Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Advent Calendar Day 12

Happy Hanukkah (Chanukah)!

Today a poem and a picture. But first, fun facts about Hannukkah.


Chanukah Lights Tonight


 Steven Schneider

Our annual prairie Chanukah party— 
latkes, kugel, cherry blintzes. 
Friends arrive from nearby towns 
and dance the twist to “Chanukah Lights Tonight,” 
spin like a dreidel to a klezmer hit. 

The candles flicker in the window. 
Outside, ponderosa pines are tied in red bows. 
If you squint, 
the neighbors’ Christmas lights 
look like the Omaha skyline. 

The smell of oil is in the air. 
We drift off to childhood 
where we spent our gelt 
on baseball cards and matinees, 
cream sodas and potato knishes. 

No delis in our neighborhood, 
only the wind howling over the crushed corn stalks. 
Inside, we try to sweep the darkness out, 
waiting for the Messiah to knock, 
wanting to know if he can join the party.


by Nina Mikrukova licensed thru Shutterstock


Monday, December 11, 2017

Advent Calendar Day 11

Happy Holidays! We've got something especially warm and lovely for your Monday morning. My dear friend  Steve Leonard (who most of you already know if you read his wonderful Adrien English coda last year) has contributed another coda. And to all a Good Night, a peek at Kit Holmes and JX Moriarity from the Holmes & Moriarity series.

It's funny and touching and,er, NSW, so don't walk away from your computer. ;-)


And to All a Good Night!
 




I had just ended my call when the bathroom door opened and J.X. emerged in a billowing John Varvatos-scented cloud of steam. It made me think of those early 1980s MTV music videos; all that was missing here were strobe lights, a soundtrack, and a few doves. With his black hair towel-mussed and still damp, and a plush, pale green towel wrapped low on his lean, tanned hips, he flashed me a rakish smile as he slid over to where I was sitting and leaned in to give me a kiss.

“Just let me shave and the bathroom's all yours,” he said as he pulled away.

“Mmm,” I murmured, enjoying the taste of him on my lips as I reluctantly let him go. “I took a shower while you were at the gym so I just need to change.”

He looked down at the phone still in my hand. “Who were you talking to?”

“Oh,” I said absently as I set the phone down. “That was Adrien.”

“Yeah? How are he and Jake?” He was back in the bathroom, clearing a spot on the mirror with a hand towel.

“They're good. I told him about the books from Irving Butler.”

“Oh? And is he interested?”

“Very,” I replied. Irving Butler was a neighbor who’d passed away a few weeks ago, losing a long battle with cancer. He’d been a diehard Miss Butterwith fan and when he learned from my next door neighbor, Emmaline, that I’d moved in across the street, we struck up a friendship. I was very surprised and touched to learn he left me several books from his large collection.

“He was extremely jealous about the copy of ‘Known Homosexual’ but I told him I was going to surprise my friend Diane with it for her birthday. She’ll be thrilled.”

“I bet,” J.X. commented.

“They’re going to be in Sonoma in a couple of weeks. Adrien owns property outside of Basking and invited us to come down for a few days. I thought we’d go and bring the books with us.”

“I remember Jake talking about renovations the last time I spoke to him,” J.X. said between razor strokes.

“Yes, they finished about a month ago.”

“I've been to Basking before. It's a nice little town. I think you might like it.” 
Man, I look nice!


I watched him as he finished shaving and began to work on his hair. In a matter of seconds he had it artfully mussed, a look that usually took me upwards of ten minutes to achieve. As if he could sense me staring, he turned, his eyes finding mine. “What?”

“Nothing,” I said quickly, shaking my head.

“Kit?” He rinsed his hands and patted them dry. “What is it? You’re not nervous about tonight, are you?”

“What? Oh, no. It's nothing like that.”

“Then what is it?” He sat on the arm of the chair, his brown eyes warm and filled with concern. “Talk to me.”

“Sometimes I can't believe my good fortune, is all,” I said with a shrug, averting my eyes, suddenly self-conscious and not quite able to meet that penetrating gaze of his. It was as if he could see into my soul, and it was unnerving at times. Like now.

“Kit... silly.” He took my chin in the palm of his hand and turned my face to his. He was smiling like the big dope he is, eyes bright and shiny. Then he leaned down and took my mouth with his. “It’s my good fortune too, you know,” he whispered as he kissed me deeply.

That made me smile. Yes, it had been rough going at times, especially in the beginning, but I've truly never been happier than I’ve been this last year with J.X.

I was still thinking about that when he got up and went to his dresser, pulled out socks and underwear, and headed to the walk-in closet to finish dressing.

Nina, J.X.'s ex-wife, was having a Christmas Eve party at her house tonight and then tomorrow, as per family tradition, was the Big Family Dinner at his mother's house.

J.X.'s family was full of traditions and our calendar was filled with events and family get-togethers. There seemed to be a family gathering every couple of weekends and it was kind of nice, actually.

Large families can be difficult
I’d even finally managed to acquit myself from the spectacular crash and burn of 'that' Christmas – the Ghost of Christmas-Whatever-the-Hell-Was-I-Thinking – when I'd been sick and bailed in such an inglorious fashion that I still cringe whenever I think of it. But over the course of the past several holidays I'd been forgiven for that trespass, and J.X. and I had even been allowed to host Thanksgiving dinner this year, which had been a great success.

So, even if I did sometimes feel overwhelmed by the size and loudness of the Moriarity clan, they were, for all intents and purposes now, my family, and I never again wanted to do anything that reflected poorly on J.X.

Because I loved him.

Yeah, I really did love him.

“Which one, Kit?” J.X.’s voice broke my reverie and I looked up. He was standing next to my chair wearing nothing but a long-sleeved black Armani shirt – unbuttoned – and white briefs. He held up two ties but I barely noticed them because my eyes were riveted on the bulge in his underwear not two feet away. Directly at eye level. Talk about visions of sugarplums.

“Red or green?” he asked.

“Um, what?”

“Red or...” he broke off with a small chuckle and a sigh. “Kit. Honey. I’m up here.” I sheepishly – and very slowly, I’m not ashamed to add – dragged my gaze upward to find him grinning that crooked smile of his. There were laugh lines at the corners of his eyes and I felt my face redden. Damn, but he was sexy.

“Red or green,” he repeated, waving the ties with emphasis.

“Oh, uh... Green. Definitely green.”

He smiled again and as he turned to go back to the closet, looked over his shoulder and winked. “Keep that thought in mind for later, though,” he said huskily as he disappeared into the closet.

Forget later, I thought, as I rose from my chair and stalked after him, cornering him at the rack that held his shoes.

“Kit,” he gasped in surprise as I spun him around and pushed him against the shelves. “What are you doing?”

My thumb brushed his nipple as my hand slid slowly down his chest and over his abs, stopping
They are definitely going to be late
briefly at the waistband of his Calvins. “What do you think I'm doing,” I asked coyly, gently snapping the elastic.

He was flustered and blushing and I found it adorable. “Bu…but the party -”

“Isn’t for another hour,” I said, tweaking his nipple, which elicited another excited gasp. “And I think we can be late.”

“But...”

I grabbed his with both hands as I sank to my knees.

“Kit…” he rasped breathlessly, his fingers in my hair.

I continued what I was doing, smiling when I heard his head hit the shelves with a thunk.

“Oh, Kit!”

Merry Christmas to me!






Sunday, December 10, 2017

Advent Calendar Day 10

It wouldn't be the Advent Calendar if I didn't share at least one new cocktail recipe this holiday season.

A Dark 'n Stormy is apparently a tropical drink (it hails from Bermuda) but it was my cocktail of choice while in Montreal (and Toronto and Ottawa) and it really has a very festive, holiday zing to it. Plus, it couldn't be more simple to make.

Now the catch with a drink this simple is you need top shelf ingredients. Just sayin.


Dark 'n Stormy 


1 oz. DARK (not spicy) rum (Gosling's Black Seal Rum is recommended)
4 oz. ginger beer (Barrit's Ginger Beer was recommended)
a squirt of fresh lime juice (to taste, in other words) 
tall (high ball) glass

Fill glass with ice. Pour in the ginger beer and leave enough room for the rum. Add the rum. Squirt in some fresh lime juice. Stir gently. Garnish with a lime wedge.



Share your favorite holiday beverage recipe below (it doesn't have to be alcoholic) and I'll randomly pick ten people to receive their choice of one ebook from my backlist. 

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Friday, December 8, 2017

Advent Calendar Day 8: Missing Scene – The Monet Murders

This is not a coda. Instead, it's a missing scene from The Monet Murders (Book 2 in the Art of Murder series)


**Spoiler alert: this scene takes place after the dramatic events at Camden Castle—and before Jason gets back to Los Angeles.


“Where the hell did you learn to swim like that?” Sam asked. His voice sounded a little thick, a little indistinct. He was slightly stoned from the painkillers, and Jason smiled to himself. It wasn’t often he had Sam at any kind of disadvantage.

“I used to be a lifeguard. Remember?”

“I remember. That wasn’t…that was…” Sam tailed off, wincing. He cautiously touched the neat white bandage on his forehead.

It was about eight in the evening. They were in bed in a motel in Watertown, which sounded more promising than it was. No. Not true. After the afternoon they’d had, having a few quiet minutes with Sam safe and mostly unhurt, was all Jason could ask for—and more than he’d expected. After a cursory examination, Sam had, against medical advice—no surprise there--checked himself out of the hospital. Places to go and bad guys to catch. Although, and this had been a surprise, he had not fought too hard when Jason insisted he not head straight to Cape Vincent to join in the interrogation of Eric Greenleaf.

“Can I get you anything?” Jason asked. Sam looked pale, and lines of pain were etched around his eyes and mouth. All things considered, he looked great. A lot better than he would have had Greenleaf managed to blow his head off.

“Nah,” Sam muttered. “You being here is exactly what I need.”

Okay. That was definitely the pain meds talking. Jason smothered a grin.


Sam, must have heard something in his silence though, because he cocked a bloodshot eye and then put his hand on Jason’s shoulder, drawing him down. Jason settled his head on Sam’s bare chest, closing his eyes and listening to slow, heavy thump of Sam’s heart.

Thank God. Thank God. What if I’d been too slow? What if I hadn’t been able to find him? Thank God.

He said, “I had asthma when I was a kid. The doctors recommended swimming as a way to strengthen my lungs and just, I don’t know, build me up. So from that day on, my parents had me in the water and involved in every possible aquatic activity known to man or fish.” He shrugged. “And I outgrew it. The asthma, I mean. I love the water.”

“Activities known to man or fish, huh?” Sam dipped his head and kissed Jason’s eyebrow.

That was probably a miss, but Jason would take it. He would take every gesture Sam had to offer.
They were silent for a time. Jason thought Sam had probably drifted off again, but Sam said suddenly, “Did I even remember to thank you?”

“For what?”

Sam laughed and Jason realized he’d been close to dozing himself. He chuckled drowsily. “Oh that? You’re welcome. My pleasure.”

He did not say any time. He was afraid that there might be other times. In his heart, he knew there would be. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Advent Calendar Day 7

BOOO! Er, I mean BRRRR!!!


Or do I?

Happy Holidays! Today I'm giving away a hardcover copy of  Classic Ghost Stories: Spooky Tales to Read at Christmas to one randomly selected lucky reader.  (The book will not be available until after Christmas though, just so you know.)

I don't know about you, but I especially love spooky stories and vintage mysteries around the holidays. There's something peculiarly delightful about that weird blend of cozy and creepy.

To be eligible for this giveaway, share a real life spooky experience with us in the comment section below. It doesn't necessarily have to be your own experience, but you have to have got the story by word-of-mouth. And if it's a eerie story from around the holidays, even better!!!

And in the spirit of sharing spooky stories, here's a link to a three public domain ghost stories which you can read for free. A little something different for you coffee break (just don't walk home from work alone!) ;-)











Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Advent Calendar Day 6

Happy Holidays! It's already the 6th! Holy moly (no pun intended). Have you completed your holiday shopping? I am ALMOST finished, and that's kind of a record given the last few years.

Today's offering is especially entertaining. If you're not a member of my Goodreads group, you're probably unaware of the really fun--and absolutely unique--launch parties we have. One of more entertaining "games" is when members create haiku for the stories. They're clever, often funny, and usually right on point.

KC's and Ulrike's lovely gift to you this morning is no different.



Haiku for Petit Morts

by Ulrike and KC 


Slings and Arrows: 

Three pounds of chocolate
Off balance falling in love 
First stern - then tender







Critic's Choice:

Tree blocking the road
Bizarre things at Faust's mansion
Crispin, Rey, beware!




Just Desserts:

Chocolates vengeance filled
Melt against Tug's cheerfulness
Leaving Ridge perplexed




Other Peoples Weddings:

Accused of murder
When taking chocolate hostage
Sheriff Valentine



Sort of Stranger than Fiction:

Rashly spoken words
Extra virgin olive oil

Finally happy