The fabulous Holly Day is back on the blog to tell us about her newest release, A Well-Functioning Cubicle. But first; today is Holly’s birthday, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY my friend. 🎉 If I could bake, I’d make you a chicken cake like this one and have it delivered to you for maximum yumminess, but minimum interaction with people! I hope you’re having a fabulous birthday with lots of gifts!
But now. Back to book content. 😀
Hello, everyone! Thank you, Nell, for allowing me to come back again. I have the feeling I’ve soon overstayed my welcome. It’s been a release-heavy period, and I’ve been popping in more often than could be considered healthy LOL
Do you know what date it is? Fourth of April, 04-04, and it just so happens that I’m turning 40 today, so many zeros and fours 😆
You might think I’m all about celebrating since it’s what I do, but no. I do my best to avoid birthday celebrations. My mother-in-law called to tell me to buy a couple of hens for myself, and she’ll pay for them. The perfect gift, I think.
But, I’m not here to talk about birthdays or hens – though I could talk a lot about hens LOL. I have a new story out, A Well-Functioning Cubicle, and it’s about Jace and Paxton.
I wrote it for National Flash Drive Day, which is observed annually on April 5th, so tomorrow.
Jace is a bit obsessive. He needs things to be in their place, events to follow a certain order, and all lines and labels to be straight. I’m not a neat freak in any way, I wish I was more of one than I am when it comes to my home. I hate to clean, it’s such a waste of time – that doesn’t mean I don’t like it when it’s tidy around me. I do, but I have four children, two cats, one dog, and we’re currently down to only two hamsters. I could clean myself to death and it would still be a messy house.
Though, if someone were to touch my bullet journal or my notebooks, all hell would break loose. There, I need things to be in order, I need straight lines, and – again, I have four kids – if someone draws in them, however nice they mean to be, I explode. And it’s not only in a mild ‘oh, that’s too bad’ I’m talking a the-world-is-going-under feeling. I also have a hard time with people not accepting what’s mine is mine and you don’t fucking touch anything that’s on my desk if you want to continue living – hard for a six-year-old to understand, so I’m having many, many moments of deep breathing and counting to ten every week. Let’s just say I understand Jace. I feel for Jace. Jace and I are kindred souls.
Paxton, on the other hand, has no need for straight lines or boundaries, and once he figures out how much a crooked label can upset Jace, he makes sure all labels are crooked. It amuses him.
He’s a bit of a dick.
Or not really, but he doesn’t understand how upsetting a messy desk can be. All Jace wants is a well-functioning cubicle. It’s not too much to ask for, is it?
Jace Villin likes straight lines and clean surfaces. Life is so much easier when everything is in its right place, and he and his friend Felicity have a good system for the cubicle at work. They have a drawer each, one side of the bulletin board each, and they don’t interfere with each other’s territories. But then Felicity quits, and Jace has to share his cubicle with someone else.
Paxton Sallow promised himself never to work in an office again, but there are no job openings, and he has bills to pay. The job might be the most boring he’s ever had to endure, but at least he can amuse himself with moving Jace’s things around. It’s amazing how upsetting a crooked label can be.
Jace doesn’t know what to do with Paxton. He wants to snarl at him to respect his boundaries at the same time as he wants to run his fingers through his hair and kiss him silly. Paxton knows he should leave Jace alone, but he can’t help himself. He wants to see Jace outside of work, but how will Paxton get him to agree to have a cup of coffee with him when he runs off as soon as he tries to ask him out?
Contemporary Gay Romance: 14,339 words
Jace stared. His skin crawled at the sight of Paxton’s name on the drawer. What had he done? He pulled in a shuddering breath, crouched, and ripped the name strip off the drawer before stomping toward the supply closet.
“Jace? What’s wrong?” Andrea watched him with a frown.
“He…” He sucked in a breath. “He put the name on crooked!”
Andrea frowned. “What? Who?”
“Who?” His voice rose, and he took a calming breath to prevent himself from shouting. “Paxton, of course. I had it perfectly aligned, and he moved it.”
Andrea calmly watched him before nodding. “I see.”
He huffed and went into the supply closet, punching each letter in Paxton’s name with more force than necessary on the label maker.
“I’ll talk to him.” Andrea stood right outside the door watching him.
“No, it’ll only…” He shook his head.
“It will only what?”
“Set him off.” Jace had survived school—barely—and knew what happened when predators smelled blood. If Paxton figured out exactly how much a crooked label bothered Jace, all labels would be crooked from here on out, and he’d be tossing and turning through the night reliving uneven lines and chaos in the cubicle. It was already chaos. Paxton had opened his drawer, had eaten his pretzels, and lord knows what else.
“Set him off how?” Andrea’s tone was smooth and careful. It made Jace wince as memories of oh-so-patient therapists flashed by in his mind.
“He’ll do it every day to mess with me.”
Andrea’s eyes narrowed. “Can’t you ignore what’s going on in his drawer?”
“Yes, in his drawer. That’s his, but the outside of the drawer is affecting everyone.”
Jace held in a breath. He didn’t think she did. “I better get some work done.”
It took a couple of hours before he found his rhythm, and when it was time for his first break, he refilled his drawer with snacks he’d brought from home. The bag of pretzels was more or less empty, so he ate the last ones and threw it in the trash in the break room so he wouldn’t have to look at the empty bag in the trash can in his cubicle.
As the day went by, his skin shrank. He grew jumpier and jumpier the closer Paxton’s arrival loomed. Never had he missed Felicity as much as he did today.
Jace startled. There were ten minutes left of his shift. Paxton shouldn’t be here yet. “Hi.”
“How are you today?”
“Good.” He reread the top paragraph of the email he’d opened only seconds before Paxton arrived.
“Yeah? You look a little… pissed off.”
Jace didn’t reply, which made Paxton chuckle. “I’m gonna go grab a cup of coffee in the break room, do you want me to bring you a cup?”
When there was a touch on his shoulder, a strangled sound escaped his throat, and he threw himself back, causing the chair to roll away from the desk.
“Shit, sorry. I didn’t mean to… frighten you. I…” Paxton shook his head. “No coffee? Or maybe you’re a tea drinker? I can make you a cup of tea.”
“No.” Jace looked at him. Paxton wasn’t grinning or even smiling, he looked uncertain, something Jace hadn’t seen before. “No, thank you. I’m finishing up here and then I’m hitting the swimming pool.”
“Do you swim every day?”
“Almost. It calms my brain.” He winced as the words left his mouth.
Paxton nodded and put his hands in his pockets. “I’ll go grab a cup; let you finish in peace.” He looked at Jace again, a frown deepening on his forehead. “I wasn’t going to grab you or hit you or whatever you thought I was gonna do.”
“No, I know.” How could anyone know? People looked friendly right up until they slammed you into the lockers in the school corridor.
Paxton watched him for a few more seconds before nodding and walking off. Jace blew out a breath and slumped in the chair. When he looked out through the opening of the cubicle, he found Sophie watching him. “I’m okay.”
She gave him a slow nod but didn’t look like she believed him.
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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