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navigating the Sea of Apps

So far, I’m only up the proverbial creek, and without a paddle, too, never mind making out to open sea…

So me being the consummate professional that I am, three guess as to the first app I downloaded onto my i-pad2. You got it. Farmville. Gimme a break. It was one in the morning and I’d just come off an eight-hour shift and, well. I wanted to see what my farm would look like on the shiny new screen. It was lovely, though it wasn’t quite my farm. Some buildings were missing. Some were no longer completed. My vehicles were no longer upgraded. I don’t know. Weird and disappointing.

I then went to check my email, because it live on email. I couldn’t get Gmail to fully load properly. I tried the i-pad mail client, and it strips all my lovely tags and the option of putting more than one label on an email. Disappointing. (But it was late. I wasn’t fully functioning. I admit, when I tried again this morning, I think I’ve found a way to have all the functionality of my inbox. Still have to figure out the calendar, tasks, and especially, the chat. Cannot live without my Gmail chat…

Next came Dropbox.

My Dropbox

My dear, wonderful, sanity saving Dropbox.

Free App. One touch downloading, and all my files are now synced from my computer. Can’t do more that read them, since I have no word-processing, yet, but they’re there. Thank you Dropbox. I love you Dropbox. (Yes, false idols, and all, but if you’re a writer who’s ever lost a day’s work to a system crash, you understand my worship of Dropbox)

This morning, it was OneNote, another most important of important tools in my arsenal.

In fact, I wrote this post in OneNote. It’s where I keep the rough draft of all my blog posts. It’s where I keep all the links to reviews, promotions, contests, buy links and everything pertaining to all my released books. It’s where I keep my ideas for my upcoming books. It’s where the schedule for my kids’ extra-curricular activities is. In short, it is that fat, bulging-at-the-seams little black book everyone carried around in the eighties. Found an APP!!!!! As soon as the i-pad’s finished charging, (poor thing. I wore it out already) I shall sync.

My life is beginning to be as mobile as I must be to keep up with day job, kids, and sanity. Hurrah! Folks, if I can do it, anyone can. I mean that. Last night, I almost capitulated when hubs said “If it doesn’t work for you, give it to me.” Almost. Sorry, hubs. Not quite yet.

The Finale: Kriss and Cody

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who stuck with me through this story. It’s finally here, the end, and I hope you enjoy. 🙂 At some point, probably close to next Christmas, the entire thing will be compiled into a free PDF for your e-book readers. I’ll let you know when I have more (or, well, any) info on that.

As always, here are hte links to the previous installments, if you are just coming on board.:

Christmas Story Continued; Oct 27, 2010: https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/a-christmas-story-continued/

Christmas Story Con’t Part III Nov 9, 2010: https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2010/11/10/a-christmas-story-cont-part-iii/

Christmas Story Part IV;Niv 23, 2010;   https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2010/11/23/a-christmas-story-part-iv/

Christmas Story Part V; Dec 14, 2010:https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2010/12/14/christmas-story-cont-part-iv/

Christmas Story Part VI: Jan 3, 2011:https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/christmas-story-continued-beyond-christmas/

Christmas Story Part VII: Jan 11, 2011:https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/christmas-story-continued-part-seven/

Christmas Story Part VIII:https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/christmas-story-continued-part-viii/

Christmas Story part IX: Feb 8, 2011:https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2011/02/08/christmas-story-continued-part-ix/

Bchristmas story Part X: Feb 22, 2011: https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/507/

Christmas Story Part Eleven:  https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2011/03/22/christmas-story-cont-part-ten-eleven/ >

Christmas Story, Part Twelve: https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2011/04/12/santas-elf-nearing-the-end/

Cody drew in a deep breath. He studied the door before him. It wasn’t much of a door. Just an ordinary, black-painted wooden door with three bevelled glass panes across the top and a Christmas wreath on a hook. It was a nice enough door. He wasn’t sure that he felt the same about the man on the other side of it.

His father had been very accommodating. He’d expected more reticence on the old man’s part, but Peter had been forthcoming with a hard hug and a smile the moment he was within arm’s reach. He’d listened to the explanation of Jack’s partner being shot, the funeral services to be held the day after Boxing Day, and the Boyfriend, rescued from his empty house after hearing the news of his lover’s death.

Part of him wanted to be angry that his family had reached out to this stranger, accepted his place in the dead cop’s life without batting an eye. Even invited him into Jack’s home like he was an old friend. Part of him couldn’t help the sigh of relief that maybe, just maybe, he no longer had to walk on eggshells around his own family. He had this stranger to thank for that. And he would have, too, if the stranger had been there. But Jack had taken him home and it had taken all evening to get the story out of him as to why.

Now he stood, outside this door, staring at the embedded brush strokes of the thick paint and wondering what on earth he was going to say to his erstwhile lover.

“Can I even call him that?” After all, Kriss had only been in his life for a week. The best week he could remember in a long, long time, but still. Only a week.

Then he’d left.

Jack’s explanation of why made no sense to Cody, but then, Jack had maintained that Kriss’s explanation to him hadn’t made a lot of sense, either.

Cody would just have to get the reasons from the man—elf—himself.

“Fuck.” He breathed the curse into the winter darkness, wishing it had more vehemence behind it. He should be mad. He should be furious and on a plane back to Anchorage.

He touched the cold, black paint. Kriss was just on the other side. So close.

The door moved from under his hand and he started, jumping back and nearly toppling backward down the steps.

Kriss’s hand shot out, gripped his downy parka and hauled him forward. They met, chest to chest, breath mingling.

“You going to stand out here all night?” Kriss asked, his voice airy and tenuous.

“Maybe.” Cody peered up at him. The golden glow of the porch light revealed a face thinner than he remembered, more care-worn. Sadder.

“You are sad,” Cody whispered, realizing for the first time that whatever else had happened in the interim, he hadn’t stopped caring about this creature. His hands came up to clamp over Kriss’s and hold them in the tight grip on his coat. “So sad.”

Kriss only nodded, blue eyes locked on his. “So much happened.”

“And all you remember is that someone you loved just died.”

Kriss twisted a hand free. “Not all.” He backed up a few paces and Cody was forced to move with him, their hands still clasped over a fistful of his coat. “Come inside.”

Cody nodded, still captured by the lost expression on Kriss’s face.

Once inside, the door closed and coat hung in the closet, they gravitated to the warmth of the kitchen where Kriss had a kettle on the stove and a mug with powdered soup in the bottom waiting.

“Still drinking this stuff?” Cody pulled the mug round by the handle and snorted at the picture of a jolly, happy Santa face on the other side.

“Michael loved Christmas. He pulled this mug out December first and used it every morning.” Kriss’s finger traced along the rim. “I thought I’d get sick of seeing it every year…”

The breakdown was like a stop action photo series. Kriss’s face crumpled. Tears spilled and his head bowed, and Cody could stand the distance between them not a moment longer.

He pulled Kriss close and held him as tight as he dared, feeling the boney form shaking in his arms. “I’m here,” he whispered. “I’m here.”

Like he had the first time Kriss had walked into his life, Cody patiently cared for the man’s needs, soothing his tears until the kettle whistled, then stirring the hot water into the mug and encouraging him to drink the liquid.

“You must think I’m insane to like this stuff,” Kriss sniffled as he sipped the drink.

Cody just shrugged and settled beside him where he was sitting on the couch.

“It reminds me of you. Even while I was with Michael, and I didn’t know what the memory was, it felt…like something important.” Kriss lifted his face and caught Cody’s eye. “I didn’t leave on purpose.”

“Tell me what happened?”

Kriss explained everything, his memory coming back more and more quickly as he talked, as he settled into the story. “Now you’re here,” he said, peering at Cody over the rim of hi mug, “It’s like it all happened yesterday and Michael is the dream.” He frowned, his brow knitting into a tight whorl of wrinkles. “But not a dream at all, because he was my Michael. He loved me.”

“And you loved him,” Cody said quietly, examining what saying that out loud did to his insides.

Kriss nodded. “But I didn’t…it wasn’t…I didn’t remember you. If I had, I would have found a way to contact you, to come back…”

“No.” Cody shook his head and touched Kriss’s hand where it worried at the rim of his mug. “No, it happened this way for a reason. If you had come back, I wouldn’t be here now. I wouldn’t have talked to Jack today.” Cody dropped his gaze, picked at a loose thread dangling from the cuff of his sweater. “I haven’t talked to him like that since we were kids. Since…”

“He told me about the accident. About your…friend.”

“Boyfriend,” Cody grated through clenched jaw and years of calcified pain. “He was my boyfriend. The first guy I ever kissed. Ever…” he felt the heat ride up into his cheeks. “I loved him.”

“With all the fierceness if a fifteen year old heart,” Kriss agreed softly.

Cody nodded, but didn’t look up. “So I know how you feel. About Michael.”

“You’re not mad.” Kriss’s voice was filled with quiet shock.

“I was.” Cody felt it only fair, after all his companion had been through, the truth he’d risked telling knowing how dangerous it was to take that kind of risk with a cop, that he return the favour. “I was so angry. And hurt. But some part of me knew you couldn’t have just…disappeared like that. Not without something I didn’t understand going on to take you like that. So suddenly. Maybe it was just wishful thinking. I told myself every day I was a fool to believe you. That you were just bored and gone, not wanting to deal with my issues. But I wanted it to be real. I wanted you to be everything you said you were. I wanted there to be that kind of magic in my life.” He leaned across the space separating them, cupped Kriss’s face in his hand. “And look. Here you are, and here’s the magic.”

Kriss giggled slightly, sniffled and his soup sloshed out over his fingers. “Oh.”

Cody took the mug from him. “You need something a little more substantial than that.”

Kriss nodded. “I do. I’m hungry. Tired.” He sighed. “Not magic any more, I think.”

“Wrong again.” Cody moved closer, touched his lips to Kriss’s. “This is where the magic really begins.”

It’s not easy being green…

Today is my birthday! And while that may be awesome (and it is), today is also known as Earth Day. It’s great that environmentalism and its awareness gets a day per year, but in reality it should be every day, all year round.

Some people have pointed out that ereaders are very environmentally friendly as they save on paper and therefore trees. Others are very happy to swap books versus buy them new in stores. However way  you slice it, “going green” affects everything we do and our daily lives in general. It’s part of being mindful that our resources on this planet are not infinite.

What are some of your favorite ways to go green?Any tips you want to share?

Love & Magic,
Adrianne
www.adriannebrennan.com

Coming April 21 to Ravenous Romance

Photobucket

Cupid’s Venom Book Four in the Running In Fear Series

By Trinity Blacio

http://trinityblacio.com

Coming to Ravenous Romance

Six years of living in a cell sure can be hell on a girl. Not to mention the fact that Cecil Windstream was only sixteen years old when her family was taken away to be experimented on. After escaping, all Cecil wanted to do was die, but unfortunately the snake DNA that had been injected into her wouldn’t let her die, and neither will her mates.

Tug Brimstone was an alpha wolf by nature, but even he wasn’t as powerful as his Remi LeBlathe, their true alpha. Happy to be the new head master in their jointly owned BDSM nightclub, Tug wasn’t looking for anyone, but fate had another plan for him. In less than two days, he finds he has three mates, two who are part snake and wolf, and now he’s tempting fate by injecting snake DNA into his own body so he can mate with them.

Rory Sherwood is mate to Tug Brimstone, Clayton Glands, and Cecil Windstream. How can one tiny female who has been beaten, experimented on, and is a virgin overwhelm him to the point where he forgets his own name, let alone seriously changing his DNA, just so he can mate with her?

Clayton Glands, the muscle behind the National Council of Wolf shifters, has hidden a family secret all his life, but in less than twenty-four hours he has found his mates, exposed his secret, and gained a son.

In a one-week time span, three alpha males Tug, Rory, and Clayton must protect their female from the scientists Cecil had escaped. Not only is her life in danger, but also her son’s, and the future of every shifter around. The war against good and evil is coming to a head and their journey is just part of the story to come.

Santa’s Elf: Nearing the end!

I know, I know. I keep saying that. But I mean it this time. In fact, this could be the last installment. It all depends on what you all thing I should do next : So let me know!!!

Christmas Story Continued; Oct 27, 2010: https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/a-christmas-story-continued/

Christmas Story Con’t Part III Nov 9, 2010: https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2010/11/10/a-christmas-story-cont-part-iii/

Christmas Story Part IV;Niv 23, 2010;   https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2010/11/23/a-christmas-story-part-iv/

Christmas Story Part V; Dec 14, 2010: https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2010/12/14/christmas-story-cont-part-iv/

Christmas Story Part VI: Jan 3, 2011: https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/christmas-story-continued-beyond-christmas/

Christmas Story Part VII: Jan 11, 2011: https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/christmas-story-continued-part-seven/

Christmas Story Part VIII:https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/christmas-story-continued-part-viii/

Christmas Story part IX: Feb 8, 2011: https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2011/02/08/christmas-story-continued-part-ix/

Bchristmas story Part X: Feb 22, 2011: https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/507/

Christmas Story Part Eleven:  https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2011/03/22/christmas-story-cont-part-ten-eleven/ >

 

 

“I said…” Kriss took in another deep breath and looked Jack in the eye. “I’m an elf.”

“An elf.”

“I’m not crazy.”

“And I’m Santa.”

“Technically, there is no Santa.”

“No shit.”

“There are workshops. Foremen. Workers.”

“And elves.”

Kriss felt his face heat, right to the tips of his ears that seemed to grow points to accommodate the growing embarrassment. “You see why I thought telling you I had amnesia would be easier to believe.”

“You don’t really expect me to believe this?”

Kriss sighed and sank to the welcoming cushions. “I don’t know. If I were to be completely truthful, I’m not even an elf. I’m an elf’s construct.”

“How is this getting easier for me to believe?”

“It isn’t.” Kriss leaned his elbows on his knees and rubbed hard at his palms. “How it works is that the old man takes the wishes, sorts them out, hands out assignments to his elves and they make us. We’re supposed to go out into the world and fulfill these wishes. We have a year to do it.”

“And, let’s just assume I believe any of this, what happens after a year if you haven’t fulfilled your assignment?”

“I’m deprogrammed.”

“You get another assignment?”

“Something like that.” Kriss didn’t bother to explain the difference between deprogrammed and re programmed.

For a long minute, Jack just stood over him, watching him. Kriss didn’t dare meet his eye. He knew how insane his story sounded.

“The craziest part is,” Jack whispered, that I want to believe you.”

“After all the kindness you’ve shown me, do you really think I would lie to you?”

“I don’t even know you. I know Michael found you on the street.”

“Actually, he found me volunteering in the soup kitchen. He only found out the I didn’t have a home later. After we…” Kriss hung his head. “I never wanted him to know, never expected him to help me like his did.”

“What about falling in love with you? Did you expect that?”

Kriss shook his head, his gaze still fixed on the floor. “I didn’t expect to love him, either. It just happened.”

“And Cody?”

Kriss pulled his wallet from his back pocket and pulled out a well-worn piece of paper. He unfolded it and handed it to Jack. “This was the only thing in my wallet when I came here last winter. After I left Cody.” He bit his lip and the sharp pain made his eyes water. “After I forgot him.”

Jack took the paper from him and read it aloud.  I want someone  to understand.

The couch bounced slightly as he plopped down beside Kriss. “Fuck me,” he muttered.

“What?” Kriss glanced at him to find most of the colour had drained from the other man’s face.

Jack just shook his head and fished out his own wallet. He removed a much-creased piece of lined paper and held it like it might bite him.

“That accident I told you about.”

“Yes.”

“Cody was fifteen. I was seventeen. It was about three weeks before Christmas. I saw him write that note, you know. Saw him deliver it to the mall, like he thought it actually might work.” Jack shook his head. “I realized then what an ass I’d been.” He smiled ruefully. “And I wrote my own note. I always meant to tuck it into his stocking, or something. I did.” Blinking hard didn’t seem to alleviate the glassy look in his eyes. “The accident happened. Everything went tits up. I never got a chance to show him…to tell him. And he left.”

“When he was fifteen?”

“Day after he turned sixteen, actually. He went to live with our aunt for a while. Came back to visit once in a while, but…it was never…we never…” He shook his head and Kriss had to reach out, place his own hand over Jack’s shaking fingers. “I never told him that I did understand. That I didn’t care hew as gay, or any of that. I let him go, let him be angry and think we didn’t care.”

“But you do,” Kriss said softly.

Jack nodded.

“Then tell him when he comes home. Talk to him.” Kriss took a deep breath, swallowed his fears and smiled. “Ask him about last Christmas. If you want, you can tell him where to find me.” He stood and Jack hurried to follow him to the bedroom.

“Where are you going?”

“Home.”

“Wait..”

“No, Jack, this is how it should be. I came here to make sure you and you family healed. That was my assignment all along, and hopefully, I’ve done that. If I haven’t, I don’t want Cody to go through losing me again. If I have, you can send him to my house tomorrow and I’ll be there.”

Jack nodded, looked thoughtfully at the note in his hand before holding it out for Kriss. “Then maybe this is for you.”

Kriss took it, opened it, and read.

I understand. I’ll always be here for you. No matter what.

He smiled and looked up at his friend. “Thank you.”

Back in the tiny house he’d shared with Michel for the past months, Cody found it easier to breathe, to open the curtains and let in the bright, Christmas Eve sunshine. He’d done his best. If it was enough, Cody would come to him this time. If it wasn’t…He sighed and went to the kitchen. He was starved. In his experience, being hungry was only a pre-curser to better things.

 

 

 

 

 

No joke, I’m sick of winter.

The April Fool’s Day joke is on us here in the Northeast. If I even have to LOOK at snow again, I will scream–but there is it, a nice coating at the stuff all over the lawn, car, driveway, roads…what gives?

I want sun. Warm weather. And the ability to walk down the road without taking those careful, careful steps you take when you know there’s probably ice underneath your feet.

I’ve had enough. NO MORE. I am going to create a petition to abolish all snow. With the exception of a nice, light coating on Christmas Day, it’s time we took a stand against this oppressive weather.

So who’s with me??

Love & Magic,
Adrianne
www.adriannebrennan.com

Christmas Story Con’t Part…ten? Eleven.

All right, before anyone reads this and goes all….”waaahhh! She said this would be the alst one!!!!!’ You’re right. I did say that. It wasn’t a lie at the time. I really thought…I guess I just don’t understand how little story I can fit into 1000(ish) words. SO I asked my blog mates, and they might be okay with me posting more often until I get this sucker done. I hope no one gets too mad at me 🙂 *ducks*

Here are allt eh previous links, for anyone new:

Part One:   Santa’s New Line: http://dontkickmycane.livejournal.com/146309.html

Part II: https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/a-christmas-story-continued/

Part III: https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2010/11/10/a-christmas-story-cont-part-iii/

Pat IV: https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2010/11/23/a-christmas-story-part-iv/

Part V:  https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2010/12/14/christmas-story-cont-part-iv/

Part VI: https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/christmas-story-continued-beyond-christmas/

Part VII: https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/christmas-story-continued-part-seven/

Part VIII: https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2011/01/25/christmas-story-continued-part-viii/

Part IX: https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2011/02/08/christmas-story-continued-part-ix/

Part X: https://sixdreamweavers.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/507/

And today’s offering:

Both men watched him like hawks all through breakfast, offering him more food than he could possibly eat. They refused to let him help with cleaning up, even suggested he go back to his bed and sleep. They subsided when he took to the couch and sat quietly, flicking through television channels. He didn’t even realize he’d nodded off until Jack was shaking him gently.

“Kriss.”

Kriss blinked into the afternoon sun flooding the great room. It glowed warm across the hardwood floors and beamed brightly into his eyes. He sat up and rubbed at his face. “Mrf.”

Jack chuckled. “I just wanted to let you know that Dad and I were off to pick Cody up at the airport. You can come if you like, but we won’t be long.”

Kriss stilled. See Cody? Sooner if he went with them to pick him up from the airport. But did he want that to happen in a public place? He wasn’t even sure he wanted to see his old lover again with Jack and Peter there to look on.

“Kriss?”

“Um. Yeah.”

“Maybe you need some more sleep. You look pale still.”

“Maybe…”

“No maybe about it. Look at you. You’re sweating. Are you sure you don’t need a doctor?”

“no!”

Jack’s face took on a look of alarm.

Kriss nestled back into the couch, clasping a cushion against his chest. “I’m fine, really.”

“It’s been a stressful few days,” Jack agreed, though he still had dubious tone in his voice. “You know…if you need to, you can talk to me. To dad. We’re here for you. To listen. If you need.”

That was awkward. Kriss almost had to grin at the poor man’s discomfort. The last thing Jack really wanted was to sit and listen to Kriss’s problem. Kriss glanced up at him and was caught in the net of concern in Jack’s eyes. “That’s kind of you—”

“I mean it,” Jack tapped his leg. “Scoot.” He took a place on the couch next to Kriss. “I understand what you’re going through. Michael was a good man. Confused, maybe, and I didn’t make things easier for him, but he was my friend.” He wrapped his fingers together and leaned forward on his elbows. “Besides, we’ve all been down this road a couple times in the past. Back in high school, there was this huge accident. After a party. My girlfriend was killed so was Cody’s…” Jack scrubbed  hand through his hair. “His boyfriend and a couple other kids. It was horrific. You don’t expect something like that to happen. Before that, I suppose I knew Cody was gay. We never talked about it. When he lost David, he…I don’t know. No one wanted to acknowledge what he really lost. It was hard for him, and we didn’t make it any easier. Eventually, he just…snapped. It’s never been the same between us, and I miss him.”

Silence settled into the rays of sunshine and the soft cushions, taking a warmth and gentlness that was almost soothing. Jack stared at the floor and Kriss watched him.

“Have you ever told him how much you miss him?” Kriss asked at last.

“I don’t really know that he wants to hear it.”

“He does. He misses you, too.”

“It would be nice to think so, wouldn’t it?” Jack looked up at him. “But you can’t know that. Not for sure.”

Kriss drew in a deep breath. It was the perfect opening. “Actually, I think I do.”

“How?”

It was easy to imagine there was suspicion in Jack’s voice. Wariness. But nothing Kriss could do short of disappearing now could circumvent what would happen when Cody walked in that door. Best to meet it head on. If he failed, he failed. He already knew the consequences. Drawing in a deep breath and letting it out, he steadied himself and plunged in. “I think I know your brother. Or…knew him.”

Jack’s eyes narrowed. “How?”

“Last Christmas. I met him. We…”

Jack’s brows drew down into a deep frown.

“The thing is, we kind of had a falling out. I walked out and…something happened.”

“What happened?”

“I’m not sure, exactly. But I wound up here. Michael found me. It’s really hard to explain.”

“What do you mean you’re not sure and you ‘wound up”? You don’t remember?”

“Not exactly, no. I wish I could explain better. I wish…Cody is going to see me here and wonder what happened. He probably thinks I just walked away and never looked back. But I didn’t know I had anything to look back on. I didn’t remember. Until now. Until you started talking about him and things, half-memories, started clicking into pace.” Kriss stopped talking.

Jack was staring at him like he had pointy ears and a bell on his hat.

“That’s a fucking load of coincidence, isn’t it?” he asked. His voice had turned harsh. Suspicious.

“I guess.” Kriss didn’t dare try to explain why it wasn’t coincidence at all. Jack was already looking at him like he was crazy. Or a criminal.

“Jack?” Peter’s voice carried from the kitchen. “Son, you ready?”

“I think you better go on your own. Dad. I’m going to stay and keep an eye on Kriss.”

“He okay?” Peter’s voice dropped as he poked his head over the rail. “Kriss, you all right, son?”

Kriss looked up, thankful Jack had his back to his father. “I’m fine, Mr. Stanton. Jack is just being cautious.” He managed a smile. “And I appreciate it.”

“Go on, Dad. I’ll take care of everything here.”

“All right. If you’re sure. Does he need a doctor?”

“No.”

“He’s fine.”

They spoke in unison and Kriss’ smile faltered.

“If you’re sure,” Peter said again.”

“I am Dad. Get going or you’ll be late. You know how much Cody hates airports.”

“Al right. Al right. I’m going. You boys try and relax.

Kriss nodded.

Peter disappeared again and the back door opened and closed. A moment later, the sound of a car motor rumbled to life and dwindled down the street.

“I’ll get my things,” Kriss said, rising to his feet. “You won’t see me again. I’m sorry I took up your time.”

“Wait.” Jack’s hand closed about his wrist. “Sit.”

Kriss sat.

“What aren’t you telling me?”

“I don’t understand.”

“Amnesia?” Jack frowned. “Really? You expect me to believe that?”

“I—” He didn’t expect him to believe it. Who would? But he wouldn’t believe the truth, either.

“You have five seconds to tell me the truth before I arrest you and toss your ass in jail.”

“I didn’t do anything!”

Jack rose. “You are in my home under false pretenses.” His eyes narrowed, his nostrils flared. “Were you in Michael’s life under a cloud of lies, too?”

“No!” Kriss shot to his feet. “No! I swear. I loved him.”

“And what about Cody? Love him too?”

“Yes.” Kriss wobbled, swaying on his feet. “I still do. I—”

“Oh no you don’t.” Jack grabbed him by both arms. “No more fainting. The truth. Now.”

“I need to sit.”

Jack shook him. “Talk.”

“You wouldn’t believe me.” Kriss sagged in his grip. He felt nauseous, weak, and the feeling angered him because he couldn’t combat it. He didn’t know what to do. Cody had known what he needed, whenever this happened.

“Try me. Because if you think I’m going to let you upset my little brother, think again. Either you tell me the truth, or you can go the hell back to your empty little house and rot there.”

“Please.” Kriss gave in and crumpled, trusting his weight to Jack’s strong hold and his mercy. “I didn’t do any of this on purpose. I tried my best. I’m just an elf.”

A strained silence filled the room for the space of a heartbeat. “A what?” Jack asked, trying to right Kriss and look him in the eye. “What did you say?”