Filed under: Story Excerpts Dec 10, 2013
My holiday novel, Just the Three of Us, is currently available only at Amazon! Here’s an exclusive excerpt just for you!
City planner Remy McIntosh is looking forward to a holiday vacation at a secluded cabin with his lover, Lane Anders. He’s planned the perfect getaway for just the two of them. But when his ex-wife changes her Christmas plans at the last minute, he has to bring along his 8 year old son, Braeden, too. Braeden doesn’t know Lane, or even that his father is gay. What will happen to the romantic holiday Remy planned for so long?
At two minutes after five, the phone on Remy’s desk rang. He pushed aside the plat map he’d been studying and leaned back in his seat to answer. His administrative assistant usually announced who was calling before sending them back to Remy’s office; since she hadn’t bothered, that meant the call was from one of two people. This close to quitting time, he hoped it was Lane.
“Jeremy,” his ex-wife’s voice snapped in his ear.
Instantly Remy sat up straight, no longer comfortable. “Kaitlin,” he replied. Two could play that game. Then, to diffuse the situation, he offered, “Merry Christmas.”
“That’s four days away,” she reminded him.
Remy rolled his eyes. She always had to be so damn literal. “True, but it’s Friday, and I’ll be out of town the next two weeks, so –”
“Actually, that’s what I’m calling about.”
His guard went up. “Kate, we talked about this. Braden already knows I’m not going to be visiting next week, and he’s okay with it. So what’s the big deal all of a sudden?”
“The big deal is now I have plans, too,” she admitted.
Remy waited. He knew she wanted him to ask what kind of plans, but he wouldn’t. If she wanted him to know, she’d tell him.
So she did. “Mike has two tickets for a holiday cruise,” she said softly. “It’s a couples-only thing. I tried telling him no, but he has his heart set on the Caribbean. He doesn’t much care for snow.”
“This is Virginia,” Remy snapped. “We hardly ever get any real snow. Who’s Mike?”
Kate sighed. “You met him last month. He came over for Thanksgiving, remember?”
Oh yes, now Remy could put a face to the name. Funny how Kate could have her new boyfriend celebrate Thanksgiving with the family but Lane was excluded.
Though, really, that wasn’t fair. Mike wasn’t the first guy Kate had dated since the divorce, but he was one she was most serious about. And Lane had been invited, but chose to visit his family in New Jersey, instead. His father was ill, and his sister had a new baby he wanted to see. Remy took a red-eye flight Thanksgiving evening to spend the rest of the weekend with Lane. His lover’s family was awesome — they jokingly referred to him as the “in-law,” and it had been nice to get away for a bit.
If Remy remembered, Mike was a nice enough guy. Totally opposite of what Remy had always thought of as Kate’s type, which was, well, himself. Tall, lean, slim, with broad shoulders and a full head of wavy blond hair. Mike had none of that, but he hadn’t seemed intimidated in the least when Kate introduced him to her ex-husband. Chances were she had also told him Remy was gay. That might have helped curb any jealous inadequacy he might have felt.
The mental image of Mike’s pale, paunchy belly hanging over a pair of Bermuda shorts wasn’t pleasant. Remy pinched the bridge of his nose to make it go away. “Wait, so you’re going on a cruise? When?”
“We leave Sunday,” Kate admitted.
For a long moment, Remy stared at the screen saver on his computer. His plan was to leave tonight for the cabin. Lane was meeting him after work, and together they’d head on out to the mountains. It was a three hour ride, easy, and with rush-hour traffic, it might stretch closer to four hours or so. They’d arrive late, but Remy was already looking forward to a quiet evening in front of a roaring fire, making love in front of the warm blaze, dozing in his lover’s arms until noon Saturday morning …
“What about Braden?” he asked.
Kate said, “That’s just it, Jer. We can’t take him with us. Mike only has two tickets.”
“Well, is it too late to buy another?” Remy had never been on a cruise before, but he’d seen ads on the TV. His son would love the boat and the islands.
“It’s a couples’ cruise,” Kate repeated.
Ah yes, she had said that. “Like The Love Boat?” Remy joked.
He knew Kate wouldn’t find that funny, and she didn’t. She sat on the other end of the line, silent.
“So, Braden?” Remy asked.
“You need to take him,” Kate said. Before he could argue, she hurried on. “My parents can’t, you know that. My mother’s still shaky from that bout of colitis she had back in October, and my dad has his hands full with her. Your parents might –”
“No, they couldn’t,” Remy interrupted. To be honest, at the moment he wasn’t exactly sure where his parents were. Upon retirement, they had locked up their house, sold both cars, bought an RV, and hit the road. Every few weeks, he got a postcard from them, usually an odd, out of the way place he had never heard of before. The last one came earlier in the month and showed his mother and father standing side by side, though his mother loomed unnaturally over his father. Both were grinning madly, and above their heads was written The Oregon Vortex and the House of Mystery. If they were still on the west coast, there was no way they would be able to return by Sunday to watch Braden. If he even knew how to contact them.
Kate said again, “Then you need to take him.”
Remy sighed. “Katie, I’m going out of town –”
“It’s Kate.” The correction was curt, a warning. “You can take Braden with you. He’d love a week in the woods.”
“Two weeks,” Remy corrected. “And it’s supposed to be just me and Lane –”
“Damn it, Jer! Can’t you give me this?” He heard tears in her voice, and knew she was close to breaking. “You’ve been with him now for two whole years. You have every night alone together while I take care of your son. Mike is the first good thing that’s happened to me in a long time. Can’t you see that?”
Remy closed his eyes. She was right. Since he and Lane had begun dating exclusively, they spent as much time together as possible. He saw Braden every other weekend, but that didn’t really give Kate the break she deserved. And Braden was his son. Remy loved the boy to death, and the thought of spending Christmas with him — without Kate — was exhilarating.
Softly, he said, “Fine. Let me ask Lane –”
“Ask me what?” came a deep voice from the doorway.