Monday, November 25
After working a full day as personal assistant to a pair of architects in a large firm, Landon was never more grateful to be home. There were days were not much happen or other times where they kept him hopping all day. Today was one of those hopping days. They tried to wrap up proposals, contracts, and other deals before the holiday.
Kicking off his shoes at the door, Landon hung his keys on their hook, pulled off his coat and added it to another hook Max insisted on attaching to the wall when they moved in together. Max was very organized while Landon let things fall where they want. Over the years, they worked around their differences, learning to accommodate and compromise.
All he wanted to do was strip off the corporate clothes, shower, and yank on comfortable clothes. He would love to plop on the sofa, watch the tube, and relax with a mug of hot chocolate. This time of the year, he preferred the warm, rich brew instead of a cold beer.
"Landon? Is that you?"
"Yeah, sorry I'm late, bosses had me running ragged. I'm gonna take a shower and change."
"Take a fast one. I need your help with things."
"What kind of help?"
"After your shower. Go. Go."
Groaning, wondering what Max concocted while he was home alone, having taken the entire week as vacation from his job, Landon recalculated his evening, leaving the quiet night in the dust. He stripped off the once-pressed trousers and crisp shirt in the dry-cleaning bin, hung the tie on the rack, and placed the tie pin and matching links in their spots. Instead of faded sleep pants and shirt, he grabbed battered jeans and an old college shirt. He stepped into the bathroom and took a shower.
Leaving, he changed and walked out still scrubbing his hair dry with a towel. He stopped at the sight of Max in the bedroom.
"What? I'm coming. It's been a long day," Landon said as he tossed the towel in the basket.
"You do know why I'm doing all this," Max said as he dropped on the bed.
"Darling, you're going to drive yourself crazy for nothing." Landon muttered under his breath. "And me." He cleared his throat at Max's raised eyebrow. "Sorry, but true."
"There's a reason behind all of this."
"It's our family. A happy get-together over dinner."
"Ha!" Max pointed a finger at Landon.
Groaning, Landon dropped on the bed, ready for the blow-up about to begin. He wished he had a big glass of wine to handle it.
Max waved a hand in his direction. "Right. Our family gathered on a simple Thanksgiving holiday. What the hell happened to us three years ago?"
"Turkey Jerky Disaster," Landon said with a long sigh, dropping his head on a raised fist.
"Bingo!" Max rose to his feet, one hand on his hip, as he moved around the room. "I refuse to be known as the Turkey Jerky Boy in this family. I will put down the damn nightmare of the Thanksgiving from hell with this one. You'll see. I have it all planned and our test dinner went brilliant two weeks ago."
"Well, yes, it was interesting. Our friends loved the early holiday treat. Except for the one..."
"Yeah, the horrid dish is gone. I figured out any kinks or issues, changed the timing, tossed out the not-to-be-mentioned-horrid dish and brought in the other one. All is good. All is fine."
"It was a turkey breast and not an entire bird, hon."
"I swear I'm good with the timing and everything. We have two ovens this time, both calibrated to perfection. Timers… Shit! I need timers." Max shoved hands through his hair.
"Whoa. Whoa. You have two already."
"I need more than two. I need one with a long programmable time for the bird. The others will handle the other dishes. I can't do this without perfect timing."
"Okay. We'll get more timers."
"I have everything planned. I have my menu, proper temperatures, correct cooking times, and all the recipes in plastic sheets. You saw my recipe book."
"Yes, I'm proud of your preparations this year." Landon thought about the other reason for the great Turkey Jerky disaster and his lips twisted as he tried not to laugh.
"What? What is funny?"
"Oh, nothing, darling, nothing. I'm so proud of you going above and beyond."
"Don't blow smoke up my ass, Landon."
"I hope you don't plan on slathering the poor bird with so much butter. We wouldn't want it to become so damn slippery we couldn't grasp it to move it into the roaster. I would rather see it happy where it belongs in the roasting pan and not sliding across the entire length of the house..." Landon snorted, "and banging against the china cabinet." He curled over as he broke into gales of laughter.
The memory of a pale, butter-slathered bird dropping to the floor with enough speed to go sliding across the entire length of the house because of the damn wooden floors they polished the night before until it whacked against the cabinet. They both fell on their asses trying to capture the damn thing, cursing and laughing the entire time, knocking their heads together as they both dove to get it.
"We spent an hour washing the entire thing, praying we got it cleaned enough so no one could tell it got a spit-shine and wax," Max said, his mouth curled in a smile as he started to chuckle. He stood between Landon's legs. His arms looped Landon's broader shoulders as he leaned over.
"Yeah, well... I think the time in the oven killed any other potential germs on the sucker."
"Oh gawd, Lan, it was a disaster!" Max groaned. "That stupid oven. We knew the damn thing was dying on us."
"Hey, how the hell did we know it was hotter than we thought?" Landon chuckled while he crooked a finger under Max's chin to raise his lover's face to meet his green gaze with his blue one.
"When the damn bird came out black and dry as... Turkey Jerky instead of golden and juicy," Max said.
They fell into each other's arms, laughing in hysterics. After three years they were able to laugh over the entire incident to each other, but in front of their families, who continued to tease Max about the entire Thanksgiving Day disaster, it wasn't a laughing matter. This year, Max found the courage to invite everyone over and plan in a meticulous fashion, starting with a brand-new kitchen and choosing a set of brand new ovens.
Catching Max against him, Landon twisted until Max fell and rolled underneath him on the bed. He braced himself over his partner, fingers caressed the full lips, and dipped to capture the mouth in a kiss.
Max's hands lifted and his fingers slid through Landon's thick hair, holding him around the back of his skull. His mouth opened under Landon's insistence to deepen the kiss. Before Landon wanted, Max placed his hands on Landon's shoulders and pushed him back.
"What? Don't you wanna?"
"Not now. I'm trying to get things ready."
"I'll buy your new timers on my way home tomorrow. I promise. Text me the options of ones you want and where to go."
"Thank you. There is more to this than timers."
"Max," Landon said, pulled the 'a' in a long, whiny tone.
"We need to clean and rearrange the living and dining rooms so we can open up the table. I want to get things shifted now so I can plan where to set all the place settings."
Landon bounced his forehead against the mattress, but it wasn't as satisfying as the handle yesterday.
"I'll make it up to you all weekend. I promise. A long sweaty weekend of loving for giving me what I want this week until Thanksgiving is over."
"Right. In between driving me nuts with getting to storage, pulling out all the Christmas decorations, and setting everything up. That is if you're not waking my ass up at the crack of dawn to go out on Black Friday."
"Come on. It's fun."
Pushing off of Max, Landon face planted on the mattress. "I'm dead. Gone. Adios. Leave me," he mumbled into the fabric.
Max laughed and blew against Landon's neck where he knew it was both ticklish and sensitive.
Giggling, Landon wiggled under Max's weight until they rolled and tickled one another until they were breathless and their stomachs hurt from the laughter. Collapsing against one another, Landon's head on Max's hip, they learned how to breathe again.
Far too soon, Max slapped a hand on Landon's belly and sat up, dislodging Landon's head. "Come on. Time to move furniture."
Max lifted an eyebrow and pointed toward the door.
"Okay. One furniture mover at your service," Landon grumbled as he rolled to his feet, shoved them into loafers, and followed Max downstairs.
Within several hours, they discussed, argued, and moved several pieces of big furniture around in various positions before Max was satisfied. Landon dropped, exhausted, on the big L-shaped IKEA sofa they shoved several times.
"Good. Good. I think I like it this way. Okay, now we need to move the dining table, pull it apart, and add in the leaves," Max said, smacking Landon's thigh.
Groaning under his breath, Landon followed.