Today we have Grant C. Holland and
Love for Christmas
Sometimes love needs a little extra nudge from the holidays.Both Les and and Sly are still hurting from recent breakups and they vow to avoid romantic entanglements for the foreseeable future, Unknown to each other, they set out from Phoenix, Arizona on parallel holiday road trips to reach Chicago by Christmas Eve.Good-natured happy-go-lucky Les is great at friendships and a failure at love relationships. He relocated to Phoenix to stick by his best friends and immediately jumped into another painful dating situation that ended in a parking lot Christmas tree market. Sly is eager to leave one of the worst years of his life behind. The end of a two-year romance and the death of his stepfather cast a cloud of gloom over his December. He’s determined to have a better Christmas with his grieving mom in Chicago.By the time Les and Sly unexpectedly cross paths for the third time in their journey, they suspect it just might be more than coincidence. With the help of Christmas carols, Cadillac Ranch, burgers on the road, lots of cookies, and Santa Claus himself, Les and Sly find their happily ever after just in time for Christmas morning.Les is the best friend of Jensen, one of the main characters in the novel Love Next Door, but this Christmas tale can be easily read as a standalone story.
How the Book Came About
This is my first holiday novella. I knew that I wanted to write one, but I wasn’t sure where I wanted to start. When so many of my readers asked for a story about Les, I knew that was where I needed to start.
At the end of Love Next Door, the key characters in the novel all relocate
from the Midwest to Phoenix, Arizona. I originally planned to write a story about the holiday in the desert southwest, but I knew that Les needed to find a way to return to the Midwest for his Christmas. At least, that’s how I would feel. He also needed to fall in love because he failed so miserably in earlier relationships.
I love road trips, and from childhood, I remembered how if you traveled a common route, you might run into the same people more than once along the way. That’s what happens between Les and Sly. You’ll also recognize that I love Christmas. There’s a lot of the holiday in this book, Christmas carols, cookies, and even Santa himself. I also think if you’re going to be in the city, Chicago is one of the most beautiful cities in the world at Christmas.
Les stood at one corner of the check-in desk snacking on a chocolate chip cookie and bending the hotel clerk’s ear about some situation in the past. I tried to think of something to say that could appropriately address the coincidence. The word, “Hi,” felt so inadequate.
Before I could speak, Les recognized me. He nearly choked on his cookie and coughed while pounding the desk with his right hand. I said, “I’d like a room for the night.”
While Les struggled to regain his composure, the woman at the desk smiled and shook her head. “I’m so sorry, Sir. I checked a customer into our last room only fifteen minutes ago. I know that one of our properties on the east side of the city still has rooms available. Can I call ahead for you?”
Les listened and then tried to speak. He couldn’t stop himself from coughing. I looked at him with some alarm, but then I heard a low wheeze and a long intake of breath. He choked out, “Don’t go!”
I turned to the desk clerk for help. “Could you get this man some water?”
I knew from past first aid training that the Heimlich wasn’t called for since Les could choke out words. He was breathing, and he wasn’t turning blue. The clerk acted quickly and filled a paper cup from a water cooler in the back corner of the reception area.
Les gulped it down and blurted out, “Oh, holy shit!” Two seconds later his face turned a bright shade of pink, and he uttered, “Oops.”
“It’s quite alright. I didn’t mean to make you choke, and I don’t want to intrude. The east end of the city isn’t far. I’ll have a head start on the drive in the morning.”
Les waved a hand, coughed, and said, “No, I insist. I’ll give you a warning, though. I watch any cheesy Christmas stuff on the TV that I can find.”
“That awful version of The Little Drummer Boy?”
“Well…”The clerk chimed in, “We all have our limits. Can I toss in a comment here?”
I said, “Please do.”
She stretched across the desk and cupped her right hand gesturing for us to come closer. I leaned in, and Les joined me. He was close enough that I wanted to reach out and touch the whiskers on his cheek. The clerk said, “I know I shouldn’t say it because it would mean one less reservation for the company, but I think the two of you are a perfect match. It’s the holidays. Take a chance. We’ve got couches in the lobby if something goes horribly wrong.”
Les grinned from ear to ear. “See, she’s on my side. Listen to her.”
Grant C. Holland lives in the upper Midwest, and he’s devoted to small-town stories and men who have their hearts firmly rooted in the country’s heartland. He grew up in a small Midwestern town much like those in his stories, and he has a special love for the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. You can most often find Grant settled in a coffee shop with tea in hand letting his muse lend a guiding hand to developing his stories of gay romance.
Don’t forget the giveaway…. For a signed paperback of Cupid’s Christmas Arrow, a $10 Amazon giftcard, & an eBook of Frostbite Christmas to one winner!