It’s Adam Klay and Micah Ryan’s second Christmas together. Or is it the third? Adam doesn’t care about the holidays as long as he has Micah in his bed. That’s pretty much how he runs his life, all is good, as long as they end the day together. The past couple of months have been tough on the both of them, Adam’s been caught up in a complex case, leaving Micah at home by himself more than Adam is happy about. To make matters worse things have felt off when he’s talked to Micah recently, Adam doesn’t think anything is wrong between them but he still has a funny feeling in the pit of his stomach.
“Good lord Adam, you’re grouchier than black bear with a tooth ache.”
Adam squinted at the man he called boss. “What is wrong with you? Why are you talking about bears? Did you drink some of Weir’s punch?”
Mohammed Azaya chuckled as he slapped Adam on the shoulder, “No—but I like happy on you, and you’ve been an ass lately.”
“Don’t hold back,” muttered Adam.
“I never do.”
No, Mo never did. He always told the truth.
Adam set his drink down on the table behind him. Someone, the most likely suspect was Weir, had covered it with a red tablecloth festooned with suggestive shirtless Santa’s. Where had he found time to find something like that? Between teaching part-time and consulting like some sort of FBI style Indiana Jones, Weir couldn’t possibly have time to shop. Could he?
Adam reminded himself that he didn’t always want to know how Weir got things done.
“I think I need some time off.” He sighed, ran his hand through his hair. “Maybe see if Micah can take some time, too or bring that damn laptop along with, and we can have a working vacation.”
“Adam, I’ve been trying to get you to go on vacation for years. You give HR fits every year with how much you’ve accrued. Go, take Micah somewhere warm and romantic. Unwind a little—”
“But this case…”
“Gomez will take over.”
“Did I hear my name? My ears were burning.”
Natalia Gomez, pint sized but scary as hell, appeared to the left of Adam, startling him. He turned and glared at her.
“The fuck Gomez.”
“Aw, I love it when you sweet talk me Klay.” She grinned at him. “Did I hear you use the word vacation? Or was it an auditory hallucination?”
On the other side of the long table, Weir and his boyfriend, Sterling, continued putting out platters of meats, cheeses, fancy bread and enough frosted cookies to feed the entire staff for a week.
“I heard it, too.” Weir pipped up. He was looking good these days, completely recovered from being hit by a car. The occasional weekend in southern California surfing and relaxing with his boyfriend helped as well.
Adam growled, “Stay outta my beeswax kid.”
Somebody, Gomez, Adam thought, pushed his drink back into his hand.
“Finish your drink, then I’m pouring you another one. This is supposed to be a fun party not an Adam Klay grumpfest.” Gomez declared.
He swallowed the rest of his drink, handing the empty cup to Gomez who stalked to the punch bowl and began ladling more of the red liquid inside.
“She’s going to make a great team leader.” Mohammed commented quiet enough so only Adam could hear.
She was. They hadn’t told her yet because Mo wanted all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed, but Natalia was getting a big promotion, one she well deserved. Adam was proud of his agents, but none more than Natalia Gomez.
“Sorry for being a downer. Micah said he would be here, and then he texted at the last minute saying something came up. Should I be worried Mo? I have long hours and...” He sighed, trying to quell the desire to be super dramatic. “Maybe it’s too much for him? I’d understand if it was.”
“Here,” Natalia interrupted. She shoved the full cup into his hand. Adam automatically took a huge sip and nearly coughed up a lung.
“What,” he gasped out, “is in this sh-stuff?”
Gomez glanced over at the bowl where a now empty bottle of vodka sat next to it. She shrugged. “I added a little more.”
He cleared his throat again. “Jesus fuck, Gomez.”
Nate Richardson appeared in Adam’s peripheral vision. He and his partner—in crime, Adam thought wryly— Miguel Ramirez were standing in the doorway. They appeared to be arguing over who was going to stand in a chair and pin something up. Adam noticed a sprig of something with white berries on it in Miguel’s hand.
Mistletoe. Huh, there was no way he was getting anywhere near it. Ramirez had no personal boundaries. He and Nate were as committed as any couple Adam knew, but he suspected Miguel was going to lay lips on everyone and anyone he could drag over to that doorway. Adam rolled his eyes and refocused his attention back on Mohammed.
“Anyway, thanks for flying up for the party.”
Mohammed had taken the day and flown up from LA to help the satellite office celebrate the holidays.
“I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Weir promised quite a show.”
“Tell me you didn’t encourage him!”
“Adam, let the team have a little fun. It goes a long way.”
As if on cue, somebody turned on a sound system, and Dancing Queen started to blast from portable speakers. Miguel grabbed Nate by the arm and swung him around. Nate grinned, his normally somber face lighting up with a smile as Miguel shimmied and danced around him.
Soon enough, the other members of his staff and their guests drifted into the party room. There were a few he hadn’t expected, but if Weir had gotten ahold of the guest list, he shouldn’t be surprised. His half brother, Seth, poked his head around the door. Adam could see his partner, Sacha, behind him, looking as out of place as Adam felt. Good, someone to commiserate with.
Adam caught Sacha’s eye as he slunk in the room behind Seth. He immediately brightened and made his way to where Adam stood.
“I can’t believe Seth talked me into this,” Sacha griped.
Adam nodded in agreement. “Have some punch. It’ll take the edge off at least.”
Sacha snatched up a red plastic tumbler and filled it up. Adam didn’t say anything as Sacha took a huge swig.
“Holy mother of sweet baby jesus,” Sacha rasped noticing the empty jug of vodka. “Is the whole thing in there?”
Adam shrugged, still grinning. “I have no idea—but see, doesn’t it take the edge off a bit?” He patted the other man on the back. Sacha scowled at him but then took another sip.
Sacha turned from the table so they were shoulder to shoulder. He and Adam were by far the largest men in the room. Adam felt like one of a pair of bodyguards for the bounty of food Sterling and Weir had brought in. Now there was a cake. How on earth was all this food going to get eaten?
He had to admit to himself that the cake was beautiful. It had three tiers and along each tier was red icing made to look like ribbon. It was so realistic, it actually looked like satin. On each tier were snowmen with scarves and hats and all sorts of things. One had what looked to be a magnifying glass and was bending to inspect something on the frosty ground. Huh.
The music turned louder. An area on the other side of the room had been kept clear to use as a dance floor, and there were now at least ten people dancing. The punch was doing its job. Gomez was dancing with Sammy. Adam looked around, not seeing Sammy’s wife. Come to think of it, he hadn’t seen or heard Sammy talk about her for months. He wondered if something was going on or had happened right under his nose. Some investigator he was. But also as team leader, people didn’t always confide personal issues, unless they interfered with work.
About the time he broke off his musings and realized that Sacha had abandoned him to go sweet talk Seth, there was a tap on his shoulder. He swung around expecting Weir, or, well, he really didn’t know who he’d expected, but it wasn’t the man who held his heart. His heart thudded almost painfully as he looked into Micah’s smiling brown eyes.
The sense of relief he felt at seeing his lover standing in front of him right that moment bordered on ridiculous. He hadn’t realized how worried he’d been.
“What are you doing here? I mean, you’re here? I thought something had come up?”
Micah smiled as he always did. His smile smoothed Adam’s rough spots.
“Something did come up.” The music changed again. This time to something a little slower.
“Want to dance?”
“One dance?” He held his hand out. Adam took it. He would never be able to say no to Micah. He followed him to the small dance floor, the other couples parting, allowing them space to dance. Adam was more of a swayer, but Micah didn’t seem to mind. They swayed and moved their feet a little, Adam reveling in the comfort of his lover. Of the person he loved most in all the world.
The music changed again, and Adam thought he recognized the voice, but even he would admit that music was not his thing. He only knew he liked the song. Together they swayed and half-heartedly two-stepped around the dance floor. If he hadn’t been very aware of his co-workers and junior agents, Adam would’ve rested his head on Micah’s shoulder.
“I have a confession to make.” Micah’s words startled Adam from his thoughts. He looked up, searching Micah’s expression.
“For what?” Adam asked. Worry butterflies filled his belly.
Micah turned them as the singer’s voice rose.
“This isn’t a holiday party.”
“This—what are you talking about?”
“This is an engagement party.”
Adam frowned. Micah two-stepped and turned him again.
“Okaaay...who’s getting engaged?” Maybe that would explain all the food and people who really weren’t part of the team being here tonight.
Micah stopped their movement. The music stopped, too. The other couples on the dance floor moved away from them in one movement, and Micah let go of Adam, going down on one knee. Adam stared, stunned, not entirely sure what was happening. No that wasn’t right. He knew what was happening. He just couldn’t believe it.
A box appeared in Micah’s hand. The room was completely quiet, barring some shushing and hushing.
Micah opened the box, two gold rings glittered against black velvet. “Adam Klay, will you marry me? Be mine for better or worse for the rest of our lives?” Time stopped.
Adam didn’t know what to say. He knew what to say, the answer of course would always be yes, but…he looked at his love, down on one knee, hand outstretched. Of course he wanted to marry Micah. He wanted to always be with the man who made him a better person. He wanted to wake up in the night and be able to watch over Micah while he slept, his hair curly and out of control. If everything in his life went sideways, he wanted to be nowhere else except at Micah’s side.
He pulled Micah up to standing, so he could look his man in the eyes.
“Yes,” Adam answered.
A happy cheer went up from the gathered crowd. Adam felt tears he couldn’t stop begin to roll down his cheeks. Regardless of all the people watching, he pulled Micah into a passionate kiss, trying to pour all the feelings encompassed by that one little word into it. Gently Micah slid one of the rings onto Adam’s finger, Adam did the same for Micah. The weight of the ring felt good on his hand.
The music started again—a soft love song. A woman sang that they’d finally gotten it all right, and that’s how Adam felt. That through everything, he had finally done one thing that was the right thing.
“I thought something was wrong,” he whispered into the shell of Micah’s ear as they slowly moved to the music.
He felt Micah’s smile. “I’m sorry, but you are very difficult to surprise.”
“Federal agent,” grumbled Adam.
“Federal agent,” Micah confirmed.
“I love you, Micah Ryan.”
“I love you, Adam Klay.”
“Can we go home now?” He leaned back a little to look at Micah, only kind of kidding.
“There’s cake to cut, and all of these people here helped me pull this off.”
“I’m having second thoughts about Gomez’s promotion,” Adam groused.
“You are not,” Micah chuckled and grabbed his hand, pulling him off the dance floor and over to their waiting friends. “Come on nearly husband, let’s celebrate.”