I had woken up alone with the sun streaming in my window. My apartment was quiet and it felt empty compared to any other day. It was Christmas Eve and the most I had done to decorate my place was a fake tree Mandy had brought over my first Christmas in the new apartment. It looked like Charlie Brown’s no nothing tree except it didn’t turn bright and bushy with love. I flipped on the little switch. “There ya go Charlie. Merry Christmas!”
There was still fresh grounds from the previous morning and my first cup of coffee was glorious. Not as good as what Angel had made in the french press but this was still better than my usual brand. What I couldn’t give to feel him next to me right now.
Where the fuck did that come from? The clock on the microwave ticked forward 2:30. Shit, I’d really slept in. But then again I got in at 5am. Finn and I had gone to grab breakfast after we locked everything up. Drew and Mandy had been gone since 1am. They were zombies by the time it got that late. So much for having kids I thought.
Dinner at Gram’s was at 5:30 sharp. I couldn’t be late. I had 3 hours to get showered, changed and to her house out in Queens before we ate. And I didn’t want to arrive just as the eating started. My parents would kill me.
I was half an hour early when I knocked on Gram’s door in Queens. My cousin Zack answered with a smile. “Save me please. It sucks being the only man in the house full of cooking women.”
I laughed. “Zack, man, you are out of luck cause I’m heading to the kitchen.” The whole house smelled like Christmas. I remember every Christmas we spent with my Dad’s family here in Queens. The tradition of opening presents from Grams, the food, the amazing deserts. Zack frowned as he followed me into the kitchen. I found my Grams stirring a big pot simmering on the on the stove and I walked past my cousin Sara with a kiss to her check to wrap my arms around Grams. “How’s the most beautiful grandmother alive doing?”
She smile and slapped my hands away from the spoon I was trying to steal out of the pot. “Be gone boy, you’ll spoil your dinner.”
“I doubt it Grams. Food this good. No way.” Except I’d had an excellent breakfast two days prior and I missed waking up to the smell of french press coffee. I sighed as I stepped away from the pot and my Grams, it was an attempt to hide the true reason I’d sighed. I couldn’t beleive even in the midst of my family pretty boy kept coming to my mind.
Grams pushed me out of the kitchen. “Shoo. No place for the boys.” I wanted to say I beg to differ but I don’t think I wanted to reveal my secret to my grandmother yet. I gave her a smile and went to find Zack. Unlike me Zack followed in the family footsteps. He went to Yale, like his father, and became a lawyer who worked for the City DA. But he was not in lawyer mode now, his hair was unkept, he was wearing a pair of baggy pants and an oversized sweater. He lived with Grams. Not because he had to but because Grams needed the help and I was glad it wasn’t me. I couldn’t say no to Grams, if she’d asked.
I sat down on the couch next to Zack. He was watching a Christmas movie – I couldn’t place it. Lots of snow and red and green. I only mildly paid attention but Zack interrupted my boredom. “So, Mom tells me you are seeing a partner at your dad’s firm?”
“My love life is the topic of conversation?” I asked. I almost wanted to get up and walk away. No way I was going to get out of this one without telling my family about Angel. They could smell a lie.
Zack laughed. “No, man. Mom saw you with her at the gala. Commented I should be settling down with a girl of my own.”
I nodded. “So you seeing someone?” I asked hopefully moving that topic along away from me.
“I don’t have the time. If it weren’t for the courts being closed today I doubt I’d have any spare time this holiday season. Thank god for public holidays.”
“Thank god.” I echoed.
“So, tell me about her?”
I shrugged. “Nothing to tell. She works with Dad. She’s cute. A little light weight when it comes to her alcohol.”
Zack chuckled. “So who gave you those bruises then? You fall out of bed on to your neck?”
Fuck! So much for hiding that. Normally I’d have been a mark of pride, but tonight it was me having to explain. “No falling, they are exactly what you think they are but no she didn’t give them to me.”
“You string along two girls?”
I grinned. “Something like that.”
“Do your parents know?”
I shook my head. “No and I’d like to keep it that way.”
Zack laughed. “Let them assume it’s from the girl they approve of. Got it.”
I nodded. Yeah, the girl they approve of. They definitely don’t approve of Angel.
I nodded. I didn’t want to say anything or smirk or give away the fact that she wasn’t a she. It wasn’t that my family didn’t know, they just liked to forget and I’d be more than happy to let them. Except what if Angel wasn’t just a fling?
I sighed. “He’s hot.” I whispered so only Zack would hear me over the tv.
“Shit!” He said. “Now I see why you don’t want Mommy and Daddy to know.”
And just like that my mother and father walked in. My mother asked, “What don’t you want us to know darling?”
Zack laughed, “He doesn’t want you to know about the hickey’s on his neck.”
I groaned. Zack could be so childhish sometimes. But Gram stuck her head out into the living room. “Dinner’s ready. Wash up Zane.”
I stood up. “Yes, ma’am.”
My father looked at me with a curious eye and I grinned at him. There was little to say there were marks on my neck from my trist with Angel two days ago. If only my father knew the truth.