#FlashMobWrites 1×24

Welcome to #FlashMobWrites Week Twenty-Four

Come one, come all! This is an open flash fiction challenge with a musical inspiration, hosted by authors Cara Michaels (formerly of #MenageMonday, #WIPflash, and#RaceTheDate) and Ruth Long (of the wicked fun #LoveBites and #DirtyGoggles challenges).

Mob Rules

  • The challenge begins: Fridays @ Noon EDT (Eastern USA)
  • And ends: Saturday @ Midnight PST (Pacific USA)
  • Word count: 300-500 (no less, no more)
  • We love you and wish to heap praises (and random prizes) on you, so be sure to include your name (no, it doesn’t have to be your real name) and a way for us to get in touch (Twitter handles are encouraged)
  • A prompt choice is offered by each judge. Choose one (or both!) and include it in your story as given.
    • The prompt may be split between sentences, but no order change or dropping words.
    • Words may be added before or after, not in the middle.

The Inspiration

For your musical enjoyment only. You do not need to reference the video or song themes in any way for your story.

The Prompts

Cara Michaels: “the slow reveal”

Ruth Long: “what’s humming”

Now pick your prompt(s) and post your story in the comments below!

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44 thoughts on “#FlashMobWrites 1×24

  1. What Friends Do

    “I don’t want to tell Aiden. He could get hurt.”

    Talia grimaced. “But if you don’t, you could be hurt. At least give Aiden the choice. Please, Moira. I got a bad feeling off you before I brought you in here.”

    “I don’t know…” Could she trust Aiden to step up? The last time he’d been confronted with conflict, he’d disappeared.

    “At least let me tell Kieran and Lt. Fitzroy.”

    “The police?”

    “He’s more than just an ordinary cop, Moira. Didn’t you notice his energy signature?” Talia sighed dreamily. “I just like sitting next to him at the library or bus stop. He could calm a hurricane.”

    Moira snorted. “It sounds like you have a thing for him. You know he’s old enough to be your dad, right?”

    “Eww! No, I don’t have a ‘thing’ for him. I just like his energy. The next time you see him, tell me you don’t calm down. Sheesh.” Talia shook her head. “But you need to tell him about Lenny. You’re not safe if that asshole is in town. You know what he did to you before.”

    Moira gave a one-shouldered shrug. “Yeah, but I gave him permission then. Now there’s no way I will. What can he do to me now?”

    “Are you serious?” Talia gaped. “His behavior screams ‘stalker’, and that’s just in the first few minutes. And just a bit ago you were worried about telling Aiden to keep him safe.”

    “Who needs to keep me safe?”

    Aiden stood at the door, his broad shoulders filling the space as his brilliant blue gaze took in Moira and Talia.

    “No one.”

    “You need to keep Moira safe.” Talia rose to her feet and pulled Aiden into the room before closing the door again. “Lenny’s back.”

    “Who’s Lenny?” Aiden’s gaze zeroed in on Moira as she shook her head.

    “What do you mean, ‘who’s Lenny?'” Talia shot Moira a startled look. “You didn’t tell him?”

    “He’s only been here a day, Talia. We have eighteen years to work through. Lenny…didn’t come up.”

    “Oh, glory, Moira. You know the slow reveal doesn’t work, right? Jeez, how could you be so…so…”

    “So, what, Talia?” Moira rose to her feet, her fists clenched. “So private? Aiden’s essentially a stranger and my past is mine. I tell who I choose.”

    “I’m also standing right here, ladies.” Aiden waved a hand. “Moira’s right. Her past is hers to share or not as she chooses, but if there’s something from your past that’s posing danger right now, I need to know about it.”

    “Why?” Moira knew she sounded belligerent, but she didn’t care. “Who made you a caretaker for me? I gave you the chance to be here and work with me, but I didn’t ask you to defend me.” Even if I was thinking that a little bit ago.

    “No, you didn’t ask, but that’s what friends do, and no matter how long I’ve been gone, I’m still a friend.”

    493 #WIP500 Words
    @SiobhanMuir

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Sunday Brunch

    Gabi watched John Quarry and Woody Staples walk away from her on their way to talk to Hap Granger.

    Ace had surprised her last night. Not the dinner invitation. That had been a happy coincidence and long overdue. She was always up for a meal somewhere other than the Grill or her own wretched attempts at home-cooking.

    No, what had really surprised her was Ace’s quick decision to engage the services of a couple of unknown vagrants to look for Hazel. They had occasionally discussed what they could do to jump-start the investigation which had drifted into doldrums. The local police had lost interest.

    “Harry Crockett suggested we engage a private detective from L.A. Said he knew a couple of crackerjacks.”

    She had agreed that Ace’s lawyer’s suggestion sounded like an excellent idea. Neither of them had any hope that Sheriff Jack Squires would do a thing. But hiring a couple of hobos seemed a desperate act. On the other hand, John Quarry had an aura of competence about him; not a hobo so much as a seeker, a warrior trying to find some peace of mind. Something they were all seeking with the cessation of war, she supposed.

    “Morning, Gabi, what’s humming?” Skully Jenks smiled as he opened the front door of the Grill and offered one of his patented salutations.

    “I’m having a humdinger of a day, Skully,” she answered back with the expected response. She then added, “It’s your day off, you sweet man. What are you doing here?”

    “Mr. Longworth called me last night and asked if I could help you out today.”

    “Ace shouldn’t have done that.”

    “That’s okay. Made me proud to be asked. I’d do anything for you. You know that, don’t you?”

    She gently touched his shoulder with her hand. “Of course I know that, Skully. Just like I know you loved Hazel.”

    Skully Jenks blushed. His affection for Hazel Twigg was no secret.”

    “Thanks for coming in, Skully. Let’s start cooking.”

    *****************************************************

    Hap Granger was still sweating like a recruit on manouveres, even though he was resting on his ample duff under the shade tree.

    “Look fella’s, it’s not that talking makes me hungry. Eating is just a natural condition with me. You can’t imagine how rationing impacted one of my favourite pastimes. But, the war is over, our soldiers are home, and the restaurants are packing’ them in. Might I suggest we repair to the finest eatery in Crowbar and I’ll fill you up and fill you in?”

    It was easy to see that Granger often got his way. He was slicker then a barrel of crude. John looked at me, I rubbed my belly, and then he said, “That’ll be fine, Mr Granger. Glad to accept the invitation.”

    Hap Granger stood up and said, “It’s Hap, remember. You boys have a car?”

    “We parked a few blocks over,” John explained.

    “Well then, allow me to chauffeur you to the Crowbar City Grill.”

    Granger was an accommodating suspect.

    500 beads of Sunday sweat
    @billmelaterplea

    Liked by 3 people

  3. The words stung in my ears, “You’re so boring.” Okay, so he hadn’t said I was boring. He said we were boring and we were getting into a rut. Did I have to wear a shirt when we made love and that we needed to shake things up! I wanted to shake him!! Okay, I was overweight; maybe the little access wasn’t appealing? A lot of access… I’d piled on the pounds with each child and I was the mother of three. I had to face facts I was fat. I know he loved me, but I wanted him to want me passionately.
    I decided to lay out a plan to lose weight over six months. I’d dress in my regular clothes hiding my weight loss and when we made love I’d keep my shirt on, so he couldn’t see my stomach.
    Each day I went to the gym before and after work. Zumba and weight training were melting off the pounds. I pictured the slow reveal stripping off my clothes to music and wowing him and I worked even harder. Finally after six months and fifty pounds later I was ready to buy new clothes and show the world but first my husband.
    I lied and said I was sick so I could leave work early and then called my sister to take the children overnight. I went to the lingerie store and picked up a peignoir and then went to the grocery store and picked up some chocolate covered cherries and the fixings for a gourmet meal. I hurried home inserting my key in the lock I wondered, what’s humming? Dick wasn’t supposed to be home yet. I followed the sound and heard, ¸ ♫♪Do you want to make love or do just want to fool around?♫♪
    Dick must have somehow find out I was on my way home and he wanted to surprise me. I was pleased and excited as I went into the bathroom and slipped on the peignoir. I opened the door of the bedroom and found Dick in bed with a cliché. See Dick and Jane run. See Dick’s wife sue for custody, divorce and get everything.
    As for me I’m happy now. Henry, his wonderful guy I knew from work noticed my weight loss and he told me I looked healthy; but that he liked me both ways and he meant it. Henry also told me Dick was a fool to lose such a treasure. Henry seemed like a keeper I wondered why I hadn’t noticed him before. We dated for a year and then we married. The children love him too, for Henry is loving, generous, upstanding man and made a great step-father. Dick still looks for love in all the wrong places, and neglects his children. You want to know about Jane? She’s with every Tom, Dick and Harry. Much luck to the both they’re going to need it as they’re both too selfish to ever find or keep love.
    @SweetSheil
    499 words

    Liked by 1 person

    • My favorite part is how you get us into the narrator’s head, her thought process behind her physical transformation, how and why she hid it from her husband and how she’d planned to reveal it. Just a shame it was wasted on that Dick, sounded like an awesome plan.

      Like

  4. LAST CALL

    The swinging doors banged open to admit another rowdy foursome to the discreetly lit bar.

    “Did you see that hideous jeep out back?” A leather-clad man with a buzz cut laughed. “Talk about embarrassing!”

    Clarisse’s grip tightened around her mug as she launched into another mental chorus of “Not yet. Not yet. Not yet.” She had more than her share of experience with shithole dives, and this was easily one of the worst five she’d ever been in. The beer was tepid and flat with nauseating similarities to piss. Not that patrons came here for the beer, but would it have killed them to have one decent tap or bottle? Clarisse grinned at the thought.

    “Hey, maybe it’s something new on the menu!” A smaller man with pasty features jostled Buzz.

    The four got their tin goblets of the house specialty from the bar and made their way to a table. This joint was used to regulars, each with their fixed places. The bar continued to fill, surprising Clarisse no one had told her she was in their spot, yet. Finally the doors clapped open for a taller sharp featured man with dreadlocks.

    “Man, it is dead out there!” Dreadlocks declared to the uproarious laughter of the entire bar. Except Clarisse.

    The wraithlike bartender raised a tin goblet toward Dreadlocks, but he waved her off. Instead he sidled over to where Clarisse was sitting as all the other patrons exchanged sly glances. Apparently the outsider had been noticed.

    “Whew!” Dreadlocks pinched his nose as he sat down next to Clarisse. “What’s humming? Girl, you ever hear of bathing?”

    Clarisse splashed her disgusting beer in Dreadlocks’ face with a tight smile. “Ya mean like that?”
    With a single shocked breath the bar went silent. Dreadlocks wiped his eyes and leaned in toward Clarisse with a predatory grin.

    “You shouldn’t have done that, Girly. Now we can’t be friends.”

    Clarisse unzipped her pink trench coat down past her ample cleavage. Dreadlocks recoiled as if he’d been punched in the nose and Clarisse stood up between the entrance and the rest of the bar. She savored the slow reveal as she finished unzipping her trench coat and let it drop to the floor. Underneath she was wearing a bodysuit marinated in garlic that knocked most of the bar on their asses. She also had several ammo belts, knives, stakes and guns including a hand-cannon already leveled at the back of the bar.

    “Party’s over, Fangs.” Clarisse squeezed the trigger with her own predatory grin.

    Vampires dove to avoid the shell that exploded the back wall of the bar. Clarisse had her key fob in hand and double tapped for the ultra-violet headlights. The settling dust of demolition revealed Clarisse’s jeep, Purdy, a glorious specter of pink death. After checking that every last bloodsucker was writhing and immolating on the floor, Clarisse holstered her cannon with a blissful sigh.

    Sometimes she really loved her job.

    491 Words
    @DavidALudwig

    Liked by 1 person

    • OMG, lol! Marinated in garlic? That is some serious dedication to the job. Love it, David, and so glad you joined us!

      Like

      • Thanks, it’s been harder to find time for flash-fiction recently for me so it was really nice to come back. And yeah, I’m thinking most other hunters would go as far as to call Clarisse insane, but she lives for it.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Thirty miles an hour down a barely paved road. She swore she could feel every rock, every pebble. Thirty miles an hour. Why *were* they going so fast? Looking out the window, it wasn’t even morning. Everything in shades of blue, gray. Black. How the world did seem so dead, lifeless at this hour.

    She looked at her father, behind the wheel. He seemed so tense. The lines on his face, was he worried? When he woke her, it was still night, dark. He told her to put on her pink dress. Her pink dress? But it wasn’t Sunday. And why was she getting dressed in the dark?

    He tried to make the pink ribbon into a bow around her ponytail. He fumbled, several times. Exasperated, he took a deep breath. He began again, this time, intensely focused. As he forced a smile, he said, “It’s important you look your best.”

    She looked across a field, saw the sky reflected in a pond, a mirror in the twilight. Her eyelids drooped. She had awoken so early. Only a nine year old could sleep in that truck. Bought new only a year ago, a 1930 Ford AA. It never occurred to a child to wonder how a small-time farmer could afford such a luxury. She just thought it was the most wonderful thing they had ever owned. Right after her father bought it, the three of them, she, her mother and father, took a day trip to Virginia Beach and even saw a talkie. A magical day. But a few months later, her mother died. They said it was Consumption but she never understood what that meant. How could her mother be smiling and laughing one day and dead the next?

    Again she awoke, but she wasn’t in the truck. She was in her father’s arms; he was walking. She kept her eyes tightly closed, but her ears perked intensely. Every sound, acute, a clue. He stopped, knocked on the door, but not with his fist. It was a slow reverberating. *Footsteps from within.*

    The door opened slowly, as if it were heavy. A man’s voice said, “I see you’ve brought the payment.” Her father didn’t answer, but walked in. There was such an echo, the room must be *enormous.* Who would her father know that would live in a house *this* big? The slow reveal began as her father stood alone in the big room, waiting.

    The footsteps returning. *Stopped.* Oww! A sharp, piercing pain.

    Groggy, Georgia awoke, eyes closed. She seemed to be lying on a cold cement floor. She opened her eyes; the scene was the same. Total blackness. “What’s humming?” she thought. *Flash of light.* A door opened that wasn’t a door. A man with the face of a child but who somehow seemed old appeared in the flood of white.

    He said, “Children, the elixir of life.”

    By Diane Johnson
    Twitter @SheExclaimed
    481 words
    (*in place of italics)

    Liked by 2 people

  6. @AvLaidlaw
    498 Words

    A Wolf in the Night

    The slow reveal of dawn found Jacob lying naked among the bracken in the forest. He was a broad shouldered man, matted hair across his chest and mud streaks on his calves, a face creased up with the anger kept inside himself. As he sat up, he winced with a shock of pain through his leg – a deep cut across his thigh, blood already scabbing in the chill morning air. An arrow, perhaps. He stood and shifted his weight onto the wounded leg. He could still walk, run if he had to. His nose twitched at the stink of the human blood. During the full moon the wolf sense was still strong inside him.

    Jacob smelt other blood. Not his own. Another man. He followed the scent trail through the trees, sometimes dropping to all fours as he clambered over the rough ground. The other man sat on the ground, cradled in the roots of an ancient oak, a crossbow at his feet, his tunic ripped and bloodied. He stared directly ahead even as Jacob inched from the side with animal caution. A fly crept across the man’s face. The man still breathed with a thin whistle through the teeth of his open mouth.

    “Not dead then,” Jacob said. “But soon, if you stay here.”

    Jacob pinched the scraps of tunic between his fingers and pulled them back. Bite marks. A mess of blood glistening. A stink of decay starting to spread through the man’s body. The man brushed at the air with one hand and looked sidelong at Jacob, his eyes dilating with terror. Jacob stepped back, startled by the fear in the man’s eyes.

    “This is what happens if you go hunting wolves at night.”

    Jacob picked up the crossbow, ripped the string and broke the stock over his knee. He threw the pieces deep into the bracken. The wolf would finish it quick with a bite to the jugular or just leave, go padding back into the deep darkness of the forest and let the man die. He felt that instinct in his belly, the taste of blood already in his mouth.

    “Who are you?” The man whispered, so quietly it was almost lost in the bird calls.

    As the sun rose shafts of sunlight fell across the butterflies resting on the dog violet. The full moon was long set and it would be hours before it rose again. Jacob tore the tunic into strips and wrapped them around the man’s waist in makeshift bandages. “I’ll leave you close to the village. Someone will find you and take care of you. That’s what humans do.”

    He carried the man, now fallen into a stupor, through the forest. The wolf sense reproached him – the man would come for him again. Kill or be killed. But Jacob was not a wolf. He was a man and men were difficult to understand. They had names and when they looked in another man’s eyes, they saw themselves reflected there.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Most intriguing and engaging! I get the sense Jacob is more wolf than man… So it makes me wonder if he’s a wolf-were instead of a werewolf, though I suppose he could also just be feral… Either way great handling of his internal conflict with the hunter.

      Like

  7. @PattyannMc
    WC: 494

    Running on Empty

    They ran away. He was too much for Amanda. His spikes in mood swings and fits of rage, terrified Joey, terrified her! She couldn’t take anymore. She couldn’t trust him anymore, ‘especially’ around their son.

    Grocery bags full of things, and a cooler were strewn inside the trunk of her miserable little Dodge she hoped would survive the trip to Sacramento. She had doubts, but prayed anyway, she needed to get far from his reach. She had her phone, one credit card that Thomas didn’t know about, and seven-hundred in cash. She didn’t have much time to pack, so anything she thought necessary came along for this harrowing ride, including his pistol. The last time she’d seen it was yesterday when Thomas held it against her head, before he beat her senseless. Today, going after Joey was the straw that broke her back.

    Route 50 through Nevada was like driving through hell, scalding heat and desolate, but it was better than staying with Thomas. Amanda twisted around to check on Joey. Still asleep. She knew he’d have hundreds of questions as six-year-olds do. She wasn’t prepared to answer them.

    A noise caught her attention over the low radio. ‘What’s humming?’ Pulling her car over to the berm, “Please no, don’t let anything be wrong!” Tears stung her eyes as dread crept up her spine. Popping the hood, she had no idea what to look for, but she didn’t need to look hard. A hose was spewing steam. “Damn it!” She dialed 911.

    “Police, what’s your emergency?”

    “I need help . . .” She explained her circumstances.

    As she waited for the police and a tow truck to arrive, she leaned against the side of the car, keeping an eye on Joey, still sleeping, unfazed by her stopping. He’d been through an ordeal. She thought about how scared he was when daddy went after him for spilling his water. The terror in her son’s eyes nearly killed her; she knew she stayed with that son-of-a-bitch far too long. She had no idea ‘why’ she stayed and asked herself what she was afraid to lose. Abuse, anger, hatred and fear? That was all Thomas was capable of offering.

    She thought back to when she and Thomas first met. Things were good then, but he was the slow reveal, not tipping his angry hand until after his mom died two years ago. That did it for him, and that was it for her and Joey.

    The police pulled behind her with a tow truck. He transferred her things to his cruiser. The pistol fell out of a bag, clanging onto the highway. He asked to see her permit; she couldn’t produce one. She tried to explain.

    The Officer placed her under arrest and called Child Services. That was the last time she saw her precious baby boy. She was running on empty as she and Joey ran away, now, she was run dry like sand sifting across the scorched desert.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Wow, that is heartbreaking–and not in the way I expected! I figured if it had a bad end then Thomas would wind up back in the picture somehow, instead it’s the authorities and CPS as the end villains, a position they seem to wind up in disappointingly often. Very well written and hard hitting.

      Like

  8. I wiped sweat from my forehead as I pulled the mower into the yard. I loved mowing, but not when the air temperature was 95 with a 110 degree heat index and 100 percent humidity.

    My husband, Jacoby, was busy pulling weeds in our flower beds and vegetable gardens. He, too, was soaked in sweat. I pulled up to one of our garden hoses and promptly doused myself.

    “You look like hell,” Jacoby said. “Feeling okay?”

    “I’m an asthmatic out on a hot Iowa August day. Give you one guess how I feel. Now, what’s left to pull for weeds?”

    “The bed around the house and the tomato garden.” He stood up, wiping his forehead with a hankie. “You heard a peep out of the shed?”

    Our girls were getting ready for the science fair at school. My adopted father, Hank, was helping and we’d been barred from the shed until they were done.

    I shook my head. “Nothing. Why?”

    “Just wondering.” He shrugged.

    I finished pulling weeds, then glanced at Jacoby, who furrowed his brow.

    “What’s humming?” he asked.

    I stood up, brushing dirt from my knees. The shed was not supposed to hum. Without speaking, we marched forward, determined to see what our scientists were doing.

    “YAY!”

    I jumped when Eliza’s voice echoed from the shed. The doors flung open and my youngest daughter, Priscilla, ran out, red curls trailing behind her.

    “Grandpa and Eliza did it!”

    “Did what, sweetie?” I asked.

    She bounced on the balls of her grubby bare feet. “They made grandpa’s phone come on.”

    “Guys! Come on in!” Hank called.

    Priscilla pulled us into the shed. A box fan hummed from the floor. Hank’s flip phone sat on a folding table. On the table was a board with wires and diodes and the whole thing was humming.

    “What is it?” Jacoby asked.

    “It’s a Tesla thingy!” Eliza said. Her face lit up as she gestured to her device. “Grandpa helped me make it! And next we’re making the poster. It’s small, but now I want to make one for the whole house!”

    Hank laughed, his brown eyes twinkling. “I told her that was a little more expensive and would take a little more time and materials.”

    Impressed, I looked over the device more closely. A laptop sat open nearby, step-by-step instructions visible.

    “The teacher will certainly be impressed,” Jacoby said. “This is incredible.”

    “How do we get this to school?” I asked.

    Eliza launched into an excited explanation of the entire project, including how to set it up at school on Tuesday. I hugged her when she was done.

    “You did good, kid. Now, let’s get that poster made.”

    She ran inside and I shook my head. Jacoby shooed me in after her while he and Hank dealt with the ‘Tesla Thingy’. I made a mental note to watch Eliza. I had a feeling I’d come home one day and my whole house would be running off a large-scale version of her science project.

    @Aightball
    500 words

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Standing on the Edge of the Abyss
    331 Words
    @mishmhem
    #FlashDogs

    Every philosophy, every religion speaks of things coming round. ‘You have to pay the piper…, ‘as you sew, so shall ye reap’… the ‘threefold law’… and my favorite: ‘paybacks are a bitch.’

    While each of these beliefs is true, they are wrong by at least an order of magnitude.

    Everything we say, everything we do has consequences, but it also fractures our lives and time in the same breath, until you are watching the slow reveal of your life as reflected in a fun house mirror— as seen through a mirror ball: worse the shattered remains of those mirrors each reflecting back on one another until it collapses in on itself in a cacophony of sound and, if possible… a cacophony of sight.

    If we are lucky, we can wrap our heads back around one of these worlds and live in that world, but once you’ve looked into that abyss building up and down through time… looking into all these worlds, there is no going back.

    Rod Sterling got it wrong: we don’t enter the Twilight Zone: we live it, a million times each minute, a thousand… million ‘us’es in a thousand million moments each answering to the copy of the next.

    Pay it forward or pay it back— it all comes back on each and every one of us, in ways we can’t imagine, let alone accept.

    For we are the ones who fractured our worlds trying to make our lives better rather than accepting them for the gift they are and making other people’s lives better…

    It takes a lot to know yourself, at least a lifetime… or a thousand, million lifetimes all at once, but unless you accept the madness you’ll never see the kaleidescope and beauty its madness can be.

    No matter what they say, no matter how they say it. A hundred Million lives is not enough time with you.

    They say that love is mad… come step to the edge of this abyss with me.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. In Arms

    (England /1941)

    The silk stockings skimming her thighs were a strange distraction. Together with the swish of stiff petticoats beneath the moss green taffeta evening dress, stylishly coiffed hair, and heavy makeup, she’d never felt so elegant – or so vulnerable – in her life.

    For several moments after she stepped onto the moonlit terrace, she thought she was alone. Even so, it was too late to back out of the charade.

    She closed her eyes and gathered her courage, let the heady scent of overblown roses fill her nostrils and lungs. Music spilled out of the ballroom, floated past her, and danced across the meadow beyond the rock wall.

    A figure detached itself from the shadows. “You have grand ambitions for your dance card, Miss Finch.”

    “Not at all,” she said, mouth dry and palms damp as she remembered her promise to speak freely and honestly. “That is, my grand ambitions are not for myself.”

    “Are you sure? You’re wearing the dress of a woman who bears you nothing but ill will.”

    “Well, yes, but I’m wearing it to dance with you.”

    He moved toward her through the shadows. “What makes you think I’m interested in dancing with you or anyone else?”

    “Of course you want to dance,” she said, in her earnestness, forgetting the discomfort of the stockings. “You’re just -”

    He stepped into the light. “Half the man I used to be?”

    “That’s not what I was going to say and you know it, your Lordship. You’re rusty, that’s all. And your mother has such high expectations. That’s the only reason your sister loaned me this dress. So you’ll be with someone you’re comfortable with on your first turns around the dance floor tonight.”

    “Say we try it, your refresher course on dancing. What about our hands?”

    “Oh, yes, we ought to figure that out before we go inside. Here, step up close. Let’s see. What would feel most natural?” she said, eyes searching his.

    “Standard form,” he said, putting his right hand around her waist, palm coming to rest on the back of her ribcage. “Centers my balance.”

    “Yes, that’s good. Staying with standard form, my right hand goes around your waist and my left hand goes, hmm, would it be okay to put it here, on the outer edge of your shoulder?”

    “An empty arm socket is probably the last place a socialite is going to want to touch me, Miss Finch.”

    “Ah, but the families your mother gathered tonight are allies and supporters who will consider it an honor to dance with an injured veteran.”

    “Is that how you see me? Injured?”

    “Of course not,” she said, perfecting her stance in his arms as the orchestra struck up a new song. “You’re cryptic, contrary, and aggravating. Now, stop stalling and dance with me, your Lordship.”

    The slow reveal of his rare smile, like the morning sun breaking through a cold gray fog, made her forget about luxurious stockings, borrowed dresses, and the bloody endless war.

    – – – – –
    @bullishink / 499 ineligible words

    Liked by 2 people

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