As the height of the largest Holiday commences, Joe responds to a cave-in.
For Doctor Mather Stone, Sky Serum day is another typical celebration. For assassin Snow-Everyone-Joe, he’s uncovering a secret plot that caused a cave-in. Neither have time for silly holidays. But both men’s lives change with one explosion and a snowman cookie.
Right as Doctor Mather Stone thinks this celebration will be like all the others, a blast rocks his world. As Mather accepts his death, a stranger saves him, altering his life forever.
"Snow-Everyone-Joe", the feared member of the H.S.P.C., doesn’t want to be anyone special and when he saves a doctor trapped in the underground den, Joe discovers the joy of being “Jack”. A no one. Just a friend.
”Jack” and Mather start off as strangers, but their time together as friends grows into more. Problem is, Joe isn’t who he says he is, and Mather is suspect in the Earth Den bombing. But fate is in no hurry to change the slow and easy love building between them.
It took a few years and hefty persuasion to get this wonderful story published.
It was written by Monica, the "M" in C.M. Moore and at first she wasn't going to send it for publication. But a few of her friends, including her publisher, demanded to have this story out into the world!
The first rendition delved very deep into the relationship, but as it was set in the Ice Era Chronicle world, it was changed to fit the usual style of the "Off-the-Rails" motif in plot and action.
Thus, the awesome story it is now!
I think Kay McDaniel puts it perfectly:
Some books pull at your own heart strings. As the reader I felt empathy for the two main male characters in their struggle to accept sexual feelings for each other. Those feelings were foreign to them.
How could this happen?
The writer takes you through their soulful journey as they try to fight the tenderness of their fledgling love affair and the consequences that will follow from their choice.
Along with the suffering interior conflict of Joe and Mather is the adventure of explosions, hair raising rescues and assassinations of the “bad guys.” I was swept along in the chaos hoping for a happy ending.
The “Hallmark” happy ending does happen amid snowman cookie humor and family loyalty.
I recommend this novel for anyone struggling with their sexual orientation. Also for anyone who loves adventure and a good read. I really did like the story.
I Would Recommend This Book to Fans of:
Straight to Gay Romance
Anyone Struggling with their Sexual Orientation
Excerpt of Holiday Cup of Joe (Off-the-Rails) Ice Era Chronicle
Mather rolled onto his stomach. More darkness. Smoke filled his lungs, and he coughed. How long had he been sprawled here? After a few minutes, he caught a clean breath and pushed down his rising terror. After hacking up another lung, he drew himself up on all fours. His palms scratched the rough stone floor of the water base hall.
What just happened?
“Help!” Screams echoed down the corridor, but Mather couldn’t see anything without the illuminating wall sconces. Someone cried. A child, maybe a girl? The world had gone black. The pleas were muffled. When the blast had gone off, his hearing took a beating.
There was more yelling, but Mather couldn’t pinpoint where the noise was coming from. Even if he could get up, his limbs respond sluggishly.
As he fumbled, his palm hit the clear-plastic case he’d been carrying. Oddly, the box was a comfort. Like a teddy bear or a blanket, Mather drew the container of cookies into his arms as he stood.
A beacon of hope glimmered ahead in the form of a flashlight. The beam struggled to cut through the thick smoke. Mather stumbled toward what might be help. He tripped over broken rock, righted, and stopped. Mather shoved his Sky Serum snowmen cookies into his bag before he staggered down the hall. As he moved near the light, the outline of a tall young man brought relief. Someone else was with him. The stranger’s tiny lamp illuminated his dark-red hair and a little girl with him.
“Hello?” Mather called, but the redhead didn’t look his way. Too focused on the child, the stranger grabbed the girl and tugged her over broken fragments.
“My name’s Joe.” The man’s menacing tone didn’t soothe Mather at all. “Agent Snow-Everyone-Joe.” The redhead with the headlamp gripped the kid’s shoulders. There was another hard jerk. “I’m an important H.S.P.C. agent. Come here.”
When the girl was in his arms, he pulled a needle out of his pocket. “What’s your name?”
The child wept but answered. Mather couldn’t hear the muffled response.
“Hey?” Mather coughed. The agent glanced around the hall but then focused back on the child.
“No.” The girl fought to get out of the stranger’s arms. Sunglasses fell from the agent’s pocket and shattered on the stones.
“Hey, Joe?” Mather called. “Agent Joe? Snow-Everyone-Joe?”
A second blast split the air. A force like an invisible train hit Mather square in the chest. Before he could gather his wits, he was thrown backward. Mather hit a stone pillar. Panic got the better of him. Once more he was on his knees. One hand gripped the strap of his backpack as his other hand struck a door. Thank God, a handle. The smell of fire assaulted his nostrils, and he hacked. A foreboding rumble shook his entire body.
Death was here.
Grabbing the metal knob, Mather tossed the door open and threw himself into the next room. The propulsion sent him forward wildly. Another crash tore through the air. Something struck the door that he’d scrambled through. The wood slammed shut.
Mather legs hit a solid piece of metal. He tumbled and landed flat on the floor.
“Geeze.” As he rose, he grabbed his bruised shin. His hand smoothed over a bench.
He yanked on the door, but the entrance didn’t budge. Showers, benches, hooks, tiles. This must be the locker room for the water base guards. He walked in circles feeling like a caged animal.
Mather had no clue how long he’d been looking for a light or a way to escape. He found a switch. Clicking it did nothing. This was the end for him. He pictured his End-Of-Life ceremony with an officiant saying, Doctor Mather Stone died trapped in a locker room on a water base. That’s what they would say. Dead and alone on Sky Serum Holiday. This day was supposed to be about being thankful for life. The irony did amuse him.
Finally, he sat. Cold tiles greeted him. Fishing out his holiday container, Mather popped the lid. A blue snowman with thick icing and a plastered smile laughed at him. Mather bit the head off the baked good holding back a sob. He kept eating the heads of snowmen to keep the tears at bay. It wasn’t manly to cry. When he was a child, his dad used to say man up to him and his two brothers. In all the years of working high stress as a surgeon, he’d never felt this need to fall apart.
A single tear slid down his cheek as he bit another cookie. There was no point in removing the drop. No one could see him.
Shoving away the sugar treats, Mather pressed his head against the cool wall. He wished he’d said goodbye to his ma. He could’ve gone to see his older brother more. He should’ve invited his younger brother to visit. His empty life paraded across his mind in cruel detail. Geeze, he didn’t even give a proper farewell to his colleagues before he moved off Water Base Cure.
A swish-swish cut through his demoralizing thoughts. Maybe he’d imagined the sound. There was nothing to see in the dark room. His eyes ached from the unshed tears, the smoke, and the strain. Weak and tired, he took a deep breath. No one was here for him.
“I’m going to die alone on Sky Serum Holiday.”
“Look what I found.” A husky male voice slammed into Mather. “You sound scared stiff.”
“Can you help me? I’m trapped.” Shaking with excitement, Mather came to his feet. He shoved his container into his backpack and stayed to the wall. Hope spun him up while his bruised shins reminded him to stay focused. Falling over again didn’t appeal to him.
“Wow, okay. Let’s see what I can do.”
“Please? Sir?” Mather scooted toward the deep voice. A light, airy feeling lifted his spirits. Joy bubbled up like a spring. Maybe he wouldn’t die alone after all.
As he shifted, his long coat caught, as if the material was conspiring against him. Exhaling a puff of frustration, he yanked. Cold water sprayed him in the face.
“Geeze.” While he fumbled for the shutoff handle, Mather tugged on his coat. In seconds, his jacket, scrubs, and shoes were completely drenched.
“No need to shower on my account.”
“Sir, can you help me?” Mather tipped his head one way and then the other to gauge the stranger’s location “There’s something wrong with the doors.” The spray beat him with no mercy.
“Don’t call me sir. I work for a living.” A hefty chuckle followed his sentence as Mather got hold of the handle and turned it the right way till the spray ended. “Is your altogether all together?”
“What?” Mather ran his hand over his sopping face.
“Are you hurt?”
“No, but—” Mather started, but he cut off the rest of his answer when a heavy hand touched his chest.
“No butts, huh?” The stranger laughed. “Wow.”
As shivers and water raced down his spine, Mather stood like a statue. His own hand shot out from the wave of dizziness, connecting with warm, dry fingers. This could be fear. Or it could be cold. He could have stood too fast.
His heart raced and his hands tingled.
No. Mather wasn’t scared of this stranger. He was merely terrified this man, this rescuer, would leave.
“Please,” Mather whispered. “I need to know you’re here.” At least, he would die with someone.
“Hey.” The owner of the meaty hand slipped his palm to Mather’s shoulder and squeezed. “I’m here.” The calm tone seeped into Mather’s bones. “I’m here.”
Just as Mather exhaled his tension, a loud boom jolted his insides. His stomach dropped to his wet sneakers. The stranger tossed his body toward him with a cussword and an oomph. Mather was pinned. Shaking, he dipped his head into the hard male chest. He embraced the huge muscled frame. Fear seized his whole body. He didn’t even care if hiding under this stranger was childish.
“I’m here.” Again, that husky, reassuring tone chased the fear from Mather’s brain. “It’s you and me against the world.”
“Thank you.” Mather’s lips lifted in answer to the teasing. How did this man make him relax in such a dire situation?
As fast as he was enveloped by the rock-hard flesh, the human shield was gone. Tossing out his arms and finding nothing made the fear edge closer.
“Sir?” Slowly, Mather came to his feet and reached into the darkness. “Sir?”
“I was looking around.” A warm steady hand palmed Mather’s chest.
“Looking around?” In the dark void, strong fingers dug into Mather’s hand. “Are you gifted? I’ve heard about this woman who can see in the dark. Her name is Karma Something. She’s famous. Can you do that?”
“Wow.” There was that upbeat chuckle again. “Really hoped for that, didn’t you?” The stranger’s hand stayed firmly in his. Even if Mather was slightly annoyed at this person’s overly confident attitude, he was happy to have him. “No, I can’t see in the dark. I know the layout of the locker room. I’m sizing up the vent. I’m going to walk away.”
“Sir?” While he mentally kicked himself for his weakness, Mather clung to the thick fingers. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry.” There was a pause. “Unless…” There was another pause. “You know anything about this cave-in.”
Mather expected a chuckle. When the laugh didn’t come, he realized that the stranger wasn’t making another joke.
“Why would I know anything about this?” Irritation dropped over his face. “I just live and work here. I’m a surgeon.”
“Wow, I got under your skin.” There was a quick squeeze to Mather’s fingers. “I believe you. You work here.”
“Yes.” Mather exhaled his annoyance.
“Well, if you’re sorry that you’re holding my hand, it’s okay you’re scared.”
“Aren’t you scared?” Mather asked. “We’re buried alive.” With his other hand, Mather wiped at a tear that streaked down his cheek. “This isn’t how I thought I’d die. Alone and buried on Sky Serum Holiday.”
“Did you want to be buried on a different holiday?” the deep voice snickered.
“No,” Mather huffed. “I mean that I have no one. I’ve one friend and my ma. That’s my whole life.” His voice clogged with tears, and he coughed to keep from making a fool of himself. “I never thought this would be my last day alive.” This man would think he was a child and not a thirty-five-year-old accomplished doctor if he didn’t get his emotions under control. He took a steadying breath. “Sorry. I’m normally good under pressure. I guess facing death has a way of making a grown man cry.”
“I’m not scared of anything.” His rescuer brushed closer to him. “And you’re not alone. I’m here. Don’t be sorry.” The stranger’s hand traveled from Mather’s fingers to his arm. A sturdy grip warmed him. “This won’t be your last day alive. I’ll get you home for some fun Sky Serum festivities.”
“I’ll get us out faster than you can call me Jackrabbit.”
“Jackrabbit,” Mather quipped as a smile spread across his mouth. He didn’t know where the happiness came from, but the feeling surged inside of him. This man’s good humor rubbed off on him. “But we’re still in here.”
“Wow, smart-ass.” The stranger’s fingers intertwined with Mather’s. “Okay, if you’re not going to let go, then you’ll have to follow me.”
Mather nodded and then realized that was pointless. “Where are we going, sir?”
“Do you have a suggestion? Or did you want to keep groping the shower nozzle?”
“Groping? Geeze. My coat got caught on the handle.” Mather absently ran his free hand through his wet hair.
“I wish I’d seen that nail you in the face.”
The other man’s smile was so loud, Mather could hear the smirk. An answering grin twitched his lips. The way this person talked, like the whole world was a joke, made Mather trust him. His devil-may-care attitude buoyed him. That light, airy feeling lifted him like weights had been removed. Maybe this situation would work out as long as they stayed together.
The other man tugged on his arm, and Mather walked through the darkness. Mather’s shoulder bumped a locker with a clang, and he fell forward. The awkward stumble forced him to spread both hands across the man’s back to save himself from hitting the floor. His fingers slid on thick corded muscles under a shirt covered in goo.
“Is this mud?”
“It’s my beauty routine.” There was a snort. “I’m going to open these lockers and see if I can find a flashlight. Mine’s busted.”
“They’re locked.” Mather removed his hands from the muddy back and rubbed his dirty palms on his pant leg. “I’ve tried that.”
“How long have you been in here?”
“Long enough to eat snowmen cookies, reevaluate my life, and cry like a five-year-old.”
“And to take a shower.”
“And take a shower.” Mather set his palm on the other man’s back as his lips tipped up at the corners.
Jingling, muttered swear words, and metal grinding on metal cut into his thoughts. Mather pulled his hands away from the broad back.
“Hold this.” His rescuer grabbed Mather’s hand. A cold metal bar was placed in his palm. “And this.” A soft towel was shoved into his arms next. “Use it.”
“Thank you, sir.”
“Stop calling me sir.”
“I don’t know your name. Unless I really should call you Jackrabbit. If your last name is Rabbit and your parents named you Jack, they have a bizarre sense of humor.”
“My parents are a real comedy act. My brothers are Bunny and Hoppity.”
“Jack Rabbit isn’t the oddest name I’ve ever heard,” Mather muttered as he toweled his face. “But it’s up there.”
While Mather dried his arms, Jack must’ve walked away. After Mather juggled the crowbar and the towel, he threw out his hand. He hit nothing but air. Further away, metal tinkled.
“Are you opening all the lockers?”
“Only as many as I need.” There was a quick flash. “We have ourselves a smoker.”
The flicker of a tiny flame from a small hand-lighter wavered in front of the shadow of a solidly built man. The guy was easily two hundred pounds of pure muscle. There wasn’t a lot of Jack that Mather could make out other than his size. Shuffling closer, Mather worked to get a better look at his rescuer. Jack handed the mini light to Mather.
“Hold this next to the doors.”
Lock after lock, they stepped down the aisle. Mather noticed four things about the man next to him. The first thing was that Jack only used one hand to open the latches. Second, the stranger was younger than Mather had first guessed. Twenty maybe. His savior was caked with mud, and his hair was black and slicked back. Third, this guy was all power and strength, almost in a frightening way. He wasn’t tall, a little shorter than Mather, but he was built like one of the cement columns in the Northern Earth Dens.
The fourth was Jack had never asked Mather his name. With a shake of his head, it dawned on him that he hadn’t introduced himself either.
“Top-notch equipment.” Jack’s jet-black eyes jumped to Mather’s across the flame. With a poof, his protector blew out the lighter.
“Why did you do that?” Frantically, Mather swept his thumb over the tiny wheel to start the flame again.
“We don’t need it.” A bright yellow glow illumined the space between them. “Normally, I’m faster than this.”
For the first time, Mather and Jack stared at each other’s faces.
C.M. Moore is a retired soldier, and a romantic at heart. After being blown up in Afghanistan and receiving a purple heart, he began writing with his wife.
Connor’s first book 1:05 am is a mixture of love, sex, and action.
Today if you are looking for Connor, you can find him volunteering with veteran organizations, and harassing his military buddies. You can also find him attempting to “hunt” in the woods and ponds of Minnesota. In the event you find him in the woods, don’t be scared, he can’t hit anything.
If you want to contact him message him at:
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