Exclusive Short Story: Give Up the Ghost by Jenn Burke

I am excited to welcome Jenn Burke on Queer Books Unbound today!

Give Up the Ghost, the sequel to Not Dead Yet released on Monday and to celebrate she brought something really special with her: a super cute short story of a date between Wes and Hudson! (Sidenote: it’s spoilery if you haven’t read Not Dead Yet.)

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A Perfect Christmas

By Jenn Burke

Christmas was in a week and I wanted a real Christmas tree, damn it.

Hudson eyed the latest Christmas tree vendor we’d visited—and I’d summarily denounced as not having the perfect tree—and rubbed a hand over his face. “When I asked you to go out with me, this isn’t what I had in mind.”

“Two birds with one stone,” I said distractedly, looking at my phone. “Okay, there’s another tree lot a few blocks east.”

“We’ve been to three already.”

“And they’ve all sucked.”

“Do you think maybe your expectations are a little high?”

“Did you see what they’re charging?” I narrowed my eyes. “If I’m going to pay nearly a hundred dollars—”

“They were sixty.”

“Close enough.”

Hudson let out a groan, but I knew that meant I’d won. He put his red monster beast of a car into gear and pulled out of the grocery store parking lot. It was snowing, in a lazy, drifty kind of way, the flakes catching the streetlights in a hypnotizing dance against the black sky. They weren’t sticking to anything, which was making me wonder if we’d have a white Christmas this year or not. I hoped we would. I mean, if I was going through all this trouble to find the perfect tree, we should have perfect snow too, right?

We found the next tree lot easily and my spirits lifted. Okay…these ones looked good. Though they were wrapped up for easy transportation, you could kind of tell how full their branches were. And they were a good height too.

“I think we might have a winner,” I sing-songed.

Hudson grunted. Over the past few months, I’d gotten reacquainted with his noises, but I didn’t think this was an agreement sound. “What?”

He leaned close. “The branches on the inside are nearly bare.”

“Really?” I squinted at the tree closest to us. The lot was well lit, but shadows dwelled in the interior of the trees. I thought I could still see the crush of needles. “They look good to me.”

Hudson arched a brow. “Trust me.”

I opened my mouth to challenge him—then closed it as I realized he had a definite advantage, with his vampire night vision. “Shit.”

“They’re more expensive than the last place too.”

“Goddamn it.”

I managed not to stomp my foot like a petulant child, but it was a close thing. I turned my head up to glare at the sky, and got a pair of snowflakes in my eyes for my trouble. Hudson nudged me out of the tree lot and back to his car, and I sank into the interior with my arms crossed and annoyed at the world.

Instead of turning the car on, Hudson shifted in his seat to face me. “You never worried about Christmas this much when we were together.”

He was right—I hadn’t. I’d never been a religious person—thanks in large part to my before-their-time secular-focused parents—so celebrating Christ’s birth wasn’t a priority throughout my life. And in the five years Hudson and I had dated in the 80s, he was just as likely to be on duty or undercover during the holidays as not, so making plans had been an exercise in futility.

“What’s going on?” Hudson prodded gently.

I blew out a sharp breath. “I don’t know.”

He considered me for a few moments. “You know that having a traditional Christmas isn’t going to make me love you any more, right?”

“That’s not it.” I squeezed my arms tighter to my chest. “Okay, maybe it is.”

I hated that he’d picked up on it so easily when I hadn’t even been sure why I was struggling with it so much. But, yeah, he was right. My brain had latched on to the idea that our first real Christmas together—the first one of our newly resurrected relationship—had to be just right. For reasons. It was ridiculous, but I’d never pretended not to be.

“This Christmas is going to be perfect because it’s you and me.” He smiled gently and cupped my cheek. “Let’s just go get an artificial one—that way you can find the perfect shape and we’ll have it year after year. Whether we have a real tree or a fake one, or a purple one with frosted tips, I’ll love you just the same.”

“We’re not getting a purple one with frosted tips.”

“Thank god,” Hudson breathed, and tugged me forward for a kiss.

 

43263020Synopsis

The bigger they are, the harder they maul.

Immortal not-ghost Wes Cooper and his vampire partner, Hudson Rojas, have it all—rewarding private investigation work, great friends and, most important, a love that’s endured. But ever since Wes sent a demon screaming back to the beyond, his abilities have grown overpowering and overwhelming. He’s hiding the fact that he’s losing control the best he can, but it’s hard to keep anything a secret for long when your partner’s a former cop…and especially when your partner’s a former cop who wants to move in together.

When all hell literally breaks loose in Toronto and superstrength ghosts are unleashed on Wes and his friends, he and Hudson are thrown into a case unlike any they’ve seen before. To save the city, Wes needs to harness his new power…and find some answers. But when he gets them, the solution to fix it all could mean losing everything.

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

Goodreads | Carina Press | Amazon | B&N
Release Date: June 3rd

Jenn’s Guest Post for Not Dead Yet
Annie’s review of Not Dead Yet

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jenn_07_cropped_550x579Jenn Burke has loved out-of-this-world romance since she first read about heroes and heroines kicking butt and falling in love as a preteen. Now that she’s an author, she couldn’t be happier to bring adventure, romance, and sexy times to her readers.

Jenn is the author of The Gryphon King’s Consort from Dreamspinner Press and the co-author of the critically acclaimed Chaos Station science fiction romance series (with Kelly Jensen) from Carina Press. She’s also the author of Her Sexy Sentinel, a paranormal romance from Entangled Publishing.

She’s been called a pocket-sized and puntastic Canadian on social media, and she’ll happily own that label. Jenn lives just outside of Ottawa, Ontario, with her husband and two kids, plus two dogs named after video game characters…because her geekiness knows no bounds.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Facebook Group

Genre: Contemporary Genre: Paranormal Genre: Suspense Orientation: Asexual (+ace-spec) Orientation: Gay Pairing: M/M Publisher: Carina Press Tag: Age-Gap Tag: Guest Post Tag: Holidays Tag: Part of a series Tag: PoC Tag: Second Chances Tag: Slow Burn

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