Finding Joseph – A Cedar Breaks Christmas – Chapter 8

Should I still be writing this? It’s FEBRUARY, FFS.

But I promised.

And we finally got to the sex!

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Chapter Eight – Jenny

Jake was just yummy. He had broad, well-defined shoulders, muscled pecs covered with curly hair that narrowed toward his waist, like it was pointing the way to his cock. And his cock – she almost moaned at the sight of it.

She loved cock – hell, she loved pussy, too – but Jake’s cock nearly made her mouth water. He was thick, not too long, curved just a tiny bit, and already hard for her.

“Turn around,” she said, and he obeyed her, turning slowly, perfectly, and fuck if he didn’t look just as good from behind as he did from the front. She wished she’d brought her strap-on with her. She’d love to bend him over and fuck that beautiful ass. She’d love to hear him beg, love to watch him surrender to the shame and the pleasure.

“Come here.” She pointed.

He took a step closer, thighs pressed against the outer wall of the hot tub, and she leaned close to him, her bra teasingly brushing against the hair on his chest.

“You are a delicious piece of meat, Jake Connors, and I would very much like to fuck you.”

“Oh, fuck.” His eyes fluttered closed, and Jenny picked up her glass of whiskey. She wetted her finger in it, traced it over his lips, then leaned forward, her tongue following the path her finger had just taken. She did it again, this time sucking on his lower lip gently, then darting her tongue into his mouth, tasting him, tasting whiskey. He groaned and wrapped his arms around her, lifting her out of the water and pressing her to his chest. She stepped over the edge and wrapped her legs around him, rubbing against his hard cock as they kissed and sucked and rocked against each other.

She pulled away from him long enough to whisper “Bed,” and held on to the whiskey as he held on to her, carrying her, dripping, up the stairs and to his bedroom.

He set her down on the bed and knelt in front of her, tugging at her underwear.

“Stop,” she said, pushing his hand away.

“Sorry. I thought — I’m sorry.”

“Shh. Jake,” she set the whiskey on the nightstand and placed her hand on his cheek. “Do you like to be dominated, Jake?”

He squeezed his eyes closed. “Yes, ma’…” he stopped himself from uttering the honorific, blushing beautifully.

It seemed too good to be true — that the handsome, kind man that she’d been attracted to since the moment he shook her hand could also be submissive. She smiled, brushed a finger over his lips, and kissed him. She could tell how much he wanted to kiss her back, loved how he tried to master himself.

“You may address me as Sir.” She’d always hated “ma’am” and “Mistress”. She liked the crisp authoritativeness of “Sir”, but some hetero men had issues with it.

“Yes, Sir,” Jake said, and a thrill went through her. She wanted to tease him until his cock was harder than he’d known it was possible to get, to whip him until he was sobbing, to push him to the edge of every limit he’d ever known. But she needed to slow the fuck down. They hadn’t discussed any of this, and she knew the surest way to destroy trust was to move too fast.

She gently raked her fingers down his chest. Smooth skin. Hard muscle. Wiry hair.

“Stand up.”

He stood in front of her, gorgeous, hard, willing. She grasped his cock and he groaned. She stroked him gently, getting to know him, loving the hot hardness of him. She skimmed her thumb delicately over the tip of his cock, feeling the slick pre-cum there, and cupped his balls with her other hand. She stroked him faster, watching his face twist with pleasure as he trembled under her touch.

“Please, Sir. I can’t,” he gasped, and she slowed, her hand loose around his cock now. She reached for a piece of ice and used it to circle his nipples delicately, watching the water run down his chest in little rivulets, watching his nipples pucker, skimming it over the hard nubs until it melted away. She took another piece, holding it a few inches above his cock, watching as drops of water gathered at the ends of her fingers to splash down on his cock. He grunted and shuddered.

Jenny put the last bit of ice into her mouth and knelt, swirling her cold wet tongue over the tip of Jake’s cock. He was whimpering, his fingers digging into the sides of his legs as he struggled to remain still. She continued sucking him, her eyes up on his face, her tongue tracing the underside of his cock, swirling over the tip, then taking him deeper. She’d known Dommes who didn’t do blow jobs, but to her, there was nothing more vulnerable than a man with his cock in your mouth. She pursed her lips to slip off the tip and he shuddered. Fuck, he was lovely.

“Do you have condoms somewhere?” she whispered.

“Yes, Sir. In the bathroom. Under the sink.” He started to move, but she stopped him.

“I’ll get them. Are you familiar with edging?”

He didn’t say anything, just groaned, making her laugh.

“Good. This is what’s going to happen,” she said in a low voice. “I’m going to take a quick shower, and you’re going to edge until I get back. You can remain standing, or lie on the bed, but you’re going to count, aloud, each time you have to stop. Do you understand?”

Jake took a deep breath. “Yes, ma’ — Sir.”

“Good. Start now.”

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She watched as his fingers folded around his cock, then went into the large en-suite bathroom. She took a quick shower to rinse the chlorine off and then rummaged around under the sink until she found the box of condoms. She checked the expiration date to make sure they were still good and then went back into the bedroom.

Jake was lying on the bed, his eyes closed, a sheen of sweat covering his body as he stroked his cock. Her mind raced with all of the ways she wanted to tease and torture him, but she also knew that her body didn’t have the stamina it used to, so she’d have to get creative. Making him edge was just the start.

“How many is that, Jake?”

“Five,” he grunted.

“Do you know how good you look right now? Groaning, covered in sweat, your cock throbbing?” He gasped and stopped his hand, but his hips thrust at the air.

She laughed gently. “Very nice. Continue.”

She went to his closet. He’d grown up here and there were still odds and ends around that he’d never gotten rid of. She found a worn weather belt that looked too small for him – probably left from when he was a teenager – and then opened her toiletries kit and found a couple of bobby pins.

“Six!” Jake gasped. He was breathing heavily, and she admired the rise and fall of his chest, his cock bobbing obscenely above his stomach.

“Darling boy,” she said. “I’d like to roll you over and beat your ass with this nice leather belt. How does that sound?”

He moaned.

“I need more than that.”

“Yes, please. Whatever you want.”

An excellent start. “What I really want is to bend you over and fuck your gorgeous ass, but unless you have a strap on hidden somewhere, that’s not going to happen, so we’ll just have to make do.” As she said it, his cock jerked and the tip glistened. Oh, he was delightful. “What’s your safeword, Jake?”

“Um…” his hands clenched the bedspread underneath him.

“Jake,” she said sharply. “Take your cock in your hand and tell me your safeword.”

He started stroking himself again. “V-Victoria.”

Unexpected. She wanted to ask who Victoria was but now was not the time. She pinched his nipple with her fingers until it was pert and then opened the Bobby pin and let it close on his nipple. He groaned and his hips pulsed. He sucked air and stopped stroking.

“Keep touching yourself, Jake, or you’re not going to come tonight.”

“Yes, Sir.”

She twisted his other nipple and slipped the other hairpin over it.. His head tilted back and he groaned, but he kept touching himself.

“Good boy,” she whispered. She knelt up on the bed and gently stroked the side of his face.

Then she straddled him, her legs stretching almost painfully across his wide chest. His eyes were riveted to her, his mouth open, and she offered him her breast and pressed her cunt against him, moving her hips in little circles. She felt him groan against her breast and she laughed, then pulled back and offered him her other. He treated it with the same reverence, delicately nibbling and sucking.

“Please,” he whispered against her chest. “Let me taste you.”

Fuck. She’d been about to sit on his face, but now she wanted to tease him, to draw it out longer. So instead, she slapped him. Not hard, but enough. She held her breath a little. It was always dangerous to play without discussing things first, and she would backtrack so fast if she made one wrong move. But he shouted and jerked, his hips straining with the need to pump.

He was on the edge, and she was going to drive him over it.

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Finding Joseph – A Cedar Breaks Christmas – Chapter 7

Took a look at my blog and realized that the formatting on this post made it completely unreadable, so I updated it and cleaned up the copy a bit.

Chapter Seven – Jake

By the time they stopped for dinner, Jenny had launched her plan for a Christmas play into overdrive. She’d sent emails to Principal Shimerman and PTA President Paige Benson (who also happened to be Emily’s mom), and a friend of hers at Southern Utah University to find out what they might have in the way of costumes. She’d also texted her playwright friend, who bought a plane ticket.

Now Jake was drawing up some preliminary plans for the set, because Shimerman wanted a budget by Monday and Jake, apparently, was also the set designer. If “doing everything Jenny told him to do” was considered designing. It was a pretty simple set, really, just the stable and a crèche.

He sighed and pushed the graph paper away from him. He’d turned on the heater to the hot tub as soon as they’d arrived at his mom’s house. Jenny was probably in there by now. He should go check on her, make sure the temperature was okay.

The house was dark, the only light coming from the hot tub just outside the sliding glass doors. Jenny’s arms were spread along the top of the surround, her head tilted back, her small, soft breasts rounding over the top of a simple black sports bra. Steam rose into the cold desert air, beading on her skin, causing her short dark hair to curl slightly. He watched her for a minute or two and then realized he was being creepy. He shook himself out of it and quietly slid the door open.

“Hey,” she said, opening her eyes a little.

“Hey,” His voice creaked and he cleared his throat. “Would you like a glass of whiskey?”

“That sounds great.”

He stepped into the kitchen and found the Costco-sized bottle of Bulleit left from the last time he’d visited his mom. He poured a generous amount into two glasses. He didn’t know if Jenny took ice or not, so he got another glass and filled it with ice cubes, then carried all three glasses outside.

He handed her a glass. “I don’t know if you realized it, but there’s another seat that you can recline in. The water shoots jets at your shoulders.”

“I tried it, but my skin is still kind of sensitive where I had the grafts, which sucks because my shoulders are so tight.” She dropped a couple of ice cube into her glass and took a sip, then closed her eyes in appreciation, her mouth moving slightly as she shifted the whiskey over her tongue before swallowing it.

“I could give you a massage,” he offered, his voice breaking again. He felt like a teenage boy with a crush. “I, uh, was studying massage therapy for a while. Before I started teaching full time.”

She cocked her head, her eyes assessing him, as if she were trying to consider what his offer might imply. “Sure,” she finally said.

He set his whisky down in the cup holder on the edge of the hot tub and placed his hands on her shoulders. She jerked, and he realized his hand was cold from holding the glass of ice.

“Sorry.” He rubbed his hands together to warm them and then used his thumbs to trace tiny circles along her trapezoid and across her back, feeling the knots start to give under his touch. He hesitated when he reached the burn scar. “Is this too tender?” he asked.

“I think it’s okay. Maybe start lightly?”

He placed his palm on her shoulder and gently, slowly stroked down toward her arm. She shivered. He did it again, more firmly this time, and he felt her relax.

He traced the thin scar that divided the hair on her nape, running his fingers lightly down her neck into her back. She leaned forward a little, and he started lower, his hands dipping into the water. He increased the pressure, using his palm and his fingers in circular motions, trying to focus on the massage and not the honey-sweet smell of her, not the spot behind her ear or how his lips would feel pressed against it, not the unruly curling of hair at her nape, not the soft skin covering ropy muscle.

He wanted to kiss her so badly. He wanted to trace every inch of her with his lips and tongue, worship every scar, caress every bruise. He worked his thumbs in little circles along her spine and up to her neck, enjoying the way she moaned as she relaxed into him.

“You are magic,” she murmured.

He was also getting turned on, but he tried to keep his focus on the massage, not on his stiffening cock. He threaded his fingers into her hair and massaged her scalp, his thumbs kneading the tight cords in her neck. She gave a little sigh of pleasure. Her hair was soft and thick in his hands, the subtle scent of the shampoo she used floating up to him. He massaged her temples, then lightly stroked down the side of her face, her neck, before he palmed her shoulders, curling his fingers over to her pecs, feeling the tension there, not sure how bruised she was from the accident earlier in the week.

“Is this okay? Are you sore here?”

“Jake.” She turned and grasped his hand, bringing it to her lips, looking up at him as she pressed her lips into his palm. He froze, then closed his eyes in pleasure as she gently nipped at the thick pad under his thumb. He heard the water slosh and opened his eyes as she stood, looking like some kind of tomboy water goddess in her black cotton bra and matching boy shorts, steam rolling off her lithe body in the cold desert air. She was perfect, every inch of her, the soft and the hard, the smooth skin and the puckered scars.

She raked her fingers through his beard, kissing the corner of his mouth, then pulled back slightly. He was breathing heavily, desperate for more, afraid of what he wanted. He clenched his fists and looked down.

“Jake. Look at me.”

He looked up, not sure what she was looking for, afraid she would see how needy he was, how desperately he wanted her. She raised an eyebrow.

“Take off your shirt,” she told him.

Eyes locked on hers, he unbuttoned his shirt and tossed it on a chair, then pulled his t-shirt off over his head. Something in her gaze flickered as she appraised him, but he couldn’t tell if she liked what she saw, suddenly feeling insecure. She’d worked with actors, people whose job it was to stay in shape and look beautiful. He didn’t work out, not really, figuring his love of hiking and the hours he spent maintaining a home in the mountains kept him healthy enough, but he knew with a certainty that scared him that if she asked, he’d start weightlifting, doing crunches, drinking raw eggs for breakfast.

“Take your pants off, Jake. Now.

“Yes, ma’am,” he responded instinctively. Fuck. But her eyes flashed in recognition and a tiny smile played over her lips as she watched him. He unbuttoned his jeans and tugged them down, then stripped off his socks. His erection had to be plain against his boxers. He was hard enough now that even the cold desert air couldn’t bring him down.

“Everything, Jake. I want you naked.”

And fuck if that just didn’t make him harder. But he pulled his boxers off and stood naked in front of her.

Jenny’s eyes widened slightly when she saw his cock. He wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing, but all she said was, “Good boy,” and he felt himself tighten even more. Fuck. He wished he’d jacked off at least once today. If this was going where it seemed to be going, he was going to want to last as long as possible.

“Turn around. Let me see you.”

He turned slowly, letting her look at him, enjoying her assessment, revelling in it, hoping he pleased her.

“Come here.”

He stepped closer, and she threaded her fingers into his hair, her lips skimming against his ear as she whispered, “You are a delicious piece of meat, Jake Connors, and I would very much like to fuck you.”

I’m Resolved Not to Resolve

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I started my first diet in the sixth grade, obsessively reading nutrition labels and calculating the calories-to-fat ratio like a pro. I was convinced, along with most of the US, that all of my problems could be solved by eating lean meats and fat-free Twizzlers.

I’ve been dieting off and on ever since. It’s exhausting, when I think about the amount of effort I’ve put in to losing weight, the apps, the charts, the shakes. I even did a “doctor-supervised” diet program once and ate some of the nastiest (pre-packaged, portion controlled) food I’d ever eaten in my entire life.

For all of those 30 years of dieting, I have loathed myself. Exercise was a punishment, something I forced myself to endure because I was a fat cow who deserved to suffer. Food was “good” or “bad”, sometimes a chore, sometimes a reward, and always came with either a smug sense of superiority or a side of guilt.

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Last year I said fuck it. I was so sick of it. I was sick of spending so much time and energy measuring my body against impossible factors, holding on to “goal outfits”, or only buying cheap, crappy clothing because I was determined that I was going to lose weight, or because I didn’t think my enormous body deserved nice things.

I’d like to say that it turned my life around, that I’m starting 2019 with a new lease on life, renewed vigor and self-worth. But 30+ years of believing that my body was not enough, (or was too much) doesn’t go away because one year I decide I’m going to (try to) stop believing that shit.

I have so much further to go when it comes to self-worth and self-care. For one thing, there is still a constant hum in the back of my mind telling me that I’m not good enough. So this year, instead of having no resolutions at all, I’m working on finding productive ways to improve my mental and physical health.

I’m still trying to figure out what that looks like. Watch this space.

Finding Joseph – A Cedar Breaks Christmas – Chapter 6

Content Warning: This is a sexy Christmas story. There is cursing and graphic sex and this chapter mentions car accidents and fire, so please be aware if that might be triggering for you.

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Chapter Six – Jenny

Get out, get out, the car’s on fire! Get out! Get the seatbelt off. Too tight, won’t unbuckle. Push off the steering wheel to… shattering pain. Don’t black out! Leg not working. So much heat on her shoulder, it felt like her skin was melting. She couldn’t take it, she needed help, she tried to scream, but it came out as a gasp. The car was shaking. She was shaking, hanging upside down in the seat, every movement piercing her leg with more pain.

She woke up with a jerk and looked around to get her bearings. They were on a winding mountain road, surrounded by desert scrub dusted with snow. She could see red sandstone cliffs in the distance.

They’d left for Las Vegas right after classes got out on Friday, stopped in Cedar City so she could get her belongings out of the totalled Prius, and then… she fell asleep. And now… Jake had his hand on her leg, and in between glances at the road, he was looking at her, his clear blue eyes concerned.

She sat up straight, dislodging his hand. “Where are we?” Her leg was aching.

“St. George. You fell asleep almost as soon as we got on the freeway and then you started mumbling. You okay?”

She pressed the heels of her hands to her eyes. “Can we get some coffee?”

“I don’t mind if you sleep.”

If she wasn’t having the same nightmare every time she closed her eyes, she wouldn’t mind sleeping, either. “I’d rather have coffee.”

“Okay. I think there’s a place around here.”

He took the next exit. They passed a Home Depot, a Wal-Mart, and a high school, then he spotted the coffee shop on the other side of the street. He made a U-turn and pulled into a place called Perks!

Jenny insisted on paying. “And I’m buying the gas, too. You’re doing me a favor here.”

Jake looked like he wanted to argue, but then shrugged. “So you wanna tell me about that dream?”

“It’s really okay that I stay with your mom? I don’t want to intrude. I can get a hotel room.”  Smooth, Jenny. She dropped a dollar into the tip jar.

“We probably won’t even see her. She works a lot.” He followed her to the end of the counter to wait for their drinks.

“What does she do again?”

“Internal Auditor at the Venetian.”

“That sounds impressive. What does it mean?”

Jake laughed. “It’s a lot of data and number crunching to keep the casino in compliance with regulations and prevent fraud.”

“Is that why you became a math teacher?”

“Mmm, sorta.”

He looked embarrassed, and she was intrigued.

“Pumpkin spice latte for Jake,” the barista called.

“Pumpkin spice, huh?” she teased him.

“I know, I know. I always crave one in the fall. Then I overdose on them and swear I’ll never drink another one. Until it’s October again and it’s all I can think about.” He took a sip and closed his eyes. “Mmm. The first one always tastes the best.” Fuck, those eyelashes would be the death of her. She wanted to press her lips to his eyelids, twine her hands in his, and…

“Hammerhead with extra shot for Jenny.”

“A Hammerhead? And an extra shot? Do you never want to sleep again?” Jake asked her.

She shrugged and grabbed her cup.  “So, uh, what were you doing before you were a math teacher?”

“Uhh…”

“If you don’t tell me, I’ll just start making things up. You were… a naked waiter.”

“A naked waiter? Is that a thing?”

“Probably. I bet you can order them by the dozen in Vegas.” She took a sip. It needed cream. And sugar. Lots of sugar.

He shook his head. “No, I was not a naked waiter.”

“Mattress sales?”

Jake laughed. “No.”

“Hoover Dam Tour Guide?” She stirred it, tasted it, then put the lid back on.

“Still no. But I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours.”

“Tell you my what?”

“Tell me your dream. Tell me why you haven’t slept in a week.”

How does he know I haven’t slept for a week? “I don’t know.” They pushed open the doors and stepped into the cold, sunny St. George weather.

“Then let me sweeten the deal. I’ll let you drive my truck.” He dangled the keys in front of her.

Oh hell. How did he find her weak spot? “Fine.” She snatched the keys out of his hand before he could change his mind and went to the driver’s side.

He’d installed a flip step on this side of the truck, too, and it caught her off guard. They probably come in a set. Don’t read too much into it.

It took a couple of minutes to adjust everything to her much shorter stature, but once she put the truck into gear, she felt at home. Damn, it was good to be behind something with power again. The Prius might have been a responsible choice, but it wasn’t exactly the most fun car to drive.

They sipped their coffees in companionable silence as they left St. George behind.

“So. What is it?” Jenny said finally. “Circus clown? Lion tamer?”

“Oh, now I’m in the cirucs?” He laughed, then sighed. “Musician.”

“Musician? That’s not embarrassing. That’s kind of cool, actually. Were you in a band or something? What instrument do you play?”

“Yeah. I was in an alt-rock band called The Deal. I played guitar and did backup vocals. Wrote a little.”

“Were you any good?”

“I guess. We played at a bunch of small clubs in Vegas. Played the Warped tour one year, that was probably our peak.”

“What happened?”

“Just… fell apart, I guess. Just when it seemed like we were getting somewhere, it all… fell apart.”

Jenny sensed there was more to tell, but wasn’t sure how hard to push. He was quiet for a minute, looking out the window as the truck descended into the Virgin River Gorge. Towering red cliffs framed one side of the freeway and far, far below, the tiny Virgin River continued cutting its way through the canyon. It was hard to keep her focus on the road with the stunning beauty around her, but she’d be damned she’d give Jake any reason to think she was anything other than an excellent driver.

“You’re a good driver.” Jake said, reading her mind. Again.

“For an Asian? Or for a woman?”

“Both.” Jake shook his head. “Gah. I didn’t mean that. I meant that you’re a good driver. Period.”

“Yeah, I’ve always liked driving,” Jenny said. “Possibly out of sheer stubbornness. I heard every bad Asian driver joke there was and I love proving people wrong.”

“People tell Asian driver jokes to your face?”

“Yeah, and then they get mad when I don’t find them funny. They’d tell me to loosen up, and then tell me that I ‘have to admit it’s true.’ So even before I was sixteen, I was driving. Then a few years ago, I started taking some stunt driving classes.”

“That sounds fun.”

“It was.” She was quiet for a minute, powering the truck up a steep incline. The sun was starting to set, casting harsh shadows across the freeway, the cliffs twisting into grotesque shapes. “I started doing martial arts as a child, you know, like every good Asian.” Shit, she shouldn’t make jokes about that. Now he’d think that he could, too.

“I love sparring, facing off against people, testing my limits. I’d been doing stunts for about ten years, mostly falling and fighting, doubling for child actors because I’m so small. But I’m always trying to add to my skill set, stay employable, you know? So I took this stunt driving course, but I couldn’t get any work. So when a friend of mine needed a driver on an indie that was shooting in Hacienda Heights, I jumped at it. The director was this spoiled former child actor whose parents put up most of the money for the film, and the pay was crap, but I needed the credit. And the connections. Plus it was barely even a stunt. Just had to do a 180 and drive off into the sunset.”

“Sounds impressive.”

“C’mon. Don’t patronize me. A 180 is one of the easiest stunts you can do.”

“Ohhhkayy.”

She hadn’t meant to be snappish with him. She was more tired and stressed than she wanted to admit.

“So we shot the 180 from a bunch of different angles, and then they had to scramble to turn it around for the sunset shot. We only had one chance to get it. So I do the 180 and then I go around this switchback just as the sun is hitting the mountain. The timing was perfect. I could feel the sun hitting the car just as I went around the corner. But there was this big rig coming at me, on my side of the street. So I swerved and… That’s the last thing I remember before…”

Before waking up in the hospital in delirious pain. Before half a dozen surgeries. Before skin grafts and rehab. Before finding out that the production company was refusing to take any responsibility for the accident. Before retaining the services of a lawyer.

They crested the hill and began the descent toward Mesquite.

“You okay?”

Jenny rolled her shoulders and loosened her grip on the steering wheel.

“The car rolled three times, hit a tree, and somehow started a brushfire on the way down. I woke up hanging from the seat. Burned most of the skin off my arm, shattered my right leg and broke my left collarbone.”

“The production company declared that I was an independent contractor and wouldn’t admit to anything, not even that I had been on set. So the union helped me find a lawyer, but it’s going to take years. In the meantime I was blowing through my savings, and I can’t work as a stuntperson, maybe ever again, because of the damage done to my leg and arm.”

“Fuck, Jenny.”

“Yeah. So. I was broke and unemployed. And I needed to get away from all that shit anyway. Everyone was taking sides, and I’m not supposed to talk about it at all. I already had a teaching credential, and the district was pretty excited to have someone with my background who wanted to teach in Podunk, Utah, so here I am.”

“Are the nightmares about the lawsuit or the accident?”

“What do you think, Jake?” Dammit, she was biting his head off again.

“I don’t know. I’ve met a few lawyers.”

She managed a smile. “The lawyer is fine. Mine is, anyway.”

Billboards were appearing along the freeway, advertising gambling, escort services, and buffets. Jenny’s stomach grumbled. She absent-mindedly rubbed her leg.

“You okay?” Jake asked.

“Just really achy. They tell me my leg has healed, but it doesn’t feel like it.”

“There’s a hot tub at my mom’s house, if you think that would be helpful.”

“It might. I didn’t bring a suit, though.”

“Well, it’s enclosed, so you don’t need one. I can leave you alone.”

Jenny wished he wouldn’t. There was nothing she wanted more than to lose herself in him. She was picturing him naked again, his cock hard, begging her for… Shit.

“Do you mind driving again?” she asked him. “I forgot how stiff I get sitting for long periods.”

“No problem,” he said.

She pulled off at the next exit. It was really just an access road, the sign warning “No Services”,  so she left the car running as she slid across to the other seat and Jake hopped out and ran around to the driver’s side. Chinese fire drill, she thought unwillingly, and cringed.

“You hungry?” Jake asked. “We could stop in Mesquite, or, if you can wait, there’s a great Pho place near my mom’s.”

“Pho?” Jenny asked.

“Yeah, you know, the Vietnamese soup?”

“Yeah, Jake. I know the Vietnamese soup.” What the hell?

“I didn’t mean – not because you’re, you know, uh…Asian?” He was blushing. “I like pho. And I can’t get it in Cedar Breaks. That’s all.”

He was adorable. “It’s okay,” she said. “I like pho, too. Let’s get pho. And then when we get home, I’ll teach you how to make it. It’s actually pretty easy.” She squeezed his hand. He squeezed back. And then they were holding hands.

She told her stupid heart to stop racing. Say something.

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“You know, I was thinking about directing a Christmas Play,” she told him.

“Aren’t you an Atheist?” he asked.

“That doesn’t matter. We need to raise some money for the Drama Department and I think a Christmas play is the way to do it. We cast local, do something new, sell baked goods before and after, and use the proceeds for the high school. It’s win-win.” And, hopefully, it would also get people to stop treating her like she was an exotic fish.

“They already do the Nativity every year.”

“Which is exactly why this would work. They’re already used to coming to a play, only this one will be better. My friend wrote this play a few years ago and she wants to workshop it. It’s win-win-win. Will you help me?”

“Of course. What do you need me to do?”

“Persuade Burke that his students should build the set as part of their curriculum. And oversee the building of said set. And also maybe play Joseph.”

Jake was nodding until she got to the last part. “Play Joseph? Why me?”

“Because you’d make a great Joseph.” With his full beard, beautiful eyes and quiet strength, he was perfect. For a white guy, anyway. “You just told me you were in a band, so you’re no stranger to performing. Emily will play Mary beautifully, but none of those boys have the emotional depth necessary for Joseph.”

“You’re an ATHEIST.”

“You said that already. It’s just mythology. I don’t have to believe in Zeus to direct Oedipus Rex, do I?”

Jake sighed. “I’ll help with the set. But you’ll have to find someone else to play Joseph.”

She nodded. “Fine.”

He tilted his head and looked at her. “You’re thinking you can talk me into it, aren’t you?”

“Yep.”

“You can’t.”

She could. And she did.

Finding Joseph – A Cedar Breaks Christmas – Chapter 5

Dear Readers, 

I know I promised to have this published by Christmas. How could I have predicted that the weeks leading up to Christmas would be full of stress and house guests and more hours at work than usual? 

If only there had been some clue that this might be the case. Say, for example, a history of not finishing gifts by Christmas.

Oh.

Anyway, I’m sorry. Here’s another installment. Now that Christmas is over, and I’m not working for a few months, they’ll be coming steadily.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Pexels.com

Chapter Five – Jake

Jake was used to having to explain to Emma Smith why she would need math even if her only goal in life was to be a wife and mother, but today was especially challenging. He wanted the day to be over and kept glancing at the clock on the wall. He was tempted to give them a pop quiz, just to give himself a moment of peace.

Since he and Jenny were the only teachers in the school who drank coffee, they usually met up in the teacher’s lounge before classes started to brew some up in the french press Jake had bought. He’d been drinking alone this morning, and it unsettled him to realize how much he looked forward to seeing her every day. He’d texted her a couple of times but hadn’t gotten a response.

When the bell finally rang, he was out of the door almost as fast as his students and hurried down the hall to the drama classroom, hoping to catch her before she left.

He hadn’t needed to hurry. The class was still full. All of the desks had been pushed aside and four students stood in a circle rapping while the rest of the class watched. He saw Emily Benson complete a rhyme to cheers and applause, then Hyrum Shepard took his turn, but froze on the first line. Everyone laughed, including Hyrum, who stepped out of the circle to take his place with the spectators.

“Hey guys, that was the bell, go away,” Jenny said. She looked up and saw Jake standing there. He smiled, and she started to smile back but then turned away from him quickly. Weird.

A few students were gathering their things, but the rest begged to finish the game.

“Okay, okay,” Jenny said. “New topic. Quickly.”

“Scissoring,” called Owen Smith. More giggles.

“C’mon Owen, you know the rules. I’ll pick this one. The topic is vampires.”

They began again. Owen was immediately eliminated for rapping about vampires sucking his dick, and then they were down to two, Emily Benson and a student whose name Jake couldn’t place. Dale?

“Same topic.” Jenny said. Dale and Emily faced off, but Dale was soon struggling for words.

“Emily Benson wins again!” Jenny announced, and the class cheered and clapped, then started to gather up their belongings.

Jake squeezed his way into the classroom as Jenny shouted homework reminders at them.

“Hey,” he said.

“Oh. Um, hi.” Jenny shoved some books into her backpack. “Hyrum! Where’s your homework?”

“It’s homework. I left it at HOME.” Hyrum told her.

“Okay, smart ass, but you lose ten percent for every day it’s late. Bring it in tomorrow.” She grabbed her coat from the hook behind the door. “I was just leaving,” she told Jake.

“I’ll walk you out.”

“Oh.” She seemed intent to outpace him, but it was easy for his long legs to keep up with her.

“I haven’t seen you today. Busy?”

“Oh. Yeah. Busy.”

Cathy was approaching them, a knowing look on her face as she called out, “Goodbye, Jake and Jenny.” She said their names like it was one word. Jenny blushed and quickened her pace, darting through students with an agility Jake couldn’t match. Weird.

He caught up with her at the end of the hallway, right in front of the huge double doors that led out into the parking lot. The late afternoon sun coming through the windows created a halo around her.

“Did you need something?” she asked tersely.

“Uh, no, just, we’re getting a huge storm tonight, so I wondered if I – if you want me to pick you up in the morning.”

Jenny looked out at the clear blue sky and shook her head slightly. “Um, yeah, I’m not worried about a little storm.”

“The weather can change quickly here.”

“The weather changes quickly everywhere.”

This was so unlike her. What did I do? “Between the snow and the mountain roads, I don’t think your car can manage it.”

“Don’t worry about me,” she said.

“Do you at least have snow tires?”

“Jesus, Jake, you’re like an old man. Quit worrying about me. I’m a grown-ass woman and I can take care of myself.” She bolted out the door to her car.

He left his house earlier than usual the next morning and spent most of his drive down the mountain debating about stopping at Jenny’s. He couldn’t decide whether it came across as “stalker” or “concerned friend”. Finally he decided it didn’t matter. With the snow they’d gotten, she’d be lucky to even get her car out of the garage.

But when he got there, her driveway had been shoveled, and tire tracks in the freshly fallen snow indicated that she’d left recently. Cathy probably sent the Scouts over, he thought. He felt a little foolish for his concern, wanting to swoop in like some goddamn hero, but he was glad someone was looking out for her.

He continued toward the school and soon saw Jenny’s Prius in front of him. She drove carefully, leaving plenty of room between herself and other vehicles and braking smoothly at intersections. He was just starting to relax when he saw Keith Benson, in his mom’s Suburban, skid through the stop sign to their right, heading straight for Jenny’s car. The front of the Suburban clipped the bumper of the Prius, and the combination of slick roads and the hill they were on sent the Prius spinning back down the road toward Jake’s truck. He gripped the steering wheel, helpless to do anything in the seconds before the Prius collided with his truck while the Suburban came to a stop in a ditch.

Jake jumped out of his truck and ran to the Prius, yanking the driver’s side door open to see if Jenny was okay. She looked up at him, her eyebrows drawing together in confusion, her eyes dark pools that he could see himself reflected in. She was wearing a knit hat, with little wisps of hair curling out from under it, and a purple sweater. No coat.

“Jake. What are you doing here?”

Definitely not stalking you, he thought. “Are you hurt?”

She unclenched her hands from the steering wheel, looked around the car, then unbuckled the seatbelt and slid out of the seat, rubbing her left shoulder. She ran across the street, Jake following her, and yanked open the door of the big SUV that had come to a stop in a ditch. “Are you guys okay?”

“Oh my gosh, I’m so glad you’re not hurt. Keith’s an idiot!” Emily said. “I can’t believe Mom let you drive. I’m older than you! And this is your second accident already!”

Keith snorted. “If that had been you, we’d probably all be dead.”

“You ran a stop sign! You’re completely incompetent.”

Jake ignored the bickering teenagers and said, “Jenny, they’re fine. How are you?”

“Also fine.”

“How’s your head? And your neck?”

“A little bruised, but I’ll be fine.”

“I told you that car couldn’t handle the snow. If he’d hit you —“

“Jesus fucking Christ, the men in this town treat women like they’re children.” Jenny snapped. She pulled her sleeves down over her hands before tucking them under her armpits.

Snow was still falling, settling on her eyelashes and sweater, the scene putting him in mind of those Hallmark movies Victoria used to watch. He tugged off his thick wool scarf and wrapped it loosely around Jenny’s neck and shoulders. He wished he could read the look on her face. She was irritated, definitely, but there was something else there, too. And if this was a Hallmark movie, this would be the moment where he kissed her.

What is wrong with you?

Keith tried to convince everyone that they were too traumatized to go to school, but Jake called their mom to let her know about the accident and get the insurance information, and she agreed that they should get their butts to school.

Jenny managed to get the Prius off the road and Jake pulled his truck over behind her. She called a tow truck and Jake called the school to explain why the two of them would miss first period.

“I can wait for a tow truck by myself, you know,” she said in exasperation.

“In this weather?”

“Pretty sure the heater still works in the Prius.”

“Just get in.”

She stomped around to the passenger side of the truck, muttering something about how bossy Jake was. She paused for a second when she saw the step he’d installed last week, then just climbed in and slammed the door.

“Why was Keith the one driving? Didn’t he just get his license?” She held her hands in front of the vents to warm them.

“That’s just good old sexism. Emily’s older, but Keith is male.” He turned another vent toward her and resisted the urge to ask why she didn’t have a coat.

“She’s really good, you know.”

“At driving?”

Jenny laughed. “At acting. I don’t want to give her any false hope, but she could be great. She needs to get out of this town.”

“What’s wrong with this town?”

“For someone like Emily? Plenty. She needs more. She wants more.”

Jake was trying to work out what that meant for Jenny. Was she going to leave, too? He hated the thought of it.

“What are you going to do now?” Jake asked.

“About…?”

“I know you love it, but that car is pretty old. With the body damage alone, it’s probably not worth fixing.”

“It’s not that I love it. It’s that it’s paid for. Fuck! This is not what I needed right now.”

“Do you want me to call my guy?”

“I’m capable of buying a car without your help.”

“Not here you aren’t.”

Jenny glared at him.

“It’s just that any dealership around here…” He wasn’t sure how to say it.

“Will try to take advantage of me because I’m a woman. An Asian woman.” She sighed. “Fine. Tell me about your guy.”

Finding Joseph – A Cedar Breaks Christmas – Chapter 4

Photo by Irina Iriser on Pexels.com

It’s Thursday! Time for a new chapter!

I always start December thinking I have months to go before Christmas, and then the week before Christmas I go into full panic mode. So in between frantic knitting and crazed baking, I’ll be dropping new chapters pretty frequently. Thank you to everyone who is reading! It’s getting steamy, starting… NOW.

Content Warning: This is a sexy Christmas story. There is cursing and graphic sex and this chapter mentions car accidents and fire, so please be aware if that might be triggering for you.

Missed Chapter 3? Find it here.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Chapter Four – Jenny

She was trapped. Something heavy was pressing on her, and she couldn’t see, couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe. She tried to yell for help, but choked on smoke. Her vision cleared. Blood dripped onto the steering wheel. The windshield was gone. Piercing pain shot through her leg, and her left arm was hot, getting hotter, unbearably so. She turned to look. Fire was licking at the driver’s side door. She opened her mouth to scream…

Jenny woke up thrashing, her legs tangled in the covers. She panicked, kicking her legs, tearing at the blankets with her hands until she was free. Her heart was racing, the nightmare still flashing at the edges of her consciousness. She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, then picked up her phone to check the time. Two a.m. Fuck.

She was wide awake now, and knew from experience that she wasn’t going to fall asleep again anytime soon. She was wearing flannel pajamas, but she pulled a blanket off the bed and wrapped it around her as she shuffled around the floor for her slippers. She went into the kitchen and filled a glass with filtered water from the pitcher in the fridge. She stared out the kitchen window as she drank it, watching the snow that had just started to fall. It’s snowing already? It’s not even Halloween yet. Is that normal?

She’d been teaching at Cedar Breaks High School for two months, and even though she felt like she was finally finding her rhythm, it exhausted her in ways stunt work hadn’t. She still couldn’t train the way she used to, either. So here she was: wide awake, keyed up, and exhausted. She really needed to hit something. Or someone.

She put the water glass in the sink and took a smaller glass out of the cupboard, along with the bottle of 12-Year Glenlivet that Jake had gifted her on the first day of school. She emptied the rest of the bottle into the glass and went into the living room, throwing open the curtains. She sat on the couch, tucked the blanket around her, and watched the snow fall for a few minutes while sipping her whiskey.

As the nightmare faded, her thoughts drifted to Jake. They’d struck up a solid friendship over the last several weeks, sparking rumors of romance throughout the small community. But even though they seemed mutually attracted to each other, neither one of them had been brave or foolish enough to take it any further. And so far, Jenny had been able to prevent herself from fantasizing about him. Much.

But tonight, fantasies about Jake were infinitely preferable to the flashbacks from the accident. So she closed her eyes and let her mind wander.

Jake was naked, on his knees in front of her, his arms crossed behind his back, his mouth on her breast. He was sucking yearningly at her nipple, his cock straining with need.

She moaned, picturing it. She took another sip of whisky and set the glass down, then closed her eyes and reached under her flannel pajama top, her fingers slipping over her nipple, pinching it delicately as she imagined his tongue on her.

She gripped his head, her hand curling into his thick hair, forcing him first against one breast, then the other. She could feel the scraping of his beard on the underside of her breast as his rough tongue sent tingles through her body. She could tell he was fighting the urge to wrap his arms around her and she enjoyed watching him struggle, the desire to please her warring with his need.

Jenny had both hands on her breasts now, rolling and tugging her nipples between her fingers.

She pushed him away, but he reached for her, trying to maintain the contact. She slapped him, not too hard, a warning, really, and he bowed his head.  She lifted his chin with her hand as she stepped closer to press herself against his face, spreading her lips to nestle her clit at his mouth.

Her right hand slid under her pajama bottoms and slid over her underwear, softly brushing against her clit. She teased herself more, circling closer, skimming softly over the top, flicking at it gently.

His tongue darted quickly, flickering over her faster and faster, before gently sucking her engorged nub into his mouth. She gasped, clutching his head as her pleasure built. A wave of pleasure crashed over her, her legs trembling. His strong arms encircled her, and she didn’t stop him, letting him press her to his face as his tongue plunged deep into her cunt.

She lay back on the couch and spread her legs. She pushed her underwear aside and dipped a finger into her wet cunt, sliding the wetness over her clit and back again, making figure eights around her sensitive nub, stroking herself to the precipice as she imagined Jake’s mouth on her.

He picked her up and turned, laying her on the bed, his mouth moving back to her clit as his fingers sought her wet hole. She rolled away, grabbed his arm, and twisted it up his back, using his own momentum to push him ass-up over the edge of the bed. She held him there easily, the angle of his arm promising pain if he tried to move, and reached for a short-handled riding crop.

“Somebody’s greedy,” she told him, hitting him in the meaty part of his ass, enjoying the grunts he made with every strike, watching beautiful welts rising on his pale skin. He shrank away instinctively with every strike and then arched his back as if begging for more.

She finished with ten swift, hard strokes, making him count each one, then ask for another. She watched the sweat break out on his back, reveled in the way his voice shook as she hit him harder, enjoying his struggle to please her. The final stroke was the hardest, and his voice broke as he thanked her.

“Get on the bed on your back. Arms above your head.”

He pushed himself onto the bed and turned over, wincing as his raw ass scraped against the sheets. His thick cock was begging for attention. She straddled him, watching his face twist in pleasure as she slowly lowered herself onto the tip of it, feeling that gorgeous cock stretching her.  

She plunged two fingers into her pussy and fucked herself slow and steady, now picturing Fantasy Jake’s wrists to the headboard.

He lay there helplessly, a willing tool for her pleasure. She pinched her nipples as she slid slowly off his cock and back down again, feeling him shake with the effort of not coming, enjoying the need in his eyes. ‘Please’, he begged, but she continued to ride him slowly, taunting him, watching his arms strain against the rope with his need.

She fucked herself harder now, adding a third finger as she got wetter, imagining Jake’s cock stretching her. She wished she had her vibe handy, but she made do with her other hand, stroking her clit as her hips bucked against her fingers.

She sank all the way down onto his cock, taking it so deep it almost hurt. She loved the pain almost as much as she loved giving it out. Her hips gyrated slowly as Jake moaned, the muscles in his arms straining. She leaned forward, her teeth teasing his nipples as she pumped against him.

“Please,” he groaned. “I’m going to…”

“Not yet.” She continued gyrating on his penis, knowing he was about to lose the battle, waiting until the last possible second to give him permission.

“Now,” she told him. His thrusts matched her own and he shouted as his cock drove deep into her. She pressed her lips to his, her moans mingling with his as he shuddered and spent himself into her.

She wailed as she gave herself over to pleasure. Fantasy Jenny, Fantasy Jake, and Two A.M. Jenny all came at the same time. Two A.M. Jenny kept stroking herself, riding the high of another orgasm, now imagining Jake’s body pressed on top of her as he set the rhythm, pushing her knees up to plunge deeper into her, and she came again, hard.

Her thoughts scattered as she kept coming. In a matter of seconds she’d envisioned a dozen different scenarios, things she’d wanted to do to Jake, with Jake, from the moment she met him. She kept finger fucking herself until she thought she would explode, then slipped her fingers out of her cunt and lay there breathlessly, trying to come down.

Having started it, her mind was now filled with a million different ways to tease, torture, and pleasure Jake Connors. And although the fantasy sex was infinitely better than the car accident nightmares, and the release from masturbating would probably let her sleep now, she didn’t know how she was going to face him in the morning without one of those fantasies flitting into her head.

She sat up on the couch. The snow was falling harder.

“Fuck,” she said, and drained her whiskey before heading back to bed.

Finding Joseph – A Cedar Breaks Christmas – Chapter 3

Here’s a short chapter to get you through Tuesday. (Or maybe just to get me through Tuesday.) Chapter Four will be released on Thursday and things will start heating up in more ways than one.

Missed Chapter 2? Find it here

Content Warning: This is a sexy Christmas story. There is cursing and sex and if you’re sensitive about the Nativity, you might not want to read to the end. I’ll release at least one chapter a week until Christmas. Enjoy!

Photo by PhotoMIX Ltd. on Pexels.com

Chapter Three – Jake

Jake could tell he’d pissed her off, and he wasn’t sure why, so he focused on his food. Or tried to, because when she pulled the straw out of her shake to lick the thick ice cream off it, he felt like a teenager at a strip club. He shifted uncomfortably in the booth.

“I need a spoon,” Jenny said. He would have offered to get it for her, but he wasn’t sure standing up was a good idea right now. He watched her walk up to the counter to ask for a spoon and tried to get his mind out of the gutter.

When she came back, he asked, “How did you end up here? It’s a long way from Hollywood.”

She took a big bite of the shake and talked around it. “I was the fight choreographer at Utah Shakes a few years ago. Spent a lot of time mountain biking in Moab and hiking in Zion. Thought it’d be a nice place to live.”

Jake saw plays at the Utah Shakespeare Festival every year. It took place in the summer and fall at Southern Utah University, about 25 miles southwest of Cedar Breaks. “What season? I mean, which shows did you work on?”

“I choreographed the fight scenes for Romeo and Juliet and The Three Musketeers.”

Jake had seen both plays. “The fight scenes? You mean the sword fighting?”

“Yes.”

“That was incredible. You know how to do that? Sword fighting?”

She raised an eyebrow. “Among other things.”

There was no way she was insinuating what he immediately pictured: Jenny in a leather corset and boots, brandishing a riding crop, ordering him to worship her… he shook his head. Not only were they colleagues, but he didn’t date anymore. Not since Victoria.

“So, uh, why aren’t you still doing that?”

She shrugged. “I was in a bad accident. Been in rehab, unable to work, for almost a year. I needed to do something to pay the bills.”

He had so many questions. What kind of accident? Was that how she got the burns? What about insurance? How did she get licensed to teach in Utah so fast? And why teaching, anyway? How bad was the accident that she couldn’t work anymore?

Jenny signaled for the check. “Just point me to the nearest liquor store and I’ll let you get back to what you were doing before I stole your morning away.”

“Tell me what you like and I’ll bring it to you on Monday. I stock up every time I go to Vegas, so I have a little of everything. And a lot of whiskey.”

“I love whiskey, but you really don’t need to do that.”

“I’d like to. You’d have to go to Parowan to the State Liquor Store if you wanted anything other than beer or wine coolers. And you’d pay a fortune for it. We heathens have to stick together.” He was tempted to invite her up to his cabin for a drink, but he was afraid she’d take it the wrong way. Or the right way, given the thoughts he’d been having. Better to just bring her a bottle of something.

And if he jacked off later while thinking about her, no one had to know but him.

Finding Joseph – A Cedar Breaks Christmas – Chapter 2

Missed Chapter 1? Find it here

Content Warning: This is a sexy Christmas story. There is cursing and sex and if you’re sensitive about the Nativity, you might not want to read to the end. I’ll release at least one chapter a week until Christmas. Enjoy!

Photo by Ambar Simpang on Pexels.com

Chapter Two – Jenny

Jenny was used to people underestimating her. For one thing, she was only five feet tall. For another thing, she was an Asian woman. No one came to her for help unless there was math involved — and she was terrible at math. She usually enjoyed flouting expectations, and it was frustrating as hell to have to ask for help, even from a tall, gorgeous mountain man with icy blue eyes and a deliciously full brown beard. She’d been imagining sitting on his face from the moment those cool blue eyes looked into hers. It was a complication she didn’t need. She just needed a place to hole up, earn some money, and build her strength back up until the lawsuit settled. Then she’d head back to LA and continue kicking ass. If Jake Connors could tell her where to get some decent whiskey, great. But that’s all she needed him for.

Once they got this beam out of the damn floor.

It took twenty minutes to borrow the tools from Burke, and another hour to get all of the bolts and screws and other improbable hardware out of the stupid thing. Jake helped her drag it outside, then they went back into the classroom and he swept up the debris while she did a hopping victory lap, humming the theme from Rocky. She finished her lap and playfully smacked Jake on the butt. “Come on. I’ll buy you lunch.”

The look on his face almost made her laugh. You’re not in LA anymore, she reminded herself.

“Sorry,” she said, “I shouldn’t smack people immediately after we’ve met.”

“How long do you usually wait?”

It sounded like an invitation, and she briefly imagined this beautiful burly man on his knees in front of her. She was tempted to push the issue, but it probably wasn’t a good idea to offer to beat a man she’d just met, so she smiled and said, “I at least buy them lunch first. Any suggestions?”

“Well, there’s the Dairy Freeze. They have great burgers & shakes. Or there’s Mountain Pizza. And there’s a pretty good Mexican place.”

“I’m not sure I can face Utah Mexican food yet. But a burger sounds amazing.”

“Great. I’ll drive.”

He led the way to a Ford F-250 and unlocked the doors with his remote. The old blue truck was splattered with mud, but it looked like he took pretty good care of it otherwise. He’d outfitted it with a lift kit, light bars, and a locking tonneau cover. Nice tires, too.

“Why does a math teacher need an F-250?” She asked him.

He looked surprised. “It has heated seats.”

She laughed. She was relieved that he didn’t insist on helping her up until she tried to get into the cab. And couldn’t. Just a year ago she would have lifted herself up with one arm. But she was still too fucking weak. She was furious and embarrassed when Jake had to come around to help her.

He went to one knee and cupped his hands for her to use as a step. She could see his strong shoulders bunching under his red plaid flannel shirt. She imagined ripping his shirt off, running her hands over those muscles, before gripping his head and pressing his mouth to her clit. Get it together, Jen. She must have stared at him a minute too long, because he turned red, like he could read her thoughts, and she quickly stepped onto his hands and into the passenger seat before she could say something really stupid.

“A lift kit, too, huh?” She teased him when he climbed into the driver’s seat.

He shrugged, stretching the fabric of his shirt. She had to stop staring. “My cabin’s kind of remote. You wouldn’t believe how often I have to drive over a fallen tree or climb a mudslide.”

The burger place wasn’t far, and in a few minutes Jake pulled into a large parking space, in between a Chevy Silverado and a Ram 3500. Attached to the restaurant was a convenience store and gas station, and a huge parking area in the back had a few semi trucks.

Jenny wasn’t feeling too confident about a gas station burger, but all she said was, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen this many different kinds of pickup trucks in one place.”

Jake looked around the parking lot like it hadn’t ever occurred to him.“Trucks are practical. What do you drive?”

“A Prius.”

Jake laughed. “You’re going to want something different before the snow starts. But if you can’t handle a truck –”

She cut him off. “I can handle any vehicle you put in front of me. I drive a Prius for the gas mileage, not because I’m afraid of a truck.”

“I didn’t mean – ”

“Yeah, the men in this town aren’t used to women who can do things. I’ve only been here a week and I’ve figured that out.” Sweet hell, Jenny, quit biting the head off the only person in this town who knows how to get a drink.

Jake started to say something, then changed his mind, hopped out of the truck and came around to the other side to help her get down. She imagined doing a front aerial out of the truck, just to show off. Except that she wasn’t sure she could land it, and her leg buckling under her would probably activate Jake’s damsel-in-distress mode. So she put her hands on his shoulders and let him swing her out of the truck. She could feel the soft flannel of his shirt, his biceps bulging under her arms, and fuck, the man smelled good. Like spruce trees and wood smoke. She wanted to bury her face into his chest and take a deep breath.

Bad idea, Jen. She let go and stepped ahead of him into the restaurant. He waved to a few people who waved back and stared at her.

They ordered at the counter and sat down in a booth. Jake fiddled with the straw of his Coke and finally said, “I just meant that a Subaru might be a good option for you. They handle really well in the snow but they’re closer to the ground.”

“I’ll think about it.” She tore the wrapper off her straw and pushed it into the plastic lid of the cup.

“I know a guy in Vegas. I can give him a call, see what he has. Save you some money.”

Her strawberry shake was so thick she couldn’t suck it through the straw. Hopefully the burgers beat expectations, too. “You know a guy in Vegas? Does he sell cars, or kill people, or both?”

“Uh…”

“The Prius will be fine.” She was a little more curt than she meant to be. She told herself it was just because her leg was throbbing and her entire body ached. She just wanted to eat her lunch, take twenty ibuprofen, and lay in bed with a heating pad. She didn’t like how weak that made her feel, and she sure as hell didn’t want this compelling stranger to see how weak she felt.

And she definitely needed to stop thinking about spanking him.

Finding Joseph – A Cedar Breaks Christmas – Chapter 1

 

Content Warning: This is a sexy Christmas story. There is cursing and sex and if you’re sensitive about the Nativity, you might not want to read to the end. I’ll release at least one chapter a week until Christmas. Enjoy!

photography of couple holding hands
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

Chapter One

The entire town of Cedar Breaks was talking about the new high school drama teacher. They were talking about it at Breaking Bread, when Jake stopped to get a cup of crappy coffee. They were talking about it at the Post Office when Jake went in to collect the mail that had piled up during the three weeks he’d been camping in the wilderness of Southern Utah. And they were talking about it at the high school, when he went in a scarce three days before the fall semester started.

He stopped by the shop classroom to return the air compressor he’d borrowed from Burke Allred at the beginning of the summer and saw Cathy Pettinger a moment too late. So much for an early start, he thought. Cathy and Burke had been working at the high school since it was built in the late 80s and knew the life history of everyone in the town. The two of them were shameless gossips and weren’t above making things up if they didn’t know the truth.

“Did you hear about the new drama teacher?” Cathy asked him excitedly. “They say she’s from Hollywood.”

Yep, Jake had heard that. “What happened to Mr. Powell?”

“Heart attack.” Cathy answered. “At the Pioneer Day parade. It scared Emma Monson so bad she peed her pants. Her mom had to start potty training all over.”

“His son came right up and hauled him down to St. George. Didn’t even ask him if that was what he wanted, just up and moved him.” Burke said. “If that ever happens to me, just shoot me. My daughter-in-law can’t cook worth a darn and won’t let me go to Wendy’s.”

“They have an In-and-Out in St. George now,” said Cathy. “I wonder if Mrs. Yang will go eat there.”

“I thought that was a burger place,” said Burke.

“It is.” Cathy said.

“Why would she eat there? I thought Orientals didn’t eat meat.”

Jake sighed. He didn’t even know how to begin to unpack all of this. He wondered if the new drama teacher knew what she was getting into.

“That’s not Orientals, that’s Indians.” Cathy corrected him. “And you’re not supposed to call them Orientals, you’re supposed to call them Asian-Americans.”

“Or you could just call me Jenny.”

Jake turned around and saw what must be the new drama teacher framed in the doorway. She was wearing a grey sleeveless tee and faded jeans, her short, spiky, dark brown hair showing off a row of earrings and a scar that bisected her eyebrow. She was not at all what Jake had expected, when he’d heard she was Asian. He had mentally filled in the blanks and expected a petite, sexy woman with long dark hair. And while there was no doubt that this woman was damn sexy, she wasn’t the shy, submissive woman he’d pictured, and he was ashamed of himself.

And I’m probably the most progressive person in this town. He had a sinking feeling as he realized that the woman standing in front of him was not going to fit in to this small, white, Mormon community.

Cathy, at least, looked guilty, but Burke took the opportunity to embarrass himself even further, asking her – Jenny – where she was from.

“I’m from LA,” she answered.

“I mean where are you really from. Originally.” His voice got louder, like she hadn’t understood him, and he was peering at her like she was a zebra in a zoo.

“Oh. Tampa.”

“Did she say Japan?” Burke asked Cathy in what he might have thought was a quiet voice.

“I’m Jake,” he stood up and walked to the door, holding his hand out. As she took it to shake, he noticed another healed laceration across her knuckles, and a patch of raised and puckered skin that extended up the back of her arm and across her shoulder before disappearing under her shirt. He looked at it a moment too long and then hastily raised his eyes to her face. She lifted her eyebrows and met his eyes levelly.

“Jenny Nguyen,” she replied, grasping his hand with surprising strength. “I have a problem in my classroom and I was wondering if you might be willing to help.”

“Lead the way,” he said.

He followed her out the door, and as they walked down the hallway toward the Drama department, he tried to make excuses for Burke.

“Sorry about that. He’s a good guy, really, he’s just…”

“An old white racist?” Jenny asked.

Jake frowns. “Well, yeah.” He wanted to tell her that not everyone in Cedar Breaks was like that, but to one extent or another, they probably were.

They got to her classroom and he looked at it in astonishment. The previous drama teacher had built a raised stage at one end of the large room. It had been there for years, covering half of the windows and making the entire room feel bleak. Someone had torn the entire thing down. The room was flooded with light.

“Oh my gosh,” he says, automatically censoring himself like he learned to do soon after moving here. “What happened?”

“I tore it down.”

He turns to her in shock. “You tore it down?”

She sighed. “Yes, I tore it down. From the response I’ve been getting, I expect I’ll be wearing a scarlet letter for the rest of the year.”

He laughed. She has a sense of humor. She’ll need it. “I always thought that thing was hideous.”

“It was. I managed to tear most of it down, but look.” She led him to what used to be the front of the stage. There was a heavy black beam attached to the floor, extending from one side of the classroom to the other.

“I can’t budge it,” she said. “And I can’t find any screws or nails or anything that’s holding it down. I tried to get it up with a crowbar and destroyed that part of the floor. Which isn’t the worst thing in the world, because this flooring is terrible. I was thinking maybe a sawzall,” she says. “But I don’t have one.”

For a moment, Jake pictured her powering through the beam with a sawzall, and the image was strangely compelling. “Yeah, I don’t know. All that’s going to do is cut everything up into chunks. It’s not going to remove whatever it is that’s holding it down.”

Jake got down on his knees, closed his eyes and ran his hands over the wood. He remembered Mr. Powell repainting it every year in the five years Jake had been there, so the damn thing was probably covered in twenty years’ worth of paint. He could feel where the beam attached to the wall, then skimmed his hands over the top and sides, moved down a few feet, and did it again.

He opened his eyes to see Jenny staring at him with her eyebrows raised and an amused look on her face. “Is it speaking to you?”

“Sometimes your eyes deceive you,” he explained defensively. “If you let your hands do the work, you can find things your eye skips.”

She had a curious look in her eyes, and he had to turn away, feeling unsettled. It was like she saw right through him.

“Let me see if I can borrow a few things from Burke and then we’ll figure this out.”

“From Burke?”

“Yeah, the shop teacher.”

“I thought you were the shop teacher.”

Yes, he was wearing a flannel shirt and jeans, and no, he hadn’t shaved in over a month. But still… “I teach math. The racist old white dude teaches shop.”

“Oh! Oh! You’re the heathen!” Jenny exclaimed.

“I’m the what now?”

“Cathy told me all about you. You grew up in Las Vegas, moved here five years ago, you live alone up in the mountains, and you’re my best hope for finding a place to get a drink. Or even just a place to buy alcohol, which I understand is a whole thing.”

“And she also told you that I’m available.”

Jenny snorted. “She did. After she asked if I was single.”

He shook his head. “She’s determined to get me married. It would be sweet if it wasn’t so annoying.”

“How often does she try to convert you?”
“Did she invite you to church already?”

Jenny nodded. “And to some… society thing? Is that also church?”

“Relief Society. It’s like… the Women’s Auxiliary or something. They’re good people, mostly.” Jake felt defensive of his adopted community, even though he preferred being alone. “They’re just very… stalwart.”

“Hmm… And are you and I the only non-Mormons?”

“For the most part. I think the guy who owns the truck stop is what they call inactive. Which basically means he grew up Mormon but he doesn’t go to church anymore. And then there are some who are fundamentalists, but they tend to home school. Oh, and I should warn you, they don’t like to be called Mormons. It’s The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Some still say LDS, but there was a big deal made about using the whole thing, so you might want to watch that.”

She nods. “So should I ask Burke to help me with this? Instead of you?”

“Uh, no, Burke is kind of a rule-follower. I’m pretty handy. I can help you.” He told himself it was strictly because he didn’t want to subject her to Burke’s misogyny and racism. Not because he wanted to hang around her longer.

“Well, thanks,” she says. “I appreciate it. Maybe you’ll let me buy you a drink?”

“The only place in a hundred miles to get a decent drink is my house.” He said it without thinking.

Jenny raised an eyebrow and grinned at him. “I guess I’ll just wait for an invitation, then.”

Jake froze. She wasn’t flirting – was she?

“Relax,” she said softly, placing a hand on his forearm. “I was only kidding. I wouldn’t intrude on your sanctuary.”

He wondered if she’d chosen the word casually, or if she’d already heard how private he was. No one in Cedar Breaks had ever been to his house, and he liked it that way. But he hadn’t meant to be rude.

“I’ll teach you the ways of the heathen,” he promised her.

“Deal.”

They shook on it. As Jake looked down at the scarred hand in his, he felt the strangest sense of anticipation.

 

Black Girl Magic

The first time I understood – I mean REALLY understood – Black Girl Magic, at a visceral level, was watching Janelle Monáe perform on SNL.

I usually skip the musical guests, because most of the time it’s people I’ve never heard of and don’t care about, and even when it is someone I’ve heard of or care about, the SNL studio can be particularly unforgiving to many musical acts. So I had my finger poised over the FFWD button on the remote when Janelle Monáe appeared onstage. And I sat there on the couch, my finger on the remote, transfixed. There was something about it that made me uncomfortable – the androgyny, the Blackness, the pompadour! — but I couldn’t stop watching.

I saw some Prince influences, some James Brown influence, but mostly she was so unapologetically herself. Running, skidding across the stage, flanked by backup singers in 60’s-style swing dresses, just doing her thing, being in the moment.

I don’t know music very well – I love music, but I’ve always been kind of lazy about it, not really obsessing over it like some of my friends, so when I watched this hybrid performance art — and I mean that’s really what it was, performance art — I found myself without words. I needed to know if everyone else found it as magical and transformative as I did.

My wife, who tends to watch everything with one eye on her computer, glanced up and said, “She’s weird.” And I was like, well, YES. Unapologetically, blatantly, gloriously, gorgeously, HERSELF.

I went online and bought The Electric Lady album. And discovered the song Q.U.E.E.N. And listened. Endlessly wondering about this magic – where does it come from? How does she have it?

Over the last few months I have been lucky enough to work closely with four talented Black actresses, and I’ve seen a different kind of Black Girl Magic with each of them.

I’ve seen a Black Actress be utterly herself onstage, and watched Black women see themselves in her, and nearly wept at what it must mean to be a Black woman in San Diego, and to go to a performance of Shakespeare and see yourself actually represented on that stage by a black woman who is unafraid to use her Blackness to interpret the words of the Bard. I don’t know if I can accurately express how transcendent it is to see the give and take of this actress with black women in the audience. I don’t know if I can really comprehend what it’s like to look on a stage, as a black woman attending a production of a Shakespearean play, and truly see yourself reflected there. Those moments have left me in tears.

I grew up in the Whitest of White neighborhoods. Everything I knew about Black or Brown people I learned from The Cosby Show (Sigh) or 3-2-1 Contact or Sesame Street. Until I went to college, I didn’t know any Latinx, Asian, or Black people.

It may be a form of exoticism for me to marvel at the Blackness I’ve been lucky enough to experience. I hope not. Because all I’m trying to say is – I see you. I hear you. You matter. You’re magic.