For most of my writing career I have concentrated on genres that dealt with detectives, cowboys, vampires and sometimes just regular guys in love. When Claire from Totally Bound asked me if I’d be interested in being part of a Christmas anthology, for a moment or two I balked at the idea of Santa Claus being involved in erotica. Every time I think of that white whiskered, red-cheeked roly poly man, sex is usually the farthest thing from my mind! But I have to admit I was intrigued by the idea of a Christmas romance, so I came up with the idea of some young guy down on his luck being forced to accept a job as a replacement Santa in a New York store.
So A Present Christmas became a sort of amalgam of A Christmas Carol and Miracle on 34th Street—both my favorite Christmas stories.
Blurb for A Present Christmas:
A Christmas spirit meddles in the lives of two young men in the hope that she can bring them more than just holiday cheer.
Bill Calder, out of a relationship, out of a job, and just plain out of luck becomes the object of attention and affection for Agnes - the spirit of Christmas present - and a little old lady with a mission. Together, she and Bill apply for a Christnas job in a New York department store where a desperate manager hires Bill as Santa - and Agnes as his helper.
It's not long beofre Bill catches the eye of Tom Davenport, a store 'employee', but Bill's low self-esteem after the dismal turns his life has taken, won't allow him to hope for too much from Tom.
Agnes however has other ideas, and with a little magic at her fingertips, manages to manoeuvre the two young men into each other's arms. Thinking her job done, Agnes' satisfaction is ruffled when Tom reveals to Bill who he really is, and Bill's pride won't allow him to take their relationship further.
So, a little more magic is needed…
Free excerpt from A Present Christmas:
As Bill stepped onto the sidewalk outside the hotel, he knew what he wanted for Christmas—an overcoat! The bitter north wind that was sweeping down Third Avenue all the way from Canada had the immediate effect of chilling him to the bone. Winter in New York—not the place to be without the proper clothes. All his winter gear was still in the house he’d shared with Dave for the past two years until ‘donkey-breath’ had come along and turned Bill’s life upside down.
But he wasn’t going to go there…
He wrapped his arms around himself, clutching the thin sports coat he wore tighter against his slender body, put his head down and marched towards the coffee bar that had become his little haven since he’d been on his own. At least, it was warm in there, and he could read the employment section in the newspaper for free. He pushed his way into the coffee bar, brushing the snow from his hair and shoulders, and inhaling the rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee.
“Mornin’ Bill!” Sally, the owner, sang out. “Don’t you have a coat?”
“Hi, Sally. Yeah, I just haven’t unpacked it yet.”
“Please.” The ‘usual’ was a tall Columbian espresso with extra cream. “I’ll have a cheese bagel, also.”
“Comin’ up—and honey, unpack that coat!”
While he waited, Bill snagged a newspaper from the stand and flipped to the employment section. He was distracted as the door flew open, and a young man stepped hastily inside, a flurry of snow and a cold draught following him.
“Damn, now it’s getting really windy,” the young man said to no one in particular.
“Mornin’ Tom,” Sally said. “Cold enough for ya?”
“Sure is. I’ll have a hot chocolate, please, Sally.” He took off his fleece-lined bomber jacket and shook the snow from it.
“Anything to eat?”
From the moment Tom had entered the coffee bar, Bill had been unable to take his eyes off him. What a hunk, he thought, taking in Tom’s dark good looks, his black curly hair and deep brown eyes framed by long thick lashes. Those dark eyes met Bill’s stare, and Tom nodded, a little smile lifting the corners of his wide mouth.
“Hi,” Tom’s smile got wider.
“Hi.” Bill’s innate shyness made him drop his eyes from Tom’s steady gaze.
“Lousy out there, huh?” Tom remarked.
“You know, we really have stop meeting like this.”
Bill looked up and gulped. “We…we do?”
Tom chuckled, and his eyes twinkled with mischief and a certain anticipation. Bill’s cheeks turned a fiery red as he felt his cock harden inside his briefs. Lord, but this guy is so… so…
“Here’s your espresso and bagel, hon,” Sally said, winking at Bill. She leaned forward and whispered, “Hot, isn’t he?”
“Uh…yeah,” Bill muttered, blushing even more. Hot—that was the word he’d been looking for. He grabbed his coffee and bagel and retreated to the far corner of the bar. Jeez, he must have sounded like an idiot! He’d noticed Tom before—it was hard not to notice his quarterback-like physique—but he’d always been too shy to even get as far as they had today. And what was he thinking, anyway? He was in no position to start getting friendly with any guy right now. Still, he couldn’t help but wonder how Tom’s lips would taste, and how it would feel to be locked in his arms.
As he buried his head in the newspaper, willing his erection to subside, he caught a glimpse of Tom shrugging slightly then turning away. Bill cursed himself for being all kinds of a fool and tried to concentrate on the Holiday Help Wanted ads. He figured he’d have a better shot at getting something temporary to see him through Christmas and the New Year, then after the holiday chaos, he could make up his mind about what he really wanted to do. Stay in New York or go back home to Boston. Not that he’d considered Boston his home since his parents had died, but he still had some friends there—from before he’d met Dave—and he’d been in touch with one or two of them sporadically over the past two years.
He took another peek over the top of the paper at hunky Tom, but instead found himself looking into the smiling face of an older lady with tight grey curls, apple cheeks and twinkling hazel eyes.
“Hello, young man,” she said. “You look a little blue.”
“You should have seen me earlier,” Bill kidded. “Blue all over.”
“No wonder. Where’s your coat?”
“Don’t have one—well, actually, I do have one. I just can’t get to it right now.”
“I see. I’m Agnes, by the way.”
“Bill.” He held out his hand and took the tiny warm one Agnes extended.
“Looking for a job?” Agnes asked.
“Yeah. I need to get something to tide me over ‘til after the New Year.”
“They’re hiring over at Kimbel’s, the department store across the street,” Agnes told him. “I’m thinking of applying there myself.”
“You need a job?” Bill stopped himself from saying he thought Agnes was retired. Maybe she was younger than he thought.
Agnes laughed, a delicate tinkling sound that made Bill smile. “You were thinking why’s an old Granny like me looking for a job, weren’t you?”
“That’s okay, William. Truth is, I’ve worked all my life and will ‘til the day I can’t get out of bed and punch the clock anymore.”
“Good for you.” Bill’s eyes flicked away from Agnes as he saw Tom-the-hunk heading for the door, pulling on his bomber jacket.
Agnes turned to see what had caught his attention. “Quite the hottie, isn’t he?” she remarked. “Nice buns.”
Bill almost choked on his espresso, then he grinned as Agnes’s tinkling laughter filled the coffee bar.
“You’re amazing,” he said warmly.
“Not bad for an old broad,” Agnes chuckled. “No matter how old you get, you can still appreciate a nice tush on a man. Now what d’you say? Shall we give Kimbel’s a try?”
“Let’s do it.” Bill threw back the last of his espresso and jumped to his feet. “After you, m’lady,” he said, bowing courteously.
Agnes giggled. “Thank you, kind sir.”
Oh boy, she thought, this is going to be a piece of cake. The Boss must’ve been wrong about William thinking of suicide. He’s just lonely, is all—and I can take care of that.
FREE GIVEAWAY OF A PRESENT CHRISTMAS:
Head on over to JP Bowie’s website, www.jpbowie.com to enter a competition for the chance to win an eBook copy of A Present Christmas. Just write on your entry that you are from Guys Like Romance Too for your chance to win! There are two books up for grabs so don’t hang around!