Derrick discovered his shirt that I bought him also and leaned in to give me a kiss, but caught himself and instead gave me a big hug. I didn’t blame him for still being uncomfortable showing affection publicly; even if it was my own family (although I suppose that would make it even more uncomfortable). But that we would just take one step at a time.
Everyone had finished opening their gifts before mom and dad surprised us yet again.
“I think there’s one last gift somewhere around here,” mom said as she ran upstairs.
“Dad, what’s mom talking about?” I asked.
“I have no idea,” but of course he said this trying to hide a huge smile.
Mom came back down in a few moments with a small wrapped package. It wasn’t in a box shape, it was more like what a sweater would be wrapped in.
Ty, Derrick, and I were all shocked when mom handed the gift to Derrick. “Here you go Derrick. This one is from dad and me.”
I loved how they were both constantly referring to themselves as mom and dad when they spoke to Derrick. I’m sure not gotten from his mother. I probably should mention that Derrick’s father home when Derrick was only two years old. He was far too young to have any memories of him, which may have been for the best. I don’t know a lot of the details about it since it was a topic Derrick liked to avoid.
Derrick was closely examining the package he was now holding. He looked up at mom and dad with almost a questioning look. Mom just nodded her head as if to say, ‘go ahead.’
Derrick carefully removed the wrapping paper as if it was in itself a gift of the greatest importance. We were all staring intently as Derrick revealed the large stocking with his name carefully stitched into it.
Years and years ago, when Ty and I were both young, mom had cross-stitched designs into stockings which she made for each of us. Every Christmas season, she hung up our stockings along the staircase, since we didn’t have a fireplace. And every Christmas morning, we come down to find the filled with “stocking stuffers,” which consisted mostly of candy and lottery tickets.
This made it official; Derrick was a member of the family.
Derrick’s eyes welled up as he rushed to my mom and dad and gave them each huge hugs. I just looked at mom as if to ask, ‘how?’
She must have guessed what I was thinking and said, “I stayed up all night cross-stitching it.”
“It’s the best gift I’ve ever gotten,” Derrick replied.
Just wait until you see what I’ve got in store for you later was all I could think.
The rest of the morning was spent with everyone lounging about, eating cookies and watching television. Golf season didn’t start for another three months, so Ty and Derrick couldn’t enjoy their gifts for a while.
Over the course of the day, I had ended up downstairs reading as Derrick watched TV. Every so often I would glance discreetly book so I could get a peek at Derrick. God he was so handsome. Despite all the stress that he had faced in the last week, his physical health didn’t seem to be compromised at all. He had proven yesterday during the party that he still had the same youthful vigor as when we first started dating. I could tell he was eying me too occasionally, and even if I was in the mood, it was Christmas (who could think of sex on Jesus’ “birthday”?) and I did promise my parents we wouldn’t have sex in the house.
So although I had broken that promise within the first several hours of returning home, I was going to try to be resilient and stick to the promise I made to mom and dad. Besides, the last thing I wanted to do was anything that could get Derrick in trouble after mom and dad had placed so much trust in him. It was almost 4 pm, and I decided now was the time to give Derrick his real gift. I put the book aside and got Derrick’s attention.
“Derrick, do you think you’d be up for a little walk?”
“Sure, but I think the question is, are you? You’ve hardly been out of the hospital for a day. Aren’t you worried about overworking your back?”
“It hasn’t bothered me at all. Besides, I’m sure the exercise and fresh air will do far much more good than harm.”
“All right, we should get dressed more though. It’s probably fifty degrees outside.”
“Upper fifties,” I added. Wisconsin winters were becoming shorter and much milder as the years progressed.
“Okay, I’ll meet you at the front door in five minutes, I need to change and so should you. I don’t want you getting a cold on top of all of this, so bundle up”
“That does it. You’re officially the wife,” I said with a grin.
“Shut up and get changed,” he replied with his own devilish grin. “And besides, we don’t know who the woman is yet,” he said with one eyebrow raised.
This was true, despite being together nearly four months; we had never gone all the way. His statement struck me as odd due to the manner in which he said it. I had always thought that he was the one most uncomfortable with taking our relationship to that level, but perhaps I was the one blind to his feelings. Either way, it wouldn’t happen quite yet. I made a promise to mom and dad, and even though we could get away with a quickie sucking session every now and then, this would go way over the line. It would happen, but only when everything was absolutely right.
I ran upstairs and into my room and picked out some thicker socks and a long sleeve shirt. My winter jacket still hung in my closet, untouched for the season so far. I pulled it off its hanger and tried it on. It still fit perfectly, which was great, because it also had big pockets which could completely hide my gift. It was so filled with down that he would never notice a slight bulge in my coat pocket.
After slipping everything on, I walked back downstairs to find Derrick already waiting at the front door. He looked up at me as I walked down the stairs, clad head to toe in winter armor.
“I think you took my suggestion a bit too…dramatically,” Derrick said, trying to keep a straight face.
“Would you prefer I had come down with nothing but a thong for this weather?”
Derrick looked briefly around the room and must have seen that no one else was in sight. “Maybe I would have,” he growled into my ear. This sent shivers down my spine despite my ridiculously warm clothing.
“You know Derrick, your not making this sexual tension any easier.”
“Sorry babe. I just can’t help myself when I’m around you. You know what you do to me.”
“You are definitely the wife,” I said as I walked out the door.
“You are gonna pay for that.”
“Yeah, yeah. Come on now.”
I lead the way as Derrick followed for about ten minutes or so. Then Derrick did the most unexpected thing ever. He walked up right along side me, and took my hand in his. Here we were along an often traveled road in a very public place, and here he was showing his affection! I was so stunned when he first took my hand that I was stopped in my tracks.
He looked back at me with a smile and asked, “What’s wrong Tommy?” knowing full well why I had stopped.
“Derrick, do you know what you’re doing?”
“Merry Christmas Tommy.” After he said this, he leaned in and kissed me, right on the mouth. “I didn’t have any gift for you, so…”
“This,” I grasped his hand back, “is the greatest gift I have ever gotten. I love you, Derrick.”
“I love you too, Tommy.”
We shared another brief kiss before returning to our walk, hand in hand. After another five minutes, I turned to the right and Derrick followed. We walked a little more down the path which went along the river until we came to a wooden bench where I motioned for us both to sit down.
“Are you getting tired Tommy?” his voice was filled with genuine concern.
“No, I just wanted to sit down and enjoy nature.”
“There’s not a lot of nature to enjoy in the middle of winter,” he said with an inquiring look.
“All right, you caught me. Do remember where we are?”
Derrick looked around quickly, it hadn’t hit him yet so I elaborated.
“Or rather, do you remember where we were four months ago?”
It finally struck him. “Duh, stupid me. Of course, this is where we came that first day.”
“There were a lot of firsts for us that day. First coming out.”
“Only love,” he corrected.
I looked into his eyes, the eyes which were always filled with such gentle love and concern and the eyes which I could get lost staring into for hours on end. I decided now was the time.
“Derrick, the real reason I wanted to go on this walk was that we could be alone. I want to give you your real Christmas present now.”
Derrick looked puzzled. “The shirt and the balls were way more than enough Tommy. You didn’t have to get me anything else.”
“Of course I didn’t, but this I wanted too.” I reached into my pocket and pulled out a small felt covered box. “Derrick. From the moment I met you, I could have dreamed nothing more than simply being in your presence. I knew that a person like me could never have a chance with someone like you…”
“Tommy,” Derrick almost whispered.
“But by some remarkable chance, you’ve become a part of my life. I could never have imagined that life would work out this way. We have faced so much together that would tear almost any other couple apart. Many people find their one true love in life, but few ever find it so early and easily. Derrick Edward Becket, I love you eternally, with all my heart and soul. Let this be a promise and constant reminder of our love.” I opened the hinged box to reveal two silver rings, side by side. I took out the larger one, brought up Derrick’s left hand, and placed it in his palm.
He was almost on the verge of tears when said, “Tommy, how did you…why would…I don’t know what to say.”
“Well usually ‘thank you is the more socially accepted response.”
H grabbed the back of my head with his right hand and pulled me into a passionate kiss with him. After a minute or so of tonsil hockey, we both broke apart and gasped for air.
“I suppose that’s pretty close to ‘thank you,’” I said as I caught my breath.
“Tommy, you have no fucking idea what this means to me.”
“I think I’ve got a clue. Before you tackle me again, read the inscription, it’s on the inside.”
Derrick grabbed the ring between his index finger and thumb and slowly rotated it as his eyes followed the inside.
“Through Love, Immortality. D and T,” he read aloud. He then took the ring and put it on his left hand. It slid on flawlessly. “A perfect fit, how did you know?”
“Please, I’ve had those things groping me left and right for the past four months, you don’t think I’d know them by now like…well, like the back of my hand.”
“And the other one?”
“Well, we’ve got to match.” I put the other, smaller ring on my left hand as well.
“Tommy, you are, without a doubt, the most amazing person I have ever met.”
“Likewise.” Sure, I could have said something more mushy or amorous, but frankly I was all romanced out for one day. “And don’t worry if you don’t feel comfortable wearing it around in public yet, I completely understand.”
“I have a feeling that by the time school starts up again, we’ll have nothing to hide. And besides, I wan the whole world to know how lucky I am.”
“Come on, let’s head home. It’s starting to get nippy out. Oh, and one more thing.”
“If mom asks, you’ve always had the ring. She’d freak if she knew I was spending that kind of money.”
“Didn’t you tell them about the music you sold?”
Holy crap! In all the chaos, I completely forgot. “No, I actually haven’t yet. Come on, let’s head home.”
We got off the bench and walked back home, hand in hand.
Through Love, Immortality. I would come to regret those words.