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Blame It on the Fruitcake

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2015 Advent Calendar package "Sleigh Ride".

by Pat Henshaw

Fruitcake is the laughingstock of the holiday season. But can it be an aphrodisiac instead? Motorcycle mechanic Sam McGuire is surprised to find a gaily wrapped box on his doorstep with a piece of fruitcake accompanying an invitation to a holiday party.

Wondering if he’ll fit in, Sam attends the party—mostly to get more of the fruitcake he falls in love with—and meets Jay Merriweather, his new neighbor. The lure of Jay’s big family and its holiday tradition of enjoying Grandma’s fruitcake hook Sam, as does the sexy man himself.

But Sam can't imagine why handsome, college-educated Jay would want someone like him, who was raised in a children’s home and barely graduated high school. Maybe the magic of the holiday season can help two men who seem so different come together like the ingredients in a well-made fruitcake.

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    • “Hi there. Did I hear you say you’re the neighbor from down the hall?” At my nod, the new guy added, “Let’s get you a drink and introduce you to a few people.”


    • Now here was my kinda man. Like me, on the street, nobody’d probably guess he was gay. Only not like me, since I looked like the bike mechanic I am, he looked like one of the bankers I’d talked to last week. He was a couple inches shorter than me, with conservative-cut hair, blue eyes, and a trustworthy face. He looked like he cared whether I was having a good time or not.


    • “Uh, sure. That’d be great.”


    • I couldn’t figure out how I was supposed to act. If I wasn’t bullshitting with friends, my words usually dried up. Fortunately it hadn’t happened at the bank when I was presenting my case for a loan to a guy who looked like him, or I’d have been fucked.


    • So I let this guy lead me around, introducing me, telling me something about everyone, and letting them know I lived at the other end of the hall.


    • At one point he stared at me with a funny twinkle in his eyes and asked, “You’re not by any chance McGuire’s Bikes, are you?”


    • I managed to nod. I was stunned. It wasn’t like I was famous or anything.


    • He beamed. “No shit! Wow! I wanted to meet you after the Reno Roadshow. I loved your Loose and Wild Rainbow. Great bike.”


    • Ah, yes, L&WR, the winner of the Roadshow competition. I’d tricked out the bike for a buddy of mine who died of AIDS. He wanted the bike to be a memorial, but so far we couldn’t locate a cemetery or burial place where we could put his ashes and his machine. We were finding that burial laws by the ocean and in the mountains were pretty archaic and exclusive. If we wanted a bike cut into marble, no problem. But Harry hadn’t been a stone monument sorta guy.


    • “Uh, thanks. Yeah, it was a special kinda project,” I mumbled.


    • Even with the music, the shouting people, and the yelling when a couple were caught under the mistletoe, the guy still heard me.


    • He put his arm around my shoulders and gave me a hug. “Yeah, I know. He’ll be missed.”


    • Now my head was reeling. What the fuck? He knew Big Harry?


    • “I met Harry when I was a kid hanging around my buddy’s dad’s garage,” he said.


    • “Where’d you grow up?” I asked. After I’d had a couple drinks, the pumping music, the blinking Christmas lights, and the strangers laughing and yelling were making the night surreal. This handsome, clean-cut guy had known Harry? I must be dreaming. He and Harry looked light years apart.


    • “Little town outside Denver in the foothills. Deer Creek. You probably heard Harry talk about it. Not the place you want to grow up gay.” His laugh was short and dismissive.


    • “Yeah, so Harry always said.” I shifted to my other foot and looked down at the red plastic cup of punch. This was the last one for me tonight. I still hadn’t found the fruitcake. “So you go to bike shows?”


    • “Yup. The best part of my job.” He shrugged with a happy grin.


    • “Yeah? What do you do?”


    • We were bumped and separated by an incoming group. They exclaimed over my new friend, one of the women smothering him with kisses. He glowed with embarrassment and shot me a rueful glance. As the sea parted us, I drifted away looking for the food table and hoped it held enough fruitcake that I could steal some and not out myself as a thief.


    • I’d eaten three pieces and was busy wrapping up a fourth in napkins to take with me when my new nameless friend walked up and stood next to me.


    • “You like the fruitcake, huh?” He was smiling like I’d really pleased him.


    • “Yeah. I’d never tasted it until I got some with the invitation.”


    He gave me a tiny smile and shook his head, his eyes twinkling as if laughing at some cosmic joke.


Reviews:Danielle on Love Bytes wrote:

What a lovely story! I am familiait with this author, having read her stories before and I have to say I really like her style. With this Christmas telling she offers a lovely, sweet yet very intense and emotional story.

We see on one hand Sam, who owns a motorcycle shop and who is making a living for himself despite his past and his upbringing. You can sense his loneliness and his past still rules his life. I have to say the author did an amazing job on bringing that over to the reader in my opinion.

When he gets an unexpected gift from what turns out to be his new neighbour, he finds himself to trying to be social and attending the party that he got invited too. Even if it was just for the fruitcake which was included in the package.

Which brings in Jay, his neighbor who’s an art deco stylist, and an educated family man. He’s everything Sam isn’t but there is no denying the chemistry between the two men right from the moment they meet. Despite Sam struggling with being totally opposite of charming and social Jay the attraction is instant and there.

That also brings me to the only little form of criticism , if you can call it that. We see and read some sweet interaction between the men, some loving kissing and we are told of more intimate contact. But that last part is all of a page.

I don’t say I am expecting or asking for full on sex or anything hardcore but I really would love to see this author venture a little bit more on the physical side of the relationship.

Back to the story, we see Sam struggling with his upbringing, his insecurties and the feeling of not being good enough for Jay. Jay is trying to be patient but he is having a hard time getting through. With a little bit of help from a little fruitcake bringing, slightly interfering nana, things seem to be turning for the better. Thankfully Jay isn’t the giving up kind of person.

With a wonderful sweet epilogue the author wraps up a wonderful Christmas short, that is well worth reading!

Becky on Bike Book Reviews wrote:

I love Pat Henshaw's books, and this Christmas short is a big reason why, once again she manages to bring a story to life in bold and vibrant color! You will be as delighted by this story as I was!

Sam is a pretty lonely fellow, he grew up in a group home and the only family and friends he has to speak of work for him at his Motorcycle shop, so when he gets an invitation to a Holiday party on his doorstep, he thinks why not, and he decided to try the accompanying fruit cake as well!

Sam enjoys the fruitcake so much that he goes to the party in part for more of it, but what he finds there could end up being so much more! Could meddling family and Sam's insecurities ruin a good thing with his sexy neighbor Jay before it even gets off the ground?

I love this story because it reminds us that we don't have to be the same kind of people to have a spark, and that to get the best things in life, sometimes we have to go out of our comfort zone!

Thanks Pat, for a wonderful Holiday story I will surely reread any time of year!

Stella on Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words wrote:

Blame it on the Fruitcake by Pat Henshaw was my first story by this author and I was pleasurably surprised by it. Although it’s a short, the author did really great, especially with the character of Sam. I could feel his past, his hurts and his feelings. I cheered him on to find some family and forget about the one who abandoned him in a basket. I was so happy he met the sunny Jay and his delicious fruitcake, not a sweets but a truly drug (LOL). I felt the loneliness in Sam, scared to be part of something because he had none in his life and someone like Jay, so different from his nature, doesn’t seem the right person.

I liked the writing, the reading flew easily and I liked the plot and the development of the story. Sweet but not too much, most of all, a real story, believable. There were some funny moments too, when Sam stole the fruitcake.

About the Author

Pat Henshaw, born and raised in Nebraska, has lived on the U S’s three coasts, in Texas, Virginia, and now California. Before she retired, she held a number of jobs, including theatrical costumer, newspaper features reporter and movie reviewer, librarian, junior college English instructor, and publicist. She also loves to travel and has visited Canada, Mexico, Europe, Egypt, Thailand, and Central America as well as almost all fifty US states.

Now retired, she enjoys reading and writing as well as visiting her older daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren on the East Coast and playing havoc with her younger daughter’s life in NorCal. Pat's pronouns are she / her.

She thanks you for reading her books and wants you to remember that
Every day is a good day for romance.