Reconnecting Christmas

an excerpt

Chapter One

Maybe he wouldn't be alone this Christmas...Oliver McNamara stuffed the key into the lock of the home he shared with his partner, Bert Bard, and blew out a long breath. The chilly December air wrapped around him, sending a shiver down his spine despite the thick puffer jacket he wore. He opened the door and stepped into the foyer of the house. He sighed. Being alone, even while having a partner, sucked.

He eased into the foyer, then shut the door. Instead of shucking his shoes and coat, he paused and listened for any sign Bert might be there. The silence damn near deafened him. No Bert.

Oliver dropped his duffle bag onto the bench and then wrestled free from his coat. He toed out of his shoes as he left the jacket on the set of hooks.

Loneliness seeped into his bones. The last six months had been rough...rougher than normal. He and his partner didn't see each other as often as he'd have liked. Both of them being models tended to keep them apart. When Bert went to New York, Oliver tended to be sent to San Francisco. If he went to Milan, then Bert landed in the Bahamas. Not a good way to run a relationship. He lived for the moments between jobs when he could be with Bert. He wandered into the living room to the photo of Bert on the mantle. He touched the frame. Not seeing his lover in the last month was awful. The only time they'd been together was for phone sex and sexts. He needed to see Bert in person.

The rumors didn't help matters any. Every time he picked up a fashion magazine or looked on the internet, he was bombarded with stories and photos of Bert with other guys. Some of the tales were pure fiction and revolved around a made up relationship between Bert and the guy he'd posed with, but some smacked of reality. Bert was easy on the eyes--as a model, he had to be--and many of the guys he worked with hit on him. Oliver saw the flirting firsthand. He trusted his partner, but still. Some men and women were persistent. They didn't care who they stepped on in order to get what they wanted. So he was in a relationship? Didn't matter. If they could sleep with Bert and advance their careers, then they'd try.

Oliver scrubbed both hands over his face and groaned. He could just hear Bert's voice in his mind. You're overthinking again. Stop or you'll blow the top off your head.

No shit. He turned his back on the photo and tugged his phone from his back pocket. Not texts or voicemails. Damn. He headed back to the foyer to the specialized mailbox Bert had created. To anyone on the outside of the house, the mail slot looked ordinary. Instead of the mail falling onto the floor or onto a little bin, Bert had created a basket. Once the mail went through the slot, it landed in the basket, but a flap covered the slot from the inside and outside. No way someone could use it to break into the house.

Oliver snatched the stack of letters from the basket, then carried them into the office. Bert usually handled the bills. He liked the thrill getting the numbers to all work out. Not Oliver. He preferred to do his magic in the kitchen. He flipped through the mail. Bills, reminders, ads and junk...nothing exciting or anything that couldn't wait until Bert returned. Hell, Bert probably had most of the bills set up to autopay and the paper wasn't needed.

He settled behind Bert's desk and breathed in the scent of Bert's cologne in the room. The spicy aroma comforted him--almost as much as having Bert with him. As he stared off into space in the office, his phone buzzed.

"Shit," he muttered. He'd forgotten he'd left the device in his pocket. He tugged the phone free and swiped across the screens. A missed call and voicemail. When the hell had his phone rang? He should've heard it. Right? He gritted his teeth. He'd turned the setting to vibrate when he left the plane and drove home. Well, shit. He touched the numbers to input his code and retrieve his voicemail.

"Hey you," Bert said. "I'm running behind. Nadine signed me on for a last minute shoot, then I got my times mixed up and went shopping instead of catching my plane. I know, I know. Give me money and figures...I'm set, but don't expect me to get to the church on time. Anyway, I'm stepping onto the plane in ten. By the time I get home, you'll be at Pete and Kenley's dinner party. Go ahead and go. I'll catch up to you there. I love you, babe."

Oliver played the message over again and closed his eyes. For a moment, he pretended Bert was there talking to him, rather than over the phone on a recorded message.

Well, shit. Oliver did the math. Bert wouldn't be there for another four hours. Not awful, but not fun. He'd planned on giving himself over to Bert before the party. Hot sex always relaxed them. Now he'd have to settle for playing with himself. He crinkled his nose. He liked masturbation, but having his hand as his only lover wasn't very much fun. He'd rather have Bert.

Oliver finger-combed his hair from his forehead and stood. He stuffed his phone into his back pocket again and headed out of the office. If he had four hours to kill, he might as well spend them doing something constructive. He grabbed his bag from the foyer and carried it upstairs to the bedroom. He dumped the contents onto the floor.

As he sorted through his things, his thoughts turned to Bert and their shared career. Going off for photo shoots wore him out after a while. He might only be twenty-eight, but in model years, he was ancient. The constant traveling tired him. Some people would probably kill to have his job. They'd want to be able to travel and meet famous people. To go to fancy restaurants without reservations and attend movie premiers...he truly had no right to complain. He had a good life. One he'd worked hard to achieve. He'd enjoyed the lifestyle once, but now he wished he'd followed his dream when he'd been in college. His friend swore going into culinary arts and working as a chef wouldn't pay the bills. Maybe not. For all he knew, he could be a happy chef who made no money. He could've been a famous one if he'd tried. But that was it. He hadn't been able to try. He'd worried about what others thought and gave up his dream in order to make easy money.

He sat on the bed and rested his elbows on his knees. If he had his choice now, he'd rather be a chef. He could cook and enjoy the food he made, not worry about the calories consumed or if he gained weight. He couldn't wait for the day he could go to the gym because he wanted to, not because the client thought he'd gained in the wrong places and needed to work it all off.

Jet lag set in. He should take a load of laundry downstairs. Should. When he glanced back at his pillow, any chores he might want to do evaporated. He'd rather sleep.

Oliver set the alarm on his phone, then turned the ringer on and stretched out on the bed. If he was going to get to Peter and Kenley's at a decent hour--like on time--he couldn't sleep long.

Oliver collapsed on the bed but instead of restful slumber, he couldn't turn off his brain. No matter what he tried to do to get comfortable, fluffing the pillow, rustling in the sheets and he pulled off his socks, but nothing worked. He closed his eyes and buried his nose in Bert's pillow. He tried resting on his back, then his side. Still, nothing worked. When he flopped onto his belly and snuggled Bert's pillow, the scent of Bert's cologne relaxed him. He drifted to sleep and a vision of Bert appeared. A dream? He'd take a dream if he couldn't have Bert there with him.

Bert strode up to him, clad in tight but unbuttoned jeans and an open white dress shirt. His bare feet peeked out from under the frayed denim cuffs of his jeans.


"I'm right here," Bert said. He stalked across the bedroom up to Oliver. The predatory look shined in his eyes. Was Oliver his prey? Worked for Oliver. The light from twinkle lights shone all over the room and bathed them in a rainbow of color.

"You're home." Oliver sat up and shoved the blankets out of the way.

"Uh-huh." Bert shrugged out of the dress shirt and then shoved his pants to the floor. His smooth skin shimmered in the light from the Christmas bulbs.

Oliver licked his lips. He loved when Bert removed the hair from his chest, but left his treasure trail intact. He longed to run his fingers over Bert's smooth skin. He shivered. "I want."

"What you do you want?" Bert rested his hands on his hips and flexed his pectoral muscles.

"You." Oliver fumbled with his shirt, but instead of getting the garment off he ended up tangling himself in the arms. Where was his sophistication when he needed it?

"Roll over." Bert swatted Oliver's hip. Just a gentle love tap kind of swat, but it ratcheted up Oliver's desire.

But...didn't he have to get naked first? He glanced down at his arms. The shirt seemed to melt away and his legs were already bare. Well, all right. He wished undressing in real life was this quick. He turned onto his belly and flashed his ass at Bert.

"Nice." Bert swatted Oliver's rump hard. The sound echoed in the room. "I can't wait to bury myself in it."

"Then stop talking and do it." He loved to tease Bert in bed. Besides, he couldn't wait, either.

"I will." Bet climbed onto the bed behind Oliver and straddled Oliver's legs. He rained kisses all over Oliver's back. Soft, sweet kisses that turned into nips and bites.

Oliver shivered and almost said, no marks, but this was a dream. Who gave a fuck if Bert left a hickey on his skin? He wanted proof he belonged to Bert and wanted that proof all over his body.

Bert stretched out along Oliver's back and spoke in Oliver's ear. "Ready?"

"Uh-huh. Beyond ready." Oliver panted and tried his best to relax. Having Bert inside of him brought every sense to life and made every nerve ending tingle.

Bert slid one of his fingers between Oliver's ass cheeks. Fire licked Oliver from within. He breathed in the scent of Bert's cologne and savored the sound of his lover's voice. Passion for Bert bubbled within his heart. He needed this more than he needed his next breath.

"You'll get it all at Gerry's Outlet Mall," a voice sang.

What the hell? Who said that? When Oliver glanced over his shoulder, Bert wasn't there. The pressure on his backside had dissipated.

"Bert?" He whipped over and sat up on the bed. "Bert?" Where was his lover?

No answer. No sign Bert had even been there. No clothes on the floor or closet doors open. Nothing. He was just there...

"The finest in gold watches and silver chain...only at Gerry's," the voice said again. This time Oliver noticed the music.

Oliver opened his eyes. He recognized the voice--the announcer on the radio. He scrubbed both hands over his face. When he'd set his phone alarm, he must've also set the clock radio one without thinking about it. He swatted the clock beside the bed and groaned. So much for the dream.

He stared at the ceiling and sighed. Bert might not be there right now, but he'd be home that night. Maybe he could convince Bert to leave the party early so they could have more private time together. If things worked out, he'd be able to experience what he'd dreamed of in person. He chuckled. The perfect end to the dream was both of them coming. He could do that. Once Bert got home, he'd give his lover the best Christmas present ever--a white-hot orgasm.