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by Stevie Woods
Category: Erotica/Gay-Lesbian Erotica/Romance
Description: Just before Christmas, Keith returns home to claim an inheritance, but can't decide whether to stay in his aunt's old house, or keep his city apartment. He loves that house, but his hometown holds bad memories. Deciding to stay until New Year's before making a decision, Keith goes to buy a Christmas tree and runs into the one person he isn't ready to meet again. Seeing Dale again is sweet torture, complicated even more because Dale's out and about with two kids. But Dale seems happy to see Keith again, and extremely interested to discover Keith is a successful author. Not only that, but under the pen-name of Guy Fortune, Keith is one of Dale's favorite gay authors. Will Dale have a confession to make for Christmas?
eBook Publisher: Torquere Press/Single Shot, 2008 http://www.torquerepress.com
eBookwise Release Date: January 2009
31 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [53 KB]
Reading time: 31-43 min.
It seemed odd to be driving down these streets again, almost as if he had never been away yet, still somehow, he felt as if he didn't belong. Had he ever belonged? Aunt Amelia had thought so, which was why he was here.
He remembered the last winter he spent in Mereton; more importantly, he remembered the last Christmas and, looking at the lights strung all along the street, it was as if time had stood still.
Keith glanced at the stores on either side of Main Street. The same names stared back at him from the signage over each large window: Wilkins, Smithson, Abrams, Connor and so on. He imagined he could have ridden his horse along here a couple of hundred years ago and the same names would have graced the store fronts. He sighed at his wandering thoughts. He knew he was really trying to avoid what was really on his mind. It wasn't the names or the store fronts he worried about seeing again.
Shaking his head, he forced himself instead to think about his own situation. He had a decision to make and one he knew would be difficult. It had been ten years since he had left town, since he had seen his last living relative. He had corresponded with Aunt Amelia regularly, not only out of familial duty but because he had truly cared for the old lady. She had been his mainstay in his late teen years. Keith had written to her once a month at first, but it had become less frequent as the years passed. She was most understanding about it, though, saying once that he had his own life to live and she knew it must sometime be a chore to remember to write to her. He had told her it was no chore, but admitted it slipped his mind in his busy life. Still it had come as something of a surprise when, shortly after her death, he had received a letter from her lawyer informing him that she had left him the house on Briar Lane.
He had known, of course, that Amelia was very fond of him but he had never expected to receive such a bequest in her will. Though he called Amelia his aunt, she was in fact a cousin to his mother and she had other closer relatives. Keith had been sad that he hadn't even had the opportunity to attend her funeral; he hadn't received notification of her death until he had returned to the States at the end of his overseas book signing tour, two days after her funeral. He, at least, had the gratification of knowing that she was proud of him and would have understood.
However, when Keith read the full extract from the will sent to him by her lawyer, he saw that she wanted a Lawson to inherit the house. She didn't make it a stipulation of the inheritance, the house was his to do with as he wished, but she hoped he would return to live in the house in Mereton. The Lawson family had been one of the early settler families in Mereton and Amelia thought it seemed odd that there was no one left in the town by the name anymore.
He smiled to himself, hoping that Aunt Amelia hadn't expected him to father a new brood of Lawsons, she would have been disappointed. The one secret he had never shared with her, or anyone from his old hometown, was that he was gay. He had once, in one of his depressive denial stages, even contemplated the idea of marriage with a nice stable girl and raising a family. It had lasted all of about a week before he realized he wouldn't just make himself miserable, but the poor girl too. Still, he did love children and the vague notion of somehow having a family had lingered.
Keith realized he was approaching the turn to Briar Lane, at the top of which lay the sprawling old house he had inherited. It had always been great fun when he was growing up to visit Aunt Amelia. Her house and the surrounding rambling gardens had been a great improvement on the small pokey house with postage stamp-sized yard he had grown up in. It wasn't that he hadn't been content at home with his parents, but Amelia was happy for him to bring his school friends along to play in her overgrown gardens where they could let their imagination run riot. When he went to live with her after his parents' accidental death in a traffic accident, he came to understand that she kept her gardens in that condition for him and his friends to lose themselves in; it was always much neater when he grew past that "playing" stage. He would always be grateful to her for taking him in when he had no one else in the world to rely on.
His thoughts were brought back to the present as his car turned the curve in the lane and climbed the hill that gave the house its name, Briar Hill. It sat just above the small town, looking down on most of it, but only in a geographical sense. Aunt Amelia wasn't the type of person to look down on another, even if some of them might have deserved it. Keith grinned; his aunt would have been ashamed of him for such uncharitable thoughts, but then she'd never left the small town, and he doubted if she really knew the depths to which some portions of humanity could stoop. Pulling his car into the driveway, Keith couldn't help but be grateful the generous old lady never experienced some of the slights and insults he had, let alone the occasional violence he'd had to endure. Those days were long past now but the memory still pained him.
Memories of another kind assailed Keith as he looked at the house now: Aunt Amelia standing on the porch with a tray of lemonade in her hands, calling to Keith and his friends, Walt, Johnny and Dale. He smiled as he remembered the fun they'd had, and over the years, he'd wondered if they were still happy in their adult lives. He learned that Walt had left a couple of years after he had and, according to his aunt, Walt was a big time lawyer in New York. Poor Johnny had died in a road accident about five years ago now, tearing up the road on his Harley. His aunt hadn't mentioned Dale much as the years had passed, and Keith had been reluctant to press for news.
Keith opened the front door and stepped inside. It smelled dusty and felt lonely. He smiled; it was probably just the house feeling sympathy for him. He laughed at the ridiculous thought and went to throw open all the windows, letting the cold fresh air blow away all the cobwebs. As he went from room to room, he thought again about the decision he would have to make. He hadn't really been happy in the city for some time and the chance to move into a quiet location and be able to concentrate on his writing would be ideal. As a professional writer, all he needed, besides the ideas and words floating in his head, were his laptop and a good connection. Mereton was also in reasonable driving distance to an airport, so that he could travel easily when he needed to. And perhaps at age thirty, it was past time he settled down. Moving back here should be a simple decision, but it wasn't.
There was no way he could decide on the spur of the moment. Hell, he had been worrying about it all the way here. It was only a few days until Christmas, a time he had always loved when he had lived in this house, so he decided to stay for the holidays, at least until the New Year, and see how he felt about living in Briar Hill then. He needed to see the place close up, remind himself what it was like living in a small town after spending years in a sprawling metropolis like Los Angeles. He needed to meet the people again too, see how comfortable--or otherwise--he felt with them now. A sense of peace spread through him, whether it was because he had finally made some kind of decision, or whether it was because he had put off the really difficult one, he didn't know, he simply accepted it.