Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Spiced Apple and Cinnamon ~ Christmas Short Story

This story was previously published as part of the free anthology Christmas Delights (Christmas 2013). The complete anthology is available from Love Lane Books and All Romance
 


Keegan Jones sat in the window of his Victorian terrace and eyed the layer of snow on the back lawn. Pulling the sleeve of the jumper he wore down over his hand, he rubbed at the condensation on the window so he could see outside more clearly. He looked at the gate sitting at the end of the long garden, then checked his watch. It was a little after nine in the morning. The sun was still waking and cast an eerie glow across the world as it shone from behind cotton-white clouds. Keegan checked the gate again, willing it to open and for him to be reunited with his love.

It was Christmas morning, but Keegan didn’t feel all that Christmassy. Pulling his legs up to balance his feet on the edge of the window seat, Keegan lowered his face and slipped his chin beneath the soft material of the jumper. The timer on the heating had clicked off an hour ago, and already a cool chill had settled over the room. A smile crept over his face as he breathed in the warming aroma of his lover’s clothes. Alex was strong and muscular, his shoulders broader and his chest wider than Keegan’s slight frame. Alex was always complaining about Keegan wearing his clothes, but Keegan couldn’t help it. If he ever felt low or poorly, he wrapped himself up in Alex’s jumpers. They were so comfy and smelled damn good. Distracting himself, he inspected his feet and wiggled his toes inside the overly fluffy slipper socks. He smiled as the small bells stitched to them jingled and the red pompom standing in for Rudolph’s nose twitched. He was sure he’d grow tired of the sound at some point, but for now it was kind of comforting and the only gift he’d been given permission to open without Alex that morning.

Come home soon, Alex.

Keegan didn’t think he’d ever woken alone on Christmas morning before. He’d always been at home with his parents and brothers growing up. Then three years ago, after dating for five, he’d finally taken the plunge and moved in with Alex. The last two Christmases they’d woken together, spent a lazy morning in bed opening each other’s gifts, and then ventured out to family for lunch and present swapping. But this year was different. This year Alex’s side of the bed was empty and cold when Keegan had awoken. Alex had a job and Keegan understood that it wasn’t one that just stopped because it was Christmas, because there was a wreath on the door or a tree in the front room. Alex was a firefighter and this year he had been put on the first of the Christmas shifts—six pm Christmas Eve through to nine am Christmas Day.

God, how incredibly large their bed had felt last night. Keegan had fallen asleep after tossing and turning more than he cared to remember. Sure he worried about Alex any time he was out on calls, but this was Christmas and he couldn’t bear the thought of something bad happening on what was supposed to be one of the happiest and most hopeful days of the year. Hell, Keegan’s heart had stuttered in his chest any time the phone had rung since Alex had left for the station.

At eight pm, Alex’s mother had called asking what vegetables Keegan would like for his Christmas dinner, at eleven, Keegan’s youngest brother had phoned, wishing him an early Happy Christmas from Australia, and then this morning his mother rang to send him hugs and best wishes for a good morning and to tell him that she and Dad looked forward to seeing them both after tea time.

The sound of something hitting wood outside drew Keegan’s attention, but he was left disappointed as he watched next door’s cat walk the length of the garden fence. With a sigh, he spun in his seat and lowered his legs so his feet were on the floor. He surveyed the room. He loved Christmas and as soon as he’d woken on the first day of December he had pestered Alex about going up into the loft and getting down the decorations. In the corner of the room sat a six-foot fake tree. It had been his parents’, and though it was a little on the tired side, when covered in strings of beads and tinsel and a few dozen tree ornaments, it was good enough.

Screwing up his mouth, he checked his watch. It had only been two minutes since he looked at it last. He got to his feet and ambled across the room. He stopped beside the coffee table and picked up the scented candle sitting in the centre of the table. Taking a deep breath, he smelled the candle—spiced apple and cinnamon.

So good.

Keegan headed for the sideboard and opened the top drawer. He pursed his lips as he rummaged through its contents—old bank statements, cheque books, batteries, scissors. Eventually, he found the lighter. Neither of them smoked and he’d had it since before he met Alex. For some reason it was in a goodie bag at the Fresher’s Fair he’d attended when he’d started university. He pushed the drawer shut and went to sit on the couch. Pulling his thumb across the top of the lighter, he managed to create a flame, then lit the candle. He waited for the wick to catch light, then placed the lighter on the table and cupped the glass bowl of the scented candle in his hands. He watched the flame and the orange glow it created against his palms.

Carefully, he placed the candle on a coaster and sat back. He checked around the room and wondered if he’d forgotten anything. He’d put his presents for Alex under the tree as Alex had done last night before he headed out to work, and he’d made plans to make breakfast when Alex got home—nothing said I love you more than a bacon and fried egg sandwich.

Where are you?

He hated waiting and not knowing. What if something had happened? No. He wouldn’t think like that. With a sigh, he leaned back and took a deep breath. Cinnamon filled his nostrils and he closed his eyes. He loved the smell. It was a very warming scent and he relaxed. Opening his eyes, he stretched and pulled a blanket towards him. Settling in the corner of the couch, he picked up the TV remote and turned on the television. He flicked through the channels. He passed a few Christmas movies, a carol service, a cookery programme and eventually settled for one of the music channels and its countdown of the top fifty Christmas songs. He watched as East 17 somberly spun around in heavy white fur-lined coats. As the song neared its end, information popped up on the screen.

Nineteen-ninety-nine. Christ, I feel old.

Leaning forward, he slid the remote onto the table, then cuddled back beneath the blanket. As much as he loved the space the old house gave them, the place seemed to lose the heat really quickly. He eyed the fire on the wall. He hated the smell of it. All gas and dust. The heating wasn’t set to come on again until that evening, and it was pointless putting it back on now as by the time the house warmed back up, they’d be heading out for a day of food and family—Alex’s parents for lunch, his for tea.

The sound of his mobile phone ringing drew Keegan’s attention to the arm of the couch. Freeing his hand from the blanket, he grabbed his phone. Alex’s name was on the screen.

“Hello?”

“Hey. You decent?” Alex answered and Keegan relaxed. “I could do with a hand.”

Keegan sat up and looked out of the window. “Where are you?” The gate was shut.

“I’m round the front. Had trouble finding a space.” Parking had always been bad on their street.

Pushing away the blanket, Keegan got to his feet. He balanced on one foot then the other and pulled off the reindeer socks. “Do I need my coat?”

Alex laughed. “It won’t take a minute.”

Keegan wasn’t convinced. “I’ll be with you in a second.” He hung up and left the backroom, pulling the door shut behind him to keep in what heat there was. He followed the corridor to the right, pulled on his coat and trainers, and opened the door. He stuck his head out and grimaced. As pretty as the snow and the whole winter wonderland thing looked from inside, it was bloody freezing. Zipping up his coat, he stepped outside and walked cautiously along the side of the house. He could do without a trip to A and E because he slipped and cracked his head open.

Opening the single wrought iron gate at the front of the house, he stepped out onto the pavement and looked up and down the main road. He spotted Alex where he had parked in front of a house a few doors down. Waving, he proceeded along the street.

“Hey,” Keegan said. He kissed Alex on the cheek. He smelled smoky mixed in with the smell of soap. He glanced at the car, catching sight of something in the back. Raising an eyebrow, he turned to Alex. “What’s that?”

“A coffee table and a hamper.”

“Why do you have a coffee table? You know we have one of those, right?”

Alex nodded. “Yeah. Well, you see, you know how you enter raffles sometimes to be supportive? You know, give a couple of quid but never really expect to win anything?”

“Yes…” Keegan said slowly.

“I won,” Alex said matter-of-factly.

Keegan eyed the prizes. “You won a table?”

“You remember Mike? Has the big ’tache?”

“Yeah.”

“His son made it.” Alex shrugged. “If I’m honest, I wasn’t looking to win first prize. I’d have been happy with the wine.”

Keegan pushed his hands in his pockets and laughed. “Okay,” he said. Where were they going to put it? “I don’t suppose we need another gift for your mum, do we?”

Alex gave a low chuckle and opened the boot of the car. “Nice try. I was thinking for your mum, actually.”

Oh yeah, right. Keegan’s mum was very particular when it came to furniture and colour schemes. “She’d have a fit.” He stepped down the kerb and looked in the car. “How the hell did you get it in there?” The table was bigger than he’d realised, and Alex had needed to put the seats down in the back.

“Don’t ask,” Alex said and pulled the hamper towards him. “Take this and my bag and I’ll bring the table.”

Keegan pulled his hands from his pockets, hooked the strap of Alex’s bag over his shoulder, and took the hamper in his arms. “What’s in this?”

Alex shrugged. “Jam probably. There’s always jam.”

Keegan laughed and stepped up onto the pavement. “You manage?” he asked.

“Yep.” Alex dragged the table forward and tilted it, angling it just right to free its legs. “Easy,” he said.

“I’ll see you inside,” Keegan said and made his way back to the house. All he wanted now was to be wrapped up in one of Alex’s hugs.

Having deposited the hamper in the kitchen and Alex’s bag in the hall, Keegan shook off his coat and kicked off his shoes.

“Where shall I put it?” Alex asked. He edged through the door, kicking it shut behind him. “Front room?”

Keegan nodded. They didn’t go in there all that much, living mostly in the back of the house. He laughed as Alex twisted the table and walked back and forth as he tried to get through the narrower door. Eventually, he succeeded and returned with a burst of energy as he wrapped his arms around Keegan and lifted him from the floor.

“I missed you,” Alex said and buried his face in the crook of Keegan’s neck.

Keegan hugged him tight. “I missed you, too.” He pressed his cheek to Alex’s head and enjoyed the shared warmth. When Alex finally released him, all Keegan could think was how much he wanted to be right back there in Alex’s arms. With a smile, he took Alex’s hand and guided him through to the backroom. Having been outside, Keegan appreciated just how warm the room actually was and the fragrance of the candle filled the air. Breathing in the scent, he suddenly felt a lot more Christmassy and happy.

“What do you want to do first?” he asked. Alex would probably want another shower and something to eat.

“You.” Alex surprised Keegan as he cupped his face and kissed him soundly.

When Alex stopped, Keegan caught his breath. “Wow,” he managed. They’d been together for eight years and crazy kissing had made way for cutesy pecks and cuddles.

Alex laughed and wrapped his arm around Keegan’s waist, pulling him close. “You look amazing,” he said and kissed Keegan again, this time more controlled and sensual.

Keegan wondered about Alex’s shift. He could smell smoke lingering in Alex’s hair despite him having had a shower. Was there a reason Alex was kissing him so desperately? The thought was sobering and Keegan did his best to push it away. Alex didn’t do talking, not about the serious stuff he dealt with, but had shared the fact that he had realised on more than one occasion just how short life could be. No matter what, Alex was determined to love who he loved and live how he wanted.

“Your hands are cold,” Keegan softly chided as Alex rolled up the material of the jumper. Alex’s touch caused Keegan to shiver and his skin to raise in goose bumps. “You’re so mean.”

Alex dropped to his knees and pulled at the waistband of Keegan’s sweatpants.

“What are you doing?” Keegan managed. He didn’t feel like he was in control of his body as an ache shot through him.

“Merry Christmas,” Alex said. He pulled down Keegan’s clothes and freed his erection from his briefs.

Before Keegan could say anything, Alex took Keegan’s dick into his mouth. Oh shit, that felt so good. Alex’s mouth was warm and wet, and fuck, he had his tongue working in waves over the head of Keegan’s dick. Keegan rested his hands on Alex’s head for support and closed his eyes. He bit on his lip as Alex sucked and licked and teased his dick. He had no idea where this had come from, but damn just the thought of Alex on his knees for him was the hottest fucking image ever.

Panting, Keegan shifted his weight, parting his legs slightly as Alex massaged his balls with one hand and ran the other up over his stomach. Keegan curled his fingers in Alex’s hair and tempered the urge to fuck up into his lover’s mouth. He was so damn close.

Oh fuck.

Alex slid his hand from Keegan’s balls and back between his legs, teasing Keegan’s ass as he sucked harder and faster on his dick.

“Gonna…” Keegan said and tapped Alex’s head, giving him a chance to pull away. Alex didn’t pull away, instead he squeezed Keegan’s ass cheeks and pulled the man close, encouraging Keegan’s thrusts.

Twisting his fingers in Alex’s dark hair, Keegan’s moved his hips, pushing forward as he sought release. A few sharp thrusts and suddenly he was coming inside Alex’s mouth.

“Jesus!” Keegan said breathlessly, squirming as Alex continued to suck and tease his balls. “Fuck.”

Alex combed his hand through his hair and sat back. He wiped his mouth and looked up at Keegan. He didn’t say anything, simply smiled as he watched Keegan pull up his underwear and sweatpants.

“That was…” Keegan shook his head as he tried to catch his breath. Smiling, he leaned over and captured Alex’s mouth with his. He held Alex’s face and stroked his jaw as he kissed him. “I love you,” he said as he straightened up. He held out his hand to Alex, who used it to pull himself to his feet.

Alex met his eyes and pulled him into another hug. He laid tender kisses to Keegan’s mouth and jaw and down to his neck. “I love you, too,” he whispered against Keegan’s skin. “Do you want your other present?” He lifted his head. His eyes were filled with lust.

“Depends what it is,” Keegan said teasingly. “And what about the ones under the tree?”

“Later,” Alex said and kissed him some more. “I have something else for you to unwrap first.”

Keegan pretended to think about it and received a playful slap on the behind.

Alex grinned and wrapped his hand around Keegan’s. Together they headed upstairs. “Happy Christmas,” Alex said as they reached the top of the stairs.

Keegan kissed him again and pushed open the door to their bedroom. “Happy Christmas.”

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,
Meredith xx

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