The neon red MOTEL flashed at Jamie through the mist, surrounded by a green arrow that curved around the word.
Jamie smiled and pushed up the lever that activated his left-turn signal. Red and green. How proper for tonight.
Actually, “tonight” hadn’t come yet; the sky was still bluish-gray. The rainstorm that the news stations had promised was only an embryo, a sprinkling of moisture that already glossed the roads and highways. He was glad he was here now and not later.
Jamie parked close to the front office, jumped out quickly and rented a room for one night. This motel, unlike many lodgings in the city, still had vacancies. Few people knew of this motel ten miles out of the Dallas-Fort Worth vicinity. Fewer still would expect to find a Star inside.
That was exactly why Jamie chose this place.
When Jamie received his key -- one key, for he said he was the only person sleeping in the room tonight, which wasn’t true -- he moved his own car into the slot closest to the room number. The motel consisted of three long bungalows, arranged to make three sides of a square.
Jamie opened the door, got in the room quickly, closed the door against the inclement weather and put down his equipment bag. Only it was much lighter now, because it wasn’t full of equipment this time. Well, not hockey equipment.
He looked at the sky one more time -- it was still gray, and getting grayer -- before pulling the curtains shut. They would not open to the world again until the maid came to clean the room when he was gone.
Jamie used the room phone -- not his cell phone -- to leave a message for the person who would join him here later, giving directions and the room number. After he was done, he made a silent prayer for safe roads, then hung up his damp coat on the bar next to the sink and mirror. That bar was the closest thing to a closet in here.
This room was a far cry from the well-equipped rooms he was accustomed to. No ironing board. No terrycloth robes. Not even a bathtub -- he opened the bathroom door and found only a glass booth to shower in.
Oh, well. Luxury was not his highest priority tonight. He opened his equipment bag, making sure that the two Egg Nog Chugs he’d bought at the convenience store on the way were still cold. They were, thank goodness, and would still be when his companion arrived. Also in the bag were two large gingerbread men, wrapped in cellophane. He had written on each one with white icing -- one with his name, one with the name of the one who was coming.
His jeans already felt itchy and confining. So did his white T-shirt, damp more from sweat than the rain.
It was high time for a shower and a change. He wanted to be ready when the other one got here.
Jamie took out a small navy grooming bag from his equipment bag. He found the plastic soap box which always carried one brand of soap...Ivory. 99 and 44/100 percent pure.
Just like you, Jamie, the one who was coming had once said. You’re 99 and 44/100 percent pure...and 56/100 percent wicked.
Jamie stripped and took himself and his Ivory into the shower. Fifteen minutes later, he emerged from a cloudful of steam, a white towel wrapped around his waist. He rubbed his damp hair with another towel until it stuck out in wild, spiky strips of glossy brown. He toweled his skin off, marveling at how warm water and Ivory softened the hairs of his body, the hairs of his arms and legs and around his genitals. He stroked the mass of curls above his penis, watching that organ stir, then rise as it anticipated the events to come.
It’s going to be good tonight, old friend, he promised his penis.
When Jamie deemed himself dry enough, he unzipped his equipment bag ad pulled out some flannel pajamas. But there were no ordinary pajamas. Oh, no.
These pajamas were dark blue, spangled with golden moons and stars, washed often enough so that it was the texture of velvet. They didn’t make such magical pajamas for men. This was really a women’s extra-extra large. Nobody knew he owned such pajamas, not even his wife. Just him...and the one he hoped would be arriving any minute.
Jamie slid the pants up his legs, not bothering to put on underwear. Don’t need that tonight. Why complicate things?
He slid his arms through the sleeves, sniffed under each arm, liked what he smelled and buttoned the top, save for the first two buttons beneath the collar.
Now that he was covered up -- for the time being -- Jamie could take care of the little, tidying-up things. He made sure that his cell phone was turned off -- heaven forbid he talk to anyone else tonight except the one who was coming. He peeked out the window -- and let out a sign of disappointment when he saw no other familiar vehicles beside his own, parked outside. He turned on the television to get an update on the storm. It was closing in on the region fast, and it would be big. He could already hear it starting to build its strength.
Come to me, he prayed to the one who was coming. Come to me before the storm gets too worse. Come to me...safe.
A white light pressed against the curtain.
Jamie jumped to his feet. The hum of a car engine entered the room. He cracked open the curtain, and let out a gasp of delight.
It took all of his self-control to wait for the knock and not risk exposure by opening the door wide and rushing to greet the one who had come.
The one who was...
* * *
Derian stepped through the doorway, his eyes and his mind fixed solely on Jamie.
The star pajamas, he noticed. I love to see him in them...and I love to take them off of him.
Jamie stepped forward, and Derian almost dropped his equipment bag and the box of pizza he was holding to embrace him. But he could not mar Jamie’s cocoon of warmth and dryness with the cold drops falling from his coat, his hands and his hair.
“Hold that thought, Jamie.” Derian held his hand up. “Let me get more comfortable first.”
“Sure, Der.” Jamie smiled. “I’m so glad you got here.”
“I’m even gladder.” When you’re at the end of the road.
Jamie took the pizza from Derian, and stepped back to let him through. Derian hung his wet coat next to Jamie’s, and dropped his equipment bag to the floor. He unzipped his bag and pulled out his own pajamas. No stars or moons, just a plain green long-sleeved T-shirt and green plaid flannel pants.
“I’m going to shower. You just stay put, and I’ll be out faster than you can say, ‘Merry Christmas’.”
“You know, my Christmases have gotten merrier since we started this tradition...Secret Santa night.”
“Emphasis on the secret.”
With that, Derian entered the bathroom and closed the door. He stripped, turned on the shower, adjusted it to the right temperature, and stepped in.
Derian was not as fussy as Jamie was about soap. The bar that the room provided was good enough for him.
But this was not a “good enough” night. It was Secret Santa night. A night with Jamie. And Derian wanted to smell his very best.
He slathered Davidoff Cool Water shower gel over his body. Regular soap would be too drying for his skin, and he didn’t want Jamie to touch lizard hide.
Since he was taller and bigger than the average man, it took Derian some time to lather himself all over...every nook and cranny, even the tight spaces between his toes, even the usually neglected area between scrotum and anus. Just in case...
When he was satisfied with his cleanliness, Derian shut off the shower, toweled himself off, and put on his pajamas. When he put on his pajama top, he saw that his nipples stood out under the snug material.
That’s what happens when you combine a hot shower, cool air, and thoughts of Jamie...
When he opened the bathroom door, he found a wonderful surprise.
A dreary motel room, usually the domain of hard-working prostitutes and tired truck drivers, had become a magical playground for two men.
The lilting sounds of instrumental Christmas carols drifted in the air, thanks to a portable CD player and two small speakers. The flickering flame of a jar candle -- vanilla, judging by the ivory color of the wax -- stood sentinel at the table besides the bed, along with bottles of lotion and personal lubricant.
To soften both the outside and the inside. Very smart, Jamie.
The pizza box, now open, sat on the larger table nearest the window, adding its own meaty and spicy scents. The gifts -- four of them now, the ones from Jamie wrapped in gold, the ones from Derian wrapped in green -- were on the dresser, along with two gingerbread men wrapped in plastic wrap to keep them fresh.
But the most precious gift was wrapped in blue, star-spangled flannel, standing in the middle of the room, his big brown eyes working on Derian like the coffee whose dark color they shared...they warmed the inside of his body.
“Oh, Jamie.” In two strides, Derian had Jamie in his arms, breathing in his Ivory freshness. Jamie’s arms came around his shoulders, his lips rising to meet Derian’s.
I’ll never, not if I live to be a hundred, get tired of the feel...the taste...the love inside your lips. The sweetness of bubblegum...and the sheer sexy tang of you.
“Mmmm...wow, Der, your breath smells so minty sweet.”
“Thanks. I sucked on a candy cane while driving up here.” Derian grinned. “And then I’m going to ruin it with my half of the pizza.”
“No, you won’t. Remember what you once told me one morning...in bed? A lover’s breath never stinks, even in the morning or after pizza.” Jamie kissed Derian again. “A little garlic-pepper-sausage odor isn’t going to keep me from you.”
“Oh, really?” Derian took Jamie’s hand in his. “In that case...let’s eat. I’m starving.”
The two men sat at the table with the pizza on it. For the next hour or so, they ate their dinner and talked, the way countless couples did every evening. At this moment, they could pretend that they were a normal couple, a couple that didn’t have to hide behind closed doors.
Jamie and Derian could talk about anything...except two subjects that they had both agreed to keep out of their secret meetings. The first one was hockey -- that was all they talked about when they were together in the world. The second was the families their love forced them to betray. Romance and guilt just didn’t mix well.
When they were finished, Jamie picked up the empty box and put it on top of the tiny wastebasket -- no way was it going to fit inside, even folded up. Then, he opened his equipment bag and took out the Egg Nog Chugs and the gingerbread cookies.
“Something sweet to top off our meal,” he explained as he put the sweets on the table
“Gee. Thanks, Jamie.” But not half as sweet as you.
“Look. The bigger gingerbread man is you, Der.”
“Ahhh.” Derian picked up the cookie with his name on it. “I think I know where he wants to go.”
He turned the “Jamie” cookie so that its back faced upward, then put his cookie on top.
“Gingerbread Derian is very impatient,” chortled Jamie.
“As is flesh-and-blood Derian.” Derian gripped his genitalia under his pajama bottoms.
“Hmmm...I don’t know which cookie to eat now. Me...or you?”
“I say it’s more fun to eat each other.” Derian tickled Jamie’s thigh under the table. “The dessert after the dessert.”
But before the dessert after the dessert, they needed to take care of certain holiday rituals first.
“This one’s for you.” Derian gave Jamie the largest package of the bunch.
“Oh, no. You go first, Der.” Jamie handed Derian a smaller gold box, but Derian wouldn’t take it.
“It’s a tradition in my family that the youngest gets to open the gifts first. You’re the youngest around here, so...”
“Well...” Jamie smiled crookedly. He didn’t want to argue with Derian. Not here, not now. “Okay.”
He tore into the green paper and opened what looked like a sweater box. But the gift inside wasn’t a sweater. It was a pillow, fat and fluffy, stuffed inside a soft flannel pillowcase...silkscreened with the faceshot of Derian from the current media guide.
“You once said that you wished you had a pillow with my face on it, so...” Why, Derian could not understand. But Jamie’s wishes, no matter how small or incomprehensible, were Derian’s mandates.
“This is going to be my sweet dreaming pillow.” Jamie stood up and kissed Derian. “Thanks so much, Der.” He cuddled the pillow to his cheek, as if it were a comfort toy. And then...
“Hey.” Jamie placed the pillow, face up, on his chair. Then, he lowered his pajama bottoms -- just below the cheeks -- and gently sat down on the pillow. “It can be my butt’s dream pillow, too.”
I think your butt might be dreaming of a different part of me, thought Derian.
Suddenly, Jamie shot up, as if the pillow had burst into flames.
“What’s the matter?”
“I feel a fart coming on.” Jamie blushed. “And the last place I want to do it is on your face.”
“You forgot something else I said,” said Derian. “A lover’s farts don’t stink, either.”
“Not that I don’t believe you, Der, but...it’s a theory I’d rather not test.”
Jamie rushed into the bathroom...and came out only seconds later.
“False alarm,” he said. “Good thing, isn’t it?”
“Yup.” An empty butt on Secret Santa night is a good thing indeed. “Now open your other box, Jamie.”
Jamie picked up his other gift from Derian, a box about one foot long. He divested it of its green paper and opened the lid.
“Oh, my...” Jamie removed the contents...a very realistic rubber sculpture of a human male erection, all the way down to the dark, rose-brown color.
“I got that at makeyourowndildo.com,” explained Derian. “I...uh, sent them a mold of myself.”
“Really?” Jamie studied the sculpture -- too well-crafted to be called a mere dildo. “Wow, you ain’t kidding -- it has every little bump that makes you you.”
“Consider that the backup, Jamie.”
“It can’t replace you, Der.” Jamie hugged Derian. “But I already have some good ideas for it. Someday, the two of us are going to perform for you...” Jamie nuzzled the shaft with his cheek. “Me...and my dildo.”
Derian stirred down below as he imagined that performance.
“Thanks for this good stuff.” Jamie stood up and kissed Derian across the table. “I feel like such a good boy.”
“Don’t get too good on me tonight, Jamie.” Derian chuckled. “Unless it’s good and tight.”
* * *
The craggy face familiar to Stars fans and opponents didn’t come tonight...Derian’s features were soft now, as if carved from pale strawberry sherbet. This was the face that he showed to the sick kids at the hospital. To his own kids. To Jamie, when it was just the two of them plus time.
His joyful face. I could be happy only seeing that for the rest of my life.
“Well, it’s the old man’s time for gifts now.” Jamie handed a gold package to Derian.
One glance at the shape of the package -- five-and-a-half by five inches, five-sixteenths of an inch thick -- told him exactly what it was. But not what it would sound like...
Derian tore open the package.
“What’s this?” He smiled at the handwritten cover, gold ink against glossy white cardstock. “Derian’s Fun CD?”
“Play track 10,” Jamie urged.
Derian opened the jewel box and put the CD in the player. He pressed the track button until “10” appeared in the LCD display.
“Uhhhh...” A heavy, intensely sexual gasp burst from the speakers. “Ohhh...fuck me, Derian. Fuck me, Derian!”
“Oh, my God.” Derian’s cheeks reddened.
“Fifty tracks, Der. All from me...to you.”
Derian pressed the track button back and forth. He didn’t have time to listen to it all tonight, but he got the general idea -- it was all Jamie, telling him what he wanted to do with him and certain parts of his body, telling him what he wanted Derian to do to his body, often using four-letter words that ended in “k”.
“Mmmm.” Derian reached down and tugged the front of his pajama bottoms, trying to make room for the growing inside. “That got me up faster than the last Metallica album.”
“You get off on Metallica?”
“Oh, yeah. Hard rock gets me right in the dick.”
“I’ll keep that in mind, Der...for next time.”
Next time. Whenever that would be. Derian hoped it was sooner rather than later.
“And if you liked the CD, you’ll loooooove this...” Jamie cradled the other gift in his hands.
Derian turned off the CD before he got too into it and sat back across from Jamie. He plucked the package from Jamie’s hands and uncovered it. It was a miniature photo album for pictures four by six inches, one picture to a page. Once again, it was titled by hand with gold ink: “Derian’s Fun Book”.
“Uh, these aren’t casino coupons, are they?”
“They’re much more valuable than that, my Captain.”
Derian glanced at the spine. The book was divided into three tabbed sections: “Close”, “Closer”, and “Closest”.
Close, closer and closest to what? he asked himself.
Derian opened the first page with the “Close” tab...and sucked in his breath.
It was a picture of Jamie lying down on a couch...totally naked. His leg was lifted enticingly, his arm was draped across his chest, his eyes were on full seduction mode.
The most hetero of hetero men would get stiff for that photo. And it would get even better. Derian kept turning the pages. Each one contained a different photo of a nude Jamie, either on a couch or a bed.
“Closer” wasn’t kidding. These photos were all about the area between Jamie’s navel and thighs, front and back, the junk and the trunk.
“Who took the pictures?” he asked.
“I did,” Jamie said proudly. “All by my little old self. It took some trial and error, but as you can see, the results were worth it.”
“Well, my man, this is the best book I’ve read since ‘The Cat in The Hat’.”
“Was that the last book you read?” joked Jamie.
“Watch it.” Derian ruffled Jamie’s hair. “I’m not half as dumb as I look. I do have excellent taste in men, you know.”
And “Closest”...it was all about the anus, pretty and pinkish brown and puckered. Derian’s sexual engines fired on all cylinders as he perused every page of the “Closest” section, his eyes sparkling like those of a child reading a beautifully illustrated picture book...until he asked himself what the hell he was doing, looking at pictures of Jamie when the real thing was here in the same room, ready to be touched, held...and enjoyed.
“Hey.” He closed the photo album and placed it on the table. “I think it’s time to unwrap the best gifts of the night...”
He drew Jamie into his arms for a gingerbread-luscious kiss.
* * *
Now the men were sitting on the bed, each naked to the waist.
Jamie’s fingers thrilled to the densely packed fibers hiding just beneath the surface of the skin he was moisturizing. He was sure glad Derian was his teammate and not his opponent. His lover, not his enemy.
“That lotion sure smells good, Jamie. Almost like cake mix...what’s it called?”
“This is Sugared Shortbread lotion from Bath and Body Works. It’s one of those limited-edition scents. I bought five bottles.”
“Smart guy. There’s nothing like the smell of sugared shortbread to make a guy feel warm...” He turned around and brushed his lips lightly against Jamie’s. “And loved.”
Rubbing lotion in soon evolved into an embrace, bare chest to bare chest, so utterly sensuous, a touch that spelled “love” like nothing else.
Jamie’s hands clutched the muscled curves of Derian’s back, even as Derian’s hands explored his back just as thoroughly...all the way down to the waistband of his pajama bottoms.
“Close...” Derian sneaked his fingers underneath Jamie’s waistband. “Closer...” His fingertips dipped into the snug valley between Jamie’s buttocks. “Closest...” He circled the tender opening, alive with keenly excitable nerves.
Once the pajamas came off, that was when the foreplay evolved at an exponential rate, from kissing to fondling of the buttocks and genitals.
“Mmmm...that’s a mighty impressive Yule log you have there, Der.”
“Yup. And you’re the lucky fellow who’s going to get it delivered down his chimney tonight.”
“Your balls are the size of one of those humongous winter navel oranges.”
“Aren’t you glad you play on a team with such a big-balled Captain?”
“Hell yes, Der.”
“Speaking of balls...” Derian reached down and tickled Jamie’s. “Yours are quite impressive, too. Impressive with hair.”
“Oh, Der.” Jamie’s face turned the color of Santa’s suit. He knew full well that his scrotal hair was on the long side...but still, he always blushed when Derian talked about it.
“Someday, my boy, I’m going to brush that hair and braid it...maybe make some cornrows...and tie the ends with little pink ribbons.”
“You even try to tie pink ribbons on, Der, I’ll stop washing my balls and create some funky dreadlocks.”
“The day I see dreads down there is the day I shave it all off, Jamie. And love every minute of it.”
* * *
Derian lunged forward, as sure as a panther on the scent of red-blooded prey, until he loomed directly above Jamie, his hips pressed against Jamie’s tender buttocks, now slick with lubricant.
“Are you ready?”
Jamie smiled. It was a totally unnecessary question. But he was glad Derian asked anyway. When you cared whether your lover was ready, that was a sign of true connection.
“I’m ready,” he whispered. “I’m ready for the only magic wand that can open my chamber of secrets...”
Derian grinned at that playful pun...then his hips reared back and then propelled his erection forward, until its head pierced the rosy star between Jamie’s lower cheeks.
“Ohhh...” moaned Jamie.
Derian’s hot, hard desire filled him, filled him all up, filled him like macaroni and cheese on a cold winter’s day. Jamie relaxed his anus so his lover could enter all the way.
It had been painful the first time, a fact he would never reveal to Derian...but, for the sake of love, he had taught his anus not to be afraid, to delight in its erogenous potential.
On this not-so-silent, oh-so-holy night, all was hot, all was tight. The line between love and lust wasn’t always clear to these men inside this motel room. The physical ecstasy of lust and the emotional ecstasy of love blended together like blue and red watercolors changing to purple when they met. The sugar-sweetness of the vanilla candle and the lotion mingled with the hot, heavy odors of male sweat and pheromones.
Jamie could tell when Derian was coming close. Perhaps it was because he was extremely sensitive “down there”. Perhaps it was because he paid attention more, was able to focus on his lover’s body with acuity. Wherever it came from, it was a blessing that Jamie cherished. Making Derian come was every bit as thrilling as coming himself.
The more sexually aroused he got, the more animal Derian became. That was not an insult. The animal was a lion, a beautiful golden lion with a roar that was a symphony to his ears.
Derian shifted his torso to move himself closer to Jamie. Now the weight of his body bore down on Jamie’s testicles with each thrust...an erotic delight that Jamie had neither experienced nor imagined.
“Oh, Jesus...oh sweet fucking Jesus...sorry about that, Der. Shouldn’t be talking like that so close to his birthday.”
“Don’t be. You can say anything in front of me. Any motherfucking word that gets you fucking hot, makes you ready to come...”
“Oh, I’m ready...just about now!”
“Then touch yourself, Jamie-baby. Go ahead.”
Jamie reached down and wrapped his hand around his blood-swollen penis. He pulled once -- twice -- and then here it was, he was coming in bold italics, his warm, fresh semen splashing down upon his naked, panting chest.
“Oh, yeahhhh,” Derian purred. “Get wet, you sweet thing. Play in the fountain.”
The sights and sounds of Jamie in orgasm pushed Derian into his own.
“Here it comes, Jamie. Here it comes...it comes...ahhh, Ja-mieeeeee. Give it up, give it up, give it up all the way into your ass...JAMIE!!!”
Derian fell upon Jamie, an act not just of exhaustion but of supplication, of gratitude, of a need to be face-to-face in a way that was impossible while the act was in progress. He rained fiery kisses upon the younger man’s face and throat; a million kisses would not nearly be enough to take his fill of Jamie.
Jamie’s answer was to reach up and hold on to him...hold on to him through the gaze of joyous tears.
* * *
The lovers had cleaned the sweat and ejaculate from their flesh with moistened towels, and covered it up again. They lay face-to-face upon the bed, their legs crossing casually against each other, the stance of casual, comfortable intimacy.
“You know what?” Jamie asked. “When our breath shares the same space...when my flesh meets your flesh...when your heartbeat echoes inside of me...that’s when I feel most real, Der.”
The words startled and shamed Derian. A good Captain would say, “Don’t put so much stock in me. Your family is real, too. So is your career.”
But the words could not come from his mouth...for deep down inside, he did not believe them himself.
Everywhere else in his life, he had a role to play, a costume to wear. Captain, husband, father, son, brother...only with Jamie, sweet, pure-of-soul Jamie, could he take off all his costumes and be just Derian.
“God, you’re beautiful.” Jamie nestled his fluffy head under Derian’s chin, tickling it like a playful baby koala. “I’m so lucky...”
“No, I’m the lucky one. I know it every time I look down into Oreo eyes, every time I stroke a buttercream cheek...and wonder what you see in a sasquatch like me.”
“Oh, Der.” Jamie frowned as if he had stepped in a dog pile. “I can think of a million words to describe you, but ‘sasquatch’ is not one of them. Sexy, yes. Sensational, smart, sizzling, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious...” With every word, Jamie left a kiss on Derian’s face. “And those are just the ‘s’ words. Someday, I’m gonna make you see just how beautiful you are, Der.”
Derian cuddled Jamie even closer. Jamie was the only person on earth who had ever called him “beautiful”. If anyone could make him believe, this dark-haired elf could.
“Stay there, sweet one, while I go turn off the lights.”
Derian blew out the candle beside the bed, then got up and checked the lock on the door to make sure all was secure, turned down the heat to make sure it didn’t get uncomfortably hot during the night, and then turned off the switch beside the door.
But when he got back into bed, he could see the light of Jamie still glowing, in the heavenly bodies on his pajamas and the cookie-cream pallor of his skin.
Nights in bed with Jamie were jewels in time...shining, precious, and heartbreakingly rare. Every time, it got harder and harder to return to the real world...no, not real at all, when they both had to pretend that the connection between them did not exist.
Someday, the deception had to give. Either one of them would blurt out the secret, or they would get caught. And that scene would not be pretty at all.
Derian sighed. What the hell was he doing, worrying while Jamie was here beside him, in the darkness, safe and warm? It was sin not to enjoy every precious second.
His lips found tender Jamie-lips.
“Good night, Jamie,” he whispered. “Merry Christmas. Thanks so much for coming...”
“Same to you, Der.”
“I love you, Jamie. You’ll always be my shining star.”
“I love you too, Derian. You’re the greatest gift I’ve received this year...” Jamie’s fingers interlocked with Derian’s. “And even when you’re lying still like this, you’re a gift that keeps on giving.”
“So are you, Jamie.”
May it ever be so between us.