Friday, December 22, 2017

Random Tales of Christmas 2017 Part 10

Kiss and Ride by Teodora Kostova
What happens when you meet the right guy at the wrong time?

When Vincent Alesi’s estranged father dies, he gets on the first plane from New York city to Rome to be at the memorial service. Even if he has to max out his credit card. Even if he hates the man for leaving him. Even if it’s a day before Christmas.

Everything that can go wrong does go wrong, and Vin ends up trusting a complete stranger with all his secrets, even the ones he didn't know he had.

Luca Romano’s job as a flight attendant takes him all over the world. But a jet-setting lifestyle is not what he wants. His dream of opening his own restaurant is being placed on hold over circumstances beyond his control.

Timing is everything...

When Vin bursts into Luca’s life, both men fall fast and hard. But their lives, their dreams, even the cities they live in couldn’t be more different.

Their few days together in Rome are romantic, emotionally intense, and leave them both wanting more.

Can a fleeting love affair change their lives forever?

Better with Sprinkles by Chrissy Munder
College student Tom Molina isn’t too interested when his roommate Derek tries to convince him to leave his books and help out with the campus LGBTA Center’s annual Christmas cookie sale. But Derek has an ace in the hole to score the center Tom’s grandmother's sugar cookie recipe: fellow volunteer Jeanette’s cousin just happens to be the organic chemistry T.A. Tom’s been dreaming about. Now Tom just has to hope Isaac is as interested in baking cookies as he is in chemistry and HIV awareness.

This title is part of the 2010 Advent Calendar: Naughty or Nice.

Just Jack by Meredith Russell
Can two broken men find love in the chill of Winter?

Leo is having a bad day. Finding his boyfriend in bed with another man was one thing, being the subject of office gossip another, but falling on his ass in the snow in front of a gorgeous man was the final straw.

Jack has existed in a solitary life of ice and bitterness after betrayal. He swore no one would ever break his heart again, gave up on love, and became something else; Jack Frost.

As Jack and Leo get closer, Jack is left torn and confused. Jack yearns for anything that reminds him of his humanity, but the truth is, he feels nothing, not warmth, not love, and he knows he might never be able to love Leo the way he deserves to be loved.

When the line between fairy tales and magic, and the real world become blurred, can love conquer everything?

**Be sure to check out Everything: A Just Jack Christmas Short on Meredith Russell's Blot**

Bite Night by Clare London
Creatures of the Night and Santa’s Christmas duties don’t mix. Every myth and bedtime story tells you so.

But on Christmas Eve, when the Elves walked off the job over pension rights, it was time for me—Irwin, the only vampire on Santa’s payroll, despite recent diversity initiatives—and my trusty team to help out. Just deliver a few parcels, Santa asked me. Just help out on your local patch. Just for one night.

Armed with my reluctance to face all that human sentimentality, and accompanied by a wise-cracking werewolf and an unruly fairy with a taste for vodka, I did my best. Honest.

But we were heading for disaster until I came face-to-face with cute babysitter Benny. It’s Santa’s Number One Rule—no interaction with the clients. But Benny somehow managed to upset my appetite, inflame my libido, and restore my faith in the Christmas spirit, with one cheeky smile and a tasty body piercing.

It’s Christmas, and the show must go on!

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2016 Advent Calendar "Bah Humbug."

Ghostwriter of Christmas Past by TA Moore
Ever since ghostwriter Jason Burke ended up in loco parentis for his orphaned niece, Mallory, he’s been trying. He goes to parent/teacher events, and he makes packed lunches, so he definitely didn’t mean to forget about Christmas. He just hasn’t celebrated it since he left home under a cloud years ago.

Put on the spot, Jason makes the snap decision to take Mallory to see where he and her father spent their Christmases as kids. The last thing he expects is to run into Tommy, his ex—ex-best friend, ex-boyfriend—who is still living in town… and working as a sheriff’s deputy.

It’s hard to avoid someone in a small town—and maybe Jason doesn’t want to. He got Mallory a Christmas, and maybe now it’s time to get himself a Christmas boyfriend. But first, he owes Tommy some explanations.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2017 Advent Calendar collection Stocking Stuffers.

Click to Check Out Previous
Random Tales of Christmas 2017

Part 1  /  Part 2  /  Part 3  /  Part 4
Part 5  /  Part 6  /  Part 7  /  Part 8

Better with Sprinkles by Chrissy Munder
He was so screwed. Tom Molina stared at his organic chemistry textbook, the volume a heavy weight on his lap even with his right foot tucked up under his opposite thigh for support. Despite his struggles to focus, the dark letters kept blurring, swirling into unreadable patterns before his tired eyes. Tom pulled his glasses off his nose and set the thick, plastic frames on the end table next to the three, half-empty coffee mugs, silent testaments to his studies. A headache pushed its way to the front of his skull, the dull ache settling behind his left eye, and he pressed the heel of his hand against his forehead with a groan. Great. He didn’t have time for a migraine. And, thanks to his roommate Derek’s fondness for the movie Kindergarten Cop, all he could hear was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s voice proclaiming “It’s a tumor,” and that wasn’t even Arnold’s line in the comedy.

Tom always thought the joke about studying until your head exploded was kind of lame, but here he sat, brains ready to splatter in vivid Technicolor out over everything within a ten-foot radius. Possibly twelve-foot, Tom conceded as the painful throbbing increased. Would the bookstore take back his textbook if he sprayed blood and gray matter on the pages? Did he care? Tom leaned his head against the pillow wedged beneath his shoulder, shifting until his legs sprawled down the length of the couch. Damn, they’d have to clean the upholstery too.

Barely ten o’clock on a Saturday morning, and his life was over. He was doomed. Worse, his plans for the future lay in ruins, buried beneath the weight of student loan debt and no way to ever pay for it all. Forget about a prestigious career, the awards for his breakthroughs in medicinal biochemistry, and best of all, the satisfaction of showing his parents what he achieved without them. He wasn’t even going to finish out the semester. All Tom had left in his future were soup kitchens and homeless shelters. The throbbing in his head increased in direct proportion with his drama-fueled panic. Maybe if he gave himself just a few minutes to rest, things would magically get better?

“Help me, oh great roommate. You’re my only hope.”

Tom grunted, eyes flying open as Derek’s full weight fell across his legs, trapping them against the couch and knocking his textbook onto the floor. He had been so wrapped up in his crisis, he hadn’t noticed Derek’s key in the front door.

“What the hell?” Tom swallowed, suddenly doubting the wisdom of revisiting last night’s three-meat special for breakfast. “Get off me before I vomit.”

“Promise you’ll help me, first.” Derek wrapped his arms tighter around Tom’s legs and the cushion beneath.

“I’m serious,” Tom said. “I swear I’m going to hurl.”

“So am I.” Derek buried his head between Tom’s knees, leaving the stubby, blond ponytail at the back of his neck exposed. “Do your worst. This is bigger than puke.”

Tom pushed at Derek’s heavy bulk. He might be short, but the guy was built like a fireplug. Well, at least the wave of nausea had thankfully receded. “Man, I have two words for you: Organic Chemistry and Professor McCafferty.”

“That’s five words.” Tom had to strain to hear Derek’s voice muffled against his thigh.

“No, that’s two words used twice and a joiner word thingy.” Tom nudged Derek with his knee. “And get your face out from between my legs.”

“Joiner word thingy?” Apparently realizing the danger had past, Derek dared to raise his head. “Besides, I’m the best thing you’ve had between your legs in months, if not the only.”

Tom shrugged off his roommate’s mocking. It was hard to take Derek seriously. His face was all red and sweaty and escaping chunks of blond hair helped him resemble a deranged cherub. So what if Tom’s tired and overworked brain refused to spit out the correct grammatical term. He wasn’t an English major. Or had a lot of time to spend dating. He had plans.

“Whatever. My entire future is riding on this test.” He wiggled his legs in another effort to free himself. “So you go back to doing whatever you were doing, and let me keep studying.”

The two men stared at each other. Brown eyes and blue met across the distance in a silent battle of wills.

“Alone,” Tom emphasized when Derek showed no signs of obeying.

“I will. But, first, you know how to make Christmas cookies, right?” Derek shoved Tom’s legs out of the way and took their place on the couch. “I remember those ones you made when you were dating that one guy.”

“What one guy?” Exasperated, Tom ran his hand through his hair before he reached for his glasses.

“You know, the cookie-eater guy?”

Oh yeah, Mike. Tom’s brain automatically filled in the details of the redhead who went along with the name. Nice butt in the plus column, but an overdone tribal tattoo and his distinct lack of bicep definition in the minus. They had dated for a couple of months last semester, and Tom would now confess to making a batch or two of his grandmother’s special sugar cookies to aid his efforts to get into Mike’s pants. Unfortunately, Mike turned out to be too unfocused for Tom’s tastes.

Tom wondered if being able to actually understand Derek’s convoluted thought process was a sign he really did have a tumor pressing on his brain and causing his migraines. No wonder he couldn’t make any sense of the last three chapters. Right. Chapters. Test. Studying. Tom stood up slowly, surprised to find his headache had fled in the face of the disaster that was Derek. “Fine. I’ll go to the library. You can have the apartment.”

“You can’t,” Derek said. “I need you and your mad, cookie-making skills.”

Tom pushed aside Derek’s coat, and picked up his favorite wool scarf discarded just as carelessly. “Did I say you could borrow this? I think I would remember if I told you it was okay to borrow this.” He poked through the mess of footwear kicked to the side of the front door for his boots. Only two of them lived there, where did they get so many shoes? “I need to study.”

“And I need to get into Jeanette Carlson’s pants. It’s vital. Otherwise, I don’t know, something’s going to fall off. Which would totally suck and be all your fault.”

“Derek, I love you, man. I do. But nobody believes that crap.” Giving up the search for his boots, Tom shoved his feet into a pair of tennis shoes he thought were his, and walked over to the kitchen table for his wallet and keys. He put off grabbing his backpack and books from the floor, unwilling to move back within Derek’s reach.

“You did when Jimmy Francisco told you that’s what would happen if you didn’t blow him.” Derek folded his arms across his chest and stared at Tom.

“I was thirteen. So was he.”

“You still owe me for saving your ass. We’re talking teen-geek abuse or something. You would have been scarred for life.”

“Fine. My delicate psyche thanks you.” Tom glared at his friend. “Now will you please let me live down yet another embarrassing life moment and allow me to study?”

“And how about in high school? I played lookout so you and what’s-his-name the football player could make out in the locker room?”

Tom pulled out one of the chairs at the kitchen table and sat down, facing his friend with a deep exhalation. “Why do I live with you when all you do is bring up my sordid, sexual history every time you want something?”

“Because we’ve been best friends since kindergarten?”

Tom ignored Derek’s cheerful smile and rubbed at his forehead. Bastard was wearing him down.

“Because I already knew you were gay before you told me and never cared?”

Tom almost gave him points for that one, but took them back when he remembered Derek was the one who accidentally outed him to his parents earlier than planned. Thus creating the reason Tom was so far in debt for his education.

“Because my dad promised to pay for this apartment off campus if you lived with me and kept me out of trouble?”

Tom pointed his finger at Derek in acknowledgement of the scoring point. Yeah, that was it. “I’m going to fail my test. Miserably.”

“My dad will still let you live in the apartment, you know.”

“That’s not the point! The point is I need to study.” Tom’s headache made a valiant comeback.

“Seriously? You need to relax. It’s one test, and we’re only days away from the Christmas break. No matter what scenario you’ve created, flunking a test won’t disrupt that master plan you keep in your head of how you think things should go.”

Tom grunted his acknowledgement of their familiar argument. Besides, how was he supposed to take Derek seriously when his friend had squiggled around on his back, dangled off the side of the couch, and spoke to him while upside down? “That’s called being motivated.”

“Try being afraid to have a life. It was one thing in high school, after your folks made you move out. I get that. But three years here at college, and you’re so busy running around following this plan, you miss the things right in front of you.”

“Like what?” Tom ducked as Derek pulled a foam rubber ball from the depths beneath the sofa and threw it at him. “You missed.”

“I don’t know.” Derek balanced the top of his head on the floor as he reached further under the couch. “How about having fun, helping others out, just enjoying life?”

“Helping you out,” Tom said knowingly. Okay, maybe he had been wrapped a little too tight the last couple of weeks.

“Hey, I’m a worthy cause. And have you seen Jeanette Carlson?”

“Obviously not,” Tom replied.

“After weeks of not giving me the time of day, we talk cookies, and she’s all over me. Besides, what if in return I promise you extra tutoring from Professor McCafferty’s old TA?” Derek suddenly pulled his hand back and stared at it in disgust.

“Isaac the Terrible?” Tom couldn’t help but breathe the name in awe. He had spent his first two years in the program positive he was going flunk his core courses due to his inability to get past the absolute smoking blond hotness that was Isaac Peterson and focus on the work. Add in the teaching assistant’s insistence on calling on Tom in class despite his vocal chords refusal to form complete sentences, and Tom’s hopeless infatuation had been impossible to hide, leaving him the butt of his friend’s jokes even after the TA received his master’s degree and disappeared from campus. “You’re kidding.”

“I’m not.” Tom forgave Derek the smug smile on his face. This was after all, Isaac Peterson they were talking about. He’d acknowledge Derek’s right to smugness assuming he actually delivered. “You help me out, and in return you could finagle hours of chemical bonding with the TA of your dreams.”

“This doesn’t involve lasting physical marks or impact my future career options?” Tom asked suspiciously. Common sense demanded he examine Derek’s proposal with more caution, but the sudden wash of memories, hours spent watching Isaac bend and flex in front of the classroom and form his looping scrawl across the whiteboard, left Tom weak and open to persuasion.

“This is the man you’ve been jerking off to for the last three years. Do you care?”

Well, when Derek put it like that. No. But it didn’t say a lot for the thickness of the apartment’s walls.

“All you need are cookies?”


“How many?” Tom knew this would prove too good to be true when Derek’s eyes shifted away from his. Either that or the rush of blood had finally overwhelmed Derek, and he was going to pass out.

“Only about twenty or so,” Derek mumbled as he rolled over onto his stomach, his face pressed into the bottom of the couch.

“Cookies?” Tom prodded, certain he was still missing something.


Just Jack by Meredith Russell
Chapter 1
“Not again.” The man gritted his teeth and pulled on the handle of his car door. The door wouldn’t budge, and the man, looking to be in his fifties and carrying a little weight, grew red in the face and wiped at his brow with the back of his gloved hand. “Denise,” he called toward the house and then walked, far more delicately than a man of his build should, down his driveway.

Winter in Maine was gloriously frosty. A layer of snow had settled on the tops of houses and cars, the trees looked magical coated in white, and it was easy to imagine them shivering in the chilly morning air. Every warm breath taken that cold morning caused a white mist to hang in the air.

Jack leaned against the lamppost on the opposite side of the street and enjoyed his new game. He didn’t know who the man was, what he did for a living, or care who Denise was to him. For Jack, the man was entertainment on yet another wintry January morning. This was the third morning in a row Jack had walked the street before sunrise, tormenting the man by freezing the door of his seventy-plus-thousand-dollar car. Another day or two and Jack would get bored with his mischief and search out new acts of trickery to see him through the day. Every day so far, the man’s reaction had been priceless and something to call on when Jack’s day needed brightening. But today Jack was left disappointed when the man made his way to the house and back unscathed.

Yesterday had been far more fun. The man had ended up flat on his back, having slipped on the ice. He had lain on the ground like some up-ended turtle, rocking around in his thick winter coat, unable to bend his limbs in such a way to get himself the right way up.

Jack grew tired of waiting for something comical to happen. “Maybe tomorrow,” Jack said in a low voice. He pushed off the streetlight, eyed the icy handprint he had left, and then carried on his way.

It was seven in the morning, barely light. The early risers heading for work were up and out in their driveways, complaining about the cold as they defrosted their cars. The sidewalk was covered in fresh snow, which glistened beneath the man-made lights and was, as yet, undisturbed by human feet, just a spattering of prints from birds and what was possibly a cat. Jack loved the cold, and he smiled as a chilling breeze circled him, carrying with it the fresh scent of the day and the crisp brown leaves that had fallen from the trees. The prickle of cold against his skin was one of his favorite feelings, like a thousand icy fingers pinching at his arms and face. God, how he loved it.

Opening the top button of his jacket, he savored the cold against his chest and gently traced his fingertips over his chilled skin. He breathed deeply, content with his icy touch and the feel of the cool air whipping up around him. What he wouldn’t give to be wrapped up in a blanket of cold. To slip inside the deliciously chilled wind and zip it up as if it were a sleeping bag made just for him.

Holding out his hand in front of him, Jack encouraged the breeze into a spiral that wrapped around his arm and caused a delightful shiver to pass through him. The air glowed the most beautiful shade of blue as it danced around Jack, and his chest ached from the knowledge this beauty was only for him—and those like him—to see. Anyone watching would think he was mad. They wouldn’t see the dance of blue and silver, nor would they hear the wind’s angelic song reverberating in the air.

Jack stroked the breeze as it snaked through his fingers, gently drawing moisture from it and into the palm of his hand. He rotated his fingers, spinning the moisture into a sphere, and then gently teased it with his icy breath until the sphere hardened. The size of a tennis ball, the sphere became a ball of ice, and Jack flicked it into the air and caught it.

“Perfect,” he said.

The ball was smooth, flawless, and transparent. He reached out his other hand and dragged his fingers over the hedge he passed. The leaves of the hedge crackled and curled in on themselves beneath his touch, which left them coated in wintry white frost. All he needed now was someone to have a little fun with. He grinned at the thought.

A dog barked, and Jack looked ahead. “Perfect,” he said again and teased the ball between his finger and thumb.

A large German shepherd was standing several yards in front of him. The dog was on a leash, and on the other end of that leash was the dog’s owner, a petite woman dressed head to toe in pink with matching accessories. She was talking on her cell phone and looked to be in her forties, dressed in winter clothing, each item seemingly edged in white fur.

Too old to be playing at Barbie, Jack decided.

He blew on the ball of ice and watched as frosty patterns formed across its surface. He admired what could only be described as art. Spirals and symmetrical branches merged together in raised icy paths, very much like patterns etched into Christmas tree ornaments. It was all about the details for Jack. If he was going to do something, then it should be perfect and beautiful.

Content with his creation, he pulled back his arm and bowled the ball toward the dog. The sphere rolled along the sidewalk, leaving only a small line in the snow as it seemed to weightlessly skim its surface. Jack watched and waited, merely encouraging the sphere along its chosen path.

As if it had a mind of its own, the sphere steered to the left, and as it neared the dog, the ball skipped off the sidewalk and into the street. The dog barked loudly, pulling at its leash as it sought to chase the ball of ice. The woman struggled to hold the large German shepherd and stumbled forward as the dog darted after the ball and into the road. She performed some poorly crafted acrobatics routine as she desperately held onto her dog. But the dog’s desire to chase the ball was greater than any strength she might have had to hold onto him. It was as if she weighed nothing as she was dragged forward by her pet and into the road. Cursing, she eventually gave in as she tripped up the opposite curb. With a yelp, she let go of the leash and landed on her face in the snow-covered grass of a neighbor’s lawn.

Jack laughed as the woman lifted her head. White covered her cheeks and forehead, and she rolled over to sit on the frozen ground. Her mouth curled down with a pathetic whimper, and she slapped the ground in a halfhearted tantrum.

“Caesar,” she called after the dog.

The German shepherd pricked up its large ears and glanced back at his owner. The dog’s tongue hung out the right side of its mouth, all wet and shiny as it panted excitedly. White puffs of the dog’s warm breath filled the air around the animal’s head, and choosing to ignore the woman, the dog ran off down the street.

“Caesar!” She lowered her head and brushed the snow from her coat.

Had she seen him? Jack wondered. Jack didn’t know whether she had or hadn’t, and though he claimed to not care, there was always a pang of disappointment in his chest, a need to be noticed.

Turning away, he walked down the street. He didn’t look back or stop to help her. He never did. It was not in his nature to worry about the misfortunes of humans. They were just something to pass his time.

A short way down the street, Jack spotted the escaped German shepherd sitting on the sidewalk, seemingly waiting for him. The animal held in its mouth the ball of ice, though the ice was already melting from the dog’s breath. As Jack got closer, the dog placed the ball on the grass and sat upright. Jack smiled and held out his hand, running his fingers over the dog’s coat. He frowned as he stroked the soft fur. Though he knew there should be something more, he felt nothing but the cold.

“Get away from me,” he said to the dog. “I’m no good for you.”

The dog simply looked up at him through large amber eyes.

“Go on. Get.”

Jack narrowed his gaze and looked down at his hands. The prickle of ice played in his palms. He could show the dumb animal exactly what he was capable of.

The dog licked his hand, and Jack tempered his desire to strike out. The dog, clearly oblivious to Jack’s nature and wanting nothing more than to have him throw the ball again, just sat and stared up at him.

“Okay,” Jack said softly.

The dog nudged at his hand.

“I said, okay.”

Jack bent down to pick up the ball of ice. He wrapped his hand around the slippery lump and squeezed. It only took a second and the sphere was solid again, a frosty layer coating its surface once more. He looked over his shoulder in the direction of the German shepherd’s home. The dog had done him no wrong, and as much as he liked to mess with the lives of the humans in the town, he never meant them any real harm.

“Go home,” he said and threw the ball back up the street.

Happily, the dog bounded off, its leash trailing on the ground as it chased the ball. Jack worried his lower lip and waited until the dog was out of sight. Hopefully, the animal would be reunited with his owner.

Cramming his hands in his jacket pockets, Jack looked at the ground, and with the toe of his boot, he drew a circle in the snow. Adding eyes and a smile, Jack admired his masterpiece for a moment. It wasn’t quite right. He crouched and held his hand over the simple drawing. Slowly, he pulled back his hand. The soft flakes quivered. He teased the snow, rearranging the picture, then straightened up. The image’s smile was gone, replaced with a frown.

“Hello, Jack,” he said to the drawn face.

With a heavy sigh, he dragged his foot across the image, wiping the sidewalk clear. If only it was that easy to wipe away the morose feeling from inside him.

He rubbed a hand over his face and took a deep breath. There was a smile on his lips as he looked ahead at the elderly gentleman making his way toward him.

“Too cruel?” he asked himself.

Maybe. Jack smiled. Or maybe not. He wiggled his fingers and felt the cold air surge between them. This was who he was—the bringer of mishaps, ice, and mischief, and of the frost on the window panes.

He was Jack Frost.

Chapter 2
“This… this isn’t what you think.”

Leo Marsh stared at his boyfriend in disbelief. Not what I think? How was catching the cheating bastard with his dick in another man’s mouth anything but what he thought?

“This, here. There’s no explanation you can give me that makes this okay.”

“Baby, listen to me,” Mac Donovan said as he pushed the other man away and got to his feet. He quickly pulled up his pants. “This is nothing. This is a mistake. This is—”

“Over,” Leo finished. “You asshole. You’re a fucking liar.” Leo had never hit anyone in his life, but right then, he wanted to slam his clenched fist into his lying asshole of a boyfriend’s face, break his perfect nose, dislocate his manly square jaw.


Leo had done Mac a favor. He’d been in the office since six a.m. organizing paperwork and displays for a presentation Mac was supposed to be giving to the company directors tomorrow. He’d wanted nothing more than to help when Mac had called in sick. Mac was supposed to be home, suffering and pathetic, taken to his bed. That’s what he’d claimed when he had phoned at one in the morning. Had this other man already been with him when he called? Some little piece of ass Mac had picked up in a bar for a sleepover?

“It’s so over.” What the hell had he been thinking? For some reason Leo believed bringing his sick boyfriend an early lunch was a sweet, romantic gesture. Finding Mac with his pants around his ankles and some shirtless man nuzzling his crotch wasn’t on Leo’s to-do list for the day.

“No, no. Don’t say that.” Mac was on his feet and at Leo’s side before Leo’s brain could engage enough for him to plan an escape. “I love you. You and only you.”

Leo looked at the young man who had stayed kneeling beside the bed. He could have been Leo’s double—short wavy blond hair, the same straight nose and high cheekbones. The only difference between them seemed to be ten years or so in age. Was this some trade-in scheme? Had he really just been cheated on with a younger version of himself? Fuck, he suddenly felt more like fifty than his actual thirty.

Leo met the young man’s eyes. The man remained unmoved by Mac’s declaration of love for Leo. So, this kid was just a fuck. A morning screw while Leo was at the office. Was that supposed to make him feel better about this whole messed-up situation?

“You said never again,” Leo reminded him. Yes, Mac had done this before. Twice, in fact, that he knew of.

“I know. I know. I’m weak. You know that and how hard I fight these feelings because I love you.” He had his hands on Leo’s chest and ran them upward to squeeze his shoulders. “But maybe, maybe it’s time to stop fighting. Maybe this time we could both… You know?” He looked at the young man and directed the next part at him. “I mean, you would be up for that, right? The three of us?”

The young man pursed his lips as he shrugged. “Sure. Why not?”

Mac cupped Leo’s face and held him fast, forcing Leo to look at him. His hazel eyes darkened and he looked serious. “See. It’d be good for us. Maybe it’s what we need.”

Leo closed his eyes. So, he wasn’t enough for Mac anymore? Had he ever been? “No.” He wasn’t going to have sex with some stranger. How the hell would that fix anything?

“Please.” Mac kissed him, but the kiss left Leo cold.

Leo stared at Mac’s mouth. How he used to long for Mac’s kisses and his touch. He was everything Leo had ever wanted, and foolishly he’d thought Mac felt the same about him. Now all he felt was repulsion.

“What’s his name?” Leo asked. Why he wanted to know, he wasn’t sure. He just felt like he should ask.

Mac opened his mouth but said nothing.

“You don’t even know his name?”

“Sure I do. It’s…” He looked at the other man, who was on his feet and getting dressed.

“Chris,” the young man said and pulled on his T-shirt. “Look, if this isn’t happening, then I have somewhere to be.”

“It is,” Mac insisted and held up his hand to stop Chris from leaving. He looked at Leo. “It is.”

Leo shook his head. “No, it isn’t.” He focused on Chris. “You should leave now.”

Chris nodded and gathered his things. This time Mac didn’t stop him and simply glanced at him as he passed them on the way to the door.

As soon as the door shut, Leo freed himself from Mac’s hold and put some distance between them.

“Is this the first time?”


“Here with him?”

Mac nodded. “Of course. He came onto me. I’m weak.”

Leo closed his eyes. He didn’t know why he asked, maybe out of some twisted way to punish himself further for being such a fool, but he did. “How many others?” He opened his eyes and stared into Mac’s. Mac’s eyes clouded with guilt. Leo had really hoped he’d been wrong, that Mac would say this was one little slip.

“Did you use protection?” he asked. He was angry as hell and wanted Mac out of his sight. But he needed to know.

“Of course.”

Leo took a deep breath. He needed to get out of there.

“We can talk about this.”

Talk? He wouldn’t give Mac a chance to worm his way out of it this time. The silver-tongued asshole didn’t deserve another chance.

“I’m done. We’re over.” He made to leave, but Mac had him by the arm.

“You don’t mean that.”

“I do.” Leo wished he sounded stronger, but he was tired. He hadn’t gone back to bed after Mac had called that morning, too busy worrying about getting everything right and in place for the meeting tomorrow, in place for Mac. “I’m sick of putting up with your crap.”

Mac gripped his arm more tightly. “Please.”

Leo dared to look up into Mac’s eyes. He had always adored the color of Mac’s eyes, a warm toffee flecked with emerald green. There was always such passion and heat in the way Mac looked at him, and before, one glance from Mac would cause Leo to melt. He held Mac’s gaze. He felt nothing now.

“What do you want me to say? Anything. I’ll do anything.”

Leo stayed silent. He’d invested three years of his life into their relationship. But enough was enough. Mac wasn’t ever going to change. It had finally come down to this moment, and Leo needed to make the decision that was right for him. No more second chances. Not this time.

“Move in with me,” Mac said quickly.

“What?” Had the kid literally fucked Mac’s brains out?

Mac released Leo’s arm and took both his hands in his. “It’s what you wanted, right? The two of us? Living together?” He leaned forward for a kiss, but Leo turned his head, Mac’s lips making contact with his cheek. He continued, “You can move in here.”

Once upon a time, Leo would have done anything to hear Mac say those words. How he had longed for them to be more than a toothbrush and a few toiletries in each other’s bathroom. They had been close once. Mac had even gotten him a key made, but then Mac had blown it, just like he had now, and it was like a reset had been hit on their relationship. He never would have expected it, but Leo was actually glad Mac had kept him at a distance. At least this way, Leo could walk away.

Shaking his head, Leo snatched his hands back. “No. I’m not doing this.” So many times Mac had talked his way back into Leo’s heart, and Leo into his bed. But not this time. This wasn’t Mac confirming Leo’s suspicions and the office gossip about what Mac had done behind his back. This time he had seen it with his own eyes. He’d seen the other man. He’d seen the lies and the cheating. They were done.

He took his keys from his jacket pocket. Never had the pile of metal felt so damn heavy. Looking into Mac’s eyes, he turned the keys over in his hand.

“Don’t,” Mac said.

If only Mac had been able to keep it in his pants. Leo had been happy in his little oblivious world. In his mind, he had been enough for Mac and they had been enough for each other. But he deserved better than this.

“I love you.”

“If you really loved me, this wouldn’t be happening. We wouldn’t be standing here having this conversation.” He separated the key to Mac’s apartment from the rest. Was he strong enough to go through with this? He looked at Mac. I deserve better than you. Pressing his mouth in a line, he freed the key from the keychain and held it out to Mac.

“Keep it,” Mac said.

Leo looked between the key and Mac. If he stayed, then what? How long would it be before Mac cheated on him again? He had to stick by his decision. For his own sake.

“I don’t want it.” As Mac wouldn’t take the key, Leo bent over and placed it on the floor. He let his fingers linger for a moment before he straightened up.

Mac rested his hands on his hips and eyed the key. “You’re giving up on us?”

“There is no more us, Mac.” He stepped forward and studied Mac’s face. God how he’d loved the man. Mac had been his Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome. Where had they gone wrong? “It wasn’t me that gave up.” He kissed Mac on the cheek. “Goodbye,” he said, then turned on his heel and walked away.

“Leo, wait,” Mac called after him. “Leo. You know you need me, right? You’ll be back.” He paused. “Leo!”

Leo didn’t stop until he reached the bottom of the stairwell. He glanced upward over his shoulder and listened. To his relief, he didn’t see or hear anything or anyone. If Mac had followed him out of the apartment, he wasn’t sure what he’d have done. His heart and head were all over the place. Three years. Three fucking years he’d just walked away from. Where had they gone wrong? Deflated, he sat on the bottom step. Was it him? Was he unlovable?

This was all Mac’s fault. Leo needed to remember that. So maybe he wouldn’t win any prizes for being the perfect boyfriend, because who the hell was perfect, but he had never lied to or cheated on Mac. Hell, if anything, he could be accused of trying too hard. With a sigh, he gazed out the apartment building’s doors. Through the glass he could see it was snowing again. Shivering, he rubbed at his chest. He felt like there was a block of ice clamped on either side of his heart, painfully squeezing the organ. Could someone die from a broken heart? Pressing his palm flat, he felt the gentle thump of his heartbeat.

Not completely broken.

The pulse beneath his hand reminded him there were worse things that could have happened to him today, not many, considering how he felt right now, but there were certainly some. A door opened and closed above him, and he heard voices on the stairs. The voices were female, and Leo guessed they belonged to Mac’s neighbors, a mother and daughter who lived across the hall.

He eyed the entrance. He couldn’t sit here all day, despite the sudden urge to curl into a ball and be damned with everything. He was only supposed to be on his lunch break, and he’d already spent a good amount of time thoughtfully selecting his ex-lover the perfect sandwich and standing in line for his salted caramel mocha. Ex-lover. That sounded pretty damn final.

I should have taken back the damn sandwich.

He blew out a heavy breath and got to his feet. He’d save the self-pity for the evening and have a full-on Bridget-Jones moment with a tub of ice cream and a breakup playlist. He straightened his tie. Not really his style. More likely popcorn and horror movies. As much as he’d love to see Mac chopped up into little pieces right now, it was never going to happen.

I’d never get away with it. He sniffed a laugh. Watching Freddy or Jason hack up a few people might help a bit, he figured. He sighed. He needed to get a grip, get back to the office, and hope to God nobody asked him how Mac was doing.

Fastening the button on his suit jacket, Leo prepared himself for the rush of cold. He pushed open the door to the block and stepped outside. Fresh air swirled around him, and he took a moment to appreciate how invigorating the sensation was. Breathing deeply, he stood tall. Despite the solid feeling still lingering inside his chest, he felt somewhat comforted by the chilled world before him. He rubbed at his chest and took the three steps down to the sidewalk. There he stopped as a cold shiver worked its way up his spine toward his collar and beneath his hairline. It was a strange feeling, but one he welcomed. For some reason, it felt right.

People walked past him, wrapped in their warm coats, hats, gloves, and scarves as they hurried through the snow. A gust of wind caused the white flakes to twist and turn, and Leo narrowed his eyes as a flash of blue spiraled in front of him. Rubbing his eyes, he dismissed the spark of color. He was tired, but he still had lots to do back at the office. If he could, he’d have ditched the presentation in favor of something else, but as it was, not only was the presentation important to Mac, Leo’s future at Harding’s Toys also rested on it.

He glanced up and down the sidewalk and settled his gaze on a man walking toward him. The man stood out from the other people on the street. He didn’t rush like the people around him, who looked as if they were running from the cold in search of a hiding place. In fact, he seemed to enjoy it. He wore a short coat open over a pale blue shirt and dark jeans. His skin was fair, even more so set against his dark hair, and softened by the trimmed growth across his jaw. Something familiar leapt in Leo’s chest, but he was sure he had never seen the man before. He watched as blue spirals seemed to dance around the man, then their eyes met ever so briefly.

Clearly, Leo was imagining things, because the icy cold that had gripped his heart since leaving Mac’s apartment made way for sparks of heat. This didn’t happen to him, not like this. Sure he’d ogled plenty of handsome men, some had been downright fuckable, but never had a reaction been so strong to a simple stranger on the street. He was well and truly in lust.

A smile curled the man’s full mouth, and he looked over his shoulder. Leo’s attention was drawn beyond the man as someone seemingly slipped in the snow. The man’s smile widened as a second person fell on their ass behind him, then a third. Others stopped to help the fallen people, but all the man did was simply glance at Leo as he passed him. Intrigued, Leo stepped out. What happened next was a blur as his feet slipped from under him and he fell forward. His head hit the ground and all he remembered thinking was how shitty his day was turning out.

Bite Night by Clare London
I WASN’T meant to be caught.

I mean, it’s Santa’s #1 Rule for Gift-Delivery Operatives. No visibility with the clients. Ever. Get in the house, deliver the gifts, eat the cookies—or carrots, whatever’s there, get over yourself and any of your food fads—and get out as fast as possible.

This was a detached, double-fronted house in an affluent, peaceful street. Large garden, large drive, and equivalently large car parked in front. Stylish and smart and reeking of new money. We’d visited plenty of these places tonight on Stacy Street, and the blatant privilege thing was starting to irritate my skin, like I imagined microdermal piercings would do if my unique physical status didn’t rule them out. Pity: I’d always liked the look of body jewelry.

I slid through the wall into the house in my usual fashion, shaking off that prickly nausea I got from dry wall insulation, and arrived with my sack of goodies in just the right place beside the Christmas tree. It was obvious there was a small kid in the house because the tree was, one, better anchored than most people’s, two, artificial so no pine needles would fall on the furniture and get eaten by mistake, and three, with decorations placed high enough to be out of the reach of small hands. The thought of a kid’s innocent delight at the season should have warmed me from the inside out, right? Instead, I thought I might vomit from an excess of sentimentality.

“Irwin?” came a harsh whisper from behind me, at the window. “You eating all the cookies, you greedy bastard?”

I winced. That was another of the rules: no cursing or abusive behavior while on the client’s premises. Guess at least one of my team needed refresher training. Or would Wulf start arguing semantics, that he wasn’t actually on the premises until I let him in? I bit back a snappy reply and unlatched the patio window.

With a rush of hot breath and prickly fur, Wulf burst into the room and skidded to a halt beside me. On all fours, of course, with his sack clutched in his teeth. He’d leaped the fence and approached through the back garden. I could only hope he’d kept his claws sheathed: they wreaked havoc with clients’ lawns.

“I don’t eat cookies,” I said to him. “As you very well know. The food is for you, and the milk or juice for Zilith.”

“Any sherry?” The mention of her name—and the promise of booze—had brought in the third person on my team. There was a swish of air as her butterfly-sized wings fluttered past, followed by a trail of glittery pink light from her miniscule toes. It never ceased to amaze me how she could also carry a sack a hundred times her personal size.
“Drinking on the job must be moderated,” I quoted from Santa’s handbook. Did I love being Mr. Human Resources, or what? Or maybe that should have been Mr. Inhuman Resources…. “You’ve had three sherries and a whiskey already from this street. Luckily, there’s only milk left out here.”

Ghostwriter of Christmas Past by TA Moore
“WHAT ABOUT you, Jason?” Harriet swiveled on the barstool to face him and raised her perfectly groomed eyebrows curiously. “What are you doing for Christmas?”

Jason’s brain—which a client once called a perpetual motion machine for bullshit—stalled.

They were at their agent’s Christmas party. Harriet was wearing mistletoe in her cleavage, and the head of the agency was dressed up as Santa and encouraging pretty girls to sit on her knee. There was a tree in the corner of the bar with shot glass ornaments and drunken reindeer lights. It was hardly a weird question.

But this year his rote answer of “hot driver/waiter/cute paralegal” might not cut it.

“Shit.” He took a drink of whiskey.

“Ah,” Harriet said. She smirked around the lip of her glass, her bright-red lips glossy with smugness. “You forgot about the kid, didn’t you?”

His jaw tightened. He never forgot about Mallory. Boxes of her stuff filled his apartment. They were shoved in corners and packed into the back of closets. He’d cleared her out a dresser, and it turned out that wasn’t enough to fit a whole life in. His calendar was full of desperate, hopeful reminders to find a dentist and pick up the cereal she said she liked, as though he could fake it if his online calendar looked like it knew what he was doing.

He tried. That was the thing. Ever since the social worker knocked on his door with bad news and a sullen kid waiting in the car, he’d tried his best. It was just never good enough. He got her enrolled in school and then forgot to pick her up after she stayed late for music, forgot to get her a new soccer kit, and forgot shoving fifty bucks into the kid’s wallet as she headed out on a school trip wasn’t a substitute for a packed lunch.

And every time he did, there was someone there to sigh and shake their head and pick up the slack. They weren’t even surprised anymore. What else could you expect from Jason?

Now Harriet, who hadn’t bothered to arrange summer camp and instead paid her son’s sitter to take the kid camping for three weeks, got to roll her eyes at him as though he’d forgotten Christmas?

Well, fuck it.

Teodora Kostova
Hi, my name is Teodora and I live in London with my husband and my son. I've been writing ever since I can remember, but it became my full time job in 2010 when I decided that everything else I've tried bores me to death and I have to do what I've always wanted to do, but never had the guts to fully embrace. I've been a journalist, an editor, a personal assistant and an interior designer among other things, but as soon as the novelty of the new, exciting job wears off, I always go back to writing. Being twitchy, impatient, loud and hasty are not qualities that help a writer, because I have to sit alone, preferably still, and write for most of the day, but I absolutely love it. It's the only time that I'm truly at peace and the only thing I can do for more than ten minutes at a time - my son has a bigger attention span than me.

When I'm procrastinating, I like to go to the gym, cook Italian meals (and eat them), read, listen to rock music, watch indie movies and True Blood re-runs. Or, in the worst case scenario, get beaten at every Wii game by a very inventive kid.

Chrissy Munder
Chrissy Munder writes contemporary M/M romance filled with everyday men and extraordinary passion to transport readers into their personal world of love, laughter, and desire

She is an avid reader, a wanderer of Michigan’s wilderness, and, while not in any particular order, a lover of lists, zombies, and bad sci-fi. She’s also perpetually behind on everything—except feeding the cat. There are those who might tell you she started writing LGBTQ romance as a way to justify her office supply addiction, but shhhhh! don’t listen to them.

After too many jobs in too many states she’s eagerly awaiting a far too distant retirement and the chance to become a full-time Lake Michigan beachcomber. Until then, she’s excited to share her love of romance, laughter, and happy-ever-afters.

Chrissy loves to chat with her readers so don't be shy! Visit her on Twitter, her website, Facebook, or Goodreads.

Meredith Russell
Meredith Russell lives in the heart of England. An avid fan of many story genres, she enjoys nothing less than a happy ending. She believes in heroes and romance and strives to reflect this in her writing. Sharing her imagination and passion for stories and characters is a dream Meredith is excited to turn into reality.

Clare London
Clare took the pen name London from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with her other day job as an accountant.

She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with award-winning novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic and sexy characters.

Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter 3 stage and plenty of other projects in mind . . . she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home.

All the details and free fiction are available at her website. Visit her today and say hello!

TA Moore
TA Moore genuinely believed that she was a Cabbage Patch Kid when she was a small child. This was the start of a lifelong attachment to the weird and fantastic. These days she lives in a market town on the Northern Irish coast and her friends have a rule that she can only send them three weird and disturbing links a month (although she still holds that a DIY penis bifurcation guide is interesting, not disturbing). She believes that adding ‘in space!’ to anything makes it at least 40% cooler, will try to pet pretty much any animal she meets (this includes snakes, excludes bugs), and once lied to her friend that she had climbed all the way up to Tintagel Castle in Cornwall, when actually she’d only gotten to the beach, realized it was really high, and chickened out.

She aspires to being a cynical misanthrope, but is unfortunately held back by a sunny disposition and an inability to be mean to strangers. If TA Moore is mean to you, that means you’re friends now.

Teodora Kostova

Chrissy Munder

Meredith Russell

Clare London

TA Moore

Kiss and Ride by Teodora Kostova
Better with Sprinkles by Chrissy Munder

Just Jack by Meredith Russell

Bite Night by Clare London

Ghostwriter of Christmas Past by TA Moore

Friday's Film Adaptation: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

One of the best-loved and most quoted stories of “the man who invented Christmas”—English writer Charles Dickens—A Christmas Carol debuted in 1843 and has touched millions of hearts since.

Cruel miser Ebeneezer Scrooge has never met a shilling he doesn’t like...and hardly a man he does. And he hates Christmas most of all. When Scrooge is visited by his old partner, Jacob Marley, and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come, he learns eternal lessons of charity, kindness, and goodwill. Experience a true Victorian Christmas!

Re-Read Review 2017:
There was a time when I read A Christmas Carol annually but since starting my book blog it seems I that life just hasn't allowed me the time to read it yearly.  So I decided that I would make time this year to give it a read and its just as good as its always been.  I wish I could say we don't need to be reminded of what should be important to us at Christmastime but everyone is always so busy that the Christmas spirit doesn't stay with us the way it should.  Charles Dickens has a way of making us remember and I love him for it.  Merry Christmas everyone and if you aren't one to celebrate, try to remember that the true meaning of the story and the lessons Ebenezer Scrooge learns still rings true for you too and for every day: kindness and goodwill to your fellow man should never be far from your heart.

Original Blog Review December 2014:
Not all of Charles Dickens' work is among my reading list but A Christmas Carol is my favorite of all.  It's the best Christmas tale, in my opinion.  At the heart of the story is what so many of us tend to forget, although perhaps not to the extent as Ebenezer Scooge has, and that is that heart and kindness is more important than wealth.
“And therefore, Uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that [Christmas] has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!” 
“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,' faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.
Business!' cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The deals of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”  
“It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humour.”  
“For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.”  
“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”
And I think the final quote from the book says more about why I love the book so much than any words I could come up with.
“And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!” 

Stave One
Marley's Ghost
Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge's name was good upon' Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.

Scrooge knew he was dead? Of course he did. How could it be otherwise? Scrooge and he were partners for I don't know how many years. Scrooge was his sole executor, his sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole residuary legatee, his sole friend, his sole mourner.

Scrooge never painted out Old Marley's name however. There it yet stood, years afterwards, above the warehouse door: Scrooge and Marley. The firm was known as Scrooge and Marley Sometimes people new to the business called Scrooge Scrooge, and sometimes Marley He answered to both names. It was all the same to him.

Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, was Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner!

Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with gladsome looks, "My dear Scrooge, how are you? when will you come to see me?" No beggars implored him to bestow a trifle, no children asked him what it was o'clock, no man or woman ever once in all his fife inquired the way to such and such a place, of Scrooge. Even the blindmen's dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways and up courts; and then would wag their tails as though they said, "no eye at all is better than an evil eye, darkmaster!"

But what did Scrooge care!

Once upon a time — of all the good days in the year, upon a Christmas Eve-old Scrooge sat busy in his counting-house. It was cold, bleak, bitMg foggy weather and the city clocks had only just gone three, but it was quite dark already.

The door of Scrooge's countinghouse was open that he might keel) his eye upon his clerk, who in a dismal litde cell beyond — a sort of tank-was copying letters. Scrooge had a very small fire., but the clerk's fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal. But he couldn't replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coal-box in his own room; and so surely as the clerk came in with the shovel, the master predicted that it would be necessary for them to part. Wherefore the clerk put on his white comforter, and tried to warm himself at the candle; in which effort, not being a man of a strong imagination, he failed.

"A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!" cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge's nephew, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation Scrooge had of his approach.

"Bah!" said Scrooge, "Humbug!"'

"Christmas a humbug, uncle! You don't mean that, I am sure."

"I do. Out upon merry Christmas. What's Christmas time to you buta time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a yearolder, and not an hour ri cher; a time for balanci ing your books and having every item in 'em through a round dozen of months presented deadagainst you? If I had my will, every idiot who goes about with 'MerryChristmas,' on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, andburied with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!"


"Nephew! Keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it mine."

"Keep it! But you don't keep it."

"Let me leave it alone, then. Much good may it do you! Much good it has ever done you!"

"There are many things from which I might have derived good, bywhich I have not profited, I dare say, Christmas among the rest. But I amsure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round-apart from the veneration due to its sacred origin, if anything belong' ingto it can be apart from that — as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitab1e, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of theyear, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-uphearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really werefellow-travellcrs to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound onother Journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"

The clerk in the tank involuntarily applauded.

"Let me hear another sound from you," said Scrooge, "and you'll keep your Christmas by losing your situation. You're quite a powerful speaker, sir," he added, turning to his nephew. "I wonder you don't go into Parliament."

"Don't be angry, uncle. Come! Dine with us tomorrow."

Scrooge said that he would see him — yes, indeed he did. He went the whole length of the expression, and said that he would see him 'in that extremity first.

"But why?" cried Scrooge's nephew. "Why

"Why did you get married?"

"Because I fell in love."

"Because you fell in love!" growled Scrooge, as if that were the only one thing in the world more ridiculous than a merry Christmas. "Good afternoon!"

"Nay, uncle, but you never came to see me before that happened. Why give it as a reason for not coming now?"

"Good afternoon."

"I want nothing from you; I ask nothing of you; why cannot we be friends?"

"Good afternoon."

"I am sorry, with all my heart, to find you so resolute. We have never had any quarrel, to which I have been a party. But I have made the trial in homage to Christmas, and I'll keep my Christmas humour to the last. So A Merry Christmas, uncle!"

Ghosts visit a miser during the holidays to teach him the errors of his ways.

Release Date: October 31, 1951
Release Time: 87 minutes

Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge
Kathleen Harrison as Mrs. Dilber
Mervyn Johns as Bob Cratchit
Hermione Baddeley as Mrs. Cratchit
Michael Hordern as Jacob Marley/Marley's Ghost
George Cole as Young Ebenezer Scrooge
Glyn Dearman as Tiny Tim
John Charlesworth as Peter Cratchit
Michael Dolan as The Ghost of Christmas Past
Francis de Wolff as The Ghost of Christmas Present
C. Konarski as Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
Rona Anderson as Alice (in the book: Belle)
Carol Marsh as Fan Scrooge
Jack Warner as Mr. Jorkin
Brian Worth as Fred
Olga Edwardes as Fred's wife
Miles Malleson as Old Joe
Ernest Thesiger as the Undertaker
Louise Hampton as Laundress
Roddy Hughes as Fezziwig
Hattie Jacques as Mrs. Fezziwig
Peter Bull as First Businessman, Narrator
Eliot Makeham as Mr. Snedrig
Hugh Dempster as Mr. Groper
Richard Pearson as Mr. Tupper
Patrick Macnee as the young Jacob Marley
Douglas Muir as Businessman
Clifford Mollison as Samuel Wilkins
Theresa Derrington as Fred's Maid
David Hannaford as Boy Buying Goose

Author Bio:
One of the grand masters of Victorian literature, Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812, in Landport, Portsea, England. He died in Kent on June 9, 1870. The second of eight children of a family continually plagued by debt, the young Dickens came to know not only hunger and privation,but also the horror of the infamous debtors' prison and the evils of child labor. A turn of fortune in the shape of a legacy brought release from the nightmare of prison and "slave" factories and afforded Dickens the opportunity of two years' formal schooling at Wellington House Academy. He worked as an attorney's clerk and newspaper reporter until his Sketches by Boz (1836) and The Pickwick Papers (1837) brought him the amazing and instant success that was to be his for the remainder of his life. In later years, the pressure of serial writing, editorial duties, lectures, and social commitments led to his separation from Catherine Hogarth after twenty-three years of marriage. It also hastened his death at the age of fifty-eight, when he was characteristically engaged in a multitude of work.