The lovely Nell Iris is back! This post made me think of the good old days when Nell, Ally and I wrote together EVERY morning. We still do most days of the week, but now there are demands from the outer world, so sad. Enough reminiscence. Welcome back, Nell.
Hi! *waving happily* It’s me. Nell. The lovely Ofelia has graciously invited me back (thank you 😘) to talk about my latest release, It Rained All Night that I wrote for the JMS Books submission call “rain or shine.”
I’d had an idea for the longest time that I wanted to write a story about a couple who’s gotten to know each other online and developed a deep emotional bond with each other. The idea is somewhat inspired by events in my own life. Not that I met someone and fell in love online—I’ve been with the same guy since long before the internet was readily available for everyone—but in the sense that I’ve met people online that I’ve never met but consider friends. Real friends, the kind I talk to every day.
Take my lovely hostess Ofelia, for example. We started our morning writing sessions almost two years ago and Ally (as in A.L. Lester) joined us shortly after that. It started out as writing, but you can’t spend 3 hours together online every day (it was every day in the beginning before my Stupid Day Job interfered) without getting to know each other outside the writing, so we started sharing things about our “real” lives.
The writing dates happen in a chat room for JMS authors, but soon we created a messenger chat for us three where we literally talk every day. A lot of the conversations center around writing, ofc since it’s such a huge part of our lives (be happy you don’t have to read their newsletter onboarding sequence conversations; it almost makes me want to mute them 😁), but there’s also a lot of talk about chickens, grandbabies, husbands, our day jobs, demanding relatives, the state of the world, good or bad books, what we’re doing on a Friday night…You know; the stuff you talk to your friends about.
It hit me one day when I needed to rant about one thing or another (nothing writing-related) and Ofelia and Ally were the people I turned to instead of my real-life BFFs. They are my friends. These people, who I’ve never met IRL, are very important to me and I trust them.
That realization inspired my writer’s brain, and it resulted in It Rained All Night. Mikko and Henrik meet once IRL, exchange contact information, and stay in touch. What starts with a few texts evolves into a deep friendship, and since I’m a romance writer, I had to add a romantic element ofc. But that part of the story is entirely fictional…and not based on my friendship with Ofelia and Ally 😁
Can a chance meeting in the rain change someone’s life?
Meeting someone who can make him stop going is an eye-opener for Henrik. The man, Mikko, is his complete opposite, a steady rock in the wild rainstorm that is Henrik’s life, but the connection between them is both unexpected and instantaneous. Their encounter only lasts a few minutes, but before they part, they exchange phone numbers.
They live far away from each other, but soon they text and call daily, until Mikko is Henrik’s dearest friend and most trusted person. But a late-night question on the phone has Henrik re-evaluating his feelings. It’s impossible to love someone you’ve only met in person once…right?
Is the connection Henrik and Mikko forged long distance enough to sustain them when they meet again? And will their love be strong enough to give them the happily ever after they deserve?
M/M Contemporary / 7673 words
Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bonafide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies room), loves music (and singing along at the top of her voice but she’s no Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (Make it so). She loves words, bullet journals, poetry, wine, coffee-flavored kisses, and fika (a Swedish cultural thing involving coffee and pastry!)
Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.
Nell is a bisexual Swedish woman married to the love of her life, a proud mama of a grown daughter, and is approaching 50 faster than she’d like. She lives in the south of Sweden where she spends her days thinking up stories about people falling in love. After dreaming about being a writer for most of her life, she finally was in a place where she could pursue her dream and released her first book in 2017.
Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angsty, short over long, and quirky characters over alpha males.
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I sigh. If I ever get married. I need a man for that, and I won’t find a man if I’m not looking, and I’m not looking because…
A gust of wind sprays me with chilly raindrops. I shiver but don’t go inside. Instead, I sink deeper into the chair and let the steady dripping on the roof soothe me.
I’m not looking because of Mikko.
I don’t know when it happened. When my feelings for Mikko veered from being friendly to something else. Something more. Something deep.
We stayed in contact after the yoga retreat; even though we’d exchanged phone numbers, I didn’t expect much, but he’s an avid texter and kept me updated about his long train ride back home after we parted. He was funny and thoughtful, and it didn’t take long until texting him daily was a regular part of my routine. Until I started expecting “good morning” messages with a picture attached of him contorted in one of the harder, fancier yoga poses. Until I started needing to chat with him for a few moments at the end of the day to unwind. Until he was the one I wanted to confide in, until he was the one I started to turn to when something important was going on.
Until he was the one I fell—
I push away the thought before I can complete it. It’s not possible to fall in love with someone you’ve only met once. It’s not.
Still, as I sink deeper into the chair, as the pitter-patter of rain against the roof chases away the stress of the day, I allow myself a second to acknowledge that I’m fooling myself with those kinds of thoughts.
But then my phone buzzes with an incoming call, I know it can only be one person. Only Mikko would call me at this hour.
“What are you doing up this late?” I ask as a greeting, as the tense set of my shoulders bleed away, leaving me relaxed for the first time all day.
“I was waiting for you to report back from the wedding of the century.” His voice is hoarse, sleepy, but happy.
My free hand flies to my chest and lands over my heart, the heart that’s in danger of melting at the sound of his voice, the heart that’s growing and swelling so quickly I need to keep it contained in my palm, so it won’t burst out of my ribcage.
“You’re gonna be tired tomorrow. I don’t want you to injure yourself while doing the crow pose.”
“Aw, Henrik.” The R in my name rolls on the tip of his tongue. “I appreciate your concern, but you know I can fly in my sleep.”
I know. And he looks magnificent doing it; with his arm muscles bulging as he holds up his weight, one long leg stretched up toward the sky, toes pointed, gaze focused on the mat, he’s the image of perfection, and I can’t help sighing.
He doesn’t know the direction my thoughts have taken, so he asks, “Was it that bad? The wedding?”
“I’m probably the only one in the family who thinks so, but yeah.”
“I wonder why the fancy-gene skipped you. It should be coded into your DNA after hundreds of years as nobility. And you got it with your mother’s milk.”
“You assume my mother breastfed me. If it hadn’t been frowned upon in this day and age in our culture, I’m sure she would have hired a wet nurse. Breastfeeding is for plebeians.”
He chuckles. “You’re exaggerating.”
“Am I? You haven’t met my mother.”
“She can’t be that bad.”
“She’s not bad. Just not the definition of motherly,” I say.
“I bet she still cried at the wedding.”
“She dabbed her monogrammed linen handkerchief in the vicinity of her eyes, but I’m not sure there were actual tears.”
He laughs out loud. “Stop, you’re killing me.”
My smile widens as I sink deeper into the chair. I love his laugh. It’s unreserved. The definition of joy.
“Did the bride and groom say ‘I do’ in all the right places at least?”
“They did. And Emma did look radiantly happy. She deserves to be.”
“Despite torturing you with opulence?”
“Mmm. One day I’ll get my revenge.”
“You’re crazy,” he snorts, as a gust of wind throws rain against the roof. “Let me listen to the rain. We still have snow on the ground up here. Not much, but still.”
“All right.” I hold my phone up high to make sure the microphone can catch the smatter. The intensity increases on cue as if the rain wants to make Mikko happy. I let him listen a minute or so, before lowering my arm again. “Good? Or do you want more?”
“Perfect,” he sighs.
“You should go to sleep.”
He hums noncommittally, the way he does when he needs to collect his thoughts. I close my eyes and let him, his even breaths in my ear helping me relax even more.
We exist in silence for several minutes, before he finally speaks, his tone raw. Vulnerable. “How long are we going to do this?”
I blink my eyes open and stare at the wet roof, furrowing my eyebrows. “Do what?”
“Pretend we’re only friends.”