We are just one week away from the release of Walking on Thin Ice! This lovely little Christmas novella will be out on Tuesday, November 22.
While I will agree that it’s a bit early for a Christmas story — it’s not even Thanksgiving yet and that’s breaking my own rules — I think we’ve all reached a point where we need a little sweetness and love and laughter in our lives. And that’s what this Christmas novella is.
For the first time since he’d met Evan, Spenser watched him close up. His smile disappeared and the light dimmed in his eyes. “No, my family is dead,” he softly replied, crossing his arms over his chest. “What about you? Big family plans for this weekend?”
Spenser grunted, trying not to clench his teeth at the idea of being trapped in his family home for four days. “That’s why I’m here. I want to ask a favor.” He paused and licked his lips, trying to find the words to continue. “I want you to come with me.”
“Where?” Evan’s hands slid back down to rest on the edge of the island and his brow furrowed. “To your family shindig?”
“Yeah, as my boyfriend.”
Evan burst out laughing, nearly falling over in his amusement, and Spenser sighed. Yeah, that’s the kind of response he’d been expecting. The whole idea sounded ridiculous, but he was positive this was the only way he was going to stay sane through the entire affair. He needed Evan there as a kind of buffer between him and his family. Evan, with his easy-going nature and gentle smile made everything lighter and uncomplicated.
When Evan finally stopped laughing, Spenser glared at him. He stood with his legs wide apart as if bracing for a fight.
“Shit. You’re serious,” Evan gasped, wiping the tears from the corners of his eyes. He shook his head and moved into the kitchen. “This is going to need something a little harder than milk.” He leaned under the sink and came back up with a bottle of Jack Daniels.
“Oh, now you bring out the alcohol!” Spenser snapped, crossing to the kitchen as Evan pulled out two glasses and started to fill them.
“Hey, I didn’t know this was going to be a drinking conversation,” he sharply replied. “Now why the hell do you want me to pretend to be your boyfriend?” He lifted his glass to his lips and then stopped, his eyes growing wide. “This isn’t how you plan to come out, is it? Just waltz in to Christmas dinner with a boyfriend in tow?”
“No! Of course not!” Spenser snarled before downing half the whiskey in his glass in a single swallow. “I told my parents the summer after my freshman year in college.”
Evan winced, sipping his drink. “How’d they take it?”
Spenser gave a little roll of his eyes at the memory. “My mother kissed my cheek and said, ‘That’s nice, sweetie,’ and my father brushed it off with a wave of his hand before he spent the next thirty minutes bitching about the fact that I didn’t ace my microeconomics and statistics classes.”
“You got lucky.” Evan’s voice was barely over a whisper. Spenser watched him, taking in the haunted look in his wide eyes that twisted something in Spenser’s chest. He had a feeling that Evan might not have been so lucky and he felt for him. Evan seemed to shake himself out of whatever memories he got lost in and looked up at Spenser. “Then what the hell do you need a boyfriend for?”
“I don’t need a boyfriend. I need a buffer. Someone to help distract my family so I can have a little space, a little breathing room.” Spenser drained his glass, willing the burning alcohol to go straight to his head so this damn conversation would go smoother. “They’re good people, but they drive me crazy. If I bring a guy home and call him my friend, they’re going to assume we’re fucking so I’m cutting out the middleman. Saying we’re dating saves time.”
“I don’t like the idea of lying to your family.” Evan shook his head and focused his gaze on the drink in his hand.
“We’re not dating.”
“Technically, we are,” Spenser countered, snapping Evan’s head up. “We’ve had two dates.”
“We have not!” Evan sounded torn between horror and laughter.
“Yes, I bought you a drink at a bar,” he said holding up one finger, “and then I bought you dinner at the restaurant,” he finished, ticking up a second finger.
“Yeah, you bought me a drink, but you didn’t ask me out to that bar. It’s where we met. That doesn’t count.”
“But the restaurant—”
“I asked you there.”
“It does not!”
“Why are you arguing about this? I thought you wanted to date.” A slow, evil grin spread across Spenser’s lips as he leaned across the island. “Am I not good enough to date you?”
Evan took a nervous step backward, his mouth opening and closing twice before he could make a sound. “What? You’re fucking insane.”
“You’re saying that you’re not interested in dating me?”
“I’m not answering that question, you psychopath,” he said with a laugh. Evan finished the last of his drink, trying very hard to glare at him. Spenser noticed the flush to his cheeks and he didn’t think it had anything to do with the alcohol. “You just want to ‘date me’ so I can act as this buffer,” he said making air quotes with his fingers. “It has nothing to do with me. And when you no longer need a buffer, I’ll be kicked to the curb. That’s not dating.”
Spenser smiled slowly and stepped around the island so that it no longer separated them. “Don’t sell yourself short. That’s four days and three nights you’re stuck with me. I’m sure we’ll find other ways to get along.”
“No!” Evan said sharply, taking a step backward.
Spenser quickly stepped back as well, holding his hands up. Apparently, his charm wasn’t going to work in that direction, which was unfortunate. Having Evan at his disposal for a few nights had been one of the bonuses to this plan. “I’ll behave as much as you want me to. We go to my parents, hang out, eat some good food. Nothing more.”
“Except lie to them.”
“What lies?” Spenser stepped back to the island and griped the edge. “They ask how long we’ve known each other?
We say, not long. How did we meet? At a bar. That’s about it and not one word of that is a lie.”
“You’re taking me to stay with your family for—how long did you say? Three nights. How do you know I’m not some psychopath, serial killer?”
Pushing away from the island, Spenser stepped closer to within a foot of Evan. To his relief, Evan held his ground, frowning up at him. Very slowly, Spenser reached up and ran his thumb along the stubble lining Evan’s hard jaw before sweeping it over his full bottom lip. “Because I’ve talked to you. Kissed you,” he whispered. He dropped his hand and flashed a wan smile. “I’ve kissed the crazy, stalker types. You’re not it.”
His name was a whisper and Spenser tried not to celebrate. Evan was weakening. “I’ll behave or misbehave as much as you want.”
“That’s not helping.”
“Then how about this? Would you rather spend the weekend with a bunch of loud, crazy but sweet people eating good food you don’t have to cook and sleeping in a comfortable bed or would you rather stay here, alone, eating cereal?”
Evan bit his lower lip, trying to hold back a smile. “You know, I think you’re underestimating the versatility and awesomeness of cereal.”
“And I am looking forward to spending the next four days debating the merits of cereal with you,” Spenser said, taking a step forward so that their chests bumped. Dipping his head, Spenser could feel Evan’s quick breaths dancing across his lips. “Now say yes.”
“Thank you,” he said softly. “Can I kiss you?”
That wasn’t a no.
Cupping Evan’s cheek with his right hand, he held the man in place as he swooped in to steal a deep, searching kiss. Evan’s lips parted for him immediately, allowing him to dip his tongue into his mouth. He tasted of whiskey and a little something that was just Evan. The combination was a new kind of intoxicating that had Spenser wanting to stand there kissing him the rest of the night. He loved the contours of his mouth and the soft sounds bubbling up from him, demanding he deepen the kiss.
Evan placed his hands on Spenser’s waist, pushing him backward as they continued to kiss, pinning him against the island while Evan pressed his groin against Spenser’s. There was no missing his hard length as it rubbed against Spenser’s, wringing a groan out of him. Sliding his left hand down to grab Evan’s ass, he ground himself against Evan. This kiss was growing hotter by the second, tempting him to start pulling off Evan’s clothes. He hadn’t intended for this to happen at all and he needed to get it under control before he did something that convinced Evan to back out of their agreement.
Sucking on Evan’s lower lip, he slowly drew away, breaking off the kiss while keeping him pressed against him. Nearly black eyes stared up at him, glazed with lust, stealing Spenser’s breath away. What had he said? He was a good enough guy to deserve tomorrow. Yeah, Spenser was beginning to believe that too, but Evan didn’t fit the tomorrow that he had in mind and he needed to be careful. He had no wish to hurt Evan, especially when he was doing him a favor. But why did he have to be so damn sexy?
“This is going to be a long weekend,” Spenser murmured as he forced himself to release Evan and step to the side, putting some space between them.
With a shake of his head, Evan huffed a soft laugh. “Yeah.”
Spenser shoved his hands into his pockets to keep himself from reaching for Evan again. “That was the last one, I swear.”
“Yes.” He ignored the pressure in his chest to see the wide, teasing grin return to Evan’s lips. “You deserve a lot more than the kind of tomorrow I have ahead of me. Remember that.”