Read Graham Ran Over A Reindeer Online
Authors: Sterling Rivers
Graham Ran Over a Reindeer
By: Sterling Rivers
©Copyright Sterling Rivers 2015
Join Sterling Rivers’ mailing list and receive a free story!
Cover Art by:
This is a work of fiction. All characters, places and events are from the author’s imagination and should not be confused with fact. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, events or places is purely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form, whether by printing, photocopying, scanning or otherwise without the written permission of the author or publisher.
Applications should be addressed in the first instance, in writing, to the author. Unauthorized or restricted acts in relation to this publication may result in civil proceedings and/or criminal prosecution.
This book contains sexually explicit content which is only suitable for mature readers.
Graham Ran Over a Reindeer
Rudy Snowden has been pining for Graham Miller since they were teenagers, but being a shape-shifter and in love with a human isn't easy. After years of dancing around each other, Rudy decides to take the big leap and ask the guy on a date.
Truck driver Graham Miller is glad to be home for Christmas in Alaska. Road weary and suffering from the holiday blues, Rudy Snowden is the perfect pick me up—if Graham can summon the courage to ask him out. While picking up a Christmas tree from Rudy, Graham is unable to find the words, and leaves without the man he's wanted for so long. Lost in a snowstorm sprinkled with misery, Graham hits a caribou—could his day get any worse? He rushes the animal to the Snowden vet clinic, where he quickly learns things can always get... stranger. The creature he nearly killed isn't just any animal, and the Snowdens aren't a normal family. With his secret finally revealed, Rudy makes his move. But can Graham accept Rudy's inhuman nature and be the life-mate he wants?
Graham yawned widely. It felt later than seven in the evening, but that was because he had been on the road most of the day, battling the winter chill and foot-deep snow in an effort to get his Christmas shopping done. He just wanted to go home, and sink into bed, bundled under mounds of fluffy blankets, but the kids would be heartbroken if he didn’t pick up the Christmas tree. With two weeks until Christmas, it was already overdue, and he hated disappointing his nieces.
As fat snowflakes pelted the windshield, he pinched his eyes, his vision blurring. He’d had to bypass Pine Road due to hazardous conditions which added twenty minutes to his drive out to the Snowden farm. When the soft buttery glow of the house lights came into view, he sighed in relief—his night was almost over. There would be one highlight of his day though, he mused as he pulled into the driveway.
Rudy Snowden was waiting for him by the barn, the headlights catching his form as his hand went in the air in greeting. Graham threw his truck in park, and got out to meet the man. Rudy was a sight for weary eyes. Despite the overload of clothes, the man stood out like black against snow, and it had nothing to do with his Inuit heritage. Sparkling grey eyes glittered welcomingly, and his toothy grin outshone the stark snow. Rudy’s mother was French Canadian and he’d inherited her lighter skin tone—all in all, the man was gorgeous.
Smiling something beautiful, Rudy exclaimed, “It’s starting early!”
“They said another six inches by morning,” Graham acknowledged, trying to stay composed. He’d been attracted to Rudy for as long as he could remember, and he always seemed to make a fool of himself in the presence of the man. Tonight would be no exception. He couldn’t help himself. He had wanted to ask the guy out on a date for years, but always stumbled over his words. It wasn’t easy being gay, and living in a small town.
“I know, isn’t that great?” Rudy said, closing his eyes for a second to savor all the cold and fluffy. “I love this weather.”
“Yeah, it’s nice. Except when you have to drive in it all day,” he grumbled. He wasn’t that thrilled about the weather, but seeing Rudy’s happiness lightened his mood. “At least it will stay pretty for a while. Sometimes I forget how beautiful it is out here.”
The man nodded. “I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.”
Except that you did… for several years.
He quickly pushed that thought away.
Graham had been boomeranging from country to city for years, his job as a truck driver requiring his services elsewhere. But he’d grown up in Alaska, and it would always be his home even if the weather sometimes wared on him, and the isolation left him feeling lonely. Hell, but that was part of the area’s charm that drew in tourists by the droves. The near constant stream of fresh snow on evergreens often invoked memories of cold nights spent around the fireplace with friends and family, sipping hot chocolate and talking about the good ole’ days. The ski lodge probably had something to do with it, too. In a town of three hundred, half were tourists and the rest older folk, with old-fashioned ideals. On the road… there were options for a guy like him.
“I haven’t seen you for a while,” Rudy said, returning his attention to Graham.
“Yeah, I took a road job. Brought me through Canada all the way down to Washington. The money was just too good to turn down, you know what I mean? Anyway, I’m back here for a while… a long while, I hope,” he said, his body loosening. Though he was unsure how to approach the subject of dinner-and-a-movie, being in Rudy’s presence was comforting. Having spent months on the road, he’d grown homesick. He’d missed his sister, and the kids. It was nice to see familiar faces again.
The man’s eyes crinkled in the corners. “That’s great. I’m glad you’re back.”
“Me too,” he said simply, his heart jumping at Rudy’s enthusiasm. The question was poised on the edge of Graham’s lips, but he couldn’t seem to give it that final push. It was no secret the man was gay, but they had grown up together, and they were kind of, maybe friends—although they had hung out a lot as kids, they’d drifted apart when they’d hit their teens. That and he figured if Rudy were interested in him, he’d ask.
Like you’ve asked?
He chided himself.
“So,” Rudy started, pushing his weight onto his tiptoes. “Care to see the tree?”
“Right.” Graham chuckled, remembering why he was here. He held his hand out. “Lead the way.”
Rudy guided him into the barn and Graham let himself steal a glance at the man’s behind which was shielded by multiple layers of clothing.
“Here she is,” Rudy said as he pulled a tarp away from the tree. “I hand-picked this one. I will say it’s the prettiest of this year’s crop.”
“You always did have the best trees,” Graham remarked, running his hand along the natural flow of needles, the sharp points prickling his palm. He could remember his father taking him down to the Snowden farm to pick up their Christmas tree twenty-five years ago. It had been the first time he and Rudy had met. They’d only been little boys back then, but Rudy had been eager to make a new friend, happily sharing his wood-carved toys. Graham was sure he still had that little reindeer figure somewhere.
“Of course,” Rudy huffed. “We respect the business. I mean, caring for trees sounds like the easiest job in the world, but it’s not—they need a lot of love. Anyway, she will look perfect all dressed up.”
“Yeah,” Graham said, imagining all the lights and garland and ornaments on the tree. He really did enjoy the holidays, he just wished he had a partner to share them with. Living in the middle of nowhere, his options were limited and driving dozens of miles for a hook-up wasn’t on his to-do list. He gave Rudy the side eyes. Now would be the perfect time to ask—what could it hurt?
He could say no.
Yeah, there was always that. But hell, the way the man smiled at him…
he smiles at everyone
. That was true, too. Graham was aware he was trying to talk himself out of it.
“I’ll help you get her settled,” Rudy announced as he wrapped the tree in the tarp.
Graham followed the man’s lead and they carried the evergreen to his truck where Rudy spent a good five minutes tucking it into the flatbed as if it were a child snug in bed.
“Well, that should do. Do you want to say hello to Frank before you go?”
“How is that grump?” Graham laughed, remembering the last time he’d gotten close to the old caribou—the thing had nearly taken off his hand. In addition to Christmas trees and delicious jams and preserves, the Snowdens owned a rather large heard of Caribou. It was the highlight of the season, drawing in kids from all over town to gawk at Santa’s reindeer. When the snows were high, the Snowdens would ride into town on a sled pulled by the caribou. That thought dug up pleasant memories of Graham’s first sled ride with Rudy.
“Still chugging along. Come say hello.” Rudy motioned his head toward the corral. “I have some carrots, I bet he’ll like them.”
“Nah, I better get going before it turns really bad,” he said, glancing up at the snow filled sky. “Besides, I’m sure your grandfather is waiting on you.”
“He’s still at the clinic,” Rudy said distractedly.
“Oh, well… you’ll tell him I said hello?” Graham asked as he dug out his wallet.
“Sure.” Rudy smiled, but his grin seemed half-hearted as he accepted the cash. “Please drive carefully.”
“Will do,” Graham said, biding him goodbye. When his back was to the man he whispered a curse, angry with himself for chickening out.
Would you like to get a cup of coffee sometime? Maybe watch the parade together like we used to?
What the hell was so hard about that? Feeling completely smashed, he hopped in his truck and peeled out, not looking back. He did not want to spend another Christmas alone while the rest of his family celebrated with their spouses and kids, but his lack of confidence when it came to Rudy was going to leave him cold in bed, he just knew.
Rudy watched as Graham disappeared down the road, his shoulders slumping. He hadn’t realized how much he had missed those sapphire blue eyes and that shy smile that made him feel all warm and fuzzy inside. The man had only been away a few months, which shouldn’t have mattered considering they’d known each other for years and didn’t spend all that much time together anymore. Still… he realized he had it bad for Graham Miller. What was worse, the guy seemed interested, but had yet to make a move, leading Rudy to assume he was just hopeful and mistaking friendly smiles along with the scent of pheromones for something deeper. Questioning his own instinct made his head spin.
He had wanted to ask Graham on a date since they were teenagers and here they were, nearly thirty and he was still dancing around the question. God, but he was a sissy. He needed to man up and just ask—it was better to know than spend a life time wondering… and longing. But holding onto that
was safer. Graham was different than Rudy’s other boyfriends—fuck-buddies, rather—what if the man couldn’t accept Rudy for what he was? He’d rather pine for the guy for the rest of his life than see disgust and fear cross Graham’s face.
It’s dangerous to fall in love for people like us,
he heard his father’s voice in his mind. The man was on to something there, wasn’t he?
Shaking his head, Rudy dragged his feet toward the corral where dozens of caribou stood huddled against the rising snow. It was too beautiful of a night to be depressed, the fluffy flakes hitting him in the face. Pushing his hat off, he closed his eyes and inhaled deeply, the air cool and crisp in his lungs. The silence of the night was broken only by the whispering of the wind through the pines and the faint sound of snowflakes clashing with one another. Biting his lip, he figured Grandfather wouldn’t be home for another hour or two… and his parents wouldn’t be back from their trip to Canada for a few weeks, which meant he had some free time on his hands.
Just a few minutes,
he promised himself.
Heading back to the barn, he quickly shed his winter clothes until he was completely naked, the chill nipping at his exposed skin. Giggling like a little girl, he stepped back outside, his bare feet sinking into the snow. As the cold penetrated deep to his bones, he shivered. He was all smiles as he held his arms out and savored the moment. That familiar ache encompassed him—once it had been excruciating, but now it was nothing more than a dull discomfort. He’d gladly welcome the pain for the gift he’d been given was worth the tradeoff. Few knew what it felt like to be free and he considered himself blessed to be part of the gifted.
His bones snapped, his muscles stretched, and his skin tightened as he let the Great Spirit into his soul. Warmth filled him like a hot spring, surrounding him to chase away the bitter chill. His sense of balance faltered and for a quick moment, he felt as if he were falling through directionless space at an alarming rate until he finally slammed back into his reformed body. Rudy blinked his eyes, his vision slowly sharpening until familiar surroundings came into view. He shook his head, quickly growing accustomed to the heaviness there. He sucked several deep breaths as his systems recalibrated themselves and when he was ready, he took tentative steps towards the corral, his split hooves perfectly adapted for the snow.
The herd awoke to his presence, moaning and kicking up snow in excitement. He returned their calls of joy and though they were normal animals, he could sense their emotions—they considered him a part of the herd and were happy to see him. He trotted along the fence, the caribou eagerly flanking him, keeping pace until they were running side by side. When he got to the edge of the large pasture, he broke away and headed into the forest. Snow pelted him in the face like little ice-needles, but it was wonderful.
Not all in his family got to experience this and he wasn’t going to waste the time he had. The Great Spirit chose carefully who would receive the gift and he had been lucky enough to be blessed. Though Grandfather and his parents warned him to be conservative with his blessing, he couldn’t help it. With the frenzied snow whipping around him and his muscular legs carrying him through the trees, he ran and ran and ran… so hard and so fast that he thought he’d take to the sky like one of Santa’s reindeer.