New month! I’m doing a Book Birthday Giveaway on the first of every month this year. The giveaway is of books that have been published in March in the past years, and it’s a lumberjack kind of month LOL.
We have Once in a Forest, The Empty Egg, Once in the Underworld, and Just Words.
How does it work?
It’s quite simple, actually. I’ve set up a giveaway over at Kingsumo. You sign up (you’re not signing up to my email list by doing so, so fear not) with your email address. Then on March 8, Kingsumo will draw a random winner, and I’ll email you on the address you signed up with. Easy peasy.
All books are from the Nortown series and Once in a Forest and Once in the Underworld are standalone, but The Empty Egg and Just Words are short stories about Aiden and Tristan from Once in a Snowstorm.
Once in a Forest is about Jason and Tom. Jason is from the city and decides to visit his friend, Aiden, in Nortown despite it being in bumfuck nowhere. All is fine and well until his precious dog, Biscuit runs off. In the woods, he meets Tom.
I wrote this after having seen a reader request a ‘bottom for you’ story LOL.
Tom nodded, before seeking out the red-haired woman with his gaze. “Could we have a cup, love?”
She practically floated over to them, placed cups on the table, and started pouring.
“Erm…could I have a macchiato, please?”
Everyone around the table, including Aiden, stilled. Jason glanced around, trying to figure out what had happened.
“Sorry, we don’t have that here. Coffee—” she held up the pot “—tea, or would you prefer some juice or maybe a soft drink?” She smiled and stroked away a lock of hair that had fallen out of her ponytail.
No macchiato? “I’ll have a cup of tea, then, please.” He smiled his most charming smile and out of the corner of his eye noticed how everyone relaxed a fraction. Are they expecting me to throw a fit? I’ve got manners!
The woman scurried away, and Jason turned back to the others. “So what do we do about Biscuit? I can’t leave him out there all night.”
Tristan grumbled something, which was followed by Aiden stamping on his foot under the table.
“Ouch! Why did you do that?”
“Because you’ll help find the dog.”
“If anyone had mentioned a dog in the first place—”
“Yeah, well, I didn’t think, all right? I just assumed it would be fine.”
“How can you—” Tristan started, but Tom’s deep voice stopped him mid-sentence.
“Erm… Can someone fill me in?”
Tristan gave Jason a dark look before shifting his attention to Tom. “Jason here is Aiden’s friend from the city—” the word was said with such distaste Jason wanted to punch him “—who is visiting for the weekend. It’s just no one mentioned there being a dog included. They got here, and Jason simply let the little mutt out of the car. And Og being Og…”
“Oh…” Tom sipped at his coffee, acting as if all was well with the world.
“Oh? My dog is gone and you say ‘oh’?” Jason’s voice rang through the run-down café, making everyone else go silent.
Tom shrugged again, and it was starting to get on Jason’s nerves. “You can’t bring a dog to another dog’s house, especially not if they’re both males. Even I know that. Cookie was intruding.”
Another shrug. Jason gritted his teeth. Tom stroked his beard, which was even longer than Tristan’s. Were they too lazy to shave, or was it the fashion around here? Jason suppressed a snort.
The Empty Egg is… eh… erm… LOL. It’s a short story about Aiden and Tristan. Aiden has been to the city to buy some chocolate and another surprise for Tristan’s Easter egg, only he gets a little nervous and accidentally eats a praline or a few.
Aiden wiped his sweaty palms on his new jeans—they made his arse look edible, he hoped Tristan would like them—and put the plates on the table. Before folding the napkins into rabbits like he’d seen on YouTube, he fetched the egg from the coffee table—should I place it there on the table?—righted the yellow tulips in the vase…and ate another piece of Tristan’s fudge. Pecan, possibly the best so far. He went to fetch the dessert spoons, slipping another piece into his mouth when he returned. Creamy almond melted on his tongue, and he sighed. Bliss! Too bad it didn’t calm the desperate hammering of his heart. He ate another piece, groaned, and tried to ignore his guilty conscious that was telling him not to have any more of Tristan’s sweets.
Maybe I should hide the egg. He ran his fingers through his curls, making sure they weren’t too badly tangled. Reaching into the egg again, he almost snatched his hand back when the smooth fabric brushed against his hand. What would it feel like to wear them? Cool and silky, sliding against his skin. Aiden let out an unsteady breath. What if he’d got it all wrong? Heat spread over his cheeks; maybe he should forget about the egg altogether, hide it, and pretend he’d never planned to give it to Tris.
He took another piece—salted caramel. Fuck! He shouldn’t have eaten that. He’d only bought a couple of pieces, and he’d already eaten some in the car back from Whiteport. He’d gone for no other reason than to buy fudge at the chocolatier, and they were fucking expensive. He’d bought the jeans, too, as he already was in the city, but they weren’t the reason he’d gone there. Tristan was.
He checked the vegetables in the oven; there was still time, but Tristan needed to get his fine arse home soon or it would all be ruined. Aiden reached over the plates to snatch another piece of fudge, digging around but feeling only the satin and the soft elastic lace. In one erratic movement, he tipped the egg over, almost bringing down one of the wine glasses with it.
Two sorry pieces!
Once in the Underworld is about Chris and Gabe. Gabe saw something he shouldn’t and the cops decide to hide him in Nortown in wait for the trial. Gabe isn’t doing too well staying hidden in a cabin with nothing to do. Chris does his best to make things easier for Gabe, but there isn’t much to do about the situation but wait.
He’d been whisked away from the police station as soon as he’d told them what he’d seen and that he would be able to identify the men if he saw them again. Once he’d pointed them out in photos, a frenzy had taken over the police station. It had all happened so fast, and he hadn’t even been able to grab any of his clothes.
The wine-red slacks he’d been wearing under the lab coat and a T-shirt was all he had. The clothes Hart had given him were a size too small, but he’d squeezed himself into the too-tight sweats before going into town anyway. Sweats in town. Gabriel sighed. He would never leave his flat in sweats back home, and he didn’t expect a village like this would take too kindly to fat queers in red trousers.
He scratched his beard, hoping they wouldn’t treat him badly for looking like a vagrant, and opened the car.
The first thing he noticed as he neared the door to the café was several people inside. He glanced at his watch: twenty past eight. What the hell is everyone doing here? He hadn’t expected the café to get many customers in a day, but as he opened the door, he was greeted by no less than seven pairs of eyes.
“Erm…good morning.” He pulled self-consciously at his sweater, hoping it didn’t draw too much attention to his wobbly middle.
“Good morning.” A red-haired woman smiled at him before grabbing a coffee pot and topping off the cups of two grey-haired women sitting at the corner table with knitting needles in their hands. Both of them smiled and nodded at him. A man completely dressed in green with a full beard and dark eyes was chatting to a man with honey-coloured hair and a model’s good looks. In the farthest corner, a fine-limbed, blond man did his best to avoid Gabriel’s gaze, and by the counter, a red-haired little boy was picking at a plate of scrambled eggs.
Gabriel breathed in deep and neared the counter.
The offerings were sparse; Gabriel couldn’t see any of the pastries he’d fantasised about.
“What can I get you, love?” The red-haired woman walked past him and stepped in behind the counter.
Gabriel looked around, wondering who she was calling love, but she only kept looking at him. “Oh…erm…I’d like a caramel latte and a cinnamon roll, please.”
The green-clad man stopped talking and glared at him. Gabriel’s cheeks heated, and he started stuttering, “O-or a s-salad and a glass of water, please.” He wanted to run out of there, preferably before he was served a salad.
“Tom!” The good-looking man reached over the counter and gently pushed at the man who was still glaring at Gabriel, his tone a mix of amusement and exasperation. Gabriel wished the ground would open up before him.
Just Words is the end of Once in the Underworld but from Aiden’s perspective. Or it starts that way, most of the story is Aiden and Tristan alone in the woods, sorting a few things out.
He turned into the driveway, seeing several cars parked pell-mell around the small cabin. Everything spun before his eyes as he threw open the door. His feet hit the ground, but something yanked him back.
The seat belt was tangled up around his arm, pulling him back as he tried to go.
The belt finally snapped back into place, and Aiden was free to move. He stumbled towards the cabin, only half aware of the men gathering around. The rickety stairs creaked under his weight. Shoving a formal-looking man out of his way, he barged in through the open front door.
“Tristan!” His voice was shrill, and it kept climbing higher and higher as his heart tried to find a way out between his ribs and into the room. Furniture was toppled over; glass lay shattered on the floor. He was too late.
The world stopped.
It was impossible to put words on the pain blossoming in his chest—a crippling yet dull ache that sucked the life out of him. His feet moved in slow motion without him telling them to. His entire surroundings turned into a black-and-white movie completely lacking life and sound.
There was nothing left—nothing left of him, nothing left of Tristan. In a heartbeat, the world became hollow. Dead. Lost. Gone.
Aiden’s entire being cramped. He feared he’d turn himself inside out right there on the floor, and yet he wasn’t there…he simply wasn’t anymore.
A chuckled echoed in his head, and his heart splintered. It was Tristan’s laugh, the soft clucking sound he made when he found something funny but didn’t laugh full out.
Then there were footsteps, and Aiden turned towards the doorway. Tristan stood there. As if nothing had happened. As if Aiden hadn’t died—as if he hadn’t died. He ran one of his massive hands over his beard and raised an eyebrow at something the official-looking man said.
“Of course. I can testify, too, if you need it.”
“Tristan.” Aiden’s strangled whisper hardly had strength to grow loud enough to be heard, but Tristan did. Those hazel eyes focused on him, then widened a bit.
“Aiden? What are you doing here? I begged you to stay safe.”
What are you doing here? Aiden stared at him in disbelief. Why wouldn’t he be here? Of course he would be here. “I came for you!”
That’s it for now. Hop on over here to enter.