. I don’t know where I’d be without you.”

I ducked my head, embarrassed over his sentiment.

“So what’s with meeting at the creek?” I asked softly.

“I liked the analogy…. That we are like the creek, storms come and the water rises but the creek remains, it continues. I want that for us. We’ve weathered our storms but we remain, we continue.”

Was he saying what I thought he was saying?

Cory dug his hand into his pocket but wouldn’t show me what was in his hand.

“Holli, I have loved you for so long and I don’t want to stop. Please, let me love you for the rest of our lives.”

Slowly, he knelt down and opened his fist. He looked up at me, his eyes full of love and hope and everything in between. I saw my future there. I saw my past and my present, I saw everything.

“Baby, will you marry me?”

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Kimmydonn Week 38: Dreams in a Jar


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Kimmydon's Choice: Picture 1

Dreams in a Jar

I was roughly the size of the house. Well, it felt that way. I was sitting on the couch, stuck, drifting off while my head rested on Peter’s shoulder. My maternity leave had started today. Home alone, all day, and just walking around exhausted me. I was so heavy. Napping had been a lost cause; it was impossible to get comfortable. Instead, I had spent the day folding away the baby clothes and arranging things on the change table. That had killed all of an hour.

Flouncing in the rocker, I had looked at the jar of rolled up dreams. Before leaving the room, I moved them to a shelf that could be seen from the crib.

My eyes drifted shut again, not listening to the news Peter had on. I felt his breath in my hair before sleep claimed me at last.

A small girl sat on the grass, her legs crossed beneath her skirt. Her hair was golden curls and she smiled with bright pink lips at me. Three empty jars sat in front of her.

I took one step, and the sun seemed to set. Everything was red-tinged, though the girl showed no reaction. Her small white teeth, all the same shape, showed now in the smile. I was still a full pace from her, so I went ahead and took a second step.

Darkness closed around us, and I sat across from her. The jars, which I had thought empty, glittered, as though fireflies were trapped inside. She lifted one with her tiny hands, holding it to me.

“Don’t drop it,” she warned. “The dream will end.”

I took the jar gingerly and looked inside. I saw an infant, a baby, a toddler, a young girl - the same one with me now - a young woman, a woman. My breath caught as I watched her grow in the jar.

A sudden stabbing pain gripped me and the jar fell to my knees, shattering and seeming to splash me.

“Beth!” Peter shouted, waking me. “Beth! I think your water just broke!”

He was right. I didn’t have time to wonder what the dream meant, only to hope I could remember it, remember the little girl and her jar of dreams.

AN: I know it's short, but that was really all the picture needed. Next week I'll detour, but hopefully a birth or a parenting story will come... we'll see what prompts I get!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Destinee Week 37: Dare (part 1)

Destiny Cullen

Mod note: Continuing the misposting dates and deadlines, here's Sunday's post a couple days late....

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Destiny Cullen’s Choice: both

Dare (pt. 1)

I was sitting there, on my perch on the beach with a cool one in my hand and a cigarette in the usual spot. I couldn’t believe what I saw on the freeway this afternoon. At rush hour of all times!

I mean I live in California, I’ve seen a lot of shit in my time but this was one for a scrapbook if I kept one. I was driving Tyler and Cooper to our new house when all of a sudden we saw three girls on the over pass then two of them lifted up their shirts and flash the whole freeway.

Tyler reached over me honked the horn and surprisingly the cars around us honked as well. We zoomed under the over pass and my eyes were glued to the rear-view mirror. We saw them run off the bridge as a cop exited and raced toward their location.

An hour later here I am with that image burned into my brain. Not only because they had perfect bodies, but why did they do it? “Declan! Man, get your ass back in here! I need your help kicking Tyler’s ass in Halo!” I heard Cooper yell from the back porch.

I groaned and swigged the rest of my beer as I heard Cooper’s footfalls behind me. “I already kicked both of your asses in Halo, how about you fools start Call of Duty as I go for a run?”

“Um, I was just wondering if you had a phone we can use?” A small voice replied from behind me and I turned around surprised. There was a girl around my ripe age of twenty five and two girls a few yards behind her talking to each other.

“Oh, I thought you were someone else,” I looked into her deep brown eyes and lost my train of thought. She had long beautiful dark brown hair that fell down in spirals, and her nervous smile was amazing. My eyes trailed down her body taking how lovely her sun kissed skin looked in her colorful bikini.

She cleared her throat and I had to mentally shake myself. “I’m sorry what were you saying?” I asked trying to keep my eyes from ogling her again.

“Um, I asked if you had a phone we could use. My friends and I came here to relax on the beach. We were ready to leave but someone stole our car and we need to report it stolen.”

“Uh,” I looked up at the house and saw Cooper and Tyler staring at the other two girls I assumed were her friends. “We got a phone, come on in.” Tyler yelled from the porch and I ran my hand through my hair tugging on it.

“Sure, come on in.” I said to the beauty still looking at me in question. Her friends were already at the porch talking, more like flirting, with Cooper and Tyler I half expected her to run up and join them. But she waited for me to start walking so she could follow me.

“What’s your name?” She murmured low as she looked over her shoulder at the waves crashing on the beach. “It’s Declan, what’s yours?” She smiled and looked into my eyes, “I like that, I haven’t heard that name outside an Irish romance novel. You fit the bill perfectly. Light skin tanned by the sun, green eyes, dark hair, mild accent, not to mention a nice body.”

I chuckled as she turned her face away embarrassed. “I spent most of my childhood in Ireland but my mom brought me back here when I was sixteen. So what’s your name?” I asked again.

“Dustine.” She said still embarrassed. We reached the porch and she looked at her friends but they were slightly busy with my friends.

“The phone is over here.” I motioned to the living room and she seemed hesitant to follow me alone.

“Go, Dustie. He isn’t going to rape you or anything.” Her blonde friend said and her eyes widened to what looked like a painful state.

“Shut up, Juniper!” She said turning her tan skin darker with her blush.

“Dee, you know she is right. Besides we’ll ninja kick their asses if they fuck with you.” The brunette said putting her hand on her shoulder, then sending all three of us guys death glares.

“Thanks Ayden. I’ll be back once I report the car stolen.” She sighed and walked ahead of me through the living room. “Your friends are really protective of you, huh?” I said breaking the silence between us.

“Junie and Ayden are my two best friends, we’ve watched out for each other ever since we met.”

“So you guys don’t live here then? In California I mean, you three have different accents.”

“Um, we actually didn’t meet until we were about sixteen. Juniper was from New York, I was from New Mexico, and Ayden was from Utah. We met trying to sneak into a concert in a bar. We worked together to get past the bouncer.” She smirked recalling the memory, clearly enjoying it.

I cleared my throat and she shook herself out of it. “Uh, anyway we’ve been inseparable since that night in Arizona.”

“But if each of you lived in different states then how did you stay together?”

Dustine laughed and looked up into my eyes smiling. “Shouldn’t the question should be: How did we get to Arizona in the first place?”

“Fair enough.” I laughed. “The phone is right there, you can take it out those doors and on to the porch for privacy.”

She nodded and took the phone walking outside. She was a vision to watch. I felt like a creep by watching her but she was leaning on the porch and the wind was blowing her long dark hair all around her.

“Declan!” I turned around fast to see Tyler laughing his ass off as Cooper was heading to the kitchen for some drinks.

“What man?” I asked pulling the cigarette from behind my ear and plugging it into my mouth. “You need to stop being a perv and watching her like that. Besides don’t mess up our chances with her friends. You scare her away and her friends follow.”

I groaned pulling my Zippo from my pocket. “Fuck off, I’m not going to scare her off.”

They chuckled and bumped shoulders. “That’s because you got the hots for her huh Declan? You giving her some of that Irish charm you’ve been bragging about to us for years? But don’t you guys think they look kind of familiar? I can’t place them though. ”

I flipped them off and headed to the other side of the porch to smoke my cigarette. I lit my cancer stick up and inhaled deep looking at Dustine from the corner of my eye.

“Thank you officer, good bye.”

She sighed and looked over at me smiling. “Thanks for the phone. They might call you if they find the car, since we don’t have a phone.” She walked back into the house. I put out my cigarette and followed her inside.

Suddenly Cooper and Tyler rushed up to me. “Declan they are going to leave!” “Dude, we got to ask them to stay!”

“Fine, fine!” I said putting my hands up to stop them. “I’ll tell Dustine that her and her friends are welcome here until the police find their car.”

With that I walked over to the living room where the girls where whispering to each other but I could still here them.

“Dustie, we have no money, we don’t even have any clothes.”

“Ayden I know. But we can’t stay here, they probably don’t even want us here.”

“Don’t fool yourself Dustine. The cute one with the accent likes you, and I’m sure his friends are digging us too. They wouldn’t mind a few hot chicks in their house. ” Juniper wiggled her eyebrows as she giggled.

“Whatever we’re not going to impose ourselves on them. We need to leave and camp out…somewhere.”

“Where, Dustine? A homeless shelter?” Ayden sighed.

“Like we haven’t been through worse? We all made it to Arizona by ourselves with no money and we were sixteen at the time. We had nothing guys, but now we have each other and I’m sure we can survive nine years later.”

I cleared my throat and walked into the room and they stopped talking and straightened their backs. “Hey, Declan.” Dustine looked at her friends then back at me. “Thanks for everything we’ll be going now.”

“Actually we were going to start a fire out on the beach to have a small cookout it would be great if you guys would join us. Some food, music, and maybe a swim in the ocean. Sound good?”

Their faces fell when I mentioned food and I knew they were going to stay at least until tonight. Dustine was shaking her head no when Ayden and Juniper grabbed her mouth before she could say anything.

“We’ll love to join you guys! How about you guys meet us out on the beach while we talk some sense into our friend here.” They still had her mouth covered and dragged her through the doors and out to the beach.
Me and the guys grabbed everything and headed to where they were and set up camp. Once Tyler and Cooper were free from grilling the two girls were on them laughing and flirting. I looked for Dustine and I saw her walking away from us staring at the ocean.

“Hey wait up!” I called to her as I ran to catch up to her. “Why aren’t you back there with your friends?”

“Looking for some seashells.”

“That’s code for leave me the hell alone isn’t it?” She smiled then sighed.

“It’s just that it seems too perfect. Our car gets stolen and we find help from three hot guys on the beach? I bet you guys are serial killers or something. You lure the girls in with your sexy accent and body and they are willing victims.”

“Are you saying you’re a willing victim?” I smirked down at her and she laughed as her cheeks warmed up.
“We’re not serial killers and I’ll try not to lure you in with my good looks and sexy accent.” She laughed again. “You won’t let me forget that will you?”

I grinned, “I think not. You boosted my ego and that’s something a guy doesn’t forget. Besides you’re cute when you blush.”

She giggled and pushed me into the waves. I looked up at her in shock then I raised my eyebrow in challenge and she put her hands up. “Whoa, calm down. Don’t do what you are thinking of doing.”

I picked myself up and grinned as she started to run from me. I caught her and wrapped my arms around her waist lifting her up and walking us into the ocean together as her playful screams filled the air.