For: The Tea Room's Holiday Prompts Challenge
OC: Link & Wes, and a visit from Ken & Jess
Warning: Unintentional invasion of privacy
A special Thank you to Dizzy D who not only loaned her characters, Ken and Jess, but stepped in to make very clear to Jess the behaviour expected of him when making a guest appearance.
Wes circled the slab of wood. He lovingly ran his hand over the rough surface as he followed the contour of the live edge. The rich hue of the cherry would add beautifully to the warm yellow pine walls of the home he shared with Link. Now if he just knew what to make from the slab.
"Hey, bud, think of anything yet?" Ken asked as he approached the well worn
work bench Wes was leaning over.
"I don't know, boss." Wes wanted to make something for their first Christmas
together. Something that would be part of him. But Link's home was perfect
before he moved in. What could he add to it? "Maybe this isn't a good idea."
Wes felt the pressure of Ken's large hand on his shoulder. "You know that man of yours will love anything you get him and if you make something from your heart even better." The gentle squeeze drove home Ken's message.
"Yeah, I guess," he sighed. "Thanks for letting me work on this here."
Hopefully, changing the subject a bit he asked "Are you sure you're OK with me being here after hours?"
"Sure, it's no different than you working alone during the day." Wes heard the seriousness when Ken continued. "All I ask is that you let me know if you will be working late and keep the doors locked when you`re here alone at night."
"Yes, sir, I will."
Ken ran his hand over the cherry. "You know, Wes, this might make a nice wall hanging." He motioned for Wes to follow him. "Here, look at these mirrors."
Wes watched as his boss found the website he was looking for. "Don't you think that slab is perfect for a Peek-A-Boo mirror?"
"Hey, that's neat." Wes was finally getting excited. "The holes in the slab
are perfect. And I think I have an idea to make it personal." Wes looked over at Ken, relieved he finally knew what he was giving his lover. "Thanks, Ken."
"No problem, son, glad I could help." After he shut down the computer, Ken
headed toward the door. "I have to check on a few things, Wes. Not sure if
I`ll be back today."
"OK, boss." Wes headed to the back to work on the custom mantel that was due
out next week. Once five o'clock rolled around and the other guys had left, he secured the rear of the shop, making sure to lock all the doors back there. Then he cleaned up and went on to his project. Getting out a belt sander, he got to work smoothing out the saw marks on the surface of the cherry. He made sure to follow the grain of the wood. After running through several grits of sand paper, most of the high spots were knocked down. Wes switched to the random orbital sander. He was so engrossed in developing a perfect surface he almost didn't hear his cell phone.
Grabbing the cell he snapped "Yeah!" then almost dropped it when he heard the voice on the other end. "Oops, sorry, T-Man." Damn, he knew better than to answer the phone like that. "Yeah, I know…I'm sorry…No…I just wasn't thinking…I won't." Mom would have taken his phone away back in the day and probably still would today if she heard him answer a phone like that. "No, I was just in the middle of a project, but I can always stop to talk to you." He laughed into the phone. "Yeah, I was trying for a save, did it work?….Ok I'll make it up to you later…another couple of hours…when are you getting off….Yeah…sure dinner sounds good…Ok, I'll see you then…Love you too." Wes dropped the cell on the work bench sighing in relief that Link didn't seem upset.
Picking up a wood gouge, Wes enlarged the three openings in the cherry.
Carefully following the original pattern to keep them as natural as possible. When he got them as big as he needed he pulled a router out to recess the back of the slab so the mirrors would fit flush.
Wes didn't hear the door open because the router made a major amount of noise even with ear protection. "Hey, Kid!" Wes didn't have any problem hearing Jess bellow as he walked across the room toward him. "What the hell are you doing here after hours?"
"I work here if it's any of your business!" Wes's adrenaline was flowing from the shock of seeing the much larger man bearing down on him. And he was pissed at the question.
"It sure as hell is my business, you might be the token manager but it's Ken's shop."
"Screw you; I'm not a token anything!" Wes needed to get hold of himself. He
shouldn't let Jess piss him off like this. He turned back to the router.
"Don't turn your back on me kid!" Jess grabbed Wes by the shoulder to pull him back around.
"What's your problem, Jess?" Wes had to use both his hands to push Jess's mass away. "Get your hands off me!" Taken by surprised, Jess lost his balance and pulled Wes down on top of him.
"HEY! WHAT`S GOING ON HERE?" Both men froze then both looked up to face a very angry Ken. "I asked a question. Someone better answer it!"
Wes quickly pushed himself to his feet, backing around the work bench to get
away from both men. Jess slowly rose from the floor. It was like watching a
small mountain rise from the concrete.
"I…I was driving by and saw the lights on so I stopped to check it out." Jess blurted out. "I was expecting to find someone robbing the place, but instead I find that kid in here alone, after hours."
"And, how is that a problem? He works here." Ken demanded.
"He shouldn't be in h…"
"Quiet!" Wes barely heard what Ken said but the tone was more than enough to
quiet Jess. Wes watched in amazement as Jess slipped his hands in the front
pockets of his faded jeans and looked away.
"Jess, I appreciate that you noticed the lights on and stopped to check, but
next time call me before you go barging in to the unknown. You could have been hurt or worse." With his partner subdued for the moment, Ken turned to Wes. "Wes, can you add anything to what Jess said?"
Wes shook his head, totally embarrassed and not trusting his own voice yet.
"Wes, I wasn't really asking. I came in here to find my shop manager and my
partner rolling around on the floor. So I think it's a valid question. Now.
What. Happened?" Wes didn't like the look on Jess's face but he knew blowing
Ken off was not an option.
"I was working on my project like we talked about. Using the router so I didn` t hear the door." He looked over at Jess and took a breath. "Next thing I know this, this bull moose is coming at me yelling that I don't belong in here."
Jess growled back at him, "Yeah, I'm a bull moose and I've got the horns too
Ken got right in Jess's face. "Jess Phillip, apologize to Wes." Jess didn't
move. But his face slowly turned bright red. The big man looked embarrassed. "NOW!" Wes had never seen his boss so pissed.
Jess gritted his teeth and growled "Sorry."
"Try again, Jess." Ken growled back at his brat, "and this time mean it."
It took a minute for Jess to turn to face Wes. "Look Wes, I am sorry. I really am. I don't know why I said that. I was mad but that was not called for." Jess paused, then looked at Ken. "And I shouldn't have stormed in here."
Not knowing what to do or say Wes just mumbled "OK." But he wasn't going to
move closer to the pair across the work bench from him.
"No, Wes, it's not OK. But I hope you will accept my partner's apology." Then Ken turned back to Jess. "We aren't done discussing this."
Jess just nodded.
"Excuse me," growled Ken.
Jess stammered as he glanced at Wes, "Yes sir."
"OK, Wes, let's get back to the reason you two were rolling around on the
All three men turned when the shop door shut. Wes wondered how long Link had
been standing there. He was relieved but nervous as he watched his lover walk toward them. All of a sudden his 5' 10" frame felt very small with these three powerfully built men taking up space in the shop.
Link shook Ken's hand, "Ken," looked at Jess, "Jess." Then holding his arm
out, he searched his lover`s face. "Come here, babe," he said . Wes slowly
walked around the work bench to the safety of the massive arm his lover draped over his shoulder. "You OK?"
"Yeah, I'm good," he answered. "We're all good." He looked over at Ken for
confirmation and noticed he had moved closer to Jess and was rubbing his neck.
"Well, we might be good if I ever find out why these two were tussling." Ken
commented. "I don't know what you heard Link, but these two were rolling on the floor when I walked it. Maybe you can help me find out why."
"Wes, what happened?" Link gently requested, although it didn't really sound
like a request.
"We weren't fighting, Link. And we weren`t rolling around." Wes saw Jess out of the corner of his eye. "Jess slipped and reached out. He pulled me down with him." Jess relaxed. But both Ken and Link were staring at Wes. "That's when Ken came in." `Well, that's mostly true,' Wes thought to himself.
"Wes, look at me," said Link. Wes knew that look.
Wes tried to keep eye contact with his partner, but couldn't. "Look, he did
come at me." Link's eyes narrowed. "No, not that way. He was storming toward
me and demanding to know why I was here." He stopped and took a deep breath. "I told him it was none of his business and went back to my work."
"Then what happened?" This time it was Ken asking.
Wes looked at Jess.
Defeated, the big man just nodded silently giving Wes permission to tell Ken
"Um," Wes began, "Jess told me not to turn my back on him and he put his hand on my shoulder. I guess I over reacted because I pushed him. He lost his balance and we both went down." Wes grinned. "I think it surprised both of us."
His boss turned to Jess. "Is that the way it happened?"
"Yeah, pretty much. I was pretty hot when I came in and found someone in here after hours. I startled Wes. Good thing I wasn`t a robber, he never saw me come in." Jess rubbed his hand over his face. "Never had anyone put me on the floor like that. That surprised me."
Wes flushed hoping Ken didn't catch that he hadn't locked the front door.
"OK, just so we are all on the same page here. Wes is the Shop Manager and has every right to be here after hours." Ken looked at his partner, "Got it?"
The only sound in the shop was the air compressor cycling to keep the tank's
Finally Ken asked "Jess, can you get away from work early for the rest of the week?"
"Yeah, it shouldn't be a problem, why?" Jess asked warily.
"Because you're going to spend time here every afternoon for the rest of the
week." From the look on Ken's face he didn't expect any arguments. "I need the help and you two just might learn to get along."
Link moved to say something but Ken stopped him, "Don't worry Link, I'll be here to supervise."
"OK, bro, hope you know what you're doing." Link still had an arm around his
"Oh I do. And you're welcome to help out too." Wes listened while Ken
explained why he needed the help. "I always set aside the week before Christmas for toy making. My group of kids have been making toys for a couple of months now and are doing a great job. I try to add a few larger toys to their contributions. And this year I'm going to have a couple of elves to help me out."
Link was laughing, "Well, Santa, if I can get away I'll be happy to help."
Jess didn't look too happy but wisely he wasn't voicing it.
"Do you need help cleaning up, babe?" Link asked. "We need to get going."
"You two go on, we'll take care of it. We have a couple of things to discuss
anyway. We can do that while we clean up." Ken stepped forward pulling Jess
with him. "Good to see you again, Link." He grasped Link's hand then followed suit with Wes. "See you tomorrow Wes." Then added in a tone Wes understood too well, "Wes, this time make sure door is locked."
Crap he'd heard. "Sure thing, boss." He turned to Jess. "Night, Jess."
Link leaned in and whispered something in Jess's ear.
Jess didn't say anything but the blush said a lot.
"Ok, babe, let's go. I'm starving."
Wes was following Link to their favorite pizza joint when he realized he'd
forgotten his jacket back at the shop. He knew he'd need the warmth of that
jacket in morning. They hadn't driven very far so he turned his truck around
and headed back to get it. He planned to use his key and slip in the front door and back out without drawing attention to himself. Ken and Jess's trucks were both parked in the front. Wes turned his headlights off and pulled into his space. Before he got out of his truck, Wes sent a text to Link that he had forgotten his jacket. He tossed the cell on the seat just in case Link called him. As he quietly entered the dark shop he heard voices coming from Ken`s office. Wes soundlessly walked to his locker and grabbed his jacket but froze when the two men came into the work area. Wes saw Jess walk with his head down, Ken following close behind. They were sure to see him if he tried to leave. Not knowing what else to do, he stepped behind the band saw hoping they couldn't see him in the dark room.
Ken flipped on the light over the first work bench. only lighting that area. "I thought we had settled this the last time we had to have this discussion, Jess. You agreed that you would speak to my SHOP MANAGER with respect. Telling Wes he was a token manager is not respect." Wes could see both men. He knew he should leave but couldn't make his feet move.
Wes saw Jess`s head snapped up. "You weren`t here when I said that."
"I was here, you just didn't see me. I saw you walking into the shop when I
came back. And I heard the conversation when I opened the door." Ken
explained. "I wanted to see how far you would take it and if the two of you
could work it out by yourselves."
Jess didn't say anything.
"I warned you once, but obviously I didn't make a big enough impression." Ken continued, "So, let me warn you again. You WILL treat ALL my employees with respect! Take off your belt, and give it to me."
Wes watched dumbfounded as Jess fumbled with his belt. Jess looked at Ken and said, "I'm sorry. I don't know why I acted like that."
Ken replied with, "I don't know either, but it's not happening again. I'm going to use your belt this time. Go ahead and lower your jeans, and bend over that work table."
Wes watched as Jess turned and lowered his jeans. He couldn't believe what he was seeing as Jess leaned his elbows on the worktable. The first slap of the belt had Wes's mouth going completely dry. He heard a hiss escape Jess's mouth. No moisture came back as he continued to stand there mesmerized by the next dozen slaps of the belt. The last few strokes of the belt were accompanied by loud grunts from Jess. Wes couldn't believe the color of Jess's ass. He continued to watch as Ken laid the belt on the table beside Jess.
"I think we won't need to visit the issue of respect again, do you?"
"No, sir. I got it."
"And I've got you, we're good." Wes saw Ken gather Jess into his arms, and saw Jess's muscular arms grip Ken.
Wes skirted the work benches and silently followed the wall of the shop to the door after Ken led Jess back into the office. He was careful not to make any noise as he opened then closed the heavy door. After locking it, he returned to his truck, checking his phone for messages. There was only one from Link. The message was simple and to the point: Do not go back now. We will get it later. Wes knew he was in trouble but there was nothing he could do about it now. He text Link again, "Traffic heavy - there soon."
Wes slowly drove to the restaurant needing the time to think. He wasn't sure if he should be relieved that Ken and Jess shared a relationship much like his and Link's or not. He did know one thing, he wasn't going to let Jess know he saw them. Wes shook his head to clear the picture of Ken using Jess's belt on him. Of Jess letting Ken do it. Wes wondered if Link would ever think he needed to use a belt on him.
When Wes finally got to the restaurant Link had ordered his favorite pizza:
mushroom, black olives and sausage. Dinner was quiet. Wes didn't say much
during the meal. Besides thinking about the scene at the shop he was also
wondering what Link had said to Jess. He was ok with Link not asking too many questions but he kept stealing glances at his man. Finally, after some small talk, he cleared his throat and bit the bullet. "Are we OK, Link?"
"We're great, sweetheart. Unless you picked that fight?" Link raised that damn eyebrow.
"Link, we weren't fighting." His voice was a little louder than he intended.
Wes felt a squeeze to his thigh. "I know, babe, but if you're uncomfortable in any way with Jess this week, you either tell Ken or call me. Understand?"
"T-man, you do know I'm an adult and can take care of myself, don't you? Jess only scares me a little." He grinned.
"Oh I know you are an adult, honey. But Jess let's his body do his talking and I don't totally trust him yet. Now do you understand?"
"Yes, I understand, but it'll be OK. I don't think Jess will do anything. I
know he won't with Ken in the building."
"No, I don't think so either. But promise me anyway."
Wes laughed. "OK, I promise. Do I need to cross my heart too?"
"You better be careful, kiddo, are I`ll cross more than your heart." Link
chuckled. "Eat your dinner."
Wes picked at an olive on his slice of pizza. "Link, what did you say to Jess before we left?"
He saw Link study his face before saying "It was between Jess and me, babe." Link reached for Wes's hand. "Did you go back and get your jacket?"
Wes blushed, "Yeah, I got it." He couldn't meet Link's dark eyes. "I left my
cell in the truck. I didn't see your message."
"Do you want to tell me what you saw when you went back?"
"Babe, we aren't the only one's living in a unique relationship. Tell me, what you saw." Link gently demanded.
Wes looked around the restaurant before softly answering Link's question. "Um, they were in the office when I got there. So I thought I'd just get my jacket and leave." He stopped and watched Link for signs he already knew what Wes had seen.
"Is that what happened, Wes?
"No, not exactly. I got to my locker ok and got my jacket. But they came out
of the office. They went to one the work benches. Ken told Jess he was going to make sure Jess showed respect to his employees." Wes sucked in a deep breath to calm himself. "Ken asked Jess for his belt. Then Ken beat Jess with it."
Still covering Wes's hand, Link asked, "Did he really beat Jess or was it only a spanking?" Was Jess fighting it?"
"He wasn't fighting it. I think he knew he was wrong." Wes conceded. "I
wanted out of there so bad but I couldn't get to the door without them seeing me. The only thing I could do was hide behind the band saw. I didn't want Jess to see me."
"You were trapped." Link moved around the booth so he was closer to his brat. "You did the right thing considering the circumstances. Jess doesn't need to know what you saw."
"What did you say to Jess, Link? I saw him blush." He didn't know why but Wes needed to know what was said.
Wes felt Link's rough hand on the back of his neck, turning him slightly so they were facing each other. "I told Jess that I hoped Ken could adjust his attitude toward my partner or I would."
"Oh." Wes thought about Link's words for a minute then looked his protector
right in those beautiful dark eyes. "I think Ken handled it just fine, T-Man."
"I hope so , babe, I hope so." Then Wes felt Link's lips on his forehead. "Eat your pizza, babe.
"Did you talk to your parents about Christmas?" Wes asked after taking a couple of bites of his pizza.
"Yes, Mom's expecting us around two."
Wes smiled, "Great, we can spend Christmas morning together. Our first
"First of many, sweetheart." Link covered Wes's hand with his larger one. "Did you know Mom invited your parents to dinner too?"
"No, my mom didn't tell me that when she was drilling me about your favorite
food. I bet she's making something to bring to dinner." Wes laughed, then
covered his mouth with his napkin, hoping no one was watching.
"Hey, babe, how about we head up the mountain? Get you into bed so you'll be
ready to deal with Jess tomorrow."
"Well, we can go home and I'll go to bed but we aren't going to sleep just yet." His goofy grin spread across his face.
The next afternoon came too soon for Wes. He was nervous about being in the
shop with Jess even with his boss there. Jess was moving a little slower but
things seemed to be good between the two big men. Jess stayed closer to Ken. Wes always needed to be closer to Link after he got spanked.
The first three days were uneventful as the store room filled with rocking
horses, cradles, trucks, high chairs, and more. Jess even bypassed Ken and
asked Wes what he needed him to do a few times. They were getting along pretty good. On Thursday Ken left but wasn`t back by the time Jess got to the shop.
Wes was finishing up the mantel when Jess came in. He couldn't help tensing as Jess walk toward him. "Hey, Jess."
Jess nodded back at him. "Hey. Where's Ken?"
"He left to do an estimate a couple of hours ago. Must have been a problem cuz he said he would be back by now," Wes explained.
"I'm going to start cleaning up the back, OK?"
"Sure, I'll help in a minute. I just want to get my stuff laid out first." Wes replied.
"That's OK, I got it. Not much to do back there anyway." Jess picked up a
broom and started sweeping sawdust and shavings toward the back of the shop.
Several minutes later Jess had returned the broom to its holder. Wes saw him
heading his way.
"So, what are you still doing here? I figured you'd want to get home to your
Wes was ready to blast Jess for his comment but knew he needed to get hold of himself. He shouldn't let Jess upset him. They'd been doing so good. He took a deep breath. "I'm working on a present for MY mountain man. Wanta see it?" Before Jess could answer he added "You can't tell Link though."
"Kid, in case you hadn't noticed I try to keep my distance from your man."
"I noticed." Wes looked at Jess. He was getting used to being called kid by
the older man. "You don't like us much. Why?"
Jess walked over to the work bench. Wes watched as he leaned against it,
crossing his arms. The work shirt he was wearing did nothing to hide the
muscles beneath it. He didn't say anything. Wes could tell he was trying to
form his thoughts. But then he just shrugged.
"I think you should give Link a chance," Wes continued. He's a great guy and
he is Ken's friend."
"I`ll try, kid." Jess didn`t quite hide from Wes the flicker of emotion that
flashed in his eyes .
Wes shrugged. "You and me didn't have a great start either and look at us now. We're actually doing more than grunting at each other."
"I`ve been meaning to ask, kid," Wes felt the bigger man's eyes piercing him, "why didn't you stick around for your interview?"
"Yeah, the truth. I'm a big boy, I can take it."
"I decided I didn`t want to work for you." He waited for the explosion and when it didn't come, he continued. "You were outside yelling at one of your
employees. I didn't want to deal with a boss that would do that. So I left." Jess's face was bright red. Wes couldn't tell if he was mad or embarrassed.
Wes moved around the work bench to put a little more distance between them. Wes looked at Jess. "I should thank you though."
"Yeah, why's that kid?"
"Well, if you hadn't yelled at that guy you would have hired me. After all I am good at what I do and you couldn`t have stopped yourself." He couldn't help grinning. "But then I would have missed out on this job, and I really love working here. So thank you very much." He swept his arm across his body bowing to the big man across the work bench.
"So me being an asshole helped you, huh?" Wes saw the start of a smile on
He laughed, "Yeah, it did."
Jess laughed too. "It sounds like I have your approval to be an asshole. You
want to tell Ken that for me?"
"Um, no I think I'll let you handle that."
"Coward." Jess turned toward Wes's project. "So what are you making for your
Wes chuckled to himself. "It's called a Peek-A-Boo mirror. Ken gave me the
idea." He turned the slab over. "I'm almost done. Just got to finish this
last mirror. Gunna add a little something personal."
The bigger man rubbed his hand over the surface of Wes's project. "You do good finish work, kid."
"Thanks." He blushed as he reached for the contact paper. After sticking the
paper to the last mirror, he transferred a drawing to the paper.
Glancing at Jess he chuckled at the confusion on the contractor's face. "You
lost me, kid." Jess conceded. "Guess I'll just wait and watch."
"OK, big guy, watch the magic." He picked up an Exacto knife and started
cutting pieces of the contact paper away. When he was satisfied Wes opened a
small bottle of white liquid and began painting it on the cutaway areas. "Now it needs to dry for about 15 minutes."
They both looked up when the front door opened and Ken entered the shop. "Hey,guys. Sorry I was gone so long, Wes."
Wes laughed, "It's fine, boss, we've been on our best behavior. Just talking
and working." He looked toward Jess. The big guy was suddenly very quiet, a
red hue to his face. "Actually, I was just about to reveal the magic. Follow
me." Picking up the glass the three of them moved to the utility sink where Wes carefully washed the goo away along with the paper. He held the mirror up for the men standing over him to see.
"You were right, kid, that is magic."
"Link will love it, Wes." Ken added to Jess's praise.
Wes looked away feeling the heat rise in his face too. "I hope so, Ken." Wes
carefully dried the glass then installed it into the last of the recesses he has created in the back of the cherry. But he couldn't bring himself to turn the assembly over. Wes felt Ken's hand on his shoulder. He saw Jess pick up the frame and turn it over so they all could see it.
"Link is really going to love your gift. The time and care shows and he will
love it for that alone." Ken added.
Wes grinned at the third mirror. "Oh yeah, I think Link will like it."
Wes hadn't felt this way since he was a little kid. He couldn't remember the
last time he was awake at 5:30 on a Christmas morning. But then this wasn't any Christmas. It was their first Christmas morning. Sleep wasn't going to happen again. He turned over one more time then gave up and quietly got out of bed.
"Babe, I'd suggest you get your butt right back here."
"Awe, T-Man, I can't sleep." Wes whined. "I'll just go watch some TV until you get up."
"Come back to bed, Wesley." At that tone, Wes moved back toward their bed. His lover held the blankets back for him. Link pulled him into his chest. His large rough hand gently rubbed circles on Wes's back. "Close your eyes and listen to my heart, babe."
"T-Man, it's our first Christmas together, I can`t sleep."
"Yes, and it will still be our first Christmas in a couple of hours."
"Well, I'm getting up." Wes struggled to get up. "Link, I can`t sleep any
longer." Then he felt the hand on his back move lower until it rested on his
butt gently tapping his left cheek. "Um, OK, maybe I can sleep a little
longer." He laid his head back on Link's muscular chest just knowing he
wouldn't be able to go back to sleep, but he thought he would humor his top. He lay still and let the rhythmic stroking of Link's hand and the beat of his heart relax him.
It seemed like he had just closed his eyes when he felt the warmth of the sun on his face and Link whispering. "Babe, time to wake up." Wes groaned not wanting to move. But then he heard the softly spoken words again. "It's Christmas morning, honey."
Wes's eyes opened. He blinked at the bright light in the room. His lover was
grinning at him. Wes stretched and yawned. "Can we open our special presents
"Well, I thought we would shower and then have breakfast first."
Link chuckled at the look he was getting from his brat. "Besides I already got my special present when I found you. I can`t ask for more than you in my life."
"NO!" Wes whined, "I don't want to wait any longer. I want you to open my
present for you. It's not great but I think you will like it."
Link pulled Wes up wrapping him in his massive arms. "I'll love anything you
give me sweetheart." Wes felt his lover's lips as they brushed his forehead. "Come on, babe, time for Christmas."
Wes bounced down the stairs ahead of Link. The room was warm from the fire Link had started earlier while Wes was still asleep. Two mugs of coffee were ready and waiting. The soft glow from the tree lights provided the only light in the room besides the flickering flames from the fireplace. Link grabbed his brat from behind kissing his neck. "Ready, babe?"
"Yeah, Merry Christmas, Link." Wes twisted around to return the hug and kiss. Then he hurried over to an oddly shaped gift. Handing it to the most important person in his life, he said, "I know it's nothing special, and it's only homemade but I wanted to give you something no one else ever has."
Link carefully took the present. Then pulled Wes to the sofa taking a seat next to him. Wes could hardly contain himself, but Link was taking his time
revealing what was inside the wrapping paper. Slowly the rich hue of the cherry emerged. "You made this, babe?"
"Yeah, at the shop. Do you like it?"
Wes watched as Link ran his hand over the wood stopping to run a finger over the etching on the mirror. "I love it, Wes. Is this why you've been working at the shop late? You've given your time to make this beautiful gift for me. I love how you added something personal too. I know just the place to hang it." Link stood and walked to the end wall of the fireplace between the living room and kitchen. "Here, so we see it every time we come home and we know the little guy is looking out for us." He removed the painting already there and hung the mirror. He hugged his brat. "OK, babe, your turn." Link led Wes back to the tree. "One of your presents is hanging on the tree."
Wes looked through the branches finally finding a raccoon ornament. "This
little guy?" Looking back at his top he muttered, "Um, thanks, T-Man,"
Link laughed at the expression on Wes's face. "It's a key chain, babe."
"Yeah, it's great. I love it." He knew he didn't sound very convincing.
"I'm glad you love it, honey." Link's dark eyes were sparkling. "Wes, the
fire's getting low can you get a couple more logs for me?"
Wes glanced at the fire, which looked ok to him, but headed for the door anyway. He was still trying to figure out if the key chain was the only thing Link got for him. Distracted, he almost fell over the brand new kayak lying on the porch.
"It's yours, babe. Do you like it?"
"I love it, Link. Thank you." He was having a hard time controlling his
emotions. This meant he had Link's trust again. Wes turned and ran into his
lover's arms. He buried his face into the strong chest and couldn't stop the
tears. "I love you, Link."
"I love you too, babe. Come on, let's clean up in here and then we can have
some breakfast. If we hurry we should have just enough time for a, um, nap and shower before we need to leave."
Passing the wall hanging he had made for Link as they walked into the kitchen, Wes saw the etching of their raccoon peeking out at them through their reflection and smile.