LENGTH: 52,658 words | 180 pages
City planner Remy McIntosh is looking forward to spending the holidays with his lover, architect Lane Anders. For the past six months, he’s been planning the perfect getaway — two weeks in a forest cabin at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains.
Remy also has a special gift he can’t wait to give Lane on Christmas Day: a wedding ring.
But Remy’s ex-wife changes her Christmas plans at the last minute, and asks him to take care of their eight-year-old son, Braeden. Remy loves spending time with his son, but balks at the idea of taking a child along on vacation. The main problem is that Braden has never met Lane, and doesn’t know his father is gay.
Lane is ready to take his relationship with Remy to the next level, and has a secret Christmas gift of his own. Having a young boy along will put a crimp in their plans, to be sure, but Lane wants to be a part of every aspect of Remy’s life, and that includes Braden.
How will Braden deal with meeting the “other man” in his father’s life? What happens when Remy’s romantic holiday for two must also include his son?
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From where he sat in the cushioned seat on the other side of Remy’s desk, Lane leaned his elbows on the arm rest and steepled his fingers under his chin. “You’re mad,” he said.
“I’m not mad,” Remy corrected. “I’m ... a little put out, that’s all.”
One of Lane’s signature smiles spread across his face. “Come on, what’s the big deal? You said it yourself, you wanted me to meet Braden one day.”
“One day, yes,” Remy emphasized. Opening his day planner for next year, he flipped to the page for May and pointed at a date that already had something written on it. “May tenth, one o’clock, I take Braden out for ice cream at Bruster’s and you stop by to say hi. I had it all planned out.”
“So move your plans up a little,” Lane countered. “Think about it. We’re going to a log cabin in the mountains. There’s a lake, and deer, and a huge fireplace for Santa to come down --”
“And no TV,” Remy pointed out. “No internet, no wi-fi, no nothing for a kid used to waking up and turning on cartoons while he checks his friends’ Facebook updates. He’s going to be bored shitless.”
Lane shook his head. “It’ll be fun. We might even get a little snow. It’ll be nice, relaxing --”
“You don’t know my son.”
Lane said, “Then tell me about him.”
Remy straightened the papers on his desk. He talked about Braden a lot, he knew, but somehow nothing he had ever told Lane really managed to capture the essence of the boy. “He’s ... I don’t know. Sensitive. Set in his ways. He doesn’t really like change.”
“Sounds like someone else I know,” Lane teased.
Remy shook his head. “No, really. It’ll probably make him mad that he isn’t going to be home with all his stuff. He’ll have his heart set on Christmas with his mother, and when he finds out he’ll have to stay with me, it’ll piss him off.”
“Like father, like son,” Lane said.
Remy stacked the papers he’d been reading into a neat pile and tucked them into his Inbox. “No, you aren’t listening to me. He --”
“He’s like you.” Lane reached across the desk and placed a hand on Remy’s wrist, stilling it. “Look at me.”
After a long moment, Remy did. What he saw in his lover’s eyes was a deeper understanding than he could’ve imagined existed. In that one instant, with Lane’s hand covering his, Remy thought simply, I love him. I do. The thought came unbidden, so raw and fresh, that he knew it was the truth.
“You’re upset, I know,” Lane said softly, “but you’re projecting your own feelings onto your son. This wasn’t your plan, and I’m sorry. But sometimes you have to give a little bit, Remy. Sometimes you have to roll with the punches.”
Remy sighed. “It’s going to be a disaster.”
“Don’t think like that,” Lane chastised. “Think of it as an adventure.”
Yeah, Remy thought. A disastrous one.