Travis Stone has been chatting with fellow Masonville police detective, Dustin Brooks, in a chatroom for months when Dustin suggests they finally meet in person in December.
Travis doesn’t trust easily and is still mourning the suicide of his best friend and partner Henry. He spends much of his personal time with Henry’s widow and children, but when Dustin shows an interest in him, Travis starts to take a chance.
But Dustin’s on his way out of Masonville. The ambitious young detective has his eye on law enforcement’s prestigious FBI. So his time to have a relationship with Travis appears to be very limited.
They begin a seemingly short-lived holiday romance anyway, but despite his bigger plans, Dustin doesn’t see Travis as a limited time lover. He’s soon thinking much longer term. If he can convince Travis they can survive an absence, just maybe, Travis can be his.
“What do you like on your pizza?”
Dustin raised a brow. “That’s it? No meat or veggies?”
“That’s it.” Travis smiled. He had a great smile.
Travis Stone was gorgeous. Dustin had always known that, even before they’d met in person. He had not been entirely unaware of Travis or for that matter the suicide of his partner. Yeah, so he hadn’t been one hundred percent honest with Travis about when he knew about Henry Michaelson eating a bullet. In the long run the fact that, as Dustin had said, he wasn’t under any suspicion that warranted internal affairs involvement was what mattered.
Travis was well known there because he looked like a movie star or an angel. He had soft blond curls and bright blue eyes with a height of about five feet ten inches and a toned, muscular build. Dustin was pretty sure he’d have witnesses confessing all their secrets in a matter of minutes.
Just now Travis was dressed casually in jeans that hugged his legs and ass and a burgundy pullover sweater.
“Okay, fine,” Dustin conceded. “Just cheese.”
They’d decided to share a half carafe of chianti.
“Who were you on the phone with when I got here?” Travis asked as he poured himself some wine from the carafe.
“My sister Eleanor. I was giving her the bad news.”
Travis lifted his glass and gazed at Dustin over the rim. “Bad news?”
He smiled. “Yeah. I’m not going to be joining the family for Christmas this year. She and her family live in South Dakota. I really can’t get the time off from work right now and I’m starting to get interviews scheduled to join the Bureau.”
“Yeah? That’s great. I know you want that.”
“I do. And at some point if I get a spot, I’ll be leaving for training for a number of months.” Dustin shrugged. “I thought letting her know sooner was for the best. I went there last year and she kind of expected it.”
“Makes sense to me.”
“What are you doing for Christmas, Travis? I mean the actual day. You spend it with family or something?”
Travis downed his drink. “I don’t have any family.”
He blinked. “What? No one?”
“Well. No actual blood relatives. I was an only child. My dad died of cancer when I was still a kid and my mother died in an assisted facility.” He paused and looked down at his wine. “She had early onset Alzheimer’s.”
Dustin could feel his sorrow all the way across the booth. “God, I’m sorry, Travis.”
“That’s pretty much why I spent so much of my time with Henry and Ginger and their kids. When Henry became my partner, well, we eventually became like brothers. His suicide’s been really hard.”
He twirled the wine glass stem with his fingers as he watched Travis. All that explained why he often thought there was an unusual sadness behind Travis’s cornflower eyes. From what he knew early onset Alzheimer’s could be hereditary so not only did Travis had to wonder about that but his best friend had been depressed enough to commit suicide.
“Considering all that I’m pretty impressed you’re as together as you are.”
Travis shrugged. “I do what I have to do. I see a shrink twice a month.”
“Yeah? How’s that been going?”
“Okay. Not bad. I was against it at first.” Travis smiled faintly. “I must seem like quite the catch at this point.”
He returned the smile. “Don’t sell yourself short. I think you’re pretty terrific.”
“What happened to snarky?”
“You can still be snarky. Back to Christmas and your plans.”
“I honestly don’t know. I was thinking about ... Ginger and the kids, but also think inviting myself to be involved in all of their holidays seems kind of pathetic too. She hasn’t invited me herself yet and I’m not saying she won’t. She did for Thanksgiving, but it was kind of late, and I sometimes think she waited a bit to see if I’d actually come up with something on my own.” Travis grimaced. “And wow, that all just sounds worse. You asked a simple question.”
“Hey, it’s okay. I don’t expect everything to be cut and dried all the time. And it’s fine if you don’t know. I know we’re, I don’t know, just getting started here, between us, but I just thought maybe we could save some part of Christmas to spend together.”
Travis’ gaze rose to his. “I’d like that. I think.”
Dustin laughed. “Had to add that qualifier, huh?”