Posts Tagged With: Series – Scandinavian Comfort

Baking Battles by Sophia Soames: Exclusive Excerpt!

Blogger_Exclusive Excerpt

Exclusive Excerpt from Baking Battles

by Sophia Soames

Mattias should protest. Honestly, he should, but the photographer is back in his face and he tries to remember where this Pablo has told him to put his hips. Not that he doesn’t look a twat standing there in a t-shirt that is several sizes too small for him, where his nipples are poking through the thin fabric and his arms are getting goosebumps from the fan directed at his face to make his hair move. Well, there is so much gel in his locks that it probably wouldn’t move if a hurricane swept through the studio, and that Pablo is nowhere to be found to rescue him, so he just resigns himself to the photographer hurling instructions at him and demanding that he pouts.

He knows he can veto the photos, and somewhere in the deep dark pit of his stomach, he knows Danijel won’t let him look like a complete arse. Even though the said man is now dragging him off into a dark corner, letting a small giggle rip loose as the tips of his fingers poke at Mattias’s gelled-back hair.

“You look weird, man.” He says, but his eyes are twinkling and Mattias just stares at him.

“Please let me out of this hell…” Mattias begs.

“No way, Matt, my man. This is going far too well. Far too well.” Danijel’s grin is evil. “I have ten contestants in place, all are checked in. I have the most awesome host, and Caroline. Oh, thank God for Caroline. I don’t know how we let her walk all those years ago, because nobody manages the floor better than Caroline.”

He lets his eyes follow Danijel’s gaze over to where Caroline is shouting into the headset that is now clipped into her ear as she gestures wildly at someone at the back of the studio.

“Now watch this, and tell me that we are not creating magic.” Danijel whispers, then shouts out, “Silence,” and, on cue, the room falls into complete quiet. It’s a well-built-in word in the industry. One little word that makes everyone tiptoe on their rubber-soled feet. It makes movements slow down to careful gestures. Voices effortlessly quieten down to whispers.

“And ACTION!

Mattias can see one of their resident cameramen swing his dolly into position, showing that he is ready and rolling as the lighting almost blinds the man walking through the unmanned baking stations, letting his hands gently touch one of the bright red baking machines before he looks up, his eyes focusing on the camera lens and his mouth curling into a blinding smile.

Mattias watches on the side monitor, as Danijel’s breath hitches in anticipation. The man on the screen is taking his time and the practical side of Mattias is already thinking that they will need to shout, “Cut!” But, at the same time he is mesmerised. The man is, well, Mattias has never seen him before, yet of course he has. He knows who this guy is. He would recognise his voice, that deep baritone vocal that the country seems to have fallen in love with, anywhere. He’s tall and sleek, curves and angles in all the right places. Dark hair neatly cropped back into the man’s signature style. His skin flawless and powdered into perfection. His eyes pierced at the lens.

“Christmas is my favourite time of the year, when families come together to spend quality time with the people they love. Where guestrooms are prepared for visitors from far away, where friendships are reunited, and gifts are exchanged. Where sometimes religion plays a part, and sometimes our celebrations just centre around that little thing we call love. Where we look after those we care for, where we show each other friendship and gratitude. Where we thank those of us who have helped us throughout the year, people like our teachers and medical staff, and where we tell those close to us that they are needed and cherished. And even though we may not see each other every day, at this point of the year, we make the time to meet. To bond. To love each other just that little bit more. That is what Christmas is to me, and then, of course, I would be on the completely wrong show if I don’t mention the thing that Christmas is really all about.”

The man stops again, letting his body lean just that little bit forward as the camera zooms back. And Mattias breathes out. He shouldn’t have been holding his breath, but this, the very first minutes of a show can make or break a series. It needs to be right and if they have to film it again, and again, so be it. Not that they will have to reshoot shit with the guy on the monitor popping a biscuit in his mouth. Where the fuck was he hiding that biscuit?

“Because Christmas is all about food, drink and…” The man wriggles his half-eaten biscuit, sporting that shit-eating grin and a crumb on his chin, as all the deep dimples on his face show. “Baked goods.”

He laughs and Mattias now almost shouts “Cut!” himself. The guy is chewing his biscuit and leaning casually against one of the worktops, angling his head and flashing that smile again.

“Ladies and gentlemen. Boys and girls. Welcome to this very special Christmas edition of Baking Battles, where some of our most loved celebrities will show off our fantastic range of Norwegian Christmas traditions, some old, some new and some with a new twist no doubt. So sit back and grab yourself a glass of Gløgg, and get ready for the most wonderful season of baking, cooking, laughing, and yes, of course, there will be drama and tears. It wouldn’t be Baking Battles without them, now would it?”

He steps forward again, stopping only to cross his arms over his chest, showing off just the right amount of muscle tone through the thin designer shirt spray-painted onto his body, as he smiles again.

“I’m Christopher Pedersen, and this, is Baking Battles.”

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Categories: Book Promo, Excerpts, LGBT, Published in 2020 | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Open Water by Sophia Soames: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

Blogger_Exclusive Excerpt

Exclusive Excerpt from Open Water

by Sophia Soames

Max

I know it will happen. I mean it is almost inevitable that going back to Drama class will trigger all kinds of things in my head. It is never going to be easy, no matter how many pep-talks I keep giving myself.

I am me. I need to fucking own it.

Which is easier said than done when you are a mess of nerves trying to get one foot to step in front of the other. When all you want to do is turn around and run the other way as fast as you possibly can. 

I am not going to run. I am going to go to Drama. Because.

Okay, I am only going back to Drama because Matteo asked. Because he will be there. Which is also freaking me out and thus, I am back to square one. Going back to Drama. Where it all went to fucking shit, because I was high on endorphins, adrenaline and whatever and wrote some overconfident shit that I shouldn’t have. I told everyone. I told them I was messed up. I told them I was desperately in love. I told them I loved the boy with the smile. It wouldn’t take much to put two and two together.

They all know. They have told their friends. So, everyone knows. Fact.

I mean, Lukas knows. Just look at the looks he gave me, like we are some kind of friends with a secret gay handshake. Fuck that. I have zero interest in other gay people. Zero. Apart from Matteo, who is probably so straight that he could just look at a bird and get her all radiant and pregnant.

Well, that’s what I used to think about Dad, so obviously I have zero gaydar. Which means I will be single all my life, because I will never take a hint if someone flirts with me, and I will never in a million years dare to flirt with anyone. I mean, I had Matteo right in front of me. I had his undivided attention. And all I could do was kind of drool and mutter infantile mumbo-jumbo.

Which brings me back to how I have ended up lying on the floor, under this staircase here, trying not to die. Because I think it was the smell that tipped me over the edge. The dusty musty smell of the Drama department on the top floor of Östra Real’s Senior School. Big showy attic classrooms with rails and rails of old clothes and props. Beanbags instead of desks and chairs, and clipboards all over the floor for when the inspiration hits.

It was all apparently Simon’s vision when he took over as the head of Drama, to create space in the attic classrooms where creativity could flow, and learning would be relaxed and inspirational.

It didn’t make me feel inspired today, instead it made me feel nauseous the minute I hit the top step of the staircase and saw the open door to the classroom. People milling through the opening and that smell. The damp dirty dust.

I knew it was coming and I couldn’t even think clearly where to run. The waves were suddenly everywhere, pushing and tugging at me and I kind of half fell down the stairs with my heart beating out of my chest and I was struggling to breathe. I couldn’t breathe. I was already under water, making those out-of-body sounds that I dread.

I probably sound like a freak, like I am dying. Because that’s what I feel like. I am underwater and fighting the fucking waves that just keep coming at me like some fucked-up gang of thugs on a mission to destroy me.

I have no idea how long I was out. I tend to pass out. Faint with fear. Yeah, I’m a real big man – me, scaring myself shitless until I make myself faint. And even when I pass out, I can still come back to consciousness, still treading water and screaming my lungs out.

But I’m not screaming today. I am just lying curled up in the foetal position with my arms tight around something, and it takes me a while to figure out what it is.

It’s a body. It’s kind of moving in my face, rising and falling against me. Which is odd. But in a way nice. There are also fingers combing through my hair. Soft little strokes in random patterns, as it seems that I am crazy-breathing into someone’s stomach. And t-shirt. The cotton fabric in front of me is damp with sweat and snot and my tears and my breath. And I am hiccupping. Still hyperventilating. I need to calm down before I pass out again. I should breathe into a paper bag. I always have one in my bag. It’s just I can’t make myself move.

Because in the middle of the fucked-up state I am in, I feel safe. Someone cares enough to not only notice, but also stay with me. Which doesn’t happen unless someone calls the school nurse who is nice enough, but totally clueless to what I need when I lose myself like this.

Not like whoever this is who is letting me squeeze the shit out of him as my arms automatically tighten around his waist. I am holding onto him like he is my lifebuoy out at sea, and then he speaks.

Which sets me off into a panic-ridden tailspin. 

Because, of course, I am lying on Matteo’s lap, with my arms around his waist and he is stroking my head and asking me how I am feeling.

“Like shit,” I croak out into his stomach.

“You haven’t been down long. Just lie here until you feel better. There is no rush.”

Stroke, Stroke, Stroke. Tangle. Fingers against my scalp. And another stroke. Then, his hand is on my back, calmly rubbing the length of my spine.

“Simon knows we’re here and says we should just come up when you are ready. We can sit here the whole lesson if you need it. “

I don’t know what to say. I just curl further into him. Push my knees up so they are flush against his backside.

He smells of soap. Of some laundry detergent I don’t recognise. I should ask what he uses so I can buy it and keep it in jars all over the house to make everything smell of Matteo.

Not that I will ever speak to him again. Not after the spectacle I must have made of myself to end up like this. Clinging to him like a baby.

“Can I borrow your phone?” he asks. I try to nod into his stomach as he leans over and fishes my iPhone out of my back pocket. He then grabs my arm and forces my hand around, so he can use my thumb to unlock it.

I pant desperately into his guts and let my arm recoil back around his waist with a groan.

“I’m going to put my number in your contacts. And send myself a text so I have yours. Is that okay?”

“Why?” I squeal weakly. I still haven’t got my head together. I still have my guard down.

“Because nobody should go through what you go through alone,” he says softly, his stomach is moving up and down against me as he talks. A familiar ping goes off on his phone that must be buried somewhere in his jacket. It’s close. Vibrating against his body. “I’ve added you on Insta, and why are you called Tom on Facebook?”

“M’Dad.” I breathe out through my mouth. Hard. Breathe back in. Focus Max. Focus.

“Don’t,” he whispers. “Don’t try so hard. Just lie here and snuggle until you can breathe better.” The fingers are back in my hair. Stroking softly. “Do you want to tell me why you snoop on your Dad’s Facebook?” I can hear it in his voice, that he is smiling. Taking the piss. Whilst I am slowly dying again.

“Not snooping. Dad doesn’t do social media, but we started an account for him for some reason and I still have it. I haven’t got Facebook.” I am almost totally out of breath after squirming out all those words in one go. So now I am back to panting as my chest aches with the over-exhaustion.

“Seriously, Pumpkin.” He is still smiling.

“Pumpkin?” I squeal. He is ridiculous. Even more ridiculous than me.

“I always wanted to call someone Pumpkin. Tilda wouldn’t let me. She doesn’t believe in terms of endearment. Says they strip people of dignity. Anyway, you are a little pumpkin so I’m calling you that.”

“Tilda?” Shit. Here we go. Girlfriend. Go on. Crush my heart. Just stomp on it.

“Yeah? Redhead chick I always hang out with. She’s my best friend in the whole world. We have known each other since we went to German toddler group as kids, and then we played naked in each other’s paddling pools. I have pictures. They are really useful when I need to get Tilda to do me favours.” He giggles softly, and I don’t know what to say. So, not a girlfriend. Well, there is probably more. Next minute, he will start talking about the love of his life who is the prettiest girl in the world or some crap.

“Anyway, Pumpkin,” he continues and he’s stroking again. His flat palm rubbing circles over my shoulder.  “When these things happen, just call me. Or text me. Just a word of where you are, and I will come find you, because these panic-thingies you get are scary as hell when you are just watching from the sidelines. I saw you have one a while back and the damn school nurse wouldn’t let me near you. She said just to let you get on with it. You looked so frightened. It wasn’t right. It was almost cruel. I got to you first this time and you calmed down much quicker when I was holding on to you. You shouldn’t be on your own like this. Just promise you will call me? Or text, or just shout for me and someone will go get me.”

He sounds almost distraught. Like I have scarred him for life with my fucked-up panic attacks.

“I can’t control it. They just come on so quickly and I lose all sense of reality. I just get so fucking scared.” Here we go. Here come the tears of relief. Another of my party tricks.

He tugs me closer as I bury my face back in the warmth of him. He smells so bloody nice. His stomach is my new happy place. I could die right now, and I would be happy. Put it on my freaking tombstone. Here lies Max Andersson. Died happy, face down in a stomach of bliss smelling of Summer Breeze detergent. Available in all reputable supermarkets and detergent retailers.

“Which is why you shouldn’t be alone. You are so bloody pig-headed not letting anyone be your friend. People try all the time, inviting you to stuff, and trying to talk to you, and you just flip them off like they annoy you. Don’t flip me off, Pumpkin. Trust me. I am like a leech when I put my mind to it. Just ask Tilda. I sleep in her bed just so she won’t get herself a boyfriend. Because I am always there. Snuggling up to her and annoying the shit out of her. She doesn’t really mind me being there, though, and to be honest, she has probably shagged that Henke in Year 3 already and just not told me. Fucking girls and their fucking drama and secrets.”

He’s funny and I am kind of half laughing under my tears and sobs. Hiccups and spasms travelling through my body as he strokes my arms.

“Thank you,” I snivel out. I mean it. I am so fucking grateful that he is still here.

“Anytime, Pumpkin. Please promise you will call me. If you don’t I’ll find out, and then I’ll have to follow you around like some creep just in case. And everyone will talk about me being totally out of order stalking you and it will be this big gossip drama shit and everyone will think I have a massive crush on you.”

I don’t dare to look up. I just snort.

This is the time when I should say something smart. Like raise an eyebrow at him and ask innocently “Have you? Have you got a crush on me?” with a seductive smile. Blow him a kiss. Act totally inappropriate and smarmy and make him run away faster than light.

I don’t. Of course. Instead, I hug him like a crazy person. I am a crazy person.

“Let’s get you to sit up, Pumpkin,” he says.

I don’t look him in the eye. I can’t. It’s too raw. Too much. I am messy. I am me. I can’t. I just can’t.

He drags me out of our under-the-stairs hiding place. I don’t even remember crawling in there, but I must have. I am cold. Shivering, even though I am still wearing my jacket. Shrugging as Matteo dusts off my back and turns me around so we are facing each other.

He’s as tall as me. I have never noticed that. His eyes looking at mine with that beaming smile. Whilst my face probably looks like it has been in a serious altercation with a snot machine, all bloated and blotchy from tears.

“You’re okay. Max 1. Panic 0. Now, let’s go and listen to the losers upstairs trying to write epic theatre. Then we can secretly laugh at their pathetic romance shite, and go tell them how it’s done. Shall we get in there and fix it? Give them some proper drama? Whaddya say, Pumpkin?”

He flicks his fringe out of his eyes with a jerk of his head. Beams at me with a mischievous arch of his eyebrow.

Fuck. I am done for. I will never survive this. This crazy idea of having Matteo for a friend. I don’t know if I can do it. I don’t know if my fragile heart can take it.

I don’t know shit. I just follow him blindly up the stairs and walk into the classroom behind him, letting the door slam shut behind us. Continue reading

Categories: Book Promo, Excerpts, LGBT, Published in 2019 | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment