Third Anniversary

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Colin stood beside the dresser, staring down at his wallet, phone, watch, and the small pile of coins, keys, and sugar-free gum he had pulled from his pockets last night. As he reached to take his wallet, a glint of light touched the Celtic knotwork etched into the gold of his wedding ring, and he paused.

Tomorrow, he thought. He grabbed his belongings and then moved to the bed, gazing down at his sleeping husband. Joshua had gathered Colin’s pillow into his arms and was nearly wrapped around it as he slept. He’s dreaming that it’s me, Colin thought with a smile. Joshua’s posture as he slumbered with the pillow in his arms mirrored the position their bodies often formed as they slept, with Joshua holding Colin close against his body.

He bent and pressed a kiss to Joshua’s hair. “Have a good day, baby,” he murmured. He started to rise but stopped when a strong hand wrapped around his wrist.

“Where you goin’, hot stuff?” Joshua murmured, tugging until Colin sat down on the edge of the bed.

“Work, of course. Gotta put on my white hat and go fight bad guys.”

“Stay here and make love instead!” Joshua begged. He turned onto his back and reached to caress Colin’s cheek. “I’ll make it worth your while, stud.”

“Don’t think I wouldn’t love it,” his husband replied, then bent to kiss him again. “Gotta go, love. Court in forty-five minutes.”

Joshua gave a whimpering moan, his hand tightening on Colin’s wrist. “Staaaay!”

 “Can’t do it, darlin’,” Colin told him, grinning as he rose. “It’s verdict day. Judge Robinson will hold me in contempt. Make the same offer when I get home, and you’ll get a different response.”

Joshua sighed and released him. “Fine!” he said in faked indignation. “Be that way!”

Colin snickered and ruffled Joshua’s hair. “Don’t pout, snookums. See you tonight.” He grabbed his briefcase and moved down the stairs, laughing as he heard Joshua give another fake whine.

An hour and a half later, he sat in his office, savoring a feeling of victory after winning a guilty verdict in a challenging felony assault case. The case was complicated because much of the evidence was circumstantial. But working with the ‘Albemarle County Crime/Assault Task Force,’ which functioned under his jurisdiction, he had gathered enough proof to secure a legal victory. In addition, the police work, in this case, had been remarkable in its speed and thoroughness, and Colin felt a swell of gratitude toward Donald Anderson and Shannon Nash, the two officers involved with the case.

He took a long breath and glanced at the calendar covering his desktop. Various dates were circled, some in blue indicating an arraignment; orange, showing jury selection; or yellow, a pre-trial conference, but tomorrow’s date was circled in red and adorned with a hand-drawn heart, April 20th—  his and Joshua’s third anniversary.

“Three years,” he whispered, reaching to touch the calendar, tracing the heart with a fingertip. “Best three years of my life.” He had already looked up the meaning of the ‘third’ anniversary and had purchased a gift he was sure Joshua would love. And yet a lead heavy weight gathered in the pit of his stomach. “It’s not enough,” he said, gazing at Joshua’s picture. “Not nearly enough.”

Their anniversary plan was to have dinner with their two best friends to celebrate the event, and unknown to Joshua, Colin had ordered an anniversary cake from a local bakery. He had already wrapped his gift, purchased a card, and arranged to pick up the cake on his way home. Still, he thought as he rose, grabbed his briefcase, and headed for another court appearance. It’s not enough. I need to do more. Much more.

He left his office early the following day to deliver the cake, beautifully wrapped gift, and anniversary card to Danny, McCafferty’s owner. “Make the table look beautiful, will you, Danny?” Colin asked as he laid his various packages on the bar.

“Count on it, Colin.”

Colin paused and frowned as he scanned the gifts he had arranged for Danny to display. Then he wrinkled his nose and shook his head.

The following evening at six-thirty, Colin and Joshua arrived just after their best friends to find the table decorated with an elegant anniversary tablecloth, and napkins, with Colin’s gifts and cake adorning the center.

“Colin!” Joshua exclaimed, wrapping him in his arms. “You got us a cake!”

“I did,” Colin said, kissing his husband’s cheek.

“Might know the icing says ‘We can last forever’,” Nate said with a giggle.

“Of course!” Colin replied. “What else?”

“Did you do all this?” David asked, indicating the table decorations.

“Well, I brought my presents and the cake over earlier today, but I think Danny did the rest, bless him.”

“Well, your anniversary dinner’s on us,” Nate said and lifted his glass.

“And so is the champagne,” David added. “Congratulations, you two. Many more. In fact, many decades more!”

“Thank you,” Colin said, lifting his glass to David.

Joshua had placed his gift next to Colin’s and turned to chat with Nate about how lovely the table looked. His beautiful angular face seemed to glow, and Colin couldn’t help but smile. God, he looks so happy, he thought. He gazed at the table with its beautifully wrapped gifts and lovely decorations and sighed. It’s not enough, he thought. Not enough for him. He deserves more.

He felt Joshua’s hand touch his. “Baby, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Why?”

“You just looked… sad for a second.”

Colin scoffed out a soft, self-deprecating laugh. “I’m just…” he stopped as the waiter approached with their dinners. “Let’s eat,” he said, leaning close to kiss Joshua’s cheek. “I’ll explain later.”

Once dinner was over and the table cleared, Joshua handed Colin his gift. “Happy Anniversary, my magic man.”

Colin opened it to find an exquisite leather-bound journal. “My god, Josh, it’s beautiful,” he breathed.

“That’s gorgeous, Josh,” David remarked, reaching to touch the leather binding.

“Deena asked him to keep a journal as part of his therapy,” Joshua explained to their friends, referring to their therapist Dr. Deena Mallory.

“That was a while ago,” Colin said, turning the journal over to examine the back. “And I discovered that I like journaling. It’s… helpful.” He examined the pages and smiled at Joshua. “Unruled!”

“I know that’s what you prefer.” He touched Colin’s arm. “That one has enough pages to last you. But when you fill it, I’ll get you a new one.”

Colin leaned close and kissed him tenderly. “Always my healer,” he whispered, his voice trembling.

“Just as you’re mine,” Joshua whispered in reply.

“Now it’s your turn,” Colin said, handing Joshua his gift. He leaned close and murmured into his ear. “It goes with the cake.”

Joshua opened his gift to find a beautiful leather frame enclosing the sheet music to ‘We Can Last Forever’.  “Happy Anniversary, darling,” Colin murmured into Joshua’s ear.

“My love, it’s wonderful,” Joshua said, pressing kiss after kiss to Colin’s lips. “Thank you!”

“Can we eat the damned cake now?” Nate griped. “Damn, it smells good!”

“Wait!” Joshua exclaimed, holding up his hand before turning to his husband. “I still want to know why you looked so gloomy a minute ago. What’s bothering you?”

Colin huffed out a sigh through his nose; his lips pressed together. Then, for a moment, he gazed in silence at his husband. “It’s not enough,” he said finally. “None of this is enough. Not for how much you mean to me. Not after everything you went through last fall. I feel like this is an empty gesture compared to what I want to give you… what I ache to give you.”

“Colin,” Joshua breathed, his eyes filling with tears. “My beautiful Yedid, having you is all I need or want ever.Having you! Having us!”

“I know,” Colin said, wiping the tears from Joshua’s cheek. “I know that’s how you feel. But…” he grimaced, “it’s not enough for me.” He captured Joshua’s hand. “God, I wish I could marry you all over again. Say my vows to you again. Promise all of it again.” He kissed Joshua tenderly. “Once just wasn’t enough.”

“So do it!” David said, laughing. “You can renew your vows anytime you want.”

“Get a priest and a rabbi all over again?” Joshua asked with a quick grin.

“You don’t need them,” David told him. “You can repeat your vows in your bathroom. In your living room. On a street corner. Anywhere you like. You don’t need all the fancy trimmings. You know the words. All you need is each other.”

Joshua turned to Colin and smiled, but Colin didn’t smile back. Instead, he gripped both of Joshua’s hands and drew him close. “I love you,” he murmured. “Say your vows to me, my darling.”


“Right here,” Colin said. “Right now.”

Joshua’s eyes slowly filled with tears, and he nodded. “OK,” he whispered, his voice choked. “But… you go first. I’m… I’m…” he stifled a sob. “You go first.”

“Wait!” Nate cried. “Wait, wait, wait! Need music!” He leaped to his feet, dashed to the jukebox, and shoved several coins into the slot. His fingers flew as he punched in the numbers, then he rushed back to the table. “Now!” he said to Colin.

Colin drew in a deep breath just as ‘We Can Last Forever’ began to play. He smiled and drew Joshua close to him. “I, Colin,” he said, his voice husky with emotion, “take you, Joshua, for my lawful wedded husband. To have and to hold from this day forward.” He saw the tears in Joshua’s eyes overflow onto his cheeks, and as he began to speak again, his breath caught as his own eyes slowly filled. “For better or worse,” he whispered, then swallowed hard. “…for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish until death do us part.” He leaned forward and kissed Joshua tenderly. “We will last forever,” he whispered, then leaned back and smiled at Joshua. “Your turn, bud.”

“Oh lord god,” Joshua moaned, swiping at his wet cheek. He drew a deep, trembling breath and gripped Colin’s hands, determined that he would not break down as he had at their wedding. “I, Joshua, take you, Colin, for my lawful wedded husband,” he murmured, his voice low, his eyes gazing straight into Colin’s. “To have and to hold from this day forward. For better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish until death do us part.”

Colin clutched Joshua against his body, his fingers winding through Joshua’s dark curls. Again and again, he kissed his husband with such intense passion that Joshua could scarcely breathe.

David and Nate burst into cheers and applause. “Now that’s how to celebrate an anniversary!” David told them, laughing. “Just beautiful!”

“And Josh managed to get through it without bawling his eyes out,” Nate teased.

“Just barely!” He wound his arms around Colin’s neck and kissed him. “In McCafferty’s?” Joshua murmured against his ear. “McCafferty’s Colin?”

“Why not?” Colin replied. “This is where we had our first kiss, our first date, our wedding reception….” He grinned at Joshua and winked. “It looms large in our legend.”

 “Well, Colin, is it enough now?” David asked.

“Truthfully?” Colin said, gazing at his friend. “No, it’s not.” He gave a small shrug. “I’m glad we did this, but even this isn’t enough.” He looked around the table. “But I’m starting to discover something.” He took Joshua’s hand in his and raised it to his lips. “Whatever it is that I’m searching for… it’s something that can’t ever be found. Truth is…  nothing will ever be enough.”

He shook his head, still gazing at Joshua, his face alight with love. “Not for the way I feel about you, about us. No gift could say it. Not even our wedding vows could say it. Those words were a great beginning, but, my god, we’ve come a long way since then.” He leaned forward and kissed Joshua, a long, slow, intimate kiss that brought swift tears back to Joshua’s eyes.

“You’re the finest man I’ve ever known,” Colin told him. “The kindest, the sweetest, the most giving. You strengthened me in ways I didn’t know I needed but that I needed like air to breathe. No gesture could ever be enough. It’s gonna take me a lifetime.”

“And I have a lifetime to give,” Joshua told him, his voice choked with tears. “I love you so much. Thank you, my Yedid… my beloved.”

“Oh my god,” Nate moaned. “You are the sappiest couple on Earth. No question. You two leave David and me in the dust. I need an insulin injection just from listening to you!”

“I think it’s sweet,” David said. “I love hearing the hard-nosed, independent cop who liked romance about as much as a case of the clap profess his undying love for the quiet, unassuming guy who captured his heart.”

“I’ll never know how I did it,” Joshua said, both arms wrapped around Colin’s arm, hugging him close. “I’m still trying to work that one out.”

Colin laughed and kissed his hair. “I think you fed me a love potion.”

David smiled and got to his feet. “And as glorious as this is, we must say goodnight. We’ve both got early classes.” He embraced Colin. “Thank you for letting us share this with you, and happy anniversary.”

“You belong with us,” Colin told him. “You’re our best friends and a huge part of everything we care about.”

“Thank you,” Nate whispered, hugging Colin, then Josh. “This was fun, and the cake was delicious.”

“See you this weekend,” David said, then took Nate’s hand, and they moved toward the door.

Joshua watched them go, leaning against Colin’s shoulder. “I hate for this night to end.”

Colin rose and stretched. “I’m going to grab the cake box from behind the bar so we can pack it up. You grab our gifts.” He bent and pressed his cheek to Joshua’s, his lips nearly touching his ear. “Then we’ll head home where this night will continue… if you catch my drift.”

Joshua laughed. “Your meaning is crystal clear, my love. And I can’t wait!”

Colin retrieved the cake box and returned it to Joshua, who was packing their gifts into a bag. “You ready to go home, husband?”

“SO ready.”

They gathered their tributes, waved goodbye to Danny, and wandered out the door and toward the car. “I hope you enjoyed our anniversary,” Colin said. “The third isn’t one of those golden moments but I want all of them to be special.”

Joshua said nothing as he climbed into the car and buckled his seatbelt. Then he reached to touch Colin’s arm. “You make every moment I share with you special, Colin. I’m the luckiest man alive.”

“I’m afraid I’ll have to fight you for that title,” Colin said with a quick grin.

“Well, when we get home, I’ll wrestle you for it,” Joshua told him.

“You’re on!”

“Happy anniversary, my Yedid.”

“Happy anniversary, my sweet Jewish boy.”


Irish Stout and Vows of Undying Love

Colin wandered in from the kitchen, munching on an apple. He was wearing his workout clothes which consisted of very tight shorts and a raggedy T-shirt. And he was drenched in sweat.  “What’re you doing?” he asked Joshua, who was sitting on the couch bent over his iPad.

“Wordle,” Joshua told him. “I’m trying to beat David, which is goddamned hard to do!”

“I think the professor cheats,” Colin said, grinning.

“No. The professor just has a brilliant mind.”

“Well, so do you,” Colin informed him. He dropped into an easy chair across from where Joshua sat and stretched out his legs. “What’s the plan for tonight?”

“We’re meeting the guys at McCafferty’s,” Joshua told him, then glanced up with a quick grin. “Got it in four!

Colin rolled his eyes and laughed. “Well, honey, I’m thrilled for you. How did David do?”

“Don’t know yet,” Joshua told him. He messaged David his Wordle score and then shook his fist at the iPad. “Beat it, Professor!”

Colin laughed again. “Jeez, you guys take your Wordle way too seriously! Are we having dinner there?”


“McCafferty’s!” Colin blurted out. “Where’s your head at, bud?”

“Oh! Sorry, babe. Yeah, I guess so. Well, we are because I didn’t plan a damned thing for dinner tonight.” He eyed his husband. “I assume you’re on your way to the shower.”

“Nah,” Colin drawled out. “Thought I’d celebrate New Year’s Eve smelling like a goat.” He winked at Joshua. “You don’t mind that do you? I thought you loved the smell of my sweat!”

“After we make love, yeah. I do. But this sweat…” and here he paused to sniff the air. “Has a totally different… um… aroma.

Colin rolled his eyes and got to his feet. “Yes, I’m on my way to the shower.” He tossed his apple core to Joshua who caught it in one hand.

“We’re meeting them at seven,” he said, then shot a quick glance at his watch. “And you’d better lay out your suit. It’s nearly six now.”

“What?!” Colin blurted, spinning to face his husband, one hand on the railing. “A suit? C’mon, Josh!”

“Professor says suits,” Joshua replied with a shrug.

“I wear a suit every damned day!”

“I know. I watch you walk out the door in one every damned day looking hot as all bloody hell!”

Colin turned and started up the stairs, grinding out a disgusted sigh. “Jesus! Gotta wear a freaking suit on my one day off!”

“You’ve got three days off!” Joshua called after him. “And…” he added in a low murmur, “… I like seeing you in a suit.”

“What’d you say, baby?”

Joshua gave a soft chuckle. “I said…,” he called out, moving to the bottom of the stairs “… that I like seeing you in your suit.”

Colin grinned down at him. “You see me in one every damned day!”

“Maybe,” Joshua told him. “But every damned day you’re wearing it for court, not for me!” He heard Colin laugh in response, then the bathroom door closed and a moment later he heard water running and Colin’s voice lifted in song.

Sunday morning just at nine
Dan McGinty dressed so fine,
Stood looking at a very high stone wall,
When his friend, young Pat McCann,
Says, “I’ll bet five dollars, Dan,
I could carry you to the top without a fall.

Joshua stood at the foot of the stairs looking up and listening. He felt hot tears burn his eyes and smiled. God, I love hearing him sing, he thought, knowing that’s what brought the tears and the ache in his throat. It’s the heart and soul of why I love him the way I do. He drew in a shaky breath and turned away, and fell back onto the couch.

Colin was still in the bathroom when Joshua climbed the stairs to their bedroom and began to lay out his clothes. He draped his dark suit over his arm and ran his hand across the fabric in a loving caress. He had worn this suit on the day of their wedding, and it remained as precious to him as the memory of that day. He gathered the rest of his clothes and carried them all downstairs to the half-bath, where he shaved and donned his dress slacks and shirt. Satisfied with how he looked, he draped his dark tie around his neck and then walked back to the living room, his jacket over his arm.

He heard the bathroom door open, followed by the sound of Colin’s footsteps coming down the stairs. He tossed his jacket onto the couch and turned to face him.

Colin stepped off the bottom step, brushing invisible lint off the sleeve of his black suit jacket. His thick, sandy hair was half-combed into place but still tousled as if refusing to obey its owner’s wishes. As always, his suit hung perfectly over his broad shoulders, giving him the aura of authority and power that had always left Joshua breathless and that left him breathless now.

“Lord god,” he whispered, standing at the end of the couch staring at the man he had married… the man who had married him while they both wore these same dark suits. For a moment, he felt transported, mesmerized, almost unable to believe what he knew to be real and true. This man was his. His husband. His partner. His for the rest of his life.

“My god, you are so incredibly handsome,” he said at last, his voice a rasp in his throat.

Colin glanced up at him, his hand still poised over the sleeve of his suit jacket, and the smile that broke over his handsome Irish face brought the hot sting of tears back into Joshua’s eyes. “Well, thank you, my love, my beautiful Jewish boy.” He walked to Joshua’s side and, with one swift movement, pulled him against his body and kissed him with hungry passion.

“It’s the last day of the old year,” Colin murmured, rocking Joshua against his body. “So let me say this now, let me end the year with this.” He gazed into Joshua’s eyes until he saw the tears that burned there spill onto his cheeks. “I love you,” Colin murmured, his voice low, filled with rough emotion, raw with honesty as he bared his soul to the man he loved. “I love you with everything that I am and everything I will ever be. And with every beat of my Irish heart, I love you more.” He pressed his lips to Joshua’s ear. “Joshua Samuel Campbell-Abrams, beloved of my heart, I… love you! And I always will.”

Joshua tried to answer, but the words would not come. He bowed his head until his forehead pressed to his husband’s chest and sobbed, drawing in a long breath that shuddered and trembled in his chest. When he lifted his eyes to meet Colin’s his face was streaked with tears.

“I know,” Colin whispered. “You feel the same.”

“I do,” Joshua choked out. “With all my heart, I do, my beloved, hanasikh shelik.”

“And when midnight hits and the new year arrives, I’ll say the same thing. I’ll make the same vow. With all my heart.”

“As will I,” Joshua said, reaching to caress Colin’s cheek. “This year and every year.”

“And so, my handsome husband, shall we go meet our friends and bring in the new year with Irish Stout and vows of undying love?”

“And maybe an Irish folk song or two?”

“Whatever you want, my darling,” Colin murmured, then kissed him again, his honeyed-green eyes shining. “If you want me to sing… I’ll sing for you.”

“When do I not?”

“Then let’s go!” Colin urged. He grabbed Joshua’s jacket and helped him into it, then flipped his loose tie with a finger. “Gonna fix that?”

“Once we get there,” Joshua said. He slid his arms into his overcoat and then linked his arm with Colin’s. “Ready, my love?”

“Ready, my darling.” He bent and kissed Joshua’s cheek, then waved him through the door and onto their porch. “Happy New Year.”

“Shana tova,” Joshua told him in reply, keeping their arms linked as, together, they strode down the sidewalk and toward Colin’s car.

Thanksgiving in Glenceo

It was Thanksgiving in Glencoe, Illinois. Colin and Joshua, along with Colin’s mother, Brianna, had joined Bracha and Abel Abrams to celebrate the holiday. It had been Colin’s idea to bring the two families together this year, his first Thanksgiving with Joshua as a married couple.

The Thanksgiving meal had been cooked by Jessica Hansen, housekeeper and friend to the Abrams family since Joshua was a child. She was joined in the kitchen by both Brianna Campbell and Bracha Abrams who each added their own individual touches to the meal. After the food had been laid out, Colin pulled Jessica into a chair. “Hush!” he said, waving away her protests. “You’re eating with us!”

He stood for a long time, gazing around the table at the people surrounding him, then lifted his glass of wine. “Happy Thanksgiving,” he said. All at the table echoed his gesture, then Colin drew in a deep breath and glanced down at Joshua who was gazing up at him, his chocolate-brown eyes glowing. Colin passed his hand down the back of Joshua’s head, caressing the dark curls he loved then, once again glanced around the table.

“After my sister died,” he said, “I sort of withdrew into myself.” He winked at his mother. “Mom can tell you. I wasn’t the most attentive of sons.”

Brianna Campbell dismissed his comment with a wave. “You’re a fine son and always have been.”

Colin smiled and shook his head. “She’s biased,” he told the group, then reached to take Joshua’s hand. “Today I want – I need – to tell all of you that since Josh came into my life my heart has opened again. Not just to him… though that would have been enough. But to all of you as well. I have a new, and deeper connection to my mother. I have a whole new family who I love with all my Irish heart. And most of all, the most wonderful man who ever lived has agreed to be my husband.” He lifted Joshua’s hand to his lips and kissed it. “How could I be more blessed? he continued. “And on this day, it’s so damned important to me that all of you know what I’m most grateful for in life… and it’s all of you.” He moved his hand, encompassing the entire table, then he bent and kissed Joshua. “Especially you,” he whispered.

Colin’s mother clinked her spoon on her wine glass and stood. “My turn,” she said, her voice thick with tears. “On this day of Thanksgiving I am most grateful to this family,” and here she indicated Bracha and Abel Abrams. “This family who gave me this young man,” and here she lifted her glass to Joshua, who sat with Colin’s arm wrapped around him, gazing up at her. “Joshua, my son walked in darkness until your love lifted him into the light. He could have died, but your love and devotion held him close and kept him safe. I’m grateful to the family who raised you. And I’m forever grateful to you for returning my son to me.”

Joshua moved to Brianna’s side and hugged her tight, struggling to choke back his tears. “Thank you,” he whispered. “Thank you, mom.” He drew in a wavering breath. “He’s my whole life.”

“That I know,” Brianna whispered in return. “And he knows too.” Then she turned and shot a fake glare at Colin. “Or he’d better know!”

“He knows!” Colin said, raising his hands to defend himself. “Believe me, he knows!”

“My turn now,” Bracha Abrams said, rising to her feet with her wineglass in her hand. “First, I want to say Happy Thanksgiving to our entire family, including YOU, Miss Jessica!” Bracha sipped her wine then turned to face Colin. “As your mother thanked my son, I now have to thank hers.” She drew in a quick breath. “Joshua also walked in darkness,” she said. “He suffered terribly in his childhood and because of that he withdrew from life and from his family for many years.” She swiped a hand across her face to wipe away her tears. “I missed him more than words could say.” She shot a quick glance at Able. “We both did.”

“Amen to that,” Abel added.

“But when you came into his life, Colin, he came back to us. Your love for him and his love for you opened his heart and helped to heal his pain. And now I not only have my son again, but I have a new and wonderful son to fill our home and our hearts.” She lifted her glass to Colin. “Thank you,” she whispered, her voice thick with tears.

Colin leapt to his feet and embraced Bracha, then stooped to hug Abel as well. “Well, OK,” he said, his own voice trembling. “I think we’re all done with the crying and hugging.”

“Not quite yet, Mr. Bossy-Boots,” Jessica said, rising to her feet. “If I’m a member of this family then I get my say too.”

Colin moved to her side and bowed low. “Ms. Jessica,” he said, “you have the floor.”

Jessica took his arm. “I’ve watched these boys grow up,” she said, lifting her glass to Joshua and Abel. “I’ve watched this family move beyond a painful past, into a new and happier future. I’ve been friend, caretaker, cook, housekeeper, shoulder-to-cry-on, and keeper of the spankin’-stick.” At this both Joshua and Able burst into laughter.

“And I want to say today that I’m thankful to have been a part of their journey.” She paused, then turned and gazed up at Colin. “He was a sad and lonely boy,” she said, her voice low. “His mother and brother tried, but he kept all of us at arm’s length.” She stood on tip-toe and kissed Colin’s cheek. “He’s a happy man now thanks to your Irish ways and your loving heart. And I thank you.”

Colin hugged her then swiped a sleeve across his damp cheeks. “OK. Are we done now because I’m hungry!”

“Not quite yet,” Joshua said, getting to his feet.

“Oh god,” Colin moaned, resting his head on Jessica’s shoulder.

“Get over there with your Irish ass,” she teased, shoving him toward Joshua.

Joshua laughed as Colin joined him, his eyes wide in fake terror. “No more, Josh,” Colin begged. “Jesus, Josh, I’m wrecked!”

Joshua nodded and kissed him, resting his hand for a moment on Colin’s cheek. “I just want to say this,” he said, lifting his glass. “I am the happiest man on Earth,” he said. “Not just because of him…,” and here he tilted his head toward Colin. “But because of all of you as well.” He lifted his glass. “L’Chaim,” he said. “To life. To all of our lives. To family.”

All at the table returned Joshua’s toast, then Colin pulled him down into his chair. “OK,” he said, “that’s IT! No more emotional toasts. Let’s get this craic going!!”

Joshua leaned against him and kissed his cheek. “Happy Thanksgiving, my yedid.” (Beloved)

Colin gazed into his eyes for a moment, then kissed him tenderly. “Happy Thanksgiving, a chroí.” (My heart)

The aftermath of Relevant Law


A couple of reviews have complained because Relevant Law was so long. One of them bitched that the conclusion happened at the 60% mark while another complained that it suffered from a need for paring down.

But for me, the ‘climax’ of Relevant Law doesn’t happen when Colin and the rest of Lenny’s team rescue Joshua from the hands of his kidnapper. It could have ended there, but was that really the end of the story? I’ve known people who suffered the kind of trauma that Colin and Joshua suffered in Relevant Law. I know people who’ve suffered the kind of trauma they suffered in Love’s Trials. And the story does NOT end at the 60% mark. In fact, that’s probably closer to the beginning than the end.

One doesn’t simply walk away from that kind of trauma with a big smile on their kisser. That kind of trauma does DAMAGE. It leaves scars which are not physically visible. It triggers pain from their past that moves forward with them into their future. I follow them down the road AFTER Joshua is rescued so that we can see how these two men handle that aftermath.

Colin handles it at first by trying to control everything around him. He relives the moment when he didn’t know if his beloved husband was dead or alive in everything Joshua says and does. He is stuck in that one moment in time and can’t move forward. He is massively overprotective and reluctant to allow Joshua engage with a world he now believes is threatening to destroy the very foundations of his existence. It takes love, understanding, and a lot of therapy for him to come to terms with the feelings awakened within him on that terrible day. But eventually he does.

Joshua is also traumatized by his experience. Page’s assault triggers memories and pain from the a childhood marred by both physical and emotional abuse. He both longs for Colin’s strength and protection and resents him for demonstrating those same qualities. He blames himself for not standing up to Page, for not fighting back when, in fact, doing so would have surely gotten him killed. And again, with love, understanding, and therapy he begins to find the healing he needs.

So for me the story doesn’t end with the rescue. There is a lot more going on in connection with this experience. My interest moves beyond just the facts of Joshua’s abduction, assault, and rescue. I also care about the aftermath. I care about how these two men react to their experience. I care about how they feel about it and how they react to those feelings. I care about how they express the pain they suffer because of this experience. I care about how they come to understand their pain and find healing from it.

I care about the experience as a whole, not just the dramatic act, but the not-so-dramatic, but even more important, consequences. And I think my readers care too.

Stereotypical? Could be.

I just read a review of Love’s Trials that rather upset me. I should know better by now than to read reviews, good or bad… but I plunged in and ended up regretting it. The reviewer accused me of writing stereotypes. Colin the rowdy Irish cop. Joshua the quiet Jewish psychologist. And I suppose they’re right. Those character types are stereotypical. I don’t – and wouldn’t – argue the point with anyone who chose to judge them as such.

I’m certainly not required to defend myself; but I’d like to say this (in my own defense). Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason. There ARE a lot of Irish cops. Ethnic and cultural characteristics are far from non-existent. Is there an unspoken rule about never writing an Irish cop? Or a Jewish psychologist? I hope not because I plan to keep doing so.

I wrote these guys the way I wrote them because I WANTED to. I like Colin! I like Josh! I wanted to write an Irish cop because it’s a character type that appeals to me. I wanted to write a quiet Jewish man because it’s a character type that appeals to me. And the idea of writing these two character-types in a relationship appealed to me because I saw the potential for friction that created a ton of sparks as they strove to blend their two personality types into a cohesive, loving relationship.

I suppose out of fear of having my characters labeled stereotypical I could have written Colin as a quiet, Irish librarian and Joshua as a boisterous Jewish U.S. Marine. But I wrote the characters I liked! I wrote them the way I did because their story pleased me. Their relationship pleased me. Their way of dealing with their life, their love, and their various problems pleased me.

Yes. When Colin lay dying in a hospital room, Joshua prayed to God to spare Colin and take him instead. Stereotypical? Perhaps. But it is also exactly what Joshua would DO! Colin feeling emasculated because of the debilitating injuries he suffered in Love’s Trials may also be stereotypical, but it is exactly how guys like Colin react to such situations. I know this because I’ve talked to guys like Colin who went through exactly this situation and that’s how they reacted.

I’m sorry that this reviewer didn’t like Love’s Trials. I’m sorry they found the story weak and stereotypical. I’d like everyone to like my books and the characters which inhabit them. But that’s just not going to happen.

So, I guess for me it must go back to the same old thing I’ve had to remind myself of with every book I’ve ever written. I write this stuff for me. I hope others like and enjoy my books. But I don’t write for them. I write the characters I like in the situations that appeal to me. I write them the way they appear to me in my mind. I write them the way I see them. I write them the way I hear them.  And I always will. I write what I love. And if the odd reviewer finds my work stereotypical… I’ll just have to live with their disappointment. There are other writers and other books out there for them to enjoy.

Reviews like that one, so scathing and dismissive, are hurtful. I won’t deny it. But I also see them as grown-promoting and thought-provoking. So, I’ll thank the reviewer for sharing their thoughts and thank my readers for accepting my stereotypical characters and loving them – flaws and all – as much as I do.

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About the guys….

Last week I received this very thoughtful request from the wonderful ‘Reed Kay’:

maybe sometime you will talk about how you see these guys. As an author how attached are you to the personalities. Will you ever be able to walk away from them…stuff from your pov compared to the readers attachment to them. They have become like distant relatives to me.

I found this request fascinating because it occurred to me recently that I think about the guys, ALL the Revolutionary Heart/Fearless Heart men, but particularly Colin and Josh, all the time. As I’m watching movies, reading posts on Instagram, watching TV shows, it often occurs to me to wonder what they would think about these experiences… how they would respond.

I felt Colin’s fury when George Floyd was murdered. I feel Joshua’s anguish anytime a police officer is killed or injured. I feel Colin’s frustrated anger when he can’t protect Joshua from a deadly virus. I see Joshua’s tears anytime a song plays which he has heard Colin sing. I see them gaze into each other’s eyes anytime a TV show talks about undying love. They speak to me through every life experience. I hear their voices as I ride the bus, as I read a book… as I write a post or create a video. They are always with me.

Colin and Josh are very distinct personalities who react to life in very different ways. In a story called ‘Colin vs. Corona’, this is how they respond to the news that Nate has become infected with the Corona virus: (Lawyer on My Case, story Colin vs. Coprona’)

Stunned and grief stricken, Joshua stared straight ahead of him feeling his eyes well with tears. He felt Colin surge to his feet and turned just in time to see him snatch up an empty coffee mug and hurl it against their fireplace with explosive force. “Colin!” Joshua rose and grabbed his husband’s arm. “Honey, that won’t help! And you just broke your favorite mug.”

Colin jerked away and strode toward the kitchen. “Josh, leave me alone for a second. Let me…. just – just give me a minute!”

Joshua fell back onto the couch and after a moment of steady, even breathing he grabbed his phone and called the nurse who had been spelling Nate at night twice a week. David was much better, but he was not fully recovered. And if Nate had contracted COVID-19, they were going to need more help, especially at night. He was discussing various options with her when Colin walked back into the living room.

Colin, predictably enough, reacts with anger, while Joshua, after a moment of tearful grief, quietly steadies himself and looks for ways to help.

I see this as being their default dynamic, barring some unforeseen change. Colin will always right himself and he does rejoin Joshua later in this story and is a huge help to their infected friends. But his initial reaction to uncontrollable events will always be frustrated anger, particularly when a loved one’s welfare is involved. Joshua’s initial reaction will always be to turn within while Colin’s is to explode without.

At the core of both these men is a deep desire to be of service. They’ve both survived childhood trauma which defined their lives. They turned the pain of these experiences into a desire to help and heal others who have suffered. And, to me, the shared pain of those childhood experiences and shared goal of wanting to help others who have suffered is one of the most powerful bonds that unites them.

Colin looks at Joshua and sees a gentle, caring man whose tender heart guides him in his healing work. Joshua looks at Colin and sees a valiant warrior who fights to right the wrongs of the world. Even in their very first get-together he compared Colin to Don Quixote. But what they don’t seem to realize – at least not yet – is that they see in each other qualities which live within themselves.

Colin also has a gentle and caring heart. He keeps it well hidden much of the time, but it remains the enduring core of who he is as a man. He became famous on the University of Virginia campus for his compassionate treatment of assault victims. It’s one of the first qualities Joshua fell in love with. (See the ‘Magic Spells’ story: The Healer).

And Joshua is also a courageous warrior. His psychological toolkit may lean more toward quiet intervention than angry outbursts, but his devoted and courageous support of Colin after he was shot demonstrates the warrior’s heart within him. While Colin hovered between life and death, Joshua refused to surrender to his inner agony and directed every ounce of his energy to reviving the man he loved.

I felt compelled to write a story about how they would respond if their best friends became infected with COVID-19 because such a tale would perfectly illustrate the many ways in which these two men are both polar opposites and at the same time deeply intertwined kindred spirits. I could never see Joshua hurling his coffee mug against the wall, but I can see him adoring Colin’s passionate approach to life’s challenges. And though Colin isn’t much given to quiet introspection, he refers to Joshua as ‘my oak’ for a reason. His abiding love for Joshua’s Jewish ancestry has its roots in his worshipful admiration of Joshua’s steadfast inner strength.

Would I ever give them up? Not unless forced to do so.

I occasionally question whether or not writing the same couple over a long stretch of books is the best path for an author. I’ve asked other authors and I particularly value the counsel given me by best-selling author Joe Cosentino when I messaged him with this question:  Joe, tell me something. Is it wrong to want to stick with one pairing and just write them? Honestly? I feel lost and dissatisfied when I’m not writing Colin and Josh. I just love them and don’t feel their story is done yet.

This was Joe’s response: Hi Janice, I think it’s terrific. They’re great characters and great stories, so why not continue them. Look at daytime TV dramas. In some cases they have characters and storylines lasting for decades. It’s great fun to imagine what will happen next for a character you’ve created. I too miss my characters when I’m not writing them. That’s probably why I wrote 11 Nicky and Noah mysteries (2 not published yet), 5 Cozzi Cove novels, 5 Jana Lane mysteries, 3 Bobby and Paolo Holiday Stories, 2 Found At Last stories (not published yet), and 4 Player Piano Mysteries (not published yet). So I think you should keep writing Colin and Josh for as long as the spirit moves. Enjoy!


I probably will always include the other Revolutionary Heart/Fearless Heart men in any Colin and Joshua story I write. Those men – those friendships – are an integral part of my universe and Colin and Joshua’s lives. Colin and Joshua had both kept pretty much to themselves before their relationship blossomed. Their need to protect themselves from further pain isolated both men. Neither of them was able to form lasting relationships with other men, and even family and friends were kept at arm’s length. But as their own relationship grew and deepened into love, their individual walls began to crumble opening both their hearts not only to each other, but to the world around them. The love they share was the pebble in the pool whose circles expanded to include their families and their friends.

I can see myself continuing to write Colin and Joshua as their journey continues. Colin must pass the bar and become an Assistant District Attorney. Joshua will complete his schooling to become a Forensic Psychologist. I can see them working cases together at the University of Virginia, solving crimes, unraveling mysteries, helping each other professionally as their love continues to grow.

I can see the two of them remaining deeply connected to their friends as their stories develop. Jeff and Trent have their own story to tell, and it’s never possible to think of Colin and Josh without David and Nate being close at hand. Those friendships are as much a part of them as they are of each other and I believe their six lives will remain intertwined as they all move forward into new futures.

I love Colin and Josh. I love Colin’s fire and energy. I love his courage, his Irish pride and his cocky charisma. And I love his willingness to lay all those qualities aside in deference to the love he feels for the quiet, Jewish psychologist who walks by his side. Colin refused love for most of his adult live. But when he fell, he fell all the way. He would, without thought or hesitation, lay down his life for Joshua. And Joshua returns his feelings with every fiber of his being. Neither of these men gave much credence to the myth of ‘star-crossed lovers’ or ‘soul-mates’  – until they found each other.

I love Joshua’s quiet strength, his studious introversion, his brilliant mind. And I love his willingness to take the step which he knew would lead to a broken heart and move forward into the whirlwind of a relationship with Colin Campbell. I love Joshua’s willingness to silence his love in deference to Colin’s fear of love. I love his willingness to walk away from the love that was his whole world because he knew it was the only way that love could ever be truly his. And I love his ever-present willingness to forgive his hot-headed, impulsive, prideful partner – take him by the hand, and lead him back to the peace of their home and the love they share.

No, I can’t see myself giving them up. Not anytime soon. I can see myself writing other couples in Colin and Joshua’s universe. But I can’t see those stories being as satisfying to me as writing Colin and Josh. Writing them is like coming home. There is a warmth, an abiding intimacy to their story that I just don’t feel with anyone else, no matter how much I might like and enjoy the pairing.

So as long as I have readers willing to walk with Colin and Josh as they continue down the path they’ve chosen for themselves… I will be willing to walk with them, eavesdrop on all their conversations, peep into their bedroom at night, follow them around taking notes as they grow and evolve.

And I hope all of you will walk with us.

Love to all my readers…


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One dream. One wish. One love.

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I do it for me

Anytime I get to that point where I’m about to place something brand new out there in front of the world, as I just did with Relevant Law, I get nervous. I get imposter syndrome. I get antsy. I begin to feel unworthy. Why should I think that anyone would want to read what I write?

I wrote fan fiction for thirty years before writing and publishing Love’s Magic. I’ve been writing since high school. I’m pushing eighty years old, and I STILL get that feeling.

I was raised in an era where a woman’s only allowable goals in life were to get a man, have his kids, and live to service all of them. And I did that. Nothing was for me. I was a selfless martyr. Nothing I wanted mattered. And I wondered why I wasn’t happy.

So, when I’m about to release a new book, I have to remind myself of the most important fact regarding this worthy endeavor. I do it for me.

I love the feedback. I love reading good reviews. I love having readers who appreciate what I write. I love having the respect of follow authors. But come right down to it, I write because I love writing. I write for me.

And that fact gives me comfort in those pre-publishing moments when I’m struggling to believe in myself and in what I create. It’s the creative process that matters most. And I do that for myself. I hope folks out there enjoy the end result of that process. But my value as an author doesn’t depend on whether or not others approve of my finished work. Because I don’t do it for them. I do it for me.

There are other moments when I have to stop and remind myself why I write these books. And those moments usually revolve around seeing that another author had made the ‘best-seller’ list or has received some kind of award. OK. I admit it. At moments like that I feel a HUGE flood of envy followed almost immediately by a nearly terminal case of ‘imposter syndrome’. Why don’t my books make the best seller list? Why haven’t my books won an award? I must be a terrible writer and my books must be shit!

No. I’m not a terrible writer. And my books aren’t shit. I’m not ashamed to admit that it takes a little while for me to shake off those horrible feelings and dismiss my inclination to remove all my books from Amazon and delete Scrivener from my MAC. I can’t use the success of others as my yardstick. I have to narrow my perspective. I can’t cast my net over the entire planet, or even the entire spectrum of those who write gay romance. I have to narrow it down to just one small point in the whole universe. Me.

Do I like what I wrote? Do I find it worthy? Did I do my best to tell the story with all the skill and love I possess? Did I give it my best shot? Did I give it my all? And if I can answer ‘yes’ to those questions I need to get a grip and remember that I don’t write my books to get on the best seller list. I don’t write them to get an award. I write them because those stories are inside me, dying to get out and I’m the only one who can release them onto an unsuspecting world.

Everyone doesn’t have to like them and not everyone will. But I can’t care about and I’d go insane if I tried. I have to do it for me. And when I stop doing it for me… I need to stop doing it at all.

A St. Patrick’s Day Surprise for Colin

St. Patrick’s Day was only four days away and Joshua was scrabbling to come up with an idea that would make the day extra special for his uber-Irish husband. He’d already bought him a card and a beautiful Celtic Knot T-shirt. But Colin already had a closet full of Irish T-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies so all this would do is add to the collection.

“It needs to be something special,” Joshua muttered. “Something unusual. Something just for him that no one else has ever come up with.” Google searches provided no real help. Most of the suggestions he found there focused on St. Patrick’s Day treats for children. And while Joshua would be the first to admit that his husband could throw inhibition to the wind and embrace his inner child at the drop of a hat, the suggestions still weren’t a good fit.

“Nate, help me think of a way to surprise Colin on St. Patrick’s Day,” he implored the next day at lunch. “I’m drawing a blank.”

“Well,” Nate mused aloud, “I’m not all that well versed on St. Patrick’s Day rituals, but I know there are some! What goes with that goofy holiday?”

“Don’t let him hear you call it ‘goofy’,” Joshua replied laughing. “Well, shamrocks, I guess. Leprechauns.”

“Oh god, don’t go there!” Nate urged, laughing. “You know he hates them!” He wrinkled his nose in thought. “What about the color green?”

“Green,” Joshua repeated. “God, yes. It’s his favorite color that Irish-green.”

“Paint your house green,” Nate suggested, grinning. “Or better yet, paint yourself green!”

“With edible paint?” Joshua replied, chuckling.

“And let him lick it off?” Nate inquired, then bent over laughing. “Oh, man, that is one amazing image. You, painted green and totally naked, and Colin lapping it off like it’s ice cream.” Nate snapped his fingers. “Better yet, cover yourself in mint ice cream!! Wow! Both Irish and hot!”

“Tempting though that thought might be, it would also be pretty damned cold.” He cocked an eye at Nate. “But the whole idea of green food would appeal to the Irish in him and the food lover as well.”

“Throw some green food coloring into his oatmeal,” Nate offered with a wink.

“I think I can get more inventive than that,” Joshua replied. “But I don’t have much time and I have a bit of research to do.”

Within days Joshua had his St Patrick’s Day menu completed. Breakfast would consist of healthy matcha green tea pancakes covered in whipped cream and strawberries and served with a sweet green-apple juice. Lunch would be a glorious green sandwich filled with green hummus, avocado, sliced cucumber, and goat cheese served up with a green Bloody Mary. Dinner would, of course, be corned beef and cabbage but Joshua would include as many green elements as possible, including a luscious green dessert made with Oreo cookies and mint pudding, topped off by a tall, green Murphy’s Irish stout. Green candy and cookies would be spread all over the house.

He studied his ingredients with satisfaction, but something still wasn’t right. He needed something more. He’d done green food for Colin every St. Patrick’s Day they’d spent together. Gotten him green cookies and candy and created the green beer. None of this was new. He’d done all of it before, though perhaps not to this extent. “Dammit, I need to think of something different.”

It was the day before St. Patrick’s Day and he still hadn’t come up with a brand-new idea. Desperate, he searched the web for hours, and at long last found the concept he’d been looking for.

On St. Patrick’s Day, Colin sat at their dining room table, munching on his green tea pancakes, praising Joshua to the skies. “So good, Josh!” he mumbled around a mouthful of pancake and whipped cream.

Joshua grinned at him, then rose. “I have something else to give you this morning,” he said, moving into the dining room. “Stay here. I’ll be right back.”

Colin heard him open and close the hall closet and detected the rustle of paper. He leaned back in his chair, craning his neck, trying to see Joshua from his seat in the dining room, then watched as he entered with something held behind his back.

“I made this for you,” Joshua said. From behind him, he drew out a large, green piece of poster board. Joshua turned it to face him, and Colin could see that it was cut in the shape of a Shamrock, with all three leaves folded inward.

“What is…,” Colin began, but Joshua raised his hand to stop him.

“Unfold the leaves one at a time,” he instructed, stepping close enough for Colin to touch the poster.

Colin unfolded the first leaf. In the center of the shamrock Joshua had written: “I’m lucky because…” and on the first leaf Joshua had scrawled the words: “…I have you.”

Colin smiled up at him. “Baby, that’s so sweet! Thank you. I’m lucky for the same reason.”

“Because you have you?” Joshua teased with a grin. “Unfold the next leaf.”

Colin reached to unfold the next leaf which read: “… you’re healthy and strong.” He smiled up at Joshua. “I wish this damned thing had more leaves!”

Joshua laughed. “Me too. It was hard sticking to only three reasons.” He nodded toward the last leaf and Colin reached to unfold it.

It read: “… my husband is the most wonderful man alive.”

Colin gazed at the now unfolded shamrock and nodded. “I want to hang that in the bedroom,” he said, then quickly glanced up at Joshua. “You’re still fixing corned beef and cabbage, aren’t you?”

Joshua laughed. “Of course, I am!”

“Good! I thought maybe this was my only St. Patrick’s Day gift.” He winked at Joshua and rose and took the shamrock from Joshua’s hands, placing it on their coffee table.

“The bedroom?” Joshua asked with a grin. “Won’t go with our decor.”

Colin strode to where he stood and wrapped both arms around his waist. “OK, then. I’ll hang it in my workout room. I can look at it when I’m doing reps and be inspired by your love.” He kissed Joshua tenderly, then rocked him in his arms. “I’d need a million leaves to tell you all the reasons I’m lucky to have you, Josh.” He leaned back and gazed into Joshua’s chocolate-brown eyes. “Thank you, baby. That’s the best St. Patrick’s Day gift I’ve ever gotten.” He kissed Joshua again, then looked around. “OK. Where’s the cookies and green candy?”

Joshua laughed and turned away from their embrace, moving once again toward the hall closet. “Comin’ up!”

What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve

They were approaching a New Year’s Eve unlike any other. Parties were out of the question, as was the chance to join their friends at McCafferty’s for a repeat of last year’s joyous New Year’s Eve celebration.

This was the year of COVID-19 and get togethers of any kind were something Colin would not even discuss, let alone consider. “We’re not sticking our noses outside that door for anything that’s not absolutely necessary,” he told Joshua as he sat at their kitchen table munching toast. “We can Zoom David and Nate at some point just to see how they’re doing. But you and I are staying home!”

Joshua nodded but didn’t respond. He stood staring out the kitchen window that led to their small backyard, both hands resting on the sink.

“You don’t want to go out do you, Josh?”

“Good god, no,” Joshua said, turning to face his husband. “It’s blind luck that we haven’t caught this horrible bug already. And this close to a vaccine… there’s no way I’m taking any chances.” His head dropped and for a moment he stared silently at the floor. “But it’s sad.”

“Well…,” Colin drawled out. “I tend to agree but…,” He paused and grinned at Joshua, flashing his deep dimples. “I promise to make your New Year’s Eve uhhhh…,” he smirked and arched an eyebrow, “… memorable.”

“This whole year has been memorable.”

“But not memorable for the right reasons,” Colin grumbled. “And not nearly as memorable as I plan to make your New Year’s Eve.”

Joshua lifted his head and smiled. “Of that I have absolutely no doubt.” He stepped to the table and sat down next to Colin. “And I’m totally happy to spend New Year’s Eve with you, just the two of us together. In fact, I prefer it. But I know you like celebrating with our friends.”

“I’m happy celebrating with you,” Colin said. He leaned toward Joshua and reached to take his hand. “But this has been a shit year,” he said. “I’ll be glad to see it end. And you’re right. Given our work with the public, plus David and Nate catching this goddamn thing, we’re lucky we got through it unscathed.”

“What was your best moment this year?”

Colin paused, considering, then scowled. “Not many come to mind,” he muttered. “We’ve spent so much time sitting in front of the TV that my eyes have started to glaze over.” He shot a glance at Joshua. “It’s all merged into one long, unending stream.” He scowled down at their joined hands. “Supernatural has started to melt into NCIS until I can’t tell the difference between Dean Winchester and Special Agent Gibbs.” He sighed and shifted in his chair. “We aren’t getting out all that much, and when we are, we’re usually running errands for David and Nate or dashing to the store at five in the morning to beat the mask-less assholes to the last roll of toilet paper.”

Joshua’s lips curved in a hint of a smile. “Now you know damned well that people are masking up a lot more these days. And we’ve got enough toilet paper in the pantry to last ‘til the next pandemic. How much did you think we’d need anyway? You must have bought out every store in Charlottesville.”

“Well, I don’t know about you, but the whole world knows that I’m full of shit!”

“Stop it.”

“Do you have a favorite moment from this past year?”

“I do.”

“Well for god’s sake don’t keep it to yourself!”

Joshua raised their joined hands to his lips and pressed a kiss to Colin’s knuckles. “We’re standing in David and Nate’s front yard,” he began. “Davy is standing in the bedroom window in his bathrobe with Nate beside him.” His eyes shifted to meet Colin’s, smiling in loving homage. “And you, my yedid, are standing in the snowy grass below with both hands jammed into your jacket pockets, singing ‘Fields of Athenry’ to them in the most beautiful voice I have ever heard.”

Colin ducked his head and flushed. “C’mon, Josh.”

“You asked for my favorite moment and I gave it to you.”

“Well, thanks, babe. I appreciate it.”

“What’s more important is that David appreciated it. I’d bet it’s his favorite moment of the year too.”

Colin shrugged, brushing off the compliment.

“C’mon,” Joshua encouraged. “You can’t think of one good moment from this year? Not even getting your law degree?”

“Graduating in an online Zoom ceremony while sitting in our living room sort of sucked the ‘special’ out of it.”

“Not for me! Colin Michael Campbell: Juris Doctorate.”

“Campbell-Abrams,” Colin corrected. “Fat lot of good it’s done me. Can’t even take the bar exam ‘til all this COVID shit is over.”

“Gives you more time to study.”

“Humph,” Colin grunted. “Lucky me.”

“C’mon, baby,” Joshua begged, leaning toward him. “There has to be one moment this year that made you happy.”

“Josh, there were a lot of moments this year that made me happy. Being with you here in our home always makes me happy. Being healthy enough to help our friends through COVID made me happy.”

He slumped in his chair and stared down at the table. “I don’t mean to sound all whiney, bud. You’re right. We’ve been incredibly lucky this year. But damn!! I wanted to dance with you on New Year’s Eve. I wanted to dress up in our fancy duds and drink champagne and kiss you at midnight and sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’.” He lifted his head, his face screwed into a self-deprecating grimace. “Sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry. It’s wonderful that you want that. I want it too.” He tightened his hold on Colin’s hand. “But Irish, we have a lifetime of New Year’s Eves ahead of us.”

Colin said nothing. His head dropped and he gazed at Joshua through lowered lashes.

“Let’s make it a great New Year’s Eve,” Joshua begged. He leaned toward Colin and batted his eyes. “I’ll get some Sufganiyot,” he promised, in a lilting voice.

“Offering the baby a cookie so he’ll stop pouting?” Colin asked.

“Offering my husband a treat so he’ll cheer up,” Joshua corrected.

“I’m not sure there are that many jellied doughnuts in all of Charlottesville.”

“We’ll see.”

On New Year’s Eve Joshua cooked Colin’s favorite Jewish dish, Cous-Cous Royale, and topped it off with plenty of the deep-fried Sufganiyot Colin loved. Colin responded with compliments and a show of good cheer, but Joshua could tell he was still brooding over his lost hopes for their New Year’s Eve celebration.

They spent that evening watching TV in their underwear. Joshua tucked a warm blanket around them and snuggled against Colin’s side, laughing every time Colin stretched out his hand to pluck yet another jellied doughnut from the nearby platter. “You keep this up and you’ll have to start the new year with a diet!” But at a quarter after eleven, he rose and ambled toward the stairs. “Be right back.”

Colin nodded, his attention riveted to the TV screen, but when twenty minutes passed and Joshua hadn’t reappeared, he strode to the bottom of the steps and called: “Josh, getting close to midnight! What’re you doing?”

“Hang on,” Joshua called down, then seconds later he appeared at the top of the stairs. He was wearing the dark suit he wore on their wedding day. In his hands he carried what looked like a champagne bottle, and Colin’s black wedding-day suit. He descended the stairs and shoved the clothing into Colin’s hands “Get dressed,” he instructed, “while I start the music and put this on ice.”

Colin laughed. “Do I have to wear the tie?”

“No. Just the suit. You can put it on over your T-shirt if you like.”

Colin laughed again and slid his arms into a white dress shirt. “Nope. I’ll forgo the tie. I might even forgo the socks and shoes. But I’ll put on the shirt and suit.” He buttoned the shirt and drew on the suit pants and jacket. Then, as he tucked the shirt in, he watched Joshua heap ice around the champagne bucket and grab two glasses. “Think you’re pretty clever don’t you?” Colin accused, grinning.

Joshua turned to face him and pulled his cellphone from his pocket. “Clever enough to have created a Spotify playlist of our favorite songs.” He propped the phone on their mantle and as the first soft notes of ‘We Can Last Forever’ floated out over the room he held out his arms to his husband. “Care to dance, hot stuff?”

Colin took a step forward and wrapped Joshua in his arms. They danced with a slow, swaying motion, at times scarcely moving, at others spinning in dizzying circles as Colin twirled them around the room. Joshua’s eyes lifted and met his husband’s and he saw Colin smile, his emerald-green eyes glowing with a warmth and love that nearly took Joshua’s breath. His fingers slid into Colin’s sandy hair and clenched there as Colin bent and kissed him, molding their mouths together in a deep, sensual merging that Joshua wished could last forever.

Moments before midnight, Colin lifted Joshua’s chin and kissed him again. “Thank you, my love, my life,” he whispered. “You’ve made this New Year’s Eve more special than I would have believed possible.”

Joshua’s phone suddenly chimed out the ringtone that signaled that the new year had arrived, and Colin once again took his husband in his arms and as they danced, he crooned in his ear:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
And days of auld lang syne?


For auld lang syne, my dear
For auld lang syne
We’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne


As always, his voice was rich and filled with the emotion of the moment and Joshua felt his eyes burn with tears of love and gratitude. “Thank you,” he whispered against Colin’s ear. They stood for a moment after the song ended, staring into each other’s eyes, then Colin bent and kissed him again.

“Are you kidding? You’re the one provided the perfect New Year’s Eve even after I was a whiney little bitch about it!”

“Champagne?” Joshua offered, his fingers moving to caress Colin’s cheek.

“Love it,” Colin replied, leading Joshua to where the sparkling wine was waiting. Joshua filled their glasses, then Colin lifted his in salute. “To you, my sweet Jewish boy. And to every New Year’s Eve we’ll share for the rest of our lives.”

Joshua lifted his glass and touched it to Colin’s. “To us, my love. And to every adventure that awaits us in the year ahead.”

After they had sipped, Colin took Joshua’s glass and sat it alongside his on their liquor cabinet. “C’mon,” he murmured, his strong arm wrapped once more around Joshua’s waist. “I’m not done dancing. And then I do believe I promised you a memorable New Year’s Eve.” He tightened his arm and pressed Joshua’s body hard against his own. “And that’s one New Year’s resolution I have every intention of keeping.”

“Happy New Year, my beautiful magic man,” Joshua whispered. “Ani Ohev Otcha.”

“Happy New Year, my beautiful Jewish love,” Colin whispered in return. “Ta`mo chori istigh ionat.”

Halloween – Between the Sheets! A Colin and Josh Halloween story!

Joshua clutched Colin’s shoulders in an iron grip. “Colin! Oh fuck! God!” He desperately gulped down air as his orgasm repeatedly ripped through him, jolting every nerve ending, and sending electric thrills of heart-pounding bliss throughout his body.

“Josh,” Colin moaned, shuddering in a mindless ecstasy that matched Joshua’s in its intensity. “Oh, God, baby, so good. So perfect.”

For a long time they lay together, gasping for breath, feeling each other slowly relaxing, molded against each other’s hot, sweaty body.

“Jesus, Colin,” Joshua murmured finally, “that was fucking incredible! You been practicing or something?”

Colin chuckled, burying his face against the damp skin of Joshua’s throat. “All I do is get in bed with you and let nature take its course.”

Joshua gave a low moan as Colin’s now-flaccid cock slid slowly out of his body, and then he wriggled a bit to ease the pressure of Colin’s weight.

“Am I too heavy, babe? I’ll move.”

“No. Not yet.” He tightened his arms around Colin’s neck, holding him close, shutting his eyes to better savor the warm, comforting weight of Colin’s body. He smiled and slid his fingers through Colin’s unruly curls, wriggling again. “I like how you feel, but, OK. Now you can move. I need to cool off.”

Colin slid slowly off Joshua’s body and half turned to reach toward the bedside table. When he turned back to Joshua, he had a towel in one hand. “Clean up, sir?” he asked with a grin.

“Love it!” Joshua replied, laughing as Colin dabbed at his naked body with the towel, eagerly blotting up all traces of semen and sweat. “What’s this? I don’t usually get this kind of service.” The towel was soft, and Colin slid it, tenderly, over his body, then used the other end to wipe at himself before tossing it to the floor.

“Now,” he said, grinning down at Joshua. “It’s time for a Halloween treat.

Josh stretched languorously. “A Halloween treat? What kind?”

“Next year we should dress up,” Colin said, bending over him.

“As what?” Josh asked. “A cop and his prisoner?”

“No,” Colin said, shaking his head. “Though, I do have some ideas about that.” He placed something on Joshua’s chest.

“What’s that?” Josh asked, lifting his head to peer down. “What did you put on me?” Then, spotting the small item, he burst into laughter. “Oh my god, Colin!” A piece of candy corn was resting close to his nipple. “Please tell me you didn’t steal that from Sarah and Deborah’s Halloween bags!”

“I’ll have you know,” Colin said, faking an offended tone, “that I did not steal Halloween candy from David’s daughters. I bought this candy corn myself especially for this occasion.” He bent and ate the candy from Josh’s chest, his wet tongue gliding across Joshua’s nipple many more times than was necessary to accomplish his task.” Mmmmm,” he sighed. “So good! This is just heaven.”

“You,” Joshua observed sadly, “are totally bat-shit crazy. Do you know that?”

“Really?” Colin said, laying a piece of candy a bit lower on Josh’s chest. “You think so?” He bent and licked the treat from Joshua’s smooth, olive skin.

Josh shivered a bit as Colin’s tongue caressed his chest. “Well,” he admitted finally, “I have to admit, this feels pretty damned good.” He sighed, closing his eyes, then abruptly opened them again. “Hey, what ‘thoughts’ did you have about Halloween costumes?”

Another piece of candy corn landed on Josh’s body. This time the sweet treat fell right next to his navel.

“Mmmm,” Colin hummed appreciatively. “Now that’s a beautiful sight.” He bent and licked the candy into his mouth. Then, unable to resist, he swirled his tongue around Joshua’s navel.

“Mmmm, yourself,” Josh moaned in response, feeling his dick begin to respond to the moist caress of Colin’s lips and tongue. “Costumes, Colin?” he said finally. “Your thoughts on costumes? And if you put one of those on my dick I’ll…” his voice trailed away leaving his threat unfinished.

Colin grinned, nuzzling Joshua’s smooth belly. “You’ll what!” he demanded.

“Just the visual, Colin,” Joshua said, choked with laughter. “C’mon, Irish! The visual!”

Colin pressed his face to Josh’s naked belly, his whole body shaking with laughter. “Mean!” he said finally, recovering a bit. “That’s just mean, Joshua.”

“Costumes, Colin,” Josh reminded him.

“Well,” Colin said, placing another piece of candy corn on the crease where Josh’s leg met his body. “What I visualize is this.” He lifted his hand and moved it across thin air as if setting a stage. “YOU,” he said dramatically, “dressed as a slave boy.”

Joshua choked with laughter.”

“A red leather thong firmly in place,” Colin continued, staring into space as he described his vision. “The straps of leather attached to the thong are wrapped – seductively wrapped mind you – ” he added, “around your thighs.”

Joshua screamed with laughter as Colin lowered his head and licked up the candy leaving a wet trail on Joshua’s thigh.

Then he lifted his head and continued: “A matching red leather harness is twined around your chest, extremely hot, and yet…” he inhaled and paused for effect “tasteful. It displays your pectoral muscles and nipples in a daring peek-a-boo manner, guaranteed – guaranteed mind you – ” he said soberly, waving a forefinger in front of Josh’s face for emphasis… “to make a grown man – who would be me – ” he added in a stage-whisper, pointing to himself, “positively weep with joy.”

Joshua gasped for breath, still shaking with laughter.

“And,” Colin continued, seemingly unaffected by Josh’s shrieks of mirth, “around your neck is a gold collar to which is attached…” he paused for emphasis. “…a red leash.”

“You don’t say!” Joshua choked, still laughing.

“I do say,” Colin continued. “And I’ll bet you can’t imagine who is holding that leash!” He paused and peered down at Joshua, eyebrows raised questioningly. “Care to venture a guess?”

“Would that be…” Josh paused and rolled his eyes, as if thinking the question over, “… YOU, perhaps?”

“Me, indeed!” Colin replied. “And may I say you are VERY intelligent for a slave boy.”

“And how are you dressed, Colin?” Joshua asked him, grinning from ear to ear. “Or should I refer to you as master?”

“Not until you’re wearing the costume,” Colin informed him. “Me? How am I dressed?”

“I can’t wait,” Joshua said, chuckling.

“Well,” Colin said conversationally, leaning on his arm as he stretched out next to Joshua, “as you might expect, I’m dressed entirely in black leather.”

“Looking ever so hot!” Joshua added.

Colin laughed. “But of course!” he said, laying another candy corn on Joshua’s belly. “You know I always look hot in leather.” He dipped his head to lick the candy corn from Joshua’s body.

Joshua wrapped an arm around Colin’s neck and tugged him closer until their bodies were once again molded together. “It’s one of the very first things I noticed about you,” he murmured seductively. “That you look hot as fuck in leather.” He captured Colin’s lips in a long, lingering kiss.

Colin returned his kiss, snuggling closer. “Mmmm…” he moaned. “This is heaven.”

“I thought you said eating candy corn off my body was heaven,” Joshua reminded him, still grinning.

“Anything that has to do with your naked body is heaven,” Colin replied.

“You got any more of that candy corn?” Joshua asked, trying to peer over Colin’s shoulder toward the bedside table. “You’ve been hogging it. And what’s in that huge bag you brought in with you tonight? You shoved it into the fridge before I had a chance to peek at it.”

Colin turned and plunged his hand into a small, brown bag that sat on the nearby table. It immediately emerged filled with candy corn. “Here you go,” he said, pouring half the candy into Joshua’s hand and then popping a few into his mouth. “Far as the bag goes it’s got more candy, a quart of cider that’s just dying to be heated up in the microwave, a pumpkin pie with whipped cream for the top, aaaannnd,” he drawled, “… a DVD!”

“What’s the DVD?”

“BWAAA HAAA HAAA!” Colin fake-laughed “I stopped and borrowed it from Jeff! It’s The Thiiiiiiing!”

“Brilliant!” Joshua exclaimed. “You are the perfect Halloween date!”

“Then later, maybe, we’ll have hot cider and pumpkin pie with whipped cream.”

“And when we do,” Joshua said, nuzzling Colin’s cheek, “I’ll have something interesting to lick off your body!”

Colin snickered. “I’m willing to bet that I’d be totally …” he inhaled deeply and waggled his eyebrows in a wickedly suggestive manner, “up for that activity.”

“I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised,” Joshua said, grinning. “And hey,” he added in a softer voice, “Happy Halloween, baby. And thanks. You always make me feel so special.”

“That’s because you are special.” He returned Joshua’s kiss and smiled. And besides, I love you, my little Jewish slave boy. Now let’s go watch The THING!’

Joshua grabbed the candy bag and, cackling like a couple of witches hovering over a boiling caldron, they dashed downstairs to the living room where pie, whipped cream and ‘The Thing’ waited.