Swift and Max from COME UNTO THESE YELLOW SANDS
Police chiefs don’t get Christmas Eve off.
But Swift was used to that. He had been used to it even before the relationship between him and Max had become official. Being a night owl, it was no hardship to wait up for Max. He took his time preparing every detail of what felt like their first Christmas Eve together, although it was not technically their first. Not at all.
He wound a few Christmas lights around the bookshelves and statuary, lit the strategically placed red and white candles, and set up the Christmas tree. The latter took all of five minutes. It was an small artificial tree from the 1960s which he’d picked up at a flea market the first winter he’d spent at
. The tree was white as were
the star-shaped lights. The scratched and faded bulbs were red and silver. It
was about as kitschy as Christmas could get, and Swift dearly loved it. Stone
He spent the rest of the evening cooking and listening to music. Mostly Christmas Time With Motown, Max’s favorite holiday record. It took a fair bit of time to get their repast ready and prepare for the following day’s meal. Not that Max would have Christmas day off either, but they would get to spend a portion of it together and Swift had learned to make every minute count.
Swift could not sing to save his life, but that didn’t stop him humming along with Smokey Robinson.
Well I wish it could be Christmas every day
When the kids start singing and the band begins to play
Oh I wish it could be Christmas every day
So let the bells ring out for Christmas
Tomorrow he was doing a full on traditional feast with a small roasted goose stuffed with chestnuts and cranberries among other goodies as the centerpiece. He was even doing a figgy pudding which he had attempted just for laughs, but the pudding had turned out to be astonishingly delicious after a liberal dosing of cognac and rum. That was tomorrow taken care of – and probably a number of nights to follow because there would be a ridiculous amount of leftovers.
Tonight’s meal would be relatively light: bacon-wrapped scallops, spinach, fennel and citrus salad, and wild rice, all set off to perfection by a nice white wine.
After the cooking and clean up was done, Swift had a glass of the nice wine while he sat in front of the fire and jotted down some notes.
At a quarter after eleven, Max’s key scraped in the front door lock, and Max let himself in. Snow dusted his dark hair and the wide shoulders of his sheepskin coat.
“Doesn’t feel early to me,” Max said, bending over the sofa to drop a kiss on Swift’s neck. “Working?”
Swift shook his head and tossed the legal pad aside.
“Something smells great.”
Max followed him into the kitchen talking about what had been a relatively crime free Christmas Eve and watched Swift dish out the food.
“Do you want eat at the table or in front of the fire?” Swift asked.
They returned with their plates to the warmth of the fireplace.
Max stopped talking and devoted himself to the food. Swift watched him, smiling. He enjoyed Max’s heartfelt appreciation of his cooking.
At last Max set his empty plate aside, heaved a deep sigh of relief and smiled back at Swift. “Christ, it’s good to be home. I thought the night would never end.”
“Maybe we’ll get snowed in.”
“Maybe we will.” Max’s gaze grew thoughtful. “Are you sorry you didn’t go to your mother’s?”
“No. I wanted to spend Christmas with you.”
“If I could have got away?”
“No.” It wasn’t easy to explain without sounding hardhearted, but if anyone understood, Max did. “Too many memories. I want more new memories, new…traditions to balance against the old before I try that. I’ll see her in the spring.”
“You want another glass of wine?”
“I’ll switch to beer.”
Swift rose to refill his glass and get Max a beer from the fridge. When he returned to the couch Max was looking at the legal pad. Swift resisted the instinct to take the pad from Max. They had no secrets from each other.
Max looked up and there was something in his expression, a softness, a light. It took Swift aback, that funny regard.
“Are you writing again?”
Swift’s face warmed, though that could have been the wine. “I don’t know. Maybe. Just playing around with words right now.”
Max looked down at the page. “‘The first bell is winter. Frozen breath of cold blue streets.’ What’s it mean?”
Swift laughed. “Probably nothing.” He took the pad away, tossed it on the table.
Max reached out and Swift moved into the curve of his arm. He put his head back, staring up at the open ceiling beams. He was smiling.
“Happy?” Max asked softly.
There was a smile in Max’s voice as he asked, “What do you say to working on another of those new Christmas traditions?”