Fruitcake is the laughingstock of the holiday season. But can it be an aphrodisiac instead? Motorcycle mechanic Sam McGuire is surprised to find a gaily wrapped box on his doorstep with a piece of fruitcake accompanying an invitation to a holiday party.
Wondering if he’ll fit in, Sam attends the party—mostly to get more of the fruitcake he falls in love with—and meets Jay Merriweather, his new neighbor. The lure of Jay’s big family and its holiday tradition of enjoying Grandma’s fruitcake hook Sam, as does the sexy man himself.
But Sam can't imagine why handsome, college-educated Jay would want someone like him, who was raised in a children’s home and barely graduated high school. Maybe the magic of the holiday season can help two men who seem so different come together like the ingredients in a well-made fruitcake.
“Hi there. Did I hear you say you’re the neighbor from down the hall?” At my nod, the new guy added, “Let’s get you a drink and introduce you to a few people.”
Now here was my kinda man. Like me, on the street, nobody’d probably guess he was gay. Only not like me, since I looked like the bike mechanic I am, he looked like one of the bankers I’d talked to last week. He was a couple inches shorter than me, with conservative-cut hair, blue eyes, and a trustworthy face. He looked like he cared whether I was having a good time or not.
“Uh, sure. That’d be great.”
I couldn’t figure out how I was supposed to act. If I wasn’t bullshitting with friends, my words usually dried up. Fortunately it hadn’t happened at the bank when I was presenting my case for a loan to a guy who looked like him, or I’d have been fucked.READ MORE
So I let this guy lead me around, introducing me, telling me something about everyone, and letting them know I lived at the other end of the hall.
At one point he stared at me with a funny twinkle in his eyes and asked, “You’re not by any chance McGuire’s Bikes, are you?”
I managed to nod. I was stunned. It wasn’t like I was famous or anything.
He beamed. “No shit! Wow! I wanted to meet you after the Reno Roadshow. I loved your Loose and Wild Rainbow. Great bike.”
Ah, yes, L&WR, the winner of the Roadshow competition. I’d tricked out the bike for a buddy of mine who died of AIDS. He wanted the bike to be a memorial, but so far we couldn’t locate a cemetery or burial place where we could put his ashes and his machine. We were finding that burial laws by the ocean and in the mountains were pretty archaic and exclusive. If we wanted a bike cut into marble, no problem. But Harry hadn’t been a stone monument sorta guy.
“Uh, thanks. Yeah, it was a special kinda project,” I mumbled.
Even with the music, the shouting people, and the yelling when a couple were caught under the mistletoe, the guy still heard me.
He put his arm around my shoulders and gave me a hug. “Yeah, I know. He’ll be missed.”
Now my head was reeling. What the fuck? He knew Big Harry?
“I met Harry when I was a kid hanging around my buddy’s dad’s garage,” he said.
“Where’d you grow up?” I asked. After I’d had a couple drinks, the pumping music, the blinking Christmas lights, and the strangers laughing and yelling were making the night surreal. This handsome, clean-cut guy had known Harry? I must be dreaming. He and Harry looked light years apart.
“Little town outside Denver in the foothills. Deer Creek. You probably heard Harry talk about it. Not the place you want to grow up gay.” His laugh was short and dismissive.
“Yeah, so Harry always said.” I shifted to my other foot and looked down at the red plastic cup of punch. This was the last one for me tonight. I still hadn’t found the fruitcake. “So you go to bike shows?”
“Yup. The best part of my job.” He shrugged with a happy grin.
“Yeah? What do you do?”
We were bumped and separated by an incoming group. They exclaimed over my new friend, one of the women smothering him with kisses. He glowed with embarrassment and shot me a rueful glance. As the sea parted us, I drifted away looking for the food table and hoped it held enough fruitcake that I could steal some and not out myself as a thief.
I’d eaten three pieces and was busy wrapping up a fourth in napkins to take with me when my new nameless friend walked up and stood next to me.
“You like the fruitcake, huh?” He was smiling like I’d really pleased him.
“Yeah. I’d never tasted it until I got some with the invitation.”
He gave me a tiny smile and shook his head, his eyes twinkling as if laughing at some cosmic joke.COLLAPSE
Author Pat Henshaw is a new author for me and I can honestly say, based on this little gem of a story, I will be looking up her backlist ASAP. Sam is such a sweet guy under his gruff exterior. Everything about him, from the way in which he dresses to his rough dialogue, was just so right and realistic. I honestly felt both these main characters were the perfect example of guys I’d be likely to meet in real life. There was such a genuine air about this author’s writing that made this instant attraction between Sam and Jay so understandable and believable.
Sam’s past created such a deep well of loneliness within him that it lent credibility to his automatic decisions that he would never be good enough for Jay. Jay’s admissions of feeling like he was pretending to be something he’s not allowed Sam to understand that appearance really is not all it’s cracked up to be, and it’s what lies beneath the exterior that really counts.
Blame It on the Fruitcake is a sweet and funny love story. A perfect morsel of yummy goodness for this holiday season!