I miss home. The small town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan where I grew up. Even after being away for seventeen years, it’s still home, and I miss it. Especially around the holidays. And though I get to visit, it’s never for long enough, never often enough.
I even miss winters there. I still live in the Midwest, and winter isn’t particularly easy here, but let me tell you, winters are something back home. The snow can be ridiculous. Seriously.
This shows the record snowfall (from 1978, I believe), which was over 33 feet for the year (I said it was ridiculous!), but the average snowfall is only 17-25 feet/year.
This is what I walked to school in—no, it wasn’t uphill both ways ;-) but still…
Those who know me well know I’m not a fan of winter—the snow, the cold. I’m definitely more likely to be found inside, enjoying a cup of tea or cocoa, perhaps thinking about how pretty the snow looks outside. But some of my favorite memories from home are winter memories… Not so much of a shocker, I suppose when winter lasts months and months and months.
Winter Carnival at Michigan Tech University is the source of many of those good memories. Every year, students from MTU make the most amazing snow sculptures—spending hours and hours and HOURS creating them in the cold and late into the night. And when I say amazing, I mean amazing!
It’s awe-inspiring. I’d spend hours walking campus with my family or friends and take it all in. And the detail on some of them… Just wow.
Northern lights are pretty awesome back home, but in the winter…they always seemed even better. I still remember cold ass nights, sitting on a lawn chair on top of the snow in the backyard, wearing tons of layers, wrapped up in a sleeping bag, enjoying cocoa (or a good beer when I was older) and just watching the lights pulse and dance in the sky above. I’m a writer and I don’t have adequate words to describe how magic those moments are. I wish I could capture it—in words, in a photo—but have never been able to. But here’s a glimpse, a bit of the magic, taken by an amazing photographer, Steve Brimm:
Missing home is more than just the things I used to do or the place itself, though. The thing I missed the most? My family. Long-distance? Sucks. Big time. Only being able to see my parents a couple times a year, having my nieces and nephews grow so much between visits I hardly recognize them, not having the luxury of being able to stop by and just hang with my sister over a cup of coffee… Yeah, sucks sums it up really well.
I’m lucky enough to be able to text and call and FaceTime and all those things, but it’s not the same, is it? Never will be. So I’ll continue to miss home, and all that goes along with it, and look forward to the holidays when I get to go back, even if it’s just for a little while.
I think that’s one of the reasons I related so much to the heroes in my book, Nothing Serious. Being so far away from loved ones hurts, and it’s not always the big things. It’s the little stuff you miss on a day-to-day basis. And Jack and Aaron have been missing the big and little things for a long, long time.
Aaron Stevens likes his life the way it is. As a surgical resident, he is perfectly content with the fact that the precious hours he has outside the hospital revolve around taking care of his mother and sister. He doesn’t have the time or inclination for a serious relationship. So the fact his lover lives halfway around the world and is fine with jetting off to exotic locales a couple times a year for a few weeks of hot sex is as close to perfect as he can get.
The last thing Jack Hayes ever expected when his best friend got involved with an American was to hook up with her son. And he sure as hell never imagined it would continue for as long as it has. For years, he has been at Aaron’s beck and call, satisfied with submitting to him whenever Aaron and his busy life allow. But, after a change in his family’s company that has him looking for a new job, and possibly moving, Jack has begun to examine what he really wants in life and isn’t sure stolen moments here and there are enough anymore.
When Jack arrives to attend Aaron’s sister’s wedding, keeping what he and Aaron have a secret begins to take its toll. Aaron is unwilling to come out to his family, afraid of hurting them and ruining what should be the happiest day of his sister’s life. As much as Jack has come to love Aaron, he can’t bring himself to be the dirty secret in Aaron’s closet. Aaron has a choice to make, because the tighter he holds on to keeping their “nothing serious” arrangement, the closer he comes to losing everything.
Nothing Serious Excerpt © Jessica Jarman
“Don’t have much in the way of food,” he said apologetically. “Need to hit the grocery store. Just haven’t had time. If you’re hungry, we can order in.”
“Not exactly thinking of food, right now, Aaron,” Jack drawled.
Laughing, Aaron strode through the living room. “Not a big place. Everything’s pretty straight forward. Guest room’s there. Bathroom.” He pointed at the two closed doors as they entered the short hallway. “And my room.”
He stopped in front of his open door and glanced over his shoulder. Jack stood in front of the guest room, looking at Aaron in question.
“Don’t be stupid. As far as my mother or anyone else is concerned you’re in there, but I don’t want you down the hall. Want you in my room. My bed.”
Not waiting for an answer, he went inside and set the suitcase beside his dresser. He shrugged off his coat and tossed it in the general direction of the closet before toeing off his shoes and kicking them to the side. His muscles protested, reminding him of the hours he’d spent on his feet, and he lifted his arms over his head, arching his back slightly, his eyes closed. When he opened them again, Jack was standing just inside the room, lower lip caught between his teeth, eyes locked on Aaron’s abs—exposed from the way he stretched.
Aaron lowered his arms and leaned back against the dresser, dragging his gaze up and down Jack’s body. He looked much the same as he always had—which is to say hot as hell and a desperation to touch consumed Aaron—though his dark hair was a bit longer now, and the well-trimmed beard he sported off and on through the years was in place. A shiver raced down Aaron’s spine, anticipation and desire pooling deep inside. He’d take Jack any way he could have him, but Aaron could admit he definitely enjoyed the on times and the scrape and drag of Jack’s facial hair.
“I’ve never seen you in scrubs before, Dr. Stevens,” Jack said hoarsely. “It’s a good look.”
Aaron crossed his ankles and nodded at the suitcase still in Jack’s hand. “Put that down and take your clothes off.”
The bag landed with a thud, and Jack pulled off his coat and drew his t-shirt up and over his head. “Right to it, then, I see.”
“Are you complaining?”
“The clothes are coming off—what do you think?” He had his shoes and socks off quickly and reached for the button of his jeans. “Are yours coming off?”
Aaron tilted his head and pursed his lips, pretending to think. “Nah, not quite yet. Get it on with it.”
“Bossy as ever,” Jack muttered, shoving his jeans and shorts past his hips and bent forward to the work the garments down his legs. He lifted his head and smiled that fucking smile that made Aaron’s stomach clench hotly every time. “I missed that.”
As Jack returned to the task of getting his clothes off, Aaron inhaled deeply, and pressed the heel of his hand to his chest, right above the blinding ache blossoming. Fuck, he’d missed this. Missed him.
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