Worst Holiday Ever
Thanksgiving Parade From Hell by R.L. Merrill
Orrie felt guilty that he didn’t want to speak to his father today, but he only had this one night with Dalton and he wanted it to be special. He’d spoken to his father three days ago from Portland.
“Now you’ll be at Gloria’s for brunch?”
“Yeah, Dad. Of course.”
“I just know now that living with your friend, you two want to spend time together, and I understand that—”
“Dad, I’m in love with Dalton. He’s my boyfriend. We’re going to get married someday. You need to be prepared that that’s where this is going.”
“Well, at least you’ll have some stability with him. You know your music career could be gone in the blink of an eye, and since you didn’t finish college—”
Deborah had gotten on the phone then. “Your father just wants to make sure you’re making good decisions…”
Orrie hadn’t even told Dalton about that phone call. Even thinking about it now still hurt, though he’d had much worse conversations with them in the past. He felt a sting in his finger and looked down to see that he’d managed to make himself bleed.
“Hey, can you pull over? I need something out of the back.” Orrie grabbed a napkin from the center console and held it over his finger so he wouldn’t get blood on Dalton’s seats.
Dalton swerved sharply on Mission Boulevard in Hayward before pulling into the McDonald’s parking lot down the hill from the place of Orrie’s failed education, California State University, East Bay.
“Is it your finger?” Dalton unbuckled his seat belt and climbed out of the car.
“How’d you know?” Orrie asked when he returned with the first-aid kit.
Dalton smiled and opened up the box. He took out a cleansing wipe and a Band-Aid, along with a tube of bacitracin.
“I saw you picking at it this morning and I just figured… I’m sorry, I know this is a stressful day.”
Orrie let Dalton play doctor and fix him up, wishing once again that he was good enough for him.
“I’m sorry. It hasn’t been bad like this in a while.”
Dalton touched his thigh. “Don’t apologize. It’s always worse when you have to deal with your family. I just wish…”
But there wasn’t anything more Dalton could do, and he shouldn’t have to.
“They’re right, you know. My family. I am soooo lucky to have you,” Orrie said, looking down at the Band-Aid. He smiled to see SpongeBob’s goofy face looking back at him.
“Like it? I thought that one might make you giggle.”
“You always make my boo boos all better.” Orrie snaked a hand behind Dalton’s neck and pulled him in for a kiss. Their tongues brushed together in soft sweeps of simmering lust and a touch of sorrow. The pain of the day made itself known and then drifted away as their mouths became greedy.
Dalton moaned his desire into Orrie’s mouth, and he gripped Orrie’s biceps tightly. Orrie wished once more they’d stayed home as he desperately needed to touch Dalton’s skin. He grasped the front of Dalton’s shirt roughly—and Dalton gasped.
“What’s going on? Why do I keep hurting you?” Orrie reached for the buttons on Dalton’s shirt, fearing the worst.
“It’s nothing.” Dalton grabbed for his hands to impede their process.
Orrie pulled back and his dark brows nearly touched in the middle of his frowning forehead. “Dalton, what is it?”
Dalton’s blue eyes were wide. “Nothing, I swear. I just, uh, have a big pimple there. You know? I get those big ones sometimes. Nasty one. I was hoping it would go away before today, but it’s not quite gone.” His smile was kinda freaky, like he was embarrassed…but almost as if he was hiding something.
Orrie knew better than to let his mind wander to dark places. They were beyond that. Orrie had been clear early on that he had real trust issues after the fiasco with his ex, and Dalton had done everything to assure him he had no reason to worry.
He sucked in a breath. It’s just a zit. Dalton’s embarrassed about his acne. That’s all it is. Cool your jets, Orrie.
Orrie let his arms relax, and he smiled. This called for a little reveal of his own. “I want to play you something.” Orrie commandeered the USB cord from Dalton’s phone and plugged it into his own.
“What is it?” Dalton’s creepy grin eased into his naturally cheerful expression, though he seemed tired after this last visit. Hopefully this would keep them both smiling through the rest of their day.
Orrie searched through his demos for the one that would eventually become his love song—his proposal to Dalton, if he ever got up the nerve to ask him. He’d titled the tune “Check This Box,” a joke from their first date. He hoped Dalton would understand.