It's Ryland James' and Robert Lassiter's first winter together.
|Word count: Approx. 1,300
Summary: Written for the prompts: Your character's partner/spouse experiences snow for the first time. Describe all the feelings and sensations that this moment brings to the couple; and ”Snowflakes on [his] eyelashes, red-cheeked and shivering. [His lover] pulls him close to warm him up and laughs at his inability to handle the winter weather, but just light teasing."
"This . . . is Hell."
"No, it's not, you big girl’s blouse." Ryland James chuckled and wrapped his arm around Robert Lassiter's waist as they gazed up at the huge Christmas Tree dominating Rockefeller Center. In this crowd, in Rockefeller Center, no one either noticed or cared about the personal displays of affection between two men. It was one of many things James loved about New York City. One of the other things he loved was that it was where he officially met his business partner—and, eventually, inevitably, his lover—Robert Allen Lassiter.
"You're right. Hell would be warm." Robert huffed, and James glanced at him fondly and caught Robert's nose wrinkling as if the man was about to—
"CHOO!" Robert barely got his gloved hand over his mouth and nose in time, and James laughed again. Robert turned to face him, red-cheeked and red-nosed. There were snowflakes in his auburn hair and on his eyelashes, and he was shivering.
He was gorgeous.
"What's so funny, Mr. James?" Robert inquired, his fine-featured face attentive and pleasant, even. James knew he should be treading carefully, but spoke before he could stop himself.
"You are, my dearest . . . you look like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer!"
"Charming," Robert deadpanned, sniffling and rolling his eyes. He shivered again, a quick, delicate frisson that James' body felt and imitated. "The bold words of a man who never wants to have sex with me again."
"Oh, don't be like that, petal," James murmured, pulling Robert close, till they were flush against each other: a crowd of two in a crowd of hundreds. As always, Robert’s body felt amazing against his own, even despite the layers of clothing separating their skin. "You actually look rather adorable like this."
Robert's perfect, snow-frosted brows quirked slowly upward toward his perfect, snow-frosted hair. "You find the early stages of pneumonia, quote: ‘adorable’? You sick bastard."
"Oh, Robert, lovely." James chuckled, leaning in to kiss Robert's red nose and then his pink lips. Robert moaned a little into James's mouth, then melted into the kiss, following James's lead. “You act as if you’ve never encountered winter before.”
“Well . . . I haven’t. Not really. After mother died, father always sent me to boarding schools on the West Coast, and the few weeks I spent in New York City in winter, were taken up with following father around and getting to learn the business.” Robert shrugged haplessly. “We went from penthouse, to underground parking, to underground parking, to father’s offices. I’ve felt the chill in passing, and snow underfoot rarely—and <i>never</i> liked it—but I’ve never had it snow on me.”
James blinked in utter shock. “Surely you’re not serious, darling?” he asked, thinking of his own impoverished childhood on the Estates of London or Manchester; of snow giving either city a coating of charm they otherwise had never held for James.
Thinking, then, of the happier years since his childhood—winters spent in Prague and Petrograd, Gdansk and Paris, skiing or snowboarding or simply watching it snow . . . spending time in chalets with various lovers of whom he’d been quite fond, but to whom he’d never grown particularly attached—James realized there were Winter Wonderlands out there, beyond the skyscrapers of New York City and London, and that he wanted nothing more than to share them with Robert. To make memories of those Wonderlands in which Robert stars. For he is, in fact, more than fond of Robert, he. . . .
James was recalled to the present by the simple expedient of Robert sneezing again, and grumbling about it while sniffling and wriggling his cute, pixie-ish, freckle-flecked nose.
“I’m completely serious, Ryland.” The young businessman went on solemnly, still sniffling slightly. “The only one in our family who liked the snow and cold was my mother. She loved to ski and skate and . . . all that stuff. I was like father: I preferred solid, non-slippery ground under my feet. Or sand.”
James searched his lover’s face for long moments, then sighed. “Never built a snowman? Never went sledding?”
“Sledding?” Robert snorted—then coughed, as he’d inhaled a snowflake. “I’ve read Ethan Frome. You couldn’t get me on a sled with a gun to my head!”
“Oh, my beautiful petal,” James murmured sadly, and Robert chuckled.
“Don’t you feel sorry for me, Ryland James. I haven’t missed out on the snow at all. Instead of snowmen, I’ve made sandcastles. Instead of sledding, I go surfing.” Another chuckle, and Robert’s bright blue eyes seemed to sparkle even brighter. “Perhaps it’s you who need to experience all the joys of a Winter Wonderland: Lassiter-style.”
James smiled fondly at Robert, reaching up to brush snowflakes off his lover’s chilly, soft cheek. “Perhaps,” he said gently, searching Robert’s eyes once more, and seeing nothing there but affection and trust. It quite took his breath away, and made him want to give Robert the world. Or at least a very specific part of it. “If you like, dearest, we could hop on my jet and spend the rest of the holiday season at my beach house in Australia. Brisbane is absolutely lovely this time of year, and I hear the surfing is, as you Americans might say, epic.”
Those bright blue eyes lit up. “Now that sounds like a holiday season well-spent.” Robert bounced up on his toes and kissed James briefly. “Of course, I’ll go to Brisbane with you, Ryland.” Brushing their noses together in a gentle Eskimo-kiss, Robert chuckled once more. “And maybe you’ll even let me teach you to surf. . . .”
“Maybe I will. . . .”
And it was still cold out—almost unbearably so—even in the press of the crowd, but their next kiss was warm, as were the arms winding around James's neck. He held Robert’s slimmer, smaller body close, noting that it was shivering despite the thick Burberry coat. So James held Robert closer, still, his hands soothing and stroking up Robert’s back till the other man’s shivers lessened, then stopped entirely.
Lost in each other as they were, neither noticed when the crowd cheers the event they'd all gathered here to see: the lighting of the Christmas Tree. In fact, they didn't notice much of anything until the crowd shifted in preparation for dispersal, becoming all jabbing elbows and careless feet.
"Oh, look," Robert breathed wonderingly when the kiss reluctantly ended. He was looking up at the tree, his face lit by red, green, and yellow light. He looked like a stained-glass saint, reverent and solemn. "The tree is lit. And you were right . . . it is beautiful."
"Yes, it certainly is," James said lowly, and Robert looked at him, smiling. His cheeks and nose were still flushed, but the snowflakes in his brows and lashes had melted.
"Mr. James, you're as transparent as you are handsome."
"And you're as sweet as you are lovely."
That flush deepened. "Ryland, you're—impossible."
"Oh, I think you'll find that I'm very possible, my darling." James kissed Robert again, this time briefly, though no less arduously. "Now, what say we go back to the penthouse and invent new ways to take the chill off?"
Robert shivered again, but for a different reason than before. His blue eyes were hot and intent on James's. "It's like you're reading my mind."
"Mmhmm. So let's run, run, Rudolph—ow!" James exclaimed when Robert whapped the back of his neck. "Domestic violence!"
"I'll beat you like a red-headed stepchild if you call me Rudolph again," Robert agreed, letting go of James and turning to follow the crowd. James was immediately on his heels, right arm around Robert’s waist, his left hand linked tightly with Robert's.
"Happy Christmas, Mr. Lassiter," he murmured into Robert's hair, and Robert glanced over his shoulder, smiling gently and warmly, his eyes aglow with more than reflected tree-light.
"You, too, Mr. James. Happy Christmas to you, too."
Approx. 1300 words