Hi! Thank you, Addison, for letting me visit again 🥰
[Hello, Holly! Welcome back. It’s always such a pleasure! ❤️]
December is a hectic month, and I meant to drop by earlier, but time slipped away from me. It’s been a week since my story, The Scent of Pine, was released, but between work, my dad’s birthday, my son’s birthday and everything else, I haven’t had the time to talk about it.
I’m here now, though!
I wrote the Scent of Pine to celebrate Christmas Card Day, which is observed annually on December 9th – my son’s birthday and the day when you’re supposed to put the stockfish in water. I’m not sure if stockfish is the correct translation. We call it lutfisk. It’s dried cod, and it’s traditional Christmas food here. I wouldn’t eat it if you paid me, it’s gross, but many people like it, and on December 9th, it’s tradition to put it in water and taste the Christmas ale (probably to make you more willing to eat the fish).
That’s life in Scandinavia, fish with every holiday 😄
Another thing that is crucial to get that holiday feeling is the scent of pine. I don’t own a plastic Christmas tree, and I probably never will. If I can’t have a real Christmas tree, then I don’t see why I should have one at all. I realise I might step on some toes saying that, but what’s the point in having a tree if it won’t make the house smell of Christmas?
Since the 1400s people have brought a tree inside around Christmas – not always pine – and then in the late 1980s some idiot came up with the idea of making plastic trees. I know, I know. It’s great for those who are allergic, you don’t need to water it, it’s far easier to have etc etc, but as far as Christmas feeling goes, plastic just doesn’t do it for me 😆
In The Scent of Pine, there is a Christmas tree – a real Christmas tree.
Ashton is a cop on sick leave, and he’s bored out of his mind. Then he gets a Christmas card delivered to the wrong address, and then another, and then another. There is something about those cards. He can’t say for sure they’re threats, but they have the alarm bells in his mind go off.
Rafael has been hiding from his stalker ex for the last two years and when his neighbour shows up at his door with a stack of Christmas cards, he knows he’s been found.
Ashton convinces him to stay with him instead of being alone in his apartment, and since Ashton isn’t fit to carry boxes or put up a Christmas tree, it falls on Rafael to get the house decorated.
When I started writing this story, I meant for it to be a cosy Christmas tale. It didn’t turn out quite that way. It’s Christmas, and there is snow and decorations and all of that, but how cosy is it with a stalker ex? Not very. But maybe there is time to catch him before Christmas.
After they’d eaten and Ash had loaded the dishwasher, Rafael placed the box of decorations on the kitchen table. “This is all your decorations?”
Ash shook his head. “No, that’s the crap going around the house. There’s another box in the attic with things for the tree.”
Rafael chuckled. “Yay! That’s great.”
“Not really. I mean, first, you have to get it, then you have to unpack it, then you have to carry the boxes to the attic again. And in a few weeks, you have to get them, carry them down, pack everything up, and carry it back up. Not to mention dusting all the ugly figurines and shit while they’re up.”
“Well, hello Mr. Grinch.”
“It’s unnecessary work.”
Rafael moved close enough for Ash to feel the heat of him. “Close your eyes and take a deep breath.”
Ash scowled. “Why?”
“Just do it.”
Ashton did. He breathed in the scent of Rafael. He sucked at scents—was it bergamot? It was nice, and he wanted to bury his nose in the crook of his neck, kiss the skin behind his ear, and run his hands over his body.
“Do you smell that?”
“Yes.” His voice had turned husky and his cock grew heavy.
“I love the scent of pine, so nice. Nothing says Christmas like the scent of pine, and maybe cinnamon and clove.”
Ash opened his eyes—pine? Come to think of it, the house did smell of pine. “Ah, yeah.”
Rafael brushed against his shoulder. “You want a cup of tea? I can unpack and you point where you want what.”
“Coffee.” Ashton limped over to the coffee maker while trying to squash the desire building in him. Rafael was under stress and here he was lusting after him. He shook his head.
“What?” Ashton focused on measuring the coffee.
“You shook your head.”
Damn. “I only had a mental conversation with myself.”
It made Ash shake his head again, but this time he shot Rafael a grin. “It’s nothing, I’m telling myself to behave.”
Rafael’s eyes widened. “Oh…”
Cursing mentally, he tried to come up with something to say. “We—and by we, I mean you—can get the Christmas tree decorations down from the attic before the coffee is done.”
Rafael nodded and followed Ashton’s instructions about how to pull down the loft ladder. He climbed up without hesitation.
Ash waited on the ground for several minutes. “It’s to the right!”
“Yeah, I know, I spotted it right away, but there is another box labeled Christmas here!”
Ash frowned. “Ah, yeah, skip it. It’s curtains and tablecloths and shit. No one has the energy for that crap.”
Ash groaned loudly but part of him was amused. “Knock yourself out!”
Rafael carried down the boxes, beaming at Ash as he did. “This is great!”
“You haven’t opened them yet.”
“Doesn’t matter. It’s Christmas. A real Christmas—not a stay-locked-up-in-a-tiny-apartment-without-any-decorations Christmas.”
For once, Ash was glad Megan had forced him to keep some of their mom’s decorations. “Might want to wash the curtains and cloths before you put them up.”
Rafael grinned again, and Ash wanted to kiss him so badly. He reached out and touched his chin in a fleeting caress which made Rafael still.
“Right, eh… coffee.” Damn.
Rafael followed him into the kitchen, carrying one of the boxes. “Can I use your washing machine?”
“Okay, let’s see what we have.” He opened the box and lifted one piece of fabric out after the other. “Oh, this is nice.” He held up one of his mom’s cross-stitched tablecloths with Santas along the edges.
“Mom made it.”
Rafael nodded and went through the rest of the box. “I can’t believe you wanted to skip these. They’re lovely.”
Ashton nodded. If Rafael wanted to drape the house in Christmas stuff, Ashton would let him. “You’re doing the ironing.”
Rafael laughed. “Noted. Now, go sit by the tree, and we’ll start there.”
Ashton Cross was stupid enough to fall out a window while trying to catch a criminal. Now he’s on sick leave and has been for weeks, and has nothing to do but watch his neighbors go about their day. It’s driving him insane. When he gets a Christmas card not meant for him, he doesn’t think much of it, but then there is another and another, all with the same motif.
For two years, Rafael Vidal has been hiding from his ex. He almost believed he’d gotten away when his neighbor knocks on his door to hand over a stack of Christmas cards. One look at the writing, and Rafael suspects he has been found.
When Ashton understands the situation, he’s set on catching Rafael’s ex. He might not be ready to get back to active duty at the police station, but finally, he has something to do, and he doesn’t mind keeping Rafael close. Rafael is trying to distract himself by helping Ashton put up Christmas decorations, but will they be able to enjoy Christmas with his stalker ex lurking around the corner?
About Holly Day
According to Holly Day, no day should go by uncelebrated and all of them deserve a story. If she’ll have the time to write them remains to be seen. She lives in rural Sweden with a husband, four children, more pets than most, and wouldn’t last a day without coffee.
Holly gets up at the crack of dawn most days of the week to write gay romance stories. She believes in equality in fiction and in real life. Diversity matters. Representation matters. Visibility matters. We can change the world one story at the time.
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