Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sugarplums: Make the Yuletide Gay by Lena Austin

Sugarplum: Make the Yuletide Gay

by Lena Austin

Cover art: ReneƩ George

ISBN: 978-1-60521-520-4

Genre(s): Guilty Pleasures (Contemporary), Hot Flashes

Theme(s): Christmas, Seasonal Themes, Gay and Lesbian

Series: Sugarplums

Length: Hot Flash

Dr. Gary Lord was comfortable and out in his homosexuality anywhere but his southern hometown and certainly not at his parents' house. But, in Yulee, Florida, secrets are very hard to keep when the folks across town know how you season your greens the minute you say, "Pass the salt."

And there's an old high school classmate who's been waiting patiently for Gary to come home... and he plans to crash Gary's Yuletide celebration in a big way.


A battered and rusty Silverado pulled up to the diner, and the headlights glared directly into Gary’s eyes. Whoever got out was bundled up against the chill evening in a denim jacket and a black cowboy hat. He kept his head down and sprinted inside.

Hari chuckled under her breath, and sipped her coffee until the newcomer had sauntered over to have a few words with Georgia. “Well, now. That’s a mighty fine ass.”

Gary turned to look before he realized what that revealed. Quickly, he turned around and ate his pie.

Hari mimed shooting at Gary with her fingers. “Gotcha. Thought so.” She winked again to let him know she wasn’t offended or likely to blow the whistle on his closet door. Her aqua gaze slid back to the newcomer, and then she grinned up at the approaching man. “Well, hellooo stranger.”

“Yeah, and they don’t get any stranger than me.” The deep, graveled voice was familiar. “Hiya, Harriet. Gary. Mind if I join you? Georgia says y’all have all the cream.”

Hari shook her head. “I’m leaving. You can keep Gary company.” She tottered upright, gained her balance, and clapped a hand on Gary’s shoulder. “Nice seeing you, Gary. Stop by Springfield if you ever get a chance.” She slung her purse onto her shoulder and left.

The new guy slid into her place and picked up her coffee cup. He used the napkin to wipe away her lipstick, and then sipped without raising his head so Gary could see who his new guest was. “Blech. She always did use too much sweetener.” He raised his head until his brown eyes laughed at Gary’s surprised expression. “Long time no see.”

Gary’s heart skipped a few beats. Adam Crider had been the focus of more than a few of Gary’s adolescent fantasies when Adam had been captain of the football team, Homecoming King, and all around guy most likely to succeed at anything he wanted. Even now, the weathered tan was a few shades darker than it had been in school, but the face was still just as handsome. “Hi, Adam. How have you been?”

“’Bout the same. Nothing much changes around here, if you haven’t noticed.” For some reason, Adam’s lips twisted into a half smile. “Gets damn boring, to be honest.”

Gary couldn’t help but agree, so he took his last bite of pie and nodded.

“You’ve changed.” Adam took another sip, but didn’t lose the ironic smile on his face. “You always were skinny as hell, but you’ve filled out. Guess all that diving does that.”

One of Gary’s eyebrows shot up. Someone besides his immediate family knew what he did? Okay, that was possible, but 90% of Americans couldn’t give a damn about what he found in Alexandria’s harbor unless it had to do with Cleopatra herself. Even then, they wouldn’t understand half of what he said concerning what he’d found. “Yeah. That and I did a little experimental archaeology.”

“Yeah, I know. Saw the pictures of you helping engineers figure out how the pyramid blocks might have been made with dolomite.” Adam’s answer was bland. “Bet it was hot as hell. You looked funny stripped down to that itty bitty loincloth thing they made the workers wear, but you got one helluva tan.” Adam studied Gary’s surprised face. “Sun bleached your hair, too.”

“How did you know all that?” Gary knew he’d never sent the pictures of himself wearing the linen costume of an Egyptian stone worker because his mother would have had a litter of kittens at his being half-naked and crouched in the hot sun, beating on one big rock with a smaller round one.

Adam tipped his hat further back and lounged all over the red Naugahyde bench. “Just ’cause I’m a worthless ol’ cowboy, doesn’t mean I don’t read. Happens I got a degree in structural engineering and I still get the trade magazines. You made the back pages of Cadalyst, because Doc Aimsley used a CAD program to map out the project on my computer.”

Gary snorted. Aimsley was a publication whore who’d put his byline on any article, no matter how obscure. In the cutthroat world of who published first, Aimsley was a real pirate. No one liked him, but he got the money to get projects done in the first place. “Structural engineering jobs would be hard to come by around here.”

“I know. My dad got sick. Cancer. I came home to take care of him. He died just after Thanksgiving.” Adam swallowed, the pain still fresh in his eyes. “Least he’s with Mom now.” He slugged back a large gulp of coffee. “Blech. I wish she’d make it taste less like a chemical factory. Anyways, you ever ride a camel?”

He took the hint. Gary recognized Adam’s need to change the subject to something less painful. He snorted and shoved his pie plate to the side. “They stink to high heaven, but you get where you’re going. So, yeah, I’ve ridden a camel.”

Adam’s hat tipped lower, and he leaned in. His voice was softer than an angel’s kiss, and so low Gary leaned in to hear him. “How about a cowboy?”


  1. HI,

    I really enjoyed this short story, I hope you consider writing more about these two characters. They have great chemistry, interesting jobs and I want to know more LOL

    Thanks :)

  2. Hi Jess. Thanks! (Blinking in surprise) Really? Okay! I'll see what I can do to expand these guys. I agree, there's more to be told.