Making the Holidays Happy Again (MM)


Heat Rating: Sweet
Word Count: 15,167
0 Ratings (0.0)

Closing in on thirty, Butch has lots of decisions to make -- from tiny to life-altering. Right away, he needs to find a kids’ craft to sponsor during the Old Town Holiday Festival. Next up, should he expand his blacksmithing business or remain a one-man shop?

Finally and most importantly, it’s time to decide about his personal life. Is this the Christmas he proposes to the love of his life and best friend Jimmy and risks his hopes and dreams being shot down? Or will he find Jimmy’s casual assurances of love are deeper than those of a lifelong buddy?

Big, burly Butch may seem like he’s looked life in the face and won. But until he takes a stand and mans up, how will he know whether his holidays will be happy or not?

Making the Holidays Happy Again (MM)
0 Ratings (0.0)

Making the Holidays Happy Again (MM)


Heat Rating: Sweet
Word Count: 15,167
0 Ratings (0.0)
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The server, a kid named Tom who’d told us a couple weeks ago that he’d dropped out of college for a year, was at our table before I’d even got settled. We ordered, with only Jax having to look at the menu. Then Tom stood around a minute as if waiting for something else and then finally left.

“Jax was asking about my cuff and studs and ... well, all the stuff you’ve made me over the years.” Jimmy put his hand over the ratty old braided leather cuff and rubbed like he was caressing it. He did that when he was excited or upset sometimes. It was almost like a habit or something.

“Oh? Yeah? How come?”

Jax leaned in toward us. Was he leaning closer to Jimmy? I wouldn’t be surprised.

“I really like them. The cuff in particular. How hard is it to make?”

“Not hard at all. I made this first one, when? A long time ago.”

“When we were in sixth grade,” Jimmy murmured, still rubbing the band.

His cuff was looking pretty sad, what with all the extender pieces I’d added to it over the years. Maybe I should make him a brand-new one. His old one had started as a single piece of leather cut into three strips in the middle and those braided with a series of “secret” movements almost every kid knew. The first band also had a couple of plain gold-colored snaps to keep it closed.

Now it looked like a stupid kid had made it a long time ago, all dull and worn. One of seven or nine strands with flashy new hardware would be better.

“So any kid around what age could probably make one?” Jax’s question brought me back to the discussion.

“What were we back then? Uh, ten? Eleven?” I looked at Jimmy.

“Yeah. About that.” His hair curled down, hiding his eyes and his secret smile.

“So why couldn’t that be the forge’s signature craft? If you don’t want to teach them, I could if you show me how to do it. I like kids.” Jax seemed awfully eager to please.

I shrugged. Sure. Whatever. Fine by me. I liked kids too. Everybody knew that.

Before we could talk about it, Tom was back with burgers and fries for me and Jax. Mine was a double with onion, pickles, cheese, and Joe’s great mustard-mayo relish. Jax’s was a junior version of mine. This time Jimmy had a salad. I turned my plate so he could grab some fries like he always did.

“Um, uh, Mr. Collier?” Tom was nervous, dancing from foot to foot next to the table.

“Yeah?” I answered around my mouthful of burger.

“I was wondering if you maybe give a discount to people who work in Old Town for those, like, chain-link bracelet things? The ones for guys?”

I eyed him. Nice kid. Probably getting minimum wage and shit tips.

“Uh, yeah, sure. Big links, ten bucks. Medium size, seven fifty. But I don’t got any for sale right now. Maybe next week.” I shrugged and took another bite of my sandwich.

“Oh, okay.” He slumped and almost turned away.

“Why, kid?” Again, I talked with my mouth full. My ma and Hazel would’ve rapped my hand with a wood spoon.

“My big brother wants one, and me too. His birthday is Saturday.”

This time I swallowed before I talked. See? I had some manners.

“Which ones do you want?”

“Big one for my brother cuz he’s built like you. The medium size for me cuz I’m not.”

“Okay. Come on in Friday afternoon. I’ll have ’em for you.”

He’d been curled into himself like he was afraid of me or something, but when I told him I’d make him the bracelets, he puffed up again.

“All right. Thank you. I mean, thank you, sir.” He turned and started to walk away from our table with a grin. Then he turned back. “Uh, one more thing.”

I looked up after taking a bite of the burger. “Yeah?”

“Uh, you looking for help in your shop?”

“Why? You looking to quit here?”

He nodded.

“Yeah, okay, kid. Let’s talk when you pick up the chains.”

I went back to eating, and he walked away. Jimmy took a couple of fries.

“That was really nice of you.” Jax sounded surprised. I don’t know why since I’d hired him without putting him through the rigamarole of saying I had to think about it and making him wait a day or two.

“You’ll get to know this as you work for him.” Jimmy chewed on the fries he’d stolen. “That’s just Butch. He’s a really nice guy.”

I looked at him. He looked at me. We nodded. And smiled.

When Jimmy looked at me like he was now, I felt great. I was eight feet tall and could do anything in the world. I wanted to hug him.

Wait. Here? In the pub? I’d always wanted to hug and touch him, but never in the pub before. In front of other people.

Uh-oh. Something was definitely wrong with me. I needed time off to get a life, bad.

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