Silent Knights Gale Stanley
**Hi everyone! And thanks, Erin, for letting me share this rework in progress.**
Before today, Paul had seen snow once in the last ten years, and that was fine with him. The frigid east coast winters were just another reason he’d left home after high school. Watching the Corolla’s windshield wipers struggle to sweep away the heavy flakes, he knew he’d made the right decision.
Miles to go… What I wouldn’t give for a cup of caffeinated bliss.
Not a Starbucks or a Dunkin Donuts in sight, but he’d passed two taxidermy shops. Things hadn’t progressed much since he left.
A light on the dash caught Paul’s eye, and his stomach knotted. He looked from the gas pump icon to the cell phone lying on the console. Great. Just great. Still no signal. It looked like he might be bunking in his rental car until someone dug him out. Which might not happen until spring.
Another mile passed, then two. Paul was running on empty when he spotted a gas station coming up on the right. He pulled in, but his relief was short lived. Rusting metal that might have been cars in another lifetime, surrounded a building that appeared to be abandoned. Paul chewed on his lip, while he considered his options—wait out the storm here, or move on? When he looked up, he spotted a man in coveralls and a parka shuffling toward the car. The knot in Paul’s stomach eased a little, and he rolled down the window. “Boy, am I glad to see you. I thought this place was closed.”
“I live in this place. It’s always open.”
Paul did a fast comparison in his head. His modern condo in San Francisco was a palace compared to this dump. Jesus! There but for the grace of God…
The local yokel scratched his long, bushy beard, and stared at Paul. “You look real familiar.”
Paul couldn’t say the same. Most of this man’s leathery face was covered with hair. “Yeah, well, I have that kind of face. I need—”
“Ain’t you Paul…” A shit-eating grin revealed a set of mismatched yellow teeth. “Now, I got it. You’re that poo pusher Paul Stanton.”
Roddy. Fucking. Fry. Paul had been called a lot of things in school, but Roddy was the only one who called him that. Of all the luck. The only gas within miles, and it had to belong to Roddy Fry. Paul hoped he could keep his temper in check long enough to get his tank filled.
“Come back to see your folks?” Roddy drawled.
The knot in Paul’s stomach tied itself up a little tighter. “Yeah, and I’m in a hurry. Fill it up.”
“Roddy raised a brow. “You won’t be getting anywhere in a hurry today.” He took a step toward the gas cap, then turned his head. “Gas ain’t cheap here, but you must be used to high prices living in the big city.”
“Right. Just fill the tank.” Paul couldn’t believe there were still people with this type of backwoods mentality. On second thought, yeah, he believed it. He’d grown up with it. Being back home was like being in a time warp.
Paul drummed his fingers on the steering wheel and thought about growing up in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania. He’d always hated the cold, and the older he got, the more he dreaded fall and its promise of the bone-chilling months to come. His mother would bundle him up in snowsuit, mittens, and boots, and he’d trudge through drifts up to his ass just to get to school. Forget snow days. School rarely closed because of bad weather. Mountain men were supposed to be tough, and no one seemed to mind winter except him. The other kids couldn’t wait for first snowfall. Paul, the smallest and least athletic in the class, became the target of every snowball fight. He never had many friends. Not that it mattered. His father kept him too busy helping out in the old shed he’d turned into a carpentry shop.
If middle school had been a bad dream, high school was a nightmare. Paul concentrated on his studies, followed the rules, and tried not to get high on the smell of sweat and testosterone in the boys’ locker room. Yeah, by that time Paul knew for sure that he was gay. While the other boys fixated on girls, Paul was drooling over them.
Eventually, the guys noticed, and started bugging him. Did he like Mary? Did he wanna fuck Nancy? Paul would turn red, and stammer out an answer. He might have fooled his parents, but he couldn’t fool his peers. Especially Roddy Fucking Fry.
Sissy, fagot,homo, fairy… They never let up. Then one day Roddy knocked Paul to the ground while a bunch of his classmates stood by and watched. When a teacher broke it up, Paul made the mistake of asking for help.
“Man up,” he was told. “They don’t mean anything by it.”
That’s when Paul knew he had to leave. A scholarship to San Francisco State University was his Get Out of Jail Free Card.
A meaty fist banged on the car window. Paul’s head jerked back. He’d almost forgotten where he was. He rolled down the window, and Roddy’s grinning face appeared. “Three hundred dollars.”
“What! That’s more than double what it should be. The pump says—”
“Fuck the pump! I’m telling you what it is.” Roddy’s face got mean. “You got the money, or maybe you wanna suck my cock instead?”
“You’d like that wouldn’t you?” Roddy reached for a rifle propped next to the pump. “Just gimme what you owe me, or I’ll shoot out your tires and we’ll wait for the sheriff.”
Broken: In My Dreams #3
**I’m so excited to have my friend Gale Stanley here with me today and to read her awesome excerpt. Come back and play with us often Gale!**
When my next door neighbors told me they were moving I had a hard time even faking a sad response. Sure, they weren’t bad… But they weren’t that great either. The guy was okay, but he didn’t say much and we didn’t really interact much besides a wave here and there when we were both grilling. And the gal just blurted whatever came into her mind apparently—most of it really insulting and like it was the funniest thing ever.
Normally it was just completely ignorant and I wanted to ask if she had a low IQ or if she thought pissing people off was the best way to make friends.
And their kids were demons. Seriously, I called them Lucifer and Beelzebub. At first I’d thought Lucifer was special needs, having a cute little lisp, and gave him a break, super sweet to him, even patient when he kept yelling at my dog. Until I saw the little shit shoot crap at my pup when he didn’t think I was around, giggling that no one was there to save him.
I didn’t feel bad for a second when I made Lucifer cry for the verbal lashing I gave him. After that I saw the evil pretend angel he was. He didn’t play, he screamed, loving that I worked from home and taunted me with it when his parent’s weren’t around to hear his words. He threw sticks on my side of the yard when they mowed, brought their dogs to pee and poo on my grass after my dog died saying I must miss having it around. I just blinked at the kid and told him to stop, that it was cruel when I was grieving.
“You can’t make me. Adults can’t beat kids. You shouldn’t have let your dog die.” And the little shit walked away. I know it was stupid. I know I was the adult. But I still went inside and cried my eyes out. I was grieving and an eleven year old just rubbed salt in the wound.
The other demon wasn’t so outright. He was the instigator, that kid we all hated in school. He never bullied or pulled crap. He was just that kid who whispered in everyone’s ear and got them to do the stupid mean shit. So yeah, after the first several months I didn’t even call them Lucifer and Beelzebub behind their backs and flat out said the names in front of their parents.
They asked me to stop and I explained I would as soon as their kids quit acting like the demons I had read about in the bible when I’d attended Catholic schooling.
Oddly enough they hadn’t brought it up again but I did find it funny that when they announced they were moving in the spring, that they were expecting some tearful reaction from me. I didn’t think I could get worse neighbors. And if I did, calling the police on them was always an option. Plus, things could get better. I probably jinxed the outcome with that line of thought, but I was an author, the story teller and eternal dreamer.
Some single hottie could move in next door or someone who would introduce me to a single hottie and all my dreams would come true. Yeah, that was likely to happen. And I would win the lottery when I never bought a ticket.
The house sold quickly which surprised me since I’d been inside. It wasn’t a bad house, just this crazy split level that had a few stairs to get to any different room and I didn’t think they had completed any of their half-finished “projects” they’d been working on. Then again, it might have made the house sell for next to nothing. There was real potential there, and it could have been some remodeler’s dream fixer-upper.
I winced at the idea. That meant loud construction. Hello ear plugs! And people always said it was so great for me that I worked from home. I guess they forgot about things like that. Granted, I did like it, but in reality there were just as many draw backs as working in an office.
Monday I was dragging bags of my trash to my cans in the driveway, and I knew my old neighbors were gone, but I didn’t know the new ones were moving in until I saw the truck.
“Hey, she’s here! Our neighbor’s outside,” a loud, deep voice called out. I flipped the lid to my can as my head snapped in the direction of the shout. I saw a mid-twenties guy staring at me, waving. I tossed my bags into the garbage and gave a little wave back, mentally groaning because I was of course about to meet whoever had moved in while wearing flip flops, yoga capris, and tank with shelf bra… And only that.
Great. Yeah, nothing says, Hi, nice to meet you. I’m a complete slob, like that.
Two guys jumped out from the back of the truck next to the first and I had a moment of wondering if I was seeing triple… But not. Though they were far away and I hadn’t had any coffee yet, so yeah, that was the moment.
What I mean was they were all wearing cargo shorts and white sneakers, no shirts, perfectly toned, tanned, lean chest. And had really jet black hair. That’s all I could see considering they were over a hundred feet away. It was simply something I didn’t expect to see first thing in the morning and made me blink a moment and wonder if I’d been mistaken.
They jogged over and I swallowed loudly, wondering if this was my own little frat fantasy come to life, but as they got closer I saw they were all probably twenty-seven or twenty-eight so too old for college.
Brothers though maybe? No, not brothers, I realized as they stepped up to me.
“Hi, Cara, Cara Quinn right?” the first greeted as I stepped out around the can. “Sorry to just rush over here but we wanted to say hi and ask a favor.”
“Yes, hi,” I chuckled, taking his hand. He shook firmly and then used his other one to gently grasp my forearm in an extra friendly greeting. “And you are?”
“Right, I’m Aspen.” Aspen with deep hunter green eyes, long hair pulled back in a loose pony tail, pointed nose but not ugly, eyebrows that almost made me want to hold him down and manscape him like Chris Pine’s but still sexy.
“I’m Cypress,” the next one said as Aspen let go of my hand. I shook with him next and he greeted me the same but this time, touching my upper arm as well. He had jet back hair, same build and green eyes as well. But the reason I knew they couldn’t be related was obvious. Cypress had shamrock green eyes, longer hair as well, but just past his ears, a straight nose, thinner lips than Aspen, and high arching eyebrows. High cheek bones too.
“You’re moving in too?” I hedged, glancing between him and Aspen as I pulled back my hand.
“We all are,” the third one explained, smiling widely. Yeah, definitely not related. He had light, sea foam green eyes that sparkled like gems, longer hair with curls, a button nose, perfectly manicured eyebrows that were more on the thin side, and really plush lips.
He was gorgeous on the side of pretty actually. They were all hot but I could stare at him all day and just blush. He and Aspen were about six-three, Cypress only an inch shorter. I’d never seen three men who really were exactly alike in height build, hair color, and green eyes, but completely different otherwise.
He spread his arms wide and stepped up, giving me a bear hug. “So excited to meet you, Cara! I’m Teak.” I flinched and tried to take a step back. “What’s wrong?”
“Sorry, um—not much of a hugger,” I chuckled awkwardly.
“Oh. Could you become one?” he muttered, hurt on his expression as he let me go.