A Christmas Surprise – 6

Jack’s got it all planned out. Christmas morning, sat at the foot of his parent’s overindulgent Christmas tree, with literal logs crackling on the fire in the hearth, Macy, the seven-year-old Bassett Hound that his Mom insisted on buying when his younger brother Ollie went off to college, sulking because she, too, is waiting to open her presents, and, probably, his heart pounding so hard, that it’ll take him a couple of swallows before he can get his words out: that’s when he’ll do it. Jack’s stomach gives an uncomfortable clench that’s part anticipation, part excitement, and part sheer terror.

Because it’s the right time to do it, isn’t it? The right time to express just how very much he loves Alex, and how he intends to give him that love for the rest of his life. In front of a small audience, already in the middle of the happy season, where there’s so much joy and merriment around, a proposal should be the literal frosting on the cake; complete with sprigs of holly, miniature Christmas trees, and, if he’s got anything to do with it, wedding rings. Jack sighs to himself, and pleads that things will go to plan.

He’s not bought the rings yet, though, hoping they choose them together in the actual part of this that is a Christmas gift to Alex. Because a proposal for Christmas, while sentimental, doesn’t involve a lot of unwrapping, and the weekend away he’s booked for them in the New Year, where they can indulge in each other, as well as hit all the jewelers possible, is something he can giftwrap; sort of. An envelope, containing a schmoopy, handwritten invitation, on thick cream paper with a gilded edge. He’d practiced for hours, gone through three pen nibs before getting it right.

***

Will Alex feel pressured by such a public proposal, Jack panics out of nowhere. It’s only his family, who already love Alex as one of their own, have spent two of the past three Christmases in his company, and have been not-so-subtly nudging at Jack to propose for months. But still, if it’s in front of an audience, will he feel like he has to say yes, even if he doesn’t want to? The thought clenches around Jack’s heart, makes him pause in the middle of Christmas shopping and have to take a really, really long breath to calm himself.

They’ve been together more than five years now, already live together, and are so in love, that Jack sometimes wakes in the early hours of the morning just to stare at Alex as he sleeps, barely able to believe his own luck. He wants Alex forever, and he’s pretty sure Alex wants him like that too; but does he want that, with a symbol of commitment that ties him to him for that forever? The very idea that he might not makes Jack’s heart pound, sends him seeking comfort in festive cafe corners, with gingerbread lattes and a holly-adorned cupcake.

But Alex does love him, Jack thinks to himself a few hours later, panting breath back into his lungs as Alex does the same beside him. They turn as one, rolling together, fingers tangled between them and sated smiles across their faces, and Alex tells him how much he loves him. Mumbles it against his forehead as he kisses him, then behind his ear as he eventually wraps himself around Jack as they prepare for sleep. Jack allows himself to settle in Alex’s arms, and thinks of the work Christmas party they’ll attend tomorrow evening, wondering what Alex will wear.

***

 

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