Welcome to Day 11 of the Rainbow Advent Calendar!
I am so delighted to be part of this wonderful event, and thank you again to Alex Jane for organising it. I don’t know about you all, but I’ve been loving reading the stories so far. Please go check them out via the Facebook group here and show the authors some love: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1673039336093815/
On to my warm little fluffy Christmas story…. It’s a tad NSFW, so please read and share responsibly! 😉
Are You Listening?
by Anna Martin
Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?
In the lane snow is glistening
A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight
Walking in a Winter Wonderland
Winter Wonderland, Dean Martin
Grant ran his hand down the back of his daughter’s dress, pushing the plush velvet until it sat smooth, then did the same with the dark curls that had fallen out of her careful braid.
Against his neck, Diana snuffled with contentment.
“You’ll have to wake her up soon,” Mason said in a low voice.
“Or she won’t sleep tonight, and Helen will kill us.”
Grant pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “Just a few more minutes.”
He was wrapped so tightly around Diana’s little finger it was becoming something of a family joke. At only nineteen months old she was already testing the boundaries of what she could get away with… and with Grant, the answer was pretty much anything.
This was the first Christmas she was alert enough to enjoy, after all. Last year she was just a baby, so Grant wanted to make the most of it. From six that morning Diana had been tearing around the house, high on Christmas energy or the scent of candy canes or something, excited to a level their older child had never achieved.
Stan stuck his head out from around Mason.
“We’re staying with Aunt Helen tonight, right?”
“Yeah, hon, that’s the plan.”
“In the bunk beds?”
Mason turned his face to Grant’s shoulder to hide his grin from Stan.
“You can stay in one of the bunk beds if you like, kiddo. I’m sure Austin and Jamie would love that.”
Grant had an agreement with his sister and brother: between the three of them they had seven kids, so for the evening of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year they took it in turns to entertain all of them overnight. Each year they traded off on which night they were in charge of the whole rowdy crew. Grant and Mason had already taken their turn at Thanksgiving.
It was coming up to 5:00pm, so they’d be leaving soon enough. All of the kids stayed over with their aunts and uncles often enough that they didn’t cause a fuss when their parents left them overnight. It was a good system.
While Mason’s face was so close, Grant leaned in and gave him a kiss too. The holiday season had been particularly crazy this year, with so many kids around and Mason’s parents being in town for Thanksgiving and balancing over-excited kids on top of everyday life. It was these little moments of peace that Grant cherished: all the kids sprawled out on the floor or squeezed in next to their parents on the sofas, watching Miracle on 34th Street. The one with Richard Attenborough. It was Grant’s absolute favorite Christmas movie.
Across the room Colin gave an exaggerated yawn and checked his watch. Grant watched his brother’s failed attempt at subtlety with amusement.
“Behave,” Amanda, his wife, hissed, and elbowed him in the ribs.
“Getting late,” Colin said.
Mason snorted with laughter. “The movie’s nearly over.”
Grant could feel Diana waking up from her nap. She wasn’t grouchy though, thankfully.
“Right here, baby,” he murmured. Instead of responding, Diana gave him one of her blinding, beaming smiles. Grant’s heart melted… again.
When she started wriggling Grant set her down on the floor, confident that if she wanted anything she’d find someone to get it for her. It wasn’t that she was a brat, people just seemed to fall over themselves to make Diana happy, like she really was the goddess she’d been named after.
She ended up in a corner playing kitchen with her cousins. Her speech was a little delayed, especially compared to Stan who’d been talking since before his first birthday. The two words she was most comfortable with got used a lot: ‘daddy’ and ‘no’.
Now they had the couch to themselves, Mason shuffled closer and wriggled against Grant’s side until he wrapped his arm around Mason’s shoulders.
“Comfy?” he asked, teasing, and Mason tucked his chin on Grant’s chest and nodded.
Mason kept his hair buzzed short and when Grant smoothed his hand over it he was immediately reminded of the texture of Diana’s dress. Not that he’d ever tell Mason that his hair felt like velvet… that was too gay, even for Grant. Who had been gay for a very long time.
“Dad… what’s that?”
Stan stood in the archway that led from the hall to the family room, staring straight up and pointing at a sprig of mistletoe, likely hung there by Helen’s husband. It was exactly the sort of thing he’d do.
“Mistletoe,” Grant said, smirking at Mason as he struggled into his heavy winter boots.
“What’s it for?”
“It’s tradition. Like Christmas trees and wreaths and holly and ivy. You’re supposed to kiss under it.”
Stan pulled a face. He was five, so kissing was gross. “Why?”
“I’m not sure, buddy,” Grant said, laughing. “You just do.”
“Like this,” Mason interjected and swept Grant into a long, dramatic smooch.
Stan protested—loudly—and Grant could hear Colin and Helen laughing and whooping from the family room. He considered struggling against it, but they never shied away from moments of affection in front of the kids, so Grant threw himself into the kiss too, hooking his foot around Mason’s calf.
When they broke apart Mason’s lips were red and he was laughing, his eyes crinkled at the corners. Grant kissed his cheek, just quickly, and patted him on the ass. A promise.
“Right, kiddie-o’s,” Mason said. “Come give us Christmas hugs.”
Stan ran at him full tilt and Mason made a show of falling backwards as he pulled Stan in tight. Their eldest was far more reserved and quiet than Diana. Grant still wasn’t entirely sure how they’d managed to raise one gentle, introspective, artistic child, and another who was a screaming menace from the moment she woke up to the moment she fell into an exhausted sleep.
He loved them all so much sometimes it felt like his heart was going to burst.
Diana was still playing and Grant didn’t want to make a scene with leaving, so he quickly kissed her on the head and left her to whatever she was building with Helen’s daughter, who was only four months older than Diana. It seemed like they were already on their way to becoming lifelong friends.
Mason was just done hugging Helen and thanking her again for watching the kids when Grant slipped back into the hall.
“Ready?” Mason asked.
Grant nodded. “Yeah. See you in the morning,” he added to Helen.
“Don’t worry about being early. We’ve got enough leftovers to make them lunch if you want to come back mid-afternoon.”
“Sounds good,” Mason said before Grant could worry.
The snow was really coming down outside and the roads were quiet; most people had apparently opted to barricade themselves indoors to wait out the holidays. Mason sang along, loudly, to Christmas songs on the radio as Grant drove cautiously through the dark streets.
“I’ll be an old man by the time we get home,” Mason complained as Grant rolled to a stop at a red light.
“I am not a Grinch. I am a young man in the peak of my vitality—stop laughing at me, Grant.”
Grant leaned over and kissed him on the cheek, still chuckling under his breath. “Nearly home.”
They stumbled through their front door, kicking snow from their boots. The house was thankfully warm and Mason went around turning on all the twinkly lights that Grant had spent a whole day stringing up the weekend after Thanksgiving.
Grant had bought a real Christmas tree from the farm out on the edge of the forest. It was a pot-grown tree, complete with all its roots, and come fall they could go and plant it back in the forest. He thought it was a nice way to teach the kids about tree conservation. And he really loved the smell of a real tree in the house.
“Do you want tea?” Grant called as he headed for the kitchen.
Mason stuck his head out of the family room. “Hot chocolate?” he asked hopefully.
“I can make hot chocolate,” Grant said with a laugh.
“With marshmallows and whipped cream.”
“I’ll see if there’s any left in the fridge.”
Mason’s smile was beaming.
Grant found a hair tie in the little glass dish he kept on the windowsill in the kitchen and scraped his dark hair back into a stubby ponytail. He’d been meaning to get it cut for a while now, but he liked pulling it back while he worked.
When Grant had announced they were expecting Stan, his boss was less than impressed. He was even more disgusted when Grant said he wanted to work fewer hours in order to spend more time with his son, so Grant wasn’t totally surprised when he was let go a few months later. Mason had been horrified and desperate to sue the company, but Grant took it on the chin and applied for a part time job working for another architectural firm. This one was owned by a woman who happened to be a working mom, and she helped him set up a home office where he worked three days a week.
It had turned out perfect. Grant was around for the kids when they needed him, but got to keep making strides in a career he loved. Stephanie, who owned the business that Grant now called home, had been nothing but supportive since the beginning.
“Smells good,” Mason said as he wandered into the kitchen. He was wearing pajama pants with a Spiderman print and a Wonder Woman T-shirt with an image of Gal Gadot on the front.
Grant leaned in and kissed his cheek. “Mixing genres again?”
“Representing my babies.”
Grant laughed. “Nerd.”
“Hey, you’re the one who’s been to… how many comic conventions with me?”
“Twelve,” Grant said drily.
“And cosplayed at how many?”
Mason laughed brightly. “You love it, Master Obi-Wan.”
“I love you.”
“Yeah, that too.”
Grant finished heating the milk and chocolate and carefully transferred it from the pan into two large mugs. He topped Mason’s mug with cream, marshmallows, and sprinkles he’d found in the cupboard that were left over from the previous summer. He went for just the marshmallows in his own.
The family room was still a mess of toys from that morning but Grant just stepped around them and curled into his corner of the couch. Mason made himself comfortable in the opposite corner and deposited his feet onto Grant’s lap.
“Pet me,” Mason demanded.
They watched two episodes of NCIS back to back even though they’d seen them before, because it was Grant’s favorite show. As the credits rolled Mason’s feet began to wander and he nudged at Grant’s crotch.
“Are we going to make the most of this child-free house, or what?”
Grant laughed. “Subtlety has never been your strong point, has it?”
“Nope,” Mason said happily. He twisted on the couch until he could straddle Grant’s lap, then wound his arms around Grant’s neck. “Kiss me.”
Their bedroom faced out over the back yard, which meant Mason mostly kept the curtains open. Actually, the reason why they’d taken the bedroom at the back of the house was because Mason kept the curtains open, and the windows too in the summer. No one in their neighborhood needed to see Mason wandering around the house naked. The room at the back was a good compromise.
Tonight, it meant the constant falling snowflakes were reflected in the glass while they made out on the bed. At some point Mason had removed his own shirt, and now he was working on getting Grant’s off too.
“Come on,” he huffed. “Off.”
Grant chuckled as Mason got his own way and tossed the shirt somewhere in the corner of the room. Probably for Grant to clean up later.
They kissed forever, hands wandering, and Grant wondered for a moment if tonight it would end like this, orgasming into each other’s hands. Since the children had arrived that had become their normal. Not that Grant minded. He liked the sex they had, and always felt like the fact that they were having it at all was what mattered.
Then Mason caught Grant’s earlobe between his teeth and gently tugged, and Grant felt his toes curl in response.
“I want you to fuck me.”
It was easy to agree. “Okay.”
Mason curled up facing the snowy window and pressed his face into his arm as Grant scooted up behind him.
“Go slow,” Mason said. His voice already sounded shattered.
Grant took his time with slick fingers, gently stroking his fingertips over Mason’s cock while he curled his fingers into Mason’s hole. He kissed any patch of skin he could find and pressed his fingertips against Mason’s prostate to make him squirm.
“Now, Grant. Please.”
It still took another moment for Grant to slick his own cock with more lube while Mason huffed impatiently. Then he was guiding himself inside, one hand on Mason’s stomach, the other braced on the bed. He kissed Mason’s neck and breathed in all of Mason’s desperate gasps and whimpers.
“You used to be loud, you know,” Grant murmured. Then he snapped his hips forward, driving his cock against Mason’s sweet spot.
Grant couldn’t help but laugh, pressing his face against Mason’s shoulder. A second later, Mason joined in.
“You feel so good,” Mason said, then remembering that he could be loud, groaned and tipped his head back.
“So do you.”
They made it last, taking their time with teasing touches and wet, loose kisses. Then Mason’s hand was on his own cock, gripping too tight, and Grant used a hand on Mason’s hip for leverage as he thrust hard, bringing them to a gorgeous shared orgasm.
For a moment Grant held himself still, breathing hard, loving the smell of his lover and the feel of the two of them together. Then Mason shuddered hard and Grant reluctantly pulled away.
They didn’t immediately go to sleep. Mason went to the bathroom first and cleaned up, then they swapped, and Grant was almost surprised to find Mason still awake when he slipped back between the sheets feeling warm and loose and sated.
He curled into Mason’s embrace, pillowing his head on Mason’s shoulder, and felt like he could purr when Mason started scratching the shorter hair at the nape of Grant’s neck.
“Ten years next week,” Grant said, suddenly remembering their anniversary.
Mason hummed. “Yeah. Fuck. Where did the time go?”
They’d met on New Year’s Eve, at a gay bar that was having a neon party night. Grant had watched Mason dance for hours. He’d been in the middle of the dance floor, glowing with UV paint, dancing up a storm with anyone who’d dared get close enough.
Grant’s friends had all paired off and had retired to various corners of the club to make out and grind on each other, so he’d been left on the balcony overlooking the dance floor, watching the one guy who was capturing everyone’s attention.
As it approached midnight, Grant found himself at the bar trying to get another beer from bartenders who seemed to find him invisible. Like his ego hadn’t taken a big enough hit… when Mason had gently bumped his shoulder against Grant’s. He’d always claimed he wasn’t trying to get Grant’s attention, but time and repetition had warped the story so much Grant wasn’t even really sure what the truth was any more.
He did remember the kiss they’d shared at midnight, how Mason had literally glowed, then laughed as Grant leaned in for more. It was a good laugh, though. Mason laughed a lot.
“Ten years, two kids, one mortgage—” Grant started.
“We should get a dog,” Mason interjected.
“We should have another baby.”
“No,” Grant said, laughing now. “You don’t mean that.”
Mason sighed dramatically. “I could. What if I did mean it?” He shifted to face Grant properly.
Grant shook his head. “We can’t afford it right now. But if you’re serious, I’ll look at our savings in the new year.”
“That’s not an answer,” Mason said and poked Grant in the ribs. “Do you want another baby?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it. I always expected to have two, and we have two. I’m not sure how a third child would fit into the family.”
Mason hummed. “You’re a great dad.”
“Thanks. So are you. Does it really take one round of amazing sex and a night away from the kids to make you forget that Diana still doesn’t sleep through the night? Or that Stan cried so much when he was a baby that you took him to the emergency room a dozen times in his first six months?”
“Party pooper,” Mason said. But he was smiling. “We should get married.”
That stopped Grant in his tracks. He blinked. “What?”
“Maybe it’s time for something new.”
Grant shook his head. “What’s changed?”
“Ten years,” Mason said softly, reaching up to cup Grant’s cheek in his hand. “Two kids. One mortgage.” His thumb brushed over the stubble that peppered Grant’s skin.
“You never wanted that.” Grant felt like his heart was beating too fast. “You said—”
“Lots of things,” Mason agreed. He gently touched Grant’s bottom lip. “Are you listening? We’re already married, Grant. We live our lives like a married couple, we’re raising a family together. Let’s make it official.”
“What changed?” he repeated, struck dumb by Mason’s new attitude.
“Well, I’m a guy in my early thirties—”
“Babe, you’re thirty five.”
“In my early thirties,” Mason repeated, louder this time, “Who has realized that I have been unintentionally hurting the man I love more than anything else in the world by turning down his numerous marriage proposals over the past ten years. You make me happier than I ever knew was possible, and I’m so sorry for ever saying no.
“So now I’m saying yes. If you’ll still have me.”
Grant wasn’t sure if he had any words for that. Most of the time that was okay; Mason had enough words for maybe two or three people. Grant spoke in actions.
He leaned over and gave Mason a small kiss, right on his lips, then rolled over to shuffle through his nightstand. It was three drawers of mess, the one place in his life where Grant allowed himself to stash stuff that might be useful… at some point. Possibly.
Tucked away at the back of the bottom drawer was a small box, containing two rings that Grant had bought about seven years ago. Before Diana, before Stan, before the house. Before Mason had graduated his Masters. When the world looked like a different place, Grant had bought wedding rings.
He rolled back and passed the box to Mason, who looked both terrified and excited. He took the box hesitantly and turned it over in his hands. Grant nodded, silent permission.
When Mason opened the box his face lit up and he laughed, probably remembering the first time he’d seen the elegant silver bands.
“You kept them,” Mason breathed.
Grant nodded. Then he smiled. “Happy Christmas.”
A final note from me: I know many of my fellow Advent Calendar authors are making suggestions for charities readers might donate to this Christmas. I’m not going to suggest a specific charity; instead I’d like to ask that if you’re able, to find a small charity in your city. I used to work for a small children’s hospice charity and I know what an impact even the smallest donations can make, especially for charities who don’t have a huge marketing budget to solicit donations. I will always be an advocate for small local charities, so please support one if you can this Christmas.