Hello, everyone! Thank you, Nell, for letting me drop by 🥰 Today, The Scent of Pine is released. It’s my 12th story of this year, and I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit impressed by myself LOL. (Nell, who’s talking about herself in third person apparently, is super impressed, too!! Great job, you!)
A little over a year ago, I was with my two youngest at a playground, and I sat on a bench watching them, and as always when I’m not close to my computer, I had an idea for the story I was writing – a Christmas story. And while sitting there plotting, I thought: I could do this all year round. Writing holiday stories, that is.
I dreamed up a scenario of how it would be, I even decided that if I ever was to do it, I would name myself Holly Day since it sounds like holiday LOL. I never really believed I’d do it. It was a playground fantasy 😊
But I told Nell, Ally, and JM about it and they all thought it was a fun idea. And here we are. Insane, but a lot of fun!
With today’s release, we’re celebrating Christmas Card Day, which is on the 9th of December. Do you send Christmas cards? I used to, but I haven’t in years.
The Scent of Pine was meant to be a feel-good story, but it didn’t turn out that way. I had this idea of a Christmas card arriving at the wrong address, and the man getting it tracking down the one who it was for, and sparks would fly.
And that’s sort of what happens, only it’s a stalker ex sending the cards, and they’re creepy, and Rafael, who is the one who was meant to get the cards, stays with Ash, who got them, more out of fear than of any sparks flying. They’re getting there, but not in the carefree, cosy way I’d predicted.
There is snow, Christmas decorations, and, of course, the scent of pine.
Blake had known where he was for over a week. It was likely he was watching the building.
Rafael didn’t know how he’d be able to leave, but he had to. He didn’t know where he would go, but he had to get away.
After throwing most of his clothes in a backpack together with his laptop, wallet, phone, and charger, he neared the door. The building was mostly quiet, the traffic had died down on the road outside, and the snow gave the world an innocent look—deceitful.
He pulled the hood of his black hoodie over his head. Everything he wore was black, but the snow made it harder to blend in with the shadows. He crept down the stairs and spent a couple of minutes peering out through the door window. A man walked past with a dog the shape of a loaf of bread—not Blake, he’d never get a pet.
With a deep breath, he pushed the door open. His heart thudded against his ribs as he looked up and down the sidewalk. No one was watching him, at least no one he could see.
After a few seconds’ indecision, he crossed the road. Better to put some distance between him and the apartment. The faster he could get away, the slimmer the chance of Blake spotting him.
A voice in his head told him he was overreacting. Blake might be on the other side of the world, only sending those cards to mess with him—to remind him he’d never be free of him.
It wasn’t illegal to send cards. Blake never did anything illegal. He had never hit Rafael, had never taken anything from him, had never locked him up inside their apartment, had never withheld food, had never done anything—Rafael had done it all, to himself, to please him.
Blake had claws buried in his brain.
“Where are you going?”
Rafael yelped. Ashton Cross was standing in his socks in the snow, blocking his path. Or not blocking, there was plenty of room to walk around him, but he was in Rafael’s way.
“Nowhere.” Rafael made to walk past him, but as he did, he shouldered him. It all happened so fast. Rafael never shouldered his way past anyone, and he could’ve stepped around Ashton, but he was scared and wasn’t thinking. So, he more or less tackled Ashton which had Ashton falling toward the wrought iron fence. Rafael’s brain had a millisecond to present an image of Ashton impaled on the arrow-like spearheads. He rushed to grab Ashton, wrapped his arms around his middle, and pulled him close.
Ashton was a good bit taller and broader than Rafael, but he managed to halt the fall before it was too late.
Ashton looked at him with wide eyes. “It’s okay. I’m a little unsteady.”
Rafael didn’t let go. He stood there breathing in the fresh winter air and held Ashton. He hadn’t held anyone in a long time.
“Are you okay?” Ashton looked at him with raised eyebrows.
Rafael let go and stepped away. “Ah… yes… I was afraid my carelessness would have you impaled on the spikes.” He gestured at the fence.
“That would’ve been a sight.”
Rafael stared. He didn’t sound angry, more like he was amused.
“I don’t think anyone would’ve appreciated it, to be fair. Least of all you.”
Ashton chuckled, which had Rafael staring at him. Rafael had pushed him, and he chuckled. “Are you sure you’re okay? Maybe you should have a lie-down. Almost being impaled can be scary.”
Ashton’s chuckling turned into a real laugh. After a few seconds of Ashton laughing and Rafael staring, he sobered. “Sorry. It’s just…” He gestured at the fence. “I chase down criminals for a living. I’m on sick leave because I was pushed out of a window, shattered my leg, and was sliced up by glass shards. Being nudged toward a fence doesn’t scare me.”
Rafael winced at the image of falling out a window. “I’m so sorry. It must’ve hurt like hell.”
Ashton shrugged in a slow, careful motion. “Falling didn’t hurt, and I passed out when I hit the ground, but waking up in the hospital was no fun.” He looked down the road then at Rafael again. “Now, tell me what’s going on.”
Rafael grimaced and evaluated his chances of escape. He’d say they were pretty good. He’d always been a fast runner and with Ashton still recovering from a fractured leg he was sure he could outrun him without too much trouble.
“Come inside. I’ll make you a cup of tea, and you can tell me what’s going on.”
Part of Rafael yearned to. Ashton might not be on duty, but he was still a cop, and unless he was a homophobic, racist bastard, he’d know what to do. Rafael took a deep breath and nodded.
Ashton Cross was stupid enough to fall out a window while trying to catch a criminal. Now he’s on sick leave and has been for weeks, and has nothing to do but watch his neighbors go about their day. It’s driving him insane. When he gets a Christmas card not meant for him, he doesn’t think much of it, but then there is another and another, all with the same motif.
For two years, Rafael Vidal has been hiding from his ex. He almost believed he’d gotten away when his neighbor knocks on his door to hand over a stack of Christmas cards. One look at the writing, and Rafael suspects he has been found.
When Ashton understands the situation, he’s set on catching Rafael’s ex. He might not be ready to get back to active duty at the police station, but finally, he has something to do, and he doesn’t mind keeping Rafael close. Rafael is trying to distract himself by helping Ashton put up Christmas decorations, but will they be able to enjoy Christmas with his stalker ex lurking around the corner?
Contemporary Gay Romance: 17,557 words
JMS Books :: Amazon :: Books2read
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.
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