LightContemporary #GayRomance #Christmas
Jason Cooper slung his satchel over one of the sturdy pegs of the oak coat tree. That piece of furniture had been a gift from his brother, Chris, who ran a carpentry business back in their hometown of Lilacville, New York. It could hold at least three heavy bags without tipping over. Jason and his two roommates had repeatedly tested that claim and never found it false.
“So?” one of his roommates, Daiden, asked as he poked his head out of the bedroom he shared with his husband, Krys. “Was your scouting venture successful?” Tousle-haired and bleary-eyed, he’d clearly just woken up. Considering his usual twelve-hour shifts as one of NYC’s best oncologists, Jason didn’t blame him for sleeping in the middle of the day.
“Where’s Krys?” he countered as he kicked off his sandals and left them beside the coat tree. It was a Saturday; he should be home.
“Last I knew, he was going shopping. He said we needed to make a good impression on your guest.”
Good impression. Yeah, right. Krys and Daiden had done nothing but needle Jason about his two-year, long-distance relationship with Aaron. Not because they didn’t know and like Aaron but because… Well, each had his reasons. Krys thought Aaron would miss living in the country too much to ever settle down in Manhattan. Daiden was of a mind that Aaron was too “proud about being poor” to ever live in a vaulted-ceilinged, hardwood-floored apartment with Jason. “The only way he’ll ever settle in is if he strikes gold with his paintings first thing.”
Jason sort of believed Daiden.
“So, how did it go?” Daiden asked.
“I got the tickets. Are you sure I can borrow your picnic blanket?”
“Absolutely. And the hamper too. There’s nothing like sitting out under the sun in Central Park and enjoying a little al fresco lunch.”
Jason was fully aware of the tension crawling up the back of his neck. Even though the tickets had been free, it was a “donations expected” concert put on by the Philharmonic. All proceeds would go to Manhattan’s underprivileged schools for their music programs. Ninety percent of the public institutions in NYC were disadvantaged. Jason worked at one of these schools. Not only had his choice two years ago given him a trial by fire, but his student loans had been forgiven.
He would simply have to find a way to slip the orchestra money without Aaron knowing how much. Because Aaron would only be able to afford a dollar or two.
Jason went into his bedroom and shoved everything in the closet over to the left. Then he began extracting hangers. Aaron was as much of a neat freak as he was; it simply wouldn’t do for his week’s worth of clothes to be crammed into the suitcase during those seven days.
Aaron didn’t visit often and, because of his school schedule, neither did Jason. But now Aaron had said he was ready to take the plunge. After his final semester of school in the fall, he would be moving in with Jason, Daiden, and Krys.
Jason could hardly be more thrilled by the prospect. Just so long as Aaron’s “I have to pay for everything myself” streak of pride didn’t drive him crazy, he could see them settling down together happily. He’d loved Aaron since nearly their first meeting and he could only see joy in any future they made together.
Once he was done preparing the closet, he triple-checked his nightstand for condoms and lube. For six months after Aaron had been raped, they’d used condoms in case the monster had AIDS. They’d both started to enjoy not having to change the sheets as frequently.
Only when he was ensuring that all the squares in his quilt were perfectly straight and flat did Jason admit he was trying to kill time before Aaron’s bus arrived. The fact that Aaron wasn’t coming until tomorrow underlined Jason’s nervousness. Aaron had seen this room in its summer neatness and its mid-school-year disorder. Yes, but last time he wasn’t getting ready to move in here. I want to show him my best face.
“A moment in darkness…an eternity with a lover.”