Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Random Tales of Christmastime Part 10

David's Selfie by Daisy Harris
When David, a single father, vows to get laid just once before the year ends, he doesn’t figure on losing his cell phone—and with it one very revealing picture. Lucky for him, his phone is found by a disarmingly handsome man who might be perfect for the kind of casual Christmas fling David is after.

Go-go dancer Craig never would have guessed that the guy with the cute cock shot would turn out to be a doctor. Or that he’d find himself lying about his night job and worrying David will find out the truth. To complicate matters, each of their hook-ups requires days of planning. Yet before he knows it, Craig has a new boyfriend, and possibly a whole new family.

David’s ready to dive head-first into something new, but if Craig’s going to commit, he’ll need to come clean about his job, his past, and—most of all—the naughty picture that drew him to David in the first place.

Warning: Contains a male exotic dancer and extremely intimate photography. May contain traces of Zumba, bad roommates, and sad childhoods.

Call your doctor if after six hours you still can’t get the grin off your face.

This is such a great little holiday read, course it's a great read anytime but making it a holiday element only enhanced the fun.  And fun is the perfect word to describe this one.  You can't help but love both David and Craig with their equal moments of innocence and incredible chemistry.  I always love finding new authors and look forward to checking out Daisy Harris' library in 2016.


Needing a Little Christmas by Silvia Violet
Discovering his boyfriend's affair with a co-worker wrecks Eli's holiday plans. With his parents on a cruise and his brother and sister out of town, he's on his own. His mother insists he escape to her friend's mountain cabin. Eli reluctantly agrees, but he takes off unprepared and ends up driving into the worst snowstorm the area has seen in years.

He survives the trip, but he's stuck with no logs for the wood stove and little food. Fortunately, he gets the number for Mac"s Wood Delivery. Mac doesn't mind riding to the rescue, and his deep, sultry voice has Eli eagerly anticipating the delivery. Is Mac the little bit of Christmas cheer Eli has been needing?

I discovered Silvia Violet last Christmas so when I found more holiday tales I knew I had to read them.  I was not disappointed with Needing a Little Christmas.  Sometimes when we are at what feels like our lowest, fate intervenes in the most unexpected and unlikely ways.  That pretty much sums up where Eli finds himself when he meets Mac.  Such a delicious and fun addition to my holiday library and to be honest, I wouldn't mind if the author decides to revisit this couple *wink, wink, hint, hint*.


Silver and Gold by Devon Rhodes
Geoff Radcliffe is having a mid-life crisis just in time for the holidays. He goes into a tailspin after hearing from his first love, picks up a stranger who locks him out of the house in nothing but his pants, and then he gets up the courage to go get rid of his grey, and the colorist refuses to 'do' Geoff's hair But Abe Golden, thrilled that the hunky silver-tipped guy has admitted he's gay, does 'do' him, taking him home for the hottest night of Geoff's life. After three heavenly days of smoking hot sex, Abe has done the unimaginable: he's fallen in love. And when he finds out that Geoff has been using him to practice for another man, Abe is at first heartbroken... and then he plots how to show Geoff the value of combining silver and gold.

Rest and Be Thankful by Joanna Chambers
Things haven’t been going well for Cam McMorrow since he moved to Inverbechie. His business is failing, his cottage is falling apart and following his very public argument with café owner Rob Armstrong, he’s become a social outcast.

Cam needs to get away from his troubles and when his sister buys him a ticket to the biggest Hogmanay party in Glasgow, he can’t leave Inverbechie quick enough. But when events conspire to strand him in the middle of nowhere in a snowstorm, not only is he liable to miss the party, he’ll also have to ask his nemesis, Rob, for help.

Also available in the Comfort and Joy Anthology with Josh Lanyon, Harper Fox, and Joanna Chambers.

I had featured Joanna Chambers in anthologies before but until this Christmas reading season, I hadn't actually read her work.  What was I waiting for?  This is the second story of hers I've read in the past 4 weeks and I loved it.  Cam and Rob are the kind of pair that you just know where they should be and that they will get there but the story lies in the "getting" there.  Once again, communication or lack thereof is the key, something we all need to remember.  When the weather and safety brings Cam and Rob together so they have to finally talk, well let's just say that's when the holiday really begins.


Midwinter Night's Dream by Eli Easton
Micah is the hippest, most chill guy on campus. But when he gets the hottest kiss of his life from a cute guy during a game of ‘spin the bottle’, Micah’s cool turns into a puddle of anxious goo. Sure, Micah’s always been a little bi-curious, but he never thought he’d pursue a guy, much less a guy who doesn’t seem to be interested in getting caught.

Leo is passionate about two things: gay rights activism and acting. He stays focused and in control, and he never, ever, dates straight guys. When a chance spin of a bottle at a party has him locking lips with Micah Springfield, president of the Delts, dread-headed, serial-dating, straight Micah, Leo is determined to forget about it, no matter how incendiary the sparks or how gorgeous Micah may be.

Leo has bigger problems. His senior project is directing Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream just before the Christmas break. When his venue cancels at the last minute, Micah offers the use of his parent’s barn in rural Pennsylvania. Leo’s play may be saved, but what about his heart? Between Micah’s sweet lips, his family’s welcoming arms, and a devious bulldog who is determined to play Puck, Leo may find himself falling under the spell of Christmas magic.

Check out book 1 Unwrapping Hank

What a great follow-up to Unwrapping Hank,  I forgot just how much I loved Sloane and Hank.  This time around Hank's brother, Micah is in need of some holiday love and when he finds himself drawn to Leo his whole world is changed.  Leo has his hands full trying to get his Shakespeare production completed, he finds Micah to be a hiccup he doesn't need but can't quite shake.  Sometimes life's hiccups are exactly what we need and that's the case for Leo and Micah, not to mention those around them also find some unexpected happiness.  Did I find myself as emotionally invested in Micah and Leo as I did Hank and Sloane? Probably not but I wouldn't want to put a wager on the difference.


David's Selfie
Chapter One
Dr. David Letterer leaned on his bathroom counter, cocking one leg up and praying the surface was strong enough to hold his weight. Even with his hips tucked forward, he couldn’t get the lighting right for a crotch shot. Most of his penis was in shadow. Between his pubic hair and the angle of his thigh, the picture framed in his smartphone looked about as enticing as a flabby armpit.

How did guys on these websites do it? They must have special lighting equipment. He frowned, thinking back to the photography class he’d taken in college. The Christmas lights blinking out his window were screwing up his shot as much as anything, since they kept flashing a glare from the bathroom mirror.

“Daddy? Can I come in?” a small voice said from outside, and David checked to make sure the door was still locked.

“Hold on a sec, Button. I’ll be right out.”

“I can’t see you.” Maia’s voice rose like she was frightened.

David knew it was normal for three-year-olds to want to be in the same room as a parent at all times, but he had hoped he’d be able to take a single picture while Maia was distracted with Blue’s Clues.

“Just give me one second, honey.” His erection flagged, but David was determined to snap a shot anyway. This wasn’t about getting laid so much as getting over his fears of the online dating scene. That, and attempting some semblance of a sex life before the year was out. “Remember how we said bathroom time was private for grownups?”

“Daddies don’t need private time.”

With a frustrated sigh, David snapped the best shot he could. Thank God he was a shower more than a grower, because with his wide nest of pubic hair and bony hips, not to mention the slight paunch he was pretty sure all parents developed when taking care of preschoolers, his c**k shot wasn’t anything to write home about.

Fiddling with his phone, he sent the picture to the guy who’d requested it. Then he opened his door to find Maia standing outside, an upside-down Barbie clutched by the ankles.

“Daddy!” She threw her arms around his legs for a hug before reaching and hopping. “Uppy. Uppy!”

Exasperated as he was, David chuckled. “Okay. Uppies.” He hoisted his little slip of a girl onto his chest and gave her a cuddle. The top of her head still had that milk-and-heaven smell of a baby, even though she’d had a bath earlier that night.

“Are you gonna be a big girl and sleep in your own bed?” David had bought the three-bedroom with a yard shortly before his wife died, but Maia hadn’t yet managed to sleep in her own room. A few nights he’d sat by her bedside, eventually crashing out on the floor. But it was easier to keep Maia with him.

“No, no, no. I sleep with Daddy. Daddy’s bed.” Maia wrapped her arms tighter around his neck, and David had a strong suspicion that when Maia finally got old enough to want to be alone through the night, she’d be the one kicking David to one of the smaller bedrooms.

“Okay, Princess.” David crawled into his bed and set Maia down. Her light brown curls fanned across the pillow, and her cheek was pink and creased from where it had been rubbing into his shoulder. She smiled up at him, and David wondered how he could feel like this—him and her—wasn’t enough. Maybe he shouldn’t be trying to date. Maybe the two of them weren’t ready.

“Want music.” Maia lifted her head, looking around for the iPad. “Christmas songs.”

“We’ll play those in the morning.” She got too hyper at the mere mention of the holiday. Last thing David needed was to get her amped at bedtime. “Let’s play night-night music.” Reaching across, he found the slim tablet under her side of the bed.

David clicked to iTunes and started the album. The sound of crashing waves and New Age pan flute filled the room, making David’s muscles go limp like he’d taken two Ambiens. Sleepily, he remembered that the picture of his c**k was still on his phone. He really should get up to erase it, but he didn’t want to wake Maia.

He thought about MackinSeattle, and whether he’d have the guts to meet the guy.

Though he had a sitter for a few hours on Friday, that was it all week. His sister-in-law was great about stepping in with Maia, but with two teenagers of her own she wasn’t available at a moment’s notice.

Growling frustration into his pillow, David tried to put thoughts of ever having sex again out of his mind. A year wasn’t so long, was it? Maybe he’d manage to get laid in 2015.

Oh, God. Now that thought was bleak.

As Maia’s breath evened out, David drifted off to sleep, but not before reminding himself to delete the picture in the morning.

David wouldn’t have been surprised if MackinSeattle hadn’t responded. But respond he did, right when David was at the playground with Maia. Hastily, David agreed to meet the man. Someplace public. That’s how David ended up outside a bar called Pony at ten p.m. on Friday.

He yawned in his hand, shivering since he had to stand in line behind a half-dozen men. Still, the beat pulsing inside the club got his energy up.

I’m not too old for this. At thirty, a lot of guys went to bars and dance clubs. Maybe not men who’d spent their twenties in medical school and trying to cram their bisexuality into a relationship with a woman. But to some guys, thirty wasn’t too old.

“ID?” the guy at the door asked him.

David dug his wallet out of his back pocket. Between the bags under his eyes and the lines of worry he’d carved out after his wife’s death, he doubted he looked anywhere near twenty-one, but he was flattered that the bouncer asked.

Inside, there was a small dance floor where a dozen men and a couple women rubbed together in time with music. Tables were placed along a bench at the edge of the room. Everywhere, groups talked or laughed. With the exception of a six-foot-tall drag queen, everyone else was dressed in more or less the type of thing David would expect at any bar in Seattle. T-shirts, flannel, jeans… Maybe their clothes fit a little better than straight men’s, but at least there were no sequins or sparkles other than the ones on the statue of Santa by the door.

A man wearing a red felt hat with white furry trim climbed onto the far end of the bar.

And…wow. Other than the Christmas hat, the guy wore nothing but low-slung gym shorts and high-top sneakers.

Nervously, David licked his lips as he catalogued every inch of the go-go boy’s body. Actually, the guy was more of a go-go man than a boy. His thighs were thick and covered with hair, his forearms brawny as he reached down into his…

Oh my God. David covered his mouth since it must have been hanging open.

“You want something?” The bartender knocked on the counter to get David’s attention.

“Yeah. Rum and Coke?” That was what David drank back when he and Ana had first been dating.

“Sure thing.” The bartender poured a glassful and handed it across.

Once David moved away from the bar, he wasn’t sure where to stand. He pulled out his cell phone to check if MackinSeattle had messaged, but there was nothing in David’s inbox. He didn’t want to contact the guy because now that David was here, he wasn’t sure he was ready to go through with it.

With nowhere else to rest his attention, he looked to the go-go boy again. The way the guy danced was mesmerizing. No twerking—this guy was too butch for that. His hair was a paler brown than David’s, his skin a gold that may have been spray tan. More alluring, his chest full of short-clipped hair led to a taut belly with a wide happy trail. Despite having the body of an athlete, the dancer probably wasn’t much younger than David. Four or five years, maybe, but not more. But while David wasn’t sure the thing between his legs still served a purpose, the guy up on stage exuded sex. Hot, dirty, no-holds-barred sex.

David sucked at the dregs of his rum and Coke.

“Need a little more Christmas cheer?” The bartender smirked.

David rubbed his face, wondering if his mouth had been open again. Worse yet, whether he’d been drooling.

“Yeah. Um…a double?” David had to get home to relieve the babysitter in…he checked his watch…an hour and a half.

“Here ya go.” The bartender winked as he set down the glass. “It’s on me.”

David’s cheeks went hot. Wow, no one had flirted with him in… Well, okay, some of the nurses joked around with him, and even that one guy who worked at the front desk, but that was just work banter. David might be okay in the face, but other than the occasional run while pushing Maia’s jogging stroller, he was frightfully out of shape.

Sucking on his straw alleviated some of David’s stress, so he kept doing it. A few seconds later, there was only melting ice in his glass. The music that pulsed through the walls and the dance floor seemed to be pumping through his body. Without meaning to, David popped his heels off the floor. Not dancing—he’d need to be far drunker for that—but he was certainly starting to enjoy himself.

Thumbing back to his online profile, he checked again for a message. His belly tightened when he saw a little red “1” in his inbox.

Here now. You won’t be able to miss me. Just call me ‘Daddy’.

Blinking, David looked up from his phone. At the doorway stood a guy in full-on leather gear. He was shirtless under his vest, his nipple bars shining on display. He wore a leather baseball cap and chaps over jeans.

Oh. My. God.

David was in no way up to dealing with this.

He patted his back pocket, making sure he had his inhaler as well as his phone. David hadn’t had an asthma attack in years. Good medication and a careful lifestyle had his illness well-managed. But tonight…

His breath caught in his throat and held there. God, he needed to leave before the guy spotted him.

After stumbling past a wall full of 70s porn, David pushed through the door and into the graffiti-covered bathroom. His breath was coming in pants, and his throat felt like it was closing. He dragged his inhaler to his mouth and took two quick puffs.

One-one-thousand, two-one-thousand… He waited for the Advair to take effect.

Wanting to distract himself, he pulled out his phone. Unfortunately, the leather daddy had sent three more messages, asking if David was at the bar. In a panic, David sucked his inhaler again, pumping another dose of medication into his lungs.

He could apologize to MackinSeattle later. Erase his profile. He’d be a monk until Maia was in high school, or find some middle-aged guy to date who wouldn’t want anything from David besides the occasional brunch.

Frantic knocking sounded at the door. “Hey. You okay in there? I gotta piss.”

“Yeah.” David cleared his throat and shoved his inhaler in his pocket. “I’m coming.”

He pushed out of the bathroom and, ignoring everyone in his path, headed straight for the door. No one stopped him, and the leather guy must not have noticed him because next thing David knew, his feet had carried him to the sidewalk and he was marching back to his car. Given that he was slightly tipsy, not to mention jittery from a double dose of asthma meds, he should have taken a cab. His house was right down Madison Street, though, not even two miles away. He climbed in and with shaking hands pulled from the curb.

The streets were empty, and he kept to the twenty-mile-per-hour speed limit. Each stoplight seemed to judge him, first for trying to get laid, then for driving when his blood alcohol level may have been flirting with the legal maximum.

Besides, his babysitter needed to go home.

As if the itchy hat wasn’t bad enough, Craig had to piss. He wished the last couple guys had refrained from pushing ones into the top of his gym shorts. There was nothing worse than drunken guys fumbling with his waistband when he had to drain the dragon.

“Time for a break.” He nodded at the mustache-toting hipsters. Movember was over, but most of the crowd at Pony still sported retro-ironic facial hair. Craig couldn’t complain, though, about how Pony embraced furriness. He’d tried to work at one of the bigger clubs in town, where the dancers shaved from cheeks to toes and wore shimmering square-cut shorts. The constant waxing had been brutal.

Heading to the door behind the bar, Craig pulled on his sweatshirt. A couple guys made out in front of the bathrooms, and Craig urged them out of the way so he could get through the door.

As usual on a Friday night, there was crap all over. Cans of beer, straws and plastic cups… Paper towels overflowed the trash can. Then, on the left side of the sink, Craig spotted a cell phone.

Crap—not another one. People left phones and keys, even wallets in the bathroom all the time. But cell phones were the worst because people would show up looking for them at three in the morning when Craig and everyone else who worked at Pony were trying to get home.

“So. Who do you belong to?” Craig picked up the phone with one hand, opening his pants with the other. He aimed at the urinal and started his flow, all the while clicking on the screen.

The thing wasn’t password protected. If he scrolled around, maybe he could find a home phone number or a boyfriend’s number so he could give the owner a call.

After shaking off and washing his hands, Craig scanned the guy’s contacts, including his most recent calls.

Hmm. Three calls that day were to some woman. Maybe it was the phone owner’s fag hag, but Craig didn’t want to risk calling some dude’s wife, or worse yet, his mother.

Craig pushed out of the bathroom, opting to check the pictures. Maybe the guy was still at the bar. The camera icon was easy enough to find, but when Craig clicked the button, he snickered. A c**k shot filled the phone’s screen. Nice sized, though the picture itself sucked. The guy wasn’t groomed at all. Not even trimmed at the edges. His skin was pale with a hint of tan line across his slightly soft belly. Craig smiled. He sort of liked the shot. The angle made it seem like he’d caught some random guy getting out of the shower. Someone without a spray tan or gym-built muscles. A regular guy.

Man, it had been too long since Craig had had a boyfriend. Clearly one-night stands were no longer cutting it if he was fantasizing about a scrawny, pale dude just because he liked the guy’s d**k.

With a swipe of his thumb, Craig checked the next picture. A little girl smiled in front of a plate of mashed potatoes. The kid was adorable, with light brown ringlets and big blue eyes. When Craig scrolled through, all he found was more pics of the kid.

Well, f**k. Looked as if Craig wasn’t going to find the guy based on his face.

“Hey.” The bartender, Anook, dipped his head from the door that separated the bar from the corner where the bathrooms were. “You almost done? You’re supposed to be on for another hour.”

“Yeah.” Craig stared at the phone in his hand. He didn’t want to turn it in. Between the c**k shot and the cute kid, he was curious to lay eyes on whoever owned the thing. “I’ll be right there.”

He pushed the phone into his back pocket, but as he did, it vibrated against his right butt cheek. Holding up a finger in a signal of wait a second, Craig answered.


Someone muttered something on the other end of the line, but Craig couldn’t hear it over the beat of the music.

“Hold up. I’m in the club. I’ll go outside.” Wrapping his sweatshirt more tightly around his chest, Craig pressed the panic bar and pushed the door open. The cold air hit his bare legs like a slap, chilling through his damp sweatshirt. Craig didn’t mind dancing to pay for school—it was good money. But f**k, he needed to get better about bringing sweatpants.

“Sorry.” He caught his breath, blowing into his hand to keep warm. “Yeah?”

“Um… I guess you found my phone. I mean, I left it somewhere. So you must have picked it up.” The voice on the other end was nervous and quiet, though it had a nice timbre.

“Yeah. Found it in the bathroom at Pony.” Craig checked his watch. The guy had plenty of time to swing by and pick it up if he was still in Capitol Hill.

Too bad. Craig didn’t want to meet the guy wearing his work gear. The second a guy heard he was a dancer they assumed he was a brain-dead slut. Either that or a rent boy.

“Ah. Okay. That makes sense.” The man on the other end breathed a little heavily. “Um…I guess you could leave it with the bartender. I can’t pick it up tonight, but—”

“I could drop it at your place.” If the phone’s owner waited until Pony opened, he’d be without a cell until four p.m. Craig would chew his arm off if he had to go that long without wireless.

“I think it’s too late for—”

“I meant in the morning.” Curious he may be, but Craig wasn’t going to show up at some guy’s house in the middle of the night. “Assuming you don’t live too far.”

“Yeah. I’m down the hill from the bar. In Madison Valley.”

Craig smiled. “I’m in Capitol Hill.”

“Okay.” The man seemed to settle down. Probably since he knew his phone wasn’t going to be crossing any bodies of water or leaving Seattle city limits. “Well, I can come to you tomorrow. At a coffee shop or wherever. Just so long as…” He paused, clearing his throat. “Well, I’ll have my daughter with me, so it needs to be somewhere not too…”

“No worries.” Craig laughed, trying to sound like the Master’s student he was rather than the go-go dancer everyone thought of him as. “I get it. I’m right near the Starbucks on Denny. But I could head up to 15th if that’s easier.”

“No. Denny is fine.”

“Call when you want to come by. I’m Craig, by the way. Craig Harding. My number’s 555-3472.”

“David,” the voice on the other end of the line answered. “David Letterer. And thanks. I’d worried it was stolen or something.”

“Nah. No worries.” Craig smiled. As freezing as he was outside, it was nice to have a genuine conversation with someone. Even more, it was nice to talk to someone who didn’t know about his job. “I’ll see you in the morning, David.”

Needing a Little Christmas
"What do mean you're not going to be with Dave's family for Christmas? Why?"

I pulled the phone away from my ear. I'd known my mother would be upset, but her reaction was even more vehement than I expected.

"Apparently one of the junior partners at his firm isn't nearly as boring as I am. They've been having an affair for months."

My mother made a sound of disgust. "Oh, honey, I'm so sorry, and you are not boring."

"I know, but Dave thinks I am." And honestly, I thought he was probably right. I preferred to stay at home rather than go out. I spent most days in sweats and T-shirts. When Dave did drag me to a party with his socialite friends, I inevitably embarrassed him with my lack of knowledge of current affairs. I'd taken to hiding out in the bathroom writing notes for my next book on my phone. He'd even attempted to coach me in the art of party conversation. I'd used his lessons in a book but ignored them as they applied to me. The book had done well; readers found his suggestions hilarious.

When Dave told me I was not only an uninteresting social companion but boring in bed as well, I'd taken that seriously. I might prefer a quiet lifestyle, but I knew how to please a partner sexually. After pondering what I could do to shock him, I'd gotten my nipples pierced, something I'd secretly wanted to do for years.

He laughed.

I should have broken up with him that night. We'd only had sex a few times after that, and each time, Dave raced to completion, showered off the scent of me, and promptly fell asleep.

I heard my mother's heels click against the floor, the sound reminding me to concentrate on the conversation. She must be pacing, something she always did when strategizing. "I'm so sorry, honey. Do you want us to cancel our cruise?"

That was the last thing I wanted. "Of course not. You've been looking forward to it for months. I'm fine. Really."

"Are you sure?"

I held the phone between my shoulder and ear as I poured myself a generous measure of whiskey. "Yeah, things hadn't been great between me and Dave for a long time."

She huffed. "That doesn't give him any excuse to—"

I held up my hand even though she couldn't see me. "No it doesn't. He acted like an ass, and I think he knows it. He moved out of his beloved apartment and told me I could keep it." Not that I could afford it for long unless my next book was a runaway hit.

Mom sighed. "I don't want you spending Christmas alone."

After draining my drink, I'd wandered into my bedroom and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. My eyes were red from lack of sleep, and they looked more hazel than their usual bright green. My curly dark hair stood out at odd angles. The stress of trying to meet the deadline for my book and trying to hold on to a relationship that had died long before I caught Dave fucking his colleague in his office hadn't been good for my appetite. I'd lost weight, and the bones in my face showed prominently. I was definitely not looking my best, but

I wanted a few more days to wallow in self-pity.

"I really don't want to be around anyone right now."

My mom sighed. "But it's Christmas."

I ran my hand through my hair, making it stick out even more. "I'm not in the mood for holiday cheer."

"Your dad and I can go on a cruise another year."

"No, arranging this once was difficult enough. Rick and Cindy will want to spend next year with you since they're with Cindy's family this year. And Ally's trip to California is a special one-time deal. This is our gift to you, and I won't be responsible for screwing it up."

"You wouldn't be responsible, Dave would be."

"I wasn't exactly looking forward to listening to his family brag about how wonderful they all are. I'll have a better time alone." My mom's pacing stopped, and I realized I'd said the wrong thing.

"Eli, why didn't you tell us you didn't want to go home with Dave? We would never have agreed to the cruise if we thought you'd be miserable at Christmas."

I tried to backpedal. "It would have been fine. I enjoy visiting Boston, even if the company leaves something to be desired."

"Hmm." My mom didn't sound convinced. "Maybe we could get you a ticket for the cruise. It might not be full."

The cruise was supposed to give my parents some uninterrupted time together. And the last thing I wanted was be trapped on a ship with lots of happy, smiling people encouraging me to socialize while my mom fussed over me. "No, thanks. I really, truly would rather be on my own."

"But what will you do?"

"Stay home and drown my sorrows in Christmas cookies and eggnog."

Silver & Gold
GEOFFREY Radcliffe stared intently into the mirror, grimacing at the reflection, then wincing as the grimace accentuated his laugh lines. Laugh lines, c'mon, just call them wrinkles. He ran his fingers through his straight, dark hair and froze. Oh shit. He peered closer at his hairline, holding his hair back with his hand and angling his head so that his temples were just inches from the mirror. A healthy dose of grey splashed on each pulse-point, while more isolated strands were beginning to snake through his conservative hairstyle. When had that happened?

Far from narcissistic, he was embarrassed by his sudden interest in his appearance, and even more embarrassed by what had prompted it. God, he felt like he was a kid back in school again, mooning around over the Big Man On Campus. Jesse Sullivan. His one and only boyfriend as a young man; his first blissful, and eventually heartbreaking, relationship that thrust him firmly into the more socially accepted side of his bi wiring. Geoff sighed at his image one last time before giving himself a mental shake and retreating to his desk, staring blankly at his laptop's screensaver, then reaching out with a finger and nudging the touchpad, bringing Jesse's e-mail back into glaring focus.

Dear Geoff, it began. Such a polite and generic opening to something that rocked the foundations of everything he had made himself believe for the past two decades.

Dear Geoff,

I can't believe it's been so long, over 20 years. I never thought at the time that we'd fall so completely out of touch when we went our separate ways.

Separate ways? Geoff snorted, rereading the missive for the umpteenth time. That was putting it mildly. Nothing like a little revisionist history.

I've wanted to get in touch with you for a long time. But what finally did it for me was hearing my mom talk about your divorce. Ironically enough, mine just went through as well. 

She also said that your parents mentioned you're coming back for a week over the holidays, and I'll be at home then as well. I'd really like to get together. Since there's going to be the usual houseful back home, I've volunteered to stay at a hotel. 

Geoff felt a disconcerting shock of lust burn through him at the thought of Jesse and a hotel room. He fought to breathe normally, reminding himself he was at work, and surreptitiously adjusted his half-hard cock in his suit pants.

We have a lot to catch up on, and I'm hoping that you want to see me as well. Give me a call, my numbers are listed below, and let's set something up. I've missed you, G-man. Hope to hear from you soon. Jess

Jesse was going to be home for the holidays, at a hotel, and they were adults now�. Merry Christmas to me. Geoff scrubbed viciously at his face. He needed to get a grip. There was nothing in the note to hint that this would be anything other than a reunion of two old friends. For all he knew, the whole incident in their youth was just Jesse having a one-time fling, a bi-curious growth experience. Yeah, it had burned hot at the time, but Geoff was obviously not what Jess had wanted long-term. Jesse made that abundantly clear on the night he got engaged, the night he revealed to Geoff that he was going to be a father before the year was out.

Geoff felt that old, familiar pain twinge deep inside at the memory, the casual manner in which Jesse had related the life-altering secret he'd been keeping from Geoff for months. His girlfriend. Oh, he'd been so innocent, blinded by the charisma and the intensity of Jesse's focus on him, a late-bloomer who had never attracted attention from anyone before. Eager for any time with Jess, he'd accepted his frequent, vague explanations for being busy.

It was only in the aftermath, in the flurry of small-town gossip that flew when the pregnancy and shotgun wedding was made public, that he put the whole story together. Jesse had been dating Jennifer for months. It was love at first sight, wasn't the first time that two crazy kids got carried away and did things out of order, at least he was doing the right thing. That was the prevailing opinion in town, anyway.

So Geoff had sat woodenly on the pew at the church, his face carefully blank but his heart crying inside, as the boy he thought he loved gazed into someone else's eyes and made his pledge to her. Geoff had fooled everyone with his act, even Jesse apparently, because afterward he had given Geoff a hug in the receiving line with no guilt in his eyes, clapping him casually on the back and saying that he'd call him when they got back from their honeymoon.

Geoff began making his escape plans the day after Jesse's news, and headed off to his university town a month early, claiming he wanted to settle in before term began. He left before Jesse got back and asked his mom not to give out his number to anyone, wanting to make a clean break. There was a hint of sympathy in his mom's eyes, as if she had known, but they never discussed it and she had respected his wishes. Jesse's wedding day was the last time he had heard from Jesse directly, although Geoff occasionally heard details of his life from his own parents, who still lived in the same small town with the Sullivans.

He had followed suit soon enough, dating girls in college until he found the one he wanted to settle down with, marrying Susan soon after their graduation. He had loved her, his broken heart had found solace in her gentle nature, and they had been good companions until quite unexpectedly, after almost seventeen years of marriage, Sue had found herself madly in love with another man. Their parting was as amicable as their marriage, and Geoff wished her well. He had dated a couple times since the divorce was final, always women, but nothing lasting.

He had never again touched another man, tried not to let his mind run over those frantic, explosive youthful encounters with Jesse, except occasionally in his most deeply-kept fantasies. Now those old, faded memories flared to new life, settling into his viscera with uncanny accuracy. He groaned softly as he shifted in his desk chair, swiveling away from the door to reach down to give his stiff dick a quick rub and adjustment through the fabric. A lick and a promise. A lick� ah, fuck. He heard the tap at the door a moment before it opened, and quickly removed his hand, spinning back toward the visitor slowly, nonchalantly he hoped.

Face flushing, he nevertheless kept his countenance neutral as he arched a brow in question at his administrative assistant, Kimberly. "Yes?"

She gave him an assessing look but then shrugged. "I have your mail sorted, some hard copies that need signatures, and your flight info for your trip." She approached the desk, setting everything down in the usual places before glancing at his laptop. "Have you gone through the messages I forwarded? Anything you need to kick back to me?"

He reached out casually and closed the laptop down, turning on his desktop monitor instead. "Nothing yet, I have a few things to go through first. You can, uh, delete anything from today on your end."

"Sure thing." She moved back around the desk, then paused and looked back at him. She was a striking woman, tall and beautiful in a way that would only improve with age. They had a comfortable and friendly working relationship, and he thought, not for the first time, that it was a shame she did nothing for his libido. He had been damn lonely since well before the divorce, and it was starting to get to him if an e-mail could send him into this state of arousal.

"Anything else before I take off, Geoff?" she asked across the desk, and something in her questioning and sympathetic eyes made him pause. For a wild moment, he considered confiding in her about his current confusion.

He wrestled with himself briefly, but the reserved habits of a lifetime kicked in and he shook his head. "Have a nice weekend, Kim. I'll see you Monday."

"Oh," she said, memory evidently jolted. "That's right. Just a warning, I'll be in late on Monday. I have an appointment. It's on my Outlook calendar, but I know you always forget to check there." She winked as she backed toward the door.

"Well, I probably would've remembered to check eventually," he grumbled distractedly, flipping his laptop back open.

"No, you would've just called my cell. And I probably won't be able to answer."

"Why? One of those woman-type annual things?" he asked before he thought, then flushed even more as he realized what he just said. "Whoa, that was rude. Sorry. None of my business."

Kim laughed out loud from the doorway. "You're hilarious, boss. Nope, just a hair appointment. I'm having my color touched up, and I always turn off my phone while I'm there."

Color touched up? He perked up at the thought. Shit, maybe he should get his hair done before the trip home. He unconsciously ran his hand through his hair again, stopping to linger at the temples. Nah, what the hell am I thinking? I'm no prima donna.

Midwinter Night's Dream
“I predict that tonight is the night Micah Springfield finally falls in love. And the magic eight ball says…” Sloane shook the black paperweight with vigor and held it up. “The spirits agree! Ca-ching!”

I was squeezing my long dreads with a towel to dry them. I made a pfft sound. “Oh yeah? Well, my magic eight balls say: ‘Odds are against it.'”

Sloane waggled his finger at me. “See! That just proves it. Because you always have to say something like that hours before you fall into the abyss. It’s the Rule of Famous Last Words.”

“You’re goin’ out with that theater chick, right?” Hank asked. My baby brother was slouched all over my bed, as usual, paying half-assed attention to the conversation as he read on the tablet Mom and Dad had gotten him for his birthday. It was probably some book on Eastern Philosophy. My butch-looking, muscle-bound baby bro was a regular Joseph Campbell.

“Yeah. Her name is Yasmine.” I said.

“Like I said, the theater chick. She’s hot.”

The lack of any real enthusiasm in his voice saved him from having the magic eight ball lobbed at his head. Still, Sloane made a face. “Excuse me? Beloved?”

Hank glanced up at his boyfriend and looked sheepish. “I mean… for a girl. If you’re into that sort of thing. Which I’m not.”

“No fighting or making out in my room. House rules,” I reminded them with my I-mean-it voice. Because spontaneous eruptions of either, or both, were always a risk when Sloane and Hank were in the same room in the Delta Sigma Phi house. “And yes, Yasmine is hot. She’s also very nice.”

It was only a little bit strategic when I started up my blow dryer, cutting off further conversation.

Honestly, I was over how much time the dreads took to maintain. They’d gotten so long, they were almost down to my waist. They looked totally rad. And at this point, I’d had them so long, they were part of who I was—Micah, the guy with the dreads. I resisted cutting them off because, fuck it, I didn’t want to look like everybody else. And people more or less knew where I was coming from before I ever opened my mouth. That liberal, hippy guy. And it was true, so it saved a lot of energy on my part. But the dreads were a pain in the ass to dry.

I was only wearing a towel, and my eyes roamed over my pale chest in the mirror while my hands were on auto-pilot doing the hair. Yasmine Armand. She was bi-racial and had beautiful carmel-colored skin, green eyes, and a light brown fro with braids. She was tall and slender, graceful-looking. She liked to wear African influenced clothes and jewelry, especially long tie-dyed skirts. And she was artsy. She was a junior majoring in Theater Arts.

She was, in other words, exactly my type.

This was our first actual date, but she’d been interested in me for months. She’d finally gotten tired of waiting for me to ask her out and invited me to a party tonight. I let girls chase me. I didn’t get worked up about much of anything, except, maybe, stuff that related to my frat. I was president of the Delts, and the house was important to me. But otherwise, life is too short, you know? I like a girl in my bed as much as the next guy, but drama of any size, shape, or form—that I can do without. Besides, why expel effort when you don’t have to? Women’s lib, man. Let ’em fly the flag, pay their own way, show their nipples, have boy toys, and do the heavy lifting when it comes to relationships. I was a hundred percent down with all that.

Behind me in the mirror, I saw Sloane wander over to my bed and flop down beside Hank. Hank looked up from his tablet and they stared into each other’s eyes. I could feel the sexual tension charge the air, so thick it nearly short-circuited my hair dryer. Oh for fuck’s sake.

I shut off the dryer long enough to say, “Hey! No making out in my room.”

Without a word, Sloane and Hank got up, their eyes already glazed over with lust. I laughed as the door slammed behind them.

“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do,” I chuckled to my reflection.

My humor faded as a familiar pain burned inside my body. It was below my heart and above my gut, in the Solar Plexus Chakra. I didn’t have a name for that pain. I wasn’t jealous of Sloane and Hank. They were so perfect together they were like the world balanced on the head of a pin. And yes, there’d been a time when I’d sort of dug Sloane myself, thought about maybe experimenting a little on the gay side with him. But I was way over that. Maybe that ache was regret. I was never gonna have a union like Sloane and Hank’s.

Yeah, yeah. I know all about the power of positive thinking. But there’s also accepting yourself, you feel me? Knowing your path. I’m a child of the air, a dandelion puff destined to be spread far and wide, a rolling stone. There’s power in union, but there’s power in freedom too, getting to know lots of people, spreading the love around. Just because you occasionally feel a longing for something, or envy it, doesn’t mean it would be right for you.

I finished my hair and turned to get a shirt. That’s when I noticed the magic eight ball sitting in the middle of my bed, all ominous like. Sloane’s voice echoed in my head: Famous last words.

I chuckled at the whisper of magic in the room. Imagination, man. Imagination kicked ass.

Author Bios:
Daisy Harris
Retired party girl and science fiction enthusiast, Daisy Harris spends most of her time writing sexy romance and plotting the fall of Western civilization. Her books can be found on Amazon, Nook, and wherever else fine erotic romance is sold.

Ms. Harris lives in Seattle, where she tortures her husband by making it rain. She enjoys watching bridges cause traffic, watching football games cause traffic, and blithely wearing wool socks with sandals.

She has never taken a single picture in which her bra strap is not showing.

Silvia Violet
Silvia Violet writes fun, sexy stories that will leave you smiling and satisfied. She has a thing for characters who are in need of comfort and enjoys helping them surrender to love even when they doubt it exists. Silvia's stories include sizzling contemporaries, paranormals, and historicals. When she needs a break from listening to the voices in her head, she spends time baking, taking long walks, and curling up with her favorite books. Keep up with her latest ventures by signing up for her newsletter.

Devon Rhodes
Devon started reading and writing at a young age and never looked back. After a creatively sapping career in the business world, she gratefully took some time off to be at home.

At 39 and holding, Devon finally figured out the best way to channel her midlife crisis was to morph from mild-mannered stay-at-home mom into erotic romance writer.

She lives in Oregon with her husband and two children, who are (mostly) understanding of all the time she spends on her laptop, aka the black hole.

Joanna Chambers
Joanna Chambers always wanted to write. She spent over 20 years staring at blank sheets of paper and despairing of ever writing a single word. In between staring at blank sheets of paper, she studied law, met her husband and had two children. Whilst nursing her first child, she rediscovered her love of romance and found her muse. Joanna lives in Scotland with her family and finds time to write by eschewing sleep and popular culture.

Eli Easton
Having been, at various times, and under different names, a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, the author of paranormal mysteries, a fan fiction writer, an organic farmer, an avid hiker and a profound sleeper, Eli is happily embarking on yet another incarnation as a m/m romance author.

As an addicted reader of such, she is tinkled pink when an author manages to combine literary merit, vast stores of humor, melting hotness and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story.  She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time.  She currently lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, three bulldogs, three cows and six chickens.  All of them (except for the husband) are female, hence explaining the naked men that have taken up residence in her latest fiction writing.

Daisy Harris
EMAIL: thedaisyharris@me.com

Silvia Violet
EMAIL: silviaviolet@gmail.com

Devon Rhodes
EMAIL: devonrhodes@hotmail.com

Joanna Chambers
EMAIL: authorjoannachambers@gmail.com

Eli Easton
EMAIL: eli@elieaston.com

David's Selfie

Needing a Little Christmas
B&N  /  KOBO  /  iTUNES  /  ARe

Silver & Gold

Rest and Be Thankful

Midwinter Night's Dream

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