© 2017-19  Beth Dranoff

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unwrapped

I don’t love the holidays. Every year I close my eyes, hold my breath and hope I don’t get roped into too many social commitments. Especially those involving antlers, or holly. Although I don’t mind the eggnog to tell the truth.

This year was no different, except that Mum – in exponential Markovitz tradition – had opted to bail on the whole thing in favor of a cruise somewhere south, warm, and as far from the ho ho ho season as she could get.

Me, I’d delayed my escape plans too long so here I was, stuck in Toronto on Christmas Eve with the snow and the tourists and those who took the whole season far more seriously than me.

I hit the drugstore around nine on a hunt for deeply discounted chocolate and a pint of ice cream to fill the emotional void. The holiday music a tinny reminder I was on my own.

The last thing I expected was a call. Especially from Jon Grizendorfer, my art dealer friend with sex game benefits.

“Busy?” Most people would text. Most people also weren’t 100+ year old vampires.

“Nah.” I tucked the phone between my ear and my shoulder, evaluating exactly how many containers of ice cream I could balance in one hand while still grappling with both the chocolate orange ball and Toblerone stick in the other.

“Want to come by?”

I eyed my ice cream and chocolate stash. Better to leave the ice cream; the chocolate could wait for me in the truck until later.

“Sure,” I said.

*  *  *

He’d left it unlocked. I crossed the threshold from cold and snowy into fogged-windows warmth, kicking the door shut with a Doc Marten booted heel behind me. A holly-draped evergreen in the corner, wrapped in blue and green and white lights twinkling from tiny plastic bulbs, gave the darkness a surreal flickering glow.

“You don’t need this, do you?” Jon peeled the parka from my body, my scarf from around my neck. His breath cool as he tasted beneath my ear; my sweater unbuttoned by nimble fingers that traced between and then lower. Oh. Apparently tonight’s agenda involved less talk and more action.

Conversation was over-rated. I spun around, sliding my own hands up along the flat expanse of his abdomen; hesitating – wait, was he wearing antlers?

“Mine,” I grinned, reaching up to snag the ears from his honey-streaked, shoulder-length hair and insinuating them in between my own dark curls. Even as I yanked his faded grey t-shirt up and over.

Naked happens fast when you’re motivated. Moments between clothed and oh wow here we are. I saw myself reflected back to me in the blue-green swirls of his eyes, pale against the dark.

“Wait,” Jon said. Kissing my palms, wrapping my wrists together with strands of holly. A game we played. Decorating my neck, waist, arms. Tasting, touching.

Until. And then. Afterwards, crushed plastic vines beneath us, the scent of pine tickling my nose.

“Happy holidays,” Jon said.

*