COLE IN HIS STOCKING
Genre: Contemporary M/M romance, Holiday romance, novella
It all started with horses, specifically carriage horses in New York City, and the current mayor’s vow to remove them from service. That has caused quite an outcry, both from animal rights activists, horse lovers, and the folks who run the carriage tours through Central Park and midtown Manhatten.
Aside from allegations of abuse and all the rhetoric that surrounds this issue has been the one abiding concern—what happens to the horses when you retire them? Where do they go, who will care for them properly? Will they end up on a truck bound for Canada and the horsemeat market, or will they be put down because they are too big, too expensive to care for?
With that thought in mind, and it being close to Christmas, and me feeling the need for something heartwarming and uplifting, Cole in His Stocking was born.
Cole O’Neil is a vet tech, born and raised in upstate New York, a man devoted to making a difference in the lives of the creatures under his care. He comes to the Big Apple looking for answers to help resolve the issues surrounding the carriage horse controversy by coming up with a plan to save the horses and to give his life new meaning and direction. The last thing he expects to find is a man with the potential to upend all those plans.
Jake Richardson has dreams, big ones, but like so many before him, his reality is often much different. After he blows a chance at acting Off-off-off Broadway, Jake resigns himself to being alone and forgotten, in a dead end retail job catering to the rich and shameless, and pretty much going nowhere. A buddy talks him into going to a Pity Party. Jake isn’t interested in meeting anyone new, but turning down free food and drinks when you’re broke is hard to pass up.
When Jake meets Cole at the party, the man is cheerfully tipsy and not exactly thinking clearly. A series of comical missteps puts them on more intimate terms than either could possibly have anticipated. Though Cole makes it clear he’ll be leaving in a few days to kick start his new life, both men are reluctant to loose the reins and go their own way.
With the help of friends, and the enchantment that comes from a carriage drive through Central Park in the snow, Jake and Cole have one last chance to find it doesn’t take a miracle for dreams to come true. Sometimes magic happens when you just open your heart.
After the embarrassing incident at the party, Jake agrees to leave with Cole… sort of.
Jake gingerly minced his way to the mass of coats on the bed, pawed through the pile and extracted his tattered outerwear from the tower of similar Goodwill vintage cast-offs. The man who might be a serial killer helped him into the coat, smoothed the shoulders and settled the scarf around his neck. He made a double loop around Jake’s throat, then tucked it into the front of the coat and fingered the top button, all the while keeping his head down.
That was fine by Jake. The last thing he needed was to make eye contact and expose his soul to a stranger who had already opened him up to other possibilities, despite it not turning out exactly the way he might have hoped had he lived on another planet…
Planet gay guy scores.
Planet having somebody special for the holidays…
Hell, let me have that planet’s moon while I’m at it so I can wake up next to that special someone instead of me alone, clutching a pillow instead of a warm body.
Annoyed at the broken record that was his lot in life, Jake mumbled, “I’ve got it,” and did the unthinkable. He looked up, high enough to drink in the sight of thick lashes framing eyes the color of sin, a nose that had seen some action, rough skin bearing scars from the teenage scourge of acne, and a five o’clock dark growth Jake couldn’t manage even after a solid week of not shaving.
His gaydar meter stuttered to a stop in the face of so much masculinity. He might have swooned had the giant not taken his elbow and guided him out the door, down the steps, and into a wonderland of fresh slushy snow.
Name, name, what’s his name?
The man tipped his head in the direction of the Hudson River. “I’m down this way.” They did the ships in the night two-step, looked over each other’s shoulder and avoided mentioning the manner in which they’d gotten thrown together.
Jake took a step back, establishing space between them. Back at the flat, what had seemed inevitable, even downright reasonable, now tasted of bad idea and who the hell is this guy and why is he being nice to me?
Jake arranged what he hoped was a neutral look on his face, skirting accusatory and going for non-confrontational. The man shifted his weight from one foot to another. One of them had to break the stalemate, so Jake decided he’d go first. However, in lieu of a polite, “Sorry, didn’t catch your name,” what came out of his mouth was, “Um, look… I, uh…”
The man’s mouth twitched. “Cole. Cole O’Neil.” He held out his hand.
Cole in His Stocking is a feel good Holiday novella that will warm your heart and put a smile on your face.
There’s no place more festive, more glorious than the Big Apple during the Holidays. Jake Richardson loves the city, loves the lights and the hustle and bustle … but being alone again has put a real damper on his Christmas spirit.
Cole O’Neil is marking time as he plans his escape to a new life in the country, doing what he’s always dreamed about. When he encounters Jake at a party, he’s completely unprepared for the vision with curly auburn hair and sinful green eyes.
What starts as an embarrassing accident sends both Cole and Jake on a journey of discovery, but with time running out will they be able to find the courage to accept the joy of the season and to believe in each other?
Sometimes it only takes a little Holiday magic.
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