QSFer Jamie Fessenden has a new MM holiday fantasy book out: Tomte.
RYAN ANDERSON has known something was wrong since he was a teenager. He’s been tormented by a sense of emptiness and loss—but what did he lose? He has no idea. Then a mysterious man appears, calling himself Tomte, a Swedish word Ryan remembers hearing from his grandmother in his childhood.
It means “Christmas elf.”
With the help of his older brother and his nine-year-old niece, Ryan begins a journey to discover what happened fifteen years ago, when he disappeared during a winter storm and didn’t reappear until spring. Not only has he forgotten those months, he’s forgotten the faithful dog who failed to come back with him.
As memories surface and impossible things happen all around him, Ryan senses Tomte, that beautiful man he’s inexplicably drawn to, is the key to everything—his past, his future, and his happiness.
Jamie is giving away an english language backlist eBook with this post – for a chance to win, comment on this post below.
HE WAS going to die. Ryan no longer had any doubt of that. He’d gotten turned around in the darkness, and the falling snow had covered his tracks, so there was little hope of finding his way out of the forest before morning. Strava hadn’t responded to his calls, and his voice was too hoarse to keep shouting. For a while he thought he’d heard music and voices. That had led him to this spot in the forest, where a mound of earth made a small hill under an ancient oak tree, but the music had faded. Perhaps it hadn’t ever been there. He could no longer feel his feet, and his clothes were soaked through. He felt like crying, but he didn’t have the energy.
“Don’t worry,” a cheerful voice said nearby. “I’ll protect you.”
He whirled, lost his balance, and fell on his ass in wet snow. He sat there in shock, staring dully into the swirling snowfall.
“Take my hand.”
Ryan turned his head. A young man about his age stood beside him. In the darkness it should have been difficult to see his features, but the youth seemed to glow from within, his skin shimmering like moonlight. He was the most beautiful man Ryan had ever seen, with sparkling, sleepy-lidded blue eyes, wavy light brown hair, and a sensual mouth that quirked up on one corner. But the most startling thing about him—aside from the shimmering thing—was that he was stark naked and didn’t seem to care. He leaned over casually, taking no notice of the biting wind, and offered his hand.
Ryan grasped it, and heat flooded through him, restoring sensation to all the parts he’d lost feeling in without the usual throbbing and itching that accompanied coming in from the cold. He stood, trying not to ogle his rescuer too blatantly, though he managed to establish the guy was uncircumcised and pretty ripped, considering how lean he was.
“Aren’t you cold?”
The young man laughed. “I don’t get cold. Am I embarrassing you?”
“‘Embarrassing’ isn’t the word I’d use.” Ryan wanted to kick himself. Less than a minute ago, he’d been dying. Now he was flirting? What if the guy turned out to be a homophobe? “I mean… I don’t care. It’s just that we’re in the middle of a blizzard and all.”
“Do you feel cold now?”
He tentatively shook his head. He really didn’t. Maybe he’d died, and this was some kind of weird afterlife. More likely he was hallucinating. He’d heard that people felt warmer as their bodies shut down from hypothermia.
“I told you,” the youth said. “I’ll protect you. It’s my job.”
“What are you talking about?”
He let go of Ryan’s hand and spread his arms dramatically. “I’m your tomte.” He beamed proudly, as if he expected Ryan to applaud.
Ryan wasn’t about to applaud, because the moment the guy let go of him, the cold air bit
through his wet clothes again, making him cry out and hug himself. He remembered his morfar talking about tomtes when he was a boy—little gnomes or elves who lived in barns and watched over farms as long as they were given bowls of milk or porridge with butter now and then. This guy was no gnome. Not that he believed in tomtes anyway.
The “tomte” made a comical expression, with raised eyebrows and his mouth gaping in a perfect O, then he grabbed Ryan. “Sorry!”
Warmth flowed back into him and he sighed in contentment. It took a moment to realize he now had a naked man practically wrapped around him. “Um… your penis is in my hand.”
“Oh.” The tomte shifted to separate them at the hip, though he still kept his arms around Ryan’s chest. “I’m sorry. That was rude. Would you be more comfortable if I put clothes on?”
What Ryan wanted was for the guy to press up against his hand again. I should’ve kept my mouth shut. But… manners. Damn them. “Dude, if you’re comfortable rubbing up against me naked, I don’t mind. S’long as I’m warm.”
“Are you warm?”
“Would you like to take your clothes off too?”
Ryan pulled back far enough to look at the tomte’s face, though that put their mouths ridiculously close. “Are you making a pass at me?”
The tomte laughed lightly, and Ryan decided he really liked that sound. “Does that have something to do with sex? It’s been so long since I was human. I just meant your clothes are wet. I can take them off for you, if it will make you more comfortable.”
Take them off for me? That was an interesting idea. But Ryan had a boner that could drill through concrete. He wasn’t sure he was brave enough to wave that at a total stranger. The situation was awkward enough as it was. “I think I’m okay.”
“Then let’s do this.”
Powdery snow swirled up from the ground and engulfed them, blinding him for a few seconds. When it subsided, Ryan was disappointed to find the tomte clothed in a loose-fitting white shirt. He couldn’t see it clearly, because they were still locked in an embrace, but he felt the rough material under his hands. He was tempted to slide a hand down and see if the tomte was wearing pants, but he was too nervous to do it.
“Is that better?” the tomte asked, grinning. Ryan thought he was asking if Ryan was happy he’d covered himself—which was definitely not the case—but then he added, “Your clothes.”
“My… clothes?” Ryan felt his own hip. His pants were completely dry. So was his fleece jacket. He shoved a hand up under the jacket and found the wool sweater he was wearing dry too.
Jamie Fessenden is an author of gay fiction in many genres. Most involve romance, because he believes everyone deserves to find love, but after that anything goes: contemporary, science fiction, historical, paranormal, mystery, or whatever else strikes his fancy. Jamie Fessenden set out to be a writer in junior high school.
He published a couple short pieces in his high school’s literary magazine and had another story place in the top 100 in a national contest, but it wasn’t until he met his partner, Erich, almost twenty years later, that he began writing again in earnest.
After nine years together, Jamie and Erich have married and purchased a house together in the wilds of Raymond, New Hampshire, where there are no street lights, turkeys and deer wander through their yard, and coyotes serenade them on a nightly basis. Jamie recently left his “day job” as a tech support analyst to be a full-time writer.
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/349365308959423/