Free Excerpt: Cowboy Christmas Miracle
This Friday the free excerpt I’m putting up is from the release of my new novel, Cowboy Christmas Miracle, in the Glendora Hill series. It’s 70,000 words in length, I set the entire story in a fictional town, Glendora Hill, in Texas Hill Country, and I wanted it to be more emotional than usual because the story involves a life and death issue with one character. It was hard to do because I wrote it in August during a heat wave. But this is the one that made the copy editor cry, so I’ve been told. As with future books in the Glendora Hill series this book is a stand alone, but this series will always be set in the same small Hill Country town and most of the characters will continue to return throughout the series.
You can find the book here, here (it’s on sale @$4.99 there), and here. It’s also up at most places where e-books are sold and I think readers have their own preferences nowadays so I just provide links I think might be most popular. I know I shop at the same places for books.
Here’s the blurb:
In the little Texas Hill Country town of Glendora Hill, everyone decorates for the holidays as elaborately as they do for all seasons. Dr. Keith Elliot notices this his first night in town, and only moments after he also notices that his new neighbor, Judd, is the big strong cowboy of his dreams. But when Judd says something unthinkable to Keith after they make love for the first time, Keith throws him out and decides to focus on his new position at the Glendora Hill Medical Center and riding his new horse at a ranch outside of town. At the ranch, he meets Ben, another handsome young cowboy who just moved to town. Through a series of events between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve over which Keith has no control, he finds himself falling deeply love with two cowboys at the same time. Then Keith buys the old firehouse on Main Street, his new best friend and landlord, Sebastian, develops serious medical issues, and Keith’s love life becomes even more complicated. When Keith and his two cowboys finally admit they all love each other, will they ever find the peace they all seem to want so much? And will poor sweet Sebastian get the medical miracle he needs so Christmas in Glendora Hill won’t be ruined that year?
And this is an excerpt in raw form that hasn’t been published anywhere else but here. It’s from chapter ten, where the main character goes house hunting because he wants to put down roots in Glendora Hill, and, he wants something very unusual.
It was evident to Keith that Kelly Williams had no intention of walking from the real estate office all the way up to the north end of town to the firehouse in those six-inch stilettos. So after she picked up the keys to the firehouse from a peg board, he followed her out to the back parking lot where she led him to a massive old white Cadillac convertible with the top down.
As Kelly headed toward the driver’s side, he ran his palm along the windshield and glanced at the blue interior. “This is a great car,” he said. “It’s a 1963 Coupe De Ville, isn’t it?”
She opened the door and said, “It’s a ’64. It was my late husband’s. I have a newer one at home, but I prefer to drive this one in nice weather. The top doesn’t work anymore and I keep meaning to get it fixed.”
He sat down next to her and reached for the seatbelt. It was the old-fashioned kind, the type that only belted around the waist. “It’s in perfect condition.”
She started the engine and said, “It only has fifty thousand original miles, too.” Then she put it in gear, hit the gas, and they jerked out of the parking lot so fast a gust of wind hit Keith and blew his cowboy hat right into the backseat.
She drove so fast he didn’t bother to reach back for his hat until they reached the old firehouse. On the way, she waved at passersby, honked the horn, and barely missed one red light. Keith was amazed she could even see over the steering wheel. She’d held the top of the wheel with two hands and lifted her chin high. All the people they passed in town seemed to stop and step back when they saw her coming.
When she pulled the keys out of the ignition, she patted the steering wheel and said, “She still drives like new, doesn’t she?”
Keith reached for his hat in the backseat and took a quick breath. “Yes, she does, Kelly.” He was already thinking up an excuse so he could walk back to his truck.
Kelly grabbed the keys to the firehouse and opened the car door. “You’re not going to like what you see. But it’s better for you to know than wonder. Follow me.”
As they crossed the railroad tracks, Kelly pointed and said, “There hasn’t been a train through here in years. So at least that’s not an issue.”
But Keith wasn’t paying attention to the railroad tracks. The first thing he noticed was the property to the right of the building, and how deep it went in back. It reminded him of the trail he’d been on with Judd yesterday, with green rolling hills, live oaks, and clusters of other trees that looked as if they’d been planted there on purpose. Yet he knew it was all natural.
He also noticed there wasn’t a plant, tree, or shrub around the exterior of the building. The sidewalk leading to the front door was cracked and the grass had been neglected for so long anything that had overgrown had now matted into harsh clumps of brown. The building itself was red brick with white trim. The brick seemed to be in good shape, but the white trim was peeling everywhere.
Keith glanced up at the massive garage doors that had once housed fire engines. He looked above the doors and noticed a round seal set right below where the roof arched at the highest point. He saw the image of a cowboy on the seal, riding bareback on a horse up on two hind legs in a dramatic way. Old buildings like this usually had flat roofs; this one had an A-frame, which he liked. He pointed to the round seal and asked, “What’s that?”
Kelly looked up from the door and squinted. “I think that’s the old town seal,” she said. “It was designed by some famous artist, I think. But I can’t remember. I think his last name went something like Lexington.”
Keith looked up again and said, “That’s an Arnold Lexington up there?” He’d been a fan of Lexington’s famous western artwork since he’d studied American fine art in college. Lexington was known for his vivid depictions of the Old West, Native Americans, and horses. Keith had never actually seen any of his work in person. That town seal had to be worth a small fortune itself.
“That’s the name,” Kelly said, as she pushed the old front door open. “But it’s not Arnold Lexington. It’s Ashley Lexington, Arnold’s cousin.”
He remembered reading about Ashley Lexington, too, who had never been as famous as his older cousin. His work wasn’t worth anything. But it didn’t matter to Keith. He wasn’t shopping for art. He was shopping for a home.
Kelly went inside first and Keith followed. He glanced at the front door and had a feeling there was solid oak beneath all those layers of white paint.
Kelly looked around and sighed aloud. “This is it. Not very impressive, I’m afraid.”
The floor was concrete, the walls exposed brick. The windows on the sides of the building were all tall and thin. The exposed ceiling was so high Keith couldn’t even begin to predict its measure. He took a deep breath and exhaled. “I’ve never seen anything more prefect.” It reminded him of a million-dollar loft in an old factory one of his friends in medical school had shared with someone in Chicago.
Kelly flung him a look and said, “Huh?”
She clearly didn’t get it. He smiled and said, “It’s perfect.”
“But the walls are just brick and the floors are concrete,” Kelly said.
“I know,” Keith said. “I can just see these floors stained and polished. And you can’t find brick walls like that anywhere. It’s the look I’ve always wanted all my life and never thought I’d find.”
As they walked through the rest of the building Keith kept seeing things he loved and talking about what he would do there. Kelly kept looking at him as if she was now afraid to be alone with him and shaking her head. Toward the back of the firehouse the ceiling became lower because there was a second floor back there where the firemen used to take naps. He couldn’t believe the iron circular staircase was still there, and intact. And when he saw the pole where the firemen used to slide down in emergencies from the second floor loft he almost started to cry. Nothing in the building had been touched, or renovated. There was even an old kitchen in the back that had the original gas stove and art deco refrigerator.
Kelly figured after he saw the kitchen he would turn around and want to leave. But he just smiled and said, “I would have to renovate it all. But I love the open concept and can you imagine the dinner parties I could have here?” Best of all, though he didn’t mention this aloud, because the asking price was so low he would still have room in his budget to do the renovations without going into huge debt.
Kelly snorted this time. “I can’t even imagine making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in this shit hole.”
This time Keith looked at her as if she’s lost her mind.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “But I just don’t get it.”
He laughed. “I know, but trust me. I know what I’m talking about. This place is a dream come true.”
“Yeah, well, wait until you see this, honey.”
Then she gestured to the right of the kitchen to a set of more old wooden doors that had been painted with layers of white paint. She opened one door, stepped to the side, and said, “I think I should have shown you this part of the dream first. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
Keith frowned and walked over to the doors. He looked at Kelly for a second, and then stepped into the room expecting to see something from a horror film. It was the only room closed off from the rest of the firehouse. Kelly seemed so repulsed by this room her lips twisted and she refused to actually look inside for any length of time. For a moment, he had a feeling she was getting ready to hold her nose.
But when he walked into the room and he looked around, he pressed his palm to his chest and gasped. He held his breath for a moment and felt like pinching himself to make sure this was all real.
Kelly laughed and said, “Pretty awful, isn’t it? A real shit hole.”
He walked to the middle of the room and glanced all the way around. He wasn’t sure where to look first; he still couldn’t catch his breath. In one corner he saw a row of old white porcelain urinals, in another he saw stalls with toilets and doors that only went partially down to the beige tiled floor. The entire room had been tiled in large beige rectangles, from floor to ceiling. There were six old sinks lined up along one wall, a couple of metal towel dispensers, and all the original fixtures were still in place. He took a deep breath and found it even smelled like a men’s room. If there was such a thing as a gay God, he’d been looking down on Keith that afternoon.
But more than that, to the left of the urinals he found a step-down shower room that had been tiled with the same beige rectangles. There were three showerheads each on three walls and he couldn’t help imaging all those big strong naked firemen taking hot showers together. He grew so excited he turned around, lifted poor Kelly up, and spun her around. “I have to have this place. What do I have to do to get it?”
When he set her down she laughed and said, “You can’t be serious. Please tell me you’re joking.”
He could see she wasn’t offended when he picked her up. In fact, he had a feeling she’d liked it. “I’ve never been more serious in my life.”
She looked around and gestured to the urinals. “It’s a men’s room, dear God. There are filthy old urinals.” She spoke as if she were ready to gag and vomit.
He wanted to say, “It’s a dream come true.” But he smiled and said, “I can make this one of the best homes in town. Just tell me what I have to do next.” He knew she didn’t get it. He knew she never would get it. But he also knew when he told Ben and Sebastian about buying this place, and when he showed them the men’s room, they would get it. And more importantly, it felt like home. And he now he would have enough property to build a barn of his own and keep Zabar there instead of at the Marshall Ranch.
Kelly shrugged and said, “If you’re that serious, you put in an offer, give me a deposit, and I’ll present it to the town council. Then we see how they react and take it from there. But I have to warn you. They’ve turned down other offers because they want this building to remain commercial.”
He smiled at the urinals again and said, “I’ll do anything they want. I’ll even put it in writing. I’ll open a small bookshop on the first floor and use it as a tax write-off. Just help me get this place.”
Brian Boitano is Gay You Say
Get my smelling salts again.
In keeping with the latest trend, figure skater Brian Boitano just came out…”as gay.” That’s right “as gay.” Also in keeping with the trend, everyone who comes out now is doing it “as gay,” at least that’s how the mainstream media keeps referring to these disclosures. I’m really not trying to be snarky, or to take anything away from Boitano, but seriously. Was there ever any doubt?
“It is my desire to be defined by my achievements and my contributions,” Boitano said in a statement sent to The Huffington Post. “While I am proud to play a public role in representing the American Olympic Delegation as a former Olympic athlete, I have always reserved my private life for my family and friends and will continue to do so.”
“I am many things: a son, a brother, and uncle, a friend, an athlete, a cook, an author, and being gay is just one part of who I am,” he continued. “First and foremost I am an American athlete and I am proud to live in a country that encourages diversity, openness and tolerance. As an athlete, I hope we can remain focused on the Olympic spirit which celebrates achievement in sport by peoples of all nations.”
And now he’s gay.
Again, I really don’t want to sound snarky here. The coming out (“as gay”) process is different for everyone and when Boitano was at the height of his career it wasn’t the cool thing to do. But more important, it could have hurt his career back then. Even though he sounds a little cliche here I do know a lot of men who feel the same way he feels and I respect that completely. On the other hand, I’ll be smiling a lot more when I see Tom Cruise (or someone as famous) just show up somewhere with a man on his arm and say nothing at all.
I’m still for a full boycott. What’s going to happen is that we’ll get through these Olympics without any incidents at all. Everyone we’ve forgotten about for years will get a lot of attention, make a lot of money, and hug and kiss to the point where they might have to call the Russian schmaltz police. But what happens to the LGBT people in Russia after the Olympics? Are things going to change for them or are Russian actors from bad Russian sitcoms still going to call for gays to be burned alive in ovens?
I wish I could be more optimistic about this. You can read more here, if you think it’s necessary to do that.
Boycott Russian Olympics
I’m not the only one who still thinks we should stop playing games and just boycott the entire thing. John Grant and Lady Gaga both think there should be a boycott, along with many others. This article is about how Grant feels:
We recently spoke with Grant about everything from Woody Allen movies to collaborating with Sinead O’Connor to that Elton shout-out being “one of the greatest nights of my life.” Additionally, Grant told us why he agrees with Lady Gaga that the U.S. is morally bound to boycott the Russian Olympics, but why it’s important for artists to keep touring Russia despite the government-sanctioned oppression.
You can read more here. As I’ve said, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens in Russia with LGBT people six months or a year from now. A lot of people predicted the holocaust and a lot of people ignored them. I’d hate to see anything like that ever happen again in the history of the world.