I can't believe it's almost Christmas. Four more sleeps! I know some people say that Christmas doesn't have the same magic when you're an adult but I say to those people - bah humbug. Christmas is amazing. It's magical and enchanting and vibrant and joyous. Yeah, I've lost none of the magic and wonder of Christmas as I've got older
Anyway, I'm sorry to anyone who's following Demon, but I promise Tian and Castien will be back in the new year in more trouble than ever. However, I just couldn't miss the opportunity to write a Christmas story!
There was no denying the Christmas tree was beautiful. At least eight feet tall it still came nowhere near touching the ceiling of enormous ballroom. It wouldn’t even have touched the tip of the chandelier if it had been in the middle of the floor. Brady couldn’t see the middle of the floor, there were too many people; people he didn’t know, and to be honest, didn’t want to know. He should be circulating, and he would, but for a short, blissful while he tucked himself away behind the Christmas tree and pretended he wasn’t there.
One day he’d have a tree like this, smelling of pine and glittering with lights and baubles. Only his lights would be crooked and his ornaments mismatched, not perfect like this one. There was something about perfection that made him edgy. No, his tree would be a riot of colour, each bauble placed with love. It would probably lean to one side and the fairy would look drunk, but he wouldn’t care.
“What are you doing back here? I’ve been looking for you.”
Brady jumped, guilty about bringing his untidy thoughts into the carefully staged perfection of the Michaels family Christmas Ball. His racing heart didn’t slow much when he turned to gaze into the aquamarine eyes of the most beautiful man he’d ever laid eyes on. After six months, the first sight still hit him like the first time every time.
“Sorry, it was just getting a bit much.”
“I know what you mean. Just hang on a little longer. I have a surprise, then we’ll go, I promise.”
Brady nodded. As if he’d go anywhere without Alex; beautiful, perfect Alex. Alex laughed at him all the time, pointing out his imperfections, but to Brady even the alleged imperfections – such as his slight lisp, too-large ears and the birthmark on his neck - were perfect.
“My mother’s been asking where you are,” Alex said, wrapping his arms around Brady and burying his nose in the hair on Brady’s neck.
Brady shivered. “Your mother hates me.”
“She doesn’t hate you. Don’t be silly.”
“That’s why she’s been telling everyone we’re “school friends”? I didn’t even go to school with you. I went to the poor comprehensive in town, remember? You went to the posh prep school.”
Alex chuckled. “If only you knew how much I envied you.”
“Yeah yeah.” They’d been down that road, and Brady still didn’t believe him.
“Look, it’s not you she hates, it’s what you represent.”
“What? You mean the great unwashed?”
“Hardly.” Alex’s perpetual grin faded. “It’s us. Me and you. Our relationship.”
“I thought you said your parents were okay with you being gay.”
“My father’s fine, and my mother says she is, but what she also said was that she’s fine with it if it’s not “thrust into her face”.”
Brady’s jaw dropped. “She said that?”
“More than once. Sometime it feels as if she thinks I turned gay just to spite her and keep rubbing her nose in it.”
“Oh my God. I didn’t know.”
Alex grinned again. “That’s okay. My mother’s a cow. Being gay is just another thing to disapprove of. Trust me, there are many others. Come on. Talk to the old bag for a minute while I go set up your surprise.”
“It’s not going to be anything too…crazy, is it?” Brady asked, suddenly nervous.
“Me? Crazy? When have I ever done anything crazy?”
Brady was about to start counting them off when Alex jerked him to his feet and towed him through the crowd.
Mrs Michaels was holding court near the French doors, which were open to let in some of the frosty air. It was good after the heat of the ballroom.
“Here he is, Mother,” Alex said. “Try not to break him. I won’t be long,” he whispered to Brady, before slipping through the doors to be swallowed by the night.
“Ah, yes,” Mrs Michaels said. “This is…Brady, Alex’s friend…from school.”
“Delighted.” The elderly man who took his hand seemed, at first, as stuck up as Mrs Michaels but there was a twinkle in his eyes. His companion, and equally ancient woman wearing a lavender dress to match her hair, smiled at him.
“How long have you and Alexander been together?” she asked.
Brady opened her mouth to tell her, but Mrs Michaels intervened. “Brady and Alex have known each other since they were children. They’re inseparable. I’m sure they’d take each other on dates if they could, although I suppose the young ladies would tire of double-dating after a while.” She gave a polite and entirely false chuckle, glaringc at Brady as if it was somehow his fault someone had guessed.
“Young ladies, eh,” the old man said, stroking his rather impressive moustache. He winked at Brady.
“You went to school with Alex? Perhaps you know our grandson, Carlton; Carlton Greyling?”
“I…um…” Brady stuttered. Mrs Michaels who froze him with her glance.
“No, he doesn’t,” she snapped then recovered her composure. “Carlton is older.”
“Oh, of course.”
They were interrupted by a commotion in the garden. Lights suddenly flooded an area just beyond the patio. People drifted outside to see what was going on and moments later Brady almost had a heart attack.
The lights highlighted an honest-to-goodness sleigh, pulled by a prancing pony and covered with tiny Christmas lights.
“My lawns,” Mrs Michaels shrieked, but Brady ignored her. He had eyes only for the figure who jumped from the sleigh and advanced toward him. Alex wore nothing but skimpy red shorts and a Christmas hat, with a bright red ribbon in lieu of a belt. He had to have been freezing.
“I didn’t know what to get you for Christmas,” Alex said, gazing down at Brady from his two extra inches. “So I thought I’d give you me. You can unwrap me later.”
And then, in front of all the posh party goers, while his father dragged his complaining mother away, Alex kissed him
Now go check out the rest of the flashers.