COLE IN HIS STOCKING
Genre: M/M Holiday romance
Now in KINDLE UNLIMITED
AUDIOBOOK (narrator Jay Frankley).
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.
Jake checked his cell phone. It was nine forty-five. Cole would guess, rightly, that he’d been stood up. He’d be long gone and date number two would vanish into the mist. Cole O’Neil would be a pleasant memory, and Jake could go back to same old, same old … but with a difference.
He’d been booted from his two-liner supporting role in a loser play, and he didn’t have enough money for tuition at NYU, on the course-a-semester plan. So same old, same old had narrowed down to why the fuck am I bothering to stay here?
Bad answer … he had nowhere else to go.
The deli closed at ten. The Plaza was open until midnight or later on the weekend. First order of survival, eat. He wondered if Cole would get the pop culture sci/fi reference. He suspected he would. Too bad he’d never see the guy to ask.
Jake turned and trotted through the night, the bag slapping his knee as he wound his way around the merry shoppers. Central Park loomed behind him as he joined the mob flowing through the doors. The odors from a dozen vendors selling everything from Pad Thai to grilled vegan burgers assaulted his nostrils and made his mouth water, despite the fact he doubted he’d be able to choke down a bite of anything. He waded through the crowd, knocking against tables and chairs, murmuring, “Sorry, sorry, excuse me,” into the surrounding din. No one looked his way. No one cared enough to notice the man with the bag of lost dreams dog-paddling as if his life depended on it.
The weight of disappointment was a heavy burden to bear. Had he deliberately set himself up for this? Had he unconsciously created the opportunity for failure? It wouldn’t be the first time, but somehow he’d never considered the possibility of it happening again when it really mattered.
How stupid could he be?
With his chest aching and his eyes watering, Jake grasped the bag with Cole O’Neil’s clothing, with his scent and his memory doing a tap dance in his head, and clutched it tight. He ignored the crowds flowing around him, jostling him rudely as he stared at the ceiling, lost to his misery, lost to Cole, lost to himself.
Jake’s body jerked and quaked as arms wrapped around him. A warm tongue darted in and out of his ear as the chuckle of the man who shouldn’t be there caressed his heart with teasing warmth.
Cole whispered, “I was getting worried.” The grip tightened. Jake leaned into it, uncertain if it was real or if he was hallucinating. A voice saturated with sin said, “You taste so fucking good,” and followed that with a long, slow, torturous exploration of Jake’s neck and chin, ending with a nip at his bottom lip.
The din, the crowds, all of it evaporated, leaving him and Cole in a private bubble of lust that had Jake’s knees going weak and his insides fluttering.
When Cole released him, the deep chuckle returned as Jake wavered, unsteady on his feet. Cole reached down and grabbed a bag, waved it in front of Jake and asked, “Pastrami okay?”
Jake murmured, “Perfect,” and scanned the area for a place to sit, the reaction automatic, without conscious thought.
Cole took his left hand and said, “Nuh-unh, I have somewhere special for us. Come on, I think you’re gonna like this.”
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ONE AND ALL!