Saturday Night S’alright for Fighting

by Minerva Zimmerman

SPOILER ALERT: LOTS of stuff from the first three books of The Shattered Ones. Scene begins after buy links.

Buy The Shattered Ones

Book 1: Take On Me (On sale for 99 cents until April 1)
Kindle | iTunes | Nook | Kobo

Book 2: Cruel Summer
Kindle | iTunes | Nook | Kobo

Book 3: Running Down A Dream
Kindle | iTunes | Nook | Kobo

(You can read about how this scene ties into the creation of The Shattered Ones here)

Jasper held the box of chocolate behind his back as he opened the door. Cherise sat illuminated only by the glow of her laptop screen as she played her video game.

“Hey,” said Jasper.

He reached out and pulled one headphone off her ear.

“Hey,” he said again, kissing the corner of her mouth. “I brought you these.” He set the chocolate down in front of her mouse.

Cherise typed furiously for a moment, then turned to grab his jacket collar and plant a kiss firmly on his lips. “I’ll be off in a few minutes.”

Jasper threw his leather jacket over the back of a chair and pulled his shirt over his head.

Cherise pushed a button on her keyboard and talked into the headset mic. “Let’s give it one more try and wrap it up for the night.”

Jasper unlaced his boots and kicked them into the corner.

“Are you OK?” Cherise asked over her shoulder.

“I’m fine.” Jasper unbuttoned his black jeans and traded boxers for pajama pants. He crawled across the bed to sit behind her.

“It’s 3 a.m., you’ve got your serious doctor face on,” she said. “And you’re sober.”

“Been talking to Will about serious doctor stuff.”

Jasper checked to make sure her character wasn’t already in combat before leaning forward to nuzzle her neck.

“What sort of stuff?” Cherise raised a hand to his jaw and pushed the keyboard button with the other. “Healers stay out of AOE and save battlerez for tanks or heals. DPS stand on totems this time. Let’s do this.”

Jasper sat back and watched as Cherise and her video game friends charged into battle. He rubbed the hunch out of her neck as she cast spells on the screen.

“Damn it, idiot priest died again,” she muttered. “And there goes the druid…” She talked into the mic again. “Well, that’s a wipe. We’ll try it again on Monday. Have a good night guys.”

Jasper started rubbing her bare neck and shoulders as she prepared to log off for the night.

“Nah, it was a good run. Everyone is just tired and starting to get sloppy,” she told the people in her headset. “Maybe another time, I’m going to log. My boy is home.”

Jasper leaned forward and pushed the talk button while his mouth was next to her mic. “Goodnight guys, I’m stealing her away now.”

Cherise logged off and shut down the computer. “Now what were you talking with Will about?”

“Doctor stuff mostly,” he said, kissing her bare shoulder next to the tank top strap. “And you.”

“What about me?”

“Wanted to know if the rumors are true.”

“Which rumor? That you flipped your shit on a bender and ended up with me?”

“Yeah. The boy’s head is full of pop culture nonsense about siring and blood lust. I suppose that’s your doing?”

“Maybe,” Cherise said, smiling as she crawled into Jasper’s lap.

Jasper took each of her wrists in turn and kissed the pale scars that ran down the middle of each. “I love you.”

Cherise wrapped her arms around Jasper’s neck and kissed him. “Love you too. What’d you tell Will?”

“That’s privileged doctor/patient information.”

“I haven’t seen you so serious and thinky in a long time.”

“Thinky?” Jasper laughed as he pulled Cherise down on the bed with him.

“You don’t get thoughtful, you get thinky,” said Cherise

“Do I?”

“Yes,” Cherise said, sitting up and putting her palms on his stomach. “What are you thinky about?”

Jasper tried to sit up, but Cherise’s petite frame held him down with unnatural strength.

“Hannah, please,” Jasper said, struggling.

“Are we using real names tonight, Pad? Or would you rather I called you Alex?”

Jasper sighed. “I wouldn’t tell Will my name tonight. I will never tell him or any of the others.”

“Really?”

Jasper nodded. “You’re the only one.”

“Why?”

“It is something intimately mine I could give you. Something I wanted you to have.”

“Padraig,” she whispered.

“Are you ever mad at me?” he asked, reaching out to put his hands on her wrists.

“Mad?”

“For not letting you die.”

“Are you upset that I tried to kill myself?” Cherise asked, sliding her hands down to his hips, still pressing him to the bed.

Jasper ran his hands up her arms, his fingers easily circling above her biceps. “Confused, worried I did the wrong thing.”

“Dr. Alex did what he thought was best.”

“And Hannah thought she was out of options?”

“Hannah was sure she was out of options,” Cherise said, hooking her feet over the top of Jasper’s calves. “That was a long time ago, Pad.”

“Not that long,” he said, coaxing her forward to lay on his chest. “Twenty-five years.”

“That’s a long time to me,” she said into his skin.

“I still don’t know how you ended up bleeding in my shower,” he said, smoothing back her hair.

Cherise sighed. “You shouldn’t remember. I drugged you.”

“That would explain a lot,” said Jasper. “I’ve never blacked out before or since.”

“I don’t think you ever get as drunk as you seem to,” Cherise said, pinching his stomach. “You’re a big faker.”

“Mmm, sometimes. Will accused me of faking stupid.”

“You totally do.”

“No,” said Jasper kissing her forehead. “I just save all my smarts for you in private.”

“And what am I going to do with them?”

“Sudoku?”

“You don’t seem surprised,” said Cherise.

“That you drugged me? No, not really,” Jasper said, hitching up her top to rub her bare back. Even now her body temperature was still a few degrees warmer than his own. “I am curious. Was it to implicate me or absolve me of your death?”

“I hadn’t really worked that out,” said Cherise. “Drugging you wasn’t really related to killing myself.”

“I don’t even remember getting to the party.”

Cherise pinned his shoulders with her elbows and grinned. “You don’t remember any of what you said to me that night?”

Jasper tried to pull his head farther away, but the pillow beneath him only had so much give. “No…”

“Really truly?”

“I remember leaving my apartment. There are some hazy images of a party and then you were dying in my shower.”

Cherise kissed the pained frown from his face. She pulled his ponytail loose and ran her fingers through his light red hair. “I’m sorry. I know it bothers you. Why haven’t you asked me before?”

“I did.” Jasper’s blue eyes went dark. “A long time ago, before we… had everything figured out. You didn’t want to talk about it.”

“Those were dark years,” said Cherise, “I don’t know why you let me stay.”

Jasper kissed her, hooking a fang on her lower lip to pull her down. “It was only a few years. How could I not?”

“Angry teenagers aren’t fun at the best of times.”

“I knew it was temporary.” Jasper pulled her tank top up over her head and threw it away from the bed.

“Did you know we’d have this?” she asked, kissing and biting along his neck.

“I didn’t even entertain the possibility.”

“Not even at the bottom of a bottle of that rotgut whiskey?” she asked, pinching his nipple.

“I was too preoccupied with keeping you from getting us killed or being killed by you at the time.” Jasper’s eyes shifted in patches from midnight to ice blue. “I’m pretty sure I’m still not allowed over the Georgia state line.”

“I really should make that up to you sometime.”

Jasper palmed her breasts. “Oh? Tell me more.”

Cherise grabbed his hands and forced them away. “Wait.”

It always unnerved Jasper when she used her strength against him. She hadn’t tried to hurt him in a long time, but the times she had still made him flinch.

“I need to tell you,” said Cherise. “I need you to know why.”

Jasper stopped struggling and she let go. He cupped her hips through the thin cotton of a pair of his boxer shorts. “Why what?”

“Why it was your shower.”

Uncertainty flickered across Jasper’s face. “You don’t have to tell me.”

“You want to know.”

“Yes, but Alex and Hannah were constantly in turmoil. I like our life now.”

Cherise shifted her hips to lean down and kiss him. “Trust me.”

Jasper groaned. “If you keep grinding on me like that you’ll have my rapt attention but I will not hear a word.”

Cherise shifted to lay on the bed beside him and let Jasper readjust himself. “Better?”

Jasper pulled her small body against his and tucked her head under his chin. “For now.”

“I’d been planning to kill myself that night for weeks,” said Cherise. “I got high, bought a pocketful of painkillers and some tranqs. I figured if I was going to die, I might as well enjoy myself first.”

Cherise’s voice sounded strange echoing through his head. He tried to focus on her words and not the memory of her face going pale and slack in a pool of blood.

“I went looking for a party to crash and enough people that I wouldn’t be noticed.”

“And so you ended up at a party full of medical students celebrating the end of the term.”

Jasper felt Cherise shrug.

“No one was watching the door and everyone was already hammered and having a blast except for you. You were getting a cab for a girl that couldn’t even stand and physically prevented someone from going home with her.”

“How chivalrous of me,” said Jasper.

“Yeah I knew you were going to be a problem and tried to avoid you, but it seemed like everywhere I went, there you were.”

“Hmm.”

“You tried to get me to leave as soon as you noticed me. I put some pills in your drink when you weren’t looking, thinking they’d mellow you out or put you out. They didn’t though. You just took me outside and asked about my life and refused to agree that it wasn’t worth having. You told me you had a brother just like mine — ”

“I did?” Jasper asked in shock.

“Yeah, you even started to get your accent back as the pills started to take effect — your real accent, not the one you pretend to have. You told me that eventually my brother would end up dead or in jail and if I just stayed away from him things would take care of themselves. You offered me a place to stay, and said that things would be better in the morning. I just needed to let the drugs run their course and get a good night’s sleep. You took me out for pancakes and made up a bed on the couch. It was the nicest anyone had ever been to me and I figured it was as good of a last night as I could hope for.”

“What did you say to me that got me talking about my brother?”

“Oh, I don’t remember. I just remember that everything I thought I knew about you went out the window when you did. I knew you’d been through hell, the same as me.”

“Five hundred fucking years and I still can’t forgive him,” he snarled.

“Jesus, Jasper…”

Jasper laughed bitterly. “I gave you advice I wasn’t able to take myself. My brother got caught stealing and he traded me for his freedom. I was infected by someone feeding off prisoners. He came back for seconds and didn’t live to repeat the mistake. They locked me up good then.”

“Oh, Baby,” Cherise said, touching his chest. “They locked you up?”

“Put me in chains, locked me in a cell and left me to die.”

“How long?”

Jasper rolled over away from her. “I don’t know, a year… maybe three.”

“I never would have made it through that first year without you.” Cherise curled around him and wrapped her arms around his waist. “I can’t imagine going through what you must have.”

“It is what it is.”

“I love you,” Cherise said, kissing the back of his shoulder. “I can’t do anything to change the past, but I will never let anyone do that to you again.”

“Someday you’ll outgrow me and head off into the world on your own.”

“Oh baby, I outgrew you years ago,” she purred, biting above his collarbone. “I’m just here for for the drunken debauchery and make-up sex.”

Jasper laughed, flipped her on her back, and pounced in a flurry of kisses. “I only stay for the constant jail-bait induced scorn of strangers.”

“Hey, I was well beyond legal before you made a pass at me.”

“That argument has not worked well for me in the past,” said Jasper, smiling a fangy grin.

“I can’t imagine why,” Cherise said, throwing her arms around his neck and wrapping her legs around his waist.

“You get carded for R-rated movies.”

“I bought beer the other day without getting carded,” insisted Cherise.

“Was it at the convenience store by the high school during school hours?” Jasper asked, working his hands under the boxers.

“Bah.”

Jasper slid the boxers off her hips and down her thighs as she shifted her weight back on her shoulders. “If you ever want to leave, to explore,” he said kissing her neck and chest, “I’ll come with you.”

Cherise kicked off the boxers and hooked her toes in Jasper’s waistband, pulling it away and sliding it down his legs. “Maybe someday,” she said before biting into the flesh between shoulder and neck until Jasper gasped. “Right now I have exactly what I want.”

Buy The Shattered Ones

Book 1: Take On Me (On sale for 99 cents until April 1)
Kindle | iTunes | Nook | Kobo

Book 2: Cruel Summer
Kindle | iTunes | Nook | Kobo

Book 3: Running Down A Dream
Kindle | iTunes | Nook | Kobo