It’s probably inescapable that the holidays bring gloom as well as good cheer. The year once again turns to the shortest day and the renewal of the sun becomes a marker in time. For weeks, we’re surrounded with music, lights, and celebrations. As we follow our traditions, the days are jam-packed with memories—our childhood, the childhoods of our children, loved ones who are no longer here. It’s a time when obligation and expectation puts you side by side at the dinner table with people you don’t really like—as well as those you thoroughly enjoy.
Then suddenly another day dawns and it’s all over.
And there are those depressing extra pounds added your butt or belly! Yes, I said I’ll eat just two of these peanut butter cookies and then ate nine.
Coping with this confusion of feelings drives me to the tequila bottle. Or to organizing my files or to staring out my office window at the cold rainy woods. Or—if I’m lucky—to the keyboard where a new story takes shape. It’s no secret that writers may find therapeutic value in their work. What surprises me is when things long hidden in my subconscious are suddenly staring back at me from the page.
I’m not sure how that happens, but I’m glad it does. Of course writing isn’t the only constructive method people use to wrestle with depressing demons. For some, it’s exercise. Others may confide in friends or a therapist. Some shop. Some clean house or stand at the kitchen sink with hands deep in hot soapy water.
And what’s wrong with a quick escape into a steamy romantic story?!
What are your ways of dealing with emotional holiday fallout?
CONTEST! Comment below. Describe your favorite way of dealing with holiday stress and sign up for my monthly newsletter at http://eepurl.com/bHOyS9. I’ll include your name in a random drawing for a Surprise Gift Box, including a paperback copy of my latest novel, Caerwin and the Roman Dog. I’ll draw a second name to win a paperback copy of Caerwin and the Roman Dog.
Don’t forget to leave your email address in your comment so I can contact you. (This contest is also announced in my January newsletter and on my Facebook page. Entries close January 9. Winners announced January 11. The contest is solely my responsibility.)
Now here’s an excerpt from my latest sexy short story, Holiday Journey. They’re random strangers stuck at an airport with flight delays.
… He leaned toward her. “After enough of these wasted hours, I’ve learned a couple of coping skills. A few hours can pass quickly if you know how to divert your attention.”
She stared at him. His tone and insinuation caught her off guard. His eyes were the most peculiar color, kind of green, kind of gray, and were watching her with a careful assessment she found disturbing. Not slasher disturbing. Disturbing as in reckless, out of bounds. She couldn’t avoid the sudden scene pictured clearly in her mind of his mouth on her nipples sucking them to hard points.
Her body reacted with instant zinging heat that brought fullness to her breasts and pulsing in her clit. Embarrassing as hell that she had any reaction at all, but his words echoed in her ears. She hated that her glance had observed his physique, the broadness of his shoulders as he lounged against the pillar, the rugged strength of his hands.
Oh for Christ’s sake. Really Giselle? Last night’s dream of Dan had left her vulnerable, emotions on the surface. No one escaped the holidays without suffering. Too much of her lonely, work-driven life had weakened her defenses. Too many years saving herself from entanglements. She needed to start working out again, subscribe to a book club, invest in better sex toys.
His mouth quirked at the corner as if he knew what she’d just thought. He was watching her with an off-putting familiarity. It was like she could read his mind and he could read hers, and an entire unspoken dialogue was taking place and had been taking place since the moment he’d appeared beside her.
Where the hell did he come from and why did he decide to single her out of the crowd? Was there something about her posture? Was her skirt too tight? An expression of repressed sexual need on her face? She resisted the urge to rush to the ladies room to examine herself in the mirror. This wasn’t high school. She’d handled plenty of come-ons from the ridiculous to the sublime, and this one so far rated in the top ten. Subtle, insistent, suitably random…
What in God’s name was she thinking?
She swallowed and forced herself to face him fully, matching his posture by leaning her shoulder against the other corner of the pillar. “Yes, I know what you mean. I have a book and will probably nab a bite of lunch soon.”
Another one of those damn provocative smiles, and why couldn’t she stop looking at his mouth? His lips were curved and firm with the faintest hint of a smile. A hint of whisker shadow marked his upper lip and jaw.
Damn it. It wasn’t like her to escape from her grim realities into sex fantasies about a complete stranger. But if there ever was a day that it made sense to do so, this might be it. Fantasize, that is. Nothing more.
“I can recommend a couple of places,” he said.
He shifted his case with his foot to bring it closer to the pillar, dragging her reluctant attention to the lower part of his body. Jeans pulled tight over athletic thighs and a noteworthy bulge. She closed her eyes and exhaled.
“Depending on your taste,” he added, catching her gaze and sending a provocative glance down her chest.
Was his glance reciprocation to her own, meaning he’d noticed her looking at his thighs and saw her checking out his, well, his…? No, she wasn’t going to think it. What had seemed a completely innocent decision to wear this bright yellow silk blouse now seemed stupidly indecent for public. The high stand-up collar slashed deep to her cleavage, which after all was the style and all women wore low cut necklines. She wasn’t exactly sure how much of her cleavage was visible, but under his interested glance, she felt like she wore no blouse at all and her yellow bra and panties had become her only garment. Her breasts strained against the silk cups. She resisted the strong urge to look down and tug her jacket tightly closed around her middle.
He was watching her and, by whatever device he managed to hook up with her telepathically, he had upped the bet. Remotely aware that her sensory gauges were red-lining, Giselle watched with a feeling of helplessness as the tip of his tongue moved to wet his lower lip. Not calculated? Did he do anything that wasn’t calculated? She felt his tongue as if it touched her flesh and a scattering of gooseflesh raced up her arms.
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