If you’re a member of my Facebook group, Lane’s Lovers, you know I’ve been intending to write a short story featuring my Leaning Into boys for a while. The holidays seem like a perfect occasion to get the San Fran boys together! My intention is to post a chapter once a week throughout the month of December. The story will told from different POVs. First up is Eric (with Zane) from Leaning Into Love and Leaning Into Always. Enjoy!
Happy Holidays! Happy Reading! Lane xoLeaning Into the Holidays- Part 1
The seven foot tree in the middle of the living room needed immediate attention. It was out of place, crooked and probably should have been placed in water. Or maybe it was already in water. I crouched low and squinted at the tree holder attached to the trunk under the lush branches of the Nobel fir. I couldn’t be sure, so I slid in my stomach and dipped my hand inside and—
“Er, I got the box with lights but I can’t find the ornaments and—what are you doing?”
I slithered out from under the tree and sat up on my knees before fixing Zane with a puzzled look. “I was checking the water but…what do you mean you can’t find the ornaments? They should be right next to the lights. They’re color coded. The box is red.”
“Yeah. I remember. Maybe we misplaced it. It’ll turn up. Let’s pop some popcorn and string it up with cranberries. The guys will help. It’ll be fun. Then we can buy some cheap bulbs tomorrow and finish up. What do you say?”
I stared at my handsome husband until he cracked. His pretty blue eyes crinkled at the corners and then a slow growing grin took over his face before he burst into laughter.
“You’re hysterical,” I huffed as I stood and moved to inspect the green box he set on the coffee table in our living area.
“What makes you think I’m joking?” he asked, pulling me against him before I opened the box.
“Because you know me too well to suggest stringing popcorn and cranberries with a straight face. Besides, teasing me is your second favorite pastime.”
“What’s my first?”
“True.” Zane nuzzled my neck and then captured my mouth in a toe-curling kiss. He squeezed my ass and rocked his hips suggestively before sliding his tongue between my lips.
I was dizzy when we broke for air and I honestly couldn’t remember what we were talking about. Oh yeah, the Christmas tree.
“So where’s the other box, funny guy?”
“On the stairs.” He unbuckled my belt and threaded the leather through the loop before I could protest. “Let’s forget about the tree, baby. I wanna be inside you.”
“Mmm. The guys are going to be here soon.” I whispered a dirty promise in his ear, chuckling when he shivered theatrically.
“Fuck. I hope no one’s early. I’m so hard it hurts. Maybe you can help me out a little bit.”
“I’ll help you out a lot after they leave,” I assured him with a smile.
I traced Zane’s jaw and stared into his beautiful blue eyes. Fuck, he was gorgeous. Inside and out. Sometimes it amazed me that this all-encompassing feeling of love and gratitude seemed stronger than ever. Four years ago I’d married my best friend and it was easily the best decision I’d ever made. Sure, we were complete opposites but we worked.
Zane was a professional sailor and elite boat broker with sun-streaked longish blond hair and lean, swimmer’s physique. In many ways, he still resembled the sophisticated version of the surfer boy he’d been when we first met in high school. Of course, he was quick to remind me that we didn’t actually become friends until we met again at orientation our freshman year at Stanford. The romance part came later but damn, I was grateful it did. I couldn’t imagine spending the rest of my life with anyone else. And when I thought about the journey we were about to embark on, I got a tingly feeling inside that made me want to pinch myself.
Zane sighed then kissed my nose. “Fine. Who’s coming and what exactly are we doing?”
“The guys…Nick and Wes, Josh and Finn, and Grant and Miles. And we’re supposed to be decorating this thing.” I pointed at the lopsided tree behind me. “I invited Geordie and Levi, but they had an event at the restaurant and Ryan and Danny are closing at the winery tonight. So, it’s the original gang and our husbands…or fiancés.”
Zane, Nick, Josh, Grant, and I met in college and had formed a strong bond over the years based on shared experiences, respect and friendship. We were like family. Closer than our actual families in some cases. I was grateful we all still lived in the Bay Area and were able to get together often. And I was thankful our significant others fit in well.
“Is it ironic that the only Jewish guy in our group of friends hosts the annual tree trimming party?” I joked. I kept my gaze locked on Zane’s ass when he turned to fetch the box of ornaments. The guy made basic denim look like designer wear.
“You started this tradition after we got married. You insisted that we celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas, remember? It’s not necessary anymore, Er. We can stick to Hanukkah and let the other guys take over the tree stuff. Miles is good at decorating. Let him do it. And Geordie loves hosting and—” Zane furrowed his brow and cocked his head. “Uh oh…why are you looking at me like that? What’d I say?”
I tossed an irritated scowl at him before opening the box of Christmas lights. “This is our thing. We’re keeping it and the Hanukkah dinner. Miles and Grant have the Greek feast, Josh and Finn do the cookie decorating deal and Nick and Wes have the holiday party Geordie and Levi host at the winery. Everyone has a special thing and now more than ever, we need these traditions.”
“Now more than ever, eh?” Zane tugged at my elbow then pulled me close again, resting his forehead on mine. “So, what’s the plan? How should we tell them?”
“I don’t know.” I bit my bottom lip and swallowed hard. “I’m kinda nervous. Are you?”
“A little. It feels funny, but in a good way,” he said softly.
“A really good way,” I agreed. We shared a conspiratorial grin and kissed again. After a few moments, I stepped out of his hold and pointed at the tree. “We have to fix that thing. It’s leaning precariously. Do you want to move it in front of the bay window first?”
“Yeah, I can’t wait to move it the bay window,” he snarked.
Zane picked up the tree and set it in the designated corner. To prove he was easily the best husband ever, he adjusted it to the left…then the right and back again until I declared it was perfect.
“Great! Let’s water it and throw the lights on and—fuck! Did I order the pizza?”
“I did. Everything is taken care of. Don’t worry.” He hefted the boxes closer to the tree then pulled a strand of white lights out and plugged them in to test the bulbs.
“What kind of pizza did you get?” I asked, popping the lid off the box containing ornaments.
“The usual,” he replied absently.
“Hmm. Do you need my help with the lights?”
“Nah. I got it.”
“You know I’m gonna go crazy if you don’t give me something to do. Maybe I should organize the ornaments.”
Zane widened his eyes comically. “Er, I think you organized the hell out of those things when you packed them away last year. Just sit on the sofa and talk to me. Tell me about your day.”
“We were together all day.”
“Right. Well…tell me what you’re thinking about this very second,” he said in a calming voice as he wrapped the lights around the bottom portion of the tree trunk.
“I’m thinking about Christmas traditions, and how it must be different for every family. Everyone is celebrating the same thing but doing it with their own style. Did you and your mom do anything special when you were a kid?” I asked conversationally.
Zane must have heard something in my voice. He stopped what he was doing and smiled. “We did this.”
“What do you mean?”
“We brought our tree home, pulled the decorations from storage. I was in charge of the lights because I was taller and way more patient when it came to making sure they were evenly distributed. She’d watch me while she unpacked the ornaments.” He winked then added, “Like you’re doing now.”
“Is this a weird “I married my mom” moment for you?” I held up a silver bulb and snickered at his horrified expression.
“Fuck, I hope not. Anyway, back to ‘Christmas with Richards’…once the lights were up, we got to work. There was always holiday music on in the background and she always made hot chocolate. I have to admit, when I was little, it felt pretty magical. In my teen years, it was torture, but she insisted on the tradition. She told me I could invite friends to join us if I wanted. I never did. Even though I was sure I was too old and too cool to drink hot cocoa with my mom while “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” played on the radio, it felt like something special that only belonged to us. We kept it up even when I was in college. And other than adding some Bailey’s to the hot chocolate, it was the same. The same ornaments, the same music. And it was always just us. We were a team. I didn’t have a dad or any siblings. And even when she had a boyfriend, she didn’t invite him.”
“But she invited me. Remember that year? We were in our twenties. I think you’d just come out as bi. We weren’t together then. In fact, I think I was still with Nick.”
I frowned at the decade-old memory. Nick was one of my best friends and my business partner at EN Tech, the successful tech firm we’d started after graduation. And for a short time, we were lovers. It seemed like a lifetime ago. We were thirty-five now. I wouldn’t say it was a total disaster, but Nick and I needed our friendship more than sex. With Zane, I had both.
“Of course I remember. You laughed at the star of David I made out of popsicle sticks when I was in first grade. You know my mom still hangs that on her tree every year,” he said proudly.
“I didn’t laugh. Okay, fine. Maybe I did a little. It was cute. And I guess I was surprised to see it on a tree. I’m sure my mom didn’t keep the holiday Santas I made when I was in grade school. Unless she put them in storage,” I mused thoughtfully. “I’m going to hang every piece of art our kids bring home. Handprint turkeys, paper menorahs, hand-crafted ornaments…everything.”
“We’re going to need a bigger house,” he teased.
“Probably.” I glanced down at the festive bulbs before asking, “Was I the only one your mom invited to help decorate the tree?”
“You were the only one I wanted, baby. You always were,” he said softly.
I opened and closed my mouth, torn between surprise and pleasure, as his words wrapped around me like a gossamer veil.
“God, I love you,” I whispered.
“I love you too, Er.” When he motioned for me to come to his side, I didn’t hesitate. I pushed the ornament box aside and dropped to my knees before throwing myself into his outstretched arms.
I clutched at his blue oxford shirt in a quest to be as close to him as possible. “I can’t wait to start a family with you.”
“We already are family. We have been for years. I think my mom sensed it before we did.”
“She’s pretty smart.” I pulled back and brushed my nose against his. “We can’t uninvited our friends now, but maybe next year we should have our own tree trimming party and continue your old family tradition.”
“I don’t think that’s necessary. Our friends are part of our family too, just in a different way. We don’t need old traditions. We can make up new rules as we go. The only thing that matters is that we’re together.”
Zane rubbed his thumb across my lips before sealing his mouth over mine. White lights twinkled on the tree branches next to us and reflected against the window lending a festive mood to the moment. I wished I’d turned on holiday music to complete the scene. But Zane was right. We didn’t need to recreate old memories…we were going to make our own.
I licked the seam of his mouth, humming my approval when he pushed his tongue between my lips. He cupped the back of my neck and tilted his head to deepen the connection then slid his free hand around my waist. I moaned when he squeezed my ass and bucked his hips against mine. The sensuous friction of our jean-clad cocks and the feel of his warm hands made me want so much more. I wanted to feel his bare skin. I wanted to taste him and pull him close as he moved inside me.
I broke for air and tried to catch my breath. “Zane, I want you.”
He gave me a hungry look then furrowed his brows. “They’re gonna be here soon.”
“Then we better hurry.”
To be continued…