We’re so pleased to have author Kelly Jensen dropping in today to celebrate the release of The Complete Counting Series in paperback. Kelly’s sharing an exclusive excerpt from a new novella she’s written in the series, and there’s also a giveaway, so be sure to check out those details too.
To celebrate the release of The Complete Counting Series anthology, I’ve written another story for Henry and Marc! My newsletter subscribers always get first peek at any new short stories I’ve written, but you can read Chapter One now!
“Counting Out” is more of a novella than a short story—I got a little carried away. But I love writing Henry and Marc, and the temptation of, um, things that could go wrong in the Green Mountain National Forest was difficult to ignore. So… they’re going to get lost. But they also find a secluded waterfall and manage to sneak behind it for some up close and personal time. There’s also some swimming and hiking and star gazing.
And a bear.
And a super sweet last chapter that is sure to make you smile.
To read all of the extra stories I’ve written for Henry and Marc, visit the Counting Series page on my website.
Thanks for following the tour for The Complete Counting Series! At the end of every post, I’ll be asking a question. Leave a comment with your answer (and your email address). Every comment throughout the tour counts as an entry in my giveaway. One winner will receive $15 (US or equivalent) to spend at the Dreamspinner Press store. Giveaway open internationally.
Q: Do you enjoy reading extra stories for favorite characters and books?
About The Complete Counting Series
Henry Auttenberg and Marc Winnamore have an interesting approach to dating. Bare acquaintanceship gives way to a mutual attraction as Marc confesses he’s not exactly straight—while they’re trapped in a rental car on the side of the road during a Christmas Eve blizzard. Back in Boston, they try an actual date, only to spend New Year’s Eve locked in a basement, exploring every avenue of escape… and the deepening attraction between them.
Then, after two months apart, their fledgling relationship held together by flying visits, phone calls, and text messages, a joint assignment in Washington DC serves up more togetherness than Henry and Marc might be able to handle. But the real test isn’t the assignment. When Marc finally lays his heart on the line, can he count on Henry to be there for him, in every way that matters? And can he do the same for Henry when Henry needs him the most?
Follow Henry and Marc’s journey from work colleagues to lovers, from roadside disaster to locked basements, to a final ultimatum in the three novellas of the Counting series: Counting Fence Posts, Counting Down, Counting on You
Marcus Winnnamore checked his appearance in the dark glass enclosing Shelly’s office before knocking and entering. His reflection had been properly serious, but a smile cornered his mouth as he imagined Henry’s reaction to him not waiting to be invited in. Would Henry’s cute little nose wrinkle upward, or would he go with more of a frown? Maybe he’d try censure instead. Reach out to tug Marc’s sleeve as if he could hold him in place.
“Is the smile for me?” Shelly asked.
Marc felt his mouth straighten as he faced his boss across the wide expanse of her executive desk. He liked Shelly’s desk. Not so much the woman sitting behind it.
Helping himself to a chair on his side of the coveted desk, Marc aimed for cool, calm, and collected. “That depends. What do you have for me?” A summons to Shelly’s office could mean a number of things, most of them requiring a visit to the travel department and a quick coordination of his and Henry’s schedules.
To give Shelly her due, she did consider Marc and Henry a team. She recognized their complimentary skill sets and usually sent them out together. Marc couldn’t help noticing the empty chair beside him this visit, however.
Shelly turned her laptop around and tapped the trackpad a couple of times until the document on the screen enlarged. It was his employee profile. Marc’s stomach soured. Ignoring the bitter creep up the back of his throat, he leaned forward and focused on the point of Shelly’s lacquered nail.
“You have four years of accumulated leave, minus the weeks absorbed back into the system under our use it or lose it policy.” Shelly rapped her nail against the screen, causing the figures to ripple and jump. “I know you’ve signed off on the lost weeks every year, because I have to sign off on them too.”
Marc glanced at Shelly to find her studying him with quizzical consideration. “While I admire your dedication, Marcus, Beck and Meyer has a new policy regarding leave. You have to take it.”
Jaw loosening, Marc managed an inarticulate, “Wha—?”
“As of Monday, you’re on vacation.”
Shelly pushed out a sigh. “Do I need to put it into numbers for you? Your leave starts in fifty-six hours. You are not expected back at the office until August twenty-seventh.”
“That’s two weeks.”
“The two weeks you would normally sign off on, yes.”
Scalp itching, Marc leaned back in his chair and worked his mouth a few times over such questions as: “Why do I have to take leave?” and “What the fuck am I going to do for two weeks?”
He went with the latter option, omitting the curse. By the sardonic rise of her eyebrows, Shelly heard it anyway. “Take a vacation, Marc.”
“In fact—” Her finger was at the trackpad again, nail scraping across the dark gray plastic. “Oh, look. Henry Auttenberg is due some leave as well.” She smiled at Marc as she tapped a few keys. “There. You’re both on vacation. Now get out of my office and don’t come back until August twenty-seventh. And I want to see a tan when you return.”
Marc half-rose out of his seat. “A tan?”
“And bring me a box of salt water taffy or something.”
“I know you’re familiar with the concept of a beach vacation. It’s a suggestion, okay? Now get.”
Marc got, but instead of returning to his desk, he decided a trip to the men’s room was necessary. He needed four walls, a locked door, and five minutes for a mini-crisis. Pulling out his phone, he turned down the wide hall to the breakroom and jerked to a stop as a familiar pair of shoes came into view. Marc looked up from his phone to find Henry standing in front of him, holding his own cellphone up, screen illuminated and displaying an email from HR: Vacation Confirmation.
“Do you know anything about this?” he asked.
Marc gave up scrolling through his own list of emails. “Shelly’s making us take a vacation.”
Henry’s eyebrows jumped upward. “Making us? But what about the Heckworth-Packington merger?”
Marc’s phone chimed. Henry’s beeped half a second later. Determined to be first to read the bad news, because from this point forward, it could only be bad, Marc scrolled quickly to the top of his inbox and accessed the email. It was from Shelly. In front of him, Henry read it aloud.
“Thanks for the preliminaries on Heckworth-Packington. Jorge can handle this one. I’ve set alerts on all of your clients and if either of you access the system before August twenty-seventh, a note will be added to your file.” Henry looked up. “A note?”
Marc’s scalp was itching again. He scratched behind his ear and then opened the document attached to the file. It was an article from a prominent financial journal about the effects of employees not taking adequate vacation time.
He scoffed. “I am not suffering from burnout. I’m not sarcastic or rude.” He scrolled down a little farther. “I’m very happy in my personal life and my relationship hasn’t suffered.” At Henry’s continued silence, Marc looked up. “What?”
“I didn’t say anything.” Henry’s expression spoke volumes, however.
“You haven’t taken a vacation this year, either,” Marc pointed out.
Henry shrugged. “I was going to take some time off around Thanksgiving. Two days, maybe. Spend them with my family—same as I did last year.”
“Heh.” Marc hadn’t willingly spent Thanksgiving or any other holiday with his family in over a decade. “Two days isn’t much of a vacation.”
“Says the guy who has thrown away two weeks a year since he started with Beck and Meyer.”
“I travel enough with work. Why would I want to go somewhere for vacation?”
Henry shuffled toward the side of the corridor to let someone pass. “I don’t know. Maybe to see somewhere other than the inside of an office or hotel? Do the tourist thing.”
Marc tucked his phone into his pocket. “Me. Do the tourist thing.”
“Aren’t you curious about other cultures?”
“Not—” Marc let his mouth twist and watched with vague amusement as Henry’s gaze followed the movement of his lips. When Henry glanced back up to meet his eyes, Marc smiled. “Are we having an argument about this?”
Henry returned the smile. “I don’t think so. I’m curious about why Shelly thinks we need a vacation, though.”
“Right? It’s not as if you two don’t get enough personal time in all those hotel rooms you’ve been sharing.”
Coughing, Henry leaned back, only to discover he was already pressed up against the wall. Stifling a laugh at the perplexed (and cute) nose wrinkle that followed, Marc turned to address Carmella from the travel department. “I’m sure our clients approve of the decrease in expense reimbursement.”
The pallor of Henry’s cheeks disappeared beneath a healthy flush and Marc found himself wondering what Henry would look like with a tan. In a bathing suit. Smiling and eating saltwater taffy. Without allowing a thinking or considering pause, Marc mussed Henry’s smoothly combed hair. “Beach or mountain?”
“What?” Henry batted Marc’s hand away from his head. “Where?”
“Exactly. Where do you want to go?”
Waving both hands in a semi-panicked flail, Henry said, “I don’t know! I need to call my mom.”
“And I need to go have a mini-crisis.” Marc gave Carmella a pointed look.
“Call me if you need a flight or a rental or something.” Carmella grinned. “You’re going to have a great time, guys!”
About the Author
If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories of the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Kelly is the author of eight novels, including the Chaos Station series, co-written with Jenn Burke, and several novellas and short stories. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.
Connect with Kelly: Twitter | Facebook | Website | Newsletter
Thanks for following the tour for The Complete Counting Series! Leave a comment with your answer to the question: Do you enjoy reading extra stories for favorite characters and books? (and your email address). Every comment throughout the tour counts as an entry in my giveaway. One winner will receive $15 (US or equivalent) to spend at the Dreamspinner Press store. Giveaway open internationally.
Follow the Tour
9/20 Joyfully Jay “A Story in Three Parts”
9/20 Love Bytes “The Future is Happy and Shiny”
9/21 The Novel Approach “Exclusive Excerpt from Counting Out”
9/21 The Dreamspinner Press Blog “The Counting Series Playlist”
9/21 TTC Books and More “Read Between the Stories”
16 thoughts on “Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway: The Complete Counting Series by Kelly Jensen”
I love reading extras about my fav characters, codas or snippets of their lives outside the main stories are always wonderful treats to me
Congratulations on the reléase, Kelly. It sounds great
Thanks so much for bringing to our attention another great book out there to read. I appreciate hearing about them since I have so many readers in my family.
I love reading extra stories for characters and books. They could fill-in the question mark in my head after finishing a book or reliving the joy of reading the characters all over again. No need for major happenings in these extras, just a slice of life sort is more than fine by me. :)
puspitorinid AT yahoo DOT com
Always!!! If their story is complete it’s great to visit them once in a while in their HEA, so yeah short and extra stories are beyond welcome! nonexicted at yahoo dot com
I love reading extra snippets for characters! firstname.lastname@example.org
Is this a trick question? I’ve never read a series (and many stand alones) that I didn’t check the author’s website (and Twiter, and FB, and…) for followup stories or snippets. I even love the random comments on Twitter about how their characters would react to something.
I love reading extras…series (contemporary romance and romantic suspense are my favorites.) The extras…especially when there is an epilogue really help the relationship!
Sounds like a resounding yes, so far!
I love it! It’s hard to let go of my favorite characters!
jlshannon74 at gmail.com
While I like reading Extras but I don’t like to do the hard work of tracking them one by one. I prefer for them to be in one complete book, like in anthology. So I can read them all in one sitting.
Yes, I do. I really like catching up with the characters and seeing how much stronger their relationships are and whether or not they’ve moved on from an ordeal.
humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com
yes, it’s like a getting a chance to visit with an old friend & catch up :)
gamistress66 – at – aol – dot – com
I do enjoy reading extra snippets about favorite characters. Sometimes there isn’t enough. There is however the rare occasion when the extra bits slide into way to much territory. Kapony2 (at) aol (dot) com.
Snippets of characters’ lives post book/series can be a lot of fun!
I always love checking in with beloved characters!
Thanks for the comments, everyone! This giveaway is now closed. :)