It's been a rather trying week on the personal front. It's funny how that happens. Little annoyances pop up when least expected and sometimes snowball into raging nightmares. LOL
Seriously, not quite that bad, and thankfully nothing with immediate family. J
Tonight's post is from Internal Dialog, a novella where the main characters should actually spend more time conversing with each other instead of with themselves. J
Here's the tagline:
Tom Callahan, an excellent soldier but sometimes quick to make judgments, wants to figure out what went wrong with Abbey Parks when she got caught on their former home planet. But when Abbey blasts him for wanting to talk about it, he withdraws and gives her plenty of space, which isn't what she wants. Abbey needs Tom to stop overthinking everything and stake a claim.
And the sneaky peek…
Tom Callahan finally admitted the truth. Abbey Parks had not come back the same.
Something about finding that pocket of resistance fighters in the middle of enemy territory on Orion had a hold on her.
She could be so damned reticent. She'd charge onward and carry forth like nothing else mattered. Maintain the status quo and say nothing of what troubled her.
But it would be there. Whatever had her in its grip. Buried deep, maybe, but he'd know.
Her voice would be off, pitched kinda low and sad, and her eyes would take on a faraway stare. Some kernel of memory would nag behind the look. And she'd go quiet, probably for days, until she worked through it.
He wished he could give her the time. But he couldn't. They had to move out and make a rendezvous in a few days.
Abbey needed to be front, center, and present.
Probably why he'd left himself open to the brutal tirade she'd unleashed on him. He'd wanted to nudge her along through the process of getting back to normal.
She'd let him have it with both barrels.
"You have no idea what the hell it's like out there. None." The scathing look singed him. "And until you do…shut up. I don't need or want a lecture right now."
God, why did he always screw shit up? Opened his mouth and the wrong thing came out. Why the hell couldn't he just say he'd been worried and go from there?
Hah. Fear. That she'd laugh her ass off or make a joke out of his concern.
He wanted to move past that stage. Not that he didn't enjoy her quick witted banter, but every once in a while a serious conversation might be nice. They cared enough for each other to handle it, didn't they?
"Look. I'm sorry. None of that came out the right way." Tom shoved his hands in his pockets. "All I really wanted to do was offer to listen." He glanced up and held her gaze. "If you need to talk. Because you're right. I wasn't out there and I don't know what you went through." He tried not to sound testy about her leaving him behind. He'd have gone if she asked him.
But she hadn't.
And it stung. It said she didn't trust him.
"Just know I'm willing to hear what you have to say. Any time."
She snorted in response and Tom left, feeling like an idiot.
Some days it didn't pay to be a friend.
Abbey needed to get a grip. Lashing out at Tom didn't solve a damn thing.
Of course he didn't know what she'd gone through or what it had been like out there. She hadn't told anyone. Didn't know if she could.
Especially not Tom.
How could she explain any of it? The ugliness of ravaged planet or finding that small group of hopeful rebels who wouldn't give it up. She didn't know if she could lay it out in a way he'd understand.
Not after the blow up they'd had before she left. Hell, part of the reason she'd gone had been to get away from him and his out-of-the-blue anger.
She had no idea a one night stand would set Tom off. Their friendship ran deep and a potential outcome of something more existed, even if they'd never pursued a physical relationship. And Francois Garnier never had a chance of becoming anything other than a hook-up. Maybe she hadn't explicitly explained she never stuck around after sex, but most guys normally got the picture.
Just her luck Francois didn't play by standard rules. And wouldn't he decide to get prickly about it when he figured it out. Throw in Tom witnessing the bizarre scene Garnier caused and BOOM! Instant awkward mess.
Scene didn't accurately describe the weird byplay and non-discussion. Francois never directly mentioned their lone encounter. Instead he went all twitchy when she strolled by and used platitudes and well-aimed barbs about wishing people had more consideration for others. He asked everyone at the table if it shouldn't be a good idea for a one night stand to be decided upon by both parties…prior to clothes actually coming off.
Tom picked up on it, honed in on the thinly veiled allusive verbiage and Abbey knew the moment he realized Francois spoke about her. It didn't help she couldn't look Garnier…or Tom…in the eye. One man knew her better than almost anyone and the other knew a secret she desperately wanted to keep.
The brutal, cold look Tom gave her felt like a boot to the teeth. "Oh, nice." He rose from the table, voice lethally quiet. "You never change, do you, Abs?"
She opened her mouth to counter, but he walked away without a backward glance. His reaction, the anger and accusation, the rigidly set shoulders, kicked her need to keep from Francois from blabbing his knowledge into overdrive.
Garnier sent her a very satisfied look. The little shit had done it on purpose. She had no doubt.
"Grow the fuck up and stop acting like the wounded party." She leaned down and hissed close to Garnier's ear. "And shut your mouth. He'd never believe you now."
Oh, she got him with that one. Written all over his face, Francois hadn't thought far enough ahead with his little reveal. He'd clearly planned to spill the rest…but it backfired.
Her secret safe for now, she strolled out of the rec room, leaving Garnier to stew in his own stupidity. Once outside, she heaved a relief-filled sigh. Tom Callahan did not need to know she'd called out his name in the throes of orgasm. He'd latch onto the information and try to make more of it than he should.
They didn't have that kind of thing between them. And okay, they could, but neither had ever acted on the tension stretching and flexing between them. The vibe connected them, but never quite led to a hook-up. Abbey feared if they lit the spark it would blow up in their face. She didn't have to worry about it after the rec room incident.
Something broke between them that day. And they never quite got back to the smooth groove they had before. She'd catch Tom gazing in her direction, trying to figure it all out. She wished him luck.
She couldn't even try.
Tom might be a little closer than Abbey realizes to having things sorted. Cosmically bad timing can't last forever, right?
That's it for this week. Catch everyone on the flip.