The Twelve Dates of Christmas: the fifth date

5th Date of Christmas

And a Side of Onion Rings

I forgot how wonderful it was to feel this way. Chris and his peanut butter hair made me so happy. Not peanut butter, it’s too dark and too sticky. But it’s a step in the right direction. It’s definitely better than beer. But beer is a cleaner description. Oh, it doesn’t matter. He’s lovely, and each day he’s more mine, and that’s what matters.

My stupid-happies did not defeat the morning commute traffic beast today. But it didn’t matter. Chris sat spinning in my chair when I got to work. And that made up for all of it. What is it with men and spinning in my chair? I may have squealed.

“Good morning.” He stood and put his arms around me.

I dropped my bags and threw my arms around him. “Hiya. What are you doing in my cube? Not that I’m complaining, or anything.”

I really didn’t care if anyone in the office was going to be offended by our PDA: public display of affection. Besides, my cubicle was fairly private. Unless someone walked past it, like Blake just happened to do.

“Well, are you going to kiss her or not? I can’t stand around all day waiting for you.” Blake snarked.

Chris dropped his arms.

I glared at Blake for killing our moment of joy. “What do you need Blake?”

“Nothing.” He shook his head. “I just wanted to see how straight people do it, ya know.” I really don’t know how to describe his expression, but his face contorted from super pretty boy to comically-derpy with screwed up eyebrows and lips. “For science.”

Chris’s arms were around me a second later. “Watch and learn science boy, watch and learn.” Chris leaned in and the world disappeared. His lips were soft and he tasted of coffee. He gently prodded my mouth open and his tongue found mine. I swear his kisses were getting hotter every day. Soon flames would burst from me, and we would be consumed in passion’s flames. I shoved my fingers into his hair, and he grabbed onto mine. We kissed deeper until I was floating in space.

When he pulled back, his hands cupped my face. We were both breathing heavily. I had actually forgotten that we had an audience.

Blake began a slow clap. “Well done, nice technique. I give you a 9.8 for style, and a 10 for partner satisfaction.”

I dropped my forehead against Chris’s chest. “Go away, Blake.” I groaned.

“Kay-kay girlfriend.” He said in a highly sassy tone then he left.

“What was that?” Chris asked.

“I have no idea.” I didn’t, but I was laughing. “Hi.” I mooned up at Chris. That was an amazing kiss. I wanted more. But we were at work. So that wasn’t going to happen.

“I wanted to kiss you again, and I didn’t want to wait. So I figured you would come here first.” He explained.

“I like the way you think. Can you do lunch today or is it another day of all day meetings?” I asked.

“Yesterday happened because half the department isn’t even here today, they came in specifically for the meetings. Leaving the rest of us to do the actual work.”

“Bummer.”

“Yeah, but that does mean I am available for lunch.” He slowly twisted with me side-to-side.

“Ya know, if we grab something to go from the roach coach in the back parking lot, we can go find a bench and make out.” I fluttered my eyelashes at him.

“I knew you were a smart girl.” He kissed me again. This one didn’t quite take me out of my body, but it still curled my toes.

I waited for Chris in the north stairwell. My pulse would surge every time I heard feet pounding down the stairs. I watched with anticipation for his figure to turn at the landing and make his way down to me. With each new not-Chris person, my excitement diminished. By the time Chris did arrive I wasn’t expecting it to be him. So I was completely surprised.

“Oh,” I gasped as he grabbed me and kissed me without saying anything.

His kisses were hot and urgent. And they didn’t stop even after a few people cleared their throats nervously as they passed us.

“You hungry?” He asked.

I nodded, but I wasn’t.

“I’m hungrier than the food truck can handle, mind if we hit the cafe across the street? We can eat on the patio, its nice out.” Chris pointed with his thumb over his shoulder indicating the matching building to ours.

“Sure.” I nodded.

He held my hand as we cut across the parking lot to the other building. My stomach did somersaults.

“How’s your day been?” I asked. All those practiced topics of conversation from the other day deserted me. Work seemed safe enough.

Chris grunted. I stopped walking, forcing him to stop and look at me.

He gave me a weak grin. “It’s better now that I’m with you. I feel like I’ve been dumped on with everyone deciding they can cut out early. Which means I’m working late every night just so I can leave on time on Friday.”

“Can’t you just cut out early without the late nights?” We resumed walking.

“No,” he shook his head. “Too much to get before year end. I’ll be here late tonight and late tomorrow, and I’ll have to come in early Friday if I can’t get everything done.”

We stepped up to the counter to order. I ordered a hamburger.

“You want fries with that?” The lady behind the counter asked.

I felt like throwing caution to the wind. After all the very first thing we ever did was go out to eat, so I didn’t need to shy away from food now. “I’ll have a side of onion rings, oh and one of those big pickles.” Chris looked at me with one eyebrow raised. Oh, that was a hot look, but right now I think that was him giving me a funny face. “What? It’s a vegetable.”

We found a seat on the patio.

“So, you have big plans for Friday?” I asked.

“Actually I do and I’m hoping you don’t.” Chris shifted in his chair. “My parents got back last night and they want me to come up for New Year’s.” He looked nervous. “And I was wondering if you would come up with me? Take the long weekend in Santa Barbara and hang out with the moms.”

Uhm. Wow. Meeting parents already? Plus spending a weekend away together. Breathe Natalie. This meant the sex thing might happen. Not necessarily, not if we’re at his parents. But still, the chances of the sex happening just skyrocketed.

“I can change my plans,” I said trying to be cool. I did not feel cool. I was flummoxed.

“Your friends won’t get mad?” Chris asked.

“My TV won’t care either way, the DVD player might feel left out, but I think they’ll be fine without me.”

Chris’s grin made my heart skip a beat or two, before running in circles at top speed with glee.

“Great. Bring your stuff and we can leave from work. You said you skate right?”

I nodded.

“Bring your skates, there’s a great beach walk.” He began.

“Oh, the place you took me after the Prince thing?” I interrupted.

“Yeah, it’s great for skating or biking.”

“Or running.” I finished for him.

“Or running.” He agreed.

“So just how serious is this running thing with you? Weekend warrior or what? You’re a little beefier than what I think of as a runner.” I asked.

“Track in high school. Mostly weekend warrior type thing. It’s easy cardio. I’ve done a few marathons. But not so many since I’ve added more weight lifting. I’ll hit the gym three or four times a week, run a few times, or do something else, like roller blades or biking. Depends on the weather, and if I have company.” He shrugged.

“So fit and active lifestyle is your thing?” I asked as I sank into the greasy pit of onion rings, hamburgers, meaty thighs and big boobs. One look at me and most guys who are into fit and healthy turn tail. Not that I’m not fit or healthy, I just don’t fit the physical stereotype. And to be honest, my lunch of choice did not support the argument that I was either.

“It’s an activity, not a lifestyle. I like to go to back-to-back movies with beautiful women. I like to hang out at friends’ houses and play video games. I go to the gym, so I can eat hamburgers and french fries, and convince myself that a pickle is really a vegetable.” He said nodding at my lunch. His wasn’t much healthier, the only vegetable he had was the lettuce on his cheeseburger.

“Fair enough. I used to work out more, but not so much since I moved here.” I thought about telling him how much I used to hit the gym, and how much I skated, but I decided to save that for the weekend. Give him a little surprise.

“I watch entirely too many movies. Theater, DVD, and streaming. I’m on social media too much. I like long walks on the beach, piña coladas, getting caught in the rain, I’m not into yoga.”

“So, you like making love at midnight do you?” Chris caught me. We both laughed at my attempt to use the piña colada song as my personal dossier.

I leaned in and looked up at him through my eyelashes. “I like making love at midnight. But not on sand dunes. That shit gets everywhere and gets in cracks you didn’t realize you have. Or so I’ve been told.”

Chris started choking he laughed so hard.

Chris held my hand on the walk back to the office. I loved the feel of his large warm hand wrapped around mine. His fingers were long and tapered. And he held on like he wanted to keep my hand.

“Want to find a secluded place to neck for five minutes before we get back in there?” He asked, nodding towards our building.

“I had onions and a huge pickle for lunch,” I complained.

“And I had garlic fries. We should taste amazing.” He said as he pulled be around the corner, and pressed me against a metal fire escape door.

The pressure of him leaning into me took all my resolve. His lips descended on mine. He was right. We tasted delicious.

I brushed his hair back into some semblance of order. Mine was too far gone to be saved so I pulled it into a ponytale. Chris kissed me again once we reached my cube.

“I have to stay late so I can’t take you out tonight. Come up and kiss me before you go home?” He asked. He was so cute and timid, like a little boy.

“Of course,” I was so smitten with this guy, like I would turn down a chance to make out for a bit. “Do you want me to hang out with you, keep you company?”

He made a soft growl low in his throat. “I won’t get any work done. But thanks for the offer.”

He kissed me again, then left to return to work.

I flopped down in my chair. I did not feel like working. I felt like making out with Chris, garlic and onion breath and all.

“Did I see you trying to suck out boyfriend’s tonsils outside?” Blake stuck his head in my cube.

“Probably.” I sighed, yeah that was some heavy necking.

“When did this all start. I don’t remember the two of you even talking before. And now its all suck face all day.”

“Blake. Stop it. Why do you even care?” I asked.

“Cause it’s cute and nauseating all at once. So for how long?”

“He was my Christmas present. Question.”

Blake raised his perfect eyebrows at me.

“You barely said word one to me since I’ve started here, and now you’re all up in my business. What gives?” I would have killed to have him talk to me a week ago, and now, I just didn’t get it.

“You’re snogging one of the finer specimens of manhood in this building, that’s what gives. And what do you mean don’t talk to you? I email you all the time. We’re always talking.”

“Email isn’t talking, but okay.” I nodded. He was right, we did email, but it was always work related. “And you’re right, Chris is fine.” I sighed. Fine and a really good kisser.

“Girlfriend I’m always right. Now get back to work, those sheets aren’t going to spread themselves.”

I snorted softly as he disappeared around the bank of cubicles.

I ordered a pizza before the end of the day and personally delivered it to Chris before I left. I gave him a quick kiss goodnight that lasted about thirty minutes. He was getting bolder with his hands. He really had been my Christmas present. Best one I had received in a really long time.

need to catch up on the fourth date

The story continues on the sixth day of Christmas

©2016 Lulu M Sylvian. The Twelve Dates of Christmas

The Twelve Dates of Christmas: the fourth date

the Fourth Date of Christmas on www.lmsylvian.com

Calling Birds

On the fourth day of Christmas I woke up happy. Stupid stinking happy. Princess movie happy, birds were chirping, cute little chubby rodents made my breakfast and made me an entirely new wardrobe kind of happy.My lips were still a little tender after all that kissing. But man, oh, man, oh man. It was so worth it.

The stupid happies carried me all the way through my morning commute (a miracle by LA driving standards). It wasn’t until I went to take a sip of coffee I realized I didn’t have one. That’s the power of stupid-happy.

I turned on my computer and opened my email as I moved into my cubicle for the day. I stroked the side of my monitor in response to an email request from Blake, clearly a habit now.

I slid open the bottom desk draw to drop in my purse when my desk phone started ringing. “This is Nat.”

“Did your drive in go incredibly smooth? Mine did.” It was Chis, sigh. He sounded stupid-happy too.

“I’ll see your good commute and up you a coffee-free morning.”

“Seriously?” I could hear the smile in his voice. That of course, made me smile more.

“Yeah, no coffee. Are you having a good morning?” I asked.

“I am now.”

“What are you doing for lunch?” Lunch seemed like hours away, but I wanted to see him again.

“I have an all-day meeting. That’s why I was calling. I need to drop off some forms to your department, and was wondering if you wouldn’t mind meeting me halfway?”

“North stairwell in five minutes?” Oh a clandestine meeting in the stairwell, I wondered how much making out we could do.

“Make it three.” He countered.

As calmly as I could, I hung my phone up, finished putting my stuff away, and tried not to run to the stairs. Once in the stairwell, I pounded up the stairs. Chris was running down just as quickly. We met on the landing between the two floors.

His hands were empty.

“Looks like you forgot your paperwork.” I cooed. I played with the front of his shirt.

“That was just a ploy for anyone who was listening. I couldn’t very well say I wanted to make out with you some more over the company phone. You know those lines are monitored.”

I finished in a stilted computerized voice, “for quality assurance.” He smiled a dazzling grin at me. “So you want to kiss me some more?”

“Yeah. I really liked that last night.” His hands slid onto my hips, and he stepped in closer. His head tilted down, and his eyes closed. We heard footsteps on the stairs. He stood straight and stepped back. I stared at the floor. I didn’t see who passed us.

“You know,” Chris’s gaze landed on my chest. “These are very distracting. I honestly keep thinking about them.”

“Oh really?” I arched my back, giving the boobs a bit of a lift. “You didn’t seem very concerned with them last night.” It was true. I had half expected him to be super handsy, yet he had barely even gotten close.

“Truth? I am in awe, and a bit intimidated by them.” His fingers barely brushed the tops of my breasts as he zipped the front of my shirt up another few inches. I had worn the zipper a bit lower than usual for him.

I laughed. “Intimidated? It’s not like they bite. Actually, they like you.”

“Oh yeah?” He moved in a little closer.

“Yeah, they would like to play with you sometime.” I can’t believe we were talking about my breasts as if they were a complete and separate entities. I mean, at times I swear they are, but for the flirting, it was kind of lame. Lame, but it was clearly working for the two of us.

He smiled and nodded. The rest of our conversation was mostly just mooning at each other and sighing. His watch beeped, pulling us out of our mutual gazing stupor.

“I’ve got to go. I’ll call you when I’m out.”

I nodded, bit my lip, and watched him sprint back up the stairs. I went from stupid-happy to lonely despair in the blink of an eye. I slogged back to my desk. When I got there Blake the Beautiful swiveled back and forth in my chair. He was so pretty with his smoky skin and his dapper beard. But he didn’t make the butterflies in my lower abdomen flutter anymore. I leaned against the opening to my cubicle.

“What can I do for you, Blake?” Blake never visited for the sake of a chat.

He continued to spin around, his fingers steepled together tapped against his pretty mouth. I had wanted to kiss that mouth the first time I met him before I knew he liked boys. Heck I had wanted to kiss him even after I knew he liked boys, he is just that pretty. Now, it was just a good looking mouth, like it belonged to some actor in a movie, nothing more. It wasn’t Chris’s mouth.

“So,” he began. Twist. “What did I see you and Chris Jones getting up to in the stairwell? Hmmm?” He continued to twist around in the chair.

Busted. I flushed.

“Oh it was something, look at you blush.” He leaned forward in the chair.

“What did you see?” I asked. He saw nothing because Chris and I did nothing.

“Somebody was a little too close, a little too predatory.”

“And?” I prodded.

“And someone else seemed a little too pleased with herself.” He continued.

“And nothing else, because nothing else happened.”

“You aren’t denying it? You aren’t going to say it was a random meeting while you were running errands?”

“Blake what’s the problem? You caught us flirting. No big deal.”

“I love a good juicy office romance.” I had not pegged Blake the Beautiful to be sassy office gossip. He always seemed so aloof.

“Out!” I pulled him from my chair and shushed him from my cubicle. “Be gone purveyor of whatever it is you’re purveying!”

A week ago I wouldn’t have been able to deal with the fact that Blake was sassing off to me, let alone been able to actually grab his arm to pull him out of my chair. What can I say? My hormones act funny around pretty boys. And really hot men.

I sat and quickly typed an email to Chris. “Blake was in my cube, he basically thinks he’s busted us on some hot office romance. FYI, I did not deny it.”

I hit send and hoped I handled the situation right. It hadn’t occurred to me that Chris might want to keep this on the down-low until that very second.

I stared at my monitor waiting for a response ping. Chris was in a meeting. I had to be patient.

I was in the middle of sorting my email inbox when it pinged with a new message. “Good. I’m not worried about keeping it a secret if you aren’t. – Chris.”

Big sigh of relief. Double sigh, because it always bothered me when a guy wanted to keep the beginning of something a secret. I kind of wanted the world to know that I got to make out with Chris Jones, and hopefully on a regular basis. This also meant he didn’t have another girlfriend that I didn’t know about. Triple sigh.

I spent my day sorting and matching invoices to packing slips, and forwarding the matched sets on to the people who handled the money. It was a very long day.

My phone rang again just before I decided to head out for lunch.

“This is Nat.”

“I have a hot minute, and wanted to say hi.”

I smiled, the stupid-happy flooded me again. “Hi, Chris.”

“So that was Blake in the stairwell?”

“Yep,” I confirmed.

“Well everyone should know we are dating by the end of day tomorrow. He’s pretty fast.”

“But.” I stopped. Dating. Yeah. “I didn’t peg him as the gossip monger. He’s so quiet.”

“Stealthy, the man is stealthy.”

“Hey Chris? What ya doing this evening?” I wanted to ask him if we were really dating. But it seemed stupid, he had just said we were.

“Work. It looks like this meeting is going to last a few more hours. Then, I’m going for a run. Do you want to join me?”

“Running? Have you seen my boobs?”

“Yeah.” His voice was kind of breathy.

“These boobs were not made for running.” He started to make a noise on the other end of the phone, and I panicked. I didn’t want him to stop dating me because I didn’t run. “But I hike, and I skate, things that don’t jostle or cause multiple black eyes.”

He laughed. I really did like that sound. “Skate like roller blades?”

“Yeah, like roller blades.”

“Cool. If the weather holds let’s go skating this weekend. I have to go, they’re starting up again. I’ll call you later.”

The rest of my afternoon lagged.

My evening was lonely and dull.

I lounged across my couch watching mindless TV. A soft tapping knock sounded on my front door. I slid the chain across before opening the door to peek out.

“Chris!” I closed the door so I could unchain it, and open it all the way. He stood there in his sweaty running clothes. “What are you doing here?”

“I wanted to say good night.”

I stepped back so he could come in.

“You could have just called me.”

“Yeah but I can’t kiss you over the phone. And I really missed not kissing you today.” He wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled me to his chest.

The kiss was warm and searching. One of his hands found its way to one of my breasts.

“Good night,” his voice was raspy after the kiss. He let me go and headed out the door.

“Good night.” I managed to say after I got some of my wits back after that kiss.

Oh, I liked this guy. I liked him a lot.

 

Catch up with the Third Date

The story continues on the Fifth Day of Christmas

©2016 Lulu M Sylvian. The Twelve Dates of Christmas

The Twelve Dates of Christmas: Christmas Day

TwelveDatesbyLuluMSylvianThe First Date of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my true love came to me. I just didn’t realize it at the time.

I spent the morning having breakfast with my family via video chat. I staged a decorated tree and purchased red plaid flannel pajamas. As planned, I made the same breakfast in my little apartment in the big city as mom had over 2,000 miles away. It didn’t matter that I had to get up crazy early, and I had the AC running to keep me from sweating while wearing full flannel pajamas in 60-degree weather. I smiled sweetly and let everyone believe I was having a wonderful time.

Video conferencing was as good as being there. Actually, it was better. I didn’t have to listen to my sister and her future ex-husband arguing for hours at a time. (I secretly held a betting pool with myself on how much longer the two of them would last. Every year the arguments grew louder and longer.) I did not miss my mom fussing at my dad. I did not miss being asked if I had a boyfriend or if I was seeing anyone. I did not miss making up a boyfriend to have Christmas dinner with every few years, just to run away and get people off my back. There was so much I was not missing.

But, also, there was so much I was missing. I missed the Christmas lights in the snow, and the way hot cocoa and marshmallows warmed my toes and my soul. I missed watching the look on my nephew’s faces when they opened their gifts from Santa. Or the way my mom looked as she watched all of us sitting on the floor around the tree, surrounded by shredded wrapping paper. Video conferencing was not as good as being there.

“I love you too. Merry Christmas!” I waved.

“Bye sweetie, call me again tonight.” My mom blew kisses, my dad waved.

I tapped the screen and the video feed winked off. I was faced with a reflection of myself as my camera showed me what it saw. I lay the screen face down on the table. I let me face relax. My cheeks felt like they wanted to explode from my false enthusiasm.

I ripped off the flannel and slipped into jeans and a t-shirt. It was at least a festive shirt and had fake knitting stitches and a reindeer printed on the front.

I opened the front window and switched the AC off. Winter in Southern California was comfortable. All I needed was a light hoodie if it wasn’t raining (which it hadn’t for entirely too long). So drought aside, the weather was perfect. Which is exactly why I planned on spending the day sitting alone in the dark, watching movies.

I shoved another handful of popcorn into my mouth. My lips were beginning to feel shriveled from too much salt and soda. It made complete sense that I got up and refilled the popcorn bucket and my drink.

I crept from the theater, careful not to step on toes in the packed theater. Previews for my second movie of the day were still running, so I figured I had time to refill my goodies and get back to the theater on time. Blake the Beautiful walked past me. I almost dropped my bucket on the way to the concessions stand when he nodded and smiled in recognition at me.

Blake. Now that was a Christmas present I could handle, instead of the Amazon gift cards from mom. Blake was hot, and I not too secretly had a crush on him at work. Of course, there was no one to confide this secret to. No one actually knew that anytime Blake emailed me requesting documents I would pet the side of my monitor as if he had sent me a love note instead of some generic department request, and me being the generic department recipient.

Blake was everything I thought I wanted in a man, slender and yummy, bearded, tattooed and stylish. Not the only problem in our way, but pretty much the only major problem was that I had nothing Blake the Beautiful was interested in. I had boobs and I didn’t have a dick. Blake the Beautiful was gay, so very very gay. And then there was that little issue of never actually talking to each other. He still took my breath away with his beauty.

I returned to my movie and sank deeper into a depression. Alone in a theater, surrounded by strangers on Christmas day, and the closest thing I had to any interest in the opposite sex was a fabulously gay man.

I followed the throngs of moviegoers from my last matinee out into the parking lot. Like a caravan, cars made their way from the theater into the parking lot of the closest Chinese Buffet. Maybe we should have figured out a ride-share plan? Maybe if we all talked to each other we would find out each other’s stories? Maybe pigs will fly.

I waited my turn anxiously. Alone, away from my family, in a strange place (trust me LA is strange when you are from middle America), my Christmas was sucking hard.

“How many?” The hostess asked me.

“One.” Her eyes rolled so far back in her head, I almost expected them to start spinning like a slot machine. She moved on to the next group. They had three. They were seated.

I guess the restaurant had too many singles, and not enough tables, so they were seating groups first. I turned to leave, having had enough humiliation just by being alone today.

I literally ran into the second best-looking man at work. Chris. Running into Chris was like running into a side of beef. He was tall and muscular. And really hot.

“Watch it. Oh hi, Natasha.” He said as he recognized me. Not my name, but close.

I stuttered. “Ha, ha, hey Chris. It’s Natalie actually.” He smiled. I withered inside, he’s so cute. While Blake is beautiful, Chris is handsome with a square jaw, cute with a little nose, good looking with sparkling blue eyes, gorgeous perfect body, and straight. “Sorry.” I frequently dorked out around him. I dorked out on him every freaking time I had to run anything upstairs to his office. My brain stopped all proper functionality when I was anywhere near Chris.

“You leaving?” He asked.

“Yeah, I don’t have it in me to wait. I don’t know why I thought this was a good idea. Everyone and their missing half-cousin are here.” In self-defense, I relied on heavy sarcasm.

He scoffed. “You wanna get out of here? I know a little Thai place that’s open.”

“Aren’t you here with people?” I asked, looking around expecting to see a girlfriend, or a parent or two.

“Flying solo. How bout you?”

“My folks are back in Indiana, I’m on my own too.”

“Great,” he smiled.

Chris’s smile was the best thing to have happened to me in days. I grasped on to that and knew I would cherish this moment forever. The moment Chris smiled at me. At me, and not just in my direction. I had thought it was enough he actually almost knew my name, but to also get a smile, that was great.

Oh, I was in serious high-derp mode.

“Let’s ditch the traditional Chinese Christmas dinner, and try for something a bit different.”

“Sounds good to me.” Squee!

I knew better than to think this was an actual date, but it was still nice to go be a warm body so that Chris wasn’t alone today also.

Maybe it was a date, an impromptu, unexpected date.

“So Nat, why are you here and your folks in Indiana?” Chris asked as he blew on the hot soup, before wrapping his perfect lips around the spoon. This was a friendly dinner, yet every hormone in my body shot off like fireworks.

I sat across from him in a small cozy booth, in a slightly seedy little Thai restaurant, that frankly, had some of the best food I had ever eaten.

I smiled between bites of grilled satay sticks. “My first year out here. Figured I would attempt to save some money. You know, be the responsible adult I have fooled people into believing I am, and not fly home this year.”

“And you moved here for the job?” His lips wrapped around another bite of food. I dearly wished to be a bite of Thai food at the moment.

“Yeah. I stumbled across a job fair at my alma matter, and these guys hired me on the spot. The relocation package was decent, and I’m here living the dream in Southern California.”

“So you’re using Zephyr Tech as your gateway to what? Getting into the movies and making it big?”

“Yeah, no. No dreams of Hollywood. I’m using Zephyr as my gateway to a 401K, and job experience. And the chance to live in California.” I explained.

“I never really quite understood that. Why up and move thousands of miles from everyone and everything you know?”

“Seriously Chris? Where did you grow up?”

“Santa Barbara.”

“Where did you go to college.”

Again he replied “Santa Barbara.”

“And you don’t see why people want to live here?” He shook his head.

“It’s what I grew up with, so I guess I take it for granted.”

“Ok, lets put it this way. Would you up and move to, say Oklahoma City for a good job opportunity, if an equal opportunity was available here?”

Chris scoffed, “no, why would I leave here?”

“Exactly. You’re already here, so you can’t see the point of wanting to be anywhere else. Well, when you live with anywhere else, in the landlocked midwest, you dream. I dreamed of living somewhere near the ocean.”

“Somewhere with traffic congestion and water rationing, and raging wildfires?” The sarcasm was strong with this one.

“Somewhere with ocean, a job that paid enough to cover rent and pay off my student loans, in a location where I didn’t have to spend the rest of my paycheck on seasonal clothes. Honestly, I was actually looking at Chicago before being able to come out here. It was the logical big-city. But moving here was a happy opportunity.” I explained.

“What do you at Zephyr exactly?”

“I’m in Enterprise Acquisitions.” Chris nodded in understanding. This typically meant that the listener had no clue, but didn’t want to appear to not understand corporate buzz terms. It meant the team I worked with was responsible for helping the company get the things it needed to run as a company.

“You?” I asked, knowing he would throw some more buzz words back at me.

“Asset Projection.” I nodded as if I knew what he meant. He meant the group he works with figured out what the company was going to need to purchase in order to run as a company. Basically, his group told my group what to buy.

“Do you think anyone in upper management actually knows what any of us actually do? I mean why am I in Enterprise Acquisitions, and not Purchasing?” I asked.

“With fancier names we can charge the clients more, and you and I can expect bigger paychecks.” Chris winked.

I couldn’t help myself, I giggled.

“There is a neighborhood up in the hills, they do up everything crazy over the top with Christmas lights. You want to go for a ride and look at the lights?” Chris asked. This was turning into an almost real date.

“That sounds like fun.”

On the ride into the hills, I found out that Chris’s folks and brother did the travel thing, and this year they were spending Christmas in Australia. His sister was with her family in Oregon. He wasn’t with them because of year-end issues with work.

When he dropped me off at my car, I more than hoped he would say something that would indicate that this was a date-date. As a modern woman, I wasn’t going to sit on my laurels and wait.

“Chris that was unexpected and pleasant. What are…”

He started talking at the same time. “Would you like to go out again tomorrow?”

“I’d love to go out again tomorrow. I was just going to ask if you had any plans.”

He smiled at me. My toes curled. Damn if my body reacted that way to a grin, I really wanted to know how I’d react to a kiss.

“My sister got me tickets to a production called ‘When Doves Cry,’ it’s some type of Prince review. You wouldn’t be interested would you?”

“I love Prince. That sounds much more interesting than what I had in mind.”

“And what was that?” Chris’s eyebrow shot up. Ooh, he could lift one eyebrow. I’ve tried for years, and never managed to master that expression.

“Hang out and watch movies,” I said shrugging.

“Isn’t that what you did today?”

“Yeah, but there are more movies that just came out that I haven’t seen, and we could share popcorn.”

Chris chuckled. “I’ll pick you around four? We can eat first.”

“Four? Isn’t that early?”

Chris shook his head. “Not at all. This thing is up in Santa Barbara. That should give us time to have dinner before it starts.”

I bit my lip. Chris was asking me to be stuck in a car with him for at least 4 hours of driving time, and to see a live show. Now that sounded like a date.

“It sounds great. I’ll text you my address in the morning.”

“I look forward to it Nat.” He nodded, then gave me a little wave and pulled off.

I had a date and less than twenty-four hours to get ready, lose twenty pounds, look like I had four days of sleep, grow my hair to my butt, and bleach my teeth. I looked down at what I was wearing, jeans, a ratty hoodie, and a food stain right in the middle of my boobs. I groaned. Food on the boobs and he still asked me out. This Christmas day had not sucked.

I needed to go home and call my mom.

 

The story continues tomorrow, Dec 26, the second day of Christmas.

©2016 Lulu M Sylvian. The Twelve Dates of Christmas.

Author Interview Savannah Kade

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Today, Savannah’s newest series Touch of Magick  is released. The entire series, so you don’t have to chomp on your fingernails waiting for the next book!

I was lucky enough to get her to answer some questions for us about her books, writing, and sock preference.

Your first contemporary romance series, the Wilder Books, follows the lives of each member of the band Wilder. In Touch of Magick what is the common thread that ties the three stories together?

The Touch of Magick series follows a family of witches — Tristan, Delilah, and . . . well, the youngest sister (Juliet) is deceased (more on that in book 1-WishCraft.) Delilah’s story is  first and the second book goes to Yasmin, one of the employees in the family’s magicks store. Tristan finally finds his place in book three.

Can you provide a Twitter-length description for each book?

WISHCRAFT – Delilah is heartbroken over her sister’s betrayal and her own broken marriage. She’s picking up men in bars and casting forget spells on them. But Brandon’s spell just won’t take and he keeps coming back.

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DREAMWALKER – Yasmin (tired of waiting on Tristan to notice her) casts a love spell (which she knows she shouldn’t do.) Messing with destiny leaves her with police protection in the form of one Luke Salzone, non-believer.

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LOVESPELLED – Megan is fleeing an abusive family situation. Her ‘gift’ is that she can hear what everyone around her thinks and feels. The bolt that Tristan feels when he touches her may not be enough to make up for all the ways he doesn’t understand her.

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Will we see more paranormal stories from you, or do you plan on focusing more on contemporary romance?

All my stories are contemporary–I’d even call these contemporary. Though they have a paranormal element, the stories are still based in real-life love. I do have plans for other series in the future with paranormal elements, though.

What’s the next series we can look forward to, and when should we look for it?

The Hollywood Nights series will release the first two books on May 4th, 2017. There’s already a link to those books on my website, so you can see blurbs and more. The remaining two books in that series will be out later in the year.

You write other genres under different names. Would you mind sharing?

I write dark, twisted suspense under the name A.J. Scudiere.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I don’t even know. I know I wrote my first ‘book’ at age eight. It was 80 pages and I thought it was an adult romantic suspense novel. It wasn’t. I’d always told myself I’d be a published author by the time I was thirty. Then one day I realized thirty had passed by and I hadn’t even given it a shot. That very day, I made a plan to finish a novel and get it submitted.

What inspired you to start writing romance?

The same thing that inspires me to write anything. I have stories–almost like full-emotion movies–playing in my head. Some have been in there for more than a decade. Writing them releases them so I can move on to the next story. Some of those stories are suspense and some are love stories. So I had to write romance.

The Wilder Books released in June of this year, and now Touch of Magick is released 6 months later. Approximately how many books do you write in a year? And how far in advance do you write?

There is no average year! My first book took a year and a half to write. The second only two months. I thought I had this writing thing nailed and got pulled up short when the third book took almost three years to finish! This year, however, I will complete four full-length novels, beginning to end, edited and everything. So that’s a really good pace.

On your website you say you believe in characters with human flaws, how do you find your characters? Or do they find you?

It’s both. They find me and I also work to make sure the characters are fleshed out. I hate when characters do dumb things or out-of-character things because that’s where the author (or tv show writer) decided the plot should go. Some things just don’t fit. And real people are full of flaws and troubles and even things they don’t see. So there’s plenty to use to write a good, real story with. And I personally need more than just a ‘that’s nice, they’re together now’ ending. I love when I fall in love along with the characters and I try to give my readers that same experience.

As an author what’s been your biggest book-related thrill?

Honestly, there are a lot of them. I loved the feeling of awe when I held my first copy of my first book in my hands. Though I admit it’s not the same anymore, there is still a good sense of the world stopping when you get your new book. My day is made when people write to me and tell me how much they loved one of my books. Or when I see a new review. The first time someone stopped me and asked if I was ‘her’? That’s unreal!

I’m a big fan of the Wilder books. I totally want one of their albums. What band or combination of bands would you recommend listening to get the Wilder sound?

Oh! That’s so great! So, I taught myself to sing “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen like a singer–all the deep lungfuls of air, all the diaphragm movement. I wanted to know what TJ felt. I had songs in my head the whole time. I have pieces of “Jump” — the song TJ writes for Norah — in my heart. And later, after I wrote that book, I finally heard Keith Urban’s “Once In A Lifetime” which has that same vibe. I hear a male version of the Dixie Chicks when I’m thinking of Wilder and their sound. And some Rascal Flatts with all their harmonies. I hear sweet but southern sounds like Phillip Phillips’ “Home” and old INXS — so it’s definitely a mix!

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What’s your hidden party trick?

That for everything above–about me singing like a singer and writing songs–I have absolutely zero singing and musical talent! ha.

Coke or Pepsi?

Mexi coke. Hands down. Nothing else.

One last important question regarding socks. Why is it shoes and socks and not socks and shoes? On a more personal note is it sock-shoe, sock-shoe, or sock-sock, shoe-shoe?

Linguistically, it’s “shoes and socks” for the same reason it’s a “big, red wagon” and not a “red, big wagon.” For me, it’s sock-sock, shoe-shoe because I have no natural body heat, so those socks have to get on fast. The second foot cannot even hang out bare while the first gets a shoe!

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You can find Savannah’s book on Amazon here.

You can find her website here.

You can find her on Facebook here,

and Twitter here.

Bethany Adams- Author Interview

Blond girl dressed in dress walk in a magic forest

I’m excited to have Bethany Adams as a guest on my blog. Her latest release Sundrered, book two in the Return of the Elves series just came out a few weeks ago. Today her book Soulbound is released as an audiobook.
Its available from:

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Audible  and Downpour

 

This is the intro blurb I would read from an index card if I were sitting at a desk on a televised talk show:
Ever since finding a copy of The Hero and the Crown in her elementary school library, Bethany has loved fantasy. After subjecting her friends to stories scrawled in notebooks during study breaks all through high school, she decided to pursue an English degree at Middle Tennessee State University. When not writing or wrangling her two small children, Bethany enjoys reading, photography, and video games.

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

I’m not sure there was ever really a decision. I started writing stories when I was a kid and never really stopped for wrong. I did consider other things when I was in college, but writing was always there. It took me until my thirties to get serious about a career in writing, though.

What’s your hidden party trick most people don’t know about?

Inappropriate jokes? I’m fairly quiet, and I keep my off-color sense of humor to myself until I really know people. So when I break out with a raunchy joke, it surprises the heck out of people.

What’s worse? Stepping in something wet after putting on clean dry socks or a noisy cricket outside your window when you need to sleep?

Noisy cricket. I can change socks, but don’t mess with my sleep!

Your books are fantasy-romance, which genre really pulled you into wanting to write the fantasy or the romance?

I’ve always had a deep love of both. I grew up reading Robin McKinley and Mercedes Lackey. Then as a teen, I started picking up romance novels, too. I’ve tried to just write one or the other, but I can’t seem to help it—they blend. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten past a page or two without mixing the two.

Soulbound and Sundered are the first two in the Return of the Elves series. How many books do you have planned?

Heh. That’s a good question. I’m writing a short story (which might sneak itself into a novella) that happens just after Sundered. After that, Book 3 will tie up the story arc with the main villain. But I also have stories in mind for Lynia and Lial, Selia, Naomh and/or Caolte, and a new character popping up in Book 3. I guess we’ll have to see!

When can we expect to see the next one?

I’m hoping to release the maybe-novella in February. It’ll also have a couple of bonus short stories unrelated to The Return of the Elves. Book 3 is a little more tentative. I’d love to have it out in May, but it depends on how smoothly the writing process goes.

Can you give us a twitter-length over view of each book? 

Soulbound: Arlyn wanted to meet her elven father, not spark the plot to kill him.

Sundered: Poisoned energy is flooding into the realms of the fae, causing sickness, and Lyr must rush to find the source of the threat.

What has been the most euphoric experience in publishing your novels? 

It is absolutely when someone tells me they love my book. Hands down. That anyone would take the time out of their day just to message or email me about my book…it’s such an honor.

As a self-published author what has been the most difficult obstacle to overcome?

The learning curve. There’s a great deal that goes into publishing a book, although it sounds like it should be simple. Most people know that you need an editor and a cover. But then there’s formatting (for ebook and print, which aren’t the same), deciding how you want to publish, entering your information into a million publishing platforms, buying ISBNs, advertising… It all falls to the author. I’m still learning to juggle it all in a lot of ways.

How do your stories come to you?

It’s character first. Always. Scenes just pop into my head, and it’s usually the character in the middle of doing something intense. Of course, sometimes the meanies pop in and then leave before I can get a full story. That doesn’t usually happen, though.

Do your characters become more real the further you get into writing the stories?

I suppose so. For me, it’s like getting to know a real person. As more of their story comes clear, I learn more about them. I didn’t know why Lial, the healer in both books, is so cranky until the third draft of Soulbound. It’s a strange sensation having something from your own brain surprise you.

You’ve provided us with a sampling from Sundered, do you need to set up this scene?

Lyr’s life is pretty messed up at this point. He’s dealing with a great deal after his failures at the end of the first book, and now more problems are popping up. And now he has another surprise in store. :)

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Excerpt from Sundered:

Lyr strode down his favorite path through the woods, his footsteps guided more by habit than intent.

It was beyond foolish to take his daily walk with another assassin on the loose. At the least, he shouldn’t have ducked the bodyguards who trailed him every time he left the estate—the same three who’d been unable to detect or deflect the danger just hours before. But for the moment, Lyr didn’t care, a thought that crept in more every day. Maybe if he walked fast enough, he could outmaneuver his frustration and discontent.

His hands curled into fists at the helpless feeling that washed through him, the same sick emotion that had plagued him for nearly thirty years. He kept telling himself that it would pass. After five hundred and forty-nine years of life, he knew that all things shifted and changed, even among the slow-paced elves. Yet here he was, his father’s murder still unsolved, the person behind their recent troubles unknown, and his soulbonded forever lost to the world. Despite his training and his power, he could fix nothing.

And now he had to worry about the Neorans.

Lyr was halfway to the portal when the alarm set into the estate shielding resounded through his mind. Muscles tensing, he paused to examine the spell. Five people had come through the gate unauthorized, and not guided by someone connected to Braelyn. The guides who escorted travelers possessed medallions to let their charges through, so it had to be a true incursion.

He only wore his boot knife, but time was more of the essence than his safety. Clechtan, but he was a warrior in his prime. These were his lands, and he knew them better than any intruder could. He didn’t need bodyguards with him just to check the gate. It would only take a few moments to creep close, and the land guards shouldn’t be too far away.

Lyr brought his own personal shields to their highest state and darted off the trail. The forest here had minimal undergrowth, much of the excess cleared to prevent fire, so remaining undetected would take some caution. Still, he knew the best routes. He wove through the trees as he flung his senses wide, but he detected only the intruders and the guards perched in the trees surrounding the portal area. The Tayianeln were taking no chances after their previous failures and had rushed extra guards to the portal. Though they awaited his command, they would not be caught unprepared again.

Lyr slipped behind a log bench designed to look like a natural part of the forest. It was the largest and most distant of the three scattered around the clearing near the portal, perfect for crouching behind. Unsure if the interlopers would have the kind of magic capable of detecting him, he sent out several false energy signatures around the edges of the clearing. Finally satisfied, he looked up to examine the newcomers.

Four females and a male. An older elf in long robes stood closest to his hiding place, and the two females nearest her seemed to be servants of some kind. His gaze moved to the flame-haired male, and Lyr’s breath caught. Power swirled around the newcomer, but it was unlike anything Lyr had seen before. Not quite like Eradisel, but…

Ralan’s voice broke into his mind without warning or apology. “Do not attack, and stay wary of the male. He is not what he seems.”

Lyr’s eyes narrowed on the group. The elder’s white robes were richly embroidered. More elaborate than the others in her group. And although the male’s power was undeniable, none of them were armed beyond ceremonial knives. More diplomats? There was one more who could have been some type of guide. She stood apart from the others, and tension hitched her delicate shoulders so high he could see it from across the clearing.

The older one barked a single word Lyr didn’t recognize, and the slender woman pivoted, her long robes swirling around her ankles. The cloth was of good quality, but the robes were simpler than the elder’s and cinched by a leather belt. She took a step forward, and a pendant on a thin chain glinted between her breasts. Was the amulet mere decoration, or was it some kind of weapon?

Perhaps he’d been reckless to leave the estate without his sword after all. Lyr eased forward, his focus on the metallic glimmer. She shifted again, falling into shadow, and the source of the flash came clear. A large crystal encased in silver mesh. If this female was an assassin, he’d eat moss off the back of the bench.

Then she spoke, and his attention darted back to her face. Though she hadn’t noticed him, he fell into her light blue eyes. A shudder went through his whole body.

They had never met, but he knew her.

Lyr’s hands gripped the bark of the log bench until lichen crumbled beneath his fingers. It was not possible. Aimee had died four Earth years before, and his daughter had witnessed it. Arlyn wouldn’t have mistaken her own mother’s death. Besides, the woman before him had pale blond hair, so unlike the vibrant red Arlyn had inherited from her mother. He could see that they weren’t the same with his own eyes, yet he could feel the connection between their souls.

It matched the one he’d shared but never completed with Aimee. As much as this stranger’s energy differed, her spirit was the same.

This woman was his aenac—his soulbonded.

Impossible.

He had never heard of an elf finding another soulbonded after losing the first. Since the souls of bonded pairs connected, the death of one would take a bit of the person left behind, leaving a piece that could never reconnect. Still, his soul sang for the female across the clearing. No matter how much he tried to deny it.

Suddenly, he understood how Kai had panicked and given Arlyn the binding necklace on their first meeting. Lyr wanted to run forward and do the same before he lost yet another soulbonded, and it took all his willpower to resist. Even if the entire group was set to kill him, they were not walking back through the portal. Not until he’d spoken to her.

With a mental command to the Tayianeln hiding above him in the trees, Lyr prepared to reveal his presence. Feeling Kai’s approach, he established a quick connection between them. “Do not attack. Stand down and let me handle this. One of these women feels like Aimee.”

****************

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Go check Bethany out online, follow her on all the social media links, tell your friends!

Main website: http://bethanyadamsbooks.com/

Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/bethanyadams

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/bethanyadams

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bethjadams

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/willowreve/

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/bethany-adams

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/amberwillow

 

Protective Update

Protective-paranormal Romance by Lulu M Sylvian lmsylvian.com

Well, unfortunately, I am not announcing the publication date.
Cause, I don’t know when that will be.

Due to scheduling issues and issues with what it takes to actually self-publish a novel the date has been pushed off.

I’m now shooting for a winter release date.
Also, this book will be released as an eBook first, not sure how much longer after the eBook release it will be available as a trade sized paperback.

The book is in editing, and it is getting done. It’s just taking a little longer than expected.

WIP-IT Wednesday: More Alantu

This is unedited RAW, straight from whatever project I happen to be typing away on. I have no idea if or when these words will see the light of day. They could be edited away, they could be ditched, who knows.

oldgrandmother

“Are you so sure? Are you so blind that you don’t see the man, you only see a king?”

But Xernes wouldn’t cry, even if he did have feelings for me. I’m not saying he does. In fact, I’m fairly certain he does not.”

Old Grandmother placed her withered palm against Lilly’s face. “Hold every tear close, he won’t share them with anyone else.”

Lilly stood slack jawed as she watched Old Grandmother continue away. Xernes was not raised a king, he made himself one. He learned on his own to fight and struggle and to succeed. Old Grandmother was right. If he did cry, it would be out of anger and frustration, and he would not hide that. But tears of loss, no that was not something he would do in front of others. Just as she wouldn’t. She hid her tears to hide from the judgement of others, a silly girl crying over a man who did not return her feelings.

Or did he? Why had Old Grandmother said that she only sees the king and not the man? Lilly had to work hard to ensure she treated him appropriately as the king because she was too aware of him as a man.

WIP-It Wednesday: Alantu

I’m trying something new. I’m going to post unedited RAW, straight from whatever project I happen to be typing away on. I have no idea if or when these words will see the light of day. They could be edited away, they could be ditched, who knows.

bluesmoke

“Enough!” Xernes bellowed. “I don’t have time to for you to squabble on an acceptable tribunal.” He thrust his arm forward, fingers extended. “Let the djinn tell us the truth.”

The markings on his arm left his skin in a sudden swift jump. They hovered in the air for a brief moment before the shapes melted into grey-blue smoke. The smoke rolled from Xernes’s  fingertips growing thicker and denser, but never fully forming into a solid shape.

The cloud wrapped around Lilly in a caress, twining around her ankles then wrapping up her torso like a feline seeking attention.