Book III in The James Lucas Trilogy
A lovely (and hot!) conclusion to this series. I admit, I adore these characters too much to be entirely objective, but I continue to be enamored with the healthy portrayal of BDSM and an open-ish relationship that is refreshingly drama-free. It was deeply gratifying to spend more time in their world.
~ Natalie, Goodreads 2015
Blurb: It’s been five years since James, Tate and Sebastian moved in together to enjoy a three-way BDSM relationship and James is turning fifty. After enjoying a surprise party and thoughtful gift, the health crisis of a close friend necessitates a trip to Montreal, followed by a snowy Christmas getaway in Mont Tremblant. Soon, an unexpected event challenges the dynamics of the relationship. Will the sudden appearance of family members, old friends, and new acquaintances cause insurmountable problems or present an opportunity to demonstrate the real meaning of togetherness?
“James, have you seen my purple tie?” Sebastian asked frantically from our bedroom down the hall, the former guest room we’d originally used when visiting. “We’re supposed to be there forty-five minutes in advance and I can’t find it.”
“Can he borrow a purple tie?” I said to James as I watched him adjust his blue one. “He’ll never find it.”
James nodded. “Have a look. I’m sure there’s one that will do.”
I went to his closet and looked through his large collection of ties until I found one that approximated the purple shade of Sebastian’s. As I walked past James on my way out of the room I whistled in appreciation, winking when he looked my way.
He smiled. “You look damn good yourself, you know.”
“Why, thank you,” I said, bowing before taking the needed tie down the hall to my other boyfriend.
When I stepped into our bedroom, I saw Sebastian on his knees looking under the bed.
“Here. James has one you can wear.”
He looked up at me, the flop of his blond hair concealing one blue eye. “Oh good. I don’t know where mine’s got to.”
Sebastian was not the neatest person when it came to putting his clothes away. Sure, he’d clean and organize the kitchen from top to bottom when he was stressed, but the bedroom was another matter.
“What time is it?” he asked as he stood up and took the tie from me. “Are we going to be late?”
“Would you relax? We’ve got lots of time.”
“But we’re supposed to be there—”
“You’ll get there when you get there. It’ll just mean you won’t have to stand in line for half an hour waiting for the ceremony to start.
A year after we moved into James’ home, Sebastian quit his job at PetLuv and took a full time program at Algonquin College in Graphic Design. James and I supported him financially while he went to school because we didn’t want him working weekends and evenings when we would want to spend time together. Tonight’s Convocation ceremony, the culmination of three years study and perseverance, was stressing him out.
His fingers fumbled with the knot so I stepped forward. “I’ll do it.”
As I deftly knotted the purple tie I couldn’t help admiring the strong neck and broad shoulders of my blond lover. He looked so sharp all dressed up for his graduation and I felt so proud. It took a lot of guts to decide to change one’s life in a significant way. The hard work he’d put into the past three years had paid off. He was top of his graduating class and already had a few solid clients and jobs lined up for the next three months.
When I’d finished I stepped back to observe him. He adjusted his suit jacket nervously. “Well?”
He smiled. “Thanks. I guess we’d better go.”
The NAC lobby was almost empty by the time we arrived. Sebastian said a quick goodbye and made his way backstage where the graduates were supposed to line up.
The Mezzanine level was packed so we went up to the first balcony and were lucky enough to find two seats together. As we looked over the program, James said, “I feel like a proud parent today. Is that perverted?”
I laughed. “Probably.”
“It’s a shame his mother and sister couldn’t make it.”
I nodded. “Well, they’ve got their hands full right now.”
Sebastian’s mom had gone to visit his sister in Toronto to help look after her first grandchild, a little boy named Duncan. Otherwise she, at least, would have made it.
“When should we give him his graduation gift?” I asked.
“I brought the tickets. We can present them as soon we see him after the ceremony.”
We had racked our brains for a unique graduation gift. Finally, James had stumbled upon the perfect idea—a helicopter tour of Ottawa. Some co-worker of his had raved about how fantastic this tour had been, and James asked the name of the company. We bought tickets for all three of us. Our tour was booked for tomorrow morning at ten a.m. and so far the weather forecast looked good. They’d warned us the trip could be cancelled with little notice if the pilot had concerns.
The ceremony finally began. Since Doucette fell early in the alphabet, it didn’t take long for Sebastian’s name to be called. He strode proudly up to the college President, shook his hand and took his envelope, with a big smile on his handsome face. He looked out at the audience, squinted as if trying to see us, then turned and strode off stage. I’d waved even though there’d be no chance he’d see us behind the spotlights. I remembered my own graduation ceremony and how proud I’d felt to have accomplished such a worthwhile goal.
We filed into the lobby after the ceremony for some light refreshments. As I reached for a brownie I heard my name and turned. Sebastian came quickly from the backstage door, holding his cap as his robe ballooned out behind him.
“There he is. The college graduate,” James said proudly, grabbing Sebastian’s hand and pulling him in for a hug and quick kiss on the cheek.
“Thanks. Phew. I’m glad that’s over,” he said, his face flushed from the heat and excitement.
“Hey, you did great. Congratulations, babe,” I murmured, hugging him and licking his neck surreptitiously.
“Thanks. Is that a brownie?”
“Here, you can have it.”
“Do you want something to drink? I’m going to the bar,” James said.
James went off to get drinks while I stood with Sebastian, watching friends and relatives greet graduates as they emerged.
“So? How does it feel?”
He grinned. “Pretty damn good. I’m so glad I did it.”
“So am I. Your talents were wasted at PetLuv my friend.”
“No kidding. It was fun for awhile, but I definitely didn’t want to have to work there forever.”
After we’d had something to eat and drink, James took some photos of Sebastian in his robe and graduate cap, holding his certificate. Then we gave him the tickets we’d bought for the helicopter tour.
“What? Really? Holy shit, this is gonna be amazing! Thanks guys. You didn’t have to do this. I couldn’t have done this without you and now you’re showering me with gifts.”
“Don’t talk about showering, please,” James murmured with a stern look. “I’m trying to be good.”
“Thank you, really,” Sebastian said, taking his cap off and using it to block curious eyes as he kissed first me, and then James, on the lips. “I fucking love you both.”
At ten o’clock the following morning we met with our helicopter pilot, an eleven-year veteran of the skies named Yvonne, with a purple streak in her hair and a silver ring in her eyebrow. Middle aged, voluptuous and pretty, with a mouth like a sailor and the humor to match, she quickly put us at ease.
James said he’d hold my hand if I was scared. I told him to fuck off because I wasn’t scared. I’d just never been up in a helicopter before.
Sebastian, typically for him, acted like an excited puppy. His foot tapped with excess energy while we listened to Yvonne’s safety briefing.
Finally, it was time to board.
“Who would like to sit up front?” Yvonne asked, looking pointedly at me.
“Yeah, no thanks. I’m pretty sure Sebastian would like that spot.”
“Absolutely!” he yelped, climbing in to the front seat. Yvonne showed him how to put on the seatbelt while James and I got in behind.
“Please be careful not to press any buttons or switches, whether deliberately or inadvertently as you move,” Yvonne said, pointing out the panels beside the seats. We fastened ourselves in and Yvonne passed us each our headphone sets. She checked that we could all hear and be heard before starting up the machine.
“Okay. Let’s go, huh?”
The experience was one I would never forget. As the helicopter lifted off the landing pad I suffered a brief moment of fear before becoming mesmerized by the majesty of the landscape falling away from us.
“Oh, wow…” Sebastian said as we rose into the sky.
The feeling of weightlessness and freedom made me giddy, so I did end up reaching for James’ hand. He took it quietly, smiling at me with assurance.
I’d never seen Ottawa Gatineau from this perspective before. The picturesque views of water and land stunned me with their beauty. Best of all was the approach over the Ottawa River to the Parliament Buildings as they overlooked the cliff and the city of Gatineau. Yvonne slowly circled the historic seat of the Canadian Government, viewing it at all angles before heading over the city.
When we passed over our neighborhood James momentarily regretted not putting a big “Congratulations Sebastian!” sign on our roof.
“Next time,” I joked.
We really didn’t talk much, since the views were so astounding and we’d all brought cameras. Yvonne pointed out the landmarks and explained our flight path in a clear, slightly accented voice. She checked in on us a few times to make sure nobody felt sick or uneasy. We assured her we were all enjoying ourselves immensely.
“Good. Is this a birthday gift to someone?” she asked, nodding at Sebastian.
“Graduation present,” James said with a smile.
“My son just got his degree as well,” Yvonne said. “Such a relief and it makes you so proud.”
James and I glanced at each other, neither wanting to correct her. How would we explain that Sebastian was actually James’ lover, not his son? Neither of us wanted to make our pilot uncomfortable mid-flight, so we simply smiled and nodded. Sebastian didn’t even seem to hear, so enraptured was he in the entire experience.
The tour took about an hour. When we finally landed back at the airfield in Gatineau, all three of us expressed how impressed we’d been with the trip.
“Well, you’ll have to come again,” Yvonne said. “Who’s got a birthday coming up?”
Sebastian and I looked at James. His fiftieth was just around the corner, but we had something else planned for that.
James laughed. “Well, I do. But I think it’s going to be a quiet affair,” he said, gazing at us meaningfully.
Heading home in the car, nobody spoke much. It had been an experience that was difficult to sum up in words.
“Shall we grab a bite to eat? It’s eleven thirty,” James said.
“Where?” Sebastian asked.
“You choose. We’ll make it part of your gift.”
“Jesus. You guys are making too much of this,” he muttered, embarrassed.
“Hey, it’s the first time we’ve helped anybody graduate. We probably won’t be having kids so this is our moment, right James?” I explained, remembering Yvonne’s comment.
“So don’t ruin it for us. Where do you want to eat?”
“Fine. Let’s go to Cora’s.” There was a pregnant pause. “You said I could choose,” Sebastian pointed out.
“Well, I…” James began.
“You know, it’s just that…” I tried to explain.
“My sister and I eat there whenever she’s in town. The food’s great.”
“Cora’s it is,” James said, turning the corner onto Bank Street.
It wasn’t that we didn’t like the food at Cora’s. It would be hard to find fault with the waffles, omelets, and pancakes loaded with fresh fruit, English cream, and syrup. Let’s just say that the vibe was more Old Folk’s Home than Urban Eatery. This never seemed to bother Sebastian—nothing much bothered Sebastian when it came to eating—but James and I found the atmosphere a bit…suburban for our tastes.
At any rate, this was Sebastian’s celebration and we wouldn’t ruin it for him. Of course, we’d have to refrain from any obvious displays of intimacy over brunch, since we’d be likely to get at least a few rude stares and loud comments. It seemed that when people reached a certain age they no longer cared much what anyone thought—they’d say whatever they liked. And since most of them were deaf, they’d say it loudly.
So James and I accompanied Sebastian into the restaurant in question, requesting a booth and hoping for one in the corner or at least away from curious onlookers. Sometimes people in their senior years would go looking for trouble. Maybe their lives weren’t as interesting as they used to be, and a self righteous exchange with their companions about the three men sitting together in booth five was just what they needed. Of course, I was generalizing. Sebastian’s Granny Jo had been quick-witted, world-wise, and savvy to a lot of things, and strangely liberated for someone her age. But we knew she was the exception.
Since no booths were available, we were directed to a table quite close to other diners, most notably a large group of elderly men and women who seemed to be celebrating a retirement. Perhaps the curious glances we received were due to the fact that Sebastian and I were the youngest people in the restaurant, and also kind on the eye. And James, well, James attracted attention everywhere he went.
“Hmm, I’m going to get an omelet,” James said, perusing the menu. “What about you?”
“The Belgian waffle is calling my name,” I said.
“The Fourth of July looks good. Crepes, French toast, and fruit.”
“Wonderful.” He looked around for a server. “I really need a coffee.”
“Me too,” I said.
Finally, a server saw us and filled our mugs. “Sorry, it’s a zoo in here today. What would you gentlemen like?”
When she left we sat quietly, sipping our coffees. It was strange but I felt more relaxed in this place. I didn’t feel like I had to impress anyone. The fact that I had all my own teeth seemed to already give me points.
“So what do you want for your birthday, big boy?” I asked James.
“A special session in the loft will be just fine.”
“Well, that’s a given. What else?”
“I don’t need anything else.”
“Are you sure?” Sebastian said. “Any electronics you need? Or a new wallet or something?”
James made a face. “I like to choose my own accessories. And my electronics are mostly up to date. But thank you.”
“Come on, James. It’s a pretty significant birthday. We’d like to do something special,” I insisted.
He sighed and leaned back in his chair. “It’s only a number.”
I blinked. “Are you worried about turning fifty?” I couldn’t believe James worried about anything.
“Of course not.”
Sebastian and I looked at him, not believing his answer for once.
“You are worried. You’re worried about turning fifty,” I said, still shocked to see a chink in James’ confident social armor.
He laughed, but it sounded forced. “I’m not worried. Why would I be worried?”
I gazed at him, assessing. Then I shrugged. “Yeah, why would you be worried? It’s just a number.”
“Exactly. It’s not like I’m going to wake up as somebody different.”
“I certainly hope not,” I said. “Still. Only ten more years and you’ll be sixty.”
Sebastian’s eyes widened. James’ gaze turned steely.
“Watch yourself, Tate.”
“Aha. You are worried.”
“I’m not worried,” he said firmly. “But you should be.”
“What are you gonna do? Put me over your knee right here?” I whispered across the table.
Sebastian began to look panicked. “Jesus, don’t tempt him!” he hissed, looking at James to gauge his reaction.
James sat very quietly, staring at me while I looked back at him. Oh man, he was too quiet. He picked up his coffee and took a sip, then placed the cup back down. It clinked on the Formica tabletop. “I just might. But I wouldn’t want to cause someone to have a heart attack. Which would be a genuine risk in this place.”
I gave Sebastian an “I told you so” look.
“However,” James said slowly. “When we get home I may just have to remind you of proper manners.”
My heart fell as I felt a sympathetic ache in my buttocks reminding me of spankings past.
“Okay, okay, I’m sorry. I just want you to admit that you just might be a tiny bit anxious about turning fifty. Because there’s a tiny chance we just might want to celebrate this milestone in your life.”
He sighed again. “Is that really necessary?”
“It just might be.”
“Fine. But no silly cakes in the shape of private parts or anything ridiculous like that. Please let me turn fifty with dignity.”
I glanced at Sebastian. We’d never even thought of getting a penis cake for James’ party. It was genius.