Today I am so pleased to welcome Tere Michaels to Joyfully Jay. Tere is here as part of the Coastal Magic Blog Tour to share an excerpt from her Christmas story in the Faith, Love & Devotion universe. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Thank you for having me, Jay! I’m already anticipating my return trip to Coastal Magic in February – it’s one of my favorite events of the year.
While I am dreaming of joining everyone in Florida, I wanted to share an exclusive preview of my FREE Christmas story in the Faith, Love & Devotion universe. Time to check in with Matt, Evan, Jim, Griffin and their sprawling group of children, friends and family! It’s the holidays, everyone has a secret and Matt and Evan are in full mope.
The full story will be available exclusively in my December newsletter on the 23rd. (Sign up at http://www.teremichaels.com) Happy Holidays!
Evan got home from the precinct at half past eight, shaking icy rain droplets off his overcoat before he went inside. December seemed determined to be as shitty as possible, weather-wise – and otherwise – and the silence of the house told him that Matt’s moping hadn’t improved.
T-minus two days until Christmas and the only indications in the Cerelli-Haight (Haight-Cerelli) household was a currently unplugged tree sitting forlornly in the front window. A few dozen Christmas cards sat on the dining room table, mostly unopened. The lack of presents – already shipped to their far-flung family – completed the depressing picture.
There would be no Christmas around these parts, at least not for Matt and Evan.
Matt’s version of handling this development included brooding, splitting more wood they could possibly use in a year, going to bed at nine every night, and saying things like, “they have their own lives now – it’s fiiiiine. ”
It didn’t seem all that fine.
Truth be told, Evan existed in that dark well of bah humbug right next to him. He’d always struggled a bit with holidays, as they were so tied to being married to Sherri, but right from the beginning, Matt had worked to change that. He was their Santa, their head elf, their Pied Piper. But right now? He was Scrooge McGrinch and Evan didn’t blame him one bit.
The kids would not be home for Christmas.
His eldest, Miranda, and her husband Kent were spending a year in London, where Kent was studying for a semester. Katie, her husband Austin and their son Josiah were in Boston, unable to travel down to New York as Katie had to work the Celtics Christmas Day game.
Matt wore his Knicks jersey for four straights days in silent protest.
Twins Elizabeth and Danny, the youngest of the brood, were both studying abroad; Elizabeth in Spain and Danny in Germany. At the very least, they would be spending the holidays with Miranda and Kent, which made Evan feel somewhat better.
Or it should have.
The entire crap scenario might have been bearable, he thought, leaving behind wet shoes and a soaking coat to wander into the kitchen for a beer. It might have been salvageable if their closest friends Jim and Griffin, and their little girl Caroline, could join them. At the very least they’d have had a child to spoil, and a reason to celebrate.
Except this was their year to host Griffin’s enormous family at their home upstate, and despite the invitation, Matt nixed the idea of spending Christmas with fifty people he wasn’t related to and couldn’t remember the names of.
Evan hadn’t asked for elaboration because he already knew the answer – watching other families celebrate with their kids when his and Matt’s were missing? No. Not enough beer in the world to medicate that ache.
There was an invitation on the refrigerator door – actually a post-it note shaped like a wedge of Swiss cheese with Helena’s chicken scratch across it. She and Shane had purchased a new townhouse in the Village, and in the middle of renovation, didn’t make plans for Christmas.
“Come over, bring liquor. No wait, we have liquor, bring food,” was her invite as she left the precinct the day before. She gave him the note with the address and made him promise to at least consider it. Eight o’clock, Christmas Eve.
Evan leaned against the counter and drank his beer. He could cajole Matt into going – a little wine, a little sex, not his first rodeo in terms of getting Matt to do something. They’d have fun with their freewheeling friends. Eat too much, drink too much, and laugh inappropriately. Pass the night trying not to miss the kids. But Evan’s heart just wasn’t in it.
A tiny part of him knew he could have guilted the kids into coming home, laid out the money to get them all back to New York. The first holiday where none of them would be around? The first holiday ever spent apart? Hell, if he didn’t want blood on his hands he could have unleashed the full impact of Matt Haight on the four of them, and had them dutifully on the doorstep singing carols like a Hallmark commercial.
“I’m better than that,” he said aloud, in the silent kitchen of his dark quiet house and then he got himself a second beer. “It was their decision.”
Or maybe he didn’t want to face the facts that his beautiful children were all grown up and didn’t need to be home for the holidays.
He found Matt upstairs in their rumpled bed, watching the Rangers destroy the Bruins.
“How was your day?” Matt mumbled as Evan began to strip out of his suit. “And I forgot to make dinner.”
“Shitty. It’s fine – I ate peanut butter crackers out of the vending machine. And had two beers.” He hung up his suit, wishing he had the gene that would allow him to throw his clothes on the floor. Like Matt. Whose clothes were on the floor, piled around his feet.
“I had pork rinds and a Diet Mountain Dew.” Matt rolled over, his hair sticking up every which way.
“We’re a special sort of pathetic.”
Evan draped his tie on the rack, noting it was Elizabeth’s gift to him last year. It crossed his mind to protest Matt’s assessment but really – he wasn’t wrong.
The rest of his nightly routine went out the window. Suddenly the long, cold day and the crushing bleh of everything knocked Evan’s legs out from under him. He shut the closet door in something closely resembling a slam then turned towards the bed – where Matt already had the covers pulled back for him.
“Come on, I’ll give you a blowjob,” Matt said, at least throwing a growl into it.
Evan appreciated the effort.
At five-forty-five, Evan’s alarm went off, immediately followed by Matt’s cell phone.
Playing “Too Shy” by Kajagoogoo.
Matt’s hand shot out to grab the phone, death-gripping it until he got it to his ear still tucked under the covers.
“I swear to God…”
“Good morning Matt!” Helena chirped, panting through the line. He knew she was calling from the treadmill, which made him hate her even more.
“Not Evan,” was all he managed as Evan mumbled next to him, still half-asleep as he rolled out of bed.
“Because I’ll see Evan in about an hour but I needed to talk to you. Now. You should be getting up too.”
Helena sighed dramatically. He could imagine her in her swanky gym gear and pixie hair, smiling as she harassed him over the speaker in the NYPD gym.
“Because Shane is picking you up at six thirty. You’re going with him to pick up a piece of sculpture he bought. In Massapequa.”
Matt dragged the phone away, pushing it towards where Evan stretched and creaked next to the bed.
“I think Helena has been kidnapped and she’s trying to give me a message about her captors.”
Evan – because clearly he loved Matt and didn’t want him to go to jail for killing an NYPD spokesperson/ex-detective – took the phone.
The rest of the conversation consisted of Evan saying “okay, but” and then pausing. With each passing second, Matt felt dread rising. His day of lying around feeling sorry for himself was clearly about to be interrupted by an unrelentingly cheerful Shane and some crazy-ass errand.
“Uh…yeah,” Evan said finally, when the called ended, then dropped Matt’s phone into the tangle of covers.
Even in the shadows, Matt could see the guilt.
“Shane is like, made of money – they can hire someone,” Matt bitched, even as he rolled out of bed. He tried to think if he had a tee shirt with a rude saying he could wear on this little adventure.
“She’s being nice.” Matt felt the bed shift. “She’s worried about you.” Evan’s arms went around Matt’s shoulders and some of the tension seeped out of his bones. “She’s worried about me. I suspect there’ll be a strong-armed lunch.”
“Get a steak. And make her pay.” Matt turned his head enough to find Evan’s mouth; the familiar twist of lips, the way everything slotted together with practiced ease knocked a bit more of the fog away.
When the kiss broke, Matt managed something resembling a smile in the face of Evan’s concern.
“I love you, and I’m glad I married you…even if your friends are psychotic.”
(to be continued on December 23rd!)
Tere Michaels is the author of fifteen books, including the popular Faith, Love & Devotion series. Her home base is a small town in New Jersey, very near NYC, a city she dearly loves and which shows up as the setting of almost every one of her books.She shares her life with her husband, her teenaged son—who will just not stop growing—and two exceedingly spoiled cats.
Nothing makes her happier than knowing she made a reader laugh or smile or cry – it’s the purpose of sharing her work with people. She loves hearing from fans and fellow writers, and is always available for speaking engagements, visits and workshops. Send her a message through her website (www.teremichaels.com) or connect with her on (@TereMichaels) and Facebook .
Tere has brought a $25 Amazon gift to give away to one lucky reader. Just follow the Rafflecopter link to enter.
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