✨ Guest Post ✨
Hello, everyone! Thank you, Addison, for allowing me back on the blog! I have a new book out, The Birthday Bear, and it celebrates Have a Party with Your Bear Day.
If you know me, you know that all my stories are written for certain days, and when I cleared my list of deadlines with my publisher at the beginning of this year, this was the only story I didn’t have a plan for. I threw it in because I figured even without a solid idea, I could write something about a party and a bear.
The closer we came to the day when I needed to get started writing, the more the ideas started spinning in my head, and soon I had a grumpy bear who met his mate a year ago. But his mate has some trauma to work through and doesn’t have a clue there are shifters, so our bear is hiding in the kitchen of his bakery, waiting for the day they can be together.
Our bear is named Gabe, and he’s a silent guy, big and broody. Then we have Riley, who got out of a bad relationship a year ago, and on the night he left his ex, he stumbled into Callan’s, the bakery Gabe owns.
Gabe’s sleuth has taken care of Riley ever since, but he doesn’t know they’re shifters. This is very much a found family kind of story. They’re five shifters living together in a big house, and their goal is to make Riley part of the sleuth, in due time.
While they’re waiting for Riley to find his feet again, they’re working in the bakery, and Riley is working at the local library. He’s a bit obsessed with romance books and tries to give everyone he meets book recommendations 😄
But since we’re celebrating Have a Party with Your Bear Day, we have to have a party, right? Gabe doesn’t do parties, and neither does Riley, but the others are sneaking a little birthday celebration on them, which you can read about in the excerpt below!
If you make it to the end of the excerpt, you’ll read about pizza threats – one of the guys is threatening to order a veggie pizza for Riley. Remember that they’re shifters, and they might like cakes, but they also like meat. Riley tells him it’s no threat. If you want to threat someone with pizza, you should use goat cheese pizza.
I know the topic of goat cheese, on pizzas or off them, can be provoking for some people (not to mention the debate about to pineapple or not to pineapple 😆) but there’s a reason I included it.
Some months ago, I was at my sister’s for a few days, and one night we ordered pizza. She asked what I wanted, and we ordered from a pizzeria near where I used to live, so without checking the menu, I said I wanted one named honey that I’ve never seen anywhere else. It has goat cheese, walnuts, honey, and arugula/rocket.
I’m a picky eater, but I love goat cheese. My sister eats everything, and I mean that, there is nothing she doesn’t eat. When we sat there, she asked if she could have a slice of mine because she wasn’t sure she’d ever had goat cheese. I shrugged and offered her a piece, thinking surely, she’s had goat cheese at some point in her life.
She took one bite, and I swear, I believed everything she’d eaten would come back up again. I laughed so hard while the poor thing ran off to spit the bite out. Turns out there is one thing my darling sister doesn’t eat, and that’s goat cheese 😂 Hence my characters threating each other with goat cheese pizza.
As I mentioned above, this is a found family kind of story, it’s fated mates, hurt-comfort, and did I mention cakes and grumpy bears. Cakes.
The Birthday Bear
by Holly Day
Publisher: JMS Books, LLC
Genre: Paranormal Gay Romance
Length: Novel / 50,499 Words / 187 Pages
How do you tell your skittish human mate you’re a bear shifter?
For more than a year, Gabe Callan has known Riley Irving is his mate, but Riley isn’t ready. He stumbled into Gabe’s bakery one night after having left his abusive ex, and he’s still dealing with what he’s been through. Gabe knows he needs time, but he doesn’t know how much longer he can wait.
All Riley wants is a safe, slow, boring life. He doesn’t want any adventures other than those he reads about in romance novels. But maybe he’s read too many paranormal books because he’s imagining the guys at the bakery growling, and sometimes he believes he sees their eyes shift color. Maybe he’s going insane.
Gabe is scared to tell Riley the truth about what he is. If he waits too long, Riley will feel betrayed. If he tells him too soon, he will run away, and Gabe isn’t sure he can survive without Riley. How do you tell your skittish human mate you’re a bear shifter?
Gabe frowned as Rook walked into the bakery forty minutes before closing time. He dropped by now and then, but not this close to closing time. “All good?”
Rook nodded. His hair was mostly blue today. Gabe didn’t understand why he kept coloring it. Who the hell cared about hair color?
Gabe blinked at him. They took turns cooking, and their budget didn’t allow for takeout often. “Sure. Are we ordering?”
Rook nodded again and headed for a table with a phone in his hand. Raphael prepared a large latte before heading for the table, too. Gabe pushed at the swing door leading into the kitchen when the door to the bakery opened, and Riley stumbled inside. He didn’t normally come this late, either. He caught the swing door as it came back at him but made no effort to move.
“Riley.” Raphael took a step in his direction, which had Riley take one in the opposite. Gabe watched without moving a muscle. Raphael was great with Riley, and Gabe was nothing but grateful, though he wished it could’ve been he who got to talk to him instead.
“How did the meeting go?”
“Fucker didn’t taste the macarons. I left them at his desk, which I hugely regretted when I came home.”
Gabe glanced at Rook, who looked at Gabe. He took a step toward the display shelf and the macarons.
“Gabe will get you some now. Never fear.” Raphael chuckled.
“No need, sweetie.” Riley spoke loudly and glanced in Gabe’s direction as he held up a hand in a stop sign. Then he turned back to Raphael. “We’ve been through this. Macarons aren’t that great of a cookie.”
“Yet you regret leaving them behind.”
“Because he got something from me. Fucker.” Riley’s voice shook slightly, and Gabe feared this had little to do with macarons. Raphael looked over his shoulder at Gabe and gave a small nod. If he was to guess, it meant hot cocoa and cinnamon roll, but he wasn’t entirely sure. He got started on the cocoa as Raphael tried to get Riley to sit next to Rook.
“Oh, I don’t want to intrude. I’ll sit here.” He pulled out a chair and sat three tables away from Rook. Rook curled his hand around his latte, got up, and sat by Riley’s table. He pulled the chair out and sat by the corner, leaving as much room between them as he possibly could. Raphael did the same. He reached for a chair from a neighboring table and sat.
Riley gaped at them. “What are you doing?”
Gabe took hold of a plate and the tongs closest to the cinnamon rolls. He picked the most perfect of those left, grabbed the hot cocoa, and carried it over to Riley. Once he’d put the plate and mug in front of him, he too pulled up a chair and sat. Riley met his gaze for maybe the third time since he’d first walked in here, and Gabe’s breath caught. His. So beautiful.
“What’s going on?” Riley nervously looked between them.
“How did the meeting go?” Raphael’s tone was calm enough, but when Riley grimaced, he tensed.
“He said there were budget cuts and come January he can only keep either me or Hadley. Hadley is a librarian, so I said I understood. But then he wanted me to suck his cock and be grateful and call him sir. When I said I didn’t want to, he called me a cock-sucking slut, which is pretty contradicting, right? I mean, if I was, I would’ve—”
“He did what?” Gabe fought hard to control the growl.
“Oh my God, he spoke!” Riley looked at Raphael. “You said he was mute.”
Gabe glared at Raphael. He had told him what?
“Not mute. I said our mother dropped him on his head, and he’s been like that ever since.” Raphael gestured at Gabe, a grin tugging at the corner of his mouth.
“No…” Riley looked confused. “I’m pretty sure you said he doesn’t talk.”
“I talk.” For fuck’s sake.
“You’ve been around Gabe for a year, Riley. Think about it. Have you ever heard him speak?”
Riley shook his head.
“I didn’t say he was mute. I might have said he doesn’t talk, because—” Raphael gestured at him. Throughout the conversation, Rook was chuckling.
“A silent tortured hero, I hear you.” Riley placed a hand over his heart and nodded. “You’ll find your fair maiden one day, Gabe, I’m sure.”
Rook spluttered, and Gabe forced down a deep breath.
“And when you do, the words will be pouring out of you. She’ll heal your scarred soul and make you whole again.”
By now, Rook was trying hard not to lose his shit.
“Why don’t you stay, Riley? We’re having a party as soon as we’ve closed for the day.” Raphael glanced at the clock, as did Gabe—seventeen minutes left.
“Oh, no, I don’t do parties.”
“It’s Gabe’s birthday.”
“Is it?” Riley looked expectantly at Gabe, who shook his head.
“Not until next week, but he gets grumpy when we try to celebrate it, so we’re doing it tonight.”
Riley smiled. “I’ll get going then.” He made an effort to get up, but Gabe pushed the plate with the cinnamon roll toward him, and Riley’s gaze bounced between it and Gabe’s chest. Apparently, they’d stopped having eye contact again.
“Stay. It’ll only be us. And Laura and Quillian. We’ll order pizza, have a few drinks, and Gabe has baked a birthday cake.”
Gabe glared at Raphael. He had finished a birthday cake earlier because Raphael had told him someone had ordered one.
Quillian chose that moment to walk through the door, bags clinking with bottles, and Gabe groaned. There was a party? For real?
“What kind of pizza do you want, Riley?” Rook had his phone ready again. “I need to place the order. Laura will pick it up on the way over.”
“No, you don’t need—”
“If you don’t pick something, you’re getting veggie pizza with eggplants.”
Riley’s eyes widened. “Okay, sounds good.”
Rook groaned. “No, pizza is supposed to have meat. It was a threat.”
“Aww, honey, you need to work on your meanness. Goat cheese pizza, that’s a threat.” Riley’s hands flew through the air, and Rook grinned.
“I see.” Rook unlocked his phone. “So you’re serious about a veggie?”
Rook put the phone to his ear and got up. Soon he was rattling off their order.
About the Author
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.