What's New?
This month, we're releasing a brand new holiday short story, "The Boyfriend Sweater Curse!" 

All serious knitters know about the boyfriend sweater curse: knit a sweater for a boyfriend, and he’ll break up with you soon after. Gabriel Sutton isn’t the superstitious type, but after the curse strikes three times, he isn’t taking anymore chances. His new boyfriend, Noel Rivera, will have to be content with store bought gifts.

Yet as their relationship develops, Gabriel begins to believe Noel might be the perfect man for him. Noel doesn’t make fun of Gabriel’s holiday traditions and wants to create new traditions of their own. As Christmas draws closer, however, Gabriel sees signs of Noel pulling away, and he worries this relationship will be as big a mistake as the others. Are Noel’s late nights and secretive phone calls a sign he’s cheating? Or will the magic of Christmas bring Gabriel the love he’s been searching for all along?

The Boyfriend Sweater Curse is available on Amazon!
Behind the Scenes
In addition to writing, Ari and I are both crafty women. I knit, and she knits, sews, and crochets. We both enjoy giving handmade gifts, and like most craft artists, we try to tailor the gift to the recipient's tastes. But I think every craft artist has had the experience of someone not understanding or not appreciating the amount of thought, time, effort, and in some cases money (certain supplies ain't cheap, yo) that was put into their gift. 

My most notable experience with this was the time I spent months knitting an intricately cabled throw that to my knowledge hasn't ever been used or displayed in the recipient's home. Last I heard, it was packed up somewhere.

But for most of us, the satisfaction of a finished product is its own reward, and we take pride in that -- and then bump the unappreciative recipient to the bottom of our "to make gifts for" list. ;) 

I'll be honest: I want to knit the Star Wars sweater that Gabriel knits for his first boyfriend. The pattern doesn't actually exist; I described the sweater based on Star Wars patterns available on Ravelry, which is an amazing pattern resource for knitters and crocheters.

Sarah Bradberry's Fair Isle patterns were my main inspiration along with Jessica Goddard's double knit scarf. I took elements from both and added my own ideas to create the design for Gabriel's sweater. 

But the closest I've come to knitting anything like Gabriel's sweater is Mrs. Luedeke's The Force Awakens hat, which I pushed hard to finish so I could wear it when I saw the movie on opening day. 

Maybe Gabriel's boyfriend would have preferred something a little more understated, like Natalie Meredith's Star Wars sweater? Who knows! 

Figuring out what kind of sweater Gabriel would knit for each boyfriend was a fun challenge -- and it led to a few new patterns being added to my own "to knit" queue as well. 

We hope you enjoy this light holiday romance! 
Coming Up
November 8 — Fortune's Slings and Cupid's Arrows will be released by Dreamspinner Press. This is book two of our Lawyers in Love series. It's a second edition, but it's been heavily revised.

December 1 — We're launching a new series! The Candy Cane Club: Live to Serve is book one of our new BDSM-centric series. 

January 2018 — The Quality of Mercy will be released by Dreamspinner Press. This is book two in our Bent Oak Saga series, which is a historical Western series that features the residents of Mercy, Texas, in the late 1800s.
Sneak Peek
This month's sneak peek comes from Fortune's Slings and Cupid's Arrows

After leaving a generous tip for the waitress, Cal pushed back his chair and reached for his raincoat, and he donned it before making his way across the street and into Dane’s building. He nodded to the man at the security desk but didn’t stop. He’d been here often enough that he was known, and besides, there wasn’t any way he was going to be stopped now that he’d made up his mind.

He rode the elevator up to Dane’s floor, then strode down the hall and rapped on Dane’s door, hoping Dane hadn’t done something like spend the night at his parents’ home.

But a few moments later, the door opened and Dane appeared, looking surprised but not alarmed at finding Cal on his doorstep.

“Is something wrong?” Dane asked as he stood aside to let Cal in. “You look serious.”

Cal stepped inside and drew in a deep breath, forcing himself to relax. He turned to look at Dane, noting the worry line between his brown eyes. Dane also seemed to have lost a bit of weight, a sure sign of stress, and Cal summoned up a crooked smile. “I just needed to see you,” he said softly. “It’s been hell to have to pretend we aren’t friends. I miss you.”

The tension in Dane’s face eased a little, and his eyes grew warm as he looked at Cal. “I miss you too. This has been really hard.”

Cal stepped closer. “How are things going for you? Is Randolph still giving you hell about me?”

“Not as much. Between the engagement party and dealing with everything you’re throwing at him, he doesn’t have a lot of time and attention to spare for me lately,” Dane said, a mischievous gleam in his eyes.

Despite the reassurance that Randolph wasn’t taking his frustrations out on Dane as much, Cal couldn’t quite suppress a grimace at the mention of the engagement party. “I guess that’s a good thing.”

“It’s given me time to think,” Dane said, searching Cal’s face intently.

“Oh?” Cal felt a flare of hope. “What about?”

“About the future.” Dane headed to the living room, glancing back questioningly at Cal as if to see if he was coming. “Is it too early for a drink? I feel like I could use one for this.”

“To be honest, I could use one too,” Cal admitted. He took off his raincoat and draped it on the coat-tree, then moved into the living room, taking his usual place on Dane’s sofa. “It’s been a difficult month.”

Dane went to the small bar, and when he returned, he handed Cal a glass of whiskey—neat, just the way Cal liked it—and sat down on the couch with a glass of bourbon for himself.

“Portia is adamant about Father not interfering with our marriage,” he said. “No matter which way I go, I’ve got to take a stand against him. It seems I’ve finally reached the point where passivity is no longer an option unless I end the engagement, which will create its own set of problems. The only way I can escape it is to run off to Tahiti,” he added with a mirthless smile.

Cal sipped at his drink even as his heart sank down into the pit of his stomach. Dane might have realized he had to fight his father, but if Portia seemed to be his ally, Dane probably considered that to be a compromise that would be easier to live with than throwing aside everything to be with Cal.

It was on the tip of his tongue to blurt out that he could have plane tickets in his hand in five minutes, but that wouldn’t be fair to Dane; he’d either feel pressured to agree or feel bad for hurting Cal’s feelings by turning him down.

“I see.” It wasn’t much, but Cal didn’t have any idea what else he could say. Or should say.

Dane stared down into the amber depths of the bourbon, seeming lost in thought. “How difficult would it be to start over, do you think?” he asked at last. “If I tell Father the truth, I’ll be out a job and a place to live. I’m not sure where to go from there. I’ve never had to worry about it before.”

“You can do anything you set your mind to,” Cal replied. “You’re a great attorney. There’s a place for you at Caldwell and Monroe anytime you want it, but I have no doubt other firms would be more than happy to have you.” As much as it pained him, Cal couldn’t make Dane feel like breaking free of his father meant he would be expected to run right into Cal’s arms. Cal might want that, because he loved Dane, but Dane had to feel free to make his own decision. Even if that decision might not include Cal Monroe.

Dane knocked back his bourbon and set the glass aside. “I wish I could be as optimistic as you are,” he said, leaning back with a sigh. “I keep envisioning Father getting me blackballed everywhere.”

Cal sighed. “He’s not a supervillain, Dane. He’s not everywhere, and not everyone thinks he’s as great as he thinks.” He’d had this discussion with Dane before, but he knew that years of being crushed under Randolph’s heel were hard to overcome despite Cal’s encouragement. “Look at what I’ve done to him in the last month. New York isn’t the only place you could practice, if it comes to that. I know you don’t want to leave your mother alone, but New Jersey is close by, or you could get a position teaching law instead of practicing it. You have options. All you have to do is make the decision to take one of them.”

“You make it sound so easy,” Dane murmured.

“I’m not saying it’s easy, Dane,” Cal admitted. He gave in and put his hand on Dane’s shoulder. “But it’s not complicated either. You just have to figure out what you really want, and what you’re willing to give up in order to attain it. I have no doubt that it will be the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life, but at least it would be your life, not the one your father has been scripting since the day you were born.”

As if the touch had opened some kind of door, Dane shifted closer and leaned against Cal, seeming to seek comfort. “I want that. I do. It’s just more overwhelming and frightening than I can say.”

“I know.” It was a bittersweet feeling to have Dane so close, but Cal didn’t have the heart to push him away. Instead he leaned forward to put his glass on the coffee table, then slid his arm around Dane’s shoulders, holding him, offering what comfort he could. “He’s made you doubt yourself for so long I know you must feel like there’s nothing you can do but give in. But you don’t have to. And no matter what, I’m here for you. I love you, Dane. I’ll never stop, no matter what you decide.”

“That helps,” Dane said, burrowing deeper into Cal’s embrace. “More than you’ll ever know. I’m sorry if it seems selfish and weak of me, but I need you, Cal.”

“It’s not selfish or weak,” Cal replied. He leaned his cheek against Dane’s head and closed his eyes, telling himself that if this was all he could have, it would be enough. It would have to be. “I wish I could do more to help you. I almost wish Randolph would try to attack me, so that I could break his neck and put him out of both our misery.”

“He’s got too much self-preservation instinct for that,” Dane said with a little snort. “He’s arrogant but not stupid enough to take someone like you on physically. He knows he’d get his ass handed to him, and he couldn’t bear it.”

“Too bad,” Cal murmured. He rubbed Dane’s arm slowly, wishing…. He stopped himself. All the wishing in the world wasn’t going to help Dane. Or help Cal, for that matter. “Anything I can do for you, I will. Just let me know.”

“Thanks.” Dane released a long, slow sigh and slowly drew back. “But this is one time it’s all on me.”

“I know.” Cal summoned up a smile as he leaned in and pressed his lips gently to Dane’s. “I love you enough to let you make your own decision and to support you, no matter what that decision might be.”

Tears shimmered in Dane’s eyes, and he drew in a deep, shaky breath as if to steady himself. “And that’s why I need you,” he whispered.

Cal cupped Dane’s jaw with his palm, wanting to kiss Dane again, wanting to dry his tears and make all his problems go away. He was about to lean in to claim another kiss when someone knocked on Dane’s door.
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If you like our contemporary romances, such as the Walker Boys series, you might also like Finding Mr. Wrong by Charlie Cochet. It's part of the Dreamspun Desires line, and it's a sweet, sexy story about second chances with a hint of danger for some extra spice.
Copyright © 2017 Ari McKay, All rights reserved.

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