A warm welcome to author Heidi Cullinan joining us today to share an exclusive excerpt of her new release “Enjoy the Dance”. Heidi also brought with her a DOUBLE! giveaway.
Welcome Heidi 🙂
Thanks for having me by! Today I’m sharing an excerpt that illustrates a little crossover from another series. While Marcus (from the Minnesota Christmas series) has a fairly significant secondary role in the story, the scene below has the full Logan cast. But because Enjoy the Dance takes place in the “past,” the Logan boys haven’t met their husbands yet. If you haven’t read that series, then this is simply an introduction to them. If you know the Logan boys well, this is a peek back in the days before. Either way, I hope you enjoy saying hello to Paul, Arthur, Marcus, Ed, Laurie, and Tomás.
When they picked him up from Starbucks on Saturday, Laurie, Ed, and Marcus were already piled in Laurie’s car, ready for the adventure. It was a cold and windy day, but this didn’t slow the festivities, and Tomás decided festival was exactly the right word to describe watching the volunteer crew apply decals to cars. There were upwards of fifty vehicles waiting their turn and three times that number of people milling around, chatting and sipping coffee and cocoa. In the middle of it all was Richard, the man who’d started the whole project. Ed eagerly explained the story to Tomás while Laurie oversaw the decal being put onto his car.
“Richard came home from an LGBT fundraiser all psyched to do his part, and he started by putting his VOTE NO sign he’d donated fifty dollars to get in his condo’s front yard. Except the condo association wouldn’t let him. They said it wasn’t about his message but about the sign itself. They don’t do signs in yards.”
Tomás strongly suspected it had been both the sign and the message. “So how did that lead to car decals?”
“Well, he was pissed. He put the sign in his living room window, but it wasn’t the same as something in his yard. Then it occurred to him if he made his car into a sign, they couldn’t do anything about it. You and me, we’d have hung signs in the back window or something. Not this guy—he works for a car dealership. He designed a decal, got a local company to make him a set, and he parked his car in the drive. Then he took a picture and put it on Facebook—and everybody wanted one. That led to him making more, and more, until now it’s a viral campaign with pop-up parties all over the city. They’ve done fundraisers and held rallies at universities. Because you can’t stop people from driving, and you can’t regulate what they put on their cars.”
It really was an ingenious idea, and Richard looked plenty proud, wearing a bright blue T-shirt under an open blue puffy parka and an orange fleece headband over his ears. His cheeks were bright with cold, but he never stopped smiling. When Ed passed by him on his way back to Laurie with two styrofoam cups of hot chocolate, Richard waved.
Laurie was huddled beside Marcus and his friends from Logan, the small town where they’d all grown up and where Arthur and Paul still lived. Laurie looked entirely out of place beside the three burly bears, but he appeared relaxed and charmed despite himself. “I thought there’d be protesters. I mean, this can’t be terribly welcoming country up here.”
“Nah. It’d be too much confrontation.” This comment came from Arthur, Marcus’s shorter, red-haired, and more boisterous friend. Arthur gestured vaguely to the environs surrounding the parking lot. “They’ll save it for when people go home. Pick them off one by one. It’s the bigot way.”
Paul, lingering at Arthur’s elbow, nodded in agreement. “I’d get a decal, but my family would have kittens.”
Arthur grunted. “I’m tempted to buy you one for that reason alone.”
Laurie did his raised-by-a-socialite routine where he drew polite conversation out of Arthur and Paul. They told him about their hometown of Logan, about their jobs at the local lumbermill, about the cabin they shared and hoped to lure Marcus into sharing with them when he moved back home.
Soon it was time for Laurie’s car to receive its decal, and all conversation stopped as the six of them watched Richard and his team apply the wrap to each side of the vehicle. Ed squeezed his husband’s hand, checking him for signs of second thoughts. Though Laurie did seem nervous, he kept his chin high. When the decal was finished, he shook Richard’s hand and thanked him for spearheading the activism, then wrote him a check for the decal.
They chatted idly on the way back to the Cities, and Tomás tuned some of it out, enjoying the space to simply exist without demands. As they approached the Cities, however Ed raised his voice and addressed the car with a grin and a wicked look in his eye. “Let’s take a drive around town.”
Laurie raised his eyebrows. “Where do you want to go?”
“Everywhere. Maybe drive real slow past houses with VOTE YES signs.”
That was exactly what they ended up doing. For two hours they canvassed the Twin Cities in Laurie’s newly wrapped car, broadcasting their opinion on the upcoming vote everywhere they went. The four of them made a contest of coming up with more and more conservative neighborhoods to drive through, and to Ed’s delight, Laurie sniggered when a particularly WASPy woman in Anoka pursed her lips at their car.
“Let’s go dancing,” Laurie suggested as they finally meandered to St. Paul.
Marcus frowned. “Where do you want to go? It’s Sunday night. Nothing’s open.”
Ed waggled his eyebrows. “Well, as it happens, I know a guy.”
They went to the Dayton’s Bluff studio, giggling like schoolboys as they unlocked the door and turned on the lights. Ed, Laurie, and Tomás put on their dancing shoes, and they fished out a pair from the lost-and-found that fit Marcus. Laurie put music on the stereo, and the four of them partnered up, laughing as they spun around the floor to the rhumba, samba, and then, for Ed and Laurie, a tango.
Marcus wasn’t much of a dancer, but Tomás taught him as best he could on the fly, and the guy was a pretty quick study. “Where’d you learn all this?” Marcus asked when they were finished and sitting on the warm-up bench sipping bottled water. “Were you a child prodigy like Laurie?”
Tomás laughed and wiped water away from his mouth. “Not even close. I took lessons when my family could afford them. Mostly I taught myself, watching videos and practicing in a mirror.”
“Ed told me about the trouble with your parents because he was hoping I might have ideas on how to help you. Has your lawyer gotten anywhere with their application for naturalization?”
Tomás swallowed the bitter bile that rose at the mention of their lawyer and at the thought of having his laundry aired, even for a benevolent reason. “Nowhere. All he’s done is take my damn money.”
“I don’t specialize in immigration law, but I have a good friend who does. He might not be able to do it pro bono, but he could do it for administration costs.”
The offer caught Tomás so off-guard tears formed in his eyes. “You don’t have to do that.”
“I don’t mind. You’re a friend of Ed’s, so that’s enough for me. Plus this same guy knows Laurie’s godfather. We can call in a favor at both ends. It’s no trouble. Happy to help.”
Tomás ducked his head to hide his tears, but they were evident in the thickness of his voice. “Thank you.” He drew a ragged breath, let it out. “Thank you.”
Marcus gripped his shoulder, squeezing it gently. “Not a problem.”
Tomás did cry on the way home, so hard he had to sit in the parking lot for a minute and pull himself together before he could go inside. Once he was in bed, he lay awake listening to his mother urge the children to go to sleep, soothing the youngest from a nightmare.
He wanted the amendment to fail, yes. He wanted to find someone to marry him, yes—Spenser, or someone he had yet to meet. But he hoped his friends wouldn’t hold it against him to know if he had to pick between marriage equality and a law promising he wouldn’t come home one day to find out his parents had been raided and taken to Mexico…well, it wouldn’t be a choice.
Like Marcus said. Family first. Except Tomás didn’t share Marcus’s optimism about people’s willingness to give him, or his parents, any protection at all.
RELEASE DATE: October 11, 2016
Format: Novel • Genre: Contemporary
Length: 80,000 words
Publisher: Heidi Cullinan
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Dance with your heart, and love will follow.
Kindergarten teacher Spenser Harris has carved a quiet, stable future out of his tumultuous past, but his world turns upside down the night a homeless teen appears on his doorstep—a boy whose story mirrors the one Spenser has worked so hard to overcome. The decision to shelter Duon is easy. What’s tricky is juggling the network of caregivers in Duon’s life, especially Tomás Jimenez.
Tomás wouldn’t have hesitated to take Duon in, but his plate is already full working three jobs to support his family. Though Spenser’s carefully constructed walls are clearly designed to keep the world at bay, Tomás pushes past Spenser’s defenses, determined to ensure the man is worthy of his charge. As the two of them grow closer, Tomás dares to dream of a life beyond his responsibilities, and Spenser begins to believe he might finally find a home of his own after all.
But Spenser and Tomás’s world is poised to crash around their ears. Duon’s grandmother isn’t sure she wants him to be raised by a gay man and challenges Spenser’s custody. Tomás’s undocumented parents could be deported at any time, and all the while the state of Minnesota votes on a constitutional amendment against marriage equality and the US Supreme Court debates whether or not Spenser and Tomás get a happily ever after. All they can do is hold tight to their love, hope for a better future…and remind each other to enjoy the dance.
Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, playing with her cats, and watching television with her family. Find out more about Heidi at heidicullinan.com.
Besides a rafflecopter giveaway Heidi is giving away a ecopy of Enjoy the Dance to one Lucky winner!
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Enjoy the Dance Prize Pack: Enjoy the Dance paperback, Dance with Me paperback, No House To Call My Home paperback, MIKA The Origin of Love CD, a box of Lady Grey tea, a bottle of Tajìn seasoning
a Rafflecopter giveaway