Literary Nymphs Interview
Author: K.M. Mahoney
Title: In Teddy's Arms
Genre: M/M Romance/Contemporary/Holiday
Release Date: December 12, 2011
Tell us about your latest release
In Teddy's Arms is a short holiday story about a pair of friends stranded in the mountains over Christmas. You can guess where it goes from there :)
What inspired the story?
This story was really inspired by the submissions call for the Yuletide Yearnings collection at Total-E-Bound. Often if I'm stuck on a current work in progress, I'll scroll through the open calls from my publishers and see if anything sparks. I like short story/novella calls the best, as they can give me a little break from the longer projects without stopping the creative momentum! In this case, I thought of being snowed in, a cosy cabin, a cheery fire. With that as the background, giving the room a warm and comfortable feeling, I wanted the rest of the story to reflect that. So, I returned to one of my favorite type of relationships, friends to lovers. I love exploring the dynamics between two people who are so comfortable together that they have, in some ways, stopped seeing each other. Then I like to tip them over that narrow ledge and watch the fun!
“Are you sure about this?”
“Teddy, ask me that again, and I’m going to pull this car over and toss you into a snow drift.”
Teddy sat back, crossed his arms over his chest, and huffed. “Sheesh, cranky much?”
Pierce rolled his eyes. For a second, he entertained the lovely image that the steering wheel he was gripping so tightly was, in fact, Teddy’s neck. “The first three times you asked that question, I answered. The next six times, I ignored you. You’ve now moved beyond that and are into obnoxiously irritating. Stow it.”
Silence enveloped the interior of the car for several long moments.
Then Teddy mumbled, “Sorry.”
Pierce grinned. That was his Teddy. He never could stay at odds with anyone for very long.
“Turn right in one-point-two miles,” the GPS system stated in a dull, broken monotone.
“Thank God.” Pierce nearly whooped. “I think we’re getting close.” He turned where the small navigation map on his dashboard indicated. The bottom of their battered sedan scraped ominously over the snow-covered gravel.
All right, so maybe Teddy had a point. Maybe this wasn’t the best idea Pierce had ever had. But it was a little bit too late to back out now. No way in hell was Pierce driving back down this mountain in the dark.
I don’t see anything,” Teddy said, sounding doubtful. He chewed on his fingernail, expression nervous, eyes fastened on the darkening woods surrounding the small road.
“It’s up here. Somewhere.” Damn. That hadn’t come out as reassuring as Pierce had hoped.
The GPS remained unhelpfully silent as the car bumped its way along. Twilight was quickly turning into night. The looming pines closing in on all sides didn’t help, deepening the gloom. They were truly in the middle of nowhere, no streetlights, no sidewalks, the roads rough. Hell, there wasn’t even a McDonald’s. Civilisation was most definitely far behind them.
At the moment, Pierce would have gladly traded his stupid GPS system for just one tacky strand of twinkling Christmas lights. Anything to suggest they weren’t lost in the mountains. And why the hell was it so dark out here?
The cabin practically jumped out at them. Pierce rounded a curve and slammed on the brakes. His heart thumped madly as he studied the battered porch steps, dangerously close to his front bumper. Beside him, Teddy let out a belated squeak of alarm.
“Destination in five hundred feet,” the GPS chimed.
“Now it tells me.” Pierce scowled fiercely and stabbed the ‘off’ button on the obnoxious little box. “Worthless piece of shit.”
Teddy had stopped staring at the scenery and was now eying the cabin with trepidation. Pierce had to admit it didn’t look like much. The porch was a bit wonky, the wood siding faded in spots, peeling in others. Dark and tiny, it bore a disturbing resemblance to something from a horror film.
“Maybe the inside is nicer,” Pierce declared.
Amazing, how loudly Teddy could project his doubt without saying a word.
“It’s a true gift, that,” Pierce said.
“Say what? Never mind. I guess we better unload.” Teddy added a resigned sigh, “But if it’s this bad on the inside, we’re finding a hotel tomorrow.”
Pierce almost asked how they would pay for it, then bit his tongue. Teddy would probably decide to sleep in the car. Then he would freeze to death in the middle of the night and Pierce would have to explain to Teddy’s parents how he let their son turn into a nice, hard, ice-coated statue.
Pierce shook his head to dislodge his stupid ramblings and climbed out of the car. He took a minute to stretch the kinks out of his back because, damn, that had been a long trip.
Using the remote to pop the trunk, Pierce hauled out his duffel bag and slung it over his shoulder. He shivered in the cold and grabbed his coat from the back seat. He should probably put it on, but he’d be inside in a minute.
He waded through the drifts piled against the porch. It took him a minute of fruitless searching before he realised the first step was busted. He could move his foot around in the six inch layer of snow and never find it because it simply wasn’t there.
“Watch the steps,” he called over his shoulder.
Teddy started muttering again. Pierce ignored what he knew were complaints and cautiously mounted the steps. He stuck the key the rental agent had given him into the lock. The door swung on creaking hinges before he could turn the key.
Okay, not exactly the best sign,” Pierce said to himself.
He pushed the door the rest of the way open, anyway. The room was dark and the musty smell made his nose tingle. The cabin was also cold, nearly as bad as outside.
Pierce felt around the wall and found the switch. It clicked on and dim light flooded the space. Relief swamped him. The glow from the single bulb didn’t quite chase all the shadows away, but hey, they had electricity. At the moment, Pierce wasn’t going to take anything for granted.
Then he surveyed the room and groaned. “Teddy’s gonna hate it.”
Pierce jumped and whirled around, facing his best friend with his biggest fake smile. “Nothing, it’s great. Warm and cosy. All we need is that fake tree I packed and we’re good to go.”
Teddy stared at him with solemn brown eyes. “You’re a horrible liar.”
“Not true, I’m a magnificent liar.” Just not to Teddy.
That’s what happened when you knew someone since kindergarten.
Teddy knew all Pierce’s tricks.
Teddy just kept staring. “There are spiders, aren’t there?” he asked soberly.
“It’s too cold for spiders. Come on, let’s explore.”
Teddy entered the room gingerly, as if Freddy Krueger was going to come jumping around the corner and start hacking away.
Pierce slung his duffel in the corner and planted his hands on his hips.
“First thing, we need to make a fire.”
“Do you even know how?”
“Sure,” Pierce said with false confidence.
“The rental agent said we can find wood on the back porch. I’ll get started.”
“If there’s no water, I’m going to smother you in your sleep,” Teddy said.
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