Again, though, New Year customs are changing, which I think is a bit of a shame. It used to be a very different kind of a night, when you dashed home from wherever you were in time for "the bells" (midnight), in order to bring in the New Year with your family. Your "first footer" (ie the first person to visit in the New Year) was always very important. To bring luck, he had to be dark (not fair - possibly a throw-back to fear of Viking raiders, I heard somewhere), and bearing a gift of some kind. So, to be on the safe side, my poor Dad got shoved out the door at a minute to midnight with a lump of coal in his hand, and he was let back in at midnight to be our lucky first footer!
After that, my Dad would take his bottle of whisky, and my mum her tin of shortbread or chocolates or something, and we'd go and visit the neighbours, the custom being that everyone you visited had a drink out of your bottle as well as us out of theirs, and then you moved on to the next house. It was great fun, because there were always people milling about the streets all night - usually in various stages of inebriation, though generally good-natured drunks, because it was that kind of a night.
Nowadays, you don;t see so much of the first footing. Instead, there are huge, organized parties, like the one held in Edinburgh's Prince's Street Gardens, with big name bands playing and other sorts of fun. Too many people for me, so I've never been, even when I lived ten minutes walk from Prince's Street. I prefer the community spirit of the old celebrations - or even the smaller scale ceilidh (party with traditional Scottish music and dancing) held in our village each year. But there's always fun of some kind going on!
So, for today's first contest, I'd like to know what your New Year traditions are - if any! And I'll draw one commenter to win an ebook copy of Ariadne's Thread, most of which takes place over New Year in the Scottish Highlands, among a bunch of eccentric characters, ghosts and villains.
To start you off, here's an excerpt from Ariadne's Thread. Here, when she should be escaping the scene of her crime, our heroine Addie is being enticed upstairs by her sexy host, who is unaware that his sister Tammy is being held by Addie's accomplices in a near-by room...
By Marie Treanor
Available now at Samhain
It was supposed to be a simple burglary… but the ghosts had other ideas.
Glaswegian single mother Ariadne McSween is not having a happy New Year.Instead of celebrating with family and friends in time-honoured tradition, she's helping her scallywag brother and his even less savoury friends burgle a mansion in the Scottish Highlands. And nothing is going right.
First there's the bad weather and car breakdowns. Then, instead of a quick, quiet robbery under cover of a noisy party, Addie finds herself flirting outrageously with the house's owner, sexy concert pianist and accused murderer, John Maxwell. Worse, her violent and erratic accomplice, Shug, takes their hosts hostage.
Another complication: The house turns out to be haunted, and not just by the ghost of eminent composer Christopher Maxwell. Two randy spirits drawn to the lust of living want to join the party—along with the vengeful shade of John's murdered wife.
Soon Addie becomes entangled in a host of mysteries, like why are Ariadne and her cohorts being paid to rob a house that holds nothing more valuable than dusty musical manuscripts? And most of all, how does she avoid falling in love with the chief victim of her crime?
They had reached the top of the stairs now. Turn right, please turn right, away from Tammy…
He drew her to the left. Addie was sure she could hear the office door rattling. She coughed to cover up any shouting, then found herself whisked into the piano room and the door firmly closed.
“What are we doing here?” she demanded.
“I thought you might like to play the piano with me.”
The lamp was still on. By its poor light, his face looked rugged and more devilish than ever. And he stood too close, much too close. With the door behind her, there was nowhere she could go. God help her, there was nowhere she wanted to go…
“Though now we’re here, I find I don’t give a stuff about playing.”
You could drown in the storm of those eyes. She so needed to be away from him…
“Shit, Kate.” His breathing seemed suddenly uneven. “Remember what you said about the lucky bag?” She opened her mouth to deny that she’d meant any of that, but he didn’t let her speak. “You’re right. It would be a bloody unlucky dip that dropped me in your lap. Tell me to sod off. Tell me quickly, and mean it—right after this kiss…”
His head swooped down and his mouth seized her parted lips before she could think, let alone react to his words. She wasn’t prepared for it. She had no time either to reject him or to savor the moment. He went from speaking straight to kissing, his hands on either side of her face while his body pressed her back into the door. Paralyzed, she hung there while his mouth devoured hers, moving across her lips with a strange, tender hunger she’d never encountered before. It astounded her, enchanted her. So when his tongue slid between her lips, she opened wider to him, meeting his tongue with her own. He wound it in his, danced with it, sucked it into his own mouth while he explored every nook of hers.
Sensation rolled inward like a tidal wave. Every caress of his sensitive fingertips at the corner of her lips, every movement of his devastating mouth, dragged her further in. She clung to him, kissing him back with forgotten passion till he groaned into her mouth.
His hands left her face, trailing down her neck to her shoulders, and down the sides of her body, just teasing her breasts on the way to her waist where they lingered, stroking. Her hard, needy nipples pressed into him through the thin camisole. She moved in his arms, rubbing them against his chest. His hands swept down her hips, holding her while he pressed his lower body into her, his sporran jabbing into her abdomen.
With an impatient jerk, his hand pushed between their bodies, pushing the sporran aside so that he could grind his erection into her instead. Through the thickness of his kilt, she could feel it already hard and thick. Desire flooded her, soaking her jeans. Her pussy pulsed with need.
This can’t be happening…how can I want him so much so quickly?
Changing the angle of his mouth, he deepened the kiss even further. One questing hand found her breast, cupping and caressing, his thumb flickering back and forth across her rigid nipple, making her moan into his mouth. She pressed forward into the delicious hardness of his cock and obligingly he rubbed it against her. She wanted it inside her, pushing, thrusting. She wanted him naked, to feel his skin, every inch of the hard body pressed so beguilingly against her now.
At last, as if it were a supreme effort, he dragged his mouth free. “Tell me now,” he whispered, touching his forehead to hers. “Tell me quickly… ‘Sod off, John Maxwell, you’re nothing but trouble.’ Kate…”
His mouth found hers again, brushing back and forwards across her lips as reality flooded back, bringing shame and guilt and a pain so sharp it made her gasp aloud. She grasped his head between her hands to stop his devastating mouth.
“Johnny… I… Johnny, I’m not…”
Something bumped inside the room, crashing against the window frame at the same time. A body fell into the room, cursing in fluent Glaswegian.
Appalled, Addie watched over Johnny’s shoulder as Big Malky rose to his feet, shaking his shaggy head as if to clear it.
Johnny spun round. “What the…?”
Malky blinked at the pair of them. “Aw right there, big man?” he said amiably to his host. “Happy New Year.”
:) So, to enter the draw for Ariadne's Thread, just tell me about your New Year traditions - or comment in some other way! The contest will close at midnight tonight and the winner will be announced tomorrow on this thread.