The 28th of December

This story is set after Protector Dragon, Halloween Dragon, and Wedding Dragon, and contains spoilers. It features Cameron and Parker from Halloween Dragon, the second book in the series.

Cameron yawned when he opened the door to their apartment. He was glad Christmas was over and things were less busy at the hotel during the night shift. A lot of the guests who’d stayed in Lewiston over Christmas had checked out yesterday or today, and most of the ones who’d stay over the New Year would arrive tomorrow or the 30th. The quiet time was just what he needed to clean all the glitter from the Christmas decorations off his desk.

Fortunately, Parker and he both had the same feelings about Christmas decorations at home, which was not to overdo it. A tree, obviously, and that needed ornaments, but they didn’t need tinsel everywhere and Christmas wreaths or lights in every room. He had enough of that at work, and he’d visited Parker at the office often enough over the past few weeks to know Parker’s shifter council had fully embraced the season.

He entered the living room and heard soft paws bound across the floor. “Good morning, Freddy.” He kneeled down to pet their kitten, who was purring with delight as he rubbed himself against Cameron’s hand. “Are you happy to see me, or because you know I’m about to give you breakfast?”

Freddy meowed when Cameron got up and as usual ignored Cameron’s shushing. Parker was still asleep, and Cameron hated waking him up before he had to.

He flicked on the light in the kitchen, although by now he could find the kibble in the top cupboard by touch.

Freddy kept running back and forth between Cameron and his tragically empty food bowl, meowing now and then as if worried Cameron had forgotten where the food bowl was.

“Good thing you’re here to show me where the food goes,” Cameron told Freddy, keeping his voice soft as he filled the bowl. Freddy immediately started eating as if he hadn’t eaten for days, despite being fed last night.

Cameron gave him a few more pets as he ate. “You’re a hungry kitty, aren’t you? Having another growth spurt?” He got up and put the kibble away before checking the water fountain.

He watched Freddy eat while he drank some water himself. It was amazing how quickly he’d gotten used to having a cat around. Only a few months ago he’d never owned a cat, and now he couldn’t imagine life without Freddy.

Just like he couldn’t imagine life without Parker.

Could you have true mates but with pets? Where a pet ended up with the one perfect owner meant for them and vice versa? Well, two in Freddy’s case.

Part of him still couldn’t believe Parker had agreed to adopt a kitten after Shaun had brought it up. While he’d become less of a micro-managing workaholic over the past year, Parker still had his control freak tendencies. Of course, once he’d agreed to visit Shaun’s sister to meet the kittens, they’d been so adorable that Cameron had had more difficulty convincing him to stick with one kitten instead of two or three.

Considering what a nightmare Freddy could be all on his own, that had been for the best.

Cameron snorted at his own dumb joke. Of course Freddy was a nightmare. They had named him after Freddy Krueger. Freddy the kitten was a tabby like his mom, but with plenty of ginger fur from his mystery father to give him ginger stripes. It had reminded Cameron of the iconic red and green sweater. Besides, a cat had sharp claws and would keep them from sleeping peacefully, just like Krueger did to his victims.

He gave Freddy one final scratch behind the ears. The cat looked up from his food bowl to tilt his head so Cameron could get to the right spot. “I’ve given you breakfast, now you let me sleep. Deal?” Cameron got up, and Freddy meowed once before going back to breakfast. “I’m taking that as a yes.”

He turned off the light and quietly made his way across the living room to the bathroom to get ready for bed. He’d become an expert at coming home and getting in bed while making as little noise as possible. It had been a learning curve after moving in with Parker. He’d gotten so used to living by himself that it had taken a while to remember he was now living with another human.

Worse, a human with supersensitive hearing.

And the thing was, Parker never got annoyed or grumpy when Cameron came home from a night shift and made enough noise to wake him up. If anything, he loved welcoming Cameron to bed. And Cameron definitely loved being welcomed.

But he also knew how annoying it was to wake up early, and he enjoyed sneaking into the bedroom unnoticed and seeing Parker sleep peacefully. He wanted to do better at being quiet because it meant Parker could have a few more minutes of sleep. He wanted to do and be better at a lot of things because of Parker. His boyfriend regularly insisted Cameron was perfect just the way he was, which made Cameron want to live up to that all the more.

He hadn’t figured out how to get in bed without waking up his boyfriend, but it was difficult to find the motivation. A half-awake Parker was a Parker who wrapped an arm around Cameron to cuddle up with him, and Cameron did like falling asleep in Parker’s arms, or having those early morning cuddle sessions turn into something more heated.

He slipped into the flannel pajama bottoms and the baggy t-shirt he’d left in the bathroom last evening so he could get changed here. He quietly headed back into the living room, listening for any sounds that indicated Freddy wanted a post-breakfast cuddle, or worse, a post-breakfast fight with Cameron’s ankles. Freddy Krueger had nothing on their cat when he was in a playful mood.

He saw Freddy perched on the back of their couch, but their cat lay down for a post-breakfast nap instead, and Cameron let out a sigh of relief. “Good kitty,” he whispered, before carefully opening the bedroom door and sneaking in.

His eyes had adjusted to the darkness well enough to make out Parker’s shape in the bed and the even rise and fall of his chest. Still asleep, one point to Cameron. Parker stirred when Cameron got in, but that led to spooning and Cameron pressing back to absorb some of Parker’s warmth.

It was unfair that shifters didn’t feel the winter chill as much, but Cameron also wasn’t going to complain about Parker sleeping in his boxers and being nice and warm to cuddle up to.

“You’re wearing too many clothes,” Parker mumbled, his voice rough with sleep, as his arm wrapped tight around Cameron.

“I’m wearing a perfectly normal amount of clothes to bed in December,” Cameron replied, not for the first time that month.

“Still too many.” Parker sounded half-asleep, but his hand was awake enough to find its way under Cameron’s shirt and touch his bare skin.

Cameron smiled. So it was one of those mornings? He turned in Parker’s arms. “Consider me a fun gift to unwrap.”

“Christmas is over. I’m done unwrapping.” Parker kissed him on the cheek while he tugged Cameron’s shirt further up his back.

Cameron kissed him back, hooking his knee around Parker’s leg. “Good point.” Desire flashed inside of him. He needed to feel Parker’s skin against his own. Why had he bothered putting on all these clothes? Parker was right. He was definitely wearing too much.

Taking his shirt off while wanting to kiss and touch Parker was difficult, and getting rid of his pajama bottoms and boxers even more so, since Parker insisted on kissing Cameron while helping him. Although once he pushed Cameron’s boxers down far enough, Parker was more interested in wrapping his hand around Cameron’s cock.

“Just give me one second.” Cameron squirmed in Parker’s grip and bucked his hips when Parker sped up. He kicked off the rest of his clothes and reached for Parker’s underwear, which was still on for some reason. “Now who’s wearing too many clothes?”

Parker smiled against his skin. “Unwrap me, then.” He let go of Cameron’s hard cock and Cameron whimpered at the loss.

Soon, he reminded himself. Soon they would both be naked and they could touch each other as much as they wanted. He hooked his fingers around Parker’s boxers, tugging them down and thinking of what to do first once his boyfriend was naked.

He was still considering ‘kiss him everywhere’ versus ‘touch him everywhere’ when there was a loud crash from the living room, followed by panicked meowing.

Cameron sat up, Parker and his boxers forgotten. The sudden silence made his stomach tighten. “Freddy?” He got out of bed. Where had he thrown his pajama bottoms?

Parker was faster, shrugging on his bathrobe before opening the door. “Oh no.”

Cameron finally found his pajama bottoms, still hopping on one foot as he pulled them up. “What is it?”

Parker flicked the light switch and sighed as the light cast the living room in a warm glow.

Cameron took in the fallen Christmas tree lying across the coffee table, and the baubles scattered across the floor. “Nothing seems broken?” he tried. And where was Freddy? The tree hadn’t fallen on top of him, right?

Parker strode over to the fallen tree to pick it up. He tried to straighten a few branches, but to no avail. “That’s debatable.”

Cameron kneeled down beside the couch and saw a dark shape lurk underneath. Two eyes turned to him when he reached with one hand. “Hey, Freddy. Did that scare you?”

“How did he even knock down this tree?” Parker sounded reluctantly impressed. “He isn’t that big.”

Freddy crept forward to sniff at Cameron’s hand before rubbing his face against it. “Come here.” Cameron kept his voice soft. “Did you want to kill the big bad Christmas tree?”

“He’s definitely maimed it severely.”

Freddy meowed, much more timid than usual, but moved closer to Cameron’s hand and out from under the couch. Cameron picked him up, cuddling him to his chest. Freddy was purring within seconds.

Parker turned to look at them, his expression softening when he saw the kitten. “He’s in one piece?”

“Doesn’t seem to be hurt, no.” They’d have to double-check later that day, but Freddy seemed fine.

“That’s more than I can say for the tree.” Parker gestured at the two branches that had snapped off in the fall.

“We can put those in the windowsill and pretend it’s on purpose.” He stood next to Parker, wincing when he saw the crooked branches. Freddy squirmed in his hands to get free.

Cameron had gotten used to Freddy preferring Parker, and he handed the kitten over. Freddy used his claws to settle on top of Parker’s right shoulder, rubbing his head against Parker’s hair. It was the most adorable thing Cameron had ever seen. He wished he had his phone with him to take a picture.

Parker reached up to pet Freddy. “Are you on my shoulder to launch yourself at the tree again?”

Cameron had to admit that the way Freddy was staring intently at the tree, with his tail swishing across Parker’s bathrobe, definitely looked like another attack was about to happen. After all, he hadn’t killed the big bad Christmas tree yet. “I don’t think that tree’s safe with him in the same room.”

“What are you suggesting?” Parker was still scratching Freddy under his chin. “Lock him in the bathroom?”

“And have him shred all the toilet paper again? No way.”

Parker hummed in agreement. “Bedroom?”

Cameron nodded, then realized what it meant to have Freddy in there with them. “So that’s a ‘no’ to the morning sex.”

“Maybe if we—”

Cameron raised one eyebrow, and Parker fell quiet.

“I guess that means we’re taking down the tree earlier than planned.”

Part of Cameron wanted to protest at doing that so soon, but Parker was right. Keeping Freddy in the bedroom was only a solution for this morning. Besides, now that the cat had tasted success, he’d probably attack the tree during the day as well. “It’s a shame, but you’re right.”

Parker led the way back to the bedroom, with Freddy perched on his shoulder like a furry pirate captain’s parrot. Cameron tried not to laugh as he followed.

Freddy disagreed with Parker’s plan to pick him off from his shoulder, digging his nails into the fabric and meowing when Parker removed him. “My bathrobe does not need killing,” Parker told him, after putting him on the ground.

Freddy had jumped onto the bed before Parker could even shrug off his bathrobe. After sniffing the sheets, he eventually started kneading Parker’s pillow while purring.

Parker sighed, exchanging a look with Cameron. “Do you think he knows that my spot?”

“I think that’s why he picked it.” Cameron couldn’t help a disappointed groan when a naked Parker slid back into bed. With Freddy in here, there was no way he could put his plan of ‘touch and kiss Parker everywhere’ into action.

Parker smiled up at him, patting the mattress. “C’mon, there’ll be other nights when Freddy isn’t fighting our plants.”

Freddy meowed indignantly when Parker pushed him aside, but settled on top of the blankets once Cameron lay down.

“Let’s hope so.” Cameron pressed up against Parker, enjoying the warmth and comfort. There would be plenty of nights for the two of them. He raised his head to check on the cat, who was now curled up against Parker’s other side. “I think he’s going to sleep.”

“Fighting a Christmas tree is tiring work.”

Cameron closed his eyes, smiling when Parker put an arm around him. “As is rescuing a cat from one.” He yawned again. “I hope the others aren’t having this kind of trouble with their cats.”

“It’d be impressive if they had it worse.”

Cameron hoped Freddy hadn’t understood that, because knowing their kitten, he’d only take it as a challenge.