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by Naomi Brooks, Angelia Sparrow
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Romance
Description: In this follow-up to Collared Hearts, artist Anthony and gallery owner Josh endure the trials of the Christmas holiday--from family squabbles to snowy accidents--with their passionate, kinky play to relieve them.
eBook Publisher: Phaze, 2008
eBookwise Release Date: July 2008
23 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [73 KB]
Reading time: 41-58 min.
Anthony glared at the painting and began cleaning his brushes. There was no sense doing more tonight. It wasn't flowing. Once everything was put away, he walked to the mural, smiling. It was exactly as hot as Josh had said it would be. They were moving the canvas flats to the gallery on the twenty-sixth, and the big unveiling party was New Year's Eve.
He looked over the seven men for sale on the fantasy slave market. Carefully, he checked each figure for flaws. He, himself, sat at one end, alone and dejected, a price written in greasepaint on his shoulder. A collar with a numbered tag and a white loincloth finished his look. Next to him stood a tall, bored-looking black man and then a flirty Middle-Eastern boy leaned insouciantly against the wall. Josh stood in the center, stripped, his back to the viewer, displaying his ass and shoulders, and the price written there. A sexy Seneca, his head shaved except for the traditional rear locks, gossiped with the redheaded man next to him, one copper finger tracing the other's freckles. A gorgeous Thai boy rounded out the market, watching the others.
There were no flaws. Anthony had known there wouldn't be. He smiled proudly and heard a crash outside, followed by Josh cussing loudly. Anthony hurried over to the door and opened it, only to get whacked in the face with a dead pine branch.
Josh, his lover and gallery owner, wrestled a Christmas tree, almost twice as tall as he was, into the room, amid profanities and a shower of pine needles.
Anthony helped him and then took a look at the dreadful thing. It was long dead, and someone had painted the tree black, with random patches of blood red, poison green, and ghastly lavender. Bits of pointy, clunky and ratty junk hung on it. Whoever had committed this crime against the Holiday Spirit had also wired the tree for black lights and gouged out whole limbs, giving it a moth-eaten appearance.
"Fucking hell, Josh! What is this?"
"A Christmas tree." Josh gave Anthony his wide-eyed innocent look, with his head canted a little to the right. Then he grinned, and winked, spoiling the effect. "Or so Cyfer says."
Anthony nodded. "Of course. That explains it all." The nine-foot tall monstrosity filled the loft almost to the ceiling. Josh held up the satchel full of junk that had fallen off on the way up.
"Not a compliment, I'm thinking. Cyfer helped me get it home." Josh rolled his eyes. "It's not like I could tell him no."
Anthony cracked up. He studied the tree, chuckling and snorting his amusement as Josh got it situated in the barbed-wire holder. "I'm Goth, but this is just fugly. Oh my God!" Anthony muffled a laugh that threatened to send him into helpless gales. "God, what did he do? Origami the poor thing?"
Josh peered at it. "Might have. I think origami would help it, you know? Maybe you could add some hot pink to really clash."
Anthony shook his head. "Maybe I could spray paint it. Or glitter?"
Josh sighed. "It stays, so whatever you need to do to make it livable." He tipped his head this way and that, scowling. "Or should we hang it--trunk up--from a ceiling ring?"
Anthony giggled. "You know, that might improve it. Not really."
"At least it's already dead, so no need for water."
"Poor thing. Its maker is far more macabre than I am, really." Anthony adjusted a couple of branches and tried to turn it so the worst of the gaps were against the wall. "Come spring, I'll plant two trees. My usual one, and one for this poor thing."
Josh nodded. "I think it looks cool in a gross, Nightmare before Christmas sort of way."
Anthony looked between Josh and the tree, grinning more and more with each turn of his head. Josh pulled on his gloves. "Oh no, I know that look." He buttoned his coat back up and handed over a shopping list pad. "What do you need me to get?"
Anthony scribbled. "Silver and gold spray paint, one can each. And whatever glitter you can find this late in the season. Oh, and some ice cream."
Josh gave him a funny look. "Ice cream? Any particular flavor?"
Anthony grinned. "Peppermint."
Josh sighed. "Back soon."
* * * *
When he returned about an hour later, Anthony was sitting on the floor, staring at the tree. Josh set the bags down. "So you want me to dish the ice cream while you spray? You weren't going to melt it over the limbs, I'm hoping."
Anthony smiled up at him and dug into the bags. "Yes, dish it. You watch me be the glitter fairy." He rose and kissed Josh's cheek.
Josh laughed and started scooping the pink dessert into bowls. "My fairy, any way you slice it." Anthony threw a few flecks of glitter at him. Josh put up his hands in mock surrender. "You know, fairies are hot right now. Your graveyard fairies went over great. Gonna do any more?"
"Oh yes. You know how much I adore my fairies." He flicked more glitter at Josh who cowered. "You cannot resist the power of pixie dust!" Anthony painted and glittered the ugliest bits of junk, making them sparkly junk.
He claimed his ice cream and sat down on the couch beside Josh. "There. Now I see Christmas, not a funeral."
Josh nodded. "Much better. It works. I hate it when I can't say no."
"It's one of the things I love best about you. Especially since I can rarely say no to you."
Josh shrugged and went to rinse his bowl. "Gotta keep my artists happy. All of them. And if that means we get an ugly tree, we get an ugly tree."
"Next time I get off my happy ass and make us a tree first. I just waited too long this year."
"You were busy with the mural." Josh bent over the sofa and kissed him with a sweetly cold peppermint mouth. "Do it. Then I'd have a ready-made excuse."
"I did make us a tree. Sorta." Anthony took his bowl to the kitchen and pulled out a heavy clear Pyrex tree, with ridges of tinsel and balls cast into it. A rounded star topped it.
Josh looked it over. "That's gorgeous, but is it supposed to be shaped like a butt plug?" He fingered the flared base.
"Form follows function," Anthony smirked.
Josh laughed. "Build a line of high-end sex toys and I can sell 'em as objects d'art." He ran one finger over it again. "That's just gorgeous. And so smooth..." He stroked it with his whole his hand, and his grin made Anthony go weak in the knees.
"I thought we might test it." He watched Josh's gaze crawl over the tree with naked hunger, lingering on the ridges. "Wanna try?"