Henry and Jack had thought nothing could ever drive them apart. They were wrong. Three months have passed since Jack walked out of the home they shared, and Henry had been too stupid to take back the hurtful things he'd said.
Both assured by their respective parents the other would not be present at Henry's mother's annual Christmas gathering, they attend. Finding they have been duped into seeing each other, Henry realizes that this may be his only chance to try and make things right. But will he be able to convince Jack to come home?
Chapter One can be found here Chapter Two is here Chapter Three is here Chapter Four is here and Chapter Five is here
So here, without further adieu, is the final Chapter. Thanks to everyone for coming along for the ride and reading our story. :)
Chapter Six - S A Meade
Henry paused on the doorstep, his hand suspended just above the doorbell. “Do we really have to be here?” He looked at Jack, hoping he’d say that he’d prefer to pop down to the Bell and Whistle for pie and a pint.
“Sorry, my love. Tradition is tradition. You know neither of us would hear the end of it if we turned around and headed home again.”
“But it’s snowing and home is warm and cosy.” Henry brushed an errant snowflake from Jack’s hair. “And our bed is even warmer and cosier.”
“We have all of Christmas to take advantage of that bed.” Jack paused. “I hope. You’re not on call are you?”
“Nope. Since I’ve agreed to be one of the groomsmen at Georgina’s wedding, I’m in her father’s good books. I told you, I’m off until New Year’s Day and I intend to stay at home with you.”
“Then we can deal with this. It’s only for an hour or two, right?”
Henry took a deep breath, braced himself for the onslaught of his mother’s party-madness, and depressed the doorbell. He reached for Jack with his other hand, twining his fingers through his. “I love you.”
“Love you too.”
The door opened to a blast of warm air and perfume. “Oh darling, I’m so glad you’re both here.”
Henry humoured his mother, letting himself be caught up in her embrace. “It’s great to be here, Mum.”
Emily turned to Jack and hugged him. “Hello darling. It’s so lovely to see you. Come on you two, the party’s in full swing, there’s plenty of food and drink.”
She hustled them into the hall and took their coats. Henry stared at the tree, as impeccably and precisely decorated as usual, at the knots of chattering guests in the lounge, clutching plates and glasses. Georgina held court in the corner by the drinks cabinet, grasping her fiancé’s arm with the ferocity of a pit bull tugging at a bone. The poor man had the hunted look of someone who had a lifetime of social events mapped out ahead of him. He wouldn’t be escaping to the pub any time soon.
“Go on.” Emily shooed them towards the food. “Go and help yourselves. I don’t want to spend the next week or two eating leftovers and watching those prawns go off in the fridge because your father won’t touch them after…you know.”
“Yes, mother dear.” Henry winked at Jack and dragged him towards the table which, as usual, resembled a food porn centrefold from a culinary magazine. He picked up a plate, then wondered, should he wait until after they’d eaten? Before the toast? Could he eat anything? His stomach curdled with nerves.
Don’t be stupid. He loves you, you love him. Of course he’ll say ‘yes’.
He slid his hand into his pocket and curled his fingers around the small velvet box, seeking comfort from the warmth and softness of the fabric, knowing that the simple, gold symbol that represented their future rested inside. Nope, best to go with the routine, food first, pick a moment afterwards.
“Prawn?” Jack grinned and held one of the offending crustaceans towards him.
“Sod off.” He waved it away.
“Well, I’ll have it, then.” Jack swept the prawn through the little cut glass bowl of American style cocktail sauce.
Henry shuddered. He hated horseradish, he hated tomato sauce. Putting the two together was an abomination. “I don’t know how you can. I hope you’re not going to kiss me with that mouth.”
Jack laughed, then lowered his voice to a heated whisper. “I have every intention of doing a lot more than kissing you with this mouth when we get home.”
Oh God. Henry adjusted his trousers to accommodate his sudden erection. The way Jack then caressed that asparagus spear with his tongue… Jesus.
“Aren’t you going to eat anything?” Jack’s voice was all innocence. His eyes—full of heat and promise—told an entirely different story.
Henry gulped and reached blindly for a sausage roll. “I suppose I’d better.”
Jack laughed, leaned close and touched his lips with a kiss. “You’ll need to keep your strength up for later.”
“You have got to stop tormenting me or I’ll drag you down to the wine cellar.”
“Nope, I want you in bed, our bed.” He spooned some potato salad onto his plate. “So no more teasing.”
“Spoilsport.” Jack helped himself to a handful of olives. “I’ll try to behave myself.”
“You all right?”
“What?” Henry turned towards him, holding a sausage roll in mid-air. “Yes, I’m fine. I guess I’m just tired. It’s been a long week.”
“Yeah, it has been.” Jack swept his hand down Henry’s back, welcoming the solid warmth of it, the comfort of Henry just being. Knowing that he was his—hopefully forever. “Let’s just sneak out. We wouldn’t be lying to your mother if we told her you’ve been crazy busy. You deserve your rest.”
Henry set down his plate and offered him a weary smile. “I do, don’t I? So do you. We’ve both been busy. All right. There’s just one thing I need to do first. Give me a minute.” He stood up.
Jack watched him walk towards the middle of the room and grab an empty glass from a side table. He pinged it with his forefinger, until it sang out. The chatter faded to silence. Henry set the glass down and shoved his hands into his pocket.
What the fuck?
Jack recognised all the signs of nerves—the bobbing Adam’s apple, the way Henry shifted his weight from one foot to the other, the tight set of his jaw. Something inside swooped and dove. Whatever Henry was about to do was going to be big and unforgettable.
“Thank you. Now that I have your attention.” Henry cleared his throat. “I have something I need to say.” He stared at Jack, a fire in his eyes. “As you all know, apart from a brief hiccup, Jack and I have been together for quite a while. I’d really like us to stay that way…forever.” He strode towards Jack, then dropped elegantly onto one knee. “So I want to make it official.”
Jack lost every word and every thought. He saw the future shining in Henry’s eyes and glinting off the ring his lover held before him.
“Marry me,” Henry whispered. “Make me yours.”
There was a muffled sob from somewhere. Jack wasn’t sure if it was Georgina finally getting her reality check, Mrs Lewis or his own mother. He scanned the room for his parents. Not that he needed their approval or anything, but their tearful smiles were blessing enough. He took a deep breath and covered Henry’s hand with his. “Yes please.”
The room filled with applause when he leant forward to kiss Henry. For a moment, they were all there was, all there would be. No one else mattered, the past was done with, the future was set in the band of gold Henry held before him. That was all he would ever need.
The entire story will be available as a free download from All Romance EBooks and LoveLane Books after the 23 December. Merry Christmas!
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