Thursday, December 8, 2011

Three French Hens

Welcome! Thanks for stopping by today. If you're following the Jingle Bell Hop, you've come to the Third Day of Christmas. If you've just stumbled upon my blog, well, this weekend, I'm taking part in a multi-author blog hop, celebrating the holidays. If you're interested in following the whole hop, just follow this link to take you back to the hop's central page. A lot of excellent authors are participating, and there are a ton of prizes up for grabs. Go ahead! It'll be fun!

For my post, I've written a short story, using my day as inspiration. I hope you enjoy!

Three French Hens

Simon didn't mind so much not getting home for Christmas. He wouldn't miss the way Aunt Penny always got smashed on Southern Comfort and forced everyone to sing along with her as she played every Barry Manilow song ever written on the piano. He'd be free of Dad's new tool frenzy, where anyone with testosterone--and a few without--were herded into the garage to play with whatever Mom had bought him this year. He'd especially be free of the New Year's clean-up where he and Dad were left fixing everything he'd broken during said frenzy, like new holes in the garage walls or wiring that suddenly made the coffeemaker turn on every time somebody used the nightstand lamp in the upstairs guest bedroom. There'd be no game night with all the sore losers, or getting sick from eating too many of Grandma's rum-laced mince pies, or listening to his little sister Kim prattle on and on about her new boyfriend.

He sighed as he turned off his laptop. Who was he kidding? He was going to miss the whole shebang. As well as the fact that the only person who didn't mock him for using the word shebang in everyday conversation was his nephew Cooper who still thought Simon was the coolest guy ever even though Christmas was the only time he ever got to see the kid.

The faint strains of Christmas music filtered through his closed door. Though the party wasn't in the office, everybody else had stopped working at lunchtime, getting prepared early to walk over as a group to the restaurant down the street the company had reserved for their holiday blowout tonight. The Paris satellite office wasn't that big--only eighteen people, almost half of which were out on a daily basis on face-to-faces with clients--but VMI believed in celebrating success. Simon had seen the numbers for the Christmas budget. Small countries could run on what VMI was throwing at their employees this holiday season.

He wasn't going. Though he'd been working in the Paris office for a few weeks now, he didn't feel like pretending he was happy about spending Christmas alone. The conversion to the new warehousing system had to be fully operational--which meant coded, tested, and installed--before the New Year. Nine days to get it done, which was why he couldn't afford to lose any of them by flying back to San Francisco to see his family. Add in the fact that he didn't really need to watch his office crush--a guy named Rayce with killer blue-green eyes who zipped through the streets of Paris on his motorcycle like he had a death wish--flirt with everyone with a pulse except Simon, and the whole night had misery written all over it.

So he had a plan. Because he didn't normally log off work before six, if he was already gone by the time the others came looking for him, he'd be safe.

Safe went out the window when the doorknob turned in his grasp and he was brought up short by the one person guaranteed to foil his plans.

"There you are." Claudie's upturned smile beamed as bright and innocent as always, but the calculating gleam in her brown eyes gave away the fact she knew exactly what he'd been about to do. Her pixie-like youth fooled almost everyone. Only those in the inner circle understood how dangerous that facade truly made her. But a woman didn't reach a VP position like hers by the age of twenty-six without a few tricks. "Just the man we're looking for."

We included Claudie and the two women flanking her. The Juliettes. Juliette #1 was the office receptionist, a voluptuous fortysomething divorced mom with a Brad Pitt fetish and a yen for Buttery Nipples, while Juliette #2 ranked low girl on the marketing totem pole, a soft-spoken, bottle blonde who'd shocked Simon his first day with her encyclopedic knowledge on all things eight-legged. The trio dogged Simon's free, and not so free, time. Not maliciously. He didn't think there was a malicious bone between all three bodies. He liked to imagine them as the three fairies from Sleeping Beauty. Except more organized. And French.

"You found me," he said. "What can I do for you ladies?"

"Now how's that in the spirit of Christmas?" Stepping forward, Claudie looped her arm through his, trapping his laptop case between them. "Christmas is about giving, what we can do for you."

"And good will," chimed in Juliette #1.

"Don't forget mistletoe," came from Juliette #2.

"Which, of course, leads to kissing."

"And then more kissing."

"And we're getting a little ahead of ourselves," Claudie said. "Come. Let's go to the party, shall we?"

The party was the last place he wanted to be. "Actually, I'm not feeling very well," he tried. He hunched his shoulders a little and grimaced to simulate a stomachache. "Something at lunch disagreed with me, I think."

"You had half a cheese sandwich and coffee," Juliette #1 said. "How could that make you sick? You eat it every day."

His lips tightened into a hard line. Damn it. He'd forgotten she knew everything on everyone when it came to their schedules and eating habits.

"You just need something to distract you." Claudie tugged at his arm, but he kept his feet glued to the floor which only ended up in him bowing over even farther. "The party is perfect for that."

Technically, Claudie outranked him. His director position back in San Francisco was vital, certainly important enough to make him the go-to guy in the international conversions, but this wasn't his native soil and her title carried more weight than his. If she wanted, she could order his attendance and not bat a thickly mascaraed eyelash. That wasn't her style, though.

"We have a surprise, just for you."

That was.

As gracefully as his overladen shoulder allowed, he extricated himself from her grip and stepped back. "I'm not so good with surprises."

"You don't have to be." Juliette #2 came around to his other side, leaving #1 blocking the doorway. He wouldn't get through it now without bowling her over. "We've done all the work for you."


"It's not work," Claudie said quickly. She shot #2 a sharp glare that vanished as fast as it had appeared when she swiveled back to Simon. "Why would we give you a Christmas gift that was work?"

"So...this is a gift."

"Of course."

"And you couldn't just give it to me here?"

All three of them tittered. Only French girls could do that and not make it sound ridiculous.

"It's not wrapped," #1 said.

#2 looked thoughtful. "It's got a bow."

Another round of titters.

"It's too big to carry through the office," Claudie explained. "You have to come out and get it."

Her trap was so blatant, he was almost disappointed. Of course, there wasn't a gift. This was their way of making sure he went to the party. Somehow, Claudie had figured out he didn't want to go and planned this ambush to guarantee he attended.

He made one last ditch effort for freedom. "This seriously couldn't wait until tomorrow? I could get it when I come in."

Claudie shook her head. "Now."

With a sigh, he turned on his heel and went back to drop his laptop onto his desk. The three women waited patiently for him to come back, both Claudie and #2 linking arms with him in case he tried to make a run for it once they were clear of the door.

The music grew louder as they approached the receptionist area. At the last minute, Claudie steered him away from the clustered desks and into the narrow corridor that led to the conference rooms. He frowned. Had he got it wrong? Maybe they really did have a present for him and they'd feared his antisocial behavior would trump their generosity.

They stopped at a closed door, one without a window so he couldn't get a glimpse of what might be inside. Claudie disengaged from his arm and reached for the doorknob, glancing back and smiling as she pushed it open. "Merry Christmas, Simon."

The light was on, but the only thing the long conference table had on it was Rayce's backside as he leaned against it. He straightened when they appeared, pulling to his full height and drawing all eyes up and down his long form. Six-three, the body of an Olympic swimmer, legs encased in jeans Simon knew for a fact had the most delicious wear across the seat, a white, long-sleeved sweater molded over his broad shoulders...and a big red bow hanging around his neck.

Rayce smiled, and everything inside Simon knotted together into a bow Martha Stewart would be jealous of. "Merry Christmas, Simon." His English wasn't quite as good as most of the office's, but his heavier accent gave his baritone a lilt that was better than any vibrator Simon could've bought and laid directly on his balls.

"What's this?" Simon croaked.

"Your gift," Claudie announced proudly. "Nobody should be alone for Christmas."

"But..." Words failed him. He didn't get it.

"You don't have to go to the party." Claudie's voice had taken on a gentler tone, as if she could feel his confusion. "It's been obvious you didn't want to for days."

"This was my idea," Rayce added. "We'll finally get the chance to get to know each other."

His face went hot, probably beet-red from the feel of it. "I'm not...I didn't..."

"Oh, cherie." Claudie patted his arm. "You are, and you do, but I knew you'd never say a word to Rayce. And he likes you, too, so all is good, non?"

He didn't know about good, but short of skittering away like a roach away from the light, he didn't have much choice but to try and brave this with as much dignity as possible. Rayce's amazing eyes twinkled warm and steady on him, too, appreciative in ways Simon had only witnessed aimed at others, never at himself. As far as presents go, he wasn't sure if he could've come up with something he'd wanted more this year, outside of going home for the holiday.

"You wanted this?" he said carefully. "You've barely talked to me since I got here."

Rayce tilted his head. "What I say...I thought you'd be bored. You're the smartest man here." He laughed. "And I'm not."

But there was more to a potential date than being an intellectual match, even if that actually mattered to Simon which it didn't. There was also compassion and laughter. Simon had known about the latter, but until now, he'd wondered about Rayce's capacity for the former. This banished any lingering doubts.

"All right." He smiled, hoping he didn't still look nervous. "I'm game if you are."

With a bold laugh, Rayce pulled the bow over his head and sauntered forward until Simon could feel the heat radiating from his body. "I like this." He looped the bow around Simon's neck, using it as a rein to draw him closer, close enough for his hot breath to fan over Simon's ear. "We'll both be game."

Behind him, the Juliettes tittered before Claudie shushed them. As she herded them out the door, leaving Simon and Rayce alone to discuss the particulars of their evening, he made a mental note to take a long lunch the next day to go buy Claudie the best Christmas gift he could find.

He already had his.


In case you're curious about Rayce, this is how I envision him:
That's French model, Willy Monfret. I'm absolutely in love.

Remember those prizes I mentioned? I'm giving away an e-book from my backlist and a $25 Amazon gift card to a random commenter, as well as adding a copy of my 2012 Epic finalist, Capricorn: Forgotten Faces, to the Kindle Fire we're giving away as a grand prize. Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the rest of the tour!


Michelle M. said...

Wow, your vision of Rayce is pretty awesome. Yummy. Lucky Simon! Enjoyed the story and having fun with the blog hop!

Maddy Barone said...

OMG, those eyes are to die for!

Amy S. said...

Yummy pic! The story was great!


mnjcarter said...

I love your picture at the top (this weeks inspiration). I'm going to have to check that one out when it's finished! You are a new author to me, but not for long. I put a few of your books on my TBR list.

Your vision of Rayce is gorgeous, can't get past the eyes to enjoy the rest of his face though:)

Nancy said...

Please enter me in this contest. Thank you.

Barbara said...

I like the way your picture Rayce...VERY, VERY nice!! Happy holidays!

Christine said...

Rayce is Hot! Thanks for particapting in the hop. This is fun!


j. barrett said...

ok i'll take one of him also :}

Happy holidays to all


cheralyn said...

Great pic! Thanks for the giveaway! cheryllynne(at)rocketmail(dot)com

PhyllisC said...

Great picture - thanks for sharing! And the story was pretty good too. LOL

Thanks for the giveaway!

pnc07 (at) aol (dot) com

Drea Becraft said...

His eyes are just WOW! Loved the story! I hope you and your family have a great Christmas!


Brenda said...

Love the story and Rayce is gorgeous.

Happy Holidays!

Christine Merritt said...

I had a boyfriend in college ... spoke french... lips like your Rayce..he was my best present EVER for a couple of years... EVERYONE deserves a little French on one holiday or the other..

Thank you!

cyndiw1961 said...

Love the picture. Thanks for the story. Merry Christmas!!

tara_felicia said...

wow! your vision of Rayce is absolutely beautiful.
thanks for joining in on the contest

Rhapsdyb said...

Eyes are the sexist thing on a man followed by the mouth and how his butt looks in a tight pair of jeans. And this pic definitely has the bedroom eyes thing going on. Thanks for a chance to win one of your books.

Marcia said...

Nice! Truly mesmerizing eyes!

Chelsea B. said...

Thank you for sharing! This is an absolutely fantastic tour!

LynTaylor said...

Great read! Merry Christmas:D

Shadow said...

Great story! That picture..He's hot!!! :D Thanks for sharing! Merry Christmas!

geschumann said...

Definitely a good vision of him. Thanks for the giveaway! Have a blessed Christmas! Gloria

geschumann at live dot com

Nina Pierce said...

Don't enter me in the contest, Vivien. I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed you story!

Jacki C. said...

great story - I am enjoying this hop!

Meagan B said...

great story and nice pic!

Cathy M said...

Great visual of Rayce, and I loved the three French Juliette's.

caity_mack at yahoo dot com

Nay Nay said...

Can I have him in my stocking? You are so talented to so quickly write a story with the 3 French Hens. Thanks for being part of the hop and for the chance to win such a great prize! <^_^>

reneebennett35 at yahoo dot com

vadeluna07 said...

All I have to say is, "WOW!!!!"

Ezra Solomon said...

Cute guy, nice story. :)

Laura H. said...

Thanks for awesome, and very generous, giveaway! Willy Monfret works for me!


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the story and the pic. yum. lisagk(at)yahoo(dot)com

Krysykat said...

I like who you envision Rayce as, he's all type of hotness.


Shari said...

Your vision of Rayce is stunning. Love your portrayal of 3 French Hens! Happy Holidays!

Shelley Munro said...

Wow, I'd like to find Rayce in my Christmas stocking. His eyes are mesmerizing.

Jennifer Mathis said...

great story and wow he has amazing eyes

Tammy said...

He's hot!!!!
lovin this blog hop.

lindseye said...

Yummy picture. Loved the story. So much angst in so few words.
linze_e at

hcnathan said...

YUMMY! Thanks for the picture. Happy Holidays

WildAboutBones said...

Uhhmmmm, look at those eyes. I could drown in eyes like those.
This is a great way to do a blog hop. Thanks for the opportunity to win. You are a new (to me) author and I look forward to reading your titles.
WildAboutBones at gmail dot com

WakeAngel said...

Yep...Raycee is just how I imagined him too!:-)

joder said...

Great little story with a very sexy picture included. I LOVE his accent and exotic looks. Thanks for the giveaway and Happy Holidays!

joderjo402 AT gmail DOT com

flchen1 said...

Those mesmerizing eyes, Vivien! That was a sweet holiday treat! Thanks for the story!

f dot chen at comcast dot net

Wendy Gassman said...

Mery Christmas everyone.


Nancy G said...

WOW, those eyes...great picture, and lovely story as well. Thanks for the contest.

nancyg5997 (at)

elaing8 said...

wow..he's a cutie :)
I enjoyed reading the story.

Terri said...

I loved your story, and I loved Rayce. :)

Rebecca said...

Wonderful story and very hot picture! Happy Holidays. :)

Criss said...

Your story excerpt started out very nostalgic and some what sad but such a hopeful and lovely end to a really wonderful excerpt.Really good. Can i have a Pic of Rayce, i mean a girl has to enjoy her little kink's whenever she can.That man is STUNNING! LOL! rshereifa at yahoo dot com

*yadkny* said...

Great story!

Happy Holidays!!!

DrkCherry said...

Damn, how do I go about getting a Rayce under my tree?

marybelle said...

Just too delicious!!


Joanne said...

Nice inspiration for Rayce. Great story.
Happy holidays.


K. S. Welbourn said...

Great story. It is so easy to picture the scene with the 3 ladies. Your Rayce is gorgeous. Thank you.

fcammer2 said...

Wow awesome story. and a wonderful contest and blog hop too. Happy Holidays.

Natasha D said...

Got to love a frenchman and one with eyes like that - oooh-la-la
Great story.

Pamk said...

Thanks for the short story. Hope you holidays are merry and bright.

PaParanormalFan said...

Hello Vivien,
I think your inspiration for Rayce is absolutely Beautiful, his eyes just grab you & don't wanna let go. Your story was just as lovely.
I would very much like the opportunity to enter your Contest.
Take Care & Wishing You a Very Happy Holiday Season,
Renee' S.

Susan said...

His eyes are stunning! YUMMY!! I am in love also. :)

thanks for the great contest!

- Susan R

books4me said...

Wait! Wait! Where's the rest?! I wanna know what happens next!! excerpt!

books4me67 at ymail dot com

BookAttict said...

Thanks for the story & giveaway! Happy Holidays!

June M. said...

Nice story and great picture! Yummy!!!
Happy Holidays!!!
June M.
manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

Rae M. said...

That story was so adorable! And that picture is enough to make me want to hop on the first flight to France!

Thanks for sharing.

Beth Williams said...

Delicious! Thank you, and merry Christmas!

Tonya said...

Cute story! Gorgeous pic! Hes so hot! ;) Thanks for sharing!

Na said...

I was wondering what that present was! The bow made it even cuter.

Na S.

Maggie Le Page said...

Mmm, no wonder you used *that* pic as inspiration for your story. Love him! Thanks for the story, and have a great Christmas.

Eva's Flowers said...

Those eyes are amazing! Thanks for sharing him ;) Happy Holidays!


Courtney said...

Your "inspiration" is YUMMY!! Loved the story.

Courtney said...

OOPS!! Forgot to add my email addy.


Pommawolf Emeraldwolfeyes said...

Thank you so much for such an awesome story! I love it!
Thank you for being a part of the blog hop...*S*
I;m a Capricorn with my birthday after Christmas...and your book loos so very good...*S*

Happy Holidays!


Bookwyrm369 said...

What a great story! Thanks so much :-)

smaccall AT