Willow Road by Holly day and JMS Advent Calendar

Today, my dear friend and all around fabulous human being, Holly Day is back on the blog. She’s here to talk both about her newest release and also a little about the JMS Advent Calendar. Please help me make her feel welcome!

Hello, everyone! Thank you, Nell, for allowing me to steal a spot on your blog again 🥰

A few days ago, Willow Road was released. It’s a story I wrote for Crossword Puzzle Day, which is today. Crossword puzzles don’t play a huge part in the story, but everyone knows Jeremiah solves the daily crossword puzzle in the newspaper. The story takes place in a paranormal world where shifters rule and humans are treated like second-class citizens.

Jeremiah was allowed to attend a shifter school despite being human. It should have been great, shifter schools are much better than human schools, but Jeremiah was bullied. It got so bad he developed a social phobia, and as an adult, he doesn’t leave his house. His bullies are still living in town, and since they know he’s solving the crossword puzzle every day, they put personal ads right next to it, encouraging people to drop by his house for one reason or another.

This has gone on for years, but when Zeeb, the new chief of police hears about it, he’s furious. Human or not, no one in his village will be harassed.

Zeeb is a wolf shifter, and wolf shifters have fated mates. Zeeb can’t have a human mate, so when he meets Jeremiah, he tells himself he’ll be fine without him. All he has to do is get to the bottom of the ad problem, and that will be enough. He’ll know Jeremiah will be safe.

Lying to yourself is never a good idea, though 😆

Often when I write, I borrow things from the city I grew up in – streets, parks, the beach, and so on. This time, I’ve borrowed from where I live now. I have no idea who lives in Jeremiah’s house, but a friend of mine used to live there. It’s right next to the cemetery, and I used to walk by it every day when I went to work. It used to be a post office, and there was an old postal sorting cabinet in one of the rooms. It might still be there, I don’t know. I don’t plan on ringing their doorbell and asking the ones who live there now 😊

If you continue over the river on the footbridge at the end of the street, you’ll come to the area where Zeeb lives. A former colleague of mine lives there, not in Zeeb’s house, but close enough 😄

And do you know what? JMS Books has an advent calendar. It’s not many doors left to open now, and if you’ve missed a door, you can’t go back. Sorry. Today though, behind door 21, you’ll find Willow Road. So hop on over there and grab your copy! Tomorrow, it’ll be too late.

Willow Road

Jeremiah Pace hasn’t left his house in thirteen years. He doesn’t trust anyone, least of all shifters. School was a nightmare, and despite never interacting with anyone in the village, the bullying continues in his adult life. Someone is putting ads in the paper, encouraging people to drop by his house for one service or other, but Jeremiah never opens his door.

Zeeb Hemming is a lone wolf and the new chief of police. He’s only been in Stoneshade for six weeks when he learns about the ads and goes to knock on Jeremiah’s door. Not because of what today’s ad said, but to get to the bottom of what’s going on. Human or not, Jeremiah deserves to live life in peace. The moment Zeeb nears Jeremiah’s house, he knows he’s his mate. But he can’t have a human mate.

Jeremiah pleads with Zeeb not to stir anything up. Yes, the ads are bad, but things can always get worse. Zeeb is furious someone is mistreating his mate and is willing to skin anyone who has any connection to the ads alive. But how is he to convince Jeremiah to trust him when he talks to Zeeb through a gap in the window instead of opening the door to his house?

Gay Paranormal Romance: 19,909 words

Buy links

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Zeeb slowed his car and peered at the red wooden house right next to the cemetery. Snow was falling, and the December dark subdued all life in the small village.

Jeremiah Pace. He’d checked before he left work, and Jeremiah was thirty-one, like Dolph. There were no complaints about him. He’d never been arrested, never been married, didn’t have any children, and so on. There was next to no information about him.

He crept by the house. It was… quaint. The blinds were drawn, and the snow lay in a thick layer on the stairs, making the house look uninhabited. Zeeb sighed and drove on.

The tiny one-story row house he rented was on the other side of the river. If he followed Willow Road to the end, there’d be a footbridge from where one could turn right into a small walkway, but he couldn’t get there in his car.

He drove out on the main road going through the village, crossed the river, and turned left into the small area with row houses. It was a U-formed road with ten houses, six on one side and four on the inside of the U. He hated it. There was no privacy. Everyone watched his every move, and everyone had opinions.

He’d have to look for something else, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to stay in Stoneshade. He’d wanted away from the city, but…

Parking his car, he looked at the dark windows of his house. Depressing. He’d eat something, then go for a run. It wasn’t too cold, and the snow was coming down in big, slow-falling flakes.

He heated some leftover chicken from the day before and ate standing by the kitchen counter. He’d been unable to relax ever since he’d learned about Jeremiah. He didn’t care about some recluse, except… It pissed him off when people laughed. Whatever had happened, it had traumatized the poor soul. He’d checked the record. Jeremiah’s father, Robert Pace, had reported it. The police chief at the time, Harvey Farkas, had conducted some interviews, but from what Zeeb could tell, he hadn’t pushed for answers, more a friendly chat with some of the prominent shifter families in the village, and no one had volunteered any information.

The case was closed for lack of evidence only a couple of weeks after it had been opened. Quick and easy without stepping on anyone’s toes.

Zeeb would bet his tail that half the village knew exactly what had happened, and the other half could guess. With a growl, he put the plate in the sink and stalked into the bedroom. Pulling his shirt over his head, he kicked off his shoes and pushed down his jeans and underwear. A former tenant had installed a dog door, which was terrible from a security perspective, but Zeeb had soon come to appreciate it. He could shift indoors and sneak out through the dog door without having to freeze his bare ass off.

Trotting down the road, he kept to the shadows as much as he could. When he reached an area with some trees, he slipped in between them instead of sticking to the paved road. In a village as shifter-dense as Stoneshade, no one raised an eyebrow at a wolf scurrying down a road, but he preferred that no one knew where he was going.

The night was quiet. He caught a whiff of a rabbit ahead but ignored it. To cross the river, he had to make it to paved ground again, but as soon as he’d cleared the footbridge leading to the end of Willow Road, he snuck in behind the houses. Stalking the small forest, he hoped he wouldn’t run into anyone there, shifter or otherwise.

The blue light of a TV shone inside the house Zeeb had assumed was abandoned, which made him slow his steps. Was there someone living there? It had a cracked window, and the lawn hadn’t been mowed, you couldn’t tell now with the snow, but when Zeeb first had arrived, the dying grass had been knee high.

It was a good thing someone lived there, though. Before he’d believed Jeremiah lived between a cemetery and an abandoned house, but him having a neighbor was good. If Jeremiah ever was in danger, they’d hopefully notice and call for help.

He crept forward, keeping to the edge of the forest. There was a slope leading down to Jeremiah’s house, and to his surprise, there was a patio with an outdoor masonry oven. Images of barbecues in the summer flashed before his eyes, but Jeremiah wouldn’t have any barbecues, would he?

The blinds were drawn on the bottom floor apart from the hallway window where the lamp was on. There was light on in one of the rooms on the upper floor too, and Zeeb pictured Jeremiah in there. He didn’t have a clue what he looked like, but his brain provided him with an image of a faceless man huddling in a corner, terrified someone would ring his doorbell.

He hoped no one did. By now, the entire village was most likely in on the joke, but did people outside of Stoneshade read the ads? How local was the local paper?

Shrugging off the snow clinging to his fur, he settled down under a pine tree. He wouldn’t stay long, only a few minutes.

About Holly

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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