Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank C. J. Anthony for stopping by today. Please give them a warm welcome.
Title: Falling for Santa Claus
Author: C. J. Anthony
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond
Release Date: 07/24/2016
When Jack Frost’s aunt dies and leaves him her house in the tiny town of Great Falls, Jack seizes the opportunity to escape the rat race of Chicago for the quaint village he loved as a child. On his first night he’s welcomed by a baseball bat and a trespassing warning from Nick St. James—longtime Great Falls resident and infamous curmudgeon.
Jack wants to give Nick the benefit of the doubt—he can’t deny his attraction to the big man—but after several run-ins with Nick’s grumpiness and closed-off heart, he’s ready to give up. Only after discovering the secret Nick’s been covering up for years does he vow to break through Nick’s walls to find the loving man hiding behind them.
Falling for Santa Claus, Guest Post and Giveaway
Hi, I’m C. J. Anthony and I’d like to thank Prism for hosting me today. I’m here to talk about my new novella with Dreamspinner Press, called Falling for Santa Claus…
record scratching noise Back up, wait…did I just say Santa Claus? But it’s July, you’re thinking. Santa Claus comes in December with all that cold and snow right? Not in July when it’s shorts and T-shirt weather and ice cream and sunshine and all the good stuff we look forward to all year, right? Well, yes, that’s true…but hey, there’s nothing wrong with a little Christmas in July!
This is the last stop on my blog tour. If you’ve been following along you got to find out more about the story, why I wrote it and also a little side story about what Jack, Nick and the other residents of Great Falls are up to this summer. If you want to go back and check out the all of the other blog visits, the links are at the end of this post. At the end of the tour, I’ll be choosing two winners from all the comments on all of the blogs (which means every time you comment on a different blog, you get another entry!) and they’ll receive a special Christmas in July gift from Santa himself. Please be sure to list your email address as a way to contact you.
So today is the last part, part three of an extra side story I wrote for this tour. It takes place in the summer, six months after the end of the book. (If you missed parts 1 & 2, you can find them at OhMyShelves and LoveBytes)
The day of the First Annual Great Falls Pride parade dawned bright and sunny. The temperatures had cooled down and it was a beautiful, perfect day.
Nick stepped outside and sighed heavily. He locked the door of his house and trudged down the sidewalk, heading toward the Parade. He could already see the rainbow flags from here. He’d watched the preparations the past few days and he had to admit he appreciated Mabel and Flo’s—and the whole town’s—enthusiasm. They had really been working hard to decorate the town and get everything together for the celebration. Local businesses were donating materials and food and many of the townspeople had come together and donated their time to help out. Unlike Nick, Jack thought the whole thing was a very sweet gesture from the town. He had attended Pride parades in Chicago when he was younger, and while it had been a few years since he’d last been to one, he remembered what it was like. While he had felt a happy camaraderie being around so many others in the LGBT community celebrating life and love, it wasn’t all rainbows and sunshine. There were always groups of protestors, with signs like “Die Fags!” “Sodomy is a Sin,” “Burn in Hell,” “Marriage equals Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve.” Horrible reminders that they were still hated by many. Nick, who didn’t like to bring attention to himself and had never really lived outside of Great Falls, did not realize how amazing it was to live in a town—a small town at that—where everyone who lived here accepted him without judgment or hatred.
Nick. Thinking of him made Jack sigh again. Nick had been scarce all week. He’d tried to talk to Nick several times, but Nick was not budging on his stance about the parade. And thanks to Mabel and Flo, he assumed Jack had some part in the whole idea, which had led to Jack spending every night that week in his own bed…alone. His balls were so blue they were practically frozen balls of ice.
There was still some time before the official start of the parade so Nick wandered through the town square. Booths had been set up for souvenirs and food and games. There were so many people…suddenly Nick stopped and turned around, taking the whole scene in. There were so many people. Too many people for the population of Great Falls. And too many…gays. And lesbians. There were men walking with men, holding hands or with their arms around each other. Women with women doing the same. There were families too—Two dads, one pushing a stroller and the other holding the hand of an adorable little girl. Two moms, each holding the hand of a small child. And the straight families of Great Falls that Jack knew so well were there as well, moms and dads and their kids. All of these couples and families—all of these people, gays and straights, decked out in rainbow shirts and LGBT-themed shirts, were smiling and laughing and chatting with each other. All of them just enjoying the beautiful day.
He saw Mabel and started toward her. “Mabel!” he called out loudly but she was already rushing off in the opposite direction, in such a hurry she never heard him.
“Excuse me, do you know Mabel?”
Jack turned to see a couple of men he didn’t recognize.
“Um, yes, I do.”
“Then you must live here? In Great Falls?”
“Yes, I do. I’m Jack.” He held his hand out and they each took a turn shaking his hand.
“I’m Brad,” the dark-haired man spoke, then gestured to the lighter-haired man next to him. “And this is my husband Greg.”
“Nice to meet you,” Jack said politely.
Brad spoke again. “We just want to thank you and your town for this Pride celebration, it really means a lot.”
“We drove over from Rutland, and brought my nephew, Tony” Greg paused and gestured toward a young teen standing in line at the food booth. “He’s just come out and it’s so wonderful to have a nearby Pride celebration to bring him to.”
“When we heard there was another town near us holding a Pride celebration, we had to come. I don’t think there has ever been one in this area of Vermont. We have to admit we were a little skeptical, but everyone we’ve met who lives here has just been so nice and welcoming. You have a great town here. And Mabel and Flo are a hoot!”
“Thank you,” Jack said, a bit in shock.
Brad held out his hand and he and Jack shook again. “It’s beautiful. Thanks again.”
“You’re welcome. Have a good time.” Jack responded. Greg and Brad smiled and walked over to join Greg’s nephew.
Jack spun around, taking in the scene before him with new eyes, understanding dawning. All of these people had come to Great Falls specifically for the Pride parade. To celebrate who they are because maybe they don’t always get to be so open in their own towns. They were thankful to have this celebration.
Smiling, Jack wandered back through the square toward Maple where the parade was going to start. He had a new sense of pride too, pride in his adopted town, for creating all of this.
“Oh there you are Jackie! Get your butt over here!” Mabel waved him over toward the small convertible car at the front of the line of parade cars. She had her clipboard in hand and her brow was furrowed and sweaty.
“There’s been no sign of Nick, so you may be our lone Grand Marshall. That no-good—”
Jack cut her off by wrapping her in a big hug. “Thank you,” he whispered in her ear.
She pulled away, looking more flushed than before, a shy smile on her face.
“I just walked the square and saw all of the people. And talked to a couple who drove here from Rutland just to come to a Pride festival.”
Her eyes lit up. “Isn’t it fantastic! We put the word out to every town in a 50-mile radius but I met a whole group of lesbians who drove three hours in an RV to come here! Here to our little old town of Great Falls! We’ve never had outsiders come to our festivals!” She was beaming. “We also got a lot of folks who responded and wanted to be a part of the parade!” She hooked her thumb behind her and Jack saw the rest of the parade lined up behind them—a couple of flatbeds and groups of people milling around ready to walk the parade. It was quite a mix of the LGBT rainbow. A group of Bears were on one of the flatbeds, there were six “Dykes on Bikes” as read their T-shirts, and there were even a couple drag queens.
Just then Jack caught a familiar sight walking up the sidewalk. He had a scowl on his face, but he was here.
Jack leaned over to Mabel. “Don’t freak, but it looks like your other Grand Marshall is here.”
She whirled around. “Holy crap!” Then she turned back to Jack, tapping his chest with her clipboard. “I’m going to let you deal with him.” She gestured to the car. “This is your car, Sam will drive you, all you two have to do is sit on the back and try to look happy okay? Okay.”
With that, she was off again. Coward, Jack thought, but then again she probably was right. He might be the best one to deal with Nick today.
As Nick stopped in front of him, Jack didn’t say a word, just raised an eyebrow and smirked. Nick’s response was a growl.
“Long time no-see,” Jack commented. “What made you decide to grace us with your presence today?”
Nick mumbled something.
“What’s that?” Jack had to ask.
Nick grimaced and leaned closer. “I knew you would show up and I didn’t want you stuck riding in this stupid parade by yourself.”
Jack smiled. From Nick, this was practically a declaration of love, and apology. Maybe it would mean he would finally get some action later.
“Hey boys! Happy Pride!” Herb walked up and waved a rainbow flag at them. Jack stared, open-mouthed. Herb, was wearing a chauffeur’s type leather cap, and a leather harness over his ample bare chest. His farmer’s tan underneath the leather harness was almost blinding.
“Herb, what in the hell are you wearing? Did Mabel and Flo put you up to that?” Nick growled.
Herb looked sheepish. “I Googled Pride parades to see what all the fuss was about and what to wear. It was either this or a dress, and that wasn’t happening.”
“Oh good God, Herb.” Nick rolled his eyes. “Go home and put some clothes on!”
Herb grinned broadly. “No time, now. The parade’s about to start and the bears invited me to ride on their truck!” He happily trotted off toward the Bear truck, eliciting a big cheer when he got there.
Nick was shaking his head, and Jack was clutching his stomach, trying to hold in his laughter.
“See, this is the kind of ridiculousness Mabel and Flo have started. He’s not even gay for pete’s sake!” Nick groused.
Jack took a breath, the laughter finally under control. “Well who knows, maybe the bears will turn him gay by the time the parade is over!”
Nick just grunted as he climbed onto the convertible. Jack climbed in next to him.
“Anyway, you haven’t even seen all of the “ridiculousness” Mabel and Flo have created,” Jack told Nick.
Nick just rubbed his hand over his face and groaned.
Jack said no more as the car took off, he just waited to see Nick’s reaction. It only took half a block before he saw Nick’s head come up and swivel around to see all the people lining the sidewalks waving rainbow flags and cheering.
“Am I seeing things or did the population of Great Falls suddenly get larger and…gayer?” Nick asked out of the side of his mouth.
“Word got out about the parade we were having. People have driven from all of our neighboring towns, even as far as three hours, to come participate and celebrate.”
He told Nick about meeting Brad and Greg and their nephew. “This means a lot to people, Nick. It’s important to them, and they are grateful to Great Falls. It might be hard for you to admit, but Mabel and Flo did a very good thing today.”
Nick’s continued facing forward, not acknowledging Nick’s words. Slowly though, he raised his hand and started waving to the crowds. Next, a small smile inched its way across his face.
They traveled another block, and were just entering the square when Nick finally spoke. “There are so many…” he whispered. “It’s…nice,” he said quietly.
And before he knew it, Jack felt a very large, very warm and familiar hand close over his. Nick was holding his hand…in public. For everyone to see. Jack looked over at Nick in happy shock. Nick turned just enough to wink at him, then focused his attention back to the crowd.
By now, they were at the middle of the square, and Jack, in a sudden, crazy burst of inspiration and love, let go of Nick’s hand, grasped the man’s face and planted a kiss on the his lips, right there, right in the middle of this huge crowd.
Nick’s eyes grew wide, and for one split second, Jack expected him to pull away. But after the shock wore off, Nick closed his eyes and his whole body relaxed into the kiss, even slipping Jack some tongue.
The whole crowd erupted in cheers and cat calls. Mabel elbowed Flo in the side excitedly as Flo clutched Mabel’s arm.
“See Flo! I told you!”
Flo wiped away a tear. “Oh they look so happy together!”
As the cheers died down, Jack pulled away from Nick, his lips tingling. “Please tell me we can go back to your house after this damn parade is over. My balls are so blue they’re iced over.”
Nick laughed evilly, and faced the crowd again. Sneaking his hand down behind Jack he grabbed Jack’s butt and squeezed it lustily. Jack sighed happily, as his balls slowly began to defrost.
At the end of the tour, I’ll be choosing two winners from all the comments on all of the blogs (which means every time you comment on a different blog, you get another entry!) and they’ll receive a special Christmas in July gift from Santa himself. Please be sure to list your email address as a way to contact you.
About the Author
C. J. Anthony started reading and writing at an early age. She attributes her love of reading and romance to her mother who not only taught her to read but also made countless trips to the library lugging piles of books home for her to read. She loved getting lost in the people and places and adventures she found in books. It wasn’t a far jump to start writing her own stories, early childhood tales about flower families and travelling to the moon with her best friend.
C. J. has always been a hopeless romantic, believing in true love and soul mates, and HEAs with a little humor and a little angst along the way–life is never perfect, after all, but everyone deserves a happy ending and someone there to catch them when they fall. Her favorite stories to read and write revolve around the idea of “opposites attract”—couples who start out as two people who couldn’t be more different from each other. They might appear to be the odd couple to the rest of the world, but to each other they are perfect, creating their own happy ever after with a little hard work and a whole lot of love.
Not surprisingly, C. J. is a big lover of Rom Coms—she’ll gladly take Julia Roberts standing in front of Hugh Grant asking him to love her, over car crashes and shoot-em up movies any day. She also watches way too much TV and every singing reality show there is. She loves music and musicians of all genres with the attitude that nothing is a guilty pleasure and all music has a purpose even if it is just to make you dance and laugh.
She spends most of her time juggling a day job and a commute and freelance design work on the side and falling asleep on her couch.
You can find C. J. at:
@C_J_Anthony on twitter
Follow the rest of the tour:
July 17 – MM Good Book Reviews
July 21 – Oh My Shelves
July 24 – Divine Magazine
July 24 – Love Bytes
July 25 – Bayou Book Junkie
July 28 – Dreamspinner Press Blog
July 29 – Prism Book Alliance
One random commenter with thoughtful, relevant comments will win a $25 gift certificate each month in 2016.
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