One Christmas, two lonely hearts, and five portions of sparkle!
Gray isn’t enjoying December. The weather’s grim, his job’s a struggle, and his useless boyfriend ran out on him months ago. He’s a walking Mr Christmas Grump. And then he delivers a parcel to Alec, a bright, sparkly, over-earnest vlogger who’s going through his own hard times. Over the course of five days, accompanied by an irritating but relentlessly cheerful pop song, Gray and Alec share secrets, kisses, regrets, triumphs, some truly awful fashion—and maybe a love that will last far beyond the new year.
This short novella was previously published in the 2020 anthology “Gifts for the Season”. It is a standalone Christmas romance.
When Mr A opened the door and took the box, I just followed him in. Assumed he’d tell me to get lost if he thought it was creepy, or he didn’t want me there. But he didn’t.
“So, what’s the A for?” I asked. “In your name. You’re not a partridge, so it must be something human...”
“Alec,” he said. “Sorry. I should have introduced myself before.”
“Seeing as we’ve already exposed ourselves to each other,” I said with a laugh. Then wished I could bite my bloody tongue out for being gross.
“What is it this time?” I rushed on. “Still the summer fashion theme?” I peered in with him, as he opened the box. Our heads were very close together, and for a wild moment, I imagined I could smell strawberries. Jesus. In December? The cold must have affected my brain.
It was a stock of sunglasses. Bright colours, big lenses, wide frames, and they were all covered in little jewels like confetti. As he picked out a couple of pairs, the neon light caught them, and the sparkle nearly blinded me. Talk about overkill. “You’re surely not going to wear them,” I scoffed. “They’re for teenage girls, aren’t they?”
Alec’s expression was mischievous. He nibbled at his plump lower lip in a way that made me want to grab him and offer my lips instead. “Dear me, Gray. How un-metrosexual you are. They’re for whoever wants to wear them.” He glanced at my face but in an assessing way, rather than a look-how-hot-Gray-is-and-I-want-to-ravish-him way.
I laughed nervously, because I had a feeling I knew where this was going. “Which, duh. Isn’t us. Right?”
No immediate answer from Alec. When I glared at him, his cheeks turned pink.
“Will you join me on the podcast again, Gray? It’ll look so much better with two models. We can create all sorts of fun shots. I’ve got some cocktail glasses, a beach ball. It’ll be like taking selfies from beside the pool in Ibiza.”
What the hell? This was a cold, bleak office unit off Clapham High Street at the end of December. You couldn’t get farther away from a Spanish beach. Not that I’d ever had a foreign holiday, but I imagined myself with the sun hot and canary yellow above us, lying on a sunbed in next to no clothes, Alec’s smooth skin glistening with suncream, sipping his margarita and blushing so, so prettily when I ran my fingers along his thigh…
I cleared my throat and we broke our mutual stare. He was flushed: looked strangely confused.
I'm still in my "bah, humbug" mode, even as I'm gathering things for the holiday season, but this cute, sweet story did a great job of nudging me toward the cheerful part of the spectrum. Of course, now I'm going to be humming the song even though I am NOT ready to sing Christmas carols, lol.
I love the positive message and the encouragement to follow one's dream, not to mention the great ideas for repurposing other people's discards. This was necessarily a condensed start of a beautiful relationship, but hopefully there will be more details about this cute couple at some point in the future. This was an enjoyable quick read that celebrates both the holiday season and the joy of creativity.
A copy of this title was provided for review