“What the hell is wrong with my balls?”
“They’re a funny color.”
“They’re a funny green.”
“There’s nothing funny about this green.”
“It’s vomit green.”
“It’s artichoke green; it’s modern.”
“It’s not Christmas green, Decker, your balls have been hit with the ugly stick.”
My fist was poised to knock on the door but at the mention of balls, I paused. It was one of my favorite topics, but Decker’s balls sounded painful.
“At least you covered them in glitter, Casey will approve,” I heard Andi mumble. She knew me too well, glitter fixed everything, even funny, green balls.
“You know they’re talking about Christmas decorations, don’t you?” Lionel said from beside me, his arms laden down with a dish of steaming hot nachos and a bottle of tequila.
“You are no fun at all,” I replied with a pout, finally rapping my knuckles against the door.
“Coming!” I heard Andi sing.
“She will be in a few hours!” Decker added in a sing-song voice.
“Remind me to wear ear plugs tonight,” I whispered to Lionel as the door swung open.
Even though Andi and Decker’s bedroom had moved from the wall that adjoined our bedroom, I could still hear Andi’s muffled praise of the Lord through the thin plasterboard that divided our apartments.
Andi’s eyes full of excitement had settled on mine before she jumped into my arms.
“Holy cripes Casey, you look fine as cream butter!”
I couldn't contain my excitement, and I sent up a prayer of thanks to my favorite menswear store, J. Press York St, for my silk, button-down Christmas shirt, and complimenting silk, emerald pants. When Andi finally let go, I pushed her back a little to read her shirt. ‘I PUT OUT FOR SANTA CLAUS’. I raised a brow before hugging Decker and kissing his very fine and stubbled cheek. I pulled him away from my chest so I could read his shirt, “I PUT OUT FOR MRS CLAUS.”
“You two are way adorable,” I murmured, noticing the two Christmas balls in Decker’s hand. They were an ugly green with a dash of silver glitter, and Decker held them up like a proud papa bear.
“Me and Andi made our Christmas decorations, what do you think?”
“Your balls are…extraordinary,” I said diplomatically.
“See!” Decker said with exasperation, pulling Andi away from Lionel and me to hang them on the Christmas tree.
“What the ‘F’ is that?” I spluttered, gaping at the sad and sorry tree sitting before the wide window bay.
“Don’t be mean, that’s our tree.” Andi said rather defensively.
“That’s not a tree poppet; that’s the ugly stick that hit Decker’s balls.”
“Hey!” They both demanded in outrage.
“Your tree is perfect, it’s unique,” came Lionel’s familiar deep voice from behind me. That voice gave me shivers, even after eleven years of living in sin. One of these days I’d put a ring on that man’s finger…or maybe I’d take Andi’s advice and put it on his nipple. Hmm, the idea had merit.
“Andi felt sorry for it,” Decker explained, hanging his ugly Christmas balls from a thin, spindly branch that bowed under the weight.
“You felt sorry for Mrs. Greenwood’s ugly, hairless whippet, but you wouldn’t even watch him for an hour while I blow dried Miffy the Persian. What on earth possessed you to bring home this atrocity?”
“Every tree should get to celebrate Christmas, even the ugly ones,” Andi said sulkily.
Hearing the dejection in her voice almost split my big, warm, gooey heart in two. Dragging her into my arms, I watched as Decker plugged in the lights and turned them on, magnifying the trees hideousness.
“You’re right, it’s as pretty as punch,” I declared, understanding Andi’s need to take in the ugly tree. Andi hadn’t had a mother growing up. She had passed away when Andi was too small to remember, and her father was a renowned author who was present in body only during Andi’s childhood. From what Andi had told me, her father’s mind was often another world away, stuck in a land of words and fantasy. He tried, but Andi still felt lonely and forgotten, especially around the holiday season.
“Holy fuck, that is the ugliest tree I’ve ever seen!” Bradley’s familiar voice rang out from behind us. Andi’s hands went right to her hips and that stink eye that could cut down the biggest and meanest of men was now aimed at her cousin.
“You gotta have a light or two burned out on your string to think you can come in here and dis my tree, Bradley!” Andi snapped. “Take it back or I’ll beat your ass the same color as Decker’s ugly balls!”
Bradley appeared at a loss for words. His girlfriend, Wiska, stood at his side with a giant grin on her sweet face.
“What are you wearing?” Asked Decker, quite obviously perplexed at Bradley’s white, fluffy ensemble and the matching white head stuffed under his arm. Nobody seemed in the least bit phased by Wiska’s stunning, naughty angel outfit.
“What’s wrong with your balls?” Bradley countered.
“Nothing,” Decker said with a big, proud grin that turned women, and a large percentage of the gay community, into a weeping puddle. “I had them waxed a week ago, wanna see?”
Wiska snorted, the sound quite unladylike and unfitting for the tiny, fair-haired angel. “Is there anyone who hasn’t seen them?”
“I haven’t and I’d like to keep it that way,” Bradley practically choked.
“Why are ya’ll dressed up?” Andi asked, accepting a martini from Lionel.
Bradley pinned me with a hostile look, and I smiled, enjoying his discomfort.
“Someone told us we were doing fancy dress Friday early.”
“So you came dressed as a Polar bear,” I murmured, trying hard to contain the laughter I was dying to spill. I had to hold it back, because the thing about revenge was while dishing it you had to keep your cool, like a level headed adult. What I really wanted to do was roll over Andi and Decker’s Angora Rug laughing, like a five-year-old child.
“I’m frosty the snowman, and you do realize your revenge spilled over to Wiska?” Bradley demanded, his cheeks fighting a hint of red.
“Pfft,” I waved him off. “Wiska doesn't care, she’s always dressing up.”
“I don’t care,” Wiska called out from the kitchen, proving me right.
“Why are you dressed like a polar bear?” Leah had snuck in like a silent ninja and was standing at my side as she took in Bradley’s super cute costume. I wrapped my arm around her shoulder and kissed her cheek.
“Princess Leah, you look divine as usual.” Her beautiful green eyes took in my red top and green pants. “Jealous?” I asked, doing a little spin for her.
“You know I am.”
“I’m not a polar bear,” Bradley said rather sullenly. “I am frosty the snowman.”
Leah chuckled. “Oh, I totally see it now, it matches your frosty, cranky pout.”
“I like his cranky pout, it’s sexy,” Wiska said as she gave Leah a quick peck on the cheek and settled into Bradley’s arms. Immediately the big man turned his frown upside down and pointed at the Christmas Tree. “Did you see Andi and Decker’s tree?”
“It’s absolutely adorable,” Leah said with a smile.
“Liar,” Bradley chuckled.
“Dude, I need to know where you and Andi got those shirts, they are awesome,” Ryder laughed as he pressed his fist against Decker’s. I subtly cast an eye over Ryder Harder, the owner of the adult film company Kink Harder. He was looking mighty fine tonight, like a dark haired, fallen angel. Those eyes were like blueberry margaritas, and if I were ten years younger and not happily unmarried to my non-husband, I’d take a sip of that sweet deliciousness.
A slap on the back of my head brought me quickly back to earth. I gave Lionel my best panty melting grin that he knew so well it no longer got me out of sticky situations. With a knowing smile, he handed me my drink and placed an innocent kiss on my cheek.
“I’m going to punish you for that later.”
A shiver ran down my spine and before I could come back with a witty reply, he was gone.
“So,” Decker began once we were all standing around the pitiful looking Christmas tree with drinks in our hands. “I guess I want to thank you all for coming over this Christmas Eve, I know for some of you, it’s a night traditionally reserved for family, but I gotta be honest with you all, you are my family.”
“That’s just beautiful,” I murmured, wiping a tear from the corner of my eye. Moments like this cut me deep, especially since my mother practically disowned me the moment she found out I was gay. Lionel was the only family I had now, and to think that family had expanded to include this group…well, it was going to make my mascara run.
“I was going to toast to the evening, but Andi suggested we all get a turn to say something,” Decker said, lifting his glass while his free arm pulled Andi into his rock, hard chest. “So, I’ll go first. Here’s to a night we’ll never remember with friends we’ll never forget.” His toast ended with Andi’s elbow in his ribs.
“It was supposed to be deep and meaningful,” she grumbled.
“What? I meant every word,” he said with a cheeky grin. “I’m sure you can do better, go ahead country.”
Decker bent to nibble on the arch of her neck and Andi tried to swat him away, it was a pathetic attempt at best, and the stubborn little grin she was trying hard to hide told everyone she didn’t really object to having him there, I mean, who would? The man was candy on a stick.
“Even though I was never truly alone for Christmas, I never really felt a part of it. I can’t remember the last time I was so excited about the holidays, and it’s because of everyone standing right here, so, thank you.” Decker held her a little tighter, and as much as I wanted to smoother the little poppet myself, it was her man’s arms she needed to feel right now. Andi raised her glass. “To friends…family.”
We all took a drink and turned our gaze on Ryder, who stood next in line.
“Here’s to my new business partner at Kink Harder.”
Ryder turned to face Leah and raised his glass to her. The room erupted into a chorus of ‘no ways’ and ‘congratulations’ before quieting again.
“Here’s to Ryder being the worst secret keeper in history,” she scoffed. “And to being brave enough to try something new,” she quietly added. Hmmm, interesting. The usually beaming beauty whose smile never faulted had just shown a chink in her armor. For a moment, she appeared morose. As quickly as it appeared, it disappeared, and everyone moved their attention on to Bradley.
“Here’s to finding my way home.” While Decker patted him on the back, Wiska gifted him a quick and sweet kiss. He almost looked ridiculous standing there in his puffy, white outfit. Only his ridiculously good looks helped him pull it off. Hell, he could wear a potato sack and the man would still look delish. Another smack to the back of my head greeted me as Lionel draped his arm over my shoulders.
“I saw you checking him out when we joined him at the gym last week,” I whispered.
Lionel snorted. “He took his shirt off, how could I not look.”
“Here’s to finding a man that wasn’t a cheating, lying sack of dog turd,” Wiska said with a beautiful smile. “And he looks pretty damn fine dressed as Frosty the Snowman, and when we get home, I fully intend to cover him with strawberry syrup and lick every inch of him.”
The girls coughed on their drinks while the men, in the gruff, manly fashion they sported, raised their glasses with a combined cheer.
“I like strawberry syrup,” Lionel murmured before all eyes swung his way. His blush was fleeting and I fought the need to plant a kiss on his fine lips. “Okay, here’s to happiness for us all, where there is love, there is laughter, and for those who haven’t found it yet, don’t give up. One day someone is going to look at you like you’re the only person in the world that matters.” He looked at Leah, and her smile was hopeful as she raised her glass in response. Trust my man always to find the deep and meaningful words that someone needed to hear.
Finally, I cleared my throat. “Okay, since meeting Lionel, Christmas has been given new meaning, one of hope, happiness and love, but since our family has grown, it has once again brought with it new meaning…one of family.” I took a breath to hold back the tears, and Lionel pressed a kiss to the side of my head. “So thank you, for being the sisters I always wanted to dress me up and slather me in makeup, and the brothers I always wanted to bring home their good looking male friends.” I wiped the corner of my eye and looked at the group of beautiful souls who stood around me, their faces full of understanding and a few unshed tears. Well, I couldn’t end on that note, I always finished speeches with either a room of stunned silence or laughter. “And here’s to another year of being positive and testing negative,” I quickly added. Andi spurted her drink across the floor and laughter erupted, just as it was meant to, for a Christmas Eve without laughter was a magical night wasted.
“Merry Christmas,” I gushed as I moved to wrap my arms around a contrite-looking Andi, as Decker used some paper towel to mop up her mess. From behind me I felt Lionel’s warmth embrace my back, and then someone moved in to hug us from the side, and another on the other side of us. Soon I was cocooned in a group hug, formed of the best friends a man could ask for. Over the last year I had come to know these people better than my own family, my life had become one of adventure and happiness. I’d discovered playing cupid to lovestruck souls was my calling in life. With Lionel at my side, I was unstoppable. I think I needed a cape, a red one, with a white, winking cupid on it.
As the group pulled away I set my sights on Leah. She had bent down to take a closer look at Decker’s ugly green Christmas balls. Her face puckered into a frown before she stood and wistfully looked towards Decker and Andi. The big man had thrown a laughing Andi over his shoulder, like the Neanderthal he was and was carting her off to the kitchen. Leah was smiling at something Ryder had said, but the smile only reached her skin, in didn’t sink deeper into her heart. This was my next project, my goal for the New Year. Find love for Leah, make my man proud, and take care of my big, pretty babies. Easy as falling off a log, I totally had this.
Keep watching for Leah’s Who-ha, book 3 in the Kink Harder Presents Series
COMING JUNE 2016