Snowdrop in a Storm by Ava Kelly
Daniel Wu’s life is wonderful. He has an amazing family in his partner, Jeff, and their adopted daughter. The only thorn in his happiness is Abby’s biological father, Nick, who can’t seem to let go of the past.
Ridden by guilt for trying to tear apart Jeff’s family a year prior, Nick Mariani struggles to find a place for himself in a future that seems bleak. With the backdrop of a holiday vacation, he embarks on a journey of redemption. An unexpected surprise is Leon, who flirts shamelessly from the moment they meet. Leon brings Nick hope, but the shadows of the past threaten to swallow all that newfound brightness.
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An Excerpt from Snowdrop in a Storm
“We are so going to regret this,” Daniel said with a sigh.
He smiled as he blew over his teacup, and from across the breakfast counter, Jeff grinned at him. He’d already packed their lunches for Daniel’s last day of work and Abby’s last day of school. Their suitcases were waiting upstairs, almost ready. In the morning they’d be on a plane.
For the first time in his many years working as a teacher, Daniel Wu’s winter vacation would begin a week early. As a supervisor, he would accompany a handful of lucky eight-year-old chess club enthusiasts for a training tournament in the picturesque snow-covered Austrian Alps. Daniel looked forward to showing Jeff and Abby one of the places he’d enjoyed the most during his travels.
A pancake flipped through the air and returned with a sizzle to the pan. Jeff shook his head, his excitement contagious.
“We’ll be fine. Between you and me and Amber and Nick, I think we can wrangle a bunch of kids.”
Jeff had a point. It shouldn’t be much harder than keeping an entire class in line during museum trips, especially with so many adults supervising. He just couldn’t help but worry a little, planning for disasters and busted knees and special dietary requirements.
“Besides,” Jeff continued, “other teachers will be there, won’t they? With the other teams.”
“Yep,” Daniel agreed.
The pension hotel they’d be staying at had been reserved to host a mini-tournament of the International Chess Club that Amber had convinced Daniel to join. As a novice teacher, Amber had needed someone else to co-supervise the school’s club. Honestly, it had been a good thing. Some of the kids—Abby especially—had taken to it incredibly quickly during the first months of the semester, and now, they were set to start participating in competitions. One of the perks of the ICC was the winter gatherings that served as practice before the summer tournaments. And some of next year’s teams in Abby’s age group would be present at the resort. It opened up opportunities to meet new kids, learn new things.
Nothing came without a price, however, and Daniel suspected he’d pay for this trip with his patience and a few white hairs. He was excited, for several reasons, and yet—
Some of his ambivalence must have been visible because Jeff said, “Don’t pout,” his smile just as bright as he pushed over a full plate.
“I’m not pouting.” Daniel pulled the flattest expression he could. “My face is poutless, see?”
“Sure.” Jeff looked at the ceiling. “Abby! Breakfast!”
She came thundering down the stairs, hair tied crookedly in two braids falling over her shoulders. She’d been getting better at doing them herself, with a determination Daniel figured she extracted from her passion of all things Wednesday Addams, but she still had a ways to go. It was a matter of practice. Abby waved the tip of a braid at him, a question mumbled around her mouthful of pancake.
“They’re better today,” he said.
“The best,” Jeff added with a pat to her head.
Abby’s teeth were smeared with jam as she grinned.
“Mouth closed,” Daniel chastised, gently, and heard Jeff’s lips smack against each other.
He laughed—couldn’t not with his precious persons. The happiness of it stung behind his eyes for a moment, and he took a deep breath.
“What am I going to do with you two, huh?”
“I guess you’ll have to love us,” Jeff singsonged in a bad rendition of The Addams Family tune, and Abby snapped her fingers at the end.
Daniel shoved a forkful in his mouth just so he wouldn’t blurt, “Marry me,” to Jeff right then and there.
About Ava Kelly
Ava Kelly is an engineer with a deep passion for stories. Whether reading, watching, or writing them, Ava has always been surrounded by tales of all genres. Their goal is to bring more stories to life, especially those of friendship and compassion, those dedicated to trope subversion, those that give the void a voice, and those that spawn worlds of their own.
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