Today I am so pleased to welcome Hunter Frost to Joyfully Jay. Hunter has come to share an exclusive excerpt from her release, Christmas Can Kiss My Dickens. She has also brought along a gift card to give away. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Tim blinked rapidly, coming to focus on yet another familiar face. Dark eyes. Shadowed jawline, and a knit cap in maroon and white. “Jacob? Is that you?” First his dead godfather, and now his college boyfriend?
Jacob smiled, concern melting away from his handsome features. “I’m so glad you’re okay. I barely saw you in time!”
Tim tore his gaze from Jacob, finding himself back in the alleyway in front of a running car, headlights bright. He patted his body, upright in his wheelchair, the bumper of the car only inches away. “You didn’t hit me!” Tim exclaimed. His teeth chattered in the cold night.
“Let’s get you in the car. It’s freezing out here.” Jacob hustled him over to the passenger side. “I’ll give you a lift wherever you’re headed.” There was barely enough room for Tim to squeeze next to the car, but he managed to transfer out of the chair and into the passenger seat.
Tim began to give Jacob instructions on how to fold the chair so he could put it in the trunk but stopped when Jacob eyed him.
“I know the drill, Tim. I’ve done it a million times since the day we met.”
Memories came flooding back. Freshman year of college at the University of Chicago. English Lit. Jacob had dropped his copy of <em>The Tale of Two Cities</em>, and they both leaned down to pick it up, their hands touching. Jacob’s brilliant smile had caught him off guard, immediately bowling him over. They’d been inseparable through junior year.
Jacob got in the car and cranked up the heat, directing the vent toward Tim. “Warmer?”
Tim almost smiled. “Yes.”
“Good.” Jacob rubbed his hands together. “Now where to?”
“Home. Lincoln Park.”
Jacob put the car in gear. “Wow, just like you wanted, Tim. Congrats.”
Tim nodded. Making it to someplace like Lincoln Park had been his dream in college. But right at this moment, sitting here with Jacob, it didn’t seem as important as it had back then. What was so wonderful about a great big house when you had no one to share it with?
“You’re doing well for yourself then?” Jacob asked.
“Pretty good. I own Marley Lending.”
“Here in the Loop?” He whistled his amazement. “Wait. Are we talking Marley, as in Marley McKenna, our old business professor at U of C?”
Tim chuckled. “I told him I’d name my first company after him if he helped me with a grant proposal to start it up.”
“That doesn’t surprise me.” Jacob laughed. Tim had missed that sound. “That old man loved your ambition.”
“He loved your attention to detail more,” Tim replied. And was rewarded with Jacob’s full blush. “What’s with the taxi? You graduated with honors and a degree in accounting.”
Jacob’s smile was wistful. “My husband, Patrick, lost his job about six months ago. We’d be fine on my salary alone, but his mother had a stroke and needs twenty-four-hour care.” Tim glanced at Jacob’s hand on the steering wheel. A silver ring glinted off the light of a passing street lamp. “He started driving a taxi to make some cash while looking for work. I decided I’d spend any extra time I had driving too.”
It was exactly the type of thing Jacob would do. Sacrifice his own time for someone else. He always gave himself completely without wanting anything in return. Tim had never understood that back when they were together.
“We’re both driving tonight so we can celebrate Christmas with his mother at the nursing facility tomorrow.”
“You’re married” was all Tim could say.
“Yeah, I met him at my first job after graduating. He’s also an accountant. We made it official four years ago.”
Tim turned to look out the window, resting his chin in his hand. Jacob. Married. “That’s great.”
“Thanks. It has been great.” Jacob nudged his shoulder. “How about you? Anyone special in your life?”
He recalled the day when Jacob told him he was moving out. It had been three years and the longest and the only relationship Tim ever had. He loved Jacob, but Jacob said Tim loved money and success more. At the time, Tim thought Jacob was overreacting and being unrealistic. Still, Tim couldn’t offer him any more of himself than he had already. Once Jacob was gone, Tim realized Jacob had been right. Tim’s financial future always trumped everything else in his life. Money and success were attainable goals. And they gave him the security he needed. Jacob had merely gotten in the way.
Tim huffed. “What do you think? You know me.”
“I do. Or I did. But I hoped something had changed.” Jacob paused. “I only ever wanted you to be happy, you know.”
“For me, it was never about happiness.”
Jacob gave him a look that made him bristle. Pity. Again.
“I know that now,” Jacob replied, staring out at the road.
As wonderful as it was to see Jacob again, it made Tim ache with some unknown pain. A reminder of the past, like his dream. Or whatever that was.
“I was an asshole, wasn’t I?” Tim asked.
“You heard me.”
Jacob looked at him sideways. “Maybe.”
Tim arched a brow and pointed. “I’m over here. Lakeview Towers.”
Jacob pulled up to the front of the building and got out to grab the wheelchair from the back. Tim opened the door, and Jacob had the chair waiting and ready to go. Just like old times. Tim transferred. “Thanks for the ride.”
“You’re welcome. It’s the least I could do for almost running you over on Christmas Eve.” He patted Tim’s shoulder.
Tim reached into his suit pocket. “Let me pay you.”
Jacob moved away and shook his head. “Consider it a gift, since I know how much you love those.” He grinned impishly, showing his pearly white teeth. The little shit.
“Jacob,” Tim said, sounding like a father ready to scold.
Tim pulled out his wallet. “Then give me your card. I never know when I’ll need a taxi.”
Jacob gave him his card, and Tim attempted a smile. He turned toward the lobby of his building.
“Tim,” Jacob called out.
Tim looked back.
“Merry Christmas,” he said, waving once before getting back in the taxi.
Tim waved back and went up to his apartment, feeling completely and utterly alone.
Tim Cratchit hates everything about Christmas—the gaudy decorations, the sickeningly cheerful music, and the pathetic tradition of exchanging meaningless gifts. Not to mention the lousy memories of holidays passed. When Santa gave other kids Barbie dolls and Tonka trucks, Tim got stuck with a wheelchair. Now, the one thing Tim looks forward to on Christmas is catching up on work and ignoring all the festive drivel.
That is until Henry Scott, Tim’s star employee, interrupts his boss’s plans to give him a present. Tim unceremoniously shows the man the door, but Henry won’t go so easily. Inspired by liquid courage, Henry finds the guts to tell Tim exactly what he thinks of him—and it’s anything but merry. Except for that kiss…
What follows only makes Tim question his sanity. A near death experience, flashbacks, premonitions, and visits from his deceased godfather show Tim how lonely and depressing his life has become. Will Tim be able to recapture the spirit of Christmas or will he forever remain a bona fide Scrooge?
Hunter lost a bet at a blackjack table and begrudgingly traded temperate Southern California for the sweltering heat of Las Vegas. There she resides with an extremely tolerant husband and two cats named after her favorite beverages, Latte and Java. When she’s not dreaming of returning to coastal living, Hunter works at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, from where she received her Master’s in British history. In order to appease her muse, she writes the kind of fiction that keeps her sane. She adores romance in all forms, but prefers her stories with two heroes that find their happily-ever-afters with each other.
Hunter has brought a $10 Amazon gift card 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 Tuesday, January 2nd at 11:59 pm ET.
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