TropeTuesday | Squirrel Circus by Holly Day

TropeTuesday Squirrel Circus

Hiya! I’m here as Holly today, and I thought I’d tell you a little about Squirrel Circus, which was released a few days ago 😊 I wrote it for Squirrel Appreciation Day because squirrels are cute, right?

In this story, we have Jyran, who is a squirrel shifter. Squirrel shifters are near extinct because people – both humans and shifters of predatory species – hunt them.

Then we have Gideon, who is a grumpy werewolf who wants nothing to do with squirrels.

Jyran is a darling. Did you know squirrels misplace about 75% of the food they gather? Well, Jyran misplaces food too. 

I’m not here to talk about squirrels today, not much, at least, and as you can see, I’m failing. But what I came here to talk about is fated mates. I write a lot of fated mate stories. I don’t really know why I do. I often say it’s because I can cheat on the romance, but that’s not entirely true. 

It’s a shortcut, but just because you have a soulmate doesn’t mean you can skip the getting-to-know-each-other part. It’s just that it’s decided from the beginning that they’re gonna be together. But if you read romance, you know the characters are gonna end up together, fated mates or not. If there isn’t a HEA or at least HFN, it isn’t romance you’re reading.

What I like is the willingness to sacrifice yourself for your mate. I’m not saying you don’t see sacrifices in contemporary stories, but it’s not the same. In most fated mates stories it’s ingrained in the characters to protect each other, and they want to be together at all costs. 

Though not always. Squirrel Circus is a rejected mate story, my first! Unless I’m forgetting something 😆 I don’t think I do. So far, I have 12 fated mate stories. The level of choice varies in them, some are more in the potential mate category, and some are that there is a one-and-only.

In Squirrel Circus, it’s a one-and-only, but that doesn’t stop Gideon from rejecting Jyran. He does not want to be mated to a squirrel, and it takes a long time before he can accept that his mate, his better half, his one-and-only, is in fact a squirrel. 

I think I’ll write more rejected mate stories in the future. I loved writing this one!

Squirrel Circus

squirrelcircus

Can you forgive being rejected by your mate?

For as long as Jyran Pechman can remember, he’s dreamed about finding his soulmate. As a child, he lost his family, and he’s been moving around ever since. He hates it, and he wants nothing more than to have a home. A mate. A place to belong.

Gideon Everett might have dreamed about the day he’d find his mate, but his mate was never an unorganized, nut-hoarding squirrel shifter in those dreams. Wolves eat squirrels, so when Jyran walks into Gideon’s bar, he throws him out and tells him he wants nothing to do with him. He has a reputation to think about, and he will not be known as the wolf who mated a squirrel.

Being rejected hurts more than Jyran ever imagined, and he swears never to set foot in Gideon’s bar again. After the initial shock, Gideon is almost sure he made the right decision. Almost. What if he made the wrong decision? Now when he knows his mate is out there, can he live on as if they’ve never met, or does he have to … ugh … apologize?

Buy link:

Paranormal Gay Romance: 36,035 words

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

Excerpt:

Gideon was slicing lemons for the evening when the air stirred, and Adara appeared in front of him. He sucked in a breath, for more reasons than one, and his gaze jumped to the entrance. Was Jyran with her? Hot and cold washed over him.

“What do you know about Valerie?”

Gideon forced himself to look at her and not wait for someone else to enter. “What are you talking about?”

She slammed her palm against the bar, and Gideon swallowed a growl. “Valerie, who used to work for me.” It took his brain a second to catch up, but Adara was furious… and maybe scared. It had tension creeping into him. What could scare a vampire?

“I don’t know anything about her. Are we talking about the bear?” If so, she’d come here with Adara a few times, but it had been a few years since he’d seen her.

“Yes, the bear. She’s not been in here? She lives here now.”

Gideon hadn’t seen her, but it didn’t mean she hadn’t been in. He had a pretty good idea of who his customers were, but it didn’t mean he never missed anyone, and on occasion, he had a night off. “I haven’t seen her.”

Adara glared, and Gideon’s initial annoyance melted into confusion. “Are you here for a few days?” He could use a good night, and if he could get her to play, it would get him to the end of the month. She hadn’t played at The Howling Moon since that night… She was big shit now, though. Toured the world. She didn’t do gigs in seedy bars anymore.

“No, Ordbury.”

Close enough. “Want to come to Doson, for old times’ sake?”

She shook her head. “Can’t bring Jyran here. I have to get to the bottom of this before I take him anywhere.”

Ice filled his gut, but he refused to ask what she meant. “You can come without him.”

She huffed. “I’m not leaving him unprotected. I might have to cancel the gigs in Ordbury.” She leaned against the bar with a dramatic groan. “Fuck, he’ll hide spiders in my bed if I do.”

Gideon would not get involved in this. “Why did you ask about Valerie?”

“She was attacked.” Adara looked around the bar. He hadn’t changed anything since she’d last been there, he didn’t think.

“And it has something to do with Jyran?” Damn. He didn’t want to know.

“He doesn’t think so, but he’s never realized his worth. People always treat him like shit, so he believes it’s what he deserves.” She shook his head, seemingly forgetting Gideon treated him like shit. He wasn’t. He wasn’t treating him at all. “I wouldn’t last a day without Jyran. Valerie tried to warn me about something, but I was too busy playing superstar to call her back. She mentioned Jyran, and she never mentions Jyran. If anyone wanted to ruin things for me, all they’d have to do is get to him. If they know we’re in Ordbury… and it’s not much of a secret, is it?” She sighed. “They’d know I’d come if Valerie was attacked. Either they wanted me to come, so Jyran would be unprotected, or they’d assume he’d come with me. Most likely the latter since he’s always with me, and they don’t know you’re an ass.”

So many questions were resting on Gideon’s tongue, but he wouldn’t ask them. “He’s safe now?” The cold in his gut spread to his veins after he’d uttered the words. It wasn’t pleasant.

She shrugged. “I left him in bed with his boyfriend—” Gideon saw red but forced down a breath. In bed. With his boyfriend. “—but Justin isn’t enough protection. He’s human.”

“He’s… dating a human?” Fuck his traitorous tongue. He wouldn’t ask questions.

She shrugged. “There is always someone, but they can’t protect him properly. They don’t know what he is or the danger he’s in. I have to find out who attacked Valerie and why. I think it’s connected to what she was trying to tell me.”

Gideon couldn’t think. There is always someone. His bed hadn’t lacked lovers for the last six years, but he’d never imagined Jyran being with someone other than him. He was his mate, why would he want to bed anyone else? The voice in his head snorted. “Human?”

“What? No, shifter. She had scratches from claw marks. I’m heading to the hospital in a minute to talk to her. When I called, her mother was there, so I figured I’d pop in here first.”

“I mean Jyran. You left him with a human.”

He watched as a little light came on in her eyes. “Right, yeah, our entire team is human these days. Valerie was the last to go. I didn’t renew her contract when it came to an end. No hard feelings.”

“What? Why?” Who would want to work with humans? Humans couldn’t protect them.

She shrugged. “They love Jyran.”

Right, and shifters would want to kill him.

“Oh, and he wrote you a letter.” She pulled a paper that had been folded a million times from her pocket.

“He wrote me a letter?” He tried to halt the warmth spreading in his chest.

“Sure. He does it all the time, and then we normally get drunk and burn them. He’s a cute drunk.”

Gideon tried to process what she was saying while clutching the letter.

“Go on, read it.”

Part of him wanted to, another part suspected this would end badly. He slowly unfolded the paper and read the date in the corner. It was dated two weeks prior. He glanced at her, but she was studying her nails.

Skimming the first paragraph, he grinned as Jyran told him about Fewood. How lovely the city was, and how he’d gotten two pairs of shoes from the biggest shoe store he’d ever been in. Then the paper crinkled in his grip as he described, in detail, how Justin had sucked him off in a park under the moonlit sky and now was sleeping in his bed. How lovely he was, how Jyran wished he could love him. Then he went on a rant about how much he hated wolves and ended the letter with a fuck you. It was more like a diary entry than a letter.

“He wanted me to read this?”

“No, of course not.” She yanked it from his grip and tore it. “I had to steal it while he was in the shower. I’d have taken a juicier one, but he was done in the bathroom, so there was no time.”

Gideon filled his lungs. “How many letters are we talking?”

Adara shrugged. “He writes to you almost every day, but then, when he’s extra depressed, we burn them.” Her grin was evil. “You don’t deserve him.”

Maybe not, but he didn’t want him either, so it didn’t matter.

“Why give it to me, then?”

“Because you’re an ass.” She made a move to leave but turned. “If you hear anything about someone wanting to skin a squirrel or kill a singer, let me know, yeah?”

Gideon didn’t know what to do. His inner wolf whined with the need to protect his mate, but he was a stupid, mindless beast. Gideon couldn’t have a squirrel mate. “You think you’re in danger? For real? You’re not here to punish me?”

“Gid, had I wanted to punish you, you’d be bleeding. I’m sorry your idiocy is hurting Jyran, but as long as you’re pushing him away, I can keep him, so the selfish part of me doesn’t mind your stupidity at all. The day Jyran settles down with someone, I’ll be lost. I might stop touring. I’ve made enough money to last me a lifetime, but I kind of like it. He doesn’t, though. One day, he’ll settle for someone, and we’ll stop this nomad way of living.”

“You’ll stop touring?” He didn’t believe her. “For Jyran.”

“There is nothing I wouldn’t do for Jyran, but not until I know he can be happy. Justin is all right, but he’s not the one. I had higher hopes for David. For a while there, I believed David would be enough for him.”

It hurt more than it should. Gideon had worked his way through a long line of lovers, but he’d never kept anyone for more than a night. Jyran had relationships, and it hurt. He laughed with someone, cuddled with someone, shared meals with someone.

But he was a fucking squirrel. Gideon couldn’t be with a squirrel.

About Holly Day

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 :: Newsletter :: TikTok

#SalesSaturday | Gentlemen’s Agreement by Ellie Thomas

Ellie Thomas is back on the blog. Today, she’s talking about her story Gentlemen’s Agreement that’s released today 🥳 Welcome Ellie!

Gentlemen's Agreement FB Promo 1

Thank you so much, lovely Ofelia, for having me as your guest again today. I’m Ellie, I write MM Historical Romance novellas, and I’m here today to chat about my latest release, Gentlemen’s Agreement currently in the 20% pre-release/new release sale at JMS Books until January 20th.

In the fourth story of my Twelve Letters series of Regency romp novellas, I aimed to bring the main story thread to a happy conclusion. However, I also wanted to introduce Luc, the MC of my upcoming spin-off story, The Misfit, by adding a subplot.

Additionally, there were loose ends to tie up, developed in the story arc during Twelve Letters, Queer Relations, and Coming of Age, the previous books in the series. In Gentlemen’s Agreement, along with my ensemble group, consisting of three couples, Jo and Daniel, Ben and Edward, and Percy and Nathan, plus other regulars, Armand, Percy’s charming half-brother who we met in Queer Relations, reappears to join the cast.

As we’ve learned by now, most of Percy’s family is not as amenable as Armand. Percy’s older brother Clarence, who bullied him as a child, has not improved with age. We found out in Coming of Age that he fathered a baby, George, now three, with courtesan Emma and abandoned them without a second thought. At the close of Queer Relations, Emma has entrusted her son to Percy for the summer, so George is staying in Kent with Percy’s saintly brother Simeon and his wife.

At the start of this story, Percy takes full responsibility for his teenage sisters, moving out of his bachelor pad in Mayfair to a house in rural Chelsea to accommodate his expanding family. Rather than having one young relative at a time to steer through the social round, he now has three at once! Together with the temporary care of George, juggling Emma’s visits in a way that won’t ruin his sisters’ reputations, plus having Armand stay, life gets very complicated for a reformed brat who is used to looking after his own interests.

Then there is the entertaining subplot that involves all my gentlemen. Due to their position in the ton, they’re co-opted by Ben’s former senior officer to foil some high-placed conspirators in a scheme to free Napoleon on his way to exile on St. Helena. As you can see from the extract, Jo is baffled as to why anyone would choose him to help!

In Gentlemen’s Agreement, I thoroughly enjoyed resolving any final bars to lasting happiness for my three established couples. The Napoleonic subplot allowed Luc to enter in preparation for his story, The Misfit, released on April 1st. I relished writing this combination of romantic happiness, family chaos, and political intrigue, all adding to my plotting fun.

Gentlemen’s Agreement

gentlemensagreement

The group of Regency men who meet each Thursday at The Golden Lion in London’s St James’ find their lives become increasingly intertwined during the early autumn of 1815. Now the long wars with France are finally over, Jo Everett and Captain Ben Harding are heavily involved with their charity to assist injured ex-servicemen, as well as encountering personal complications.

Ben’s romantic interest Edward Stephens remains a hundred miles away in Wiltshire, and although Jo and his true love Daniel Walters are in the same city, they are no closer to fulfilling their dream of sharing a home. Reformed brat Percy Havilland has a deluge of relatives and increasingly convoluted family problems to deal with in his new Chelsea abode, distracting him from his older partner Nathan Brooks.

As the gentlemen juggle their feelings and duties, Ben’s former commanding officer involves them in capturing a spy ring that has inveigled the most exclusive ranks of high society. Their remit is to help foil Napoleon’s restoration as Emperor of France before he reaches the remote island of St. Helena and permanent exile.

Can this motley group of Regency men attain their happy ever after with their chosen partners? And as the nefarious treachery plays out in the select ballrooms of Mayfair, might Percy save the day by flirting for England?

Extract:

“Me?” Jo’s voice rose to a squeak. “Are you certain that the Colonel mentioned me by name? I’m bound to be the last person considered fit for subterfuge, as I’d go blundering around like a bull in a china shop. Doesn’t your lot have properly trained agents for this sort of venture?”

My lot, be damned! Leave me out of it,” Ben grinned, sitting in his armchair and sipping the brandy he felt he deserved to extinguish the lingering taste of Amontillado and spycraft. “If you reckon you have no talent for espionage, what about me? I always steered clear of that side of operations while in the field. Although,” he said more seriously. “I was grateful enough for any information received in advance of a skirmish.”

Jo’s cheerful expression grew momentarily serious. “If that brought you safely through battle, then it must have some merit. But, even if I wanted to assist, I can’t fathom how an ordinary fellow like me, with no military connections except for you, can be of any assistance.”

“You’ve hit on the Colonel’s point exactly. Now hostilities are over, he posited that the arena of conflict is no longer the battlefield but the evening party. If he or his informers suddenly started to flock to Mayfair, the likely suspects would reconvene somewhere safer and hard to reach. But since the drawing room is your natural habitat, you would rouse no suspicion. 

Jo gave a noncommittal grunt as Ben warmed to his theme. “I can’t imagine I’m the only junior officer he’s approached. I surmise the Colonel has an extensive brigade of ex-soldiers and their cronies amongst the clubs and sporting venues to cover all eventualities.”

As Jo looked slightly reassured at not being singled out alone, Ben continued, “I have to admit the Colonel is astute in his selection. You’re not only more than socially acceptable, but you’re eminently reliable. No, don’t contradict me, I’ve known you too long. You never ratted on me at school for hiding Granger’s riding crop when he threatened to use it on us younger boys, even when he swore he’d truss you up over an open fire if you didn’t confess.”

Jo did not seem completely reassured by this fulsome commendation as he said doubtfully, “If you put it that way, I’ll be glad to do my bit, naturally, but I can’t promise I’ll be much use.”

“I won’t leave you in the lurch. I might even attempt to attend a few more parties for a good cause. Heaven knows I get invited to enough of them. Colonel Graham said he’d be grateful for extra recruits at our discretion. Is there anyone trustworthy you can think of offhand?”

“Well,” Jo began. “There’s always Percy.”

Ben glared at Jo in disbelief. “Percy?” He remonstrated. “Unless he’s gazing at his reflection I wouldn’t grant him any abilities of observation.”

“You’d be surprised at Percy’s powers of perception,” Jo said thoughtfully. “A year ago I would have said you had a fair point, but now he’s…”

As Jo paused to find the correct phrase, Ben could have easily supplied several examples including, become more bearable, less of a pointless popinjay, begun to notice other people exist. He was about to interject witheringly with his favourite, no longer a completely selfish arse, when Jo added, “…mellowed.”

Ben grinned. “If you say so. I remain to be convinced, but I bow to your superior knowledge. I have to admit I wasn’t keen on imposing on you or any of our friends, but Colonel Graham’s dire warnings of conspiracies convinced me. We simply cannot risk Napoleon getting free again and raising another army.” He shuddered at the recollection of Napoleon’s daring escape from exile in Elba, landing near Cannes in the South of France and sweeping through the country unchecked until his narrow defeat at Waterloo.

“I was unable to take part in the battle, but I can assist now, with a little help from my friends.”

“I’ll be glad to join your civilian platoon and be on the lookout for those all-important names you mentioned. And, with your approval, I’ll mention it to Percy, on a need-to-know basis.”

“Then I can advise Colonel Graham that matters are in hand.” Ben raised his glass, “To Operation Ballroom!”

Book Links:

Publisher: https://www.jms-books.com/ellie-thomas-c-224_420/gentlemens-agreement-p-4593.html

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Gentlemens-Agreement-Ellie-Thomas-ebook/dp/B0BRKCMN2V/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2MNSG2GN7IZL7&keywords=gentlemen%27s+agreement+by+ellie+thomas&qid=1672845658&sprefix=gentlemen%27s+agreement+by+ellie+thomas%2Caps%2C154&sr=8-1

Universal Book Link: https://books2read.com/u/mez0ql

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/75574516-gentlemen-s-agreement

Add to Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/gentlemen-s-agreement-by-ellie-thomas

About Ellie Thomas

Ellie Thomas lives by the sea. She comes from a teaching background and goes for long seaside walks where she daydreams about history. She is a voracious reader especially about anything historical. She mainly writes historical gay romance.

 Ellie also writes historical erotic romance as L. E. Thomas.

Website: https://elliethomasromance.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elliethomasauthor/

Twitter: @e_thomas_author

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19835510.Ellie_Thomas

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ellie-thomas

Guest Post | After Marcus by Nell Iris

Nell Iris is back on the blog 🥳 She’s here to let us know a little about her newest release, After Marcus. Welcome, Nell!


Ho-ho-ho, it’s me again. Nell. The wonderful Ofelia has yet again been kind enough to allow me to visit and talk about my newest release (and if you knew just how last minute this post was, you’d realize what a great person she is!) 😍

After Marcus is about Ossian who unexpectedly lost his husband Marcus three years ago, and his neighbor, friend, and rock Joar, who stood by Ossian after his husband’s death. It’s a short and emotional story about finding love a second time around.

There’s one thing that always bugs me in books and movies and the likes when one character is about to die: the moment when they tell their partner Promise me you’ll find someone else when I’m gone. I guess it’s supposed to be romantic, I guess it’s supposed to show that the person speaking the words has a huge heart and wants what’s best for their partner even after they’ve passed.

And okay. I get the sentiment. But I’m a selfish b*tch; if I was on my deathbed, I wouldn’t tell my husband to go forth and replace me. I’ve loved him since I was 17, how could I say it and mean it? Would I want my generous teddy bear with the huge heart to be forever alone after I’m gone? No. Of course not. But he wouldn’t be alone if he moved in with our daughter and grandbaby, right? 😊 And if he finds someone else after I’m gone, that’s okay because I won’t know about it.

I’m sure you’re asking yourselves Why are you rambling about this, Nell? Because Ossian’s now-deceased husband once said that to him. “If I die before you, I want you to find someone else.” Ossian was furious with him and didn’t want to hear him saying things like that, but then he got to experience it long before he expected to.

But even as time passes and mellows the pain, and as Ossian’s heart starts to flutter in the presence of someone else, he struggles with these new emotions. Even though he knows he’d have Marcus’s blessing, even though he doesn’t want to be alone, he feels like it’s wrong.

Luckily, Joar is understanding. And patient. And smoking hot…at least according to Ossian 😍

After Marcus

Blurb: 

Ossian’s heart shattered when his husband Marcus died unexpectantly. He shut down, put his life on hold, and would’ve wasted away had it not been for his neighbor, Joar.

Joar was there when Ossian needed him, offered a friendly shoulder to cry on, convinced him to eat, and helped coax him back to the living.

Three years after the life-altering event, Ossian starts seeing Joar in a different light, awakening feelings he thought were dead forever. But is Ossian ready to take the leap and open his heart to someone new? And does Joar feel the same?

M/M Contemporary / 11340 words

 

Buy links: 

JMS Books :: Amazon :: Books2Read

After Marcus cover

About Nell

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.

Find Nell on social media:

Newsletter :: Webpage/blog :: Twitter :: Facebook Page :: Facebook Profile :: Goodreads :: Bookbub

Excerpt: 

Marcus Nyman 1972 – 2018. Beloved husband. 

“Hey you,” I say, caressing the headstone, knowing he’d be so pissed off at me for driving on a pitch-black December night and in such awful weather conditions.

What’s so important you need to risk your fucking life? 

“You.”

A dead guy is never more important than your life, precious. 

Precious. He never used endearments unless he was being ironic or upset at me for some reason. 

“I needed to talk to you.”

His imaginary voice in my mind is right, though. I was irresponsible driving here, barely paying attention, after not sleeping at all. I’m lucky I managed in one piece.

It’s past four in the morning and the winds have picked up, sneaking underneath my clothing, whirling the falling snow around me until it finds its way into my ears, underneath my scarf, attacking me from every direction. I need to stand up right now and leave, or I won’t be able to drive home. 

But I remain in my spot, needing to be close to him. 

You’d be closer to me in our home, my treasure. These are just my cremated bones, they’re not me. 

I know. His presence still lingers everywhere in the house we bought ten years ago when we needed to get out of the city. The people, the cars, the constant noise levels were all stressing me out, making it impossible for me to focus on my writing. When Marcus got a job offer from another university, we leaped at the chance to get out. That’s when we bought the house. 

We met Joar the second day after our moving truck had dropped us and all our belongings off in our new home in the forest. 

Marcus was the first to spot him as he came walking through the trees. “Oh-oooh, here comes trouble,” he said, and when I joined him by the window, I could understand his concerns. 

“The trouble” my husband referred to of course Joar and even at a distance, he was huge, and he was dressed from head to toe in camo clothing. His long legs ate up the distance between the forest line and our house, and as he approached, I noticed the rifle resting in the crook of his elbow. But the weapon was open, the double barrel pointing down, and even though his face was serious, he didn’t look angry or menacing. 

“Stay here,” Marcus said and stepped out onto the porch. 

I snorted. His protective streak was ridiculous, but he knew better than to try to get me to stay put like I was a spoiled lapdog. I followed him outside, stepped into his space, close enough for our shoulders to touch, and slid my hand into his. Together, united as always, we waited as Joar approached. 

Joar didn’t blink an eye at us holding hands. He just introduced himself, told us he lived further up the road, and welcomed us to the neighborhood before he left again, disappearing into the forest to go hunting. 

“He was unexpectedly nice,” Marcus said after Joar left. 

“Don’t be a judgmental jerk,” I said. “He doesn’t have to be a bad guy just because he looks a little rough.”

“Yeah, but the rifle didn’t help the impression that he’s not going to be on Santa’s nice-list this year.”

“Well, look at you. You look like a perfectly respectable, dry professor in your tweed jackets, but you’re definitely on Santa’s naughty list.” I pinched his ass.

“I am a respectable, dry professor.”

I stepped into his space, so close our noses touched, and grabbed his crotch. “You’re a professor, yes. But you won’t be dry,” I gave his dick a good squeeze, “when I’m finished with you.” 

Marcus chuckled. “Seriously, Ossian, you need to work on your seduction technique.”

“Yeah?” 

“Mhm.”

I flipped open his jeans and shoved my hand into his briefs. 

I jerk out of the memory and shake it off; it feels wrong to think about things like that in a cemetery. Is it even allowed?

Don’t be a prude, Ossian. It’s not like you.

No, I never was a prude. I couldn’t keep my hands off Marcus, not even after being with him for close to twenty years. His body, his mind always excited me in a way that no one ever had before I met him. And all those feelings died with him. When he was no longer around, my body shut down. 

My grief counselor said it was natural, that it was a part of the process, but I never really believed her. I was so certain I was going to live out the rest of my life like a dry husk, feeling nothing but pain and sadness. I’d never experience closeness again, or the exhilaration of being turned on by another person.

Seems I was wrong. 

I don’t know when things changed, when my body started thawing, even warming up to someone else. 

It seems to me you’re more than warmed up, baby.

“Shush,” I say without heat. But I need to know. “Would you mind?”

You know I wouldn’t.

do know. He said it once, one night as we were cuddled up together after making love. “If I die before you, I want you to find someone else.”

At the time, I was furious with him. “Don’t say shit like that, you’re not gonna die.”

“Everyone dies, Ossian. And I don’t want you to be alone.”

Oh God, I’m so alone. I don’t want to be alone.