Laid Bare

Daisy Morris tapped her fingers on the porch railing, took a long drink of her wine and continued to fume. It might be freeze-your-nips-off weather here in North London, but she wasn’t feeling the cold. Her ire was evaporating the snow in mid-air.

She’d had to drag herself out to her parents’ annual Christmas party tonight. If it hadn’t been six months since her previous visit, she probably would’ve bailed. She’d stared at her PJs for ten minutes, before, with a little pathetic sob, she’d shoved them under her duvet and got dressed to come here.

She hadn’t wanted to come because she’d known – oh, she’d known – what would be waiting for her here. Every year it was the same, just in different outfits. Cardboard cutouts of what her mother thought she should be doing with her life. And every cardboard cutout that was presented to her carried a placard saying: ‘Your life isn’t good enough.’

You aren’t good enough.

This year it was financial advisor Kevin Shaw, with his side parting, chinos and checked, button down shirt. She’d lasted just under five minutes before she’d snorted in disgust and walked away. She didn’t have to look at her mother to see the angry disappointment in her eyes. The familiarity of it was tattooed in her brain. The knowledge of it a tight knot in her chest.

“What are you doing out here? It’s freezing.”

Matt O’Connor, great. Her humiliation was complete. Daisy closed her eyes and prayed for patience.

Not bothering to look at him she said, “I’m fine. Go back in.”

Completely ignoring her, he stepped beside her. “I saw you talking to Kevin what’s-his-face. I timed it: you lasted four minutes and twenty-nine seconds.”

Still not looking at him, she huffed out a laugh and muttered, “I knew it.”

“Would I be right in saying he didn’t ring your bell?”

“Please, don’t talk about my bell.”

Matt laughed softly. It was like the palm of his hand stroking over the curve of her behind. Rolling her eyes discreetly, she stomped her feet and shook off the feeling.

After a quiet moment he said, “Jesus, your mother is relentless. You need to tell her to stop.”

“What? You mean you don’t think I should be more accommodating?”

Matt snorted his amusement.

“Jack’s laying bets that you’re going to stop coming around.”

Her brother could well win that bet.

“Tell your best mate he can sod off.” She tried to take another drink and realised it was empty. She needed a refill. “And I want fifty percent of any money he makes off me.”

Finally turning her head to look at him, she found him grinning, his dark blues eyes sparkling down at her.

“Will do,” he said taking a drink from his bottle of beer.

It took a while for him to look away.

She rolled her shoulders.

They both stood quietly looking out at the softly falling snow. The white blanket covering the ground looked pristine and perfect. She wanted to run through it and churn it all up.

“What are you going to do?”

“About my mum?”

“Yeah, she needs to back off or she’s going to lose you.” He cleared his throat and took another drink. “I can see how close you are to saying ‘fuck it!’”

“Wouldn’t you?”

“Probably, but then I have the opposite problem. No one gives a shit who I date.”

She’d bet money there were words literally carved into the tip of her tongue.

Instead, she said, “Lucky you.”

He shrugged as he raised the bottle to his mouth. “Not so much.” Taking a final drink before setting the bottle down on the table beside him.

Her head turned at his overly nonchalant tone.

“Stop feeling sorry for yourself!” she snapped. “No-one’s questioning your life choices, your career, your age, your single status. No-one’s pressuring you to get married and have a kid or six. No-one’s looking at you and pitying you. No-one’s interfering in your goddamn life.”

She took a deep, shaky breath. “You can do whatever the hell you want and no-one will question it because you’ve got a dick.”

“Hey! Leave my dick out of it. Especially when you’re so angry. He’s scared and doesn’t know how to deal with that much aggression.”

She had to bite her lip to keep from laughing and gave him the side-eye. “Well, your dick’s blatantly never lived. There’s nothing wrong with a good bout of sexual aggression.”

“Is it weird that that turns me on?”

“Oh, forgodsake, Matt!” She laughed, her eyes drawn to him. She hated how he always made her feel better.

He waggled his eyebrows. “I can just see you in heels and a corset with a crop in your hand, right now.”

Ok, hold on, there’s no way he could know about that, right?

She gave what she hoped was a convincing laugh. “You wish.”

“I do actually.”

Her heart stopped. Literally stopped. Then did a huge, alarming thud in her chest before continuing to pump an overload of adrenaline around her body.

“You might have to work up to the crop though.”

“What the hell?” she said quietly as she turned to him.

“I think we should start off steady. You know go out on a few dates before you-”

“This isn’t funny,” she whispered hastily, finally meeting his eyes. The humour she’d expected wasn’t there. Well, it was, but it was muted. There was an intensity though that made the hairs stand up on the back of her neck.

What was happening?

She suddenly felt laid bare, naked, under a spotlight on a stage; her needs and desires available for everyone to see. To be dissected and analysed, pitied and dismissed.

“I don’t know what you think you know, but…” She watched a snowflake melt from his hair and run down his temple, “… you don’t know it.”

Well, that told him.

His cheek creased in a smile and the drop of water ran off on a different course.

“I know plenty, Daisy Morris.”

“No. You. Don’t.”

She dared him with her eyes to push this. Normally it worked. This time, she was more than a little shaken to see that he was picking up the gauntlet.

His body turned and moved into hers. She wanted to step back but the body that she’d always prided for its control remained rigidly still. Waiting.

She watched his hand move slowly towards her face and flinched when his cold fingers touched her cheek, sliding over her cheekbone to her temple, and into her hair. Every millimetre of her skin felt like it was suffering from a static shock. Too much sensitivity: too much anticipation.

There had never been a moment when she didn’t want him, but after watching the third, fourth, fifth sweet, unassuming girlfriend paraded past her, there had come the realisation that she would never be what he needed. The loneliness that had taken up residence in her heart a long, long time ago was a permanent fixture now. A deep crevasse with his name on it. That was the price she’d paid for refusing to compromise who she was and she was more than ok with that. Most of the time.

But now he was touching her and looking at her like she was more than just Daisy Morris, his best friend’s sister.

What the ever loving hell?

“What are you doing?” She wished her voice sounded stronger.

“What I should’ve had the guts to do years ago.”

She shook her head. “No! You don’t get to do this. You don’t get to mess everything up.”

His other hand came up to hold her head still. “Nothing’s going to get messed up.”

She’d never seen him so intent, so serious. Her gaze was locked with his and he could see everything. She could see the knowledge in his eyes.

She tried to pull away. A last ditch attempt to respond to her survival instinct that was telling her to get the fuck out of there. “I can’t do this.”

His fingers tightened infinitesimally.  A flicker of fear within the deep blue. She realised she could see everything too.

She held very still, her eyes burning with the need to blink, but she wanted to see it all. The tension around his eyes, the firm set of his beautifully shaped mouth, the tick in his cheek that revealed his clenched jaw.

She blinked and whispered. “What is this?”

His nostrils flared a little as he took a deep breath, but his eyes never left her face. She felt them travel over her lips, felt the skin burn in the winter night.

“This is me trying to persuade you that we should be together, that you should take a chance on me. I want you just the way you are, Daisy. I don’t want you to change a goddamn thing.”

“Oh.” The wave of acceptance stole her breath and her words.

His dark eyebrows shot up. “Is that it?”

Her brain stuttered. “I need a minute.”

“Why? We’ve already wasted years.” He stepped closer, his warm breath a cloud between them in the cold night air. “Kiss me, Daisy. Don’t think right now, just please give me what I’ve needed for so long.”

She didn’t know what to do with the burst of excitement that shot through her body. She was worried she wouldn’t be able to harness it and she’d scare him away, but she couldn’t take her eyes off his mouth.

She was going to have him. She was finally going to kiss him. Here on her parents’ front porch in the freezing cold. Their lips would probably freeze together. Maybe they’d be better off going full Eskimo and rubbing noses? She tried to suppress the slightly hysterical laughter that wanted to escape.

He must have seen the hysteria because his fingers spread behind her neck and began to draw reassuring circles. They felt good, but the worry she saw in his eyes didn’t.

Her spine straightened. Her eyes fixed on his and she let him see her decision. She didn’t want there to be any doubt. She watched the lines of tension around his eyes relax. She watched his lips soften and open a little, felt her mouth water with anticipation.

“Come here.” Her words clear and sure.

Stepping into him, she brought their bodies together and curled her hand around the back of his neck. She briefly felt the juxtaposition of his familiarity and the strangeness of holding him as a lover, but it soon passed as she concentrated on his mouth. She felt his hands fall to her back, holding her close.

Bringing their mouths together, feeling the soft heat of his lips, she fell into their kiss.

He followed her lead, opened his mouth and let her taste him. He gave her a little moan to keep when she pressed him closer, kissed him deeper. She couldn’t go easy. It wasn’t a pretty kiss, teeth clashed and lips were bitten. Eventually, she pulled back to see his glazed eyes and trace his red, puffy lips with her thumb. His tongue flicked out to lick the tip and she had to lock her knees.

“You want this?”

“Yes,” he breathed.

Reading the certainty in his eyes, she made her decision.

“One hundred percent or nothing. Do you understand?”

He nodded. “I’m all in. I just want to be yours, Daisy.”

Jesus! She was humbled by his openness. She was going to give him anything he wanted. She could just see it.

“Can you drive?”

“Yeah, I only had that one beer.”

“Good. Go inside and say your goodbyes. I want you at my place in thirty minutes.”

The excitement and eagerness he couldn’t hide made her laugh softly. She watched him walk into the house. He’d need to get better at hiding that.

 

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O’Shea’s #8 – Into Dust (m/m)

I am writing a series of flash fiction pieces set in O’Shea’s Pub. See Romantic Flash Fiction Anyone? for more information. Here’s the eighth one. Older brother’s best friend trope (male / male). It’s a little longer than the others. I hope you enjoy it.

osheas-edited

Each step Sam had taken from home to O’Shea’s had dredged up every idiotic, stupid thing he’d ever done in front of Nate Jackson. Why, oh why, he thought, as he stomped his way down the street, couldn’t he have just declined the invite for this birthday get together tonight?

Nate was his brother’s best friend, he would’ve gotten over it. Maybe.

Nate would more than likely bring his latest boy and he’d be wide eyed and stunning like all the rest, and Sam would end up sitting there, smiling and resorting to quietly plotting gruesome deaths for the latest characters he was writing.

It didn’t help that there was a little masochistic voice in the back of his head saying, “It doesn’t matter that he remembers your spotty phase, or that time you accidentally mooned him when the elastic went on your trunks… and he saw your pride in tatters when Josh Hardy dumped you just before Valentine’s Day in 2005. You’re going to see him for the first time in six months. That’s all that matters. Seeing Nate.”

Six months. They’d never gone that long without seeing each other before. But after the last time he’d just had enough.

He couldn’t deal with seeing him and not being able to… God! What did he want? To call Nate his? To know he had the right to touch him – to go home with him – wake up with him?

They’d talked and laughed over a few pints of beer; the banter had been amazing. For the first time in forever they’d both been single and in the same city at the same time, he’d thought, he’d really thought that it might be their chance.

Then a couple of his friends turned up from work and one of them was a jacked blonde who blatantly had his knowing eyes set on Nate. Sam had felt such a heavy wave of weariness wash over him. Looking back he realised it had taken him under and swept all the fight out of him.

He’d given up. He wasn’t proud of that and it triggered the uncomfortable thought that maybe he’d given up too many times over the years.

Now, Sam wondered if that wave had washed all the good memories away, leaving him with only the embarrassing moments catalogued in his brain. They ran on a loop as he made his way into O’Shea’s and apparently there was no way to hit STOP.

With pale cheeks already flushed from the cool Spring wind, they immediately started to heat up from the rush of warmth in the Irish pub. He knew without a shadow of a doubt that this was going to be beyond excruciating.

He needed beer and lots of it – maybe even tequila.

Dragging himself to the bar, he tugged off his grey beanie, finger combed his short black hair into some semblance of respectability and shoved it into his coat pocket, purposefully not looking around. He needed a minute to gather himself and find his smile.

A chaotic mixture of emotions swarmed through him, anger at missed opportunities, devastation each time he’d watched Nate with another man, joy for all the laughter and good times they’d shared. Hell, he’d probably still be stuck in a closet somewhere if it weren’t for Nate.

His clenched fist pressed against the cold ache in his chest. He needed some tequila fire – stat – and he needed to get over this shit and move on. Some budding form of what felt like resolve started to straighten his spine.

Enough was enough. Maybe tonight could be the start of a new phase, a cleansing of all the emotions that held him back?

Ben, O’Shea’s bartender headed over with a smile.

“S’up, Ben.”

“What can I get for you?”

“Tequila me!”

Ben’s dark eyebrows shot up. “What’s got you riled up?”

“I’m about to put myself through hell. I need some help.” He slapped his hand on the bar. “Lay it on me.”

“Make that two,” demanded a low voice behind him.

Sam closed his eyes and winced. Struggling to swallow in his dry throat, he tried unsuccessfully to look nonchalant as he turned to greet the man who was spurring him toward tequila.

“Hello, Nate, How’s it going?”

Barely able to meet his dark brown eyes, Sam couldn’t stop his gaze from taking in every beloved detail of Nate’s familiar face. The stubble on his strong jaw that outlined his full lips made Sam lick his own, he couldn’t help it.

The light dusting of freckles high on his cheek bones that he’d always wanted to trace with his tongue. His stomach lurched as he was reminded how completely out of reach Nate was. Turning back to the bar he took hold of the salt that Ben had set up for him, licked the inside of his wrist and tapped a bit onto his moist skin.

Nate coughed. “Give a guy some warning, would you?”

Frowning, he stopped his arm as it was halfway to his mouth and glanced over his shoulder again. “What?”

His big, warm hand took hold of Sam’s forearm. “I want to lick it off.”

He couldn’t have heard him right. A grating, awkward laugh slipped out of his mouth and he shrugged Nate’s hand off his arm; a strange mix of uncertainty and excitement shimmering over his skin.

“Get your own tequila, buddy.” He licked the salt, maybe, possibly a little slower than he would’ve done normally and tossed the tequila back, welcoming the familiar warmth through his body and into his empty stomach. Closing his eyes as the sourness of the lime exploded in his mouth, he wondered what the hell to do next.

“I’ve never wanted to be a slice of lime more in my life,” Nate said roughly.

“Pardon?!” Sam coughed out. “Are you drunk already?”

“Come on,” he demanded, taking Sam’s hand. “We need to talk.”

“We do? Nate! What is wrong with you?” He hissed as Nate dragged him through the crowd back to the door of O’Shea’s.

Outside the cold blast of air mixed strangely with the warmth still coursing through his body from the tequila. He felt outside of himself, like an observer to whatever drama was about to unfold. Nate’s warm, rough hand gripped his own and Sam didn’t understand why he had hold of him so tight, but it felt good so he left it there.

Allowing Nate to lead him around the corner into a narrow alley, Sam eventually felt the rough wall at his back as the hot wall of Nate’s body moved towards him. He tore his stare from Nate’s broad chest up to rich, brown eyes that were looking pretty heated.

Sam narrowed his eyes at him. “Why are you so pissed off with me?”

Nate narrowed his eyes back. “Why are you so damn blind?!”

His eyes widened in surprise. “What?”

Nate shoved his hand through his thick, unruly hair. “Why did you need that tequila?”

“I-”

“Why is it hell for you to come see me for my birthday?”

A stab of guilt. “Nate-”

“I haven’t seen you for six months, Sam. Six months. We’ve never gone that long without seeing each other.”

“I’ve been busy,” he answered sharply, and I didn’t want to know if you went home with the blonde, he thought bitterly. Pissed off with himself for even making that a possibility when he’d left so suddenly that night. The anger in Nate’s words vibrated like an arrow in Sam’s chest. He felt a knot of irritation start to form where the arrow pierced him and his defenses rose.

He took a breath in preparation.

“What do I have to do to get you to see me?”

Sam blinked and exhaled a gust of air as Nate’s soft words crashed through his brain. Too late he saw the hurt in his eyes and the tension around his beautiful mouth. What the hell was happening? What had he missed?

“Nate, I…” He shook his head, trying to figure out what this meant, but a lifetime of doubts and longing, unrequited feelings and humiliating attempts to get his attention were blocking his synapses.

“Shit!” Nate shoved his hands in his jean pockets and hunched his shoulders. “I thought… I thought this was the right time. Looks like I was wrong.”

He took his eyes away from Sam to stare at the wall behind him. Sam felt goose bumps spread over his skin and a painful jolt of panic made his heart thud as Nate began to turn away.

“Nate,” he whispered. Barely believing.

“Don’t worry about it, Sam, I… just forget I said anything, ok?”

Nate’s brittle smile hurt his heart as he began to move away from Sam, along with a burst of indignation.

“Hold on a minute!” He puffed out a frustrated breath when Nate stopped but didn’t turn to face him. “You can’t just spring this on me and expect me to instantly know what to say. When have I ever known what to say in mortifyingly awkward situations?”

Slowly, so slowly, Nate turned to him with his eyebrows raised. “Mortifyingly awkward? Gee thanks,” he said dryly.

Sam shrugged nonchalantly, but inside he was just starting to think about pumping his fist in celebration. “I need you to be a little clearer, Nate. I’m not admitting anything until you’ve stated plainly exactly what you want.”

He could give him that at least.

“So you’ve got things you want to admit then?” He asked, clearly stalling and looking a little hopeful.

Sam waved his hand dismissively. “Tell me what you want: slowly and clearly, please.”

Nate took a step closer, then another. “You want it slowly and clearly?”

“Yeah,” Sam said a little croakily. God he was just so… Ungh!

A gust of wind swirled down the alley, plastering Nate’s dark grey t-shirt across his torso and whipping his hair into disarray.

His hands came to rest on the wall either side of Sam’s head and he felt every last ounce of that resolve crumble into dust at his feet. He gave it an enthusiastic kick and scattered it in the wind.

“You’re sure you can handle another mortifyingly awkward moment?” Nate asked softly with a glint in his eyes.

Sam felt his whole body go pliant and loose, but managed to nod as Nate’s head lowered until his lips rested by Sam’s ear. His eyes closed as Nate’s warm breath caressed his skin. A long, sumptuous shiver stroking down his spine.

Finally, he said the words Sam had waited a lifetime to hear.

“You. I want you.”

 

 

O’Shea’s #7 – Silver Fox

I am writing a series of flash fiction pieces set in O’Shea’s Pub. See Romantic Flash Fiction Anyone? for more information. Here’s the seventh one. May to December or older man / younger woman… I hope you enjoy it.

osheas-edited

A man. A tall man, with broad shoulders that currently shaped his expensive looking overcoat to perfection, was stood in front of her at the bar. A flash of silver and white caught and held her attention as he turned his head. The contrast between the silver and black hair was startling. She squinted a little trying to see better and found herself taking a slow step towards him.

Yes, now she could see other silver hairs shimmering through the thick black and oh Lord! His stubble was mainly silver and white, with a bit of dark grey shot through for good measure.

Wow. She’d never realised that was a thing for her, but from the way her eyes were glued to his head, she thought she’d better take a look at the silver-fox romances in the library on her break. She could even do a quick Twitter shout out to ask for some recommendations from her book buddies.

Biting her lip in excitement (the thought of new books did that to her), she stepped around him and gave the bartender a shy nod as he gestured that he’d be with her next.

Standing next to the Silver Fox, she made sure to give herself plenty of space but couldn’t help looking at his hand that rested on the dark mahogany of the bar.

Left hand. No ring. Also no tan line.

Ok, he was probably divorced because if he was married he’d wear one. He’d want everyone to know that he was taken. His skin was tanned and she could just make out some callouses on the thumb that he was tapping against the wood and a few scars across the back.

He probably sailed the world on his yacht and had beautiful women in each port.

“What can I get for you?”

Abruptly yanked back into the real world, instead of making up plot bunnies, Jackie quietly ordered a pint of Black Sheep and looked around for a place to sit. Her feet were aching like nobody’s business after working all day at the library. She kept hopping from one to the other, trying to take the weight off. Twenty-eight was too young for bunions, right?

It was busy in O’Shea’s tonight, she’d be lucky to get a booth. Checking the time, she rolled her eyes. Her sister was always late, so she’d brought her Kindle. She’d learned her lesson there years ago. All her introvert anxieties about being alone in public magically disappeared when she had her nose in a book.

“Busy in here tonight, hey?” a deep voice rumbled next to her.

Taking a quick peek up and to her right, she met a pair of deep, deep blue eyes spanned by a wealth of lines. She managed a small nod and some kind of sound that she hoped he’d take as affirmation.

The lines around his eyes deepened as he smiled gently. “There’s a stool here if you want a seat.” He nodded his head to the opposite side of him and she tore her eyes away from his to see the empty stool against the bar.

She really wanted that seat. “Do you mind?” she asked quietly.

“Not at all. Here,” he stepped back a little, protecting her from the jostling crowd, so she could sidestep to it.

Her eyes went a little wider when she brushed against the front of him. She coughed and got comfortable, tucking her throbbing feet onto the rest. She didn’t know where to look. God!

“Better?” he asked drawing her eyes back to him.

This time she thought she saw a twinkle in his eyes but quickly talked herself out of that one. She nodded instead. “Thank you, I really needed that.”

“Long day?” He angled towards her, taking a drink from his glass of Guinness.

She sighed. It looked like they were going to have a conversation. This never went well.

“Yes, and I was on my feet for most of it. So…”

“So… Why are you here and not at home taking a hot bath?”

She shrugged awkwardly, her mind blanked out. She had nothing.

Warm blue eyes roamed across her face. “Sorry, was that a little too personal?”

Rolling her shoulder, she rubbed her nose and tried not to blush. “Kind of, yeah.”

“I guess we should really share our names before I tell you off for not looking after yourself, huh?”

She snorted out a surprised laugh and tried to figure out the ratio of anxiety and excitement she was feeling. Amazingly, excitement seemed to be winning 60 / 40.

“Well, yeah, I suppose.”

“Ted,” he stuck out his hand.

Jackie looked at it for a few seconds before she slowly raised hers. She had to swallow pretty deeply when his big, warm hand engulfed her own. She’d had no idea that that little circle of skin in the middle of her palm was an erogenous zone.

Apparently, she’d had no idea about a lot of things.

She couldn’t take her eyes off their hands: his so tanned and big, hers pale and small.

She tried to remember the last time she’d chosen to touch a man, but her mind was too busy computing the different sensations of his skin and the light dusting of dark hairs on the back of his hand.

Her heart thudded hard but steadily, this was attraction, she was sure, she’d read about it enough, but a strange sense of calm also settled around her allowing her to think about raising her eyes to his. She needed to see what he was thinking.

Her eyes were struggling to move past his amazing chest when she suddenly realised that she’d been holding his hand for ages, just staring at it. God! He must think she was a total weirdo. She tried to jerk her hand away, but his tightened and held her firm. Her eyes flew to his.

“Tell me,” he murmured.

Jackie shook her head a little dazedly. “What?” she whispered unconsciously moving closer.

Her eyes danced over his face. She couldn’t get enough of looking at him. She felt her lips moving into a smile to mirror his.

“Everything,” he said.

****

Thanks for reading.

Kx

O’Shea’s #6 – Kate

I am writing a series of flash fiction pieces set in O’Shea’s Pub. See Romantic Flash Fiction Anyone? for more information. Here’s the sixth one. Friends to lovers… I hope you enjoy it.

osheas-edited

The early summer sun felt good on his back as Jay pushed through the doors to O’Shea’s. He’d worked up a thirst during the twenty-minute walk from his house. While he walked, he’d been running through some work issues, trying not to think too hard about who he was about to meet.

He wasn’t happy about the low-level nerves that had kept his stomach tight and his thumbnail short for the past week since she’d emailed him about meeting up.

It was just Kate.

They’d been good friends through university and they hadn’t seen each other for a few years but it would be fine. They’d have a catch up over a few drinks, maybe call for a curry on the way home.

It would be fine. Great even.

Images of her had been flickering through his mind all week, but along with images of her had been images of Dan. By the time Jay had laid eyes on her at uni, they’d already hooked up and they never unhooked. Together. Forever.

He’d been too late and the bittersweet taste of that had haunted him for months. Until he’d wrangled that ghost into submission. So he’d fully committed himself to trying as many different tastes as he could at uni. He’d been determined that she’d never know. If you can’t have the girl, then have some pride and all that shit.

Yeah, he’d managed that for the most part. Although, he was pretty sure he hadn’t always been one hundred percent successful. That irked him, but what could you do? Too many nights drinking too much booze and pining for your best friend’s girl. There were bound to be some slip ups, right?

So here he was, searching O’Shea’s for her tell-tale red hair, his heart threatening to beat out of his chest, hoping he didn’t look too pathetically eager to see her.

There!

He caught a brief glimpse of ruby red and like a heat-seeking missile started threading himself through the after work crowd. He saw her tuck a thick, glossy strand of hair behind her ear and remembered a hundred other times she’d done the same. Her little crescent moon tattoo appearing like magic on her neck, just below her ear – taunting him and testing him at the same time – his loyalty, his self-control – testing his self-respect.

He had never and would never blame her for his feelings. She’d never led him on, nor given him any idea that she’d felt even remotely the same. That wasn’t Kate. She was in love with Dan and she’d let the whole world see it.

Now he was close enough to see the sweep of her eye lashes and the freckles dotted over her cheek.

“K-t-.” The first attempt came out completely scrambled. He coughed and tried again. “Kate.”

She turned towards him and he watched her face light up. It was like the sun rising. His gaze swept over her, sparkling green eyes, rose coloured lips – the bottom one fuller than the top, soft pink in her cheeks. He saw them shape his name in a low whisper as she pushed her chair back to stand up.

She stepped into his arms. He felt the warmth of her body, smelled the wildflowers in her hair and closed his eyes. He needed to hold her. Just for a moment. Then he’d let her go. Well, he’d let her go in a minute or ten.

“Jay,” she laughed with her face pressed against his shoulder, “it’s so good to see you.”

“You too, Kate.”

Then he asked the question that had been drilling a hole in his chest for the past week.

“Where’s Dan?”

He saw a rainbow of emotions cross her face: pain, sadness, acceptance and held his breath.


I’d love to get other writers involved in this. If you fancy writing your own piece of romantic flash fiction, shoot me a message and I’ll link to your story.

Cheers,

Kx

 

 

O’Shea’s #5 – Reading Guy

I am writing a series of flash fiction pieces set in O’Shea’s Pub. See Romantic Flash Fiction Anyone? for more information. Here’s the fifth one. A chance meeting… I hope you enjoy it.

osheas-edited

O’Shea’s was just getting over the lunchtime rush when Sophie sat down. She chose a window seat, wanting the warmth of the Spring sun on her face.

Pulling out her e-reader, she tucked her phone in her bag and put her glasses on while doing a little internal jig of excitement because a long awaited book had zapped onto her device that morning.

She was just about to take a sip of her beer when she saw him.

She couldn’t help smiling a little at how engrossed he was in his book. Broad shoulders, hunched, thick tattooed forearms framing the book. His hands were huge. She could see a sprinkling of dark hair across the back of them, their knuckles rough and red, and wondered if he’d hit anyone recently, maybe in the ring. No, that wasn’t fair, she was making judgements due to his size and build. She saw the delicate way in which he turned the page and imagined them dancing over her skin.

Whoa!

She shuffled on her seat and switched on her e-reader, determined to stop perving over the poor guy who was just looking for some peaceful reading time. Maybe she needed to switch to a good thriller and give the romances a rest for a while.

She started to read, but found herself frowning and re-reading the same paragraph over and over.

Seriously?

Nudging her glasses back up, her eyes mysteriously found their way back to the Reading Guy.

She wondered what he did for a living? Whether all those muscles were the result of hard manual work or a gym membership. It shouldn’t matter, but it did. It was a far more appealing thought to think that he was sweating over cutting down a tree or something rather than lifting dumbbells. She rolled her eyes at her blatant objectification of him.

Thank God he couldn’t read her mind.

She wondered what it would be like to be with a guy like him, someone she could talk to about books; someone who appreciated some quiet time, alone, to read and… just be. The world was so hectic, so difficult to negotiate. What would it be like to not do it alone?

God! Really? You’re going there, now?

Pressing her nails into the flesh of her hand, she dragged her eyes back to her e-reader and tried to ignore the urge to keep looking at the Reading Guy. There was no way in hell she was ever going to do anything but look at him, so feeling sorry for herself wasn’t going to help at all.

Taking a deep breath, she turned back to her much anticipated novel and began to read. She found her rhythm, sipping her beer every now and then as she immersed herself in the fictional world she was reading.

She wasn’t sure how long she’d been reading before she felt a tingling heat on the side of her face. She tucked a dark, curly lock of hair behind her ear and placed a cool hand over her flushed skin, a little frustrated that she’d become distracted during a key point in the scene she was reading.

Without thinking her eyes flashed to the Reading Guy to find his eyes on her. Her heart kind of stopped, then stuttered on.

No, maybe he was looking out of the window or someone was behind her. She casually looked over her shoulder while she pulled her long hair around her face.

Nope, no-one there.

Drawn back like opposing magnets, she slowly turned to face him.


I’d love to get other writers involved in this. If you fancy writing your own piece of romantic flash fiction, shoot me a message and I’ll link to your story.

Cheers,

Kx

 

O’Shea’s #4 – Hard To Be Brave

I am writing a series of flash fiction pieces set in O’Shea’s Pub. See Romantic Flash Fiction Anyone? for more information. Here’s the fourth one using the enemies to lovers trope. I hope you enjoy it.

osheas-edited

Jason Monroe angry was a sight to see.

“What the hell are we doing here, Emma?”

“Well, you said you needed a drink. So…” she said, trying to keep the smug out of her voice.

He unbuttoned his coat and yanked it off his broad shoulders. “I meant a coffee and you damn well know it.” Throwing it onto the seat, he slid into the booth and grabbed the beer menu. It was a relief not to have his eyes on her.

“Why don’t I surprise you?” She suggested, turning to walk towards the bar before he could complain again.

She blew out a breath, hard enough to lift her thick dark fringe, and jumped onto a stool at the bar while she waited for Ben to make his way down to her.

She was uncomfortably aware that she was winging things at the moment. The man with unlimited control had finally snapped. She couldn’t believe her luck. Jason had been lording it over her at work for months; then to top it off the job they both wanted had just been advertised.

Smiling at Ben, she ordered two pints of Guinness, needing a little more time to settle her thoughts before heading back to him. They actually worked well together when they weren’t fighting over who held the dominant position. Their skills balanced out: she took the lead on customer relations; he leaned more towards data and analysis.

Unfortunately, she’d been late to their meeting with a big client today after her mum’s doctor’s appointment had run over, and things hadn’t quite gone to plan. She took a sip of the first glass of Guinness that Ben set on the bar and tried not to think about what lay ahead for her mother and herself. Rolling her shoulders, she pushed those thoughts to the back of her mind and focused on the six foot two problem in the booth behind her.

The second pint glass landed in front of her. Taking a deep breath, she nodded at Ben. “Start me a tab, will you? I think we’re going to need a few.”

He raised his eyebrows. “Like that is it?”

“Worse,” she deadpanned and walked away as Ben chuckled. She always wished she was attracted to him; he was such a great guy, but for some reason there were zero spark between them.

She really wished she could say the same about the guy in front of her. Unfortunately working with Jason Monroe ignited sparks in her mind and in her knickers. A double whammy which just pissed her off immensely.

Why was his intensity such a turn on  when she’d always gone for laid back types in her past? Why did she feel like her eyes were glued to his arse sometimes? Why did she feel like high-fiving herself whenever she made him smile or laugh? She felt like a beggar crawling around for scraps of food the way he doled those out.

“About bloody time,” he muttered, his head back, his eyes closed. “What were you doing, brewing it?”

“No, Jason, I wasn’t, but I’m more than happy to pour it over your head if you don’t stop moaning.” She threatened as she stood holding the drinks.

He opened his eyes and rolled his head to look at her. “Sit down forgodsake. I’m about to expire from dehydration.”

There was a weariness about him that disturbed Emma. She was so used to his rigid control, his strength, that seeing the cracks appear knocked her own precarious stability.

Sliding into the seat opposite him, she watched him take a long drink and lick away the creamy Guinness from his lips. Swallowing thickly, she dragged her eyes away from him and gave herself another good talking to. The problem was, these talks didn’t seem to work so well these days.

She felt his eyes on her and tried to plaster a convincing smile on her face.

“So…”

He raised his dark eyebrows. “So…”

“We need a new plan, don’t we?”

Jason shrugged. “All my current plans are shot to shit, so I’m currently re-evaluating.”

His intense gaze was making her want to fidget. Picking up a beer mat, she started turning it and took another drink. A truly awful thought flashed through her mind, making her sit up straight and smack the mat onto the table. “You’re not going to leave are you?”

The glass rested on his lips as he paused, he slowly took a drink and carefully placed it back on the table. “Would that be so bad?”

“Yes… I…” She stuttered to a halt, on the precipice and unsure which way was safety.

He sat forward, resting his forearms on the table. “Why?”

Staring at her hand on the beer mat, she realised the tips of his fingers were mere inches from her own. She watched his middle finger twitch and held her breath.

Do it! she thought, touch me.

The small distance stayed the same. It might as well have been the expanse of the Grand Canyon.

Exhaling quietly, she let herself really look at him before she met his eyes again. She saw the strain around his eyes, the firm set of his mouth and wanted to kiss it away.

Was she brave enough? Could she handle his rejection? What’s the worst that could happen? Well, abject shame and humiliation, which was never good, but she thought she could survive it. It might mean a long distance move or plastic surgery but she’d deal with it. Right?

She looked back down to their hands and willed her own to move. God, it was hard to be brave sometimes. Her pads pressed down onto the table before she flexed her fingers and moved forward. They stopped as she felt the heat of the skin from the very tips of his fingers.

She wanted to look at his face and really see him, but she’d used up every ounce of bravery that she had. Her heart thudded hard in her chest and she felt the heat prickle across her chest, knowing she’d made a mistake.

She looked away and felt her fingers separate. She closed her eyes as he pushed his between hers, taking a shaky breath as his thumb stroked across the inside of her wrist.


I’d love to get other writers involved in this. If you fancy writing your own piece of romantic flash fiction, shoot me a message and I’ll link to your story.

Cheers,

Kx

O’Shea’s #2 – The Blind Date

I am writing a series of flash fiction pieces set in O’Shea’s Pub. See Romantic Flash Fiction Anyone? for more information. Here’s the second one – The Blind Date. I hope you enjoy it.

osheas-edited

Coming to an abrupt halt in front of the door to O’Shea’s, Sam’s hand hovered over the handle but he couldn’t bring himself to take hold of the damn thing.

“Shit!” he muttered.

He really didn’t want to go in there.

Stupid sodding dare! Stupid sodding so-called mates!

He stepped to the side of the doorway with some relief when his phone beeped with a text.

Matt: You there yet?

Sam: Maybe 😦

Matt: The rules clearly state that you need to be physically inside and sat down next to her to win.

Sam: I know what the bloody rules are!

Matt: LOL! Try not to be a complete dickhead. She’s actually really nice. Give her a chance, you might actually enjoy yourself 😉

The problem was, Matt didn’t know why he was allergic to dating. Admitting you’d had your heart ripped out by your ex-girlfriend wasn’t exactly Friday night in the pub conversation with your work-mates. So he hadn’t told them. Now, he was seriously thinking that might’ve been a mistake, because if he had told them, he wouldn’t be in this shitty situation now.

Closing his eyes, he tried to get his head together. He needed to just get in there, have a drink and get out. No harm, no foul.

Right. Come on!

Walking with purpose, he swung round, yanked the door open and walked into the busy warmth of O’Shea’s.

He’d arranged to meet her at the bar. It was busier than expected and part of him hoped they’d miss each other. Then he remembered the bet and he urged himself forward.

His eyes flicked over the crowd around the bar, but no-one immediately stood out. Breathing a little easier, he pulled his wallet from his back pocket and slid a ten pound note out. Seeing a gap at the bar, he side-stepped through until he felt the old oak against his middle.

“How you doing?” asked the bartender. They’d bonded months ago over their mutually painful support of Everton football club.  

“I’ve been better. A pint of Guinness, please.”

“Coming up.” Tilting the glass, Ben cocked his head and asked, “What’s the problem?”

Sam leaned forward, resting his arms on the bar. This was not a conversation he wanted to be overheard. “I’m here on a blind date.”

“What?!” Ben spluttered.

“It’s not funny, man!” he scowled.

“Why the hell did you agree to that?”

“All I’m saying is, there are football tickets on the line. FA cup final tickets. This may never happen again in my lifetime.”

“I hear you, mate.” Ben’s nod of understanding solidified their friendship. He understood the frequent agony and rare ecstasy that was the life of an Everton fan and this was the first cup final they’d been in since 2009. They hadn’t lifted a cup since 1995 when Sam was six years old.

Fond remembrances of that day were rudely interrupted by a voice brimming with amusement.

“The Toffees don’t stand a chance.”

He turned with a natural defence of his team on his lips only to be brought up short by the sight of a stunning, tall, brunette unwinding her scarf and starting on the buttons of her red wool coat. “Errr, that’s not necessarily true,” he managed to get out.

“Even if you do go to the game, it’ll just be ninety minutes of torture watching them get thrashed by Manchester United. Why would you want to do that to yourself?”

Sitting on the stool, she acknowledged Ben with a nod of her head and said, “Half a Guinness, please. Actually – no, make that a pint will you? My blind date’s here because of a dare and he supports Everton – I think I’m going to need it!”

Sam caught the sardonic edge to her words before their meaning sank in. What he didn’t miss was Ben’s snort of amusement at his double take.

Oh shit… she was his blind date!

He was going to kill Matt. Why hadn’t he warned him Ruby was gorgeous? That little shit was probably laughing his head off right this minute, knowing that he was royally cocking this up.

Ben put the pint down in front of her and they both watched her close her eyes and take a long drink, licking the creamy moustache from her lips in what he strongly suspected would be the most erotic moment of his life.

Surreptitiously shifting on his stool, he cleared his throat, trying desperately to find some way of salvaging the situation.

She looked at him out of the corner of her eye. “How many tickets are up for grabs if you win this dare, Sam?”

“Two,” he replied cautiously.

“Ok, here’s the deal – we have a few drinks, play some pool and we’ll call it a date. That should get you the tickets, right?”

“Right.” He really needed to form a complete sentence here or she was going to think he was a total moron.

She took another drink. He held his breath, waiting for her to lick those full, rosy lips again. His chest felt a little tight.

“Then, if we get on ok as friends, you can take me to the match.”

He choked on his drink. “Sorry, what?!”

“You heard me. I have no interest in dating right now. I got blackmailed into this by Matt’s girlfriend. Anyway, that doesn’t mean we can’t hang out sometimes. None of my girlfriends like football. So you can be my football friend.”

Ruby stepped off the stool and picked up her pint. “Come on, let’s play pool while the table’s free.”

Sam watched her walk across the pub. He watched the sway of her hips and the fall of her long, thick hair and wondered what the hell just happened.

“I’ll tell you what just happened, mate,” said Ben, with his forearms crossed on the bar while he watched Ruby lay her money on the pool table. “You just got friend zoned. That has got to hurt!”

That was the understatement of the century.

 


I’d love to get other writers involved in this. If you fancy writing your own piece of romantic flash fiction, shoot me a message and I’ll link to your story.

Cheers,

Kx