That new draft smell (plus an excerpt)

Mmm, it's so good!  I finished the first draft of a yet-untitled way-too-long short for Dreamspinner's "Heartwarming" holiday collection call, and I adore it.  Charlie Porter and Hugh Campbell are my new boyfriends.  Ugh, they're stupidly cute.  I love love love the friends-to-lovers trope, and the bed-sharing cliche, and the everyone-knows-but-you plot form.  :D I've sent the draft to my favorite beta readers, editors, and Scots, to help me clean it up for submission.  I know I'm going to have to cut some, because DSP (very reasonably) says stories over 18k have to be extraordinary for them to be considered for the collection.  It's got to be tight enough to bounce a quarter off it.

Here's an excerpt:

Half an hour later, they had exhausted the spread of cards and most of their patience and sobriety, and Andrew got up to turn up the stereo.  Charlie leaned over into Hugh's space, his body warm and familiar.  Beyond him, Colleen was studiously ignoring them.

"You okay?" Charlie asked.

"Grand," Hugh said.  He gave into the urge to slide his arm around Charlie's shoulder, and Charlie smiled, snuggling into the embrace.  What was wrong with them?  This was the strangest way to treat someone who wasn't your boyfriend.  It'd be different if it were Colleen with her head on Hugh's shoulder.  They, at least, had been friends for twenty years.  He'd barely known Charlie five months, and still, here they were, practically intertwined.

He let go of Charlie and got up.  "'Nother cider," he said, trying not to wince at the badly hidden look of confusion on Charlie's face.  "You want anything?"

Charlie shook his head.

In the kitchen, Colleen came up behind him and snagged a cider over his shoulder.

"You," she said, "are a lyin' shit."

"I'm not!" Hugh protested.

"You are!" Colleen said.  "If you think I'm dumb enough to believe you aren't together, you can go fuck yourself."

"He's not my boyfriend," Hugh said, popping open the can and taking an aggressive, overly large sip.

Colleen pounded him uselessly on the back.  "So, if I hooked up with him tonight, you'd be fine with it."

Hugh glared at her.  "You'll have to ask him, I suppose.  None of my business."

"Oh, my God, you are dense," she said.  "For the record, I'm not going to try, because I'm afraid you might rip my head off."

"I'm not going to rip anyone's head off, Colleen!"

Colleen took a step back, putting her hands up.  Ashamed, he scowled at her and took another sip of the cider.  She shook her head, curls bouncing, and patted his cheek.

"It'll be all right," she said, dropping her voice.  "You're not the only idiot in town."

Monday Music: Auld Lang Syne

oh baltimore, never change