Haunted House of Manlove Halloween Hop

Welcome to the Haunted House of Manlove Halloween Hop.  This is a little bit of spooky flash I first posted a year ago.  I hope you enjoy it. When you’re done, don’t forget to visit the other participants listed below.

Forever Mine by Alexis Duran

Are you dreaming about me?

Sean’s eyelids twitched, his long lashes quivered and his head rolled side to side on the pillow. I would have given anything to touch him, to brush his lips with mine, to pull aside the sweaty tangle of sheets. The best I could manage were whispers in his ear.

Sean darling, it’s me, Avery.

He flopped over onto his side and brushed at his ear with his hand, as if shooing a mosquito.

At least a mosquito could taste him.

I stretched out beside him on the four poster bed that had once been mine. My riding boots were caked in mud, would always be caked in mud, but no stain marred the coverlet.

I propped my head up on my fist, elbow planted against the mattress and watched him. I loved to look at him with his thick messy blond hair, high cheekbones, inviting lips. I loved it when he grew agitated at night, sweat darkening the hair around his temple, making his t-shirt cling to his shoulders, chest, back. If I was lucky he’d kick off the covers and I could see all of him, even if he did insist on wearing ridiculous flannel pajama bottoms.

If I was very lucky, my whispers would reach him.

Sean, open your mouth so I can put my tongue inside you, taste you. I’m dying to hold you, to taste every inch of you.

He licked his lips. Victory!

My fingers played with his hair. I imagined how silky it felt.

Touch yourself for me. You know how I like that.

Under the covers, his hand slipped down his hip and across his thigh. He groaned. So did I.

Something fascinating was happening under the sheets.

Aren’t you hot? It’s so hot and stuffy in this damn house!

His breath caught and he rolled over onto his stomach. I lay on top of him, pretending I could feel his wonderful ass straining against my erection.

Why do I torture myself so?

With a sudden groan, he sat up. For a moment, I lost of track where I ended and he began. Then we separated. He sat on the edge of the bed. I stretched out in his warm spot. I swore that I could feel the warmth, the slight wetness he left behind.

“Damn,” he said, and ran his fingers through his hair. How I wanted to stroke his back and pull him into the bed. The best I could do was make the water in the glass on the nightstand shimmer. He missed this spectacle because he stood at that moment and went to the window. He pushed aside the heavy drapes and pulled up the creaking wooden frame. Cool air rushed in and he stood there in the breeze, undoing all my hard work.

He rubbed his bare arms and leaned against the windowsill.

“Why do I keep coming back to this place?” he asked himself. To my surprise, instead of returning to bed, he went to the little desk and sat down in front of his computer. Excited, I perched beside him. The device never failed to fascinate me as images, faces, books, all sorts of wonders swirled to life inside of it.

He put on glasses. This was new, but they suited him. They were round and made him look like a schoolmaster I’d once fancied.

“So they finally got the Wi-Fi working,” he said. He talked to himself a lot. I liked to think it was because on some level, he knew I was listening. Or perhaps he was daft. That was okay too.

“Who are you, Avery Remington?”

If I could, I would have died of a heart attack. Certainly I felt the symptoms, a tightness in the chest, tingling, shortness of breath. I watched as he typed my name into a box on the screen.

Avery Remington San Francisco 1800s

To my delight, an image of the same portrait hanging in the dining room appeared on the screen. Me, dashing in my riding gear. The artist did a fine job capturing my moody grey eyes.

Born 1830. Died 1860. Son of shipping magnate Walter Remington. Graduated Paris University 1852.

“That’s it. That’s all the mighty internet has to say about you. The innkeepers know nothing. The church where you’re buried knows nothing. C’mon, Avery. Throw me a bone.”

You’ve been researching me? I’m flattered. Really. Tears came to my eyes. I remember when we first met. The first time you stayed here with your parents and were captivated by my portrait. I woke up for you then, Sean. I bestirred myself. Sometimes I wish I never had. How long since your last visit? Two years? Do you know what it’s like, waiting? Of course not.

Once he brought a boyfriend. That was terrible. The boyfriend was terrible. He laughed at Sean’s suggestion that the old Victorian mansion was haunted. Laughed. Then he did all the things to Sean I’d dreamed of doing. So it wasn’t entirely terrible. I learned some things from that man. I learned that Sean enjoyed being tied up. I could do that. I could even fetch my riding crop out of the chest in the attic, if that’s what he wanted.

Sean rested his chin on his palm. “Why are you haunting me, Avery?”

I laughed and draped an arm around his shoulders.

Because I desire you with an eternal ache.

He didn’t move, but I sensed his muscles tense. Sometimes, sometimes I imagined he heard me.

I was a notorious rogue. That’s why there’s nothing written about me. My family repressed it all. Never spoke of me after I died. I’m not surprised they left my portrait behind. They hushed up my murder, you know. How San Francisco would have wagged its many tongues if word got out that I’d been stabbed by my male lover, body left out in the woods. What a waste.

Sean typed again. San Francisco 1860 unsolved murder. I held my breath. A stream of words appeared, words that led to other words and pictures. Nothing to do with me. He sagged but I grew agitated and began to pace behind him. I’d planted a suggestion while he was awake!

Sean, none of that matters now. All that matters is that I’m here now, with you. Say you won’t leave me alone again for so long. Do you know who stays here? Old married couples. Men and women who don’t have sex anymore, thank goodness. Talk to me, Sean. Make me feel alive.

He hooked his elbow over the back of the chair and stared right through me.

“Avery?”

I’m right here.

He shook his head. “Christ, I’m really losing it. Maybe if you got a real life, Sean, you wouldn’t be obsessing over ghosts.” He shut the lid of the computer. “Maybe in our next lives.”

In our next deaths, you mean. I’ll wait for you. Someday, you’ll come and never leave. Now take off those stupid pajamas.

To my eternal delight, he obeyed me.

***

Don’t forget to continue the hop for more sexy spooky flash!

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New Year’s Resolution Hop

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Once again I’m joining the writers at House of Manlove for a hop. This time we’re sharing our New Year’s Resolutions.

I try to remember to keep my resolutions to things I actually have control over. For instance, I’d really like to resolve to hit the NY Times bestseller list, but alas, that is the hands of forces way out of my control. So every year I renew my resolve to be as productive as I can be in regards to my writing. This is sort of a cheat, because I think I might be a workaholic when it comes to writing. No boundaries! I’d also like to resolve to have more time, but again, economic forces have more to say about that than I do.

I love that I’m now with a great publisher and my books are finally reaching appreciative readers. This is awesome. But in terms of being a workaholic, I need to remember to sit back and enjoy the journey instead of always focusing on the end point (the mystical bestseller list, or big royalty check that allows me to quit the day job, or the breakout novel that steams up everyone’s eReaders).

I love to write, always have, always will, but when the artistic endeavor gets all tangled up with marketing, selling, promoting, it can dim the joy of the creative process. I therefore resolve to forget all about the end points when crafting my story and simply revel in the knowledge I have a very good chance of getting this one published. Those times at the keyboard are all about the characters and their journey, not mine. That comes later, outside of the creative process. Yes, one must keep readers in mind, but not as consumers. Readers are along for the joyride just as much as I am and I have to keep my reader self close by as my writer self frolics in the realm of the imagination.

I also have to remember I have a life beyond the keyboard and I need to get out more and be with the 3-D people in my life.

To sum up, I hereby resolve to enjoy life more, to treasure every opportunity to practice my craft, to fiercely protect the small happinesses and to let go of the judgmental voices in my head saying I should be further down the road of success. Success is doing what you love, right?

Here’s to gobs of success for all of us in 2015.

Don’t forget to continue the hop and check out everyone’s resolutions!

Midwinter Madness Flash Hop

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Welcome to another flash fiction blog hop hosted by the magnificent House of Manlove.  Click this link to find more awesome winter/holiday themed short reads for your enjoyment!

Flash fiction is quite the challenge for me, and when I first wrote The Wrong Elf, it was way over the 1200 word limit.  Rather than abandon the longer version, I had the brilliant idea to “flesh it out” and offer it as a free holiday giveaway!  So, if you like the flash version, please click this link to download the Xtended version from Amazon. And if you know anyone who enjoys steamy m/m reads, please feel free to pass the word. It will be free through Christmas Day.

Now, the story. Flash version.

The Wrong Elf

By Alexis Duran

 

Ordering at the last minute from a discount catalogue exposed a person to certain risks. Out of stock. Wrong color. Doesn’t fit. None of those disappointments compared to this cock-up.

Avery knelt in the torn wrapping paper and snowdrift of packing peanuts, still gripping the scissors. He considered cutting his throat with them. Another miserable, lonely Christmas, and all because he’d wasted his holiday money on a stupid elf.

It had seemed like an awesome way to counter a pathetic winter break spent alone in his fraternity house. He’d specified male on the order form. No substitutions. And yet, here before him stood a female elf and not even a particularly attractive one. She was stocky and sported the hint of a mustache. She reminded him of his eighth grade gym teacher.

He reread the order form. The tag line under Your Very Own Elf! said Guaranteed to make wishes come true.

This elf didn’t even speak English.

“Here’s my wish,” Avery said. “Turn yourself into a hot guy elf.”

She grinned at him, the tassel on her cap bobbing as she rocked onto the toes of her pointy shoes.

He shook out the papers and discovered a pamphlet that appeared to be the instruction manual, written in a language he didn’t recognize.

He sighed. The elf watched his every move, cheerful as the moment he’d unwound her bubble wrap.

“How about getting me a pizza?” he suggested. She cocked her head to the side and walked around him, thoughtful now.

“Back in the box, elf. If I hurry I can get Fed Ex to pick you up before they close.” He hesitated over refund or replacement. Was it worth the trouble of trying again?

“Nothing personal, but you’re not what I had in mind, so stand still, okay?” Avery held up a sheet of bubble wrap and smiled at her. She shook her head, grinned and before he could stop her, waltzed out the door.

“Hey!” He ran into the hall, but she’d vanished. “What about my refund?”

It hadn’t occurred to him an elf he’d bought and paid for might just up and leave. He wasn’t responsible for a malfunctioning product, was he? Not only did she not grant wishes, she didn’t even follow simple orders. He decided to call the company’s help line and complain. Even on Christmas Eve some drone would be manning the phones.

 

Avery was flat on his back in bed with the phone pressed to his ear, listening to “Frosty the Snowman” for the hundredth time, when a commotion in the hall drew his attention. There was a couple thuds, a grunt, some singing in a lilting foreign language, and then his door burst open, kicked by his wayward elf, whom he’d discovered from the packing material was called Griselda 1819191.

She had a large sack over her shoulder. It wasn’t pizza.

Avery sat up, alarmed. The sack was moving.

“Griselda, what did you do?”

She grinned and dumped the writhing sack on the floor. The sack grunted. Avery winced. Griselda bowed.

“Take it back,” he commanded. She rocked onto her toes and back again.

“Oh, this can’t be good.” Avery slid from the bed to kneel beside the sack. Growling sounds emerged. Better get this over with, Avery thought. He untied the knot at the top and pulled down the sides.

Furious brown eyes glared at him. The mouth was duct tapped. Dylan from Art History. Crap. Sure he’d fantasized about Dylan, but kidnapping wasn’t in his erotic repertoire.   His heart sank into his slippers.

He gripped the edge of the tape and jerked it loose.

“I’m so sorry. The elf malfunctioned.”

“Get me out of this bag,” Dylan said in a menacingly calm voice.

Avery grabbed the end of the bag and dragged it away. Griselda had wound duct tape all around Dylan, pinning his arms to his sides and his legs together. He wore flannel pjs and a t-shirt.

“Untape me, Avery.”

He knows who I am? Avery’s elation was quickly replaced by fear. He knows who I am!

He scrounged for the scissors and began cutting away the tape, careful not to nick the skin. “I don’t know what happened, honest. The elf is broken and the manual is in some foreign language.”

Dylan fumed silently until he was freed. He tore the last strips of tape from his clothes and leapt to his feet. “Expect a visit from the cops,” he said and made for the door. Griselda blocked his way.

“Call off your elf.”

“Let him go,” Avery pleaded. Griselda leaned against the door, looking very immovable.

“She’s one strong fucking elf,” Dylan commented. “Where’s the manual?”

Avery held it up. “It’s in Russian or something.” Dylan snatched it from him.

“It’s in Czech. You ordered an elf from a company called We B Wishes?”

“They had a bunch of five star reviews.”

Dylan shook his head and stared at the manual. Avery was reminded of all the hours spent last semester staring at the blond sophomore as Dylan poured over the text book, taking notes and occasionally nibbling delectably on the end of his pen. He looked especially sexy all messed up and sweaty from his recent abduction. Avery had to admit, he had wished for a hot encounter with Dylan, but not like this. He wanted Avery to want him, not hate him. Stupid elf.

“Says here, guaranteed to make wishes come true.” Dylan narrowed his eyes at Avery. “What did you wish for?”

“You read Czech?”

“Answer the question.”

“I, uh,” Avery swallowed a growing lump in his throat. “I sure didn’t say it out loud. I wanted company. Hot company. I swear on Santa’s beard I did not ask Griselda to kidnap you.”

Dylan dropped his eyes and thumbed through the manual. “She could’ve just asked.”

“I told you. She’s defective.”

“Or hyper-efficient.”

Avery stood and brushed peanuts from his knees. “What are you still doing on campus?”

“No family to speak of. Thought I might as well get some work done. It says here you can get her to go to sleep by saying, uh, not sure how to pronounce it, jit spat.”

Griselda crossed her arms over her chest, slid to the floor and fell promptly to sleep leaning against the door.

“We can drag her out of the way,” Avery said. “Maybe get her back in the box.”

“You’re going to send her back?”

“She’s dangerous! Besides.” It was Avery’s turn to blush. “She was supposed to be male.”

“That’s what you wish for?” Dylan cocked an eyebrow. “A discount elf?”

“I thought I did. I guess a magic elf knows better. I wished for—” The small bedroom suddenly felt cramped and overheated. “You.” His cheeks flamed red and he stared down at Dylan’s bare feet. The oddly perfect toes curled and uncurled. Dylan rocked up on them until he could look straight into Avery’s eyes, then down again. He was rather elf like, Avery decided.

“In an odd coincidence, when Griselda broke into my room, I was online with Santa’s Wish Shop, placing a request for the cute guy in Art History to ask me out.”

Avery’s pulse pounded so loud in his ears he thought he might have misheard.

“You forgive me for the duct tape and sack episode?”

“I’m willing to blame the elf, if you promise to ask nice next time.”

“I swear.” Avery put his hand over his thudding heart and decided next time was now. “Dylan, would you like to spend Christmas Eve with me?”

“Well, since I’m here—” He sat on the bed and leaned back on his elbows. Avery sat beside him and looked gratefully at the snoozing Griselda. Maybe he hadn’t been sent the wrong elf after all.

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Click the cover to download the Xtended version and find out what happens next! Free through Christmas Day.

For more free fun, don’t forget to check out the rest of the flashers on today’s blog hop:

Azalea Moone

Jennah Scott

N.D. Wylders – M/M Author