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

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?”


“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.


(Lack of) Feminist Perspective in SEO Writing

I write SEO Content for a few (and I mean a very few) extra bucks. It’s always a little strange for me to switch into that mode, because, in that gig, I am writing for the norm – which comes with its own set of assumptions and mores.

mouse and keyboard

Here’s an example of what I mean. I know some people who are child-free by choice. I know other people who can’t have children, and I recently struggled with fertility issues of my own. But when I’m writing a blog post about TV Installation services in the suburbs? The audience I am picturing is the bill of goods I’ve been sold – it’s that white, Christian, heteronormative, middle class family with 2.5 children in the suburbs. And if I need to throw in the necessary navigation of children’s toys as some color and an extra seven words, I’m going to do it. I’m going to write the breadwinner role as a male, and the stay-at-home parent as a female, and I’m going to write Easter dresses and Christmas cookies and going to church on Sundays and fitting the laundry in before picking the kids up at school in your minivan. Even if I don’t personally believe in any of that. (Except Christmas cookies. Everybody loves Christmas cookies!)

There are times I think about subverting this, and find myself wondering if I can do it in a way that doesn’t get me fired, but I get paid by the word, so I’m not always concerning myself with whether or not I’m falling into paradigms that I’ve been actively resisting since I was old enough to understand that women are people. So instead of thoughtfully considering how the words I’m writing perpetuate the stereotypes I despise, I toe the line and write with those stereotypes in mind. And as quickly as possible. Because if I’m not churning out at least 1200 words an hour I may as well get a job at Starbucks, and I don’t want to get a job at Starbucks, I want to write my own damn novel in any minute I can carve out.

I’m not saying I like it.

And yes, there are times that I feel pretty crappy for contributing to the noise that’s on the internet, thank you for asking. And yes, whenever possible, I try to use gender-neutral pronouns or examples that don’t rely too heavily on tired assumptions about how “normal” people live.

But mostly? I’m just trying to make enough money to pay the electric bill.

Writing Rape

Trigger Warning: I discuss rape in the below – in case you couldn’t tell from the title.

In my post, Writing Consent, I discussed the question of consent in fiction, and whether something can be steamy and hot if the need for consent is part of it. In Jenny Trout’s (writing as Abigail Barnette) amazing, steamy, compelling, couldn’t-put-it-down-read-the-entire-series-in-three-days “Boss” series (which you should go buy and read right now because it is awesome and the first book is free) consent is ever-present. There are a few times it’s almost annoyingly present, but I get it, and I applaud it.

So, the flip side of that is writing about rape. Which is really a completely different question. Is it necessary? Does it glamorize rape?


I’ve written a date rape scene for one of my characters. It’s not that I wanted her to be raped, it’s that one in six women are, and it’s part of her story. But I’m having mixed feelings about whether or not to include it. I know that it’s important to her character, and I know that it figures in to what happens later, but I’m struggling to make sure there is nothing titillating about it. Because most of the lovemaking in my stories involves kink, I don’t want there to be any confusion about what constitutes rape. But I also want to be true to my own experience, and what, I suspect, is the experience of many, and that is the mixed feelings that my character has about the rapist and about the rape itself.

I don’t want to give to much away, so let me pull back a little and talk about rape culture. This is the part where I tend to start beating myself up a little, because I’ve always had a problem saying, “No” and I have, too often, bought in to the idea that I somehow “owe” someone something because he or she invested time or money into me, or because I showed up at their house, or because I flirted, or teased, et cetera. This has landed me in situations where I ended up having sex, even though I didn’t want to. And I closed my eyes, and gritted my teeth, and got through it.

That’s why consent is so tricky, and so important. That’s why rape culture is such a problem. Yes, I had a responsibility to myself to be vocal about what I needed and wanted and, more importantly, DIDN’T need or want. But didn’t my sex partner have an equal stake in making sure that I was fully present, and fully involved in what was going on?

This kind of consensual interaction can be something as innocuous as communicating to your partner what you want them to do, through telling them that what they are doing isn’t really turning you on, and goes all the way through to no, I really don’t want to have sex with you right now, I don’t care that you are horny and that I am wearing next to nothing because it’s 98 degrees outside, what I want to do right now is watch The Gilmore Girls and suck on ice, you know where the vibrator is.

And I need to capture that for this character. I really feel like I have an obligation to do so. This isn’t a dramatic, Hollywood, black-and-white, strangers-abducted-and-raped me situation. This is exploring the issue of consent, the idea of both partners being equally invested in each other’s pleasure, the concept that, while No absolutely means NO, sometimes no isn’t said, sometimes it’s “wait” or “Um” or “Not there” and that doesn’t absolve the other partner of their responsibility. The idea that, just because you’ve done something once doesn’t mean you get to do it again, and the agonizing betrayal of ones own body when it responds to something your mind or heart doesn’t want.

I don’t love the idea of writing anything for which I feel obligated to provide a trigger warning. I honestly hate putting my character through it. But I also need the ten people who eventually read my book (HAH! I hope ten people read it!) to be involved in that process with my character, and to understand what it means to advocate for one’s own sexuality, and to, maybe, absolve themselves of some guilt for any of their own not-completely-consensual experiences.

And maybe I just need to write it to do all of the above for myself.