Triad Blood takes place during autumn, and the next book with the Triad boys takes place just near Valentine’s Day, which means the first Christmas that Luc, Anders, and Curtis spend together kind of gets skipped.
Well, in case you wondered, here you go:
When Luc came up the stairs, he found Curtis sitting on the floor in the living room, staring at the Christmas tree. The wizard turned, saw him, and then called out, “Anders, he’s up!”
“Next year we’re staying up late because there’s no way I’m going to torture myself like this ever again. We open gifts at midnight.” He crossed his arms.
Heavy footsteps above let him know the demon was coming, so Luc took the opportunity to join Curtis on the floor, leaning in and kissing his forehead.
“Whatever you’d like, lapin.”
“Finally,” Anders said. He came into the room, went straight to the tree, and picked up a box with his name on the tag. He took it to the couch and sat, already ripping at the wrapping.
“So, Anders will start,” Curtis said.
The demon grunted.
“That’s from me,” Luc said.
The revealed dress shirt was lovely. A rich brown, with a tiny repeating black check pattern, the material was just the right shade to complement the demon’s eyes, and had been tailored specifically for him.
“You got me a stuffy shirt?” Anders said.
“Try it on,” Curtis said.
“Because it’s Christmas,” Curtis said. “When you get stuff for Christmas, you try it on. It’s a rule.”
Anders paused, then grinned. Without another word of complaint, he stood, unbuttoned the shirt, and slid it over the sleeveless back V-neck he was wearing.
Luc shared a glance with Curtis. Was it him, or had that seemed too easy?
Still, once the demon had buttoned up the shirt, the effect was as Luc had hoped: he looked a touch classier, and the colour really did flatter his deep tan and dark eyes. Now, if he could just get the demon to have more than a nodding acquaintance with a razor…
“Me next,” Curtis said. His glee was almost child-like, and Luc found it infectious. He eyed the various brightly wrapped packages under the tree, intrigued.
“From you?” Curtis said, pulling out the gift he’d wrapped.
Curtis tore apart the wrapping, though he took a moment to affix the small gold bow on the head of the overly muscled animated character on his T-shirt. Luc wasn’t sure what the “Power of Greyskull” entailed, but apparently, a fur loin-cloth was included.
When Curtis opened the box, his breath caught. “Luc, these are gorgeous.”
A set of calligraphy pens with hand-tooled wooden handles, a glass inkwell, and exquisite sheets of paper were bundled inside a cleverly carved wooden box that appeared to be a book when stood on it’s end, but opened to be a kind of desk.
“I thought it might be useful for your study of runes and talismans.”
“Try it,” Anders said.
Curtis took one of the pieces of paper, one of the pens, and after a few moments to think, he dipped the pen into the ink and drew a symbol onto the paper. He carried the paper to the fireplace, and dropped it onto the merrily burning wood.
The flames turned green.
They applauded. Curtis turned and bowed. He sat back down, folding up the box and leaning in for a quick kiss. “I love it. Thank you.”
Predictably, Anders sat down on the floor beside Curtis. Luc had wondered how long it would take the demon to close the distance between himself and the wizard once Curtis had kissed him. He hid his smile by reaching under the tree and pulling out one of the gifts labeled with his name.
“That’s from me,” Curtis said.
Carefully unwrapping the paper without tearing it—something that seemed to make Anders clench his jaw, which was an added bonus—Luc revealed the narrow cardboard box and opened it to find a silver ring. It had a wide band, and there was script in a blocky, angular alphabet on the inside.
“Try it on,” Curtis said.
“Yeah,” Anders said. “Try it. That’s the rules.”
They both glanced at Anders.
“What?” he said.
Luc put the ring on, and felt a soft, feathery touch across his skin. It spread from his finger to the palm of his hand, then up his wrist and along his arm. By the time the sensation had spread across his body, he was smiling at Curtis, eyebrows raised.
“Magic?” he said.
“Bear with me,” Curtis said, and he got up from where he sat to go to the mantle. From inside a small metal box that Luc had owned for decades, Curtis pulled out a vial of water that had been inside the box for about as long.
“Lapin?” Luc said, nervous.
“Trust me.” Curtis uncorked the bottle, and dipped his pinky finger into the liquid. He took Luc’s hand, and—Luc gritting his teeth—he let the drop fall onto Luc’s open palm.
It froze the moment it touched his skin, bouncing off like a single piece of hail.
“Ta-da,” Curtis said.
“The ring freezes holy water?” Luc said.
“Yep. Matthew and Mackenzie helped me with it. It won’t work forever, the magic will be used up a little bit every time it does its thing, but I can keep an eye on it and buff it back up. Just let me know if you end up using it.”
“That is a wonderful gift,” Luc said. It wasn’t like he encountered holy water on a daily basis, but they’d recently seen just how effective holy water could be. It wasn’t an experience Luc ever hoped to endure.
While Curtis put the bottle away, Anders found a box for himself, and by the time Curtis was sitting again, he’d pulled out the peculiarly knitted toque. It was orange and yellow and red, had a pom-pom and ear-flaps.
It took Luc a moment to recognize it. “Oh,” he said. “Cunning.”
Anders pulled it on. “Big damn hero,” he said. Coupled with the dress shirt, the hat didn’t quite suit, but that was hardly the point.
“I love that you both have become one with the ‘verse,” Curtis said. He reached under the tree. “Here’s the other half.”
Anders all but shredded the package, and when he pulled out the brown leather jacket, the scent of the leather was strong enough to make Luc force air into his lungs. Leather reminded him of many things, most of them good.
Anders put the jacket on—if one ignored the hat, the combination of the jacket and the shirt was a lovely coincidence of sartorial perfection. Anders cocked his head, frowning.
“It’s… warm,” the demon said.
“I enchanted the liner,” Curtis said. “Just make sure you leave it in the sun when you’re not wearing it, and it’ll stay warm for hours after. I know how much you hate being cold.”
“Best fucking jacket ever.”
Curtis grinned, and Anders wrapped him up in both arms, squeezing the smaller man.
“Okay,” Anders said. “My gifts.” He handed Curtis and Luc their gift bags—both were stuffed with tissue paper without much care—with a wide grin.
Luc pulled out the tissue, and eyed the item in the bag for a long moment.
“Well?” Anders said.
Luc glanced at Curtis. Curtis had received a similar gift, it seemed. The wizard was holding the dildo with a hard-to-read expression. It might have been because the dildo Anders had chosen for the younger man was such a…vibrant…shade of green.
Luc’s own was a more traditional pink. He pulled it out of the bag.
“Watch this,” Anders said. He got up and went to the wall. When he clicked off the light, Curtis’s sex toy revealed the unexpected ability to glow in the dark.
“Mine doesn’t light up, I take it?” Luc said.
“No, yours takes batteries.” Luc could hear the amusement in the demon’s voice. “It wiggles.”
“Well,” Curtis said. “Thank you.”
“N’uh-uh,” Anders said. “Don’t forget the rules.”
“Pardon?” Luc said.
Anders turned the light back on. His smile was wolfish, and he was unbuttoning his new shirt. “Fair’s fair. You gotta try them on.”