Sweat coated his back as Dylan ran through the park. The dull thud of his footsteps echoed in the pedestrian tunnel as he used it to cross under the main street. His lightweight running shoes cushioned his feet on the concrete, but he was gasping for breath as he ascended the ramp to the sidewalk, and it felt as if the shoes were made of lead. His T-shirt stuck to him and when he rounded the corner to make his way back to his apartment, the freezing morning breeze chilled him. Dylan slowed his pace as he approached the building where he lived. Too winded to speak, Dylan passed the doorman giving him a nod and raised hand in greeting.
He used to take the stairs to his apartment. Today, as with every other day since he returned from hospital, he went into the elevator car and leaned against the wall. As he began to breathe easier, Dylan considered his fitness level. His doctor had told him weeks ago he was trying to take things too fast, but gripped by determination, Dylan started an exercise regime to push himself back to ‘normal.’ ‘Normal’ being a fit, healthy, thirty-year-old man who hadn’t been shot in the lower shoulder and then come down with pneumonia brought on, the doc said, by not taking it easy when he’d caught the influenza doing the rounds that season. Dylan looked back on the last ten months with acrimony. Considering how fit he’d been before the incident, he could hardly believe how long the whole healing process took.
He stepped out of the elevator on the fifth floor and fished in his track pants pocket for his apartment keys. Inside, he passed the hall table, but did a double take—the usually silent and still answering machine handset was blinking. For someone to call his landline was unusual these days. Have I missed a call on my cell? Maybe it’s an interview. He needed work. His savings were almost gone. He dragged off his shoes and socks, leaving them on the floor as he avoided checking the message until he’d had a shower, and headed along the hall. It’s probably another company telling me I was unsuccessful. There’d been a number of those communications. I’ve become pessimistic. He pushed away the knowledge that he still wasn’t emotionally over the shooting.
Dylan stripped off his T-shirt as he walked through his apartment to the small laundry room, next to his kitchen. He dropped the T-shirt straight into the washing machine that stood with the lid open in one corner. Dylan ducked past the dryer that he’d secured to the wall, and opened the air-con grill to retrieve his laptop, and then he secured the air-con grill into the cavity again. He always hid stuff when he left the apartment. It was a habit from when there’d been a burglary a few years before.
Dylan put his laptop on his desk as he passed it on his way to the bedroom. He paused long enough to drop his apartment keys and cell phone on there from inside his pants pocket. In his bedroom, he pulled off the track pants and his boxers, and left them on the bed. He headed for the shower and the oblivion of being under the welcome warm sprinkles. He’d installed a rain showerhead when he’d first moved in, and he loved it. He stood with his face upturned to the spray as he thrust away the question of who’d called that nagged him. He could get no peace and so he rapidly lathered shower gel all over, including his hair, rinsed, and turned off the faucets with resignation.
He pulled a towel from the stack he kept on an whitewood shelf next to the shower stall to quickly rub the water from his hair, and then he wrapped it around his waist. The blinking light on his answering machine beckoned him. He had to know who’d called. Dylan dreaded it was a rejection and hoped it would be an interview. He padded down the hall, leaving wet footprints on the parquet.
He’d given up applying for jobs that were in his recent work field of import and export. He’d never had to worry about work before and faced with rejection upon rejection, he realized something was wrong.
His wardrobe wasn’t up to looking as businesslike as many companies appeared to need from their prospective employees. He always wore jeans or chinos, and casual shirts in the company he and his best friend used to operate. His outerwear consisted of a well-worn leather jacket and a black blazer. His need to wear a suit had him buying a cheap, off the rack item that might present him in a better light at interviews.
Dylan approached the answering machine and pressed the button to listen to the message.
“Hi, Mr. West, Rachel Carter here—I’m calling to arrange a meeting with you. You applied for the job in security. We can see you tomorrow at five-thirty. Please come to the human resources department.” She ended the call with no further information. If Dylan had applied for other work in the last week, he might not have recognized he’d won an interview for the vacancy at Berry Brown department store. He sighed. I need the work. Any work will do to get me back out there. I need a stroke of luck.
Dylan pulled the towel from around his waist and wiped the moisture from his shoulders. He stared at the answering machine as he considered the message and dried his legs. Then he threw the towel over his shoulder and returned to his bedroom. He rifled through his closet looking for clean clothes.
Why have I put worn shirts back on hangers and where’s my clean underwear?
Dylan stood back and surveyed his closet. It wasn’t large, but it was walk-in, and he turned around in the narrow space to grab old, faded jeans from the shelf, and a T-shirt he knew had to be clean because he hadn’t worn it since before his best friend shot him.
Filled with a sudden and inexplicable energy, Dylan gathered up all the dirty clothes and dashed to the laundry. He went back and picked up his socks from the hall and his underwear from his bedroom to stuff into the tub. With a load of laundry swishing in the washing machine, Dylan went to his kitchen and put coffee on to percolate. I might get this job. I’ll wear the suit. I’ll be cheerful. It’s almost Christmas. It would be great to know that I had a job to go to after the seasonal holiday. I’ll get this job—yes. Dylan psyched himself up.
Dylan’s gaze fell on the card pulled halfway out of the scarlet-colored envelope that lay on the counter top. His mom always sent him a card and she always alluded to his single status. He succumbed to a twinge of sadness. It had been a long time since there’d been a man in his life. Sometimes in the long nights, when he lay awake, Dylan would wonder why he’d never met someone who loved him—who fell in love with him. If he had a Christmas wish, it would be to meet a kind, sexy man. He gazed out of the kitchen window at the leaden sky. He’d never had a wish come true, so it was unlikely that one would. Dylan poured coffee. The warmth from the cup and the delicious smell comforted him.
Copyright E.D.Parr 2017 Evernight Publishing All rights reserved
#gayromance #MMromance M/M sex in the love scenes, 18+ story, HEA
~~~~~Gorgeous, happy, Nick Kringle is making deliveries on the main street of the city when a car breaks down at the intersection.
Amid the seasonal crowds and inclement weather, Dylan West gets out of his car and tries to push it to the side of the road.
Nick rushes to help him and comes face to face with the most delicious man he’s ever seen.
Dylan’s down on his luck, but Nick believes in magic.
Can wishes come true? You bet—especially if Nick Kringle has anything to do with it.