Something Beautiful (SFW)

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Rainbow Advent 12

Hi, everyone! For those of you who are new to my blog, welcome.

It’s my turn to get a little festive today as I add my story to the wonderful Rainbow Advent Calendar. Click the banner above (or here for our wonderful Facebook gròup) when you’ve finished reading, to find more free stories from a variety of excellent authors throughout Advent!

This story features two of the characters from my debut novel, Submerge, but it stands alone, it’s safe for work, and it’s (major) spoiler-free. I’ll add a buy link at the bottom if you want to know more about how the two of them met. Meanwhile, the story itself is free, but if you do like it and want to show your appreciation in any way, please consider making a small donation to the NSPCC today. It’s nothing to do with the story, but it’s a charity very close to my own heart and they do great work helping children who need protection, often from those who should be doing the protecting. If not, no pressure whatsoever – as I say, this is a very short, very free story!

So, without further ado…

Something Beautiful
By Eleanor Musgrove

Jamie came home from the office party to find that Christmas had exploded in Miles’ living room.

“What on Earth happened here?” A pile of decorations – paper chains, by the looks of it, though the tangled mess was hard to conclusively identify – moved in the corner and a familiar bowler hat popped out of the top, followed by Miles’ face and arms.

“You’re home! I, er-”

“Hold on. Let me try out my deductive powers. First of all, your job search went about as well as usual.”

“Correct. Still a surprising lack of opportunities for former managers of disgraced nightclubs. Shocking, I know.”

“Sorry. So… you got fed up and bored, and you knew I’d be home late today, so you decided to go for a walk into town.”

“Yeah…”

“And in town, you were entranced by the pretty lights and the glitter and the tinsel and now here we are.”

“Good try, but you missed a bit.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah.” Miles shrugged. “I had an accomplice.”

“Who would help you collect this much shiny- oh. Gina.”

“Yeah… in my defence, she bought even more than I did. Her flat is going to be insane.”

“And yet I expect she’s managed to get at least one decoration up.” Jamie couldn’t help but smile fondly at the general mess Miles had made. He got it; Miles struggled to concentrate when he was having a tough time with his depression, and even just unpacking all the assorted Christmas tat covering the floor must have been a mammoth undertaking.

“After I unpacked it all, I started making paper chains and… I suppose I fell asleep.” Miles was obviously embarrassed, but Jamie thought it was adorable. “I only woke up when you put your key in the door.”

“Come on, then. If you can get out of that pile without ripping them all, I’ll help you put all this up.”

 

It turned out that Miles had actually bought more fairy lights than they had power sockets to plug them into – and that wasn’t even counting the strings of cheap, battery-powered bulbs he’d picked up at the local pound shop. They’d have to get themselves a couple of safe extension cords the following day. For now, even without getting all the lights plugged in, there was plenty to get on with. Miles must have made ten metres of paper chains before he’d fallen asleep, and although his flat was comfortably spacious, it wasn’t big enough to fit ten metres of paper chains across the ceiling without looking ridiculous. They hung them anyway, giving the living room the impression of a jungle with hanging vines in festive colours.

“Right. Tinsel?”

Jamie wasn’t sure where they were going to put it, but he took one end of a strand from Miles all the same. Eventually, they draped it along the edges of surfaces, wrapped furniture legs and – of course – stuck it around the frame of the painting on the wall. Miles, Jamie noticed once they’d finished, was also wearing a short length as a fantastically sparkly tie.

“Suits you. What next?”

“I, er, got some more baubles and things, for the tree.”

 

Jamie had bought their tree, a couple of weeks ago, and decked its plastic branches with lights and the handful of baubles he’d taken a fancy to in the shops. Miles had added his own decorations, but there hadn’t been very many of them. Too many were overtly Christian in theme, and since neither of them saw Christmas as a religious experience – the holiday was based in the wrong religion for both of them – it hadn’t seemed appropriate to cover their tree in angels and tiny baby Jesus figures that played Christmas hymns when pressed.

“Those don’t exist,” Jamie had exclaimed, when Miles had told him as much. Miles had showed him the website. “Those shouldn’t exist,” he’d corrected lamely.

 

Now, however, Miles seemed to have come up trumps, with non-religious baubles covered in glitter in fantastic patterns and colours. He watched with interest as Miles blushed slightly before rummaging in a carrier bag, pulling out a long train of sparkly reindeer. They seemed to just keep coming, until finally the string ended with an equally glittery sleigh.

“It… er… it called to me.” Miles seemed utterly ashamed of the decision, but Jamie only cared for one detail.

“Show me that first reindeer.” Miles obliged, and Jamie peered carefully at its face. Then he looked at the second one in the string. “Yes. That’s good. They can go on the tree.”

“What were you-? Oh, it’s Rudolph! I didn’t even notice that. And the rest have black noses?”

“Of course. There can only be one Rudolph. Let’s see… if we start Rudolph just under the star on top, and then wrap the whole thing round…” They were lucky; when they reached the end of the string, the sleigh just rested neatly on one of the lowest branches.

“Perfect,” Miles told him happily, looking not only at the tree but at the festive chaos of the room around them. He was practically glowing, and it warmed Jamie’s heart to see it. Miles had told him once, during a particularly bad spell, that when he was struggling with the darkness in his mind it helped to see something beautiful. There was no denying that the flat had been transformed into something beautiful now. “Perfect,” Miles repeated, but Jamie shook his head.

“Not quite. Close your eyes.”

 

Miles narrowed his eyes before he closed them entirely, clearly a little suspicious. Still, he followed Jamie’s instruction and even tipped his hat forward a touch to ensure that he couldn’t be accused of peeking. Jamie made his way quietly over to his discarded jacket and reached into the inside pocket for the item he needed. He had to stand on tiptoes to tuck the sprig of mistletoe into a paper chain above Miles’ head, and it took a moment to get it in just the right position so that it didn’t fall out. Then he took Miles’ hat from him.

“Open your eyes, then.”

Miles’ eyes darted around the room, looking for any difference in his surroundings. It took a few moments for him to follow Jamie’s gaze upwards and spot the innocent-looking little plant hanging above his head.

“Oh. Yes, that really does make it-”

 

Jamie was impatient; he moved forward and pulled Miles into his arms, barely waiting for him to lean in before he claimed his lips for his own. By the time they broke apart, they were both a little breathless.

“…Perfect,” Miles mumbled, grinning like an idiot. Jamie was sure he was wearing a similarly dopey expression. “Where did that come from?”

“The mistletoe? I stole it from work. They really shouldn’t put it up at work parties, anyway, that’s just asking for someone to need a sexual harassment seminar in the New Year.”

“You stole it? From work? Remind me what your job is again, Jamie?”

“Oh, stop it, it’s hardly the crime of the century. Even we have to have fun sometimes. Do you like it?”

“It’s definitely staying here – and so are you.”

 

Miles wrapped his arms around him again, his embrace warm and comfortable amidst the riot of colour and light they had turned the flat into. Truly, Jamie thought to himself, this was something beautiful.

You can find out more about Jamie and Miles in Submerge, available here and here. If you’d like to make a donation to my chosen charity, you can do so online here. Thanks to Alex Jane for letting me join this wonderful project, and for organising the whole thing. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!

Rainbow Advent Calendar

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Rainbow Advent Calendar

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Hi, everyone!

Well, I survived NaNo with my fifth win – still plenty to do on the novel, of course, but I’ve made a good start. BUT that’s not what I want to tell you about today.

Today, I am excited about the…

Rainbow Advent Calendar

Yes! It’s Christmas soon (like it or not), and Alex Jane has done a fantastic job at making the run-up to the holidays a little more fun for fiction-lovers.

Every day from the 1st-24th December, a different author will be posting a short story, completely free, for you to enjoy. Some of the authors will be suggesting charities you might like to donate to but that is absolutely optional. The identities of those authors and the order in which they’ll be posting is a closely guarded secret – you don’t want to open the doors too early and spoil the surprise – but I can reveal that I am taking part at some point during the 24 days, and that so are some truly fantastic authors I know. Then, of course, there are many I don’t know at all, so it’s a great chance to expand all of our reading lists!

I should warn that this calendar opened up to the rainbow after some time being planned as an M/M (male/male) calendar, so it does skew towards M/M but there should be some variety in there somewhere! There will also be various ratings, kinks and heat levels, so please check the listings on the masterpost as they appear.

You can get to the masterpost by clicking on the banner above (or here) and there’s a closed Facebook group (applications are usually approved pretty fast unless you’re an obvious spambot) here so you can chat with authors and other readers and keep track of the calendar. Please do check it out if you’re interested, it’s such a lovely idea and I hope it’ll become an annual tradition.

Talk to you soon!

Here we go again…

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Hi everyone!

It’s time for NaNoWriMo again, and I’ve signed up as usual (because apparently I’m a total masochist). I’ll be writing a historical novel that may or may not involve a romance (I honestly can’t tell if that will pan out right now).

You can follow my progress via the widget below, and if you’re also participating you can add me as a buddy. My username is @masqueblanc.

I probably won’t be updating much during the month (no change there – I really am sorry about that) but I’ll see you on the other side!

Patreon launch!

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Hi everyone,

It’s my birthday, which means it’s also launch day for my brand new Patreon page! Patreon is a platform that allows you to support creators in doing what they do best, by effectively giving them $1 (or more if you like!) now and then.

My Patreon currently works on a per-creation basis. I’ll be adding new free content at least once a month, at least for a while, and I hope to add about two pieces of paid content a month (until I can increase it to three; beyond that I’ll be switching to a pledge-per-month system so it doesn’t get silly for anyone). Everyone can see my free posts, but paid posts will be Patron exclusive.

Please go and check out the page – the free story is at least some indication of what you can expect from my writing – and tell your friends! I hope you’ll enjoy the content over there and, hopefully, renewed activity on this blog.

Thanks, and talk to you soon!

New release announced!

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Hi, everyone!

Manifold Press have just made the official announcement of Call to Arms, an anthology set around World War II which will be coming out on the 1st of November this year. I’ve got two stories in it – and, for those of you who enjoyed my WWI contributions to A Pride of Poppies, there’s an opportunity to catch up with some familiar faces.

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We’ve got seventeen stories from thirteen authors (lucky for us!) and if the quality of Manifold’s previous anthologies is any indication, it’ll be a real stunner. This time, all proceeds are going to the British Refugee Council, a very worthy charity. It’s available for pre-order now, so please do check it out!

Talk to you soon!

Coming soon…

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Hi everyone,

The situation at home continues to be somewhat fraught, to say the least, so I’ve not been keeping up with this blog the way I’d have liked. Truth is, writing has been difficult in general lately, so even if I had been blogging regularly I’m not sure what I would have said.

BUT! I want to fix that. I’m hoping to start putting some short stories out on a more regular basis, and in order to try to motivate myself I’m setting up a Patreon account. I’m still sorting out some posts to queue so nobody’s signing up for a blank canvas, but I’m hoping to officially launch on October 7th (or 8th, depending on how busy I am on the 7th). I’ll share a link nearer the time, so keep an eye out!

I’ve put most of my previous projects on the back burner for now as I’m having trouble finding either the time or the attention span to write novels. So Patreon rewards will be largely short stories and behind-the-scenes insights. Right now, I’m also working on a longer-term project, building a fantasy world from scratch so I can play in that – and I’ll be sharing maps and such with my patrons first, until I have enough to start writing.

Once I’m creating consistently for Patreon (knowing people are paying for things makes it much harder to let them down), I hope I’ll fall into the sort of routine that will make it easier to post here more often, too. There will be a delay between some things getting to Patreon and making it onto this blog, however, I’m afraid – part of the reward system for signups over there!

Talk to you soon, readers, and thanks for sticking with me for this long!