Out for the Holidays by Cara Dee
Henry and Zach are back! If you haven’t read Out, consider this your spoiler alert to the below. You can read where they started here:
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Title: Out for the Holidays: An Out Novella
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pairing: Gay Romance
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I’m not saying Henry jinxed us when he chose to send out two hundred holiday cards stating we were going to have a blissful Christmas at home…
Before we knew it, our peace and quiet went out the window, and we were headed to Mexico for a photo shoot my agent had neglected to tell me about. Of course, we had to deal with the man who didn’t want us to be together, and then we ended up back in LA, and we had to figure out what was going on with my brother, and, and… Okay, deep breaths. FYI, Philadelphia is nowhere near our home in northern Washington. Additionally, I wonder how Viagra really works, and what’s it gonna take to get a proposal around here?
Honestly. I’m not saying Henry jinxed us, but I’m writing the damn card next year.
Warning: This story contains more sugar than the cookies you leave for Santa, and it’s chock-full of greetings and updates from other characters written by Cara, titles including Noah, Home, Path of Destruction, Uncomplicated Choices, and more.
Could I fire someone over a text? I was so pissed that I didn’t know what to do with myself. I’d returned to the first floor and planted my ass at the bottom of the stairs, and I was staring at my agent’s number in my phone.
Lady Mo was in my lap, comforting me like a good puppy.
To my relief, Brooklyn wasn’t angry with me. She knew I took appointments seriously and never showed up late. No, this was on my agent, who hadn’t fucking told me she’d booked me for a whole goddamn week.
I released a breath and rested my head in my palm. Lady nuzzled my cheek.
If it’d been any other person than Brooklyn, I would’ve canceled somehow.
“Can I ask what you’re doing, Zachary?”
Dammit. I looked up, cursing the windows. Even when Henry was in the kitchen, he could see me in the reflection. “Can’t you tell I’m hiding?”
“Poorly,” he noted. Rounding the long bar in the kitchen, he passed the living room and joined me by the stairs. His hands went into the pockets of his slacks. “You have bad news.”
“I’d use the words fucking awful, but whatever.” I forced myself to look up. He’d be so disappointed. “Amanda neglected to tell me about a week-long shoot.”
He sighed, then nodded once firmly. “With Brooklyn, I assume.”
Yeah. She was the only one I had a contract with now, so it’d been a matter of scheduling.
“Tell me what to do,” I pleaded. “I swear I didn’t know. I even told her I wanted December free.”
He waved a hand and sat down next to me. “You’re not on trial, sweetheart.”
“I know, but it’s always my job that fucks shit up for us.” Lady left me, so I leaned forward, resting my elbows on my knees, and rubbed a hand over my mouth and jaw.
“You’re in an industry where things change quickly,” he reminded patiently. “What I do is very different.” True. He sat down with his coworkers and associates twice a year to hammer out details and schedule events and whatnot. It meant he knew his travels at least six months in advance so he could coordinate his schedule between the jobs he was involved in. “Tell me about the shoot.”
Reluctance filled me. I felt spoiled for complaining, but after this year… All I fucking wanted was a quiet month at home with Henry. “It’s for the YouTube crap. Akira, Maliah, and me—we have a week in Mexico, and they’re gonna ‘capture our personalities’ or something. Basically, a small film crew is gonna make a bunch of videos with us in various locations. It doesn’t have much to do with ShadowLight and makeup, so I don’t see the point.” Of course their products would be mentioned, but focus was on us.
“Marketing, darling.” He scooted closer and rubbed my back soothingly. “The clips make you relatable to the consumers. YouTube probably has a far better outreach than billboards. Up there, you’re untouchable.”
I side-eyed him. “Didn’t know you studied marketing.”
Humor flashed in his hazel eyes. “I may have spent some time in Los Angeles in my days. You pick up on these things.”
I huffed under my breath and faced forward again, and my gaze landed on the Christmas tree. It was beautiful, and someone had already put some gifts underneath it.
“We were supposed to stay home, though. Or at least in Washington.” I rested my head on his shoulder. “I wanted to go Christmas shopping in Seattle, go see a movie, take you and Nan for dinner… We were gonna go to a club and dance all night.”
He hummed and pressed a kiss to my hair. “You know where I can take you dancing?”
I shook my head.
“In Mexico.” There was a smile in his voice, and I admit his confirming that he was coming along brightened my mood more than I could say.
“Thank you for coming with me,” I whispered.
He laughed softly. “My beautiful man. I’m not entirely selfless. I trust you with all I am, and I may have gotten over most of my insecurities, but I am not letting you be alone with Joseph anymore.”
“Excuse me for a moment.” Henry wiped his mouth with a napkin before leaning close to me. “I’ve had it with Joseph’s stares. I’ll be right back.”
Wait, so they were gonna talk alone? Without me?
Henry was already gone, leaving me to wrestle irrational jealousy. It wasn’t fair to Henry, whom I trusted with all my heart. Joseph, however? I wouldn’t put it past him to try something. He’d certainly tried with me.
Noah had his eyes on the dancing pairs. “What do you say, sweetheart…?”
Julian pursed his lips and shook his head. “Have you forgotten our wedding? I literally bruised your toe.”
“Weak shoes.” Noah winked.
I drained my glass. Henry was taking Joseph aside, and clenched my jaw when they disappeared from sight around the villa. Needing a distraction, I turned to Noah.
“I’ll dance with you,” I said. “I’ll give it one song before Julian’s all over you.”
Julian gaped at me. “You’re supposed to be my friend, Zach.”
I puckered my lips at him.
Noah smirked and stood up. “He’s being a friend, Julian. I also think he’s right. Let’s go, kid.”
He rounded the long table and met up with me at my side, and I followed him out on the floor as an upbeat song started playing. We didn’t have live music out here; instead, we had a mix CD, and I recognized this one. A Santana collaboration with the dude from Matchbox Twenty.
I placed my hand in Noah’s extended one, and he took me by surprise when he spun me around before hauling me close. “Holy shit,” I blurted out in a choked laugh. “Okay, I guess you know what you’re doing.”
Noah grinned. “My sister taught me when I was little.”
“Good to know.” Yeah, Julian didn’t stand a chance once he interrupted, and I knew he would. “Lead away, prince charming.”
And fuck me if he didn’t. The rock song brought more people to the floor, and soon most of us where having a workout. Noah made it fun with unexpected dips and twirls, and it’d been a while since I laughed so hard.
“We should just form a circle around you,” Akira hollered over the music. “Goddamn, Noah.”
Sweat beaded on my forehead, and I got into it. I had to hand it to Julian; he was more stubborn than I gave him credit for. A second song started, then a third and a fourth. Traditional salsa music mixed with rock and pop, and I followed best I could.
When I glanced at Julian, I could tell he’d reached his breaking point. He sat impatiently and stewed to himself. One final nudge would get him here, where he belonged.
The song morphed into a new one, another Santana collab. I recognized the Nickelback singer. The beat revved up, heavy and hot, and went on about dancing into the night.
“Ramp it up,” I said, breathing heavily. “You’ll get some possessive sex after this.”
“Oh, I intend to.” If he replied to my first or second statement, I wasn’t sure. “So will you. Move with me when I pull you back.”
“Okay.” I sucked in a breath and looked around, finally catching sight of Henry looking like he’d just returned with Joseph. And as I watched him gesture toward me and say things in Henry’s ear, I recognized Joseph for the snake he was. This went beyond flirting and trying to get into our pants.
“Ready?” Noah raised a brow, and I focused on the music. I let it drown me for the moment. I nodded. “Make it hot, kid.”
I smirked, and he yanked me to his chest. His hands on my hips, one of my hands at the back of his neck, and we moved damn well. He led me almost as perfectly as Henry did, our hips moving and speaking of sexual tension that wasn’t there.
“We’re good,” I chuckled breathlessly.
“Fuck yeah, we are.” He grinned, his chest heaving. “Can you see my boy?”
I could. He was moving in the corner of my eye. “On his way.”
He nodded once and eased up. “Next time I wanna get him out on the floor, you’ll be my partner in crime.”
“Count me in.” That was about what I had time to say before Julian tapped me on the shoulder.
“May I cut in?” he asked with a tight smile.
He was too fucking sweet. I released Noah, and wanting to ease the tension from Julian, I gave his cheek a smacking kiss. “All yours, hon.”
The look in his eyes softened slightly, though it had nothing on when he was in Noah’s arms. I smiled as they forgot everyone around them, and then I made my way out of the little crowd and aimed for Henry.
Seeing the brief flash of worry in his eyes fueled my anger toward Joseph. Who fucking knew what he’d been saying to Henry.
I’m often stoically silent or, if the topic interests me, a chronic rambler. In other words, I can discuss writing forever and ever. Fiction, in particular. The love story—while a huge draw and constantly present—is secondary for me, because there’s so much more to writing romance fiction than just making two (or more) people fall in love and have hot sex. There’s a world to build, characters to develop, interests to create, and a topic or two to research thoroughly. Every book is a challenge for me, an opportunity to learn something new, and a puzzle to piece together. I want my characters to come to life, and the only way I know to do that is to give them substance—passions, history, goals, quirks, and strong opinions—and to let them evolve. Additionally, I want my men and women to be relatable. That means allowing room for everyday problems and, for lack of a better word, flaws. My characters will never be perfect.
Wait…this was supposed to be about me, not my writing.
I’m a writey person who loves to write. Always wanderlusting, twitterpating, kinking, and geeking. There’s time for hockey and cupcakes, too. But mostly, I just love to write.