Authors: Therese Woodson
By Therese Woodson
All Ty wants is to propose to his boyfriend, Micah, before Christmas Eve. He has the perfect ring, the perfect setting, and the perfect plan, but the universe has other ideas. A sprained ankle, a choking woman, and a crying sister are just the tip of the iceberg as Ty stumbles toward his happy ever after. Now, as Christmas Eve looms before him, he has to figure out how to ask the biggest question of his life without his perfectionism getting in the way or he might lose the person he wants to spend the holiday, and every day after, with.
seen my lucky socks?”
Ty lifted his gaze from his laptop screen and his Saturday-morning newsfeed. He sipped his coffee and raised an eyebrow. “Did you check the dryer?”
His boyfriend, Micah, placed his hands on his slim hips and looked around their apartment. He scrunched his nose, then pushed his dark hair out of his eyes. “Yeah, this morning. They weren’t in there.”
“Check under the couch. I think the last time you wore them we ended up having celebratory blowjobs under the hand-knitted afghan Grandma made us.”
“Oh, that’s right,” Micah said, snapping his fingers.
Ty smiled and watched as Micah padded into the living room on bare feet and crouched down on his hands and knees. Craning his neck to appreciate the view, Ty nearly dropped his mug when Micah wiggled to reach under the cushions. Even after three years together, Ty still experienced a thrilling rush of heat at the sight of Micah’s ass in the air.
“Found them!” Micah said, as he emerged victorious from halfway under the couch. He brandished the rainbow-striped knee socks in Ty’s direction. “I know you were checking me out while I was under there.”
Ty shrugged, blushing. “What can I say? You have a great ass.”
“Well, this ass is going to be late if I don’t get a move on.” Micah grinned as he quickly moved around the living room, gathering his gear for his hockey game. He went to shove his socks in his bag, stopped, sniffed them, and made a face. “Ugh.”
Ty stood and walked into the living room. “Take a shower after you wear those. There will be nothing celebratory if you don’t.”
“Noted.” Micah grabbed the rest of his hockey equipment. He picked up his skates and draped them over one shoulder, his bag on the other. He slipped on his shoes and took his keys from the ceramic clamshell on the bookshelf near the door. “You’re coming to watch, right?”
Smiling, Ty nodded. Micah asked every game, despite Ty never missing one. “Of course.”
“Good. Now give me my lucky kiss before I go.”
Ty crowded Micah against the door, pressed his body close, and cupped Micah’s face in his palms. He ran a thumb over one of Micah’s cheekbones, then slowly leaned in and licked across his mouth.
Micah flinched back, knocking his head against the door. “Oh my God, why would you do that? That was disgusting.” He smacked his lips. “Also you taste like coffee.”
Chuckling, Ty dropped his forehead to Micah’s. “You should have seen your face.”
“You’re a jerk. All I want is a kiss for luck from my boyfriend, and I get Beethoven’s tongue.”
That made Ty laugh even harder. “Beethoven?”
“Yeah, the Saint Bernard, not the composer. Though I don’t think I’d appreciate tongue from either.”
“You’re a mess,” Ty said. “Come here.” This time he granted Micah a sweet, lush kiss. Though the longer it went on, the dirtier it became—openmouthed and deep. Ty heard Micah’s bag drop to the floor before Micah pulled gently away, panting.
“I’m going to be really late if you keep that up.”
“I better stop, then.”
“You better,” Micah breathed, then leaned in and kissed Ty again. With his free hand, he reached around and grabbed Ty’s ass, pulling him flush while nipping at Ty’s lips. Micah rolled his hips, and Ty bit back a moan as his dick went from slightly hopeful to fully interested. Just as Ty was getting into it, his heart pounding, squeezing Micah’s hips, Micah broke the kiss and danced away, an impish smile on his lips.
He opened their apartment door and grabbed his bag from the floor, then slid out.
“See you at puck drop!”
And then he was gone, the little tease.
Ty swayed in place for a moment, then leaned against the door. He adjusted himself in his jeans and laughed lightly.
Micah was always a whirlwind, chaotic and beautiful. Ty had fallen in love instantly. Micah possessed a wild spirit Ty found liberating and a refreshing change from the guys he’d dated before. With his full-bodied laugh and mischievous smile, Micah was everything Ty didn’t know he wanted until he saw him in the university’s student center wearing a rainbow beanie and jeans so tight they looked painted on. And when Micah caught Ty staring, he tossed him a flirty wink, and Ty was hooked.
Three years later and Ty couldn’t imagine his life without him.
Ty pushed off the door and walked down the hall to their shared bedroom. Micah’s side was a mess while Ty’s side was slightly tidier, though they both had clothes strewn everywhere. Neither of them was very good at laundry, which was why Ty knew he could hide anything in his sock drawer.
He slid the drawer open, rooted around in the bunch of mismatched socks near the back corner, and pulled out the little black box. Merely holding it in his hand made his stomach swoop with joy and anxiety. He popped the lid open and looked at the wide silver band he had picked out the month before.
Today was the day—the twenty-eighth of November. Christmas loomed right around the corner, and Ty was determined not to be a cliché and ask on Christmas Eve. So he chose today, after Micah’s hockey game but before celebratory sex on the couch. Or after celebratory sex. Ty wasn’t picky as long as newly engaged sex happened.
It would be perfect. Micah would be on such a high from the game, pink-cheeked and happy, and Ty would get down on one knee on the ice and propose right there.
He took a deep, steadying breath and slid the box in his pocket. He grinned to himself and started to get ready for the game, the weight of the ring comforting against his hip.
Yeah, it was going to be amazing.
Ow. Oh my God! How does my ankle hurt this much?” Micah said, hobbling into the apartment.
Ty grunted as he guided Micah through the door, one of Micah’s arms slung over his shoulder.
“To the couch,” Ty said, arm tight around Micah’s waist.
“Really? I thought I should take a jaunt around the block, maybe ‘Skip to My Lou’ or hopscotch with the neighbor kids.”
Ty rolled his eyes. “I know you’re upset about losing the game and the fact that you’re injured, so I’m going to ignore the outdated references and the snarky tone.”
Micah grumbled, but he tightened his grip on Ty’s shoulder and bit back a gasp of pain when he took an awkward step. Once at the couch, Ty lowered Micah slowly to the cushions and gently helped him prop the swollen and purpling joint onto a pillow.
“Don’t touch it,” Micah said, flinching away from Ty’s fingers.
“I wasn’t going to. Quit squirming.”
“Seriously don’t even look at it. Your gaze makes it throb more.”
“You need to go to the doctor,” Ty said evenly. “Let me get you some ice, and then we’ll go to the emergency room.”
Micah groaned and threw his body back into the cushions dramatically. “It’s not that bad. I’ll be fine.”
Ty let out a noise of disbelief as he went into the kitchen to retrieve water, pain pills, and an ice pack. “Yeah, and you have some oceanfront property in Arizona you want to sell me.”
“And my references are outdated?” Micah shot back.
When Ty returned, Micah had sprawled across the cushions, sweaty and gross, one arm dangling off the couch and the other over his eyes. Ty sat down next to him on the sliver of space left. He nudged Micah with his elbow.
“Take the meds. We’ll ice it and elevate it, and maybe we can avoid the ER.”
“Ugh.” Micah said, propping his body up. “So much for lucky socks.” He took the pills and drank down the water in a long gulp. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand, he handed Ty the glass. “What a shitty day.”
Ty’s throat went tight. “Yeah,” he agreed.
He set the glass on the table, then wrapped the ice pack in a kitchen towel and helped Micah balance it on his ankle. After, he draped Grandma’s afghan over Micah, fished the remote out of the recliner, and refilled Micah’s glass of water.
“Hey,” Micah said when Ty came back into the living room. He lifted his head and smiled lazily. “Thanks for taking care of me. Sorry for being crabby.”
With a fond smile, Ty sat down on the cushion near Micah’s head. He threaded his fingers through Micah’s dark hair, making a face at the damp strands.
“It’s okay. I know how much you wanted to win today.”
“Yeah,” Micah said, snuggling closer awkwardly. “I love you, you know. Even though you totally quoted a nineteen eighties country song.”
“Back at you, ‘Skip to My Lou.’”
Micah laughed and buried his face in the pillow.
They settled in together to watch one of the cheesy holiday movies on Lifetime, and Ty did his best to ignore the ring burning a hole in his pocket.
fairly certain he wasn’t the first person to be thwarted by an unexpected ankle injury. It had to have happened before. Right?
So what if his first attempt at proposing was an absolute bust, and he had to spend the rest of the afternoon squirming on the couch until he had a chance to deposit the ring back in the sock drawer. It was okay because he was undeterred. Christmas was still twenty-two days away, and he had plenty of time to pop the question.
On reflection, maybe doing so on the ice after one of Micah’s amateur hockey games wasn’t the most romantic of ideas. Was that really what he wanted to tell their kids one day? That he got down on one knee while their dad was sweaty and covered in hockey gear? No.
However, telling them it happened over a very romantic dinner in which Ty prepared everything himself and there was candlelight and wine was another matter. That would be an excellent story. He’d leave out the enthusiastic sex they were sure to have after because he wasn’t going to traumatize them. Well, not until they were older.
Ty spread out the tablecloth, smoothing down the wrinkles. He adjusted the centerpiece and arranged the long candles. The oven dinged, and he rushed into the kitchen to pull out the expertly stuffed manicotti, Micah’s favorite. The delicious smell wafted throughout the apartment, and Ty reveled in a flash of pride at his accomplishment.
He took stock.
Ring in his pocket.
He glanced at the clock and smiled. He had thirty minutes to get showered, dressed, and ready for Micah to walk in the door from work.
Yes, this was going to be perfect. Much better than some unromantic hockey proposal.
Giddy with excitement, Ty’s middle fluttered as he decidedly did not skip toward the bedroom—he was a grown man, after all—but it was a near thing. Well, maybe a few steps were lighter than normal, that was, until he heard the sharp rap at the door.
Ty wasn’t expecting anyone. He didn’t order flowers, which in hindsight might have been a good idea, and he honestly didn’t know who would show up at their apartment on a random Thursday.
He peeked through the spy hole, and
“Bronwyn?” he asked when he opened the door, eyebrows raised. “What are you doing here?”
Micah’s younger sister stood on the other side, looking more disheveled than normal—her hair windswept, her scarf trailing behind her, her jeans muddied at the hem. The distinct smell of city bus combined with the Metro wafted in with her, and coupled with the frown and her appearance, she radiated a mixture of “bad decision” and “despair.”
Ty had enough time to register Bronwyn had been crying—her big blue eyes were bloodshot and ringed with smudged eyeliner—before she launched herself at him and he ended up with a distraught teenager clinging to his torso, her face buried in his chest.
“I’m going to fail,” she sobbed. “I’m going to flunk out of college and have to work as a waitress the rest of my life. And I hate taking orders.”
Stunned, Ty stood there as his shirt slowly became soaked with the tears of a stressed-out college freshman facing exams for the first time. After a long moment in which Ty looked around the apartment for nonexistent help, he tentatively petted her head.
That only seemed to invoke more sobbing.
“What am I going to do, Ty? I’m not like Micah. I’m not like
. I don’t have my shit together, and I never will.”
Ty sighed. He gently but forcibly extracted himself from Bronwyn’s grip and closed the apartment door. Then he led her to the couch, and once she sat down, wrapped the afghan around her shoulders.