Fridays at Ofelia’s | Call Me Charles by Holly Day

Guest-Post

Hello everyone, Holly here. Tomorrow is release day! Call Me Charles will be let loose into the world. I wrote it to celebrate National Motorcycle Ride Day, which is tomorrow! 🥳 

In it, I’m talking about an old fishing hut right next to the sea. It was Hubert’s grandparents’, but now it belongs to him, and it’s on a gravel road outside the city.  

I grew up in a coastal town, and lately, I’ve been missing the sea a lot. I used to walk by the sea every day with my two dogs – we only have one now, but back then we had two. 

If you walk past the beach where I used to walk and continue on, walk for another 15-20 minutes or so, then you’ll come to a gravel road. There is no traffic there, no tourists in the summer, no beach, just a lot of blackberry bushes and two old fishing huts. If you continue farther, you’ll come to a place we call Algots brygga (Algot’s jetty). Very few people know how to get there, and it’s most often deserted no matter what time of year you show up. 

I spent my childhood summers there – bathing, snorkelling, fishing for crabs, and diving for blue mussels.  

But let’s back up a little, let’s walk back to the tiny fishing huts. They’re right by a small bay, behind them are low trees bent by the wind and loads of blackberry bushes. It’s like those tiny huts are cut off from the rest of the world, and all they see is the sea. Those are the inspiration for Hubert’s home. 

Charles is in an apartment in the city, and at first, he doesn’t really understand why Hubert would want to live where he does, but it’s growing on him. 

Tear

Excerpt:

Hubert had to duck to enter the house. Once he’d cleared the doorway, he motioned for Charles to follow. When they were inside, Hubert unzipped his motorcycle boots and pulled them off.

Ah… that’s nice.” He smiled. “This is it.” He spread his hands and turned around. Charles took in the tiny kitchen. It was like something out of a fairy tale with a few cupboards, an oven, and a refrigerator. By the window was a small table with two chairs. Through the doorway, he could see an equally tiny room with a two-seat sofa and a TV.

It’s… cute.”

Hubert laughed. “I love it, but I know it’s not for everyone.”

Charles hadn’t meant it was something bad. “Don’t you get claustrophobic?”

Hubert grabbed his shoulders and turned him around. Through the window, he could see an occasional glitter on the surface of the sea when the moon made it through the clouds. “It’s too dark to do it justice, but no, I don’t get claustrophobic. I can see to the end of the world.”

Charles stared. Growing up in a coastal city, he visited the beach many times during a year, but to live right by the sea… New houses weren’t allowed to be built this close to the coastline. “Is it old?”

Yeah.” Hubert grinned. “My grandparents lived here. Grandpa was a fisherman. The houses you pass on this road are all old fishing huts.”

Wow. And you live alone?”

No.”

Oh… Charles looked around trying to find a clue about who he lived with.

I’m surprised Jake hasn’t shown. He usually comes as soon as he hears the engine of the bike.”

Jake? Charles tried to control the shivering, but his entire body quaked worse than before.

A sound of a cat flap closing echoed in the kitchen.

Ah, here he is.” Hubert bent to pick up a black cat. “Charles, this is Jake, the ruler of this house.”

Jake was massive. One of those tomcats with a thick neck and paws big enough to put a small dog to shame. “He’s beautiful.” Charles held out his hand so Jake could smell him. He did a nose bump which Charles assumed was as good approval as any. He’d always wanted a pet, cat or dog didn’t matter, but he lived in a no-pet building.

He is. I got him from the local shelter when he was about a year old. He was a bit feral, but with time he’s become a social guy, and he keeps the mice away, which is good.” Hubert put him down next to a bowl heaped with dry food.

Let’s get you into the shower.”

Charles shivered harder when his brain presented a picture of steaming hot water. “A shower would be lovely.”

Yeah. As you might have assumed, it’s not big.”

Charles didn’t care as long as there was warm water. Hubert opened a cupboard Charles hadn’t noticed, it was in the wall, the door had the same wallpaper as the rest of the room. With a towel in his hand, Hubert opened a door and gestured. “I won’t go in there with you. We’d get stuck.” His eyes sparkled. “Spaciousness wasn’t something poor people prioritized a hundred years ago.”

It was crazy to imagine poor people once had been able to live right next to the sea, but they had. There were many roads like this outside the city, lined with old fishing huts. Most of them were used as summer cabins. Nowadays, Charles didn’t think anyone was allowed to change the look of the fishing huts, they were under a preservation order.

Did they live here for long? Your grandparents, I mean.”

Grandpa built this before they got married, and they lived here their entire lives.” He shrugged. “Grandpa died from a heart attack while on a walk, and grandma spent a few months in a nursing home. She got a bit too confused to be left alone toward the end.” He met Charles’s gaze. “They lived a good life.”

Charles nodded. Melancholia spread in his chest despite not having known Hubert’s grandparents. It was the last generation who’d lived real lives. His grandmother had moved to a neighboring farm to be a maid when she’d been eleven. Nowadays, people didn’t let their kids out of their sight, and if they did, the poor monster was covered in bubble wrap and had a GPS attached to their forehead. A middle ground had to be a better option.

Charles?”

Yeah?” He shook his head and looked at Hubert.

You’re spacing out—more than usual. Get in the shower and get warm, okay?”

Charles nodded.

I’ll go fetch the paddleboard.” He ended the sentence with a growl and stomped away, which made Charles smile.

Thank you.”

Hubert stopped and turned. He sighed and shook his head. “I’ve fantasized about bringing you home many times, but I’m gonna kill those bastards if I ever see them again.”

Charles stared. “What?” Bringing him home?

Get in the shower, Charles.”

Charles did.

Blurb: 

callmecharlesCharles Bowman was having a bad day even before his friends showed up to kidnap him for his birthday. He lost his nametag, missed the bus, and was late for his shift in the sandwich shop, but that isn’t the worst. The worst is he’s accidentally been poisoning Hubert, the owner of the candy shop across from the sandwich shop, with gluten despite Hubert ordering gluten-free sandwiches. 
 
When Charles finds himself soaking wet on a deserted road in the chilling October night, the worst gets an entirely new meaning. But right as he’s about to give up, Hubert comes driving on his motorcycle. Being responsible for gluten poisoning aside, Charles has never been as glad to see his knight in black leather, but is going home with Hubert a good idea? Or will the worst get even worse? 

Pre-order links:

Contemporary Gay Romance: 15,071 words 

JMS Books  :: Amazon :: books2read.com/CAllMeCharles

About Holly 

According to Holly Day, no day should go by uncelebrated and all of them deserve a story. If she’ll have the time to write them remains to be seen. She lives in rural Sweden with a husband, four children, more pets than most, and wouldn’t last a day without coffee.  

Holly gets up at the crack of dawn most days of the week to write gay romance stories. She believes in equality in fiction and in real life. Diversity matters. Representation matters. Visibility matters. We can change the world one story at the time.  

Connect with Holly on social media: 

Website :: Facebook :: Twitter :: Pinterest :: BookBub :: Goodreads :: Instagram 

 

#WhatToReadWednesday | Halloween Stories

With JMS Books giving out Trick or Treat stories on Wednesdays this month, there will be a few guests dropping by later on. Therefore, we’re having an early #WhatToReadWednesday.  

The theme? Halloween of course! 

Monster Till Midnight by E.J. Russell  

I love E.J. Russell’s stories, but I don’t read nearly enough of them. This I read a couple of years ago now, and I seldom read time-travel, but I loved this little short story. 

Monster Till MidnightWhat if you staged the best haunted house in the history of the holiday, but nobody came?

Brady is prepared with mounds of treats, stellar special effects, and an extraordinary welcome for the throngs of trick-or-treaters he expects in his first year at his new place—a gloriously gothic house with the reputation for really being haunted! But the trick’s on Brady: Halloween is almost over and not one person has knocked on his door.

Once a top Interdimensional Law Enforcement agent, Rej was busted down to Creature Control after a run-in with his arch-nemesis. When he tracks a non-sentient construct across the dimensional barrier, he’s sure he’s about to confront Gorvenath again. But the person who bursts onto the porch in a swirl of tuxedo coattails is a monster of a very different sort—but is he Gorvenath’s accomplice or his victim?

Monster Till Midnight is an 11,000-word gay romance featuring a hopeful samhainophile, a suspicious LEO, gratuitous candy corn, and a relationship that threatens to be really, really, really long distance.

https://books2read.com/MonsterTillMidnight

The Gravedigger’s Brawl by Abigail Roux  

This is a must, if you haven’t read it, do! It has creepy ghosts, and I love the characters.

The Gravedigger's BrawlWhen the past comes back to haunt you, order a double.

Dr. Wyatt Case is never happier than when he’s walking the halls of his history museum. Playing wingman for his best friend at Gravedigger’s Tavern throws him way out of his comfort zone, but not as much as the eccentric man behind the bar, Ash Lucroix.

Ash is everything Wyatt doesn’t understand: exuberant, quirky, and elbow deep in a Gaslight lifestyle that weaves history into everyday life. He coordinates his suspenders with his tongue rings. Within hours, Wyatt and Ash are hooked.

But strange things are afoot at Gravedigger’s, and after a knock to the head, Ash starts seeing things that can’t be explained by old appliances or faulty wiring. Soon everyone at Gravedigger’s is wondering if they’re seeing ghosts, or just going crazy. The answer to that question could end more than just Wyatt and Ash’s fragile relationship—it might also end their lives.

https://books2read.com/TheGravediggersBrawl

Not Microwave Safe: A Halloween Story by Kyle Adams  

It’s the cover. I felt the need to include it. The story is short and free (last I checked) and while I’m sure most will find it funny, I wanted to severely hurt Uriah. 

Not Microwave Safe: A Halloween StoryKent has always hated Halloween and anything else that’s scary. But when his boyfriend, Uriah, wants to take him to a haunted house, he can’t say no.

Uriah can’t contain his excitement and loves creepy surprises. However, as the evening progresses and everything seems wrong, can he convince Kent to see the night through?

For Kent and Uriah, Halloween starts with a pop and ends with a bang, and life will never be the same again.

https://books2read.com/NotMicrowaveSafe

Mummy Dearest (The XOXO Files 1) by Josh Lanyon 

Not the best Lanyon story I’ve read, but it’s Halloween and with Lanyon you know what you get, right? 

Mummy DearestThe truth is out there. Way, way, way out there!

Drew Lawson is racing against the clock. He’s got a twenty-four-hour window to authenticate the mummy of Princess Merneith. If he’s not at his boyfriend’s garden party when that window closes, it’ll be the final nail in their relationship coffin.
The last thing he needs traipsing on the final shred of his patience is brash, handsome reality show host Fraser Fortune, who’s scheduled to film a documentary about the mummy’s Halloween curse.

The opportunity to film a bona-fide professor examining the mummy is exactly the aura of authenticity Fraser needs. Except the grumpy PhD is a pompous ass on leave from his ivory tower. Yet something about Drew has Fraser using a word he doesn’t normally have to draw upon: please.

With no time to waste—and a spark of attraction he can’t deny—Drew reluctantly agrees to let Fraser follow his every move as he unwraps the mummy’s secrets. Soon they’re both making moves behind the scenes that even the dead can’t ignore!

https://books2read.com/MummyDearest

Once Upon a Haunted Moor (Tyack & Frayne 1) by Harper Fox 

This is good. There is something on that moor, so you better watch out! 

Once Upon a Haunted MoorGideon Frayne has spent his whole working life as a policeman in the village of Dark on Bodmin Moor. It’s not life in the fast lane, but he takes it very seriously, and his first missing-child case is eating him alive. When his own boss sends in a psychic to help with the case, he’s gutted – he’s a level-headed copper who doesn’t believe in such things, and he can’t help but think that the arrival of clairvoyant Lee Tyack is a comment on his failure to find the little girl.

But Lee is hard to hate, no matter how Gideon tries. At first Lee’s insights into the case make no sense, but he seems to have a window straight into Gideon’s heart. Son of a Methodist minister, raised in a tiny Cornish village, Gideon has hidden his sexuality for years. It’s cost him one lover, and he can’t believe it when this green-eyed newcomer stirs up old feelings and starts to exert a powerful force of attraction.

Gideon and Lee begin to work together on the case. But there are malignant forces at work in the sleepy little village of Dark, and not only human ones – Gideon is starting to wonder, against all common sense, if there might be some truth in the terrifying legend of the Bodmin Beast after all. As a misty Halloween night consumes the moor, Gideon must race against time to save not only the lost child but the man who’s begun to restore his faith in his own heart.

https://books2read.com/Once-Upon-a-Haunted-Moor

Hainted by Jordan L. Hawk 

Does this take place on Halloween? I can’t really remember. Creepy ghosts! 

HaintedThe Good Guy: Haint-working runs in Dan Miller’s blood. Not everyone can help the restless dead cross over, especially when the haunting threatens the Living. But the death of his parents six years ago forced Dan to give it up in exchange for raising his brother and sister, all the while struggling to keep their rural NC farm afloat.

So when the flamboyantly goth Leif Helsvin shows up on Dan’s doorstep looking for help with an evil necromancer named Runar, Dan’s first instinct is to turn him down. With two teenagers to look after, he’s already got all the trouble he can handle. Besides, the sexy Leif is too much of a temptation, and Dan is firmly in the closet.

The Bad Boy: Pierced, tattooed Leif never has sex with the same guy twice. It keeps things simple, especially since his oath to stop Runar has him constantly drifting from one town to the next.

But this time, it looks like Leif is going to need help, in the form of the very down-to-earth Dan. Since Nice Guys are off the menu, Leif just has to keep his hands to himself for as long as it will take to stop Runar’s latest scheme. But as Leif finds himself drawn deeper into Dan’s life, he quickly realizes he’s not just in danger of breaking the rules, but breaking his heart as well.

https://books2read.com/Hainted

Costumes by Dianne Hartsock  

Ah… don’t go in the attic 😆 

CostumesThere’s a presence in the attic, malevolent, waiting. When Bennie’s aunt passes away, he’s given the task of sorting her things before the estate sale. But the chore that should have been a pleasant visit to the past becomes a nightmare for him and his longtime lover Jordan as the dark presence in the attic seeks a new home in them.

Their once gentle and sensual love turns to a dark passion, hard and rough and hurtful. Jordan sees the change, but will his love be strong enough to save them?

https://books2read.com/CostumesHartsock

Resurrection Man (Bump in the Night) by Laylah Hunter  

I can’t remember when this actually takes place, might not be anywhere near Halloween, but a little Frankenstein’s monster seems like a good fit LOL (it’s free)

Resurrection ManNecromancy means never having to say good-bye.

Consumption has claimed the life of Adel St. Claire, cutting him down in his prime. But his lover, Josef Leitner, isn’t ready to let him go. To get Adel back, Josef is willing to risk the anger of Adel’s family, make unsavory deals with a corrupt mortician, and challenge the authority of death itself.

Even if he can reanimate Adel’s body, Josef’s next challenge may be more daunting still: when a man returns from the dead, what will it take to satisfy his needs?

https://books2read.com/ResurrectionMan

October Spice by K.L. Noone 

We need something sweet too! This short little story is filled with tasty baked goods.

October SpiceEvan Goldman loves fall, October, and Halloween. He’s decorated his bakery, he’s made cinnamon-pumpkin cupcakes, and he’s spending his day off inventing a new cake recipe. He isn’t expecting customers, and he’s busy with chocolate and ginger.

But a delivery mix-up has a customer knocking at Evan’s door. Matt’s right out of Evan’s fantasies: a deliciously adorable off-duty firefighter who compliments his cupcakes and makes Evan smile, and looks at him like Evan’s the tastiest treat of all.

They’ve only just met, but Matt might bring all of Evan’s fantasies to life … with extra spice.

https://books2read.com/OctoberSpice

souleater

Detective Thaddeus Ezax is in over his head. He’s the only wizard in Rockshade’s Paranormal Investigations Department, and it was his name that got him the job. The Ezaxs are known as some of the most powerful wizards in the world, but Thaddeus isn’t your average Ezaxs. Is it any wonder his family shuns him?

When a kidnapping case is dropped into his lap, Thaddeus must act fast. While most five-year-olds can cast a location spell, Thaddeus can’t and is forced to get creative. When he finds himself in possession of a black market werewolf skull with a ghost trapped inside, accidentally releases the spirit, and somehow forms a connection with it, things get even crazier.

Sandulf Hunter doesn’t remember dying, but he remembers the last thing he saw before everything went black — a wizard. All wizards must die! The only problem is, the wizard standing next to him smells too damned good, so good Sandy thinks he might have to keep him.

And since wherever Thaddeus goes, Sandulf finds himself yanked along, he might not have a choice in the matter anyway.

https://books2read.com/SoulEater

ghostdater

Thaddeus Esax has a grumpy werewolf problem. For a year, he’s been mated to Sandulf Hunter, a ghost werewolf he brought back from the dead without meaning to. It’s been great. Thad’s been happy, and he believed Sandy was too. But Sandy has been sulking for more than a week, and Thad fears their relationship isn’t going as well as he believed.

The problem with being mated to a ghost is that said ghost never can leave your side, and therefore it’s extremely hard to keep secrets. Thaddeus wants to surprise Sandy, to cheer him up, but to do that, he has to trick him into believing they’re doing something they’re not.

Telling Sandy they’re having a Halloween party doesn’t go over well, but how do you trick a ghost? By making him believe he’ll be dressed up as a pirate for an evening, of course.

Pre-order in the JMS shop

Update | Taking a Deep Breath

Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.

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Update time! There’s been so much going on, I hardly know what I’m doing. September was the deadline month for both December and November stories, and since Holly planned on doing both, I was struggling a bit. 

I made it! Holly will have 12 releases this year, one each month, and I have to say I’m quite pleased with myself. I did it, I never thought I’d be able to, but apparently, pandemics work great for getting more writing time.  

During September, I wrote 26.315 words. It’s not bad for me, but I’ve had months when I’ve written a lot more. With the deadlines coming up, it’s not just words, though. Editing takes a long time, proofreading too, and I feel like I could sleep for a week now.  

Sadly, I don’t have time for that. More deadlines are looming, and the dreaded day job is stealing more and more time. 

So far this year, I’ve written 220.605 words, which has me 88.24% done. It means I have 29.395 words left to write. Should be doable. It’s less than 10k a month for the rest of the year. If I write every day till New Year’s Eve, I need to write 324 words per day.  

It’s not how it works in my case, but it calms me to realise it’s so little I need to do.  

I’ve just started a short story on the Naughty or Nice theme. The deadline is at the end of this month, so I better get cracking 😄