Thursday, December 20, 2018

Random Tales of Christmas 2018 Part 10

A Hometown Holiday by K Evan Coles
Life in a college town suits Josh Cassidy. He has good friends and neighbors, and the bookshop café he runs with his family is thriving. As the winter holidays begin, Josh finds himself enamored with police officer, Alex Curiel, an old friend who has recently moved back to town. The trouble is, Alex isn’t ready for the world to know he’s attracted to men.

At Alex’s request, Josh agrees to closet their relationship, but the secrecy quickly becomes a burden. When Josh realizes he is falling for Alex, he has more and more trouble denying his feelings. Soon, both men are forced to decide if hiding behind closed doors is the kind of future they’re looking for.

Josh Cassidy is happy and thriving in his college town family owned bookshop cafe and he has been out and proud since high school.  After reconnecting with old friend, Alex Curiel, a cop who recently returned he has potentially found love.  Unfortunately, Alex is not out and asks Josh to keep their new relationship quiet.  Will Josh be able to live in the relationship closet while he waits for Alex to come to terms with telling people or is there no hope this holiday?

Another absolutely lovely holiday novella that entertains.  One asks themselves just how many holiday romances can one person read?  I don't have an answer because I've been reading them now for a solid month and not tired of the holiday-spirit-filled pages yet.  As for A Hometown Holiday by K Evan Coles?  Holiday romantic yumminess from beginning to end that is an even blend of humor, drama, and romance.  I wouldn't call Hometown a rom-com because most of the humor comes between Josh and his sister that adds an extra layer of holiday cheer.

Keep in mind that as a forty-five year old woman in 2018 I am speaking as an ally and friend not personal experience.  Society has come a long way towards acceptance when it comes to loving who we want but there is still a ways to go and that is where Alex comes in.  I think what I loved most about K Evan Coles story is that it is more about Alex's fears of his family accepting him and not that he knows where the truth will lead.  When we think of holiday romances we don't often think of fear, we think of spirit, helping each other, and Tiny Tim saying "God Bless Us,  Everyone" but the truth is that fear is with a person every day and for some the holiday just magnifies that.  It is easy for me to say how I wanted to shake Alex and scream "Just come clean, the 'what ifs' are worse than the 'not knowings' you're not giving your loved ones enough credit" but that isn't how fear works.  The "what ifs" often outweigh the "not knowings" in our own hearts.

Following Josh and Alex's holiday relationship journey is an absolute treat that makes this holiday short novella a lesson in love, acceptance, and discovering that bit of happiness we all deserve.  Miss Coles is definitely well on her storytelling way and A Hometown Holiday is not only a must  read this holiday season but it is a definite must for anytime of year.


Pushing Phillip by Lynn Lorenz
Common Powers #4
Jobless, homeless and alone at Christmas—can his new friends keep him from running?

When the guys decide to spend Christmas together at the ranch, it’s going to be a time for catching up with each couple. Rush and Brian are hosting, Edward and Jack will be there and Mitchell and Sammi are coming in from Houston.

When Brian and Rush take Phillip, a newly outed gay man, under their wings, they discover he’s got a power. But this power is one that makes all of them uncomfortable, along with the young man himself as issues of trust arise.

Phillip finds himself jobless, homeless and alone for the holiday, and he’s run out of options. Just when he’s ready to move on, he finds new friends who are ready to give him a second chance at his dreams. Along with a second chance at love. 

Secret Santa by Clare London
Seb and Jamie argue over most things, even in the season of presumed good will. When a totally unsuitable “Secret Santa” present for each of them causes even more tension, the hostility threatens to ruin the pleasant Christmas meal they had planned with friends. But there are strange forces at work tonight and both of them seem to be acting out of character. They find they’re working together in the kitchen, sharing confidences, and admitting to feelings they never dared before – and cooking up something rather more exciting than food!

Also in the author's anthology "Boys in Season" and previously published by MLR and Eternal Press.

Clare London's Secret Santa is an absolute delight!  I don't know if I would tag it "holiday rom-com" because for much of this short there is quite a bit of anger, okay maybe not "anger" but certainly a lot of feisty stubbornness between Seb and Jamie.  Sometimes we need that last push to get everything off our chest so we can move forward and that is what Clare London has done with Secret Santa.  Clearing the air can be highly invigorating if we listen as well as telling.  Luckily for them(and for us) Seb and Jamie do listen and that is where the fun takes over😉😉.  Just like the author's Lucky Dip that I reviewed a couple of days ago, Secret Santa found its way on my kindle last Christmas but got lost in the shelves and I am so glad I went looking through my list because this is a definite winner.  Short on quantity but long on holiday packed quality that I would not have wanted to miss.


A Touch of a Brogue by Christine Danse
Eric Rossi isn’t a bad person. But he’s been talked into doing some pretty regrettable things by the man he thought he loved–like write a fake review of a pub he never stepped foot in for a food magazine that makes or breaks restaurants in Portland. He’s since dumped the boyfriend, but he can’t undo the review or the damage it’s done to the Irish Sisters and its passionate owner, Colm.

When Colm paid to have his family pub shipped from Ireland to Oregon, he put his savings, his heritage, and his sanity on the line. Now he gets so few customers, he notices each one. Especially the sweet, shy man who is dragged into the pub by his pink-haired niece. He calls himself Mark, and he is a chef’s dream, a man who completely enjoys everything Colm cooks. What Colm doesn’t know is that the man he’s falling for is the critic who’s almost cost him everything.

Eric didn’t mean to fall in love with the Irish Sisters or its blue-eyed, Irish-American owner. He definitely didn’t mean to lie about his identity. He’s already done enough damage, after all. Now he must make things right for the restaurant and disappear from Colm’s life before Colm learns the devastating truth, because the last thing Eric wants to do is destroy the chef’s heart, too.

Honey and Heat by Rian Durant
Linden has only one thing on his mind a few days away from Christmas—his pending university exams. That is, until he meets his neighbors’ son who has returned for the holidays. Brice Stevens is gorgeous, but he's insufferable.

It's Linden's first love, and he falls hard for Brice, despite Brice's occasionally aloof and cool behavior. It's an emotional ride for both of them while Linden takes a crash course in real love and Brice learns to trust in a relationship.

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Random Tales of Christmas 2018

Part 1  /  Part 2  /  Part 3  /  Part 4
Part 5  /  Part 6  /  Part 7  /  Part 8
Part 9

A Hometown Holiday by K Evan Coles
After work, Josh walked four blocks down Pleasant Street to Jamison’s Pub. He smiled as he imagined his sister’s knowing look, especially after he found Alex at the bar talking with Matt, who was pouring drinks for the after-work and -school crowd. Alex glanced up at Josh’s approach and his smile seemed to light the room.

“Hey, Josh.” Matt set his hands on the bar top. “Alex was just telling me that you’ve been making him listen to your old man music.”

Alex grimaced. “I never called it old man music.”

“No, I did,” Matt countered.

“And I said that I didn’t mind listening to it,” Alex said. “A roommate of mine in college liked jazz.”

“Then your roommate had crap taste in music, too.” Matt moved to pour a pint of Josh’s favorite ale. “Listen, man. Josh and I met on the first day of kindergarten. He’s always been a scrawny, ginger-headed fuckface who listens to oldies and worships the Rat Pack.”

Josh shrugged out of his coat and pulled up a stool. “Now you’re just making shit up. I didn’t start listening to jazz until middle school and I’ve never worshipped the Rat Pack. I’m not even scrawny anymore. It’s not my fault you can’t see past Coldplay and Radiohead. Both bands I like, by the way,” he said to Alex.

Matt made an exasperated sound. “And you wonder why you’re still single.”

“Some people like a little variety.” Josh accepted the pint Matt handed him with a smile. “And one of these days, the right man is going to figure out that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to the old man music. Now shut up and give me a menu, please, because I feel the urge to eat myself into a food coma.”

Matt slapped some menus down before he moved away to take another order, and Alex eyed Josh with a grin.

“The right man, huh?”

Josh smiled. “It could happen. Sorry I was late.”

“I should hope so. Matt started harassing me the minute I set foot in the door, and I’m so hungry I could eat my own hand.”

“Oh, shit.” Josh laughed. “Well, that’s easy enough to fix. How about we split an order of poutine? Would that make you happy?”

“Yes, it would.” Alex’s eyes gleamed. He loved the decadent combination of French fried potatoes, brown gravy, and cheese curds. “But I thought you weren’t a fan?”

“It’s growing on me. Besides, the look on your face every time you eat it makes up for the weird, funky cheese.”

“Okay then, poutine to start.” Alex laughed and ran a hand over his chin. “I sort of dig your music, you know, no matter what Matt says. It’s wild and beautiful.” He dropped the hand to his beer glass and brushed his knuckles against Josh’s. “Like you. You’re beautiful,” he murmured.

For a moment, Josh forgot where they were. He forgot that he and Alex were keeping a secret, and were far more than friends behind closed doors. His cheeks flushed, his heart beat a little faster, and he simply admired Alex’s handsome face.

“You’re the beautiful one,” he said, voice quiet.

They continued like that while they ate—flirting while pretending they were not, almost touching but never quite daring—and Josh’s desire burned hotter with every minute. After dinner, the short drive from the pub to Josh’s house seemed to take forever, and the front door had hardly closed behind them before they pounced on each other.

Pushing Phillip by Lynn Lorenz
Spring Lake, Texas
One week before Christmas
The irony wasn’t wasted on Phillip Mott that he worked at a car repair place but didn’t own a car. In fact, he didn’t even have a driver’s license.

Dressed in his work clothes—dark blue Dickies pants, light blue shirt with his name embroidered on the pocket—Phillip quickly limped the twenty steps from his tiny trailer to the back door of Smith’s Garage where he worked. His bad knee had bothered him last night and now the strain on it made him wince with each step.

He sorted out the keys to the place, found the right one and unlocked the door. After slipping inside, he punched in the code for the security system, flipped on the lights, then walked through the storeroom filled with metal shelves heavy with assorted parts, past the manager’s office, and to the front counter. He’d been the counter guy—official title—for nearly ten months.

Last year, after he’d climbed out of the big rig he’d hitched a ride on up on the interstate, he’d pulled up his hoodie and walked the few miles in the cold rain down the blacktop farm-to-market road into Spring Lake, looking for a place to land. As he’d made his way down the small town’s main street, the rain had turned to drizzle. He’d spotted the Help Wanted sign in the window of Smith’s Garage and had stepped inside looking mostly to get out of the rain, but he wouldn’t turn down a job.

The minimum wage job and the tiny trailer had fallen out of the sky like the drops of rain clinging to him, and into his lap with a little influencing on the shop manager to hire him. Nothing wrong with that, nothing illegal or dangerous, merely survival. Just a little push to get the owner to overlook Phillip’s lack of references while they shook hands. At eighteen, he’d decided his power’s boundaries weren’t his mother’s, and although he might have tested the limits, he’d stepped back from the cliff’s edge every time.

It wasn’t his dream job, but it’d do. ‘Beggars can’t be choosers’, his mom had always told him each time she’d asked him to use his power. What she’d really meant was he couldn’t be choosy. Don’t worry, Mom, I know exactly what you thought I’m worth—whatever I could get you, and the moment I stopped delivering you put me out.

At the front desk, he turned on the computer, then went to the waiting room and got a pot of coffee started for the customers who’d be rolling in at seven when they opened. He plugged in the sad, one-foot-tall plastic Christmas tree, hung with flashing multi-colored mini-lights, someone had bought a few years ago. It matched his lack of Christmas spirit—sad, short and blinking. That done, he headed to the first of three garage bays, unlocked the roll-up door, bent down to grab the handle and pushed the first one open with a grunt. The bay filled with the brisk morning air of December in central Texas. Better than the inferno of August in Texas with only a few industrial fans to cool the work areas. Thank God for the air conditioning in the office areas.

In fifteen minutes, the two mechanics would show up and his day would begin. The manager, Carl Flynn—the owner’s brother-in-law—would stroll in sometime around nine, go to his office, shut the door and only come out when needed, which wasn’t often, leaving Phillip to deal with whatever came up.

This quiet time, with no one around and only the smells of oil, metal, tires and stale sweat to keep him company, was the best part of his workday. “Christ,” he muttered. Fifteen good minutes out of nine hours. Six days a week. Fuck my life.

He moved to the next bay and opened it. As he gave it a hard pull—this one always stuck in cold weather—a voice called out and ran down his spine like nails on a chalk board. He jerked to the side, twisting his knee, and struggled to keep from wincing.

“Hey, P-dawg! How’s it swinging?” The voice boomed off the metal garage walls.


God, he hated the guy. Hated the douche nickname. Hated him with all the power of a thousand suns. Homophobic, racist, bigoted Jimmy was an asshole. He checked all Phillip’s bug-the-shit-outta-me boxes. He schooled his face as he turned to Jimmy while he punched his time card. Phillip might be a beggar, but he wasn’t stupid. He’d seen Jimmy in action before, and no way did he want to be on the receiving end of his crap. Jimmy was trouble, but for now, he was trouble that could be managed.

“Fine.” He got the last bay opened, brushed off his hands and headed back to the office. He couldn’t get away fast enough. Trying not to antagonize Jimmy, but not encourage him either, was a delicate balance. Most days, Phillip succeeded. Today?

It was first thing in the morning and Jimmy’s uniform was covered in grease. Fuck. Can’t the guy wear clean clothes at least more than once a week?

“I’ll get the keys from the slot and fill out the work orders.” Phillip closed the door behind him, glad to be out of the garage. Outside, three cars had been dropped off, and the keys, including a note with each owner’s name and their car’s problem, had been shoved through the mail slot in the front door.

After he unlocked it he picked up the keys and notes, careful not to mix them up, and went back to the counter to pull up the forms on the computer. He filled them out in order of ‘Jimmy’ and ‘Estaban’, depending on the work needed.

The door from the bays opened. He braced himself, but it was Estaban, their real mechanic. Phillip relaxed his shoulders as part of him eased and yet a part of him felt excited, something that had been growing stronger over the months. Every day he looked forward to seeing Estaban’s smiling face, so different from the sneer Jimmy greeted him with.

“Morning, Phil. Clocked in.” Estaban gave him a nod, the smile on his face reaching his eyes. So different from Jimmy’s dangerous, shit-eating grin.

“Hola, Estaban. Give me a minute to get this sorted out.” Phillip wished he didn’t call him Phil, but it was better than ‘P-dawg.’ And Estaban was a great guy, probably ten years older than Phillip, with dark brown eyes and thick, black hair, and a body built by hard work, not a gym. He was an incredible mechanic. A fucking genius with motors. There wasn’t a car he couldn’t diagnose and fix. He wore a fresh uniform every day, and no matter how dirty he got during the work day, in the morning his nails were clean. Phillip didn’t want to admit he noticed, but the guy even smelled good.

“What you got?” Phillip eyed the brown paper bag in Estaban’s hand.

“I brought you some pork tamales.” Estaban put the bag on the counter.

“For me?” Phillip grinned. “You didn’t have to go to any trouble.” He tried not to be foolishly flattered, but it was damn hard. After close to a year working with the guy, he couldn’t shake his growing attraction.

“Well, it was nada.” Estaban shrugged. “Right before Christmas, my family gets together and makes dozens of tamales. Pork, chicken, beef. It’s a tradition. I’ve got a refrigerator filled with them. Just thought you’d like some.” He gave the bag another push toward Phillip.

“Excellent! I love tamales. Thanks.” For a moment, Phillip stood there, grinning into Estaban’s smiling face. “Thanks for thinking of me.” Wow. Estaban brought them just for me? He picked up the bag and placed it behind the counter. “I’ll put them in the trailer’s fridge later. Looks like dinner tonight.”

“You just have to heat them in the microwave, you know.” Estaban looked all kinds of pleased as he rocked back on his heels, hands buried in his pockets. If Phillip wasn’t mistaken, a touch of pink colored Estaban’s cheeks, but that was probably due to the cold in the garage bays.

“Tell your family thanks. That’s a real nice tradition.”

“Yeah. A lot of Hispanic families do it at Christmas, at least here in Texas.” Estaban spoke without a trace of accent and for the first time, Phillip wondered if he’d been born here. Then he worried if Estaban might be in danger of being deported if he wasn’t. Despite him not knowing one way or the other, Phillip felt odd about the possibility.

“Thanks again.” Really? I need to just shut the fuck up. Master of witty banter I’m not.

“Great.” Estaban nodded, stepped away and leaned against the wall by the door.

“Good.” Could this be any more awkward? Phillip couldn’t take his gaze off Estaban even at the best of times. He forced himself to concentrate on the computer screen and figure out what work was up, but instead he let his mind wander to Estaban’s lips on his, his powerful hands on his skin, his tongue—

The door to the bays opened, breaking the spell, or at least waking Phillip up out of his daydream.

“What’s up first?” Jimmy came in, dragging a deep smell of sweat and grease with him. He leaned on the counter, leaving a smudge of black where his arm rested.

“Oil change. White Chevy truck.” Phillip handed him the keys. Jimmy did the oil changes, minor stuff like fuses, washer blades and tire changes. He wasn’t good for much more than a strong back, even though he acted like he owned the place.

“Got it.” He left and Phillip rolled his eyes. He picked up a rag and wiped away the grease spot.

Estaban snorted. “Now, what you got for me, Phil?”

Oh, I got something long and hard for you…

Phillip coughed, printed out a form, then handed it to Estaban. “The green Bronco? Says it’s running rough.” He shrugged. “Give it a test drive then open the hood, and work your mechanic magic. I’ll call the owner for approval when you figure it out.” He tossed the keys to Estaban, who spun and caught them behind his back.

“Goooaalll!” Estaban grinned. “Back in a few.”

The chime on the front door went off as a customer pushed through. Phillip had one more car to write up, but he paused to give the living person his attention.

“Merry Christmas! Can I help you?” He smiled as a pretty young woman came to the counter. He’d been lectured by the manager the garage was a Christian place of business, and to tell every customer “Merry Christmas” whether they wanted to hear it or not.

No “Happy Holidays” here, folks!

Hell. If they ever found out about his un-Christian activities, he’d put money down on their Christian reaction—goodbye job, goodbye trailer, goodbye Phillip.

“My tire’s flat. I got the spare on, but…” She shrugged and waved in the direction of the parking lot. Through the window, Phillip spotted a little shiny blue Kia.

“Got it. Do you want to wait or just leave it? It’ll be about thirty minutes before we can get to it.”

“Then how long will it take?” She cocked her head at him and batted her lashes. 

Barking up the wrong tree, honey. “Maybe another thirty.”

“That’s good. I’ll wait.” She flung her long brown hair over her shoulder. 

Oh, I recognize that move. “Great. Can you fill this out?” He shoved the form at her and handed her a pen, being sure to let their hands touch while he thought, Go sit down and leave me alone. She wrote her name, number and address, then pushed it back at him.

“I’ll just sit over here.” She pointed to the chairs.

“Help yourself to coffee, it’s fresh.”

Phillip didn’t bother watching her as she sauntered over to the coffee. Head down, he entered the information into the computer then got back to the car left from last night.

Just nine more hours until he was free. Until he could sit on a bar stool, have a beer, and, if he was lucky, meet someone who wanted a quick trip to the bathroom for a blow job.

He’d kill to go on his knees for Estaban. Sure, he might be the man of Phillip’s fantasies, but he wasn’t gay.

Beggars can’t be choosers.

Secret Santa by Clare London
It was like High Noon on the domestic front.

“Jamie, I know it was you.” Seb leaned over the counter in the middle of the small kitchen, one hand braced on the worktop, the other brandishing a wooden spoon. There were various pans and utensils scattered on the surface around him, but no evidence of any cooking. The only lingering aroma in the room was one of fruit punch and the hint of roasted coffee with a cinnamon twist. Certainly nothing to suggest the two men in the room were there to cook, rather than just glare at each other.

“Nonsense. It was you, and you’re just not man enough to admit to it,” Jamie snapped back from the other side of the counter. “You’re trying to shift the blame on to me.”

“Hey, I don’t play childish tricks like this-”

“Of course you do! All the bloody time.”

“And you don’t?”

“At least I own up-”

“When you’re caught out,” Seb growled.

Jamie shrugged. “Just admit it, Seb. It’s a stupid joke that’s missed its mark.”

“Says you, because you’re embarrassed I didn’t fall for it.”

“The hell I am! You were the one played all the practical jokes this Halloween. Remember the pumpkin head at the bathroom window? The blood smears on the milk bottle? The false teeth embedded in the butter?”

“That was different-”

“Why? Because it’s you?” Jamie hissed through clenched teeth. “Don’t deal it out if you can’t take it in return.”

“So this was your idea?”

“No way!” Jamie almost yelled.

Seb scowled, feeling his face twist. “This is fucking ridiculous. It must have been you.”

“If the cap fits…” Jamie was shaking his head.

Seb knew if he caught sight of himself in the polished fridge door, he’d see eyes dark with anger. His voice was too loud, too-it’d easily be overheard in the living room, even though the kitchen door was closed-but what the hell did he care? He’d never been accused of holding back his emotions. Everyone knew he spoke his mind, and forcefully. His long, dark hair flopped forward over his forehead but he was too distracted to push it back out of the way. He realised he was embracing this argument with some kind of glee, savouring the escalating bitterness.

Jamie glared back at him, just as angry and-more unusually-not backing down. He was blond and pale, not only a contrast physically to Seb’s more swarthy looks, but in temperament too. At least, he usually was. Right now his lips were pursed and his face flushed, and it looked like it was taking all his self-control to keep calm. He was much more cautious than Seb; he was so often the one to step away first, to change the subject. But not tonight. Seb could recognise anger similar to his, if nothing else. And at this very moment, Jamie was sorely tempted to let rip.

They were well matched when it came to arguing. After all, they’d had enough practice; they fought almost all the time. Not major, fists raised, wrestling kind of arguing, but a constant, bickering banter. If Seb ever stopped to think about it, he reckoned it was a kind of trademark for them. They disagreed about movies, about clothes, about cars, about celebrities. What one said, the other contradicted, sometimes just for the hell of it. That wasn’t to say they couldn’t get on. Sometimes, they discussed football games quite civilly and played Xbox together, and laughed at the same jokes. And what was even weirder, Seb called up Jamie most days on the phone-or Jamie messaged him online first-and they often talked for an hour or more about all kinds of stuff. But they still argued.

Yeah, very weird. Seb didn’t like to think about it any deeper than that, it confused him. And whatever fun they had when they were in truce mode, it was never very long before they were back to sniping. In the past, their friends had laughed off their habitual animosity, then attempted to mediate. They quickly learned it meant they got caught in the crossfire. Now they just stepped away from it.

Which was exactly what had happened tonight. The kitchen door was firmly closed behind Jamie, acting as a barrier between him and Seb and what was meant to have been a pleasant evening’s Christmas celebration with a group of good friends.

“You have to admit I’m justified,” Seb said to Jamie. “It wouldn’t be the first time you’d tried to convert me.”

“That’s rubbish,” Jamie replied, spiritedly. “Not any more. No sense, no feeling where you’re concerned. And on that basis, my suspicions are just as valid. You’ve mocked my lifestyle often enough in return.”

“Your lifestyle? That’s no more than a pale imitation-“

“-of the excessive and sordid life you lead?”

Seb glared at him, Jamie glared back. “But I didn’t buy it,” they both said, almost simultaneously, then fell into a confused silence.

“So…what’s going on here?” Seb lifted up the item in question, a brand new cookbook, its pages flapping as he swung it through the air like some kind of paper seagull. The cover of the book was illustrated in vibrant greens and yellows. “I mean, this really is a stupid joke.”

“Why the hell are you asking me?” Jamie’s cool demeanour was obviously slipping. “I’ve got the same problem, haven’t I?” He held a similar cookbook in his right hand, though this one had a different coloured cover, full of dark reds and browns. “No one’s admitting they got them for us. Both of them wrapped up under the tree in the same kind of paper, same unfamiliar, anonymous handwriting on the label, with nothing different between them except for our name.”

Seb stared at him. Was it true? Was Jamie as much in the dark as he was? “It’s Harry’s flat, Harry’s dinner invitation, Harry’s tree. So, can’t we assume…?”

Jamie laid his book down and leant back against the counter. “I don’t think so. Harry denied it very convincingly, and you know what a poor liar he is at the best of times. He kept up that pathetic charade about them being gifts from Secret Santa.”

“Yeah. He told me the same, with that suspicious smirk on his face.” Seb ran his hand through his hair, but it just flopped forward again. Hell, he’d given up a couple of party invites to come along this evening. Invitations to plenty of free drink and food and probably more than a few, no-strings-attached, young men who’d enjoy Seb’s brand of sexy humour. This kind of corny, present-giving evening was uncomfortable, not that he didn’t think his friends were great. Just… Christmas sucked at the best of times. Commercial greed, pseudo-religious ritual-that’s all it was. He couldn’t remember ever enjoying the festivities, at least not since he was a small kid and Mum had been around. It was a holiday to be struggled through. And he’d always somehow believed that Jamie felt the same way. Eventually, they’d have a good laugh about tonight, he was sure. Then he glanced back over at the other man, and remembered they were meant to be arguing.

Jamie looked so coolly sanctimonious in the face of Seb’s own outrage, all tight-lipped with disapproval, picking his words so bloody carefully, like he always did, even in the middle of all this crap. Lounging against the counter with that slender, athletic body of his, his long, strong legs crossed at the ankles and his arms folded firmly across his chest, pulling his shirt tight across well-developed pecs…

He’s cute. When had Seb started to notice that? When hadn’t he noticed it? The unbidden thought startled him at the same time as sending a gentle shiver through his body. He really should’ve gone to one of those parties instead. Now was not the time to recognise elements of the erotic-and bloody uncomfortable-dreams he’d been having over the last few months. He cleared his throat. “So what the hell is this Secret Santa thing?”

A Touch of a Brogue by Christine Danse
Chapter One
“‘The food aspires to be gourmet Irish but succeeds at neither being gourmet…nor authentically Irish?’”

Colm had been able to maintain calm till then, but his voice pitched with the last words. He gripped the magazine tighter.

“‘While the setting was evocative of a traditional pub, the food was not as sure of its identity, and the confused menu could not be saved by the tired gimmick of shipping a historic building overseas.’ Gimmick?” Colm’s voice rose an octave, and he didn’t care that Robin was here to witness. The establishment had been in his family for three generations. He’d shipped it to the Pacific Coast of the United States—at great expense—to preserve his heritage. A gimmick?

“No way,” Robin said.

He twisted the magazine in his hands and slammed it into the trash bin. It wasn’t even worth recycling.

Robin knelt and retrieved it. She flipped through the bent pages as if she wouldn’t believe the review herself until she saw. Colm could have told her not to bother. He’d just read the whole thing aloud to her. Although it did satisfy a small part of him to see her scanning through the article with an expression of disbelief on her face.

“Well, that’s just shit,” she said. “Did he even review the right restaurant? This is complete shit.”

Colm made a sound that wasn’t a laugh. He agreed with her. The review felt uncomfortably like a personal attack, but he didn’t recognize the critic’s name, and there was no author picture for him to check.

“What a butt-licking douchebag,” Robin said, and Colm almost laughed for real then. She stared at the byline. “Did I serve this asshole?”

Colm turned away. He was having trouble breathing, as if he’d been punched. In a sense, he had. He dropped onto the office chair, which nearly spun away before he’d landed.

“Oh, friend.” Robin draped her arms around his shoulders. He didn’t tell her off.

His reaction was stupid, of course. It was just a review. But it was the first professional critique he’d received, and it was in Portland Eats, the city’s premier food publication. The truth was it cut him unexpectedly deeply. He had poured himself and his money into the restaurant, sometimes working upwards of 100 hours a week, week after week, with an eye to details. The restaurant was supposed to be unique, a step above the rest. Of course he was upset. Understandably so.

Robin rubbed his arm in what was supposed to be a comforting manner.

“Don’t worry about it,” she said. “This idiot obviously doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It’s just one review. It doesn’t mean anything.”

But six months later, they were languishing.

It was only one review. Of course, it wouldn’t shut them down. But its words had acted as an ill omen.

Robin worked extra hard to keep him in good spirits and the restaurant afloat. She came up weekly with new schemes to draw business. Colm was discovering in her a near inexhaustible supply of optimism and a teeth-gnashing loyalty. He felt a little in awe of his luck in having her, although he suspected her to be motivated largely by a sense of self-preservation, considering she now called the restaurant home.

Colm had found her less than a year before, huddled in the doorway off the alley. The restaurant had only been open for a few months then, and he’d only just finished moving his things into the small apartment above the restaurant. It still gave him an odd sense of displacement, seeing and smelling this building from his childhood. Home, but here in Oregon.

It’d been the coldest March Colm could remember. It’d already snowed twice that month, and a frozen mix was expected again that night. Colm opened the door to take a bag of garbage out to the dumpster and nearly tripped over the small form bundled in the deep doorway. For an instant, he thought someone had left a heap of trash, topped with a blanket, on his doorstep. Then the heap moved, head tilting back to reveal a pale face and eyes blinking in the sudden light. Young. She looked so young, and clean, and fragile. He didn’t think she’d last the night.

So, of course, he wasn’t able to leave her there.

Robin was her name, and she came with a cat. Or rather, the cat arrived the next night, taking her place in the shelter of the doorway. It ran in as soon as he opened the door. Unlike Robin, who’d given him a long, measuring Are you a creep? look.

He must have passed her scrutiny, because she came in after several minutes. She was taller than he expected, although she sloped her shoulders in an unconscious defensive posture. He gave her the spare room in the apartment. On the second night—the night the cat arrived—he woke to find her in his room. Woken, and nearly died of a heart attack to find her standing over him. She’d been gathering her courage to pay him back for his hospitality with the only currency she thought she had, until he wheezily corrected her misconception.

No. And no. And in any case, no.

The episode shocked him, and he sat up, feeling violated and unclean, into the bleak hours of morning. When he finally clomped downstairs, he found her in the restaurant, dressed sharply and with hair pulled into a glossy bun. He hadn’t asked her to work. He still hadn’t decided if he wanted to let her stay. After the night before, it seemed like a bad idea.

“I can do an Irish accent,” she said in the worst attempt at a brogue he’d ever heard. He grimaced and said, “No.”

But only to the accent. He assigned her to bus the tables.

As if by some magic, the suspicion burned away from her, reservation replaced with bubbling chatter. She had no mute feature. The customers loved her.

Although Robin never gave him a full account, she shared her story in pieces. Colm put them together. Before taking up in his doorway, Robin had been nearing the end of her accounting program when her parents kicked her out of the house. Not that it was for him to judge, but she didn’t strike him as the kind of kid you kicked out. Sober, honest to a fault, hardworking. Colm had his suspicions, but he never pushed her for the circumstances behind the dispute with her family.

She refused a wage, at first. “You’re putting me up. Feeding me. That’s enough.” But he insisted. She would need money to finish school. To pay for clothes, a cell phone. And she could use the work history on her resume.

Soon, she began preparing his books for him. That was another surprise. He found her in his office and was outraged at first, because she’d previously offered, and he’d declined her help. But before he could say a thing, she showed him the work she’d done already. The numbers embarrassed him into silence. She may have very well saved the restaurant from tanking in its first months.

Then the review had been printed in Portland Eats, and they began sliding closer and closer to a pit they would not be able to climb out of.

And so Robin worked madly alongside Colm to save the restaurant. Fact was Colm had miscalculated. Badly. He shouldn’t have opened his restaurant three blocks from an existing pub, the Crooked Kilt. He’d thought he’d done his research, though. The other establishment was more of a standard American brewpub serving burgers with Gaelic names and hosting folk acoustic bands of the contemporary American type. Colm’s own Irish Sisters served a large selection of beers from the British Isles and a full menu of traditional Irish fare. Granted, with a modern twist. And they worked hard to book a lineup of Celtic music acts. There really shouldn’t have been any competition. In Portland, it was standard for brewpubs to operate next to each other, all doing good business.

Colm worried. Robin continued to host trivia nights and Celtic karaoke. They held on. The review in Portland Eats faded into bad memory. And, little by little, the restaurant started to pick up.

Then the poor Internet reviews started to pour in.

Colm had a habit of checking the review sites. Yelp. Trip Adviser. Google. Not the healthiest behavior, but he restricted his checks to once weekly and told himself it was good business to be aware of what the reviews said. And that Sunday, they said the restaurant was dark and dirty, with poor quality food and bad service. Colm framed his face in his hands and stared at the computer screen. It was like the article in Portland Eats all over.

Later, Robin caught him checking the reviews on his phone. She took it from him.

“Don’t worry about them. They don’t mean anything.”

Within a week, business was flagging again.

“I’ve got an idea,” Robin said, arriving unannounced in his office.

The cat had taken a perch on Colm’s desk. He’d been petting its back. Now he and the cat looked at her.

“We’re going to throw an Irish Christmas extravaganza.”

Colm quietly placed his forehead against the desk.

Honey and Heat by Rian Durant
Chapter One
“Hey, Lin, are you coming with us to grab some pizza and look at the notes for tomorrow?”

Linden raised his gaze from the phone after checking the three new messages received in the past few hours and spoke with an absent-minded smile.

“Sorry, what did you say?”

The green-eyed boy walking next to him nudged him in the ribs and started chanting, “Linden has a boyfriend, Linden has a boyfriend!”

“Jeez, Rob, grow up. I don’t have anything like this. It’s for the stuff I made yesterday.”

He pushed his phone under Rob’s nose before shoving it in the pocket of his switcher. He put on his new knit cap he loved to pieces not only because it was an early Christmas present from Auntie Jane, but also because it was unique. He liked the way the colors contrasted with his black hair and doubted if he’d take it off earlier than March.

The snow that had fallen during the night was in patches, mostly white where people and cars hadn’t trampled it yet and mostly nonexistent on the street although it was still cold. The chill wind was another reason he loved his cap, as it made him so warm.

“Sweet heavens, you’re merciless! Have you any idea how sweet you look with that thing on you? You’re just asking for it, you know.”

Linden turned to Jerry who had joined them out of nowhere and narrowed his eyes.

“Don’t say that. It isn’t remotely funny, Jer. Nobody asks for it.”

“Please don’t start him on the topic,” said Rob as he rolled his eyes. “I’m too exhausted and terribly hungry to listen about non-con, global warming, or discrimination. Which reminds me, Lin… you didn’t answer my question.”

“I told you it’s not a boyfriend.”

Rob laughed aloud and reached out to pinch Linden’s cheek, but he pulled back all too quickly.

“I know you don’t have one, gorgeous, despite my desperate attempts to become such, but this was not what I asked you in the first place.”

Linden knitted his eyebrows. It was true he wasn’t the most focused person in existence. With his mind full of fresh ideas for quilling cards and plans for the social activities plus the sword of the upcoming exam swaying over their heads, there was little place left for anything. After giving it a brief thought, though, Rob’s growling stomach helped him recall the question.

“Oh, the pizza, yes! No, actually, I’m not coming today—I promised Auntie Jane I’d buy some stuff from the supermarket and get back on time so she can cook for the ladies coming to play bridge tonight.”

Jerry nodded and there was a hint of reproach in his hungry hazel eyes. Hungry for food, sex, and adrenaline rushes of all kinds. He was two years older than them but still in his first year because… well, life. Because he had many things to do before adjusting to the tracks, he said. Linden doubted he ever would.

“You really think you can fix the world, little one? When do you get to live if you help the grannies now?”

“Jer, please, you’re turning him on.”

“I’ll be damned if this is not the thing I long to do, Robbie.” He rubbed his hands and licked his lips, both as unambiguously as possible.

“No, I wasn’t referring to that on-turning. Look at him! He’s going to start quoting the constitution in a minute.”

“Ha ha ha! You’re so funny!”

Linden looked at them and pouted. They weren’t doing it with bad intention and despite the occasional joke, they’d agreed what he did was important. They were just not so keen on wasting the time they had to relax or go on a date for charity or anything like that. He had to face it—people his age had very different stuff to worry about most of the time. Robbie had come with him once or twice to the social kitchen, but Linden still had his doubts the boy’s motives were clear all the way. He looked at his watch. “Have to go now. See you tomorrow.”

“Oh, come on, sweet thing, come with us! They have a wonderful vegan pizza in there. I’m sure you’ll lick the last of it off your fingers.”

Jerry’s hazel stare tried to pull him in, but Linden was not the boy to fall easily for a pair of shining eyes or a body right out of a magazine cover. It was obvious rock climbing and swimming were doing miracles. However, there was something else he was sure about, so he crossed his arms on his chest and looked at him with an air of seriousness.

“First of all, Jer, I’m vegetarian, not vegan. Second, if you think your pizza can match the scones of Auntie Jane, you’re mistaken. And third, you two can go ahead and have all the pizza you like, then spread some cheese on each other and lick it off to cool down a bit so you don’t act like billy goats in heat when I come to school tomorrow.”

Both laughed so loud that the few people, who were deeply interested in the performance of a singing Santa Claus in front of a music shop, turned to look at them.

“’K then,” said Jerry, “we’re letting you go but can’t promise anything about tomorrow.”

“Mmhmm,” said Linden, distracted by another message. “Have fun guys!”

He stopped the jitney coming their way and hopped on it, greeting the driver. He sat by the window since the journey would take him about twenty minutes, granted that the gods of traffic were benevolent today. He wondered whether to reply to some of the messages in his 10fingers account or listen to music but decided on the latter. It was easier to write on his computer and most of the pictures he had were there. He scrolled up and down the playlists and finally chose one of the songs, abandoning himself to the melody and the words he didn’t know the meaning of. The familiar buildings and parks on the route back to the quarter he lived in chased each other outside. It was far from the university, but not as far as the first hellhole he could afford when he’d first come to Varna. That one was a run-down place an hour away from the university, and his neighbors—(apart from looking suspicious)—were so noisy that he was forced to spend half of his nights in the city library. It was open at night, so after sleeping through the afternoon hours, he would grab a sandwich and stay until four or five, then get back for some sleep.

It was exciting at times until it became tiring, and then Rob had stepped in after seeing the dark circles under his eyes. He didn’t leave him alone until he confessed his midnight escapades. Rob gave him a good talking to and ordered him to move into his place immediately. He was hesitant at first but then accepted the deal, and that’s when he could finally sleep properly, study in the comfort of his couch, and find a job to save some money. He had a good time with Rob, who was easy to live with. He was also reasonable enough, and when he showed signs of being up for something more than friendship, Linden managed to knock some sense into him. Only the occasional flirty remark remained between them. A few months later, Robbie fell for one of the basketball players from another university and all his reasonability evaporated. Linden couldn’t persuade him the guy was not the best match he could hope for. When the presence of the other became constant, much like his jealousy, it was time to find a place of his own.

The train of thought accompanied him all the way until the jitney arrived in his quarter. He took off his headphones and shoved the phone back in his pocket before getting off at the stop. It was the end of December and it was still chilly despite the sun being up, and he, and he was happy he was not going to freeze or fall on his ass. He never failed to do it every winter. One icy day sufficed for him to be involved in a hilarious pirouette and a hard fall. He just hoped it wasn’t going to be in some public place like last year at the Weihnachtsmarkt. Everybody thought he was dead drunk on mulled wine. He chuckled at the memory, and then turned the corner to get to the shops. He began reciting in his mind what he had to buy. Naturally, he’d forgotten some of the stuff, so he gave up and took out the piece of paper he’d written everything on and entered the big supermarket.

About half an hour later, he arrived at his apartment block and stopped a moment to catch his breath. The bags he carried were heavy, and after a ten-minute walk they felt like they weighed a ton. He didn’t want Auntie Jane to see him with his tongue hanging out as that would’ve made her feel guilty, so he stood in front of the elevator before heading up to the seventh floor. He opened the door somehow and managed to reach the bell push, almost knocking one of the big packets down.

“There you are, sonny, I got a little worried about you.” Auntie Jane gave him a big smile. “Get in, those packages must be heavy.”

“Not much,” he replied, “But I’d love to put them down.”

He followed her and left them on the kitchen table, then brushed his hands and smiled at the little lady in front of him. Auntie Jane was not his aunt, not by blood, but she was closer to him than his immediate family. When he’d moved into the apartment he currently lived in, she was the only one who came to greet him. He still remembered her with the little basket of sweet smelling ginger cookies and a smile brighter than the sun. He was in a terrible mood that day, which happened to him so rarely it was remarkable. The previous night he’d gotten into a fight with Robbie in his final attempt to make him understand what he’d signed up for with the basketball guy. Then the people from the moving company broke a box he was particularly fond of, and on top of that he’d found out about the lack of curtains so he had to go and buy some, otherwise the people across the block were in for quite a show in the evening. And then she came like a fairy godmother with her cookies, a big smile, and a bigger heart. After ten minutes’ conversation she offered him “some old curtains I’ve sewn when I was a young lady” and he’d come into possession of the most beautiful embroidered curtains he’d ever seen. The guys from IKEA would just lie down and die of sheer envy if they ever caught a glimpse of them.

“You seem happy today,” said Jane, glancing at him while taking out the flour and sugar. “Maybe something new on the love front?”

She chuckled and he rolled his eyes, smiling back at her. One more thing that made her even more closely resemble the role of godmother was the sweet way she always found to ask him about this sensitive topic.

“Nope. You know me, Auntie Jane, I’m fine on my own.”

She gave him a wise look and shook her head. “You young people today like so much to be independent that you forget real freedom comes with real love.”

Linden was ready to agree with her if the topic of real love wasn’t somewhat problematic for him. He’d fancied some guys back home, and he been kissed a few times while playing spin the bottle at school—something he liked maybe too much. There was one guy in particular who gave him butterflies in his stomach, but he was as straight as they came, and the town Linden grew up in was not one in which to freely wave your flag. Nevertheless, even then he knew that it wasn’t real love. Sometimes he doubted if it existed, but something inside him obstinately insisted that it did.

“You’re probably right, and I just haven’t found the one for me.” He waved and went on, “Do you want me to help you with the cooking for the nice ladies?”

“I’d be delighted, but I’m sure that you have other things to do rather than staying with an old lady.” She looked at the calendar and noted solemnly, “You have an exam in three days.”

Linden turned around and his eyes widened when he saw the calendar on the wall. He hadn’t noticed it by now as he hadn’t come in the kitchen the last few days, but there were circles around some days and only one look was enough to recognize them as the dates of his own exams. Auntie Jane wiped off her hands and before he could speak, she started.

“I called the university to ask for the exam dates. You are a responsible kid but I have to keep my eye on you”—she gave him a plastic box and continued— “and make sure you don’t stay hungry in the meantime. Here’s something for you for dinner as the rest will be meat pie.”

“You didn’t have to…”

“Oh, come on. You have to put some meat on these bones.”

A jolly male voice came from the open door, “Hon, you sound like that witch from that tale. He’s gonna think you want to cook him up for Christmas. Leave the boy alone, he’s fine.”

The man walked into the room, his cheeks rosy from the cold outside, and left another bag on the table. He was quite tall and really good looking for a man in his sixties. Just like his wife, he had a witty remark or wise advice ready at all times. He used to be a sea captain and had a passion for ships in a bottle. Linden had ordered a set to create one and hoped that it’d come in time for him to get the hang of building it.

“G’day, sonny.”

“Good afternoon, Captain!”

He saluted him and the old man winked, then went to Jane and placed a kiss on her cheek. She giggled like a young girl, reminding Linden again why both of them could talk about real love so easily.

“You’re going to join me for a glass of rum, first mate?”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Stevens, but you know I don’t really drink.”

The old man rubbed his chin and sighed deeply. “I don’t get it.”

Linden felt awkward, although he didn’t have to explain this for a first time. The common perception was that being his age equaled lots of drinking, flirting, and generally irresponsible behavior. Especially for a pretty boy his age, he was told, although he didn’t find himself pretty—just pretty ordinary. He opened his mouth, but Mr. Stevens stopped him with a smile in his warm eyes.

“Why is she Auntie Jane and I’m still Mr. Stevens?”

At first his eyes grew wide and then he laughed, feeling the blush on his cheeks.

“I can’t explain it. I guess it’s because of the profound respect I have for you. You are so wise and full of energy and you never shout at anyone. Besides, I know about the charity work you are doing and…”

Mr. Stevens moved closer and ruffled Linden’s hair.

“Stop it, or I’ll start crying like the senile old man I am. Thank you, sonny—you are quite special yourself.”

Linden was just about to reply that it was his pleasure when Auntie Jane walked in again, and even though she put the smile on her face quickly enough, he noticed something was off. She exchanged a look with her husband and then ordered, “Out now—there’s no place for men in my kitchen when I do my magic.”

Mr. Stevens held back a sigh. “Very well then. If we don’t drink, Linden and I could play a game of chess.”

Linden nodded and followed the old captain into the living room. It was always clean and orderly. Everything was in its place, and there wasn’t too much stuff like he usually associated with the homes of old people he remembered from when he was little. He waited for Mr. Stevens to arrange the board and knowing he was due for another defeat, he didn’t mind.

“Thank you for making my wife happy, Linden.”

The old man rarely called him by his name, and together with the serious tone, it was a sign of trouble. It wasn’t out of pure curiosity but rather out of concern for the people who showed him so much kindness and taught him a lot of stuff without even realizing, he asked, “Is there something wrong?”

Mr. Stevens let go the sigh he’d hidden a while back and sunk in the armchair. He took out his pipe and a pouch filled with tobacco, the smoke of which was deep and mild, nothing like the stinky cigarettes Linden’s fellow students smoked. Mr. Stevens stuffed the pipe and lit it up. His eyes drifted away for a moment and after taking a whiff of the pipe, he replied, “It’s our child. She went to call him and he’s probably told her he’s not coming back for Christmas again.”


He didn’t know what to say. Auntie Jane had mentioned her son a few times but didn’t talk about him much. He was a stockbroker who worked for a big international company and was too busy to come and see his old folks for the holidays. With her usual humor, she’d said that she’d never forgive him if he got married without calling them first, but as far as she knew no such plans existed for now. At first Linden thought the reason they didn’t talk much was because they’d grown distant with time, but on one occasion she didn’t manage to cover the sadness in her voice, and then he realized it was painful for her.

“The problem is he promised to do it this year, but apparently something popped up as always.”

“Why don’t you go see him then?”

Mr. Stevens nodded and pushed the board, encouraging him to start with the game. Linden moved a pawn, not really concentrating on the move because it was useless anyway.

“We went two years ago. He reserved us a room at this big fancy hotel and spared about two hours of his time for the whole week. I’m telling ya, my son should have gotten spanked more when he was little.”

Linden had never approved of spanking and any physical methods of upbringing, but this time he was ready to agree with Mr. Stevens. He could even get a stick and spank that man, although he wasn’t little anymore. He couldn’t imagine how it was possible to have such parents and not give them enough attention. While he was lost in his thoughts, the old man had made his move as well.

“Your turn,” he reminded him and puffed some smoke. “Choose wisely.”

Linden sighed deeply and in a theatrical gesture rubbed his nonexistent beard, making Mr. Stevens smile. He was glad about it and later, after the game was over and two of the ladies arrived, he bid his farewell to him and Auntie Jane.

There were quite a lot of things he preferred to do rather than study, but since the exam was only three days away, he didn’t have much of a choice. He picked one of the heavy books from the shelf and some sticky notes and hurled them on his bed.

“But first, coffee,” he mumbled and headed for the kitchen.

He had a long night ahead of him, even if he didn’t distract himself with fun stuff. If he dared to do it, it was going to be much longer.

K Evan Coles
K. Evan Coles is a mother and tech pirate by day and a writer by night. She is a dreamer who, with a little hard work and a lot of good coffee, coaxes words out of her head and onto paper.

K. lives in the northeast United States, where she complains bitterly about the winters, but truly loves the region and its diverse, tenacious and deceptively compassionate people. You’ll usually find K. nerding out over books, movies and television with friends and family. She’s especially proud to be raising her son as part of a new generation of unabashed geeks.

K.’s books explore LGBTQ+ romance in contemporary settings.

Lynn Lorenz
Lynn Lorenz is an award-winning and bestselling author who grew up in New Orleans but currently lives in Texas, where she’s a fan of all things Texan, like Longhorns, big hair and cowboys in tight jeans. She’s never met a comma she didn’t like and enjoys editing and brainstorming with other writers. Lynn spends most of her time writing about hot sex with even hotter heroes, plot twists, werewolves and medieval swashbucklers. She’s currently at work on her latest book, making herself giggle and blush and avoiding all the housework.

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!

Christine Danse
Christine lives with her writing partner in the wilds of urban Oregon, where they raise weeds, worms, and eyebrows.

Rian Durant
Rian is one of those who are both blessed and cursed by the insatiable desire to write. Short stories, sometimes longer stories and yeah, primarily M/M (you can insert more Ms if you like) romance stories.

Always having a plot in mind sometimes proves being hard when having a day time job but Rian manages them both for the time being, assisted by the
priceless support of her soul mate, large amounts of coffee and pure obstinacy.

What makes Rian smile is a sunny day, a beautiful flower, a piece of chocolate, a nice song, a good book and anything that could be the reason for that spark in the eyes, accompanied by the exclamation: “Oh my, I just saw something!”

K Evan Coles

Lynn Lorenz

Clare London

Christine Danse

Rian Durant

A Hometown Holiday by K Evan Coles

Pushing Phillip by Lynn Lorenz

Secret Santa by Clare London

A Touch of a Brogue by Christine Danse

Honey and Heat by Rian Durant