Do you have a favorite fall memory linked to a train? What do you imagine you would see if you were riding a train in the fall? Join the authors of Wild Child publishing and Freya's Bower as we take an Autumn Train Ride through our blogs.
- Four $50 gift certificates (two for Wild Child and two Freya's Bower)
- An awesome swag package that includes:
- Wild Child T-shirt and mug
- Wild Child and Freya's Bower bags
- Four handmade, crochet coasters by Kit Wylde
- An autographed copy of Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire
- A rare DVD copy of the Matheson/Furst classic "Up The Creek" (lovingly used)
- One ebook copy of Nita Wick's short story, The Dream (previously published as part of a Freya's Bower anthology.)
- Book trading cards
- Signed Dangerous Waters poster
- of "Battle for Blood: The Blood Feud"
- winner's name as a character in Kissa Starling's next sweet romance story.
- A Yankee Candle
A train-riding veteran by his third year of uni, Brad knew how to pick the most deserted car: move toward the back, but not near the snack car, and not next to the observation car. Even if no one sat in the car next to it, everyone dragged their hyper kids through your comfort zone to get them more pop and chocolate, make them sit and play Sorry, and watch the endless parade of pine trees. Because kids loved that shit. That’s why they screamed that their sister was cheating and their brother was a booger nose and proceeded to pound on the dice-rolling bubble in the center of the board game until they cleared the car.
Carefully shutting the observation car door behind him, Brad continued on, leaving that gem of an argument behind. The next-to-last car on the train was usually the most quiet. Everyone always assumed the last one would be best, but by the time they got there, they discovered everyone else had had the same idea, and the car would be full and smell like feet and onions.
“No thank you,” Brad murmured to himself as he entered the coveted next-to-last car. It was perfect. There was an old couple. The wife was doing some sort of needle work and she smiled up at him in that kind, old-lady way as he passed. The husband had earplugs in and the little black-out eye covers on. He snored very faintly. It was a small price to pay for being the only other occupant of the car, Brad decided, and chose a seat close to the middle of the car, next to the baggage rack.
He stored his suitcase and pulled his backpack onto the seat beside him, luxuriating in the fact he had all the room in the world to stretch out. The luggage rack meant no one behind him to care if he pushed his seat all the way back, and the fact he’d chosen the seat with the emergency exit meant he could be fairly certain that no one would want to sit with him. People didn’t want to be responsible for saving the old ladies and children if the train crashed.
He settled into his seat and sat back, ear buds in place, gaze drifting to watch the gold and red kaleidoscope of fall leaves zip by. He was about to drift off when the car door opened and a man about his own age shuffled through from the end car. He was dragging his suitcase and balancing his backpack on one arm, a coffee and muffin in his hand.
He looked desperate and exhausted. Brad guessed he was on day three of a cross-country trip, and in search of a safe place to crash for a few hours. Idly, Brad watched as he nearly dropped the coffee, did drop the muffing and step on it in his attempt to rebalance the coffee and backpack and let out a low string of really vile curses. When Brad looked into his face, the luminous glint of too-tired eyes swimming in tears sent a thrill of goose bumps over his arms.
“Shit,” he muttered, and pulled out his ear buds. “Here.” He stood and took the coffee from the other man, grabbed the pack as it was about to take a dive to the floor and block the guy’s passage, then slipped back into his own seat to let the guy by. “Put that away, first off.”
The man stared at him, mouth partly open, cheeks flushed pink.
“In there,” Brad pointed to the empty racks behind him. “Plenty of room.”
“The other was…full,” the man said quietly. He smiled and it was shy and damn near sweet enough to make Brad’s teeth hurt.
But it did have him smiling back, wide and goofy, because the man was cute. His pale, hazel eyes were still shining, though he seemed a little calmer, and his creamy skin, still flushed, was scrubby over his square jaw and lean cheeks. He had high cheekbones, though, and thin, pert nose that left him looking delicate despite the beard shadow and strong chin. Sandy brown hair tumbled in messy waves over his forehead and collar.
“Back car is always pretty full for some reason,” Brad agreed.
“Here is nice.” The man nodded and stowed his large case, coming back to take his coffee and backpack. “Quiet.”
Brad agreed. “Roomy.”
The man’s brow furrowed and he tilted his head. “Rooms?” He looked around. “I don’t…”
“Lots of room,” Brad clarified. “Space.” He swirled a finger through the air to indicate the near-empty car. “You can spread out.”
“Ah!” the man smiled wide and nodded. “Yes, I see. Roomy. Yes.”
English, apparently, wasn’t this guy’s first language. Brad tried a quick question in French, but that only got him another puzzled look and he repeated himself in English. “Been on the train long?”
“Ah.” Another vigorous nod. “Yes. Days. You? Are you from here?”
Brad stifled back a chuckle, since ‘here’ was a few hundred miles north of nothing much, really. “Timmins, actually. Farther north. I got on the train in Sudbury and will change in Toronto to go to Ottawa.”
His new friend’s face lit up, and the smile he directed at Brad was about a thousand watts of gorgeous. “Ottawa! Yes! Me, as well.”
“Where are you from?”
Brad blinked at him. “That’s one hell of a train ride.”
That got him a startled stare and he did chuckle. “Where did you get on the train?” Brad retook his seat and stretched his legs out, surprised when the man took the seat next to him, tossing their bags, after a questioning look at Brad and waiting for Brad to agree, onto the empty chair across the aisle.
“Vancouver. Am Jokubas.” He held out his free hand and offered another dazzling smile. “Jacob, you would say.”
“Jacob. I’m Brad.” They shook and another sweet chill zinged through Brad at the man’s warm strength. “Vancouver, huh? Long way to Ottawa from Vancouver.”
“Yes.” Jacob stared down at his coffee cup, clearly miserable. “Is true. I made wrong connection somewhere. Winnipeg, I think?”
“Didn’t the guy at the door look at your ticket?”
“There were so many. Kids from a school, it was chaos. I sat and waited. We were far along the track by the time he came to me. It was mess. I end up in Thoms…ville? Is in Manitoba?”
“Thompson. Yeah. Shit, dude, that sucks.”
Jacob tilted his head again “I’m sorry?”
“Bad luck,” Brad said. “You went pretty far out of your way.”
“Yes. And I have to change trains again, in Toronto.” His pretty eyes got big. “If I go wrong way again, I will miss my chance.”
“Chance at what?”
“I take my oath in Ottawa. Become Canadian.” Once more, he offered up that smile and Brad’s gut twisted just a little bit. “I will be Canadian Citizen. If I don’t get lost. They said take train, easier, less chance to lose myself.” He smiled, more sheepishly this time. “Even me.”
“You won’t get lost,” Brad assured him.
“I have special talent for it. Especially when I am so tired. But if I sleep and miss my stop…” He fiddled with the lid of his coffee cup, which he had yet to sip from. “It has been a long trip.” He sighed.
Brad took the coffee from him and set it into the cup holder near the window. “Sleep,” he said. “I’ll make sure you don’t miss your stop.”
“You are very kind. But I can’t—”
“You can. Get some rest. We’re going the same way, and I’ll make sure you make it to the court house, or wherever you have to be on time.”
“You would do this?”
Brad shrugged. “Sure.”
“Canada.” Jacob smiled softly. “I love this country.” He sank down into his seat, head on the rest behind him and closed his eyes. “Canadian people.”
“We’re awesome,” Brad said, trying not to think about how awful it was that his sole reason for making the offer was to be able to keep looking at the amazing sight that was Jacob from Lithuania. He glanced out the window at the fall colours, resplendent in their vibrancy as the train slowed to allow a freight to pass them going in the opposite direction. Canada was a pretty beautiful place. Next to him, Jacob shifted and his silky hair slid across Brad’s neck as his head came to rest on Brad’s shoulder. He’d always thought of fall as the fresh new start to all things good, and as he shifted to make a better pillow for Jacob’s head, he smiled to himself. It was going to be a great new year.
Jaime has been writing for various publishers since the fall of 2008, although she's been writing for herself far longer. Often asked why men; what’s so fascinating about writing stories about men falling in love, she's never come up with a clear answer. Just that these are the stories that she loves to read, so it seemed to make sense if she was going to write, they should also be the stories she wrote.
These days, you can find plenty of free reading on her website. She also writes for Freya’s Bower, Pink Petal Books, Dreamspinner Press, Total E-Bound and MLR Press.
Spare time, when it can be found rolled into a ball at the back of the dryer or cavorting with the dust bunnies in the corners, she's probably spending reading, drawing, gardening (weather permitting, of course, since she is Canadian!) or watching movies. Well. She has a day job or two, as well, and two kids, but thankfully, also a wonderful husband who shoulders more than his fair share of household and child care responsibilities.
She graduated some time ago from college with a Fine Arts diploma, with a major in textile arts, which basically qualifies her to draw pictures and create things with string and fabric. One always needs an official slip of paper to fall back on after all....
Amazon Author page: amazon.com/author/jaimesamms