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The Floor Sounded Better than Sleeping Next to the Enemy

A short drabble I wrote recently while taking the train home to visit family. Is it purely fiction or is it all real? Maybe parts of it, but I’ll leave that up to your imagination.

“Did you just stay up and party about our win?” I asked as Carson walked up.

He scrunched his face and shook his head. “Unnnnnngghh…tell ya at Starbucks,” he muttered as he pointed to hotel lobby. He stifled a yawn as we dodged families and couples checking out, exiting through the sliding doors and walking behind the hotel shuttle to reach the street.

“You room with anyone from your section?” Carson asked.

I shook my head and explained that I worked out an arrangement with a friend from colorguard. Carson sighed before he muttered that I was lucky.

“Senior perk,” he grumbled, “why do I have two more years until I’m there?”

“Oh stop whining,” I replied with a roll of my eyes, “She didn’t have a roommate for this trip and I asked the right coordinator. We thought we’d have to find two more people, but turns out we didn’t have to.”

Carson rubbed his eyes, his glasses lifting slightly off his nose. “At least you got the person you wanted.”

I stopped short and turned my head. “You knew you could pick anyone to room with for this trip, right?”

He snorted as he crossed his arms, fingers digging into the soft flesh of his biceps. “No Yinee, I didn’t. I actually agreed to room with Taj and Bryce a few weeks ago – then we got stuck with Christophe!”

“Then you should have asked someone else so you didn’t get a random assignment!” I replied, shaking my head.

“Let me rewind a bit,” Carson corrected, “no one assigned him to our room – Bryce asked him, but I’m pretty sure it was out of pity for him. I mean, Bryce asked if Taj and I were cool with it, but what was I supposed to say? ‘Yeah, Christophe can’t room with us.’ I’d be a jerk then, right?”

I nodded as I pressed the Walk button, keeping my eyes on the sign.

“So, they wanted to throw a big party in their room after the tournament and you tried to sleep through it?” I guessed.

“Who’s in the roller coaster group again?” he asked.

My head snapped in his direction at the question.

“Walk sign is on!” the disembodied voice announced from across the street.

Carson stepped down from the sidewalk and began to cross at a brisk pace. I followed, turning my head to cough.

I should take one now, I thought as I reached the other side. I dug around in my purse for the bottle of Zycam, pressing the heel of my hand against the cap.

“Ew, you’re sick Old Lady?” Carson asked as he nudged the button for the opposite side. He inched away and hugged the pole, casting a wary glance in my direction.

I tapped out a single melt tablet in my other hand and tilted my head back as I dropped it into my mouth. My lips twisted into a grimace as the fake orange flavor met my tongue and started to dissolve.

“Not contagious,” I corrected him as I threw the bottle back into my bag. “This is Day 6 – I’m just congested now.”

“Uh huh, sure…” Carson said with a sharp nod. “Sorry, but who’s in the amusement park group today again? Is it just us?”

“No, you, me, and Wilson,” I replied. “I almost thought we’d have my friends from the saxes, but they were just being trolls on my post. Figures, I always thought one of them was full of –” I trailed off, holding back the word threatening to slip out.

Carson relaxed, dropping his arms to the side. He mumbled something about being happy it was just the three of us and I turned my attention back to the tablet in my mouth and trying to finish it up before we reached the coffee shop. Next time I’m checking the other flavors.

Once the sign changed, we stepped off the sidewalk, walking side by side in silence.

“This is disgusting,” I announced as the final nub of the tablet dissolved. “I mean, it works but why did they think orange was any better than cherry?” I shook my head and sucked my saliva, trying to get the orange taste to go away. “Hey, you didn’t tell me why you look dead.”

“Cause I slept on the floor,” he replied with a pointed look.

I frowned and stared at him in disbelief. He had to be kidding me – this guy managed to get conned out of a comfy bed after the final tournament? While I didn’t know his roommates very well, Bryce would always stick out in my mind as the guy who covered his case in stickers from In-N-Out and couldn’t get enough of their Animal Fries. Taj was smaller than Carson and incredibly sarcastic, but not rude. As for newbie Christophe, he rarely was spotted without a smile or joking smirk on his face.

“Seriously? All right, who do I need to smack for kicking you to the floor?” I demanded as I crossed my arms.

Carson held his hands up and shot me a surprised look. “Whoa, easy there Old Lady! I know it might not sound normal, but I actually asked for the floor!”

I scanned his face and Carson nodded several times.

“No really, I asked for the floor.”

“Then why are you complaining?” I asked. “Please tell me someone at least gave you a pillow and a blanket.”

“Oh yeah, no I got those,” Carson added. He shoved his hands in his pockets and glanced around the strip mall we were near. “Look, it was either that or share a bed with Christophe! I mean, you’ve seen the guy right? He’s a giant – he pretty much needs the whole bed!”

I snorted and dropped my arms to the side. “Carson, you’re exaggerating – the kid’s not that tall!”

“I say he is!” Carson shot back.

“Well, how did he take it?”

Carson shrugged his shoulders and began walking toward Starbucks. “Oh hard to tell. He seemed surprised but I told him he should just take the bed – no big deal. He let me have the other pillow and the top blanket. You know, it actually wasn’t that uncomfortable if that makes sense. Did you know Bryce snores pretty loudly?”

I bit my lip as I followed him across the parking lot, looking left then right for cars. “No, I didn’t and I probably wouldn’t have known that,” I replied as I zipped my jacket up. I reached out to grab the handle but Carson beat me to it, swinging the door open and standing to the side, making a mock bow.

“After you, Old Lady,” he said with a smug smile.

I rolled my eyes as I slipped through the door and joined the long line, standing on tiptoe to see the bakery counter. Carson walked up behind me and leaned to the side to see the drink menu ahead.

“What are you getting?”

“A bagel and a cup of water,” I said. “You?”

“I think…I’m gonna have that chocolate chip Frappuccino drink and something from the case,” he announced before straightening up.


“Can’t stand him!”

“Who?” I asked as I spread a thin layer of cream cheese on my second bagel half.

Carson’s eyes darted from the window to the line, checking to see who else was here that we knew. I followed his gaze and noted that there were mostly strangers, maybe a few of the popular kids from band tucked in the corner of the cafe. A large group of them from various sections stood up at that moment and walked past us to toss their trash. One of the guys raised a hand in my direction before following the group out the door, coffee cup in his left hand.

Carson watched them leave before turning back to me. He leaned in and lowered his voice, “Christophe.”

I raised a brow at him and he huffed as he leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms.

“Am I missing something or did he empty his spit valve on your shoe when I wasn’t looking?” I asked.

He shook his head. “Just gets on my nerves. He acts like everyone’s his friend and he’s annoying. I swear he thinks life is one big laugh to him.”

I took this moment to take a big bite of my bagel, trying to chew quietly as I listened to Carson lay out his reasons for hating this kid. It seemed a little unfair to the poor guy but then again, it was like the old saying from grade school – you’re not gonna like everyone and everyone isn’t gonna like you.

Yeah, it was definitely good that it was just the three of us taking on the biggest, baddest coasters at Six Flags today…


Blast from the Past: Coward in Me

Coward in Me is based on a true event that happen to me while in college. Yinee (pronounced ‘yin-nay’) believed that she was just playing another last minute gig with her comrades in Pep Band. However, she is forced to come to terms with the rejection that still leaves her cold and her shaky set of emotions for the boy who does not see her. In the end, she is reminded the fact that she is not a hero but merely a silent coward. Like “Superhero” character Cassandra, Yinee takes her wake-up call with masked emotions and pondering thoughts.

“So what’s the big deal with this gig Brian?” I asked my conductor as I pulled off 4 pieces of tape from a tape dispenser, “I see alumni and we’re standing in the president’s personal area in the stands.” I gripped my sheet music firmly as a sharp, icy gust of wind attempted to blow it off my stand. Once the brief burst of air had passed, I began taping my music down to the stand I was sharing with piccolo players Traci and Marie.

“I don’t know for sure but they said it was some alumni sports dedication deal,” Brian told me as he pulled a pair of drumsticks out of his back pocket. “They wanted Pep Band aka us to come in and bring the pep to the event. So hey Yinee, that RA thing, did you get it?” Traci, Marie, and a few other players turned their heads in my direction at his question.

The bitter reminder of the rejection letter hit me as soon as Brian uttered the dreaded question. I had casually mentioned to him earlier in basketball season that I was looking to become a resident advisor in the residence halls next year and he jumped on my words. First it started out with a flurry of complaints he had with the Office of Housing during his undergrad studies. Then it transitioned into him supporting me with my decision. He said that he would be very surprised if Housing said no and put much faith (and pressure!) on my shoulders. Maybe it was because I had mentioned that I wanted to fix some of the growing problems in the current residence hall situations. Well, whatever the reason, Brian seemed to almost bolster my application into the job as a superhero stepping to face her destiny. But instead of defeating the challenges and having good overcome evil, I got a splash of cold water thrown in my face after reading my letter stating the same sugar-coated paragraph given to all of the rejected applicants.

Ironically, I was starting to feel like that character from this short story that I had to read for my English class called “Superhero.” In brief summary, Christina, renamed Cassandra, casts aside her Catholic religion as she steps forth into a little world called college. She is deceived into thinking that she is invincible, like a superhero in the comic books, but later she is brought back to a harsh reality when she becomes pregnant. Her wake-up call was much more than a few slaps on the cheek; it was several buckets of cold water hitting her in the face at full force. I pretty much felt like her minus the post-abortion emotions as I gathered up the courage to tell Brian the dreaded news.

“I didn’t get it this year,” I sighed lifelessly. My eyes watched Brian as he slammed his fist on the balcony railing behind us. He looked bummed but also surprised in an angry manner.

“What is wrong with them!” he demanded angrily, “Are they blind or something?”

I shook my head no at him. “They had 300+ applications come in for this year,” I weakly offered him, “A lot of great candidates with great qualities out there. Not just new faces but some old ones who probably were unable to get it again this year.”

“Sugar-coated…,” he cursed under his breath angrily, “I’m sure they wrote that to every rejected person that applied this year.”

“Yeah,” I murmured faintly. Traci gave me a sympathetic look and Wilson, my trombone friend, crushed me in a comforting hug. They were being supportive but I didn’t need everyone staring at me and making this a sympathy case for me. A few alumni had turned their heads to view the brief scene but quickly resumed their normal conversations with others. To my relief, Wilson had let go of me just as Pete the Panther came striding over to our group.

“What’s up Pete?” crowed Brian as he waved a drumstick at him. Pete shrugged and began looking around for something. He pointed to the drumstick in Brian’s hand then began air-drawing an elongated trapezoid.

“Sorry Pete,” apologized another trombone player named Carl, “We didn’t bring the cowbell with us.” Pete shook his head disappointedly and put his paws on his hips. Brian tried not to laugh and Traci’s lips twitched slightly as she watched Pete stare at Carl for forgetting the cowbell.

“Hey Pete,” said one of the coordinators as she joined our group, “Aren’t you going to greet our guests as they arrive?” Pete jumped up in surprise and ran over to shake hands with some of the current athletes who had just arrived.

“Saved by the coordinator,” muttered Carl as he shut his trombone case.

“Pete looked ready to kill you for forgetting the best instrument,” chortled Adam under the sousaphone resting on his shoulders. Carl glared at him before blowing some low notes into his horn.

I became engrossed in securing my music to the stand that when someone said to the group, “Hey how’s it going?” I nearly jumped out of my skin. The voice belonged to Jeremy, a graduating basketball player who was part of the starting line-up. I looked up at that moment to see that his companion accompanying him was none other than Aaron. Aaron was busy pinning his name tag on his t-shirt when Jeremy greeted the group. He looked up at that moment and I hurriedly lowered my gaze.

Aaron had been in my American Government class last semester. We spoke only once and I learned from our exchange that he did not do the assigned reading, maybe skimming it if necessary. Later I had discovered that he played on the men’s basketball team when I was setting up for my first basketball season gig with the rest of Pep Band. The familiar spiky hairdo caught the corner of my eye as he jumped up and made a practice basket during team warm-ups that night. Initially, I never thought much of him until then. He seemed to me at first like an average guy who went to class to do the bare minimum to pass. Maybe it was his confidence that drew me to him. Well, anyways, I harbored a small secret crush on him ever since. One problem though? He barely knew I existed. Sure, he did talk to me once as I said earlier and he did accept my lousy FaceBook friend request. Yet that doesn’t mean that he tried any harder to get to know me more. I mean, I was guilty of being so shy that I’d purposely pretend that I was caught up in something else as he passed by, but even when I felt somewhat brave enough to acknowledge his close presence, he barely noticed who was saying hi to him with a shaky smile on her face.

I was startled out of my reverie when Traci uttered the phrases a girl would say to protect herself from rape.

“Stop. Stop. Fire! Fire!” she recalled as she acted out a scenario with Marie who pushed back.

“Studying for your self-defense workshop?” I offered as I watched them act.

“Yes,” sighed Traci as she picked up her piccolo off the stand, “We have a final next week on what do in those cases. Can you believe it?” I shook my head no and began blowing miscellaneous notes into my clarinet. Brian looked over at one of the coordinators before announcing that we were going to start performing.

“Hey!” Brian loudly barked at the distracted group, “Carl, that includes you too. Get out Gonna Fly Now then Land of 1000 Dances.” Jeremy and Aaron broke off their conversation with the members of women’s basketball and turned to watch us perform. My eyes fell to the sheet music taped to my stand and stared at the first line until I heard Brian count off. I tried to ignore the stares from alumni and current student athletes as I played the accompanying melody to the trumpet’s loud blare in Gonna Fly Now. My fingers had accidentally pressed wrong keys in 3 places and I was feeling quite flustered. Usually I’m fine playing on stage in front of audiences but when people are literally inches away from me, it can really shake me if they’re staring too intently.

“Great,” I muttered to myself as the applause died down. That performance sucked. Traci and Marie sounded ridiculously flat and because they played an octave higher, my right ear had become temporarily deaf. Kenny, a showy, somewhat sarcastic trumpet player, had purposely overblown his notes to sound über obnoxious. And the fact that I had messed up more than usual didn’t make it any better.

“Take a breather guys,” Brian announced, “I’ll let you know when we need to play the school songs.” Pete the Panther took a break from greeting guests and tapped the drum heads with his paws. Eventually he grew bored of that and walked over to where the trombone players were standing. When Wilson turned his head for a brief 5 seconds, Pete swiped his car keys and handed them off to Brian as a joke. Wilson turned his head just in time to see Brian jokingly thanking Pete for giving him a new car.

“Gee I wonder what model this is,” he mused lightly. He looked at the keychain before handing it back to Pete. Pete studied the keys for a brief second before placing them in his mouth. Traci gasped and I howled in laughter at the sight. Wilson gave Pete a very stern look while everyone around them began laughing at the sight.

“I don’t think my keys taste that good,” Wilson announced to Pete firmly. True to Wilson’s words, Pete immediately spit them out and dropped them back into his hands.

“Well…thanks Pete,” mumbled Wilson as he pretended to wipe off Pete’s saliva from the keys. Pete shrugged before petting Wilson on the head.

“Oh wow Pete,” chortled Marie as Pete walked past us. He paused briefly at our stand and pointed to my instrument. He put a paw to an ear and gave me a surprised shrug.

“I can’t play very loud Pete,” I informed him, “The clarinet isn’t built to dominate over the Band. That would be the trumpet’s job.” Pete covered his eyes at my words and I laughed a little.

“And its just me sticking it out on clarinet,” I reminded him, “There would probably need to be a ridiculous amount of clarinets in order to hear what it sounds like.” Pete sagged his shoulders and gave me a sympathetic look. I gave him a shrug of my shoulders. Honestly, what could I do in a situation like now?

“Hey Yinee!” Wilson motioned for me to join the low brass guys in their conversation. I turned to say goodbye to Pete but he was busy analyzing Traci’s piccolo.

“You’re just going to ask her because you want to see her blow up,” Carl told him knowingly.

“Ask me about what?” I questioned Carl as I stood between him and Wilson. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw Aaron turn his head to watch me engage in the controversial discussion, whatever it was.

“Oh The Twilight Saga,” Wilson offered lightly, “What’s your take on it?”

Ah yes, the famous or should I say infamous series called The Twilight Saga. I had a feeling that Wilson would mention this in a heartbeat since he had a tendency to ask me the most unusual questions at the weirdest times. I could feel the eyes of Wilson, Carl, and Aaron, from a distance, watching me intently, waiting to hear my response.

Unlike my fellow female readers, I found Twilight to be a poorly written account of a whiny teenage girl’s obsession with a moody, negative vampire. I had picked up the book out of curiosity at the bookstore and began reading it. I found that the main characters were not my ideal figures that I enjoyed reading about. I was not obsessive like Bella and I most certainly did not act like an angst-filled vampire who believed that avoiding a person equaled protecting them. Since I am an optimist, I forced myself to give book 2 a try. Boy was that Hell. If I thought Bella was annoying in the first book, then the second one made her look even more like a brat. The facts holding the book’s fantasy aspects together seemed very shaky and quite questionable in terms of sounding believable. The idea of becoming of an immortal seemed romantic to some, but to me, it sounded awful. And I could never wrap my head around drinking blood since I have a fear of needles. Ironically, as I recalled, “Superhero’s” Cassandra had dreams of being a vampire when she gave up her Catholic faith. She explained that she dreamt of a vampire because they were known for their immortality and stealth. They had no fears of death with the exception of an old fashioned stake in the heart.

“I’m not a fan of it if that’s what you were asking,” I told Wilson slowly, “I’m part of an anti-Twilight FaceBook group anyways.” Wilson looked happy to hear my answer and Carl pumped his fist in the air. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw Aaron study the group curiously.

“Nice,” Wilson agreed, “I’m not into it either. I just don’t think it’s that great of a story.”

“Well, it basically says that Bella is a necrophiliac,” I snorted.

“A what?” asked Carl as he leaned in to hear what I said.

“She’s a necrophiliac,” I repeated to the group, “It means she has an unhealthy obsession with a dead body.”

“Oh man I totally missed that,” Wilson hooted, “But that makes so much sense!”

“That is weird,” Carl chimed in as he shoved his hands in his pockets, “Wow. We’re teaching our kids to be obsessed with the dead!” Wilson broke out into laughter and I smiled as the conversation lightened. My eyes slowly drifted from the group and over to where Aaron was standing with the members from the basketball teams. He had turned back to his conversation with them and he seemed very engrossed in what was being said.

Maybe I had imagined that he was paying any bit of attention to my discussion with the guys about being a Twilight hater. I didn’t get much time to consider the idea since Brian began shepherding us back to our stands to play again. Aaron and Jeremy moved past the Pep Band and checked out the food table as I set up the school songs on my stand. This performance went smoother with a single mistake from me, less obnoxious overblowing from Kenny, and Traci and Marie playing their music in a medium octave. Probably it was because people had found old classmates and friends to mingle with and decided not to swarm around the Band too much longer. Frankly, I saw it as a good thing since I didn’t feel like I was under pressure to get everything perfect with everyone watching. Applause was lighter than the first performance and Brian beamed at us.

“All right everyone!” he called the group together, “Awesome job today. We’re officially done here but you are free to stick around, mingle with alumni, and eat some free food.” Wilson put down his instrument carefully and strode over to where the food was. Carl followed him slowly and Kenny, eager to eat, ran past him and grabbed a plate. I packed up my gear and bade everyone goodbye before pressing the down button for the elevator. I folded my arms across my chest and began people watching as I waited for the elevator to arrive. Brian chatted with some alumni about our music we played for the event. Kenny piled his burger high with several toppings and was attempting to take a bite out of the tall sandwich he made. Traci and Marie went back to practicing for their self-defense final. As for Aaron, he had his back turned to me and was laughing at some girl’s comment. The melancholic ding of the elevator alerted its arrival and I stepped through the doors before pressing the L button for the lobby.

“Don’t close yet! Don’t close yet!” cried out Marie as she dashed through the doors. Traci slid in quickly as the doors closed shut. Both girls began talking about weekend plans while I allowed myself to get lost in my thoughts. As the elevator began its descent, I could feel my confidence sinking with it. Way to go Yinee. You could have said hi this time but you didn’t. You could have maybe walked up to him at one point and casually compliment him on this season’s results but you didn’t. You could have looked him in the eyes like a brave person should do but you didn’t. The elevator arrived at the lobby and Marie and Traci strode out, poking jokes at each other the whole way out. I stepped out slowly and silently took the back way to my dorm room.

I could still hear the sounds of the alumni event going on above me as I walked along the backside of the building. My eyes drifted up to where the event was still going on and I heaved a deep sigh. I was not a hero. Most definitely not a superhero by any stretch of the imagination. So where did that leave me?

A sharp blade of wind sliced across my face as I rounded the corner and headed to the crosswalk. Then the very definition hit me. I, Yinee Kesslor, was nothing more than a coward. A silent, hopeless, invisible coward.

Coalite – Chapter 8

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Lenny gripped her phone tightly as she re-read the message flashing across her screen. She jerked her head up and looked around, a tingle going down her spine. How did he know? No way was he here, was he?

“Okay I’m ready to head back,” Val announced as she came up beside Lenny. She nudged her friend’s elbow and frowned when she saw Lenny looking around. “Something wrong?”

Lenny snapped her head towards Val and shook her head no. “Nah we’re good,” she said with a fake smile. “Thought I saw someone I knew but it wasn’t them.”

“This is your lucky night,” Val said as she led them back to her car. “A free appetizer, delish food, and a cutie who turns out to be an old friend. Mmhm that’s definitely a good sign.”

“A sign of what?” Lenny asked.

Val smirked and raised her eyebrows.

Lenny ducked her head and shook her head no violently. Color flooded her cheeks and she opened the door to Val’s car.

“I’d say that if I wasn’t here with you, you’d prob–”

“No. Just no,” Lenny said as she crossed her arms over her chest.

“Oh suuuurrre,” Val sang. “I better not hear you moaning for–”

Lenny clapped her hands over her ears and tuned Val’s comment out. There was no way she’d think of Chance that way – especially with everything going on his life at the moment. Besides, this was the guy that she’d challenge to eat as much of the spicy pepper paste that his gran would make without reaching for water right away. The one who didn’t care if she climbed the jungle gym in a pretty romper or dress and possibly get it ripped or torn. The thought of even having an intimate moment with Chance…yeah no.

“Please promise me that you’re going to actually contact the guy, okay?” Val said as she neared her neighborhood.


Val turned into the driveway and parked the car. She turned the car off and turned towards Lenny with a serious look. “Please don’t friendzone the guy right off the bat.”

“I can’t promise that,” Lenny said as she fumbled with her seatbelt. “He only said the ‘beauty’ comment because he didn’t recognize me. Besides, I’ve got time before I gotta worry about relationships and stuff.”

Val groaned as she got out of the car and Lenny rolled her eyes as she closed her door and followed Val into the house.

“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were fishing to ask him out,” Lenny said as they headed upstairs to Val’s room.

Val shook her head and insisted that as nice as Chance was, he was probably not her type. Lenny opened her mouth to protest but thought better of it. Val wasn’t known for having great luck with guys lately – actually she was fresh off a break-up about a month and a half ago with no dates lined up. Eventually she’d probably find someone while out socializing and would probably give it a go with him to see if he was worth pursuing again.

“Hey I need to make a call to Gran – I’ll be in soon,” Lenny said once she got out of the car.

“Kay, just text me when you’re done and I’ll let you in,” Val told her. “Mom’s been trying to get to bed earlier so I’d rather not piss her off by waking her up.”

Lenny nodded before watching Val unlock the front door and close it behind her. She went back to the trail of messages from the unknown number and pulled up the number.

I’m going to regret doing this, she thought as she dialed the number.

The phone rang twice before she heard someone answer on the other end. “So, she finally decides to call and take me up on my offer.”

“What offer?” Lenny snapped. “I’m calling to ask how the Hell you got my number and why you insist on stalking me. I’m close to putting a freaking restraining order against you!”

“Relax, will you?” Ari sighed on the other end. “Look, I’m just joking around with those texts – besides, Chance happens to be in my dorm.”

“Wow, you actually care enough to sit through a boring lecture? Scratch that, 5-6 boring lectures that aren’t about sex?” she replied.

“Yeah Miss Sarcasm Queen, I actually strive to do something smart with the brain I was given,” Ari shot back. “Shocking, I know. But seriously, you still at the restaurant?”

“No why?”

There was a pause and Lenny tapped her foot. “You gonna give me an answer or you gonna make me hang up on you?”

“Where are you now?”

“Well since being psychic seems to be one of your little talents, take a guess,” she replied.

Ari licked his lips and ran a hand through his hair. “I’d come home if I were you. Your Gran’s not the type to go out dancing, right?”

Lenny stiffened at that question. “What are you asking? Did you do something?”

Ari shook his head no as he looked down the hallway at the mess in the room. “Either she was looking for something or had an intruder before me, cause she’s gone and the place is a dump.”

Coalite – Chapter 7

“Do you have any plans?” Val asked her when she stopped into the shop one afternoon.

Lenny shrugged as she wiped her hands on her apron. She gestured to the shop before looking down at the boxes by her feet. “Restocking the shelves today,” Lenny said. “I swear we’ve been getting more people in here ever since classes ended.”

“Heat exhaustion? Sunburn? Dehydration?” Val asked.

Lenny pursed her lips and removed some vanilla beans from a glass jar. “Er a bit of those and a lot more people asking for hangover cures plus heartbreak ones.”

“Ouch. So much for summer lovin’,” Val winced. She looked around the shop and put her hands in her pockets.

“But seriously, are you free tonight?” Val asked.

“So far, why?”

“I kinda want to grab dinner at that new Asian fusion restaurant,” Val admitted. “See, my sister got an invite but she hates Asian food because its too spicy in her mind, so she’s letting me hijack it with a friend.”

“Sure, I’m off in,” Lenny trailed off as she checked her watch, “20 minutes.”

“You could go now dearie,” Gran called from the back. “I think I’m good here.”

Lenny walked to the back room and stuck her head in. “Are you sure Gran? I don’t wanna run out on you when its Stock Day.”

Gran stopped mashing together the concoction she was making in the mortar and put down the pestle. She smiled at Lenny and waved hi to Val on the other side of the curtain. “I think you’ve done enough for the day, thank you for being so helpful. Besides, its been a while since you two have hung out, right?”

“3 weeks,” Val chimed in. “Actually…scratch that – it’s really 3 1/2 weeks.”

Gran nodded and wiped her hands with a towel. “That settles it – you girls need some fun time together.”

“Do you want me to bring you something back?” Lenny offered as she untied her apron. She hung it up on a hook and kissed Gran on the cheek.

“No I’ll be fine, but thank you Lenny dear,” Gran said as she gave Lenny a quick hug. “If you girls want to sleep over, you’re more than welcome to do so.”

“Are you psychic Ms. Avionnet, ’cause that’s what I thinking!” Val called out as she leaned over the counter.

Gran laughed and insisted that Val call her Laila or Gran. “I feel so old whenever I hear ‘Ms. Avionnet’,” Gran said. “Sounds like a fun night.”

“Thanks Gran,” Lenny said as she grabbed her bag. “I can let you know when we get to the restaurant safely.”

“You wanna split the egg rolls?” Val asked as she stared at the menu.

Lenny nodded and thanked the waiter who served her the house made iced tea. She returned her gaze to the menu and she scanned it, trying to decide what she wanted to eat. The Fusion Korean BBQ Sliders sounded amazing and so did the Dragon Tempura Noodles.

“Ready to order?” the waiter asked as he produced a pen from his apron.

Val looked up from her menu and met Lenny’s eyes.

“You order first,” Lenny told her.

“Mmkay I’ll have the Orange Chicken Rice Salad,” Val began as she closed her menu. “For a starter, we’ll split the Pho-Tastic Pork Egg Rolls.”

“Got it,” the waiter murmured as he scribbled that down. He accepted Val’s menu from her and turned to Lenny. “And for you miss?”

“Which do you prefer?” Lenny asked as she pointed out both items that she was debating between.

The waiter stared thoughtfully at Lenny and pointed to the sliders. “You look like a girl who likes heat so I’d go with that. The noodles are good but they need a little more kick to them.”

“Sounds good,” Lenny said as she handed him the menu.

The waiter scribbled down her order and asked if he could get her anything else. Lenny shook her head no and thanked him.

“Okay, so I’ve got the Orange Chicken Rice Salad over here,” the waiter said as he gestured to Val. “And I’ve got The Fusion Korean BBQ Sliders for the blue eyed beauty over here. And you’re splitting the egg rolls. Did you want those egg rolls first?”

“Yes,” Val said with a smile.

“I’ll go get that order in then,” the waiter said. He shot Lenny a smile before putting away his notepad and pen in his apron and leaving with their menus.

Val grinned widely at Lenny and Lenny made a face.

“Don’t. Start.” Lenny warned.

“He said you were a ‘blue eyed beauty’ Lenny!” Val gushed. “He’s not that bad looking – dark haired, cute dimples, and those arms!”

“Yeah he’s good looking,” Lenny admitted. “But he’s probably saying that to get a good tip. Didn’t he compliment the girls at that table in the corner too?”

“I heard him say, ‘Good evening Ladies, you look nice tonight’ but nothing like what he said to you!”

“Cut it out,” Lenny grumbled. “I only came for the food, not to flirt.”

Val groaned as she leaned back in her seat. “C’mon Lenny, you’re killing me! You’re pretty and yet you won’t even try! …Hang on are you…a lesbian? Cause if you are, I’m totes cool with that and I know tons of girls who –”

“Nope,” Lenny cut her off. “If you haven’t noticed Val, I haven’t had much luck in the female friend department, save for you and maybe a few others from my classes. I just don’t care.”

Val opened her mouth to protest but was interrupted by the arrival of the egg rolls and a plate of skewers.

“Uh the skewers aren’t ours,” Lenny spoke up.

The waitress who brought them over smiled as she explained that they were compliments of the house.

“Thanks!” Val said as she moved her appetizer plate closer to her. She cast a glance toward the kitchens and noticed that their waiter was looking in their direction. She looked at Lenny, who was digging into the egg rolls and ignoring Val.

“A free appetizer?” Val said.

“You’re reading too much into it,” Lenny groaned. She bit into the egg roll and chewed it to avoid talking to Val about their waiter. As she chewed, her brow furrowed as she tried to remember something – for some reason, the waiter reminded her of someone but she couldn’t put her finger on it.

“Mmm these are good!” Val said as she tried a skewer. “You gonna have one? And you better say yes – can’t eat these all by myself, you know?”

Lenny shot her a smile and took a skewer, biting into the chicken and veggies tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce. “These are good.”

“Told you so,” Val said with a smug smile. She took a sip of her water and glanced over at the kitchens to see that they were coming back with the food. “That was super fast! I’ll make sure to note that in my review – love when restaurants get the food to you quickly!”

“Cool,” Lenny murmured as the waitress arrived with their plates.

“I’ve got the salad over here,” the waitress said as she plunked the salad in front of Val. “And here’s your sliders. Can I get you ladies anything else?”

“Nope I think we’re good,” Val said. “Thanks! And the skewers are fantastic by the way.”

“Glad to hear that,” the waitress said. “You still working on those?”

“Umm…” Val stalled.

“Yes and we can take the rest to go for later, right?” Lenny asked.

“Absolutely,” the waitress replied. “Please enjoy your meals.”

Val stabbed a piece of chicken with her fork and ate it, closing her eyes and relaxing her shoulders.

“It’s that good?”

“Len it’s ahhhmazing!” Val said.

Lenny cut a slider in half before taking a bite, the juice sloshing out of the meat. “This is good too.”

“How’s everything tasting ladies?” the waiter asked as he came up.

“Very good!” Val said.

“Great, glad to hear that,” the waiter said. He looked over at Lenny and studied her carefully. “Sorry, but uh, you remind me of someone I used to know. It was, man, years ago, but we used to live a few houses down from each other.”

Lenny put down her slider and wiped her mouth with her napkin as she looked up at the waiter. She squinted as she studied his features, trying to remember where she had seen him before.

“Um was it someone else maybe?” Lenny offered. “Because I didn’t live here the whole time.”

“It was in New York,” the waiter offered. “See I knew someone when I was really little and she looked a lot like you. She used to hate being called by her real name so I tried to come up with a nickname and she started going by that from that point.”

A tingle went down Lenny’s spine and she looked up at the boy’s almond-shaped eyes. That beauty mark on his cheek was it…

“Chance?” Lenny asked as she stared at their waiter. “Chance Sasin is that you?”

“Lenny A it is you!” Chance exclaimed. “Oh man, I mean, how, how long has it been?!”

“Uh…I think 14–15 years?” Lenny offered. “We’re were in grade school from what I can remember. What are you doing here?”

Chance drew himself up and grinned. “Guess who made it into Duke?”

“Hey! I knew you’d make it!” Lenny said she applauded. “How’s your family doing?”

Chance rubbed the back of his neck and shrugged. “Um well uh, Mom’s okay – her health’s kinda all over the place ’cause she had a cancer scare a few years back and she’s been trying to recover after intense chemo sessions. Dad…well, uh he’s gone. Left a couple years after you moved.”

Lenny’s face fell at the news and she reached out to touch Chance’s arm. “I’m really sorry Chance,” she said. “Your mom? Is anyone–”

“Yeah Gramps moved in after Dad left to help,” Chance added. “He’s doing well but I think he’s getting a little worn, you know, with being 82 and all.” He glanced over at their dishes and quickly apologized for taking up too much time talking.

“No need to apologize!” Val said. “I’m so happy that you guys reunited.”

Chance shot Val a smile before excusing himself to go attend to the other tables. Val looked at Lenny and took a sip of water.

“Who knew?” Val said. “So uh, I guess he’s not boyfriend material, huh?”

“Val,” Lenny scolded as she nudged her friend across the table. “Chance and I were buddies in school. He used to come dressed in a sweater vest, collared shirt, and pressed pants instead of jeans and t-shirts and everyone made fun of him. I think I loaned him a t-shirt or two ’cause I bought from the boys section a lot. We used to scare our moms by climbing high places and trying to outdo each other.”

“Mmhmm and he got cute over the years,” Val hummed. “Puberty was kind to him I’ll say.”

“Why? You wanna date him?”

Val shook her head and ate more of her salad. “Don’t get me wrong – he’s cute but I think it would be a bit much for me to date an old friend of yours…especially if he could become “the one” for you!”

Lenny shook her head and finished eating her sliders. She glanced over at the appetizers remaining and asked a passing waiter for a box for the rest.

Val put her fork down and sighed contentedly. “That was amazing. I will definitely come back here again.”

“Same – thanks for inviting me,” Lenny said.

Chance returned with the boxes and the bill. Val pulled out her card and Lenny handed some crumpled bills over.

“You wanna split?” Chance confirmed as he took both forms of payment.

“Yes please,” Val replied.

“Keep the change Chance,” Lenny said.

Chance did a double take and smiled before heading off to ring up the total. He returned after a minute or two and handed Val her copy of the check and her card before giving Lenny her receipt.

“Great seeing you again Lenny,” he said. “Don’t be a stranger – come by here and say hi. Or if you’re not busy, we should hang this summer.”

“Sounds good,” Lenny said. She fished out her phone and asked for his number. Chance took the phone from her, typed it in, and hit the Save button.

“Great, looking forward to hanging out again soon,” Chance said as he started piling up the plates. He looked over at Val. “Sorry I didn’t get your name.”

“Val, nice to meet you Chance,” Val said as she shook hands with him. “Good luck with your studies! I’ll probably see you around here – I’m definitely gonna want to come back because the food was fantastic!”

“Cool, I’ll let the chef know,” Chance said as he picked up the plates. “Missed you Lenny.”

“Missed you too,” Lenny said before Chance left with the plates.

Val put her napkin down on the table and stood up. “I’m gonna run to the bathroom before we go. You need to use it?”

“No I’m good for now,” Lenny said. “I’ll wait outside.”

Val walked to the far right of the restaurant while Lenny headed for the door. She heard her phone vibrate and she pulled it out.

So you’ve got a boyfriend and you didn’t tell me? I’m hurt Lenny baby. ;P

Siblings Will be Siblings (Coalite Side Story)

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Thank you to everyone who has been reading my original story Coalite that I’ve been posting on here from time to time. This is a character analysis if you will about Tarico Sussex (Ari) and his sister Myrai. Something different for me to try – please enjoy!

Warning: There is some language, drinking, and implied sexual encounters.

“Bartender hit me with a stiff one,” the young woman barked as she slid into a bar stool. “When I say stiff, I mean it. And make it quick.”

“Someone’s in a hurry,” the bartender muttered under her breath as she began measuring out the amount of gin needed for the woman’s drink. She looked up to see the young woman’s face inches away from hers, green eyes glittering.

“Keep talking like that and you can forget about getting your damn tip,” the woman spat as she dug her pointed nails into the bar counter.

The bartender recoiled and began apologizing as she added the shots of gin to the mixer along with dragon fruit juice and lime. The woman smirked as she settled back onto her stool, crossing her arms over her chest.

The bartender slid the completed drink to the woman as soon as she finished pouring the concoction into a glass and the woman pushed a $50 her way. “You can keep $2 from the change,” the woman said as the bartender went to the register.

“Thanks m’am,” the bartender said as she punched in the amount for the drink. She counted out the change and kept $2, handing the rest over to the woman.

The woman put the change into her top and downed her drink in two long sips. She placed the glass down and sighed contentedly before snapping her head towards the door and rolling her eyes.

“Can I get an Execution with extra pepper juice and no vodka?” a male asked as he took the stool next to the woman.

“Sure thing sir,” the bartender said as she began pulling the ingredients for the drink.

The woman snorted and leaned on her elbow as she glanced over at her seatmate. “Seriously Ari? You’re old enough to add the freaking vodka for Lucifer’s Sake!”

“Not feeling it tonight,” Ari said as he watched the bartender make his drink. “I see you’ve already had your poison  – what’d you do this time Myrai?”

Myrai flipped her hair over her shoulder and stared at her new manicure – crimson acrylics with black arches painted above her nail bed, every nail sharpened to a point. “Bagged a guy and he was a disappointment. And I thought for a guy that badass, he had to have the same attitude in bed. How wrong was I?”

“Wow I think the world might come to an end,” Ari replied as he pulled out money from his pocket. He paid the bartender and told her to keep the change.

The bartender did a double take when she noticed that Ari had paid for his drink with a $20 for something that only cost $5. “Thank you very much sir,” the bartender said as she went to the register. “Hope you have a good night.”

Ari flashed the bartender a winning smile and ignored the gagging look that Myrai was doing. He took a sip of the drink and stared straight ahead. “I’m sure there’s other ones out there – always will be, right?”

Myrai turned towards Ari and laughed, slapping her thigh hard. “I…can’t believe…that my little brother actually said that,” she hooted. “Do you realize how obviously green you sound right now?”

“Least I’m not earning a rep as the town slut,” Ari shot back before he took a longer sip.

“Puhleeze Ari,” Myrai said as she yanked the drink out of his hand. “You’ve been drinking the stuff that Mom brought home for you since you were born and never, in the years I’ve been in this family, have I ever seen you go out and seduce your own food. Don’t ya think its time to stop crying to Mommy Dearest?”

Ari’s back stiffened and he wrenched the glass out of Myrai’s hand, ears turning red. He finished the drink in one gulp and swallowed hard, letting the pepper juice scorch his throat. “I’m done,” Ari said as he pushed back his stool. “Good luck finding your next conquest or whatever.” He shoved past other customers, one of them being a burly biker guy.

The biker guy put a hand on Ari’s shoulder and Ari whipped his head around, eyes burning fiercely and his teeth gritted in a way to show the sharp ones off. “Back. Off.” Ari growled.

The biker guy released his grip and backed away as Ari stormed out of the bar in a huff.

Myrai giggled, pleased with her work. She slid off the stool and sauntered up to the biker guy who confronted her brother. Score, she thought.

The Characters are A’Changin’

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For those of you who love reading series, you’ve probably heard of the authors who admitted to going through multiple revisions of characters and/or storylines before reaching the final version that hits the shelves. As a writer, I can definitely attest to that.

For those of you who followed Welcome to Confession Session last year, I’d like to share some interesting facts about the short story that you probably didn’t know.

  1. The main character Mckayla Tang was originally planned out as being more quiet and to herself. Her confession/rant at Open Mic was driven by pressure and being under duress rather than an angry moment where she starts spieling off about Jesse and Emma. She would have actually talked about Jesse’s insecurities and lack of getting action in the original draft while admitting that she felt that Emma could have been a ghost, as she was never present at the time.
  2. Dani was originally going to share confessions online to show support for Mckayla and act as a minor figure who sided with her during the drama.
  3. Chance and Mckayla were originally going to have hints at a possible romantic relationship but would not get together during the story. I eventually felt that they were two completely different individuals who would be terrible together romantically and decided that it would be better to have them interact and find common ground.
  4. Mckayla was going to be an only child. I liked the idea of her having an older brother that had a good balance of being a bit obnoxious yet he knew her like no one else knew her.

Coalite – Chapter 6

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“Where is she now?” Lenny asked as she moved away from the counter.

“I was gonna bury her body but it start disintegrating when I tried to move her,” the demon said as he crossed his arms. “Wondered if you would happen to know what got her.”

Lenny shook her head and glanced over at the sink where the blood had been. “So did you hurt Gran before I found you in my room? Is that why I can’t find her?”

The demon snorted and narrowed his eyes at her. “What do you take me for?”

“A soulless lowlife who craves sex and violence 24/7,” Lenny said.

The demon stepped closer to her and looked her in the eye. “First things first, most of the demons are that way but I’m not. Second, this place was empty when I stopped by. The blood in the sink is mine.”

“Aww poor baby,” Lenny shot back. “You cut yourself while breaking and entering?”

A red flush flooded the demon’s cheeks and he rubbed the back of his neck. “Er see that’s…not…where the blood came from actually. I found your address through a vampire back at the club who happened to know your drunk friend there. She would only give it to me if she could uh, you know, bite me while we–”

“Okay and why are you still bleeding?” Lenny cut him off.

The demon held out his wrist and Lenny saw the puncture marks from the vampire’s teeth. She studied the teeth indentations and winced.

“She sure bit hard from the looks of it,” Lenny murmured. “Why the wrist though?”

The demon shot Lenny a guilty smile before looking away. “Urm yeah, she had my wrists pinned above my head and preferred to just reach up and drink there instead–”

“Okay that’s enough, I don’t need to hear the rest of your sexcapade,” Lenny said. “Clearly she punctured a blood vessel and its taking a long time to heal. Guess I shouldn’t be surprised that vampire sex would appeal to a demon.”

“I have a name, you know,” the demon said as he snapped his head toward Lenny. He held his hand out and said, “I’m Tarico Sussex but everybody calls me Ari.”

“And I thought my name was weird,” Lenny said as she gingerly shook his hand before dropping it. “Just call me Lenny – my mom gave me my stupid legal name. I hate it.”

“Guess that makes two of us,” Ari grumbled as he shoved his hands into his jean pockets. “Although it was my great times a thousand grandfather’s name, hence why I got stuck with it.”

“Well now that introductions are out of the way, I think its time for you to go,” Lenny said as she glanced over at the door. “I told you that I know nothing about your crazy sister.”

Ari frowned and held his hands up. “Whoa there! Don’t you wanna know what happened to her?”

“Not particularly,” Lenny said. “She was crazy and deranged. Sorry that you were related, I guess.”

Ari stared at her in disbelief and shook his head. “You suck at being compassionate, did anyone ever tell you that? ‘Sorry that you were related, I guess?’ Who says that?”

“Is this the part where I’m supposed to throw you a pity party despite the fact that you just called your sister a bitch?” Lenny asked as she crossed her arms over her chest.

Ari zipped closer, his face inches away from Lenny’s. His green eyes flashed as they met Lenny’s and he gritted his teeth. “No and seriously, how do you have any friends?”

“Easy, I just avoid demons and anything else that could give me a problem,” Lenny said as she looked him straight in the eye. She could hear her heart beating loudly but she tipped her chin up to look him in the eye. “Look, for the record, your kind doesn’t have the greatest rep with me.”

“Really? Cause I thought there was a line of demons outside waiting to heat up your bed,” Ari shot back with a smirk.

Lenny pushed him away and picked up her keys as she made a beeline for the door. She didn’t have time for this stupid banter between her and the demon – Gran was probably wondering where she was and the shop would be closing in a few hours. She slammed the door shut loudly and locked it before walking as fast as she could toward the shop which was a few blocks away.

Lenny yanked her phone out of her pocket and checked to make sure that Gran hadn’t texted her. She saw a new message from an unknown number and she slid her finger across the screen to read it.

Do you always lock guys in your house after you first meet them? ;P

Lenny rolled her eyes as she put her phone back and continued to take long strides toward town where Gran’s shop was on the corner. She waited patiently for a taxi to turn left onto the street she was about to cross before dashing to the other side and searching for the spare shop key on her key ring.

“Gran! Sorry I’m late!” Lenny announced as she slipped through the door and closed it behind her.

“No need to apologize,” Gran called from the front of the store. “I guessed that you were spending time with Valerie – how was last night?”

Lenny shrugged as she picked up her apron from the peg near the door and tied it around her waist. “Interesting, I guess,” she admitted. “Not my kind of place – lots of magical creatures hang out there from what it seems.”

“Val drink too much?”

“You know her too well – actually, scratch that,” Lenny replied, “she got a house special and it was really strong – made her act very giggly and loud.”

“Probably made by a fae no doubt,” Gran said with a knowing smile.

Lenny blinked and did a double take. Gran chuckled as she washed her hands, drying them on the towel nearby.

“Oh I have memories of being your age dear and going out to have a good time,” Gran recalled. “When I turned 21, my girlfriends insisted on taking me to a fancy hotel bar for my first drink. They didn’t know it but the bartender was a fairy – he flirted with me while making my drink and I can’t remember too much that happened after that. I know my friends took me home but I woke up with his number on a piece of paper in my purse!”

“Did you ever call it?” Lenny asked as she began stripping kale leaves off the stems.

Gran shook her head no and sighed. “He was handsome but I thought I’d never have a chance with him, you know? And their kind don’t age like we and humans do. But I can just picture him as if it were yesterday – sharp cheekbones, gold eyes…”

“His name wasn’t Baine, was it?” Lenny spoke up. She hadn’t paid much attention to his eye color but she recalled that they definitely weren’t blue or green.

Gran shook her head, “It was Quentin actually. He also had blonde hair – is this Baine also a fae?”

“Yup he was bartending at the club I went to,” Lenny said. “Except he had dark hair and lots of piercings in his ears.” Lenny washed her hands and dried them off. “How have things been going?”

Gran glanced out at the shop front to make sure no one was waiting for them. She turned to Lenny and told her that it had been quiet – the girl who came in for a miracle a few days ago returned with a better complexion and a radiant smile, despite the fact that her date only wanted to go with her as a pity date. Everyone else either came for natural cures for things like headaches, stomach cramps, and a daughter bought a rare mix of tea for her uncle’s birthday.

“I think its safe to say we’re done for the day,” Gran replied as she walked to the front door to flip the sign to closed. “What sounds good for dinner dear?”

Lenny put away some of the perishable ingredients and sighed. “Ummm…takeout maybe? Not feeling up to cooking tonight.”

Gran laughed as she returned to the back room. “You read my mind. I’ll go call the takeout place you love so much. General Tso chicken and brown rice, right?”

“Always,” Lenny said with a smile. She waited until Gran had left the back room before pulling her phone out to text the unknown number from earlier.

You better not be still in the house when I get back.

She pressed Send and received a reply about a minute after that.

Aww do you miss me already? ;X

Lenny rolled her eyes as she began to text back. A little voice in her head warned her that she was playing with fire but she didn’t care – for a demon who claimed that he was nothing like his hot-blooded, lusty brethren, he sure didn’t seem that different, at least in text messages.

I thought you were supposed to be the demon who wasn’t like the others.

Then nothing for a few minutes. Lenny took this moment to put her phone away before Gran came back from calling the takeout place.

“How about we watch something over dinner?” Gran suggested as she began fishing out her keys from her purse to lock up the shop.

“I think that would be fun,” Lenny agreed as she held the door open for Gran. She closed the door behind her and stepped to the side as Gran locked up.

“Takeout should be ready in 15 minutes – why not take a nice walk into town before its ready?” Gran said as she began heading down the street.

Lenny nodded as she walked alongside of Gran, ignoring the vibration in her pocket.