Bescreen’d in Night: A Covenant Short

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

Two

 

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—”

“Fellas!”

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.

HELP ME! PLEASE, HELP ME!

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.

“Jon-ny…?”

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—

NO!”

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)

One

 

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)

Proem

 

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.

Lovemaking.

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

 

GLITTERING SOUL: Part Four

Glittering Soul E-Book Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part Four

Liana curled tighter around the body pillow, pushing her face into the blue plush snowflake blankets keeping her warm. While the swelling on her face had gone down over the last two weeks, the bruises all over her body still made it difficult to find a comfortable position in which to fall asleep. When Liana did find rest, usually it was in short spurts or it happened because she was too exhausted to keep her eyes open.

She shifted a bit more, finding a good spot and sighing blissfully. Liana felt fingertips running through her hair, and her own traced the slender side of the body beneath her. Jolting awake, Liana pulled up on one elbow to find Mare lying beneath her. Tears glossed Mare’s clear blue eyes as she reached a shaking hand up to cup Liana’s cheek, her voice hoarse, “I’m so, so sorry! I’m sorry it’s taken me this long to just come home to you—”

“You’re okay, sweetie—”

Mare shook her head, bringing a light kiss to Liana’s lips. “No, I’m not. Hadley had it right when she jumped on the very next plane out, and I’m sure I’ll catch a deserved hell from her, but I wanted to make sure that when I made it right, I made it wholly right.”

“I don’t understand.” Liana sank down to fully rest on Mare’s soft chest, holding the woman’s intense gaze. “Made it wholly right?”

“Baby, I mean that I didn’t want us to have to be parted anymore. I didn’t want us to subsist on phone calls, so I tied up loose ends in Hollyweird and put my house on the market and all my stuff in a storage facility in Henderson.” Her fingertips on Liana’s scalp sent waves of drowsiness through Liana’s body. “So I’m here with you, and when you’re ready, we’ll go home. I know you and Hadley are tight, I know it’s a package deal, but when we go home, we’ll go home together.”

Tears broke the dam of her eyelids and slipped down Liana’s cheeks. “I can’t believe this is happening. Stuff like this never happens to me. Ever—”

In a single fluid motion, Mare sat them up, holding Liana carefully in her arms, supporting her fully as she shifted so Liana rested comfortably in her lap. “It is now. I know that we happened fast, but the rest of the time we have together, in this life and all those that follow, I want to savor each moment. That means, Liana, that I’m not willing to spend another moment without you. Yeah, I know that work will part us temporarily each day, but maybe we can put our desks at least in the same room or something?”

Liana laughed through the tears falling steadily down her face. “You… gods, woman, you mean—” Liana shifted in Mare’s lap, wrapping her legs around Mare’s hips as she tried to get closer to the woman. A broken little laugh tumbled over Liana’s lips as their gazes locked in the bluish light of the moon pouring in through the window. “At risk of sounding completely stupid, dear lady, I’ve been waiting for this day, waiting for the day that someone would claim me.”

Mare giggled, leaning her forehead to Liana’s. “Consider yourself claimed, my lady.”

Liana pressed a kiss to Mare’s mouth. “What if—”

Mare shook her head. “We already know it’ll work and, ye gods, we’re so much alike, Liana! We’re old enough to recognize that a relationship cannot function on chemistry alone, and we’re wise enough to know that yeah, we’re going to have to put some work into us to keep us working.” Mare’s smooth hands gently framed Liana’s face. “And I already know that you’ve been through hell, so I want to be close. I want to stay by your side. Please allow me to do so.”

“What if one day… you decide you… love… someone more than me?” Liana whispered, almost afraid to lift her gaze to the woman she’d fallen for the instant she’d run into her in the airport now almost three weeks ago.

A single tear slipped down Mare’s cheek. “Oh, girl… that’s not ever gonna happen. Here… I’ll make this easy for you, okay?” At Liana’s nod, she continued. “In the Kennedy novel of our life, you’d be the Nico and I’d be the Caleb.”

“You read Safe?” Liana’s eyes flew open wide.

“On the plane ride to Texas. You said it was one of your favorites, so I read it.” Mare’s thumb passed over Liana’s lower lip. “And I’m never going to let someone hurt you again. Ever. I love you. Admittedly, there’s no logic to me knowing it, but neither you nor I are logical creatures. I’m also admitting that I’ve always believed in love at first sight—”

“In our case, love at first crash,” Liana joked.

“Right?!” Mare searched Liana’s eyes. “What I’m trying to say is fine, okay, let people say we’re moving too fast. I don’t care. What I care about is you and me and how we feel. Do you—”

“Yes!” Liana’s lips spread in a brilliant smile as she nodded. “Yes! I do! I mean, yes, I love you, Mare!”

“That’s all I need to know, then.” Mare tugged Liana closer still as her lips lifted to the kiss Liana gave—

 

Mare and Liana returned with Hadley to Henderson after New Year’s. Liana didn’t end up returning to her day job at the pizza shop for long. She went back to work for a month in order to train her replacement, but Mare wanted Liana to focus on her writing, so after the replacement was trained, Liana locked up after herself for the last time and finally moved on to what she had always dreamed of: being a stay-at-home author. The first day of waking up to a brand new life coincided with the first day of being pain free, which meant Liana was free to be herself entirely!

Rolling onto her side, Liana slid her hand over Mare’s collarbone. “Mornin’, beautiful lady.”

Mare’s hand slipped over the side of Liana’s neck, fingers burying in warm blonde hair as she pulled Liana into a sweet kiss. “Now it is.”

Liana smiled sleepily at her lady, falling back onto her back and tugging Mare along with her. Mare giggled, tossing her hair over her shoulder as she leaned down to press another kiss to Liana’s mouth, asking, “Writing on the boys today?”

Liana nodded. “Plan today was get up, take a shower—maybe with this beautiful lady I’m in love with—”

Mare laughed. “Would love to!”

“—go out to breakfast at this little place on Boulder Highway—”

A kiss to her chest above her heart. “Sounds like heaven.”

“Maybe dawdle around one of the two Psychic Eyes I like.” Liana arched her neck to the butterfly kisses dropped along the sensitive skin. Her hands buried in the thick sandy blonde hair she often buried her face in as she fell asleep, biting her lower lip as lithe hands slid under her tank top and up her sides.

“I’m good with that—” Liana’s words died on her lips as Mare crawled above her, an impish smile on her lips as she told Liana, “But first, my lady, you’re going to be made love to properly. No other way to start the first day of the rest of our lives than by joining our souls.”

Liana’s hands smoothed up Mare’s back, taking with them the black camisole she’d worn to bed. Mare smiled at her, sitting up on Liana’s hips. “Know that these last three months have been the best days of my life, that I wouldn’t change anything but what happened to you the first week we met.”

Removing her own top, Liana sat up, one hand cupping Mare’s jaw. “Not your fault.” Kiss. “It’s over.” Kiss. “It’s done and we’re here.” Heavy kiss, hands in each other’s hair. “And we’re together.”

Mare nodded, nipping at Liana’s lips. “We are.” Pushed closer to Liana. “Not letting you go.” Rock of her hips. “Ever!”

“Because I’d let you?” Liana rocked back, liking the friction of their curvy bodies. Her hands slid harshly over Mare’s full breasts. Her fingers pinched the taut, dusky nipples. “You’re mine—”

“Vixen!” Mare hissed, pushing Liana back onto the pillows, legs tangling in legs as Mare’s lips closed around the sensitive nipple of Liana’s left breast. Liana rocked, awash in the undertow of pleasure dragging her further and further out. Mare sped up the rhythm, her heat solid against Liana’s as she sat up once more, one hand on Liana’s bent knee. She tossed her head back, raining tousled gold over one shoulder, and Liana gasped at the sensual sight her lover made.

“Mare… gods, Mare—”

Hooded blue eyes trained on her face as Mare leaned forward, her hips quickening as Liana’s hands found home in Mare’s hair. Their mouths crashed together as Mare took them into the light—

Mare giggled, burying her face in Liana’s neck before whispering, “That was so very not how I wanted to make love to you, but Christ on a cross, woman—”

“Ye gods, Mare, don’t apologize!” Liana blushed, holding tighter to her lady. “That was singularly the sexiest thing that has ever happened to me. Baby, we didn’t even get our panties off!”

The laughter mingled into a tender kiss. Rolling to their sides, Liana pushed Mare’s hair over her shoulder, whispering, “I don’t have a clue what I’m doing.”

“Being loved. Being adored. Being needed.” Mare smiled at her. “And so much more.” Her smiled widened. “Can’t believe I forgot to say the most important one.”

Liana nuzzled Mare’s face. “Because the others aren’t important enough?”

“Well… they go with this one, I suppose, so equally important, but yeah… this one is super-duper stupid important.” Mare cackled, stealing a kiss, her hands raking through Liana’s hair. “I love the streaks in your hair! You’re gorgeous, Liana! You’re a goddess—”

“That’s you, Mare.” Kiss. “Tell me the important one.”

“Right!” Mare kissed her tenderly. “You’re the stars, you know that?” As Liana’s cheeks filled with new color, Mare tipped up her chin, bringing their gazes together. “Which brings me to my confession.”

“Confession?” Liana asked, pulling up on one elbow.

“You said you didn’t know what you were doing. I confessed what I was doing. I am loving you. I am adoring you. I am needing you. And I’m going to create a verb from a noun for this next one.” Mare leaned on one elbow as she slid her free hand over Liana’s shoulder, fingers following the slope of Liana’s neck. “I am going to wife you.”

Liana blinked, one hand following Mare’s on her shoulder, fingers threading through Mare’s longer ones. “Wife?”

“Yeah.” Mare squeezed Liana’s hand. “What do you think?”

“Say it again!” Liana fired back. “Say it!”

“Be my wife.” Mare grinned. “Let’s do this the same way we’ve done it all.”

Liana couldn’t stop the joy flooding the banks of her soul. “Only if you’ll be my wife.”

“Because I could resist the sun that is you, Liana? You are a bright light. I know that touching you will burn, but I want to burn, want to shine, within you. Let me burn—”

Liana placed a lone fingertip to Mare’s lips, giving a slight shake of her head. “No… let us burn. Together.”

“Like Amy said in Angels Take Manhattan?” Mare suggested and Liana felt the tears slip down her cheeks at her lover’s remembrance of a beloved line.

“Exactly like Amy said. Together, or not at all!” Liana rasped, fingers trembling as they brought Mare’s palm to her lips. “And you truly are my Rory Williams.”

“And you, my beautiful, loud Scottish Amy Pond… and a soul so bright I could see it on the other side of the universe.” Mare laid Liana back on the bed again. “So let me love you the way I wanted to now… and we’ll make breakfast downtown, okay?”

Liana nodded, and she reached for Mare, knowing in that instant she would always reach for her, she would always hold her and need to be held by her, and that inside the haven of her embrace, she would always know a love brighter than any sun.

 

–FINIS–

GLITTERING SOUL: Part Three

Glittering Soul E-Book Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part Three

She was falling.

Disoriented, Liana fought to stay upright, but nothing her hands grabbed slowed her progress and pain in her hip, followed by pain in her cheek, sent her eyes flying wide. She’d been dragged out of bed onto the guest room floor, the pain in her hip from the fall. The pain in her face, however, came from the punch dealt to her jaw—and a second one landing to her cheek—eliciting a startled cry from her lips.

“How the hell you think you gonna be allowed to make Daddy cry? Ain’t you s’posed to be the good one? The responsible one? Fuckin’ bitch!” Backhand. “Knew you experimented back in your twenties, but you a grown ass woman now.” Backhand. Liana couldn’t breathe, nor could she see what weight sat on her lungs. “You gonna listen now, or you gonna be judged momentarily.”

That voice. She knew that voice. That voice and those hands. That voice was what spurred her to move when Leigh and John had made the move from Fort Worth to Decatur. That voice had haunted her darkest nightmares and those hands, balled into fists, had left bruises so dark they’d attracted much unwanted attention. Needless to say, Liana had been forced to figure out different living arrangements to keep her from harm’s way. Off and on over the last ten years, her brother had slipped from one girlfriend and addiction to another girlfriend and sobriety, to another woman he actually married and a different addiction.

It was the addiction she hated in Darren, though at the moment, it wasn’t the addiction beating her, but the theology to which he subscribed. She curled into a ball between the day bed and the trundle, covering her head and allowing her back to take the brunt of his blows. She took herself out of the frightening situation as her brother shouted and screamed, attempting to garner a different reaction from her. Liana remembered he liked her fear, remembering whenever she’d allowed it to surface, Darren’s creative side would surface with it.

“Is that—who did that to you, LiLi?” Sherri, her general manager at the restaurant, barked, not realizing the sound would cause Liana to jump. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you. Come into my office, please, Liana.”

Her use of Liana’s actual name meant she was all business. Liana wouldn’t be able to misdirect or not answer questions. Dammit, Darren… dammit! Dammit! Dammit!

“Yes, ma’am.” Liana stubbed out her cigarette and left the breakroom to follow the older woman. As the door shut behind her and Sherri turned to face Liana, leaning against the front of her desk, Liana carefully hugged her arms, asking, “What can I do for you?”

“I should ask you that question, LiLi. Who put that bruise on your arm?” Sherri’s dark eyes hardened in anger.

Liana shook her head, not meeting her manager’s eyes. “I’m in the process of moving. It won’t happen again.”

Sherri reached out, drawing Liana’s attention without actually touching her. “Who?”

Liana’s hands slipped too high up her arms and she grimaced. “No, I’m taking care of this. I swear. If I need help, I will ask you. I’m not in trouble—”

“That wound says differently—”

Liana turned away, her voice trembling, not out of fear, but out of embarrassment and anger. “Am I going to be penalized if I leave this conversation here?”

“No, hon… I just—”

“And I appreciate it, but I can’t… I can’t do this right now.” Liana exited the office, out of breath, and made for the back stall of the girls’ restroom.

“Get off her, you fuckin’ psycho! Cat, get her! Get her outta here!”

Blake, her youngest brother, yanked Darren out of the room, and his wife darted into the room, slamming the door before locking it behind her. Catrina helped Liana to her feet—“Let’s get some clothes on you, hon!”—and helped her to dress.

Liana jumped as the front door burst open, and she heard her father’s voice add to the din coming from the kitchen. A light knock came at her door and Leigh called out to her, “Honey, let me in.”

Catrina hurried over to unlock it to let Liana’s mother in, keeping her eye on Liana’s weeble wobble towards the edge of the bed. Leigh gasped at Liana’s swollen and bruised face, but both ladies jumped when Liana wailed at the sight of her broken phone and laptop. Her knees went out from under her as her shaking hands touched the Toshiba which had, prior to its demise, needed replaced. Her phone… had been smashed with a boot heel.

“Baby, baby… we’ll get it replaced.” Leigh gently pushed a blonde curl over Liana’s ear. “We’ll get you fixed up and we’ll get your laptop and phone fixed up, too.”

“Can’t call her.” Liana closed her eyes and sagged against her mother. “Can’t get her calls.”

“All we have to do is get a replacement phone. I doubt that he thought to break the SIM card.” Leigh turned to look at Catrina. “Can you go do that for her? Go down to the Sprint store and get her upgrade. We’ll meet you there in a little bit. I’m going to take her to the doctor and maybe to look at computers.”

Liana shifted. “Momma… I can’t go out looking like this—”

Leigh kissed her daughter’s forehead. “We’ve done this before, remember? What did we do then?”

 

Liana laid in the hospital bed, watching the screen of her new phone. So far, she’d spoken to Hadley and Leigh had called Liana’s manager back in Vegas. Hadley was currently on a plane to Dallas and Leigh had informed Liana she liked her supervisor. Mare hadn’t called yet, and since the phone didn’t have enough space to back up, her number hadn’t been one of the ones able to be pulled from the damaged SIM card. Leigh had tried to get phone records from the phone company, but had been unsuccessful in her endeavor. All that remained to do was wait.

A text vibrated her device and she lifted her head as she unlocked her screen. Hadley.

 

Just touched down. Car should be waiting. Tell your mom to expect me shortly. Talk to M yet?

 

Liana sighed and sent her reply quickly as she called out, “Momma! Hadley’s on the ground. Should be here soon!”

“Good. Mare call yet?” Leigh asked, smiling up at Catrina when she and Blake brought in food. “Thank you, sweetheart.”

“O’course, Momma.” Blake kissed the top of her head. “Here, sis,” he murmured, setting a bag of Taco Bell food down on the pillow next to her. “Made sure you were allowed to eat it before we brought it. It’s all soft stuff so it doesn’t hurt your jaw.”

“She call you yet?” Catrina echoed. “Blake and I’ve been hoping she does!”

“Nothing yet.” Leigh shot a worried glance Liana’s way. “Still waiting.”

“Took forever, but I got it!” Everyone jumped at the strong voice of John Valentine. “Got it, dearheart.” He crossed the room in three steps, pressed a kiss to her temple and held up a box which had previously only held the remains of the computer she’d named Castiel on the Microsoft website. “My buddy was able to fix your computer—including that part on the back. I have him waiting outside, but I can bring him in if you’re okay with that.”

“That’s fine, Daddy. Blake, can you…?” Liana reached out to wrap her arms around her moose of a brother’s neck as Leigh brought her bed up into a sitting position. Catrina brought the bed table over to place the fast food on the left side as John removed the laptop from the box. The screen casing was now blue, the Toshiba logo still very much intact, and Liana giggled at the stickers still on the top right-hand corner: Twizzlers, TomboyX, Society6, and NaNoWriMo.

“Liana, this is my buddy from work, Dorian,” John introduced, shock still evident in his face even as he smiled. “Dorian, my eldest, Liana.”

“Nice to meet ya, Liana.” The man took off his Stetson and held it to his chest as he smiled at Liana, then up at Leigh. “Mrs. Valentine, nice to see you again.”

“You as well, Dorian,” Leigh murmured. “Thank you for this favor.”

“How did you get my stickers back on?” Liana asked, gratitude heavy in her eyes as she pressed the power button.”

“I used heat to remove them from the broken lid and reattached them in the same places on the new one. I also gave them a bit more adhesive to keep them smooth. I had to replace a few parts in the laptop itself, but all of the things that you need are there. You’re very good about saving and backing up to Dropbox, so you should be good with your manuscripts.” Dorian watched as she logged onto her computer, smiling at the wallpaper on the brand new screen. “I wondered if that was for one of your stories. At first I thought you were a graphic person, but your dad said you write books.”

“Yeah. I got one coming out next month, actually.” Liana opened Word and opened her current story. She took a deep breath as she saw it was still intact. “Oh, thank the gods!”

“That must be the important one, huh?” Dorian grinned. “I’m gonna give ya my card. I warranty everything I do, so… any problems, you call me, okay?”

Liana impulsively hugged the cowboy. “Thankee, thankee!”

He chuckled, hugging her carefully. “You just take care o’ yourself.”

Her phone buzzed as they broke apart, and she picked it up to see Hadley’s name on the screen. Smiling at Dorian, Liana answered it as she put it on Speaker. “Hey, Had, you’re on Speaker so Momma and Daddy can hear you.”

Oh, all right. Hiya, Li’s mom and dad! Any news on the M front?”

“Nothing yet, Had,” Catrina replied, winking at Liana as she quipped, “By the way, Cat and Blake are here, too.”

Hey, guys. I’m in traffic, but I should be there soon. Li probably will tell me—sorry, but you will and I know it after ten years, I think—she’s all right, but she’s been admitted so what’s the deal?”

Liana rolled her eyes, reopening all the programs she’d had open prior to the attack, as she listened to her mother’s answer, “The doctor’s mainly keeping her under a twenty-four hour observation because of the blows she took to her head. The rest of the contusions, though they’re pretty bad, they don’t concern him as much as the ones on her head. She’s got a few cracked ribs but no broken bones.”

So she’s most likely just—”

“A little banged up, just like I told you,” Liana groused. “Nothing to worry about so you shouldn’t have wasted—”

Hadley laughed. “But it’s my money and if I wanna waste it, I will. You’re family and I don’t have much of that. Now I’m here, silly woman, and you’re going to have to just like it.

“Wow, Li, she told you!” Blake teased. “You should take the 114 West towards Grapevine and Roanoke. Cross the 35 and take it until it hits the 287. Get on there and holler when you’re gettin’ close to Decatur.”

I will do! You, Li, you just wait!

The line disconnected and Liana leaned back gingerly against the pillows. Her vision blurred a little bit, but it wasn’t due to a malfunction with the new glasses Leigh had ordered on Walmart.com within an hour of admitting Liana to the hospital. Liana sniffled, and in seconds, John had dispersed everyone in the room, giving Blake and Catrina a couple of busywork tasks. Liana watched as he shut the door after them, and put her face in her hands to cover the tears.

The bed sank as John sat down on the side, taking her hands in his much larger ones. “Dearheart, I know you’re troubled and I know you’re scared, but this isn’t anything that He can’t handle. You just have to let Him—”

“Daddy—”

“I know.” He pressed a kiss to her hair. “Your mother told me… and it was one of the main things that your brother kept screaming at me.”

Liana lifted her eyes to catch her father’s green gaze, once brighter than emeralds, but age had weathered it to almost a jade color. Pain blossomed in those orbs, sending tears down her cheeks as she asked, “Are you… disappointed?”

John Valentine sighed heavily, never loosing her hands nor her gaze, and shook his head. “Not disappointed. Worried? A little.” His eyes shone with tears of his own. “A lot. A lot worried. The Word says nothing may take us from His hand, but Jesus, as I have been told by your mother, also says nothing in regards to—”

“Homosexuality?” Liana supplied, her voice small.

John sighed again, this one edged with exasperation. “There are so many references elsewhere in The Word, dearheart. It seems very like I’m being asked to pick and choose what I believe and I don’t like that.”

“I’m not asking you to do that, Daddy. I’m just asking—” Liana squeezed his hands. “I’m just asking you not to… not to—”

John shook his head, tears slipping down his weathered face. “Oh, dearheart… no, no, I never dreamed of it. Not once. I don’t know how or why you might think we’d—”

“Because of what it says!” Liana wrapped her arms around his shoulders and buried her face in his neck. “Because of Sodom and Gomorrah… and because it says in Leviticus and Romans—”

“I know. Leviticus is part of the Old Testament. The passages there pertain to the people of a different time and a different place. It’s also, as I’ve come to realize, quite a controversial subject. Some scholars—Christian scholars—debate whether or not it was the homosexuality that those two cities burned for or whether it was the treatment of foreign visitors and the threat of violence to them. And Romans… Romans is Paul’s words, his interpretation of His Word.” John kissed her hair. “You know, dearheart—”

Liana pressed a kiss to his cheek. “I would do nothing to jeopardize my relationship with you, Daddy. I waffled back and forth over the decision to tell you and then I didn’t even get to tell you, I was outed—”

“It’s over now. Whatever I might think of your lifestyle has no bearing on you being my daughter and Love certainly doesn’t require a martial punishment.” John held her tighter and Liana laid her ear to his chest, listening to the strong heart beating within.

“What’s going to happen to him, Daddy?” Her voice trembled, and she closed her eyes on the tears needing to fall now that she felt safer than she’d ever felt in her entire life. “What’s going to happen to Darren?”

“That all depends on you, Liana Jayne.” John’s tenderness—signified by his usage of the nickname he’d given her in childhood—blew her mind, and it made her almost sick to her stomach she’d ever entertained the idea her father would let her go because of his dedication to his faith. “Right now, Decatur police have him in their custody, but formal charges have not been filed. That can only be done by you.”

 

On to Part Four

GLITTERING SOUL: Part Two

Glittering Soul E-Book Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part Two

Liana rolled onto her back as she stretched, yawning as she watched Mare sitting on the side of the trundle bed, answering a text message. The previous night had gone quite uneventfully, for the most part. John had set up the Christmas tree and Leigh, Liana and Mare set about decorating it. Leigh made them all hot chocolate and put on her favorite Elvis Presley Christmas album. It was a great time, ending in dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato basil soup. The night culminated with the two women watching television with Leigh… and John, until he fell asleep in his chair about a half hour after dinner. Curled up in front of the couch together, in a room lit only by the cheery glow of Christmas lights, they’d watched Leigh shuffle Liana’s father off to bed. As Liana had been trying to get Leigh back into Supernatural, the three of them managed to make it through two episodes before she, too, succumbed to fatigue. Afterwards, they’d retired to the room they shared for the duration of Mare’s stay.

They tugged the trundle out from under the daybed and set it up close enough that the mattresses were touching and the comforter and blankets were shared. Getting under the coverlets first, Liana watched as Mare turned out the lights and crawled across the trundle to snuggle closer to her. As her fingers threaded through Liana’s and tightened, Liana felt her heart speed up and she whispered, “Can I tell you something?”

“I want you to tell me everything, Liana.” Mare shifted a little closer, nuzzling her nose against Liana’s. “Our… chemistry… is unreal!”

Liana nodded, her smile bright. “I was thinking the exact same thing. It blows my mind that you’re here, that you’re this close, and that tomorrow morning, when I wake up, you’ll be here and not a dream.”

Mare’s lips lifted in a crooked grin. “I keep thinking the same thing.” She leaned up to press a kiss to Liana’s forehead. “I just don’t want this time together to ever end.”

Liana pushed closer to the other woman, loosing her hand to slide it into the warm silk of Mare’s hair. “Me, either.”

A giggle drew her from memory and Liana lifted her blue gaze to find Mare staring at her, chewing on the corner of her lower lip. “You have no idea how adorable you are, do you?”

“What do you mean?” Liana lifted up on one elbow, her eyes focused on Mare’s full and shiny lower lip. Gods, her lips are amazing!

A light knock came at the door as Leigh cracked it open. “We’re going to go in to town for some groceries. I know it’s early,” she whispered, able only to see Liana. “I’m fairly certain you aren’t ready to get out of bed yet. Anything you think you and your guest will need or want to eat? Also, is there anything you left back in Nevada?”

Ten minutes later, the two women listened as the front door shut and locked behind Liana’s parents. Rolling onto her side, Liana slid her hand over the flat plane of Mare’s belly, whispering, “Coffee?”

Mare’s hands slid up and into the soft waves of Liana’s blonde hair, drawing her face down as she answered, “In a minute.”

Liana nuzzled her face against Mare’s, her eyes fluttering shut as she breathed the other woman’s breath. “It feels very much like the air is charged—”

“It is,” Mare murmured next to Liana’s ear. “It’s been charged—”

“I have goosebumps all over—”

Lips pressed lightly to hers, interrupting her sentence, though Liana didn’t care as she surged into the line of Mare’s body, winding her arms around her neck, her fingers threading through warm golden hair. Opening her mouth wider to invite a deeper kiss, Liana moaned when Mare’s hands moved from her hair to rub over Liana’s chest and sides. Mare sighed against Liana’s cheek, relinquishing control to Liana even as she sucked lightly on Liana’s tongue.

Falling onto her back, she giggled as Mare crawled up over her, hooded Channel-blue eyes holding her own wide blue eyes captive. Liana’s fingers tugged Mare’s hair back, winding the thick stuff loosely around her hands as she lifted her lips to the other woman. Liana lost herself in the feel of Mare’s hands on her skin, the weight of Mare’s body on her own, the taste of her tongue and the softness of her lips, the sound of her pleasure… Mare fully intoxicated all of Liana’s senses and all she wanted was more.

Mare’s lips and teeth and tongue moved down her throat, nipping at the vein throbbing in Liana’s neck before whispering, “You… gods, I can’t seem to stop—”

Liana’s hands clenched as she arched into Mare’s touch. “Please don’t!”

Heavy footsteps in the entryway as the screen door slammed shut seconds later sent Liana giggling and shoving Mare off her as she squealed, “No, give it back!”

“Never!” Mare shouted, crawling to the other side of the trundle.

The immediate chill of their separation sent goosebumps all over her and Liana followed after her on her knees, reaching out to grab her hands as she cried out, “Give it back to me!”

“What will I get if I do?” Mare’s right eyebrow arched as her eyes sparkled in the morning sun. “A shiny nickel?”

A knock came at her doorjamb and Liana turned her face towards it, seeing her father’s face appear in the crack. “Your brother called. We’re not going to drag you out of here when you’ve not had time to get ready, but I needed to get my phone charger and I didn’t want you to worry if we were gone longer than your mother told you.”

“All right, Daddy. Thankee, thankee! I love you!” Liana favored him with a warm smile before getting off the trundle and running over to kiss his cheek. “I love you.”

John hugged her tightly, kissing the top of her head. “I love you, too, dearheart. We’ll be back soon, and I’ll call you on our way home to see what you want us to bring you home for lunch. We’ll even stop at Cracker Barrel.”

“Thankee, Daddy!” Another kiss to his cheek and seconds later, the front door shut and locked behind him.

Liana turned around to see Mare walking on her knees to the edge of the daybed, gnawing on the corner of her lower lip as she came to a stop. Her long ash-blonde hair tumbled in glorious disarray about her shoulders as she reached for Liana, whispering, “So we have a while… whatcha wanna do?”

At the arch of a slender right eyebrow, Liana could only think of one thing to do and she knew it would do nothing to get her into Mare’s heart. She also knew what she wanted to do wouldn’t slake her desire even a little bit. Be more like throwing a bottle of lighter fluid onto a bonfire. Padding over to wind her arms around Mare’s slim shoulders, Liana tangled her hands in the woman’s golden hair, her words quiet, “I feel like if I do what I want to do, the history of the world will say we’re moving too fast.”

Mare’s hands settled on Liana’s hips. “I know exactly what you mean.” She nuzzled her face against Liana’s, their lips brushing briefly. “Tell me what you want from me, Liana.”

“I think it would be easier to tell you what I don’t want from you.” Liana swallowed hard, biting her own lip as Mare caught and held her gaze, waiting for her to speak. Gods, what do I say? What do I not say? Exhaling a shaky breath, she gave in. “I want to know what it feels like to wake up to you every day.” Tearing her gaze from the other woman’s, she finished, “I want our conversation from last night to be a reality. I don’t want our time together to ever end.”

Slender fingers slid over her cheek and into her hair. “I don’t see why it has to end, Liana. I don’t have any pressing commitments. I know that you’re down here to visit your parents at Christmas, so I know that I can’t be the only thing you’re—”

“But you are,” Liana interjected, a shy smile forming on her lips. “You are the only thing I can seem to think about.”

Mare blushed. “You seem to be all I can think about right now, too.” Pressing a quick kiss to Liana’s lips, she continued, “I just mean, I know I can’t be your main priority—because Christmas—but I can be here when you do what you came to do and I can whisk you away if it doesn’t go the way you want it to go.” Her smile turned a little shy. “I mean… I understand that we can’t just jump into this, but gods, do I wanna.”

“I know, right?” Liana gave a dry laugh. “It’s like, if we were only ten years younger, then—”

“—we’d have the ten years to get to know each other, not react on desire, become a confusing insta-love slammed on Goodreads—”

Liana laughed out loud. “Don’t forget be likened in some way to a Hunger Games knock-off… or Twilight, if either of them were gay!”

Mare threw her head back and joined Liana in her mirth as for a long time, neither woman could do anything but succumb to comfortable joy.

 

It was with great reluctance that Liana helped Mare to the security checkpoint. They laughed as they joked back and forth about their favorite parts in the last Supernatural episode they’d watched with Leigh, one from the second season called Tall Tales. Mare clutched Liana, mimicking Sam, “I’m here for you! Brave little soldier! I acknowledge your pain!”

Liana giggled. “I loved that episode! Loved the Trickster. Next time, we should watch Changing Channels and we can say all the lines with them—”

Son of a bitch!” they exclaimed together, quoting one of Dean’s opening lines from the mentioned episode.

Quieting down a long minute later, Liana murmured, “I’ve had a really good time, y’know, these past few days. I really hope we get to do this again.”

“It’s been exactly what I needed as well. I’m looking forward to seeing you again.” Mare wrapped her arms around Liana, hugging her tightly. “I’ll text you when I get in, okay? And I’ll tell you tonight when I’m going to come back, and sweetie, I’m really going to try to make it Christmas Eve day, okay? I want to spend Christmas with you.”

Liana nodded, pressing a kiss to the crook of Mare’s neck. “I will look for your text and your call.”

Mare tugged begrudgingly from their embrace, the joy in her smile glowing like the sun as she waved at Liana. “Talk to you in a bit.”

“I’ll look for your call, sweetie.” Liana hugged her arms, smiling back, before watching Mare show her ticket and identification to the checkpoint agent. Liana watched Mare load her things into the x-ray machine before passing through the body scanner. It wasn’t until Mare’s feet were back in her Uggs and her satchel strap was across her chest once more, that she turned to meet Liana’s gaze. Those blue eyes softened as they darted down to her phone, her fingers moving fast as they formed a text, one that lifted her gaze to Liana’s a final time as she waited. Liana dug her phone out of her pocket and it vibrated in her hand, startling her even as she chastised herself for not expecting it. Unlocking the screen, she read:

 

Do you want me to fall in love with you, Liana? I’m telling you I could.

 

Liana’s mouth dropped open and one hand went to cover it as her eyes sought out Mare’s face… and the woman nodded, as if answering the silent question of Are you serious? Liana typed her answer without second guessing herself.

 

What makes you think I’m not already in love with you? That I’m not already yours?

 

Her cheeks filled with color, but she hit Send and waited for the visual reaction. Mare bit her lower lip as she smiled shyly at Liana, mouthing, You are, y’know. You’re mine!

Liana nodded, bringing one hand up to cover her heart, a smile turning up the corners of her lips before she mouthed back, And you’re mine!

A hand slid across her shoulders and Liana turned to find her mother standing next to her. Leigh’s smile warmed her daughter’s heart and she slid her hand up to cover her mother’s as she turned her gaze back to Mare’s beautiful countenance. Liana tried to memorize Mare, every curve and shadow and wisp of flyaway blonde hair, whispering, “Momma… can I tell you something?”

Leigh pressed a kiss to her temple. “You can tell me anything, honey.”

Liana took a deep breath as her smile tightened, concerning Mare, who looked down at her phone, typing a text. Liana looked down at the screen when her phone buzzed in her hand.

 

Are you telling her?

 

Liana gave a single nod, turning to Leigh as she opened her eyes wide. “Momma… I’ve never ever known something as intensely as I know it now, and I know that you know what I write, and I know that you don’t like the content, but that you’re glad it makes me happy. It’s just, I never felt it necessary to tell you this until now because there… was really nothing to tell.”

Leigh furrowed her brow, her statement sounding more like a question. “Honey, I don’t understand?”

Liana cautiously met her mother’s worried look, swallowing hard. “Momma… I’m… I’m gay.” Taking a shallow breath, she glanced down before darting her eyes to where Mare stood, amazement and pride clear in the small smile sparkling in her eyes. Taking courage from her lady, Liana finished, “I’ve consciously known since college, and when I look back to some of my actions in high school, I think I probably knew then, too.”

Leigh nodded, her blue-gray eyes ticking to Mare and back to Liana. “Are the two of you seeing each other?”

Liana blushed, hissing, “I’d like to see her again, Mom, but you saw us meet for the first time. You were there.”

“Did the two of you—” Leigh broke off, shaking her head and hugging Liana, nearly bringing her to tears. “It doesn’t matter. All that matters is your happiness.”

Liana’s mouth fell open as the tears that had been so close slipped down her cheeks. “You—you aren’t—you aren’t disappointed?”

Leigh pressed a kiss to her daughter’s cheek. “I know what you must think sometimes, and is it a life I wish for you? No, but we can talk about that later. First, send her off properly.”

“What?”

Leigh laughed, and Liana believed her mother in that moment. Whirling on her heel, she called Mare’s name. The woman who’d been an integral part of Liana’s life since her early twenties, ran to the exit door with her bag and tossed herself into Liana’s arms. Liana’s mouth found Mare’s full one as Mare’s smooth arms wrapped around Liana’s shoulders. Liana giggled, holding tight to Mare as she spun them in a slow circle and nuzzled Mare’s nose.

“I take it she’s okay, yeah?” Mare whispered, stealing another kiss. “She’s okay with us?”

“She told me to send you off properly!” Liana answered, enthusiasm heavy in her voice. “I mean, I know it’s going to be hard, but—” She cut herself off, lifting another kiss to Mare’s lips. “—I can kiss you and not worry!”

“Then kiss me, lady!” Mare teased, and Liana lost herself once more.

 

On to Part Three