New Release: Take Time #mmromance #holidaystory #gay

New Release
Take Time
A Holiday M/M Romance
Previously serialized at Lee's Musings, new material added, first time in ebook format
Limited Time Offers
Offers valid until Dec. 31, 2014

50% off With Coupon Code PJ79D at Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/503389

Watson McQuade has big dreams, a spirit of adventure, and a craving for professional success that can't be nurtured in a small town. Fortunately for him, he also has a loving boyfriend who's been his best friend since junior high, who understands his dreams and encourages him to follow them.
Having survived the deaths of his parents and grandmother, Embry Conrad, artist, coffee shop owner, small town boy, knows all about loss. Although a perfect day for Em starts with Wats in his bed, and ends exactly the same way, Em knows Watson's urge to experience life outside their little neck of the woods comes first, and he's willing to indulge Watson's dreams, because Watson always comes home. He learned the hard way that sometimes if you love something, you have to set it free.
Although long distance relationships are hard, the reunions each time Wats returns to Turtle Neck Creek keep Em satisfied, until the day he realizes that a year has passed since Watson's last homecoming. Now it's time to make a choice—take time to fight for what he wants or set his lover free…forever.

Take Time
Chapter One
Harry Connick Jr.'s baritone voice warbled in the background, bemoaning the advent of a "Blue Christmas." The rich scent of coffee and pumpkin spice muffins filled the air, wafting up from the coffee shop below.
If Embry concentrated, underneath Harry's soothing tones, he could distinguish the complex rumble of customers' voices in the spaces between words. If he listened, really, really focused, underneath it all he could hear the sound of his blood pushing through his veins, the beat of his heart and the cracking…shattering of that organ.
But he smiled, and lifted the paint-soaked sponge he used to wash in a background on the canvas he knew wouldn't be worth a nickel when he finished…if he ever did finish it…and dabbed a bit of apple green into the dark night sky.
The large rectangle of canvas comprised all the world he could handle right now. Across the studio, Watson McQuade sat, wearing new dark-rimmed reading glasses and looking like a GQ ad in his dress shirt and sweater vest. At least he isn't wearing a tie. His laptop sat open in front of him, and his briefcase took up the second chair at the little bistro table.
When Em had cleaned out the attic space where his grandmother had stored old things, beautiful things, really, he'd had a hard time parting with some of the items, and a lot of them had found new homes in the bed and breakfast or the coffee shop. The bistro table and its two wrought iron chairs though had found their home in front of one of the huge new windows he'd installed. He liked to sit there in the mornings and drink coffee while the sun rose over the water and the town came to life below him.
Liar. He liked to sit there and fantasize that one day he'd drink coffee and Wats would sit across that table from him, but not this Wats. The one who shared the table with him in his dreams was usually naked, or given the whole picture window thing, maybe partially clothed. Maybe sleep pants, and a lovely bared chest…
He turned his head an inch or so to look at Wats again. The tightening in his gut reminded him that things weren't really okay between them. Wats was so focused on his work, the whole Christmas holiday was passing by, and at times, Em felt that his boyfriend might as well have stayed in Denver.
That's not fair.
Life wasn't fair. Hadn't he known that since he turned eleven? It wasn't fair that his parents died when he was just a kid, and it wasn't fair that his grandmother died while he was in college. Most of all, it wasn't fair that his best friend, the man he loved, could be in the same room with him and yet so far away.
"Fuck." He threw the sponge onto the drop cloth at his feet. It gave a completely unsatisfying splotch and exuded a blotchy puddle of green paint in reproof.
Wats looked up finally, casting him a questioning glance, one hand poised on his computer mouse, the other holding a sheet of paper. "Something wrong?"
Em blew hair out of his eyes and wiped his hands on a rag. What to say? "I'm not feeling this at the moment. What do you say we go downstairs and grab some coffee then head out to the square and take in the displays, maybe do some holiday shopping?"
Wats blinked, his mouth rounded in an "oh" of surprise, and he glanced back at his computer. The imminent refusal hovered in the air between them, unspoken.
Em gritted his teeth and forced himself not to leap into the breach, not to say anything. If Wats didn't want to go, then he'd accept that.
"It's just that I have to get this proposal sent off tonight." He smiled, just a rueful tilt of the lips, not a full-on light up your face smile, not the smile that Em wanted. "I promise, after this gets done, I'm all yours and we can do whatever you want."
For the next six days. And wasn’t that the whole problem? But he didn't say any of those negative things, the rants and pleas, aloud. Those were his secret thoughts, the thoughts of the man who cowered inside, the one who hated being alone, and feared a day when Wats wouldn’t come home at all.
Instead he widened his smile, nodded his head, and stepped into his flip-flops. He strolled over to the window and picked up his colorful surfing Santa Hawaiian shirt. Outside, on the village square, a group of carolers had gathered in front of the town's forty foot tall sea shell adorned Christmas tree.
A cup of coffee and a bit of fresh air, that was what he needed to get his Christmas spirit back. "Right," he mumbled, then leaned across the table to drop a kiss on Wat's head. "I'll see you in a bit then. Maybe I'll bring us lunch from the Chinese place."
Wats murmured something that might have been gratitude or approval, but probably wasn't either, as he didn't seem to be paying any attention at all to Em.
Em shrugged, pushing it off to the side, forcing the bitterness down. Wats was here, and he'd damn well enjoy the time they had together.
Six days. Not a lot of time to get all the loving in that he wanted, not a lot of time to shore up the memories he would need to fight the loneliness of January and make it to Valentine's Day. He couldn't waste that time with anger or bitterness.
"I'll have a blue…blue…Christmas…" Harry's voice faded in the distance as he left the studio, climbing down the stairwell. By the time he exited into the coffee shop, the holiday music had changed from melancholy to an upbeat pop tune from the eighties…Hall and Oates rocking around the Christmas tree to a "Jingle Bells" beat. His spirits rose at the sight of his shop, abustle with holiday cheer, full of his friends and the scents and sounds of the season. How could he help but feel that everything would turn out all right?
Wats would finish his project, they'd eat, maybe drink, watch the tree lighting ceremony that night, and tumble into bed together, and not get out until dehydration and starvation forced them to.
"Hey, boss man!" Hilary called. "Can I get you some coffee?"
Em flashed the first genuine smile of the day at his bubbly barista. "I'll take a large gingerbread coffee to go." The rich beverage sweetened with molasses and brown sugar, spiced with ginger and cinnamon was the most popular coffee of the season.
"How goes the painting today?" Hilary chatted as she mixed the beverage.
"Not so good," he admitted. "I might be a trifle distracted."
She poured the steaming drink into a large Styrofoam cup. "And what about Wats? I did see him go up there a while ago, didn't I?"
"He's doing some work he couldn't get done before his flight left." he responded defensively. "I'm getting Chinese and we're going to watch the ceremony tonight."
Hilary smiled, handed him the cup. "Well, you two come on down to our place afterward and say hi. Rick won't go to the ceremony. He says it's all commercial and doesn't want any part of it. But we've got a nice bottle of Scotch and we'd love to catch up with you all."
The idea of adding another activity in between the tree lighting and dragging Wats into his bed for a round of strenuous I-missed-the-fuck out-of-you sex didn't appeal, but they'd gone to school with Hilary, and Rick had been one of the few athletes who hadn't taken delight in shoving them into lockers or taunting them in the showers. "Okay, but it's going to have to be brief." He didn't elaborate, but saw Hilary's comprehension of his intentions in the flirty wiggle of her brows and the faint blush on her cheeks.
He left the coffee shop, waving and nodding at the regular customers, who seemed to be out in larger numbers than usual this Saturday before Christmas, lighter of heart and with a firm plan for the rest of the day.
The Chinese restaurant was right around the corner, between a used bookstore and an antiques mall. He'd enjoy browsing in both before picking up dinner. Maybe he'd find something for Wats for Christmas, maybe a little hostess gift for Hilary and Rick. That should give Wats plenty of time to finish his work.

Limited Time Offers
Offers valid until Dec. 31, 2014

50% off With Coupon Code PJ79D  at Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/503389

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