Please welcome J.R. Loveless with
Love And Snowball Fights
Hi, everybody! Happy Holidays! As I make my next to last stop here on my blog tour for Love and Snowball Fights, it’s the day after Christmas and everyone has opened their gifts, the wrapping paper has been cleaned up, and everyone is playing with their new toys, children and adults alike! It’s almost bittersweet the day after Christmas, in my mind. It’s over again for another year. The tree comes down, the lights are turned off for good, and the almost fantastical feeling of the season goes with it. But sometimes that can also lead to great things because it means a new year is starting and new things can happen which Lane discovers in Love and Snowball Fights when what he thought was the end of his connection to Trey and the family he thought he’d never have turned out to only be the beginning.
By now, my mother and I have handed out almost all, if not all, of the treat baskets we give every year. There’s nothing like the warmth you feel as you hand off the box or container to someone and they smile in anticipation of enjoying one of those home baked goods. It’s definitely the highlight of my holiday season. One of the most well known symbols of the season is the candy cane. Each year we do vary our cookies and treats, but we do try to include some of the same. This recipe is quite a fun one to make, especially if you are doing these with your kids.
Candy Cane Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ tsp red food coloring
24 pieces round peppermint candy
¼ cup sugar
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- In a mixing bowl, cream butter and confectioner’s sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in egg, almond and vanilla extracts, and salt.
- Blend flour into mixture a little bit at a time, beat until just combined.
- Remove half the dough from the bowl and set aside. Add the red food coloring into the half remaining in the bowl and blend until the coloring is even.
- Use a floured teaspoon to measure 1 tsp of each color dough for each cookie. Roll into 4-inch ropes on a lightly floured surface. Place a red and white rope side by side, press together lightly and twist to form a spiral.
- Place the twisted rope on an ungreased cookie sheet and curve the topdown to form the handle of the candy cane. Bake until set about 9 minutes.
- While the cookies are baking, put the peppermints into a sandwich or storage baggie and crush into small pieces with a rolling pin or spoon. Mix the candy with the remaining sugar.
- Place a cooling rack over a shallow pan and immediately remove cookies from cookie sheet onto cooling rack once baked. Sprinkle with candy and sugar mixture.
About the book:
Lane Freeman supposed there were worse places to be dumped than a place named Christmas Valley. After being ejected from the foster care system, he spent the past five years hitchhiking and moving around. But six months of a steady job at Tal’s Bar and Grill, an apartment, and even a three-legged cat, have him almost ready to risk putting down a few roots when Tal’s brother comes home for the holidays.
Dallas firefighter Trey Jenkins reluctantly accepts that Lane isn’t like the other drifters who’ve come through his brother’s place. A fragile attraction begins to bloom between them, in spite of the many reasons they both have to fight it. Trey wants to give Lane a family, but experience has taught Lane to depend on no one but himself. Will winter love burn hot in a town called Christmas Valley, or will Lane return to his wandering ways?
The next morning, after a restless night of little to no sleep, Lane woke to find the sun already up and Tal and Trey nowhere to be seen. He could hear Mrs. Jenkins in the kitchen and the fire still burning, but another sound also hit his ears: music. Christmas music?
Wait…. The knowledge that the power had been restored hit him full in the chest, and he bit back a sound of distress, then berated himself for being upset. He needed to go home to lick his wounds in private and be reminded of what he didn’t have. Unwrapping himself from the blanket, Lane grabbed the few pieces of his clothing he wasn’t wearing and made for the bathroom.
It didn’t take long for him to wash off, dress, and return to the living room, where he put on his boots, folded the blankets, and set them, with the pillow, on the ottoman before returning War and Peace to the office shelves, the deck of cards forgotten on the coffee table. He would thank Mrs. Jenkins for her hospitality, put on his jackets, and, after picking up Chloe, leave. When he entered the kitchen, Mrs. Jenkins stood at the stove cooking eggs, and Lane’s mouth watered at the smell of coffee. He’d been craving it but hadn’t wanted to ask for it, figuring it would be rude. He rejected the urge to enjoy at least one cup. Once he was back home, he could indulge.
“Good morning, Lane,” she greeted, bright and cheerful.
“Good morning. I see the power is back on.”
“Yep, about thirty minutes ago. I’m surprised you didn’t hear our cheers.”
“Have a seat, sweetheart. Eggs will be finished in just a few moments. We’re going to try and salvage what’s left of our Christmas today by opening presents, and have our missed dinner.”
“If it’s all the same to you, Ellen, I’d like to get Chloe and go home. I appreciate everything you’ve done for me. It was awful nice of you to accept me in even though you don’t know me.”
“What? You need to eat breakfast first,” she chided, sliding an omelet onto a plate. “Here,” she said, trying to hand it to him.
“Thank you, but I’m okay, really. I just need my own clothes and stuff.”
She frowned and set the plate on the counter. “You don’t have to rush off.”
“I know, and I thank you for that, but I really just want to get back to my apartment,” he insisted.
“Tal and Trey should be back in any minute. They can take you.”
“It’s not that far. I can walk.” He moved to her side and impulsively gave her a hug. “Thank you,” he mumbled into her shoulder, squeezing with as much strength as he could muster before stepping back.
“You are welcome here any time you’d like, Lane. I really wish you’d wait for one of the boys to take you home.”
Lane gave her a forced smile and shrugged. “I’m happy for the walk. Been doing nothing except sit around for the last several days. Not used to it.”
She followed him to the hallway and watched him pluck Chloe out of the basket at the base of the tree and place her in his hoodie, zipping it up to protect her from the cold. Once he’d pulled his other jacket on, he opened the door, and Mrs. Jenkins pursued him out onto the porch. Lane stopped, noticing the end of the driveway had been cleared again after the plows came through, and how the endless sea of white was broken up by the dark asphalt of the road. They’d cleared it up quick.
He firmed his resolve and went down the steps. “Thank you again for everything.”
“It wasn’t any imposition, Lane. Please come to the New Year’s Eve party, okay?”
“I’ll try,” Lane lied.
He turned his back on her and started walking. His breath crystallized the instant it hit the air and his fingers were already frozen through. He stuffed them into his pockets, seeking the socks he’d worn over them the other day. God, had it only been three days? Why did it seem like a lifetime, then? Lane smiled without humor and kept up a steady pace, shoulders hunched. Chloe shifted inside his hoodie and Lane soothed her, murmuring nothing in particular.
About halfway home, the sound of tires squealing on the wet concrete caused his heart to leap into his throat and his breathing to double. His eyes widened and he jumped backward, his back hitting a snowbank. Then he heard, “Get in the car, Lane,” in that familiar tenor.
Lane managed to get his heart rate under control. “I can walk,” he protested and resumed walking.
The car shot ahead of him by a dozen yards and then Trey was out of the vehicle, stalking up to him. Trey grabbed hold of Lane’s shoulders and shook him lightly. “You are so damn stubborn!”
Frowning, Lane stared at the road. “I don’t want to cause anyone trouble.”
“It’s more trouble for you to leave without saying anything,” Trey growled. “Ma thinks she did something to make you upset! Why… why did you just leave?”
Frustration and hurt resounded in Trey’s tone, causing shame to burn through Lane. Then he reminded his errant heart why he left in the first place.
“Why?” Trey repeated, harsh and rough.
“Because it’s too damn hard,” Lane burst out, covering his mouth with his hands after. He hadn’t meant to say anything, and he didn’t swear. His parents had never liked it and taught him the same.
“What’s too hard?” Trey asked, voice softer now.
“Be-being around you, your family. Seeing what I don’t have and never will,” Lane whispered.
Trey remained quiet. All Lane could hear was their combined breathing in the early morning air. Most people hadn’t roused from their homes yet. “You have a family, Lane,” Trey finally said. “Ours. We care about you. All of us.”
Lane looked up at Trey, sadness etched on his heart and face. “I don’t have anyone.”
Trey tightened his grip on his shoulders for a couple seconds. “Just… get in the car, Lane.”
Instead of arguing again, Lane climbed into the front seat of a light-blue station wagon. Trey joined him and put the car in drive. The trip to Lane’s apartment was made in silence. When they pulled up to his front steps, Lane put his hand on the door and then hesitated. “Tell your mom I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset her.”
He opened the door and was halfway out when Trey stopped him. “Lane?”
Stopping, he waited for Trey to continue, but disappointment reigned when all Trey said was “I’ll see you at the restaurant this afternoon. Tal wants to reopen as soon as possible.”
“Sure,” Lane said listlessly.
He shut the door and waded through the snow to his steps. Maybe Mrs. Johnson had a shovel he could borrow to clear out his walkway and the bottom of the stairs, he thought inanely as he listened to the car drive away, taking Trey with it.
Tears stung his eyes as he climbed the steps carefully. Once he unlocked his door and set Chloe down, Lane collapsed and started crying, no noise, just big, wet tears and shoulders shaking, silent and broken.
Get the book:
About the author:
J.R. Loveless is an avid fan, reader and writer of anything pertaining to male/male romance. She started out her adventure into the genre in 2004 when she discovered the anime Loveless, a softer side of Yaoi. The moment she saw Loveless, it sucked her in and hasn’t let go since.
After Loveless, she voraciously searched for anything she could find within the anime world pertaining to Yaoi and Shounen-Ai. She found Gravitation, Princess Princess, Gakuen Heaven, Junjou Romantica and so much more. As she searched for the different animes available, she stumbled across an amazing forum that to this day she is more than ever thankful she found.
J.R. currently has several works in progress and several more ideas on the slow cooker. Ideas come to her out of the blue, a lyric in a song, a line in a movie, or just out of nowhere while she’s standing in the shower. She loves to make up her own stories, to follow her heart, and to write things her way because she loves a happy ending.
She is always thankful for all of her followers on AarinFantasy and for all of the wonderful people who read her stories. Please feel free to send her an email or to drop her a note on Facebook. She will always try to respond, even if it isn’t right away.
Promotional post. Materials provided by the author.