Hi guys, we have debut author Jacob Cheyenne popping in today with his debut release Hanukkah Gifts, we have a great excerpt and a brilliant giveaway so check out the post and click that giveaway link ❤ ~Pixie~
Twenty-five year old TV producer Jared Greenfield loves his New York City life—his trendy neighborhood, high-profile job, and window-shopping for high fashion on Fifth Avenue—along with a whole city of available men. But even with all the fun of big city life, he feels a longing for something—or someone—more. Going through the motions takes him uptown on December night, where, on the first night of Hanukkah, he spots a handsome, sweaty, player on the basketball court of the Jewish Community Center.
Tall, dark, and Orthodox, the young and athletic Shai Goodhart strikes up an easy friendship with Jared, only to discover that Jared has very little appreciation for his own Jewish heritage and religion. Determined to enlighten this “Bad Jew”, Shai invites him over for a family Hanukkah celebration to remember. But Jared’s easy fascination ends when he discovers that Shai has a house full of tangled secrets that threatens their romance before it even begins. Both young men feel they can help one another, but over the eight days of Hanukkah, deeper emotions propel them closer and closer. Can they ever reach across the divide of their shared culture and fall in love?
“My name is Shai,” said the man, reaching out a long arm and shaking Jared’s hand.
“Shay? I’m Jared. Nice to meet you.”
“Shy,” corrected Shai. “S-H-A-I. Pronounced shy.”
“Nice to meet you, Shai,” said Jared, pronouncing the name correctly this time.
“Nice to meet you, too,” he said, pushing back into his seat.
More and more commuters piled into the car, and finally Jared jumped across the aisle, squeezing in next to Shai. The train jolted and their hips pressed together until Shai moved over a bit.
“So you play for a team?” asked Jared matter-of-factly.
“No. Tonight was just a pick-up game. We get together once a week—some friends and cousins of mine.”
“Sounds cool. Then you live around here? Upper West Side?” asked Jared, realizing it sounded a little nosy.
Shai shook his head. “Brooklyn.”
Jared smiled, sitting up and adjusting his glasses. “Me, too! I’m headed there now. Where you at?”
“My family lives in Borough Park,” said Shai in a quiet voice. “That’s where I grew up actually.” Borough Park, thought Jared. That’s where all the Hasids lived—all the super Orthodox families. Just how Conservative is this dude? How would he react if he knew he was talking to a homo?
“And I’m in Greenpoint,” said Jared. “But I grew up in Jersey.”
“Jersey’s nice,” said Shai blankly, letting his eyes wander around the car.
“You kiddin’ me?” asked Jared, smashing away all formalities. “Jersey’s a shithole—I left as fast as I could!”
“Could you please not curse?” asked Shai, stifling an anxious smirk. Jared could tell he was uncomfortable.
“Oh, man, I’m sorry. My big New York mouth—you have to forgive me. I don’t really ever hang out with anybody religious.”
“No?” asked Shai, swiveling toward Jared and turning both his knees.
For a split second, Jared admired the cut of his suit. He could see Shai’s long thigh muscles under the black cotton fabric. Then his eyes went right back to Shai’s thoughtful face.
“No, I mean I’m a really bad Jew, okay?” Jared whispered loudly to his new friend, talking with both his hands in the air, counting off sins on his fingers. “Like, I swear all the time, I eat bacon on the Sabbath, and then do a bunch of other forbidden stuff, if you know what I mean.” Jared thought back to the last weekend, when he hooked up with a guy he met in his spinning class. Better not mention that. “Also, I couldn’t read a lick of Hebrew even if you paid me.”
Shai laughed at the rapid confession. “So what do you think makes a good Jew?” asked Shai philosophically. “Oh, you know. Someone like you—wears the whole thing, does the whole thing, follows all the laws, candles and prayers at Sabbath, keeps kosher. You keep kosher, right?”
“I do. But you do know it’s not just about what you wear and eat. I mean, are you even proud that you’re Jewish?”
“That’s a fucking loaded question,” said Jared. “Oh, my God, I said fucking, didn’t I? Oh, my God, I just said God, too. I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
Shai pretended to cover his ears with both his hands.
“Yeah, I’m proud to be Jewish—of course. Being Jewish is cool, and it’s Hanukkah today, so, yay for Hanukkah!” Jared tried to be cute, but he just felt stupid.
“Do you even know what Hanukkah is about?” asked
Shai, teasing Jared a little more. “Like, the original story?”
“Festival of lights. Oil in the temple, lamps keep burning for eight days—yeah, yeah, I know it.”
“Okay. Just checking. Seems like you passed pre-school, at least.”
Jared would have normally switched trains at Times Square, but he stayed on the 2, shoved against Shai, riding down the entire length of Manhattan. In all his life, Jared had never really hung out with anybody this conservative. He was fascinated, but curious, too. What was this guy’s life like?
“So you’re Orthodox?” blurted Jared.
“Modern Orthodox,” corrected Shai.
“So that means you can use electricity and shit,” said Jared, immediately apologizing once more by covering his mouth with his hand.
“Yes, we can use electricity,” said Shai and laughed. “I can even play basketball, and would you believe it? I even went to college, and I have a Master’s degree in Computer Science.” Shai was throwing the sarcasm right back at Jared.
“That would have been tough without any electricity,” joked Jared.
Shai chuckled. “What do you do?” he asked, shifting the attention away from himself and his beliefs.
“I’m a producer,” answered Jared, pleased to talk about himself for a second. “In television. I work on a kids’ show.”
“Peachy’s Nest. Ever heard of it?”
Shai broke into laughter. “Ever heard of it? My nieces and nephews watch it every day! They are crazy about that show.”
“You mean you guys can watch TV?” asked Jared sarcastically.
Shai gently hit him on the shoulder. “Yeah, we watch TV. But only the good stuff, and Peachy’s Nest is nice and clean. If only they knew the producer was a potty mouth in real life!”
“I know. I’m a terrible person. Also, I’m not like the producer of the show. I’m an associate producer, which means I just run around and do sh—stuff—for people.”
“How big is the nest in real life?” asked Shai, almost shouting his question as the train rumbled through the tunnel.
“Like, could I fit in there?”
“Yeah, I think you could!” Jared used the moment to look Shai up and down, from head to toe. He seemed like a magazine model, right out of some dress shoe catalog. Tall, handsome, and squeaky clean. “You’d have to lie down in it, though—curled up in a ball.”
Shai suddenly had a million questions about Jared’s well known TV show, and the two chatted about what went on behind the scenes.
“So who plays Peachy? Is it a guy or a girl?” asked Shai.
“Honestly,” said Jared, “that’s the one thing I can’t tell you. I’m sworn to secrecy. Like, legally I cannot tell you anything.” He pretended to zip his lips with his fingers. “Only the live audience gets to meet him…or her, and even then, Peachy’s always in costume.”
“My family is going to freak out when I tell them I met you.”
“Here,” Jared fumbled with his backpack, opening a pocket and taking out a small box of crayons branded with Peachy, the educational owl, sitting on its nest. “Give this to your nieces and nephews.”
“Wow,” said Shai, accepting the gift. “They are gonna love this! Thank you so much.”
“I only wish I had more—I just gave away a whole box of stuff to the pre-school at the JCC.”
“I hate to ask this, but do you think…”
“You want live tickets to a show,” said Jared, as if reading Shai’s mind.
“I mean, if you can’t, it’s cool, but…” Shai was focused on Jared now, leaning in so close that Jared could feel the man’s breath.
“I get asked all the time. Don’t worry, it’s fine.” Jared pulled a business card out of his wallet. “Here, take this. Call me, email me, text me, whatever you Orthodox people are allowed to do. I’ll see what I can do.”
“Seriously? That would blow their minds!”
“How many kids are we talking?” asked Jared, suddenly all business.
“Seven. I have four nephews and three nieces.”
“That’s a lot. And I assume all their parents wanna come, too?”
“Just their moms—so three more.”
“So, eleven tickets to Peachy’s Nest.” Jared sighed, as if taking a big order.
“Only if you can,” said Shai, backing down. “Please don’t go to any extra trouble.”
Take off your shirt and I’ll do anything you want, thought Jared.
Jacob Cheyenne is an author of M/M Romantic Fiction. His characters and stories are often inspired by real historical events, figures and scenes from classical art, or from old black and white portraits he collects in antique stores. His debut novella “Hanukkah Gifts” focuses on the turmoil between two young Jewish men with very different ideas about how to reconcile their faith and sexuality.
When not writing, the author loves swimming, hearing live music, reading fat books on empty beaches, and drinking anything coconut-flavored. When not traveling, he lives and works in the bustling heart of New York City.