Hi everyone, and Happy Birthday to Amber!
This story catches up with Colby and Noah from Worth Waiting For. It takes place about six months after the end of that book.
Happy Birthday, Darling…
Noah paused outside the door to the function room at the back of the pub, and took a deep breath.
This was stupid. It was just a birthday party—nothing to be afraid of. Damn it—he could do this. He was going to do this.
He straightened the collar on his new shirt and absentmindedly rubbed his damp palms against his carefully ironed black jeans. There was music playing on the other side of the door. He could hear someone laughing too. It sounded like a lot of people were already in there. That was good. He could blend inconspicuously into the crowd. Everything would be fine.
Suddenly the door swung open.
Noah stepped back.
A man that Noah didn’t recognise checked on the threshold, then politely retreated and held the door open for Noah to step through first.
Forcing a smile and muttering his thanks, Noah made his way inside. The door clicked shut in the other man’s wake, leaving Noah standing all on his own just inside the function room.
There were about forty or fifty people there. Some were at the bar or lurking alongside a buffet table laden with food, but most people stood around in small groups, happily chatting away as if they’d all known each other their whole lives. Since most of them were presumably Colby’s relations, they probably did know each other that well. The realisation did nothing to make Noah feel more at home.
He tightened his hand into a fist at his side in an effort to stop himself reaching for the door and leaving before anyone spotted his presence. He ran his gaze over the press of people once more, looking for any hint of the familiar.
In the corner near the buffet, there were a couple of people who Noah recognised from Colby’s swimming meets. Colby’s older brother, Tony, was there too—standing in a group by the bar with one arm wrapped around a leggy brunette. But, there was one person that Noah couldn’t see anywhere. Bloody hell, Colby had to be there. It was Colby’s damn birthday party! He had to—
Colby must have been sitting at one of the tables on the far side of the room. Once he stood up, his height and his closely shaved scalp made it easy to spot him over the crowd.
Every muscle in Noah’s body tensed up. All at once he was sure that he’d made a huge mistake by coming there. He took half a step back toward the door, but he couldn’t tear his gaze away from Colby and, as if he sensed he was being watched, Colby picked that moment to glance in his direction.
Surprise flashed across Colby’s face as he made his way quickly to Noah’s side.
Damn! Noah stood frozen to the spot. Suddenly, it was obvious that Colby had only invited him to the party because he’d wanted to be polite. He hadn’t really wanted him there at all. Why would he? It was a family event, and—
Colby stopped just a foot in front of Noah, but he didn’t reach out to Noah the way he normally did.
“Is everything okay?” Colby asked.
Noah stared up at him, unable to think of anything to say for a ridiculously long time. “Of course,” he finally managed to force out. “Everything’s fine. Why wouldn’t it be?”
Colby smiled, but rather than bridge the gap between them, he pushed his hands into his pockets. “You came.”
“I didn’t think you’d be able to make it,” Colby said, with audible caution.
“I wasn’t sure I could either,” Noah said. Even though it wasn’t a complete lie, he couldn’t hold Colby’s gaze as he said it. I wasn’t sure if I’d chicken out at the last minute—that would have been closer to the whole truth.
“I’m glad you’re here,” Colby said, softly.
Some of Noah’s doubts began to fade. Colby was a bloody awful liar. There was no way his words could be anything other than the complete truth. Not sure what to say in return, Noah just nodded.
Colby seemed to be studying Noah the same way a man might study an unexploded bomb. “Are you going to stay for a while?”
Noah glanced up at him.
Are you going to stay? Not, will you stay? Not, I want you to stay. Birthday or no birthday, Colby wasn’t asking Noah for a damn thing. Whatever decision Noah made, he had no doubt Colby would submit to it without a single word of complaint. But, at the same time, Colby couldn’t hide what he hoped Noah’s answer would be any more than he could have lied about it.
Colby wanted him there. That made the decision easy.
Noah nodded. “I’ll stay.”
Colby smiled. He rocked back on his heels. His expression became slightly wary again. “How do you prefer to be introduced to people?”
Noah swallowed. And that was it, really, wasn’t it? A party wasn’t a problem. But, being at the same party as Colby’s family, meeting his family… Dear God, meeting Colby’s parents and being introduced to them as Colby’s boyfriend…
Noah glanced down. Colby’s hands were still in his pockets, as if… No, not as if he, but because he didn’t know if he was allowed to reach out to his boyfriend right then.
Without really thinking about it, Noah held out his hand. Colby immediately pulled his hand out of his pocket and took hold of it.
“You tell them as much of the truth as you want them to know,” Noah said, simply. Colby had never hidden his sexuality before, and he wasn’t going to lie to his family now—not just to make his boyfriend feel better. Colby was going to remain out and proud, even if the idea of being out as Colby’s boyfriend in front of everyone in that particular room had Noah on the verge of a full blown panic attack.
“I can tell them we’re together?” Colby checked.
“Are you okay with them seeing that we’re together too?”
Noah glanced down at their joined hands. “Yes.”
Colby took half a step forward. He put his free hand on Noah’s cheek. His movements were slow, giving Noah plenty of time to retreat, but Noah held his ground. He even tilted his head back in acceptance of the kiss.
It was sweet, and chaste and, just this once, Noah made a point of following rather than taking the lead. Colby hesitated as he broke the kiss, apparently not sure if Noah failing to assume instant control of everything that passed between them meant that something was wrong after all.
Noah smiled. “Darling, if I kiss you the way I really want to right now, I’ll probably be the only person in the room who isn’t blushing by the time I’m done.”
Colby blushed at nothing more than the prediction and Noah couldn’t help but chuckle at that, but he soon turned more serious. “This is your show until we get home,” he promised. “You tell everyone whatever you want to about us. You act however you want to in front of them. That’s fine.”
Colby nodded, just slightly.
“Just know that once we get back to the studio and I lock the door behind us, you’re going to be doing exactly what I say, and doing everything I want, until the morning. Understand?”
Colby seemed to relax as he realised he would only be leading events for a short time. “I understand.”
Noah held Colby’s gaze for several seconds. Reminding him who would be in charge once they got home probably hadn’t been the best way to help him make his own decisions now. “You’ve said before that they all know you’re gay,” Noah prompted. “What else do they know?”
Colby took a steadying breath as the question pulled him back to the here and now. “They know I’m dating someone, but that’s it. It didn’t feel right to talk to them about you until you’d decided if you wanted to meet them. So, when they asked, I just kind of dodged and told them I didn’t want to jinx it.”
Noah nodded his understanding, Colby wouldn’t out him to anyone without his permission. A glance over Colby’s shoulder and Noah realised that more than a couple of pairs of eyes were already turned in their direction. Bloody hell. They were as out as they could be and there was no backing away from that decision now.
He forced a smile. “Let’s do this.”
Colby turned toward the room. He didn’t let go of Noah’s hand as he led him forward. Noah had little choice but to keep up and remain at Colby’s side as his boyfriend led him straight towards a couple in their mid-forties.
The man smiled when he spotted their approach and held out his hand. “You must be Noah.”
Noah automatically reached out, only to realise that he still had hold of Colby’s hand. He mentally cursed, swapped one hand for another with as little clumsiness as possible, and tried to work out what the hell was going on.
“Dad,” Colby said, with obvious care. “How come you already know Noah’s name?”
Noah glanced at Colby, not sure if he should be relieved or concerned that Colby was just as confused by the greeting as he was.
“That would be down to me.”
Noah looked over his shoulder. Tony had detached himself from the leggy brunette to join their little group.
“What else did Tony tell you?” Colby asked his parents. His hand came to rest on the small of Noah’s back as he spoke.
“You’re a dancer and a dance instructor,” Colby’s mother said, reaching out to shake hands with Noah, too. “You live in the building opposite the boys.”
Noah nodded, unable to think of any verbal contribution to make to a conversation that was already way out of his control. He doubted that a dancer was quite what a nice, middle class family wanted for their son.
Had Tony told them that Noah’s own family had disowned him when he came out? That would make an even better impression.
“Tony said you’ve been together since Colby turned eighteen, right?” Colby’s mother went on.
Noah opened and closed his mouth a few times. Had Tony told them anything about how they got together? Should he be trying to explain himself?
His throat closed up. To hell with complex explanations, the first thing he had to do was find a way of getting his voice box to produce words—any words! Except, apparently, words weren’t immediately necessary after all, because one of Colby’s other relations was calling Colby’s parents across to admire the tiny baby a young couple had just carried into the room. A moment later, Colby’s parents were walking away, saying something about catching up with them both later. Noah regained the ability to breathe.
“Did you tell them anything else about us?” Colby asked Tony, as their parents cooed over the baby.
Noah turned and looked up at Tony, steeling himself to hear the worse.
“I told them that you’re both equally besotted with each other,” Tony said, casually taking a sip of his beer. “And I stand by that assessment.”
“Anything else?” Colby asked. His tone of voice lacked most of its usual warmth.
“Nope.” Tony chuckled as he looked over the top of Noah’s head at his brother. “I did, at one point, consider telling them that you’re using your telescope to study biology rather than astronomy, but I decided to play nice.”
Noah turned his attention to Colby. A rueful smile touched Colby lips as he shook his head at his brother’s teasing, but he relaxed, as if Tony’s words had convinced him of something Noah was still oblivious to.
It didn’t take long for Tony to wander back to his date, leaving Noah and Colby as alone as two men could be in the middle of a party.
“Are you okay?” Colby asked, stepping closer so he could whisper the words in Noah’s ear.
Noah nodded. “I’m fine.” Nothing disastrous had happened within the first five seconds of him meeting Colby’s parents. That was better than he’d ever hoped for.
“I’m pretty sure Tony was trying to help rather than gossip,” Colby offered.
Noah nodded. If Tony had wanted to drop him in it, it would have been easy for him to do that, and Noah doubted he’d have received such a polite greeting from Colby’s parents if Tony had given in to any inclination to stir up trouble.
Noah looked up and tried to meet Colby’s gaze, but Colby’s attention was elsewhere. That was a rare enough occurrence to be interesting. Noah traced his gaze to the half a dozen or so couples on the small dance floor toward the other end of the room. Tony and his date were one of the couples.
“Colby?” Noah prompted.
“I’m just wondering if it’s safe to ask you to dance here.”
Noah’s eyes narrowed. All the couples dancing were straight. Noah glanced down at the way Colby’s arm remained half wrapped around him. If the sight of two men dancing was going to freak anyone out, two men cuddling in the middle of the room was probably a bad idea, too.
Noah glanced up at Colby again. He didn’t look like a man worried about being out in front of anyone.
“Safe?” Noah finally asked.
“I’m just thinking about the way you dance, and that I really don’t want to be trying to hide a hard-on from my whole family for the rest of the night.”
Noah was surprised into laughing out loud. “I can dance reasonably innocently on occasions.” Their eyes met and Noah realised that Colby hadn’t just been lightening the atmosphere. He’d taken the trouble to provide Noah with the perfect out at the same time. If Noah didn’t want to dance with him there, he could brush the idea aside so easily. It wasn’t that Noah was afraid to be out in front of Colby’s family, he just couldn’t keep his dancing PG rated and…
Noah took a deep breath and pushed aside the knowledge that half Colby’s extended family was present. Taking Colby’s hand, he silently led him onto the mini dance floor. In seconds, his hands were looped around Colby’s neck and Colby’s hands rested neatly on the small of his back.
It wasn’t really dancing as much as swaying while music played, but as Noah gradually helped Colby settle into the gentle rhythm of the music Colby smiled as if Noah had given him the world on a stick.
“Thank you for coming here tonight,” Colby whispered.
Noah shrugged. “It’s no big deal.” One glance at Colby’s expression and Noah knew the lie had been pointless. He sighed. “I guess I’m just out of practice with the family stuff.”
Colby’s embrace tightened around Noah, encouraging him closer. “They’re all going to love you,” he promised.
My family didn’t, not once they found out I was gay. Noah bit the words back. He was not going to spoil Colby’s party by talking about people who were dead to him. He wasn’t going to let Colby spend his whole birthday worrying about his boyfriend’s stress levels either.
Looking over Colby’s shoulder, Noah’s attention fell on the perfect distraction—a table where gifts had been piled up to be opened later. “I didn’t bring you a present.”
“That’s okay,” Colby rushed out. “I—”
Noah shook his head but, before he had a chance to say anything, Colby moved one of his hands up and gently pressed a fingertip against Noah’s lips.
“You being here—that’s all I wanted. This—” He looked down at the way they danced together in front of his family. “It’s perfect.” He moved his hand away from Noah’s lips again.
For a few seconds, Noah could only stare up at him, completely thrown off balance by Colby’s obvious sincerity. He wasn’t just being polite, or trying to make Noah feel better. He meant it—Noah being there meant that much to him.
Noah cleared his throat. “No. That wasn’t what I wanted to say. I did get you a gift,” he said. “I just didn’t bring it with me. I didn’t think you’d want to open it in front of your parents.”
“Oh.” Colby swallowed. A very faint blush stole its way back to his cheeks. “Thank you…I…um…”
“We can open it at my place later,” Noah offered.
Colby quickly nodded his agreement.
Noah looked up at him. It was a family party. He couldn’t embarrass Colby in front of everyone. But, at the same time, just a tiny bit of embarrassment, just enough to take Colby’s mind off worrying about his boyfriend’s anxiety levels…
“Have you ever been paddled, darling?” Noah asked, very softly, as if he didn’t already know the answer.
Colby shook his head.
“I believe the tradition is one spank for every year, and one more to grow on, right?”
Colby nodded, that faint blush still staining his cheeks. “Yes.”
“Twenty with a good, solid paddle. You’ll enjoy that, won’t you, Colby?”
“Good boy,” Noah whispered. “Now, stop thinking about it because as soon as this song finishes, you’re going to start introducing me to the rest of your family and you’ll need your brain above your belt for that.”
Colby dipped his head, but he hesitated to bring their lips together until Noah nodded his permission.
Noah was pretty sure an entire family’s worth of people was watching him kiss another man and, for the first time in his life, Noah actually felt reasonably okay with that.
He pulled back from the kiss before it had a chance to get too dirty. Resting his head on Colby’s shoulder, he whispered very softly, for his own ears only. “Happy Birthday, darling.”
About Worth Waiting For
When Colby earned a swimming scholarship to the Falconer Institute of Training, he expected to spend all his time either training or studying, but that was before he looked out of his living room window and straight into the dance studio opposite.
It’s taken Noah years, but he’s finally got his life in order. He teaches dance classes all day, hits the clubs every night and he’s not looking for complications—especially not in the form of overly-innocent swimmers who like to spy on him from across the street.
The first time Colby approaches him, Noah has no trouble turning him away. It’s only when Colby returns years later, to collect on a casually delivered promise, that Noah finds himself incapable of keeping Colby locked out of his carefully re-constructed life.
Their kinks may match up perfectly, but their lives and their pasts couldn’t be more different. Years have passed, but will what they have together turn out to be worth waiting for?
Author note: This story contains ***strictly non-sexual*** flashbacks to when one character was under 18.
Worth Waiting For is available from:
All Romance E-books: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-worthwaitingfor-1326249-147.html
About Kim Dare
Kim is a thirty year old bisexual submissive from Wales (UK). First published in 2008, she has since released almost 100 BDSM erotic romance titles ranging from short stories to full length novels. Having worked with a host of fantastic e-publishers, she has just moved into self publishing.
While she has occasionally ventured towards other pairings, Kim’s first love is still, and probably always will be, Male/Male stories. But, no matter what the pairing, from paranormal to contemporary, and from the sweet to the intense, everything she writes will always feature three things – Kink, Love and a Happy Ending.
You can find out more about Kim’s books on her website, follow her on twitter, catch up with her blog, and email her directly using the links below.
To enter the giveaway to win a free e-copy of Worth Waiting For, just leave a comment on this post, including an e-mail address where you can be contacted. The winner will be picked at random on Sunday 1st December 2013. (If you already have Worth Waiting For, you’re welcome to take an IOU for the second book in the series, which is due out early in 2014, in its place.)