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Why Not More Christmas

M/M, Contemporary Holiday Romance
[42 Pages / 9,700 Words]


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Caleb Dell has spent years concealing a stubborn infatuation from company vice president Neal Magnuson. The fact that they no longer work together only exacerbates the problem.

A corporate Christmas party should be the perfect pretext for their paths to cross, but Caleb knows better than to put himself anywhere near Neal at this shindig. Forget business and pleasure: mixing alcohol and secrets is a disastrous idea. Caleb can't risk showing his hand.

But when he discovers Neal needs him, Caleb won't falter. How hard can it be, keeping his mouth shut for one night? He just needs a couple hours to sober up, a modicum of self-restraint, and maybe a reality check for his wayward heart. Then again, it's Christmas, and the terrain of a hopeless crush can change when you least expect.


Excerpt

He wasn't trying to tread especially softly. But when Neal reached the unlikely sight awaiting him—the sleeping figure spread out beneath a heavy quilt on the couch by the tree—Caleb Dell miraculously did not wake.

Lucky for Neal, the love seat opposite the couch was close enough to catch him when his legs gave out. He managed to land quietly amid soft cushions instead of noisily on the floor. Strange as it was to find the object of his long-secret infatuation asleep in his living room, Neal would not survive the humiliation of Caleb waking up to find him sprawled on the ground. He didn't need a bruised ass or bruised pride today. Bad enough he had needed Caleb to drive him home in the first place.

Right. That was how this unlikely happenstance had materialized. Caleb drove him home. Fragments of memory grudgingly reassembled themselves. The party. The fog of inebriation, unnoticed until he nearly collided with Caleb.

Caleb's unexpected and vehement protectiveness.

Neal remembered only a little more clearly arriving home: draining another big glass of water at Caleb's exasperated insistence; convincing him to stay rather than risk the icy roads again; gathering a pillow and blanket from the hall closet, only for Caleb to laugh and chase him off to bed.

The memory of Caleb's laughter warmed Neal's chest, but it wasn't quite enough to dislodge an anxious sense that he was forgetting something else from last night.

Something important.

Worrying at the itch brought no clarity, and Neal let it go with a long, slow breath.

He did not consciously intend to remain there, staring helplessly and unable to move. He should reach out and give Caleb's shoulder a shake—or at least say the man's name to try and rouse him. But Neal's voice was just as stuck as the rest of him, and he continued to gawk, appalled with himself and yet unable to do anything that might break the spell.

Warmth suffused him at the impossible tableau. A scattered rainbow of light filtered through tree branches and painted soft patterns across Caleb's skin. Even the shadows looked peaceful in the predawn quiet. It was so easy to imagine Caleb belonging here. Staying by design rather than inconvenient happenstance. Neal would brew coffee—his favorite cappuccino with a splash of eggnog for the season—and they would sit together. Snuggle close, burrowed beneath shared blankets, sipping from hot mugs in the glow of the tree, while cheerful music played through the living room speaker.

An impractical fantasy. Neal's chest ached as he set the notion aside, and he braced himself to leave the room and allow Caleb a few more minutes of uninterrupted sleep.

Maybe it was the faint creak of the chair as Neal rose, or the sensation of being watched too intently, but before Neal could make his escape, Caleb blinked. Dark eyes glittered in the festive lighting. Any suggestion of bleariness vanished quickly as Caleb caught and held Neal in an indecipherable look.


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Why Not More Christmas
Cover design by Yolande Kleinn
ISBN 978-1-946316-28-8
 
 
 
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