A Gift for You
Before the party kicks off with my first guest, I have a few presents to offer you. Extra excerpts from recently released books and maybe some upcoming books to peak your interest.
A New Years Eve Novella
Released January 1, 2016
Traveling for work around the holidays sucks.
Julian Tucker learns this the hard way when work sends him to fix a crisis from Australia, Japan, to several locations in the States. To make matters suck more, he's sitting in the Denver Airport on New Year's Eve. This wasn't part of his plans. Oh and his boyfriend isn't picking up the phone. His luck gets worse – the incoming blizzard shuts down the airport. He's stuck there.
A fellow traveler, Emmett Bishop, takes the delay in stride. A superhero loving photojournalist, he sails along with the trouble, sweeping Julian up with his enthusiasm and zaniness. Unable to take flight, Emmett figures out another way to enjoy the holiday with Julian.
Suddenly, a snow delay doesn't seem so bad a way to ring in the New Year.
The schedule sucked big time. The final flight and fix at a branch brought Julian Tucker to this point of sitting in a Denver airport during New Year’s Eve. The only good point was receiving a call from the Atlanta office. The problems stopped escalating after he updated and corrected the algorithms in the Denver branch. So instead of heading up to Chicago, the main office changed his flight to home, to Atlanta.
Checking his ticket for the boarding time, he knocked back the rest of the bourbon. Leaving money on the bar, he gathered the carry-on suitcase filled with clothes he kept getting dry-cleaned and his messenger bag that acted like a traveling briefcase.
Walking through the somewhat deserted terminal toward the gate, Julian settled in another uncomfortable chair. Able to look out the wall of windows over the tarmac, he didn’t like the look of the dark skies filled with heavy gray clouds and falling snow. This storm blew in yesterday while he fiddled with the algorithms, built into a massive blizzard, and hadn’t let up since.
He looked up at the closest TV and found the station tuned to one of the many televised New Year’s Eve parties. The party just started since the countdown clock said two hours of party time and music until the shiny ball dropped in Times Square.
There were only a few other travelers with him at the gate. The closest was a fellow in fitted slacks in a charcoal color, combined with a faded deep gray T-shirt, and a wrinkled sports coat lying across his legs. Propped in one chair, he stretched his long legs across to the opposite chair, ankles crossed over one another. Stubble covered his jaw and matched the mess of dark auburn curls on his head. With arms resting on his chest, he tucked his chin down, eyes closed, as he tried to catch some sleep. Next to his chair was a set of battered Converse sneakers and a set of mismatched luggage. Both were in a bright blue color. Julian recognized one of them as the popular spinner bags.
What caught his attention was the odd type of a well-padded backpack. He couldn’t figure out the strange array of pockets. One opened from the side while another had the normal top zipper. Instead of being a plain color, colorful logos of almost every type of superhero and team available covered the backpack. He found everything from the Avengers, to Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America, Green Lantern, X-Men, and so many others. It was an awesome array of logos from Marvel and DC Comics and included some of the smaller companies, Image, Dark Horse, and IDW.
Pulling his attention from the colorful backpack, Julian drifted back to the man and admired the long legs. He stopped at the stocking-covered feet and realized the print was tiny rainbows. He didn’t think a straight man would wear those, unless he wore them for his kids. A quick check of the hands, and Julian didn’t see a ring.
Nope, it looks like he bats for my side. Shit...
Why would he lust after some stranger?
Julian scrubbed his hands over his face, trying to push back the exhaustion from all the traveling and stress.
There was no reason to check out a virtual stranger when beautiful, sweet, loving Carson wanted him at home. The manager of an independent bookstore, Carson loved everything about books. Carson was always reading and often spoke about the stories he read, authors he met at different signings, and the store.
Desperate to reach Carson and reassure himself of their connection, Julian dug into the pocket of his military-detailed pea coat. He tugged out his phone and mini earphone. Tucking the earphone in place, he hit the speed-dial for Carson. He silently pleaded for his lover to answer. He didn’t want to leave yet another voicemail. While he waited, he plied his fingers along the thigh-length hem of the cashmere blend coat.
“Hello,” Carson said.
“Carson, hi, I didn’t know if I could catch you. I have great news! I wanted to let you know I’m heading home. Things are fixed, and I’m at the airport waiting for the flight to Atlanta. I don’t know if I can get home in time for the party, but I will be with you for New Year’s Day. We can celebrate together when I get home,” Julian said, rushing through all the news, eagerness in his voice to share everything with his boyfriend. “Where have you been? I left several messages and voicemails. Why hadn’t you called me back?”
“Carson, who is it? We need to get to the club,” someone else said on the other side of the line. The voice was so close and sounded like the person stood damn close to Carson.
“Carson? What’s going on? Who is that?” Julian asked.
“Derek, give me a moment to deal with this. It’s my ex,” Carson said in a low tone.
Julian felt his mouth dry out and his voice strangled around the word, “Ex?”
The other man asked, “Is it the workaholic?”
“Yeah, I need to talk to him. Don’t worry. The party isn’t going anywhere. Only reason we’re running late is because your sexy self is irresistible in those cotton boxers,” Carson said.
There was no mistaking the throaty laughs of lovers with secrets or the shared kiss.
Julian felt his stomach flip and drop. “Carson…”
“Well, hurry it up. You know I want to dance before the ball drops,” the other man said.
“I’m not letting this night go without a dance. Let me handle this, baby. We have time.” Handling the other private conversation Julian never wanted to hear, Carson returned to his conversation with Julian. “Sorry about that. I figured if I didn’t call back or pick up, you would get the message.”
“What message? Why is there another man in our condo?”
“I can’t do this anymore and I’m not at your condo.”
“Can’t do what?” Julian concentrated first on the relationship problem before he tried to figure out where Carson was with this other man.
“Us, this so-called relationship. It doesn’t work when one of us is never here.”
“Please, don’t. This was a freaking fluke of computers.”
“What about the last four trips over this year and six trips the previous year? All of the long hours and weekends when you’re at the office? Even when you’re home, you were on the damn computer. We were together for two years, and I barely saw you. That isn’t a relationship. It’s roommates sharing the same place.”
“I told you what was happening. The corporation acquired a new company, and my department was in charge of merging the computers and records. Then a huge new account for a different company got added to the mix.”
“Right. Work. Always work.”
“You were working. You read and handled the store.”
“I read for fun, and it isn’t work. This isn’t about me. It’s you. I’m not going to compete against your office. I want someone who puts me first. Me. Not a job. Not a computer.”
“Don’t. Just don’t. As for where I am, you don’t need to know the details. I moved out of your condo. Thanks for letting me crash there when I lost my place though we weren’t together for long. I left the key with the security folks. It’s empty and waiting, just like your heart.”
“Carson, come on,” the other man whined over the phone.
“Be there in a second, Derek,” Carson said. “Gotta go. It didn’t work out between us. It happens. I’m sorry things ended up like this.”
“No. I don’t want to talk to you anytime soon, even if we cross paths at the club. Bye, Julian,” Carson said and hung up on his side.
Julian heard the annoying buzzing tone in his ear. He tossed the phone back at the messenger bag and yanked the mini earphone out of his ear. He held it tight in his palm and tried not to crush it.
Dumped. Over the phone. On New Year’s Eve. Could my fucked up life get any better?
“Ladies and gentlemen, due to the increasing inclement weather, all flights have been grounded at Denver International Airport. Please head to the nearest customer service desk of your airline to re-book and receive vouchers for a hotel stay,” the voice on the loud speaker said. “Again, due to the growing inclement weather, all flights are grounded until further notice. Thank you.”
§ § §
Hearing the muttered curse, something similar echoing in his head, Julian saw the rumpled man sit up and drop his feet to shove them into the waiting sneakers. He smiled when he saw the faded T-shirt had the Green Lantern splashed across the front. It seemed appropriate for someone who covered his bag in colorful logos.
“Feel the same damn way,” Julian said.
“Holiday travels suck the worse. Were you heading to Atlanta, too?”
“Yes, it’s home.”
“Same here. My flight diverted from Portland due to this blasted blizzard. I didn’t expect to spend New Year’s here.”
Julian pointed to the televisions over him. “They just start the Rocking New Year’s Eve Party on TV. They’re counting down to midnight in New York.”
“Already? Shit, thought I had more time. Oh well.” The superhero-loving man rose to his feet, pressed his hands against his lower back, and stretched to let a few vertebrae crack. “These seats are not made for someone almost six feet. Ugh.”
“Same with airline seats. Not much leg room unless you wan
to pay a fortune.”
“You’re right. Airplanes are the one place everyone believes you’re shorter than five-seven. Sheesh.”
Julian gathered his things, tucked his phone and earphone back into his coat pocket, and rose to his feet. He spotted the customer service desk with a growing crowd surrounding it. He pointed to it. “We have to go there.”
Looking around, the man shook his head. “Shit, I don’t like the look of that crowd.” Bending over, he picked up the backpack and slid it on a shoulder while he grabbed the handle of his rolling case.
“By the way, that’s an awesome backpack,” Julian said.
The man grinned. “Yeah, I couldn’t grow up and overcome my love of superheroes. Had a huge crush on many of them when I was a boy and some never went away. Figure this was an easy way to show off my love. I plan on printing the logos on stickers to cover the rolling bag.”
“That would be one way to always find your bag.”
“That was the plan, but something always comes up to push it back.” While a playful sigh escaped, he pouted and said, “Too bad I can’t make Green Lantern’s logo shine with its awesome light to show me the way. You know it can cut through any level of darkness.”
Julian laughed, unable to resist the man’s craziness and appeal, and held out his hand. “I’m Julian.”
“Emmett. Nice to meet ya. Shall we venture into the dangers of the crowd?”
“Don’t have many other options.” Julian checked out the the terminal.”
“Just another fun moment of holiday traveling,” Emmett said with a forced cheer. “This looks like a whole lot of fun. Time to wade in the mess. What I wouldn’t give to have the Hulk around and open a path.”
“More like he would smash his way, and it wouldn’t be polite.”
“True, but it would be fun as hell to watch.”