2.1 Through Her Sunken Dream E-Book Cover


– IV –


A hand slid over her shoulder, dragging her up from the warm depths of slumber. The unexpected delight of her younger brother’s goofy grin sent a smile spreading wide across her lips and she laughed, pushing her face into the soft pillow. “Tris, how are you here? Mom said you were working in Vancouver!”

“Came home especially for my big sister.” He leaned down and pressed a kiss to her hair. “I’ve a gift for you.”

Rolling over onto her side, she caught sight of Mina dozing in the rocking chair behind him. Tara furrowed her brow. “What’s the gift?”

Tristan, ten years her junior, sat back on his ass, tugging his phone from his pocket and pressing a button before he put the device to his ear. Tara watched him curiously, and when his crooked smile touched the edges of his full lips and he greeted the person on the other end, she furrowed her brow, realizing she’d not caught the identity of the person she knew with which she was about to converse. Tristan laughed at her frustration, and did nothing to ease it as he said into the phone, “Yeah, lemme just hand you to her.”

Tara rolled her eyes and sat up, holding her hand out for the mobile phone. “Tell me who—”


The name threw her for a loop, and she frowned. “I’m sorry?”

Tristan arched an amused eyebrow as he stood. “He don’t have much time, so get your ass on the phone. You need to speak to him.”

“I need to speak to Sam.” Her words spoken deliberately, Tara blanched. “Wait… Sam?

“That one.” He grinned, jiggling the phone a bit. “Go on.”

Half an hour later, Tara mused as she hung up her brother’s phone. She knew she would never forget the experience, one only Tristan could have finagled. She rarely thought about where he worked or what he did, but his truck-driving job had put him in touch with some of the most amazing people over the years. Lately, he’d been driving for a production company in Vancouver… where he’d apparently met him.

Sam Winchester. Tristan had become friends with Jared Padalecki, and at some point, they had a conversation where Tris convinced him to talk to me, in character, when he called and put me on the phone. Tris understood I needed to speak to someone who could make the distinction between light and dark. Because I’d given in to the dark too easily in the past, because he wasn’t ready to live without his sister, and because nothing else they’d tried had worked; Sam Winchester was the only option Tris felt he had left. Sam was the ace up his sleeve, and he knew Sam could get through to me.

The breeze blew her hair into her face, and she looked at the Call Log once again, seeing JarPad Home 15:38, confirming the call’s existence. She’d left the bedroom during their conversation and gone outside to sit on the deck steps. She pushed the flames of her hair back over her ears, smiling softly to herself.

“How’s my girl?”

Tara lifted a merry gaze to the beloved countenance of the woman she called home. “I’m okay, pretty lady. Still reeling.”

“What was it like?” Mina asked, sitting down one step above her and looping her arms loosely around Tara’s shoulders. “You know… talking to a freakin’ Winchester?”

“Surreal. I don’t imagine many people have done that before.” Tara took a deep breath. “Unscripted, that is. Can’t believe Tris arranged this… it blows my mind!”

“What’d the Moose tell you?” Her girlfriend ran her lithe fingers through Tara’s hair and began to plait the blue-streaked red waves into a loose French braid.

“He told me death was more permanent than he or Dean like to imagine. He told me the process of dying isn’t painless, that it always hurts like hell, but the kind of pain I’d feel wouldn’t begin to touch the pain I’d put my brother through.” Tara leaned back in Mina’s embrace, her hands catching on the woman’s arms when they wrapped around her again. “He told me I was the world to a certain little brother… like his big brother was to him.”

Mina pressed a kiss to her shoulder. “I’m glad you were able to speak to him.”

Tara shifted to lift her eyes to her girlfriend’s gaze. “Me, too.”

“So… we’re going to be here for a few weeks while you heal,” Mina began, her smile warm and inviting. “What would you like to do while we are here?”

Tara leaned her temple to Mina’s shoulder. “You know I’m broken, don’t you? I-I-I mean, you know this is always going to be my fight, yeah?”

“Baby, I know this is your fight. I know you fight you on a daily basis. I know you aren’t—” Mina sniffled as tears slipped down her cheeks. “I know you aren’t going to win every battle. I know why you got the semi-colon and the AKF art—it’s your armor to wear into battle—” Mina slipped down to sit in Tara’s lap. “—but you have to remember, babe, I’m always gonna stand next to you, fight your monsters with you. You have to remember, my pretty Major Tom, you’re a goddamn hero in this story. You’re my hero.” She laughed quietly. “I’ll bet Sam said the same thing to you.”

Tara leaned in to press a kiss to Mina’s mouth, whispering, “I don’t know what to say.”

“Say your story isn’t over yet, that it really does go on and on and on and on—” Mina brought Tara’s left arm up to kiss the phoenix-winged butterfly. “—and you’re always going to live on the breath of a hope.” She lifted the right arm up to kiss the spaceman. “Promise me you’ll always keep fighting.”

Tara’s face creased with the force of the emotion swelling within her. Taking another salty kiss from Mina’s lips, she vowed, “I swear it. I swear it to you, Mina, I swear it!”





2.1 Through Her Sunken Dream E-Book Cover

– III –


Tara pushed closer to Mina’s warm body, snuggling as close as she could, hoping she could find peace in sleep the way Mina did. Tara ran her fingers through Mina’s russet curls, watching as they wrapped around her fingertips. The silkiness of her hair, so warm and touchable, drew a gasp from her lips.

She deserves better than me. She’s so happy and perfect and me, I’m just—I’m broken. I’m damaged goods. I’m—

A loud bang jolted her eyes open and she lifted up on all fours, her right hand sliding in something slick that sent her face first into the cold tile of the bathroom floor. Pain exploded in her cheek, and Tara yelped as the banging continued. She shivered at the chill crawling across her skin, slowly rising up once more, feeling a warmth spilling down her chin. Sitting back on her feet, she rubbed her arms to warm them, succeeding only in making herself colder.

The banging grew louder… Tara heard Mina’s cries mixing in with it as she begged and pleaded.

What is she begging for? Who is she pleading with? What is going on?

“Open the door! Please, baby, open the door and let me in!” Mina shouted, confusing Tara.

She’s begging me? Where’m I, that she needs to ask me to let her in?

Her vision blurred a bit, scaring her since the room was already dark. She shuffled over to a line of light broken by a moving shadow Tara figured must be her girlfriend. Her hands searched for the doorknob, slipping on the metal handle two or three times before managing to unlock the door. As it opened slowly, Mina careful of her proximity, Tara whispered, “We were snuggling… weren’t we?”

“You said you needed to pee,” Mina answered calmly, but her facial expression told Tara of the terror filling her. “I’m going to turn the light on, babe, because I need to see you.”

“I’m cold,” Tara whispered. “Can I have a blanket?”

The lights came on and Mina gasped. “Jesus… baby… we need to get you to a hospital.”

“No!” Tara forced herself to her feet. “They’ll tell me the same things they always do!”

“Tara, do you remember doing this?” Mina gently took hold of Tara’s right arm, her fingers like fire on Tara’s skin. “Do you?”

Tara shook her head. “I was snuggling with you. Your hair was warm on my fingers.”

Mina grabbed the hand towel, wrapping it tightly around Tara’s wrist. “If you’re not going to consciously seek help, I’m going to make you do it, Tara. I will not lose the woman I love. Do you understand, babe?”

Time blurred on by until Tara found herself curled up in the smallest ball possible at the head of her hospital bed. Her mother dozed in one chair, her father in another. Mina snuggled behind her, one hand splayed over Tara’s belly. Tara threaded her fingers through Mina’s, shifting to lay partially on her back. “Mina,” she murmured.

Mina nuzzled Tara’s cheek, ghosting a kiss over Tara’s lips. “’M here.”

“They have me on meds, don’t they?” Tara sought another kiss, and Mina deepened it briefly before she nodded, answering, “A mild sedative, due to the pain from the staples and to calm you.”

“I’m so sorry—”

“Don’t apologize, baby. Just promise me you’ll talk to me… or to someone. I can’t handle the idea of living life without you. Hell, it’s selfish of me to say, but I love you so much… and waking up beside you every morning is a dream I never want to wake from!” Mina sniffled, wrapping around Tara. “God, I swore I wouldn’t make it all about me!”

“I feel like I’m failing you, Mina. I feel like something in me broke when I killed that man—”

“But you didn’t. It didn’t. For the first time in your life, you made a decision about living and dying. You decided you weren’t ready to let go. In that moment, baby, you took the choice away from your attacker. Your reaction personified the Voltaire quote you like so much from The Crow—”

It isn’t death if you refuse it.” Tara nodded. “I don’t want to die. I want to stop feeling broken.”

“Are you ready?”

Tara lifted her gaze to the door, where her mother stood in a pretty blue dress sprinkled with a pink and lavender floral pattern. Her airy white sweater matched the handbag in her left hand. Tara nodded, pushing her blue-streaked red hair over her shoulders, whispering, “Mom?”

Rebecca Webster crossed the room, reaching one hand out to cup Tara’s chin, her words quiet, “You are beautiful. You are a wonderful woman, you are my daughter, and I am so proud of you. Nothing will ever change that, Tara Diane; your dad and I couldn’t be prouder of you.”

“He found out in a way I didn’t—”

Rebecca smiled softly, shaking her head. “We already knew. You and Mina live in a one-bedroom apartment. You share a bed. I suspect you have since the first night she moved in. You do everything together. It wasn’t hard to figure out.”

“Is she ready?”

Tara blinked as Lee Webster strode over to her, his face pale and drawn as he bent to press a tender kiss to her tousled mane. “There you are, Tara-Tara.” His big hands carefully smoothed her hair, fingertips curling in the ends as he let out a ragged sigh. “I am so proud of you, dearheart.”

“Daddy—” She bowed her head, squeezing her eyes shut against the tears.

“Your Mina is one smart lady.” His hands framed her face, his thumbs drying her cheeks as he lifted her glistening cocoa gaze to his matching one. “She loves you.”

“I love her!” Tara cried, burrowing against her father’s chest as he sat on the edge of her bed. “You really still love me?”

Lee chuckled, enfolding her in a tight embrace. “Bunches and gobs, dearheart. Bunches and gobs.”

The long ride back to her parents’ rural home lulled Tara into an impromptu nap, one she woke from when their car finally ground to a stop on the gravel drive behind her father’s truck inside the Webster garage. Mina helped Tara out of the vehicle and into the house. As they laid down on the soft bed in the guest room, Tara told her lady, “Daddy likes you.”

Mina smiled widely. “I like him.”

On to Part IV


2.1 Through Her Sunken Dream E-Book Cover

– II –

“You got a light?”

Yanking her from the safety of her own world, Tara stumbled a bit in haste as she attempted to put space between herself and the owner of the voice, who stood close behind her… too close. Tara shook her head, tugging one earbud from her ear in effort to keep David with her and her voice calm. “I-I’m sorry. I don’t—I don’t smoke.”

The man laughed, the sound thick with menace. “I scare ya?” He loomed over her, intentionally stepping forward, into her personal space.

Tara retreated a second time, but this time her back hit a chest and hands fell to her hips, clamping tight, holding her fast. She struggled, lashing out with her fists, receiving a slap across the face for her efforts. The sting startled her into momentary stillness and she tried to determine what her next move should be. Bare seconds passed, but it only took seconds for the men to force her into the alleyway beside the tattoo parlor, and cold steel touched her throat.

Is this really happening? Am I really—

Fabric ripping alerted her to the sudden reality rapidly becoming her own. Her eyes darted up to the man pinning her body against the rough brick wall. His knife created a shallow cut down her chest, the blade breaking the front clasp of her bra. The loss of her clothing snapped her into a terrifying awareness.


Setting her jaw, Tara inhaled sharply and slid one hand over the outside of the arm barring her escape, fingers catching the inside of his elbow. Without a second thought, Tara took her other hand to the man’s jaw. Yanking his arm inward and rotating his head sent his back hard to the wall… and the knife skittering across the alley floor.


HEY!” The man’s partner—he’d stayed close to the alley’s mouth to keep watch—ran at her and Tara tried to sidestep him, but he managed to get a hold of her arm. A frightened shriek tore from her lips as she allowed herself to be whirled around and, fear fueling her, she made a fist and yanked her arm up towards her chest. Stronger than her, the man laughed at her and squeezed, heightening her anxiety, and when Tara brought her free hand down to shove his wrist and free herself, the force of the blow she dealt broke something beneath the skin.


Howling, the man went down, curling around his arm, but movement at the wall spurred her into motion once more. Her eyes caught the gleam of metal in the dim light of the alley, and she ran towards it. Tara dove for it, but a heavy body landed on top of her, knocking the air from her. She closed her fingers around the handle as she rolled, swinging the blade in a desperate arc to slam it hard into the man’s neck. Hot blood spurted across her face and she shouted, pushing him off of her and scooting backwards on her ass until her back hit the side of the green metal dumpster.


Mina’s voice shocked Tara out of fight or flight mode. Tara curled up into a ball, wrapping her arms around her knees as she began to shake. Lifting her gaze to Mina’s horrified countenance, Tara stammered, “He-He was going to—He h-h-hurt me!”

“I know, baby, I know—”

Tara felt tears slipping down her cheeks and she turned away. Unintentionally, Tara found herself faced with the sudden end of her attack: a man laid face down in a pool of his own blood, his eyes open and sightless. Her lower lip trembled and she turned back to Mina. “I killed him.”

“Baby, you—“ Mina broke off to answer a call Tara didn’t realized she’d initiated. “I need help. My girlfriend was attacked outside of Tigger’s Body Art. We need an ambulance, her attacker had a knife.”

“He hurt me!” Tara shouted. “I didn’t do anything wrong!”

“I know, baby. I know—yes, she’s hurt. Yes, she stopped him… with his own knife. Please, send someone!”

Tara heard sirens and her wild eyes watched the mouth of the alley. “I didn’t do anything wrong!”

Mina wrapped her arms around Tara’s form. “I know. I know. Baby, I know.” Her lips pressed a kiss to Tara’s hair. “It’s going to be okay, baby. You’re going to be okay. God, I don’t know what I’d do without you—yes, we’ll stay on the line until they get here.”

Tara stared off into the distance; she didn’t listen to the doctor speaking with Mina. Apparently, the cut spanning her neck and upper chest had been deeper than she’d realized and the doctor had stapled it closed. After investigating the crime scene and surrounding area, the police had not charged her. The man who’d attacked her had died, and the police had found the lookout. His confession confirmed her story.

Mina slid a hand over her cheek. “Hey beautiful, the doctor says we can take you home if you feel up to it.”

“I want to go home.” Tara exhaled a shaky breath. “I don’t want to be here. I remember here and I hate it. I hate it. I just want to go home. Mina, please—”

Mina smiled at her, her eyes shining with tears as she nodded. “We’ll go home.”

Tara jolted awake, bolting from the bed to stumble down the hall to the bathroom. Her heart pounded hard in her chest as she slammed the door closed and locked it. Sliding down the door, she tried hard to regulate her breathing in the cool darkness of the small room.

Please don’t please don’t please don’t please don’t—

A quiet knock came on the other side of the thin wood. “It’s me, baby. Tara, it’s me. It’s Mina. Let me in.”

She’s not real. She’s not real. Mina’s not real. They probably—

Another knock, this one a tiny bit louder and with enough force to be felt through the door. Tara shifted to press her cheek to the cool surface of the wall, scooting on her bottom away from the door. Tugging her knees to her chest, she reached up and worked the lock on the doorknob. Her eyes widened as she watched the door swing inwards to reveal Mina’s patient countenance. Tears slipped down both their cheeks as Tara whispered, “Are you real?”

Mina edged closer… closer… reaching a hand out to push Tara’s tousled hair over the shell of her right ear. “I’m real, sweetie. I promise.”

“If you were a delusion, do you think you’d promise me you were real?”

“I suppose I would, because I want you to see me as hope.” Mina’s full lips spread in a tender smile and she twirled the blue ends of Tara’s hair around her fingertips. “I’m really here, though, babe. I promise.”

Tara considered Mina’s answer for a long moment before asking, “Did you get a hold of my parents?”

“I did, yes.” Mina cupped Tara’s cheek, and Tara realized she’d been relocated to her girlfriend’s lap. “They’re already here, remember? They’re in the office, asleep on the daybed.”

“I didn’t—I must’ve—”

Mina pressed a gentle kiss to Tara’s mouth. “You were pretty out of it. Your mother is talking to your doctor about the scrips.”

“My pills?”

Mina nodded. “I know how you feel about them, but both your mom and your doctor think they’ll help to calm you, maybe even keep the nightmares away until your mind can process—”

“What do you think? You’re my filter—you know me better than—” Tara felt her throat tighten and her face screwed up as she turned it away, leaning her forehead to Mina’s shoulder. “I don’t know—I—Mina, I—Mina—”

“No, sweetie. No. I will not let you do this to yourself. You lived. You lived.” Mina brought both her hands up to frame Tara’s face. “You did that on your own. You didn’t let them take you. You fought back and I—” Her smile stretched wide across her lips. “Baby, I am so proud of you.”

“But I killed—”

Mina shook her head. “No, Tara. No, you acted out of self-preservation. That is entirely different. Self-defense is not murder.” Mina kissed her mouth a second time. “You wanted to live, so you did!”

On to Part III


2.1 Through Her Sunken Dream E-Book Cover

– I –

The new ink made her forearm throb. Looking down at the finished product, Tara smiled. “It’s perfect,” she told the tattoo artist. “Absolutely stunning.”

An astronaut with a semi-colon jetpack floated in the galaxy-filled lightning bolt taken from the cover of David Bowie’s Aladdin Sane album. Written along the top of the bolt was a lyric from 1974’s Diamond Dogs—“Living on the breath of a hope”—while along the bottom was a lyric off his 1969 self-titled album—“I think my spaceship knows which way to go”. It matched the semi-colon phoenix-winged butterfly on her left forearm. The slightly modified words belonged to a band she listened to frequently now, Thirty Seconds to Mars, and echoed pain she had experienced as a youth—“And my story goes on and on and on and on…” Three capital letters blazed brightly behind the exquisite creature—AKF, always keep fighting. This new tattoo spoke of the pain she lived in presently. Spun from Bowie’s genius, the astronaut and 1969 quote expressed her loneliness now, while the line about hope represented the ecstasy she’d barely begun to experience with Wilhemina Bennington.

They’d met by chance in a Starbucks the day she—

Tara looked up as the door to the famous coffee shop swung open and a tall, curvy brunette rushed inside, dropping her dripping, makeshift newspaper umbrella into the black trashcan by the door. Sighing heavily, she sat down in the chair nearest Tara’s table and finger-combed her hair, commenting, “It’s supposed to be sunny and dry today, right?”

“According to Channel 8,” Tara answered without thinking.

The woman faced her, an easy smile on her full lips, her brilliant blue-green eyes dancing as they lifted to meet Tara’s honey-brown gaze. “Well, I think the weatherman’s got some explaining to do.”

Tara smirked, nodding. “To lots of people, I’m sure.” She eyed the woman, eyes lighting on the roller-bag docked next to her. “Tell me you’ve got somewhere to stay and get dry!”

She shook her head. “Actually, I don’t. When I got here, my room had been double-booked. Since I arrived second, the hotel booted me with an apology, but they had no vacancies.”

Tara frowned, leaning forward. “Anyone you know here? I mean, anyone at all?”

She shook her head again. “Not a soul.” She sighed heavily. “I was supposed to meet with a client, but his flight was cancelled due to weather. Any last minute hotel recommendations for a girl?”

“Well, yeah… maybe?” Tara’s lips turned up at the corners. “You look about my size, so I could lend you something dry and put your wet clothes in to wash. If you like my home, you’re more than welcome to stay.”

“Because I would turn down the hospitality of a beautiful woman?” She chuckled, holding out a wet hand to Tara. “Mina Bennington, and you are?”

Blushing, Tara shook the proffered slender hand and shook, a trembling smile on her lips. “Tara. Tara Webster.”

A few hours later, Tara and Mina sat on the couch in Tara’s tiny apartment, eating drunken noodles from a nearby Thai place, and watching Elena Undone on Tara’s television. A knock came at the door and Tara set her plate down on the coffee table, murmuring, “I’ll be right back.”

Crossing to the door, she picked up a box and unlocked the deadbolt. Turning the handle, she gave a tiny polite smile to the woman on the other side of the portal before pushing the box into her arms. Five minutes later, she hugged her arms and suffered through a diatribe of accusations. Tara wondered if it would ever end as arms wrapped around her from behind and a warm cheek pressed against hers, a steely voice growling, “Leave. Her. Be. I will be caring for Tara from now on. If I see you near her again, you will regret it.”

The door shut firmly in the other woman’s surprised face, Tara turned in Mina’s arms to bury her face in the taller woman’s chest, whispering, “Why did you—”

“Because she’s a bitch who doesn’t care about anyone but herself. That’s why.” Mina pressed a kiss to Tara’s red hair. “Don’t think about her. Come finish dinner with me.”

Tara nodded. “I just need to wash my face first.” She didn’t wait for a reply, but hurried over to the bathroom and shut herself away from the world. Leaning against the door, she took a couple of deep breaths before taking the two steps to the sink. Lifting the metal handle to run the cold water, she used both hands to splash water on her face two or three times. Raising her gaze to her reflection in the mirror, she took a shaky breath, whispering, “Not alone. Keep… keep fighting. She’s—” hiccup “she’s gone. She’s—” hiccup “she’s wrong. She’s mean.”

Opening her mirrored medicine cabinet, she gave a slight smile, reaching in for the partial box of razor blades. Ready to feel the comforting bite, she slid it open, fingertips reaching in practiced movements to find the right weapon to mar the smooth skin of her forearm. Before she could take the steel from its cardboard home, her mind screamed at her to focus on the ink on her forearm.

AKF—Always Keep Fighting. My story goes on and on and on and on…

Tara tried to shake off learned guilt, but her reflection caught her attention: dark eyes, wide and red-rimmed.

A light knock jerked her out of introspection.

Tara focused on the girl in the mirror, her face crumpling as she gasped, “I don’t think my spaceship knows which way to go!”

“Tara, baby, let me in!”

Whirling on her heel in a split second, she opened the door, pushing the blades into Mina’s hands. “Mina, I’m broken! My spaceship doesn’t know which way to go anymore!”

Tears slipped down Mina’s cheeks even as her lips spread in a shaky smile. “It’s okay, my pretty Major Tom. I’ll help you pilot it. Promise.” Stepping in to wrap her arms around Tara, Mina whispered, “Thank you for trusting me with you, baby. We’ll get through this, and we’ll do it together.”


Tara realized for the thousandth time, she could have easily ended it then, after Allie had ripped her to pieces by telling her she wished she’d been successful in her attempt to end it all. Glancing down at her spaceman, she smiled, grabbing her phone to take a picture of the new ink as the artist rang up her total. Sending it to Mina, she pocketed the phone and opened her wallet to pay the artist. Shouldering her satchel seconds later, she pushed earbuds into her ears, setting her iPod to repeat David Bowie’s “Life on Mars?” before tugging a grey slouch beanie onto her head as she left. Her phone vibrated, and Tara felt her heart lift a little. Digging the phone out to run her finger across the screen, Mina’s words were the sun breaking through the clouds—On my way, babe. Can’t wait to see it in the flesh! XOXO

On to Part II


2.1 Through Her Sunken Dream E-Book Cover

– Proem –

Tara pressed the Play button on her blue iPod before tugging the AKF sweatshirt over her blue-streaked hair. Tears fell from her eyes as she shoved the long sleeves up her arms, her gaze catching on her left forearm as she ignored her phone when it began to vibrate; she knew the caller was almost certainly her boss, just as she also knew his call would be to beg her to change her vacation dates. The loss of another manager weighed heavily on the franchise and they needed her there because he needed to be elsewhere.

Guilt still compelled her to do as they asked, to push her personal life aside and be there for them, but she couldn’t force herself to do it… not again. Not this time. She had to take care of her own house first. Shoving the thoughts aside, she tugged the shirt down over her belly.

It buzzed again, but the trilled purr of the gorgeous feline who shared her bedroom offered a pleasant and momentary distraction from her thoughts. She whirled and bent to lift the calico into her arms, nuzzling her wet face into the cat’s side, and as if her furry companion knew she needed comforting, the purr grew louder.

“Almost time, babe.”

She looked up at the door, finding the comforting visage of her girlfriend leaning against the jamb. Nuzzling the cat’s soft fur, Tara gently set the animal on the bed, giving her a good scratch. She nodded. “I know.”

“You’re worried.”

She nodded again. “Mina, I am. I’m worried… really worried.”

“You shouldn’t be, sweetie. Your mother knows you both so well, and she says to talk to him.” Mina crossed the room. “Tara—” She lifted her hands to push a lock of Tara’s fiery hair over her ears. “She definitely wouldn’t steer you wrong. Not after everything you’ve been through. She thinks he’s ready.”

Tara bowed her head, leaning her cheek into Mina’s touch. “She asked if I had a girlfriend.”

“Right?” Mina smiled, her lips turning up at the corners. “She loves you and she wants you to be happy, baby.”

Tara took a deep breath, reaching back to grab her satchel. Tossing the strap over her head, she murmured, “I can do this, right? I can do this.”

Wrapping her up in strong arms, Mina pressed a kiss to the crook of Tara’s neck. “You can do this.” Another kiss to Tara’s temple. “I promise.”

On to Part I


2.1 Through Her Sunken Dream E-Book CoverI’ve always been depressed. In fact, I think I’ve suffered from depression probably as long as I’ve been a writer. If not, it’s a pretty close contest.

I didn’t have an easy time of it in grade school or junior high. I’ve been overweight most of my life. To be fair, I’m not as overweight as some people. I fit in one airplane seat. I can wear most of the things I want to wear and do most of the things I want to do. The only restrictions I bear are my own, and when I look in the mirror, I don’t cringe… most of the time.

Some days are harder than others.

Those words are often the mantra a depressed person tells themselves. Those words are, sometimes, the only words to get them through the day.

Kids are mean.

Those words ring true, too. Kids are meaner than hell, and I took the brunt for whatever they could find. I have a club thumb and the days they didn’t feel like calling me “fatso,” they zinged me for that. I was a bookworm, a nerd, a fat kid, too quiet, and my parents raised me somewhat sheltered, so I didn’t know any of the popular music or television shows until I was about fourteen. You can only imagine what growing up like this did for me in the 1980’s. My parents didn’t do it to be mean, but it happened. I was bullied and the words… well, they hurt. They did massive damage I still deal with today, and in my younger years, this was killer.

I was fortunate enough, as life dealt a succession of trials and tribulations this past year, to have added cushioning when I fell. That cushioning came in the form of a man I truly admire, Jared Padalecki, and the birth of AKF, or Always Keep Fighting. I didn’t realize a man who always smiled could be just like me, who had to really think about it to see the glass as half-full. As AKF went into full swing, I would save money to get a permanent reminder to do just that on my left forearm. On good days, it reminds me I am strong. On bad days, it pisses me off just enough that I realize the reminder is doing its job: I am good enough. I am worth it. I am strong. My story… it goes on and on. We aren’t done yet and my stories are not all told.


Tara Webster and her girlfriend, Mina Bennington, travel to visit Tara’s parents in Texas, where Tara plans to finally come out to her father. On their first day there, Tara is attacked outside a tattoo parlor in Deep Ellum, and in self defense, she kills her attacker. A life-long sufferer of severe depression, the trauma sends her spiraling into a web of guilt, pain, and despair. Will she be able to muster the courage it takes to always keep fighting, or will she no longer refuse death?

On to the PROEM

Bescreen’d in Night: A Covenant Short

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(Takes place from 18-December 1992-21 December 1992)



20 December 1992

Jonathan’s eyes were sore, but he kept them on Claire as she spoke to the Fort Worth police officer. When the clock had finally hit the forty-eight-hour mark, David’s mother had reported him missing. Almost two hours later, a car had arrived at their home, bringing two detectives to ask questions of all of them. Jonathan found it strange the police spoke very little to him, since he’d been the last one to see David. Stranger still, they spoke the longest with his own parents, who’d not seen David in forty-three days, while the person who knew him the best—no, the people who knew him the best—stood by, information completely untapped.

Growling, Jonathan whirled on his heel and stomped back to his bedroom. Trailed by Amy, Chad, Travis, and Bailey, he flung himself onto the edge of the bed, rubbing his face harshly. Amy was first to speak. “I can’t believe they won’t even really look at you—”

“I swear it’s like they think I did it or something. Every minute they let tick by is a minute he won’t get back. Should we start calling hospitals?” Jonathan glanced over at the bare nightstand, his eyes burning.

“I can do that with Mama Claire and Mama Abby, you boys and Bill need to be the boots on the ground, okay?” Amy slanted a glance in the direction of the police officers. “It’s kind of obvious they’re not talking to us because who wants to help the gay boy?”

“It’s true about their views on us homos,” Bailey commented. “I mean, this is Texas, not someplace like San Francisco where gay people are far more commonplace.” He lowered his voice to finish, “They’d be more likely to help anyone but a homo.”


His friends parted like the Red Sea when Claire peered around the hallway and called his name. Jonathan sniffled, answered, “Momma Claire?”

“I told the detectives they needed to speak with you since you were the last person to be with David, other than his “alleged” attacker.” She sniffled. “They also confirmed Jonah was on base at Fort Hood when the “attack” happened, so it couldn’t have been him.”

Jonathan shook his head. “Nothing else makes sense, and I’m not trying to—”

“I know.” She nodded in the direction of the living room. “They want to speak to you.”

Almost an hour later and they’d spoken with all five of them, making it clear they were not to return to the crime scene nor disturb it again, and they confiscated the flannel shirt for evidence. When the detectives left, Amy looked over at Jonathan, saying, “Fuck what they said. They won’t look for him, we will. You boys go out and look for him. Mamas and I will start a freaking telephone tree. Papa Bill, can we get Jonny’s phone hooked back up before you leave with the fellas?”

They searched for hours.

It was almost ten o’clock when Bill pulled the Suburban into the drive, Chad and Travis behind him. Bailey squeezed Jonathan’s shoulder, murmuring, “We’ll find him. I promise, Shea. We will find him.”

Jonathan nodded miserably. “I know, Bay.”

“He’s right, Jonathan. We will find David. You have my word,” Bill vowed. “We will find him and bring him home.”


The boys had dog-piled in the living room, surrounding Jonathan in effort to keep the nightmares back, and the search resumed immediately the next morning, dragging in the parents of Jonathan’s friends. Amy’s mom, and Chad’s and Travis’ parents, and Bailey’s dad all joined in the search for David Blackthorn. A little past five o’clock, they hit a stroke of luck with calls again to the hospitals in the area. Abby was told a patient had been brought in late Friday night, that he’d not woken, and that he bore tattoos all up and down his arms. When Abby asked his age and color of his hair, all the nurse would tell her was that the police had installed two guards around the clock outside his door and that until he woke, they would let no-one in the room.

For over an hour, they tried to devise a feasible way to get into the room to see if it was David. They attempted to talk to the police to see if the detectives had even looked at the patient in the hospital, and ended up leaving a message on their answering machine. Abby cooked dinner as the group of them continued to try to get onto the floor with the possible David, and as they were eating, one of the detectives called back and reprimanded them for trying to glean confidential information from a charge nurse. He told them to let them handle it, that if they wanted to put his photo on milk cartons and fliers, they could, but to stay away from that hospital room. They would be notified as soon as the patient awoke.

As Bill hung up the phone, Jonathan left the table, not waiting for anyone as he threw his bedroom door shut behind him. Stripping out of his clothes, he crawled under the sheets and pulled his pillow over his head, willingly succumbing to sleep in hopes he’d hear David’s voice. Torment with David present was better than torment without him, because at least Jonathan would get a chance to save him. In reality, every avenue was thwarted by the people tasked with finding David.

But I will find you. I promise… and come what may, I will make a way for us to be together, side by side, forever.

Sleep swept over him in heavy waves, dreamless when he needed to see David’s face, and the shadows holding him under were faceless, a terrific undertow holding him under when he tried so hard to surface. Jonathan’s hand caught on something, jolting him up from sleep, but not rousing fully until his mother swatted his rear. Her words reached him—“Jonny, scoot over and sit up! I need your help getting David into bed.”—and he snapped to full awareness in a split second.

“I’m—I’m okay—”

Jonathan’s voice, muffled by the pillow, formed a hallowed name. “David…?” His eyes flew wide as he turned to see a silhouette he’d know anywhere… and then as Abby helped David to perch carefully on the edge of Jonathan’s bed, he finished, “Oh, David… oh, God… oh, babe!

All the air seemed to go out of him and those incredible eyes looked past Jonathan for a long moment before David gasped, and tears spilled down his cheeks. Bruises seemed to be everywhere, he wore a cast on his left arm, and when he stumbled as he tried to stand, his stiff movements spoke volumes to Jonathan of the marks he couldn’t see. Jonathan and Abby caught David and steadied him before he could fall, and as Jonathan helped David into the bed, propping pillows up behind himself and tentatively curling his arm low around David’s belly, his love reached for Abby’s hand, whispering, “Can you call my mom? I don’t want her to worry… and… and thank you.”

Abby smiled, shaking her head. “Oh, honey, you are like a third son to us. I’m just sorry we got hung up on silly details. What should matter is you.” Pressing a kiss to his golden hair, she glanced up at Jonathan before smiling gently at David. “Now relax. I’ll call your momma and get her and your brothers over here. For once, Christmas will fill the house.”

As she disappeared out the door, Jonathan could not stop the silent tears, and he nuzzled David’s hair, breathing him in as his boyfriend hissed, “My apologies for leaving you—”

“No, no…” Jonathan shook his head vehemently, “Baby, you don’t need to apologize. We all looked for you when you didn’t come back. The guy at the popcorn stand said he saw you arguing with an older guy in a green army jacket and that he dragged you away by the wrist. It was all he had to say for me to know what happened, but I still wasn’t able to find you afterwards and then your phone rang off the hook. Momma Claire called me the next day asking after you and that’s when I got worried. I told her you’d left during the movie and that I’d tried calling that morning. She said she’d not heard your phone ring, but that you’d never come home. I called up Travis and Chad and we all went looking for you, but we couldn’t find you.”

David gently pressed his cheek to Jonathan’s when Jonathan leaned in to kiss David’s shoulder, his voice again a whisper when he spoke. “According to the lady that brought me here, some guy called 911 after finding me. I was taken to a hospital and apparently had hypothermia enough they needed to put one of those Quantum Leap-looking blankets on me to get me warm enough to take blood. Also this—” David held up his broken arm. “—broke the skin in two places and three ribs are fractured.”

“Oh, babe—”

“Are you going to be okay, David?”

Jonathan smiled gently at his little brother, Cody, poking his head through the door. His eyes were so wide and shiny, Jonathan knew he was as worried about David as Jonathan. David patted the bed in front of him. “You can come in, Cod.”

In seconds, Cody was carefully crawling across the mattress and then inching backwards to curl into the line of David’s body, ever-so-slowly laying his head on David’s belly so as not to hurt him. Sound asleep moments later, David’s lithe fingers threaded through the wispy gold locks as he lifted his face up, meeting Jonathan’s gaze as he said aloud, “I know I look a mess—”

Jonathan blinked, exclaiming, “Don’t use your voice! I know it hurts!” One hand tenderly cupped David’s jaw, tears slipping down Jonathan’s face.

“I want you to hear me. I want you to know that I love you, that I’d never leave you, that you’re my world, Jonathan Shea.” David pressed a kiss to Jonathan’s lips, allowing his voice to drop back down to a hiss. “I didn’t think… I didn’t think his anger at me would last so long! Why can’t he be like your dad? Why does he think I’m bad? Am I bad? Jonny, am I?”

“Oh, babe… no, we’re not bad! We’re not doing anything wrong! We’re not… we’re just being who God made us to be! He made us this way!” Jonathan kissed David thoroughly, deepening the kiss this time. “God made us to love one another and He does not make mistakes!”

I am so glad he’s here. I’m so glad he’s in my arms and I’m not letting him go. I’m not ever letting him go. Jonathan kissed David’s mouth again, saying against his lips, “I will never ever let this happen to you again, love of my heart. Never ever again. I’m going to ask my parents if you, Momma Claire, Josh and Lij can stay with us after the holidays.”

“You think they’ll—”

Jonathan nodded. “Oh, I’m pretty certain Mama will make Dad agree.”

David sighed, the corners of his lips lifting. “Told you.”

“Yeah, you did.” Jonathan chuckled. “Sleep, babe. I will make certain no-one touches you while you rest.”

As David succumbed to his fatigue, Jonathan watched over him, making a mental vow to the one he loved. I will never let any unkind hand touch you again. You will only know joy and love so long as I’m around, beautiful man. Tears slid down his cheeks. If we taste salt when we kiss, like Mama’s cross-stitch says, it will be because you are so happy, you can’t contain it. I promise.

Pressing a kiss to David’s golden hair, Jonathan closed his eyes and breathed. “Oh, you’re home!”



Bescreen’d in Night: A Covenant Short

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(Takes place from 18 December 1992-21 December 1992)



19 December 1992

Jonathan stalked through the house, his eyes open wide to keep the emotion swelling in his throat and sending tremors through his body, from raining down his cheeks. Crawling up the ladder and into the treehouse he and his father had built when he was eight, Jonathan flopped backwards.

The last time I was up in here, David, you were with me and we made out. We nearly got caught, but we managed to convince my mom we were just playing around. That was before forty-two days of hell.

Pulling the moleskin journal out of his back pocket, Jonathan hiccupped and grabbed the pen from the inside pocket of his coat. Bending over the journal as he opened it, he scribed the song exploding in his head. He knew the Bowie influences would be obvious, but he made a mental note to put it only in his journal.

Night bleeds into day
I am spun out of orbit
Day blazes into night
It’s been so long
Well, it’s been so long

My eyes scan the stars
Cold on earth and broken too
The stars blaze bright for me
It’s been so long
Well, it’s been so long

Forty-two days I waited
Forty-two nights I died
Forty-two days I froze
Forty-two nights I lied

And it’s been so long
You’ve been gone so long
I’m so afraid of losing you

Stuffing the pen in the journal, Jonathan shoved it back into the pocket as he heard someone on the ladder. Scooting over into the corner, he wrapped his arms around his shins and pushed his face into his knees. The tears were so close he wasn’t certain he could keep them back much longer, but the time ticked by relentlessly and still they had no lead on David. They were still under the forty-eight-hour mark, which meant the police could do nothing.

Even if he’s been hurt before and it’s likely he’s been hurt again. It doesn’t matter, right? Not at all!

“Dammit!” Jonathan shouted, slamming his fist into the wall. “Dammit! Dammit!”

“Hey, man! Hey, hey, Shea, chill out! This ain’t gonna help shit!” Travis wound around Jonathan, pulling his head down to his chest and rubbing Jonathan’s side. “We’ll find him. Promise. We’ll find him. Just calm down.”

“He’s been gone, Cap, he’s been gone for—” The image of his watch flashed through his brain. “9:32. That was when he left for the bathroom last night. He left at 9:32.” His mind worked the calculations and he lifted his face to look up into Travis’ eyes. “He’s been gone sixteen hours and forty-three minutes, Cap. It only took eight minutes for him to be taken. I didn’t even know he was gone because I thought it was just a really long line for freakin’ popcorn!”

“Jonathan! Stop torturing yourself!” Travis hissed. “Just stop. This won’t help you to focus. There is nothing on this earth could keep the two of you apart. He will come home.” Tears shone in his friend’s eyes, and Jonathan knew they reflected the pain he felt at trying to empathize with him. “He will.”

Jonathan nodded, allowing himself a moment of weakness, and he broke down for a moment. Travis held him, rubbing his back in long slow strokes.

As they descended the ladder a few minutes later, Amy and Chad walked across the patio, the former asking, “Why don’t we go back to the drive-in?”

“For what?” Jonathan answered, sniffling as he tugged his toboggan onto his head. “You don’t think he’d go back there, do you?”

“Maybe there’s something there that could tell us something about where he went?” she suggested. “Retrace our steps, and without people there, we can see more of what is there. Maybe see what he could see?”

Jonathan nodded. “I have to do something. I can’t just sit here and wait. Let’s go.”

The ride over to the drive-in passed in sporadic conversation, and they picked up Bailey on the way. Jonathan loved his friends, all of which made a point to hold onto him on the drive, and he knew he was not alone.

But you are, babe. I don’t know how or why, but I know that somewhere out there, you are alone. I pray you aren’t—

The truck came to a stop, rousing Jonathan from thought and he looked up to see the empty drive-in in the daytime, stripped of the magic it bathed in at night, standing forlorn before the truck.

—but I know you are, and I’m coming for you. I will find you, love of my heart.

They unloaded from the truck, and Jonathan followed his friends at a dead run through the ticket booth’s arch and down the dirt road to the field. Orienting himself a little, he ran over to the stall they’d parked in, faced the screen, then slowly turned his eyes to the closed concession stand. Squinting at the bright sunlight, Jonathan murmured to himself, “Watched you turn and look at me as you were heading over to the bathrooms. You smiled, told me you loved me.”

“Came from there, Opie said,” Travis said, coming to stand on his right, pointing one gloved hand toward the bathrooms at the rear of the concession stand. “Over there.”

Jonathan nodded. “So many people were here last night. Between here and there, and if Jonah showed up, no-one would’ve noticed.”

“It’s a family-oriented place. There were a lot of kids here last night, so between the movie and the kids—”


Jonathan and Travis looked over at where Bailey and Amy stood by the bathrooms. They ran over to their friends, Amy leading them around the back of the building to the dumpster just beyond the propane tank. “Check it out, Shea. I’m pretty damn sure that’s your shirt.”

Jonathan knelt down, reaching for the flannel sleeve poking out from behind the dumpster. “It is. It’s my shirt. David—” His hands shook as he tugged on the fabric and the rest of it pulled free. As he took in a stiff brown stain discoloring some of the side and much of the left arm, his eyes widened to keep the tears from falling. All the air went out of him as he took his gaze to each of their faces. “He’s hurt. He’s not here, and he’s hurt.”

Amy knelt to wrap him up in a tight embrace. “Shea, we’re gonna find him. I give you my word.”


He was running.

He was always running, but this time, it was night, and the shadows were thick… deep. They enveloped any light Jonathan drew near, consuming it entirely until he ran by touch and by need. His breath came in heavy puffs, the chill freezing the back of his throat to an almost painful state, and the stitch in his side nearly felled him.


Jonathan tripped and sprawled on his belly, skidding for a good four feet before he came to a stop. Spitting out dirt, he rose to all fours, a stinging in his elbows and knees telling of the scrapes he’d taken in the fall.

Another scream, but this one was his name. His heart pounded hard in his chest, and he vaulted into a run once more.

David… David, I’m coming! I’m so close! Hold on, babe!

Jonathan careened around a corner, light blinding him temporarily even as he threw one arm up to shield his eyes, sending him to the ground again. He heard the bone snap as pain lanced through his right arm. Jonathan bit back a shout as he cradled it to his chest, launching himself forward on unsteady legs, and every single movement sent his jaw tensing to get through the pain.

David… have to get to you. I’m coming, baby. I’m coming to save you!

Jonathan blinked as black spots appeared in the edges of his vision, still he pushed forward, finally catching sight of that golden hair. Crimson seemed to be everywhere, and he slipped, curling up to protect his injured arm. He tasted copper, but on the air, the faint scent of David’s soap touched his nose. Jonathan’s eyes flew open, and for a moment, he forgot about his own pain and pushed up onto his hands. Fire shot through his ruined arm, sending a shriek tearing from his throat, the noise rousing the broken butterfly beneath him to lucidity.


Jonathan sat back on his haunches, gathering David close to him, but blood seemed to be coming from everywhere, and as precious words tumbled from his lips—“David, I love you! Please…!”—those beautiful blue eyes lost their sight—


Jonathan jerked awake so quickly, he tumbled from the couch, banging his elbow on the corner of the coffee table. Gentle hands lit on his shoulders, a calming voice murmuring, “Baby boy! Hey, hey, hey! It’s Mama. Jonathan! Wake up, honey!”

He jolted upright, rubbing his elbow as his face creased with pain, but then strong arms caught him up, a large hand threading fingers through his hair as his father’s scratchy chin brushed his own, Bill whispering, “I gotcha, son. I got ya… and I’m sorry I made you feel—”

Jonathan didn’t wait to hear the whole apology, he lost the tenuous hold he had on his fear and crumbled in his father’s arms, allowing the man who’d always protected him to be the stronger.

Those beautiful blue eyes lost their sight—


 On to Bescreen’d in Night: THREE

Bescreen’d in Night: A Covenant Short

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(Takes place from 18 December 1992-21 December 1992)



Jonathan shivered, hugging his arms. He glanced down at his watch, tears burning in his eyes, but he didn’t let them fall. A hand fell to his shoulder, and he jerked, sniffling. Chad wrapped around him, hugging him tightly, and as he pulled back, Bailey did the same, apologizing.

“Man, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to lose sight of him. I didn’t think—” He broke off, pushing his face against Jonathan’s shoulder in an uncharacteristic move. “God, I’m so, so sorry!”

“Not your fault, Bay,” Jonathan told him, his voice hoarse from their initial search for David. “We thought we were safe here, the whole big group of us.”

Travis jogged over to them. “Okay, just talked to Opie over at the popcorn stand. He said he saw David arguing with a guy in a green army jacket. The guy was older, Opie said, and grabbed David by the wrist and dragged him out towards the entrance.”

Jonathan let go of Bailey and ran over to the concession stand. The door was closed, but he could see the kid Travis had spoken to inside, wiping down the counter. He banged the flat of his hand against the window to get his attention, and when the red-headed pimply kid unlocked the door and opened it, Jonathan let out a breath he was unaware he’d been holding. “My boyfriend. You said you saw a guy in a green army jacket drag him away? What time was it then? Do you remember?”

The kid smiled softly, nodding. “It was right after I put the dogs on, so 9:40. The guy was older, kinda dad-like, it seemed. They began arguing loudly as the young man came from the direction of the bathroom. The young man was beautiful. Glowed, almost, like an angel. He reached up a hand to push his hair from his face and that’s when the older guy grabbed hold of him and dragged him towards the entrance, towards a white truck, I think it was.”

Jonathan nodded. “Thank you… Opie, Travis said your name was?”

“No, it’s Chris, but everyone calls me Opie. They say I look like the guy on The Andy Griffith Show.” Chris smiled. “I don’t mind. Hope you find your boyfriend.”

“Yeah, me, too. Thanks, Chris.” Jonathan turned away, rubbing his face with his hands, and welcoming the comfort Travis’ arm falling onto his shoulders brought. “When is this nightmare going to be over with?” he asked no-one.

“You have the power to change it, y’know.” Travis’ voice was low. “I’ve told you before you fellas could come stay with me.”

“I know.” Jonathan sniffled. “We may have to do that. I’ll let you know, man.”

Chad’s arm fell over Travis’ and he ruffled Jonathan’s hair. “Babe, why don’t I drive him home, and Bay can take you back to my house? I’ll meet you there, but I need to make sure Jonny gets home okay and I’ll be there to help him tell Abby what happened, too.”

“All right.” Travis pressed his forehead to Chad’s for a long minute before whirling to call out to Bailey, “Bay! Gimme a ride to Chad’s place?”

Jonathan watched his friend run over to Bailey’s truck and he asked Chad, “Do his or your parents know about you two yet?”

“Only people that know are you fellas, Amy and Bay.” Chad smiled tightly as they climbed into the truck. “And that’s ’cause you’re all the same as us.”

“Bay is gay?” Jonathan blinked. “I didn’t know that.”

“Yep. He’s got his eye on someone, but I ain’t got a clue who.” Chad turned over the engine, and paused to back safely out of the stall. “But he likes dudes.” Flashing a comforting smile at Jonathan, Chad murmured, “I think it’s normal for us all to be super-cautious about coming out. Watching what’s happened with you two, it’s taught us we ain’t always right about who to trust with our lovers’ identities.”

Who to trust indeed.

For most of the ride back from the drive-in, they listened to KSCS, a local country station, and most of what played was Garth Brooks and George Strait, with just a dash of Reba and Brooks & Dunn. Jonathan heard the music playing and his friend singing along, but other than the hand that moved between the gear shift and his own shoulder, Jonathan stayed lost in thought.

David, I hope you’re okay. God, please don’t have given him to me just to take him away. Please, please… I beg you. I beg you!

Before he knew it, they were walking up to his door, and Jonathan let himself inside, pulling the door shut after Chad. Turning the light on in the kitchen, he motioned for his friend to stay put and he let himself into his parents’ bedroom. Moving over to his mom’s side of the bed, he knelt down and lightly ran his fingers over her hand, whispering, “Mama?”

Lifting her head, she blinked sleepily. “Baby boy?”

“Mama, I gotta talk to you. It can’t wait.” Jonathan’s voice broke, though he tried hard to keep it steady.

“Okay, baby. Give me a minute to get my robe and I’ll come out to talk to you.” Abby reached back to pat Bill’s arm. “Billy, lemme up. Back in a minute, love.”

Jonathan hurried out of the room and whirled on his heel to lean against the kitchen counter. Taking a deep breath to calm himself, he lifted a worried gaze to Chad. What if he kills him?

“Try calling him,” Chad suggested.

“At this hour? His phone ringing would cause a murder, and it’s likely been pulled from his room like mine was,” Jonathan answered, but he moved over to punch in the number. Putting the receiver to his ear, he sat down at the table and listened to it ring.

And ring.

And ring.

And ring.

His parents’ bedroom door opened, and both his parents came out in their robes. Abby reached for Jonathan as he tried to call David a second time, and when he hung up after the fifth ring, he pushed his face into her shoulder and shook for a moment. Calm would not come, and when Jonathan lifted his face it was wet, his eyes glittering as he took them to his father’s worried set.

“I figured you already knew, ’cause you always do, but in the slim chance you don’t—” Sniffle. “—I went out with the team tonight and David went with us.” Sniffle. Bill blanched, shock clear in his features. Jonathan continued. “Jonah showed up. He grabbed Dave and they fought. No-one saw them leave and no-one can find Dave.”

“Perhaps the reason you can’t raise him on the phone is because Jonah did the same thing I did to affect the same conclusion—” Bill took a step towards Jonathan, who stepped back, steadied by Chad.

“Or perhaps the bruises he’s sported, sir, for the last six weeks, are soon to be worse. It ain’t fair or right, the way you two fathers are treatin’ your sons. Jesus always preached love and tolerance, not fear and anger. Even His rage in the temple was righteous, and he loved everyone, even the thief on the cross at the end.” Chad wrapped an arm around Jonathan’s shoulder. “But you know that, I know, because you’re a student of The Word. So check it out, and love your son, and when you get the chance to earn his forgiveness, I’d take it, were I you.” Pressing a kiss to Jonathan’s temple, he cupped his face, taking his gaze captive. “I’ma call you in the morning, and we’ll start looking at David’s house. Maybe your dad’s right and he’s just had his phone privileges revoked. Okay? Nothing else we can do tonight.”

“What if—?“ Jonathan started, his hands hooking on Chad’s forearms.

“Don’t bend your mind on it. You have to focus on the positive, Shea. Got it?” Chad smiled. “The other’ll drive you mad.”


Jonathan did not find an easy sleep. He dreamt the same dream sleep had given him for the last forty-one nights. He woke with the sharp lurch of his belly and he ran to the bathroom, losing the few contents he’d put in there the night before. He gave himself sixty seconds to lose his mind before he forcibly took hold of his emotions and shoved them down.

Tonight, in my mind, I became your husband and you became mine.

Amor meus in aeternum.

Babe, I’m going to marry you someday. I promise you. One day, I’m going to give you Shea.

Amor meus in aeternum.

I love you.

Jonathan washed his face and shaved, brushed his teeth and straightened the rat’s nest a disturbed sleep had made of his hair. Putting on clothes, he made his way out to the kitchen to find his father cooking breakfast. Jonathan glanced over at Cody, who gave a one-shouldered shrug in reply. Jonathan smiled at his little brother before turning to their dad and asking, “Would it be all right if I called David?”

“I still think you’ll meet the same—”

The phone rang, and Jonathan ran to it, checking the Caller ID to see Jonah Wolff above the Wolff home number. Grabbing it up, he answered breathlessly, “Hello?”

“Jonny?” Claire, David’s mother, and their champion, sounded worried. “Is he with you?”

Jonathan hit his knees. “No. I was just about—” He broke off, his heart pounding so hard in his chest, it hurt. “I was just about to call his phone, but when I did last night, it just rang off the hook.”

“That’s odd.” He heard Claire moving around, heard a door open, and then the sound of her forehead hitting the doorjamb. Her sigh had a hitch in it, and then she spoke again. “Jonny, his phone is gone. That’s why he didn’t answer, apart from never coming home last night.”

“He left during the movie to go to the restroom and the popcorn stand. He never came back and all of us looked everywhere.” His voice broke. “The guy at the concession stand said he argued and left with a guy in an army jacket, so I assumed Jonah came to get him when Eli told on us.”

“Eli?” Claire echoed. “That little shit!”

“Eli’s been keeping my dad informed, so I assumed he was telling Jonah, too,” Jonathan divulged. He didn’t come home. He didn’t come home! God, please, please let him be okay!

“All right. I’m grabbing my jacket and heading over to you—”

“And I’ll call the guys and get them here, too. We’ll start a search party,” Jonathan finished. “See you soon.”

Jonathan didn’t unleash his panic until the calls to their friends had been made. As soon as he hung up the phone, he ran to the bathroom and splashed water on his face. His insides roiled, but he kept himself in check, allowing himself only the time it took to slide down the door to the tile floor to freak out. Lifting his eyes to the sky he could see out the high window, he murmured, “All he’s ever done is love, Father. He loves and he sparkles and he holds to hope even when everything seems so hopeless! He’s a star in the night sky and the sun during the day. He’s warm and loving and, God, he’s wonderful! Please, please, send someone to keep him safe! Please, please, I beg of you!”

Knock on the door.

Getting to his feet, he shut off the light as he left the room, nodding as his mother told him Claire had arrived. Crossing the living room carpet, he threw himself bodily into her hug. Pulling back just as quickly, he nodded curtly. “We got work to do.”


On to Bescreen’d in Night: TWO

Bescreen’d in Night: A Covenant Short

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(Takes place from 18 December 1992-21 December 1992)



18 December 1992

Jonathan felt his lips upturn in a lazy smile as he watched David tug his own flannel up his arms, covering the mystical Celtic henna patterns traversing his skin. Jonathan reached out one hand to slide up his boyfriend’s chest, murmuring, “I hope I didn’t—”

David blushed, shaking his head. “You didn’t.” Leaning down, he slanted his mouth over Jonathan’s in a reverent kiss. “But I can—” He cheeks flushed a deeper red.

“You can what?” Jonathan pressed, tucking David’s halo blonde hair behind his ears. “Tell me.”

David leaned in to whisper, “I can still feel you inside.”

Jonathan bit his lip to still the tremor those six words sent thrumming throughout his whole body. When David straddled Jonathan’s legs, stealing another longer kiss, Jonathan wrapped around him, holding tighter to him as they sat up. “Tonight needed to be special. Tonight reflected the strength of our bond.”

“Tonight, we tied ourselves together in the oldest way possible.” David’s hands fell to Jonathan’s chest, he leaning in to hold Jonathan’s gaze captive, amber to blue, as he pressed a kiss to Jonathan’s lips. “Tonight, in my mind—”

“I became your husband and you became mine?” Jonathan finished, quirking an amused eyebrow.

Tears of joy sparkled in David’s eyes, his smile shining like a sun as he answered, “Yes!”

“Babe…” I love you so much. “I’m going to marry you someday. I promise you. One day, I will give you Shea.” I am so blessed. You have blessed me, Lord, by giving to me this man as my soul’s mate. I will do nothing to mar such a wonderful gift, and I will work to serve you each day of my life for the gift of him!

A hand waved in front of his eyes, a thumb passing across his lower lip only to be replaced by a full pair he’d never be able to stop kissing. Jonathan opened his mouth to deepen the kiss, one hand burying in the back of that warm golden hair. “Bathroom, right?” he asked as they came up for air.

“Then concession stand, then back to you.” David stole another kiss. “Amor meus in aeternum.” With a wink, David climbed out of the back of the truck and whirled around to mouth I love you at him before turning on his heel and jogging towards the bathrooms.

Jonathan collapsed backwards onto the pillows as he snuggled down in the sleeping bag and blanket pallet, pulling his clothes on and together. Joy filled him, tumbling out of his mouth in peals of quiet laughter. We made love. We made love. We didn’t just frot, or go down on one another. We made love and we didn’t hurt one another. We did it right—we made love! Running his hands through his hair to straighten it, he closed his eyes, replaying all of the words and the day itself, over in his mind.

High King Peter the Magnificent… and his Faerie King David.

Kisses in the back bathroom.

The dream at naptime.

Holding and kissing David.

I love you! So much… I’m in love with you… and one day… one day, I want to marry you, Jonathan.


Laughing lightly, Jonathan rubbed his face with both hands, opening his eyes on a clear night sky as he whispered, glancing at his watch so as to note the time later in his journal, “9:32… Babe, come back to me! I miss you already.”


On to Bescreen’d in Night: ONE