"A MAN-TO-MAN CHRISTMAS" BY NICO JAYE - CLICK HERE FOR THE FREE PDF (Click "File" -> "Download" for the PDF.) Edit: Note that it appears the temporary view of the PDF might be a little wonky. You can still download and save the PDF file if you do the "File" -> "Download" method. Thanks for your patience!
I've posted the full holiday story after the jump:
You can also find a downloadable PDF version on the new Goodreads book listing here: "A Man-to-Man Christmas" on Goodreads.
I've posted the full holiday story after the jump:
By Nico Jaye
Word count: 3,019
A Man-to-Man Christmas © 2012 Audrey Jeung
All rights reserved worldwide.
"What do you have there?"
Cam smiled to himself and straightened from his crouch behind the tree. He turned to see Brad standing there with an indulgent look on his face. As he picked his way through the presents, Cam answered lightly. "Just hiding Lock's present behind the pile of gifts my parents have amassed for him, Callie, and Spencer."
Brad leaned closer and peered around the tree as though to check the gift's placement. The large box gaily wrapped in green and gold striped paper and tied with a festive gold bow was nestled in amongst a host of other bright packages. "Hrmm," Brad murmured as he turned his attention back to Cam. "I think that's as close as you're gonna get. Hidden in plain sight and all," he added with a quirk of his lips.
Cam sent him a small grin. "Yeah, well, it's got plenty of camouflage already, thanks to your evil genius. Lock's going to love it." Cam couldn't wait until Christmas morning when Lock would see his present. Brad had had the brilliant idea to hide their admittedly small-sized gift in a gigantic box, and now both of them were eager to see Lock's reaction.
Brad stepped closer to Cam, his arms coming to circle gently around Cam's waist. "Mmm…not as much as I'm gonna love you once we're back home," he whispered against Cam's lips before pressing a soft kiss to them.
Cam felt his cock stir to life, but he didn't dare indulge their desires now, not in his parents' house. He returned the kiss briefly even as he wrapped his fingers around Brad's wrists and unwound those familiar arms from around his waist. Darting a look around for witnesses, he saw that there thankfully weren't any…yet. He leaned in for a quick peck before taking a step back and releasing Brad's wrists.
"I love you, Brad, but you know we can't do stuff like that here. You—you know how my parents are. Especially my dad. We…we just can't. Not now, at least." Cam took a deep breath. "It's a big step that we all can finally spend Christmas together and with them embracing Lock like they have. I just…I don't want to shock them with too much all at once." Cam chewed his lip and hoped – prayed – that Brad would understand.
Brad tilted his head, and the corner of his lips ticked upwards. "I know, babe. For you, Cam, I promise to keep the raging beast tamed," he teased.
He lifted his hand and smoothed Cam's chewed lip with his thumb. A mischievous elf made Cam purse his lips and suck that thumb into his mouth for a split-second. Brad's eyes widened, and his gaze dropped to stare at Cam's mouth with a hungry look in his eyes. His voice was rough when he spoke. "But if you keep doing that, I can't swear that the beast won't break free."
He met Cam's gaze, and his hazel eyes were almost smoky grey with desire. Cam's breath caught in his throat, but he knew better than to act on his impulses.
At least, not now, anyway.
The three of them had arrived in Tennessee yesterday, and true to his father's words, Brad had been placed in one of the guest rooms. Separate from Cam, that is. In fact, the house was filled to the brim with every bedroom taken. Cam was in another of the guest rooms, and the last bedroom was occupied by Anne and her husband, who had arrived from Cherry Hill a few days earlier. The three kids were in the den, with Lock on the pull out couch and the two kids camping out on inflatable mattresses. It was a tight setup, but it was home for the holidays.
And he and Brad could share it – finally – together.
Cam smiled into Brad's beautiful hazel eyes and felt his heart lift. Brad, who had been by his side through their coming out, through his father's estrangement, through…everything, really. His family's adjustment to their relationship was just another hurdle they'd have to climb, but Cam knew that they'd get through it and come out on the other side like they always did.
Brad's expression softened, and he slid his hand to the side to caress Cam's jaw with his palm. "Anything for you, you know that," he said with a warm look. His eyes darted to the side before he leaned in conspiratorially with a sexy curl of his lips. His voice was a low growl, but his words were clear with pure – or rather, impure – intent. "Just know that when we get home, I'm gonna fuck you into the ground."
Cam blinked in shock even as his body reacted violently to the explicit images of entwined limbs and hard penetration that those words conjured.
Brad studied him for a moment before he turned away with a satisfied smile. "Mrs. Hunter, do you need help with…" Brad's words trailed off as he moved towards the kitchen.
Cam watched his retreating back and swallowed.
The next three days would be much easier if he didn't have to worry about a constant hard-on.
"Your boy Lock is so good with the kids, Cam," Anne said as she blew across the surface of her hot cocoa.
They were gathered around the fire pit in his parents' backyard as Lock helped Anne's younger children, Callie and Spencer, skewer marshmallows for their s'mores. The night air was cool, and everyone was bundled up in coats and scarves, their gloved hands cupping mugs of hot cocoa. It was a Hunter tradition to leave a s'more out for Santa, so rather than head to bed after returning from services, they had fired up the open pit and prepared to indulge in a sweet midnight snack.
Christmas Eve Mass had been beautiful, and it had almost brought a tear to Cam's eyes as he'd stood alongside his family, singing hymns and taking in the holiday good cheer. Their parish was a relatively liberal one to which his family had belonged for years. While they hadn't necessarily embraced Brad with open arms, there hadn't been any rude incidents, either.
Baby steps, Cam reminded himself. That's what it would take.
Cam took a sip of his cocoa and turned in Anne's direction. "Thanks, sis, but I can't take all the credit. Brad found this great program, so we've been volunteering at the local children's ward since the summer." Cam looked over at Brad, who stood across the way behind Cam's mother's chair.
Cam recognized that Brad was keeping his physical distance at his own request, and a rush of warmth filled him at the knowledge that Brad would try so hard to ensure that things stayed comfortable for his parents on this trip. Cam smiled at Brad and knew his heart was in his eyes. "We're trying to show Lock how rewarding it is to give back, and it helps to show him that people in need aren't nameless or faceless. They're real people, and some of them are kids, too." He and Brad shared a warm look before Brad coughed and turned towards the picnic table laden with ingredients for their midnight treat.
"Now, I know Cam wants a s'more with that sweet tooth of his," Brad said with a teasing look over his shoulder. "Anyone else?"
"Oh, Brad, dear, can you make me one, too?" his mother asked from her spot by the fire.
"Of course, Mrs. Hunter," Brad said as he fixed up the marshmallows.
Cam's father glanced back and forth between Brad and Cam for a moment before clearing his throat. "Cam's sweet tooth, huh? Gets it from his mother, clearly," he said with a half-smile.
They chuckled together, and the kids and Brad stepped closer to the fire to toast their marshmallows. Callie was chattering about reindeer and the Barbie dollhouse she hoped Santa would bring her.
"What if it doesn't fit down the chimney?" she asked, her brow furrowing in concern behind her blonde bangs.
"Santa knows magic, of course," Lock assured her. "That's how the reindeer can fly without wings," he said with an authoritative nod.
"Ohhhh," she said and released a "whew" of relief that had the adults smiling.
"He must know magic. He knew I wanted you under my tree even when I was too blind to know it myself yet," a soft voice said into Cam's ear. Cam turned with a smile to see Brad offering a perfect square of graham cracker-chocolate-marshmallow perfection.
"Thanks, sweetie," Cam murmured as he took off his glove to accept the s'more.
"Mmm…you're the sweet one," Brad whispered back as his fingertips lingered on Cam's in the transfer of the campfire treat. "In every way," Brad said with a suggestive smile.
Cam felt his face flush before his gaze darted guiltily towards his parents. His mother was speaking with Mark about whether the forecast for tomorrow meant they might be able to go sledding. His father, though, was watching them with a contemplative look.
Cam met Brad's eyes regretfully. Before he could say anything, though, Brad spoke. "Don't worry. Not now, I know. But later…I'm getting my fill of that sweetness, and that's a promise." Brad winked and flashed a half-smile before he turned back to his benign s'more-making duties.
Cam's gaze dropped longingly to admire Brad's denim-clad ass before lifting up to the star-filled sky in an effort to clear his thoughts.
Because, quite honestly, when Brad Jameson made promises like that, Cam always found it hard to think of anything else.
Even though it was miles away from New York and New Jersey, Tennessee still boasted a chill to the air this holiday season. Cam made his way up the stairs towards his old bedroom – now a guest room – and smiled as he spotted the sprinkling of snow coming down to dust the evergreens outside the window.
It would be a white Christmas tomorrow.
Even though it was only for a few days, which was all the time their football season schedules would permit, he was home for the holidays and with his loved ones.
All of them.
Maybe not in the way he'd have liked to spend it, cuddled up with Brad and waking up to his beautiful smile every morning, but being here together was a start, and he was grateful for the steps his parents – and particularly his father – were taking to include their little family this season.
It wasn't perfect, but for now, it would have to be enough.
The winter sunlight reflected brightly off the snow frosting the trees and landscaped yard outside. Cam smiled to himself before turning back to face the idyllic holiday scene unfolding in his parents' living room. In keeping with tradition every year, the house was decorated to the gills with boughs of holly, ropes of pine, golden bells, and red poinsettia strewing the staircase and practically every surface, and the air was warm with the scent of spiced cider and good-natured laughter.
They were winding down the gift giving portion of the morning, and all that remained was for each of the children's largest gifts to be opened. He'd received a nice pair of leather gloves from his sister, and his mother had knitted him a scarf.
He and Brad had agreed beforehand not to bring their presents here in case that could prove awkward for his parents. He didn't know what Brad had in mind that might be an awkwardness-inducing present – he blushed to even think of it – but he hoped Brad would like his gift. They'd talked about going on a getaway together now that their relationship was public, and the short jaunt to the Caribbean would be perfect, he hoped.
Cam watched with anticipation as Lock picked up the bright green and gold-wrapped box and shook it.
"You guys!" Lock exclaimed, looking back and forth between Cam, who was seated on the sofa, and Brad, who sat cross-legged on the floor. "It's so light. What the heck did you put in here? Popcorn?"
Cam and Brad exchanged a mischievous look before turning their attention back to Lock.
"Go ahead and find out," Brad said, nodding his head at the package.
Lock grinned and unwrapped the gift, pulling off the bow and ripping through the paper. He lifted the lid on the box slowly and began picking out the pieces of tissue paper one by one, inspecting them curiously. Finally, he stopped and pulled out a piece of paper.
"What in the…?"
Cam shared a conspiratorial glance with Brad. They watched Lock's lips move silently as he read the paper. His jaw dropped, and his gaze scanned the entire page again. His eyes were wide when he looked up.
"Space camp? Space camp? For me? Are you serious?" Lock's voice rose until it broke on the last sentence.
Cam knitted his brows. "That's…good, right?"
"Oh my god, it's good. It's SUPER good. No, wait, it's not just good – it's AMAZING. I get to go to space camp! Thank you thank you thank you!" Lock launched himself at them both, his gangly arms wrapping around them.
Brad laughed, a little out of breath from the impact. "We figured if you were gonna be a mad scientist, that'd be a good place to start."
Lock straightened up and glanced at the paper again. His eyes were bright, and his smile was huge when he looked up. "This is so so so cool. You guys are the best," he said, grinning. Lock's eyes went wide. "Oh! I almost forgot!" He clutched the paper to his chest as he raced out of the room.
Brad was smiling as he turned to Cam. "What was that about?"
Cam was nonplussed. "No idea, but I think he liked it, right?"
"His eyes lit up like the Rockefeller tree. Trust me, he loved it." Brad moved to stand up. "I'm gonna get some more orange juice. Be back in a sec."
"Okay," Cam said with a smile.
Lock came back into the crowded living room then and approached Cam with two lumpy wrapped packages. He looked at the spot where Brad was sitting. "Hey, where's…"
Cam hastened to explain. "He just went into the kitchen for a sec. I'll go get him," Cam offered when he saw Lock's disappointed look.
Cam intercepted Brad just as he was about to enter the living room again. They paused in the doorway for a moment, and Cam couldn't hold back his smile. "Oh, there you are. I think…I think Lock might have something for us," Cam said in a low voice. Honestly, Lock himself was gift enough for him this year, but he was still excited to think that Lock had gone to that effort.
Brad's brows shot up. "Oh really? That's—"
"Mommy! Mommy!" Callie's voice was loud, piercing, and attention-getting. The adults and children alike turned to look at her. She pointed in Cam and Brad's direction and grinned. "Uncle Cam's standing right under the mistletoe!"
They all looked up, and, sure enough, Cam spotted the sprig of rounded leaves and white berries nestled in amongst the pine bough that draped across the top of the doorjamb.
"Go on, Uncle Brad! Kiss Uncle Cam!" Callie called out with a giggle.
Cam's gaze shot to his father, who sat in his usual easychair and had his usual inscrutable expression, and then Brad, whose eyes went wide. After a moment, Brad took a step back and turned to Callie with a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes. "Why don't you give Uncle Cam a kiss instead, sweetheart?"
Callie's face fell, and she frowned in confusion. "But…Uncle Brad, you're right there! And you love Uncle Cam!" she said with the unassailable logic of a seven year old.
Anne, who had been there through the estrangement earlier this year with their father, glanced in the direction of the easychair before reaching over to smooth her hands over Callie's shoulders. "Honey, maybe Uncle Brad's feeling a little, um, shy."
Callie's eyes were wide as she turned her guileless gaze back in Brad and Cam's direction. "Are you feeling—" she looked around adorably before leaning in and whispering in a voice that was nonetheless the same volume of her normal voice – which is to say, attention-getting loud – "shy, Uncle Brad?"
Cam and Brad shared a reluctantly amused look before Brad turned back to face the room. Before he could answer, though, a voice boomed out.
"I think that Uncle Brad should kiss Uncle Cam, too."
All heads swiveled in the direction of the easychair. Cam's eyes popped.
"Um, Dad?" Cam thought his voice might have squeaked for the first time since puberty as he uttered that single syllable.
His father shifted in his chair a bit before shrugging. "If Brad's not feeling too shy, that is," he added, offering up a tentative smile.
Cam studied his father's expression before turning to Brad in growing wonder. A slow smile spread across Brad's face, and Cam reveled in the love reflected in his gaze.
"Definitely not shy, sir. Definitely not," Brad murmured as he leaned towards Cam.
Cam's lids fluttered shut as Brad pressed soft lips against his in a kiss that held the promise of love, hope, and many more warm and joyous holiday seasons to come.
The next day, they flew back to New Jersey wearing their gifts from Lock: "World's Best Dad" sweatshirts in their respective Railers and Diamonds colors.
Lock had presented them with the packages yesterday. "I was hoping…it would be okay if maybe…I called you guys 'dad?'" he'd said hesitantly, a question in his eyes.
Cam's heart had nearly stopped at the question and then started up again in double time as he'd impulsively embraced Lock and Brad together. Tears had stung his eyes at the time, and they threatened again now as he ran a hand over the superlative embroidered across the front of his maroon shirt.
Of course, they said yes.
And of course, they lived up to the name.
In case ya missed it, the downloadable version of this holiday short can be found here in PDF form: "A Man-to-Man Christmas" by Nico Jaye - PDF. Or, if you're having trouble downloading, just shoot me an email, and I'll send you a free copy.
Happy holidays to all!
Hugs and best wishes for this holiday season and the year ahead,