A work in progress

Chris tilted his head to one side and looked at the painting. It looked as if Ezra had gotten partway through the work and just decided to stop for no apparent reason. There were parts of it that were only lined out in pencil. Other sections had paint applied, but they were obviously incomplete, since they lacked the detail he normally gave his work. Only the lower right corner looked as if he’d actually decided to finish it.

“It’s called Reflection,” Ezra said, from just behind Chris. When Chris looked up, Ezra smiled. “I noticed you scrutinizing it.”

“Why didn’t you finish it?” Chris asked, shaking his head.

A faint smile played as Ezra’s lips. “It’s a bit of symbolism on my part,” he said, his own gaze going to the piece. “It’s a reflection of… me and… I feel as if I’m still growing and changing. I’m constantly learning new things and pushing myself to take that next step.”

Chris blinked as he realized what Ezra was saying by leaving the piece so obviously unfinished. “You’re a work in progress.”

Ezra nodded, his faint smile growing into a bright grin. “Precisely,” he murmured.

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Just Dance

Keenan frowned slightly at Bertram. “What are you doing?” he hissed into his partner’s ear.

Bertram flinched and whirled to face him. He adjusted his glasses. “That girl,” he said, tilting his head towards a lovely young woman that was speaking with a few of the other visiting dignitaries. “She works for the president of Equisetia.”

“Oh,” Keenan said, his eyes widening in recognition. “You used to work security for him, right? Is that…” he faltered trying to remember the name of the girl Bertram had been seeing before he was recalled to Shynia.

“It’s Beth,” Bertram breathed.

Keenan smiled and grabbed him by the arm. “Just dance with her,” he said. “Don’t be shy. Don’t apologize for things that aren’t your fault to begin with her. Just take the girl in your arms and give her a turn on the dance floor.”

Bertram sputtered protests, right up until he was standing in front of the girl in question. Then, he flushed and bowed. “M-Miss Sebohn,” he managed, “may I have this dance?”

Beth smiled. “It would be my pleasure,” she said, taking the hand he had extended to her.

Then, Keenan stepped back to admire his handiwork. He would play the matchmaker and move heaven and earth, if necessary, to get them together. They were too cute of a couple for any other eventuality.

It doesn’t hurt to dream big

Connor looked up at the marquee sign that stood, bright against the starlit sky, over the entrance of the theater. He grinned, spinning to face his wife. “Someday,” he said, “My name is going to be up there – as the writer of one the movies they have playing here.”

Ceinwyn arched an eyebrow at him. “Is that so?” she said. She frowned, just a little bit. “That’s not going to be an easy thing to do, Connie. It might take years of hard work and many disappointments.”

Shaking his head, Connor looked up at the sign again. “I’m ready for the disappointments and I’m not afraid of hard work.” He gave his wife a sidelong glance. “I’ll shoot for the moon. Then, even if I only get to soar with eagles, I’ll have still achieved something.”

Being the hottest thing in this room

“Why are you always hovering so near the fireplace?”

Andrew glanced over his shoulder. Tristan stood, framed in the doorway by the light from the hall. He sighed and rolled his eyes. Turning back to the flames, he said, “Shynia is warmer than here,” he said, his voice soft. His voice cracked slightly as he added, “I’m cold.”

Heavy footfalls approached him. Andrew bit his lip. He tensed, squeezing his eyes shut, when he felt Tristan settle a robe over his shoulders.

“I’m not a ogre,” Tristan murmured. “You are our hostage and a servant, but you do have the right to be comfortable.”

Andrew nodded silently. The footsteps retreated and he turned, as Tristan was reaching the door. “Thank you,” he said.

Tristan merely nodded and then left the room.

In the Moonlight

Emrys watched Matthew with a slight frown on his face. He seldom observed his servant this closely during such an unguarded moment. Normally, the young man seemed to feel his eyes on him. He would tense, then, and glare at Emrys over his shoulder.

Now, for once, he was oblivious to the scrutiny. He was standing on the balcony, turned into the wind. It ruffled his soft blond hair and made the fabric of his robes flutter around his slender form. The full moon shone down from above, seeming to give him a halo. In that moment, Matthew was the most beautiful thing that Emrys had ever seen.

Open-mouthed

Connor leapt into action. He threw several glyphs towards the monsters. Each one exploded on impact. The few that were left standing, turned away from their would-be victims. He smiled faintly and fell back several feet.

As soon as they were in position, Gregory activated his spell. The monsters seized as the lightning swept through their bodies. Then, they dropped to the ground. “Nice,” Gregory said, smirking.

Connor nodded and looked over at Chris and Jewel. “Y’all all right?” he asked, blinking.

Chris stared at him for a moment. Jewel chuckled and reached over to touch his chin. As he shut his mouth, she grinned. “Thanks for the rescue, Connie.”

Deep into the steel of my arm.

Matthew realized that he spent a great deal of time staring out into space. Emrys never seemed to mind the times he spent in silent reverie. If anything, the man was curious about them. Often, he would ask what Matthew had on his mind.

This particular time, if Emrys had asked, Matthew would have said that he was looking at the scars that crisscrossed over his master’s arms. His brows furrowed and he reached out. Tentatively, hardly even aware he was doing it, he ran a finger along one, until it intersected with another.

Emrys shifted, startling Matthew out of his thoughts. As their eyes met, Matthew said, “How did… this happen?”

“It’s a long story,” Emrys said. He frowned and then shrugged. “I guess we’ve got time, though.”

Faster than a fire truck

Keenan was on his feet the moment he heard the alarm. Frowning, he headed to the door of his office and peered out into the corridor. People were streaming towards the fire escape.

“Evacuate,” Bertram said, as he walked by.

Sighing, Keenan nodded. He turned off the lights in his office and tugged the door shut. He followed the rest of his fellows outside to the sidewalk. Then, he sat in the grass and stared up at the building.

He looked over at the street as a fire truck came down the hill. Already, everyone was gathered in the meeting place. It was, on some level, gratifying to know that the entire building could be evacuated before the emergency vehicles had even arrived.

Tiny little erosions

Andrew stood at the tiny window and stared across at the window where his brother was staring down at the water. He could feel his brother’s sadness from there. They might never see their home again. They might never escape now and rescue was an even dimmer possibility.

He sighed and closed his eyes. Leaning his head on the cold stone of the wall, he could think of only one thing. Each of those things wore away at his hope the same way that the crashing waves broke down the stones they washed over. How long would it be before he had no hope left?

The motion of your ocean

Matthew stared out at the waves that were crashing on the beach far below. They weren’t even in his homeland anymore. Shynia – Loyalia – was free of Berklian rule at last. Once the news had reached Emrys, he had bundled them up and taken them to his homeland.

As Matthew watched the churning water, silent tears rolled down his cheeks. Their home was free, but there was a real chance they’d never see it again. How could anyone find them when they were being held in a foreign land?

“What are you doing, Kitten?”

Matthew closed his eyes. “Watching the water,” he breathed. He turned to face Emrys and bowed. “The waves crash the same on all shores, I suppose, but it seems somehow strange here.”

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