ChristmasHi — Merriest Christmas and Happy Holidays! I hope every moment is filled with love. I’m enjoying the day so i’m leaving you with a little nibble from my holiday romance, SNOW BALLS. This is a scene you’ve never read unless you’ve read the book. Enjoy — everything!

SnowBalls_ByTaraLain-453x680Big, handsome and hunky, JJ LaRousse looks like an alpha male but acts like an interior decorator. And he’s trying to be happy about it — until a robbery at the famous Laguna Winter Fantasy brings JJ face-to-face with tough cop, Ryan Star. JJ hears Ryan likes guys who are manly men, so he drops his voice an octave, colors over his pink hair, and tries to pass as a football fan. Ryan Star may be tough but he hides in the closet at work since he learned in New York that being a gay cop can cost you your life. His attraction to that big, handsome kid threatens his anonymity, but he can’t seem to resist. JJ is just his type. But then JJ goes skiing and comes face to face with his greatest nemesis– and all the secrets come out of the closet. Can Ryan love JJ for who he really is? More important, can JJ?

In the relative quiet of the office, Ryan took off his Windbreaker and scarf and looked at JJ. “You know what? You’re gorgeous.” It was so true. JJ had worn that yellow jacket with really slim dark jeans and a white shirt. His light brown hair curled around his ears with a pink streak in the front. Hand-some! “How did I get so lucky?” And it only took one breath to know it was true. Ryan had spent his life living up to other people’s expectations. Time to live up to his own. He stuck out his hand, and JJ took it with a smile.

They walked into the living room. Not big and very crowded. AG came over holding a cute guy’s hand. His grin had to be described as ear to ear. Son of a bitch.

“Ryan, JJ, this is my partner, John.”

They all shook hands. AG pointed toward the archway that led into what looked like a dining room. “All the goodies are in there.”

JJ smiled at Ryan. “Why don’t I go get us some drinks and stuff while you chat?”

Ryan felt his breath catch. “Uh, OK.”

John nodded. “I’ll go too and help you carry the food.”

The two men walked off, and Ryan glanced at AG. So this was the guy the captain wanted him to mentor. “How long have, uh, you and John been, you know, together?”

“Seven years.”

“Jesus, kid, were you twelve?”

AG laughed. “No, not quite. I was fifteen and John was sixteen. We met in high school.”

“And you stayed together all this time. How did you even know for sure you were gay at that age?”

“I took one look at that cute ass in gym class and my orientation pretty much slapped me in the face.”

Ryan grinned and looked down pointedly. “That big, huh?”

AG blushed, but laughed. “My parents already knew I was gay. They were just waiting for me to tell them. They were cool with it, and the rest is history. We just stayed together. If we ever get gay marriage in California, we’ll seal the deal.”

“So do all the guys know?”

AG laughed and pointed at the crowded room. “They do now. But most of them did anyway. Quite a few of the guys have been over to our house with their wives and girlfriends.”

“No shit?”

“This is Laguna. Look around the room and you’ll see some of the men are uncomfortable with it. Most are pretty cool.” He shrugged. “Either way, it’s no skin off my ass. John is my life. Nobody else has to like it.”

Ryan looked up and saw the captain staring at him from across the room with a little smile on her face. Ryan chuckled. “The captain said she wanted me to mentor you. I’m pretty sure she really meant it the other way around.”

AG laughed. “She’s tricky.”

JJ and John pushed through the crowd, their hands laden with glasses and plates. They handed drinks around, and they all toasted. One of the other officers, Don Hardesty, came over with his wife. “So is this an LGBT gathering, or can we join in?”

JJ put a hand on his hip and lisped, “It depends on your level of style, darling, but you two pass.” Ryan felt like his heart skipped.

For a second, Don looked surprised, then he laughed and his wife did a twirl, showing off her pretty dress. He slapped JJ on the shoulder. “Hey, good job saving our man, here. Of course, we’ll never let him live it down.”

Ryan stiffened.

“I mean a cop being saved by a civilian, even one as big as you? That’s cause for a lot of ribbing. But seriously, man, good job.”

Ryan relaxed. He sipped his beer and started to have fun. They stayed a couple hours and he talked to about half the guys who were there. A few avoided him, but like AG said, no skin off his ass. Best of all, he loved watching JJ. Yeah, the guy was all the things he said about himself. That pink streak in his hair announced this was no macho man from a mile away, and a few minutes in his company confirmed it. He fluttered his hands, fluttered his lashes, fluttered the scarf around his neck. How had Ryan ever thought the guy was straight? More important, how could he have ever believed this guy wasn’t for him? People liked JJ. You could see it in their faces. Ryan liked JJ. A lot.