“Would you like some tea, Jonah? I’ll put the kettle on.”
It still seemed strange to hear a disembodied voice, even though he was aware of Delilah’s presence in a distinctly physical way, though not the usual one.
“Sure. That would be nice.”
“I’m sure the children will want some too,” Delilah added.
“Yes!” said a child’s voice.
“Yes, please!” said another.
Jonah smiled and made his way to the armchair under the mirror. He sat down and sighed. He’d had three meetings in a row and, really, all he wanted to do right now was flake out in front of the TV.
But his unusual guests wanted tea.
“Read to us from THE BOOK!” the first child’s voice said.
“Yes, please read some more! It’s so entertaining!” said the second child.
Jonah sighed, removing his tie and opening the top button of his white shirt. “Have a seat then.”
Jonah heard the rustling of clothes and observed the eddies of dust in front of his chair. He listened to Delilah making tea in the kitchen and picked up the book from the side table.
He opened it and began to read:
She looked back at us from the door, and I had a last impression of that beautiful haunted face, the startled eyes, and the drawn mouth. Then she was gone.
“Now, Watson, the fair sex is your department,” said Holmes, with a smile, when the dwindling frou frou of skirts had ended in the slam of the front door. “What was the fair lady’s game? What did she really want?”
“She probably wanted some tea!” said the first child.
“Do you think so?” Jonah said, looking up from the page, although there was no-one to look at, exactly.
“Oh yes! Who doesn’t want a cup of tea when they go out?” said the first child.
“Or when they come home,” said the second child, in a more somber voice. A voice that held years of wandering and loneliness.
Jonah smiled sadly. “I do want some tea, now that I am home. And I shall share it with the both of you, if you’ll keep me good company from now on.”
“Oh, we will Jonah!”
Delilah’s footsteps sounded on the floor boards as the tea pot came, steaming, into view.
“Go get the teacups, my darlings, and bring them in here. The tea will be ready to pour in a moment.”
“Yes, mother,” they said in unison.
“You’re a good man, Jonah Morris,” Delilah said softly. “I wish I had known you when I was slightly more corporeal.”
“You’re a wonderful mother, Delilah. You’ve done the best you could, all things considered. You are welcome to my home as long as you need it. I’ve gotten quite used to the three of you.”
“Bless you, Jonah. Now, let’s all have some tea, shall we?”
The glass was empty, even though I swear I’d just ordered the drink a moment ago. I felt the burn in my throat through a hazy brain-fog and realized I must have already downed it.
I ordered another.
This wasn’t the way New Year’s Eve was supposed to go down – in a painful swallow of booze and grief that made me want to sob. But I wouldn’t. Goddamn it, I wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of buckling under the disappointment and abandonment.
The bartender placed another drink in front of me, side-eyeing me with suspicion. “You got someone to drive you home?” he asked, piercing my heart with yet another arrow.
I winced. “I’ll get an Uber.” My voice came out quiet and meek. I cleared my throat. “Thanks,” I said with more force.
What was I thanking him for? For caring enough to ask, or for bringing me the drink even though I was drunk as fuck already? I don’t know.
The whiskey soothed me even as it burned its way down. It warmed my insides where he’d shovelled cold words and sharp insults. It dulled the memory of our last tumultuous encounter and allowed me to wallow in a pool of disfunction.
I was worthy of love. I must be. I needed to hold onto that conviction despite the doubt and the loneliness that threatened to send me into a dark spiral.
It was all that was left. A basic instinct for survival that I would grip gladly in my two fists and use to keep my head above water.
Dear Lord, it was sweltering outside. How was I supposed to get in the Christmas spirit surrounded by palm trees, surfers and ancient volcanoes?
I’d jumped at the opportunity to move to Hawaii when the possibility of a transfer had come up within the company. It had been absolutely amazing for the first six months until I’d realized that nothing was changing. The weather was the same as it had been at the start of my stay.
Of course, that had been one of the major draws of moving here, but I hadn’t counted on the boredom of waking up to the same thing day in and day out. Sure, it rained sometimes. And some days the winds were stronger than others. But I had grown up in a climate that transformed itself on a regular basis. I had gotten used to the seasons changing and seemed to unconsciously have used them to mark the passage of time if nothing else. Here, on this island, I felt like I was trapped in a constantly repeating pattern. It was a pleasant pattern, there was no arguing that. Warm and sunny most of the time, with no hassles like shovelling snow, scraping car windows or trying to find a winter hat that looked half decent.
I couldn’t believe I was thinking this, but I missed winter. Actually, I missed the gradual change of Autumn to winter and the prospect of spring returning. Especially right now, with Christmas only a few days away.
The only good thing (and it was a really good thing) that made Hawaii feel like home was the fact that the man I’d met a month after setting down roots here had moved in with me and we shared a relationship that was astonishing in its honesty and passion.
As I pulled into the drive of our hilltop bungalow wondering how I’d get through the Christmas season without the things that made Christmas, well, Christmas, I knew that at least I had someone wonderful with whom to share my nostalgia and celebrate the season.
“Hey, Gorgeous, I’m home,” I said as I pushed open the door and dropped my parcels. “No peeking in any of these, by the way.”
“In here,” came Josh’s cheerful voice from the living room.
I toed off my flip flops and tossed my keys on the stand, then wandered towards the living area. When I got to the archway between the dining area and the living room I froze at the sight that greeted me.
“Josh? What the hall have you done? And holy shit, what the fuck are you wearing?” I said, staring open mouthed at my muscled boyfriend who stood in front of an artificial pine tree that was flecked with fake snow and decorated with white and blue balls and pretty paper snowflakes, in only a pair of tight white briefs embossed with the visage of the jolly old elf himself and the Aussibum logo.
He smiled and stepped back from the tree. “Ta da! What do you think?”
“I think,” I said, feeling the moisture collect in my eyes but fighting it back (it was just a fucking tree, for God’s sake!). “I think I love it.”
His smile grew bigger and the gratitude swelled inside me again. Then he gestured down to the tiny trunks he wore. “And these? Tell me what you think of these.”
My eyes drifted over the soft white cotton that contained his familiar package and outlined his beautiful, sexy ass.
I shook my head. “I can’t tell you that, Josh.”
He screwed up his features. “Huh? Why not?”
“Because my brain just exploded. Why did you get rid of the palm tree we decorated? I don’t miss it at all, but why?”
He shrugged. “Because I could tell you hated it. I wanted you to have something more reminiscent of Wisconsin. Something that would make your Christmas a little more enjoyable.”
I walked over to him and reached out to pull him in for a kiss. His lips were soft and welcoming and tasted of peppermint. “Have you been eating candy canes, Josh?”
He grinned. “Maybe.”
“You are the sweetest man I’ve ever known. Thank you for making my Christmas this year.”
“You’re welcome. Do you like the balls?”
“Oh Josh, I like them very much,” I said, staring down at his tiny white Christmas briefs.
He gasped in mock astonishment. “My goodness, someone’s in a better mood.”
“Thanks to you. Now let’s go pretend there’s a raging blizzard outside and we can’t leave the bedroom for three days.”
My buddy, Nathan, runs a Flash Fiction challenge each month. He picks randomly from a selection of genres, objects, and locations and the results for March were: a Romance, with a VHS cassette, in a fire watch tower.
So I kind of played fast and loose with those guidelines because that’s how I roll.
Also, the stories are supposed to be within a 1000 word limit. Mine’s about 1500 words but I couldn’t bare to edit it down very much ’cause I like it the way it is.
I wasn’t sure what I was going to write but while researching fire watch towers I came upon this article about a guest house built as an authentic replica of a fire watch tower in Montana and my idea progressed from there. Especially when I read that it is occasionally used by fire fighters as an actual fire lookout.
After an intense hike to the top of Lion Mountain in Whitefish, Montana, I surprised my boyfriend, Michael, with the place we would be staying for two days and two nights to celebrate being together for six months.
“They wanted to recreate an old fire watch tower and went to pretty extreme lengths to make it authentic. And I found it on Air B&B. And now we are here.”
The wood-framed platform and cabin were perched securely on top of four wide flights of stairs that I had to force myself to ascend with the occasional encouragement from Michael who wasn’t afraid of heights.
The door was indeed unlocked and I was relieved to see the place looked just like it had on the website — the décor rustic and cozy. There was a small kitchen area, a tiny table with two chairs and a living space. I hadn’t yet told Michael that we’d have to climb down those steps whenever we needed to use the composting toilet.
“Wow,” Michael said as we looked at the panoramic view out the windows. The green and brown wilderness of Montana spread out in all directions. “This is beautiful.”
After staring for several moments we shucked our backpacks and collapsed on the banquet sofa, breathing heavily from the hike and climb.
Michael looked around the small cabin, taking it all in. I’d already seen the photos online but it was wonderful to see the place in person and know it was ours for the next forty-eight hours.
Finally, he turned to me. “But where do we sleep?”
I raised my eyebrows. As far as I was concerned, there would not be a whole lot of sleep going on this weekend.
He must have seen the desire in my eyes because he grinned and leaned closer, brushing my cheek with his nose and murmuring into my ear. “Let me rephrase that. Where is the comfortable but firm surface I can throw you on to have my depraved way with you? Please tell me there is one.”
His warm breath caused goose bumps to rise on me everywhere and my cock to thicken in my shorts. I almost couldn’t reply but when I found my voice I said, “There’s a pull-out bed in here.” I pointed down at the sofa we were sitting on.
“Oh good,” he said, nuzzling my stubbled cheek and nipping at my chin, which caused my mouth to drop open and my breaths to come more quickly. “Because I thought we might have to do it on the balcony.”
I pulled back and stared at him, eyes wide and my dick a steel rod.
“I think we may just have to now that you’ve put that idea in my head.”
He laughed softly and kissed me with increasing ardor, his hand finding its way past the waistband of my shorts.
Later, so much later, after we’d fucked on the pull-out bed AND on the balcony, and then again with me bent over the kitchen counter, we relaxed on the tangled sheets and enjoyed the peace of the dark forest surrounding us. It was so quiet but for the sounds of crickets and night birds and it made something deep inside me relax for the first time in a long while.
“This reminds me of something,” I suddenly realized and the words were out of my mouth before I could stop them.
I nodded, snuggling into Michael’s side and enjoying the smell of him and the lingering scent of our adventures. “This old movie I had way back in the day of VHS players. I can’t even remember the title of the thing and the cassette always came unwound but I remember there was this one scene where the lovers — they were straight of course— were chatting like us in a cabin in the woods with darkness all around, just like this, and it was so, I don’t know, evocative of something. Something important and valuable and beautiful.”
Michael stared down at me, breathing softly. “I like the way you say things, Mattéo.”
“Yes, I do. And I think that you are something important and valuable and beautiful.”
I swallowed, too overcome by what he’d said to reply. All I could do was lock onto his gaze and lose myself in the truth of his words.
A sound outside made me jerk in his arms.
“What the fuck was that?” Michael said as our quiet lover’s chat was interrupted by sounds of movement and talking below. We froze and listened.
A man’s voice, confident and deep: “I know. I just want to get a better look. Wait here.”
Soon we heard the sounds of booted feet on the steps below.
“Oh shit,” I cried out, scrambling to find my clothes. Michael did the same. But before we could get completely dressed the door to the cabin opened and a man stepped inside.
“Oh shit!” He exclaimed, his eyes flying over the scene of our debauchery with confusion and surprise. “I didn’t realize there was anyone in here.”
“Oh shit!” I said again, staring at the fully uniformed firefighter in his coveralls, boots and fire hat. “Is there a fire?”
The man stared at me, then at Michael as we continued to frantically dress ourselves.
He gave out a soft laugh and smiled. He looked back and forth between us again and I suddenly noticed he had the bluest eyes and a handsome goatee. “That’s what I’m here to find out. But nothing close.”
His eyes sparkled as he took off his fire hat and held out his hand. “I’m Officer Markholm. I’m so sorry to intrude but the owner lets us use this place as an actual fire watch tower when we need to. Unfortunately she neglected to tell us it was being used this weekend.”
Officer Markholm’s black hair was wet with sweat and curled charmingly around his ears. I didn’t realize I was staring until Michael told me to close my mouth. Officer Markholm laughed, apologized again and asked if he could just have a look out the back windows? He was just making sure a small fire that was miles away had been successfully extinguished.
Of course we said sure and moved aside, hoping the smell of the sex we’d had all over the place wasn’t as strong as it seemed. I suddenly noticed Michael’s jar of Boy Butter lube on the table by the window where Officer Markholm stood looking out. I nudged Michael and nodded toward it. He paled slightly. He moved quickly to the window beside the firefighter, blocking Officer Markholm’s view of the table.
“It’s so dark, what can you possibly see out there?”
I darted to the table and grabbed the bottle, whisking it out of sight. It was slippery, as lube bottles tend to get, and slid from my fingers, clattering onto the floor and rolling under the pullout bed as Officer Markholm said, “Fire. If there’s even a tiny fire, I’ll see it. But if we could switch the lights off in here, that would help.”
“Sure,” I said, backing up to do as he’d asked. At least the lube was out of sight.
We all stood there then, silently looking out the large windows, watching the forest for any signs of red or yellow or orange.
Officer Markholm scanned the distance and I tried not to imagine how hard his muscles probably were underneath that brown coverall. How it might feel to be picked up in his strong arms and carried down the steps. How comforting it would be to hear his voice in the middle of a crisis.
I noticed that Michael was watching him too. No doubt thinking the same thing I was. I grinned but I don’t know if he saw it in the darkness.
Finally, Officer Markholm turned and said, “Looks like it’s all clear. Thanks for letting me invade your love nest, boys.”
My breath caught in my throat. “Wh- what? We were just, uh, playing scrabble.” It was all I could think of.
Officer Markholm switched the light on and I could see his wry smile. “Okay. Sure.”
The blood rushed to my face. He obvious didn’t believe me.
“Him,” Michael and I said together.
“Uh huh. And where’s the board? Same place as the lube?”
We were so busted. We said nothing, just stared at the handsome firefighter and choked.
Then his soft laugh floated through the small space again. “Anyway, looks like there’s no fire anywhere but in this room. Just play safe okay?”
And he was gone, closing the door and clomping down the wood steps, while Michael and I stared after him.
Cade nodded with a smug smile on his face. “Yep. That’s Mark. With little Jade.”
“Can the dog walk or is it missing its legs?” I asked.
Cade blinked and screwed up his forehead. “Huh?”
”He’s carrying his dog in a backpack. Don’t you think that’s a little … precious?”
Cade shrugged. “I think it’s kind of cute actually.”
Cade’s tone became a little pointed. “Dog and backpack aside, you gotta think Mark’s pretty hot, right?”
I looked at Cade’s phone again, holding it at all angles and trying to see what Cade was seeing. “Well…the dog kinda wrecks it for me. All I can think of is this hot guy talking baby talk to his precious little poodle or whatever the fuck it is.”
“It’s a yorkie, actually. God, you are fucking weird and cynical as shit,” Cade said, not even trying to hide his annoyance. “I don’t know why I showed this to you.”
He grabbed his phone back and shoved it in his pocket. “Mark’s the sweetest guy I’ve ever met and if you can’t get over the fact that he babies his dog, you’re alot more judgemental than I though.”
He stood looking out the glass walls at the small backyard. Concrete walls surrounded the tiny space but for a large cutout at the side that let in the bright morning sunshine and gave a soft blue tint to the stone. Lionel could see greenery and remembered the lush surroundings of the place that he’d seen the previous evening when he’d stumbled onto the dark grounds with their owner.
The owner of this beautiful home was still asleep in the large master bedroom, and Lionel wondered whether he should stay or call an Uber. He wanted to stay but he wasn’t sure if that was a good idea.
They’d had fun at the bar, he and the slightly older man whose name was Marcello and whose green eyes had pierced through Lionel’s defences and shattered his resolve. His resolve to never engage in one-night-stands for the very reason he was now standing in this glorious space wondering what to do.
But he wouldn’t regret it. Wouldn’t regret taking Marcello’s hand and following him to the alleyway, wouldn’t regret letting Marcello kiss him, wouldn’t regret nodding and sighing yes when Marcello asked permission to reach into his jeans.
Definitely wouldn’t regret spending the night making out and then fucking in Marcello’s four poster bed.
The problem, and this was always the problem with Lionel’s one-night-stands, was he wanted more. It took alot for him to fall hard enough for a guy that he was comfortable becoming physically intimate. Usually it took more than one evening of flirting and penetrating looks, but sometimes it did not. And once he’d stripped himself of everything and opened up to another man, Lionel couldn’t help feeling bereft.
A sound behind him and a soft reflection of movement in the glass caused Lionel to startle and turn.
“Good morning,” Marcello said, blinking in the bright sunlight and giving Lionel the wide smile that had seduced him so easily. He was wearing only boxer briefs and Lionel couldn’t help that his gaze swept over the attractive man as if it might be the last time he could do so.
“Morning,” Lionel mumbled. “I, uh, I’ll make some coffee and then I guess, well, I guess I’ll go.”
Marcello yawned and shook his head. “I’ll make coffee, Lionel. You’re my guest.”
Lionel nodded, still not sure what the expectations were this morning. He hated not knowing what to do.
“Sit down. Relax,” Marcello said with a grin. “You must be tired.” he waggled his eyebrows, referencing how late they’d stayed awake, exploring each other and enjoying each other until the small morning hours.
Lionel felt the tightness in his chest loosen and he smiled in response to Marcello’s good humor. He sat in one of the soft chairs at the round breakfast table.
Marcello went about getting the coffee ready.
“Are you hungry, Lionel?” he asked.
Lionel cleared his throat. “I, uh, well, yeah.”
“Would you like to stay for breakfast?”
Lionel nodded, relieved. “Yes. Yes, I’d love to.”
Marcello batted his eyes and smiled again. “You know, I don’t do this very often,” he said softly.
Lionel felt a glimmer of hope in his chest. “Um, eat breakfast?”
Marcello laughed and shook his head. “No, I mean, I don’t drag home gorgeous men from bars.”
Lionel blushed. Gorgeous? Him? He let himself smile. “Really?”
Marcello nodded. “Really. I don’t usually go this far with someone I’ve just met.” He laughed then, shaking his head. “God, I sound like a high school girl. But it’s true.”
Lionel felt the tension drain from him and said, almost too quickly, “Me neither. Really, I don’t. I don’t know what came over me.” He realized what he’d said as soon as it had exited his mouth.
Marcello met his gaze and they both burst out laughing.
“Oh my God,” Lionel said, blushing furiously. “I’m such an idiot.”
Marcello shook his head again, placing the carafe on the burner and pressing the start button. “You’re not an idiot,” he said softly, eyes shyly glancing at Lionel’s and darting away as if he were nervous. But how could he be? Lionel was the nervous one.
“Stay for breakfast,” Marcello said quickly. He bravely met Lionel’s surprised gaze head on and held it. “Stay for lunch…”
Lionel felt the smile spread across his face this time, and he nodded. “Okay.”
The relieved and happy smile that spread over Marcello’s face then washed away all the doubt from Lionel’s mind. This was more than a one-night-stand. It had to be.
We’d walked three miles to get there, so by the time we reached the sand and the water I was completely exhausted. I collapsed to the sand and stared out at the waves and the clouds.
But Noah just stood there, looking out at the grey water, watching the water lap at the shore, his chest rising and falling, eyes shining with moisture. He blinked it back but said nothing.
After awhile, when I’d caught my breath and felt like I wasn’t at risk of passing out anymore, I stood and walked over to him.
He looked at me briefly, then back out at the ocean. “Not really.” His voice was unsteady.
I stood close by him, wondering if I should touch him or just listen. I held back.
“Jordan?” he addressed me finally.
I nodded, watching him carefully but saying nothing.
“I honestly don’t know if I’ll ever be okay again.”
His eyes glistened with the tears that wanted to, needed to fall. I tried to convey in my gaze how much I understood, how much I cared. I didn’t know what to say.
He let out a strange noise, a kind of half-sob that was just the cusp of what was waiting behind his fierce reserve.
And at that point I knew that words were not the answer. I reached out and pulled him against me, gathering him close and cradling him in my arms.
“I know, man. I know.” I said softly. “She was your little sister.”
And he broke. His forehead rested on my shoulder and his body heaved with silent sobs as the tears coursed over his cheeks, wetting my face and my shirt, combining with the salt water spray from the sea.
Noah’s little sister had killed herself a week earlier. She’d been bi-polar and stopped taking her meds. Noah had found her.
He was probably right. He might never be okay after that. But I would stand by him, with him, and help him any way I could.
“It’s going to be okay,” I lied. “You’re going to be okay.”
I was on the treadmill at the gym when I got an idea for this flash fiction prompt.
I realized that these guys could easily be two characters from my Vampire erotica WIP, Diamond Dogs.
Theo Matowski is a devoted lover to my protagonist, Gemini (a bisexual, androgynous female vampire who keeps Theo and his male lover, Justice, as human pets/companions). However, when an older male vampire, Kristofer Vallespi, comes to Ottawa seeking excitement, Theo finds his loyalties tested.
Theo waited restlessly on the park bench, eyes glancing furtively about and hands in his jeans pockets.
Kristofer Vallespi had texted him the night before, requesting that Theo meet him here at noon because he needed to ask him something.
Theo knew he shouldn’t have replied. Shouldn’t have texted Kristofer that he’d come. Shouldn’t have thought about Kristofer all evening and all morning.
Gemma had told him that Kristofer was dangerous. She’d said Kristofer was not like she was. He’d want to take advantage of Theo – use him for sex or food and then toss him away like spoiled fruit.
But Theo didn’t believe her. He didn’t think she was lying. He believed Gemma supposed Kristofer to be like that. But from the moments Theo had spent in Kristofer’s commanding presence, he couldn’t believe it.
And now, as he glimpsed Kristofer approaching along the gravel path in his pea coat and jeans, looking so very human and yet not-at-all human, he wondered if perhaps Gemini was right. Theo knew vampires had powers he didn’t yet understand even though he’d been sharing Gemma’s home for seven years. Perhaps he shouldn’t have come.
But it was too late now.
Theo straightened as Kristofer approached. Even though he knew very well that most vampires could walk about during daylight hours, it still made him uneasy. These creatures were supposed to be night dwellers. But maybe that was what people believed in order to feel some kind of partial security.
Theo knew better.
Kristofer stopped in front of the bench. He looked Theo over with a frank and obvious hunger.
“Theo,” he said in greeting, offering a small smile and a glint of fang. So he was hungry. Hungry for either sex or blood, or his fangs wouldn’t have descended.
Theo shuddered in the face of such desire. “K-Kristofer. I wanted to see you.” This was the truth.
Kristofer nodded, sitting down beside Theo on the bench. “I know. I wanted to see you too. Needed to.” His vibrant blue eyes drifted over Theo, consuming him on the spot.
They locked eyes and Theo felt that connection, the same one he experienced with Gemma but even stronger here, now, with Kristofer. Was it because Kristofer was male, or because he was an older vampire?
It didn’t matter.
“Theo, I need to taste you. Now.” Kristofer’s voice felt like smooth amber covering him as if Theo were a tiny insect who would soon be trapped and paralyzed.
Theo nodded, his desire ramping up in Kristofer’s intoxicating presence. “I know.”
No sooner had Theo said those words than Kristofer’s cold hands slid along his neck and the handsome vampire pressed his lips to the younger man’s mouth.
A bomb could have gone off nearby and Theo wouldn’t have cared. Kristofer’s cool lips on his, the vampire’s soft tongue pressing inside Theo’s mouth, the fingers pressing against his pounding jugular – this was everything.
Theo opened his mouth and let Kristoffer have his way, loving how the vampire savoured his taste. He hadn’t taken blood yet, only kissed Theo like any man or woman would. But Theo knew it was coming. He moaned into Kristofer’s mouth and gripped his coat.
But Kristofer didn’t bite. Instead he pulled away and swore softly. “You do this to me, Theo,” he murmured, licking his red lips and gripping Theo’s neck tightly enough to alarm him. But just as Theo noticed, Kristofer’s fingers loosened and he let go. “You make me want you.”
Theo just sat there, trembling, cock hard and full of blood from that kiss and from Kristofer’s nearness.
“I want to really taste you,” Kristofer breathed, eyes drilling into Theo’s.
“Yes,” Theo replied without question. It was too late for any other answer.
“Do you know what I’m asking?” Kristofer said carefully.
Theo nodded. “Yes.”
Kristofer smiled, slowly, with genuine pleasure and relief. “Then come with me.”
Theo nodded again and stood, taking Kristofer’s offered hand.
He would go. He had to. He needed to experience everything that Kristofer was, everything that Kristofer had to offer him, if he was ever to sleep again.
This wasn’t the way it was supposed to happen, Paul thought, staring at the tiny infant beside him in the double bed he shared with Aiden.
They’d discussed the idea of children. Although there wasn’t anything lacking in their relationship they’d at least visited the idea of adding a child to it. And then summarily rejected the thought.
They liked their freedom, their financially stable lifestyle. Bringing a child into it meant uncertainty at the very least. What if they didn’t like being parents? There was no going back once the deed was done, even with adoption. The commitment scared the hell out of them both.
But now parenthood had been forced upon them. The infant in the bed was Aiden’s two month-old niece, Delilah. A gift from the will of Aiden’s thirty year-old sister, Mary and Mary’s husband, Gabe. Two incredible people who’d perished in a car crash only three weeks ago.
Aiden had been wracked with grief at the loss of his sister, but he’d manned up to the challenge of taking on Delilah, since it was Mary’s wish that the child be with him and Paul. Paul admired Aiden’s courage and his commitment to his sister’s wishes but, truth be told, he was scared to death.
He gazed at the tiny, diapered baby in the bed beside him. Where had Aiden gone? When would he be back? Paul knew nothing about babies.
Delilah burbled, her tiny fists moving, her chest going up and down. She stared with wide blue eyes at the ceiling, then at the wall, then at Paul, her head jerking with the unsteadiness of her new reflexes. She reached out an arm and placed her small hand on Paul’s open mouth, her tiny finger reaching bumped his nose. Her eyes fixed on his and she moved her mouth as if she were trying to say something, but all that came out were puffs of air and tiny little chirps.
He loved Aiden. More than he’d every loved anyone in his life before. If this was what had come unbidden into Aiden’s life then Paul had a responsibility to rise to the challenge, as intimidating and all-consuming as it seemed.
As he stared into the baby’s limpid gaze he felt a small stirring of something inside him. Was it love for Aiden transferred to this flesh of Aiden’s flesh? This child was a part of Aiden, as much as any child would ever be a part of Aiden. Paul could see his partner in this small child and his heart expanded, in wonderment and fascination.
They would be okay — he and Aiden, and Delilah. They would be a family, whatever that might mean.