A Holiday to Remember Collection
Derrek is dealing with the recent, unexpected death of his mother just before Thanksgiving. He’s been alone for five year since his husband Will died, and he’s ready to find someone new and to start living again. Ryan lost his partner, David, in an auto accident, and is dating Alex, who doesn’t treat him right. Derrek can’t figure out why Ryan won’t see what’s right in front of his face. Why does Ryan come to him to talk about all his hopes, dreams, and fears, then go home to Alex? If Derrek can figure that out, they might just have a shot.
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Publisher: Mischief Corner Books
Heat Level: 1
Romantic Content: 5
Ending: Click here to reveal
Character Identities: Gay
Protagonist 1 Age: 26-35
Protagonist 2 Age: 26-35
Tropes: Death of Parent, Friends to Lovers, Geek and Jock, Love Triangle, Opposites Attract, Unrequited Love
Word Count: 8200
Setting: USA, California, San Diego
Languages Available: English
The doorbell rang.
Derrek groaned, pulling his blanket up over his head. "Leave me alone, Tony."
Tony from work had stopped by three times to check on him after he'd taken the week off to plan his mother's funeral. It was starting to get obnoxious. Tony kinda had a thing for black guys. Derrek really didn't have a thing for him.
"It's not Tony." The voice was deeper, warmer than Tony's. It didn't scream gay accountant.
Oh shit. Derrek was in no shape for company, but it was Ryan. Ryan Kessler.
Ryan was practically family. They'd been friends for five years, ever since they'd met at a grief support group. "Coming." He threw the blanket under the couch and checked himself in the mirror, trying to force his hair into some semblance of combed. Then he dragged himself to the door.
Derrek clearly wasn't Ryan's type. Yet somehow, they'd formed a singular friendship.READ MORE
"Hey, sport." Ryan stood there in his full glory, looking like that gay soccer player from Spain? Portugal? Cristiano Ronaldo. Clean cut, tanned, and beautiful.
Seriously, Derrek was pretty sure that Ryan glowed and that birds chirped when he entered a room. It all might have been in his head.
It didn't matter, anyhow. Ryan is with Alex.
Ryan held up a paper bag and pulled out a round container. "Brought you some soup from the Chicken Pie Shop."
"You brought me soup?" Derrek sniffed himself surreptitiously. He hadn't bathed in three days, since his mother's funeral.
"Yeah. I'm sorry I wasn't here sooner. Work had me in San Francisco for training. I just got in last night and heard your voicemail." Ryan hugged him. "I'm so sorry, Derr."
"Thanks. It's been a rough week. Want to come in?" Derrek took the container.
"Sure." He followed Derrek inside.
"Hey, you hungry? I can't eat all of this myself."
"Yeah, I haven't had dinner yet."
"What about Alex?"
"He said he would be home late. He has a work thing tonight."
Derrek tried not to roll his eyes. "Wanna stick around and eat with me, then? The soup smells great. I haven't really had much of an appetite, since mom passed."
Derrek shook his head. "They don't know. She was at work, and she just… fell." He hadn't been there, but his mind had latched onto that image. The look of horror on her face, the long collapse… He grabbed the edge of the kitchen counter and squeezed it hard. Oh God, why do I have to keep seeing it? "They think it was a stroke."
Ryan's arms wrapped around him and pulled him close. "They didn't do an autopsy?"
Derrek tried to ignore the effect Ryan had on him. This wasn't the time. "We didn't want one. I mean… what's the point?" He sighed. "She looked so beautiful—her face made up and her hair done, wearing one of her favorite bright blue blouses. But she was… I don't know… hollow, somehow? Not like herself at all."
Ryan nodded. "My grandma was like that. Like it wasn't even her." He pulled a chair out and gestured for Derrek to sit. "Relax. I'll heat this up for us." He put the soup in one of Derrek's cranberry Pyrex bowls.
Derrek watched Ryan work, setting the table with ceramic bowls and a couple spoons. He knows where everything is. "I'm sorry I'm such a mess. I haven't felt like showering. Like doing much of anything, really." He rubbed his eyes. I do need a shower. "I have to go back to work tomorrow."
"You're entitled to be a mess. Are you sure you're ready for work?" Ryan microwaved the soup, glancing at Derrek over his shoulder.
"Honestly, I think it will be a good distraction." He was ready to throw himself into something, and at least at work he got a paycheck for it. "The Grind has been really good about giving me the time off."
"What do you want to drink?" Ryan poked his head into the fridge. "Eeeeew."
"I don't think milk's supposed to look like that."
"Like cottage cheese?" He held up the container.
Derrek snorted in spite of himself. "Sorry. I haven't gotten to the store in a few days. Or week, maybe. It's hard to remember."
"How about some wine?"
Ryan found a couple of wineglasses, and uncorked a bottle of red wine from Derrek's modest under-the-sink collection, mostly housewarming gifts brought by friends.
The microwave beeped, and Ryan served the soup, ladling it steaming into the two bowls.
It smelled heavenly.COLLAPSE