Home for the Holidays – Featuring authors SJ Himes || Jenna Kendrick || Heather C. Leigh || Liv Rancourt || Felice Stevens
BLURB: Home can be a person as well as a place. Everyone deserves a home for the holidays, as the stories in this collection affirm.
Proceeds from Home for the Holidays are being donated to the Ali Forney Center in New York City to help homeless LGBTQ youth.
Release Date: November 29, 2015
BLURB The Eighth Night by Jenna Kendrick: Going home for the holiday only to find his parents have made other plans, Kai Meyers is thrilled to reunite with an old friend. Disowned by his religious family, Ari Fisher is used to being treated like a boy toy rather than a boyfriend, and now he only has eight days to reveal his secrets to Kai.
EXCERPT: The last thing Ari saw as the lights went out and the elevator jolted to a stop was Kai stumbling forward. Ari started to move closer to help him up, but his foot bumped into a piece of fruit or something, so he pulled back. Kelev barked, clearly upset by the chaos, while Kai called to the dog to make sure he was okay.
Ari, felt something sniffing at his pants leg. “Kelev, c’mere boy. Good boy.” He bent over to scratch his head. He was happy to see the dog was still alive; he had to be going on twelve or thirteen by now.
“You know Kelev? Well, obviously. I suppose you know my parents, then.”
Ari chuckled. “You could say that. But I know you even better. Well, I used to.” Apparently the dog remembered Ari better than his owner. He wished he could get a look at Kai’s face as he connected the dots. When he’d first spotted Kai in the corner, he’d been relieved to see the guy was too weighed down with Kelev and a metric crap-ton of grocery bags to notice him. He’d known there was always the chance of running into Kai. Ari might have even hoped for it subconsciously. Otherwise, he could have avoided the possibility by insisting Prescott and Thomas meet him at a hotel, as he did with some of his other clients.
“Wait a minute… Ari?”
“Long time, no see, Kai.”
“I can’t see you now, either.” Kai’s voice had matured over the past eight years, familiar and new at the same time. “Sorry, I was in my own world and didn’t notice you before the lights went out.”
“Hope you’re not still afraid of the dark.” Ari remembered them leaving a lamp on when they had sleepovers, but only until they’d hit middle school.
“Probably a hard sell after screaming like a teenage girl, but no, not generally.” Kai must’ve set the rest of the groceries down because Ari heard bags rustling and felt a can roll into the side of his shoe. “I don’t suppose you want to join me here on the floor. I’d try to get up, but I have a feeling I’d wind up tripping over an avocado and inadvertently turning it into guacamole.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jenna Kendrick writes male/male new adult and contemporary romance, her favorite genre to read. She lives in Upstate New York, where she spends the better part of the year trying to stay warm and dry. When she’s not writing, she reads, watches The Princess Bride and The Avengers far too often, spends time with her husband and friends, and drinks more coffee and tea than she’d care to admit. She shares her home office with her dog, Tally, and her cats, Loki and Tamiris.
Jenna spent most of her class time in high school writing bad poetry and short stories in which her teachers were the villains. She began writing in earnest in college, putting it aside for a few years to work as a teacher and product manager for several online services. In addition to writing fiction, Jenna also writes nonfiction technical books under another name.
BLURB 24-Hour Hold by Heather C. Leigh: Detectives Damon Porter and Anderson Malloy are now partners at Denver’s Major Case Unit. The problem is, they used to be boyfriends, and now they’re feeling anything but friendly towards each other.
EXCERPT: “Still drinking enough coffee each day to keep Seattle’s coffee houses running for a year?” I ask, leaning back on the counter while Damon turns on the tap, rinsing his hands and attempting to wipe off the spill on his shirt with a wet paper towel.
He scowls, his dark brown eyes locking on mine. “Fuck you, Anderson.” Thoroughly annoyed with me, I watch, fascinated, as my ex-lover’s hands clench into tight fists. Damon tosses the used paper towel into the garbage can before whirling back around in my direction. His mouth opens, no doubt to tell me off, then snaps back shut.
My eyes drop to that full, red mouth—a mouth I’ve tasted hundreds, maybe thousands of times before—and molten heat spreads out from my groin.
I’m in the middle of imagining a detailed scenario that involves kneeling down on the hideous linoleum of the kitchenette and yanking down his perfectly pressed dress pants to suck on his cock when I realize he’s gone.
It takes me a few minutes, but I finally find Damon in the conference room, quietly stewing while he sets up his laptop. He has the files open on the table.
“So,” I close the door behind me and his head of brown hair twitches as he ignores me. “Show me what you’ve got.” I drop into the swivel chair closest to him and snap my gum while spinning back and forth.
“Do you mind not doing that?” Porter scowls and turns away, fiddling with his computer. Fascinated, I watch the muscles of his back tense up under his starched button-down.
“Doing what?” I ask innocently, popping the gum again. Nothing turns me on more than riling up Damon Porter. Watching him go from cool and collected to hot and bothered makes my dick hard.
“Listen, D. I—”
The beautiful man beside me jerks around, practically snarling in my face. “Don’t. Call. Me. That.”
“Whoa!” I hold my hands up defensively, noting the way his hands are fisted at his sides. “Calm down, Porter.”
“Jesus, Porter. Hold a grudge much?”
His eyes close and I recognize the way his entire body shudders. Damon Porter is close to losing his carefully crafted control.
“Sorry,” I mumble. “I didn’t expect this,” I motion between the two of us, “to be so uncomfortable.”
Those big brown eyes of his pop open, dark lashes fluttering wide as my words sink in. “Wait,” he says. “You knew I worked here?” Oops. I can practically see his sharp mind working to quickly put the pieces together. “Did you… Did you come to Denver, to this department specifically, knowing you would be working with me?”
My skin heats up from his dead-on conclusion. Damon leans close, the familiar scent of his aftershave hitting me hard. “What’s your game, Anderson?”
I can feel the heat coming off of him, even through the multiple layers of both his perfect white dress shirt and my rumpled old blue one. My throat is tight and I have to work to swallow in order to speak. “I don’t have a game. I moved back to Denver, applied for a job, they assigned me to your department. It’s temporary, so don’t get your starched boxers in a bunch.”
It’s the truth. Stretched, but the truth nonetheless.
Damon’s molten brown eyes narrow, his nostrils flare in anger. When he speaks, the formal, uptight man I know does the unthinkable. He cracks a joke.
“Still chewing that shitty gum, huh?”
I swallow again when his gaze drops to my mouth. Desire rushes through me, sending blood pulsing to my groin. “Yeah.”
He nods, as if confirming some thought in his own head, before turning to face his laptop. His professional façade slams into place like a thick steel door. With one long, elegant finger, Damon points at the files in front of me. “I guess you’ll have to start at the beginning. You read the reports and familiarize yourself with the cases, I’ll continue trying to find a link between the robberies.”
“Sure, D. Whatever you say.”
Porter’s mouth twitches, but he doesn’t correct me for calling him D. That little victory gives me enough confidence to grin, snapping my gum as I pull open the first file.
If I can just get past the four hundred fifty-three other layers of protection my ex has put up to keep me out, I’m golden.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Heather C. Leigh is the author of the Amazon bestselling Famous series. She likes to write about the ‘dark’ side of fame. The part that the public doesn’t get to see, how difficult it is to live in a fishbowl and how that affects relationships.
Heather was born and raised in New England and currently lives outside Atlanta, GA with her husband, 2 kids, and French Bulldog, Shelby.
She loves the Red Sox, the Patriots, and anything chocolate (but not white chocolate, everyone knows it’s not real chocolate so it doesn’t count) and has left explicit instructions in her will to have her ashes snuck into Fenway Park and sneakily sprinkled all over while her family enjoys beer, hot dogs, and a wicked good time.
BLURB Learning to Love by Felice Stevens: Returning home for the holiday, caterer Gideon Marks tried hard to push away his high school crush. But Rabbi Jonah Fine wouldn’t let him run again, or keep the secret Gideon’s tried so desperately to hide.
EXCERPT: The bells above the shop tinkled and Sean glanced over my shoulder.
“I’m sorry, sir but we’re closed.”
“I’m not here to buy anything, I came to talk to Gideon.”
I spun around to face Jonah. “I’ve got nothing to say to you.” I walked behind the register, putting the expanse of the counter between us. Jonah had changed from this morning and now wore a heavy sweater, corduroy pants and a black leather motorcycle jacket. He looked tired, windblown and utterly desirable. Despite my words, I couldn’t tear my gaze away from his face.
Ten years away hadn’t changed the irrevocable fact that I still wanted Jonah, now more than ever. There were some people who got under your skin and no matter what you did to erase them from your mind and heart, they remained, clinging to your soul.
“Gideon, please.” He darted a quick look at Sean who’d apparently forgotten about his hot date and was intent on having a ringside seat to my sex life. “Can we please go somewhere and talk?”
“Go ahead, boss. I’ll close up.”
Rico leaned against the doorway, his dark eyes fixated on Jonah. I knew my obvious attraction wouldn’t bother Rico; we hadn’t been together in years. The deep friendship and mutual respect between us was rock solid.
Jonah hadn’t taken his eyes off of me, his face an unreadable mask. If I said nothing, I could let him think Rico and I were lovers and he would no doubt leave me alone.
“Gid, go on, man. Give the guy a break.”
Rico’s urging broke me out of my deep thoughts. “Okay,” I said begrudgingly. “Let me get my jacket and I’ll be right back.”
I hurried to my office, pulled on my jacket and shoved the contracts Rico had worked on earlier into my backpack. By the time I’d returned, Sean had finally left and Rico and Jonah were discussing the demise of the kosher deli in New York City.
“Have a good one, guys.” Rico shook Jonah’s hand and gave me a swift hug. “Don’t fuck it up man.” His breath tickled my ear. “I got a feeling this one’s for real.”
I pushed him away, giving him a funny smile and a shake of my head. “See you tomorrow. We need to plan the wait-staff for the party and then go through the other orders. Plus I need to contact some of the people I met last night, who said they wanted to maybe hire us for their small dinner parties.”
“Will you get out of here already and stop talking business?” Rico shoved me toward Jonah. “Take him and feed him so he’ll shut up.”
Jonah held the door for me and side by side we walked down the block. Christmas lights had already gone up on the lampposts and in store windows and happy people walked with bright red and green shopping bags stuffed with their purchases. The entire city was seized with holiday cheer, yet all I felt was depressed.
“Have you eaten dinner?”
We stopped at a corner waiting for the traffic light to change. “No, but it’s Saturday night. Why aren’t you out on a date or something?”
Jonah’s sweet smile disarmed me. “Um, I thought I was.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Felice Stevens has always been a romantic at heart. While life is tough, she believes there is a happy ending for everyone. She started reading traditional historical romances as a teenager, then life and law school got in the way. It wasn’t until she picked up a copy of Bertrice Small and became swept away to Queen Elizabeth’s court that her interest in romance novels was renewed.
But somewhere along the way, her reading shifted to stories of men falling in love. Once she picked up her first gay romance, she became so enamored of the character-driven stories and the overwhelming emotion there was no turning back.
Felice lives in New York City with her husband and two children. Her day begins with a lot of caffeine and ends with a glass or two of red wine. Although she practices law, she daydreams of a time when she can sit by a beach and write beautiful stories of men falling in love. Although there is bound to be some angst along the way, a Happily Ever After is always guaranteed.
Blurb Saving Silas by SJ Himes: Paramedic Gael Dominic wasn’t expecting much from the holidays. Blood, death, and loneliness were constants. So when tragedy puts a wounded Silas in his path, Gael takes a chance on his alleyway angel and love.
EXCERPT: “Find my son! He was shot, for Christ’s sake, he can’t make it too far. Does this place even have security? Morris, call the local department, I want my son found.” Warner sounded mad, but there wasn’t a frantic component to his tone that most worried parents had when their kids got hurt. He sounded…aggravated.
Gael looked up, eyes searching. This was a split in the Recovery level, the hall to the right swinging around to more patient rooms, the hall to the left leading to the surgery suites, exam rooms, and x-ray….and the elevator to the staff exit. It emptied out in the sequestered lot the doctors and staff used.
He headed in that direction, eyes peeled, making swift work of his search. He kept his actions subtle, not wanting to clue anyone in to the fact he was looking for someone. He smiled at the people he knew but kept going, and passed a cart full of clean scrubs, the plastic lid ajar. The pressed piles made it apparent that a pair of pants and a shirt were missing. Someone took them before the cart made it back down the hall to the doctor’s lounge.
Gael stopped at the elevator, and was about to hit the button, but the staircase several feet away was the better option. No one used the stairs in a hospital.
He entered the stairwell, letting the door swing shut soundlessly behind him. Gael listened, eyes shut, head tilted to the side. A scuffle, the faintest hint of a quivering breath, just below him.
Gael opened his eyes and took the stairs down fast, keeping his footfalls as quiet as he could. He found his quarry the next level down, huddled against the wall, tears running down his bone-white cheeks, hands shaking as he tried to push the door open. He was wearing the purloined scrubs, and the dark blue color merely accentuated the pallor of the young man’s skin. Gael moved just as Silas started to fall over, and he caught him about his waist, holding his angel to his side, keeping him upright.
Silas’ head fell back on his shoulder, and Gael found himself forgetting what he was about to say when a pair of the truest green eyes locked on to his. Every muscle in his body thrummed with electricity, and Gael held him tighter, taking his whole weight.
“Hi, handsome,” Silas breathed out, giving him a tiny twist of a smile, eyes watering. “I’d love to make out in the staircase with you, but I kinda need to escape right now.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: I’m a thirty something bisexual cisgendered woman with way too big an imagination, but that comes in handy when I’m writing. I have been writing since I was a child, when I took a four page assignment on what I was going to do on summer vacation and turned it into a 100 page fantasy epic all written by hand…in crayons. No joke.
I work a day job, but I can’t share for who, since the Old Man isn’t as liberated as the people who read my books. I’m married, I have furbabies, and I live with loved ones. I adore a certain show about a British consulting detective and his grumpy army doctor, and that spawned an addiction to Johnlock fanfiction, which then evolved into me writing it. Gawd, that’s embarrassing. Put this down in the TMI section of my Bio, okay? I enjoy martial arts, movies where things blow up, and I wish I lived in a Marvel movie.
I live in the beautiful and lonely Berkshire County in Massachusetts, and I see way more wildlife than I care to on a daily basis (bears!). My perfect day is reading surrounded by friends and family who don’t think it’s odd I want to hang out but not talk, and my favorite scent of all time is a cool fall evening with leaves burning….less a scent, and more of an experience.
My writing is focused on gay and lesbian people, who are more than interesting side characters that hang out with the heterosexual MCs. My wish for the future is that when people ask me what I do for a living, I can say, “I write gay romance,” and NOT get weird looks. Also write under pen name Revella Hawthorne.
Blurb Christmas in LaLa Land by Liv Rancourt: For a Danaan sidhe like Aron, touching a human has consequences, while Damian’s hiding some serious scars behind his smile. A holiday trip to LA forces them to choose between acting on their attraction or giving up on love because of the past.
EXCERPT: “I’m sorry. The hotel is closed for a private party.” Blondie stalked over, making the most of her Heels from Hell. The huge lobby had a high arched ceiling and fabric drapes covering the walls. And every possible surface was hung or draped or covered with something red, green, or glittering.
The ploofy redhead almost dropped the string of stars she’d been draping over an enormous pearl chandelier. “I’m Ophelia.”
Her eyes were the same gray as the murk rolling in off San Francisco Bay before the sun rose. Soft, but cold. Spooky. I took a couple steps further in, trying not to let my hopes get ahead of me. “I’m Aron, Connealagh’s younger brother.”
“No shit!? Are you as big a bitch as she is?” The blonde’s shriek immediately turned into laughter.
Ophelia scrambled down off the ladder, freezing me with her ice-vision. “Connie has a brother?” She came at me fast. No time to duck. Only my face offered bare skin, so that’s what she reached for, cupping my cheek with her palm. “Aron.” Her whisper held confirmation, as if she’d been able to verify my story with a touch.
“Oh.” I started to giggle. Her fingertips held so much joy she fizzed. I turned into her, inhaling a hippie-princess mix of roses and patchouli and sweat. Love ran under the fizz, heavy and deep, the emotion tempered by danger and fear. Thoughtlessly I reached out, finding a firm, pregnant belly under her swirling, embroidered caftan. “She’s beautiful.” I smiled into my cousin’s frightening eyes. “Your Leah is a lovely little girl.”
“Um…” She raised an eyebrow. ““Not born yet.”
“Crap. I’m sorry.” I eased out of her grasp. “I can feel emotions and stuff. Sometimes. I didn’t know…”
She exhaled, puffing out her cheeks and shaking her head. “How ’bout you let me tell Gabriel we’re having a girl before sharing, okay?” Without breaking our connection, she pointed at Blondie. “Shut up, you. My cheeks will not freeze that way.”
Behind us, Damian made a choked sound. The jewel-tone fabric on the walls seemed to dim, though that had to be my imagination.
“Who’s your friend?” Ophelia took hold of my gloved hand.
Grateful for even that little display of support, I suddenly didn’t think I could deal with the say-goodbye-to-Damian thing.
“Damian Jones.” He crossed the tile floor, coming closer. I didn’t turn around. Ophelia didn’t leave my side.
His hand, extended to shake, crossed the corner of my vision.
“Sorry Damian,” Ophelia said, wrapping a protective arm around me. “It’s nice to meet you, but I don’t shake hands, okay?”
“Must be a family thing.” His footsteps retreated, and I wanted to whip myself for driving all the sunlight out of his voice.
Gathering as much courage as I could muster, I pivoted, staying within Ophelia’s circle of safety. “Thank you, Damian, for giving me a ride down here, and I’m sorry…” For knowing my limits? For caring too much to entrap you? For being afraid? If I didn’t like him so much, I’d treat him like that poor sucker in the night club bathroom. If I didn’t respect him so much, I’d try to explain. “Just, sorry.”
“Yeah? Well, all your stuff’s out on the steps. You have a happy holiday, okay?”
Ophelia’s gaze was positively balmy compared with the deep freeze in his tone.
He disappeared, leaving me with my cousin and her freakishly blond friend.
“Well, fuck if I don’t suddenly have a taste for chocolate.” Blondie squealed. She had tiny star tattoos and glitter sprinkles down one cheek and a skirt so short it should be illegal. Something triggered my memory of Ophelia’s only visit to Mari-Elle’s. Her friend, a serpent deity named Suzie or Sandy or something, had been shot on our doorstep. Nothing really kills a deity, though, so maybe this was the same girl.
“Shut up, Sally,” Ophelia said.
Yep, serpent deity.
“No way, sister-mine.” A man appeared on the other side of the ladder. Just, like, appeared. “That cocoa crisp plays for my team.” He disappeared before his voice trailed away.
My face must have asked what the fuck without words because Ophelia started to laugh.
“You have the ghost of Jason Patrick living in your lobby?” I asked.
“Jason Patrick is not dead.” The man appeared on the near side of the ladder. “But thank you, sweetie.”
“No living with him,” Sally muttered.
Ophelia left off laughing long enough to introduce me to Jimmy. “You had the ghost part right, anyway.”
“Aren’t you a pretty little fruit.” Jimmy appeared right next to me. He draped his arm around my shoulders, cool and surprisingly peaceful. “Did you invite him specially for me to play with, Ophie?”
“I didn’t invite him at all.” Keeping hold of my hand, Ophelia drew me over to an antique love seat that could have belonged to Marie Antoinette. She and I sat, and Jimmy perched on the arm next to me. Sally scooted her butt onto a large mahogany desk right across from us.
None of them looked particularly threatening. In fact, staying here could be fun. I grappled my twittering nerves and dove in. “It started because Mari-Elle and I—”
“Oh yeah, how is Mother?” For the first time since I’d met her, Ophelia’s effervescence dampened.
“Gorgeous, frightening, and kind of mean.” Wow! Did I just say that? Because slandering someone’s mother is such a great lead-in to a favor.
Ophelia snickered. “You’re giving her too much credit.”
Well at least my cousin didn’t act insulted. I relaxed against the couch. “I decided I wanted a break from the life for … reasons, and I’ve always wanted to visit L.A.” The next part was the scariest, so I spit it out fast. “I’m hoping I can crash here for a while.” I clasped my hands so tightly the leather on my palms squeaked. “I mean, I know it’s rude to just show up, but I kinda hoped I could rent a room here in the hotel.”
Sally hissed a laugh. “It’s not that kind of hotel.”
“He can totally stay,” Jimmy said. Between his square chin, curly mullet, and micro-skinny tie, he really did look like ‘80s-era Jason Patrick. “How ’bout 312? It’s right at the top of the stairs.”
A broad staircase curled up from one corner of the room, opposite a double set of very black doors.
Ophelia finger-combed red ringlets away from her face. “You know, I think that’ll work.” She fixed me in her cold-slate gaze. “You know what this place is, right? I’m not kidding when I say it’s a gateway to Hell. Couple times an hour Hell’s escorts bring in the souls of the damned, and I send them down. You can’t freak out when that happens, and you absolutely cannot go through those doors.” She pointed at the black doors, and while I generally love a good dare, this seemed like a stupid time to take up a challenge.
“You got it. I’ll even help”—I glanced around at the Christmas insanity “—decorate.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: I write romance: m/f, m/m, and v/h, where the h is for human and the v is for vampire … or sometimes demon … I lean more towards funny than angst. When I’m not writing I take care of tiny premature babies or teenagers, depending on whether I’m at home or at work. My husband is a soul of patience, my dog’s cuteness is legendary, and we share the homestead with three ferrets. Who steal things. Because they’re brats.
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