On the Red Carpet – B J Smyth + Giveaway

Follow the Release Day post including a FREE GIVEAWAY!

Buy Links:  Amazon Universal

Blurb: Carter wants a Daddy bear and needs him to love him.

Carter is Twenty-Two, insecure and immature, but from the moment he met Frank he knew he wanted him as his Daddy bear.

Frank is Forty-Five, confused by his feelings for his Ex. He is infatuated by Carter’s attention towards him, but never dating a younger guy he is finding it hard to deal with Carter’s immaturity.

Six months later they are still dating and Carter still wants a fulltime Daddy.

During these months together the bond between them is growing and Carter has used his boyish charms to get Frank to become the Daddy he wants so badly.

Frank is enjoying playing the Daddy but he is still unsure about Carter coming into his life fulltime, having already experienced one long term relationship disaster.

However, following an incident at Carter’s flat, this Boy needs his Daddy more than ever before.

In the heat of the moment will Frank make the right decisions?

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On the Red Carpet today – Jackie North’s new release

WILD AS THE WEST TEXAS WIND

Soulmates across time. Two hearts that were meant to be together.

In present day, Zach takes a road trip to Trinidad to find information on a missing friend.

In 1892, Layton Blue, outlaw, longs for hearth and home even as he treasures his life of freedom.

A freak rainstorm washes Zach’s car into a ditch, sending him back to the year 1892. Searching for help, alone and on foot in the middle of the nowhere, he crosses paths with the famous Ketchum Gang. Now the gang’s prisoner, Zach’s fate is to be sold at a seedy auction for whores.

Layton is put in charge of making sure Zach does not escape, but as the chemistry between them grows, Layton finds himself wanting to help Zach.

Can Layton overcome years of being on the run? Can Zach accept help from an outlaw?

A male/male time travel romance complete with fast rides across the desert, campfires beneath the stars, cool water in the desert, wild rescues, and true love across time.


Buy Links: http://mybook.to/WildAsTheWestTexasWind


Bio:
Jackie North has been writing stories since grade school and spent years absorbing the mainstream romances that she found at her local grocery store. Her dream was to someday leave her corporate day job behind and travel the world. She also wanted to put her English degree to good use and write romance novels, because for years she’s had a never-ending movie of made-up love stories in her head that simply wouldn’t leave her alone.
As fate would have it, she discovered m/m romance and decided that men falling in love with other men was exactly what she wanted to write books about. In this dazzling new world, she turned her grocery-store romance ideas around and is now putting them to paper as fast as her fingers can type. She creates characters who are a bit flawed and broken, who find themselves on the edge of society, and maybe a few who are a little bit lost, but who all deserve a happily ever after. (And she makes sure they get it!)
She likes long walks on the beach, the smell of lavender and rainstorms, and enjoys sleeping in on snowy mornings. She is especially fond of pizza and beer and, when time allows, long road trips with soda fountain drinks and rock and roll music. In her heart, there is peace to be found everywhere, but since in the real world this isn’t always true, Jackie writes for love.

Red Carpet – Chrissy Munder + her new release

WELCOME today to Chrissy Munder, and congratulations on the release of her new Christmas book, part of the 2018 Dreamspinner Press Advent Calendar! Join Chrissy in celebrating the season – whether it’s freezing cold or Florida-hot LOL – and share YOUR favourite traditions with us all.

An except and BUY links are also below. Read the story and chuckle! I certainly did *wink*.


Is everyone staying warm? I’m Chrissy Munder, currently buried under far too many inches of snow! I’m here to celebrate my latest release, one of my favorite holiday traditions, and hopefully,  learn a little about yours. First, let me thank Clare for sharing space on her blog today. *smooches* Thank you!

I had a lot of fun writing this year’s novella for the 2018 Dreamspinner Press Advent Collection, A Holiday Tradition. I wanted to explore the ties that unite us all, despite our surface differences.

My main character, Paul, can’t imagine the holidays without his usual, cold weather celebrations. But here he is in Florida where his new crush, Kevin tells him that they still have traditions, they “… just don’t have to wear as many clothes when we celebrate them.” I’m a firm believer in families of choice and enjoyed helping these two come together and develop the first of their own traditions.

So, what is one of our favorite holiday traditions? If I ask the now-adult children they’ll roll their eyes and tell me it’s where we throw them in the car with a thermos of hot cocoa and a bowl of buttered popcorn, then drive them around for an hour looking at holiday lights and decorations while blasting rock guitar holiday music. (Every try any? Good times. You can listen to one of our favorites here:

https://youtu.be/uR_fsrYqZHk

What’s one of YOUR family’s special ways to celebrate, if you do? Do you have a favorite holiday movie, book,  or cookie recipe? Do you torment, erh, torture, erh embarrass your kids like we did? Like Paul, do you find it hard to celebrate without the trappings of snow and cold, or wouldn’t you trade your favorite holiday swimsuit for an ugly sweater if paid?

Go ahead and leave a comment or share a memory below.


A Holiday Tradition by Chrissy Munder

BLURB: Paul Carpenter has his life all planned out. Or at least his father does. The right school, the right degree, the right job. Paul is on track, until a bus accident has him sitting out a coveted internship, babysitting, or being babysat, by a grandfather he barely remembers during his holiday stay in a Florida RV park. His father’s reasoning? How much temptation can Paul find around a bunch of senior citizens playing bingo? There’ll be nothing to distract him from his studies.

It’s hard to muster his holiday spirit when Paul is used to snow and cold, not sun, surf, and plastic flamingos in Santa hats. But then Paul meets Kevin Lombardo, who offers to show him some new holiday traditions. Suddenly Paul’s fast track hits a curve.

Excerpt:

“Your father says you sleep with men.”

His grandfather’s unexpected statement dropped into the silence of the RV like a bomb, and Paul Carpenter jerked upright, knocking his head into the passenger-side window with a loud clunk.

Oh. My. God. A burning surge of resentment rose in Paul’s throat. What the hell? He’d send his father a furious text if it would do any good. Not only for dumping his sexuality on his grandfather, but also for the idea behind this entire trip!

He closed his eyes, focusing on the coolness of the glass rather than the scream he had held back for the last few miles of the drive from Michigan  to some mobile home and RV park on Florida’s eastern coast. Paul had never heard of the place, but Grandpa Louie swore Decembers were better under the Florida sun.

Two hours down, a minimum of sixteen more to go. Probably eighteen, with as many rest stops as his grandfather made. Paul took a deep breath and dug his thumbnail into his palm, mentally gearing himself up for the confrontation sure to come. “If you’re asking if I’m gay, yes, Grandpa. I am.”

Grandpa Louie nodded in reply. He carried his years with comfort, the bulk of muscle honed by hard work not yet whittled away by time, and his hearty appearance overcame his fondness for dressing in bright pastels.

Paul hoped he would age just as well, but he took after his father’s family. Which translated to him being shorter, thinner, and with hair more dishwater than blond.

“Thanks for telling me. It sure would have been embarrassing if I tried to set my wingman up with a bird of the wrong feather.” Grandpa Louie cackled at his own joke, his quick glance inviting Paul to join in.

Paul released his tension with a choked-off huff. “Wingman?”

“You betcha. Why do you think I spend my winters down south?” His eager grin peeled the bushy mustache away from his lips, making him look ridiculously like Paul’s roommate in the first part of his freshman year.

Paul shuddered at the memory. The adventures of Dean-o Hamilton, the self-proclaimed “Party Dog” of their floor, were something he preferred to forget. While his father’s intense micromanagement  of his college experience sometimes chafed, Paul hadn’t protested when his father insisted he transfer to the designated quiet dorm after paying them a surprise visit.

“I can give you the answer in one word: widows.” His grandfather whistled through the gap in his front teeth. “Fun in the sun doesn’t always mean pinochle and shuffleboard.”

A Holiday Tradition by Chrissy Munder – Available from Dreamspinner Press, Amazon.US, and Amazon.UK

Red Carpet interview – J Scott Coatsworth

ScottTo celebrate the new release of his MM Sci Fi book LANDERJ. Scott Coatsworth is visiting with an *exclusive* interview for us.

Do you have any strange writing habits or superstitions?
Hmmm, not sure how strange it is, but when I get ready to sit down to write, I go into the kitchen and break up four squares of a Trader Joe’s dark chocolate bar into eight pieces total. It’s my “writer food” and incentive to finish scenes. 😛

I also like to be alone when I write, though it’s not always possible. It’s not like Mark looks over my shoulder or anything – LOL. It’s more that I don’t have to worry about any distractions.

What fantasy realm would you choose to live in and why?

Oh, there are soooo many. But I think it would have to be Lothlorien. I lost my heart there the first time I wandered through the Golden Wood when I was maybe ten years old? Galadriel stole it…

What’s your writing process?

Butt in chair, write. Oh and outline. And re-read what I already wrote so I don’t miss anything. And lots of daydreaming time to figure out plot knots. And a ton of dark chocolate and caffeinated iced tea.

Do you ever base your characters on real people? If so, what are the pitfalls you’ve run into doing so?

Usually not, but yes, in River City. I found that it’s a tricky proposition. If they don’t know, it’s not a big deal. But if they do, they can feel that your character is how you feel about them, and that can lead to problems. Some characters were based on a person personality-wise, but not in biographical details, and when the character made a bad choice, I got a bit of blowback for it. So yeah, you have to be careful, at least if you want them still to be talking with you afterwards. LOL…

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Generally I only read my “professional” reviews – those done by reviewers on established review sites. But every now and then I’ll wander into the Amazon or Goodreads reviews – and that’s a rabbit hole most authors are better staying out of. Even with professional reviews, one bad review can wipe out the happy fluffy feelings from ten good ones. We authors are fragile creatures, after all.

I did get one that was so horrible it made me laugh (and possibly squirt iced tea out of my nose). It said I was a terrible writer, and in no way worthy of the fancy name “Coatsworth.” Or something to that effect. You just gotta smile sometimes.

What are you working on now, and when can we expect it?

So many things.

After “Lander”, the next up is “The River City Chronicles,” the book form of my successful web serial about a group of friends (mostly queer) in Sacramento. It will be my first self-published work.

In October, “The Rising Tide” comes out – book two of “Liminal Sky” (after “The Stark Divide).

Sometime this year, Mischief Corner Books should start releasing “Marionettes in the Mist,” a four author serial I participated in over there, as a trilogy.

I’m already writing my 2019 releases – “Ithani” will be the last book in the Oberon Cycle, and “The Shoreless Sea” the last in the “Liminal Sky” trilogy.

Oh, and I have a bunch of stories coming back to me from anthologies and the like that I might either turn into an anthology, release as self-published stand-alones, or expand to full novels. Or all three!

Thanks for sharing your news and insight with us, J!


LanderBOOK info: LANDER by J Scott Coatsworth

Sometimes the world needs saving twice.

In the sequel to the Rainbow-Award-winning Skythane, Xander and Jameson thought they’d fulfilled their destiny when they brought the worlds of Oberon and Titania back together, but their short-lived moment of triumph is over.

Reunification has thrown the world into chaos. A great storm ravaged Xander’s kingdom of Gaelan, leaving the winged skythane people struggling to survive. Their old enemy, Obercorp, is biding its time, waiting to strike. And to the north, a dangerous new adversary gathers strength, while an unexpected ally awaits them.

In the midst of it all, Xander’s ex Alix returns, and Xander and Jameson discover that their love for each other may have been drug-induced.

Are they truly destined for each other, or is what they feel concocted? And can they face an even greater challenge when their world needs them most?

The Oberon Cycle: Book Two

About the Oberon Cycle:

Xander is a skythane man whose wings have always been a liability on the lander-dominated half world of Oberon.

Jameson is a lander who has been sent to Oberon to find out why the supply of the psycho-amoratic drug pith has dropped off.

What neither knows is that they have a shared destiny that will change the two of them – and all of Oberon – forever.

Dreamspinner – eBook | Dreamspinner – Paperback


Author Bio

Scott lives between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine, he devoured her library. But as he grew up, he wondered where the people like him were.

He decided it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Waldenbooks. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

His friends say Scott’s brain works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He seeks to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

He runs Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own reality.

Website: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com  
Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth  
Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworthauthor/  
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/jscoatsworth  
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8392709.J_Scott_Coatsworth  
QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/j-scott-coatsworth/  
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/J.-Scott-Coatsworth/e/B011AFO4OQ

On the Red Carpet – J Scott Coatsworth new release + Giveaway

Lander
J. Scott Coatsworth
has a new MM Sci Fi book out:

Sometimes the world needs saving twice.

In the sequel to the Rainbow-Award-winning Skythane, Xander and Jameson thought they’d fulfilled their destiny when they brought the worlds of Oberon and Titania back together, but their short-lived moment of triumph is over.

Reunification has thrown the world into chaos. A great storm ravaged Xander’s kingdom of Gaelan, leaving the winged skythane people struggling to survive. Their old enemy, Obercorp, is biding its time, waiting to strike. And to the north, a dangerous new adversary gathers strength, while an unexpected ally awaits them.

In the midst of it all, Xander’s ex Alix returns, and Xander and Jameson discover that their love for each other may have been drug-induced.

Are they truly destined for each other, or is what they feel concocted? And can they face an even greater challenge when their world needs them most?

The Oberon Cycle: Book Two

About the Oberon Cycle:

Xander is a skythane man whose wings have always been a liability on the lander-dominated half world of Oberon.

Jameson is a lander who has been sent to Oberon to find out why the supply of the psycho-amoratic drug pith has dropped off.

What neither knows is that they have a shared destiny that will change the two of them – and all of Oberon – forever.

Dreamspinner – eBook | Dreamspinner – Paperback


Giveaway

Scott is giving away a $25 Amazon gift certificate and three copies of his queer sci fi eBook “The Stark Divide.”

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Excerpt

Lander banner

Xander stared at the torrent of water pouring over the cavern entrance. Somewhere out there, Quince and the others were lost in the storm.

“What happened to everyone else?” Jameson shouted, putting his hand on Xander’s shoulder.

“I don’t know. Last I saw them was before the lightning strike.” How had things changed so quickly?

Jameson started toward the exit. “We have to look for them!”

Xander pulled him back.

Jameson’s eyes were wild.

He squeezed Jameson’s hands, trying to reassure him. “Hey, calm down. There’s nothing we can do right now.”

“We already lost Morgan.” Jameson’s eyes pleaded with him. “I can’t lose the rest of them.”

Xander shook his head. “It’s no use. We’ll never find them in this tempest. They’re seasoned veterans. They can take care of themselves. We’ll go looking after the storm passes.” The loss of Morgan weighed on him too, though he was less and less certain that Morgan had been a human boy at all.

Jameson looked doubtful.

Xander felt it too, but there really was nothing they could do. “Hey, it’s gonna be all right.” He pulled Jameson to him, enfolding the two of them with his wings. Jameson was soaked, but Xander didn’t care.

Jameson nodded against his chest. “You’re right. Gods, I know you’re right. I’m sorry. I thought we were done with all this.”

Xander held him out at arm’s length. “Gods, huh? We’re doing the plural thing now?”

Jameson gave him a half smile. “Trying it out? When in Rome….”

“How’s your hearing?”

Jameson cocked his head. “It’s better. But everything sounds muffled.”

Xander nodded. “I can tell.”

Jameson blushed. “Am I talking too loud?”

“Just a little.”

Jameson smiled sheepishly. “It’s weird. It feels like my ears are full of water.”

Xander kissed him gently. “It’ll pass.” He looked around the cavern at last, his eyes gradually adjusting to the dim blue light.

The place was a faeryland, filled with rows of golden stalactites and stalagmites, like the bulwarks of an eldritch castle. Each one was a miracle of minute detail, like candle wax dripped from above. The whole cavern was lit by a turquoise-blue glow.

Xander looked around for the source. It came from pools of water on either side of the cavern. The scintillating light shimmered along the walls, creating complex, ever-changing patterns.

“Look, Jameson… it’s beautiful.” They were both a muddy mess. “We’re stuck here until the storm blows itself out. Why don’t we get cleaned up and try to rest? Then we can figure out what to do next. We have a long flight to Gaelan.” He was still shivering from the rain.

“A bath sounds like heaven.” Jameson let Xander lead him to one of the glowing ponds.

“Do you think it’s safe to go in?” Xander asked, pulling off his boots and testing the water with his toes. It was warm.

Jameson looked queasy, but then he smiled. “They called them faery ponds. There’s a microscopic organism that makes the light. It’s harmless, but beautiful.” He grinned. “Romantic, even.”

Ah, that’s how you knew this place. “You’ve been here before, haven’t you?” he said, slowly and clearly, gesturing to indicate Jameson and the cavern. His own generational memories were still fleeting, occasional things.

Jameson’s smile fled. He shrugged. “Not me personally….”

“Shhh. I know.” If he closed his eyes and focused, he could see this place too, but he seemed to be able to block them out when they were inconvenient. “Too many memories.” Xander pointed at his head.

Jameson nodded. He looked relieved. He reached out and pulled Xander close, his hands warm on Xander’s waist.

Xander slipped his arms around Jameson and kissed him once, twice. He wrinkled his nose. “You’re filthy and you stink! So do I.” He held up his shirt as proof. It was covered in mud stains.

Jameson laughed. “We can fix that.”

He helped Jameson unlace the sides of his shirt, pulling it off to reveal the naked skin underneath. Jameson returned the favor, his hands lingering for a moment before withdrawing to pull down his own pants.

They shucked their wet and dirty clothes and descended into the water. It was surprisingly warm, silky and smooth around Xander’s waist.

The pool was about three meters across and sloped down to about a meter deep at the far end. There was a warm, gentle current drifting past Xander’s legs, and the stone beneath his feet had been worn smooth by water and time.

Xander washed the grime off his skin, and it drifted off into the water around him.

Jameson pulled him in deeper and gestured for him to lower his head.

Xander lay in Jameson’s arms, and warm water washed over him, carrying the mud and dirt out of his hair. Jameson massaged his scalp, pulling away the twigs and bits of gunk he’d accumulated on the mad run through the forest in the storm.

Xander’s desire threatened to overwhelm him at Jameson’s gentle touch. He dipped his face into the water and rinsed off. It was so fucking good to get clean.

He shook his head, splashing Jameson, who shot him an aggrieved look.

The look turned into a wicked grin, and Jameson splashed him back. Then they were going after each other and laughing, a fine mist of water flying through the air.

Damn, it’s good to hear you laugh again. Xander grabbed Jameson and kissed him, harder this time, and Jameson’s body responded. They fell back into the water, and Jameson was hard against him, his own need naked before Xander’s desire.

After all that had happened, Xander needed to feel human and alive again. He tugged Jameson back to the shallow part of the pool and pulled his skythane down on top of him, Jameson’s skin warm against his own.

He kissed Jameson’s neck and nibbled on his ear, eliciting a low moan.

Jameson wanted this as much as he did. He could tell.

For a long, slow, ecstatic hour, Xander forgot all about the storm.


Author Bio

ScottScott lives between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine, he devoured her library. But as he grew up, he wondered where the people like him were.

He decided it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Waldenbooks. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

His friends say Scott’s brain works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He seeks to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

He runs Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own reality.

Website: https://www.jscottcoatsworth.com  
Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth  
Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworthauthor/  
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/jscoatsworth  
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8392709.J_Scott_Coatsworth  
QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/j-scott-coatsworth/  
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/J.-Scott-Coatsworth/e/B011AFO4OQ

On the Red Carpet – Mel Gough’s new release

RELEASED TODAY – A WORLD APART

Ben Griers is the darling of Corinth Georgia’s Police Department—intelligent, handsome, and hardworking. Thanks to his beautiful wife and clever daughter, Ben’s family is the envy of the town. Yet desperate unhappiness is hiding just below the surface.

When Donnie Saunders, a deadbeat redneck with a temper, is brought to the Corinth PD as a suspect in a hit-and-run, Ben finds himself surprisingly intrigued by the man. He quickly establishes Donnie’s innocence but can’t shake the feeling that Donnie is hiding something. When they unexpectedly encounter each other again at an AA meeting in Atlanta, sparks begin to fly.

With his marriage on the verge of collapse, Ben is grateful for the other man’s affection. But he is soon struggling to help an increasingly vulnerable Donnie, while at the same time having to deal with the upheaval in his own life. Ben eventually realizes that they cannot achieve happiness together unless they confront their darkest secrets.

BUY LINKS:  Nine Star Press | Amazon ebook | Amazon print

 

Author Bio:
Mel was born in Germany, where she spent the first twenty-six years of her life (with a one-year stint in Los Angeles). She has always been fascinated by cultures and human interaction, and got a Masters in Social Anthropology. After finishing university she moved to London, where she has now lived for ten years.

If you were to ask her parents what Mel enjoyed the most since the age of six, they would undoubtedly say “Reading!” She would take fifteen books on a three-week beach holiday, and then read all her mom’s books once she’d devoured her own midway through week two.

Back home in her mom’s attic there’s a box full of journals with stories Mel wrote when she was in her early teens. None of the stories are finished, or any good. She has told herself bedtime stories as far back as she can remember.

In her day job, Mel works for an NGO as operations manager. No other city is quite like London, and Mel loves her city. The hustle and bustle still amaze and thrill her even after all these years. When not reading, writing or going to the theater, Mel spends her time with her long-time boyfriend, discussing science or poking fun at each other.

Find Mel: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon

On the Red Carpet – Looking for Jesse by Lisa Worrall

An exciting new release from well-loved author Lisa Worrall!

LOOKING FOR JESSE

Blurb:
Life is full of decisions and it’s the split-second ones that change your world forever.

Nick Shepherd made such a decision on the day his son, Jesse, was taken from a Christmas market in Naperville. The woman looked normal and had a son of her own, and he was only going to be a minute. But that minute was all she needed. His son was gone.

A year later, the task force is being downsized and they are no closer to finding Jesse than they were the day he disappeared. At his wits end, Nick is given a number and a name by the lead on the case.

Ex-detective Frank Ford has issues, several of them. Two steps shy of a full-blown alcoholic, all he wants is to bury himself in the bottle. He’s doing a pretty good job of it, too, when Nick Shepherd asks for his help. Does Ford want to help? No. Is Ford going to help? Hell no. Until four words resonate deep within him.

“She took my son!”

Book Info:
Word count: 62000
Genre: mm/mystery/thriller/kidnap
Publisher: Self-Published
Cover: Book Cover by Design

Excerpt:
Half an hour later there were only three people ahead of them and Nick sent a silent prayer of thanks heavenward. He’d stopped feeling his fingers fifteen minutes ago, and the sky had begun to darken as evening approached. After Santa, they could take one more trip around the lot, pick up a few decorations and the quilt Jesse had spotted for Nick’s mom before heading home. Nick’s stomach rumbled loudly and he suddenly realized they hadn’t eaten since the giant pretzel’s and hot chocolate when they first arrived. The Disney Channel and takeout pizza was the way to go. They were down to two in front when Jesse announced.

“Aww nuts.”

“Excuse me?” Nick stared down at him with a raised eyebrow. Although Jesse didn’t notice because he was too busy hunting through his pockets.

“I lost my mitten!” Jesse looked up at him, one of his multi-colored Christmas mittens clutched in his fingers.

Aww crap!

Anna had bought him those mittens last year at this very market and Jesse had scoured his closet last night looking for them. Wearing them today had been important and Nick got it, he really did.

“Where did you have them last?” Nick asked, dropping down to his haunches to look his son in the eye. His stomach rumbled again and Nick had a lightbulb moment. “Were you wearing them when we had hot chocolate?”

“Yes!” Jesse exclaimed. “But I took them off to hold the cup. Maybe I left it there.”

“Okay,” Nick said. “When we’ve seen Santa, we’ll go back and look for it.”

“But what if someone takes it while we’re waiting?” Jesse’s voice rose and Nick could hear that tears were on their way. “We have to go now!”

“Jay, we’ve been standing in line for thirty minutes, dude, and Santa’s gonna be closing up shop soon. If we go now, you’ll miss him.” Nick tried to reason but Jesse was on the verge of meltdown and people were beginning to stare at them.

“I… need… my… mitten!” Jesse wailed, sobs building in his chest and he threw his arms around Nick’s waist.

Double crap!

Nick looked at the woman in front of them with her son, then over at the seating area where they’d had their hot chocolate and pretzels earlier—then back again. It wasn’t that far…. If he sprinted, he could get to the wooden tables, check if the mitten was there and get back before it was their turn. Jesse would be okay just for a minute—wouldn’t he—of course he wouldn’t he’s only seven—but it’s only for a minute and there are people everywhere—but—? Nick didn’t have time to finish the conversation with himself because Jesse wailed again. Tapping the woman in front of them on the shoulder, Nick made an executive decision.

“Excuse me,” he said as she turned around. “My son left his mitten at the seating area over there but I don’t want him to miss his turn. Would you mind watching him for a minute while I run over and find it?”

The woman’s kindly brown eyes took in Jesse’s tear-soaked face and the length of the line then smiled. “Of course,” she replied. “But be quick, I think they’re rushing the kids through so they get in as many as they can before closing.”

“Like there’s fire coming out of my as—sorry, butt—sorry.” Nick stumbled over the words but she only laughed and waved her hand.

“Go!”

“Thanks,” Nick said gratefully and quickly hugged Jesse to him. “I’ll be right back, buddy, okay? You just stand here with this nice lady and I’ll be so quick you won’t even notice I’ve gone.”

Jesse looked at him warily but the woman smiled and said, “He’ll be fine with me and Marcus, won’t you?” Jesse gave a hesitant nod and Nick hit the ground running.

The mitten Gods must have been smiling down on him because he found it under the table where they’d been sitting almost immediately. He heaved a huge sigh of relief and dashed back to Santa’s Grotto, mitten held high like a victory torch so Jesse could see.

Nick made good on his promise, he was back in just over a minute, if a little out of breath. Promising himself he’d tell Daisy to stop bringing in donuts to work, he headed to the front of the line. He smiled as he slowed his approach, not wanting to slip on the frozen ground. Nick was surprised to see Jesse still held the woman’s hand. Although Jesse was an affectionate kid, he was also very cautious and took a while to warm up to new people. A hand tightened around Nick’s heart. It had been a long time since Jesse had felt a motherly touch. Even when they’d sat on the couch watching TV, Jesse’s hand had always been curled around Anna’s.

“I got it, dude!” Nick said jubilantly, putting his hand on Jesse’s shoulder. “It was right whe—”

The words caught in his throat as the boy turned and so did the woman holding his hand. “Hey!” she yelled, pulling the boy toward her.

“I’m sorry.” Nick held up his hands. “I thought you were… my….” He spun on his heel, his gaze flitting all around him. “Jesse!” His name echoed on the cold evening air. “Jesse! My son? Where’s my son?” Nick grabbed the woman’s forearm and her eyes widened in horror. “My son!” he repeated. What was wrong with her? Why was she looking at him like that?

“Hey, man, take it easy.” That came from a big, bald man a couple of spaces down the line.

Nick ignored him and shook the terrified woman. “My son, he was here. Right here. Where is he? You must have seen him!”

“Sir, is there a problem?”

Nick looked at the woman dressed in a short-skirted elf costume and the burly security guard behind her. He dropped the frightened woman’s arm and ran shaking hands through his hair. “My son,” he said again. Why was no one listening to him? “He was right here! Where is he?” He turned back to the dark-haired woman who now clasped her son to her tightly. “You saw him. You must have. He was with the other woman and the boy. I just went to find his… his mitten.” Nick waved it pathetically, the woolen mitten still clutched firmly in his fingers. “I found… it.”

“The little blond boy?” the elf asked.

“Yes!” Nick tried not to scream but panic, raw and heavy bubbled deep within him. He tried to push it down, but he could taste it in the back of his throat. “He was here. Right here. I was only gone—”

“She left.”

“She left?” Nick shook his head. “What do you mean she left?” He grabbed her forearms. Where. Is. My. Son?”

The elf turned her concerned gaze on the security guard, who stepped forward and put a firm hand on Nick’s shoulder. Spots dotted Nick’s peripheral vision as his brain tried to force him to accept what she was saying.

“Sh-she said there was an emergency. That they had to go.”

“Go?”

“I-I thought you were together,” she stuttered. “Oh, my God. I didn’t know. I thought you were toge—”

“Where is my son?” Nick knew what the answer was going to be, but he had to hear it. “Where is my son!

“Sh-she took him.”

*

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Author Bio:
My home is in Leigh on Sea, a small seaside town just outside London on the coast of Essex, about ten minutes from Southend, which boasts the longest pier in the world. I live with my husband and two ever-growing children, who I let think are the boss of me; along with two dogs who actually are.

As the wonderful Beatrix Potter said, “There is something delicious about writing the first words of a new story. You never quite know where they’ll take you.” I know exactly what she means and hope you’ll join me for the ride.

Website: http://lworrall.blogspot.com/ | Facebook: Lisa Worrall Author
Twitter: Lisa_Worrall | Email: lisaworrall69@gmail.com | Google+: Lisa Worrall