Jovy and Saul were best friends who grew up in different cities in Michigan. Since they’re both gay and asexual, they made a pact to become boyfriends if they’re still single by the time they turn eighteen. Eventually high school got busy for them, and they drifted apart and went their separate ways.
Four years later, it’s Christmas Eve, and Jovy and Saul are both eighteen. After receiving a call from Saul’s sister, Jovy agrees to look after Saul, who is disabled. His sister is often out and about, hence the reason Saul feels lonely.
Jovy’s both nervous and excited about reuniting with Saul. He always celebrates Christmas Eve with his family, a tradition he’s never missed in his life, so he figures he can hang out with Saul until evening, then invite him along to be with the family. No one should spend Christmas alone.
Unfortunately, Jovy and Saul end up locking themselves in Saul’s safe room, and his out-of-town sister is the only one with the key. This will be the first year Jovy misses out on the family tradition but he and Saul attempt to make the best of the situation while also growing closer than ever, even discovering new things about each other.
Saul has two Christmas gifts for Jovy, and one of them could change their friendship. Will Jovy accept the present? Or will they remain best friends forever?
I faced Saul again, my mood in a desperate state. “Please tell me you know how to open this door.”
After a pause, Saul frowned. “Patricia has the key.”
“What?” I asked in a gasping breath, my heart racing.
“There’s only one key, even though I told her multiple times I wanted a copy. She keeps forgetting to make a new copy. There is a keypad as an alternate way, but my sister also keeps forgetting to give me the code for it. It’s why I never close the door.”
“Really? What kind of design is that? Do you actually have that many break-ins to justify it? What if there’s a fire or something?”
“Well, it’s a safe room, that’s why. There’s a kitchenette stocked with nonperishables, a spacious bathroom for my wheelchair -- which is the only room down here that’s fully enclosed, by the way -- a den with a sofa that converts into a bed, and plenty of clothes to change into. Really, the only concern is possible flooding because of it being in the basement, but we’ve never had any floods here, thankfully.”
I lowered my eyebrows. “A safe room? I didn’t know that.” That explained why it suddenly seemed a little different down here, but I hadn’t thought much of it.
“It was one of my first requests after our first break-in, shortly after my parents died. It cost a fortune, but money’s never been an issue for me and my family.”
Then again, after regularly watching the local news, I learned that the more affluent areas were prone to break-ins because of valuable stuff in these homes. Apparently, some residents had already sold their houses and moved elsewhere.
Sighing, I laid the bag of alcapurrias on the floor, then sat down on the sofa nearby and slumped with a droopy expression. There was a very real chance that this Christmas would be my first without the family. It wasn’t that I regretted coming here, since it was great to reunite with Saul and hopefully pick up where we’d left off. However, I wasn’t prepared for spending the holiday possibly stuck here. At this rate, it would be a miracle for Patricia to return with the key. She was most likely enjoying her trip up north.
Saul wheeled closer to me and placed his right hand on my left knee, frowning. “I’m sorry, Jovy. I know this wasn’t what you expected. I wish I could do something to fix this situation.”
I shrugged, attempting a weak smile. “It’s not your fault. It’s just that I’ve never missed a single Christmas with my family. It’s a tradition to get together on the eve for a big feast and then open gifts at midnight.”
Saul gave my knee a supportive squeeze. “I remember you telling me that years ago. Hey, at least you get to see them any other time for years to come.” His voice almost cracked with emotion, and his eyes became misty.
Oh, no ... how could I be so insensitive when his parents would never be back again? He was right, yet here I was in a mopey mood over something that was less of a big deal than his family situation. He hardly even spent time with his own sister, judging by how anxious she had sounded to get away for the holiday instead of spending it at home.
I released a deep breath and placed a hand over Saul’s that was still on my knee, and I shook my head. “If anything, it’s me who should be sorry. I didn’t mean to sound selfish.” I squeezed his hand in return, suddenly longing the close moments we’d shared in the past. However, I continued seeing him in a new light, in a way that I’d never thought I could because it just hadn’t crossed my mind until now. We had shown this level of affection but had never questioned it because we had both been emotionally available to one another. Something told me we still were and always would be.
“Hey, Jovy, let’s not talk about depressing stuff right now, okay? We can still make the best of this.”
I nodded, not that I had a choice since I was stuck down here.
“I’m really glad you brought the alca ... pu ... rrias down here. Ugh, still can’t pronounce that word.”
I chuckled in mild amusement. “Close enough.”
“We have dinner at least, and there’s a microwave, too. You can have some, if you want.”
“Thanks.” I still wasn’t hungry, but I was sure I would be later on. There were twelve alcapurrias in total, so it was more than plenty -- three of them made me full.
Much to my surprise, Saul started to slip his fingers in between mine, something neither of us had ever done, until he stopped and moved his hand away. What was that all about? And why did I not want him to pull away? Oddly enough, it felt nice to hold hands in spite of the fact that friends didn’t do that kind of thing.