Authors: SA Welsh
Tags: #GLBT, #Gay, #Contemporary, #Holiday, #BDSM light
Two men are brought together by a green pirate parrot at a Christmas work function. One is a divorced high flying lawyer with a baby and the other is an acrobatic pirate performer. The link? They were best friends until they were nine and Luka's family moved away. Luka, the pirate, just got out of a relationship and needs a place to crash, and Peter is sleep-deprived and desperate not to lose Luka again. The problem? Luka is gay and Peter is straight. Against the odds they come together and discover family isn’t made by blood but love. Can Christmas spirit and the love of family help them overcome their differences, rekindle the childish love they shared when they were young, and let it grow into something more?
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2013 SA Welsh
Cover art by Latrisha Waters
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Twenty Years Ago
“Promise me we’ll always be best friends, Peter,” Luka asked as they sat in the treehouse in Peter’s back yard. They were eight years old and had been friends since forever.
“Of course we will, we pinky sweared on it. If you break that, then...” Peter trailed off with a look of horror.
“What?” Luka jumped up on his knees and shuffled closer.
“Then something bad will happen, like when Kayleigh catches us as recess,” Peter said, face contorting in disgust and fear.
Luka shuddered at the thought. He hated Kayleigh—she chased them, and if she caught them she’d kiss them and say they would have to marry her. Ewww. Like they’d ever want to marry her. She never shared the colors in Art period.
“Come on, my mom’s making cookies,” Peter said, leading the way down the ladder.
Luka followed, as he always did. If Peter said they were going to be best friends forever, then that’s what they were going to be. Not even their parents could make his friend do something he didn’t want to do.
“I don’t care what you have to do, Kelly, I need a babysitter here in the next ten minutes,” Peter Sutcliff said through gritted teeth. His secretary and personal assistant was usually spot-on with anything to do with organization, but lately she seemed more interested in trying to get him into bed.
The ink on his divorce papers wasn’t even dry yet.
“I’m really sorry, Mr. Sutcliff, I thought I’d booked your regular one. I swear it won’t happen again,”
“No, it won’t, because if it does, then I’m sorry, but you’ll have to choose between being transferred elsewhere in the company or finding another place of employment,” he said regretfully.
Kelly went pale and shuffled the papers on the desk, and he could practically see her reaching for any kind of excuse. “Mr. Sutcliff—”
“No, Kelly. I asked you on three separate occasions to double check the babysitter since my regular left for college. You offered to do it, and I trusted you with it. I’m now going to have to take Loukas with me because there's no way I can get a sitter this short notice. Please don’t let me down again.”
Kelly had been with him for a few years, and he wouldn’t enjoy asking her to leave. But tonight was the Christmas function for all the higher-ups in the law company he worked for. It was a big damn deal, and he had something to prove after winning the promotion to his current position over more senior people in the firm. And this was the first year he’d been invited to play with the big boys, so to speak.
Of course, it was also the year his wife had left him for an exotic dancer and signed over all rights to their eleven-month-old son. Their son she signed over without so much as a blink, but the prenuptial agreement she fought for three months.
Talk about priorities.
Thank god she hadn’t thought about blackmailing him for custody of Loukas until after she’d signed. By then she didn’t have a legal leg to stand on, so she just ran off with her toy boy, taking everything from the house that wasn’t nailed down.
She’d even taken the ice-trays and refrigerator shelves.
Who the hell takes ice-trays and refrigerator shelves?
Peter wasn’t about to leave his baby with someone he hadn’t met before, and he hadn’t had time to interview for a new nanny.
So he really had no other option than to take Loukas with him. The event was supposed to be held at the old theater, with a performance from the
famous pirate show
, whatever that was about. Hopefully he’d be able to lay low in the back or something, and get that Peppa Pig crap on his phone to distract Loukas from fussing.
Peter loved his son more than anything else in his world, but that pig was the bane of his existence. He’d even had a dream the damn thing crawled out of the TV and beat him with a bucket and spade from the beach episode.
Grabbing the baby bag off his desk, he checked on Loukas in his carrier and couldn’t help but smile. Loukas was sound asleep, as if nothing was wrong. His boy could sleep through an earthquake if he wanted to.
In the men’s bathroom, he placed Loukas’ carrier on the counter and then proceeded to strip out of his jacket, tie and shirt. He changed his shirt, but the suit jacket and trousers he’d worn all day in work would have to do. Thankfully he’d managed to get his boring brown hair cut the other day at lunch, so at least he looked a little presentable. Glancing down, he smoothed out the blood-red shirt with black threading, and hoped it didn’t look too out-there. It was the only clean one he had left in closet. He really needed to do laundry.
Oh well, it was going to have to do. It was the only option.
Taking one last look, he gave himself a small splash of the travel-size cologne he kept with the spare shirt, and sighed. He ran his fingers through his hair, tidying the few strands that had gone awry.
“This is as good as it’s going to get,” he told himself in the mirror. He was fairly slim and hadn’t yet lost the muscle definition he’d worked hard to get last year, when he’d gone to the gym instead of going home and facing his wife. Loukas had loved it when he was brand new, with all the shiny surfaces and attention he got from everyone there, but when Peter had gained custody he just didn’t have the time or the energy to go anymore.
Picking up his son, he stuffed his old shirt and tie into the baby bag. Peter walked through the office and refused to even glance at Kelly, who he knew would be sitting there pouting.
He was really going to have to do something about her.
Peter had absolutely no interest in being in another relationship.
As if the trust issues his parents gave him weren’t enough, Kayleigh had left him with a brand new basket of them, throwing in insecurity, abandonment, and all the stress of raising a baby and a career on his own, for good measure.
When he reached the lobby of his office building he waved goodnight to Mike and Earl, the security guys, and headed towards Harry, the doorman. At least he’d managed to find time to get the gift certificates from a certain blue-boxed jewelry store for him.
“Happy holidays,” he called.
“You, too. Spoil that boy rotten,” Mike answered with a grin.
It was a massive building that housed several companies, but when Kayleigh left him Mike had turned up at his office and asked if there was anything he could do, and Earl, the senior security guy, had somehow managed to get him priority parking in the underground structure of the building, so he wouldn’t have to walk five blocks to get to the office from his car and vice versa.
Now that he had Loukas with him every day, and often had to pop down to the car to get more food or nappies, he was ready to get down on his knees and kiss the ground Earl walked on.
And Harry and his wife Maggie—parents of six, god knew how they did it—had helped him get everything organized for Loukas when he’d discovered that Kayleigh had done nothing for their son. That included signing him up on pre-school waiting lists, contacting nanny agencies, and registering him for a regular pediatrician as well as a dentist, even though his little guy didn’t have teeth yet. And a whole heap of other stuff he’d never have thought of when he was suddenly thrown in the deep end of single fatherhood.
So now he considered them close friends. He knew the guys wouldn’t take anything from him for themselves, unless it was tickets to a Giants game, for which he was still trying to get use of the company box in the new season. That left something they could use.
All three men had something in common—beautiful wives whom they loved dearly—so gift certificates for a little blue box they could give to their wives seemed appropriate. Harry had a big anniversary coming up, too.
“Thank you, Peter. Maggie’s going to love the earrings,” Harry said in his subtle Scottish brogue as they hugged briefly with a manly pat on the back.
Harry let go and stood back, making room for Peter to stand next to him outside as a few people walked through the doors. “I’m glad. And before you ask again, yes, I’ll make sure I’m free over New Year to come for dinner,” Peter said with a smile.
It had been years since he’d spoken to his parents, and all of his friends had actually turned out to be Kayleigh’s friends, so he was alone and starting over in more than one way. But after having three invitations to spend the holidays with each of his new friends, it was getting easier to believe things would work out.
He wanted Loukas to have a family, a support network, but Peter was beginning to see that family wasn’t always those related to you by blood.
Maggie was one hell of a cook. After a long week, about month ago, he’d given in to the invitations for dinner and gone home with Harry. Loukas fell instantly in love with Maggie and her kids, and the attraction was mutual.
All Harry and Maggie’s children were grown, but still lived close by and went over for tea or lunch at least once a week. Peter wanted that sort of atmosphere and connection for Loukas.
“Good. If you don’t, Maggie will just track you down and drag you home so she can feed you, son. You’re one of hers, now. You and your boy,” Harry said with a wink. “Maggie will ignore you if you say no, anyway, so it’s easier to just give in.” Harry waved his hands animatedly.
Peter actually felt himself start to well up at that.
It had been a damn long day and he wanted go home, not go and sit with his bosses, as they looked at him and wondered if they’d made a mistake promoting him and inviting him when he clearly couldn’t even handle arranging care of his son for the evening.
“Thanks, Harry. That means more than you know. Can I pop by on Christmas Eve, if that’s alright, and drop your presents off?” Peter had gotten to know their kids and thought he might even have a few more friends in them in the future.
Well, he said kids, but they were about his age.
“What kind of stupid question is that? You’ll be stopping for Christmas morning, same as the rest of our brood,” Harry answered with a twinkle in his eye. “Now off with you to that fancy party. Give us a call if you want us to have Loukas for you.”
The offer was tempting.
But he couldn’t.
Loukas was his son, and not some problem to be palmed off on others when he became inconvenient. His resolved firmed up, Peter thanked Harry and continued on to his car. His bosses were just going to have to put up with it.
By the time he’d found the old theatre he was already ten minutes late, but thankfully he found an empty mother-and-child parking spot and slipped in quickly. There was a little guilt in parking there, but he had a baby and he was damn well entitled to use this spot.
The theatre was an old-fashioned building, with architecture that kids could imagine all sorts of adventures and stories about. He used to love making up stories of famous pirate captains or medieval knights who stormed the enemy castle to save the day.