Home > I am Just Junco #2 - Fledge

I am Just Junco #2 - Fledge
Author: J.A. Huss


J.A. Huss - I am Just Junco #2 - Fledge

Fledge (I am Just Junco #2)
J.A. Huss

sf/fantasy/romance/new adult/young adult

I_am_Just_Junco_2/index

 

Prologue

A bead of sweat tickles me as it slides down my ribcage, clings tight as it rounds the curve of my back, and finally drops to settle on the towel underneath my body. I squirm a little to shake the feeling and cool air rushes in where there was once only heat. I flip over on the towel and put my hands under my forehead and try to go back to sleep.

"You're gonna burn, Junco."

"Mmmmhmmmm. Maybe."

I jump a little as the cold squirt of lotion drops onto my back and rough hands begin massaging it into my skin. I pick my head up a little and mumble, "Thank you."

He laughs. "Believe me, it is my pleasure."

He moves his hands to the back of my legs and I laugh and kick him away. "Tickles, Charlie." He increases the pressure to make the tickle stop and I relax back into the small dent my body has made in the sand over the past hour. When he's done he sits back in the beach chair next to me and is silent. I peek up at him with one eye, squinting at the sun. "Quit it. It hasn't changed. Just ignore it."

He looks down at me and nods, but the words tell another story. "What do you think he's saying?"

I let out a huff and turn back around so I can look out towards the lake where the apparition floats, just a few feet off the end of the dock. "Who cares?" I look back up at Charlie, but he's still staring. "We can't hear him, so who cares, Charlie."

"Junco, if he didn't have something to tell you, he wouldn't be here at all."

I lay my head back down and mumble, "Not interested. Not one bit."

Charlie gives up and slides down next to me on the towel, slipping his arm around my body and kissing the back of my neck until I arch my back and giggle. "Let's go inside," he breathes in my ear. "He's giving me the creeps."

I smile and then I laugh. "He's a hologram, Chuck. He can't see anything. Shit, he can't even get the talking part straight. Just ignore him. He'll go away. Eventually."

But he ignores my plea. Instead, he grabs my hand and pulls me to my feet. Then swings me over his shoulder and starts running towards the cabin. My body jerks and bounces with each stride and I laugh so hard it hurts. "Oh, God! Stop! Stop!" I beg, but he just swings me over and plops me on the ground, then grabs my hand again and pulls me inside.

I fall down on the rumpled blankets and laugh as he crawls towards me from the foot of the bed. "No tickling!" I warn.

But he just takes my wrists and holds them over my head and leans down onto me. "No tickling? Since when?"

I laugh and squirm. "I'm serious." But he knows I'm not.

He gathers both of my little wrists into one hand and then slips the other under my back to unclasp my bikini top and covers my mouth with gentle kisses. "I love you, Junco," he breathes as he lets go of my wrists.

My hands go to his back and I draw my fingertips up towards his neck, making him buckle this time. They continue up into his blond hair and I pull his face towards me. I open my eyes and he's staring at me. "It's almost time to go, you know. That's why he's out there."

I shake my head as I search his brown eyes. "No, Charlie. I'm not going back. Ever."

He lets out a puff of air. "Silly, Junco. You can't live in a virtual when you still have a body. You have to go out so you can come back again."

My head is shaking before he is finished. "No."

His lips reach down to my neck and touch me softly. He leans into my ear. "Babe, I'll always be here. They can't ever take this away."

I feel the tears well up in my eyes and he lifts his head to study my face. "Shhh, not now, Junco. Now I just want to love you." His hands remove the loose top and then slide down my thigh and I moan and grab him tight and I thank God for every second we have together, every breath that escapes, and when the release comes I am bathed in the rays of total and complete happiness.

I wake later, when the moon is out and the wind has picked up enough to make the sheer curtains in the window blow in towards the bed. Charlie is gone and I am alone on the cool white sheets. I swing my legs over and dress in a large white shirt and some old denim shorts and make my way out of the bedroom. The moon is so bright that the ripple on the lake reflects the glow indoors through the picture window. I stand near the small kitchen and watch Charlie out on the deck, sitting down in front of the apparition of Tier.

My heart aches for him and for me, because he's right. Tier is here for one reason and one reason only. To announce the end of – whatever this is. My throat tightens up and I swallow hard to fight back the sadness. I walk out onto the deck, making just enough noise to let Charlie know I am out here, but he doesn't turn back to find me and the sinking feeling drops a little further into my stomach.

I walk down the steps slowly and then step into the soft sand that was never present at the lake cabin this virtual was based on. My toes sink in and I walk towards the dock and step on. Still, Charlie remains fixated on the holo hovering out over the water.

I can feel the vibrations on the deck as my feet touch down, and as I move out over the water the planks have a little more give than they do near the shore. Still, Charlie remains fixed.

I am halfway to the end when I hear the voice and I stop. It's Tier's voice. When he first appeared it was like the holo was stuck in a repeating pattern. No sound would play and we sat in front of it, just like Charlie sits tonight, and tried to read his lips. Tried to think of what he might be saying. Added in our own words, laughing at the absurdity of what we came up with. And finally, we just gave up and ignored him.

I cover the rest of the ground and take a seat on the edge of the dock. Charlie takes my hand and I lay my head down on his shoulder.

By then I already know what Tier's message is. He repeats the same two sentences, over and over again.

Trust no one, Junco. Show no weakness.

Trust no one, Junco. Show no weakness.

Trust no one, Junco. Show no weakness.

Trust no one, Junco. Show no weakness.

And I come out of it just like I went down. Swinging for the dumb f**k who just ripped me out of the happiest time of my life.

Chapter One

I burst out of the tank and the desperate gasp for air is like a prairie devil sucking up a farmhouse. My fists latch on to anything that will prevent me from going back under as waves of thick goo slosh around my body. Only the whine of plasma charge snaps me out of it and I allow a multitude of hands to grasp my arms and keep me still as the voice booms next to my head.

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