The Spirit of Giving
By Cat Kane
Stolen Christmas gifts by an inept thief set in motion an unlikely relationship between two young men that blossoms into something more.
Jase had been so busy staring at that damn reindeer and the plethora of lights that made the little house look like Vegas or some kind of radiation accident, he'd missed the winding power cable that lit the stupid reindeer. By the time he'd realized, he was already inches from truly wishing he had his two front teeth for Christmas, barely missing smacking his face into the porch step.
Jase got run over by a reindeer...
"Are you okay?"
The small voice from the front door froze him harder than the cold. There went being Anonymous Claus.
"Ah, yeah. I just, uh ... tripped." He offered up a smile, standing and straightening, dusting himself off as if to show no harm done.
Freezing took a whole new meaning when he got a look at the cart's owner close up. It wasn't just the hair that looked as though it belonged on a girl. Long doe-like lashes framed eyes the color of the ocean--not the kind Jase used to drive to when he'd actually had his own car, but the kind he'd only seen in travel brochures, a deep blue-green. That hair made those eyes look even bigger and more startled, though he supposed the whole falling onto the porch thing was enough to startle anyone, especially since this guy wasn't having a good day to begin with.
Wonderful. I gotta go rob the hot guy...
"Yeah, we need to fix that cable there." The guy ran a hand through that exotic hair, laughing nervously. "I'm really sorry." A pause. "Uh ... can I help you with something?"
Oh, baby, fuck yeah. With plenty of things.
Jase shook off the thought, wryly wishing he'd landed front-first in snow. It'd do instead of a cold shower. Evidently the knowledge that he was only here to surreptitiously ditch the things he'd stolen from this guy like some superstore Grinch wasn't enough.
"Ah, I uh..." Think, Jase. With the head on your shoulders. "I was, uh ... at the store a little while ago, and..." he offered out the bags, watching those eyes light up brighter than any Christmas decoration, "and I saw some kids messing around with a cart..."
"Oh, thank you!" The guy's smile was warm and sweet enough that for a moment it blotted out the cold, the dark. Damn, if he was going to cry...
"When I took them to the guys at the door," Jase went on, just in case weeping was imminent, "they pointed you out, but you'd already gotten on the bus, or I'd have gotten them to you sooner."
"Oh, you didn't have to bring them all the way out here!"
"Ah, it was just a couple of blocks."
"Even so." The guy smiled at him like he was some kind of savior. "You don't know how happy I am right--"
"Riley?" A scary looking woman poked her head around the door, and Jase almost fell off the porch a second time. No. Oh, no, this gorgeous boy wasn't shacking up with that? She eyed him suspiciously. Smart lady. "Who's this?"
She caught sight of the bags, and smiled suddenly. "Oh, so this is your buddy?"
Buddy? Huh. Jase didn't think he'd hit his head when he fell...
The guy, Riley, then looked at him with a desperate glint in his eyes and forced a smile through gritted teeth. If there was anything Jase recognized, it was a lie in progress. Shit, he was a lie in progress. Still, he was more comfortable with his own harmless little deception than other people's weird scams.
"Yeah. He, uh ... couldn't keep the stuff at his place after all."
"Hmmph." The woman folded her arms across an ample chest. "I thought you said he was reliable?"
"It's not his fault."
"Well, they're safer here anyway." She spoke to the kid, but her gaze remained locked on him. "So. You go to school with Riley, huh?"