Christmas In Suite 37A
UPDATE (2017): An edited and revised version of this Original Sinners novella is now available in the Original Sinners collection Michael's Wings (8th Circle Press and Tantor Audio, 2017).
Merry Christmas to all my Sinners! I couldn't write the books I write if I didn't have my readers. Since I can't send each and every one of you a Christmas card, I offer you this three-part story instead. I hope it brightens your day or keeps you warm on a cold winter's night. Happy reading and...
Glory to God in the Highest! And on Earth peace, good will toward men!
And everyone else!)
Part One: Blue Christmas
This story takes place two years and three months after the end of THE ANGEL and seven months after THE SAINT and THE KING.
Sunday, December 22, 2013
New Orleans Garden district
This was going to be the worst fucking Christmas ever.
It would suck—hard—and not in the fun way.
Nora wasn’t making it any easier. She had, in fact, ordered him to go to church with her tonight—further proof she was as much of a sadist as Søren.
Griffin said to her request/demand, “I’m a Buddhist.” and Nora gave him the pursed lips to end all pursed lips. If she pursed her lips any harder, they’d turn into a Hermès bag.
“You’re wearing a Nirvana T-shirt. That no more makes you a Buddhist than me wearing a cat suit makes me a pussy,” she said, poking him in the center of his chest, right in Kurt Cobain’s eye. Hadn’t poor Kurt been through enough? “Don’t pull that ‘I’m a Buddhist’ stuff on me. It didn’t work on my mother when I said it, and it’s not going to work on me.”
“You’re seriously making me go to church with you? Serious?” Griffin asked.
“Søren only gets to say Mass once a week now that he’s not a parish priest anymore. This is a big fucking deal to him, which makes it a big fucking deal to me, and since you’re in my house living under my roof it oughta be a big fucking deal to you.”
“No buts. You listen to me, Griffin Randolfe Fiske. You’ve been living in my house under my roof eating my food and sleeping in my guest bed for two months now. And this—coming to Mass with me three days before Christmas—is the one and only thing I’ve asked you to do in way of repayment. One hour of your life sitting in a beautiful historic New Orleans Catholic church listening to Louisiana angels sing sacred Christmas music while the man I have loved for twenty years of my life says Mass and offers communion to rich and poor, black and white, citizen and stranger in a two-thousand year old ritual of thanksgiving that reminds everyone involved that we are all God’s children? Is that really so much to ask?”
“Wow. Did you learn how to do a Catholic guilt trip from your mom or from Søren?”
“Neither,” she said with narrowed eyes. “I’m a natural.”
She was in Domme mode and clearly in the mood to out-alpha him. Griffin folded like a house of cards in a stiff breeze.
“Okay, okay. I’ll go. I’m going. You know, since you asked so nicely.”
“And because you let me crash here for the past two months and asked nothing of me and all that.”
“Oh, honey,” Nora said, patting his cheek. “You know it’s been my pleasure and you don’t owe me a thing.” She sauntered off down the hall toward her bedroom. As she left him alone in the kitchen Griffin shook his head. Did mind-fuckers ever stop mind-fucking? How did Nora talk him into this?
Nora pulled a Nora. That’s how.
No doubt she had left him to go change clothes before church. She was, after all, still wearing the vinyl cat suit she’d donned earlier that day for a client. His Blond Holiness probably wouldn’t appreciate Griffin showing up to church in jeans and his brother’s twenty-year-old Nirvana T-shirt either. Although the jeans were his “holy jeans” as Mick called them since they had tears in the knees so gaping you could stick an arm through them. And sometimes Mick did.
Sighing, Griffin trudged to his room to take a shower and change into whatever he owned that could pass for “church clothes.” Well, it wasn’t his room he went to. It was Nora’s room in Nora’s house, a three-story bright red Victorian in the Garden District. Don’t get him wrong, it was a nice room. Antique green patterned wallpaper, carved oak queen size bed, thick Persian rug, and a set of French doors that led to his own private veranda. As beautiful as it was, this room, this house, and no matter how comfortable he got here, it would never be Griffin’s room. Griffin’s room was in his apartment in Manhattan, the apartment he’d bought because he wanted a fresh start with Mick—new relationship, new home, new life. Together. Both of them. A new life together. It was all for them. No. That wasn’t true. It was all for Mick.
And now Mick was gone.
Not gone, Griffin chided himself as he stripped out of his clothes and stepped into the shower. Mick wasn’t dead. Griffin often had to remind himself not to be a drama queen about the whole thing. Mick was spending a semester abroad in Rome. That was all. Mick had gone overseas after saying the six ugliest words in the English language to Griffin:
I think I need a break.
How could his home in Manhattan feel like his home anymore after that?
Ninety-seven days after Mick said those six ugly words, Griffin could still picture Mick’s face during that fight, his silver eyes wide and red-rimmed. The expression he’d worn was sad and scared and apologetic. Griffin could understand the sad and scared. They’d been together—lovers, living together, Dom and sub—for two years. Mick was sad to have to say those six words and scared of how Griffin would react to them. But apologetic? That made no sense. What did Mick have to be sorry for? Yes, the break-up had been Mick’s idea. The fault, however, belonged squarely on Griffin’s shoulders.
And he knew it.
Griffin turned off the water and wrapped a towel around his waist and cinched it tight. When he flew down to New Orleans to hide out hang out at Nora’s, it had been to get away from his mother’s hovering. He certainly had come here to lose any weight. Bodybuilders like him usually wanted to bulk up, not slim down. And he was in New Orleans where all the good Cajun food and seafood lived. But Søren had practically ordered Griffin to join him for his almost daily four and five-mile runs. Griffin had left his eternally-worried-about-her-baby-boy mother only to be treated like a child by a priest and a dominatrix.
Still…he didn’t blame them. Their coddling/care-taking/near-constant monitoring had kept Griffin clean and sober even when everything in him wanted to drown his sorrows with a bottle of bourbon and a fistful of Oxy. A few weeks after the break-up, he’d come thisclose to begging Kingsley for a sleeping pill from his medicine cabinet. Instead he’d humbled himself to Nora and told her how tempted he was that night to take something, anything, legal or illegal, it didn’t matter. She’d kissed him, told him she loved him, and then stripped him naked. This wasn’t about kink or sex. She took his clothes and locked them up where he couldn’t get to them. She put a basic bondage strap around one wrist and locked him to the bedpost. If stealing his clothes and tying one hand to the bed was what it took to keep him off Bourbon Street, then so be it. All night long Nora had scratched his back and massaged his neck while telling him a bedtime story about when she and Sheridan were hired by a member of the Moroccan royal family to put on a private show for him and his best friend. He’d fallen asleep in her lap and woke up the next morning feeling human for the first time in weeks. He’d known then he would make it through this.
Even if he didn’t want to.
Griffin dried off and pulled on a pair of black jeans and a white button-down shirt. He put on a black tie but kept the knot loose and his collar open. A tie was his version of making an effort.
As he was shoving his feet into his black Chucks, Nora came in the room looking sexy as hell in a black skirt, red blouse, and black boots that went all the way up to her knees.
“Very handsome,” she said, looking him up and down. “Then again, you always look handsome.”
She ran her hand through his still-wet hair, slicking it into place.
“You’re doing the mom-thing again,” Griffin said.
“Only because I’m worried about you.”
“I’m fine.” He kissed her cheek. “Do I need to tuck my shirt or anything? What’s the dress code?”
“Very relaxed dress code in the Catholic Church. Keep your shirt untucked, but put on your jacket. It’ll be in the fifties by the time church lets out.”
“The fifties. Three days before Christmas and ‘the fifties’ means it’s cold out.”
“It got all the way up thirty in Manhattan today. Practically balmy. Aren’t you glad you’re here?”
“No,” Griffin said, knowing and loving Nora too well to lie to her.
“I know,” she said, kissing him on the lips—the kiss of a friend, not a lover. It seemed that part of their relationship was over now for whatever reason. “Come on. We don’t want to be late for church.”
Nora answered that question by grabbing his tie and leading him from the guest room like a dog on a leash.
They got in her car—Nora drove, of course—and Elvis’s “Blue Christmas” came on the radio. Nora started to switch the station but Griffin stopped her
“I can handle a depressing Christmas song, Nor.”
“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to coddle you.”
“You sure about that?” They drove through the narrow streets. Christmas lights were strung along tropical-colored houses and dripped from the leafy green tops of palm trees. Christmas in New Orleans.
“Break-ups are hard and horrible no matter who does the leaving,” Nora said. “I’ve been there. I can testify.”
“You think Mick’s out there feeling as shitty as I do?”
“I think there’s a very good chance he misses you as much as you miss him. But do you really want him to feel shitty right now?”
Griffin sighed. “No. I want him to be happy. But I also want him to miss me so much it hurts. Does that make any sense at all?”
“It makes all the sense.” Nora squeezed his knee.
“You want to know something funny?” Griffin asked.
“No, I want to know something horrible and sad.”
He glared at her.
“Tell me,” she said.
“I keep thinking about that night you and Søren and me and Mick all hung out together at our apartment. It was right after Christmas, that first December me and Mick were together. Remember?”
“That night was so much fun,” Nora said. “I can’t believe we talked Søren into playing Cards Against Humanity.”
“I’m still pissed he won. Beginner’s luck.”
“Blondie has a wicked sense of humor when he feels like showing it. Remember he won the game on the ‘How did I lose my virginity?’ card.
“Answer; ‘The Make-A-Wish Foundation,” Griffin said, laughing despite himself.
“I still want to write a book about someone who loses their virginity through the Make-A-Wish Foundation because of that game. It’s on my to-write list.”
“That night…It was the first time Mick and I had people over to our new place. And since it was you and Søren, Mick was really relaxed. When we were playing the game, you and Mick were both sitting on the floor between our knees like—”
“Good little submissives?”
“Exactly. It was the best, Mick sitting there at my feet like he was born for it. He wouldn’t do that around vanillas, but since it was you all, he just did it like nothing. I just want that again, you know? I want that to be my normal again.”
“I know. I want for you too. Michael was seventeen when you two got together. That’s awfully young.”
“You were fifteen when you fell in love with Søren.”
“Yes, and I broke up with him, remember? But you know what?”
“I went back to him too.”
Griffin took those words and held them in his hand pressed to his heart. Hope hurt but it hurt more not to have it.
Nora parked her BMW a block from Søren’s new church—Immaculate Conception Jesuit Church. Immaculate Conception had become some sort of inside joke between Søren, Kingsley and Nora. At least Kingsley was always making some sort of joke about Søren and Immaculate Conception and Nora would laugh at it. And none of them would let Griffin in on the secret.
“So, this is how it works,” Nora said as they neared the church. “You stand when I stand. You sit when I sit. You sit when I kneel, because you’re not Catholic so you don’t have to kneel. You can come forward with me during Communion, but you can’t take Communion. Only Catholics can. But you can cross your arms over your chest and bow your head if you want Søren to bless you. He’ll do that by drawing a little cross on your forehead with his thumb. It’s very gentle. Don’t be scared. He might pinch your nose also so fair warning. Or you can stay in your seat.”
“I better take the blessing,” Griffin said as they passed the life-size Nativity scene set up on the church’s lawn. “I need all the blessings I can get.”
He stopped in his tracks and sighed.
“I’m doing it again,” he said. “I’m rich. I’m healthy. My family is healthy and happy. I have the best friends in the world. I am blessed.”
“Don’t forget you’re also gorgeous, and you have a big cock,” Nora said as three elderly women walked passed them. They whipped their heads around to look at him so fast it looked like a scene from The Exorcist.
He gave the three women a polite smile and a little wave.
Nora took his hand in hers.
“Even blessed people are allowed to want more blessings. Blessings are a good thing. Blessings are love in tangible form. And blessed people are allowed to have broken hearts. Jesus said ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit.’ You’re in a good place to receive blessings even if it doesn’t feel like it.”
Griffin looked up at the night sky. It was only half past seven in the evening but the sun had set hours ago. Yesterday was Søren’s birthday and the Winter Solstice. The longest night of the year and the shortest day. Now that winter had come it seemed like night all the time, which made Griffin miss Mick even more. Night was for kink and sex. Griffin had installed a restraint bar in their bedroom the perfect height for strapping Mick’s wrists to it for a beating. After he finished flogging, caning, and/or cropping Mick into a state of erotic bliss, he’d tie his beautiful sub spread-eagle to the bed—face down, of course. Griffin would spend the first half of the night inside Mick and the other half of the night holding him while they slept. Winter was a season for people who lived at night. He missed Mick so much it hurt. It was times like this Griffin wish he was a masochist.
“Five years,” Griffin said. “You and Søren were broken up for five years. I know why you left him, and I respect your decision. I probably would have run too. But what I don’t know is how he survived that. How? What the secret?”
“He would tell you it was prayer,” Nora said. “I know that’s not the answer you want, and I’m certainly not saying it would work for you like it worked for him. But not a day passed when he didn’t pray for me, pray that I would come back, or sometimes he would just pray for me, that I was happy and safe. Like C.S. Lewis said—”
“The Narnia guy?
“The one and only. He said prayer ‘doesn’t change God. It changes me.’ And it changed Søren too. By the time I went back to Søren he was a different man than the one I’d left. He was someone I could be with, someone who understood me or at least tried to. And if it makes you feel any better, even Søren fell apart a few times. So did I.”
It did make him feel better. That Søren had fallen apart? Hard to believe and yet…Griffin knew just how he must have felt.
“You think Søren would pray for me?” Griffin asked. “For me and Mick, I mean?”
“He has,” she said. “He and I both have. Together and apart. And often.”
“Of course we have. Søren and I don’t have kinky sex the entire time when we’re alone together. Sometimes we even talk.” She gave him a wink.
“I guess God’s saying no to me and Mick getting back together then. I mean if Søren prayed for me and it still hasn’t happened…”
“You don’t know that. God has three answers to prayers—yes, no, and not yet. Maybe this one’s just a ‘not yet.’”
“What do you think God’s waiting on?”
“You maybe?” She shrugged her shoulders. “Maybe He wants you to ask Him? Worth a shot anyway. Wouldn’t hurt to try.”
“I don’t believe in God, you know. I’m not Catholic. Or a Christian. Or Jewish. Or even a theist.”
“Surely you believe in something. You go to NA meetings. Isn’t the first step at NA and AA something about giving it up to a higher power?”
“Third step—We make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him.”
“So what higher power did you turn your life over to then?” she asked.
“Of course you did.”
Nora led him into the church which was as grand and elegant as she promised it would be. Arches reached up to the ceiling fifty feet up and along the side walls were endless stained-glass windows. The whole sanctuary glowed a golden hue.
“God has a good decorator,” Griffin whispered to Nora, impressed.
“The Church has a good decorator,” she whispered back. She led them to a pew in front of the same three elderly women who now knew he had a big cock.
“God has a good PR person too,” Griffin said, giving her a pinch on the ass as she went to sit down in a pew.
“I’m not in PR,” she countered. “Just another satisfied customer.”
“You banged a priest last night, didn’t you?”
One of the elderly women behind them gasped in shock. Griffin turned around and gave her an apologetic smile.
“She banged a Prius last night,” Griffin whispered to her. “Fender bender. She’s still a little shook up about it.”
The woman exchanged looks of concerned understanding.
Nora apparently hadn’t heard the lady’s gasp. She was too busy putting the padded kneeler thingie (Griffin had no idea what it was called) on the floor. Then she slid onto her knees, crossed herself, clasped her hands, and closed her eyes. Griffin had seen Nora beating people, fucking people. He’d seen her drunk. He’d seen her high. He’d seen her in handcuffs getting dragged off by cops who mistook her client’s screams of consensual pain for screams of the other kind of pain. But he’d never seen her pray before. It was a good look for her—peaceful and quiet and calm. He wished he could feel peaceful inside his heart for a few minutes. It would be nice to have a little vacation from missing Mick. He’d give anything to see him again, talk to him. Fuck, they hadn’t even talked in three months. That had been one of the rules. No phone calls. No texts. A real break. Now Griffin understood why they were called “breaks.” He’d never felt this broken.
Griffin glanced up at the ceiling. Three days until Christmas. All Griffin wanted was to see Mick on Christmas. Nothing else. Not a new car, not a new motorcycle, not a new house, not even world peace.
Seriously, fuck world peace.
Even if it wasn’t to get back together…even if all that happened was Griffin and Mick in the same room again talking. Actually, fuck talking. Just seeing his face would be enough. That face…Griffin had Mick’s face memorized so well he could recognize it blindfolded by simply touching his lips and nose and jaw. That was all. Mick for Christmas. Just so Griffin would know Mick was okay.
Nora sat back in the pew as the music changed.
“What did you pray for?” Griffin asked.
“Nothing,” she said.
“I tried,” she said. “But I kept having sex flashbacks from last night. Don’t worry. God’s used to this from me.”
“I prayed for something,” he said. The music was loud so he had to put his mouth to her ear so she could hear him.
“To see Mick on Christmas.”
“Good prayer,” she said. “I think God appreciates prayers like that one. Prayers to see someone we love again. He loves us so much, I’m sure it does His heart good to see us loving each other.”
Griffin smiled and turned his attention to the front of the church. He watched as Søren bent his head to kiss the altar. It was strangely moving seeing Søren become Father Marcus Stearns before his eyes. Søren had to mean it, the whole priest thing, right? He had to believe it all, didn’t he? Why else would he still be a priest when he could be anything else at all? It made no sense otherwise. Of course Søren was also a sadist, dangerously intelligent, capable of twisting minds and hearts around his little finger like tinsel. Maybe it was for the best he was a priest. Better to have a man like him on the side of the angels.
“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all,” Søren/Father Stearns said, lifting his hands in greeting.
“And with your spirit,” Nora and the rest of the congregation answered in a sort of chant.
Mass progressed as Nora had told him it would. There was sitting and standing, readings from three different books of the Bible. Then Søren came to the pulpit and began to speak.
“Christmas is a dark and lonely time,” Søren said, and Griffin sat up a little straighter in the pew. Those weren’t the words he expected a priest to say three days before Christmas in a church packed to the rafters with believers.
The silence in the church was heavy as a shroud.
Søren continued. “I’m sure there are those of us here tonight in this church who are feeling that—the darkness and the loneliness that this seasons of lights brings upon the world. I assure you there’s nothing wrong with this feeling, nothing to be ashamed of. Light casts shadows. It’s only natural some of us will find ourselves in the dark.”
Dark and lonely…Griffin knew exactly what Søren meant.
“I have no doubt every adult in this church,” Søren continued, “could stand up now and tell us a story of a terrible Christmas he or she has survived. It was over ten years ago that someone I loved was suddenly gone from my life, and I had to face Christmas alone.”
Griffin glanced at Nora but she kept her eyes forward, trained on Søren’s face. She looked so lovely right now with tears in her eyes and the slightest knowing smile on her lips. How many times had Søren invoked his relationship with Nora in a sermon with her sitting there trying not to giggle or out herself?
“When Christmas is hard for us,” Søren said, “we often feel like we’re doing Christmas wrong. We are invited to Christmas parties we don’t want to attend, hear Christmas music that reminds us of happier times we’d rather forget. We’re exhorted to feel joy. Joy to the world even. There’s nothing wrong with this either, being happy during this season when we celebrate the birth of our Savior. And yet…” Søren paused and looked out on the congregation. Griffin felt Søren’s eyes on him for a moment. “And yet, I imagine Mary and Joseph would have found it odd that such a time in their lives would someday turn into a celebration. The first Christmas was hard. Mary was pregnant with a child that wasn’t her husband’s. Joseph’s wife was pregnant with a child that wasn’t his own. How terrifying that must have been for them. I can only imagine…”
Nora sniggered quietly and Griffin raised his eyebrow at her. She composed herself again. Whatever she found funny about that, she kept it to herself.
“The first Christmas was a terrible Christmas,” Søren continued. “Mary and Joseph had to journey miles on foot and donkey to make it to Bethlehem for the census when she was nine months pregnant. They had no family there to take them in. They stayed in a stable, possibly a cave. Mary gave birth surrounded by animals and dirty hay. Not quite the pristine hospitals we’re all used to. She had no midwife but her husband, and they had never been intimate as Mary was a virgin. She was also very likely no more than sixteen years old. How embarrassed she must have been...being assisted in the birth by her much older husband? One has to wonder… And the birth of a child is a fearful occasion under the best of circumstances. But for Mary and Joseph, alone but for each other, it must have been a nightmare. A time of great fear and loneliness. After such promise, after an angel had come to Mary and Joseph had been visited in his dreams by God…nothing. No angel came to carry Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. No palace was waiting to welcome them when they arrived. No bed of gold and silk to hold her when she had her child. No midwife to assist her. No miracles to take away her pain. How alone they must have felt in that stable. How terribly scared.”
Scared? Yes. Griffin understood scared. Yes, he could remember every line of Mick’s face right now. But in a month? A year? When would he start to forget?
Søren glanced Griffin’s way again.
“That was the very first Christmas. A time of loneliness, darkness, and fear. If that’s what you’re feeling tonight, disconsolate, lonely, and afraid, then let this comfort you—you are having a truly authentic Christmas experience.”
A ripple of laughter trickled through the congregation. Even Griffin laughed. He leaned over to Nora. “Is this why you wanted me to come to church tonight? You knew Søren would be talking about being lonely at Christmas?”
“I never know his homilies in advance. He knows I’ll try to re-write them.”
“Then why does it seem like he’s talking to me?” Griffin asked.
“Because, my darling, the Lord works in mysterious ways.”
Griffin smiled and kissed the top of her head. “You are a mysterious way,” he whispered.
When Mass ended, Griffin remained in the pew sitting by Nora. She was waiting for Søren to finish giving all his Christmas hugs and handshakes to the parting congregation.
“I didn’t know Søren could sing.”
“I wouldn’t invite him to karaoke, but most priests sing the Mass parts.”
“Nice.” Griffin had to admit it, Søren could hold a tune in a bucket. “It’s really unfair he’s that pretty and that talented. Does he have to be both?”
“Well…in the animal kingdom there are two reasons animals have attractive plumage. It’s either to snare a mate. Or to snare dinner.”
“Which one are you?”
“Both. At the same time usually.” Nora rested her head on his shoulder. “You okay?”
“I will be,” he said. “One of these days. I just wish I knew what to do. I can’t face my family and all the pity. I can’t go back to the country house because Alfred kicked me out.”
“He said he’d rather be tied up and forced to watch Simon Cowell lance a boil off David Cameron’s ass than watch me moping around the house in mourning for my ‘teenaged boy toy’ like Blanche DuBois. He said I had to take my Streetcar Named Desire act somewhere else.”
“You know he does work for you, right?”
“Try telling him that. I can’t go home to our place in the city either. I slept on the couch for a week after Mick went to Rome because I couldn’t stand sleeping in our bed.”
“What do you want to do?”
“I want to make Mick spend Christmas with me, by force if necessary. And by ‘make him’ I mean I want him to want to spend Christmas with me, and I don’t want to have to force him.”
“You are the proverbial hot mess, my love.”
“Tell me something I don’t know.” Griffin leaned back in the pew and looked up at the ceiling. “I wish Mick would talk to me.”
“Have you forgotten who Mick is? Remember this is the kid who once told me ‘I don’t talk.’ Which was a little odd since he said it out loud. Talking has never been his strong suit.”
“It was with me,” Griffin said. “He always talked to me.”
Nora took his hand in both of hers and held it tight.
“I read something once that really stuck with me,” Nora said. “It’s God talking in this saying, but I think it applies to other people we love too. It goes something like…
‘If he approaches Me by a hand’s breadth, I draw near to him by an arm’s length; and if he draws near to Me by an arm’s length, I draw near to him by a fathom. If he comes to Me walking, I come to him running.”
“That’s beautiful,” Griffin said, sitting back up again. “What does it mean?”
“I think it means good things will happen if you have the courage to take the first step toward love.”
Griffin nodded. If he comes to Me walking, I come to him running… What Griffin wouldn’t give to have Mick run to him…
“Is that from the Bible?” Griffin asked.
“No, actually it’s a Muslim Hadith. Great and beautiful truths can be found everywhere.”
“So you think I should take the first step?”
Nora reached into the pocket of his black jacket and pulled out his phone.
“I think if you take the first step toward him, he’ll take two steps toward you. In other words…call him.”
“On the phone? Nobody uses their phone to make calls. If I call him, he’ll think somebody died.”
“Fine. Text him then.”
“Do I have to?”
“Yes,” she said. “Does God have to do everything for you? You’re the Dom. Act like it.”
If Nora had said those words once to him, she’d said them a thousand times. He was trying to be the Dom by letting Mick go and being strong and silent about the whole thing. Yes, he’d whined to Nora for weeks about how much he missed Mick, how much he wanted to see him, how much he wanted to drag him home to America by the ear, throw him on their bed, beat him senseless and then fuck him until the cows came home—which would be a long damn time as they did not, in fact, own any cows.
But he hadn’t said a word of that to Mick. If Mick wanted time apart, Griffin would give it to him. He’d promised himself when he collared Mick, he would always give his sub what he needed, even when what Mick needed was the opposite of what Griffin wanted.
Griffin typed his passcode and stared down at the keypad. If he was going to finally break his silence, he had to say something good. But what? It had to be right. It had to be perfect. It had to be poetry that would melt Mick’s heart while simultaneously giving him an erection.
Griffin hit SEND before he could talk himself out of it. His hands were clammy. His heart was racing. He couldn’t take a full breath to save his life. The phone buzzed in his hand. He wanted to flip it over and look at the reply. He could. He would. But first he took a moment, just a second, just enough time to remind himself that he was healthy, he had a great family, he had the best friends in the world…plus he was gorgeous and had a big cock. If Mick said no, Griffin would survive it. He’d be okay. Eventually he would be okay. He might even love someone else again. A long long time from now. But eventually…yes. He’d be fine.
Once that was established, he turned his phone over and looked at the answer.
Hey you back.
Griffin might have been disappointed by that message but it was followed by a :) which gave him hope.
Are you back from Rome? Griffin typed.
Got back a couple days ago, Mick replied. I’m with Mom and my grandparents.
Griffin pondered that a moment. Mick’s grandparents lived in Fall River, Massachusetts. They were the “good” grandparents, his mom’s parents. The ones who didn’t give Mick a hard time for dating a guy.
You want to hang out soon? We should probably talk. Griffin wasn’t sure about sending that message. Sounded too serious. But he did want to hang out, and they probably should talk. If the breakup was going to be a permanent deal, then they had a lot to talk about. At the very least, Mick would need to get his stuff out of Griffin’s place, a prospect so miserable Griffin felt light-headed and sick simply imagining it.
Griffin sent the invitation. The response came a few seconds later.
Tell me when and where, and I’ll be there. Mick included yet another :) at the end of that message. Griffin almost shouted a “Praise the Lord” to the rafters. The phrase “Tell me when and where, and I’ll be there” was one Mick had texted many times before. It was his usual reply to Griffin’s “I’m dying to beat you and fuck you” message he sent at least once a week.
Before the breakup, of course.
Waldorf-Astoria. Christmas Eve. Dinner at 7?
Griffin typed the reply instantly without even thinking. After hitting “send,” he stared at the text and wondered why he’d chosen that particular hotel. He knew why, actually. He’d just forgotten about it, about that night at the Waldorf and what happened there and why it mattered so much that Mick know about it. But whatever happened between them, between him and Mick, Griffin needed to tell him and he needed to tell him there. That is, if Mick agreed to it. It had to be the Waldorf and it had to be Suite 37A. If he could talk Mick into going up with him…
Sounds good. See you then.
Griffin showed the reply to Nora.
“Praise be to Bowie,” Griffin said. Nora laughed and kissed him. Outside the church he heard people singing. The church choir was caroling.
Griffin knew this song—“Hark The Herald Angels Sing.” For the first time in three months he felt something like joy. Or at least hope. Beautiful bright hope ringing in his heart like a golden bell.
Maybe this Christmas wouldn’t fucking suck after all.