Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Many Splintered Thing / Day 34: "Would you like an egg?"

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you might have seen my message yesterday that our family is dealing with another blow and that I'll be very hit or miss. That being said, I was sitting here today while he napped an was in the right frame of mind to write. So I'm updating. I will continue to do so whenever possible.


“Hey, there. Beautiful and made coff—“ Caleb stopped in the doorway.

Dahlia was drinking a coffee but her eyes looked strained, her mouth tight. “Good morning,” she said.

He didn’t need to look at her twice to know she was upset. And to know—almost certainly—that it was with him. Had that weirdness between them been more than he’d felt? Had it been a real rift?

He moved carefully, not wanting to make anything worse. Grabbing a mug from the cabinet he went to the coffee pot and noticed, as he poured, that it was full. And yet she was drinking coffee.

Caleb repressed a sigh. This was laughable, really. He’d never gone for any kind of drama. Even the low level I’m-angry-at-you vibe would be too much and he’d cut a woman loose. With Dahlia he felt the first subtle stirrings of unease in his gut. Which made him even more confused.

“I see coffee all the way to the top of the pot and coffee in your hand.” He turned to her, tried on a smile. Backup plan…joke with her. “Is this a magical coffee pot? Tell me the truth now. Because if it is we could be rich. We’d never have to work for people like Jasmine again if we could figure out how it works.”

“Save it,” she said. She turned her back on him and began to rummage through the cabinet. Caleb watched her, stumped.

“Dahlia? Can you tell me what’s wrong? I know we had a moment last night on our way back from the Rice Barn but I thought it was just one of those weird boy-this-is-progressing-fast freak out moments. Which I’ve heard about but never had, FYI. But you seem really angry at me and I’m at a loss as to why.”

There. That had sounded sane and adult, right? Having never done it before he wasn’t sure. But that had been the intent. He hoped it had worked.

When she turned to him she was smiling. But it wasn’t genuine. It was, in fact, the kind of smile Bob used to call the serial killer smile. The one Belinda would turn on him when he’d royally pissed her off and he feared that if he closed his eyes she’d be sneaking up on him with a kitchen knife. Caleb had heard many tales of the dreaded SKS, but now he was witnessing it in person.

“What?” he said.

“Would you like an egg?”

“What?” He tried very hard not to let his mouth fly open in surprise.

“Would you like an egg?” She enunciated every word.

Since he’d been working like a dog since he was about fifteen, Caleb’s eyes automatically went to the clock. “We don’t have time for an egg,” Dahlia. “We’re pushing late as it is. Which is why I wish you’d talk to m—“

“Don’t worry,” she said, going to the fridge. She pulled out the carton and then began to rummage the kitchen for a bowl, a whisk, butter. “Jasmine said I could be late today what with the shock of finding her here in the guest house in her nightgown with her hair all messed up coming down the hall from your room…”

He felt his stomach fall like he was riding an elevator. “Dahlia—“

“Actually, she just said I could be late due to the shock. Or was it surprise?” She waved a hand and he almost flinched worried that whisk was going to come flying his way. “Either way, I can be late. Now would you like an egg?”

There was a long pregnant pause.

“You fucker,” she added. “Literally.”


Dahlia cracked eggs into a bowl and began to beat them. She had to beat something. Caleb came toward her, reached for her.

“Don’t,” she said.

But he ignored her. She knew he would. His hand closed around her wrist and despite her anger a stab of arousal moved through her. Which only made her angrier. She wanted to hit him. And truth be told, if it had been any other man she probably would have. But something about Caleb tamed that aggressively independent nature in her.

It was an unsettling ability he had.

“Listen to me, Dahlia. Nothing happened between me and Jasmine regardless of what she might have implied.”

She snatched her hand away and beat the eggs again. “She was wearing a nightgown. No,” she went on, slamming down the bowl and the whisk. “A negligee if you want to get specific.”

“I know.”

“And her hair was a mess.”

“It was.”

“And she came down the hall from your room.”

“She did.”

She put her hands on her hips. “I’m confused. So…why am I not supposed to be upset?”

“Because nothing happened.”

“Caleb, I’m not an idiot.”

“I agree. But I’m not a liar and I’m telling you nothing happened. I woke up and she was in bed with me.” He caught her hand up again and she let him.

“And that’s your defense?”

“No. It’s not a defense. Let me finish. I woke up and she was in bed with me and I thought she was you. I thought you’d come in to crawl into bed for a bit before work. I was happy…”

He was watching her intently and she felt her cheeks flush. The heat in her skin was embarrassing. Her gut wasn’t reacting negatively to his explanations. She looked him in the eye and he met her gaze directly. His eyes clear and uncluttered by deceit.

“I was happy until I realized it was Jas. And then I put a stop to it. And nothing happened. Which is why she was pissed. Her hair looked like that from me using it as a leash to keep her off me and probably due to the fact that I pushed her out of bed. Onto the floor.”

A small half smile twisted his lips. She was returning the smile before she could stop herself.

“For real?”

“For real,” Caleb said. He caught up her other wrist and stepped closer to her. “You listen to me, Dahlia. I don’t talk about my father…my family. I don’t tell my tale to just anyone. If I told you that, all of it, I trust you. Which means you can trust me.”

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Many Splintered Thing / Day 33: She fought him, squirming on top of him, seemingly all muscle and sinew.

Here we go. I think I could go for another cuppa today. That picture looks tempting. Might have to give in to temptation...



Caleb stiff armed her. Much harder than he anticipated. He had wild, strange images in his mind of films he’d seen where men wrestled alligators. She fought him, squirming on top of him, seemingly all muscle and sinew.

“Jasmine! Fucking knock it off!” he hissed. He changed tactics by shoving his lower body to the side as he levered her to his left. It disconnected them but provoked a sound from her that reminded Caleb of an angry feline.

“Caleb…” She was breathing hard. “Just let me make it better.”

She wouldn’t stop going for him, randomly striking for various parts of his body. He finally shoved her over the edge of the bed. He’d never hit a woman, but he sure as shit wasn’t going to wear kid gloves with her while she was acting like a lunatic.

“There is nothing to make better,” he said into the semi-light of his room. “There is nothing. Nothing between us anymore. You can fuck whoever you want in the gazebo. I don’t care.”

“But I loved you,” she said. He was glad he couldn’t see her face clearly.

“No you didn’t.”

“And you loved me,” she went on undaunted.

“No I didn’t,” I said.

“And now you hate me,” she said, not listening. She was sniffling. He knew this routine. I didn’t get what I want so now I will grind you into dust beneath my shoe with guilt or whatever emotion you have that is close to guilt.

“No, Jas. I don’t hate you. I am indifferent to you. And that, my dear, is the opposite of love. Now you need to go. You can get up and walk out of here on your own or I can get up, carry you out and dump you on the lawn. Up to you.” He was sitting up now. Running his hands through his hair, wondering how he’d ever gotten tangled up with the likes of her.

She sat there unmoving. He assumed she was staring at him but he couldn’t’ tell. The room was lit now but she was in shadows. A darker spot in the purpling light.

“I can fire you,” she said, some heat in her voice.

“Oh, absolutely. Feel free. I’ll figure it out. I’ll find another job.”

“You’ll turn tail and run back east,” she said with an ugly bark of a laugh. Taunting him.

He pulled on the T-shirt that was crumpled on the floor by his nightstand. “Nope. I’ll find a job somewhere local. I have something around here that…intrigues me. I won’t be leaving. So do you worst, Jas. Long gone are the days where you’ll wield anything over me. If anything, the way I see it, I wield something over you. Does Harrison know about the tall, thin drink of infidelity in the gazebo?”

She stood then, brushing down the nightgown she wore. Her hair was a wild tangle around her face and he thought how she looked like some crazy queen in a fairy tale.

“Are you threatening me, Caleb?”

He laughed. “Nope. Just stating the obvious. Now get.”

He shooed her with his hand and he watched her spine go rigid, her eyes narrow. The sun was truly coming up, chasing away more and more of the darkness that lurked at the corners of the room.

“Did you just dismiss me on my own property?”

“Indeed, I did. Now go. Or I will. Either way, one of us is going, Jas.”

She turned on her heels. That trait, more than any, always made Caleb remember her upbringing. Her money. Her idea that she was entitled to whoever and whatever she wanted in life. He couldn’t help but smile.

She turned the knob, opened the door, and walked out without uttering another word.

It was only then that he exhaled. And he hadn’t even realized he’d been holding his breath.


She heard him coming. Dahlia dumped grounds into the filter and then filled the coffee pot with water. She poured it into the reservoir and realized her hands were shaking a bit. It annoyed her. Just a few days before she’d been brewing her coffee cup by cup with a French press, but not now. Now there were two of them and, as much as it surprised her given her loathing of any kind of change, she had immediately switched to the coffee pot which was easier to deal with.

The spot in the hallway that creaked when stepped on sounded. She felt energy coming down the hallway. It was odd how, once you lived along for any amount of time, you could actually feel the energy of another person in your domain.

Standing in the doorway. Dahlia could feel it. Waiting.

She plastered a smile on her face, wanting to make whatever that weirdness yesterday was fade, and turned. “Hey, I don’t know what happened last night but—“

Dahlia froze. Jasmine stood there, hand on hip, leaning against the arch that led from hallway to kitchen. “Good morning, Dahlia,” she said.

Dahlia opened her mouth but quickly closed it again. She took in the tousled hair, the nightgown that was sheer in all the right places, the cat-that-ate-the-canary grin. Her stomach tumbled down, down, down even as her head grew light.

“Jas,” she said, with as much calm as she could muster.

Fuck her. Fuck the rich tart and her greedy ways. She’d explode from her emotions before she’d show even a single crack in her armor. Caleb could fuck her all he wanted. Jasmine could have all the men. Who cared, right? It was a day, really. One night and one day, if you really wanted to get technical. The thing between her and Caleb was nothing. A blip on the radar. A single raindrop in a monsoon.

“Feel free to be late to work,” Jasmine said. “I know it might take you a little bit to recover from seeing me here.”

Jasmine turned quickly and walked away. Before her hands could even stop shaking, Dahlia heard the front door shut. She turned to the cabinet, found the French press and got it down. She began to make her cup of coffee for the morning.

photo credit: - luz - via photopin cc

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Many Splintered Thing / Day 32: “What am I gonna do with you, beautiful?”

 Cracked 40K on this weird weird day. Huzzah. ;)


She heard him come in but kept her eyes closed. The TV show had morphed into another episode of the same. Yet another argument between the women. Dahlia thought maybe she’d sit up and say something. Apologize for falling asleep. Say she regretted the weirdness that had somehow grown between them in the car.

But she didn’t. Too chicken. She kept her eyes shut as he locked up the back door. He was talking softly and she knew that he was addressing Alice, his constant shadow.

She remembered something she’d overheard a grandmother telling her granddaughter at an ice cream shop once. “You can tell a good man by animals. If animals are at ease around him, you can feel safe being at ease around him too.”

For some reason—given the very few positive adult role models she’d had in her life—the advice had rung true.

She peeked quickly over the arm of the sofa. She could only make out a sliver of kitchen and she saw him moving around in there. The oven door banged shut and then she saw him pass by the doorway with a big pink oven mitt on. Taking the bread to cool on the opposite counter.

The smell hit her and despite a decent dinner her stomach rumbled. The smell was brown sugar and cinnamon, baked goods and yumminess.

Now’s your chance, dummy. Get up. Go in. Talk to him. Push that weird rift back and move forward. You both got a little case of cold feet. Too much too fast. Nerves. It was bound to happen. But don’t let the odd feelings grow. Don’t feed it…

“Can you believe she did that?” she heard him say. No one answered. Of course not. As much as Alice was willing to listen, she sure couldn’t answer.

“I see by the wagging of your tail that you are as flabbergasted by the set of brass balls on Jasmine as I am,” he went on. Then a cabinet banged. “Your outrage, Al, on my behalf, is humbling. Have a treat. We got them tonight at the store. They are organic and homemade and apparently made by baby cherubs based on the price of them.”

She smiled. But the smile faded. When had he seen Jasmine? How long had she been asleep? And why had he seen her?

Jealousy, sharp and sudden, stabbed her in the ribs. It took her breath away and Dahlia shut her eyes tight as she heard his footsteps come her way. She felt Alice nose her arm and could sense Caleb standing there. Towering over her.

Part of her wanted to reach out, touch his jean clad leg, pull him down, and lure him in. The other part wanted to turn her back to him and feign a deeper sleep. She didn’t know when or why he’d seen Jasmine but it made her feel hollow down to her bones.

“What am I gonna do with you, beautiful?” he said. He’d come closer. His fingers brushed through her bangs and she had to focus—as Zen as she’d ever managed to be—not to visibly react to his touch. She could do nothing about her racing heart or the wetness between her legs or the way her heart seemed to jump in her breast. But she focused all her energy on keeping her eyes closed, her mouth lax, her breathing even.

“You go and fall asleep on me, Dahlia. I’m trying to woo you with zucchini bread and my good looks and you doze off. Crushing to a man’s ego, you know?”

She focused on her breathing.

Why did you see Jasmine, Caleb? Why?

“And now I want to scoop you up and take you to my bed. Pour my heart out. Me and my petty, hurt feelings.”

She almost opened her eyes then. Intrigued by his words. Her gut reaction toward him being one of comfort and solace. Her initial urge was to make him feel better.

“But I think it’s best to leave things as they are. At least for tonight. My brain hurts from some of today’s events.”

There was a sadness in his voice that made her heart lurch sideways. She wanted to reach out and touch him. And just as she decided that was what she would do, he spoke to Alice.

“What do you think, Al? Leave sleeping beauty here or carry her to bed?”

A few beats of silence passed. She heard one of the women on the TV calling another a whore. When she thought she’d explode from playing possum he said, “Yeah. We’ll leave her here. If I pick her up and carry her I might wake her up. And then things will get more confusing. I’m not sure, Al, but I think she’s mad at me. Or something.” He pulled the thick throw up to her shoulders and then the room dimmed when he turned the lamp off. “I was never good at the feelings thing, you know?”

He clicked his tongue and she felt Alice withdraw. His energy receded and she was very aware of his absence. It hurt her heart.

After a moment, his bedroom door closed and she was left there with the stupid show chattering, the smell of baking bread and an ache in her chest as she wondered about him seeing Jas.

What the fuck? Why didn’t you talk to him?

Too late now.


She pressed against him. Caleb felt her heat invade him. It would have been overwhelming had it not been so dam nice. She kissed his neck and his pulse slammed from just that tiny, innocent contact. He wrapped his arms around her, drawing her closer.

Her hand slid down his belly, slipped beneath the waistband of his sleep pants. He was already hard, hard enough to steal his breath, but when she touched him, his body jolted as if she were electricity and he’d just been plugged in. Her thumb swept over the tip of his cock.

He cracked his eyes, seeing the periwinkle glow of early morning come through the blinds. She squeezed him and a groan rumbled up from the center of his chest.

Caleb knew he should flip over, sheath himself and drive into her. They were running out of time to be together before the day began for real. But what she was doing felt too damn good and he just wanted to enjoy it for a moment.

Her head was nestled at the crook of his neck and her hair was soft against his skin. She squeezed again, stroked him and then she moved down. Her body, soft and curvy, moving against his as she descended. He caught a whiff of her perfume and shut his eyes all the way again, basking in the scent.

Her lips dragged down his belly, she paused to stick her tongue in his navel. Her small hands held his hipbones and pressed them down. When she tugged his sleep pants and began to draw them down, her mouth moving quickly behind the work her hands managed, he caught a second whiff of her perfume.

Something light and fragrant and flowery…flowers…jasmine?

His eyes shot open and he managed to catch her just as she drew his cock out. She caught her hair, wound it around his hands, tugged to force her head up.

Please be Dahlia, please be Dahlia…

But Dahlia didn’t wear perfume let alone jasmine perfume. And Jasmine, being herself, always wore something jasmine based as her signature scent.

Still, a man could hope. He hoped until the very last second when he looked down into Jasmine’s face and she said to him, “What’s the problem, Caleb? You always loved it when I sucked your cock.”

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