Okay, I want to read this just for the cover... but check out the exclusive excerpt below of Amy Lane's Late for Christmas!
Mark Taylor sees the whole thing, and as a second-year medical resident, he gets Cassidy top-notch care. In spite of himself, he’s fascinated by his mother’s stodgy neighbor, and as he strives to help Cassidy recover from a broken leg, he begins to realize that behind Cassidy’s obsession with punctuality is the story of a lonely boy who thought he had to be perfect to be loved.
Mark and his family are far from perfect—but they might be perfect for Cassidy. As the two of them get to know each other, Cassidy fantasizes about the family and happy-ever-after he never thought he’d have, and Mark starts to yearn for Cassidy’s wide-eyed kindness and surprising creativity. But first they have to overcome Cassidy’s fears, because there is so much more fun to be had during Christmas than just being on time.
CASSIDY HANCOCK hated being late—loathed it. Spent his entire life waking up early, setting alarms, and passing up invitations on the off chance a trip to the park with a friend would make him late for a Zoom meeting he had in two hours. What if something happened? What if he sprained his ankle? What if he found a dog and absolutely had to get it back to its owner? What if he didn’t want to get it back to its owner? There was always that. Cassidy really did long for a dog—but dogs were messy and unexpected and he was afraid they would make him late.
A life in foster care had made him dread the sudden placement in someone else’s house, made him dread the new schedule, the sudden left turn, the unexpected anything that might make him miss an appointment. Missed appointments meant bad grades, bad grades meant getting put somewhere else, getting put somewhere else meant new schools—it was all bad if you were late.
The minute he’d moved out of transitional care and into his own apartment with his own job and his own space, he had set out to become the Boy Who Wouldn’t Be Late.
And now, at twenty-eight, that hard work had paid off. He had a good job that he enjoyed, and he’d managed to buy his own house in the cul-de-sac of a cute little suburban neighborhood, and while his house looked a lot like the house next to it and the one after that, he didn’t care. He’d plant flowers, trim the tree, mow the lawn, and he would be the Man Who Wouldn’t Be Late with the House That Fit In.
As one of the few teachers who had really seen him in high school had said, it was important to have goals.
Unfortunately, goals didn’t mean jack when a drought-ridden tree cracked in a windstorm and took out all the power lines in the area. Cassidy’s alarm didn’t go off, and his phone was charging in the kitchen. He slept through the phone alarm, the coffee maker didn’t go off, and by the time he woke up, he had half an hour to get to his daily morning meeting with his boss.
The meeting he never missed.
The meeting he was always ten minutes early for because Cassidy was never late.
He’d worked his way up from receptionist for the editor/owner of Folsom’s most prestigious lifestyle magazine—in both print and electronic formats—to personal assistant, contributor, and part-time editor by being always on time, always impeccable, and always polite.
And now he was late!
He was hurrying outside into the blowy gray December day when he caught sight of the new neighbor.
Or rather the old neighbor’s college-age son, who had moved into an apartment over his mother’s garage this past year. He was escorting a ridiculous dog that had a pit bull head with the smooth, hypoallergenic brindle fur, and a corgi body.
Cassidy sort of craved that dog. He had, in fact, been having a really nice dream about that dog curled up at the foot of his bed, making whuffling sounds in his sleep, when he’d reached out to pet his imaginary dog and realized that not only was the dog not there, but the sky was much lighter outside than it was when he usually woke up.
So there went his neighbor, running after Gus-Gus the dog—Cassidy knew his name because he frequently did the corgi hop off-leash and waddled down the sidewalk with unabashed glee—wearing pajama pants and a homemade sweater in vibrant green, his longish, unkempt dark blond hair swirling in all directions, his pleasantly scruffy face twisted in sheepish annoyance, and Cassidy was forced to stop for reasons that had nothing to do with being late and everything to do with…
The young man really did wear the crap out of the sweater his mother had crocheted him, Cassidy thought with a lump in his throat. She’d even made a matching sweater for the dog.
Cassidy was so busy watching the young man that he didn’t notice the tree in the neighbor’s yard leaning precariously in the wind, the recent rain making the powder-dry earth unstable but not wet enough to hold together. He’d gotten to his car, which sat in the driveway because he’d converted much of his garage to a woodworking shop, when he heard the ominous crack. He looked up just in time to miss the tree crashing down on his head, where it would probably have killed him, but as he stumbled back, he fell on his ass, and when the tree landed, a solid branch impaled his leg and broke his fibula and tibia instead.
As he fell against the pavement, he was aware of two things.
One, the dog had run back and was licking his face, which was nicer than he’d thought it would be when he’d dreamed of owning the dog.
The other thing was the neighbor’s college-age son was crouched down by him, telling him he was going to be okay while he talked into a telephone using the crisp diction and vocabulary of someone who knew exactly what they were doing.
Cassidy’s leg was on fire, and he couldn’t reach his pocket to find his phone to call his boss and tell her he was going to be late. He squinted up at the neighbor’s son and said, “Which college are you going to, anyway?”
The boy smiled gently. “Stanford School of Medicine—I’m a resident of Mercy San Juan Folsom, orthopedic unit. Lucky you, Mr. Hancock—my boss is probably the guy who will set your leg.”
Cassidy stared at him. “But you’re not that old,” he whispered, and then his eyes rolled back in his head and he passed out completely.
Late for Christmas is currently available for pre-order and releases on November 28th!