Kennedy has no use for holidays, and suffers through the pageantry. When Angel moves to town to be closer to his brother, Cupid strikes in a big way. Before he knows it, Kennedy is being courted, chased, and wooed. Angel is determined to open Kennedy’s heart and isn’t above using the spirit of the holidays to crack the wall surrounding it.
Available now at MLR
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas! Thank you to Carson and the Guys Like Romance, Too! blog for letting me come in for the day and hang out. With it being the holiday and giving season, I will be offering a PDF of What I See In You to a lucky commenter. I will post on the 15th, so be sure to come and check in the comments.
I’ll be honest, with temperatures clinging to the 80-degree mark here in Central Texas, it just hasn’t felt very Christmas-y, much less anything remotely holiday. And when I started writing out Kennedy’s story, that kind of became his life. He has no use for the glitz and the glam. He’s a bit sour, in truth, by all the extravagance. Add in the miserable cold and he’s… Yes, a modern-day Grinch. There’s one in every crowd.
So when Angel moves to Arbor Heights, discovering him by accident and learns he’s available, Kennedy is completely bowled over. Really, how can a man who doesn’t believe in the spirit of Christmas hope to win against a man who not only believes in Cupid, but in love at first sight?
Kennedy learns he can’t.
Angel isn’t an angel in the paranormal sense, but I think the way he comes across is just the right touch of angel that helps break Kennedy’s armor, creating chinks in it that allows for something special to happen. And isn’t that really what the spirit of Christmas is? Regardless of how it’s celebrated, or just exactly what it means to you, helping one another is the core of the season. Giving. And what Angel gives Kennedy breathes life into him. It’s not really a traditional story and when you read it, you’ll see why.
If you promise not to tell… I completely love Christmas stories! There’s something in them that just make me want to snuggle up under a blanket and become invisible to read. I read them all year long. Especially when I want to forget it’s a hundred and nine outside. It’s easy to disappear into a Christmas story. Makes me miss snow. I have seen it! I swear!
But I think the biggest thing I love about holiday stories is simply the feeling of the season. The little things that may not be what you expect, but can still make it special. Like riding around to check out lights. Or splurging on eggnog and cake. The kinds of things that make the season individual to each of us. Traditions. I can’t give away everything but I can tell you Angel does help Kennedy make a one or two for them, which helps Kennedy realize there’s more to the season than just the pageantry.
It was the twinkling lights that annoyed him. Clear or colored it didn’t matter. It was always the ones that they wrapped around the poles and trees like freakin’ little fairy butts, all sparkly and… Well, holiday-wintery-cheery-and-crap. Kennedy didn’t do cheery. Suffice it to say, he didn’t do anything remotely Christmas either.
Not that Arbor Heights cared about one man’s distaste for all the garish pomp and circumstance they had to trot out annually like a dog and pony show. All it did was clutter up stuff. Streetlight poles on corners with wreaths that stuck out to there. Lights that hung beneath their wire supports, just low enough to taunt passing high-profile trucks. It was a miracle — the real kind — that entire city blocks of wire and electrical cables weren’t ripped to the ground annually. Wouldn’t that be a hoot? They’d lose their precious internet for what? A day? All for the sake of some ridiculous lights.
A ladder truck! That would be priceless! He jeered as he picked his way down the sidewalk, avoiding other pedestrians and smiling at none.
Kennedy didn’t smile at strangers. They wanted to stop and talk. Kennedy didn’t do that either.
Winter had settled in with a vengeance, though the official day was still sometime in the near future. He just knew it was friggin’ cold. Seasons meant little other than a need to change his stored wardrobe with whatever was already in the closet. Snow coated the curb where the street crews had attempted to make the streets survivable; passable was always up for debate. He tucked his chin into the cowl collar of his coat, staring upward and forward through his lashes. His hands dug deep into his pockets. Puffs of iced air proved he lived.
Should just leave here, he silently bitched. It was the same complaint every year. Why he didn’t get up and go, he didn’t really know. Better to stay with the monster you know, he supposed.
Kennedy Myles had been born and raised in Arbor Heights, and couldn’t find the inclination to actually leave, even though he hated it there. It was more than that. He’d hate anywhere he went, so why bother?
At least in Arbor Heights he felt safe in comfortable surroundings, even if he knew very few people and called even fewer friends. It was still his home. All it took was one hour of news on any national channel to know how well the world would suffer one like him. Kennedy was one of them, one of the gay. The type of man women refused to make eye contact with and who would scurry past him with their children in disgust, and men… Second Amendment Rights said it all. He wasn’t a fool. He stayed quiet, stayed under the radar, and no one knew or cared. He was just another person on the street, a person behind a door that no one even had to talk to if they didn’t want to. If he didn’t want to.
Which he didn’t.
He watched his footing on the sidewalk, but the crunch of salt proved that either the city or the other shopkeepers on the stretch had taken preemptive measures against the ice. He slid a key ring from his pocket and opened the door he’d stopped at. Inside, he replaced the lock and to begin opening the small jewelry repair store.
As habitual as the seasons themselves, he strode through the store to the rear to deactivate the alarm and then hung his coat on one of the large wall hooks. Stretching his shoulders with a good arm reach, he opened the safe and began to set up the trays for the front of the store. Elspeth would be in shortly to finish setting up.
After a quick review to count pieces and a head nod that all was as he’d left it the night before, he turned for the small counter to make tea for himself and coffee for the front. He didn’t drink the coffee, but he understood consumer dynamics. Give customers a reason to linger and they likely purchased.
The front door unlocked again while he was finishing up with the hot drinks.
“Morning, Kennedy,” Elspeth offered as she appeared in the doorway, as bundled against the cold as he himself had been.
“Morning,” he replied while she hung up her coat.
She went about setting up the register, taking the drawer from the safe, when she asked, “Did you see the ring request on your table?”
“No, I haven’t.”
She counted out bills quickly. “It was brought in right before closing. I told the gentleman I’d have you look at it and see if it could be done.”
It was too early in the morning for Kennedy to be chipper as both went about the routine of opening the store in the comfort of practiced ease and quiet. Kennedy didn’t do mornings well. Thankfully, Elspeth knew this and usually allowed him his first cup of tea before trying to draw him into the living.
Elspeth had been a good friend and co-worker for several years. She was also one of the few who knew he was gay, though he’d never directly said. She’d just known, surprising him ages ago by asking if he was with someone. Casual conversation. When he’d cautiously said no, she’d suggested the son of a friend. Appreciative, he’d declined and then hid for almost an hour trying to get over the shock.
With a cup of tea in hand, he propped himself on his stool behind his worktable in the best-lit corner of the store, and clicked on the magnification light. The store wasn’t very large; there were only a few display cases, as much of what he did was repair and refurbish. Kennedy had a fairly broad inventory range, from a few high-end pieces, including a couple he, himself, had created, to basic bands and chains.
He saw the image on his table beneath a paperweight. “This? He wants to destroy this broach?” Kennedy bit back more of his disgust. The small, round broach was beautiful, with peacock green and blue stones. He’d have to see it in hand to determine the actual stones, but by the clarity alone, he’d say they were semi-precious, like tourmalines. Very rich greens and blues that sparkled like ocean water.
“He said he’d be by this morning to discuss the designs with you.”
Kennedy shrugged. “Okay.” What a waste. So he wanted to tear this beautiful piece apart for a couple rings? Some people didn’t know the value of what they already had.