Over on Facebook, there is a very supportive bunch of folks called the Small but Mighty MM Romance group. For fun, they asked people to write short story requests like this one that caught my eye: A chef, a homeless man, and the soup kitchen on Christmas Day. Below is the story I shared in the group, now available for your holiday reading pleasure.
A soup kitchen in the basement of a little church on the edge of a national forest wasn’t exactly where anyone expected to find a chef with two Michelin stars. Duncan McReady was a regular by now, though, since he had been volunteering here every Saturday night for the past two years. With today being Christmas Day, he wouldn’t miss the chance to provide the local food-insecure and homeless population with a festive feast. The work distracted him, helped his broken heart keep beating through yet another holiday alone.
“How’s that turkey coming?” Natalie called, poking her head into the passthrough window, long dreadlocks tapping the old countertop.
“All done.” Duncan towel dried his hands before picking up the second platter of carved turkey meat. He was glad he’d brought three birds, guessing correctly that the town had more struggling people this year. “Here you go,” he said as he set the platter on the counter so she could take it.
“You’re the best, Chef,” she said with a wink as she swung the platter around to the table where volunteers were serving everyone.
Duncan made note of the remaining amounts of stuffing and mashed potatoes before surveying the room to see if he needed to make more right away or in a few—
He gasped. Stared. Was that… Could it be…
A man stood just behind the line of people filling their plates. He was the right height, thinner than he’d ever been, and his beard was long and rough. The eyes that couldn’t quite meet Duncan’s gaze were the same brilliant blue he remembered. Like the waters of the Caribbean where they’d honeymooned, Tate’s eyes were still as bewitching as ever.
Tears blurred Duncan’s vision as a sob escaped him. Tate looked around like he was about to flee, and Duncan rushed out of the kitchen.
“Don’t! Don’t go. Please!”
He could feel everyone in the room stop and stare, but he only had eyes for Tate. Now Tate stared at him, those captivating eyes taking everything in. And Duncan knew Tate was trying to see if he was truly welcome here. If he was really allowed to be near Duncan again.
Stepping closer, feeling like he was trying to approach a wild animal, Duncan held out his hands. “Please stay, Tate. I’ve been coming here every week hoping to find you. Don’t leave.”
“You’ve been looking for me?”
Oh god, that voice! How he’d missed hearing him. Duncan could only nod, tears choking him up.
Tate glanced around, a blush coloring the apples of his cheeks, before meeting Duncan’s gaze. “Can I come home?”
Duncan lost the battle to keep from crying as another sob burst out of him. He was nodding as he stumbled forward and wrapped his arms around his husband’s neck and held on tight. When Tate’s arms came around his waist, Duncan buried his face in Tate’s messy hair and trembled in relief.
There was a smattering of applause that quickly turned into a cacophony of sound that had Duncan lifting his head and wiping away tears. Everyone was watching them. He held tighter to Tate, worried now that all of this attention would send him running away again. But Tate wasn’t looking at anyone other than Duncan, and he recognized the need in those beautiful eyes. Could he kiss him?
He looked over to see Natalie nearby, her brown eyes shiny and cheeks damp.
“Why don’t you two go on home?” she suggested. “We’ve got everything covered here.”
He was nodding as he looked back at Tate, who was shaking his head. “I’d like to clean up first,” Tate said. “They said there were showers here.”
“Sure. Of course,” Duncan said, ready to agree to anything Tate wanted. “There are clothes and toiletry supplies down the hall by the showers. You can… You can go there. First. Before we…go home.”
It was an effort for him to make his fingers let go of Tate’s flannel jacket. If he wanted to clean up alone, Duncan would let him, but oh how he didn’t want to let him out of his sight.
“Show me where?” Tate asked.
“Oh yeah. Absolutely.”
That was better. Duncan led the way through the tables, giving a small smile to the few people he knew who were tearfully smiling at him. He hadn’t kept his reason for coming here a secret when he first started showing up to cook, and now the volunteers who were still here after two years were witnessing his wish coming true.
Duncan looked back and Tate was right there behind him. When he reached for his hand, Tate took it.
The mens donation station and showers had a couple of volunteers outside in the hall to provide a little extra safety and security for those going inside. Duncan didn’t know the one man, but since he looked a bit like Terry, he figured they were related.
“Hey, Chef,” Terry said with a curious smile.
Since Terry had been one of those who knew Duncan’s story, he said, “I’d like to help my husband get cleaned up.”
“Oh shit,” Terry said, his brown eyes going wide. “Christ, yeah, go on in. You’ve got the place to yourselves.”
That was good. While he was pretty sure he might get to kiss Tate soon, he was very sure there would be more tears too. He had a lot of amends to make.
Duncan stuffed his hands into his jeans pockets while he watched Tate make selections from the donated clothing. It wasn’t much, but the clothes were clean and in good condition. That he chose a sweatshirt with a squirrel trying to get a nut on it made Duncan tear up a little as he smiled because Tate hadn’t lost his sense of humor. He also chose a pair of dark gray sweatpants and some socks before he turned his attention to the toiletries. He selected a towel, washcloth, and a travel bottle of body wash.
“Guess I’ll have to shave later,” he said. “No razors.”
“We can find a barber to—” he had to clear his throat “—tomorrow.”
Tate nodded before walking over to the showers. They were individual stalls with a small, curtained changing area in front of the shower, like in a gym or dorm. Duncan watched Tate set everything down, totally unsure about whether he should do anything. Grovel and beg for forgiveness now? Or wait until they were home?
“Can you help me with this?” Tate asked.
“Yeah, of course.” Duncan rushed over, not even sure what he needed help with. “What do you need?”
Duncan stared at Tate staring at him. Was he serious? The very first time they’d slept together, Tate had used that line to get Duncan to undress him. He had to remember that, right?
Tate’s little smile faltered and he looked away. “You don’t have to—”
Duncan grabbed Tate’s shirt. “No, I’ve got it. It’s fine.”
“Is it?” Tate whispered.
He knew what he meant and it was way more than just helping him get undressed.
“Yes,” he said with every ounce of honesty he could express. “It’s completely fine in every possible way.”
Tate quietly watched Duncan undress him piece by piece, moving only when he needed to. He wasn’t clean and really smelled, but Duncan didn’t care. He’d happily curl up with this man under a bridge and never bathe again if it meant they could be together. Not that he wasn’t going to scrub every last inch of him if he’d let him right now. Because he would. While on his knees if that helped.
When he had him naked, Duncan didn’t stare or linger as he picked up all of the dirty clothes and took them over to the bin with an offer on it to wash them. He was somewhat sure they’d be put back out once they were clean, but he wasn’t involved in this part of the operation. The water came one while he did that, and when he turned around again, his breath caught.
He didn’t care that Tate was scruffy, hairy, and filthy. Not at all. That was his husband, the love of his life, and he was beautiful. Tate had left the curtain open as he tipped his head back and wet his hair, water cascading down his lean muscles. Duncan couldn’t stop staring and licked his lips as his cock filled, memories of a hundred shared showers coming back to him.
“Gonna watch or help?”
Duncan blinked. “Here?” Not that he wasn’t thinking about it, but in the basement of a church? With a couple of guys right outside?
“I could really use your hands on me.”
Well, fuck. Duncan didn’t waste a moment stripping down out of his jeans, ugly Christmas sweater, and everything in between. He twitched a bit over not having something between his feet and the tiles, but there were more important things to focus on right now. Like washing his man from head to toe.
There had been plenty of times when using the soap was an afterthought and not the main event of their shared showers. But this time, Duncan felt like he was maybe washing away two years of mistakes and regrets. He gathered up all of Tate’s hair and massaged it full of bubbles before carefully rinsing it out. He lathered up the washcloth and made good use of it. He washed Tate from his face to his shoulders to his hips to his knees to his toes.
Of course, there were places that he couldn’t avoid devoting extra attention to, but he didn’t let himself do more than get them clean. If Tate thrust his hips or moaned, Duncan just savored the fact that his husband still wanted him after everything he’d done. He got hard—of course he did—but this wasn’t about him.
And when Tate pulled him down and kissed him, Duncan gave everything he had to opening up and letting him know he was exactly where he wanted to be.
But there was one thing Duncan needed to do, to see, before they could go any further.
“Show me,” he said as the water cascaded down his side.
Tate didn’t need to ask what he meant. “Are you sure?”
Duncan nodded. “I’ll be okay this time. I promise.” He brushed a lock of long, brown hair away from Tate’s face. “I’ll be like I should’ve been last time.”
“It was a shock. I scared you. I understand that now.”
“That’s no excuse.” Tears of shame gathered, but he swallowed them down. “I swore to love you unconditionally, and then I didn’t.”
“I swore to be honest in every way, and then I wasn’t.”
Duncan sighed and wrapped his arms around Tate’s shoulders. “So we both messed up, but it was me who drove you away in my ignorance and fear.”
They were quiet for a while, Tate’s hand caressing up and down Duncan’s back. When Tate finally took a deep breath, Duncan stepped back and waited.
He hadn’t seen it happen last time. He’d opened the garage door and saw something his brain couldn’t process that was standing there beside his car. This time, he stood still and got to see the shimmer and ripple of whatever magic let Tate McReady become a werewolf.
And there he was, all seven feet of thick muscle, gray fur, and sharp teeth. Tate towered over Duncan now, everything about him doubled in size from his long snout to his fat cock. Duncan did a double take. Damn, that was a monster of a cock.
Tate made a huffing noise, and Duncan looked up to see what might’ve been a grin lifting the lips of that dangerous maw. He grinned back before he stood on his toes and kissed the corner of Tate’s mouth. “You’re one sexy beast,” he whispered over the sound of the cascading water.
That seemed to surprise him, his blue eyes wide as he stared down at Duncan. To make absolutely certain that Tate knew exactly how Duncan felt about his magical husband, he wrapped his fingers around that thick cock and gave him a stroke. Tate’s hips jerked and he grabbed Duncan’s shoulders as he growled. The sound, the slick meat in his hand, sent a shiver down Duncan’s spine that had him clenching his ass as his dick filled even more.
“Will you take me like this?” he made himself ask, not even sure if such things were done. But he’d come to understand that the beast was still Tate. This massive monster was just his husband.
Tate’s paw-like hands gripped him as his cock flexed in Duncan’s hand. His gaze searched Duncan’s face like he was desperate to believe him. He nodded.
With anticipation thrumming through him, Duncan braced his hands on the tile and let the shower run down his back as he widened his stance. Water trickled along his crack, teasing him, and then he suddenly felt clawed fingers pulling his cheeks apart as a cool, wet nose poked at his hole. He gasped, surprised by the tongue that licked at him, into him, and the way those wicked teeth nipped at him. A moan escaped him before he bit his lip and tried to keep quiet, desperate not to be heard by anyone nearby.
But Tate was thorough back there, licking and probing with a long tongue that was coaxing him open. As good as it was, as erotic as it felt, Duncan wanted more and right now. “Please, Tate, just fuck me. Fuck me! Oh god…”
With a rumble, Tate stood up, a hard body covered in wet fur pressed up against Duncan’s back. He could feel that big cock stretching halfway up his spine, something about it making it slicker than just water could do. He rubbed against it. “Do it,” he said. “Come on.”
And Tate did. He went slowly, easing the pointed head into Duncan’s willing ass one inch at a time. He couldn’t be quiet now, moaning as he was filled so very full, far more than he’d ever taken before. The pressure was intense, but the burn faded quickly as he couldn’t resist rocking back on that monster cock, feeling Tate push deeper and deeper, owning every bit of him.
When a furry groin met his ass cheeks, Duncan opened his eyes and looked up to see Tate’s snarling face and feel the growl that rumbled through him. Strong arms circled his chest and stomach, one hand pressing on his lower belly to keep him still, before Tate drew back in one long stroke that made Duncan’s breath catch. That was all the warning he got because then Tate was fucking him hard and fast and thoroughly.
Duncan reached down, stroking himself in time to the pounding Tate gave him, wails of pleasure screaming out of him as he soared higher and higher, ecstasy building fast as Tate never slowed. When Duncan came, when he exploded in incandescent pleasure, Tate pushed in deep and squeeze Duncan back against his chest. The growl out of him as Tate came inside him excited Duncan into coming just a little more, his ass spasming on that thick cock flooding him.
They panted like that for a long time. Duncan could barely keep his legs under him, but the hold Tate had on him and the fact that he was still thick and hard inside him kept Duncan upright. But then Tate shifted back, his human cock slipping free of Duncan’s grasping body, as he turned him around.
Duncan leaned down and kissed his husband, plundering and sipping and making sure Tate knew he’d loved every second of that beastly fuck. When he lifted his head, his scruffy man smiled up at him.
“Feeling like you’ve claimed your mate now?” Duncan asked.
Tate blinked at him, frowning. Then his eyes went wide and he said, “Did you talk to my father?”
Duncan nodded. “As soon as I realized you weren’t coming back. It’s the first place I went. He yelled at me, but your mom, she talked to me. Told me everything. Like the fact that you needed to mate with me in wolf form to really seal our bond and that’s probably why you couldn’t resist shifting.” He pushed locks of hair out of Tate’s face as he smiled sadly. “I had to have you like this because wolves mate for life, and I need you to be mine forever.”
Tate took a shaky breath and leaned into him. He nodded and said, “Yours always. I swear I’ll never leave you again.”
“And I swear I’ll never give you a reason to want to.”
After more kissing and though the water was still hot, Duncan was pretty sure they were pressing their luck at being alone in here for so long. He rinsed the come off of his ass and legs, made note of the grin Tate gave him as he watched that, and then turned the water off. They shared the towel to dry off before getting dressed.
There was no disguising Duncan’s wet hair, but then it probably wasn’t hard to guess that far more than getting clean had happened in here. Since Terry gave him a big grin and a nod, while the other guy just blushed, Duncan didn’t feel too bad about it. And when a couple of men passed them in the hallway on the way to the showers, Duncan took Tate’s hand and ran for the parking lot.
Duncan drove with Tate’s hand on his thigh, right where it had always been before. The past two years weren’t wiped away or forgotten, but he felt confident that they could move on and put it all behind them. He still felt a bit like he needed to grovel, but he could do that in a lot of ways, like cooking dinner and blowing his wolfy mate afterward.
“You decorated?” Tate said as their house came into view.
Duncan nodded. “I wanted everything perfect. Just in case.” He grinned to lighten the mood and said, “If you get under the tree, I’ll unwrap you again.”
Tate chuckled. “Merry Christmas to us.”