Z is for Zachary

ZApril rubbed gum from her eyes.

So stupid for falling asleep. What time is it?

He’d left her the sleeping bag, but the bloody rag was gone. He could show that to anybody.

Was that the joke?

She scrambled for her clothes, panic at thoughts of her brother’s crew cackling in the shadows. Cellphones flashed in her mind and phantom cockroaches scuttled in every dark corner.

Forget the panties. He probably took those, too. She raked jeans up her hips and floundered into her shirt. Her thoughts skittered, doubting she could find her way back to the road, and then…whirlwind died in an instant.

“Oh Susanna,” whistled in perfect pitch, tickling her eardrums. Cigarette smoke bit her sinuses.

She snuck to the doorway; dim yellow glowed through the crack between old curtain and older wood. Blue smoke rings rose, stretched to obliteration in the black sky beyond. “You found the lantern.”

Zach started, lost in thought. “Hey,” laughing at himself, “You’re an angel when you sleep. Didn’t wanna wake you up.”

She didn’t know what to say.

He stubbed a butt on his shoe. “I gotta get you home.”

“Home, ugh.” April yawned and stretched, playing relaxed. Fine with whatever.

“Almost dawn…”

Oh. April Fool’s Day is finally over.

“…and your dad will never let me see you again if—”

“See me again?” She hadn’t dared hope. “My dad? I…I’ve never had a boyfriend.”

His eyebrows shot up, a lazy smile spreading. He patted his lap, “Come ‘ere.”

April felt shy when her plump rear-end settled onto taught muscles and still-shirtless biceps surrounded her. He nuzzled into her neck and breathed in deep. One hand fumbled in his pocket, thin cardboard flicking open. “Want one?”

She took the cigarette between two fingers, cartoonlike. “It is a night of firsts.”

*

Dear readers, thank you for following Gaslight (that’s what I decided to call this series) through the A to Z Challenge! I welcome comments, just as I have loved hearing your responses to each segment. As many of you know, I wrote one piece each day and I feel the story has developed along with your feedback. It’s been tough, I have to admit! I was a stickler for keeping each segment to under 300 words and it was a whole new way for me to write. A great big thank you goes to my husband Bill, for monkey-wrangling our 6-year-old while I feverishly typed, usually at the end of a very busy day.

This story was based in Shirley County, the fictitious settling for my new paranormal mystery novel, The Tramp, just released in April 2015. “The Shack” is a major destination in that book, with a seedy history, occult undertones, and romantic new life (guess who painted the flowers on the wall). Zach and April are minor characters in an offshoot serial novel, Catchpenny, due for release in July. You can read the first few chapters of each book for free on Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/SarahWathen

And of course, you’ll find plenty of information on all of my work, here on my blog. Cheers, everyone! It’s been a pleasure. Kinda tearing up now…

*

This flash fiction is a part of the Blogging From A to Z (April 2015) Challenge. A new installment arrives every day in April, following the alphabet; check the calendar below to see which letters post on which days. Read more about this blogfest HERE.

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APRIL-CALENDAR [2015]

Finding Hope Through Writing About Loss

Honored to be able to write about my beloved Bichon Frisee once more on Amy Martin’s Conscious Companion blog. I explain how and why my dearly departed little buddy made it into my book, The Tramp. Aside from that, this is an amazing blog, chock full of expert information on how to be a more capable and loving pet owner and friend to animals. Read more HERE.CCpost

Y is for Yield

YZach rolled away and April sucked in a sharp breath. She had no idea why, but all of a sudden she was sobbing.

“Oh god, did I hurt you?”

She snorted and wiped her nose. “N-no, I’m fine.” Trembles racked her from head to foot.

“You’re cold.” He lurched away and fished for something behind her head. “I’m an animal…here, I stashed my camping gear earlier…”

She rose on a shaking elbow and watched him flip a sleeping bag open onto the floor. “So, I was a foregone conclusion?”

He frowned with distaste, kneeling beside the loveseat. “No.” A palm under the small of her back, he lifted her and pulled the towel free, then cleaned her up with gentle awkwardness. Scooped her against his chest, “You’re so tiny,” barely a whisper, “light as a feather.”

He held a red nylon corner, plaid flannel pooching underneath, while she scuttled inside, grateful for the cozy haven but still shaking. Zach slid in behind her hot as a furnace, graceful and lithe. She backed into him seeking heat.

“Careful what you wish for,” he chuckled, inching his arousal away while leaning into the embrace around her shoulders and face.

“I want all of you next to all of me,” she insisted.

Zach groaned but complied. Their bodies connected at every curve and corner, skin on skin. April snuggled her face deeper inside the blissful cave and breathed into soft cotton, her nose thawing and her cheeks flushing. Zach’s breath became slow and ragged, his limbs weighted and pliable around her. Muscles relaxed, nerves calmed and she dozed to the languorous rhythm of his dreams.

She must have dreamed herself. Maybe a nightmare. “What?” she startled awake disoriented, cold again. She sat up and looked about, chill air seeping around her nakedness. Alone.

*

This flash fiction is a part of the Blogging From A to Z (April 2015) Challenge. A new installment arrives every day in April, following the alphabet; check the calendar below to see which letters post on which days. Read more about this blogfest HERE.

XZAPRIL-CALENDAR [2015]

Book Blog Tour Happening Now!

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Author interviews, book excerpts, soundtrack samples, character artwork, book reviews, and of course…an awesome FREE giveaway (see below for tantalizing graphic)! Follow my tour, reblog and tweet my stuff and I’m sure you’ll go to heaven. Find the schedule HERE.

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X is for X-Rated

XShe was tired of resisting; all that good girl fake lustless crap was some kind of sick divine punishment to the reality of her hormones. April returned Zach’s kiss with more ferocity than either was prepared for. They tumbled against gray furniture, teeth clanking and hands groping, but Zach caught her against his body and held her still.

Fresh laundry detergent, alcohol and ode de boy wafted into her. “You’re okay with this?”

Breathless.

The question was gentle wind on April’s bubbling magma belly: ember caught and sparked. She wasn’t sure what she was consenting to, but she knew she wanted more. “Yes.”

She was suddenly underneath him, old fabric groaning a mildewed puff against her back and jeans scrubbing down her hips. Panties grazed toenails.

Her frontal lobe spun to the base of her neck. Over his shoulder, the ceiling oscillated from red pinpricks to gray clouds. “Please be careful, Zach.”

He softened and slowed. “I thought so.”

Terry cloth slid under her butt.

Where did he find a towel?

Tender fingers touched her cheek the same moment the head of his penis nudged between her thighs. She winced when the pressure tugged a stray hair and she fanned her knees to accommodate the sting. Then dry flesh found moist reservoir and Zach plunged inside. April blinked hard and swallowed her yelp.

“I love you, April.” His face hovered over hers, arms surrounding her head in a loose embrace. He was saying more that she didn’t understand; breath was hot, words mumbled.

April couldn’t speak. Her eyes rolled in their sockets as he drove in and eased out, a slick, swelling burn.

“Blood is sticky, but you’re so fucking wet.” Zach’s voice hitched and he shivered all over. He collapsed, a million tons of melted steel on her chest.

*

This flash fiction is a part of the Blogging From A to Z (April 2015) Challenge. A new installment arrives every day in April, following the alphabet; check the calendar below to see which letters post on which days. Read more about this blogfest HERE.

WYAPRIL-CALENDAR [2015]

Candy Vale Lands Her First Global Art Show

Joss Radillo curates Candy Vale’s first global art show on Chapter 5 Books Blog! Much gratitude, because art is such an integral part of The Tramp. Not only was the book written by a painter (me), and the cover art also created by a painter (me), but art is also the thread that holds the chaotic world of Shirley County together, past and present. My main character Candy Vale paints, draws, and writes poetry. And the way that Joss lays it out on her blog tastes just like Candy to me. Check it out HERE.

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