Thursday, December 31, 2015

Note to Newcomers

The Nate and Seth series is a continuing story that includes challenge prompts. To read them in chronological order, click on the Nate and Seth Series page and follow the links. I hope you enjoy!

ETA: The story is now complete, so if you've been waiting for us to finish, we have.

Update: The boys were apparently not done with us, nor we with them, so there's a new chapter and tab: Nate and Seth vol. 2

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Old Wounds

Having exhausted theories on weather manipulation, we fell silent. Music crackled through old speakers, as if the scratchiness was required of these songs, digital technology be damned.

“This was old when our parents were young,” I complained.

“Yeah? When exactly was your dad young? We never did sort that out.” Nate’s anger could have blistered paint.

“I don’t know. You want to help me find him, so we can ask? Because last time, he ripped your chest open. Twice.”

“And you claimed you killed him.”

“Still harping on that? I buried his bloody corpse.”

“Death didn’t stick. Kaia confirmed it.”

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Next

Monday, January 26, 2015

Set in Stone (1)

A Katherine Kavanaugh Story

Chapter 1

Friday night, the bar was full of men in business suits pretending they wanted to hang out with each other while constantly scanning the room for a woman who might be willing to bang them then take a taxi home. As if such a creature exists outside the fantasies of twenty-something douchebags. The drinks were two for one for ladies, which explained the groups of them clustered about, fully aware of the Neanderthal urges of the suits, and generally disinclined to play, but willing to get drunk on someone else’s dime. I didn’t blame them. The deck is stacked against women, for the most part. Might as well get free drinks with your inevitable harassment.
                I wasn’t looking for the same sort of deal as the button-down types, but I can’t say my motives were any better.  See, I steal stories right out of people’s mouths, twist them around a bit, stew them in a thin plot and season with salacious details. Then I pawn them off as original works of art. No one ever calls me on it, partly because there’s fuck-all they can do, but mostly because the sorts of things you tell a strange guy in a bar aren’t the kind of tales you want to repeat in front of God and everyone. Besides, it’s almost impossible to make a living as a writer, even a good one, which I’ve never claimed to be, so we’re hardly worth suing over a few pilfered memories.
                The girl I wanted sat in the corner, nursing a mixed drink that looked more serious than fruity, not toying with her straw or eating cherries, and not accepting any drinks sent to her by various men. I’m sure they were all disappointed, since this girl reeked of money without trying. Her chocolate brown sweater revealed nothing, if you didn’t recognize cashmere or the silk collar of the shirt barely peeking out. Her pearls were real and perfectly matched, but not overwhelming in size or volume. The slacks she wore were off the rack, but the shoes might as well have been dipped in gold. That didn’t stop her from wrapping her feet in the rung of the bar stool. She couldn’t quite manage a slump, though she was trying to make herself as inconspicuous as possible. Not easy, considering her hair shone like a damned shampoo commercial. Her make-up was precise, understated, and completely unnecessary. That sort of presentation is learned from birth. People like her had no place being in a bar like this, even though it tried so hard to be upscale. Yet there she was.
                I waited until the pretty little round girl, wearing a skirt two inches shorter than a whore would consider proper, hopped off the stool next to Rich Girl and teetered toward the bathroom on unsteady heels. I nudged the schlub in front of me and told him that plump little bird looked promising. He followed, probably because I didn't reveal that signs pointed to the tart being a mafia baby, too.  Did I mention I’m not a nice guy?
Still, you never know. They could fall in love, run away from the lives they’d envisioned, and live happily ever after, despite coming from different worlds and having nothing in common. What? It could happen. And you could win the lottery, too. Go buy a ticket. You never know.
Rich Girl didn’t look at me when I sat down, which might have hurt my feelings once upon a time, but probably not. I didn’t look at her, either. That, she found surprising. I suppressed a smile at how easily some people are caught. Good thing all I wanted was her stories. I was betting she’d have doozies, maybe even some with names worth dropping. I could branch out to tell-alls if the angle was right.
“Bourbon, neat,” I said when the bartender looked my way, “and whatever she’s having, give her another.” I still didn’t turn my head.
“I don’t…” Rich Girl protested.
“Care,” I finished for her. “I know. I don’t actually give a damn if you drink it, either.”
“Then why buy it for me?”
“Because I may be the only guy in this bar who has zero interest in fucking you, with the possible exception of that ponce in the corner. He needs a better tailor if he’s going to get one of these jokers to hop the fence – or admit to being on his team.”
                “That’s a shallow assessment,” she sniffed.
                “But accurate. Appearances are bait in a place like this, which makes me wonder why you stopped in, when you’ve made it obvious you aren’t fishing.”
                “And yet, here you are, trying to get all friendly with me while feeding me bullshit lines about how you wouldn’t have sex with me if I offered.” She took the drink I’d bought her.
                “Never said that, love.” I gave her a tiny smile. “What I said was that I don’t want to fuck you, which I don’t. Seems to me that would be a waste of time and effort on both our parts, seeing as how it wouldn’t satisfy in the least. A woman like you deserves more than that.”
                “I suppose you think you’re the one to give it to me,” she scoffed.
                “Not at all. I’m not right for you. I’m too rough – unpolished, if you will – too blunt and honest. You want someone who can give you smooth lies and smooth rides on expensive sheets and reward you with a pretty sports car at Christmastime.”
                She shook her head. “You got all that from sitting down next to me?”
                “No, I got that from observing you from across the room, which is admittedly a bit creepy but one of the hazards of my trade.” I looked over at her. “The bag is Prada, but not the latest. You’ve had it for a while and you carry it because you like it, not because you give a shit about the name. You have a diamond ring on your finger, but it’s not yours. I’m going to guess it belonged to your mum, or maybe it’s been in the family longer. You got a manicure earlier in the week, and you threw on a pedicure at the last minute.”
                “Yep, that qualifies as creepy.”
                “It’s a curse. I have an eidetic memory, and I spent way too many hours in hospital waiting rooms reading fashion magazines and staring at people who were also marking time until someone they loved died. So don’t take it personally, peach. My ability to catalog your life through sartorial choices is just a party trick.”
                She lifted her glass to me. “Then it’s a pretty damned good one. Thanks for showing it to me.” She started to gather up her things.
                “Don’t leave in a snit. I’ll stop telling you about yourself and leave you to drink away your guilt over… whatever it is.”
                “I’m going to regret asking this, but what makes you think I’m feeling guilty?”
                “Because it’s true. I can practically smell it on you. You picked this bar because you’re unlikely to run into anyone you know. They either frequent classier joints or grubbier ones, the latter being the prowling grounds of your friends from university. For some reason, you don’t want to hang out with either crowd, and that, my girl, is very interesting indeed.”
                “What difference does it make to you?”
                “Personally? None at all. But I’m going to be completely honest with you. I think you have a story you want to tell someone, and you can’t bring yourself to tell it to anyone you already know. So, why not unburden your soul to a total stranger with a slightly appealing accent and nothing better to do with the next several hours than listen to your confession?”
                “You are very strange,” she said into her glass.  I liked the way it modified her voice.
                “True.”
                “You’re lonely, too.” It was cute when they tried to play my game.
                “On occasion, but we’ve established that you don’t care, and I’m not your type.”
                She raised perfectly shaped eyebrows. “Did we, or did you  make random guesses, despite knowing nothing about me?”
                “Fair enough. Was I wrong about most of it?”
                She laughed. “Not entirely. You totally hit the mark about this place being a mistake.”
                I waited. It couldn’t be this easy to get her out of the increasingly loud bar.
                It was.
                “I haven’t eaten since breakfast, so before I drink more and start to find you charming, let’s get some dinner.”
                “Aren’t you worried about going somewhere with a strange, irritating man you don’t know?” I asked.
                She held out her hand. “Katherine Kavanaugh. And you are?”
                Buggered. I shoved that thought aside and kissed the back of her hand. “Michael Stone.”
                “Well, Michael Stone who knows everything with a glance, let’s get out of here.”
                “You sure? I could be some mad, creepy stalker.”
                She gave me a dazzling smile and patted her bag. “And I could have a nine millimeter Glock in my purse with an extra clip in case you get really frisky. You never know.”
                She slapped a fifty on the bar and led the way out, the sea of inadequate men parting before her and one poor sod trailing behind, wondering if maybe this time, I'd made a mistake.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Ignorance Is Bliss

by Colleen Foley

I wasn’t ready to be spending a lot of time with him yet, but I agreed with Seth that Jim asking for a thing was good enough reason to do it. The result was several hours of speculation about might be causing the “problem”.

We’d been driving in silence for a little while when something occurred to me. I casually slipped my hand into my jacket pocket and fingered the small ivory amulet nestled there. It was a parting gift from Kaia, and it was ice cold.

I pressed my lips together hard and kept driving.

Son of a bitch.

______________
Next

Adrift

The fat yellow moon lent a shimmery ivory hue to Vermont drifts. I wanted to talk about our schism, find out if we were still brothers, but Nate side-stepped it by asking about the case.

“Major storms never hit this little town. Tornadoes turn aside. Blizzards skip on by. They get rain and snow, but nothing that results in destruction.”

Nate shrugged. “Could be coincidence.”

“For over a hundred years?” I scoffed.

“Why investigate now?”

If I wanted a thousand miles of silence, I’d confess Uncle Jim and I were worried. Instead, I clung to fragile peace.

“Because Jim asked.”

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Next

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Reverberation

His dark hands flitted over ivory keys, giving life to melody long forgotten. Dust motes danced as ladies had, spinning and spun out in lace, now cobwebbed memories.

Attar of rose lingered longest, a hint clinging to tattered remnants. Odd, it should have been other scents that recalled the day, defined the moment they realized hiding had bought them only time, not coveted results, not escape from destiny.

He played it like a love song, this requiem for his masters, all bones now, wrapped in the silence they’d asked of him.

They should have asked him to mind the door.

Who’ll Stop the Rain?

By Colleen Foley

When I’d exhausted every foul word I know, I gulped the last of my coffee and whistled for the check. The waitress gave me a look that could’ve withered my balls to ashes, then slapped it on the table. I left a twenty in apology and headed for the door.

“Great. Whacko weather and witches, with the ashes of a vodun. Let’s go.”

The car spewed torrents of gravel behind it, as I gunned out of the parking lot.

“All right, genius. What kind of weather is so weird that we’re the only ones Jimmy trusts to check it out?”

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Ashes to Ashes

I shrugged off my coat, removed my hat, and waited for Nate to look up from his pie.

He blinked twice, then gave a low whistle. “What happened?”

I ran my hand over my bristly head. “Long hair is easy to pick up and use in spells. Someone suggested this would be safer.”

Nate pushed away his empty plate. “I’m gonna hate myself for asking, but where did you hold that conversation?”

“My mother’s old coven. I brought them the ashes of the voodoo priest.”

His torrent of expletives was truly impressive.

I grinned. Things were almost back to normal.

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Next

Friday, January 09, 2015

Never Take the Bait

By Colleen Foley

“C’mon, really? Funky weather? That’s low rank crap. Tell Jimmy to have Ronny Sparks check it out.”

Seth raised an eyebrow at me, but otherwise didn’t move a muscle. I know that look. He wasn’t going to give an inch. It occurred to me that the whole thing might be a convenient excuse engineered by Jimmy, to get us talking again. If it was, he and I were having words.

I sighed heavily and pointed at the other chair with my fork.

“Fine. But this apple-rum pie is rumored to be legendary around here. You can talk while I eat.”

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Next

Stick and Carrot

“Can’t you take a hint?” Nate focused on his pie.

“Six months is long enough to sulk.”

That got his attention.

“After dealing with legions of undead, a hive-mind violating me, and the rank invasion of your consciousness in mine, I deserve time off.” His spark of anger was like coming home to a fire in the hearth.

“You’ve had it.” I slid a file to him. “Uncle Jim called me.”

“Some legend risen to screw up our lives?”

“Nope. Weird weather in a small town.”

He sighed. “Okay. How bad could that be?”

Some questions shouldn’t be asked aloud.

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Next

Friday, January 02, 2015

Avoidance

By Colleen Foley

Cider Mountain is a “quaint” little ski town in Vermont. It’s so quaint the only people who ever ski there are the locals and they like it that way. I’d spent the last few months going from one end of New England to the other staying in backwaters and back of backwaters Seth would never think to look in.

I needed time to sift through the BDSM and catharsis scented powder my mind had become after Kaia.

I had a forkful of apple-rum pie, mounded with whipped cream, halfway to my lips when He walked in the door, grinning.

Damnit.

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Flirting with Disaster

The plan came together in increments during a night drinking his favorite whiskey in his least favorite place. Sure, he’d needed time to recover from being possessed and slaughtering a colony of zombies, but since one of those had been a replica of my mother, and I’d processed that as best one might, he had no excuse for not returning my calls.

I packed my car, then followed the compass-shaped scar on my arm that unerringly points to my estranged brother. I found him in a pastry shop in some backwater town.

Not surprisingly, Nate wasn’t excited to see me

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Next

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Apostate

They thought that by giving me
Time out in a naked room
I would emerge contrite
Obedient
Shamed
Under the gaze of a saint.

The quiet space
Lit with images of grace
Gave me strength
Purpose
Determination
To see the world not as instructed
But in the way I was meant to
Beautiful
Somber
Complex.

Years later,
The sacred walls crumbling,
I came to remember
And took the window with me
When I left.