This week, because it's Christmas, I decided to do a special little Vinnie and Ethan flash, beginning today. Also, for those who don't know, I'm proud to announce that my first Vinnie and Ethan book, Bad Dogs and Drag Queens, is going to be published by Dreamspinner Press next year!
This story goes back a few years, and takes place a few weeks after the Thanksgiving flash I wrote. I hope you enjoy seeing more of my two guys, and how they developed as a couple. Don't forget to see what the other Briefers have been up to. Their links follow my tale. Enjoy!
Vinnie and Ethan: The First Noel, Part I
Every day, I found myself falling in love with Ethan Thorne a little more.
Things had changed between us at Thanksgiving. We’d had the big talk—the one I’d been avoiding what felt like forever—and we’d admitted to having feelings for one another. Strong feelings. Ethan took my breath away when told me he loved me, and had since the moment he first set eyes on me, back when we first met during training and were assigned as partners.
I’d never repeated those same words back to him. I was afraid to think them, much less speak them. I’d never said that to anyone but my mother, and maybe that was the problem. I’d told her I loved her and she’d died, leaving me alone. I know that sounded silly, but I couldn’t help myself. I was afraid to voice my love for Ethan Thorne. Luckily for me, he was a patient man, and he never pushed me. In any way.
“All things in their time, Vinnie,” he’d say. Then he’d kiss me, oh so sweetly, and goose bumps would run up and down my arms, and I’d feel a tingle shoot up my spine and center in the base of my neck, a frisson of pure pleasure. I knew I loved him, but would I ever be able to say the words, to let him know how I felt?
It had only been three weeks since Thanksgiving. We’d been sleeping in the same bed ever since our true confessions. Strictly sleeping. We kissed, sure. A lot. Whenever we weren’t on duty, we were often in the motel room, engaged in heavy petting sessions. But nothing more. Again, that was because of me. I wasn’t ready to take that step. I was a nervous virgin, and I was scared of the way I felt about Ethan, unlike anything I’d ever experienced before.
And now Christmas was almost here, and I knew I wanted to get him a gift. But what? I didn’t have a single clue.
I shook myself from my reverie and glanced up only to meet my reflection in the store display window in front of me. Some high end clothing store, chicly dressed mannequins beckoning to one and all to come in, dress like us, and have a happy holiday.
Personally, I thought they looked ridiculous.
I turned to greet Ethan. We were working undercover at a shopping mall in Charlotte, North Carolina, and had been here for a few days, watching out for shoplifters and purse snatchers and other assorted riffraff. This was a slow time of year, apparently, for federal undercover cops. Rather than leave us idle, the higher ups utilized us in any way they could. Lucky us.
“See anything, babe?” he asked.
I shook my head. “Not a thing. Nothing shaking,” I replied. “Nothing that shouldn’t be.”
“Let’s walk around the mall together,” he suggested, and I readily agreed. We fell into step and he reached for my hand, twining our fingers. His touch was reassuring. He was so calm, so grounded… when we were together, he made me feel as if anything was possible. Including us.
“You know the mall’s closed Christmas Day, right?”
“Yeah, I guess it would be.” Made sense. Most retailers closed this one day of the year, but restaurants stayed open. My mom always had to work on Christmas. I’d stay up late, waiting for her to get off, and she’d always bring home a little something, and we’d share it, whatever it was. One year, they gave her a whole pecan pie and a turkey. That was a wonderful Christmas.
“This is our first Christmas together, Vin.” He stopped, and turned to face me. His beautiful blue eyes were shining, and I knew it wasn’t just the sparkling Christmas lights which surrounded us. My heart skipped a beat just looking at him.
“Yeah, it is,” I agreed, trying to keep that sudden lump in my throat from choking off my words. I felt dumb for being so emotional for no real reason. All right, I had a reason, and it was the man standing in front of me.
“You want to do something special? Go somewhere? Anything you want, baby, just tell me.”
I had no idea what I wanted. Other than to be with Ethan. I didn’t even know what my options were. I shrugged, feeling inadequate. “Not really. What do you want to do?”
“Be with you,” was his immediate reply, and I felt my cheeks heat at the words I couldn’t seem to say which came so easily to him. I felt even worse for not being able to allow him to…. I couldn’t even think the words. I dropped my eyes, but not quickly enough.
He placed one hand beneath my chin and tilted my face up toward him. “I didn’t mean like that,” he said gently. “I just love being with you, Vinnie. I love you so much.”
I was choking up again, the words sticking in my throat. He saved the day once more, leaning down and pressing his lips softly against mine for a moment. “Everything’s okay as long as we’re together. We’ll figure out something, I’m sure.”
I nodded, not trusting my voice. He tucked my arm in his and we resumed our circumnavigation of the mall. It was an enclosed space, with many stores which sold a variety of goods. Anything you could possibly want in a single location. And I still hadn’t been able to think of anything for Ethan.
So why didn’t I ask him what he wanted?
Maybe because that seemed like cheating. Shouldn’t I be able to figure it out for myself? Trouble was, I couldn’t. He was still a mystery to me, one I was slowly unraveling, day by day. And we hadn’t been together long enough for me to know what he wanted.
I still had a week left. Surely I’d come up with something by then.
to be continued
Now go see what the other Briefers have been doing!