June 17, 2024

12 Days of Gay – Preview

Chapter One

I was putting the speedos from today’s photo shoot in the washer when my best friend sauntered in through the door with a glossy magazine in his hand.

 “Aunt Rosy told me to give this to you,” Eric said in a sing-song voice that let me know exactly what that magazine was about.

“Seriously?” I stuffed the last of the laundry into the machine and turned to my friend. “It can’t be in print yet.” It was barely the start of December, and Aunt Rosy had told me the magazine was slated for release around Christmas.

“Pre-release copy.” Eric grinned. “We look really good.”

I shot Eric a skeptical look before getting the washer started. Two weeks ago we’d been in a photo shoot together, organized by Aunt Rosy for some advertising. A full two-page spread in Kinks Unleashed. It had been an amazing opportunity for me. A stepping stone to more modeling jobs in the future.

Except I wasn’t one of the models taking center stage in that picture. I wasn’t Santa, and I wasn’t the naughty elf sitting on his lap—that was Eric, who no-doubt looked great in his role.

I was the tree.

A fact that had not been disclosed to me before the make-up team covered my skin in green body-paint—and I’d only gotten my first doubts when they hung shiny balls to dangle from my fingers. By the time they’d started painting my dick to look like a candy cane, I was too far in to protest.

“C’mon, let’s have a look.” Eric tugged on my arm. “You’re done working, right?”

“Basically, yeah.” I’d still have to get the laundry out of the washer later, but that was my last task of the day unless Aunt Rosy called for anything. This was her house, but Eric and I got to live in the guest wing while we were working. He was a chef when he wasn’t modeling. I was basically a maid, except that my work uniform consisted of speedos instead of the typical apron.

“I made cookies,” Eric said, explaining the hint of cinnamon that lingered in the air as he guided me toward the kitchen. “Figured we’d start Christmas a little early in celebration.”

“I’m not sure this shoot is worth celebrating.”

“Don’t be like that! You make a great tree! Check it out!” Before I could say anything, Eric spread the magazine on the kitchen island, opening to the page with Aunt Rosy’s advertisement. There I was, in all my glory, shining balls and everything.

“It looks good!” Eric insisted.

“You look good,” I pointed out. My friend was shorter than most men, but that made him perfect for the role of Santa’s naughty elf.

The only problem was that I couldn’t look at the elf without also looking at Santa.

Eric made a very handsome elf, but his appeal faded in comparison with the man whose lap he was sitting on—and I fucking hated that fact.

Ashton Marshgrove had no right to be that damn hot with a Santa beard taped to his chin. He was shirtless, though, in the picture, and the way Eric leaned against his chest made me want to splay my own hand over his skin and rub my finger over his exposed nipple.

That photographer had known exactly what he was doing when he’d positioned the two of them.

Ashton had known what he was doing too, the way he gazed into the camera. It was as if he was staring straight at me, daring me to be naughty this Christmas.

Damn him and his dark eyes.

“Eat a cookie if you need something more wholesome to drool over.” Eric gestured to a plate with baked goods. Various little—naked—gingerbread men.

“I wasn’t drooling,” I defended my honor.

“Sure.” Eric studied the picture alongside me. “Can’t blame ya, though. That boy’s firm in all the right places.”

I swallowed, pushing down the tendril of arousal that my friend’s words sparked in me—cause he would know, wouldn’t he? He’d sat on Ashton’s lap while I’d stood in the corner, trying my best not to move.

Ignoring me, Eric bit into a cookie. “Damn, these turned out good.”

“Yeah?” Ripping my gaze away from the magazine, I tried a cookie. Gingerbread, cinnamon and a hint of nutmeg. “Tastes like Christmas.” Not as good as the cookies my grandma used to make, but that was probably nostalgia talking more than anything.

“I don’t get why we don’t eat these cookies year-round,” Eric mused. “As far as I’m concerned, it could always be Christmas.”

“Wouldn’t that be nice?”

Eric glanced at the magazine again. “I think I’m gonna frame this shot.”

“Please don’t.”

“Why not? Because you’re a tree or because sexy Santa would distract you too much?”

I scowled at my friend. “I don’t get why he gets to be Santa and I had to be a tree. Sure, he hits the gym, but so do I.”

“You’re not alpha enough to be Santa,” Eric said in such an off-handed way that I kind of felt insulted.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You’re more…” Eric gestured vaguely. “Legally blond, rather than ‘please spank me, sexy Santa.’”

“Wow, thanks.”

Eric shrugged. “You’ll get your time to shine eventually, I’m sure of it. You’ll take hearts by storm once people see you on film.”

On film… right. I chewed the last bite of my cookie thoughtfully. Aunt Rosy was running a sort of video promotion on her website this December. ‘12 Days of Gay,’ she called it. Three couples, four short videos each, all themed in reference to the famous song. Visitors to the website got to vote on what couple they liked best, and there was a fat cash prize waiting for the winning couple at the end.

I didn’t actually have a boyfriend, but I’d signed up with a buddy of mine.

A buddy I hadn’t heard from in two days now.

“I don’t know what Roger is doing,” I admitted. “I’ve left him like three voice mails.”

“I’m sure he’ll call back soon.” 

“He’d better. We’ll have to start filming soon.”

“Filming what?”

I whirled around at the sound of another man’s voice butting in on our conversation. Ashton’s voice. He walked into the kitchen as if he owned the place, dark gaze focused on me. He’d moved into this house a few weeks ago. Not to work, though. Aunt Rosy claimed he was family. Like, she was his actual aunt while the rest of us only called her that. It afforded the asshole some unfortunate privileges.

Like the fact that he could ask me to fetch him his slippers and I had to do it.

Fortunately, he hadn’t yet asked me to put them on his feet for him too, but every time I handed him his shoes and his eyes bore into me, it felt like he was a second away from doing just that.

Never mind that we’d grown up as neighbors. Our circumstances were vastly different now.

“What I’m filming doesn’t concern you,” I bit out.

“You signed up for the competition, did you?” Ashton studied me quietly, making my skin prickle. Why did I have to be half-naked while he was fully clothed?

“What’s it to you?”

“Nothing.” Ashton’s gaze slid toward the plate with the cookies. “May I?”

“Sure, go ahead,” Eric said. “Leave some for me to take to Aunt Rosy.”

While Ashton reached for a cookie, his attention was caught by the magazine spread open next to the plate. “When did this release?”

“It’s a pre-release copy,” Eric supplied helpfully. “I think it turned out pretty well.”

“Indeed.” Ashton’s lips curved. He wasn’t smirking, but it was a near thing. “We got such a lovely tree.”

Fuck you. The words lingered on the tip of my tongue, but I knew better than to speak them. I was the hired help. I couldn’t go around cursing my boss’s family.

Ashton continued to ponder over the image. “I never noticed they painted your dick too. Is that supposed to be candy cane?”

“It is,” I admitted grudgingly.

“Looks tasty.” Now he definitely was smirking.

God, why did he have to be such an ass?

I grabbed the magazine off the kitchen island and closed it shut. “This is my copy. Get your own if you wanna be a dick about it.” And there went all my good intentions about being nice to the boss’s family. I couldn’t help it, though. Something about Ashton made my temper flare every time he looked at me.

“No need to get so upset.” Ashton ate a cookie as if nothing was out of the ordinary. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw his cat slinking into the room, gray paws silent as can be.

“The kitchen is off limits to pets,” I reminded him.

Ashton raised an eyebrow at me, then turned to find his cat sniffing at the kitchen island. “Sassy, what are you doing here?” He lifted her up and pressed a kiss to her furry head as if that wasn’t a gross thing to do.

“You forgot to close the door behind you,” Eric pointed out. “She must have smelled the cookies.”

As Eric spoke, Sassy tried to get out of Ashton’s embrace and jump onto the kitchen island.

“I’ll bring you some food to your room if you want to take her back,” Eric suggested. “There’s leftovers from today’s dinner.”

“That would be great, thank you.” Ashton tightened his grip on the ball of fur in his arms. If the cat had been white and pretty, he might have looked like a Bond villain. Sassy was not a pretty cat, however. She looked more feral than regal, with part of her ear missing and her eternally grumpy face. She was spoiled now, with Ashton, but her appearance still made it obvious that he’d picked her up on the streets one day when he was feeling uncharacteristically generous.

“Excuse me,” he said, oblivious to my thoughts as he turned and left.

“I hate that we have to wait on him,” I lamented once he’d left the room.

“It is what it is.” Eric busied himself readying a plate of roast beef and veggies for the bastard. “It’s not so bad. At least he’s nice about it.”

“Nice? Maybe to you. He’s always been an ass to me.”

“That’s ‘cause he’s into you, dumdum. Roll your eyes at me all you want. He literally called your dick tasty.”

“He was ridiculing me.”

“Whatever. I’m gonna take this to his room.”

“Yeah, okay.” I waved at my friend as he strolled past and was about to take another cookie when my phone rang. Roger. Finally! I hurried to pick up the call. “Hey, man, I’ve been waiting forever to—”

“It’s super bad,” Roger cut me off. “I’m super sorry.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I don’t know how to say this.”

My brows furrowed. “Spit it out.”

“I might have… um… well, I met this really cute guy and then…”

I dragged a hand down my face. Roger had always been so fucking flighty. “Are you trying to tell me that you’re in a relationship now and you can’t shoot those videos with me?”

“It’s not like that!”

“Then what is it like?”

“I broke my penis.”

Silence as I tried to comprehend that. “You what?”

“I didn’t mean for it to happen, okay?”

“Does it hurt?” I blurted out.

“It’s okay, I guess? I don’t know, man. It’s really weird.”

I got the feeling that ‘weird’ didn’t even begin to describe it. “How do you break your penis?” Unconsciously, I clutched my own crotch.

“I don’t wanna talk about it. Just uh… if your date ever pulls out a book with super complicated looking sex positions, don’t do it.”

That sounded like solid advice.

“I’m so sorry, dude.”

“It’s fine.” I suppressed a sigh. What a shit show. “I’ll tell Aunt Rosy that we’re withdrawing.”

The deadline for the first video was in two days, after all. Even if I wanted to enter the competition without Roger…

Where would I find myself a replacement in time?