When Greyson Hayes envisions the perfect first Christmas with Mica Cruz he sees twisted sheets, a bottle of wine and a roaring fire. What he doesn't see is a holiday spent with the uproarious Cruz family. Grey hasn't taken part in a family Christmas since the death of his parents. Despite his misgivings, he can't seem to form the word no when it comes to Mica. Mica knows that Grey's not a grinch. Hell, the man shares so much Christmas cheer during the holidays that he leaves no time to experience any for himself. Not this year. Mica plans to make a few changes, starting with a few wicked and whimsical gifts. He enlists the help of his co-workers at Firehouse Six. They band together and strive to provide Grey with the same joy he gives to everyone else--with five a.m. tree hunts, strategically placed mistletoe and Mica playing Santa's not-so-little helper. But while Mica is busy being nice, Grey has plenty of time to be naughty…
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Draven, please tell us about yourself and your writing.
Me? I'm not nearly as entertaining as the characters I write. I'm from the great northwest and I write best when the weather is a little on the stormy side. I am currently carrying on a dysfunctional relationship with coffee and insomnia. Both of my vices bow down to my writing though. All my stories are of the m/m persuasion but I vacillate between contemporary and paranormal sub genres.
What does your writing space look like?
My primary writing space is a comfy chair in front of my fireplace. I generally have a steaming cup of coffee on the table next to me and my laptop holding court in the center of the chaos.
Do you have a process for coming up with character names and book titles?
Generally I just pull names from people around me; the teller at the bank, checker at the grocery store, or the stripper…oh wait…uh…scratch that. The universe whispers it in my ear. ;)
Titles are more difficult because it is like someone telling you to impute the magic of a book into two to five words. Not just that, but words that will be intriguing enough to draw the reader in. With titles, I take key words from the story and try to arrange them until they align to create a window into the soul of my book.
Please tell us about your current work in progress.
My current work that was just released was part of my Firehouse Six series. The book that I'm working on now will be the third book in the Firehouse series. It is Simon's story and so far he seems to be a favorite of the readers.
Tell us something strange or interesting about yourself.
I once got dared to run out in the snow naked and make a snow angel. I did it. I've never felt so cold in my fucking life, but my snow angel had a great ass. :)
If you were stranded on a desert island, what three modern conveniences would you take with you?
I'd take a french press and hope the island had coffee beans. My laptop which will of course have a magical, endless supply of battery power. Oh and does internet access count? Cause I'd need that otherwise my editor and publisher would get a bit annoyed having to wait to receive my manuscripts in a bottle.
Favorite food? Gumbo.
Favorite color? Royal blue.
Favorite animal? Siberian husky.
Biggest pet peeve? Text speech.
Dream car? Silver RX8
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For Mica, there was nothing better than starting the day watching Grey saunter shirtless around the kitchen, preparing him breakfast. Grey’s only clothes were a pair of sweats that hung so low on his hips Mica couldn’t help but be amazed they didn’t slide off. Hell, that was what he anticipated happening.Such an event would truly be the beginning of a merry Christmas. Mica sat on a stool next to the island at the center of the room to continue his ogling.“Stop objectifying me,” Grey said before looking over his shoulder and smiling.“You like it,” Mica teased. The muscles of Grey’s back flexed each time he reached for a spice or stirred the eggs. His hair was wet from his shower and glistened with shades of gold and cinnamon in the overhead lighting.“I may like it, but you need to eat, and then I have to work. If you’re lucky, when your double shift is over, I’ll entertain those dirty thoughts I know you’re having.”“Oh, now that’s promising. How about we compromise for the moment? Drop your pants and bring on the food.” Mica leered comically at him. Grey’s face became an adorable shade of pink. He loved that even now Grey had his shy moments. There were so many things Grey did that made his life more complete, both at home and at work, because he was lucky enough to work and play with his lover. He’d met Grey when he’d made the best decision of his life and transferred over to Firehouse Six.It also didn’t hurt that the man was a fantastic cook. He pivoted to stir the scrambled eggs, and Mica moved to stand behind him. With a deep inhale he breathed in the intoxicating, spicy scent that always clung to Grey, and nuzzled his face against Grey’s neck. He wrapped his arms around him, tracing his fingers along Grey’s abdomen before pulling Grey fully back against him.“Are you sure you can’t fit me in before breakfast?” Mica whispered and nipped his ear playfully.The vibrations from Grey’s moan resulted in an answering hardening of Mica’s cock.“You are the worst tease,” Grey admonished.“And you’re so damn practical.”Grey shifted around in Mica’s arms and grinned. “That is one of the many things that you love about me.” He ran his fingers through the damp strands of Mica’s hair. “As it is, because of our shower time, I’m already going to be late.”Mica trapped Grey against the counter and gave in to the temptation of Grey’s soft lips. Grey’s hands tightened in his hair and drew him away.“Before you, I was always on time.”“I exist to create fun chaos in your life.” Mica wiggled his eyebrows.“I see evidence of the chaos,” Grey murmured with a pointed look. “Not just in my life either.”“No, we settled this.” Mica framed Grey’s face with his hands. “You always work over the holidays. This year you’re mine.”Grey sighed and looked to be gearing up for another long dialogue about how the guys depended on him to cover their shifts and how the holidays would be ruined if he didn’t.Mica pressed his fingertip to Grey’s lips. “I want you with me for the holidays. My family will love you, and you’ll have fun.”“Mica, I haven’t really enjoyed doing—”“Babe, we discussed this, and I know it isn’t your first choice of Christmas options, but we will still be back to do all the volunteer activities. I promise.” Mica brushed his thumb over Grey’s lips before leaning in for a soft kiss. “Besides, if you’re good and do this for me, then maybe I’ll do something fun for you.”“Is that right?”“Of course, I don’t know how it will compare to the little surprises you have in store. I saw the bag this morning.” He pulled back to meet Grey’s twinkling amber gaze.Grey shrugged. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he replied, his eyes wide with mock innocence. Any trace of annoyance seemed to vanish, and Mica hoped that was the last of it. Grey turned to finish scrambling the eggs that had begun to burn.“I call bullshit. I saw what was in that bag. Looked like something from that adult store down the road,” Mica confessed. The store sold all things erotic, from videos to sex toys.“Maybe it isn’t for you?” Grey countered.“It had better be for me.” Mica jokingly glared at Grey.“Have a smidgen of patience. Christmas is right around the corner.”Mica stepped away from Grey and put his hands on his hips. Grey rotated to face him. The man was too attractive for his own good. Every time Mica saw Grey, all he could think was how lucky he was they had been brought together. Of course, all his cock could think about was how quickly they could find a flat surface.“Fine, you win this time,” Mica said, eyes narrowed. “But I have high expectations for after my shift.”“I’ll be surprised if you don’t just fall asleep on me.” Grey laughed.Mica had to work a double, but not even that would keep him from slipping into bed with Grey and showing him how much he missed Grey on those long shifts. Ever since they had come out to the guys at work, they had tried to keep their interactions with each other professional. It was a little easier given they had all the time in the world to satisfy their frustrations outside of work.“When have I ever done that?” Mica asked.“There’s a first time for everything. Maybe I should take care of myself while you’re gone,” Grey threatened and slid his free hand down to rub his shaft through his pants, putting on a show for Mica.“Now who’s the tease?” Mica walked off toward their bedroom to get dressed before breakfast, and briefly glanced over his shoulder. “Payback is a bitch, babe.”“But so much fun.”* * * *The holiday season immersed Mica as he wandered around the mall with Simon, one of the men Mica worked with at Firehouse Six. The strong scents of cloves and nutmeg permeating the air carried along the melody of every Christmas song known to man. Santa bellowed a “Ho, ho, ho” when they made their way past his village. Children lined up around the plush red chair, herded by elves in their eagerness to see jolly old Saint Nick.“What exactly are we looking for?” Simon asked from beside him. He fairly bounced in his gait. The man never did anything at a slow pace.“I’m having a hard time picking out something for Grey,” Mica admitted.“If you want something for your lover, then shouldn’t we be at the adult store?” Simon grinned with a not-too-subtle thrusting of his hips.“Hardy har har. I already got that gift. I want to get him something more serious. More meaningful.” Mica sighed. For all the little bits of information Grey shared regarding his life, he remained closed off in other ways. They were still getting to know the minor quirks about each other. But with each moment shared, Mica fell even more in love with the quiet man.“Earth to Mica.” Simon’s hand swished in front of his face.“Shit, sorry. What were you saying?”“I wanted you to share with the class what you bought Grey at the naughty store. Please, please, please?” Simon vibrated with his enthusiasm. His moss-green eyes shone like they were lit from within.“No. If I let you peek into the bedroom games, soon you’ll want to come in to referee. I think not, my friend.” Mica emphatically shook his head.“Okay, but just know, my own thoughts about it are probably so much dirtier than what’s really happening.” Simon snickered and proceeded on ahead.Mica followed him into a popular clothing store. There was always hope he’d trip over what would inspire him. He’d already purchased a lot of gifts for Grey, but he hoped to give Grey everything he wanted for Christmas. That included a joyful holiday season. Mica didn’t want to be responsible for Grey being disappointed or regretting his decision to spend the holiday with Mica and his family.He finally shook himself out of his mental reflection and took a look around, nearly getting smacked in the face with a silk thong. He doubted the perfect item for Grey would be in the women’s lingerie section.It was quite awkward being surrounded by racks of teddies, panties, and cotton gowns. The ankle-length flowered frocks just wouldn’t look good on Grey’s frame, Mica thought, laughing to himself at the visual.“Oh, come on,” Simon cooed. “Grey would look so dreamy in these.”Mica picked up the pink panties Simon waved at him. “This isn’t really his color.”“They have them in green,” Simon offered.“That makes it so much better.” Mica rolled his eyes. Besides, he preferred Grey naked. “But I’m sure you could buy them for yourself.”“But wherever would I wear such a delicate piece of fabric?” Simon fluttered his lashes.“Not where, but for who.” Mica tilted his head and assessed Simon.Simon stared back at him while obviously attempting a blank expression.“Come on, now. I see the way you look at him.”“Him who?” Simon’s face reddened.“You know exactly the man I’m referring to,” Mica prodded. He escaped the women’s section and wandered over to the men’s clothes. How romantic was a shirt?“I don’t…” Simon hunched his shoulders. “Do you think he notices?”“I knew it.” Mica couldn’t stop the huge smile that spread across his face. “And no, I don’t think Michael knows.” Simon’s crush on the lieutenant at Firehouse Six remained under wraps between Grey and Mica. Truth be told, he’d seen Michael giving Simon some curious looks. Michael frequently made a point of poking fun at Simon, but never in a cruel way. If Mica dialed up Dr. Phil on the situation, he’d say the two men were playing a game of chicken regarding who would cave first. Except with Michael’s pride, even if Simon swerved before him, Simon might just run into a brick wall.“It’s ridiculous. I mean, look at me.” Simon gestured to his thin frame. “Someone like Michael would never be interested. He treats me like a kid anyway.”“Don’t sell yourself short. Maybe you have too little going on upstairs and too much downstairs.”Mica smirked. Although he wasn’t one hundred percent sure Michael was gay, he wouldn’t be surprised if Michael came out. Not long after Mica’s relationship with Grey came to light, Michael had made a point of pulling Mica into his office for a private chat. Michael had given him the number of a gay support group for firefighters, one that not even Mica had known about. Then Michael had gone on to explain that if Mica or Grey ever needed any advice on being openly gay in their profession, his door was always open. Through the whole conversation, Michael hadn’t out-and-out said I’m gay, but Mica’s gaydar had dinged like crazy.“Funny man,” Simon muttered.“Just remember, sometimes it’s what isn’t said that’s important. Besides, we’ll be losing you to the paramedics soon. Give him time to miss you.”“It’ll be odd not to work with you guys anymore, but working as a paramedic is more up my alley. I’ll still be helping people in a different capacity.” Simon shuffled through some hideous shirts on a rack, completely avoiding Mica’s comment about Michael.“True, but you’ll miss out on all the great food,” Mica joked.Simon theatrically put his hand to his chest. “Oh my Lord, I will waste away.”“You have no excess to lose. Just make sure to eat a box of doughnuts a day and come to visit us often,” Mica ordered.Simon chuckled and chose a bright orange dress shirt off the rack to pair with a pink tie. “Do you think he’d like this?”“Like it for what? Something to laugh at?” Mica stared at the glaring combination of colors. For a gay man, Simon had horrible fashion sense. Not that Mica was a pro or anything, but orange and pink? Really? “Or perhaps to direct traffic?”“You know, I’m sure we came here for you. Go forth and find something for Grey. I’m getting old standing next to you, and I actually have to go on shift in about two hours.”“Don’t get all snarky on me,” Mica said with a shake of his head. Scanning the store, he meandered past Simon to the jewelry section. He perused the selection of watches, the masculine bracelets, and paused at the rings.“Really?” Simon asked from behind him.Mica ignored him and hunched down to get a closer look at a simple band with what appeared to be titanium lines of color along the surface.“Can I help you with anything?” A smiling saleswoman approached and stopped to face him over the glass counter. Without waiting for his response, she pulled out the tray of rings and set it in front of him.“This is a special collection of platinum with inlaid titanium. We just got them in, and already they’ve become one of our most popular items.” The sugary sweetness of her voice belied the sincerity of her words.Mica couldn’t care less about her sales pitch. The ring beamed back at him, and in a flash he could see the precious metal contrasting with the tan skin of Grey’s strong finger. Was it too soon to take such a big step? He felt no panic or fear well up. His mother had told him that once you know, you know.“Really they are quite a unique find. So masculine and—”“You can stop now. I’m sold.” He pointed to the band he wanted. She sized it based on his hand and placed it carefully in a box.The heat of Simon’s gaze burned its way through Mica’s shirt. It was a private event for the man to have been a part of, but the group of men at the fire department had become a second family. Mica didn’t need to be concerned regarding Simon gossiping about his purchase.When the woman finished ringing up Grey’s gift, he pivoted to face Simon. The only reaction he got was a small smile from Simon and a subtle nod. He didn’t need the approval, but it felt good nonetheless. This man had known Grey longer than Mica had, and Simon’s acceptance produced a certain level of comfort.“Just don’t go all cheesy, dude.” Simon bumped his shoulder against Mica’s. “That doesn’t seem to be Grey’s style, you know? Simple is the way to go.”“I’ll keep that in mind.” Mica started to move away from the jewelry counter, only to be stopped by Simon pointing out a tray of men’s bracelets.Pink to red gravitated up Simon’s face all the way to the tips of his ears. Mica suppressed the urge to smile when Simon picked out and bought a bracelet that was a combination of titanium and leather.With both of them holding their purchases, Mica said, “I think he’ll like it.”“If I can manage the cojones to give it to him,” Simon muttered. “It wouldn’t be the first gift to be left languishing in my closet.”A twinge of surprise went through Mica. He knew Simon had a crush on Michael, but not for that long.“Like a Band-Aid, man. Just like a Band-Aid.” Mica put his hand on Simon’s shoulder and squeezed. “You never know.”“Sometimes being in the dark is better,” Simon whispered so low Mica barely heard the words.
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Draven St. James is a born and raised Oregonian. She has travelled extensively in search of mischief and mayhem to fill her books. Her ventures have been quite successful in inspiring a wealth of stories. Of course at the end of the day, coffee within reach, laptop at the ready is where she finds her peace.
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