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A Christmas Secret

M/M, Contemporary Holiday Romance
[21 Pages / 3,800 Words]


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Christmas is always a stressful time, but this is ridiculous. Between his best friends having a baby three thousand miles away, and hiding his new relationship from his family, Charlie Corbin is ready to implode.

It's not that he doesn't want people to know he's in love with Drew Scott. He'd shout it from the rooftops if he could. But Charlie hasn't figured out how to tell his parents. Life is complicated when it comes to dating his mom's best friend.

Charlie is determined to do this right. He just needs to guard his secret for one Christmas, and what can possibly go wrong with that?


Excerpt

The ringing stops just as he tries to answer, and Charlie curses as he unlocks his phone. It's possible he took too long and it went automatically to voicemail. He calls Mia back, forcing himself to stare out the big kitchen window instead of pacing back and forth between fridge and pantry.

The line rings in his ear. Charlie takes in the icy waterline at the edge of his parents' property, the blustery snow making wispy spirals across the sloping lawn, the rich green of spruce trees in a precise line along the hill. The kitchen smells of cinnamon and mulled cider and sugar cookies. His phone rings out and sends him to Mia's voicemail.

"Hey, this is Mia Melendez. You know what to do."

"Fuck," Charlie growls and disconnects. Tries again. When a third call fails the exact same way, he makes himself stop. Mia's battery clearly isn't dead—the call wouldn't be ringing through for such a long time if it were—which means she's busy and can't answer. Whatever's demanding her attention must be important, and Charlie blowing up her phone will only get in the way.

He drags a hand angrily through his hair, making an even bigger mess of the sleep-mussed strands. Then he heads back into the busy living room, with its cheerful tree and strains of a Lorie Line holiday album pouring through hidden speakers. One corner of the room is almost shouting in the throes of some trivia game Elma got for Christmas. Stephen offers a sympathetic look on Charlie's way past. And of course, there's Drew, slouched comfortably at the opposite end of the couch Charlie just vacated. He watches with quiet worry as Charlie returns to his side.

"Everything okay?" Drew asks as Charlie deftly maneuvers around and between all the people—not just kids—who insist on sitting on the floor.

"No idea." Charlie tries very hard not to sound as rattled and scared as he feels. Drew may not be especially close with Mia and Amber, but he knows how much they mean to Charlie. He probably feels guilty for throwing in on the Let's just get on the plane side of the argument. Drew is an excellent boyfriend—even if he is, for the moment, Charlie's best kept secret. "The call didn't connect. I'm sure Mia will try again."

Despite the general chaos of the room, Charlie can feel eyes following with concern as he folds his lanky frame down onto his end of the couch. Aunts, cousins, friends of his parents. There's nothing any of them can do to quiet the aimless thrum of panic in Charlie's chest. Thankfully, they all seem to intuit this and decide to leave well enough alone. No one says anything to address him directly, and after a moment, they've all found other things to focus on.

All except Drew Scott, of course, who peers at him intently. Charlie doesn't mind the scrutiny. If anything, he wishes he could get Drew alone without raising eyebrows. All he wants is to wrap himself in Drew's arms, close his eyes, breathe deep, and never let go.

But if keeping Drew in California at the expense of well-established tradition would've tipped people off, such a blatant display of neediness would be even worse. And the possibility of showing their hand when they've been so careful…

Look. It's complicated.

The soft way Drew's watching him tells Charlie he's not the only one wishing they could be alone.


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A Christmas Secret
Cover design by Yolande Kleinn
ISBN 978-1-946316-29-5
 
 
 
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