Monday, December 8, 2014

Advent Calender Day 8

Today's Advent Calendar giveaway requires more effort from you, Dear Reader. You see below a photo of a holiday scene.

Write a paragraph on what you think is happening in that scene. You can use my characters or make up characters. You only need to come up with a paragraph, but if you get inspired, go for it. It can be funny or serious or whatever you like. I will choose based arbitrarily on what appeals to me most at that particular moment. Have I stressed UTTERLY ARBITRARY enough?

Your winnings: your choice of either an audio, print or ebook from my backlist.

Here is your writing prompt. Dazzle me. Dazzle my readers. We had 700 views yesterday.


  1. This guy has been travelling for a long time. He is going back home. To his lover. He does not really have a home, but he calls home the place where he last saw his love. He does not know if he is still there. He just hopes. He's been thinking about what he will tell, his face, how his love will react when he sees him again... Now there are only a few miles left, and all the other thoughts have vanished, leaving just only one thought: Seeing him again.

  2. We're at this guy's (let's call him Beau) Christmas tree ranch in Vermont. He's taking a load of people around in a sleigh ride, when he happens upon a guy laid out by a twisted ankle - after trying to illegally cut down a tree. Beau could get mad, could press charges, but the guy looks so wet and pathetic he doesn't have the heart. Instead, he finds a spot for him in the sleigh and takes him home. Unfortunately, the guy collapses and Beau is stuck with him over Christmas while, er, Nick, rests and recovers. Add in some warm fire smexy times, and Beau and Nick live happily ever after!

  3. "I suppose it's as well to go and get the Christmas tree on a clear day, although I still think it's far too early. It won't last three weeks in the warmth of the house. Much better get it on Christmas Eve, like we always used to do. But even if I do have to get it too early, I'm still going to continue the tradition of choosing a tree from our own woods, and bringing it back on the wagon pulled by Trusty and True. I'm not having any of those noisy snowmobiles up here!"

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  5. Damn it - missed the repetition... ;)

  6. The oncoming snowstorm blanketed the horizon. Ahead, the trees offered the promise of shelter. They'd break the force of the wind, at least. Amber and Topaz leaned into their collars, the twitching of their ears showing their anxiety. Mike tugged his hat more securely over his eyes. The things he did for love. If Carl didn't appreciate the size of the Yule log Mike and his team were towing home--but that wouldn't happen. Their farmhouse sat in a hollow on the far side of the first ridge, and the plume of smoke from the chimney showed as a thin white streak against the low cloud. Warmth, comfort, home, awaited there, and above all, Carl...

  7. He looked at the serene scenery ahead, the never-ending white blanket and beautiful snow-covered trees as far as the eye could see. Was he lost already? The hat, which he'd been so proud of that morning, left his ears feeling chilled. Soon, they might simply freeze completely. He was very fond of his earlobes. "Next time, i'll wear a proper hat," he chided himself and urged the horses onward. He must find again the little cabin where his quiet, brooding, gorgeous neighbor lived. Strange that, he couldn't remember when the cabin was built, or when his neighbor, a Mr. Amazishiell, moved in, but for the past few weeks, he'd felt the pull towards a place he knew no coordinates for. Literally. He just knew he had to get there in time, before the snowstorm, and how he knew that was a mystery as well. A sense of calm washed over him, some of his tension eased, and he let the horses lead them. A wink of soft light in the distance gave him hope and he felt joy for the first time that winter.

  8. "I flippin' hate snow," Dragon thought as he plodded along next to Scamp. " The cold works up my shoes and into my hooves. I really just want to be in my warm stall, with some hay." Dragon felt a pull to the right on his harness and side-eyed Scamp. The big bay had a tendency to kersplang about the weirdest things.... a pile of leaves or a stick in their path. Today, it looked like he was just feeling a bit frisky and doing his Jingle Horse impression . Dragon snorted and quickened his step. Yes, the bay was younger, but Dragon wasn't so old he didn't appreciate the finely muscled flesh under the fluffy winter coat. Dragon felt the driver rein to the left, turning the final bend toward home. He heard the driver mutter something about a present waiting in bed for him. Dragon remembered the driver's kind-eyed tall friend who had given the team apples and carrots last year as the two humans pushed their mouths together. Silly humans. Dragon neighed when they pulled into the stable yard, and stood stamping his feet, strangely excited as the driver went through the rituals of harness and brushes, blankets and water. He and Scamp were let into their joint stall, the driver patting them on their rumps. He put a carrot and an apple for each of them in the trough. "Goodnight, gents. Merry Christmas. Be good now." He put his gloves back on and closed the barn door behind him. Dragon felt Scamp move subtly beside him, the bay playfully nudging him with his head. Dragon looked at him fondly, appraising. It might be a Merry Christmas after all. Two could play Jingle Horse :)

  9. It was cold, deadly cold, even though he was wearing enough clothes to keep a small family reasonably warm. There was the sweater his mother had given him for his birthday, the hideous one from Aunt Dorothy and the nice one from cousin Mary, which had probably been an accident. The trousers were of even more impressive provenance- one pair having belonged to his great uncle Joe, and the other to his obese cousin Timothy. They both felt like cardboard, with all the comfort that entailed.
    None of it was enough, though. The trousers, the shirts, the sweaters, the skullcap over which his hat was jammed awkwardly, not even the gloves that had cost him more than he'd ever spent in his life. And he wasn’t even going to make it home, so that Darla could yell at him for being a wasteful fool.

    Dimly, he was aware of something in the distance, growing larger. His eyes had blurred over a long time ago, and stung like hell, tears long dried up by the harsh winter wind.
    Whatever it was, it wasn't a town. No lights.
    Something small and hopeful shrivelled up in his chest.
    He closed his eyes.

    The drop ahead was only four feet. Hardly anything.
    His eyes jerked open as the horses shrieked and tried to halt. But the gentle slope was steep enough for momentum to win out, and the horses and cart tumbled into the snow below.
    He tried to move, throw himself off the cart, scream, do something, but in the end, all he had the energy left to do was black out from the pain that was suddenly everywhere.

    He awoke to the smell of smoke. There was a moment of stillness, in which he received an impression of wooden walls and a crackling fire, before a tiny itch made itself felt at the back of his throat. The ensuing coughing fit sparked a myriad of other pains in his chest, back and arm. And oh god, his legs.
    The slap that landed on his back didn’t help either.
    When he was done, and wheezing quietly in pain, a voice said; “My, that was nasty.”
    A face- or to be perfectly accurate, half a face and several gorse bushes worth of springy beard appeared over the edge of his vision. The smell of cheap cigarettes gusted over him. “Mighty, sorry about that son. Didn’t think a tiny smoke would set you off like that.”
    He couldn’t speak- so he croaked by way of forgiveness.
    The hairy bastard didn’t look too contrite though. “..and damned lucky your horses were screaming the way they were, or I’d not have notice you till the morn. And that would’ve been hideous bad.”
    The mans face softened. “Sorry, son.”
    He closed his eyes in acceptance.
    A hand patted his arm lightly. “Rest now. There’s time for questions come morning.”
    So he slept.

  10. "Baby, it's cold," I muttered through chattering teeth as I gave my hands another brisk rubbing and tsk'd to urge the horses on. I pulled my wool scarf tighter around my neck and tugged my hat lower to shelter against the gusting wind. The sun was poking her head over the rise ahead and in a few short minutes I knew the wide expanse of unbroken snow ahead of me would be a field of glistening diamonds. I reached for the sunglasses in my backpack next to me and as I slid them on I caught the first glimpse of my parents' vacation cabin through the copse of evergreens ahead. Smoke curled lazily from the bright red brick chimney, a welcoming beacon of what I knew I'd see, hear and smell once I opened the door.

    My mothers' Christmas morning breakfasts were the stuff of legend and in my mind I was already seated at the table, surrounded by my brothers and sisters and their families, tucking into a feast of waffles, eggs, bacon, sausage, ham and homemade hash browns. The coffee would be hot and rich and the room would be filled with laughter, which to me is what I've always imagined is the sound of love.

  11. Gray infused the clouds caressing the hills ahead as the tired horses moved steadily on. The man chuckled to himself as he thought about the pretty winter scenery. Pretty enough for a picture postcard, but pretty cards sure don’t show anyone how cold and damp these hills are when those heavy laden clouds held snow or how chilled your neck felt whenever the wind managed to slice between your hat and scarf. He knew he sure wouldn’t want his craggy face showing up in a photo all chapped and red with his ice crusted mustache and beard. Yet out there somewhere on these snowy hills was the perfect tree that would be a sweet surprise for his best friend and lover coming to spend Christmas on the mountain.

  12. “What is it with you and cowboy movies?” I asked, nestling deeper under Matt’s arm, a cup of spiced hot chocolate in hand.
    The guy in the cowboy hat on the screen was heading for some snow covered trees in the distance. Come to think of it… were there snowy cowboy movies? Canadian maybe?
    “Hm?” Matt rumbled distracted.
    “Cowboy movies. That must be what? The third since Friday…”
    “I like them.” He grumble, gaze fixed at the going-ons. “And it’s the right time of year.”
    “Can’t we watch something different? Something funny… or sexy?” I tried my hand at sultry. And failed.
    Matt turned his head, one eyebrow raised. Damn, but he was one fine looking specimen. My stomach did a little flip flop at that sight.
    “How about we watch the movie together like good boyfriends do and then I show you sexy?” he teased.
    “How about we skip the movie and start with the sexy?” I asked hopeful and let my free hand try to get my meaning across. He caught it easily and pressed a light kiss on my knuckles.
    “How about a little delayed gratification?”
    Heat started to spread all through me at the sight of his wicked smile. That naughty man, he just knew me too well…

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  15. "What is this a picture of?"
    I held up the old photo from the pile on the coffee table. "Is this a horse butt?"
    I heard Patrick cuss under his breath as he poured mugs of hot chocolate at the stove. No matter how simple the task, the man did not excel in the kitchen. Walking into the living room, the towering Irishman sat down beside me on the couch, setting two mugs down among the Polaroids and sucking a red spot on his hand.
    "What're you going on about? Horse butts?"
    God, that voice. No other man could sound so sexy while talking about a horse's rear end.
    "This," I stated, holding up the photo of the back of a man's head, horses leading what may have been a sleigh.
    "That's me," he answered before frowning. "What are you trying to say?"
    "Who took this photo?" I continued.
    "Oh-- I don't know. Daniel, maybe." He took a sip of hot chocolate.
    I was not about to jump down the rabbit hole of ex-boyfriends. I tossed it into a pile of discarded photos.
    "Hey, it's not that bad." He picked it back up.
    "It's a terrible photo," I insisted.
    "It is not."
    "It's the back half of your head. Who does that? Where was this?"
    "Ireland, on my parents' land," he said, looking back at me. "Why, Professor Maxwell, you sound jealous."
    "Of the horses? I responded innocently.
    He leaned over and kissed my mouth. Warm, manly, chocolaty. What was I griping about?

  16. Don't we all enjoy December?

    The last month of the year, we can delay our good plans until January, and instead stuff ourselves with as much food as we wish, we can wish unreal wishes, blame santa for not getting them, we can legally drink too much wine and be unreasonable in our stress shopping.

    Other then that we create an illusion of peace an joy in the house.
    Litting a candle extra, to pretend that there is light, singing again the christmas carrols that we found as children so boring, but from what our family said that it was nice.
    The same procedure as every year, the humbug and irritating tiny Tim. Secretly swearing at Bing Crosby, what idiot ever did invent a white christmas, why can't it be a Christmas at the beach, and who on earth did choose Santas costume, is definitely not a friend of versace.

    And then, the christmas tree!
    We are in the fifth generation to cut one in our wood. I can remeber riding with grandpa, I was always impressed by the gigant axe he was carrying. I could choose a tree, grandpa always did talk me over to take he one he had chosen, and he did that in a way that I always was convinced that it was my tree, that we did take.

    And now, I am old enough to show my granchildren the trees.
    The sleigh is polished, horses are brushed, axe sharp and all is shiney.
    Naturally there is no discussion, we maintain the traditional tree cut.
    In the snow, the day before christmas.
    So here I ride, like so many in my family did before.

    But it is different. My son is on a busines travel, will not be around before newyear.
    My grandson prefers his video game above the cold.
    My wife said to me, that she saw a wonderful tree, that you can unfold within a minute. She said I don't need to go and do all the effort, just for a christmas tree.

    So, I did decide to go alone. Here I ride, smelling the horses, the wood.
    Thank God, it's christmas!

    That's not my story, these is written from Hans. He had read the request and thought, it could be fun.


  17. I got nothing but fun. Still wanted to play. :/)

    Snow gusts blew hard as he swept an arm across his eyes, willing himself on before the forecasted whiteout hit. The road from Angel Fire into Taos was snow-blanketed, all sound muffled. Shivering violently, he shouted at the horses to press on. As they flew along the Enchanted Circle trail, he saw the familiar ridge lined with Aspen trees had formed an icy gauntlet of twisted, shimmering limbs aglow in moonlight. He was exhausted, but he cracked the reins and the horses muscled forward. Wind punished the road, pulling the wagon left, then right. He braced himself to keep it from tipping. He must get home. In the distance, lights twinkled. He slapped the reins and the wagon lurched into the sleeping town. The man slowed the team and pulled up in front of the darkened Windsong Gallery. A lovely middle-aged woman stood in golden, flickering light and then glided on the porch to wait. He looped the reins on the brake handle and jumped from the wagon, his eyes on her. I'm home he thought, relief flooding his body as he melted into her arms.

    From a distance, the couple heard excited young voices: "Do you see them? It's Alma and Joe Madden! He always comes home to her on a Christmas Eve."
    "They've been dead for a hundred and fifty years, Mike. You've had too much to drink!"
    "Come on, I see them! There, Anne! Right there!"

    The rancher gazed passionately at the smiling woman on the porch. She took his arm, pressing herself against him, and they ghosted into the glow of the firelight.

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  19. English isn't my first language so have mercy.

    It was stupid idea anyway.
    We were planning to spend our first Christmas together, away from mobile phones and urgent emails, away and hidden from everybody. Just the two of us, the snow and the fireplace.
    Ah well, the fireplace didn't work that nice, the roof was leaking in more than one place and Mitch and I -
    Mitch used the first possible phone call form the office to weasel out of our obviously ruined vacantion. Of course, the biggest TV star of CNN would not miss the chance to make a report about the economical crisis in some country with a name I couldn't pronounce. Our first real holiday after two years together could not compare to this hot news.
    And I told him just that.
    And Mitch had grabbed the keys of our 4x4 and only vehicle and slammed out of the cabin.
    The wind blew some fresh snow in my face and I turned my collar up, swearing. One of the horses neighed in agreement.
    Did I mention my only transportation left was a two horse sleigh?
    Yes, almost like the song. Except the only thing that jingled were my teeth.
    I was hoping I remembered enough of tree cutting to get the hang of the fireplace and finally defrost.
    He was not answering his damn phone.
    I stopped the horses to a small clearing of pine trees. Jumped out of the sleigh right into the thick crunchy blancet of snow. I made a few steps and halted.
    Little snowflakes danced away from their spines with every wistle of the wind. I stood there, all this whiteness and quietness cooling my temper like nothing ever had. Mitch would take a photo of this, I thought. He would take a photo, make a joke and push me in the snow.
    I reached to the phone in my pocket.
    And almost fell on my butt as the damn thing erupted in Dean Martin's Baby it's cold outside. My heart made a little jump as I read the name on the display.
    The words pour out of me in a rush:
    "I'm sorry. Come home for Christmas."
    A momentory silence, then Mitch's quiet laughter filled the emptyness in my chest.
    "You're ahead of me. Again." He paused. "I love you. I'm coming home."

  20. It was time. He’d put it off for as long as he could, but the kids were getting antsy. He was antsy too, but for a lot of different reasons. So this morning he’d gone out and hitched up the team to the big sledge they used to use for winter moonlight hayrides, sharpened the axe and headed out to the north forty as Jake liked to call it.
    It was slow going in the snow, but at least it was packed pretty good. Cold as a well-digger’s toe in January, though. They hadn’t seen the sun in days. He needed to chop some wood later to keep the supply up for the stove and check that the generator was ready and that the gas hadn’t gelled in its can. He wondered a lot lately if he and the kids shouldn’t just give up on the cabin and move back into town.
    He kept holding on though. That stubbornness of his that Jake alternately griped and teased him about so much seemed to more like endurance and doggedness lately. Up before dawn, get the fire going, feed the animals, get the kids up, fix breakfast, get them dressed and off to school, pick up the house, check the pantry, contemplate a trip to town. And so many other myriad details of keeping a house and family going, whether it felt like home or not.
    He didn’t know how his mom had done it with six kids. He and Jake only had two and they were pretty self-sufficient little critters. He shouldn’t begrudge them a little joy this time of year even though celebrating was the last thing he felt like doing. He sighed and pulled on the reins as he spotted a likely-looking silver tip in a clearing. It was about the right height and shape, so he got out the axe and proceeded to chop it down and load it onto the sledge.
    Tom turned the horses and started the slow trek back to the cabin. Chopping the tree down had warmed him up a bit, but it was a couple of miles back to the house and the sky was getting darker. Good thing Moll and Bets knew their way home in almost any weather cause if it started snowing harder he’d be lost pretty damn quick. City boy though he was, 10 years of living at the cabin with a pure-d mountain man had shaped him into something resembling a capable outdoorsman. Goddam, he missed that mountain man with everything he had.

  21. A six-month deployment had turned into a year and then the call had come: “missing in action: presumed dead.” Two uniformed soldiers had showed up at his door but all he’d felt was numb and cold as if he too had died and was watching the living from a far distance or maybe underwater. He’d had to hold it together for Jamie and Caitlyn, so he’d done the best he could later when he could start to thaw out and become somewhat functional again. He’d never really let himself grieve or cry or wail or gnash his teeth or whatever-the-hell people who’d lost their anchor, their rock and reason for living did.
    He just kept putting one foot in front of the other and doing what had to be done. It wasn’t as if he was keeping the cabin going as a shrine to his lost life and love, but it just didn’t seem possible to do anything else. Call him strange, but he just didn’t quite believe that Jake was really gone. Probably part of the grief process. Didn’t somebody say there were a bunch of steps and one of the biggest was denial? Or was that just a river in Egypt as the saying went, har de har har.
    The cabin finally came into view and he stopped the horses to unload the tree. He’d leave it on the porch and brush off the snow and then haul it into the cabin and set it up. He drove the horses into the barn and unhitched the sledge and then led them back and away to unharness and brush the snow off their coats and check their hooves for ice and anything else that might have lodged there. He sighed again. Country living was a lot of damn work, but it kept him going and kept him from brooding most days. It was just doing it all alone that was hard. No fun either. He and Jake and the kids worked hard but they enjoyed themselves and each other while doing it. Then later when the kids were in bed he and Jake had enjoyed each other in a whole different way. They’d never gotten tired of each other or each other’s bodies in all those years.
    Tom even missed the occasional fights and disagreements that were an inevitable part of living together. They’d even talked some about getting married when it became legal in California. They were both legally parents of the kids and they had a domestic partnership agreement, but marriage…that was a whole different ballgame he thought he’d never get a chance to play. And now…wasn’t even worth thinking about.

  22. He jogged to the front porch and brushed the tree off and dragged it into the living room; the cabin was more than a cabin: it was a full house of over 2000 square feet with a big loft for him and Jake and separate rooms for the kids. They had a septic tank and running water and forced air heat. And the generator for times the power went out. It wasn’t primitive, just far away from everything and the extremes of weather demanded continual maintenance. And meant for a family. That was the thing he found hardest of all, not feeling like they were a family anymore. The laughing, the joking around, working together, playing, snowboarding, small birthday parties and holidays… the holidays were the worst, especially Christmas.
    Well, he’d get the tree set up and then the kids could decorate it when they came home. He’d better get the decorations out of the storage shed and make sure no furry little critters were nesting and fixing to freeload in the warm house. The snow had let up so he could take one of the snowmobiles down to the mailboxes to see what was there. They didn’t get a lot of mail, but this time of year there were cards and it didn’t seem right to let them just sit til he got motivated to get down there.
    Before he went he cut up a bunch of veggies and meat and threw them all in the crockpot with a can of mushroom soup and a couple cans of water and set it to low. That ought to do for dinner with some bread and butter. He was no cook,that was for sure. Jake was the chef of the two of them and could make something really fine out of what seemed like no ingredients at all. Cooking from a box—frozen or whatever and he could use the crockpot, but that was about the limit of his culinary skill. Fortunately, Caitlyn, at 8, was showing a marked interest in cooking. They had tried not to force the kids to be one thing or another, just let them find their interests as they came up. If Cait wanted to cook, that was o.k. with him. Jamie, at 10, was a little nerdy, a math wizz, but he liked the outdoor stuff too. Both kids did, which was a good thing since they lived in this so-called natural wonderland as the realtors liked to call it.
    Tom went back out to the porch to put on the boots and jacket he’d taken off when he brought in the tree, put on his gloves and went to the shed to get the snowmobile fired up. Neither he nor Jake liked the snowmobiles—too noisy and smelly, but they were a necessity in snow country. He got the snowmobile going and got halfway up the road only to meet the mailman coming towards him in his big white SUV with the US Postal service blue and red logos on it. He didn’t usually come down their road since they didn’t keep it plowed unless it was getting way too deep. The County road was regularly plowed, so he usually just delivered the mail into their box at the end of their lane.

  23. As he met the man in the middle, and put the snowmobile in neutral, and pushed up his goggles, he was struck by the expression on the man’s face—he looked worried and sad and a little uncertain. “Tom.” He said, “got a registered letter here for you. You gotta sign for it and I got to take the card away for proof of signature.” Tom took the envelope and noticed the return address was U.S. Dept. of Defense, U.S. Army… somewhere in Washington DC. His hands started to shake a little and he sat back down on the snowmobile seat. If this was another one of those “We regret to inform you” letters, he didn’t want to read it. At all.
    Irv the mailman kept looking at him, so he swallowed hard and tore the damn thing open and shook the letter from its folds to read it. His eyes kept blurring so he handed it to Irv “Read this, Irv, and tell me in a nutshell what it says. Please.”
    Irv took the letter from him, read it over once and his face flushed red and tears started down his face. “Irv, for God’s sake, tell me what it says!” Irv swallowed, took a deep breath, and began: “Dear Mr. Roberts: We are very happy to inform you that Capt. Jacob Timmons of the …Army Reserve, last stationed in Bagram Province, Afghanistan, has been extracted alive…” Irv and Tom stared at each other a moment and then Irv pulled Tom into a hard hug. They were both crying unashamedly and Tom felt like he would never stop. “Read more, Irv, read more!” “Oh, Tom I can hardly see it to read, but the gist is, he’s in a hospital in Germany and his commanding officer has arranged for you and the kids to go see him in a week or two when they can arrange transport.” Tom just sat and sobbed, his face in his hands, long months of feeling nothing at all except a numb acceptance, and felt so much, all at once, that he didn’t know what to do. He was lost again, but for a very different reason than all those months ago when the soldiers had come to his door.
    He finally pulled himself together as best he could and said “Irv, I’ve gotta go get the kids. They need to know that their dad is alive and we’ve got to start making plans to go to Germany for Christmas. What am I going to do about the horses? And the cabin and and”…he burst into tears again. Oh God, and he couldn’t catch his breath and he wanted to talk to Jake about what to do next. He was a mess.
    Days later, even though it felt like weeks, the three of them, Tom, Jamie and Caitlyn were landing at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. They were scared and excited and worried and thrilled and none of them could sit still. A car pulled up and they were greeted by a young soldier who said he was there to take them to Landstuhl Medical Center.

  24. Minutes or maybe days later—it was all like a dream-- they were walking to a room in the big hospital. They all peeked in, as if afraid to wake up, and there was Jake, sitting up in bed with a big grin on his face. Everybody started crying again and ran to him, hugging and saying his name over and over again. Jake himself was in tears until finally, everybody calmed down and started talking at once. The nurse finally came in and put a stop to the chatter, insisting that her patient needed his peace and rest and that they could come back later when they had rested and eaten.
    Tom said, “Kids, would you go with the nurse for a bit?” He glanced at the nurse, who winked and asked if the kids would like some Christmas cookies and punch from the hospital’s party. At that point, the nurse could have taken them to see Santa at the North Pole and neither Jake nor Tom would have noticed. Tom was looking at Jake and Jake was looking back and then they were holding on to each other for dear life, just looking and looking.
    Finally, Tom asked “Can I kiss you?” and Jake said “You better” and their lips met, at first softly and then a little passion crept in and when they pulled away, both were breathing hard. Jake said “It will be awhile before I can do much more than kiss you, love.” And Tom said “I don’t care if we never have sex again, as long as you’re safe and you can come home to us.” Jake chuckled and said, “Yeah, you’ll be singing a different tune once I get the all clear and get out of this hospital bed.” They just sat, holding hands and gazing at each other, and finally Tom felt like he’d come home, thousands of miles away, in a strange land, in a hospital, where it felt like Christmas had finally come.

    The end

  25. Hope I didn't break your blog! I had to publish as Anonymous because I couldn't remember my gmail password. Anyway, I had a lot of fun (and tears) writing this. Beverly Hine

  26. There is no edit option, and the mistake was GLARING at me. So, take two:

    He wanted it to be perfect.
    He'd been planning this for weeks. Months, actually. Ever since he decided to breathe new life into this old sleigh.
    Now the day was here. Even the weather was cooperating. Cold and crisp, but no snow expected until after dark. Mulled wine was in the thermos, extra blankets in the back....oh, no.
    In a panic, he turned in his seat, lifted the edge of the tarp, and saw....plenty of extra blankets. He let out a shaky laugh as he faced forward.
    "Relax, it'll be fine.", he muttered to himself. "Great", he corrected. It'll be great", louder, more firm.
    Their first Christmas together.
    He wanted it to be perfect.

  27. It's probably over but I couldn't help it.

    It's tough. Being out here in the cold, the wind lashing out, the snow unrelenting.
    He would've been unhappy. Should be actually. But he couldn't stop the grin that came almost unbidden to his face.
    It's tough, yeah. But he wasn't miserable. He thought of home and all that it would bring.
    Once he wouldn't thought at all. But he did, and he thought of who dwelled there, probably asleep already,
    on the couch this time or maybe he was on the computer, being the insomniac that he is.So yeah, he couldn't
    stop the grin at all...

  28. MC thinking: "wow, this looks bad. So much snow I don't even see the way. Are there wolfs in the area? I hope the horses don't get nervous. If I get to Carsonville with all the cargo, I can buy a better rifle that will kill the zombies faster."
    All of a sudden a loud female voice (FV): "Josh! Josh! There is someone at the door!"
    MC thinking: "Fuck it. I'll have to pause the game. Ever since I came back to take care of mum, every time I get some free time to play on the X-Box, someone sure enough will spoil it."
    MC: Going!
    Goes upstairs (living on his mother's basement) to open the door. Finds a hunky man (HM) waiting (he does not see the second man).
    HM: Are you Josh Lanyon?
    MC: Who wants to know?
    HM: I am agent Beefeater from the CSIS (Canadian Security Intelligence Service), and this is my colleague agent Notimportant. We need you to come with us.
    MC: What? Canada has a secret service? And I haven't confirmed I'm Josh Lanyon! Why should I go with you?
    HM: That was only a rhetorical question, we have read your file and it includes a photo of you in the beach last year in Malibu. Btw. nice bath trunks. Was that Smaug?
    MC: Yeah, I bought them in Malibu. Are you a Tolkien fan?
    HM: Not really, but thanks for confirming your identity. Please step out and come with us to the car.
    MC: Are you crazy!? I cannot leave my mum here alone just like that, she has a condition and cannot be left alone!
    HM: The Canadian government will take care of her. So, if that was your only concern, please this way.
    MC: You don't really think I'm going with you, are you? Am I under arrest? Can Canadians even arrest me?
    HM: We need your help in solving....

    I'll stop here. MC is a mechanical engineer that designs machines for the packaging of medicines. He's been living in his mother's the basement in Arizona/someotherhotplace, while he is taking care of her. He is kind of a nerd. The Canadian government needs him to design a machine for a new very delicate medicine that is being prepared. A new pandemic (ebola?) has begun in Africa and the government is trying to prepare everything before the pandemic arrives, but they don't want to make it public to avoid panic. So he will be isolated form the world in a secret base in the far north (in Cornwallis Island) with other engineers/scientists, HM and other agents until the project is finished. When the base is attacked, MC and HM have to flee in a horse sleight, dashing through the snow. To spice it up, we could introduce nosy press, corrupt politicians, mafia bosses that want to make money with the medicine, polar bears, and cold feet.

    So, that is what came to mind when I saw the photo. And I am not crazy, my mum had me tested ;)

  29. This was the tough one because all of these were absolutely brilliant. The fact that so many of you took a swing...I can't tell you how much I loved this.

    So. Every single one of you who wrote a snippet from before my comment here, may choose an audio, ebook or print title from my backlist.

    Yep. Because I love people who are brave enough to get out there and TRY.

    You all get a high five from me. Well done.

  30. WOW! That's incredible, thank you so much! Without a doubt the best Christmas present I'm getting. Receiving a book from The Man himself? Amazing~

    How does one go about picking from available options? I'm all about the print. I've been re-buying your books I already own in e-format, so that I can properly clutch them when I get excited. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    -C.S. Poe


      Basically just check out the title you're interested in and see if there's a print edition. The book page should tell you if it's available. :-)

  31. Thank you so much!
    I'll go with the audio of Come Unto These Yellow Sands. I haven't read it yet and I'm thrilled to try audio book for the first time!
    Best Christmas present ever!
    How can I get it :)?

  32. Glitter and twinkles and sparkles! I feel like it's Christmas! Codas and free books.
    I was wondering how you were possibly going to choose a winner, these were all so good, especially from the ESL people. I don't think I would have been brave enough to write a story in a foreign language. Kudos to all of you!

  33. Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an really long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn't show
    up. Grrrr... well I'm not writing all that over
    again. Regardless, just wanted to say fantastic blog!