Author Interview Marina Adair

As a writer, Marina is devoted to giving her readers contemporary romance where the towns are small, the personalities large, and the romance explosive.  Her St Helena Vineyard series was the inspiration behind the Hallmark Original movie, Autumn in the Vineyard. (I totally snagged that from her website BTW)

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I like to set a scene for my interviews, gives us a chance to be somewhere, and not just words on a webpage. Are we in a tasting room in wine country? Or on an open patio by the beach somewhere?

We are sitting on a front porch, sipping a glass of Pino Gris and watching the clouds float over Mt Hood in Portland.

You have several small town series, in vastly different areas across the US, did you travel extensively to research the regions?

I love creating new towns for my characters. So even if a series is based on an actual town, I fictionalize it. That said, every series I have written has been based on a place I have lived or visited prior to starting the series. For example, The Eastons series follows five alpha brother is Portland, Oregon who inherit their dad’s brew house. I flew to Portland and explored the city for several days with a friend and fellow author before I started the series.

What drew you to creating these communities of characters and places?

I spent most of my childhood in my head, creating amazing places and stories. It is still something I do to this day. The fact that my job now is to create places I’d wasn’t to live or visit makes it the best job on earth.

Please tell us about the Eastons and your newest release.

The Eastons series follows five brothers who must overcome the loss of their father in order to open themselves up for true love. They don’t mind breaking the rules or testing the limits, but when it comes to matters of the heart … they play for keeps.

My upcoming release in the series, DRIVE ME MAD, which comes out this summer, follows the Assistant District Attorney, Josh Easton, as he finds himself in the run for DA, and going head to head with a sexy, ball-buster of a woman, who teaches him that all is fair in love and war. It is an enemies to lover story, where my hero and heroine can’t stand what the other represents, but can’t seem to keep their hands off each other.

What was your reaction when you found out the Hallmark Channel wanted to make Autumn in the Vineyard story into a movie?

I have an MFA in screenwriting, which was my first love. So when I switched to novels, I thought I had to give up the dream of seeing my work on the screen. So when Hallmark optioned the entire St Helena Series, I was able to fulfill that dream. And it was amazing!

Did you get to visit the set?

I did get to go to the set! It was filming in Canadian Wine Country, so Big Sexy and I took a trip up north. Rachael Leigh Cook was as sweet as she is talented, and the producer heading up the project was an amazing man to meet. The highlight though was Larry the Llama, who was so talented he played Mittens the Alpaca. (edit: don’t you just love how she calls her husband Big Sexy!)

As part of (the now defunct Kindle Worlds) what was it like from your side of the table, having all these authors continue to populate your world, and have new characters, and familiar characters take on new adventures?

I have been so blessed in my career being surrounded by successful and talented authors who helped me get to where I am today. Kindle Worlds was an amazing opportunity for me to help other new authors grow their reader base and write in my world. My readers were able to spend more time with characters they love, and explore new characters as well. It was a win-win for all involved.

ChiChi Ryo is quite the character from the St. Helena Vineyards books. I can almost imagine that this fierce nona came to you and began telling you all about her handsome grandsons, and beautiful granddaughter. I am fascinated with how different authors discover their characters. So, who came first? The DeLuca hotties or ChiChi?

The DeLucas are based on a real-life family from my childhood. My babysitter was the only sister among five older, Italian brothers, who made her dating life hell growing up. But ChiChi is lightly based on my own grandmother and her friends. So, I guess ChiChi would have come first.

If you could rewrite a piece of classic literature (I’ll let you decide what that definition means) which story would you take on? What big changes would you make?

I’m not sure I would re-write, but I would definitely love to play in Jane Austin’s world. In grad school I read, Wide Sargasso Sea, which is a parallel novel of Jane Eyre, and tells the story of Bertha. That book blew my mind and inspired me to read other parallel novels, such as Huck and The Hours. If the opportunity presented itself to write a parallel novel, I’d probably write a book from Mr. Darcy’s or Jane Bennett’s perspective.

Pineapple on pizza, yes or no?

Um YES!

Coke or Pepsi?

Beer

What’s the one question you always like when people ask authors?

“Where can I get your next book?” Lol.

Every Little Kiss comes out July 18, 2018

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Follow Marina, and find out where you can get her next book!

http://www.marinaadair.com/

www.facebook.com/marinaadairaauthor

www.twitter.com/MarinaEAdair

www.instagram.com/marinaadairauthor/

Happy Release Day!

SweetSatisfaction

Now Available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited!

Sexy hot dessert chef Les Hernandez knows how to make a cheesecake.

Les Hernandez is hot. He is sexy as hell, he has that whole bad boy chef vibe, rocks a kilt, and makes the most orgasmic cheesecake Tori has ever tasted. No wonder it was crush at first sight. Tori even changes her work schedule so she can see him more, all under the pretense of excellent customer service. But she knows it’s hopeless, that he only sees her as that funny pudgy girl that’s good to hang out with because she doesn’t threaten away other women. 

Tori begins to question her life choices: moving to a small town in the middle of wine country no longer seems like the best idea. Her best friend no longer returns text messages, her boss has changed the nature of her job, and she really needs to get over her crush on Les.

Les can’t figure sassy Tori out. Her job as Social Marketing and Special Projects Manager for one of their suppliers has her in his kitchen doing everything from delivering vegetables to taking selfies. She also has this way of eating his desserts that leaves him needing a moment or three in the walk-in freezer to cool off. But he doesn’t think of her that way. Or does he?

Play Ball! Interview with author Jen Doyle

A big believer in happily ever afters, Jen Doyle decided it was high time she started creating some. CALLING IT, the first book in her baseball/contemporary romance/romantic comedy series of the same name, has been winning awards since its inception, the most recent being the 2017 Best Banter Contest. (And it’s on sale through 4/5/18 for 99 cents!) She also writes the acclaimed HANSONS OF ST. HELENA series of novellas in the St. Helena Vineyard Kindle World.

Today is the beginning of baseball for the year and the first day of Jen’s 99 cent sale! The runs until April 5th.
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I love to set a scene for our interview. It helps to give the readers a little more insight into you as a person. I’m not sure if we should be at a ballpark with hotdogs and drinks, or chatting quietly in the big comfy chairs at a library?

LOL! How about sitting on the beautiful porch of a library that’s situated in an old Victorian home and overlooks a baseball field? (I used the house in the picture at https://www.pinterest.com/pin/385620786821588739/ as my inspiration for, well, the Inspiration (IA) Public Library. So that’s the porch I’m thinking of. Which, come to think of it, kind of looks like the porch on the house in Field Of Dreams, which in turn looks over a baseball field. [See how I did that? ]) Oh, and don’t forget the Cracker Jacks!

Your first series centers around baseball and a small town in Iowa. So let’s start with baseball, I take it you are a fan? Who is your favorite team? Did you grow up playing as a kid?

I am! I actually just recorded a podcast with my sister where we talk about that. For me, baseball brings about memories of sitting in the living room and doing homework while my dad watched the game on the TV. He was a huge Yankees fan, so those games were a big part of my growing up. When I met the man who was to become my husband (we met in college), the fact that he was a Red Sox fan was a bit of a concern in my family…with good reason. We moved to Boston in 1996 and living in such a big baseball town it was hard not to begin to side with the hometown team. I officially converted in 2003 and am now raising three fairly rabid Red Sox fans, to (some of) my family’s dismay.

And now for small towns, you also write for St. Helena Vineyards Kindle Worlds, that also takes place in and around a small town. What drew you to these two small-town locations for your writing?

It’s weird, because I’m actually a city girl at heart, but when it comes to my fiction, I love reading and writing about small towns. I think it’s about these communities of people who know everything about each other and are in each other’s business all the time. Sometimes that’s a good thing, with communities coming together in times of hardship, and sometimes, of course, it’s not quite as idyllic, with small-town politics, etc. But being able to explore those themes—and play up those characters—is definitely one of my favorite things to do.

And to add on to that, what I love about writing in the St. Helena Vineyard KW universe, is the ability to play off the amazing characters that Marina Adair created in her original series and then either expand upon or bring brand new characters into the world. Plus, to be part of this community of writers…it’s like all the amazing parts of a small town rolled up into one.

Tell us a little about the Calling It! series. Is there a next book in the works, and what is that one about?

The Calling It series starts off with, unsurprisingly, LOL, Calling It in which a superstar major league baseball player Nate Hawkins returns to his small hometown of Inspiration, IA, in order to escape a scandal that he’s part of through no part of his own. He hasn’t told anyone he’s coming home, so when he arrives in town just before midnight, he decides to crash at his baby sister’s apartment, not knowing that she’s sublet it. When he’s confronted by a woman in her bathrobe—who is very much not his sister—he finds himself being more intrigued than he should be, especially considering she’s clearly ready to clobber him with a baseball bat. The woman, of course, is the local librarian, Dorie Donelli. Things proceed from there.

There are two more books in the series—Called Up, which centers around Nate’s baby sister (Fitz) and one of his best friends from high school (Deke), and Called Out, which centers around Nate’s former teammate and Deke’s sister Lola. All are standalone books, but definitely more enjoyable if read in order because of the way different characters are revisited. There’s also a shorter length book, Holiday House Call, that takes place in the same small town. It, too, is a standalone and more loosely related than the other books, however, it does bring back some of the same characters from the earlier books.

I’m actually working on a proposal for a new series right now, but my next project is to write the first book in a spin-off series that will revolve around Dorie’s brothers back in Boston. And then—I hope!—back to Inspiration again as there are still some characters whose stories I’d like to tell.  

You also have a paranormal romance serial out on Radish. Educate us a bit on what Radish is, and how readers access your work there. 

Radish is an app that you would download—just like any other app—and then begin to explore the different genres. For those not familiar, serial fiction is made up of stories that are told over a period of time. With Radish, each story is broken up into difference ‘episodes’ which are posted throughout the week. So, for example, Butterfly Ops, my story in Radish, is posted three times each week. It’s part of the ‘freemium’ model, which means that the initial few chapters are free, and then readers can either choose to pay coins for succeeding chapters or wait until they become free over time.

You used to be a big mystery fan, do you blend your two favorite genres? Romance with serious who-done-its?

You know, I don’t! That’s so funny. I never thought about that. Butterfly Ops, although primarily a romance, does have an overarching mystery to it, and that was a lot of fun to write. But my contemporary romances don’t have any whodunit elements whatsoever. Hmmmm… I’ll need to think about that.

Do you listen to music when you write? What is the soundtrack to your latest book if you do?

I don’t really listen to music while I’m writing because there are already too many voices in my head, LOL. But I will say that I find music very inspirational and that it helps stir the creative juices when I’m more in the ruminating stage of a book. Or, for that matter, when I’m really stuck. I will say that I had a very difficult time writing Holiday House Call due to some things that were going on in my life, and although I had a contract deadline to meet, I was getting to the point where I was afraid I actually wasn’t going to be able to do it and that bothered me immensely. And then I stumbled upon Walker Hayes (specifically the video to You Broke Up With Me) and that finally got me going again. It wasn’t the song so much as the musician. He had all the characteristics I was looking for in Tuck, my hero for the book—not just the looks, although the whole chiseled jaw, ridiculously gorgeous arms thing didn’t hurt, but he brought to life a character that I was having a hard time visualizing and it made a huge difference. (Incidentally, Walker Hayes is an incredible songwriter and storyteller. I highly recommend boom., the CD he just recently put out.)

Who are your writing heroes, and how did they inspire you to become a writer?

You know how people say they knew from almost as soon as they could talk that they’d be a writer? Yeah. I’m not one of those. I actually didn’t even think of myself as a writer until about five years ago. Up until then, I considered it a hobby as the first thing I put to paper (well, virtually, of course) was a fanfic in the Buffy universe. One of my favorite characters left the show under circumstances that I wasn’t at all happy with, so I decided to write an explanation that I could live with. My writing career kind of spiraled from there.

As part of that experience, however, I ‘met’ someone named Diana, who responded to one of the first stories I ever wrote. (Incidentally, dear reader, she hated it.) But that turned into a ten-year relationship where she helped me make the journey from hobbyist to actual novelist. She’s the person who eventually told me that I had it in me to write a book—that, in fact, given what I’d done in the fan fiction world, I already had nine times over—and that I should think about it seriously. I can’t tell you how much it meant to me to be able to dedicate Calling It, my first published novel, to her.

The question I ask everyone is about their characters. How do your characters come to you? Do they show up and say “hi write me” or do they develop as you construct your story?

I’d say it’s a combination of both. Although I have a general sense of where my story is going to go, I find that the characters truly take me there. I’m definitely one of those writers who basically has scenes unfold in my head as I’m writing them (thus the ‘voices in my head’ I referred to earlier), and, as a result, characters basically telling me where they want to go. There are also some characters which take some time to develop—like Tuck, from Holiday House Call, who I didn’t even know was going to have a book of his own until, well, he did—and then some characters who are so vivid and strong that I’ve known from the second they appear in my head exactly how their story is going to play out. For example, Jack, the hero from Called Out (#3), is one of the first characters I ever conceived of even though he didn’t show up in person until the very end of book one. And although some of the background details may have changed a bit, he ended up exactly as I saw him in those very early days.

Which comes first the character or the story?

I guess I’d say the characters, but only by a little bit. I tend to see particular scenes in my head, and those scenes have characters in them—sometimes the romantic leads, sometimes a group of friends—but I have no idea what bigger story the scene is part of. Which, unfortunately, is a huge problem for me, LOL. (I HATE first drafts.)

Which do you prefer rom-coms or action adventure movies? Or are you an Oscars kind of flick person (of course this year a monster movie won, so that’s a bit of a change up, isn’t it?)

I like my movies the way I like my books—with happy endings. So, unfortunately, those big “important” films that tend to win the big awards don’t usually appeal to me no matter how amazing they might be. And although I do enjoy a good action adventure movie for, say, date night with my husband, or a family outing with the kids (have you seen the new Jumanji? It was AWESOME), I will always choose the rom-com if it’s just me. But it definitely has to have a happy ending. None of that Nicholas Sparks stuff for me!

Coke or Pepsi?

Coke. No question. (To the point where I went out to lunch last weekend and ordered a Diet Coke, and when the waitress asked if Diet Pepsi was okay, I had to give the big n-o and switch to Iced Tea.)

What’s on your pizza?

Well, I should probably say things like a lot of vegetables and easy on the cheese. But that would be a total lie. Pepperoni and extra cheese, please.

I really want to ask that credit card commercial question: What’s in your wallet?

Ha! My wallet is pretty boring. Credit cards, my driver’s license, and a bunch of old receipts that I stuffed into the inner pocket. My purse on the other hand…I’ve got toy cars (even though my kids stopped playing with them some time ago), cough drops, tissues, a book, my planner, pens, more cough drops… Oh, I could go on.

And with that, it looks like I’ve reached the end! Thank you sooooo much for having me! I’ve enjoyed sitting here on the porch and watching the game with you. Let’s do this again sometime!

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Baseball player Nathan Hawkins needs to get away from Chicago. After a near career-ending car accident and with paparazzi surrounding his penthouse, Nate can only think of one place to go: home. But when he finds his old apartment occupied by a half-naked woman wielding a baseball bat, he’s not sure what to think…except that maybe his luck has finally changed for the better.

Librarian Dorie Donelli never thought she’d get to meet her fantasy man in person—much less in her bathrobe. To her surprise, her nearly naked run-in with Nate leads to more unclothed encounters. But Dorie is sure their fling is only temporary. As long as she remembers he’ll be gone once his life gets back on track, she won’t get hurt. In the meantime, she throws herself into enjoying their three weeks together before he has to report for spring training and go back to his old life.

For Nate, being with Dorie is the only time in months that he finds himself smiling. Laughing. And he has no intention of letting that go. He might even be falling in love…if only Dorie will let him say the words. What they have isn’t just a dream, but the start of a dream come true.

 

Wip-it Wednesday Tori and Les

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I’m really excited to announce that I will be contributing to the May release of Marina Adair’s St. Helena Vineyards Kindleworlds! This is a little peek at what I’ve been working on for it.

“Oh we’re not done.” Les smiled before turning away. He bent over and pulled something from the lower level of the serving cart behind him.

Tori’s eyes went wide.

Les held two long white rectangular plates with five round mini towers of cheesecake.

“Oh, none for me, I don’t eat dairy.” Krista quietly pushed out of her chair. “I’ll see you in the truck.”

Everyone watched as she quietly left.

“Is she okay?” Marc asked.

“Yeah, she’s just really quiet and shy.” Tori screwed up her face. “And socially awkward. But I think she actually really liked the cakes. She said something.”

Tori turned her attention back to the cheesecakes. Now, this is what she was hoping for. She smiled with delight as he slid the long plate in front of her.

“Are you going to do a cheesecake flight? That would be awesome.” She looked at Les expectantly.

“Hadn’t thought about that. Hmm?” Chef tapped his fork against his mouth. “That might be worth looking into.”

“A flight?” Marc asked.

“Yeah, it’s like a wine tasting where you get a smaller portion of different flavors. People have been doing it around here for so long, they don’t call it a flight, just a tasting,” Les answered. He turned to Tori. “Well? What are you waiting for?”

“Sorry…I…ah…yeah.” She slid the fork into the first cheesecake. Chocolate by the coloring. It was delicious, and smooth, and perfect. The cocoa flavor almost as intense as the cake earlier.

She wanted to dive in and finish the entire small piece, but Krista was waiting, and there were four more flavors.

The next one played a myriad of flavors across her tongue. She closed her eyes and savored the nuances of wine and white chocolate. She may have moaned.

Les shifted uneasily. He watched as the tip of Tori’s tongue touched the morsel of food on the fork. She guided the fork into her mouth, then closed her pink lips around the cheesecake. The fork slid ever so slowly from between her lips, wiped perfectly clean. His body pulled, what he wouldn’t give to be that fork right now. Stop it, dude, that’s just Tori.

She focused on a bite of a different flavor. Mouth, lips, tongue. She made a stuttering mew of a moan. The look on her face…Les felt a throb in his crotch.

Chef cleared his throat and put his fork down. Les looked over at Marc, he shifted uneasily in his chair. Damn, Les wasn’t the only one thinking that Tori might be enjoying her cheesecake a bit too much. Then again, what would it take for a man to satisfy her to that level?

Les started clearing plates as Tori sampled the last flavor on her plate. He had a hard time watching, he felt almost dirty, like he had been caught sneaking into his dad’s Penthouse collection.

He shook his head, yeah, no. Stop that. It was Tori, she was cute and all, but no, not Tori. Not with her plus-sized jeans. Oh shut the f* up Les, you’re beginning to sound like Stevens. Why not Tori?

After a few false starts, and a voice crack, Chef managed, “You certainly enjoy your cheesecake. That was positively…”

“I feel like a bit of a voyeur having witnessed that.”

Les caught Tori blushing, and staring at her plate embarrassed. “No boss-man, that’s exactly the reaction we want. Tori, you clearly had favorites, share.”

“Uhm, okay.” She pointed to the chocolate, “This was nice but boring, especially after trying the rest of these. The wine, whats the chocolate?” Tori slid her fork back into the swirls of the cheesecake she mentioned and then slipped another small bite between her lips.

“White chocolate ganache with blackcurrant marbling.” Les swallowed the dry lump in his throat. The way she enjoyed the dessert made it hard for him to focus. He needed a moment or three in the deep freezer to cool off.

“Yeah,” she hummed. “It’s amazing, but I think too rich for a full-size slice. You really should consider a flight, because this amount would be just perfect. But include a plain cheesecake, as a cleanser between the other fancy ones.”

She tapped her fork against what remained of a soft orange and lavender-tinted piece. “This is the one you threatened me with before isn’t is? It’s amazing. It could easily stand on its own. I’ll make sure to get all the lavender I can for you.”

The kitchen doors swung open. “Your ride is honking, it’s distracting.” Stevens sneered at Tori.

“That’s not like Krista. I better go.” Tori stood in a hurry. “Thank you for letting me try all these out. You have to do the honey lemon and lavender, it’s amazing.”

“You didn’t like the chocolate cheesecake?” Les asked. People loved his chocolate cheesecake.

“Don’t get me wrong…” Tori flushed. “The chocolate was fantastic, but I want to have the honey, lemon, and lavender’s babies. Why have just good, when you can have orgasmic?”

In the back of his brain, Les was kicked with a thought, what would it be like to have Tori look at him as if he were cheesecake.

The Twelve Dates of Christmas

Throwback Thursday to last year and the serial release of
the Twelve Dates of Christmas.

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This sweet holiday romance was presented on each of the twelve days of Christmas last year, beginning on Christmas day.

You can read all twelve installments now, beginning with day one:
http://lmsylvian.com/the-twelve-dates…as-christmas-day/

A Perfect Proposal cover reveal

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Craig had an urge to call out “hey honey I’m home“ as he walked into the kitchen and tossed his keys into the bowl where he always threw his keys.

Sounds from the living room indicated that Lysia was watching TV. Returning to noise was nice. It made this house not so empty and lonely.

He paused when he entered the living room. Lysia had been busy, she still was.

Colorful paper chains, garlands of popcorn and cranberries covered the tree. Small origami ornaments hung from the branches.

“It’s beautiful. How did you do all of this?” Craig stepped up to his tree, admiring all the work that Lysia had put into decorating it. He turned to look at her. Her hair was a mess, half in and half out of a ponytail. She had flecks of small cut paper on her cheek. She bit paper clips that she had twisted out of shape, and flags of tape hung off the edge of her hand. Magazine clippings surrounded her. A stapler lay on its side. The tape dispenser was almost empty. Paper clips were scattered everywhere. Popcorn spilled out of a microwave bag and onto the floor. A hotel-room emergency sewing kit lay open on top of an empty plastic bag that used to contain fresh cranberries.

She focused on the construction in front of her. Craig could make out aluminum foil, coffee filters, and cardboard. The rest was sheer magic. Lysia constructed an angel from recycling and found objects.

“There.” She said triumphantly as she placed the last piece of tape along the back between wings she had formed from, where those leaves?

The smile she gave Craig made him stupid. How had he managed to pass over the offered third date reward? Oh right, he wasn’t going to pressure her, and last night he had fallen asleep like a dork.

She bounced up and presented him with the angel. “You’re home just in time to place her on top of the tree.”

Home. It sounded warm and inviting coming from her lips. This was just a big house. She was making it a home by being here. By decorating his tree, by bringing her presence into his life.

He took the angel from her and pulled her to him for an embrace. She tipped her face to him, and he took her lips. “This is beautiful, thank you.” He said after ending the kiss.

He held her to him as he reached up and crowned the tree with her art. “It’s perfect.”

©2017 Lulu M Sylvian. A Perfect Proposal.

The Twelve Strippers of Christmas- Cover reveal

Twelve Strippers of Christmas coming October 2017

The Twelve Strippers of Christmas is a collection of short stories all around the theme of the Twelve Days of Christmas.

With a twist

and a thrust

and some break away snaps.

Available in paperback and ebook October 26, 2017. Presale info coming soon.

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WIP-IT Wednesday Camp NANO time!

Camp NaNoWriMo is a virtual writer’s retreat, designed for maximum flexibility and creativity. We have Camp sessions in both April and July, and we welcome word-count goals between 30 and 1,000,000. In addition, writers can tackle any project they’d like, including new novel drafts, revision, poetry, scripts, and short stories.” –from their website

I am taking this opportunity play along with Camp NANO, and the writer support I find there to power through the rest of the stripper shorts. This excerpt is “RAW” and unedited, cranked out just this month.

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The music changed dramatically from loud and booming, to tinkling and light. Christmas music filled the air, and Katie could hear the woman next to her singing along with the music.

The stage curtains slid open revealing a man half dressed in a Santa suit lounging on a throne. Two ripped men dressed as elves pushed the throne forward down stage. The audience squealed in excitement and delight.

The “Santa” lounged on the throne. It was elaborate, tall gilded, ornate, it was everything that a throne should be. The “Santa” was not. He defied anyone’s preconceived notion of what a Santa was. There was no body fat on the man, he was lean and muscular. His long limbs betrayed his extensive height. His long scarlet robe of velvet, lined in ermine fur, cascaded around his frame, open, displaying an impressive collection of chest and abdominal muscles. Matching red britches and knee high boots completed his costume. There wasn’t a gray or white hair anywhere on his head or face. Thick wavy ginger hair graced his head under a crown of holly leaves and berries, no stocking cap with a ball of fluff on the end for him. The smirk across his face denoted his withering scorn for the scene before him. He kicked lazily in time to the music.

Now that’s a bad-ass man who clearly drinks tea. Holy Crap! Katie covered her mouth in an excited silent scream as she realized she could leverage tonight’s show for her blog. She let out a particularly loud cat-call to celebrate that this evening had just become a tax write-off. It looked like the wishing tea really did work.

The elves slid the throne back and to the side. Katie recognized her morning ogle victim as one of the two elves. Katie’s jaw dropped open. She had thought he looked hot and cute wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Now, shirtless with an open vest, poofy pants, and curly-toed shoes, he made a ridiculous elf costume look sexy. Santa deigned to get off of the throne. He tossed his long velvet cloak back onto the throne, the elves flanked him.

Three sexually-intimidating, ripped, with more abs than should be legal, Christmas characters stood poised ready to thrill.

“That’s one elf that can be on my shelf anytime.”

©2017 Lulu M. Sylvian

The Twelve Dates of Christmas: the twelfth date

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My True Love

I sat, despondent, on the couch, staring at the credits scrolling past on my TV. I did not have it in me to get up and change the DVD. I looked at the remote, hit the menu button, then started the movie again. Chris had gone into work, leaving me alone. I wanted to take another pain pill, but I couldn’t, not for three more hours.

I hurt, and I was alone.

Someone knocked on my door.

“Hold on, I’m coming, but I’m moving slow,” I called out.

It felt like an ice age to get me from the couch to the door. The pain management medicine skewed my perspective. For all, I know I actually sped over to the door.

I peeked to see Pat standing outside my door. I unbolted the chain and opened the door.

“Oh honey,” Pat said as soon as she saw me. She stood there with her arms full of grocery bags. What is it with the urge to feed people when they get sick or hurt?

She put her bags down and folded me into a large warm mommy hug. I needed a mommy hug, it was the best thing ever. So, of course, I started crying.

She eased me back onto the couch, pulled her bags in from the landing, and closed the door before joining me.

“What’s wrong?” She eased my head onto her shoulder.

I gulped and kept crying. “I just miss my mom, and I hurt. And I’m alone.”

“Sweetie, that’s why I’m here.” She patted soothing strokes along my hair and back.

“What?” I asked sniffing back my tears. I honestly did not expect to see Pat. I pretty much figured she didn’t like me and had just been playing nice since I was a surprise guest in her house.

“I’m here because my son is in love with you, whether he’s figured it out or not, and he is worried about you. You don’t need to be alone right now. I came figuring you could use a mom seeing how yours is across the country.”

I rested against her shoulder, just taking comfort that someone was here to mother me.

We sat like that for several minutes before I adjusted and let Pat get up.

“I brought all the ingredients for the butterscotch bars, and Chris said something about you liking bacon cheddar mashed potatoes. So I brought bacon, and cheese, and potatoes. You can tell me how to make that for dinner.” She carried the bags of food into the kitchen and began pulling things out onto the counter, and away into the refrigerator. “It looks like you are well stocked.”

“Yeah, my coworkers pulled out the stops and brought over all kinds of stuff. Which is good, because I didn’t have any food.”

Pat made herself familiar with my kitchen and began baking butterscotch bars.

I picked up my phone and texted Chris to let him know his mom had shown up.

He called me back, I picked up on the first ring.

“Hi.” I may have been overly enthusiastic to hear his voice.

“Hi, yourself. So mom’s there? Good, she said she would drive down.”

“I was definitely surprised, but I’m glad she’s here. She’s already baking. I think there is enough food in this apartment that I can safely eat myself into a food coma for the duration of my recovery.”

“You should rest, take a nap if you need to. You’ve got mom in case you need help with anything.”

I nodded and yawned, the nap suggestion was already working on my fuzzy brain.

“Are you coming by tonight?” I asked.

“I have to swing by my place to pick up some more clothes after work, but after that, I’ll come straight home.” He said.

“I like that. I like that a lot. I’ll see you later.”

“Call me if you need anything at all okay?”

“I will,” I said then I hung up the phone. I got to my feet and shuffled into the kitchen. “I’m going to go take a nap. You’ll be okay if I go pass out?” I asked Pat.

“You go rest. I’ll be fine. I can figure out how the TV works if I need anything I’ll just call Chris.”

I nodded and made my way back to my bedroom.

When I woke up the apartment smelled heavenly.

“I made butterscotch bars,” Pat announced as I shuffled into the living room.

“I can smell.” I closed my eyes and thought of Chris. I would forever associate this with him. “Can I have one? Or ten?”

Pat chuckled, she handed me two after I made myself comfortable on the couch.

“So what’s the plan?” I asked between bites.

“No plan, you don’t need anyone to cook. So I’m here for company, and to make sure you don’t need anything. A little later, I’ll let you talk me through those fancy mashed potatoes.”

I smiled as Pat took a seat. “I’m glad you’re here. I was really feeling sorry for myself after Chris left for work this morning. I didn’t want to be alone all of a sudden.”

“Good thing he called home, and that I have a flexible schedule. Grace is at work, and Mike is in school, so here I am.” She shifted in her chair. “Nat, I need to apologize again for what you overheard.”

I shook my head. She had apologized several times before we left. “You were expressing concern for your son. Nothing you said was really a personal attack. Just pointing out I am different. I’ve had time to think about it. I’ve met his ex, so I think Mike got it in his mind that women Chris like all look a certain way, and that Chris is a certain way. However old Mike was when that impression was made, it had been that way for a while. So in Mike’s head that’s the way it should be. Chris has changed along the way. Chris has been different for a while, even before I showed up on the scene. But with me being so much more different than his last girlfriend, it just pushed Mike’s buttons, and his reality is shifting, on top of that he’s sixteen, so his reality is already skewed.”

“You are being very understanding.”

“I think it’s the drugs talking. I’m not typically this insightful. He was still rude, and I’m not going to give him a pass on that. I just think I understand where it’s coming from.”

None of our other conversations for the rest of the afternoon were that deep.

Pat fried bacon, and I sat in the kitchen grating cheese. She had already boiled and mashed the potatoes, we were now preparing the goodies to be mixed in before it was put back into the oven to bake. I didn’t have the heart to tell her I typically use the frozen pucks of mashed potatoes or instant potato flakes. This would taste better with real potatoes anyway.

Chris walked in the door much earlier than I expected. He came straight to me and gently wrapped his arms around me before kissing me. He stroked the hair back from my face, “how are you feeling?”

“I’ve been good today. Your mom has been really helpful.”

He looked up, still holding me, “hi mom. Thanks for coming.” He released me, then gave his mom a quick hug.

I saw the look on her face. It was a mixture of pride and a touch of sadness. The pride that her son had found a woman to love and take care of, sadness that she had lost him to me. And that’s when I knew for certain, that on the twelfth day of Christmas I had found my true love. 

The End

catch up on the eleventh date.

©2016 Lulu M Sylvian. The Twelve Dates of Christmas

 

The Twelve Dates of Christmas: the eleventh date

11th

Piping Hot Tamales

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my hot date gave to me some pain pills, and some cute gay men brought me tamales.

I groaned and tried to move. Everything hurt.

“Shh, its okay.” Chris wrapped around me. I relaxed into his warmth.

“I need to pee,” I said.

Chris was up and helping me to the bathroom door, then left me on my own.

I wasn’t so bad off I needed help going to the bathroom, and our relationship wasn’t to that point yet. At least I didn’t think so. I carefully made my way back to bed.

Chris followed me with a glass of water and some pills. “Here, you can have more pain meds.”

I swallowed the pills and handed him back the glass. I noticed the clock across the room. “Shouldn’t you be at work?” I felt groggy with sleep and groggy from the muscle relaxers. “I need to call in. It’s so late.”

“I’ve already called in for both of us. They know you won’t be in all week. I even sent over a picture of the orders from the doctor.”

“Thank you.” I whimpered.

“I’m taking the day to take care of you, and to deal with my car. Insurance is supposed to get me a rental today or tomorrow.”

“You can borrow mine if you need to run errands. I’m not driving anytime soon.” I volunteered.

“Thanks, I will this afternoon. Right now it’s be lazy in bed and hold you.” He indicated I needed to lay back down so he could curl up around me again.

I moved slowly and carefully back into him. He wrapped his arms around me and nuzzled his nose into my hair by my ear.

“I’m staying with you today because I need this. I was scared last night, scared I had let you get hurt. Scared because they made me deal with my stupid car when they took you away to the hospital. I had to tell everyone we were engaged just so they would let me into the ER with you.”

My stomach did a little flip at the idea.

“I’m falling in love with you Nat. Last night made that clear to me.”

I tried to roll over to look at him. Instead, I gasped with pain and tensed up.

Chris sat up. “What? Are you okay?”

“Come over here so I can see your face,” I said through winces of pain.

The black eye he got had really bloomed over night. He looked worried and beat. I lay my hand against his cheek. “That’s the most wonderful thing I have ever heard. All I wanted was you to be near me last night. I wasn’t scared when you were around.” I ran my fingers through the thick hair on top of his head. “I love butterscotch. Be my butterscotch?”

He gave me the sweetest, most toe-curling kiss. It could have progressed to something hotter, and more intense but Chris kept it in check. I’m sure my flinching with pain in the middle of it put a damper on things.

We spent the day just hanging out in quiet company, watching movies on TV.

Chris put me down for a nap before he left to run some errands and get a few things from his place.

I felt muzzy headed after my nap. Chris came back and changed the DVD for me. It was nice to have him around, nice to have someone bend over for things I currently could not manage on my own. And nice to have around simply because I liked him.

“What do you want for dinner?” Chris asked as he rummaged through my cupboards. I didn’t have too much food on hand since I hadn’t gone shopping over the weekend like I typically did.

“You gonna cook?” I asked.

“If I can find something to make I will.”

“You cook?” I asked jokingly.

“You’ve met my parents. Of course, I cook. I can do more than run a grill too.”

I leaned against the wall and watched as Chris started to pull food out.

We both turned when there was a knock on the door. I stayed put as Chris went to open it.

“Boyfriend you look beat up. How’s my girl?” Blake asked as he swept in, followed by the good looking man I saw him at the movies with. Both of them were laden down with groceries and aluminum foil pans.

The food brigade had landed. The department I was in at work had a support system, whenever someone was sick and going to miss work for more than a few day, or was injured, or had someone at home in bad shape, we fed them. Those of us who lived close enough went home for lunch and cooked. Others hit the delis and grocery stores.

“Natalie this is Scott. Scott, Chris, Natalie.” Blake introduced us as he unpacked a variety of homemade meals and deli contributions from pre-sliced fruit and a rotisserie chicken to several casseroles and bags of chips. They also brought bottles of soda, and a six pack of beer.

“Oh wow, Jane and Lupa really outdid themselves,” I said eyeing the tamales and enchilada casserole. My standard contribution of bacon cheddar mashed potatoes was missing, then again this time I was the recipient of all the food.

“You probably have a few holiday leftovers here from the look of it,” Chris said as he started putting stuff away in the fridge.

“Even better,” I said. “I don’t have to worry about cooking or anything for at least a week.”

“How long you out?” Blake asked. “I thought someone said you broke your back.”

“No, I sprained it. Nothing is broken, it just hurts like a son-of-a-bitch. I should only be out this week.” I explained.

“Well good, we need you.” Blake kissed me on both cheeks, then turned to Chris. “You take care of my girl, okay.”

“I will,” Chris said with a grin.

And then Blake swept right on out, dragging Scott in his wake.

“I didn’t realize you and Blake were that close,” Chris said.

“That makes two of us,” I said. I eased my way into the kitchen. “Now that we have all this food, what’s for dinner?”

 

catch up with the tenth date

The story continues on Jan 5, the twelfth date.

©2016 Lulu M Sylvian. The Twelve Dates of Christmas