Flowers for Jiri: Part 2
~ Eugene ~
Jiri looked to the sky for probably the tenth time since setting up this morning. The forecast was calling for rain later tonight, but judging by those clouds it could drop on them at any time. He hoped it didn’t. Yes, his canvases would be safe under the canopy, but it still worried him. Sales tended to dwindle when it rained, though the market didn’t close.
“One extra-large, Hawaiian pineapple and Canadian bacon pizza,” Makoto cheered as he returned to their stall, pizza in hand. “And of course, two ice cold Dr. Peppers for the parched artists!”
Laughing, Jiri accepted the pizza, setting it on a small table that he’d set up between their chairs. Makoto made a small show of twirling between their stands and sitting down. “So, anyone stop by while I was away fulfilling the desires of our stomachs?”
“Three women stopped by and bought a necklace, a bracelet, and a set of earrings respectively,” Jiri said. “Another guy, freshman at UO, bought my painting of a dragon and a knight. Said he wanted it for his dorm room.”
“Fine art, in a dorm?” Makoto lifted a mocking brow. “My, my have kids gotten spoiled.”
Yeah, Jiri wouldn’t exactly call that piece fine art. It was one of his earliest pieces that he hadn’t managed to get rid of until now. He’d sold it to the kid at a bargain price, happy to see it go. Plus, the guy was cute. A little younger than Jiri, but still cute.
“Maybe I should date younger guys?” Jiri said out loud before taking a bite of his pizza. Fire baked pizza from a brick oven, muses bless whoever invented this! Then again, they already did.
“You’re kidding, right?” Makoto gave him a sideways sneer. “Darling, why would you want to train someone?”
“It’s not like I have all that much experience myself,” Jiri countered. “Besides, I’m not that old.”
“Twenty-five is the new thirty,” Makoto replied.
“It is not!” Jiri laughed.
“Jiri, delivery.” The flower delivery man interrupted their conversation, and reminded Jiri of his current heartbreak as he signed for the flowers. They were spring flowers again this time, camellias, sweet peas, and cherry blossoms.
“Thank you,” Jiri nodded to the man as he placed them in the vase and reached for the card. He braced himself for this week’s cute message. He paused when he found a regular sized envelope instead of the usual small card. Opening it, he pulled out a letter written in simple handwriting:
I think I did something to upset you last week, and for that I’m truly sorry. I hope you can forgive me, and meet me in the food court at noon for lunch. Please, wear the bracelet.
Please know, I have admired you professionally for many years now. Every time I come to the market and see you it’s like my world brightens, even on my darkest days. Before I knew it, I’d fallen in love with you. Not just your artwork, but you. The amazing man behind the paintings I have decorating my life.
Now though, those paintings are just a reminder of what I truly want. What I want is you, Jiri. I love you. I’ve spent my whole life having things handed to me, but you’re the one thing I want to try and reach out for, myself. Please, join me for lunch?
If you don’t come, I understand and I’ll back off.
Jiri’s heart was pounding as he looked at the bouquet again, this time noticing the beaded bracelet purchased by the regular customer last week.
“Oh, fuck!” Jiri snatched up his phone and looked at the time. It was twenty passed twelve. “Shit! Shit!” Jiri pulled the bracelet off, and stumbled out of the stall.
“Jiri? What’s going on?” Makoto asked, worry in his voice.
“I’ll be right back! I swear!” Jiri shouted as he ran down the park to the food court.
Halfway there the skies opened up and rain started falling. Jiri paid little attention to it, other than slowing down just enough not to slide on the now wet cement. By the time he reached the food court his clothes were soaked by the spring shower.
Bending at the waist, Jiri pulled gulps of air into his lungs before he straightened, pushed the hair out of his face, and looked around. Everyone was scattering from the benches and tables set out. The rain making them flee for a dryer dining area. As Jiri searched he felt his pounding heart rate change rhythm, now beating a drum roll of dread. Was he too late?
Gripping the bracelet, he started walking, hoping to catch sight of the one person he wanted to see right now. He made it all the way around the food court, never catching sight of Sloane.
Tears fell, mixing with the rain and washing off his face, Jiri hung his head and turned to go back to his stall. He’d messed this up. If he’d just gotten here a little faster, maybe then he would’ve met him and been able to tell Sloane he loved him as well.
It was like lightning striking him from heaven, that rich timber caressing his nerves and sending shocks along his body. Slowly, Jiri turned and faced his regular customer, drenched from head to toe, his suit absolutely ruined. Still, he looked amazing as he stood there, out of breath just like Jiri.
“The florist called and said the delivery was delayed,” Sloane said. “I thought you’d stood me up.”
Jiri shook his head rapidly, unable to form words.
Sloane’s eyes, those beautiful deep brown eyes, looked to Jiri’s wrist where the bracelet was resting. He smiled and Jiri’s world spun. The man was simply too gorgeous for words!
“Can I take this to mean you want to get lunch?” Sloane asked, stepping forward and closing the distance between them.
Between the pounding of the rain, and the thundering of his own heart Jiri wasn’t entirely sure he could hear Sloane correctly, but damn if that didn’t sound like he was being asked out by this amazing man. Again, Jiri found himself nodding, words refusing to escape his lips.
A gentle laugh, like a spring breeze, left Sloane as he wrapped his arms around Jiri, pulling him close. “You’re so beautiful, Jiri.”
His mouth had gone dry and Jiri was starting to panic at his inability to speak. “Th-thank you,” he stuttered. Oh god, strike him down now! He was fucking this up.
“So cute,” Sloane whispered before leaning down and kissing Jiri. It was just the faintest of touches at first, like a feather touching a flower. Sloane brushed his lips against Jiri’s, pulling him in and letting him feel the other pressed so near.
It was Jiri that deepened the kiss. Sighing, he nipped at Sloane’s bottom lip, and drew it into his mouth. The larger man groaned, a sound sexier than anything Jiri had heard before, and slid his tongue between Jiri’s lips, parting them to invade his mouth. He tasted divine, better than any chocolate or rich treat. Jiri played back, his tongue twirling and dancing around Sloane’s as they sought each other out.
The rain pouring down on them didn’t matter. The people still walking around didn’t matter. The people in their stalls and food trucks sure as shit didn’t matter. All that mattered to Jiri in this moment was the man holding him, and kissing him like he was the most precious thing in the world.
Finally, they parted, Sloane looking down to Jiri with a look he never though he’d see directed at him. “Instead of lunch, how about dinner?” Sloane asked.
Jiri could feel his cheeks heating up at the suggestive undertones in Sloane’s voice. Still, he’d come this far. “I’d love that.”
Sloane smiled, and reclaimed Jiri’s lips.
* * * *
“Oh come on!” Makoto begged over their morning coffee. “You have got to tell me! I tell you everything.”
“You over share,” Jiri cringed. He knew such intimate things about his two friends and their love life that he was an expert in the sex practices of M ‘n’ M. “Besides, there’s nothing to tell. Sloane was a perfect gentleman last night.”
Jiri still couldn’t believe that his wish had been answered! The customer he’d been crushing on was the same one sending him all those flowers. Jiri must have done something good in his last lift to deserve this.
“Well, that’s no fun,” Makoto sulked.
“Just because I didn’t sleep with him on the first date you’re getting your panties in a bunch?” Jiri teased. “How long did you make Morgan wait before you let him have you?”
Makoto didn’t even have the decency to blush as he said, “We did it on the second date. You know that.”
“Sorry I asked.” Jiri shook his head, hoping to clear his mind of that knowledge again.
Before Makoto could say anything else scandalous, the doorbell to their shared apartment rang. “Did you lock yourself out again, honey bear?” Makoto asked, as he stood and moved to the door. Morgan also lived with them. Helped cut down on the bills. “Oh. Jiri! It’s for you!” His friend’s all to happy singing voice made Jiri leery as he stood and moved to see who it was.
The sight of Sloane standing at his door, a large bouquet of flowers in his hands, had him blushing and smiling like some virgin high schooler.
“Morning,” Sloane said, walking into the apartment upon Makoto’s direction. “I thought I’d try delivering them myself this time.”
Trying really hard not to stumble over his own two feet, or stutter, Jiri met Sloane halfway and accepted the much larger arrangement. Roses paired with dahlias were encased in dogwood blossoms. “You’ve already won me over. Flowers aren’t necessary anymore.”
“I won’t to do this,” Sloane smiled down to him, one hand coming up and cupping the side of Jiri’s face gently. “I can’t think of anything else that compares to you to help me express my happiness right now.”
Well damn! What did a guy say to that?
“I’ll just see myself out,” Makoto said, ducking out of the living room and into his bedroom.
“So,” Sloane spoke up, his eyes never once leaving Jiri, “What would you say to having that lunch date today?”
“Sounds perfect.” Jiri smiled, and stood on his tiptoes as Sloane leaned in to kiss him. Jiri had wanted romance, seemed he was going to be getting a lot of it from now on. He couldn’t wait.
Wrench in the Engine: Galaxia Pirates 3
Steven, the head mechanic of the pirate ship Galaxia, is frustrated that he is unable to repair the ship's engines on his own. He’s further irritated when his captain hires outside help to assist him.
Chris is one of the two original creators of the engines used on the Galaxia, but he’s been retired—so to speak—for years now. When Steven arrives requesting his help, Chris is instantly intrigued by the young man and takes the job just to get a chance at him. Before they can even start, however, the Galaxia comes under attack by the military, and Chris is identified as a deserter.
With no choice, Chris joins the crew and sets out to find a way to fix the engines and avoid his own arrest. During the trip, Chris and Steven must come to terms with their mutual attraction—and whether or not to act on it.
It took Steven a moment to notice they were driving right past the large building and down to the docks. What the hell was going on? Why would a starship mechanic be found down here?
When they came to a stop outside a small shack, Chris’s Boat Repair painted in green on a wooden sign hanging above the door, Steven felt his temper flare. Was this some kind of sick joke? A boat mechanic? Had Sidney lost his ever-loving mind?
With a sigh, Steven climbed out of the vehicle only to duck down when a shot rang out above his head. He pulled his pistol from the holster at his hip, spun around, and took aim in the direction the shot came from in one fluid motion. His breath froze in his lungs and his heart went silent as he waited for another sign of hostility.
“Easy!” Craig shouted, raising his hands. Tony was standing beside him, his own weapon drawn. The navigator looked deadly as he scanned their surroundings. “Chris, we just came to talk!”
“I thought I told you and your brother to forget I exist.” The rough voice that preceded the man who walked out onto the small front porch had Steven frowning. The man sounded as if he’d spent his life shouting, his voice hoarse from years of overuse.
“Yeah, well, we have a problem with the Galaxia’s engines.” Craig sighed.
“Then it’s a problem for your mechanic,” Chris said, lowering the rifle. Now that the threat had been diminished, Steven stood from his crouched position behind the vehicle and took the man in. He was sturdily built, obviously a man used to hard, physical labor. His dark, full beard had two streaks of gray starting at the corners of his mouth. His black hair was thick, but again there was gray coming in at his temples. His steel eyes were narrowed, small wrinkles giving him even more signs of his age.
“That would be me,” Steven said, stepping forward and placing his pistol back in the holster. “I’m Steven Smith, and we need to talk.”
Chris held up his right hand, and Steven had to remind himself not to stare. Flipping him off was a cybernetic hand. The mechanics extended up to his arm and stopped at his shoulder. Instantly Steven looked down and noticed, beneath his swim trunks, his right leg was also a cybernetic prosthetic.
“Oh, come on,” Craig beseeched. “Just hear him out.”
“Fuck off,” Chris said with a snarl as he turned and headed back into his shop.
Steven growled and chased after the man. There was no way in fucking hell he was going to be turned down now that he’d come here. Screw this guy. He was going to help them even if Steven had to force him.
“Hey, you.” Steven grabbed the man’s shoulder, spun him around, and slammed him against the wall. He might not look it, but Steven was a mechanic and was quite strong. “I don’t care what issues you have with Sidney and Craig, but I’m here to find a way to fix the Galaxia’s engines. So you’ll swallow your fucking attitude and listen to me.”
The man laughed, throwing Steven for a loop. He loosened his grip on the man, and that proved to be a mistake. Chris flipped their positions, his mechanical hand digging into Steven’s throat. “I built those engines. Why the fuck should I have to fix them now?”
“What?” Steven gasped. This man built the Galaxia’s engines? But that couldn’t be right. Struggling, Steven met Chris’s hard steel eyes and froze. Something stirred inside him as he looked at that cold gaze and felt that prosthetic hand squeeze around his throat. Something primal that he shouldn’t be feeling.
“Hey, that’s enough,” Tony said with a growl, a gun appearing at Chris’s temple. “We don’t need you so bad that I’ll stand by and let you kill one of our crew.”
* * * *
Chris looked down to the small man holding a gun to his head without so much as a sign of hesitation in Tony’s mercury eyes. Looking back to the man, Steven, he had pinned to the wall, he was also amazed to see no signs of fear in his sage-green eyes. Who had eyes like that? As if they were waiting for the end without so much as a passing worry to what it meant.
Chris let go and stepped back, then leaned against one of the pillars holding the roof over his porch. “I’m retired.” He knew when not to get into a losing fight, and there was no way he could take all three of these men at the same time.
“Just look at what I have for you and then we’ll leave,” Steven said, holding up a hologram disk.
Sighing, Chris rubbed the back of his neck. He didn’t want to get involved with this shit again. After everything he’d gone through to get away from those machines, Chris did not want to get pulled back in just because some cutie with pretty eyes asked him. Damn Sidney, he knew Chris’s type too fucking well. Steven had everything Chris liked in a bed partner—dark brown hair just long enough to grab, a delicately handsome face, and a trim body. Chris liked it all, except those lifeless eyes.
“Get lost, kids,” Chris finally said. “I have no interest in going near that ship again.”
“You don’t have to!” Steven said with a snarl. Maybe it was something Chris had said? The guy suddenly seemed downright hostile. “Like I’d let you get near my baby with that attitude. Come on, Craig, Tony. This guy is useless.”
Part of Chris wanted to reach out and pull the young man back and demand he swallow those words, but he resisted the urge. He wasn’t the same man he was all those years ago. He no longer had the same passion for engines that could go faster than any before, without being detected on any radar. The Stealth-class ship was the peak of his designs, a work of true perfection. It was a shame to know it was in need of repair, enough so that Sidney would seek him out.
“Steven.” The smaller man, Tony, raced after the tall man. “We can’t fix this without him.”
“I don’t care!” Steven lashed out. “I’ll figure something out.”
About A.M. Halford
A.M. Halford lives in Southern Oregon and enjoys spending as much time outside as she possibly can. Her and her partner often find themselves hiking with their two dogs when the weather permits it. Fishing, camping, and photography are also activities she greatly enjoys. If the weather doesn’t permit going outside she can be found curled up with a sketch book, drawing whatever comes to mind.
A.M. got into writing as an outlet for personal therapy and has since expanded that into a hobby and profession that she enjoys. She often writes down anything that comes to mind, combing through the ideas and expanding on plots that sound the most interesting. She likes to write believable relations between people overcoming unfair hardships set before them. She always loves a happy ending and no matter the hell her characters go through they’ll always get their forever person.
A.M. Halford can be found here: