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“Don’t Plan to Stay” released

December 10, 2017

My holiday novella is now out on both Smashwords and finally Amazon. It will be released to Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iBooks etc over the next week or two as Smashwords sends it out. I hope you enjoy meeting Donnie, Adam, and Willow the pit bull, and sharing their December.

Don’t Plan to Stay

Chapter 1
Donnie

Six years is a long time.

It was long enough for the podunk town I grew up in to have shrunk in on itself. The bus station had shut its sandwich shop and become a dusty, hollow space. The storefronts looked shabbier, even with holiday decorations up. A crust of snow lined potholes in the roads.

Six years was long enough for a new headstone in the graveyard. They’d told me at the grocery store that Adam’s mom had died. I went to the cemetery first. I’d thought I might talk this out with her, but when I looked down at that stone – Beloved wife and mother – all I could do was wish I’d told her even once how much she was a mom to me too. In the end, I gave her the roses and walked away. They were cheap flowers, six bucks a dozen at the grocery store, no doubt frozen and dead in an hour. But she’d loved the yellow ones back when I’d known her, six years ago.

Six years was also plenty long enough for Adam to have moved out and moved on.

This is stupid.

But I pushed open the glass door of Lindberg’s Garden and Crafts and went in. And there he was behind the counter, showing some woman the timers for holiday lights. He looked damned, fucking good. His hair was really short, but he was hotter than ever, filled out a bit in the chest and shoulders. He laughed, teasing the woman, getting her to add a silly ornament to her order. December was the busy season at the nursery gift center, a good season. The scent of the pine wreaths, the gingerbread of the craft ornaments, the musty earthiness of the poinsettia pots, hit me in the gut. This had been everything to me once.

I didn’t know why I was there. Why I came back.

I knew I didn’t belong anymore.

When they let me out of prison, I’d planned to head out West. I was going to Seattle or maybe L.A., somewhere warmer and gay-friendly. I’d figured I’d work in Fargo for a while, save enough for the bus and a bit in my pocket, and start a new life. But when I finally had the fare and stepped up to the kiosk at the bus station, carols were on the radio and somehow my fingers tapped in “Tallbridge, ND.”

I’m stupid sometimes. And those are my good days.

Behind me, a laugh tugged at my memories, the faint echo of something I once knew. I turned and looked. An unfamiliar man with a full beard was bending to listen to the babbling of a small boy. After a moment, he swung the boy up on his shoulders. The kid giggled, crowing like a rooster, and tugged on the guy’s hair. “Go, Daddy! Horsie!” When the man tipped his head around, holding the boy’s legs secure against his chest, I suddenly saw it. Holy shit, that was Adam’s big brother.

A rush of crazy mixed feelings went through me, seeing Nate healthy. With a beard and a kid and, I guess, a wife. And a life. I tried to stomp on my flash of anger and envy, and think good thoughts. Nate was okay. Adam was an uncle. I hoped his mom lived long enough to see the rugrat born.

A voice behind me said, “Can I help you?”

I didn’t turn. I didn’t even breathe.

“Is there something you’re looking for?” Adam said patiently.

You.

Without letting him see my face, I said as gruffly as I could, “No.” Then I added, “Thanks,” because I was back in the real world, and it wouldn’t kill me to be polite.

I’d changed in six years, too. A lot. My voice was deeper, and I didn’t look the same or stand the same as when I was the hot, bad boy on the block. Back before I got a lot of the attitude beat out of me. But all it took was two little words from me, for Adam to whisper, “Donnie?”

I wanted to walk away, but my feet were glued to the floor right there beside the damned teddy-bear-ornament tree. My vision sparkled. I think my fingers went numb.

Adam eased around me, moving like someone stalking a deer. When his face came into view, his eyes were huge. Maybe he was the Bambi. “Donnie? Is that you?”

I took a deep breath, then snapped, “Well, I ain’t fucking Marie, right?”

“Not unless you’ve changed teams.”

When our eyes met, it was almost like six years didn’t happen. It was me and Adam, together, me supplying the attitude and the straight lines, and Adam doling out the punch lines and the smiles. For a moment I almost grinned at him, but then the little kid laughed behind me and I remembered that time didn’t really stand still. I looked down. Adam still had feet the size of canoes in his work-boots. “I was just going.”

~.~.~

This story started as a flash fiction some of you may recognize, from years ago. I’d always wondered what happened to Donnie and Adam, after the end of that little piece. Now we all get to find out. I hope you have fun reading it.

Buy Links: Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/766229
Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0782YX8SM/
Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0782YX8SM/
Amazon DE https://www.amazon.de/dp/B0782YX8SM/

6 Comments leave one →
  1. kiracee permalink
    December 12, 2017 6:04 pm

    Yaayy!!! I always loved that flash fic. Can’t wait to read the expanded version!

    • December 12, 2017 6:08 pm

      I hope you like it – caution for one very-brief incident involving the dog that if I remember right is a little trigger for you.

  2. Secilia permalink
    December 28, 2017 9:49 pm

    I have read 70% of “Don’t Plan to Stay.” I usually don’t enjoy novels related to prison-too painful-so I was a bit reluctant before starting. But now I adore this. I care so much for both Adam and Donnie (as well as Adam’s father and Willow…) I don’t want to finish it. It is not like a quickly written story released for the holidays…every word counts in this story. Thank you once again for your beautiful book.

    • December 29, 2017 11:21 am

      How good to hear, thank you. I did try to keep Donnie’s experiences more hinted at than vivid, for this to be a holiday novella and not too painfully angsty. I’m pleased if the balance worked for you.

  3. Robin permalink
    January 9, 2018 9:12 pm

    What a great story this is! So sweet and full of passion and life, and a good reminder of the timelessness and inevitability of love. Any chance of a sequel? It would be really nice to see what lies ahead for these guys.

    • January 9, 2018 9:27 pm

      You know, I’d love to – I’d have loved to have made this a novel, but it would never have been done in time for the Holidays. But I also have so many writing projects stacked up that I’m not sure this will rise to the top. I have confidence in these guys’ ability to weather the life ahead for them, so it’s not high on my to-do list, even if it would be fun to write it happening, and to look back a bit more at Donnie’s past.

      But I’m so glad you enjoyed it and that my guys caught your attention enough to want more of them. Thanks for coming to say so.

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