JASE WHISTLED as he drove the truck back to the firehouse. He was pumped like he always was after a call.
The snow was falling thick and white, coating Ottawa in Christmas cheer.
He almost always worked Christmas Eve, but this was the first time he could remember it actually snowing. Looked like it was going to be a big storm too before it was over.
He pulled into the house and parked the big rig, grinning as the ambulance pulled up next to him.
It had been a good call. Small fire, no injuries, and they’d dealt with it in record time.
He hoped that would be the last call until Boxing Day. Not because he didn’t want to work, but he didn’t want anyone’s Christmas ruined like that.
Jase climbed out and joined the other guys in making sure everything was ready for their next call, then lingered, letting the other guys hit the showers first.
He headed over to the ambulance, finding Scott on his own, restocking.
“Merry Christmas Eve, babe.”
“Hey, gorgeous.” Scott grinned at him, green eyes warm and sparkling under the crazy mop of black curls.
God, he was in love with this man. Still. Time and proximity only seemed to deepen the way he felt.
“You almost done there? I bet the showers are deserted at this point.” There was a reason they both took their time when they got back to the house.
“Perv.” Oh, that was a naughty smile.
“Takes one to know one.”
Jase stepped up into Scott’s space, looking into the green eyes, the heat he was feeling matched there.
“Someone might catch us,” Scott said.
“Don’t you mean catch us again?” Jase laughed and rubbed Scott’s crotch. “They’ll give us some privacy, long as we’re quick.” And he knew they could be quick. Hell, they were both so ramped up from the call, they’d be going off like rockets.
“Go. I’ll be there in two shakes.”
“Of my ass?” Eager and randy, Jase shook it as he headed into the station proper.
The place was decorated for Christmas: lights twinkling, the tree fully decorated, everything shiny.
There were even gifts under the tree. The guys who worked over Christmas did a white elephant game. He had his real gift for Scott under his bed.
The showers were empty, and he went to the far one, turning it on hot before stripping.
Barely three minutes passed before warm hands wrapped around his waist, the touch sure, wanton.
Jase leaned back against Scott’s solid body and groaned. “Hey, babe.” Resting his head on Scott’s shoulder, he kissed his lover’s neck.
“Hey,” Scott said. “You ready for our vacation to start? I sure as fuck am.”
“Yeah. Boxing Day here we come. You think next year we should take the holiday off?” They worked because they didn’t have families, but they had each other.
“Eh. Maybe. I like to save it for the guys with kids.”
“Yeah, I know.”
Jase grinned as he nibbled on Scott’s neck. “We’re motherfucking selfless wonders.”
“Saints. True saints.”
He laughed, turning to grab Scott and push him up against the tile. Then he took the kiss he wanted, diving into Scott’s mouth.
Scott climbed up his body, legs coming to rest around his waist.
Jase humped against Scott, their bodies slamming up against the tile.
Their cocks rubbed together, the sensation fucking amazing.
They didn’t have time to goof around, to take their time. They simply had to get to it.
Biting at Scott’s lips, Jase moved faster, moaning when Scott’s hand wrapped around both their cocks.
Scott knew how to touch him, how to touch them and bring them off.
“Fuck, yeah. Just like that, babe.”
Groaning, Jase closed his eyes, feeling the pleasure course through him.
“So easy.” Scott was such a tease.
He bit hard at Scott’s lower lip. “Butthead.”
There wasn’t any heat behind the word, though. Nor any strength, his body entirely focused on how good everything felt.
“Uh. Uh-huh. Yours.” Scott tugged the tips of their cocks good and hard.
“Fuck!” Jase jerked, bucking their bodies hard against the wall, and came, spunk spewing up over Scott’s hand.
Scott watched through his orgasm, then began jacking them both good and hard.
He shuddered. “Fuck. Sensitive.”
Still, he didn’t ask Scott to stop, did he? No, he leaned one hand against the tile and, pushing the other between them, tweaked Scott’s right nipple—the more sensitive of the two.
Scott arched, bared his teeth. “One more time.”
Jase twisted the nub harder this time, digging his fingernails into Scott’s flesh. “Come on. Give it up for me.”
Scott shot like a hose, spunk pouring out of him in long pulses.
“Fucking love that smell.” To Jase it meant safety and sex and love and happiness.
Grinning, he took another kiss, lips lingering lazily against Scott’s. He knew they had to rinse off and get out before they got walked in on, but he wanted another moment with his lover.
“Merry almost Christmas, love,” Scott said. “I mean it.”
“Yeah. All that matters is that we’re here together, and it’s a good one.”
Jase gave Scott one last kiss and stepped back. He slid his hands to Scott’s ass, holding on until Scott had his feet back on the ground.
Grabbing the soap, Jase made short work of soaping up his lover’s skin, touching more thoroughly than he probably needed to.
Scott helped out, and they managed to get out of the shower and into towels before Andy came through, rolling his eyes.
“Jase, man, you got someone at the front asking for you.”
“Seriously?” Practical jokes abounded at the firehouse. Especially when they were working holiday shifts.
“No, I’m making it up. Yes, seriously.” Andy rolled his eyes again, and Scott laughed, snapping his ass with a towel.
Jase sent a mock glare at both of them and pulled on his jeans and a T-shirt before heading out to the front.
He blinked at the woman standing in the lobby. She looked like shit—strung out and hollow cheeked, hair stringy and ragged.
“Can I help you?” Jase asked.
“What? You don’t remember me? We slept together for six months, you pig.”
He shook his head. He didn’t know any crackheads. The only woman he’d slept with for six months was just before he’d met Scott. He and Elsa had broken up over six years ago.
He met her eyes, ready to tell her he wasn’t who she was looking for, when he saw a flash of Elsa in the sunken eyes.
“Elsa? No way.”
“You do remember. Excellent. I got something that’s yours, and I don’t want the little bitch no more.”
With that, she shoved a skinny, filthy little girl with tears streaking her cheeks and a huge bruise on her tiny face toward him.
“Mommy! Mommy, please!”
“Shut up. This fucker is your dad. You’re his problem now.”
The girl started crying outright, and Elsa went to backhand her, but Jase stepped in between the two of them, hand on the little girl’s shoulder as she began to wail louder. “Hey! What the hell happened to you? And what are you talking about, I’m her dad?”
This was not the woman he’d known. And they’d always been careful. He knew they had.
Aside from condoms, she’d been on the pill.
“You left, and I found out about the little bitch three weeks later. Tried everything to get rid of it, but it lived.”
“Hey there, sweetie.” Scott’s voice was soft, gentle. “Would you like to see my ambulance? Maybe have a Coke?”
Jase turned and nodded to Scott, mouthed, “Thanks,” then shifted his attention back to Elsa.
“Why didn’t you call me?” He would have helped. Gotten her and the baby the proper care. Hell, helped pay for the abortion if Elsa was determined to go through with it. “And when did you get hooked?”
“Fuck you. I was using when I was with you. Why do you think I had to start selling shit? You weren’t ever there. I needed something.”
“Jesus, Elsa….” He didn’t know what to say. He totally didn’t recognize this awful bitch in front of him. Either physically or mentally. “I’m sorry. You need some help getting clean?”
“Fuck you. I’m out of here.” She tossed a tiny backpack at him. “I tried to sell her. No one wants her. She’s worthless.”
Jase’s mouth dropped open in pure, unadulterated shock.
That shock began to turn to anger as Elsa turned on her heel and marched out.
He went to go after her, but Andy grabbed his arm, held him back.
“Don’t, man. That kid is better off pretty much anywhere else.”
He nodded jerkily. Andy was probably right.
Jase was nearly shaking, his emotions a jumble.
“Why don’t you go find Scott and see how she’s doing?” Andy suggested.
“Yeah, yeah. Good idea.”
He headed out to the bay where the ambulance was parked.
“Do you like the red ones? I do. Lots.” Scott was talking, chattering away, and the little girl’s tears had dried up.
“Hey, there,” he said quietly. Shit, Elsa hadn’t even told him her name.
Scott and the little girl both looked up, and Jase crouched so he wasn’t so tall. “What’s your name, honey?”
Jase blinked. That had been his twin sister’s name. She’d died when they were six. A boating accident. “That’s a beautiful name. I had a twin sister named Karissa.”
He saw Scott looking at him in surprise.
Jase didn’t talk about her very much, but it seemed appropriate, what with the little girl in front of him.
“Mommy told me. She drownded, and she’s a ghost that pinches bad girls.”
Scott’s eyes widened farther.
“What? No. No.” Jase put his hand on her back. “She was a wonderful little girl, and she would never pinch anyone.” Maybe him, when they were bickering, but usually only in retaliation. “She’s my guardian angel, and I bet she’s looking out for you too.”
“Are you really my daddy?”
He looked at Scott. What did he tell her?
She was the right age for it to be a distinct possibility. And Elsa had named her after his sister.
But would it be fair to say yes and have it turn out later that she wasn’t?
He looked from Scott to her, and she stared back, giving him his first look at her big blue eyes. Christ, he saw those eyes in the mirror every morning, and he’d seen them every time he’d looked at his twin sister too.
“Yeah, Kerry,” he told her, his twin’s nickname falling off his tongue easy as anything. “I think I am.”
SOMEONE WAS going to die.
Possibly several someones.
Jase was first in line, though.
The little one was sleeping in his bus, curled up on a stretcher. Jase was inside talking to the captain, and Scott… well, he was sitting as still as possible—so he didn’t stroke out.
Twenty minutes later, Jase showed up, looking at Karissa for a moment before crooking a finger, indicating Scott should follow the asshole to the table in the corner.
“Have you seen outside?” Jase asked.
Had he seen outside? What the fuck did that have to do with anything?
“No. What’s up?”
A kid? A little girl? He’d known Jase was bi. That wasn’t a shock. Unprotected sex with a motherfucking crack whore? Shock.
“Big damn storm,” Jase told him. “It’s still snowing. I don’t think we’re going anywhere. So it looks like we’re all snowed in for Christmas.”
Jase ran his hands through his hair, making it stick up most appealingly.
Unprotected sex with a crack whore, Scott reminded himself.
Jase finally looked right at him. “I didn’t know.”
“About which part, man?” He totally bought that Jase didn’t know about the little girl. Jase wouldn’t allow that abuse to happen. No way.
“I had no clue Elsa had a little girl, or that I was the father. Hell, if those eyes didn’t look exactly like mine, I’d think she was shining me on to get money or something from me.” Jase touched Scott’s arm and moved in close. “I swear.”
He pulled away. “Dude, did you know about the other? That you were fucking a… a…” Crack whore. “…addict?”
“No way. I never would have been with her if I’d known. And we were careful, Scott—I always used a condom. Always. Plus she was on the pill.” Jase shook his head. “She wasn’t like that when I knew her. The Elsa I knew never would have treated a kid like she treated Kerry, never would have dropped her off and left, never would have told her there was a ghost out there looking to pinch her!”
Scott squeezed the bridge of his nose. “She doesn’t even have a fucking coat on, Jase. Tomorrow is Christmas, and we’re at work.”
“You think I don’t know that?” Jase put his hands on Scott’s shoulders and rubbed. “Man, based on what I saw, she’s better off here than she was with Elsa. I didn’t even recognize Elsa.”
Jase glanced at the ambulance. “We gotta figure out what we can put under the tree for her.”
“We have to get her out of the ambulance in case we get a call,” Scott replied.
Jase nodded. “I’ll put her in the bed next to mine. She looks like she could use a good meal too. Or, like, a hundred.” Jase squeezed his shoulders. “Are we good, babe?”
“I… I don’t know how to answer that. You’re a dad. This little girl’s been abused. It’s Christmas. I’m in shock.”
Jase pulled him in for a hug. “I know. I’m sorry. I truly am. I’m not sorry that little girl isn’t stuck with the awful woman Elsa’s become, but I’m sorry it’s disrupted everything.”
“Yeah. Yeah, let’s just deal with what we have to.” He couldn’t figure out what else to do.
“Yeah. Yeah.” Jase squeezed him again, then took a quick, hard kiss that, even with everything going on, felt damn good.
Then Jase went over to the bus, carefully picked Karissa up, and carried her back into the firehouse.
Scott busied himself with changing the sheets on the stretcher and making sure the ambulance was ready.
Jase came back out a moment later. “She’s still out, and Deuce promised to keep an eye on her, and Jack’s gonna make her a breakfast when she wakes up.”
Scott nodded and handed Jase Kerry’s backpack. “This thing is filthy.”
“Is there anything in it?” Jase opened it gingerly and upended it onto the table.
There was a folder of papers, a couple of photographs, a spare set of clothes, and a naked baby doll with one eye missing.
In the papers, they found a birth certificate with Jason Weller listed right there in all-caps as the biological father.
Jase swallowed hard and shook his head. “I wish I’d known.”
“Yeah, I bet.”
A daughter. Jase had a daughter.
Did that mean Scott was going to need to leave? Move out?
“I wish we could go out too, buy her some clothes and a bear and stuff. Something for under the tree. You think the guys would mind if we go through the white elephant stuff and find her stuff? Oh! Maybe there’s some chocolates left in the box Donnolly brought in for his kid’s school fundraiser.” Jase talked fast, looked more than a little harried.
“I bet they wouldn’t. There’s stuff left from the angel tree too. Not all the kids we bought for showed up at the community Christmas bash we threw.”
“Oh, rock on.” Jase nodded, then sat down heavily. “Jesus Christ, Scottie, I’m a fucking dad.”
“Yeah.” Scott wasn’t sure what that meant for him, but he knew he was going to have to accept it if Jase asked him to go.
Jase reached out and grabbed his hand, held on tight. “Tell me it’s all going to work out. That we’re going to get a Christmas miracle here.”
“I…. Well, some people would say it happened already, right? You got your daughter for Christmas.”
Jase blinked at him a few times, then nodded slowly. “Yeah, I did. And she got away from Elsa. Yeah. You’re right. That’s how I have to look at it.” Jase got up. “Come help me find presents for her while she’s still sleeping?”
“You got it. I’ll keep track so we can replace them.” He headed to the back, totally unsure how he went from looking forward to vacation to… this.
They started going through the gifts, finding a stuffed unicorn, a teddy bear, and a box of crayons with three coloring books. “These are good, right? Man, I don’t know anything about six-year-olds. Like not a fucking thing.”
“These will be fine. She’s scared. She needs a bath and clothes.”
“We’ve only got showers. Am I supposed to put her in one of those? And we only have one set of clean clothes for her.” Jase was back to panicked.
“We have a washer and dryer, man; we can put her clothes in that. And she’ll be fine in the shower. You can leave your shorts on to help her out. Relax. You’re a big brave fireman, aren’t you?”
“Fuck off, Scott.” Jase was grinning, though.
“Yeah.” But fucking of any sort wasn’t going to happen for a while.
Jase hugged him suddenly, holding on tight. “Thank God I’ve got you. You’re way better at this shit than I am.”
“You’re going to be okay. You can cope.” Right?
“I know I can—I’m going to have to, aren’t I?” Jase shook his head and chuckled at the same time. “Okay. Washing of child and clothes. Feeding. And Christmasing. We get through that and then worry about everything else later, right?”
“Yeah. Good thing you have some vacation time coming and planned, isn’t it?”
Jase shot him a look. “We have some vacation time coming. This isn’t going to send you running, is it?”
“Do you even want to tell this little girl you live with a guy?”
“Why the hell not? Neither of us are in the closet, and no child of mine is going to be prejudiced.”
Something inside Scott eased, the worry dissolving with a pop.
“Not to mention you’re my lover. We’re together. We’ve been together six years, Scott. Of course I’m going to tell her I live with a guy. I live with the man I love.”
“I was worried you were going to throw me out.”
“What? No. No way. You’re like this solid good thing right now.” Jase grabbed his hand and held on.
“Are we going to take her home Boxing Day, man?”
“Yeah. She’s my kid. I don’t know how it’s all going to work, but I’m not going to turn my back on her. I can’t, and God knows she doesn’t look like she’s had it easy.”
“No.” Scott wasn’t sure he’d be a good stepfather. Co-father.
“Okay. Okay. Let’s go tell the guys and see if Andy’s going to make something kid friendly for Christmas dinner.” Jase took a few deep breaths, looking a little less freaked out.
“The guys will be cool. They’ll understand.”
“It’ll be nice, having a kid here for Christmas morning. Kids are what it’s all about anyway.”
They’d only taken a few steps when Hank came barreling down the hall, eyes wide. “Dude. Dude, your… the little girl, she’s crying.”
“Oh fuck.” Jase went running like he was headed right for a fire. Lord have mercy.
Scott looked at Hank. “Looks like we’re dads. Merry Christmas.”