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Authors: Andi Anderson

Tags: #M/M Holiday Contemporary, #Source: Amazon

His Christmas Wish

BOOK: His Christmas Wish
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His Christmas Wish

Men of Charlestown, Book One

Andi Anderson

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Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Editor: Monti Shalosky

 

His Christmas Wish © 2010 Andi Anderson

ISBN #
978-1-920484-21-7

All rights reserved.

 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED:
This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission. All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental. The Licensed Art Material is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the Licensed Art Material, is a model.

 

PUBLISHER

http://www.silverpublishing.info

Dedication

To the love of my life,

always.

To Mom,

thank you for being my biggest cheerleader and always believing in me.

To Linda,

thank you for everything you've done for me and being a good friend.

Trademarks Acknowledgement

The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction:

Uno
: Mattel

"The Christmas Song", written by Mel Tormé and Bob Wells

Prologue

Daniel looked at his sleeping Uncle and felt sad. His sight became blurry and tears welled up in his eyes then slowly ran down his cheeks. He sniffled and wiped quickly at his face and blinked furiously to keep more from falling. He didn't want his Uncle Josh to wake up and notice him crying and being a big baby. The past year had been a difficult one for both of them. Ever since his parents went to Heaven, he'd been living with his uncle, and things had never been the same again.

This was their second Thanksgiving together. His uncle tried his best to make their holidays good, but things always seemed to go wrong. Even today, when Uncle Josh tried to cook a delicious meal, nothing went like they wanted them to. The turkey was dry and the stuffing so bad they ended up eating TV dinners while watching the Thanksgiving parade on television. Uncle Josh tried to keep conversation fun but it fell short somehow, and the holiday ended up being filled with a lot of silence and awkward moments.

Not like life before his parents went to heaven.

Daniel missed the bedtime stories and the loving hugs his mother gave him. He didn't get to toss the ball in the front yard or go on Saturday fishing trips with his dad. The laughter and happiness he remembered having every day of his life were gone. In their place were lots of quiet nights eating supper with his uncle while they watched television; or he was alone in his room, reliving every joyful memory he had with his parents.

He got used to being alone. He knew Uncle Josh loved him, but for some reason they just couldn't bridge the gap between them. So many times it looked like Uncle Josh wanted to say something, but for some reason or another a sad look would gleam in his uncle's eyes, and the moment would be lost.

Daniel so wanted to know what Uncle Josh had to say.

Daniel gently eased off of the couch and silently made his way over to the front door. He quietly opened it and stepped out onto the front porch. The cold November wind blew right through him and Daniel wrapped his arms around himself to try to keep warm. Even though it was past ten at night, he could see the heavy snowfall on the ground, covering it with a sparkling pureness that glimmered like diamonds in the darkness.

Daniel knew he should be excited. After all, it was the first snow of the season. Uncle Josh had even mentioned it was rare for Charlestown to get snowfall this early in the year. Daniel couldn't ever remember it snowing this early before. In his mind's eye he could remember his parents making snow angels and building a lopsided snowman with him in the few weeks before they went to Heaven. They had laughed and played together, and after they all felt frozen, his mother warmed him up with homemade chicken noodle soup and wrapped warm blankets around him until he was snug and content.

He'd felt happy. He'd felt loved.

He figured Uncle Josh would be too busy to play with him in the snow. His uncle always worked, and when he didn't, a lot of the time he was tired. Daniel missed how safe and loved he had when his parents were alive. His heart craved the closeness of having a happy family again.

Daniel understood his parents were gone and would never be back. But in his heart, he knew they still watched over him and did their best to take care of him, even though they were in Heaven. He smiled, visualizing them popping popcorn, singing songs, and playing games like freeze tag and hide and go seek with God and all of the other guardian angels. He'd bet that when God was 'it' he'd easily find wherever his parents and all of the other angels were hidden. It was probably one of the advantages of seeing all and knowing everything that was going on with everyone.

Lucky God.

He hoped that his parents and God were looking down at him now.

As Daniel gazed out into the shimmering snow, he took a deep breath, closed his eyes and began to pray.

"Hi, God, it's me. I know you're taking good care of my parents and you're probably in the middle of playing a game or something, but I wanted to ask you a favor. I know you missed Mom and Dad and you had to have them with you instead of them being down here with me, and I understand that. After all, Mom and Dad are fun to be around. But, I wondered if there was any way you could send someone here with Uncle Josh and me. Uncle Josh works hard and he's a good guy, but it would be really cool if we had someone here that could take care of us. Sometimes Uncle Josh forgets things. He can't help it, and I know he's busy, so I'm not complaining. I just wish we had someone here to take care of us, love us and make us both happy again."

Daniel looked out into the cold, snowy night and suddenly saw a bright star flicker in the winter sky. His cold body became warm and it reminded him of when his parents would sandwich him between them so they all could have a three-way hug.

Knowing God and his parents would grant his Christmas wish, he suddenly felt a peace within his heart and big smile formed on his face.

Chapter One

Joshua Thomas tossed the latest application into the nearby trashcan. So far, today's interviews had been a huge waste of time. He certainly didn't expect that it would be so difficult to find someone to watch over his young nephew, Daniel. He'd mistakenly assumed finding the perfect nanny would be a breeze. Who knew there were so many strange people living in Charlestown? He'd seen everything from a young, bubblegum-popping eighteen year old girl, to an old man who could barely walk without assistance out of house and into his car.

Some of them had seemed like nice people, but his nephew was special and needed someone who would not only take care of him while Josh worked his shift at the hospital, but who would hopefully love Daniel as well.

Josh walked over to the coffeepot and poured himself another cup. He blew lightly on it a few moments before he sipped the warm goodness. If Josh could do anything, it was make a damn good cup of coffee.

He smiled and remembered the all night study sessions he used to have with his twin sister, Jolene. They had both decided to become registered nurses, and entered nursing school at the same time. They'd intended to help each other through the difficult two year course and it had worked like a charm. They had studied hard, labored together, and before they knew it, had their degrees with high honors.

Josh gazed out the window above the kitchen sink and watched his seven year old nephew, romp in the snow with their basset hound, Fred. Daniel chased Fred around the snow filled yard and the dog was apparently having the time of his life. He ran and barked, delightedly, while his big floppy ears bounced and his squatty body tried to outrun his determined nephew.

Josh's eyes fell upon Daniel and a wave of melancholy almost overwhelmed him. All bundled up in a bulky red jacket and with a blue cap hiding carrot colored hair, Daniel's sweet plump cheeks were rosy from the cold winter air. A scarf hid the mask of freckles across his pert nose and rounded face. Daniel's joyful laughter rang out when he finally let Fred catch up, grabbing the dog in a big bear hug. Fred showered his face with doggy kisses and Daniel enthusiastically petted his beloved friend.

The past year had been hell for both of them. Josh had felt like someone amputated half of his heart the dreadful night Jolene and Roger lost their lives to a stupid drunk driver. He and Jolene had been extremely close their entire lives, and she'd been his best friend as well.

Right after high school their Dad's job transferred their parents out of state. Josh and Jolene knew they would miss their parents, but they opted to stay in Arkansas. About to start nursing school in Fort Smith, both felt that as long as they had each other, everything would be alright.

When Jolene met Roger eight years ago, Josh thought everything would change between them. Most people in Charlestown still didn't accept Josh's sexual orientation as a gay man. Even though he didn't flaunt it, he believed in being honest about who he was.

Roger came from a blue-collar family and worked as a mechanic at the local gas station. He'd been unlike anyone Jolene had ever dated before, and once they went out they'd almost immediately fallen in love. To Josh's surprise, Roger quickly became an extension of Jolene and Josh's inner circle. Roger never judged Josh for being attracted to other men; instead he encouraged Josh to seek out the happiness that he and Jolene had found within each other's arms.

Josh always dreamed of finding Mr Right. Instead, he'd found a few Mr Right-Nows, and both his sister and brother-in-law had told him to never give up on true love. He used to wish for that special person, but he never came. Now that he had Daniel under his care, Josh knew he'd have to find an extra special man who would not only love him, but embrace Daniel in his life, too. After living the past year alone with Daniel, Josh began to think it would never happen. The most he could hope for would be to get his own shit straightened out and try to give Daniel a happy and content family life.

Josh had failed miserably, so far, and he couldn't figure out why.

With the weight of the world on his shoulders, he continued to watch Daniel and Fred play together in the snow. He'd have to make Daniel come in soon. The boy would be cold and wet from the snow, but Josh decided to give him a little more time to enjoy himself.

Maybe he'd make some cocoa for them to drink when Daniel came in and they could watch one of his favorite movies. But first, he had one more interview to conduct for a live-in nanny. The agency he had gone through didn't impress him very much. None of the candidates really inquired about Daniel, nor did they ask to meet him. They seemed to be more interested in how much they'd be paid, or what days they'd have off. He might have to call another company and see if they could send more qualified applicants.

Just about to take another sip of his rapidly cooling coffee, he heard the doorbell ring. He set the mug on the granite countertop and walked to the front door. Taking a deep breath, he readied himself for another reject from the agency.

When Josh opened the door it felt like the floor fell out from beneath him. Instead of a decrepit old man or older teenager popping her gum, the most beautiful man he'd ever seen stood there.

At five-ten, Josh had to look up several inches into sparkling blue eyes. He suddenly wished he'd paid more attention to the application and resume he'd received. After seeing so many inappropriate candidates, he'd barely glanced at the information. All he remembered was the young man's name; Nicholas.

Nicholas looked to be in his early twenties. His perfectly oval face shone with health. His clean shaven cheeks were flushed from the cold. Even though it was winter, his complexion held a nice golden tan color that accented gorgeous indigo eyes and sun-streaked tousled hair. He wore a sleek, black leather jacket and tight, faded jeans that molded his slim form. Straight, pearly white teeth were enhanced by nice full, kissable lips.

Where have you been all of my life, gorgeous?

"Mr Thomas? The agency sent me here. I'm Nick Kirkland."

Josh broke contact with those stunning blue eyes and glanced down at the long, ungloved hand extended out for him to shake.

Stop gazing at him like a lovesick fool and shake the man's hand.

Josh cleared his throat and slowly grasped Nick's slightly callused hand against his own.

"Hi, Nick, I'm Joshua Thomas. Please come in."

Josh reluctantly let go of Nick's hand, stepped back from the doorway, and motioned for Nick to enter his warm house.

"Thanks, man. I can't believe this weather! It's freakin' cold out here." Nick smiled gratefully and walked with masculine grace past Josh into the foyer of the house.

"Can I take your coat?"

Nick nodded almost absently as he appeared took in the interior of the house. He unbuttoned his jacket and shucked it off. He wore a pure white, thick cable-knit sweater that highlighted his golden skin. The tight, faded blue jeans nicely accentuated his firm ass. He had that boy-next-door look about him and Josh found it very appealing. Josh took the jacket, opened up the foyer closet and hung it neatly on a sturdy hanger, closing the door quietly.

"You've got a nice place here, Mr Thomas," Nick said, as he continued to check out the entry area and glanced into the living room.

Josh knew he had a nice home. He'd put in many hours at the hospital and worked hard to make his house a comfortable sanctuary. The walls were painted with warm beiges and he had decorated with fall colors, giving it a nice, masculine, lived-in look. He believed in comfort more than style, so all his furniture was oversized and plush. He'd spent many a night enjoying the creature comforts of home, and he guessed it was obvious to those who came into his house.

"Thanks, Nick. Would you like some coffee or cocoa? I'm about to make some for Daniel to warm him up when he comes in from playing outside."

Josh walked past Nick into the living room and heard Nick follow close behind him.

"I hate to put you out, Mr Thomas."

"It's no imposition."

"Cocoa would be great, thanks."

Josh walked through the living area and into the kitchen. He went over to the pantry and grabbed the ingredients to make hot cocoa. He busied himself making the chocolate drink, and saw Nick walk over to the big kitchen window and look out into the backyard at Daniel and Fred playing in the snow.

"Is that Daniel?"

Josh nodded and opened the cabinet door to grab a dark green mug.

"Who's his friend?"

"That's our dog, Fred. They're practically joined at the hip. Daniel would probably take Fred everywhere if I'd allow it." Josh leaned against the kitchen countertop and watched the young man continue to gaze outside at Daniel and their pet.

Nick turned away from the window and grinned. "I can relate to that. When I was a kid my dog was my best friend, too."

"Marshmallows?"

"Yes, that'd be great, thanks."

Josh put a few marshmallows in the steaming drink, topped his own coffee off, grabbed their mugs, and walked over to the kitchen table. He handed Nick his drink and pulled out a chair and sat. Nick took a hesitant sip of his drink, hummed a little, and sat across from him.

"So, Nick, tell me a little about yourself."

Nick gently placed his mug on the table. "Well, I'm twenty-two and my family originates from Fort Smith. I went to Northside High School, and when I was a senior, started working at a local daycare part-time. I soon realized I loved working with children, so I've taken a few childcare and psychology courses at the University of Fort Smith. I'm certified in first aid and CPR and I hope to open my own daycare center one day." Nick paused and took a sip of his cocoa before he continued. "Unfortunately, the daycare center I worked with closed down, and I'm not financially able to start my own yet. I called the agency and they said there were a few childcare slots open and they thought I would be an excellent candidate to work as a nanny. Since I have a tendency to get attached to the children I work with, I thought that being a full-time caregiver would be the perfect solution for me. I can do what I love and save money to open up my own daycare one day."

Josh looked into Nick's earnest blue eyes and nodded. He glanced out the window and watched his nephew make snow angels. Fred happily stood over him, barking his approval.

"Daniel's a sweet boy. He's been through a lot since my sister and brother-in-law passed away. I work varying full-time shifts at St Edward's Hospital. It's hard to give him the attention he needs right now." Josh sighed, and a wistful smile formed on his face as continued to watch his nephew romp in the snow with his beloved companion. "I need someone to take care of him; especially while I'm at work. The holidays are always a hectic time at the hospital. They'll expect me to work odd shifts and we have an 'on call' rotation. I would need you to stay with us. I'll provide bed and board for free. You'd eat meals with us and basically be around six days a week. I don't work on Sundays, most of the time, so that would be your day off. If you need a different day, or you want to take an occasional weekend, we can work that out. I'd need a decent notice, though."

Josh looked back at Nick, who watched Daniel play outside. He seemed to be mulling over the job requirements, because he worried his full bottom lip with his top teeth. They sat in silence for a few moments before Nick's gaze broke away from Daniel's antics, and those jeweled eyes lit up. Nick grinned.

That sweet smile made Josh's stomach flutter.

"He's adorable. No wonder you only want what's best for him."

"I do. He's had a hellacious year and a half, but he's strong willed for a little guy, just like my sister used to be." Josh broke contact with Nick's all-knowing eyes and looked down at his coffee cup.

"He's not the only one, is he? I'm very sorry for your loss."

Josh's eyes almost unwillingly met Nick's compassionate expression. Those blue eyes seemed to gaze into Josh's lonely soul.

He squirmed a little in his seat, cleared his throat, and tried to shake off the unnerving feeling of loneliness trying to overwhelm him.

"It's been hard for both of us, but it's been especially tough for Daniel. Our parents moved to Arizona before Daniel was born and Roger's parents are in poor health. We try to visit them when we can, but basically it's just us."

Nick nodded and gave him a half smile.

"I can't imagine what both of you have gone through, and I'm sorry. If you hire me, I hope to be able to lift some of the burden off of your shoulders. Become a good friend to Daniel. I think this would be an excellent arrangement, for both of us. I know you've probably got several more interviews to go through, but I'd really love to meet Daniel if I could. If he doesn't like me, then it would be worthless to go any further. But, I need to let you know something about me. This shouldn't matter, but it might make a difference to you. I'm gay. I want you to know that whatever goes on with my personal life, it will never touch Daniel. He doesn't even have to know, unless you feel the need to tell him."

Josh could hardly believe what he'd just heard. Not only was this handsome man intelligent with a strong caring side, he was also gay. No, Nick's sexual orientation shouldn't make a difference. But in a way, it did. Josh was attracted to the young man sitting before him, and knowing Nick was also gay somehow made his heart beat faster. Being drawn to his nephew's nanny wasn't high on Josh's priority list. But his nephew came first. If Daniel liked him and all of Nick's references and his background checked out okay, Josh knew he could tamp down the physical attraction he had for Nick. After all, Daniel didn't need the drama of Josh dating his nanny. And Nick probably didn't go out with boring nurses who really didn't have a life.

"Your sexual orientation doesn't matter to me one way or the other. If you want to go grab your coat, I'll take you outside and introduce you to him." Josh hoped he wore a nonchalant look on his face.

"That'd be great! I'm looking forward to meeting him." Nick's half smile turned into a full one, making his boyishly handsome face a radiantly beautiful one. His eyes sparkled with happiness, and a small dimple in his left cheek made him look even more attractive. Josh managed to smile back as Nick stood up and walked toward the foyer closet for his coat.

BOOK: His Christmas Wish
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