Being gay and pagan can make for a lonely holiday season, as Liam knows well. He's used to celebrating alone. The last place he expects to meet a like-minded guy is at LAX during a twenty-nine-hour layover. Liam's never felt so comfortable or compatible with another man, even if there is an air of mystery to Race.
Race is no stranger to holiday isolation, and he decides they should seize the opportunity they've been given and observe the Saturnalia the way it was meant to be. A grand celebration ensues, where every moment is special and every meal a feast.
The ancient traditions take on new meaning as the men find meaning in each other. Each has a destiny, and for their paths to continue together, it'll take a kind of magic that hasn't been seen in centuries. Can Race convince Liam to accept that destiny?
"Whoa!" Liam threw his hands in the air and jumped off the stool while coins cascaded from a slot machine. The payoff wasn't a huge amount of money, but it was the principle of the thing. Winning was fun.
"Our table is ready," Race said and held up a round, flashing disk. "This is genius -- a casino with a restaurant. Gambling and feasting!"
"Do you think Saturn would approve?"
"I absolutely do believe Saturn would approve. Isn't that how Saturnalia was celebrated: feasting, gambling and a time that is the best of times?" Race asked. As Liam fed another slot machine with a few dollars, Race reached out and ran his fingertips along a design combining playing cards and gypsies that decorated the borders of the device. "This is interesting."
Bells clanged, and coins poured out to fill the little bucket at the base of the machine. Liam laughed. "You are such good luck. Do you realize every time I've won, you were right next to the slot I was playing?"
"Is that so? I wasn't paying attention." Race rubbed Liam's back. "Shall we go spend some of our winnings on our evening feast?"
Once at their table, Liam studied the menu. "I confess I'm a little disappointed they don't serve wild boar."
"Ah, but they do have sausage and gravy, dishes loaded with olives and deviled eggs --" Race flipped the menu over. "-- and cheesecake and nut rolls."
"We should get a to-go order of the nut roll for breakfast tomorrow." Liam reached across the table and took Race's hand. "If you're interested."
"I'm very interested." Race reeled Liam in for a quick kiss.
After they'd shared a piece of cheesecake to end their sumptuous meal, Liam leaned back in his chair, dropped his napkin onto the table, and groaned. "I'm stuffed."
"This cheesecake is almost as good as the Roman version of fried cheesecakes," Race said. "Those were little bites of ecstasy."
Liam laughed. "You make it sound as if you were there."
Race merely smiled and shrugged. After a minute he added, "I have a recipe that I hear is pretty authentic. It'd be my pleasure to prepare it for you."
Liam's cheeks warmed. "You'd do that for me?"
"It would be fun. And tasty. Good recipes are meant to be prepared and shared with our favorite people," Race said.
The sincerity of his words moved Liam deeply. It must've shown on his face because Race's expression changed, softening and radiating such affection Liam wasn't sure he could say anything that would adequately reflect his thoughts. He opted for honesty and gratitude.
"This is nice, having someone to celebrate the holiday with. Every year it seems as if people around me are so wrapped up and tense. My coworkers, the airline customers -- hell, even the cashiers at fast food places. They think they have to have the perfect holiday, the perfect gifts and decorations. What they forget is that no matter what your religion, it's not about the trappings."
Race nodded. "It's about the joy and peace of being with loved ones."
"Exactly." Liam sighed and continued, "People have lost sight of that. I mean, most years I celebrate alone, but it still brings me a calmness, even if I can't do most of the traditional things for Saturnalia."
"As long as it gives you peace, that's what is most important." Race stood up and held out his hand to Liam. "I haven't seen Hollywood Boulevard in years. How about a stroll to see more of the sights?"