Please join me in welcoming the lovely Holly Day to Stories That Make You Smile! Holly is here today celebrating the release of her new novelette, Perfect Rows, one of a quintet of stories in honor of Naked Gardening Day!
Hello everyone! Thank you, Addison, for letting me drop by again 😘 This month we’re celebrating World Naked Gardening Day! You might have seen if you’re hanging around on social media that A.L. Lester, Nell Iris, K.L. Noone, Amy Spector and I have written a gay romance novella each for World Naked Gardening Day.
It all started with Nell and Ally (A.L. Lester) joking around one morning when we were in the morning office – it’s not a real office, but we meet up in the mornings in a chatroom and write together, do sprints or just complain about our characters not doing what they’re supposed to be doing. Anyway, since I write stories for strange, funny, silly days, they thought I should write a story for World Naked Gardening Day. Ally then suggested we all write stories for it, and we invited K.L. Noone and Amy Spector to come along on this crazy adventure.
The stories aren’t linked in any way other than that they’re all written for World Naked Gardening Day. The amount of gardening varies, but at some point, someone will be naked in a garden.
In my story, Perfect Rows, there is a fair amount of gardening. Not that they go into detail about what to plant and how, but Grayson, one of the main characters, wants to grow enough vegetables over the summer to support his needs. He’s challenging himself not to buy any vegetables from May to September, and he has planned it all out.
He will also be naked in the garden at two different times. One time it is to yell at Camden, his annoying neighbour, the other time it’s to do something else entirely with Camden, who still is his annoying neighbour LOL
Grayson inherited his grandmother’s house, and with it came a big kitchen garden with raised beds – think an old Victorian garden, but with brick raised beds. At the other end of the kitchen garden is Camden’s house. It used to belong to Grayson’s grandmother’s sister, and the two women shared the garden, which means Grayson is to share the garden with Cam now that they’ve taken over the women’s houses.
You’d think two grown men would be able to share a garden without conflict, but nope.
Grayson and Camden have completely different ideas about what to do with the garden, and every time they try to discuss it, they end up shouting at each other.
Grayson wants to divide the beds between them and let each do what they want with their beds. Camden, on the other hand, wants a garden with pretty flowers in every garden bed. A match made in heaven – NOT.
Camden isn’t the most flattering character I’ve ever written, but he has his reasons, and once Grayson realises Camden uses conflict as a means to distract himself from other problems, he sees past the prickly surface. Plus, he’s figured out a way to get Cam to shut up. If he covers his mouth with his own, no loud sounds are disturbing the calm of the garden, at least not the sounds of Camden yelling at him.
Since it’s Friday today, I thought I’d share a kiss. #FridayKiss is a thing, right? If you read on, you’ll get to the first time Grayson figures out he can distract Camden from his fighting by using kisses.
Everything would’ve been perfect if Grayson Dawe hadn’t been forced to share his garden with Camden Hensley. Grayson has everything he needs in life – a job, friends, a house he loves, and a garden. He wants to grow enough vegetables to cover his needs over the summer, and he has a plan for how to achieve it.
Camden Hensley loves his garden. He loves beautiful flowers in perfect rows, sweet scents and buzzing bees, but his neighbor, Grayson, messes everything up. He mixes vegetables with flowers in the growing beds and is incapable of placing plants in straight lines. And when Cam pulls out the plants growing in the wrong place, Grayson snarls at him.
Grayson doesn’t want to fight with Camden, but he’s completely unreasonable. Cam only wants Grayson to stop creating chaos and to grow flowers instead of vegetables. Neither of them is willing to back down, and days in the garden usually end in shouting matches, at least until Grayson realizes he can shut Cam up by kissing him. But will they ever be able to agree about what plants should grow where?
Grayson looked into Camden’s eyes. Their height difference forced Cam to tilt his head to meet his gaze.
“I’m not angry. I’m sick of you belittling me.”
Camden’s mouth opened as if he was to say something, then he snapped it shut.
“Being a painter is a real job, you know? I like what I do, and I’m good at it. I never want to go back to school. I don’t want a job sitting behind a desk. I don’t want to be responsible for other people’s lives. I don’t want to be in a position where I have to make a decision that will decide what their life will look like.” He didn’t want to remind Cam about the boy in the hospital, but Grayson never wanted to be in such a position.
“A paint bucket doesn’t have feelings. If a client dislikes the color, we can always pick a new one. We make things look better, we brighten rooms, add color and life, and at the end of the day I get to come home to this.” He gestured around the garden. “And no one is affected by the decisions I make.”
Camden frowned at him. “But don’t you want more out of life?”
“More of what?” He slid his hand a little lower on Cam’s back, spanning his fingers so they rested right above the swell of his ass.
Cam licked his lips. “More of a… challenge? Something that inspires you, makes you grow.”
“This garden inspires me. It’s challenging me.”
“But it’s not your job.”
Grayson took a deep breath and shook his head. “Society would come to a standstill if everyone were to become social workers, you realize that, right? Not everyone is meant to be making a career, some of us just have jobs.”
Cam grimaced. “But you could—”
“Live however I want without being worth any less than you are. My opinions still matter, my feelings are as important as yours, and no high school diploma will ever change that.”
“No, but it could give you opportunities.”
“To do what?”
Cam shifted his weight. “You could get a better-paid job, build more of a security.”
“I don’t need more money. I’m making about the same as you do, and I don’t have any student loans. I own my home, I don’t have debt, I’m happy. Why can’t you leave it at that?”
With a sigh, Camden looked out over the garden.
“Now, why do you want to fight? You want to be distracted?”
Camden glared at him. “I’m not the one fighting! You’re the one—” Grayson bent and cut him off with a kiss. Camden froze but put his hands on Grayson’s arms a second later. When Grayson teased the seam of his lips with his tongue, Cam opened for him and slid his hands up to his shoulders.
A small moan escaped as Cam dug his fingers into Grayson’s muscles.
Breaking the kiss, Cam glowered at him. “You’re so fucking annoying, Grayson.” He kissed him again, his fingers caressing his neck and teasing his hair.
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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