For this time of year, I and a few of my author friends have come together to set up a Holiday Blog Hop for the next twelve days. Since we're all new indie authors, it made sense to pool our resources and offer our readers the chance to connect with us and other new authors as well! Just click on one of the other names at the top of this post and move on to the next writer's offering!
On this first day, I'm giving up a snippet of 'A Bad Ass Xmas', the first book in A Grantham Christmas (anthology), which is Jake and Cait's story.
"Big, bad-ass Jake Stanton has a thing about Christmas. He loves the season, the memories and playing Santa for the Children's Ward at Grantham Hospital. For Caitlin, though, Christmas since her family died has just been a day to survive. When Jake tries to pull her into his holiday traditions, things get complicated. He has very firm ideas about how to share the holidays and when Cait doesn't come through, he re-evaluates both her and their relationship. It’s a story about differences and the compromises we sometimes have to make…especially as a part of a couple at Christmastime."
She was wound around him, her head pressed to his chest, arm over his belly with a leg thrown carelessly over his hips. He was stroking her back and hip, running a thumb over her skin in aimless patterns.
"Jake?" he heard her soft voice call.
"Right here, Pretty Girl," he rumbled.
"What makes Christmas so important to you?"
For a moment his mind blanked at her question. It was a good question, a valid one. And, since he'd never addressed it straight up before, he had to think before he responded. He wanted for her, his Cait, to see the truth in him to his very core; to the man he actually was.
"One of my first memories, yeah?" he rumbled. "Me, Frank, Mom and Dad at Christmas. Probably right before Mom hot-footed it out of town."
She was quiet, giving him the room to remember, the space to fucking speak which was another amazing thing about his girl. The ability to let him just be himself was a gift he'd never been given before she came into his life.
He shifted so they were face- to- face, arms looped around one another with legs entwined, foreheads pressed. "Not Christmas day," he continued. "Think it was when we were decoratin' the tree. Hot chocolate. Big, soft ginger cookies with a red-hot candy stuck in the center. Christmas music on the cassette player with Mom and Dad dancin' to it cheek- to- cheek, right in the middle of the damn livin' room."
Jake felt her hand move, caressing him from pec to navel, subtle in her encouragement to keep on talking.
"I remember lookin' over at Frank, wearin' his Transformer pajamas I knew would be passed down to me. Seein' his chocolate moustache and his eyes as he watched our parents danced around all the boxes of ornaments still piled around the room. Gazin' at the tree and thinkin' it was the best Christmas tree ever." Even he could hear the thickness in his voice as he gave words to the memory. "There was beauty in that moment, yeah?" He didn't know how to continue, how to express a little boy's awe in all love he could've almost grabbed with both hands.
He pulled back and watched as a solitary tear rolled down her cheek.
"Wasn't tryin' to make you cry, Pretty," he whispered.
She smiled and raised a hand to stroke his jaw. "Not all crying is bad, Baby," she explained, her voice equally as soft. "Not to a girl, anyway."