Please join me in welcoming my dear friend, Nell Iris, to Stories That Make You Smile. Her stories will indeed, and without fail, cause a wide soppy grin to stretch across your face. Her newest release, Flowers Under My Pillow, is no exception!
Hi everyone, I’m Nell Iris and I’m here to talk about my new release Flowers Under My Pillow. It’s a M/M contemporary story infused with Midsummer magic from the olden days, and I hope you’ll like it. But before I begin, I want to thank my lovely hostess, Addison, for the invitation. You’re the best, thank you ❤️
Personally, I think dandelions are beautiful. I wish people would stop hating on them and instead try to see them for the bright little suns they are. But if you insist on getting rid of them—and your partner doesn’t wanna put dandelions in their beard (or any other body hair, use your imagination 😉 ) for your benefit—maybe pick them and make them into dandelion wine?
- the petals from enough dandelion flowers to loosely fill a gallon container
- 4.5 litres of water
- 1.5 kg sugar
- zest and juice of 4 lemons
- 500g chopped raisins
- 1 sachet of white wine yeast
- yeast nutrient
Boil the water and pour over the petals. Cover and leave for a couple of days, stirring occasionally.
Pour everything into a large saucepan and add the lemon zest, bring to the boil then stir in the sugar until dissolved. Continue to boil for five minutes. Take off the heat and add the lemon juice and the crushed raisins or grape juice concentrate.
Clean the fermenting bucket thoroughly, pour in the mix and cover until cool. Add the yeast and yeast nutrient and cover. Ferment for three or four days then transfer into a demijohn using a sterilised sieve and funnel. Fit a bubble trap and allow to ferment for a couple of months, rack-off into a fresh demijohn and leave until clear then bottle. Ray Bradbury would be proud.
(Recipe borrowed from here)
“You recognize me, too,” he says, eyes pleading. “I can tell from your reaction.”
I dip my chin once. “I do.”
My heart flutters in my chest like the wings of a colibri. Another dandelion falls from his beard and my gaze follows it down as it lands softly on the ground.
My mind spins with questions and it’s making me dizzy again. How can the man from my dreams stand before me in the flesh? A living, breathing human being? A living breathing human being who recognizes me too?
When our eyes meet again, I read the same confusion in him.
“My name is Viljar. Viljar Hede,” he says. Gently, as though I’m a wild doe from the forest he doesn’t want to spook into flight. “I have no idea what’s going on, but would you please stay and talk to me?” Another flower falls to the ground.
“You’re losing your dandelions,” I say in a non-reply.
“Oh shit. I was doing a photo shoot and I’m…” he takes a deep breath and starts picking flowers out of his beard, but I shake my head.
His hand freezes. “No?”
I shake my head, hesitate for a heartbeat before climbing over the fence without asking for permission, and start picking fallen dandelions from the ground and gently putting them back into his beard. His gaze never leaves my face, eyes blazing and full of questions. And warmth.
“You should finish your photo shoot,” I say as I pluck the final flower from his hand and put it back where it belongs. I’m standing way too close to him; his breath caresses my face, his scent invades my senses. He smells like the surrounding meadow. Like honey. As though the bees have pollinated him.
The proximity should freak me out; I’m standing so close to a total stranger I can almost hear his heartbeat, but instead, it’s calming. Wholly familiar, like his heartbeat is a part of me, like it helps circle my blood in my veins.
And I can’t stop looking at him.
“I should?” God, his voice is rumbly.
I nod. “I’ve dreamed of your beard. With the dandelions.”
“I’ve dreamed of your hair.” He slowly reaches up, giving me plenty of time to pull away if I want to, and brushes away an errant strand from my forehead. “It’s like the moonlight.” That’s the most romantic term anyone’s ever used for my hair that’s so light blond it’s almost white, but I’ll take it.
“Please tell me your name.” His words are little more than a whisper.
“Frode.” My name comes out as a croak. I clear my throat and try again. “My name is Frode Nordin.”
“Frode.” He nods as though it makes sense. “Will you please stay if I continue?” He gestures at the camera equipment. “You can’t disappear again now that I’ve finally found you.”
He takes a step back. And another. Slow, not taking his gaze off me, as though he’s making sure I won’t bolt. When he’s back in his original spot, he picks up more fallen dandelions and lies back down, sticking them back into his beard arbitrarily. He picks up something else from the grass—a closer look tells me it’s a remote control—but his head is turned in my direction the entire time.
“Wait,” I say and walk closer, kneeling by his side. I take the dandelions from the bouquet intended for my pillow, snap off the long stems and add them to his beard. Then I nod and move away, knee walking backward until I’m sure I’m not in the frame, and sit back on my heels.
His eyes crinkle. “Thank you.”
Smiling brown eyes. A dark beard. Dandelions. Sunny, happy dandelions.
For thirty years, Frode’s had the same dream. Every Midsummer’s Eve since he was a kid accompanying his sister to pick flowers to put under his pillow, he’s dreamed of the same man. A dream he never shares with anyone, that makes him wish for impossible things…like true love.
Then one Midsummer’s Eve, the man of Frode’s dreams stands before him in the flesh. Both men recognize each other despite never having met in real life. Both men are instantly drawn to each other and want to know more.
“Who are you, Viljar? Are you even real?”
Their questions are many but do the whys and the hows matter? Or should they allow the Midsummer magic that brought them together to lead the way into each other’s arms? Into each other’s hearts?
Traditional Swedish folklore tells you that if you pick seven kinds of flowers in silence and put them under your pillow on Midsummer’s Eve, you’ll dream of the man you’ll marry.
M/M Contemporary / 17 477 words
Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bonafide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies room), loves music (and singing along at the top of her voice but she’s no Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (Make it so). She loves words, bullet journals, poetry, wine, coffee-flavored kisses, and fika (a Swedish cultural thing involving coffee and pastry!)
Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.
Nell is a bisexual Swedish woman married to the love of her life, a proud mama of a grown daughter, and is approaching 50 faster than she’d like. She lives in the south of Sweden where she spends her days thinking up stories about people falling in love. After dreaming about being a writer for most of her life, she finally was in a place where she could pursue her dream and released her first book in 2017.
Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angsty, short over long, and quirky characters over alpha males.
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