Joshua’s Birthday

Colin settled onto the couch beside Joshua and wrapped an arm around him. “Did you enjoy your birthday, pretty boy?”

Joshua shot Colin a look, grimacing at the pet name. “Pretty boy?” he said, brows still cocked in amused disbelief. “Me?”

“Well, you’re my pretty boy, whether you believe it or not!”

“At best I’m a quirky looking Jew, and yes. I had a great birthday, thanks to you.” He held up his arm, displaying the brand-new watch on his wrist. “With Hebrew numbers,” he said. “How the hell did you ever find it?”

“Searched Google under ‘great gifts to give your Jewish husband’,” Colin replied.

“This is the one that really humbles me,” Joshua said, reaching to caress an antique plaque which lay on their coffee table.

“The minute I saw it I knew it had to be yours,” Colin told him. He leaned forward with Joshua to peer at the decorative tile.

“I’m no Lion of Judah,” Joshua muttered, running his fingers over the outline of the lion.

“But you are, Josh,” Colin objected. “Your strength, your courage, is what got me through the worst times in my life.”

Joshua stared intently at the lion, then silently shook his head. “He’s the symbol for the Tribe of Judah,” Joshua murmured.

“What tribe is your family part of?” Colin asked.

Joshua leaned back, laughing. “I have no idea. Most tribal identities were lost a long time ago. Only a few religious tribes like the Levites have passed their tribal affiliation on.” He turned to Colin and shrugged. “You want me to be from the tribe of Judah?” He asked, with a quick grin.

“You are from the tribe of Judah as far as I’m concerned.” Colin huffed a sigh through his nose, his face quirked into a pensive frown.

“What’s wrong?”

“Oh,” Colin sighed again and turned to face Joshua on the couch. “I’m annoyed because I couldn’t get you what I really wanted to get you for your birthday.”

“Why not?”

Colin lifted his eyebrows and smirked. “Blame COVID-19.”

“What did you want to get me?”

“I looked into buying us a trip to Israel.”

“Oh my god, Colin!” Joshua gasped out.

“I would have loved that,” Colin murmured. “Being with you there. Walking through all those Jewish landmarks. Seeing Israel.” He lifted his head and grinned at his husband. “I even planned for us to stay at a Kibbutz!” Then he lifted his eyebrows and shrugged again. “But no dice.”

“Most of them are just tourist traps now,” Joshua observed.

“Not the ones I was looking at,” Colin told him. “They even put you to work. A real, working Israeli Kibbutz.”

“Thank you for the thought, my love,” Joshua said, then kissed Colin’s cheek. “But sharing my birthday here with you in our home is all the celebration I need.”

“Makes me sad that the guys can’t be here,” Colin said.

“I heard from all of them,” Joshua told him. “Trent sent me a porn video that he said reminded him of you.” He shot a glance at Colin. “Believe me. You don’t want to see it.”

Colin nodded and rolled his eyes. “I can imagine.”

“Yeah. It was bad,” Joshua replied, laughing.

Colin nodded, the frowned and took Joshua’s hand. “Do me a favor,” he said, then lifted Joshua’s hand to his lips and kissed it.

“Anything. You know that.”

“Don’t disparage yourself that way. You’re not a quirky looking Jew.” He half-turned to face Joshua and laid his hand on Joshua’s cheek. “I hate it when you do that because, Joshua, you are beautiful.”

Joshua blushed and tried to duck his head, but Colin would not allow it. “Those deep, dark eyes,” Colin said, his voice low and melodic. “That smile that would blind the sun in the sky. Those curls that I can’t get enough of ever.” He wound one of Joshua’s ringlets around his index finger and pressed their foreheads together. “You are beautiful, Josh.” He leaned back quickly. “Now just say ‘thank you’!”

Joshua breathed out a laugh and blushed. “Thank you,” he whispered, unable to meet Colin’s eyes.

“You’re everything to me,” Colin murmured.

“You’re going to make me cry.”

Colin grinned and shrugged. “Go ahead!”

“Don’t want to be ‘wimpy Josh’ on my birthday,” Joshua said, then captured Colin’s lips in a slow, intimate kiss, his tongue caressing Colin’s in a moist, seductive caress.

“Mm,” Colin moaned softly. “Now that’s more like it.” He leaned back and took a quick breath. “Oh! Almost forgot to tell you. I sent your mom a dozen roses today.”

“Why? It’s not her birthday.”

“I thanked her for giving me the most wonderful man in the world to be my husband,” Colin replied.

Joshua stared at him, his mouth open in amazement. “You are the most – the most…,”

“Yeeesss?” Colin drawled out, grinning.

For a moment Joshua said nothing, then he drew Colin close and kissed him again. “You’re my everything too,” he whispered. “Thank you, my sweet Irish love. This is the best birthday I’ve ever had.”

“Your presents weren’t that good,” Colin teased.

“Nothing to do with the presents. It’s the best birthday I’ve ever had because I’m spending it with you.”

“Well, it’s not over yet. How do you want to spend the rest of it?”

Joshua smiled and his arms tightened around Colin’s neck. “How indeed.” He kissed Colin again, sliding his fingers through Colin’s thick, sandy waves. “Do I have to draw you a picture?”

Colin stood, drawing Joshua to his feet along with him. “Come with me, Lion of Judah,” he murmured. “I’m no lion trainer, but I have an idea about how to tame you that I think you might enjoy.”

“Of that I have absolutely no doubt,” Joshua replied laughing.

“Happy Birthday, my beautiful love.”

“Thank you, my beloved husband. You make every day happy.”

Valentine’s Day 2020 with Colin and Josh

Joshua Campbell-Abrams moaned out a soft breath, stirring in the comfort of their warm, cozy bed, reluctant to leave it and start his day. Eyes still closed he turned to his side and stretched out a hand, expecting to touch Colin’s solid, muscular frame, but instead his hands found nothing.

Opening his eyes, he saw one red-wrapped candy heart lying on the bed beside him in Colin’s accustomed place. He snatched it up, chuckling. “What’s he up to?” he wondered, swinging his legs over the side of the bed.

“Colin!” he called, as he wandered to the bathroom. “You here?” At the bathroom door he peered down the stairs but saw nothing. “Colin!” he called again, but silence was his only reply. He sighed and entered the bathroom, then burst into laughter. Taped to the mirror was a huge, red, paper heart and on it the words “Be mine!” had been written in Colin’s distinctive scrawl.

After using the bathroom, he moved down the stairs, still seeing no sign of his husband. Sitting at center of their dining room table was a beautiful arrangement of red roses. “Oh, Colin,” he whispered. The card attached to the flowers read: “We will last forever. I love you.” Joshua pressed the card to his lips, his breath catching in his chest with remembered joy. “We Will Last Forever was the song to which they had walked down the aisle on their wedding day, and it would always hold a treasured place in Joshua’s heart.

Holding the card and the candy heart he glanced around. On the coffee table in front of their couch was a heart-shaped box of candy and a card. He sat on the couch and opened both. Inside the card Colin had written: “Timeless. Priceless. Endless. Those are the words that best describe my love for you. Happy Valentine’s day, A thaisce. I love you with all my Irish heart.”

Joshua bowed his head and pressed the scrawled message to his lips, then drew in a shaky breath and looked around. “Colin?” he called. “Where the hell are you?”

“You lookin’ for me?” Colin said, strolling in from the kitchen a wide grin plastered on his handsome Irish face. “I was out back on my machines.”

Joshua gestured to the flowers, the candy, shaking his head, his eyebrows arched. “I’m – I’m speechless.” He got to his feet and walked into Colin’s arms, his own arms winding around Colin’s neck. “Thank you,” he whispered. “Your card and candy and gift are still hidden upstairs.” He leaned back and grimaced. “But I didn’t get your flowers yet. I was going to do that later today.”

“Ahhh, skip it,” Colin growled out, nuzzling Joshua’s cheek. “I’ll share yours. It already smells like a funeral home in here.”

Joshua snickered and pressed his face against Colin’s neck, holding him tight. “Let me go get your gifts and card,” he murmured.

“I’ve already got the gift I really want,” Colin said, rocking Joshua against his body before kissing him tenderly. “But… if you insist.” He released Joshua and plopped onto the couch. “I’m opening your candy!” he called as Joshua disappeared at the top of the steps.

“I bet you bought your favorite kind!” Echoed down the stairwell causing Colin to snicker and nod.

“You’re damned right I did.” Colin muttered, yanking the cellophane off the heart-shaped box of ‘Dove’s Assorted Chocolates’.

He heard Joshua above his head, moving around in the bedroom, then opening the sliding panel to their small attic. “Damn!” Colin muttered, his mouth full of chocolate. “I didn’t think to look there!”

“Close your eyes!” Joshua called down the stairwell. “And no cheating!”

Colin leaned back on the couch, still chewing, and put a hand over his eyes. “Not looking!” He called, then heard Joshua coming down the stairs.

“Keep those eyes shut!” Joshua said, and Colin heard him moving objects about on the coffee table, clearly arranging them to his liking. “OK,” he said finally. “You can look.”

Colin opened his eyes, then widened them in amazement. “Wow!” he said, leaning forward.

“All from Ireland,” Joshua said, sitting down next to him, reaching into the box of Dove’s chocolates to grab his own morsel.

“Josh this is gorgeous!” Colin breathed out. “I’ve never seen this much candy in one place before!”

Joshua laughed. “And it’s Irish candy!” he added, nudging Colin with an elbow.

“And what’s this?” Colin asked, picking up a gift-wrapped box.

“Open it and see.”

Colin opened the gift and gasped in surprised delight. “Josh!! It’s beautiful!”

“Hand made in Ireland,” Joshua mumbled around a mouthful of chocolate. “Your mom helped me find the Irish lady who makes them.”

Colin held it up before his eyes. “Jesus! It’s incredible!”

“You’ll look amazing in it. Now open your card.”

In Colin’s Valentine card, Joshua offered a touching tribute to their marriage. “I’ve fallen in love many, many times in my life, Colin. But always, always, always with just one person – you. Thank you for being my best dream, my best gift, and my best friend. I adore you.”

“Josh,” Colin whispered, then turned to kiss him. “Thank you, sweetheart. My gift to you isn’t nearly as spectacular.” He reached under the box of chocolates and pulled out an envelope which he handed to Joshua.

“What’s this?”

“Well, open it and SEE!”

Inside the envelope was a brochure for ‘Inn at Perry Cabin’ and reservations for a long weekend. “It’s on Chesapeake Bay,” Colin told him, pointing to the brochure, reading over his shoulder. “I got us a suite with view of the water.”

“Oh, Colin,” Joshua whispered, turning the pages. “It’s so beautiful!” He turned to his husband. “You got us a suite?”

“Nothing but the best, bud,” Colin said, nuzzling against his cheek. “The reservations are for this weekend, so I hope you didn’t have plans made.”

“None that I wouldn’t cancel to have this!” Joshua said, still peering at brochure. He laid the papers on the table and turned to face his husband. “Thank you,” he whispered, reaching to caress Colin’s cheek.

“Thank you,” Colin replied. He kissed Joshua tenderly, then stood and drew him to his feet. “Da-da-da-da-da-daaa,” he hummed, pulling Joshua into his arms, swaying with him in time to the song he began to croon.

Joshua felt his eyes burn with tears. No song meant more. No song could ever mean as much. And he tightened his arms around Colin’s neck as they danced to Colin’s lovely voice softly singing in his ear: “We can last forever….”

Joshua blotted his tears on Colin’s T-shirt then leaned back to gaze into his eyes.

“Colin and Josh,” Colin whispered, then kissed him again. “Colin and Josh will last forever. Happy Valentine’s Day. Ta`mo chori istigh ionat, my oak.”

Ani Ohev Otcha,” Joshua whispered in return. “Happy Valentine’s Day to you, my beloved magic man.”

And their arms closed tight around each other as their dance continued.

A Chrismukkah Story – The Star

THE STAR

Colin stood beside their Christmas tree staring up at the star which adorned the top. His hands were shoved deep into the pockets of his jeans and his lower lip was caught between his teeth. The multicolored tree lights cast a radiant aura onto his face as he gazed, making it glow with an unearthly beauty. Joshua drew in a quick breath as he stood unnoticed in the dining room watching his husband. A year ago, he had carried that very star to their home, a gift from Colin’s mother. She had told him the story of how his father would lift Colin onto his shoulder to place that star atop their family tree. She had told him how much this moment meant to the youngster Colin was then and to the man he grew to become.

Colin turned aside. His head was low, and he huffed out an audible breath, his lips pressed into a thin line. He glanced up and spotted Joshua watching him, then tilted his head toward the tree. “Looks pretty.”

“Were you thinking about your dad?” Joshua asked.

Colin tilted his head as he approached, and his eyebrows lifted in a gesture which expressed both agreement and a hint of self-reproach. “I suppose,” he said. “It was always kind-of our moment, you know?” His head dropped once again. “Can’t help but think of him.” He stood for a moment staring down at the floor. “Wish I’d been a better son.”

“Colin, he’d be so proud of the man you’ve become,” Joshua said, laying a hand on Colin’s shoulder.

“You think?”

“I know! A decorated police officer? Working now to become a lawyer? Everything you’ve been through? Everything you’ve accomplished? He’d be over the moon proud of you, Colin!”

“Might mean more if he wasn’t dead,” Colin muttered, then glanced up at Joshua. “And please don’t tell me that he’s looking down from heaven all happy and proud.”

Joshua squeezed his shoulder and breathed out a soft laugh. “I wouldn’t do that.”

Colin leaned forward and pressed his forehead to Joshua’s. “Sorry,” he whispered. “I guess seeing the star threw me into a bout of self-pity.”

“It’s not self-pity,” Joshua said, his arms winding around Colin’s neck. “It’s regret. Every human being on the planet has them, Colin. We’re all imperfect, every single one of us. And if there was a way to put our lives on ‘rewind’ and undo those mistakes, would we really do it? The man you are now was molded and formed by everything you’ve experienced, including those moments you regret. They made you the man I fell in love with. They made you aware of how your behaviors and actions affect others. That awareness is a gift from your father. It’s a part of him that lives on in you. So, my advice is, every time you look at that star say ‘Thanks, dad’, and keep on walking. That’s all you can do. That’s all anyone can do.”

“What’s the price tag for that little speech, Dr. Josh? About Seventy-five bucks?” Colin asked, chuckling.

“Very fucking funny.”

Colin laughed and rocked Joshua in his arms.

“It’s not just psycho-babble,” Joshua muttered. “I meant it.”

“I know,” Colin murmured, then captured Joshua’s chin in his hand and lifted his head. “And I’m grateful.” He kissed Joshua uplifted lips, then kissed them again. “You make me a better man,” he whispered.

“You make yourself a better man,” Joshua replied with a tart edge in his voice. “Me shooting off my mouth doesn’t mean shit if it falls on deaf ears.”

“It’s not every day that I admit to having imperfections,” Colin teased, nuzzling against Joshua’s neck. “So, do me a favor and keep my wimpy-assed confession to yourself.”

“Done… but it’s gonna cost you. You owe me for that ‘Dr. Josh’ comment.”

“Name your price.”

Joshua grinned and tilted his head toward the stairs.

“Oh, it’s like that is it!” Colin exclaimed laughing. He captured Joshua’s hand and tugged him toward the steps, and their bedroom beyond. “That’s one price I’m always happy to pay.” As they passed the tree, Colin threw it a salute. “Thanks, dad. Nollaig shone dhuit.” (Happy Christmas)


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