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Authors

A Touch of

Mistletoe

EDITED BY

MEGAN DERR

Less Than Three Press presents a collection of stories about people brought together by the magic of mistletoe...

Here for You by J.K. Pendragon

Warren's life has been shrinking ever since his wife passed away. Blind, and finding it difficult to adjust to life on his own, it's easier to hide away in his house. When his friend Missy invites him to a Christmas party, an unexpected kiss with a stranger under the mistletoe leaves him confused and wondering...

The Christmas Spirit by Talya Andor

Christmas in Japan is no big deal for Ash Harmon, with his family half a world away and supernatural problems that have no respect for the holidays. When he picks up a bodyguard job for a rising star of figure skating who seems to be encountering trouble with a restless spirit, he stubbornly resists the unexpected attraction to his charge, wary of the risks that come with relationships. But the mistletoe has other ideas...

A Beautiful Thing by A.F. Henley

Sometimes, Fate gets tired of being ignored. And some nights, Fate decides something will just have to be done about it. Enter Drualus, Senior Correspondent for the Collective Assembly of Christmas Fae, working with the Night Before Reach Out Program. He's got a few short hours to change Scott Misener's outlook on life, love, and understanding. Lucky for Scott, Dru knows a tried and true trope that might just do the trick...

Ad Meliora by E.E. Ottoman

It's Christmas Eve and An-An and M.C. have plans to spend Christmas in Texas with An-An's family. But their plans are cut short when M.C. takes on a last minute case. Thankfully, though, it should be an easy exorcism. Until they arrive at the snowbound lodge where trouble resides, and come face to face with a demon wolf unlike anything they've ever encountered.

Two Parts Mistletoe by Megan Derr

Kingston has worked hard to get where he is: owner of his own shop, master potion maker, well-respected... and lonely, too busy with life to enjoy more than his regular visits to Acacia House. If he wishes his loneliness might be eased by Hux, the man he meets at Acacia twice a month, well, someday he'll work up the nerve to ask. Maybe.

Then Hux unexpectedly visits his shop, distressed and in desperate need of help to save his employer from a love potion...

Book Details

A Touch of Mistletoe

Edited by Megan Derr

Published by Less Than Three Press LLC

All rights reserved.  No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without written permission of the publisher, except for the purpose of reviews.

Edited by Megan Derr

Cover designed by Aisha Akeju

This book is a work of fiction and all names, characters, places, and incidents are fictional or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual people, places, or events is coincidental.

First Edition December 2014

Here for You Copyright © 2014 by J.K. Pendragon

The Christmas Spirit Copyright © 2014 by Talya Andor

A Beautiful Thing Copyright © 2014 by A.F. Henley

Ad Meliora Copyright © 2014 by E.E. Ottoman

Two Parts Mistletoe Copyright © 2014 by Megan Derr

Printed in the United States of America

Digital ISBN 9781620044674

Print ISBN 9781620044681

Here for You

J.K. Pendragon

I had always loved the smell of Christmas. Spices and pine, Christmas baking and the smoky scent of the fireplace. Missy had gone all out for her party, and the crackling of the fire and sounds of visiting voices intermixed with a light instrumental Christmas soundtrack. Silver Bells was playing.

I leaned against the wall, letting the sounds wash over me, feeling close to nothing at all. I wanted to close my eyes, but that would probably be rude. I started as Missy's voice sounded from next to me. With all the noises from the crowd, I hadn't heard her approach.

Drink, Warren?

Oh. I shook my head, hoping that she hadn't already brought one for me. No, thanks. I feel a bit light-headed already.

Are you having a good time?

Yeah. I forced a smile. It's a great party, Missy. I'm glad you made me come.

That was a lie. I wished I was at home, in the familiar silence and comfort, not surrounded by people I didn't know, who were obviously not interested in talking to the blind man in the corner. Kali would have dragged me all over the house, introduced us to everyone, found someone for me to talk to. But I shouldn't be thinking about that.

Missy gave my arm a squeeze. Let me know if you need anything. I'll be in the kitchen.

She left, and I sighed and leaned against the wall again, thinking that I should have taken the drink. The song switched to something more upbeat and contemporary. The voices seemed to grow louder and more oppressive, and I was hit with a sudden wave of desperation. I needed to get away for a minute.

I sidled along the wall towards the hall. I knew Missy and Alex's large house well enough, we'd been friends for years, but I didn't want to risk charging into someone, and I'd left my cane at the door. I slipped into the hallway, the voices mercifully fading behind me as I made my way toward one of the sitting rooms. The crackle of a fire and warmth emanated from one, and I followed, slipping in and feeling to find that the light-switch was off.

Anyone in here? I asked, but the room seemed to be empty. I left the light off and felt my way into the room, sliding my hand along the back of one of the thick plush couches before sinking down in front of the fire. I leaned my head back and warmed my hands, sighing and wondering how long until I could politely leave. I could get a taxi home, but Missy would probably insist on driving me. Or I could say I needed the fresh air and walk. Was it still snowing?

The door swung open a little and I tilted my head as the light pad of feet passed through the doorway and stopped in front of the fireplace. I waited, turning my head in the direction of the newcomer in case they wanted to speak to me. After a long moment of silence, they suddenly gasped. I didn't see you there!

I'd forgotten it was dark except for the fire. Sorry, I said. If it helps, I didn't see you either.

The man was quiet for a moment, and then he gasped again, obviously realising my joke. O-oh! I'm sorry! He had a soft voice, with a bit of an accent. Round vowels, and a tiny bit of trouble with the r sound in sorry. I was good at placing accents.

You must be Missy's Korean friend, I said with a laugh. She mentioned you'd be here

Well, Korean friend is better than gay friend, he admitted. His accent was barely noticeable, which made sense, since I remembered Missy telling me that he'd spent several years in Canada as a child.

And I'm the blind friend, I said, leaning forward to offer him my hand. He took it, his handshake firm, and his skin soft and cool. It's Warren.

Kyung-sam, he said quickly. Sam is fine.

They call you Sam in Korea?

Ah, no. I heard a bit of a smile in his voice. Kyung, but it's hard to pronounce.

I think I can wrap my lips around it. I smiled again. Part of me wanted him to go away so that I could sit in silence some more, but part of me enjoyed the conversation. I didn't get to meet new people very often, living in a small town. Especially not now that Kali… You can sit, if you like. I'm not hogging the room to myself.

He laughed again, a note of discomfort in his voice. I should tell you something, he admitted and I felt the couch shift as he sat next to me. I think Missy was very thorough with her decorations because, uh, you're sitting under mistletoe.

A blush tinged my cheeks, and I hoped he couldn't see it. The light was off, and I had dark skin, so he probably couldn't, but I couldn't hide the mortified look on my face. Oh god, really?

Yes, what's the rule? You have to kiss someone or bad luck?

That's the rule, I repeated, and realised suddenly what he was getting at. I'm—oh—I'm not gay though! I'm sorry.

No, no! he laughed. I—Missy told me you had a wife.

The familiar pang tugged at my chest. I did, I said. She… died, just over a year ago.

I'm sorry, he said. We sat in silence for a while. Well? he said finally. You don't have to be gay for a kiss, right? If it's good luck. We take good luck very seriously in Korea.

I felt my brow furrow in confusion. He wanted to kiss me, even though I wasn't gay? Was he even telling the truth about the mistletoe? Yes, he was, I could just pick up the faint scent of dried leaves from somewhere above me.

A kiss… I hadn't kissed anyone since the day Kali had died. Plenty of hugs, from Missy and Alex, and family, awkward handshakes. I touched the hands of my piano students when instructing them. And that was it. I didn't… touch. Not unless I had to, and people either touched me gingerly like Missy, or in a controlling way like my family. Only Kali had ever touched me tenderly. Only Kali had ever kissed me…

Was I really considering it? I pursed my lips, surprised when they began to ache a little. I did want him to kiss me. I would love the feel of another person's mouth on mine. I had missed it. But he was a man, and this was just pathetic.

I, that's not…

It's all right if you don't want to, said Kyung. I don't—I'm sorry.

No. My lips were still aching. Now that he'd brought the possibility up, I was craving it. When would I ever get another chance to kiss someone, after all? I had a pretty good idea of how the rest of my life was going to play out, and it didn't involve kissing anyone. Why not? I forced out. For luck.

Okay. I heard the smile in his voice and felt the couch shift as he moved closer. A second later his soft fingers brushed against my cheek. His hand smelled clean, a little like Missy's soap and the faint scent of gingerbread lingered on his breath as it reached my mouth. Okay? he said again, a question this time. I made a small affirmative noise in my throat, transfixed by the closeness, my body taut. I felt like I was almost in shock.

He leaned forward a little further, and then his lips pressed to mine. They were smooth and flat, a little warmer than the fingers on my cheek. I drew in another shocked breath, and then the feel of his lips on mine sent a shiver of desire straight down my body. I pressed forward, my tongue darting out automatically, and the kiss suddenly became something much more than a peck. He drew in a heated breath and moved his mouth against mine, his tongue slipping out to press against my lower lip and I let out an unexpected groan.

Embarrassment immediately flooded through me, but was replaced with desire as he groaned as well and then our bodies were pressed together, his hand firm on my cheek, our breath mingling and the kiss growing sloppy and desperate. His tongue and lips found their way to my bottom lip and he sucked hard, pulling my lip into his mouth. Another shot of lust raced through me and my cock stiffened automatically, full of tingling desperation. I wanted to shove him over onto the couch and grind my cock into him, plunder his mouth with my tongue until he was desperate for me…

I gasped and pulled back suddenly, guilt flooding through me. Oh god. I buried my face in my hands, breathing heavily and hoping that he couldn't see the sign of arousal in my pants. I… I didn't expect that. What was wrong with me? Was I so desperate that I didn't care who I… ? I—I'm not gay. I sounded strangely defensive, but it wasn't that. I just didn't want him to think that I—

I know, he said. He'd retreated a little when I did, but he was still sitting on the couch. I'm sorry if that made you uncomfortable. I didn't mean to go so far.

No, me neither, I admitted. I had the sudden urge to be very far away from him. What I'd done was not appropriate. It wasn't all right to lead him on just because I was starved for contact and desperate for any form of touch.  I wanted to explain all that to him, but my brain refused to form the words. I should go.

Wait, Warren— I heard him get up, but I had already stood and headed to the door. It was time to go home.

*~*~*

I was playing in my study when the doorbell buzzed, and I got up quickly, excited to see Missy. It had been a week since she had last delivered my groceries and invited me to her party. I hadn't spoken to her since, not interacting with anyone except my students and my parents when they had called Wednesday night. The phone call had been short and sweet. They were going on an Alaskan cruise for Christmas, and was I sure I didn't want to come?

I was sure.

I closed the fall board over the piano keys and left the study, trotting down the stairs of the small townhouse and opening the door to let her in. Hi Missy, come in.

Oh, said a man's voice. Actually it's Kyung.

My heart skipped a beat. I'd thought about Kyung several times since the party, mostly in intimate ways, recalling the heat of his kiss and the fantasies I'd had about lying atop him. I felt absolutely terrible about it. I'd never wanted to see him again. What was he doing here? Kyung? Where's Missy?

She had a meeting today, and I told her I was bored. She asked if I wanted to get your groceries for you. He paused. I'm sorry, I should have asked if it's okay.

I realised he was probably standing on the porch with my heavy groceries and shook myself, stepping back out of his way. I'm sorry.  Please, come in.

Thanks, he wiped the snow from his shoes and stepped past me into the kitchen. Where should I put everything?

Just on the counter is fine, I said. I can go through it later. I realised I was being very short. I always invited Missy in for lunch after she delivered my groceries for me. I should at least do the same for Kyung. But…

I got everything on your list. Kyung walked over to the counter and placed the rustling bags down on it. The people at the store know you. I got you a few other things too, for Christmas.

I was silent, unsure of how to respond. That was… nice of you, I said finally. But why did you do that for me?

Why not? I could hear the shrug in his voice. Missy said you like Christmas cake.

How much was it? I reached for the drawer that held my wallet, and pulled out a few carefully folded bills.

It's a Christmas gift, said Kyung obstinately. I used your cheque for the groceries you wanted and then I paid for the cake and stuff myself.

I don't… I gripped the bill. Kyung, I'm sorry if I gave the wrong impression the other night. At the party.

What impression?

I sighed and stalked over to the bags, opening one and pulling out the carton of eggs. That I was… you know. I pulled open the fridge and set the eggs on the top shelf, turning back to search the bags for the milk. Interested in that… sort of thing.

Kyung wandered over and I heard him rustling through the bags. He touched my hand lightly, and then began to pass me the other refrigerated foods. His fingers were cool and silky. I didn't expect anything. It was just a kiss.

But I… I breathed out through my nose, closing the refrigerator door. I guess I'm just harboring some guilt.

Because of your wife?

Another pang in my chest. No, actually. Well yes and no. The thing is, I gathered together all the pasta packages and headed to the cupboard to put them away, I haven't really been… intimate with anyone at all since my Kali passed away, and I'm… I could feel myself blushing. Would he notice? Kali had said that when I blushed the back of my neck went darker. I quickly turned to face him again. "I'm not interested in men, I said, once again hating how defensive I sounded. So the fact that I enjoyed that kiss so much means I must be really, really desperate and, well, I'm sorry to have taken advantage of you that way."

Kyung was silent for a long time, until I began to wonder if he was even there still. Finally he spoke. You're not interested in men at all?

No, I said. I loved my wife, I was very interested in her. I hurried back to the groceries, hoping to distract myself from my embarrassed state.

That… doesn't mean you can't be interested in men too, said Kyung slowly. Have you thought maybe you're bisexual?

I stopped moving. No, I haven't, but, I reached back into the bag I was sorting through. I'm not.

How do you know?

I just… I'd know. I said it