The Humbug Holiday Read Online Lane Hayes

Categories Genre: M-M Romance, Romance Tags Authors:

Total pages in book: 41
Estimated words: 38149 (not accurate)
Estimated Reading Time in minutes: 191(@200wpm)___ 153(@250wpm)___ 127(@300wpm)

Two grumpy bears and a holiday season neither will forget…

So this sexy silver fox rolls into my small New England town and buys a run-down old house in need of renovation. That’s where I come in. My job is to do some basic repairs, so he can write in peace. Yep, the hotshot is a bestselling author, but that’s not why I recognize Cameron Warren.
No worries, I won’t let a one-night stand make things awkward. I could use the work, but is he seriously asking me to help him buy a Christmas tree too?
No way.

I’m a good-natured guy all year long, but I have to admit…I hate the holidays.
There. I said it.
This season, I’m hiding away on the opposite side of the country in a picturesque village. My family isn’t excited about my decision, and the only way to assure them I’m fine is to deck the darn halls. Or hire someone else to do it.
The handyman might not be the logical choice for an elf, but his grumpy act makes me smile. Which makes me think the holidays might not be so “bah-humbug” this year after all.

*************FULL BOOK START HERE*************


“Bah!” said Scrooge, “Humbug!” ― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol


Massive snowdrifts lined the pathway to the Victorian manor on Walnut Street. No doubt the shoulder-high hedges along the perimeter of the spooky old house were responsible for the height, but they looked borderline dangerous. If the owner had any sense, he’d remove the excess foliage, trim the gigantic maple scraping the second-story windows, and fix the sagging steps leading to the front door.

Apparently, there were bigger problems inside.

I transferred my clipboard to my left hand and knocked, noting the peeled red paint and the very dead houseplant next to the welcome mat—or the “Wel--me” mat. Yep, it was so worn that the middle letters faded into the beige background.

Christ, what a dump.

But not the hopeless kind, which was good news for me. Potentially, anyway. I needed the work, and this guy definitely needed the help.

I didn’t know much about the new owner, but there were rumors about a middle-aged man and his mother, and supposedly one of them was semi-famous. That could mean anything. The fact that they were outsiders and newbies made them interesting by default, I mused, giving another brisk knock.

The door swung open a moment later, and a wild-eyed elderly woman with a shock of white hair, bright-pink lipstick, and a red-and-white striped tracksuit smiled a harried yet pleasant greeting.

“Hello, my dear! It’s so good to see you. Are you Joe? Please tell me you’re Joe. I shouldn’t be letting any ol’ stranger in now, should I?”

I extended my hand. “Yes, ma’am. I’m Joe. Joe Linton.”

“Thank goodness.” She shook my hand in a surprisingly strong grip and ushered me inside. “It’s lovely to meet you, Joe. I’m Mary Standish. Come on in. Sorry to keep you waiting. You must be freezing.”

“Nah, I can handle a few snowflakes.”

“I’m not sure I can. I’m from sunny San Diego. I can’t remember ever seeing so much snow in all my days. And I assure you, I’ve seen many a days,” she chirped, closing the door and turning to give me a quick once-over while I returned the favor.

Mary was a thin, smallish woman with birdlike features: a slightly hooked nose, rail-thin wrists, and bony shoulders. She was probably in her late seventies or maybe early eighties. Her gaze was sharp with a hint of mischief as if she’d seen it all and yet somehow managed to keep a sense of humor.

“You’ll get used to it,” I assured her.

“Oh, I’m not staying. I’m here visiting my nephew. This is his house. I’ll introduce you soon, but he’s glued to his desk for now. He tends to get a mite distracted. Sometimes, I think the walls could fall down around his ears and he wouldn’t notice a thing!” She cackled merrily, pulling me through the foyer into a grand hallway dominated by a sweeping staircase and a massive crystal chandelier.

I had to admit, the interior was in better condition than I thought it would be. A little tired—but solid nonetheless. The tall ceilings and gorgeous oak wainscotting were offset by faded ivory damask wallpaper and museum-sized landscapes of faded idyllic pastoral settings. Wide-planked wood floors were covered with threadbare Persian rugs that added the lightest suggestion of color in the otherwise monotone space. I spied hints of a shabby but comfortable drawing room to my left and a homey living area through an arched doorway straight ahead.

This was…nice. A little worn out for sure, but the carpenter in me appreciated the craftsmanship, and this place definitely had good bones.

I flashed a friendly smile. “I heard you had some water damage?”

Mary pushed a wayward piece of white hair behind her ear and nodded. “That’s what my sister Georgia said. She brought this box of holiday goodies up from the basement last week before she left for the airport and noticed sagging stairs and a bubbly spot under the wallpaper. Now, that wallpaper must be from Eisenhower’s time. It’s peeling and ugly, which probably means no one has used the basement for anything other than storage for years. Cameron was going to take a peek, but he’s a smidge forgetful and he’s not exactly a handyman. I can just see him putting his foot through the steps and getting hopelessly stuck with no one here to rescue him. Can’t have that happen on my watch.”