The List | Gay Romance Holiday Stories

My brain isn’t functioning at its best, so bear with me. Willow Road will be released on the 17th, and it’s a paranormal, fated mates, interspecies kind of story written for Crossword Puzzle Day, which is on the 21st.

Since it’s December, I thought we’d do a winter holiday list. Not Christmas only, mostly I guess, but wintery stories.

I fear I’ll be repeating myself some from previous years, but you’ll have to live with it 😊 And I’ll forget books, I’m sorry. I already feel my mind groping for stories I can’t remember the titles or authors of, so we’ll just work with what we’ve got.

Sock it to Me, Santa! by Madison Parker

This is a super cute young adult story, and if you know me, you know I don’t normally read young adult, but despite it being more than ten years since I read this, I smile every time I see the cover.

Sock-it-to-meRyan is assigned to Jamie Peterson for his class’s secret gift exchange. If word gets out that he has to make a handcrafted gift for flamboyant and openly gay Jamie, Ryan will be the laughing stock of the school. It’s a good thing no self-respecting boy would be caught dead in a craft store, because otherwise he’d be at risk of being spotted when his mom drags him to her weekly craft workshops. He hopes Jamie will appreciate all the trouble he’s going to for this assignment. Finding the perfect gift is gonna be tricky. Jamie deserves something good, though, after all the crap he has to put up with at school. At least, Ryan tells himself that’s the reason he’s putting so much thought into the gift. It couldn’t be that he has feelings for Jamie, could it?

https://books2read.com/SockItToMeSanta

Lone Star by Josh Lanyon

This isn’t my favourite Lanyon story, but it has a certain appeal. It’s a second-chance story, and the beginning grabbed me when I read it. It would’ve been great if there had been an epilogue, and there is a question that I won’t ever be able to let go of: What happened to the reindeer?

Lone StarGrowing up in rural Texas, Mitchell Evans’ ambition to be a dancer made him a target. Though he found success in New York City, Mitch is at a crossroads, and heads home for the first time in twelve years to figure things out. When what appears to be a reindeer jumps out in front of his car, he drives off the road and into the path of the one man he hoped to avoid.

The last person Texas Ranger Web Eisley expects to see four days before Christmas is his first love. He hasn’t seen Mitch since they quarreled over coming out to their friends and family years ago. Though he’s not in the closet now, Web has worked hard for the respect of his fellow officers, but he still regrets the loss of Mitch in his life. And his bed.

The attraction between them is as strong as ever, and it doesn’t take long for the men to pick up where they left off. But is love enough to keep Mitch in town in the New Year?
 

https://books2read.com/LoneStar

A Reason To Believe by Diana Copland

I’ve been meaning to reread this. It’s a paranormal mystery with ghosts, and I remember liking it, but I also have this niggling that there was some aspect of it that didn’t appeal to me, but I can’t remember what, so maybe I’m misremembering. Rereading is the only way to find out!

A reason to believeDetective Matthew Bennett doesn’t believe in ghosts. So when the spirit of a murdered child leads him to her body, he’s shaken to the core—and taken off the case. Unable to explain his vision, or to let go of the investigation, Matthew turns to renowned medium Kiernan Fitzpatrick. Though he has doubts about Kiernan’s claims to communicate with the dead, Matt is nevertheless drawn to the handsome psychic, who awakens feelings he thought were long-buried.

Haunted by the lingering spirit of the little girl, Kiernan is compelled to aid in the search for her killer. The chance to get closer to the enigmatic Matt is an unexpected bonus. Although Kiernan’s been betrayed by people who turned out to be more interested in his fame than in himself, with Matt he’s willing to risk his heart. As the two men grow closer, Kiernan helps Matt rediscover that life offers no guarantees—but love offers a reason to believe…
 

https://books2read.com/AReasonToBelieve

Merry Gentlemen by Josephine Myles

In the mood for something British? This is another second chance story, with a crazy seagull, and cold market stalls. Lovely and with some funny moments.

Merry-Gentlemen’Tis the season of goodwill to all men…even the one who dumped you.

Riley MacDermott’s ambitions are simple. Managing the annual Bath Christmas Market—which involves long hours in the cold and a whole lot of hassle—will secure the promotion he needs to afford to move out of his noisy, top-floor flat. Where not even his balcony is safe from an aggressive herring gull.

The last stallholder he expects to see is his ex. Riley never recovered from their break up, and five years on the old chemistry still sparkles. So does their habitual head butting.

Stan never wanted to leave the love of his life, but the pull of the woods was too strong—and Riley was firmly planted in the city. Reconnecting is painful, but Stan still jumps at the chance to stay with his old flame during the Market. And damn the consequences.

As the weeks pass, the two grow closer than ever. But despite scorching sex and cozy intimacy, they both know they face a cold and lonely future. Unless one of them can compromise.

https://books2read.com/MerryGentlemen

The Remaking of Corbin Wale by Roan Parrish

A recent read for me, and absolutely lovely. You know how much I love bakers. The story spans over a long time, but there is some focus on a Chanukah dinner, so I’m including it here.

39347033._sy475_Last month, Alex Barrow’s whole life imploded—partner, home, job, all gone in forty-eight hours. But sometimes when everything falls apart, better things appear almost like magic. Now, he’s back in his Michigan hometown, finally opening the bakery he’s always dreamed of. But the pleasure of opening day is nothing compared to the lonely and beautiful man who bewitches Alex before he even orders.

Corbin Wale is a weirdo. At least, that’s what he’s heard his whole life. He knows he’s often in a fantasy world, but the things he feels are very real. And so is the reason why he can never, ever be with Alex Barrow. Even if Alex is everything he’s always fantasized about. Even if maybe, just maybe, Corbin is Alex’s fantasy too.

When Corbin begins working at the bakery, he and Alex can’t deny their connection any longer. As the holiday season works its magic, Alex yearns for the man who seems out of reach. But to be with Alex, Corbin will have to challenge every truth he’s ever known. If his holiday risk pays off, two men from different worlds will get the love they’ve always longed for.

https://books2read.com/TheRemakingOfCorbinWale

The Invasion of Tork by Claire Davis and Al Stewart

An old favourite. New adult, with origami, Dickins, and a trigger warning for self-harm. And if you’re on a tight budget, you can indulge because this is a free read.

The invasion of TorkAdam is cool, intelligent and drop-dead gorgeous – all the guys tell him so! When he is forced to start voluntary work at the local homeless shelter, all he worries about is keeping the clients well away from him and finishing the placement as soon as possible. Until he meets Tork.

Tork is clever and funny. He makes origami models and reads Dickens. Tork has green hair and makes Adam’s heart race with longing. But Tork is homeless and not at all impressed with Adam’s attitude.

Can Adam see past his fear and arrogance? Can Tork give Adam a chance?
Can two such different men turn the world upside down and find out what really matters? Read to find out their story.

Content Warning: the story includes reference to and description of self-harming.

https://books2read.com/TheInvasionofTork

Shiny Things by Amy Spector

I love this book. It’s Thanksgiving, so I’m afraid we’ve already missed it, but… There is a scene in this, an exhibition at an art gallery that makes me cry every time I read it, and I’ve read it a few times.

Shiny thingsAt sixteen, Nathaniel Avery was shipped off to live with an aunt in hopes of quelling a budding relationship between him and another boy. Ten years later, a frantic call from his younger brother and his father’s failing health, brings him back home.

Just weeks before Thanksgiving and the most important day in Vincent Cooke’s career, he nearly collides with the grown version of the boy he never really forgot.

Will a gallery renovation, the holiday season, and the art of a mad genius help them to rebuild a friendship and rekindle a romance?

https://books2read.com/ShinyThingsSpector

Always Have, Always Will by Amelia Mann

This isn’t your usual romance story. It’s about a couple who’s been together forever, they have two kids, and they’re living everyday lives until Jay collapses while out shopping.

Always-Have,-Always-WillJay thinks official commitments aren’t necessary in a relationship. For the last fourteen years, he has loved waking up beside Gabriel, watching their two adopted kids grow up – even enjoyed painting the fence once in a while and paying his part of the mortgage on their New Jersey home. To Jay, that’s a family. No papers or ceremonies will make their relationship better than it already is…though Gabriel has a different opinion.

Their lives are turned upside-down a month before Christmas, when he collapses in the plumbing aisle of the store. In the aftermath, Gabriel discovers that Jay’s only legal next of kin is his long-time absent father, and later Jay has to confront the painful memories of growing up, and the real truth behind his parents’ divorce.

But perhaps now Jay might be ready to give Gabriel a Christmas gift he will never forget.
 

https://books2read.com/AlwaysHaveAlwaysWill

One Nightstand by Rick Bettencourt

Oh, this is just Christmas cosiness through and through, cabins and hot cocoa.

One NigthstandDoug’s not good with one-night stands, yet in the early hours of Christmas Eve, he returns home with Kirk – a good-looking guy he met at the club. Nestled together in the kitchen of his New England cottage, sipping hot chocolate and watching the snow fall, Doug wishes there could be more to this casual encounter. It’s a feeling that stays with him as he heads off to a frantic day of work at the mall, swamped with last-minute holiday shoppers…the last place he expects to find something magical.

https://books2read.com/OneNigthstand

Graham Ran Over A Reindeer by Sterling Rivers

Okay, I’m including this solely because Graham ran over a reindeer. He didn’t kill it, so you don’t need to worry about that, but there just aren’t many stories where the main character collides with reindeer shifters

Graham ran over a reindeerNeed a little spice with your sugar this holiday?

Rudy Snowden has been pining for Graham Miller since they were teenagers, but being a shape-shifter and in love with a human isn’t easy. After years of dancing around each other, Rudy decides to take the big leap and ask the guy on a date.

Truck driver Graham Miller is glad to be home for Christmas in Alaska. Road weary and suffering from the holiday blues, Rudy Snowden is the perfect pick me up—if Graham can summon the courage to ask him out. While picking up a Christmas tree from Rudy, Graham is unable to find the words, and leaves without the man he’s wanted for so long. Lost in a snowstorm sprinkled with misery, Graham hits a caribou—could his day get any worse? He rushes the animal to the Snowden vet clinic, where he quickly learns things can always get… stranger. The creature he nearly killed isn’t just any animal, and the Snowdens aren’t a normal family. With his secret finally revealed, Rudy makes his move. But can Graham accept Rudy’s inhuman nature and be the life-mate he wants?

https://books2read.com/reindeer

Joys R Us by Kim Fielding

This is short and cute, and if you, like me, dislike shopping, this is for you! LOL

Joys R UsReece is a practical, orderly man, a financial analyst who considers most holiday events wasteful. But his sister coerces him into standing in line overnight for this year’s must-have toy. Supplies prove smaller than expected, and Reece gets trampled in the resulting stampede. Toy store manager Angel tends to Reece’s wounds. When Angel discovers Reece’s cynical attitude, he invites Reece to spend Christmas Eve with him. Over the course of the day, Angel shows Reece what Christmas means to him. With Angel’s guidance, maybe Reece can finally understand the joy of the holiday—and maybe even find love as well. 

https://books2read.com/JoysRUs

Just Like Heaven by Suki Fleet

In favour of snowstorms? I love the snowed-in trope. This is a sweet, gentle YA story.

Just like heavenOne rainy night in December, David helps a busker with pretty eyes get his stolen money back. He doesn’t imagine the strong attraction he feels is mutual. But after overcoming his shyness, David discovers Jess is definitely interested.
Jess just isn’t interested in anything but a one night stand. Or maybe two. Falling for David is definitely not part of his plan. But when David gets trapped in a snowstorm the night before Christmas Eve, Jess realises a night or two is never going to be enough.

Proceeds of this sale will be divided between two UK charities working to support homeless youth: Shelter and Centerpoint.

https://books2read.com/JustLikeHeaven

Mr. Frosty Pants by Leta Blake

Another YA/NA story. Why are so holiday stories YA/NA? I’m not a fan, but this is lovely, though I wanted Casey to cut all ties to his terrible family LOL

Mr Frosty PantsFrosty former friends get a steamy second chance in this Christmas gay romance!

Can true love warm his frozen heart?


When Casey Stevens went away to college four years ago, he ghosted on his straight best friend, Joel Vreeland. He hoped time and distance would lessen the unrequited affection he felt, but all it did was make him miss Joel more. Home for the holidays, Casey hopes they might find a way to be friends again. But Joel’s frosty reception reminds Casey of just how hard he had to fight to be Joel’s friend in the first place. It’s going to take a Christmas miracle to get past that cool façade again.

Joel isn’t as straight as Casey believes, and his years of pining for Casey have left him hurting and alone, caring for his abusive father and struggling to get by. Unable to trust anyone except his rescue dog—and with no reason to believe Casey is interested in him for more than a holiday fling—Joel’s icy heart might shatter before it can thaw.

Can Casey and Joel’s love overcome mistrust, parental rejection, class differences, and four long years apart?

Mr. Frosty Pants is a stand-alone, Christmas gay romance by Leta Blake featuring a virgin hero, childhood friends-to-lovers, second chance romance, and romantically steamy scenes.

https://books2read.com/MrFrostyPants

A Christmas Outing by Jonathan Hill

Before moving on to the ego part of this post, I want to give you something that will make you laugh. This is so great, and if you haven’t read it, you have to!

A-Christmas-OutingIt’s that time of year again, when Mum insists on dragging us to the Christmas markets. This year is a bit different, though, as my friend Jamie is coming too.

Mum is so stressed about enjoying the evening that she probably won’t enjoy it, Dad has conveniently developed a sudden fear of crowds to try to get out of it, and I’m waiting for the right moment to tell them both that Jamie is more than just a friend…

A feel-good comedy short story of around 10,000 words.

https://books2read.com/AChristmasOuting

My stories

Right, what to pick what to pick. For Holly, it’s easy. I only have The Scent of Pine which was released this time last year and is celebrating Christmas Card Day. As Ofelia, I have quite a few Christmas stories. One of my favourites is 24 Dates which is about an established couple trying to save their relationship by going on 24 dates. Then maybe The Setup since we like the snowed-in trope, and it’s light and fluffy, so a good contrast to the other two.

thescentofpine

Ashton Cross was stupid enough to fall out a window while trying to catch a criminal. Now he’s on sick leave and has been for weeks, and has nothing to do but watch his neighbors go about their day. It’s driving him insane. When he gets a Christmas card not meant for him, he doesn’t think much of it, but then there is another and another, all with the same motif.

For two years, Rafael Vidal has been hiding from his ex. He almost believed he’d gotten away when his neighbor knocks on his door to hand over a stack of Christmas cards. One look at the writing, and Rafael suspects he has been found. 

When Ashton understands the situation, he’s set on catching Rafael’s ex. He might not be ready to get back to active duty at the police station, but finally, he has something to do, and he doesn’t mind keeping Rafael close. Rafael is trying to distract himself by helping Ashton put up Christmas decorations, but will they be able to enjoy Christmas with his stalker ex lurking around the corner?

https://books2read.com/TheScentOfPine

24 Dates

When Victor Hill bought a house with his boyfriend, Jian Kouri it was a dream come true. But now, two years later, instead of living their happily ever after, they hardly see the other awake.

With Jian out the door before Victor gets up in the morning, and asleep on the couch nearly as soon as he walks in the door, the life Victor imagined couldn’t be further from reality. They don’t talk; they don’t touch, and Victor fears he and Jian have already drifted too far apart.

The holiday season is a time for hope, but when Victor comes home to find Jian with a plan to woo him for Christmas, is it too little, too late? The dates are great, and there are filled with Christmas fun to get Victor in the right spirit for the holiday, but are they enough for the two of them to fall in love again? Or is there just too much in their relationship that needs fixing?

https://books2read.com/24Dates

thesetup

Three years ago, Dax Howard got out of a bad relationship and swore never to date again. He loves his picturesque cabin outside Nortown and is looking forward to three weeks of quiet over the holidays. He hadn’t foreseen a stranger turning in on his driveway in the middle of a snowstorm, claiming he’s there for a date.

Ellis Rush has risked his neck driving in a snowstorm to meet his friend Daniel and his boyfriend Dom for a double date he agreed to go on as a favor. Reaching the destination, he can’t see Daniel’s car anywhere, and when the mountain of a man opening the door says he’s never agreed to go on a double date, Ellis realizes he’s been played.

The more Ellis explains the situation, the more annoyed Dax gets. Dom is one of his closest friends, and he does not appreciate the setup, no matter how intrigued he is by Ellis. Since the roads are undrivable, Dax invites Ellis to stay, and together they plot their revenge. Cooking for Ellis, kissing Ellis, and sleeping next to Ellis isn’t the same thing as dating, is it?

https://books2read.com/TheSetup-Grand

willowroad

Jeremiah Pace hasn’t left his house in thirteen years. He doesn’t trust anyone, least of all shifters. School was a nightmare, and despite never interacting with anyone in the village, the bullying continues in his adult life. Someone is putting ads in the paper, encouraging people to drop by his house for one service or other, but Jeremiah never opens his door.

Zeeb Hemming is a lone wolf and the new chief of police. He’s only been in Stoneshade for six weeks when he learns about the ads and goes to knock on Jeremiah’s door. Not because of what today’s ad said, but to get to the bottom of what’s going on. Human or not, Jeremiah deserves to live life in peace. The moment Zeeb nears Jeremiah’s house, he knows he’s his mate. But he can’t have a human mate.

Jeremiah pleads with Zeeb not to stir anything up. Yes, the ads are bad, but things can always get worse. Zeeb is furious someone is mistreating his mate and is willing to skin anyone who has any connection to the ads alive. But how is he to convince Jeremiah to trust him when he talks to Zeeb through a gap in the window instead of opening the door to his house?

Pre-order in the JMS shop

Giveaway | December

Book Giveaway

We’ve reached the last giveaway of the year 🥳 Or you know, the last giveaway of the year on this blog. If you had any idea how many events I’ve signed up for in December where I will be giving away books… Keep an eye on social media if you want free books in December, people!

Visit the JMS Books advent calendar, there you’ll find a free book (recently published) every day starting today and running till the 24th.

M/M Euro Book Banter Group on Facebook, also an advent calendar with one author posting giveaways and games every day up until the 24th.

Talking RoMMance… with a British accent Group on Facebook, another advent calendar where one book will be given away every day up until the 24th.

Small but Mighty MM Romance Group on Facebook will have a holiday book drop on December 4th where authors will post games and giveaways.

Small but Mighty MM Romance Group again, on December 9th to 20th, there will be games and giveaways for one trope per day.

Those are the ones at the top of my head without having checked my journal, so… loads of giveaways 😆

What we have here is The Scent of Pine since it’s the only Christmas-related story Holly has so far and was the December book of last year. And we’ll be matching it with 24 Dates since it’s a favourite.

The Scent of Pine was written to celebrate Christmas Card Day. Rafael is on the run from a stalker ex and he thinks he’s safe until his neighbour, Ashton, starts getting creepy Christmas cards meant for Rafael.

24 Dates is about Jian and Victor, an established couple who’s hit a rough patch. Victor thinks divorce is on the horizon, but Jian is not willing to give up. He plans 24 dates from December 1st to December 24th to win Victor back. 

If you want in on the draw, hop on over to Kingsumo and type in your email address. You’re not subscribing to anything, but make sure you use an address you check since it’s the one Ofelia will contact you on if you’re the winner.

Join the draw!

the scent of pine

Ashton Cross was stupid enough to fall out a window while trying to catch a criminal. Now he’s on sick leave and has been for weeks, and has nothing to do but watch his neighbors go about their day. It’s driving him insane. When he gets a Christmas card not meant for him, he doesn’t think much of it, but then there is another and another, all with the same motif.

For two years, Rafael Vidal has been hiding from his ex. He almost believed he’d gotten away when his neighbor knocks on his door to hand over a stack of Christmas cards. One look at the writing, and Rafael suspects he has been found.

When Ashton understands the situation, he’s set on catching Rafael’s ex. He might not be ready to get back to active duty at the police station, but finally, he has something to do, and he doesn’t mind keeping Rafael close. Rafael is trying to distract himself by helping Ashton put up Christmas decorations, but will they be able to enjoy Christmas with his stalker ex lurking around the corner?

17,557 words

Read an excerpt

24dates

When Victor Hill bought a house with his boyfriend, Jian Kouri it was a dream come true. But now, two years later, instead of living their happily ever after, they hardly see the other awake.

With Jian out the door before Victor gets up in the morning, and asleep on the couch nearly as soon as he walks in the door, the life Victor imagined couldn’t be further from reality. They don’t talk; they don’t touch, and Victor fears he and Jian have already drifted too far apart.

The holiday season is a time for hope, but when Victor comes home to find Jian with a plan to woo him for Christmas, is it too little, too late? The dates are great, and there are filled with Christmas fun to get Victor in the right spirit for the holiday, but are they enough for the two of them to fall in love again? Or is there just too much in their relationship that needs fixing?

38,008 words

Read an excerpt

Guest Post | The Setup by Ofelia Gränd

Snowed in

I don’t know how things are where you are, but here there’s a light powder of snow on the ground. Not anywhere getting snowed in, but wintery at least 😊

Yesterday, The Setup was released, and it’s a short, fluffy, snowed-in, close proximity kind of story – one bed and all that 😆 

With everything going on, my brain isn’t working, so I thought I’d make it easy for myself and do a #SampleSunday thing. 

Below you can read the first chapter of The Setup 🥰

The Setup

the setupThree years ago, Dax Howard got out of a bad relationship and swore never to date again. He loves his picturesque cabin outside Nortown and is looking forward to three weeks of quiet over the holidays. He hadn’t foreseen a stranger turning in on his driveway in the middle of a snowstorm, claiming he’s there for a date.

Ellis Rush has risked his neck driving in a snowstorm to meet his friend Daniel and his boyfriend Dom for a double date he agreed to go on as a favor. Reaching the destination, he can’t see Daniel’s car anywhere, and when the mountain of a man opening the door says he’s never agreed to go on a double date, Ellis realizes he’s been played.

The more Ellis explains the situation, the more annoyed Dax gets. Dom is one of his closest friends, and he does not appreciate the setup, no matter how intrigued he is by Ellis. Since the roads are undrivable, Dax invites Ellis to stay, and together they plot their revenge. Cooking for Ellis, kissing Ellis, and sleeping next to Ellis isn’t the same thing as dating, is it?

Buy links

Contemporary Gay Romance: 14,382 words

JMS Books :: Amazon

Chapter 1

Ellis Rush tightened his hold on the steering wheel. He was gonna strangle Daniel, and then right before he died, he was gonna let up a fraction, so he could breathe for a second, only to then strangle him again. His brain painted a vivid image of his face turning blue. It didn’t look anything like how he assumed people being strangled looked, more like Daniel had become a member of the Blue Man Group.

The point was Daniel being blue and Ellis being pissed off as hell.

He was in the middle of fucking nowhere, not seeing more than a couple of feet ahead, and the snow was coming down in fast-falling, cracker-sized flakes. How the hell would he get home again?

Had he passed Nortown? Maybe he had. Daniel said it wasn’t more than a blip on the map. He’d gotten off the highway by the first sign to Nortown, as Daniel had told him to, but all he could see was snow.

He should turn around. Go home. Daniel would understand. Double dates weren’t something they did, and he sure as hell didn’t do blind dates. If Daniel wanted to date some small-town god, then he could do it without involving Ellis.

Fuck, this was stupid.

A knot formed in his gut. He’d been too focused on not getting stuck in the snow or driving off the road to think about the date. He had wine. Daniel claimed he was in charge of drinks, which was unfair. Why should he supply wine for four people, two of whom he didn’t know. He didn’t know if they liked wine. He’d bought both red and white since Daniel had failed to inform him what they were eating, and then he’d grabbed a few beers too since Daniel’s new obsession was a mountain man. Sasquatch. Daniel claimed he worked in a sawmill, but Ellis got serious Bigfoot vibes—he hadn’t met him, but he could sense these things. Demond was clearly a made-up name. No one in their right mind named their kid Demond… unless they were demons.

He had it all wrong. Daniel’s new boyfriend wasn’t Bigfoot. He was a demon.

Sighing, he slowed. He couldn’t see the road for all the snow and crept forward. If he had an accident and died, he’d haunt Daniel for an eternity.

Reaching for his phone in the cup holder, he growled. There was no reception. That settled it. He was gonna die. Being out of reception only happened in movies, not in real life. And when it happened in movies, there would either be a serial killer or a monster. Bigfoot and his friend would have him for dinner. Crap! He’d brought the wine, so they had something to wash him down with.

Squinting ahead, he believed there was a light flickering, maybe. He didn’t dare look away from the road long enough to make sure, but with luck, he was here.

 He wished he could stop and double-check on his phone, but he’d have to live with the embarrassment if he was in the wrong place instead. Turning in at the driveway, he yelped at how his car sank into the deep snow. When they came running for him with forks at the ready, wanting to eat him, there was no way he’d be able to drive out of here. He didn’t think Bigfoots—Bigfeet?—would stop and allow him to shovel his car out of the snow before they attacked.

For a few seconds, he rested his forehead against the steering wheel. If Daniel wasn’t dead already, he’d kill him.

With a deep breath, he opened the door and looked down at the snow. It was knee deep, if not deeper, and he wore sneakers and his good jeans. He might not want to be on this date, but he never went on one without making sure his ass looked divine.

Better bring the bottles at once so he wouldn’t have to walk back through the snow to get them if he was at the right place.

* * * *

Dax Howard watched some idiot in a car turn in on his driveway. He hadn’t shoveled it. The snow was coming down hard. It had started snowing while he’d still been at work, but it was a Friday night, and he’d be off for the coming three weeks. He hadn’t planned on going anywhere for a few days and wouldn’t be shoveling anything until it had stopped snowing.

What kind of halfwit drove in weather like this?

For a moment, he considered going out on the landing and waving him away, but it was already too late. He’d already buried half his car in the snow.

Dax sighed and went to put on his rubber boots. It was knee deep out there. He grabbed his jacket and put on gloves. The snow shovel was out on the landing, leaning against the wall, and he had another in the garage. Though he wasn’t looking forward to trudging through the snow to get there. If someone was stupid enough to drive in this weather, surely they had a snow shovel in their car.

He yanked the door open only to draw back since the man standing there had a hand raised to knock, and Dax had been punched enough times to know he wasn’t in the mood to get a fist in his face.

“Oh, shit, I’m sorry.” The man moved back so fast Dax reached for him. He didn’t touch him, but it was instinctive to try to halt his fall. He didn’t fall, but he balanced on the edge of the landing for a few seconds.

“It’s okay. You need help out of here.” He didn’t make it a question, since it wasn’t one.

“Erm… Daniel isn’t here, is he?”

Daniel? Dax didn’t know any Daniel. “No.”

The man’s shoulders slumped. “Do you know how to get to…” It clinked as he put the plastic bag down in the snow. Glass bottles, wine most likely, Dax recognized the sound. The man grabbed his phone from his pocket and held it up to Dax. “There.” He sighed. “I’m to go there, but there is no reception, so my dot hasn’t moved on the map for the last half hour or so. I hoped I was in the right place.”

Dax frowned. It was his house on the map. “Are you sure you typed in the right address?”

“Is this some kind of practical joke?” The anger glinting in the man’s eyes made Dax look at the phone again.

 “It’s my address, but I don’t know any Daniel. Was he supposed to meet you here?” It better not be a joke. He didn’t want to be part of a joke. And if it was a joke, it was at his expense as much as it was at the guy’s.

“You don’t know a Daniel?”

Dax shook his head. “I’ll help shovel your car free of the snow so you can go.”

The man narrowed his eyes. “But this is the address!”

Seconds went by as Dax watched him. “There is no Daniel here, and you shouldn’t be driving in this kind of weather. It’s gonna snow all night. I suggest we get your car free, so you can go home. It’s the safest thing to do.”

The man looked at his car. “Don’t you think I can put it in reverse and back out?”

Dax shrugged. He didn’t think so, but if he didn’t have to shovel, no one would be happier than him.

“Right. Sorry for disturbing you.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Dax didn’t move as the man grabbed his bag of bottles and went down the stairs. Hopefully, he’d make it home okay. It wasn’t a night anyone should be out driving, but he was a grown man. He could take care of himself.

It was evident he didn’t have a lick of sense. He wore sneakers in a snowstorm. He was out driving in a snowstorm. He had no gloves and his jacket was way too thin. He drove a red Toyota Yaris. It was a miracle he’d made it as far as he had. He kept his mouth shut, though. The sooner the idiot left, the sooner he could go back to his quiet night in front of the TV.

“Fucking Bigfoot.” The man hopped between his previous footsteps, making the bottles clank in the bag. Dax hadn’t studied his feet, but considering he was a head, if not more, shorter than Dax, he didn’t think he had big feet.

“If the prints are big, it should be easier to step into them.”

The man stared at him over his shoulder. “Huh?”

“Big feet. It’s good with big feet when walking in snow.”

He nodded slowly. “I meant the man Daniel is dating.”

Dax nodded, only to then shake his head, and the man groaned. “He met this mountain man, but I don’t think he’s a mountain man at all. I think he’s Bigfoot. Oh, we’re queer, unless you’d figured it out by now. It’s not contagious. No need to kill me and bury me in the woods. You know what they say about big feet, and who can have bigger feet than Bigfoot? Anyway, Daniel and Yeti—”

“Bigfoot and Yeti aren’t the same.” Dax took a deep breath. He wasn’t surprised by the queer comment. Normally, he couldn’t tell when it came to people. Sometimes there was that spark. You met someone’s gaze, and you knew they were the same, but in general, Dax had been born without a gaydar. This man, Dax would’ve been surprised if he’d said he was straight.

“No, I know, Mr. Know-it-all, but Yeti is a nicer name than Sasquatch.”

Dax fought a grin at the exasperated tone. “You didn’t say Sasquatch, you said Bigfoot.”

“It’s the same thing!”

“I know, but it wasn’t the word you used.”

The man groaned. “I know which word I used.”

“Okay.”

He narrowed his eyes. “Are you making fun of me? Why is everyone making fun of me today?”

Dax hadn’t been, but he couldn’t help but smile.

“It doesn’t matter. Daniel has turned into a necromancer and has summoned a demon.”

Dax was quiet for several seconds. “You didn’t have an accident on the way over here, did you?”

The man widened his eyes. “No.”

His car looked unscratched. “Didn’t get out of the car to have a look around and slip on some ice underneath the snow? Hit your head?”

The man wiggled his fingers at him. “Ah, I see what you’re doing. You’re trying to be nice about calling me insane.”

Dax scowled. “No. I think you might have a concussion, is all. I never meant to imply you were permanently insane.”

He huffed.

“Look, what’s your name?” Dax hoped he wasn’t hurt.

“Ellis Rush, chocolatier extraordinaire.” He bowed.

“Chocolate?”

“The universe’s gift to humans.”

Was being a chocolatier a real job? There was a chocolatier in Whiteport. He’d never been there, but he’d heard people gush about it. “In Whiteport?”

“Ah, you’ve heard of me.”

“Not you specifically, but I’ve heard the… erm… salted caramel fudge, or whatever, is divine.”

“I’m divine.”

Dax laughed. “I’m sure you are. Now, let’s get you out of here so I can get back to my divine life.”

 * * * *

Ellis winced. He always talked too much when he was nervous, and while he didn’t think he’d found a mountain man, he’d sure found a mountain of a man, a god of the forest, and it made him weak in the knees. “What’s your name?”

The forest god studied him for several long seconds, and Ellis almost whimpered—he was pathetic that way.

“Dax Howard.”

Dax. Ellis gave a dreamy sigh. It’d look good doodled in a heart. It would fit on a chocolate truffle.

 “Are you all right?”

Ellis jumped; having forgotten he was in the presence of a god. “Yes, sure, why wouldn’t I be?”

“You looked like you were spacing out, and I’m still not convinced you’re not suffering from a concussion.”

“Because of Bigfoot?” He took the last few steps until he could reach the handle of the car door. He could see how he hadn’t made the best first impression.

“Among other things.”

Should he be offended? “No concussion. I was born this way.”

“Fascinating.” The tone was dry, but there was a sparkle of amusement in Dax’s eyes.

“I think it is.” He hesitated before opening the car door. “You don’t have a working phone, do you? I should call Daniel.”

“The necromancer?”

Ellis nodded.

“I have a landline.” He gestured toward the house, which looked plucked from a postcard from the Alps.

“Wow, you’re some kind of ancient vampire, aren’t you?”

Dax breathed in deep. “About the head injury—”

“It’s not an injury.”

“Drugs?”

Ellis huffed. “Can I use your ancient device or not?”

“You can use it.”

“I didn’t mean it in a dirty way.”

Dax’s eyebrows climbed his forehead. “What? Dirty how?”

“Your ancient device. I figured you’re a good bit older than me, ancient even, and when I mentioned your device, I didn’t mean your cock.”

Dax didn’t move a muscle for several seconds, and it wasn’t until the world spun around him, Ellis remembered to breathe.

“I’m not sure how to unpack that.”

“No! No need for you to unpack it.” Ellis widened his eyes but couldn’t stop himself from dropping his gaze to Dax’s crotch. Sadly, it was hidden underneath a bulky jacket.

“Jesus, I should take you to a hospital.” Dax eyed Ellis’s car as if he was thinking about commandeering it and drive to a hospital, then he gestured at the house. “Please, go inside and call your friend.”