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Christmas On the Ice (Stick Side #1.5)

Christmas On the Ice was originally written for the 2018 Rainbow Advent Calendar. The Rainbow Advent Calendar featured twice-daily LGBTQ+ holiday-themed stories from some great LGBTQ+ authors from December 1-24, 2018! You can access the stories via the website of our fearless leader, Alex Jane, although it's important to note that some of these stories were only available for the duration of the event, others were uploaded to Amazon and priced accordingly, and others (like Christmas On the Ice) are perma-free.

You can read Christmas On the Ice below or download it to your device to read later.

Christmas On the Ice features Mitch and Alex, the main characters from the first book in my Stick Side series, On the Ice. If you haven’t read On the Ice yet, not to worry—there aren’t any significant spoilers in this short story… Except maybe for the fact that they lived happily ever after!

If you enjoy Christmas On the Ice, I hope you’ll consider reading On the Ice to find out more about how Mitch and Alex got together. Read more about On the Ice here.

Or, if you want more holiday romance, check out my Christmas books below. Happy reading!

A sweet, May/December, small-town Christmas romance with an HEA!

One hockey player in a tutu + one ballet teacher.

A second chance romance between childhood best friends.


Christmas On the Ice by Amy Aislin

TIMING: This short story takes place after the final chapter of On the Ice, but before the epilogue.

Christmas in Boston was a study in contradictions. Garish lighting, tacky lawn ornamentations, and heaps of trash in the suburbs, versus tastefully decorated attractions in the tourist areas. Not unlike New York City. Unlike New York City, however, Boston had a higher likelihood of experiencing a white Christmas.

At least, according to an article Mitch Greyson had read online. An article that proved itself a liar as Mitch stood at his apartment’s window, staring out at a curtain of sleet, a mere two days before Christmas. If it got bad enough that his flight was canceled, he was going to cry. Actually sit in a corner and let the tears come. He wanted to go home.

Boston wasn’t home and hadn’t felt like it even once in the few months he’d been here. It was just a place to hang his skates. And the Hamptons wasn’t home either, despite having grown up there.

Toronto, though. That was home. Truthfully, wherever Alex was, was home. And his husband just happened to be in Toronto, where he’d been playing for the city’s NHL team ever since he’d been traded there from Tampa in February.

Mitch wanted to be there. Right now. If only Cody would get home from work so they could head to the airport. He pulled out his phone and sent his best friend a text: Dude, where are you?

Cody: We don’t have to be at the airport for another 3 HOURS. What’s the rush?

The rush was that being at the airport would put Mitch one step closer to his destination. Sighing, he slipped the phone back into his pocket and rested his forehead against the glass floor-to-ceiling window.

He’d started playing for Boston’s NHL team right after graduating from Glen Hill College in Vermont this past spring, but he’d spent most of the summer in Toronto, where he’d not only made a home with Alex, but had gotten married.

Married. Him. Somebody was actually crazy enough to marry him.

And that somebody was exactly who Mitch was going to see tonight. Provided, of course, that the weather didn’t get worse. There were travel advisories all over the place. He wandered over to the kitchen, where his laptop was sitting on the counter, and refreshed the open website page. Flight status: on schedule.

Bored, he made himself a snack of celery sticks with Cheese Whiz, then sat in one of the barstools and called Alex.

Unsurprisingly, Alex didn’t answer. The man had a game tonight and then he was off for the holiday break. Mitch was lucky—his last game had been yesterday. All he’d had today was morning skate. He would’ve been in Toronto already had stupid Cody not had to work today.

Okay, Cody wasn’t stupid. Cody had followed him to Boston after they’d graduated, so Cody was basically the best ever.

“Hey,” Mitch said to Alex’s answering machine. “It’s me. I’m bored. Text me before your game tonight.” It had become their ritual a long time ago. “Love you.”

Taking his snack and phone over to the grand piano, he took his boredom out with some Christmas carols.

***

He was watching a bad made-for-TV Christmas movie an hour later when his phone rang. Not Alex, and he didn’t recognize the number, so he let it go to voicemail. Not a lot of people had his number these days, and “Unknown Name” followed by a Boston area code usually meant some sneaky reporter had somehow tracked it down. His team’s media relations people would kill him if he answered. He was still shit at talking to reporters despite coaching from the head honcho himself, the director of media relations. 

He ignored it when it rang a second time and scrolled through his last few texts with Alex from a few minutes ago.

Alex: If you’re still bored, go pack.

Mitch: I’ve been packed for two fucking days!

Alex: Got your passport?

Mitch: Do you not know me at all?

Alex: Sometimes better than you know yourself. Which is how I know that you probably forgot to pack the presents.

Mitch: …

Mitch: Damn it.

Alex: Yeah, yeah, you hate how much I know you. I can hear you grouching from here.

Mitch: Actually I’ve decided that I do like it. You get me, like I get you. And I love that.

Alex: You know, I was sitting here missing you and then you go and say something like that… Makes it feel like you’re right here next to me.

Mitch: Right where I’ll always be.

Alex: I love you, you know that? I’ve gotta go, okay? Game’s starting in a few. I’ll pick you up at the airport later.

Mitch: See you on the ice.

Speaking of ice, Mitch flipped from the movie that was finally ending to the sports network to watch Alex’s game. The beginning at least. Cody was due home any minute and then they’d be off.

The phone rang in his hand. Same number. Man, they were persistent. He swiped to decline the call. But when it rang again mere seconds later, a prickly sensation erupted on the back of his neck, a sense of foreboding so strong he almost declined the call for a fourth time.

He answered with caution. “Hello?”

“Is this Mitch Greyson?” A harried female voice, instruments beeping, voices in the background.

“Yes.”

“I’m calling from Massachusetts General Hospital.”

Mitch shot up from his lounge on the couch, heart beating double time to the sound of the cheers on TV as thousands of hockey fans brought down the Air Canada Centre. The hospital! Oh god, Alex! But a quick glance at the TV showed that the game had started mere seconds ago. There was no way Alex could’ve been injured.

Wait… Massachusetts General Hospital. His lungs seized. There was only one person in Boston who would have him listed as their emergency contact.

“Cody,” he whispered.

“We have a Cody Evans here—”

“What’s wrong? What happened? Is he okay?” If anything happened to Cody…

“He’s going to be fine,” the caller said, and Mitch’s entire body sagged into the couch cushions. Thank god, thank god, thank god. Cody wasn’t allowed to leave him. Ever. “A car slipped on some black ice,” the caller continued, “and ran into his passenger side. He’s got a mild concussion, but otherwise he’s fine.”

Mitch was slipping on his shoes before she’d finished telling him that Cody was waiting to see the doctor, and would probably be released within a couple of hours.

***

“A couple, by definition, means two.”

The nurse behind the counter blinked at him.

“Which is how long I was told it would take for Cody to be released,” Mitch went on. “But it’s been three hours and—” He checked his watch. “Twenty-seven minutes, and we’ve yet to see the doctor.”

“Doctor Burgess will be around soon.”

“You said that an hour and twenty-seven minutes ago.”

“Look.” The nurse, a short blonde with tired eyes wearing maroon scrubs, patted his hand. “It’s two days before Christmas, and we’re running on less staff than usual. The doctor will be by just as soon as he can.”

Sighing, Mitch trudged down the hospital hallway and back into Cody’s little room in emergency. Cody was lying on his side on the hospital bed, eyes closed against the lights Mitch had dimmed. A goose egg the size of Mitch’s fist coloured his left temple, right above his eye and into his hairline from when he’d smashed his head into the driver’s side window.

It could’ve been so much worse. Swallowing hard, Mitch sat in the chair, folded his arms atop the bed next to Cody’s head, and rested his chin on them.

Cody opened an eye. “What’d they say?”

“Basically that it’ll take however long it takes.”

Eye closing, Cody sighed. “Guess we wait, then. Better than being in the morgue.”

Mitch scowled at him. “That’s not funny, asshole.”

Both eyes opened as Cody smirked. “Too soon?”

“Fuck you.”

Cody chuckled, then winced and rubbed his head above his eye. Mitch pulled his hand away. “Don’t touch it.”

Cody took his hand back and poked Mitch in the nose. “Call a cab. Go home, get your bag, and head to the airport.”

Mitch shook his head. “Too late now. I’d never make it through security in time.” Anyway, he’d already called the airline to tell them he and Cody wouldn’t be on the flight. A flight that hadn’t been canceled since the sleet had stopped on his cab ride to the hospital. Like the universe was giving him the perfect opportunity to fly home. Not that it mattered now. “Besides, I already told you—I’m not going without you.” Which meant he wasn’t going at all. Whether or not the doctor cleared Cody to fly, Mitch knew from experience that flying with a concussion—even a mild one—wasn’t pleasant. And their car was inoperable. No doubt a write off given how old it was. So they had no functional transportation and Cody couldn’t fly.

Mitch’s nose burned and he blinked against the burn in his eyes.

“I’m sorry,” Cody whispered, poking him in the nose again.

“It’s not your fault.”

“You miss him.”

His chest felt concave, tight. The high of being so close to Alex, mere hours away, and then the ultimate low of realizing he wasn’t going to see Alex after six weeks apart, warred and dug claws into his heart. He’d already left Alex a voicemail telling him about the accident; now he had to call him back to tell him he wasn’t coming home at all.

A knot in his throat, he buried his face in his arms and squeezed his eyes closed.

“I’m sorry.” Cody shuffled closer.

“No.” Mitch sat up and wiped his face. “No.” He clasped Cody’s hand. “I’m just glad you’re okay.”

“It’ll take more than black ice to take me away from you.”

Mitch’s eyes filled again.

“Think you could get me an ice pack?” Cody asked. “Got a headache.”

“Yes!” Mitch jumped out of his seat. “Of course! I should’ve thought of that. I’ll be right back.”

Five minutes later, ice pack in hand, he paused outside Cody’s room to call Alex. A quick internet search had revealed that Alex’s game was in overtime. He likely wouldn’t get Mitch’s voicemails for some time, but—

“You’ve reached Alex Dean.”

He let out a shaky breath at the sound of Alex’s deep voice. A voice that he never got tired of listening to, whether Alex was talking to him through an answering machine, giving a play-by-play of a game, or telling Mitch he loved him.

“Leave a message and I’ll get back to you. If this is a media request, contact—”

Hanging up, Mitch called again a second later, just to hear Alex’s voice again.

“It’s me again,” he said when the beep sounded, because calling a third time would be desperate and pathetic and possibly a little stalkerish. “We’re still at the hospital. Cody’s fine. The nurses say it’s a mild concussion, but we’re still waiting to see the doctor. Goes without saying that we won’t be coming tonight.” His voice broke on the last few words. Leaning against the wall, he placed the ice pack against his eyes. “Or possibly at all. Unless…” He lowered the ice pack as a thought occurred to him. “Unless I rent a car. I can do that, right?” Rent a car, drive to Toronto, return the car there, and fly back to Boston the morning of the twenty-seventh like he’d planned. Huffing out a breath of unamused laughter, he leaned his head back against the wall. “I can’t believe it took me three hours and—” A quick glance at his watch. “—Forty-four minutes to come up with that solution. I’ll book something tonight and hopefully we can leave before lunch tomorrow. I’d leave tonight if it was just me, but…” He poked his head into Cody’s room and found Cody with an arm flung over his face against the light. “Cody needs to rest tonight. But I’ll see you tomorrow. I promise.”

***

He was up before the sun the next morning. The rental car was booked and their bags were by the door. They’d gotten home after midnight and Cody was still out. Mitch would let him sleep a few more hours before he woke him. But they needed snacks for the road, and since they didn’t have much left in the way of food in the apartment besides crackers, cereal, frozen pizza, a few eggs, and two dozen condiments, and the grocery stores wouldn’t open for a couple of hours, it meant making stuff from scratch.

They had a chocolate chip cookie recipe somewhere that he was sort of sure they had all of the ingredients for, and he was hunting it down in the kitchen junk drawer when a scratch at the front door made him pause. A key in the lock had him holding his breath. The lock clicked and breathing suddenly became difficult.

Only one other person had a key to this apartment.

He was halfway to the door when Alex pushed his way inside, six feet four inches of tall, dark, and bearded that made everything in Mitch sit up and take notice, as if they hadn’t been together for three years now. But it was his heart that noticed the loudest, beating against his ribs, boom, boom, boom, in time with his quickstep across the room.

Alex mouthed his name seconds before Mitch launched himself at his husband.

Laughing and crying in equal measure, he buried his face in Alex’s neck and inhaled. Alex smelled like stale air and stale coffee, with an underlying pinch of soap, no doubt from his after-game shower, faded now from hours on an overnight flight.

“I can’t believe you’re here,” Mitch managed. Alex’s arms were steel traps around him. Traps Mitch never wanted to escape from, not even for the few seconds it’d take for Alex to shrug out of his coat.

“You’re all I’ve thought about for weeks,” Alex said. One arm crept down to Mitch’s butt and hoisted. Mitch hopped up and wrapped his legs around Alex’s waist, then pressed kisses to his neck, up his cheek, over his jaw, and down to his mouth.

Twin groans sounded throughout the apartment, six weeks of pent up longing and sexual frustration released in kiss after kiss. Alex’s mouth was all wet heat and soft lips and insistent tongue. The door behind Alex stood open. Neither of them cared.

Alex released his ass. Mitch slid down slowly, brushing up against every hard angle that he could, all the while keeping his lips locked with Alex’s.

Here. His guy was here. Giddiness that Alex was so damn close for the first time in weeks blended with relief that Cody was fine, and he did a little happy dance. Mostly it was a foot shuffle since the rest of him was pressed up against Alex.

Chuckling, Alex pulled away and nuzzled Mitch’s temple. Mitch ran his hands all over Alex. His back, his shoulders, up his neck and into his hair.

“How did you get here?” he asked.

“A very long and lonely drive fuelled by lots of coffee.”

“You drove?” Mitch stared into Alex’s green eyes. “Why wouldn’t you fly?”

Alex pecked a fast kiss to Mitch’s lips then stepped back to remove his coat. “Believe it or not, there aren’t any flights to Boston from Toronto after nine p.m. At least, not last night. I left straight from the arena after the game.” He flung his coat over the arm of a lounge chair, and scrubbed his hands over his face.

Mitch swung the door closed, gaze on Alex. “You look tired.”

Grunting, Alex reeled Mitch in with an arm around his neck. “My brain is wired, though. Had four cups of coffee in seven hours.”

“It’s an eight and a half-hour drive from Toronto.”

“Not in the middle of the night at a hundred and thirty.”

That was kilometers an hour, because Alex was Canadian. He was also much better with words than with numbers. So Mitch said, “Eighty.” Because he was good with numbers. And he knew that doing math in his head in less than a second turned Alex on.

Alex sighed. “Barely been here two minutes and you’re already trying to get into my pants.”

Mitch laughed under his breath and rode onto his tip toes to kiss him again. “Not that I’m not…” His heart skipped a beat when Alex rested their foreheads together. “Not really damn happy to see you but… What are you doing here? I told you I was coming.”

“I know. But this way we get an extra eight and a half hours together.”

His smile stretched so wide, his face hurt. “Cody’s still sleeping.” Hell, it was still dark out. “Want to take a nap before we go?”

“Nap? Not with four coffees and two bags of Sour Patch Kids in me. Besides.” Alex walked Mitch backward, toward the bedroom, and his smile was downright naughty. “Napping isn’t what I had in mind.”

***

The sun was filtering in through the bedroom blinds when Alex awoke, and the sound of muted conversation reached his ears from the kitchen. It could’ve been eight in the morning or noon depending on how long he’d slept. He could’ve slept longer. Mitch might have to drive them to Toronto while he and Cody napped for different reasons. Which would leave Mitch alone with his own thoughts.

And leaving Mitch alone with his own thoughts for any stretch of time wasn’t always a good thing.

Alex rubbed his eyes in an effort to wake himself up fully. Honestly, he was surprised he’d slept at all given how much coffee and sugar he’d had on the drive.

Mitch did have an uncanny ability to wear him out, though.

Smiling at the memory of how fast they’d come together—six weeks would do that to a guy—he lifted his arms over his head and stretched, the sheets drifting down to his waist. Damn, he felt good.

A throaty sound of approval had him glancing over to find Mitch leaning in the doorway, wearing boxers and a loose T-shirt. Mitch’s gaze centered on Alex’s chest, and he said, “That’s a nice view to come in to.”

He looked good. Tired, but good. He’d cut his hair before the summer to “look respectable”—Mitch’s words—for their wedding, and months later it was once again a long mess of brown curls pointing in every direction.

Alex held an arm out to him. God, he’d missed the hell out of him. Six weeks was the longest stretch they’d gone so far without seeing each other. It’d been a busy fall. With their individual team commitments, they’d even missed American Thanksgiving together.

They were never going six weeks without seeing each other again.

“Get over here,” he said.

Mitch came, and they lay face to face, wrapped around each other under the covers. Mitch wiggled closer, tucking his head underneath Alex’s chin. “You’re always so warm.”

Alex hugged him closer and relaxed into the mattress. That first voicemail from Mitch yesterday, the “I’m bored” one, had made Alex chuckle. The second and third—ones Alex hadn’t heard until after his team won their game last night—had worried him.

Not because Cody was hurt—Mitch had assured him in both voicemails that the man was fine other than a mild concussion. But because Mitch’s voice was tight and thready, and there’d been tears in his voice. Of fear, of sadness, of frustration, of relief. And Alex hadn’t been there to make it better. Hadn’t even been there by fucking phone to help. There’d been an unspoken promise between them for years that they’d whether the good and the bad together. But with him living in Toronto and Mitch in Boston, sometimes—most of the time, especially during hockey season—together meant via text, phone, or video chat.

It wasn’t the way they wanted to live their lives forever. For now, though, as they played for their respective NHL teams, they made it work.

He stuck his nose in Mitch’s hair and breathed him in. “I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you last night.”

“What are you talking about?” Mitch unstuck his face from Alex’s neck to lean back and scowl at him. “You were.”

“Not until after the game. Not like I wanted to be.”

“That’s not your fault.” Mitch patted his chest, over his heart. “Besides, I still could’ve made my flight. Cody kept telling me to go, but…” His shoulder twitched, and his voice was a whisper when he said, “I couldn’t leave him.”

“I know,” Alex reassured. “You don’t have to explain. Cody’s your best friend. Your family. Of course you had to stay.”

Mitch kissed the base of his throat, making Alex break out in goosebumps. “Thanks for understanding.” He drew a heart in the center of Alex’s chest with his index finger. “We knew this wasn’t going to be easy. Being together, I mean. But I think we’re doing pretty good, don’t you?”

“Better than, considering we’ve been living a long-distance relationship since we met.”

“Yeah.” Mitch kissed his chin. “It won’t be forever, though.”

“No, I know.” Alex rolled onto his back, taking Mitch with him. “I just miss you. All the time.”

Smile soft, Mitch folded his arms on Alex’s chest and rested his chin on them. “Is that why you’re here?”

“Yeah.” Alex pushed Mitch’s hair back. “I couldn’t bear to be away from you for another second. You’re the best thing in my life, you know that?”

Mitch blinked fast and surged forward. Alex steered him with a hand to the back of the head, and their lips met, hard, teeth knocking and lips biting.

This messy desperation. This urgent desire.

This was his favorite kind of Mitch kiss.

“Wha— Seriously?” said a displeased voice from the doorway. “You wake me up to tell me we’re leaving soon and then go back to the hanky panky? Dude. Not cool.”

Shoulders shaking with laughter, Mitch turned his head to stick his tongue out at Cody. For a guy who’d been in a minor car accident recently, Cody looked pretty good except for some bruising at his left temple.

“How’re you feeling, Cody?” Alex said.

“Okay.” Cody leaned on the doorjamb, arms crossed over his chest. “Bit of a headache. Stiff neck. Ready to go, though. Are we leaving, or what?”

“What do you say?” Alex asked Mitch. “Ready to go home?”

Mitch’s smile was everything.


THANK YOU FOR READING! If you enjoyed this short story, I hope you’ll consider reading Mitch and Alex’s origin story in On the Ice (Stick Side #1). 

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