Hi everyone, I’m back! Have you missed me? It’s been a while since I visited this lovely place and I’ve missed you all. I’ve especially missed Holly since my new day job means I can only do my morning writing sessions on weekends and days off. But I’m here now, and I might never leave 😊 I’m here to talk about my brand new release, Flowers Under My Pillow, a contemporary story infused with some of the Midsummer magic of the olden days.
Do you believe in soul mates?
I would like to, because the idea of someone out there being meant only for me, is very appealing and wildly romantic. But in reality, I don’t believe in it. I’m not a spiritual or religious person; my mind questions everything. Always analyzing, always demanding proof, and since soul mates can’t be scientifically proven, it’s a no for me. But it’s one of those areas where I wish someone will prove me wrong 😊
Frode, one of the MCs, in Flowers Under My Pillow is much the same. Even if he muses that he hasn’t inherited his science teacher father’s logical mind, he very much has. So when he runs into the man he’s literally dreamed of every Midsummer for thirty years, his mind doesn’t immediately jump to “Hey, he must be my soul mate.” Instead, his mind works much like mine, and he questions what’s happening to him. And the man he’s dreamed of, Viljar, the man with dandelions in his beard, is much the same.
But no one can fight the magic of Midsummer, no matter how much they try…
He brushes his thumb over the back of my hand, and I turn to my side so I can see him properly. My loose hair falls onto my face, and he reaches out a gentle hand and tucks it behind my ear.
“Who are you?” I ask.
He smiles. “I’m Viljar. 44 years old. Attached to my camera, the youngest of three kids. Single.”
The way he emphasizes the last word tickles my stomach. “Tell me more,” I rasp.
“I’m addicted to historical podcasts and I cry at weddings. That last part can be problematic when photographing them.”
I snort. “I can imagine.”
“What about you?”
“I’m forty, I love my family, and my sister is my best friend. I read and watch and listen to anything related to gardens or growing things. I’m gay…” I let my voice trail off and he raises one eyebrow that asks “and?” which makes me grin. “…and single. Hopelessly single if you ask my sister.”
“Because I…” I close my eyes, unwilling to look at him for this part, afraid I’ll see scorn in those beautiful and achingly familiar brown eyes. “I believe in true love. I want someone to look at me like I’m his whole universe. Like my dad looks at Mom. And…”
“…that’s not easy to find,” he finishes for me. Voice gentle. His hand squeezing mine.
I look at him then. “No. It’s not.” I read understanding in his gaze. And something else. Approval? Agreement?
“I don’t believe in supernatural things, Frode. I don’t believe in premonitions or ‘the sight.’” I can hear the air quotes in his voice. “But I’m one hundred percent sure that I dreamed of you all these years. Not someone who looks like you. And you feel so familiar. Like I know you already.”
“Tell me more about the dreams.”
“I’ve never done the whole flower-picking thing you have. I can’t pinpoint when they started exactly, I just realized in my late teens that I’d had these recurring dreams once a year on Midsummer and I thought it was fucking weird. So I never told anyone.”
I chuckle. “I know that feeling.”
His thumb brushes over mine and I can’t help but shiver. “At first I thought you were a girl. With the long silky-looking hair and the flowers. It wasn’t until much later I realized you were a guy.”
“Have you had them every year since you started remembering?”
“No matter where you’ve been?”
“Are you trying to make sense of this mystery, Frode?” he smiles.
His smile widens as his fingers dance across the back of my hand, every light touch leaving tiny sparks on my skin.
“Why now? Why did we meet now after all this time?” I ask.
Viljar laces his thick, strong fingers with mine, pressing our palms together. I shuffle a little closer on the grass so I can breathe him in. “I have no idea,” he says. “Maybe the time was finally right? Or maybe your hare was the white rabbit in disguise.”
I snort. “It’s more likely that I fell somewhere in the forest and hit my head on a huge rock and now I’m hallucinating you.”
“If you did, I’m hallucinating, too.”
“Can you prove it?”
He squeezes my hand. “Feel me, I’m solid,” he says, reaching out his free hand to my face, tracing my eyebrow with a careful finger. “Does that feel like a hallucination?”
I shake my head, carefully so I won’t throw off his hand. He keeps exploring, running his finger down my cheek, my nose. Dipping it into my chin dimple. “How about this?”
“It feels real,” I breathe.
With his index finger underneath my chin, he brushes his thumb along my lower lip, and a gasp slips out of my mouth. He lays our joined hands on top of his heart. “Can you feel that?”
“Yes.” His heartbeat is a little fast but steady, a solid thump deep in his chest that sends vibrations up my arm.
“You’re certainly beautiful enough to be a hallucination,” he murmurs. “Are you some kind of forest spirit, here to lure me into your lair?”
Smiling brown eyes. A dark beard. Dandelions. Sunny, happy dandelions.
For thirty years, Frode’s had the same dream. Every Midsummer’s Eve since he was a kid accompanying his sister to pick flowers to put under his pillow, he’s dreamed of the same man. A dream he never shares with anyone, that makes him wish for impossible things…like true love.
Then one Midsummer’s Eve, the man of Frode’s dreams stands before him in the flesh. Both men recognize each other despite never having met in real life. Both men are instantly drawn to each other and want to know more.
“Who are you, Viljar? Are you even real?”
Their questions are many but do the whys and the hows matter? Or should they allow the Midsummer magic that brought them together to lead the way into each other’s arms? Into each other’s hearts?
Traditional Swedish folklore tells you that if you pick seven kinds of flowers in silence and put them under your pillow on Midsummer’s Eve, you’ll dream of the man you’ll marry.
M/M Contemporary / 17 477 words
Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bonafide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies room), loves music (and singing along at the top of her voice but she’s no Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (Make it so). She loves words, bullet journals, poetry, wine, coffee-flavored kisses, and fika (a Swedish cultural thing involving coffee and pastry!)
Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.
Nell is a bisexual Swedish woman married to the love of her life, a proud mama of a grown daughter, and is approaching 50 faster than she’d like. She lives in the south of Sweden where she spends her days thinking up stories about people falling in love. After dreaming about being a writer for most of her life, she finally was in a place where she could pursue her dream and released her first book in 2017.
Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angsty, short over long, and quirky characters over alpha males.
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