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My latest release, High Test, isn’t a holiday story in the traditional sense, but several holidays play important roles in the overall plot. Since the story spans the good part of a year’s time the characters are involved with holiday celebrations. It’s during these times that the characters learn not only about each other, but their new-found love’s family.
The two main characters, Hayden and Neal come from completely different backgrounds, and that includes religious upbringing. Hayden comes from a large, warm family he can’t spend holidays with because of finances and distance. Neal’s family isn’t so large, and they don’t fall into the warm and fuzzy category. His parents have no problem traveling to see Neal during the holidays, much to Neal’s chagrin. Having been raised by his Hindu grandmother, Neal is also Hindu. During the story he shares some of his traditions, mainly the celebration of Diwali, with Hayden.
Sharing family and personal traditions is one way these two men move forward to becoming a couple. Seeing each other through holidays, cheerful and stressful is but one way Hayden and Neal bond.
Hayden Owens is just your typical graduate student working his way through school as a barista for the Owens Coffee Company—no relation. But he keeps the “no relation” part to himself when he meets dashing, older Neal Kirchner, a successful architect from an old-money family. Hayden doesn’t exactly lie, but he figures it can’t hurt for Neal to believe he’s a rich kid. After all, Hayden doesn’t want Neal thinking he’s a gold digger.
The closer they become, the harder it gets for Hayden to come clean. Something always seems to get in the way. When a company bankruptcy and a jilted, vindictive woman threaten to expose his charade, Hayden thinks it’s all gone down the drain. Luckily Neal is ready with some innocent trickery of his own.
Excerpt from High Test by Elizabeth Noble
On his way home from school the night before Neal was due back, Hayden made a stop at a local shopping center. Since gift giving and new purchases, especially gold and silver for luck, was a part of Diwali and the Hindu New Year, Hayden bought new dog collars with tiny silver and gold dog bones woven into the soft, pliable leather. He even managed to find some solar lights that simulated tiny fireworks to line the front walk with.
Lights were paramount to the celebration, so Hayden reasoned there couldn’t be too many.
Seeing the way Neal’s face lit up from Hayden’s efforts when he arrived home filled Hayden with a warm glow.
“I love these collars for the boys,” Neal said. He sat cross-legged on the floor with his dogs. After their old collars were replaced, he spent a few minutes wrestling and playing with them. “Okay, time to decorate. I’ll get the supplies down from the attic.”
They spent several hours hanging strings of small lights around the house and then on the outside.
“Where’d you find these?” Neal pointed to the solar lights lining his front walk.
“That little ‘everything for a dollar’ store near the school. They have all sorts of unusual things. They reminded me of fireworks.”
“The lights symbolize light—good and knowledge, over dark—evil and ignorance,” Neal explained as he unpacked candles and some colored chalk from a small box. “I create a Rangoli to welcome Lakshmi outside my front door. Some people do it just inside, but with the dogs, that’s difficult.”
Closer inspection of the concrete walkway leading up to Neal’s house showed faint outlines of previous patterns. While both of them dealt with different styles of design—Hayden created cars and Neal buildings—the two fields both involved an appreciation for aesthetics. Taken down to the most basic skills, they were both artists at heart.
It was great fun sitting outside with Neal and their grown-up version of the big box of crayons—in their case chalk—drawing intricate decorations on the walkway. The finishing touch was little earthenware battery-powered lamps that were set around their Rangoli.
“The best part of something like this is having someone to share it with. Thank you,” Neal said softly.
Hayden felt his cheeks warm. “I hope we get to celebrate many more. Thank you for including me.”
The next day after Hayden finished with classes, they headed to the temple Neal belonged to for more festivities. They arrived, as all the guests did, laden with dried fruits and candies to share. The excitement and upbeat mood was contagious, and Hayden found himself smiling the entire evening, even though the only person he knew there was Neal. Neal’s friends were warm and welcoming, and no one seemed to care that Hayden wasn’t Hindu. The evening of mingling and visiting with so many people culminated with a huge fireworks show.
The thought foremost in Hayden’s mind as the evening ended and they drove back to Neal’s house for the night was that he couldn’t wait to celebrate Diwali next year.
About Elizabeth Noble
Mystery, action, chills, and thrills spiced with romance and desire. ELIZABETH NOBLE started telling stories before she actually knew how to write, and her family was very happy when she learned to put words on a page. Those words turned into books and fan fiction that turned into a genuine love of M/M romance fiction. Being able to share her works with others is really a dream come true. She has a real love for a good mystery complete with murder and twisty plots as well as all things sci-fi, futuristic, and supernatural and a bit of an unnatural interest in a super-volcano in Wyoming.
Elizabeth has three grown children, two grandchildren, and is now happily owned by an adorable mixed-breed canine princess and her sidekick tabby cat. Elizabeth lives in her native northeast Ohio, the perfect place for gardening and winter and summer sports (go Tribe and Cavs!) and stargazing all year long. When she’s not writing, she’s working as a veterinary nurse, so don’t be surprised to see her men with a pet or three who are a very big part of their lives.
Elizabeth has received a number of amateur writing awards. Since being published, several of her novels have received Honorable Mentions in the Rainbow Awards. Jewel Cave was a runner-up in the Gay Mystery/Thriller category in the 2015 Rainbow Awards. Ringed Love was a winner in the Gay Fantasy Romance category of the 2016 Rainbow Awards.
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