Hello, everyone! Thank you, lovely Addison, for allowing me back on the blog 🥰
Have you prepared everything for the holidays? I’m feeling lost this year and don’t really know what to do. My mother-in-law passed away in September, and my mother in November, so Christmas this year won’t be anything like previous years. To top it off, my husband is working.
He’s military, so when he’s working, he’s away for several days in a row, and he’s leaving on the 23rd and will be back on the 26th. Sigh. I plan to read, eat chocolate, and watch movies with the kids. My goal is cosy.
If you too plan to read over the holidays, I have something for you!
If you’ve read anything by me before, you know I write stories for different holidays – the silly kind of holidays. This month’s story, Willow Road, I wrote for Crossword Puzzle Day, which is today.
Do you like to solve crossword puzzles? I can’t say I do. Crosswords make me think of my mother, though. Not that she solved them often, but if she was gonna have time off she often bought one of those crossword puzzle magazines. In the summers, we used to lay on the beach and solve them together, and then we’d send it in since there often was a prize you could win. I think we won a hair dryer once 😁
In Willow Road, Jeremiah solves the crossword in the newspaper every day. He is human, and shifters are ruling the world. There are no humans in any top positions in society, and the human schools don’t have the means shifter schools do. Jeremiah was a smart kid, so his dad did what he could to get Jeremiah into a shifter school, and somehow he managed.
What should’ve been a great opportunity turned into a nightmare. Jeremiah was bullied, and anxiety has made it so he never leaves his house now as an adult. The bullying keeps going. Not in the way it did when he was in school, but someone is putting ads right next to the crossword puzzle in the paper, encouraging people to ring Jeremiah’s doorbell.
Zeeb is a dominant wolf shifter and the new chief of police. When he learns about the ads, he’s furious. He won’t tolerate anyone in his village harassing some poor soul, human or not. When he goes to talk to Jeremiah, he realises Jeremiah is his mate, but he can’t have a human mate. Luckily, Jeremiah is oblivious.
Zeeb is sure he can keep himself from revealing Jeremiah is his mate, but now more than ever, he is determined to get to the bottom of the harassment. He will not stand for his mate being bullied, and what he learns does not make him happy.
Are you aware JMS Books is having an advent calendar? Every day, one book is given away, and it just so happens that behind door number 21 you will find Willow Road.
It’s free today and today only, so if you’re in the mood for an interspecies, fated mates novella, hop on over there and grab it!
Jeremiah Pace hasn’t left his house in thirteen years. He doesn’t trust anyone, least of all shifters. School was a nightmare, and despite never interacting with anyone in the village, the bullying continues in his adult life. Someone is putting ads in the paper, encouraging people to drop by his house for one service or other, but Jeremiah never opens his door.
Zeeb Hemming is a lone wolf and the new chief of police. He’s only been in Stoneshade for six weeks when he learns about the ads and goes to knock on Jeremiah’s door. Not because of what today’s ad said, but to get to the bottom of what’s going on. Human or not, Jeremiah deserves to live life in peace. The moment Zeeb nears Jeremiah’s house, he knows he’s his mate. But he can’t have a human mate.
Jeremiah pleads with Zeeb not to stir anything up. Yes, the ads are bad, but things can always get worse. Zeeb is furious someone is mistreating his mate and is willing to skin anyone who has any connection to the ads alive. But how is he to convince Jeremiah to trust him when he talks to Zeeb through a gap in the window instead of opening the door to his house?
Jeremiah’s hands shook as he turned the page to the crossword in the newspaper. He did his best not to look at the ads. Normally, there weren’t ads two days in a row. Sometimes it went weeks between them, though lately there had been several each week. Maybe whoever wrote them was bored in the winter months.
He grabbed a pen and focused on the crossword. Nothing calmed his nerves as much as trying to figure out the clues. Where L.A. is, six down, three letters. Jeremiah scrawled in the answer and blew out a breath. His heart found a steady rhythm that didn’t threaten to pound a hole in his ribcage.
Brisk pace, four letters. Jeremiah drummed the pen against the table and yelped when there was a knock on the door. Everything froze, including his breath. It was more of a bang than a knock.
He scanned the ads. The walls of the kitchen closed in as he spotted the ad right in the middle of the lower half of the page. Committed sub looking for Dom. Loves role play. Please, be my carpenter and ring my doorbell. Willow Road 1. I’m waiting for you.
Doorbell. He’d unplugged his doorbell a long time ago. This carpenter knocked, though. Fuck. He slipped off the chair, down on the floor, and hugged his knees to his chest. If they couldn’t see him, they might go away. His door was locked, and he hadn’t removed the dresser from in front of the patio door.
They couldn’t get to him.
“Jeremiah? Are you in there?”
They knew his name? It wasn’t a secret. If anyone would Google Willow Road 1, his name would come up.
“Jeremiah?” The man knocked again. “I’m from the police. I only want a quick word.”
The police? Humans weren’t allowed on the force, which meant the man rapping on his door was a shifter. Jeremiah bit his lip. He didn’t want to be near a shifter ever again.
“Jeremiah?” His voice softened. “Can you please come to the window? You don’t have to open the door.”
Jeremiah stared at the kitchen wall. Come to the window? No one had ever asked him to come to the window, but then again, apart from Wilson delivering the groceries, only those who’d seen the ads ever came.
Slowly, Jeremiah got to his feet. He crept forward, one step at a time. His shoulder brushed against the wall as he walked through the small rectangular room the real estate agent had called the dining room, but Jeremiah had filled with bookshelves. Calling it a library was a bit too pompous in his mind, but he had floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, two easy chairs, and a round coffee table. It was cozy. His favorite room. The windows faced the east side of the garden where there was an old guest house. It was in need of renovation. Jeremiah hardly dared to go inside for fear of it falling down on him, but the previous owner had turned the bottom floor into a woodshop. On the upper floor, there was a bedroom and a bathroom, though the sink was cracked and he would never dare to use the toilet. With some TLC, it could be lovely. Jeremiah didn’t have the skill, the money, or the energy, though.
His legs turned into jelly when he stepped through the doorway into the hallway. He lingered by the stairs to the upper floor for a few seconds, not wanting to take the final steps to bring him up to the bow window facing the street.
With a deep breath, he slid forward. Below the window was a dark-haired man. He was tall and muscular and despite there being glass between them, it was as if Jeremiah could feel the crackling energy around him. Alpha. He gulped down a breath. Shifters were more or less dominant—all of them were more dominant than humans, but there were different levels among them. Jeremiah didn’t doubt for a second that he was staring at someone who was more dominant than most.
The man’s head snapped up, and his eyes shifted into a light yellow, stealing Jeremiah’s ability to breathe.
He motioned at the window. “Can you crack it open, so I don’t have to shout?”
Jeremiah stood frozen, trapped in the man’s gaze.
“Can you open the window?” He held up his fingers, showing an inch between his thumb and forefinger. “A little is enough.”
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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