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What do the husband of a stressed out metal sculptor, a graffiti artist, an aging pop star, a young ranch hand, and an aspiring writer have in common?
They each have a story to tell in Making Merry.
Not everything goes according to plan in the quest for that mythical “Perfect Christmas”, but there are a lot of laughs, heartwarming romance, and some big surprises along the way. With the help of family and friends, somehow everything will work itself out – but maybe not in the way anyone was expecting.
These five interconnected holiday stories feature favorite characters from Alexa Land’s Firsts and Forever Series and its new spin-off, The Castaways Series. It’s approximately 50K in length, and while it can be read as a stand-alone, it’ll mean the most to readers familiar with the series.
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Dare: Chapter One
The fold-out couch creaked when I rolled over and reached for my husband, but instead of finding Skye, my fingers brushed our dog’s fur. Benny’s stumpy tail thumped against the thin mattress as I scratched his back. It was very late and more than a little cold, and I wrapped a blanket around myself before getting up and leaving the office.
Predictably, Skye was hard at work in the main part of the warehouse. He was trying to finish two metal sculptures before Christmas, so he’d been putting in long hours over the past few weeks. That was why we’d been sleeping here more than in our apartment lately.
His back was to me, and I leaned against the door frame and watched him for a few moments. Skye was in a pool of light beside his workbench in the otherwise dark warehouse, and he was listening to music through a chunky, retro pair of headphones. He danced in place as he crimped a metal disk with a pair of pliers.
As usual, everything he wore was blue, to match his hair. He’d stuck his feet in a pair of unlaced hiking boots and was dressed only in a flannel-lined denim jacket and a pair of boxer briefs. He probably would have been cold if he ever stopped moving, so it was a good thing that he was perpetually in motion.
To me, Skye was nothing short of miraculous. He was everything that was right and good and beautiful in the world, distilled down into one amazing human being.
He was also the most talented person I’d ever met. My husband created gorgeous works of art that were larger than life, just like him. A fifteen-foot-high, kneeling couple in a tender embrace currently filled a significant portion of the warehouse. His work was usually an open framework made of recycled materials, and it never ceased to amaze me how he was able to convey so much emotion with just a few well-placed pieces of scrap metal.
The fact that he was becoming a successful artist surprised him, but I always knew talent like his would land him in the spotlight. The pair of giant, metal men had been commissioned for the offices of an online magazine based in San Francisco. It was his third job for corporate clients. That type of work really helped us make ends meet, since the dance classes I taught and the troupe I led didn’t bring in very much. But he only accepted clients who agreed to let him build whatever he wanted, and I admired his integrity.
Skye’s ingenuity was also impressive. He was basically on a lifelong scavenger hunt, forever collecting odd and interesting things which told him stories no one else could hear. I’d seen him work with such unlikely items as the guts of a washing machine, a thousand mismatched pieces of cutlery, and a rusted out shell that had at one time been a Volkswagen Beetle.
He had an uncanny ability to see worth and possibility in things most people would write off, which was a rare gift. It was also exactly why he’d ended up with me, even though he denied it whenever I tried to point it out to him.
When we first met, I’d been such an asshole. And okay, maybe I had reasons for that. The only other relationship I’d ever had ended when my ex-boyfriend pushed me down a flight of stairs, which injured my knee and almost cost me my career as a dancer. I’d been broken, literally and figuratively, and I’d felt worthless.
But Skye saw something in me which I didn’t even see in myself at that point in my life. He was able to look past the hurt, anger, and bitterness, and he decided I was something special. Even now, years later, I tried every day to be the man he believed me to be.
Given where my thoughts were going, it occurred to me I’d woken in a bit of a funk. But when my husband put down his tools, threw his arms over his head, and began gyrating to whatever song was currently being piped through his headphones, I couldn’t help but grin. He really got into it, in a way that told me he was probably listening to Lady Gaga, who he absolutely adored.
When he started shaking his cute little ass, my cock stirred. The cement floor was cold beneath my bare feet as I crossed the warehouse. Skye noticed me a moment before I reached him and smiled, and I dropped the blanket, leaving me in just a pair of underwear. His gaze flickered to the bulge in my briefs, and he tossed aside his jacket before standing so close to me that I could feel the warmth radiating from his body.
He draped the headphones around his neck and kept moving to the music, which we could both hear faintly. We were the same height, and when we stood face-to-face, I noticed a playful glint in his blue eyes. Skye leaned against me and slid down my body, which drove me wild. When he straightened up again, I ran my hand around the back of his neck and claimed his mouth. The kiss I got in return left no question about what he wanted.