Today I am so pleased to welcome the fabulous Heidi Cullinan back to Joyfully Jay. Heidi has come to talk to us about her latest release, Winter Wonderland. She has also brought along an exclusive excerpt and some awesome giveaways. Please join me in giving Heidi a big welcome!
The library was busy, which at first surprised Kyle, but what else was there to do in a snowstorm in a small town? Most people were checking out movies, but plenty of families with children were in the play area, drifting there from what looked like a story time finishing up. Kyle loitered amidst Gabriel Higgins’s throng of adoring fans, waiting for the crush to subside, but when the librarian saw Kyle, he smiled, waved and extricated himself.
“Thanks for stopping by. Let’s go to my office.”
The din of the main library area dulled as the door closed them into the small space. Kyle sat in the chair with its back to the door as Gabriel indicated. “Mom said you wanted some help with snow sculptures for the fundraiser?”
Gabriel waved this idea away as he sat. “Oh, if it happens to snow and you feel you have the time, yes, certainly. As I said to Corrina over and over, the library doesn’t need a fundraiser, but I agree the event gives a shine to the town and possibly a boost to the economy. I’d love to have your help with design, if you’re willing to give it. Arthur and Paul can build anything our library board and city council dream up, but they won’t be much for making it pretty. I heard you were something of an artist in high school, so I was hoping you’d be willing to reprise that role.” His lips quirked. “And if we do get snow, we already know you have talent in the snow-sculpture department. Though perhaps we’ll keep them G-rated in deference to the younger attendees.”
Kyle grimaced. “He told you.”
“He did.” Gabriel leaned back in his chair and crossed his legs. “But why are you looking like that? Surely you’re not giving up.”
Gabriel was on his side? “Easy for you to say. You didn’t see his face when he caught me.”
“Oh, he’s not horrified of you. But he—and Arthur, oddly enough—is obsessed with this idea that you’re too young. Which amuses me because I’m only a little older than you. You should have seen Arthur’s face when I suggested if large age difference was such a big deal, perhaps you and I should date instead, since we were closer.”
“I’m so sick of everyone thinking I’m some infant. I can’t believe Paul thinks so too. I shouldn’t be surprised, but it doesn’t stop me from being disappointed.”
“So it’s not simply a lark? You have feelings for him?”
Kyle squirmed in his seat, but Gabriel showed no sign of letting him worm out of this inquisition. “What if I did? You have some other objection, if it’s not my age?”
“I have no objections whatsoever—unless this is simply a game to you. Paul is looking for a partner. A serious partner.” Gabriel sighed. “And though I know it’s not the truth, I always feel as if I took his fallback plan away from him. So let’s put it this way. If you were laying Grindr bait and planting penises on his front porch because you were bored and snaring Logan’s last bachelor seemed like a good time, then please consider this excitement concluded. If there’s something more to it than that…” his smile practically glinted, “…then I’d be happy to help you plot round two of your campaign.”
Kyle’s eyes went wide. “You’d help me? Seriously? Why?”
“Because I’ve seen you with your sister. I know you’ll say, but she’s my twin, of course I’ll take care of her, but it’s not every twenty-five-year-old man who would devote so much time and attention to a young woman with Down syndrome. In public you give off an air of flirtation, devilishness—which doesn’t help your age issue, I will say—but underneath you’re kindhearted and loyal. When you interact with Linda Kay, you’re another person entirely. An amazing one. Of course I want that for Paul. But first I want to know why. Partly because I’m curious, but also because your answer will help me figure out how to help you.”
Kyle stared at the edge of the librarian’s desk as he finished his confession. “Well, obviously I don’t know we’d get on. But I’ve always felt like we could. It started out…okay, this doesn’t help the age thing either, but when I was in middle school, I’d see him…and he was so perfect. He smiled at me one day, helped me when I’d fallen on my ass on some ice, and my type was set. I always wanted big blond guys with slightly curly hair. I chased Paul clones all the way through community college when I lived in Duluth. Then I came back and settled in, and…”
Kyle glanced up at Gabriel. “You aren’t the only one who noticed Paul wanted a real relationship. I knew Arthur was wrong for him, so I bided my time. I kept trying to catch the eye of Marcus or Arthur, thinking it might make him jealous or at least see me, but that was a bust. When he and Arthur broke up and Arthur got hung up on you…well, I thought, it’s now or never. But I still couldn’t ever get him to so much as notice me. So I tried seducing him online. A few times we sexted, but that was about it. I never had the courage to tell him who I was. Then one day on the way home from work it had snowed, and I had this crazy urge to put a penis on his porch. I don’t know why or what I thought it would do, but it got me more traction than anything else, so I kept it up. I thought maybe I’d lure him in slowly, then do a big reveal—but he caught me. And recoiled.”
“Not from you. From the idea of you.”
Kyle huffed. “How is that better?”
“Because you can still show him who you are. The real you, not the kid he imagines you still are—or the mincing fop you present.”
Kyle drew up short. “I’m not a fop.”
“I know. Stop acting all affected in front of him, so he can see it too.”
Kyle blinked. “I don’t act affected.”
Gabriel flipped a limp wrist and adopted a lisp. “Darling, every time I see you in public, you act like Carson Kressley.” When Kyle frowned in confusion, Gabriel rolled his eyes. “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Look it up on YouTube.”
Kyle knew Queer Eye, vaguely. Carson must be the blond one who was a walking gay stereotype. “I’m not that bad. I just…play it up a bit because the act makes things easier. People expect it. It’s like a wall.”
“Yes. Tear it down for Paul.”
The very thought made Kyle’s stomach lurch. He wrapped his arms over it, slouching. “And be what? Don’t you dare say yourself.”
“Well, what is it you want him to be interested in?”
Kyle hunched more. “I was basically me when he caught me making the penis. He’s not interested, whatever I am.”
A silence expanded between them. Gabriel tapped his finger on his desk as he pondered something. “I’ll admit I don’t have an idea of how to help, exactly. Or rather, I have one idea. But I warn you. There’s no putting this gun back on the rack. And when I say gun, I mean siege weapon.”
Kyle raised his eyebrows. “Siege weapon?”
Gabriel’s eyebrows waggled. “How well do you know Arthur’s mother?”
Finding Mr. Right can be a snow lot of fun.
Paul Jansen was the only one of his friends who wanted a relationship. Naturally, he’s the last single man standing. No gay man within a fifty-mile radius wants more than casual sex. No one, that is, except too-young, too-twinky Kyle Parks, who sends him suggestive texts and leaves X-rated snow sculptures on his front porch.
Kyle is tired of being the town’s resident Peter Pan. He’s twenty-five, not ten, and despite his effeminate appearance, he’s nothing but the boss in bed. He’s loved Paul since forever, and this Christmas, since they’re both working on the Winter Wonderland festival, he might finally get his chance for a holiday romance.
But Paul comes with baggage. His ultra-conservative family wants him paired up with a woman, not a man with Logan’s rainbow connection. When their anti-LGBT crusade spills beyond managing Paul’s love life and threatens the holiday festival, Kyle and Paul must fight for everyone’s happily ever after, including their own.
Warning: Contains erotic snow art, toppy twinks, and super-sweet holiday moments. Best savored with a mug of hot chocolate with a dash of spice
Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. Find out more about Heidi at heidicullinan.com.
Heidi has brought a copy of Winter Wonderland to give away to one lucky Joyfully Jay reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Thursday, November 5th at 11:59 pm EST.
There is an additional month-long giveaway Heidi is running for all the stops on her tour. Enter by following the Rafflecopter link below.
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