Please join me in welcoming the ever-fabulous Nell Iris to Stories That Make You Smile! Nell is here today celebrating the recent release of her latest novelette, Strike a Pose, written in celebration of Naked Gardening Day!
Thank you, dear Addison, for allowing me to visit you again to talk about my latest release, Strike a Pose. You’re the best. 😘
Strike a Pose is written for World Naked Gardening Day which occurs on the first Saturday in May annually. I stumbled upon it somehow last year and told my friend Holly Day that she should write a story about it since she writes stories for all the weird and wonderful holidays out there. Then A.L. Lester said we should all write stories with naked gardeners, and I said yes. We enlisted a couple more people, the wonderful K.L. Noone and Amy Spector, and started writing. So on May 7th, five stories with a Naked Gardening theme were released. The stories are all standalone and not related in any other way than the theme.
#WorldNakedGardeningDay is a hashtag on both Instagram and Twitter (probably even more places, but I haven’t looked) and I admit to checking it out as research for my story. (If you want to check it out, too, keep in mind that Twitter is a lot more accepting of nudity than Instagram. On Insta, body parts are covered with leaves and watering cans. On Twitter…not so much 😁 ) And the pictures are wonderful and hilarious and I love them…but they also make me horrified because whyyyyyy would you want to garden naked??
Yesterday (i.e. the day before I wrote this), I was in my garden, sitting down on the ground, battling stubborn weeds the previous owner gifted us when we bought the house. And that unearthed loads of creepy crawlies—ants, spiders, worms, beetles, centipedes—I want nowhere near my private parts! Or imagine being bent over a flower bad and a wasp lands on your naked ass and decides to take a bite out of you?
Or another issue, one that Didrik and Johan in Strike a Pose discuss; the evil plants! What if you happen to crouch next to a patch of stinging nettles (OUCH)? Or trim the rose bushes in the buff? Do you know how thorny those bastards are??
So while I thoroughly enjoyed writing this story (and checking out the hashtag #WorldNakedGardeningDay), I will definitely keep my clothes on in the garden.
How about you? Would you consider gardening naked? 😊
Didrik would do anything for his best friend, Filip, including taking pictures of Filip’s dad, Johan, for a charity calendar. Naked pictures, of beautiful, irresistible, wonderful Johan, who was single-handedly responsible for Didrik’s gay awakening. He was also happily married and unavailable…until he wasn’t.
After losing his husband five years ago, Johan finally seems ready to move on, and as they start the charity project, everything changes. With every meeting, every conversation, every pose for the camera, the attraction between them swells and grows, until it burns hot and threatens to consume them.
Their interactions, their relationship is surprisingly easy, but it’s not without its challenges. The age difference for one thing. Telling Filip for another. Is their connection enough to last? Can they overcome the hurdles to get the happily ever after they deserve?
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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”You haven’t heard of Naked Gardening Day, Didrik?” Johan asks as he pours coffee into my cup. I’m sitting in his airy kitchen, invited to discuss the project. Filip was supposed to be here, too, but he was called into a last-minute emergency meeting, so it’s just me and Johan. Discussing nakedness.
I cross my legs and groan so loudly internally that I’m sure he can actually hear me.
“No. I’ve lived in an apartment my entire life. My dad says Mom has the blackest of thumbs and can kill even artificial plants, so I didn’t grow up around gardens. And even though I’m an outdoorsy person these days, I tend to stick to the forest. Very few gardeners there.”
Or naked people.
He joins me at the table, grinning. “I grew up the same way. I was a concrete flower when I met CM, but he insisted we had to live in our own house. Eventually, I agreed but made him promise to take full responsibility for the garden. And he did, at first. Then he decided he wanted me to join in ‘the fun’”—he makes air quotes with his fingers—“so he introduced me to Naked Gardening Day.” Johan’s smile is fond as he remembers.
“How did he do that?”
“We’d only lived in the house for a couple of years. I went out for my morning run, and CM was still asleep. He would sleep the day away if I let him, and Filip’s the same, so I didn’t expect him to wake up anytime soon. It was a lovely morning, so I took a longer route than usual, and when I returned, I got the shock of a lifetime. There he was, digging in one of his raised garden beds, wearing absolutely nothing. I almost ran head-first into a tree, but he just looked at me and stood, with that shit-eating grin of his, dick flopping around like a fish stranded on the beach.” He shakes his head with a chuckle. “Crazy bastard.”
His words paint such a vivid picture, I can’t help laughing, but then my smile turns into a wince. “Am I the only one thinking there are creatures in nature I wouldn’t want anywhere near my exposed…junk?”
Oh, gawd. Did I just mention my junk? To Johan? I fight the instinct to run and hide; I’m thirty, not thirteen. I can do this; I can casually mention my dick in a conversation with another adult.
He laughs at my question. “No Didrik, you’re not the only one. And it’s not just wasps and fire ants and such. Ever heard of stinging nettles? Rose bushes? Can you imagine if he’d decided to prune the roses in the buff? I would’ve had to take him to the emergency room and explain why his junk”—he waggles his eyebrows at me—“was full of rose thorns.”
I groan and my hands fly to my lap and land on my crotch, as though I’m trying to protect my cock from imaginary garden dangers.
“So what did you do?”
“I yelled at him to get dressed and stop scaring the neighbors.”
“But your neighbors aren’t close enough to see anything.”
“No, but I was in shock, what can I say?”
I snicker. “Did he do it?”
He laughs even harder. “You met him. You know he never did as he was told.”
“Yeah, I remember. What did he do?”
“He could be a very persuasive man when he wanted to, so he talked me out of my running gear. I still don’t know how it happened, but there I was. Pruning things—not the roses—naked.” He shrugs as though he really doesn’t know how it happened. “Maybe he hypnotized me?”
I snort, a snort that turns into a chuckle that turns into a laugh. “Yeah, you tell yourself that, man.”
“You couldn’t come up with a more plausible fake excuse than hypnosis?”
He shrugs again, trying to look innocent. “What am I supposed to think?”
I waggle my eyebrows.
Johan grins and lets out an exaggerated sigh. “Yeah, yeah. All right. Busted.”