WINTER WARMERS

Lucky Dip by Clare London
Andy Jackson always knew that class 2C’s help in preparing for the annual Christmas Fair would be a mixed blessing. Then he’s paired up on the Lucky Dip with Greg, the man who dumped him but now can’t keep away, the pupils are either lecturing him on his lovelife or losing bladder control, and no one’s fixed the broken handle on the storage room. It may all be one whoopee cushion too far for him.

Butterscotch Kisses by Chrissy Munder
Matthew Morrison is determined to conquer his fear of heights and achieve a winning outcome. At least, that’s what the best-selling, self-help book he’s listening to promises. Being stuck on a three-story tower in the middle of a snowstorm wasn’t part of the plan. With no St. Bernard in sight, it’s Cute Ticket Guy Adam to the rescue, and an outcome Matthew never anticipated.

Wintertide by Lou Harper
May meets December when Jem and Oscar chance on each other at the Santa Monica Pier, only weeks before Christmas. The two men are separated by age, social status, and their taste in candy, yet if they are both naughty and nice, they might just find holiday cheer together.

When in Amsterdam... by Josephine Myles
Brandon is on his first visit to new boyfriend Jos’s home country, just in time for their Sinterklaas celebrations. But an unexpected detour into a sex shop leads Brandon to new discoveries about himself, and a whole new dynamic to their relationship. The weather may be cold and damp, but Brandon and Jos soon heat things up!

A Pint of Beer, a Bag of Chips, and Thou by JL Merrow
What’s the best gift a young man could get for Christmas? Mohawked saxophonist Liam wouldn’t have picked the hideous collection of knitwear he’s presented with by his mum and his aunties. He’d rather have the gorgeous older man he sees every day while busking at King’s Cross. But with a little Christmas magic in the air, maybe those garish garments are just the thing for attracting a silver fox…

Here is a short excerpt from my story, Wintertide:

Jem

Jem hated Mariachi music. Its bouncy, overblown beats made him think of cartoon mice hopped up on meth. Speedy Gonzales: The Lost Years. Jem wondered if it made him racist or something, but he decided against it; he hated polka too and he was half-Polish. It was those bouncy Mariachi tunes reverberating through his apartment building, courtesy of one of his neighbors, that chased him all the way from Hollywood to the Santa Monica Pier on that particular afternoon. That was one way of spending his day off.


People who didn't know LA thought of Hollywood as all glamour, but in reality there were only a few blocks of shiny tourist trap, the rest ranging from decent to outright grimy, like where Jem lived. Santa Monica was far more upscale and in summertime it would be hopping with throngs of people, but now, under the muck-colored clouds, it was as appealing as a wet dog. LA tended to have plenty of sunshine all year around, but this winter was unusually wet and gloomy, matching Jem's mood. There were only a few weeks left till Christmas, and he felt ho-humbug at best.


Jem killed a couple of hours hanging around, playing in the arcade. When he got hungry he went into one of the cheaper food places and got a burger. Pulling the zipper all the way up on his puffy coat, he wandered outside and sat on a bench to watch the few people stubbornly determined to have their fun. He wasn't sure why the man in the gray peacoat caught his eye. The guy was tall, but not too tall, older, in his forties probably, kinda good looking, but not exceptionally so. Jem's gaze glued itself to the guy, taking in his trim figure, salt-and-pepper hair, the easy, graceful way he moved. There was something about the man that aroused Jem's curiosity. He wouldn't have been able to say what if you paid him, but he kept looking, trying to figure it out. There were people like that, who simply grabbed your attention without trying, making you wish you knew them. Maybe it was the friendly set of lines in the corner of his eyes. In this town only the poor aged naturally -- everyone else used Botox to wipe the wrinkles and expressions off their faces. Peacoat appeared affluent enough to take care of those laugh lines, yet there they were, to Jem's delight.


He trailed after Peacoat, all the way to the far end of the pier. Only a few stragglers made it that far, most people getting lost in the shops and restaurants. That part of the dock was wider than the main tract. Peacoat took the stairs leading to a lower platform that wrapped almost all the way around the head of the pier. It was a simple, narrow walkway mostly used for fishing, although Jem doubted anyone ever caught anything there. The few fishermen not discouraged by the weather stood at the side facing the open sea. Peacoat walked around to the opposite side. Jem couldn't fathom why, as all you got there was a craptacular view of the pylons under the pier and the parking lot on the shore. Maybe the man wanted to be alone—Jem could see him from the upper level only by going right up to the rail. It was as private as you could get in a public place. The man took something out of his pocket—it looked like a piece of candy. He unwrapped it and threw it in the water. Then he did it again. When he did it for a third time Jem had to find out why. He knew it would drive him crazy if he didn't at least try.