A Holiday Tradition

By Chrissy Munder

 

Paul Carpenter has his life all planned out. Or at least his father does. The right school, the right degree, the right job. Paul is on track, until a bus accident has him sitting out a coveted internship, babysitting, or being babysat, by a grandfather he barely remembers during his holiday stay in a Florida RV park. His father’s reasoning? How much temptation can Paul find around a bunch of senior citizens playing bingo? There’ll be nothing to distract him from his studies.

It’s hard to muster his holiday spirit when Paul is used to snow and cold, not sun, surf, and plastic flamingos in Santa hats. But then Paul meets Kevin Lombardo, who offers to show him some new holiday traditions. Suddenly Paul’s fast track hits a curve.

 

An Everyday Hero

By E.J. Russell

 

When Adam Tyler’s sister announced she was pregnant, Adam decided to move from Portland, Oregon, to Phoenix, Arizona, to fully embrace the uncle experience. However, he didn’t count on the move being delayed until three days before Christmas—and three days before his sister’s due date. And he definitely didn’t count on finding a scorpion in his bedroom. Cue the panicked calls to exterminators.

Garrett Strong doesn’t consider himself at all remarkable—his ex certainly didn’t think so—and Garrett’s pest-control business is circling the drain. Although Adam is his first new client in months, that isn’t the only reason Garrett goes above and beyond for him. He feels a real connection to the younger man and intends to do everything in his power to make sure Adam feels safe and welcome in Phoenix—venomous intruders notwithstanding.

 

Barbies and Beaches

By Asta Idonea

 

For the first time ever, Shane is not looking forward to the annual Boxing Day barbecue at Matty’s house. He recently divorced, none of his friends know what to say to him now, and Shane is tired of the pity and awkwardness. Things take a turn, however, when he meets Matty’s English cousin. Neil is struggling with the Australian heat, having left the UK after a bad breakup. When Shane suggests the two of them head to a secluded beach to cool off, the growing intimacy between them might make both reassess their current situation.

 

Boca Dreams

By Scudder James Jr

 

You can’t correct the past.

Or can you?

Stephen’s not proud of who he was back in boarding school—spoiled and a player. Now, at the holiday reunion ten years later, he has a chance to show his former classmates who he really is: out and proud, devoted to helping others, and partnered with Victor.

Stephen understands why Victor, who grew up in a poor and abusive household, hates the rich kids at the reunion, but his attitude is ruining everything. Luckily Stephen bumps into Aaron, a former grunge rocker who has also changed. Stephen never forgot their one steamy night together.

With the help of three very unusual personifications of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, can Stephen revisit his mistakes and find the happiness that’s eluded him?

 

Colina de Lavanda

By August Li

 

Lord protector of whores, thieves, sorcerers, and deviants.

Owning a parcel of land the railroad needs means Edward gets to run the border town around the station as he sees fit. What starts as a place to indulge his varied appetites becomes a haven to society’s castoffs, and if Edward encourages legends about its founder to flourish, well, he’s not so much a liar as a man who wants to protect all the cultures living in peace. Being mayor means folks might ignore his vices, but they also expect him to fix what goes wrong.

When a crushing heat wave and drought threaten not only the town’s diverse holiday celebrations but its very existence, Edward must turn to the one man he’d rather french kiss a timber rattler than face—the icily elegant Cantonese mage Edward walked out on but never stopped loving.

 

Death to Christmas Sweaters

By LE Franks

 

Chess and Benjamin are casual lovers, each hiding his devotion to the other and his wish for more. But Chess is a wealthy playboy who—Benjamin believes—will never settle down. And Chess is sure, with the way Benjamin keeps him at arm’s length, that he can’t be interested in getting serious.

They’re destined for a head-on collision as Chess plans for a holiday escape designed to send Benjamin’s ardor spiking like the temperatures in Los Angeles, while Benjamin desperately drags his feet, wanting to cool things down to protect his vulnerable heart. But when the ghosts of Chess’s Christmas past and Benjamin’s unwelcome present converge at LAX, it’s obvious other forces are about to take over.

Drawn into their respective family dramas at a joint gathering, will Chess and Benjamin finally take a stand for each other and the relationship they both want, or will the holiday finally take its toll?

 

Exit Through the Gift Shop

By Kim Fielding

 

Alex’s traditional family Christmas Compromise means spending the holiday at a second-rate theme park, Poseidon’s Planet, but Alex doesn’t mind. He enjoys the rides and the company of his family, and it’s a good break from his going-nowhere existence back in Indiana. Then he meets a certain sexy employee in a pirate costume, and Alex’s vacation gets even better. But thrill rides last only a short time, and sooner or later everyone has to return to real life. Alex long ago gave up on marrying a handsome prince—will he have to give up on his pirate as well?

 

Guess Who’s Coming to Karamu

By Cy Blanca

 

Grant Cary, a twenty-eight-year-old grad student, has let his Kwanzaa shopping go to the very last minute. In his rush to get home, he quite literally bumps into Will Sheritan, a fortysomething software developer, in the elevator. But luck favors (or curses) the adventurous, because their elevator shuts down due to a blackout. Grant and Will learn about each other’s pasts and find more than just a casual interest.

Will has never celebrated Kwanzaa, and he’s reluctant to enter into a relationship, but exploring a new tradition—with a new friend—might brighten his lonely holiday. And if Will accepts Grant’s invitation to join his family for the Karamu feast, Grant might get his Imani gift early.

 

Haste Ye Back

R. Quincy Cameron

 

The situation seems ideal: a month off work and a sweet deal to extend his stay in an unexpected paradise. Needless to say, Aaron is thrilled to snag an extra few days in Scotland after his work conference to soak up the magic of the country.

However, his plans to tourist his way around Edinburgh before his January 1st flight home are thwarted by a strange influx of people into the capital. Add in trains that don’t run on New Year’s, fireworks, first-footing, and running into the same gorgeous stranger as he exits every other shop, and Aaron really should have googled what “Hogmanay” was before he found himself whisked into the whirlwind of Scottish revelry and the impossible draw of that sexy stranger who tastes like scotch and, impossibly, already feels like the beginnings of home.

 

Hero for the Holidays

By Charles Payseur

 

Cody travels from Metro City to the Caribbean island lair of Dr. Devious to look after the place while the supervillain is in space for the holidays… and maybe to mend his broken heart. With Christmas fast approaching, Cody is desperate to avoid reminders of his recent disastrous breakup, and a few weeks of sun and relaxation sound perfect—until a drunk (but very cute) superhero crashes the party by literally crashing onto the beach. 

And that’s just the start of Cody’s problems—angry shark-men, mysterious lava creatures, and a malfunctioning AI all make his holiday getaway anything but relaxing. Amid the chaos of his adventures in lair-sitting, though, Cody might find just what he needs—a new chance at love.

 

Holiday Island

By A.D. Ellis

 

***No peacocks were harmed in the making of this story.

Rafa’s nautical skills are less than stellar. He’d rather be a full-time artist, but he has a duty to the family business and a fear of standing up to his father and brother.

Carpenter Lucas is determined to rebuild his business after a lover’s betrayal nearly destroyed it. But he runs into a snag when he misses the last boat to the job site.

Rafa offers to take him, but Rafa isn’t much of a sailor.

When they end up on the wrong island, fears for survival gradually give way to an appreciation of the beauty around them—and each other. Rafa insists a holiday miracle will save them, and he teases Lucas for being a Scrooge.

In the end, Rafa’s miracle might come from the last place he expects: inside himself.

 

Holidays Are Where Your Heart Is

By Bru Baker

 

Jared’s been all over the world as a traveling manny with Holiday Helpers, and the itch to put down roots is starting to eclipse his wanderlust—especially since his current family is a handful.

After culinary school, Wes did some wandering of his own, exploring Central America before settling as a resort chef in his mother’s homeland of Costa Rica, a place he loves and where he plans to stay. If he’s learned one thing, it’s to be wary of flings with vacationers. Still, he can’t stand to watch two little Swiss kids lose their belief in Saint Nicholas, so he’ll lend a hand to the manny assisting the family. It won’t be easy to recreate a traditional European Christmas in a tropical paradise.

Between a snowball fight on a sunny beach and sledding down an active volcano, Jared and Wes discover some renewed holiday magic of their own. Can they make it last a lifetime?

 

Make A Circle

By Elliot Joyce

 

Pagan punk musician Lucas is fully prepared to spend this Yule with the rest of the band and his beautiful bass guitar when Oliver, his boyfriend of almost a year, asks if he wants to join the rest of the Han family for their annual winter celebration. It comes as a shock since Ollie has gone to great lengths to keep the two apart, and Lucas always assumed he was the reason. Since they’re planning to be together long-term, Lucas can’t say no to meeting Ollie’s parents, but he better brush up on his manners and his Mandarin because this is going to be a holiday season like no other—and it has some surprises in store for both of them.

 

Miracle on Three Kings’ Day

By Beth Laycock

 

Levi’s family knows he needs to find a way out of his funk and be a part of the world again. His brother, Jesse, invites Levi to join him in sunny Spain for the holidays, but a delay at the airport finds Levi at Jesse’s home while his brother is stranded in Scotland. Luckily Alejandro—Alex—is on hand with a key, a friendly smile, and a willingness to keep Levi company. He might even manage to draw Levi out of his shell for some mutual flirting.

Levi surprises himself when he accepts an invitation to spend New Year’s Eve with Alex at Alex’s café, but is he ready for more when it means jumping back into life feetfirst? Besides, with an ocean between them and Alex hiding a part of his life that Levi isn’t sure he can handle, they’ll need their own Three Kings’ Day miracle to stay together.

 

Mosquitoes and Mistletoe

By Ren Holly

 

After Andrew’s boyfriend dumps him just before Christmas, he decides to take a job far, far away from city life. It’s a dishwashing job on a remote island off the coast of Georgia. Expecting sunshine, palm trees, and some quality alone time, Andrew is surprised to find alligators, mosquitoes, rattlesnakes, and Garrett—a devilishly handsome naturalist. Andrew desperately tries to resist Garrett’s charm, because a twice-broken heart before Christmas is just not an option. Besides, Andrew’s new friend Anna might already have a thing for Garrett.

But where do Garrett’s interests lie, and will Andrew find out before he’s surprised by a visit from his ex?

 

Once in a Lifetime

By Cassie Decker

 

All his life, astrophysicist Peter has dreamed of seeing the comet that last appeared on his birthday—and won’t be seen for another thirty-eight years. Since it could be his only chance, he travels to New Zealand. But his dream might be quashed after all when his rental car breaks down on the way to the observatory. He doesn’t even have a place to stay.

Fortunately a New Zealand native with a heart of gold offers assistance. But is kindness the only thing drawing the two men together?

Rangi can’t leave Peter stranded so close to Christmas, and his family has plenty of room—and love—to share. While Rangi is attracted to Peter, he’s seen too many of his friends get their hearts broken by tourists. Will they manage to see the comet on its decades-long journey across the sky… and take advantage of a rare opportunity that might never come again?

 

Purrfect Holiday

By Jana Denardo

 

Tony Gatti had his life planned: get his veterinarian license and go to work with his dad and uncle. Soon after achieving his goals, he learned the shadows and blurriness in his vision went beyond needing glasses. Retinitis pigmentosa is a genetic mutation with no cure. With his sight almost gone, he moves into his grandmother’s St. Augustine, Florida, home with his guide dog, Raven, to start life over. Nonna Concetta thinks she knows the perfect job for him. Her vet is looking for someone to destress the cats at a local rescue.

Javier didn’t plan to hire a cute former veterinarian to fill the role of cat cuddler, but Tony couldn’t be more perfect. Worried his attraction is inappropriate and knowing the holiday season always depresses him, Javier wonders if he should ask Tony out, or if he’d just be spreading the gloom to someone who already has enough of his own. But if he takes the plunge, could it turn out to be the best holiday ever? 

 

Santa On the Beach

By Crystel Greene

 

The sexy Santa and the virgin dad….

Single dad Mario, twenty-one, has finally won shared custody of his five-year-old son, Sammy. They’re spending Christmas at a Tenerife resort to celebrate. The children’s swimming instructor, Josie, is sexy and fun, and Mario can’t stop dreaming about him. But Mario has no clue how to talk to a hot guy.

With his suntan, Speedos, and rippling abs, Josie seems to be the typical jock. He’s super sweet too, and everyone loves him. But he only has eyes for the fire-eyed little dad who looks like his son’s older brother and won’t stop policing the swimming class.

Sammy would like to be a king in the hotel’s nativity play. But he’s too afraid to go anywhere without his dad. Mario would like a holiday romance with Josie, or even a little more, but between building his tech company and trying to do his part as Sammy’s father he has missed out on a lot and is too inexperienced to know where to begin.

Luckily Santa might have just the thing for everyone on his list….

 

Season to Shimmer

By Kim Katil

 

One morning close to the holidays, Nolan wakes up to two surprises: a distress call from his younger brother and a beautiful man in his bed. Nolan, an art gallery owner, has always been discreet about his sexuality, but when his baby brother plans to come out at the annual family gala, Nolan wants to have his back—and that means showing up with a man of his own on his arm. Nolan knows just the man for the job.

Skylar, who owns a karate studio in St. Augustine, can’t get his one-night stand out of his mind. When he runs into Nolan at his gallery he is more than happy to volunteer his services as arm candy. Out-and-proud himself with his striking blue/green hair, Skylar is all in. Their adventure means a fancy salon, family drama, lots of sex, a ninja hippo, and palm trees lit up in a very suggestive way. By the end of it, what started as a hookup might become much more.

 

Slow Summer Heat

By Renae Kaye

 

Geoffrey Saxon is in his forties, a bit plump, a lot fuzzy, and rather boring in bed—and thanks to a very public breakup, everyone in his street knows it. However, what they don’t know is that Geoffrey sometimes watches his hot young neighbor, Vaughn, in the pool. Vaughn has invited Geoffrey to join his pool parties, but Geoffrey knows it’s only pity.

As if things can’t get worse, Geoffrey’s air conditioner breaks during a heat wave in Western Australia—and just before Christmas. In search of some relief, he camps out in his backyard, where he also has a prime view of Vaughn swimming… naked. When Geoffrey’s injured falling from his spying post, Vaughn comes to his rescue and Geoffrey doesn’t think he can be more horrified.

But he could be in for a sweet holiday surprise. Is he ready to take the dive?

 

Summer Santa

By Ward Maia

 

Sam is a journalist struggling with the recent transfer to his magazine’s Brazilian office. He doesn’t speak the language and isn’t all that familiar with the customs. It also isn’t easy to make friends when you’re the new guy. Then there’s James, his friendly and gorgeous coworker, who is so out of Sam’s league, he knows he doesn’t stand any chance with the handsome Brazilian.

Just as Sam is preparing to spend Christmas away from his family, an unexpected surprise spins his lonely holiday plans around. Another unforeseen gift is James’s offer to show Sam some of the city’s holiday traditions. With his significant low self-esteem, Sam doesn’t know what to make of James’s offer and apparent interest. Can some last-minute decorations and an impromptu meal make Sam’s apartment feel more homely?

Maybe everything could come together in a wonderful way—if Sam can find the courage and confidence to accept all James wants to give.

 

That Turtle Story

By C.S. Poe

 

Nor O’Brien spends his days in sunny Key West caring for and rehabilitating sea turtles. He doesn’t need anything else in life, expect maybe a significant other to cuddle with after a long day. But recent heartbreak has left Nor salty, and he’s not in the mood for anything, Christmas included.

Then Eugene Montgomery walks into Turtle R&R, claiming to have found a clutch of eggs in distress. Nor is smitten with the tourist at first sight, and at the suggestion of his screwball colleagues, indulges in some no-strings-attached fun. Nor and Eugene are quick to get along, happily enjoy each other’s company, and take in the island’s unique holiday pleasures together.

But Nor would never leave his turtles, not for any man. So when his rebound fling turns into strong romantic feelings for Eugene, it’ll take a Christmas miracle to keep the two together forever in Key West.

 

The Faller

By Daniel de Lorne

 

Being caught with another man sends Charlie Young fleeing his family to the forests of southwestern Australia to scrape together steamer-passage to the big smoke of London. But life as a timber faller isn’t easy and it’s made worse when the men he works with are brash, bigoted, and often brutal. All except Jack Tapper, who’s the kind of gentle giant that sets Charlie’s heart racing.

While the other men head into town for Christmas, it’s just Charlie and Jack and acres of forest. But trees tell no tales and a few days alone is the perfect opportunity to indulge a bourgeoning passion. When the men return and find things not as they once were, Charlie and Jack have to make the hard decisions about whether to stay where they are or run for their lives.

 

The Last Birthday Party

By Mere Rain

 

Their favorite holiday is going away. Will it take their friendship with it?

Since 1989, the birthday of the Emperor of Japan has been celebrated on December 23rd. But this is the last year; the Emperor is abdicating, and next year there will be no holiday.

For twenty-year-old Akihito, the holiday has always been special. It’s his birthday, too, and a perfect excuse for spending the entire day celebrating across Tokyo with his life-long best friend, Kenji. But now that they will no longer get the day off and will soon face adult responsibilities, will they drift apart? Or if Akihito confesses the secret love he’s held in his heart for years, will their closeness be ruined? One thing is certain: nothing will be same by the end of the day.

 

The Legend of Gentleman John

By TJ Nichols

 

Banyn, a fae, escorts the souls of children to Magh Meall, but one Christmas, he comes for a lad who isn’t quite dead, and he breaks a rule rather than wait while John fights a battle he’ll ultimately lose. So begins a long-running affair that crosses the border between life and death, the human and fae realms, and even oceans to strange countries with different gods and rules.

John Rourke renounced a religion that had no place for him and returned to the old ways. Convicted of theft, he is sentenced to transportation and suffers brutal punishment—until he escapes to live on his own terms as a bushranger. When vengeance against his tormentor consumes him and threatens his life, John finds he has only one holiday wish—to see his fae lover one last time.

 

The Night Sky Festival

By S.A. Stovall

 

Photographer Zach is happy to pack up his gear and head to the Mojave Desert over the holidays. Ever since his ex-husband filed for divorce a day before Christmas, it’s safe to say this isn’t Zach’s favorite time of year.

Fortunately, he stumbles upon a town where the residents seem to agree. The good people of Baker would much rather celebrate the possibility of extraterrestrials as they dance under the stars in their unique “Night Sky Festival.” The locals are interesting, to say the least, and they want Zach to join them.

But is Zach ready to let go of his holiday bitterness? And if so, whose invitation should he accept: the cute cashier, the burly single dad, or the sexy fun-loving cop?

 

Too Hot for Santa

By Helena Stone

 

Jonah Walsh’s fledgling acting career in Dublin comes to an abrupt end when a video of him in a compromising position goes viral on social media. The offer of a part in a Christmas play in Sydney, Australia arrives at exactly the right time, although he isn’t sure about celebrating Christmas in the scorching heat. Nick Claseman isn’t happy that the actor he and his sister have hired will be occupying his granny flat. As for Jonah’s enthusiasm for Christmas, Nick doesn’t get it. He hasn’t decorated or celebrated in years.

When Jonah turns out to be anything but a stuck-up starlet with delusions of grandeur, and Nick proves he’s not usually grumpy and borderline hostile, the two men gravitate toward each other. Their attraction morphs into something more when Jonah reacquaints Nick with the pleasures of Christmas and Nick shows Jonah the beauty of Australia. But Jonah is only Down Under for a few months. It would take a Christmas miracle for them to have a future together.

 

Trapped in the Valley of the Kings

By Blue Jones

 

Rival archaeologists Will and Jude slept together a year ago, on the night of the Summer Solstice at a dig in Stonehenge. But they were both wearing masks, so Jude has no idea it was Will he slept with, and Will’s been harboring a powerful, one-sided crush ever since.

Now they’re in Egypt, competing to find the lost tomb of Queen Nefertiti. Jude falls through a crack in the cave floor, and when Will reluctantly climbs down to help him, they find themselves in Nefertiti’s tomb, surrounded by archaeological treasures—where they must spend Christmas stranded by a sandstorm.

Will a few sultry hours stripped almost bare from the heat and sharing a bottle of whiskey sort out who should get credit for the discovery—and the real reason for the tension between them?

 

Tulsi Vivah

By Anna Kaling

 

The festival of Tulsi Vivah ushers in the Hindu wedding season and tears away the love of Kristopher’s life. Three years of passion and tenderness are reduced to a shameful skeleton in the closet as Arjuna submits to the marriage his parents have arranged for him. His family has never even heard Kristopher’s name.

The festival, a ritualistic wedding between the holy basil plant, Tulsi, and her eternal lover, Vishnu, is as much of a play-act as Arjuna’s upcoming nuptials, but he believes the wedding will honor his parents and please Vishnu. So why is his Tulsi plant—whose leaves heal and bless the devout, who is Vishnu’s representative on earth—dying? Arjuna tends to her with all the care of a concerned parent, but it might take more than his devotion to save her. She might need Kris, with his clever green-fingers—and maybe a revived Tulsi can heal two hearts.

 

Twenty-Nine Hours to Eternity

By Elizabeth Noble

 

Being gay and pagan can make for a lonely holiday season, as Ian knows well. He’s used to celebrating alone. The last place he expects to meet a like-minded guy is at LAX during a twenty-nine-hour layover.

Ian’s never felt so comfortable or compatible with another man, even if there is an air of mystery to Race.

Race is no stranger to holiday isolation, and he decides they should seize the opportunity they’ve been given and observe the Saturnalia the way it was meant to be. A grand celebration ensues, where every moment is special and every meal a feast. The ancient traditions take on new meaning as the men find meaning in each other. But each of them has a destiny and for their paths to continue together, it’ll take a kind of magic that hasn’t been seen in centuries.

 

Warren’s Peace

By Emjay Haze

 

The holidays are a time for second chances.

Warren Blessing lost his wife (two years ago), and his kids decide he’s been alone too long. They send him on a holiday singles cruise so he can meet someone new.

On the flight from Chicago to Miami, he sits next to an attractive man, but when the flight’s over, he doesn’t think he’ll see him again.

Fletcher Hammond is a professional mystery shopper for vacation destinations and travel. After a split from his unfaithful fiancé, he’s embarking on a singles cruise. He meets a lovely gentleman on the flight, whose conversation and cocktails help Fletcher through his fear of takeoffs, but he doesn’t expect to see him again.

As if by fate, a meeting in the ship’s dining room renews their mutual attraction. But can they build a relationship with distance and baggage working against them? Or will they part ways when they return to port?