X-mas Read | Boughs of Evergreen

X-mas-read

There are no guests today, so I thought I’d fill up the slot with one my Christmas stories, instead.

One of the first stories I wrote was From All of Us to All of You. It’s part of the Boughs of Evergreen anthology from Beaten Track Publishing which is an anthology with a mix of short YA/NA holiday stories.

Boughs-of-Evergreen-Text

First, I thought I’d list all the covers and blurbs, but the anthology consists of twenty-two stories – yes, I’m too lazy.

My favourites are Kiss Me at Kwanzaa by LL Bucknor, Always have, Always will by Amelia Mann, Shiny Things by Amy Spector, The Invasion of Tork by Al Stewart and Claire Davis – there are more stories I would recommend (if you read horror (and F/F), Terry Kerr’s A Family Christmas! Love that one LOL) but I’ll move on to sharing an excerpt instead.

Lucia

Today it’s Lucia. It’s strange that we celebrate an Italian saint in Sweden when the rest of the world doesn’t. But we do. My kids will be dressed up in Lucia gear tomorrow. Normally, we’d start the day going to the school to watch them walk in the dark morning with lit candles while singing Christmas songs, but not this year. They’ll be dressed up, and each class will sing a song that the teacher will film and then share with us – not nearly as atmospheric.

In From All of Us to All of You they’re also celebrating Lucia.

Excerpt:

I tried not to think about the other people in church, and what they would think when they saw me. I knew they judged my mother, and pitied me, hell they would even pity Annie, and normally I would hide in the back. But, not today!

Monica actually made it better. Now they wouldn’t think that poor deserted boy. Now they would think, Oh, how nice of her to sit next to him. Okay, maybe that wasn’t better, but still, they wouldn’t think I was alone. People thought that just because you stuck to yourself, you were lonely. I wouldn’t call myself lonely. Okay, I was pretty lonely, but I chose to be. Better to be lonely, than have to explain the whole thing.

One failed stint at the university had taught me everything I needed to know about myself. I’d gotten free therapy through school, but even though my therapist had made some good points, what I’d really learned was that I couldn’t handle the real world. I couldn’t cope with the pressure of having to accomplish something, be someone. So, I’d moved back home to our small southwestern town, and gotten a job as a cashier at the smallest food market that wasn’t a neighborhood corner store. I’d been a cashier there for four years now.

“Natten går tunga fjät…” Oh, here they came. Monica, grumbled something next to me, before turning her attention to the children striding down the aisle. I almost became a little teary-eyed. They were adorable, all of them, and Annie was beautiful. She was concentrating really hard on holding her head straight and her hands palm to palm, while singing along in the Santa Lucia song.

The dark church instantly became brighter when the children took their place in front of the altar. After a few songs, four of the Lucias took a step forward. One by one they each lit one of the four tapers in the large candelabra, and then read a verse.

I saw Annie’s hand shake when she held the match to the wick, but she read her poem flawlessly. It was nerve-racking to read a verse in front of this many people, and she didn’t even stutter. I was so proud.

When the four candles were lit, and the girls had returned to their places among the others, they sang a few more songs before the procession took its leave. First the Lucias, then the handmaidens, then the star boys, and last the gingerbread men, and the brownies.

There was applause, of course. What parent wouldn’t applaud their child after such a performance?

“Lucia bread and glögg in the parish house?” I asked Monica with a smile.

“Yes, of course,” she answered, almost as excited as I was.


From All of Us To All of YouSimon is counting the days to Christmas, not because he likes the Holidays – no, he hates them. He dreads every single holiday ever created, but Christmas it the worst. As if his dad’s drunken snores and his mother’s faked Christmas spirit isn’t enough, his sister has decided to celebrate Christmas elsewhere this year.

The stress and anxiety drive Simon crazy. When he is introduced to a work colleague’s son, Hannes, he mistakenly believes he’s been set up on a blind date. Even after Hannes sets him straight in his assumptions, he keeps seeing signs that shouldn’t be there. Is Hannes lying when he says he isn’t interested or has the Christmas stress finally driven Simon mad?

books2read.com/FromAllOfUs

The Weekend | J.P. Walker

Book cover the weekend J.P. WalkerThe fourth story in the Love Unlocked anthology is The Weekend by J.P. Walker and it is a gem. In this tale, we get to meet Nat and Morgan, both in Paris for the weekend. It’s short and sweet, much like the weekend Nat and Morgan shares.

Book cover by Dee Aditya.


Blurb:

Nat’s been through a rough breakup and trust does not come easily. When she accompanies a group of friends to Paris for a hen weekend, she finds a connection she wasn’t looking for, in the form of beautiful, passionate Morgan. They quickly fall into a wonderful weekend fling and even engrave their initials into a lock and attach it to the most romantic bridge in the world, Love Lock Bridge.

But was that weekend fling all there was, or will news of the bridge being taken down lead to something more?

¤¤¤

Excerpt:

It’s funny how when you break up with someone, especially under awful circumstances, you realise how much was missing. When I’d first moved out of Katie’s, all I could remember were the good times but now, with Morgan, I couldn’t help but make comparisons. Those good times with Katie came nowhere near how incredible it had been to spend a day with the beautiful woman sitting across the table from me. If I’d been in any doubt before about how much I liked Morgan, I wasn’t any longer. I really did.

After dinner, we went for another stroll around Paris, appropriately dressed this time, with warm coats, and Morgan linked her arm with mine and rested her head on my shoulder. Every now and then, we stopped to look in awe at the beauty of the city around us—the buildings, the street names—Paris was quickly becoming my favourite destination, truly the most beautiful place I had ever been. Eventually, we found ourselves on the Pont des Arts bridge, surrounded by beautiful lights. I knew of the bridge, known as ‘Love Lock Bridge’, but didn’t really know of the tradition that went along with it.

We watched the lights shining from all the locks, and I felt my heart swell. Thousands of couples, all of their declarations of love and commitment…I felt overwhelmed in the presence of so much love. Without any warning at all, my eyes filled with tears. Morgan had wandered ahead, only a few steps, to look at the names on some of the locks, but she noticed my tears and within seconds was by my side and holding my hand. She looked at me questioningly.

“So beautiful,” I said and buried my face in her hair. My word, what a bloody soppy git I had become.

Morgan held me, rubbing soothing circles on my back, and I could hear the jangle of her bracelets. When we parted, she gave me an almost secret grin and reached into her pocket. I looked at her quizzically and then saw what she had in her hand: a small red padlock with a key still inside.

“It’s from my suitcase, I’d forgotten I’d shoved it in my pocket until we got here. Whaddaya say?” She winked.

I nodded and checked my pockets, to see if I had a Sharpie—I love doing crosswords on trains, don’t judge. I found one in my inside pocket. Yay!

“OK, what’s your last name?” I asked as I took the lid off with my teeth.

“Freeman.”

The pen fell out of my mouth as I gaped at her. Morgan Freeman? Seriously? Then she started laughing and swatted me on the shoulder.

“Just kidding, can you imagine? Ha! It’s Wilson,” she got out between laughs.

I shook my head at her antics. She was a riot.

“What’s yours?” she asked after I’d written ‘MW’ and ‘NB’ on the small lock and deposited my pen back in my pocket.

“Bliss,” I replied smiling.

“Really? Bliss? You’re…Nat Bliss?”

“Well…Natalie Emilia Bliss. But yeah…Bliss.”

“Seriously?”

“Seriously.” I was enjoying her reaction. Her eyes were shining bright, and puffs of vapour hung in the air as she breathed.

She brought her face close to mine and laid a soft, warm kiss on my mouth, immediately turning me on. I was quickly becoming addicted to her, and giving me a little fix like that left me silently begging for more. Chasing the dragon—I began to doubt if I would ever again find a high like Morgan Wilson.

¤¤¤

books2read.com/The-Weekend


Cover Love UnlockedLove Unlocked is a collection of seven short stories and novellas – unique LGBTQ romances inspired by the Love Lock Bridge.

THE STORIES:
The Trap by Claire Davis and Al Stewart
Writer’s Lock by Victoria Milne
Locked in the Moment by Dawn Sister
The Weekend by J P Walker
The Scarlet Lock by Caraway Carter
He Melted Us by Ofelia Gränd
Chain of Secrets by Debbie McGowan

books2read.com/LoveUnlocked


* By clicking the Books2Read link you’ll be taken to an external page. Links to Smashwords, Kobo U.S and Amazon contain affiliate links that earn me a small commission at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.