I’d intended to post this just as a comment on Miranda Kate’s new Mid-Week Flash Challenge. Well, I can blame blog comment gremlins for getting me to login today (holy shit, I remembered my admin password… it’s destiny!) and post something here instead.
My inksister, Ruth Long, and I are cooking up something a shared new world, and we are having a ball with it. It’s a little bit mystery, a little bit Wild (modern) West, a little bit family and romance. You know, our typical genre mashup. 🙂
Meet Winchester Blake, a former war photographer, and Colton Conroy, a small-town doctor / pathologist. They’re mixed up in a murder investigation (tentatively titled Trigger Happy), and it’s led them to an abandoned asylum in the Sierra Nevada Foothills:
“I never knew this place was out here.”
Buried in the Sierra Nevada foothills, the warren of corridors took advantage of the natural climate control afforded by semi-subterranean architecture. Colton led the way in, but he didn’t miss the protective hover of Chess’ hand over her hip holster.
“Pretty cool, huh?”
“I’m going more with creepy as fuck.”
He noticed a change in her vocal pitch, just a tone or two higher than normal.
“Is there a baked goods protocol for abandoned asylums?” Colt slid a sideways glance at her.
“I—ah—” Chess blinked at him, her face shifting into an adorably blank slate. “Who would I give them to?”
They scanned the dimly lit corridor that looked more carved into the earth than manmade construction. Wooden doors marked the entrances to long-empty cells. Debris littered the floor, most from the crumbling structure. Sunlight filtered through skylights, casting the hall in a rusty light.
“Fair question,” he said. “Though I would not turn down a liquor-filled cupcake right now.”
“I could do better,” she said.
But a subtle tremble worked its way through her body. A shiver rocked her from head to toe. He shifted a step closer, until he could feel the warmth of her. Or lack thereof. He noted the absence of focus in her pale eyes, the rush of her pulse along her throat.
He cuffed her wrists, fingers casually finding the thudding rhythm. He counted in silence, satisfying himself that she wasn’t going to hyperventilate just yet.
“You okay, Blake?” He ran his hands up her bare arms and back down, chafing her cool skin.
She stiffened, as rigid as any of the doors in front of them. Maybe as brittle, too.
“Where’s your head taking you?” He lifted one hand, brushing a wayward strand of red hair from her face.
“I figured that part, darlin’.”
“There are dark places inside me,” she said. “So dark.”
“Let me be your light, Winchester.”
“Jesus Christ,” she huffed. “I’m not sure if that’s the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard, or the most ridiculous.”
“You’re the one with all the dark places.” A tightness inside him eased as her tension ebbed slightly. Courting her, amusing her, whatever it took to bring her back from that edge she overlooked too often for comfort. “But I’m okay if it’s a bit of both. Also, I have a great flashlight app on my phone.”
“You’re an idiot.” But the right edge of her mouth curved up. “Colt—”
She didn’t get any further than his name, so he drew her against him, letting his body warm hers.
“I’m right here.”
“You shouldn’t be.”
“That’s a matter of personal opinion,” he said softly. He carefully wrapped his arms around her, watching for any sign of objection. The last thing he wanted was to scare her. Or piss her off. Either way was likely to end with him bloody and bruised. “And I’ve been pretty clear on where I stand on the issue of being by your side.”
She stilled, so motionless he held his breath as he tightened his hold, wiping that last inch between them away.
Finally, she exhaled, relaxing against him.
“You shouldn’t want this, Colt,” she whispered. “You shouldn’t want me.”
But her hands crept around his waist, the hook of her fingers through his belt loops telling a different story from her words.
“No one’s more surprised than me, darlin’.” He rubbed his cheek against her temple. “Ten years should’ve been more than enough to get over you. Strangely, there’s no one I’d rather be investigating murder with than you.”
“Investigating. Is that what the kids call it these days?”
He chuckled, burying his face at the crook of her throat.
“Darlin’, I have plenty of ‘investigating’ to do where you’re concerned, but not here. I’ve seen way too many horror movies. Sexy times in a place like this just do not end well.”
The rasp of his whiskers drew another shiver from her—this one accompanied by a startled bark that someone might mistake for a chuckle. He made a growling, chomping noise against her neck.
She let loose a wholly girlish, shrieking sound he’d never heard from her, not even as a kid. He drew back to see her entire face transformed by laughter.
There might not be anything he wouldn’t do to hear and see this version of her again. And again. Every day.
Fuck the world, he was not even close to being over Winchester Blake.
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed this snippet! Please comment below and let me know your thoughts…