Easter is approaching and I thought we’d prepare by having a look at Once in a Forest (Nortown #2).
The Nortown series was never supposed to be. I wrote Once in a Snowstorm (Nortown #1) as a one-off. I was doing NaNoWriMo and had finished the story I’d been working on but still had a couple of ks left until I hit the 50k you’re supposed to during one month, so I started writing Once in a Snowstorm….mostly as a joke – read about it here.
After I’d written Once in a Snowstorm I thought to myself ‘hey, that was fun. Perhaps I should do one story for each holiday’ and I starting writing about Easter.
Nortown didn’t turn into a series revolving around holidays, but the first two stories and The Empty Egg (Nortown #2.5) are holiday related. And Honey Baked (Nortown #5.5) too for that matter.
Writing stories about holiday can be really hard. At first, when you start, it’s easy because you know your holidays, right? You know that Easter is eating eggs and pickled herring and drinking påskmust, you know that it’s the Easter Rooster who lays the Easter eggs, you know that you light a bonfire on the Maundy Thursday (that’s today, people! Light up!) to scare off the witches so they’ll fly on their broomsticks to Blåkulla…or wait a minute, doesn’t other cultures have the Easter Bunny? And don’t some of you have Easter ham? And I’ve been in the UK during Easter, I’ve had Hot Cross Buns.
When I write a Nortown story, I mostly write it from a Swedish perspective. I take my inspiration from the nature around me, and since I’m living in a village (that’s not even allowed to be called a village) with less than 200 inhabitants in the ‘town centre’ and about 500 people in the entire parish it’s not hard. But, I don’t want it to be too alien to the reader, so I try to not make it too Swedish, and with holiday food and traditions that’s hard.
What’s your favourite thing about Easter?
In Once in a Forest Tom and Jason are going on an egg hunt. In Nortown the entire town gets together and search for Easter eggs hidden in the forest around them, it’s a tradition.
Jason had butterflies in his belly—not pleasant ones. He didn’t know how to celebrate Easter. What if the people of Nortown thought he was an idiot? What if he did something he wasn’t supposed to do? He didn’t even know how to tap eggs, though the word gave him a pretty good idea.
Biscuit was bouncing around in Jason’s lap, oblivious to the strained silence in the car. Tom had an almost desperate hold on the steering wheel, and Jason wondered what had made the happiness he’d seen during breakfast go away. He didn’t know why. He shouldn’t care, but he wanted Tom to smile again.
Tom didn’t look at him, simply grunted, and turned off the main road towards the forest. “About last night…”
Jason’s gut tightened. Now what? “Yeah?”
“You can’t tell anyone.”
Oh… “You’re not out.” He didn’t make it a question; he already knew Tom wasn’t.
“Nortown isn’t like the city.” The defensive edge in his voice made Jason think before he opened his mouth.
“I won’t say anything, but—”
“No. I know you’re gonna say something about being true to myself, or for Tristan and Aiden’s sake, or something along those lines, but I was here when Tris came out, and I never want to go through that.”
Jason nodded. Why he was disappointed, he didn’t know. It was not his place to judge or even have an opinion. He didn’t know the people of Nortown, but he had a hard time thinking Jen or Marge and Monica would give a damn. “I won’t say anything.”
Tom’s shoulders slumped, and he eased his hold on the steering wheel. “Thanks.”
“So what should I expect at this egg hunt?”
Tom gave him a quick glance. “You know how egg hunts work, right? We’re here to help Jen prepare, hide eggs for people to find, and then in a couple of hours, everyone will show up. Kids, pets, adults—most of Nortown’s population will stroll into the woods and search for eggs.” Tom laughed. “Afterwards, everyone heads to Jen’s. There’ll be coffee, prizes, and lots and lots of gossip.”
Jason didn’t really know how an egg hunt worked, because he’d never been to one. He’d never celebrated holidays in any other way than to make sure he had a hot fuck at the end of the night. There wouldn’t be any sex happening tonight, unless… He pushed away the idea even as it sent a tingle of excitement down his spine. He was not going there, no matter how hot Tom was, or how considerate he appeared to be. Jason would not put himself in a situation where he could be used like that.
Jason has one rule when it comes to holidays – work his shift behind the bar and then find a willing body to distract himself with. One night is long enough to satisfy his needs and still walk away with his heart intact. It has worked out fine for most of his adult life, but this Easter, he’s trying something new. He’s leaving the city to visit his friend, Aiden, who recently moved in with his boyfriend in the middle of nowhere, but one unfortunate incident leaves Jason without a place to sleep.
Tom doesn’t do relationships, he rarely does hook-ups and never too close to home. Living on his own without attachments is far easier than having the whole town knowing about him. As the holiday approaches, his lonely house grows even quieter than normal – at least until his friend, Tristan, dumps an arrogant bartender in his lap.
As soon as Jason lays eyes on the gruff lumberjack whose home he’ll be sharing, he knows who’ll warm his bed for the weekend and help chase away any pending holiday gloom. Too bad Tom doesn’t want to get with the programme. As much as he wants to let Jason close, he won’t risk outing himself for a weekend fling. Will Jason trust Tom not to break his heart if he stays longer than a couple of days, and will Tom value their relationship higher than the town gossip?
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