The lovely Holly Day is back on the blog today. Yay! She’s here talking about squirrels, and let me just say one thing before I leave the floor to her: even with Temporary Squirrel Brain Syndrome, Holly is more organized than the rest of us when we’re our best selves! ❤️
Hello, everyone! Thank you, lovely Nell, for allowing me back on the blog 🥰 I hope you’ve all had a good start to the new year. I feel like I’m standing a little steadier on my feet again – I lost my mother-in-law in September and then my mother in November, both to cancer, and both too young, so I’ve been on shaky ground. We’re not through yet, far from, but we’re moving forward.
This month, we’re celebrating Squirrel Appreciation Day, and I’ve felt a bit like a squirrel these last few months. Did you know squirrels misplace about 75% of the food they gather? Poor things. That’s how I’ve felt. Normally, I’m organised, and I never miss a date or forget an appointment. If you had any idea how many times I’ve asked Nell about when I was to be here, what we decided concerning this or that, you’d laugh. But luckily, I’m not a squirrel, and there is food in the shop, so I don’t have to starve when I misplace/forget/mix up things. And as mentioned above, I’m doing better.
But squirrels. Do you like squirrels? My house is surrounded by trees, so I have quite a few squirrels jumping between the branches, chasing each other. But squirrels have enemies, and in Squirrel Circus, their biggest threat is wolves.
So naturally, poor Jyran, our squirrel shifter, has a fated mate who’s a wolf. Gideon, the wolf, takes one look at him and says no. He will not be known as the wolf who mated a squirrel.
The result? They both live their lives, for years, without having any contact. The problem, if we are to see it as a problem, is that they have a friend in common, and when shit hits the fan, they have no choice but to cooperate.
My greatest joy with this story was writing Jyran. Squirrel brains unite!
He’s surprisingly organised when it comes to work, but when it comes to his things, he tends to want to hoard and often misplaces things. Poor soul.
Can you forgive being rejected by your mate?
For as long as Jyran Pechman can remember, he’s dreamed about finding his soulmate. As a child, he lost his family, and he’s been moving around ever since. He hates it, and he wants nothing more than to have a home. A mate. A place to belong.
Gideon Everett might have dreamed about the day he’d find his mate, but his mate was never an unorganized, nut-hoarding squirrel shifter in those dreams. Wolves eat squirrels, so when Jyran walks into Gideon’s bar, he throws him out and tells him he wants nothing to do with him. He has a reputation to think about, and he will not be known as the wolf who mated a squirrel.
Being rejected hurts more than Jyran ever imagined, and he swears never to set foot in Gideon’s bar again. After the initial shock, Gideon is almost sure he made the right decision. Almost. What if he made the wrong decision? Now when he knows his mate is out there, can he live on as if they’ve never met, or does he have to … ugh … apologize?
Paranormal Gay Romance // 36,035 words
The next morning when Jyran exited the bathroom with a towel around his middle after having showered, Adara was in his room, riffling through his briefcase. Icy cold filled his chest. Those letters were private! “What are you doing?”
He’d imagined she’d jump and look guilty at finding him watching her, but you didn’t sneak up on a vampire. She’d heard him coming a mile away.
“I have to go.” She continued to riffle through his letters, though her fingers moved so fast, he relaxed a fraction. There was no way she’d have time to read what he’d written on them at the pace she was going.
“Valerie was attacked, and some human found her and took her to the hospital. I have to get there and see if I can get her out before they realize she’s healing too quickly.”
Jyran stared. Valerie had been on Adara’s team when she’d picked up Jyran. She was a bear shifter, and she hadn’t been overly pleased to know Jyran existed, but she hadn’t tried to kill him. It was nice of her. They’d kept away from each other. “Attacked how?”
“I’m not sure, but I have to go.”
“To Doson?” Last Jyran had heard, Valerie lived in Doson.
“Yeah, she’s in the hospital there.”
“Aren’t… eh… her sleuth nearby?” Did she have a sleuth? He knew nothing of her other than he did best to stay away from wherever they could get food because she was bound to be there.
Adara huffed. “Can’t have a hospital room filled with bears. Jesus, Jyran, use your brain.”
Jyran winced. Adara often made fun of his squirrel brain, but then she was joking, not snarling at him as she was now.
She sighed. “Sorry, I’m just… She’s freaking strong. Who could get the drop on her?”
Jyran shrugged. Who attacked a bear? “Was she in human form?”
“Maybe they believed she was human and was easy prey?”
Adara shook her head. “No, there are claw marks on her. It was a shifter, but who attacks a bear? It’s suicidal.” Silence stretched while Adara frowned at the wall. “She called me.”
“Valerie?” Jyran hadn’t believed they stayed in contact.
“Yeah, about a week ago, left a voicemail. It was cryptic. I meant to call her back, but we were on the road, and I kept forgetting. She said something about being careful and keeping an eye on you. I was gonna ask what she meant, but…” She shrugged.
Keeping an eye on him? Valerie had never cared about him. She cared about Adara, of that he was sure, but she didn’t care about him.
Adara looked around. “Where is Justin?”
“He went down for breakfast.” Jyran had made excuses, said he wasn’t hungry yet despite always eating first thing in the morning, but he needed to distance himself from Justin.
“Stick close to him. I’ll be back as soon as I can, but don’t be alone until we know—”
“Doson is an hour away. I have a hard time believing the shifter who attacked Valerie is here.”
“Unless they’re out to get you.” She pushed the briefcase away. “Where is the paper with all the phone numbers?”
Oh, that’s what she’s looking for? “In the work briefcase.” Which was brown leather, not black. “Why would you think they’d be out to get me? I’m no one.”
He was invisible. No one but Adara wanted him around.
“You’re a squirrel.”
He grabbed the work briefcase and handed her the folder with all the phone numbers to everyone who’d ever worked for her.
“Yes, people kill squirrels for fun. They don’t go around attacking bears to get to them. We’re entertainment they stumble upon.”
Adara stared at him. “What do you mean?”
He sighed and grabbed a shirt from the closet. He might be a shifter, but he preferred to be dressed. “If you’re gonna take down a bear or a pack of wolves, you need to plan. A squirrel? They walk past me on the sidewalk and pounce. It doesn’t take any planning. It’s no big deal to them. I’m the appetizer before they get to the main course. No one would attack a bear who used to work for you to get to me. It’s too much work.”
He reached for a pair of plum pants. He could pull off a plum-colored three-piece suit. Grinning, he pulled the pants off the shelf and frowned as a bag of peanuts fell to the floor. Oh, nice. But had he put them there? He couldn’t remember touching the plum-colored suit in weeks, except when he moved it from his suitcase to the shelf. He must have, though.
“It would hurt me greatly if they got to you.” The panic shining in Adara’s eyes made him pause.
“Oh, thank you, babe. I’d be devastated if something happened to you, too.”
“No.” She was in front of him in a blink of an eye. “I don’t only mean I would mourn you—which I would. It would wreck me to lose you. I mean, you’re the one who keeps everything afloat. I know you hate moving around. I know you hate the planning, the double-checking, the triple-checking, the phone calls, the bookings, and so on, but without you, I’d get nowhere. If someone wanted to sabotage me, all they’d have to do would be to get to you.”
Jyran stared. “What?” He was no one. She’d taken him in to protect him. He was a burden she carried because she was a good person.
She shook her head. “What do you do for me, Jyran?”
“I travel with you.”
She nodded. “And what, freeload?”
He winced. “Yeah… I live in hotels you pay for, eat food you pay for, and so on.”
The huff surprised him. “You’re the one who books all the hotel rooms.”
He nodded. He did.
“You’re the one who books the arenas. You’re the one who talks to the ticket companies, to the marketing people, to the food people, to the light technicians, and whatever the hell else we have traveling with us.”
He frowned at her. “No, we make a plan, you and I.”
She stared at him long enough to make him squirm. “What is it I do?”
“You say, I want to go to Ordbury.”
“Mmm, and you make it happen.”
“We make it happen.” And it was pretty cool. They looked at a map, Adara would say: I want to go here, and then they did. He wouldn’t have been able to if he was in Doson with his mate. The pain stabbing his heart was so familiar, he barely reflected on it.
“You. You’re the one who makes it happen. You make an estimate of what we need. You tell me what I need to do. You make all the phone calls.”
“Anyone can do that.” He was a squirrel. He couldn’t be in charge of anything. The peanut bag on the floor was evidence enough. He forgot where he kept his food.
“No, Jyran. Everyone can’t. I wouldn’t last a day without you.”
“You would.” She would. He was no one special.
The glare wasn’t what he’d expected. “I’m going, and I’m going to get to the bottom of this. No one threatens what’s mine and walks away unharmed.”
Jyran blinked, well aware his eyes were like saucers. “Valerie hasn’t been working for you for more than a year. I don’t think this is an attack on you.”
“It better not be. If it is, I’m gonna slaughter everyone living in Doson.”
Wincing, Jyran stepped into his pants only to realize he’d forgotten to put on underwear and stepped out of them again. “It might not have anything to do with Doson.”
“We’ll see. Don’t be alone, and I’ll call you as soon as I know something. I might need you to build a case file.”
Oh… did it mean he could get a new briefcase? “I want a leather messenger bag with double straps and a key for the lock.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever.” Then she narrowed her eyes. “Is a key a good idea?”
There were so many places you could hide a key. “No, probably not. But dark leather and double straps. Vintage-looking.”
“Go for it. I’ll call.”
Giddiness bubbled up in his chest. Yes! A new bag.
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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