Dancing | A Short Story

dancing-graphic-shayne-mcclendonEvery weekend, Hannah went with her friends to the posh gay club downtown.

Trish and Micky could love on each other without getting weird vibes from straight guys who wanted a threesome and she could dance with twenty different guys who didn’t grind their dicks on her.

It was a great night for all of them and just what she needed after a week at her high stress job.

The perfect opportunity to dress up, feel pretty, and dance all night without the pressure of turning down men who weren’t interested in her as a person.

They’d been coming to the club for a year.  Since her best friends from college moved back to New York.

She didn’t smoke or drink but she shook her ass to almost every song.  She’d always loved dancing.  As a teenager, she even dreamed of doing it professionally like all of her friends at the time.

Then she spent the summer before her senior year of high school as an intern with Winters Enterprises and found her calling.  Her job was wonderful and fulfilling but by Friday night, she was beat.

Trish grinned as they all stood on the sidewalk in front of their favorite hangout.  “I love how your eyes light up when we come here, Hannah.”

“Maybe your regular dance partner will be around,” Micky added with a wink.

“Shut up. I know I’m weird.”

“You’re not weird but…if he was straight, I think he’d have made a move by now and if he’s gay, your heart will be broken.”

“It’s just nice getting to know a male without having to censor what I say.  Without having to perform.”  She sighed.  “I like his company.”

The man in question was about five-eleven, Eye to eye with her when she wore heels. He was polite, articulate, and funnier than any man she’d ever met.

Several weekends before, he’d asked her to dance.  Impressed with his skills, she said yes to song after song that night and all the ones that followed.

Two of his friends were clearly a couple.  Another was quiet, shy, and danced mostly with other men.

Edgar was harder to determine.  He interacted warmly with the males in the club but asked her out on the floor more often than not.

“I think he just likes the way I dance.”  She gave the two women a small smile.  “I can deal with that.”

Inside, the bartender waved and set up their usual drinks.  Vodka tonics for her friends and an iced lemon water for her.  Tipping him generously, they made their way around the large space, chatting with people they’d gotten to know well.

At a small table, they took seats and caught up with each other on happenings since they’d seen each other the weekend before.

Trish was a fashion buyer for a big West Coast company and Micky ran a bike courier service.  Total opposites, Hannah loved the way they were together.  She’d been giddy when they told her they were returning to New York.

They liked arriving a little after opening to relax and listen to music before the place filled up and the dance floor flooded.  They took seats scattered around the dancing to people watch when they weren’t dancing themselves.

An hour later, Edgar entered with his friends.  People greeted their group with smiles, hugs, and slaps on the back.

Hannah internally calmed her breathing and outwardly pretended not to notice his arrival.  Some days, it was hard to navigate emotions that were probably inappropriate and fruitless.

She was careful not to say too much to her friends.  Her crush on the man seemed juvenile.  Even to her.

A woman asked her to dance and she accepted, following her out to one of her favorite songs.  She felt her body stretch, relax, drop into the music, and loved that such a place existed.

The woman leaned forward when the song ended and thanked her, kissing her cheek.  They parted and she made her way back to the table. Just before she touched the railing surrounding the dance floor, someone gently took her hand.  Turning…she smiled.

Edgar.

Without a word, he led her back to the center, pulling her closer than usual as a great salsa started.  Though they frequently separated, each time he brought her back, he held her hard against his body, and it made her tingle.

Dancing with him made her blissful.

When the music ended, he didn’t remove his palm along the back of her neck.  Instead, eye to eye, he stared at her for a long moment.

Then he kissed her.

It wasn’t a chaste kiss.  It wasn’t the kind of kiss friends shared.  She didn’t think it was the kiss of a man solely into other men.

Moaning into his mouth, she followed where it led, careful not to touch him in case it was some sort of experiment.  She didn’t want to assume.

She was ridiculously hopeful that maybe…just maybe…she’d got it all wrong and this man might be available to her for more than dancing.

As he pulled back, breaking the contact of their lips, he whispered, “Hannah.”  Unable to form a verbal response, she reached up to hold his wrist.  “Say something.”

“Hello.  I-I don’t know what to say.”

“Say you’ll come home with me.”

Though she worried more by the moment that he was satisfying his curiosity about women, she nodded.

His smile was slow, his green eyes twinkling.  “I’m not gay.”

A nervous laugh of relief bubbled up from her chest.  “Even if you were, I’d still go home with you.”

Lifting his other hand, he stroked a strand of her hair away from her face.  “That’s one of the many reasons I want you there.”  Another song started to play.  “First…another dance.”

Absolutely.  All the dances he wanted.

© Shayne McClendon

If you enjoy the short stories here on the site, check out my anthologies “Quickies – 2014 Edition” and “Quickies – 2015 Edition” – available on Amazon. 

Slam Night | A Short Story

slam-night-graphic-shayne-mcclendonThe owner of the bar announced her and she stepped up on the stage.  Inhaling carefully, struggling to put the presence of the other patrons out of her mind, and trying not to jumble the verses that came from her own head with the words already spoken by the other slam poets.

At the back of the bar, she saw him.  It had been almost six years.  She didn’t know whether to feel rage or fear or sadness.  She didn’t know anything at all.

Staring at his face, she adjusted the microphone and told him all the things she wished a thousand times she could have said to him as a young woman, an insecure woman, a woman who hadn’t known better.  Not then.

You are what I made you.
Nothing more, nothing less.
Like candy…hard, sweet, and mine for the taking.
Mine to chew up or swallow whole.
Mine to give away as I see fit.
Mine, never yours. 

You are what I made you.
Nothing before, what I say after.
I’ll write your future on your skin, in your blood.
Mine to command, to torment.
Mine, never yours. 

You are what I made you.
You say yes, never no.
Like a willing pet…obedient and faithful.
Mine to kick or love at my leisure.
Mine, never yours. 

The room was silent, still.  Tears filled her eyes but she didn’t let them fall.  She stared at the man and controlled her breathing, controlled her voice.  Refused to cower ever again.

I was what you made me.
I let you make me nothing…with no one.
A pet, an object, a slave.
Until the day I discovered all along
I was mine…never yours.

She walked off the stage to applause.  A woman in the front row was crying and touched her as she passed.  Straight through the club to the smoker’s courtyard where she retched in the bushes.

Footsteps approached.  A bottle of water, napkins in her peripheral vision as her stomach eased.  Standing, she met the eyes of the man who wasn’t the man she’d thought he was.  Just a man with similar hair and a jacket like one he used to wear.

“That was powerful.”  She didn’t know what to say so she remained silent as she wiped her mouth and rinsed several times.  “Your words are always powerful.”

She stiffened, wondering if she’d once again attracted a man who would try to own her.  He took a single step back and relaxed his arms.

“I won’t hurt you.  I don’t hurt women.”

Again, she held her tongue, remembering many such broken promises and the last time she’d dared to trust a man.

“My company sent me to you.  My boss said not to leave until I had a chance to talk to you.”  He held out a card and her eyes darted to it and back to his face.  With a small smile, he set it on the railing and took another step back.  “I had to make sure you were the right woman before I approached you.”

Never taking her eyes from his, she reached out and took the card.  “What do you want?”

“Call the number.  They’ll send you secure files.”

“Why don’t you tell me yourself?”

“You wouldn’t believe shit I had to tell you.”  He had a point.  “Besides, I don’t want to push my luck.  Next time, maybe we’ll shake hands.”

“Not likely.”

“Have a good night.  Loved your poetry.”  Then he turned and walked away.

Pausing before heading back through the club, she checked the rounds in her handgun out of habit before returning it to her shoulder holster.  Keeping to the shadows, she followed the man out to the street.

Some would say it was lucky she wore jeans and trail runners, a t-shirt, a light jacket.  She dressed in such ways for freedom of movement.  She never carried a purse, didn’t keep her real identification on her, and was always armed.

He walked for several blocks, in no hurry and never looking behind him.  She stayed close enough to track him but far enough behind to take cover if necessary.  The bustling streets of New York were always a good way to get lost in plain sight.

The man crossed the street and she followed, moving to the shadows when he approached a darkly tinted Towncar.  The rear window lowered slowly.

A woman’s face stared up at her messenger and suddenly, her legs would no longer support her.  It wasn’t possible.  How could it be possible?

It had been thirteen years but she knew the face, the hair, and the voice.  Stumbling from the shadows, stopping in the middle of the sidewalk, the woman’s eyes found her and she wanted to scream.

The door opened and the woman got out, ran to her.  Shorter, darker, and very much alive.  Reaching up, she gripped her hair in her fists.  Shook the smaller woman slightly.

“I saw your body.  They said you were dead.”  Shaking her again, she said through gritted teeth.  “I never would have left you.”

“I know.  I know.”

“How are you here?”

“You’re going to have a lot of questions.  Let’s go to the diner just there.  I want you to feel safe.”

“I never feel safe.  Not fucking ever.”

“I can help with that.  Let’s have coffee and talk.  There’s so much to tell you.”

“Gianette.  Gia…how?”

The woman stepped close, held her shoulders.  “He lied to you.  He lied to everyone.  Someone got me out.  The same person who helped me find you.  Now I need to show you it’s safe.  I need to show you we can be safe together.”  Tears tracked down her cheeks.  “I’ve missed you, Mom.”

For the first time in her life, Nicolette Winters fainted.

© Shayne McClendon

If you enjoy the short stories here on the site, check out my anthologies “Quickies – 2014 Edition” and “Quickies – 2015 Edition” – available on Amazon.

Running | A Short Story

running-graphic-shayne-mcclendonWhen I was a little girl, I imagined that many of the people in books were real.

Lizzy Bennett and Jane Eyre, Bilbo and Gandalf, Atticus Finch, and Oliver Twist.  Many, many who stuck with me.

They were my heroes, the people that fought evil and won, who never gave up and never surrendered…who eventually won out over violence and ignorance and inequality.

Then I turned twelve and came to learn that, while there are good people who fight the good fight loudly and boldly, there is also true evil.

That was the year I learned the woman who raised me was not my mother as I believed.  She was not an orphan, an only child, a victim of sad circumstances.

She’d taken me from her sister.  Not to protect me but to get revenge.  Petty slights were returned with wicked deeds that most would never even consider, much less carry out.

That year, the woman who raised me met a man who suited her.  A man as evil, as degraded, as she was.

It was the longest year of my life.

I ran away.  I used the papers I’d discovered in her desk to find my birth mother.  A woman who’d been lost in drug addiction after three years of torment at the hand of her sister, giving up when that sister informed her that the child she’d brought into the world had been murdered.

I hadn’t been murdered.  I was very much alive.

It didn’t help the woman who gave birth to me.  Sent over the edge with confusion and guilt, she took her life in what was pronounced an accidental overdose.  For a year, I hide in the attic room of my maternal grandfather, a man sinking slowly into dementia who made sure I had cookies and milk but forgot most of the time that I existed.

The woman who raised me came like a thief in the night with her lover.  I ran again, barely making it from the house they set on fire.  The man who’d never remembered my name but made sure my glass of milk was always cold did not survive his daughter’s visit.

At fifteen, I found a shelter run by nuns in New York.  They shielded me from the outside world and helped me finish my education.

When I was seventeen, they introduced me to a man without a name who helped me make a new life with a new identity.

For several years, I found peace.  Then I stumbled into love.

For the first time, I believed my past was behind me, that I could rise above my childhood and change the course of my life.

That the woman who raised me reappeared should not have surprised me.  That her lover was even more intent on making me some sort of trained, leashed pet should not have made my skin crawl.

That they upended my life, a life I’d fought to build, filled me with rage.

I’d fought, I hadn’t surrendered, I’d won in the face of violence and ignorance and inequality.

But there was no happily ever after.  There was no win for me.

Once again, I run.

© Shayne McClendon

If you enjoy the short stories here on the site, check out my anthologies “Quickies – 2014 Edition” and “Quickies – 2015 Edition” – available on Amazon.

Absence of Light | A Short Story

Staring at her across the main seating area of the Zelder theater for the charity showing, he wondered at the intense sadness, the darkness that overtook her the moment her friends left her presence.  Around others, she practically glowed despite physical injuries.

It disgusted him.  He wanted to crush it for no other reason than because he could.

He wished he could feed on her present darkness, press at her weakest points to hear her scream, and absorb them into himself.  He would drink down her radiance like fine wine.  Light flickered over her and he carefully moved his eyes to discover the source.

Harper and the delectable Elijah.

They stared at her with such intensity that it made him hard.  They wanted her, lusted for her.

Might they sense her light?  Ah, the boys desired something pure and good.

Looking back at the girl, he pronounced her as nothing special physically.  Too fat for his tastes, too ethnic for more than a short fling.

A weakling that wouldn’t last five minutes with him.  Boring.

It was why he liked the trained ones.  Those bred to fight, to resist, to draw out his pleasure with their tolerance for pain.  It was a hunger.

The redhead.  From the corner of his eye, he watched as she danced and laughed among her friends.  A flame, burning bright, hot enough to burn.

She would be able to withstand much pain.  Despite her outer shell, she was a warrior.  For him, she would hold back her screams for as long as possible.  She would withdraw into her mind to control the pain.  There would be no easy taking, no simple defeat.

How he craved her. 

A woman hadn’t enflamed him so much in years.  Not since the whore he married, who dared to leave him.  During their violent years together, he’d been unable to break her but her safety was an illusion.  Eventually he would order her death but he liked toying with his food as long as possible.

It made the meal that much more enjoyable.

He had yet to explore the limits of the redheaded mercenary.  The woman might prove to be the one he’d searched for all his life.

Then again, she might join hundreds of nameless others in the mass grave he enjoyed visiting when he was in Washington.

His whims could be fleeting.  Their pain, their pleasure, their putrescence…it was all the same to him.

The redhead would one day spin the wheel on her fate and which end she would receive would depend on how low she bowed to him.   He couldn’t wait to play with her.

In the meantime, he stared at Elijah and let the smile slide over his face.  It looked like his darling wanted something.  He’d never allow him to keep it.

He played many games with many opponents.  The one he enjoyed with Harper Delkin’s bodyguard had been raging for decades…and they were just getting started.

© Shayne McClendon

If you enjoy the short stories here on the site, check out my anthologies “Quickies – 2014 Edition” and “Quickies – 2015 Edition” – available on Amazon.

 

Quickies – 2015 Edition

Quickies 2015 (new)Time for the next installment of short stories I wrote throughout the calendar year. “Quickies – 2015 Edition” is now available.

Here are 48 fantastic short stories I think you’re going to love. Some are dramatic, some are loving, and some are downright dirty.

You’ll find an assortment of five-minute “quickies” to longer ones that take an hour or so to read. They’re perfect for when you’re stuck waiting in line, trying to relax for a few minutes before bed, or for a quick fix during your lunch break.

Start reading now!

Short stories have saved my sanity more times than I can count. This is a single author short story anthology. If you’re a loyal reader of my work, you might recognize some old friends (with a few little extras). I love them…I know you will, too.

Much love,
Shayne

Complete Story List:
Abandonment
Absence of Light
An Unorthodox Rescue
Attention You Deserve
Bruised
Career Satisfaction
Cheater
Desperate
Different
Doc
Evening Out
Expectations
Extraction Plan
Fight
Finding Jordan
First Impressions
Grief
Hard Choices
His Story/Her Story
Hyde in Plain Sight
I’m Gonna Miss Her
In Training
Jane Eyre (Fan Fiction)
Justice
Legacy
Leo
Living for Her
Long Term Plans
Mortified
Moth to Flame
Out of Sight
Patient Disclosures
Rage – Part 1
Rage – Part 2
Reconstruction
Reunion
Running Errands
Savine in Review
Sean
Security
Something New
Strangers
Sweetest Taboo
The Carving
Uncertainty
Victory for the Devil’s Mistress
Watching the Ridge
Zero Tolerance