Title: After the Snow
Author: Lane Swift
Series: Michigan Seasons #2
Release Date: April 4th 2017
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
To be that perfect someone doesn’t mean you have to be perfect… Christmas is over, but Dale Hepburn is determined to show his new British love, Nick Harris, how much fun a Michigan winter can be, starting with outdoor ice skating lessons. His life would be perfect—if he wasn’t secretly trying to dig himself out of an avalanche of debt that he doesn’t want Nick to know about. After all, Nick believes Dale is reliable, sensible, and solvent. But while Dale works extra hours, and saves every spare cent, and hopes Nick never finds out about his past financial mistakes, unforeseen expenses keep piling on like Michigan’s unrelenting snow. And to make matters worse, there’s that little white lie Dale told Nick about having another teaching job lined up after the end of his current contract… An emotionally tense romance with a satisfying HFN ~54,000 words
I put the latch across the door and sat on the bed to undo my laces, eager to get my feet out of those stiff, patent rental shoes. Hours of socialising melted away in the ordered quiet of our room, and when I toed off my shoes it was a special kind of bliss to be able to wriggle my liberated toes.
Nick stood by the window, and I could see his reflection in the glass. With his hands stuffed in his trouser pockets, he seemed tense, like maybe he was already playing back the entire night in his head and analysing every word he’d said.
He had a way about him, my beautiful Nick. Sometimes he seemed so confident and in control, other times kind of innocent and bewildered, like he wasn’t quite sure how he’d got to wherever he was. Either way, he kept me enthralled.
I said, ‘A company like Lamplin isn’t going to risk its profits on someone who doesn’t cut it. If you get some small advantage in terms of being noticed because you’re a person of colour or because you’re gay, so what? What about all the advantages us cis white guys get every single day?’
‘I suppose. Anyway, there’s no point in worrying, is there? It’s not like I can change who I am.’
‘And hallelujah to that,’ I said, pulling off my socks.
Nick took off his jacket and hung it over the back of one of the chairs by the window, then draped his bow tie over his jacket. ‘The view is amazing.’
It sure was from where I was sitting. The bedside lamp illuminated his profile, and drew me to him like a moth to a flame.
We were on a high floor, with partial glimpses of the Detroit River and Windsor, Ontario on the opposite shore. Nick rested his forehead and hands against the glass, and I stepped in behind him, wrapping my arms around his waist. It was a clear, starry night and the city lights stretched on for miles, but the soft skin behind Nick’s ear interested me more. America had plenty of iconic cities, and if I was brutally honest, most of Detroit was rundown or derelict. A few shiny lights and the distant view were deceiving.
Nudging the shell of his ear with my nose, I kissed Nick, and his shiver rippled through me. ‘You should see the New York skyline.’
‘I’d like to.’ His breathing grew heavier as I pressed my chest to his back and ran my hands over his chest and stomach. ‘We could go together. What do you think?’
I’d only been to New York City once before, in my early twenties. Mostly, that weekend had consisted of drinking too much alcohol in a dive bar in Hell’s Kitchen. Fun at the time, but not what I would choose to do now.
‘Sounds like a good idea, after the snow.’
Over Christmas I’d decided that come the warmer weather I’d sell my pickup and get a small SUV. Maybe an Escape. If I released some cash, I could pay off one credit card, and maybe swing for a real vacation instead of packing and hauling boxes for Vinny.
Nick covered one of my hands with his, and pushed it down, down over smooth fabric and the hard bulge in the front of his trousers. His voice had the huskier pitch of arousal. ‘After the snow? When will that be?’
I squeezed his dick through the fabric, and he groaned.
‘I was thinking more along the lines of February. Sometime around Valentine’s Day.’
A month. Two measly pay cheques and no extra work. I’d never be able to scrape the funds together. My hand drifted, searching for an excuse, which in my present state of arousal was like trying to catch a football kicked into the stratosphere. The best I could come up with was: ‘It’ll be too cold in February.’
Nick retrieved my hand and put it back over his dick, where it belonged, at the same time as he ground his ass against my own aching erection. It was a dirty, offensive move, beautifully executed, topped off with a satisfied grunt and a gentle plea. ‘But I was hoping we’d be able to go ice skating together on one of the outdoor ice rinks. I should be able to make it around without causing any major damage by then.’
How could I refuse when he’d brought my fingertips to his soft, sweet mouth? The answer was simple. Because thirty thousand dollars of credit card debt—not to mention the money I owed Maggie and the bank—had me bound and chained.
Nick linked his arm through mine, and pointed in the direction of our next stop: the M&M’s store.
I wouldn’t have believed the crowds had I not seen them for myself. Times Square was sparse in comparison to the inside of the famed candy store. Seriously. All that fuss over chocolate.
‘I don’t really like the chocolate ones much.’ Nick breathlessly, but gently, elbowed his way past a group of idling children. ‘Becca does though. I’ll get her and Mike some. What about us? Peanut?’
If I could have taken off my woollen hat (and my scarf and my coat, and probably my sweater) without taking someone’s eye out with my elbow, I would have. Still, it was hard not to be amused, and enchanted. The kids in the store—and Nick—looked like they were having the time of their lives.
I said, ‘I’ll bet you can get the same amount of candy for half the price at Target.’
‘True, mon cher, but these are from the actual bona fide shop in New York.’ He repeated excitedly, ‘New York, New York. So don’t be a Debbie Downer and get filling.’
Shaking open a bag, Nick scanned the wall of tubes filled with every colour of M&M’s imaginable. If he’d been ten years old, I doubt he could have had any more fun than he was having right then. My heart felt full and light; my pleasure coming entirely from watching him.
He didn’t look hot. Somehow, he’d managed to unzip his jacket and stuff his hat into his coat pocket, and he had a pinkish glow of pure delight. My gaze travelled from his cheekbones, to his deft fingers, to his ass peeking out beneath his jacket as he leaned across for the pale blue tube. Nick, as usual, looked as cool as the candy he was scooping into his bag.
Thrilled and captivated; a rainbow of as many words as there were M&M’s colours sprang into my mind to describe how I felt about this man. Then he turned, looked at me, and smiled like I was the only person in that heaving cattle market of candy-lovers, and every single one of those words flew out of my head.
‘Okay?’ he said.
‘Yes. I was thinking though, you travel all over the world. I’m surprised battling hordes of people for a couple of bags of candy holds this much excitement for you.’
Nick sidestepped to let a woman with eight hundred shopping bags go past. ‘When I travel for work I get to see the inside of aeroplanes, airports, taxis, and hotels. Plus the offices, and the factories. I don’t usually get much time for doing the touristy thing.’
‘I never really thought of that.’
‘Mostly, I don’t mind.’ His expression was at the same time tender and serious. ‘Being here with you is what makes it worthwhile. We’re going to remember this trip for the rest of our lives.’ He shoved one of those little bags into my hand. ‘So. Peanuts. You choose the colours.’
Michigan Seasons Book One Title: More Than Christmas
Release Date: December 10th 2016
Genre: MM Contemporary Holiday Romance
Keeping life simple can be a complicated business.
High-flying young British executive, Nick Harris, knows exactly what he wants out of his two-year American assignment—a bigger salary, a promotion and some no-strings fun. How convenient then, that his gorgeous hunk of a next door neighbour, Dale Hepburn, is friendly, single and bisexual?
But Dale has had his fill of casual and he’s holding out for love that will last. Knowing that Nick’s stay in America is temporary, he welcomes him into his life as a friend; they train together in his garage gym, hang out and watch television, and dress up for the neighbourhood kids at Halloween.
Then the first snow falls, and with Christmas approaching and temperatures plummeting, Nick finds he increasingly yearns for the warmth of Dale’s arms—only he’s worried that pushing Dale for more heat in their relationship will land him outside in the cold.
Nick’s long-term future in America may not be certain, but if he wants a future with Dale, he must find a way to persuade him they can be more than Christmas.
A heartwarming romance with a satisfying HFN
Find More Than Christmas on Goodreads
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About the Author
Lane’s earliest attempts at fiction writing were sporadic, haphazard and utterly cringeworthy: a bit of maudlin poetry here, the odd short story there—and somewhere in between, half a dozen pages of a memoir that didn’t get beyond reminiscing over the untidy draw in her childhood kitchen.
Years and years later, after several career-changes, two children, and two international house moves, Lane arrived at a time and place in her life where she wanted to return to writing. Since then, it has become her passion; the one thing she wants to do for the rest of her life.
As far as reading goes, she enjoys many genres: science fiction, mystery, crimes, thrillers and horror. But there’s nothing she likes more than when those stories are driven by the power of true love. So, it was really no surprise that when she finally put her middle-aged fingers to the keyboard, she started writing romance.
Lane’s love stories feature diverse queer characters in the starring roles. She sometimes combines contemporary romance with mystery, suspense or paranormal, and always gives her heroes and heroines their hard-earned happy ending. She has books published with Less Than Three Press and Dreamspinner Press, as well as self-published titles.
Home is currently in Hampshire, on the south coast of England, and there are no plans to move for the foreseeable future. Eighteen house moves in the last twenty-five years is surely enough for anyone! And when she’s not writing or spending time with her family, Lane can often be found running on the local roads, trails and beaches.