Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Coda 6


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 Stone Coast. 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.

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 midnight 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.

“You’re early.”

“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.”

“Hungry?”

“Starving.”

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.

“Fire.”

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.”

Max nodded.

“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.

Swift assented.

There was a smile in Max’s voice as he asked, “What do you say to working on another of those new Christmas traditions?”

 

 

 

 

48 comments:

  1. I love this pair so it was good to see them again!

    You know, you could do a recipe book, after Christmas, with all the feasts you've given your characters!

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  2. These are so wonderful. Each one, a little gift of hope and love wrapped and bowed under the tree. Presents for all us romantics. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas, Josh. No lumps of coal this year.

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    1. That's exactly it, Karan. Trying to bring a little extra warmth and light to the season. :-)

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  3. This is such a lovely, heart-warming glimpse of Swift and Max. Thank you! So happy to see them again! (⌒▽⌒)
    I love Swift's tree - small but precious!

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  4. What a lovely time. I always love the chemistry between Max and Swift. And this new tradition they created together, I so approve!

    Thanks so much for the beautiful moments, Josh/ :)

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  5. This was just perfect. Perfect. I love Max and Swift! I think they might be my second favorites. ;-) You are rockin the Christmas Coda's, my friend! Thank you.

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  6. Dear Santa, you made me SO HAPPY today...

    Swift's kitschy and retro Christmas tree made me grin widely and I've actually replaced "Christmas With Rat Pack" CD with "Christmas Time With Motown" today. ;) Thank you also for sharing Swift's cooking and writing with us — and Max being so sweetly seductive. :) Thank you, Josh!

    And you found a picture of his angel statue, too. How cool. :)

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  7. My favorite couple, thank you ♡♡♡

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  8. Just beautiful, Josh. And mouth-watering! This time I told myself at the start not to get too pulled-in; that this is not the beginning of a new story. Even so, it was delightful. Thank you for the Christmas glimpse.

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    1. :-D

      YOU CANNOT RESIST MY POWER!!!! I WILL PULL YOU IN!!!!

      Or dying trying.

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  9. Love Max and Swift. This little coda is simply gorgeous.

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  10. Another winning coda, Josh. Christmas traditions are the best and I'm glad Swift is starting some new ones.

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  11. Max and Swift and Christmas in Maine. Lovely!

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  12. Drat. I keep trying to hit the LIKE button on these comments.

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  13. I love this! CUTYS is tied with Fair Game as my favorite story by you. So nice to see them again. And an excellent choice of music, decor and food. I miss goose. My mom would make one every Christmas. Put I'll pass on the Christmas Eve dinner lol. I hope you revisit them next year for the Christmas Advent :o)

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    1. I took a little more time here since I knew there wouldn't be a follow up book. I wanted readers to know Swift and Max are healthy and very happy.

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    2. Such a shame too - love these two. But I'll relish every little snippet I can get.
      :o)

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    3. And who knows? Perhaps visiting certain characters will become a semi-regular holiday tradition! :-)

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  14. I love this, Max and Swift are so special, but reading it at teatime was a mistake :-)
    Thank you Josh

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  15. I am sooo happy! :D

    It's like you knew I am having a crappy week and you gave me a little something guaranteed to make me smile. I love Swift and Max, they are the sweetest story. I am so over the moon that you wrote a Christmas Coda about them.

    You are the best!

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    Replies
    1. This is always the toughest week of December. Not sure why! Glad I could make it a little lighter and brighter. :-)

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  16. Making new traditions - very appropriate for Swift. I miss this story!

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  17. Gorgeous piece, Josh. Loved every word.

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  18. I love Swift and Max and their home life. It makes me so happy that Swift has finally been able to create a sanctuary for himself.

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    1. Oh yes. Swift has found his sanctuary.

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  19. //I wanted readers to know Swift and Max are healthy and very happy.//

    That is, you wanted to make us happy! Thank you very much!

    Ciao

    Antonella

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    1. That can't be much surprise by now! :-D

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  20. Swift and Max being so settled and happy makes me happy :-). A little surprised that Swift loves a kitschy tree, but not at his favorite Christmas music. The hint of Swift possibly writing again (and how pleased it seems to make Max)is like icing on an already luscious cake. (had to get in a food reference) :-P

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    1. Maybe Swift saw a potential poem in that nutty little tree. ;-)

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  21. Thanks, Josh. Saved this little morsel to read after I got through Monday. Glad I did. Have I mentioned how much I'm enjoying these?
    Cheers, Kelly

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  22. Nothing profound to say — just thank you so much, especially for this one. I think of CUTYS as your darkest story, as well as among the most beautiful. I especially appreciate that little snippet of a nascent poem.

    On a sillier note, we had a goose this year for a large Thanksgiving family dinner. My husband ordered it without asking and I was mostly appalled because my only experience with goose was very many years ago when my mother almost burned our house down trying to prepare a wild goose my dad shot, and I still recalled the awful smell. Anyway, my husband found a great recipe and cooked outside with a convection oven and everyone (except the vegetarians) declared it a great hit. I even tried a bite...

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    1. I love your goose story. I've only had goose once and I was a kid so the flavor seemed too strong and strange. I'd like to try it now that my palate has grown up a little.

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    2. Another funny thing is that this turned into a whole Facebook discussion with pro-goose and con-goose votes and cooking suggestions. I guess domestic goose is much less "gamey" or hardly at all. We also had turkey and goose broth soup and leftovers and I enjoyed it.

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    3. Oh how funny! Nice to know the stories are serving to start conversations too. :-D

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  23. Thanks again for a wonderful coda! Swift and Max are one of my favorite couples, so I loved checking in on them again. Fabulous job! :-)

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  24. I'm so glad that Swift and Max are happy and that Swift is writing again. :-)

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    1. Me too! Swift deserves a little peace and happiness.

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  25. Thank you. It's wonderful to know Swift is (maybe) writing again.

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  26. SWIFT!!!!!!

    this made my holiday 2012. Come Unto These Yellow Sands is one of my favorite novella (books even) ever. Something about how vulnerable - but not weak - Swift is. And that it isn't the usual mystery - the protegonist isn't trying to silve the case, he just wants to help one guy in some small way but couldn't care less who the murderer actually is.

    Of course, it doesn't hurt that after reading a TON of crap when I first stumbled into m/m romance, finding something that is well-written was a blessing. it isn't just that the plots are well-constructed and the characters believable, each sentence is just well-crafted. Without ever showing us more than a handful of sentences about that post card, it is so easy to see how both Max and Swift were overcome by ... inertia and caution to let the moment the past summer slip by when they each wanted to make the step toward a deeper relationship.

    but again, i just need to squee, "SWIFT!" he seems like a real person to me - so happy he might start writing again, that he is moving, however cautiously, toward a reconciliation with his mother.

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  27. Swift is writing again!
    That makes me warmly happy!
    It feel's as the start of settled happyness for him near Max. This is another great coda.

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  28. I'm way late with commenting but still, I wanted to thank you for this little, great peek into their life!

    CUTYS was a hard read for me in the way that it made me feel almost too much. I'm going to re-read it soon to see how I feel now about it.

    Swift resisted the instinct to take the pad from Max. They had no secrets from each other.
    It takes a strong charcter for this 'no secrets' thing. It's fascinating how Swift can be so strong and still so sensitive.

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  29. I've just reread this, thanks to Johanna, and loved it once more. And ordered ''Christmas Time With Motown'' ;-). I'm not a christmassy person, but I love soul and R&B!

    Ciao

    Antonella

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  30. I've been listening to Christmas music all day while I write these new codas. :-)

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