Krys Marshall as Danielle Poole in the TV series FOR ALL MANKIND – 2019
Krys Marshall as Danielle Poole in the TV series FOR ALL MANKIND – 2019
literally who was doing it like her!!!!!!!!
What with various domestic crises, I thought I was late for our December boys, Victor and Serurier. Phew, I’m not: Victor is on th 7th and Serurier on the 8th. Anecdotes, portraits, all are welcome.
I can't get over them💔
While #China’s pressure remains a concern, #Taipei has proven capable of expanding its international space through unofficial #partnerships. #Taiwan’s growing relationship with #Somaliland is a strong example of this approach, & could be used as a template for future relations.
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Summary: there is some misunderstanding between you and Cody.
Pairing: pre Cody/Reader
Tags: miscomunication; misunderstanding; both Cody and Reader can't talk about their feelings for each other; Reader is without pronoums or physical description; slight jelousy.
Send me an ask and I will write you something
(I'm bored out of my mind, and I need some motivations)
"Why are you escaping, then?" - Cody's voice resonates in the dark alley, quiet and deadly.
"I am not. Only that I don't want to be here anymore." - you reply, walking steadily towards your quarters; thank the Maker that they are near the bar, the rain just started to wet the streets, and you don't want to do a second shower, thank you very much.
"You are being a brat." - the Commander is behind you in seconds, practically attached to your back, the short advantage you had on him swallowed by his long legs and fast pace.
"I am not." - a brat would fuss and complain right in front of everyone; a brat would cry for the sightless shift of attention. The fact that you had walked out of the bar, when you caught sight of a girl sitting on the lap of the Commander, without a sound, divided yourself from any brat that Cody may know.
"You made a scene out of nothing." - he growled, trying to catch your arm, only for you to stop in front of your apartment's door. Sending thanks to all the deities for arriving at home without fish swimming in the shoes.
"Commander." - at this, you faced him, hurt hidden away from your face. You didn't think you were something special, but you thought there was something between you and Cody. Clearly, you were wrong. - "Have a nice evening."
You closed the door on his face, not giving him the time to respond or react. Doing so, you miss his frustrated growl or how he snarls to whoever tried to pry into your location, bottle of wine firm into his hand, and the image of your disappointed face in his heart.
Rescue Knights - Marshall Transforming Toy Car with Collectible Action Figure
Definitely looking forward to adding this one to my collection! :)
Yeah I'd wash the dishes too, even though I hate doing it. XD
Also Fire Marshall Bill would definitely find a reason as to why washing dishes is very deadly. Hence there not being any dishes afterwards when the house ends up being a blaze of flames. 😂
Summary: Noah reminisces of a happy and cold day he spent with his sister and their friends, a lifetime ago.
Author’s note: This takes place between the events of It Lives in the Woods and It Lives Beneath. MC is Red. Gender Neutral MC. Entry for Day 5 - Snow Fight by @choicesdecemberchallenge2021. My ILITW Masterlist
Disclaimer: Characters belong to Pixelberry Studios.
Book: It Lives in The Woods
Word count: +800
It is a cold day.
It’s so cold that it’s hard to breathe, and his breath leaves his mouth as a fog. His fingertips ache, even though he keeps on bracing himself, his long arms glued to his body, as a failed form to try to protect himself from the cold.
It is a cold day.
But even though he feels like he’s freezing, the boy with a beanie stops his walk and looks up to the grey sky, the first snowdrops falling around him.
And memories of a lifetime ago start flashing in his mind.
“NOAH IS A POTATO SACK!” - Andy yelled, a few feet away.
“SHUT UP!” - the boy with a striped hoodie shouted back and threw his ball. The other boy dodged just in time and laughed victoriously, just to have a snowball thrown right onto his face.
“HA, HEAD! 10 POINTS!” - Ava punched the air, singing victory.
Noah felt something cold hitting him on his back. He turned around to see Jane and Devon giggling mischievously, a pile of snowballs by their sides.
“Hey, this isn’t fair! No pairing up!”
“You only say this because you’re losing!” - his twin said back.
“Noah is right, we agreed to play each by ourselves.” - Lucas stated by his side.
Jane and Devon just shared a look before shooting a snowball after the other.
“EVERYONE, TAKE COVER!” - Dan ordered and they all scattered around the yard, dodging the surprise attack.
Noah quickly hid himself behind Devon’s parents' picape.
“Hey! You’re destroying our snowman!” - Stacy scowled at him. He rolled his eyes.
“Can’t you just play more to the side? We’re having a war here!”
“You’re so dramatic. It’s just a snow fight. Besides, you’re taking all over the place with your game!”
“Come on, Stacy, he didn’t even touch Mr. Carrot.” - Lily told her friend.
“Yes, it’s the name of our snowman!” - the girl showed him ‘Mr. Carrot’. He had a carrot as his nose.
And then a snowball passed through him, hitting Mr. Carrot so hard that the snowman’s head fell onto the floor. The two girls screamed in horror.
“MR. CARROT!” - Lily fell onto her knees, staring at all her hard work scattered all around the floor. Stacy turned around, fuming.
“OKAY, WHO HAS KILLED MR. CARROT?! I WILL DESTROY YOU!”
“Uh-oh.” - Andy murmured, while Dan pointed to him.
“WAIT! We can use what is left of Mr. Carrot as ammunition!” - Noah stopped Lily from rebuilding the snowman.
“You want to use Mr. Carrot’s remains as a weapon?!” - Lily screamed in shock.
“Lil, this is war. We have to do it. For Mr. Carrot.” - Stacy turned to her friend. Noah nodded.
“Think about it, is there a better way to avenge Mr. Carrot than using him to destroy our enemies?”
The girl looked from one to the other, before slowly standing up, brushing the snow off of her clothes.
“This is war.” - she stated, her eyes shining with determination.
The three of them high fived and promptly started forming snowballs with the snowman’s remains.
“Okay, on three, we attack.” - Noah said. They were all kneeled behind the picape. The two girls nodded at him. - “One…”
“Two…” - Lily counted.
“AND THREE!” - Stacy yelled, and each of them ran to a different direction, throwing balls at the others.
Noah hit Lucas and Ava.
“AW, COME ON!” - Andy complained, as he got hit on the face again by Lily.
“FOR MR. CARROT!” - Stacy cried, throwing a gigantic ball at Devon and Dan.
“Hey! Group of three isn’t fair!” - Jane pointed out. But she just got a snowball thrown at her chest by her twin brother. - “OH, THIS IS WAR!” - the redhead quickly kneeled to get another snowball.
The children’s shouts and laughter went on for the rest of the day.
Noah suddenly snaps back to reality, feeling his tears welling up on his eyes, but they freeze before rolling down his cheeks. He can still hear his friends' childish laughter in his ears.
A voice almost alien but too familiar surges by his side.
“Noah… sad?” - Devon floats on their ethereal black form.
“...I’m fine.” - the boy with a beanie brushes his tears off anyway. Devon still just keeps staring at his face. - “Don’t worry. It was just a memory.” - Noah tries to reassure them.
Even though it’s been a couple of years since that fatidical day, Devon’s spectre-form still freaks him out.
A slow smirk rolls on the boy’s lips.
“Yeah. I think you’ll like this story…”
And then, he proceeds to share the memory with Devon. Maybe his friend remembers this episode too.
Of a happier time.
Of a time when everyone was still his friend.
Of a time when Jane was here.
Of a time when Devon was alive.
Of a happy and cold day. When everyone played together.
Tagging: @miragemeister @yertletheturtle04 @mysteriouslady4 @klaudiana-beaumontkkreal @katiehawkeyebishop @melchann @hippiekiyay @lovethemarshalltwins @american-duchess @jadedpixiescribbles @gameofstrangerwars @blackheartdreams @indiacater @nuttatulipa @lcnelywclf @sazanes @mmmmmmyyyah @ietss @choicesaholic @spectrelier @noahmarshallapologist @thequeenofpixels @choicesficwriterscreations
Red Notice (2021)
Directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber
Cinematography by Markus Förderer
From My Klayley Playlist: Rot Next To You by The Hound + The Fox
I hope that our life feels so good You don’t mind when I rot next to you
Marshal wearing his favourite outfit 🥰
(Cavillmas Day 6)
Word count = 5.6k
Warnings: a little angst, a lot of fluff
A/N: There will be a follow up to this at some point in the near future.
Canadian winters were known for their ferocity. Saskatchewan winters were among the worst of the lot. Every window of my car looked out onto a wasteland of white, the roadway and surrounding landscape blanketed with fresh snow that was still falling. Even though I wore sunglasses it was blinding.
Twenty minutes ago I'd stopped in Moosomin for a fresh coffee and to top off my gas tank. The coffee was shit, but at least it was keeping my internal organs cozy and warm. I was on my way back to Winnipeg for the annual Christmas Moose Roast, an event my family hosted for the last three decades. A vision of the massive beast, dressed and butchered, spinning on several different spits, passed through my mind. My mouth watered.
The Loggervine family was known for two things, the Moose Roast, and our dysfunction. I loved them all, dearly, but I aprehensión filled me every time I made the return trip. More often than not, I went simply for the succulent moose and my nieces and nephews.
A truck appeared before me a short distance ahead, traveling slower in the right-hand lane, not visible until now in the clouds of flurries. I merged into the left lane, preparing to pass him, when a dark object came flying out from under the cab of the semi. Whatever it was came sliding to a halt directly in front of the driver’s side tire.
There was no time to avoid it, but I tried anyway, steering my sedan back to the right. The tire clipped the object and sent it flying into the wide median between opposing traffic.
I exhaled a sigh of relief. I did not need any hiccups in my journey home.
“Oh no! Please no!” I murmured, signaling and pulling to the shoulder, praying that noise wasn’t what I thought it was.
I shifted into park and pressed the button for the hazard lights, their incessant ticking annoying me instantly. Stepping from the vehicle into the blistering subzero winds, I found that the situation was exactly what I had thought: a flat, busted front tire.
I raised my arms and slapped them down onto my thighs in frustration, “Great. Just great.” There was no way to get a tow in the middle of bum-fuck nowhere, especially not in a snowstorm. I could call one of my brothers, but I knew they’d just belittle me for never learning how to change a tire, or my own oil or anything else that I typically sought a mechanic for.
“Fuck it. I'll do it myself,” I said. I opened the door and retrieved my gloves and hat, jamming them on as I spilled expletives over my fabulous luck.
I popped the rear hatch, and lifted the floor cover where the spare tire was kept. Only, there was no spare tire. My hands balled into fists as I turned toward the snow covered field to my right and screamed into the snowy silence.
A crunch of gravel under large tires made me turn. A large, gray Ford pickup slowly rolled to a stop about ten feet from where I stood. I squinted in the direction of the driver's seat, but through the snow I was unable to make out the driver's face.
The door opened a moment later; leather work boots hit the ground, attached to long, thick, denim clad legs, and stepping around the front of the truck, the man finished zipping his parka.
He was around my age, mid-thirties, give or take a few years. His face was furrowed and his jaw was covered in a mildly unruly beard, giving him Grumpy the Dwarf vibes. A knit cap covered his head, but it was unable to keep dark curls from escaping at the edges.
“Busted tire?” He asked in a deep, rumbly voice. It sounded like he possibly had an English accent.
I took a step back, pulling out my cell phone and holding a finger over the speed dial to my brother. “Uh, yeah, my brother is on his way to help.”
“Right. Um, I know my car’s unmarked, but,” he lifted the hem of his jacket, revealing a gold badge and pulling it from his belt, “I'm a detective.” He stepped forward, extending the badge for my inspection.
I took it, looking at him skeptically before inspecting the badge. Gold shield on a black belt holster, it read ‘City of Winnipeg; POLICE; Detective Inspector; 1307’. It looked legitimate, but I wasn't about to take any chances. “I'm going to call this in for verification,” I told him, waving the badge.
He lifted his hands in front of him, eyes caring and understandable. “Yes, absolutely.” He stepped backwards until he bumped into the grill of his truck, leaning against it and shoving his hands into his pockets.
I held my cell phone to my ear as it rang into the nine-one-one operator, not taking my eyes off the self-proclaimed detective. For all I knew this badge could be fake, and he could be planning my murder à la Isreal Keyes style. I listened to enough podcasts and documentaries to know this kind of situation could end very badly.
A kind female voice answered and I calmly read her the numbers from the badge. She twittered a giggle, before clueing me in, “Oh, sweetheart, that's Detective Marshall!” She coo-ed his name. “He might seem like a grizzly, but he's really a big Teddy bear. He'll take care of you, hun.”
“Sure, that's great. Can you just tell me the make and model of the vehicle he's in? And the plates too?” I asked, kicking at the hardened bits of plowed snow on the ground that had accumulated from the previous storm. I kept the surly detective in my periphery.
“Oh my, someone's overly cautious, don't ya know.” She tsk’d and giggled again, “Nothing wrong with that, I suppose. Can't be too careful these days.”
I wanted to scream at her! She was an operator for the police, if anyone knew that you “couldn't be too careful these days” it should have been her.
“Give me a minute, I have to call over to metro.” There was a click and hold music began to play.
While I waited, I studied my potential knight in cold weather attire. He was tall and even under the puffy jacket I could tell he was well built and muscular. Through the snow I could see that his cheeks were pink, the tip of his clefted nose bright red, and lips that were subtly shifting toward blue. He was watching me as I surveyed him. I expected no less from a detective, but I continued to stare back, memorizing each detail just in case he did try to pull something.
The line clicked back on, “You still there, honey?”
“Yes, I'm here.”
“Oh good. Metro got me that info. OK, let's see. Detective Walter Marshall, his personal vehicle is a Ford F-150, gray, plates read Delta-Edward-Kite, seven-two-eight-four.” I peered down at knee level on the detective, where his license plate was visible, all the letters and numbers matching. I released a small breath, not aware that I was holding it. “Got all that, dear?”
“Yes, ma’am. Thank you.”
I ended the call and pushed my cell back into my coat pocket. I walked a few feet to where Mr. Walter Marshall stood. I sniffed and handed him his badge, “Everything checks out.”
His eyes moved over my face, but no emotion crossed it. “Good. Glad I am who I say I am. Now let's get this tire replaced.” He began walking toward my car before I could tell him there was no need.
I came to stand next to him just as he opened the lid to the spare tire compartment, finding it empty, just as I had.
“You don't have a spare?” His definite British accent was filled with frustration and mixed with disbelief.
“I don't have a spare.” I parroted back to him. “I was going to tell you, but you walked aw-- hey!” He turned and was stomping back to his truck, so I followed him.
He pulled a small notebook and pen from somewhere in the cab and came stomping back past me toward my car. I felt like the monkey in the middle. I pivoted and came to where he was standing, once again at the back of my car. He was jotting down the make and model and plate numbers.
He looked down at me with his cold stony expression, “Grab whatever belongings of value you need and lock it, you're coming with me. I'll take you where you need to go. Meet me in the truck.” He indicated toward his truck and he was off again, walking back toward it.
I stared after him, incredulous. Not a grizzly, my ass. Sighing, because I had no other choice, I retrieved my things and locked my car. With my luggage on the back seat of his crew cab, I climbed into the warm interior, low tones of bluesy guitar reaching my ears.
I buckled in and noticed that Detective Marshall had removed his gloves and unzipped his jacket. As I watched him, without trying to watch him, he took off his knit hat, running a hand through and tousling his dark, wavy locks. He had beautiful hair. I want to touch it. There was also no sign of a wedding ring.
I shook my head to clear those unbidden thoughts and glued my eyes to the dashboard.
“Well, you know that I'm Walter. What's your name?” He cast me with a wayward glance as I looked at him.
“Audrey,” I told him, my mouth lifting into a quick solemn grin. His face moved, making an expression that suggested he didn't think the name was the worst thing he'd ever heard. At least my name isn't Walter. What was he, a ninety year old in a thirty-something body?
“Where were you headed?” He shifted the pickup into drive and pulled out onto the nearly desolate highway. Despite being uncomfortable in the car of a stranger, albeit handsome and a member of law enforcement, I was grateful he had come along when he did.
“Winnipeg.” Normally I would have elaborated as to why I was headed back home, but this man did not seem the type to want extra details.
He made a noise, a grunt, in response to my one word answer. I furrowed my brow and shot him a look of derision. Why was he so unpleasant? Was it me? Because he hadn't needed to pick me up off the side of the road, even if it was the right thing to do as a civil servant.
I sighed, heavily. Turning my eyes to focus on the sea of white out the passenger window.
“I'm heading there too. Guess we're stuck together for a while,” he muttered.
“To Winnipeg?” My head twisted back to him so fast it popped. Then I remembered his badge, ‘City of Winnipeg’ etched into the gold. “Oh! It said that on your badge. Sorry, I forgot.”
With my apology his gaze turned to mine, and it was softer than I was expecting, his blue eyes the same blue as a frozen waterfall. He also lifted a corner of his mouth, his cheek dimpling with the grin, his eyes sparkling. “No need to apologize.”
My stomach flipped. Wow. When he wasn't being a grizzly he sure could dazzle. I had to continue my perusal of the nothingness out my window in order to hide the flush creeping over my cheeks.
You're only blushing because a man hasn't looked at you like that since before the last eclipse.
My mind was right, it had been a long time since a man had looked at me in any sort of flirtatious manner. I sorted out my brain, telling it not to overthink a small polite smile from an attractive man.
Movement caught my eye as Walter reached forward and turned the stereo’s volume dial to the right. More of the bluesy guitar filled the car, this time accompanied by a man's soulful resonance. I listened to the song as we drove in silence, enamored by the jazz and folk mixture that seemed to extend a hand and cradle my soul.
“Who is this?” I asked incredulously.
He huffed a little laugh, his mouth splitting into a beautifully crooked smirk. “It's a band, The Tesky Brothers. They're good, right?” He shot me another sparkle-eyed look, my insides clenching.
“More than good.” I pulled out my phone, eager for a distraction, and looked up the band on Google and added them to my Spotify likes. “His voice is marvelous,” I whispered while scrolling and reading about the Australian quartet of brothers.
“I'll put on their albums, I never get tired of listening to them.” He spoke as he swiped through his phone, the same man's voice soon serenading us once again.
The drive from where my car was to Winnipeg was three and a half hours. Walter and I spent the next hour in companionable conversation with The Tesky Brothers as our soundtrack. We spoke of melodies, harmonies, genres, eras of music, and how we both longed to have been born a decade or two earlier so we could have witnessed concerts by the legends of the sixties, seventies, and eighties.
We pulled into a gas station in the city of Brandon, “Why don't you plug in to the auxiliary and you can play me some of your favorites,.” he told me as he hopped out of the truck to refuel.
I was sure none of what I could play for him would be on par with what we had just been listening to, but I plugged my phone in anyway and began creating a playlist.
When we were back on the road, I began my playlist with a jazz rendition of Creep by Postmodern Jukebox. Walter shot me a sidelong, questioning glance but didn't comment.
“So, what were you doing in Saskatchewan?” I posed, turning the volume down a little and twisting to the left so I could see him better. “If you don't mind me asking.”
“No, it's fine. I, uh… had to interrogate a prisoner at the federal penitentiary,” he responded on an exhale, his fingers rubbing a spot over his left temple.
“Yikes.” The corners of my mouth drew down and back. “What did he do?”
“Human trafficking.” Walter shook his head, wiping a hand over his beard as though that would rid him of whatever he'd seen or heard from the inmate. “Fucking scum of the earth,” he murmured under his breath.
“At least he's in prison, I guess. He can't hurt anyone else,” I said, although not really sure what to say.
He made a sound in his throat, sounding somewhere between agreement and dissention. I let the subject drop, silence falling between us, the quiet music filling the small space.
I occasionally felt his eyes on me. I tried not to read anything into it, but anytime I looked up and found his blue orbs peering at me through black lashes, my chest would become tight, and my girly bits would clench.
“So what's in Winnipeg?” He asked after another half an hour of silence and traded glances. It startled me out of my own thoughts.
“Oh, um, my family is there.” I bobble my head from side to side, debating on how much to say. “They host a massive event every year.”
He looked at me skeptically, his brows cinching, the right one raised high. “Not the Loggervine Moose Roast?”
I sighed and just barely held back an eyeroll. “Yep, that's the one.”
“Why intriguing?” I asked.
“I may have arrested a few of your relatives just a couple of weeks ago.” He scrunched his nose, a wry curve playing on his lips.
“Doesn't surprise me. Why do you think I don't live there anymore?” I returned his grin.
“Why go back then?” I watched his large hand clench the steering wheel, his knuckles turning white, and release.
“If you've arrested any of my family members, you know how dysfunctional we are,” I sighed, “But they're family, so I love them despite their flaws.” I paused while he grunted again. “The moose is the biggest reason I go back. My nieces and nephews too, because they're too young to understand how fucked up we all are.”
“You don't seem fucked up.” He glanced toward me again, this time heat flashed through his eyes and it spread a delicious warmth through my belly. “I mean, you do have decent taste in music.” He laughed, turning a million watt smile my way, his bottom lip catching on his snaggletooth. Cute.
I laughed with him. “Believe me, I'm more fucked up than I let on.”
“Mm, please elaborate,” he teased.
“Well,” I smiled, deciding to be smarmy, “I don't think that's something I should divulge to a police detective. I could incriminate myself.”
“Oh,” he said melodically, “so maybe you're more like your family than you've led on.” He grinned wickedly and I shot him a stern glare.
He barked a laugh and held both hands up in mock surrender. “Whoa! Too soon?”
I did laugh at that, enjoying our easy banter. “Yes, too soon.”
“You have a great laugh.” His voice turned serious.
My ribs constricted at his compliment, it was something no one had ever told me before. I gazed at him with wonder and gratitude. “Thank you,” I remarked sincerely, “no one's ever told me that before.”
“That's a shame.” His mouth turned down in disappointed pity.
“It's fine, really, but it's sweet of you to say so.” I looked over to him, still grinning, and a blush staining my cheeks.
He looked to me in the passenger seat, his kind smile morphing into a concerned glower. “You don't have a ma-- significant other back home?” His shoulders bunched with tensión as he spoke the words ‘significant other’ like he was afraid of the words themselves and of my answer.
“No, no guy back in Saskatoon.” I gave him the info he was not so clearly seeking.
I observed his reaction, a deep exhale and the taught muscles of his upper body visibly relaxing, another distinctly masculine noise rumbling from his chest.
I steeled my nerves, unsure why I was nervous to begin with, and asked my own straightforward question, “Are you married, or dating anyone in Winnipeg?”
This earned me a hard look and several minutes of silence in which I decided to play bad cop and stare him down in intimidation. “I was,” he spoke finally, “I was married.”
“For how long?”
I paused. A girl. He had a little girl.
His eyes fixated on the windshield, but I could tell he was seeing the face of his daughter rather than the road beyond the glass. When I didn't speak after a few rapid fire questions, he continued filling in more of the blanks.
“Her name is Faye. She's… beautiful, which I don't understand because she got more of my features than her mother. She actually looks a lot like my mother when she was a girl. And she's smart, naïve, but smart.” He moaned a little on a sigh and shook his head with a smile.
He shifted his hips in his seat, leaning to the right, and switched hands on the steering wheel. His hand naturally came to rest on the console that separated us. Without a thought I instinctively covered his hand with mine, pushing my fingers between his where they curved over the front of the arm rest.
I saw him glance sidelong at my movement, his eyebrows ticking up before blinking back to the road. “Is this okay?”
He nodded twice, the action slow, subtle, and with it the atmosphere around us changed. The air around tumbled, like the last spin of a clothes dryer, from congenial and flirtatious to warm and electric.
“How old is Faye?” I asked after several minutes passed, staring at our fingers and gently stroking the outside of his hand with my thumb.
“Fourteen.” He huffed a little laugh, “It feels weird to have a teenager when sometimes you still feel like one yourself.”
I nodded. “I can't even imagine.”
“I'm sure. Maybe you'll understand when you get a little older.”
My thumb stopped, and I glowered at him, uttering a short sardonic huff. “How old do you think I am?”
His brows furrowed, eyes wide and scanning quickly over my stunned features. “Mid-twenties?”
I couldn't help but look up at him adoringly. “Oh, you sweet, sweet man.” I squeezed his hand, looking down and away.
He loosened his fingers from mine, the sensation jarring me internally, but he flipped his hand over instead of taking it away. Then Walter wound his fingers back through mine, and squeezed in return. “How old are you?” he asked, his voice different now than it had been just moments earlier, sounding like a wolf personified, snarled with crisp consonants. I looked up at him, his face stern and set, hawkish eyes observing every minute detail.
This, I deduced, was Detective Marshall.
I assessed him, his tense jaw muscles jumping with tension. “More like mid-thirties.” I said quickly, hoping to ease his unrest.
“Really?” He asked this question like he doubted my ability to speak the truth.
“Yes, really. I'll show you my drivers license.” I turned to reach for my purse in the back seat, but his fingers gripped hard around mine, stopping my movement.
“No. I believe you.”
“Okay.” I looked at him, saw the muscle ticking at his jaw, his eyebrows doing a little emotional wiggle on his forehead. Although his hand in mine was steady and strong, the pads of his fingers massaging over my knuckles. “Is everything alright?”
He only nodded, his jaw jutting forward and lips pressed into a thin line.
I decided not to press him. Whatever was going on with him was none of my business, we were just two somewhat strangers holding hands in a truck. Silence enveloped us again, and despite the charge in the air it was awkward. Being silent and holding his hand felt natural; I liked the way our hands fit together, like they'd been sculpted this way before being torn apart.
I wondered if he would do anything with my phone number if I gave it to him. I doubted he would since I lived so far away, but I wouldn't mind seeing him when I came home to visit or if he had to interview another inmate.
“Why does this feel so natural?” He wiggled his fingers against mine as an indication of what he was referencing.
I shrugged, not knowing either and not wanting to put words to it.
His tone softened and he spoke just above a whisper, “I honestly can't remember the last time I just held a woman's hand. I forgot how wonderful it is.”
I smiled, again choosing to remain quiet, fearing that my words would destroy this sweet moment, when all I wanted to do was cherish it.
With another hour to go in our trip, I returned my attention to music and filled the space with instrumental pieces varying from classical to contemporary. We both relaxed, letting the notes from the strings, piano, and woodwinds fall around us like autumn leaves.
I let my eyes close, drifting into a peaceful, light sleep. This felt good. Really good. My brain skipped through pre-made images in my head, kissing him, making love to him, him fucking me, our wedding, the house we would share, the children we would have. Walter's face taking the place of the countless men who had occupied the same space in my fantasy through the years. This was what my brain did when I liked a guy.
I mentally slapped myself, like I always did when this happened. Opening my eyes as the sound of the truck's blinker ticked out a steady rhythm.
I pulled my hand from Walter's quickly and readjusted my butt further back in the seat so I could sit up straighter. I saw him frown out of the corner of my eye, flexing the fingers of the hand that I had been holding over his thigh.
I tried not to read into it, forcing back the negative thoughts that his little movements antagonized in my mind.
Fifteen minutes later, with the assistance of my directions, Walter turned onto the long, unpaved, and snow-packed driveway of the Loggervine ranch. The long stretch of ground, wide enough to accommodate passing vehicles, was lined with pine trees that had been planted by my great-great-great-grandfather. The trees had been fully mature for my entire life and stood so close together that our land beyond them was obscured from view. They were covered in snow now, like everything else, and it was a wonderful winter sight.
“This is beautiful,” Walter stated, although not directing it to me in particular.
“It really is,” I whispered, feeling the ardor of reminiscence flood me. I did love this homestead.
The Loggervine family ranch sat on twenty acres of sprawling property south of Winnipeg City Centre, the property line curving where it abutted the snaking Red River. It was well maintained and gorgeous throughout every season, however, I especially loved it here during Christmas. The house and pines were outfitted for the coming festivities, all of the decorative lights glowing through the snow that blanketed them.
Driving slowly, I instructed Walter to park to the right side of the circular roundabout that led right to the front steps of my parents' massive wrap-around porch. If my brothers happened to be here and saw me exit a truck driven by a member of the police force, I was sure there would be a scene. I didn't want to create a scene.
Before I could unbuckle my seat belt, Walter was out of the truck and walking to my side of the vehicle. I was stunned as he opened the passenger door, extending a hand for me to hold while exiting. He had taken his jacket off ages ago on our joint trip and now stood in front of me, towering, in just a long-sleeved Henley t-shirt. He had to be freezing but he didn't seem bothered.
I looked at him, his hands resting on my arms, holding me not a foot from him. Where there had been only kindling in his eyes during our earlier exchanged glances, a fire now burned. That fire transferred to me, settling low in my belly, tendrils of its heat spreading outward to the very tips of my fingers and toes.
My body swayed toward him and my palm instinctively found the hollow of his broad chest to steady myself. My inclinations when he'd first stepped out of his truck this morning, that he was muscular and toned, were proved right. The taught muscle moved under my hand as his breathing quickened.
“Walter?” His name a questioning whisper on my lips.
“Audrey.” My name, uttered by him for the first time, on a low rumbly sigh, made my stomach clench and my breath hitch.
He backed me up a few steps, pushing my parka covered back into the door of the truck, continuing to whisper, “I don't know… what--, can I…”
I shut him up, pulling him to me with a gloved hand wrapped around his neck. I pressed my mouth to his. His lips were warmer than I had expected, and I pushed against their softness with fervor. He moaned against me, a soft high note that resonated somewhere in his head, and I purred in concurrence.
His arms wound around my waist, pulling me into him. His kisses were hot but tame, caressing my top lip, then my bottom lip, before pivoting his head and repeating the motions, his tongue swiping across the tender flesh that he was bruising. When I opened my mouth to him he entered eagerly, our tongues, soft and wet, sliding over and around one another. I was lost, my head dizzy and clouded with endorphins; if this was lost, I never wanted to be found.
“Auntie Ree-ree?” A small voice squeaked from beside us. Walter and I froze instantly, our eyes opening to blink at each other.
I looked to my right to find my five year old niece Simone staring up at us. She sniffled and with her mittened hand pushed her toddler sized glasses back up her nose. “Are you hurt, Ree-ree? It sounded like you were in pain.” I smiled, her r’s and l’s still sounded like w’s, and my heart was swollen with love for this little round-faced munchkin.
I looked back to Walter, he was still holding me flush against the truck. “Let me go, Walter,” I whispered.
He shook his head and immediately stepped back.
I squatted to be eye level with Ms. Simone. “I'm not hurt baby girl, but boy am I happy to see you! Come give your Auntie some love!” I opened my arms wide for her. She squealed, stomping her feet in excitement and then barreled into me, her little arms clinging to my neck.
I stood, hugging my favorite niece close to my chest, and spun in a circle. When I stopped, I locked my gaze onto Walter's, mouthing “I'm sorry” and pointed to the girl I held.
He flagged his hands, mouthing “It's okay”.
“Who's that man that was hurting you, Ree-ree?” Simone asked, leaning back and putting her mittens on either side of my face, smooshing my cheeks.
“He wasn't hurting me, Simi.” I readjusted her body so she was straddling my hip, and gestured to Walter. “This is Walter, Simi. He's a-- a friend of Ree-ree’s.”
She looked at Walter and then back at me, “A friend?”
She looked back at him like she was trying to see into his soul. Then suddenly she stuck out a hand toward Walter, “Hello, friend Walter. I'm Simone. I'm Ree-ree's favorite.”
Walter stepped forward, a look of awe and wonder on his face as he shook my niece’s hand. I wondered if he was thinking of his Faye at this age.
“Nice to meet you, Simone,” Walter said, unable to hold back his grin.
She turned back to me, her little mittens on my cheeks again. “Auntie, I want your hot chocolate now.”
I chuckled. “Maybe after supper, and only if Mimaw says it's okay. Okay?”
“Okay,” she said, dejected.
“Go finish playing with your brother and cousins. I'll come get you in a few minutes.” I set her back down, and Walter and I watched as her legs ran through the snow and out of sight behind the pine trees.
“She's adorable,” Walter muttered.
“I know, right!? She really is my favorite.” A sad smile crossed my mouth as I watched the place where she had disappeared. “Her momma overdosed on heroin when she was thirty weeks pregnant. Simone was a fighter though and she pulled through. Her momma wasn't so lucky. She's my brother Travis’ little girl. He's clean now, but it took that little girl to get him there.”
I swiveled my head to find Walter watching me, something warm and familiar swirling in his blue eyes. I sighed; I felt like I knew this man, like I had known him my whole life, and hadn't just met him this morning. Without asking for his permission I wrapped my arms around his middle, pressing the side of my face into his chest. “Thank you for today, Walter,” I mumbled into his shirt. “Thank you for… everything.”
I felt his body move and I assumed he shrugged. “How-- Why--” He released a frustrated sigh, his hands smoothing over my back. “This connection. How is that possible after just a few hours in a car together?”
It was my turn to shrug. I honestly had no idea, but my chest grew tight as he acknowledged that he felt it as well.
A scream erupted from beyond the pine trees just before a gaggle of children ran around heading for the house, none of them paying us any attention. The reason for their screaming followed closely behind: my other brother Jared stalking them with his hands above his head curled into faux claws, growling.
I laughed, then sighed again and pressed my forehead into his pectoral. “I really should get inside.” When he remained silent, I lifted my head to gaze at him again.
In the early twilight that accompanied winter, surrounded by the glow of thousands of Christmas lights, it felt like we were in an ethereal world. The light, brighter to the right side of his face, cast the left in shadow. His beard glimmered and as the light filtered through the strands, and I could see just how sharp the cut of his jaw was.
“Come to the roast on Saturday.” The words jumped out of me, sounding more demanding than I intended. I covered my forcefulness by batting my lashes at him and quickly adding, “pPlease?”
He moved his hands to my face as his eyes roamed over it. I squeaked at the frigid temperature of his fingers, “Walter! You're freezing!” My gloved hands immediately covered his and pressed them into my somewhat warmer cheeks.
One side of his mouth hitched up, the apple of his cheek popping out over the edge of his beard. “I'm fine, Audrey. You're keeping me warm.” His thumbs slid against my skin and I flushed beneath his touch. “I'll be there on Saturday, for the roast and for you.” Then he overtook my mouth with his in a passionate kiss full of moonlit promises and starlight dreams.
Henry Cavill via his Instagram story, 6th Dec, 2021
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