Kevin stopped in the middle of the kitchen doorway. He’d almost forgotten.
“Hey, babe, put on the Johnny Mathis Christmas CD, will you?”
“Yes, dear,” Michael responded.
Satisfied, Kevin smiled and pulled Noah into the kitchen. It was filled with the smells of Christmas. Or what he decided Christmas smelled like anyway. Gingerbread, sugar cookies, and roast beef. Oh, and peppermint patties, too. He picked up his glass and took a large sip.
“So, who did you see at the mall?” Noah asked. He stopped and stared at the counter where several Gingerbread men were laid out. Kevin had decorated them with clothes,…well frosting clothes…the ones left sitting on the cookie sheet were wearing lederhosen. “Oh, my God, those are the cutest things I’ve ever seen.” He reached out to pick one up and Kevin slapped his hand.
“Those aren‘t for you. I already made you and Charlie a Christmas package with some in it. Those ones are for Gabby and her sons,” Kevin explained, referring to the manager of his car wash.
“You aren’t open on Christmas are you?”
“Course not. But Gabby and the boys are coming over tomorrow afternoon. I’ve got those and other presents for them.” Kevin got out the step stool from beside the refrigerator and set it before the cabinet containing his Christmas dishes. He eyed Noah. “You’re taller than me. You go up and get my Spode plates.”
Noah didn’t hesitate to do as Kevin asked which reminded him why he adored Noah in the first place. He smiled and took the Christmas tree plates when Noah handed them to him.
Noah picked up his peppermint patty when he got down off the stool. “So, who did you see at the mall?”
“Oh, yeah. So, I went to the mall yesterday. I wanted to get something else for Michael. Just a teensy little thing. Nothing big, because I’d already gotten him a bunch of other things. And damn, that place was packed. I know they say the economy is bad, but you wouldn’t know it to look at the mall. I had to park like miles and miles away from the building.”
“By the time I got inside, my legs were wobbly from all that walking.” Okay, so that was a tiny exaggeration. Wait. What the hell?
“Kev, who did you see?” Noah asked impatiently.
“Is that Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer I hear?” Kevin yelled. He went to the edge of the kitchen and listened. “That is not Johnny Mathis.”
Michael’s only response was laughter, the bastard.
“Kevin, the story,” Noah reminded him.
He turned back to Noah. “Right. Where was I? Oh, yeah, so I walked and walked. You should have seen the line for Santa. All these kids weeping and wailing because their mama wanted them to get their picture taken with Santa. Most of them looked terrified.” Kevin reached into a cabinet under the counter to pull out a pot for Noah to make his gravy. “Did I ever tell you about the time when I was a kid and Danny and I caught Santa smoking a joint on his break?”
“Yes, you have.”
“Oh. Anyway, I went into Macy’s. I went over to the men’s cologne and smelled a bunch of them. You know, is this one going to smell right on Michael? Or this one? Or any of them, really.” He thrust the pot into Noah’s hand. “And all of a sudden someone touched my ass.”
“What?” That had gotten Noah’s attention.
“Yeah, what, indeed.” Kevin nodded. “So, I turned around ready to pop whoever it is and guess who stood there smiling with his hand out near my ass?”
“Oh, my God, will that idiot ever get a clue?” Noah wondered, going to the stove to make the gravy.
“Apparently not. So I told him I had a husband for crying out loud and he says, well, if you ever want some variety look me up.” Kevin shook his head, remembering the leer Raphael had given him. “As if.”
“Did you tell Michael?”
“No, he’d just get pissed someone was touching my ass. Can you believe that Raphael?”
“I never knew what you were thinking when you hooked up with that moron in the first place,” Noah told him. “You were always way too good for him. I’d tell Michael, just in case. Raphael has a way of turning up.”
“Well, enough of that. Let’s focus on Christmas.”
“What about Michael’s parents? Are they coming over tomorrow?”
“No, they went up north to be with Danny and his fiancé for Christmas. Danny decided to stay close to school over the break. We’ll see them over New Year’s. And before you ask, I heard from my dad in Vegas.”
“He doesn’t want money does he?”
“Well, of course, he hasn’t changed any. But I guess he’s finished, at least for now, going through a variety of cocktail waitresses, and now has a steady one living with him.” Kevin rolled his eyes and started mixing more peppermint patties. “He actually asked me if we were going to visit him for Christmas.”
Noah smiled. “That’s kinda nice. Trying to reach out.”
Kevin shrugged. “So maybe, maybe, in January we might go visit him. For like a day or half a day.”
Noah stopped stirring his gravy and hugged Kevin. “You’re too cute, you know?’
Kevin pushed him away gently, but returned his smile. “I guess I made those drinks, too strong, huh?”
Noah laughed. “Kev, remember us last December? You’d just broken up with Raphael, if you could call it a relationship, and were hitting the gay clubs in West Hollywood every weekend.”
Kevin grimaced. “Don’t remind me.”
“And I was still hopelessly in love with Charlie who barely wanted to give me the time of day.” Noah shook his head. “I’ll never forget the night I decided to give up on Charlie and I ever being together. You came on your motorcycle and took me away.”
“I remember. Damn, I wouldn’t go back to those days for anything.” Kevin thought of Michael. Letting him back into his life after his stupid teenaged hurt had been difficult, but he couldn’t imagine not going to sleep every night with Michael’s arms wrapped around him.
“Me either,” Noah agreed. “Merry Christmas, Kev.”
It was Kevin’s turn to hug Noah. “Merry Christmas, girlfriend.”
Hours later, Kevin stood at his front door, with Michael’s arm around him, saying goodnight to Noah and Charlie. Dinner had been a smashing success. After dinner, they’d played the game of Life. Michael won, damn him. Then, they’d played Trivial Pursuit and that bastard had won again. Nah, he loved having a smart husband. Even if he was a little too smug sometimes.
Kevin had a somewhat crazy dream. He would love it if they could have a great big house and everyone they loved and cared about could live there with them. They’d all have their own rooms, of course, but when the night was over no one would ever have to leave.
“We had a wonderful night, Kev, thank you,” Noah said, kissing his cheek. “Love you.”
“Love you, too. And Merry Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas. And to you, too, Michael.” Noah hugged him and then Charlie hugged them both, too.
Charlie grabbed Noah’s hand. “Come on, Slycat. I want to hear you purr.”
Noah turned bright red. “Charlie!”
Everyone laughed and then his friends went out the door. Kevin closed the door somewhat wistfully.
“Hey,” Michael said, pulling him under the mistletoe. They kissed for long, breathless minutes and Kevin thought they’d be heading upstairs to their bedroom any second. But then, Michael ended their kisses and said, “Come into the living room.”
He led them to the sofa and then sat down, pulling Kevin on his lap once more. He laid his head against Michael’s shoulder. For a while they didn’t speak, just watched the tree, its multi-colored lights blinking in different patterns. In the background, Bing Crosby sang Little Drummerboy.
“I have a couple of presents I want to give to you tonight,” Michael whispered, gently stroking his hair.
“Tonight? Really?” Kevin leaned back, getting excited. “What? What are they?”
Michael chuckled. He reached down to where he’d earlier left his briefcase and withdrew a small square box in professionally wrapped Christmas paper. “This one first.”
Kevin tore open the package, never one to carefully preserve the Christmas wrap, and bounced with joy. It was a small motorcycle Christmas ornament and on the back had been painted a pink helmet. “Wow, this is so cool. How did you find this?”
“I got it from a custom Christmas ornament place.” He pulled Kevin down for a quick kiss. “That’s the only motorcycle you’ll ever have, by the way.”
Kevin pouted and then moved to go put it on the tree, but Michael’s arms drew him back.
“One more, sweetheart.” He pulled out another package from next to the couch.
Kevin ripped the paper off that one too and then stared in wonder at the ornament he held. It was a miniature replica of a car wash. But not just any, his car wash. The ornament included a tiny dark red Maserati and next to it a very tiny Kevin with dark hair and cherry highlights.
Tears flooded his eyes and his throat clogged. He didn’t think he’d ever received a more precious gift in his life.
“Hey.” Michael gently wiped a tear from his cheek. “It’s supposed to make you happy.”
“It—” He stopped. Tried again. “It does.”
Michael smiled. “Good.” He grasped Kevin’s hand and held it to his chest over his heart. “That car wash means a lot to me. It brought me you. Merry Christmas, my Christmas angel.”
He hugged Michael close, still unable to get coherent words out. When he could finally get enough steadying breaths, Kevin said against Michael’s throat. “I love you.”