Today is Valentine’s Day, and since I can’t give roses to all of you, I invited someone over who talks about roses instead. That’s the next best thing, don’t you think? 😀
So without further ado, help me welcome Holly Day to my blog, who’s here to talk about her new Valentine’s story Be Still, My Heart.
Thank you for allowing me to stop by again, Nell. Please accept this imaginary yellow rose as a sign of joy and friendship.
Have you received any red roses from your Valentine? ‘Tis the season, is it not?
I’m here today to share a little about my latest release, Be Still, My Heart. It’s a Valentine story. But since both Nell and I are from Sweden, I thought I’d start by telling you a little about a Swedish king – no, don’t groan.
If it hadn’t been for King Charles II of Sweden, you wouldn’t expect roses on the 14th of February. Perhaps giving flowers hadn’t been a thing at all. King Charles II went to Persia in the late 17th century and learned about the language of flowers. It was a new expressionistic art form, a way to communicate without using words.
When King Charles II came back to Europe, he – and many others, I assume – spread a list of flowers and their meaning among important people. It started a trend of giving flowers to show affection.
It’s believed the red rose got its meaning of deep love because of the Greek myth of red roses growing from where the ground got wet from Aphrodite’s tears and the blood of her mortal lover, Adonis.
So blood, grief, and kings are behind this symbol of love.
So why am I talking roses? No idea. There isn’t a single rose in Be Still, My Heart, but since it’s a Valentine story, I figured I should talk about something Valentine-y.
In Be Still, My Heart, we have Dimitri who is a military vet who suffers from PTSD. He works the front desk at his sister’s dating agency though he’d much rather stay at home. Then we have Elian, an eccentric literary professor who, during one drunken night, happened to write an article about love through time. As a consequence of the article, he’s been invited to hold a speech at a Valentine dinner.
When the phone rang again, he jumped. Right, phone. “The Single Pursuit, how may I help you?”
It was a man, and even though he only said his name, Dimitri could tell he was stressed. Maybe something had come up, and he needed to reschedule. “Yes?”
“It’s Elian Hubert. We spoke yesterday, and I was wondering—” He blew out a breath. “How long would it take for you to find me a date—the matchmaking agency I mean, not you personally? If I talked to one of your dating agents, or whatever you call them, could they find me a match in a few hours?”
Elian quieted. “No?” He sighed. “And you still don’t know of any bordellos?”
Dimitri pinched the bridge of his nose. “Are you okay, Elian?” He didn’t sound as… sparkly wasn’t a good word, but he’d disrupted Dimitri’s gloom and brought life into the lobby.
“Fine, fine… I keep forgetting there are consequences to me opening my mouth, though.”
The corner of Dimitri’s mouth twitched, but he halted the smile. “What happened?”
The sigh, it did things to Dimitri. He wanted to take Elian in his arms and save him from whatever it was bothering him. The entrance opened and Elian walked in, without a jacket and dressed in a pink tight-fitted shirt. His jeans hung low on his hips and his hair had been messed up by the unforgiving February wind. Dimitri clung to the phone. “You should wear a jacket.”
“I should.” Elian’s lips had a blue tinge to them, and Dimitri didn’t think it was makeup putting it there. Elian should wear pink gloss, not blue.
Slowly, he put the phone down. “So, why don’t you?”
“I was in a hurry to get out of the office.”
Dimitri kept his face blank but scanned the sidewalk outside the glass-front of the building. No one looked suspicious, no one looked as if they were searching for someone. “Is someone following you?”
Elian widened his eyes. “I don’t think I’m interesting enough to follow.”
Dimitri ignored his surprised expression and scanned the street—no cars slowing down, no doors opening, no one moving too slowly. “Are you in danger?” He didn’t look away from the street.
Elian looked out on the street too. “What do you see?”
“Nothing out of the ordinary, but they always try to blend in, so it’s easy to miss someone.”
He turned back to Elian, who was watching him with a serious expression, something he hadn’t seen before. He still looked younger than forty-two, but the concern made him age before Dimitri’s eyes. “Yes?”
“I don’t think I’m in any danger of getting physically hurt, it’s my ego on the line.”
Dimitri nodded. He needed to protect Elian’s ego almost as much as he needed to make sure he wasn’t being followed or risked getting blown to pieces. He needed Elian to live and drink too much wine, so he’d write essays or whatever about zombie love. “What happened?”
“Douglas Hendrix—not related to the guitar god—stomped into my office and laughingly told me he’d booked a table for tonight, so he and the others in the department could meet my boyfriend. He knows I don’t have one, you see, and he wants to humiliate me in front of our colleagues.”
Dmitri furrowed his brows. “And you… accepted the invitation?”
“It wasn’t an invitation, it was a demand.”
“But… he’s a colleague of yours, he can’t force you to go to dinners.”
“Technically no, but he holds a lot of sway, and he’s already had the board give some of the classes I teach to another professor.” Desperation shone in his eyes. “I might not have much to offer the world, Dimitri, but I love my job, and he’s stealing it from me one piece at the time.”
Could people do that? Surely there had to be rules about who taught what classes and stuff.
I have put together a rafflecopter giveaway. I’m giving away an ebook copy of Be Still, My Heart + Hop Hop, Carrot Top that was published last month. Click the link, and you’ll be taken to the giveaway. If you’re up for a game, you can increase your chances of winning by counting hearts.
About Holly Day
According to Holly Day, no day should go by uncelebrated and all of them deserve a story. If she’ll have the time to write them remains to be seen. She lives in rural Sweden with a husband, four children, more pets than most, and wouldn’t last a day without coffee.
Holly gets up at the crack of dawn most days of the week to write gay romance stories. She believes in equality in fiction and in real life. Diversity matters. Representation matters. Visibility matters. We can change the world one story at the time.