Originally a blog post for Amber Kell’s Birthday Bash, 2020


“Happy Birthday.”

Ryan’s cheery greeting through the phone lifted Kaden’s mood. “Thank you.” He settled on the bed with his cell. “So, how’s filming going?” A warm breeze blew in through the open sliding doors, bellowed the drapes and blew across the soles of his bare feet. Ryan had booked the beach house for the two of them to celebrate months back, not long after Kaden’s last birthday and following a night of reminiscing of how the two of them had gotten together. That had been back before Ryan’s filming schedule clashed with the mini vacation.

“Slow. Too slow.” Ryan said with a groan. He fell silent for a moment before adding, “I’m sorry, Kaden.”

Kaden closed his eyes. He didn’t think anyone had apologized to him as much as Ryan had in the last month. “I know, and I keep telling you it’s fine. I would have been fine with you cancelling the booking too—”

“No way. You were looking forward to it, we both were. You love the ocean and I thought… I know it’s not exactly where we first met but, you know…”

Kaden sat forward. It was three years since he had been given the role of playing Ryan’s boyfriend. Ryan was an actor, who, back then, had found himself in some trouble and Kaden had been hired through Bryant and Waites to help paint a positive picture, elevate his profile. He tightened his hold on his cell. “I know, and it was an extremely sweet idea.”

“I’d hoped I could find a way to speed things up so I could join you. Maybe I should have played the diva or something, gotten them to reschedule.”

“Ah yes, great plan, and then someone leaks a crappy video from their phone on social media of you kicking off.”

Ryan mumbled something Kaden couldn’t make out.

“How’s the filming, besides being slow? Reshoots, wasn’t it?”

“I’ve one more scene today. I’ll be glad when I can get out of these clothes. My character wears such tight pants.”

Kaden chuckled, imagined Ryan pulling at the leather material clinging to his crotch. Ryan had shown him the promotional images from the TV show he had signed on for. “I would offer to lend a hand in helping you out of them but…”

Ryan laughed. “Do you think wardrobe would notice if I borrowed them when we’re done?”

“I like the idea of unwrapping you for my birthday.”

“Sorry,” Ryan said again. “So, how’s the beach house? Full of good memories I hope?”

“It is.”

“What have you done today? You better not have been working.”

Kaden picked up one of the cushions from the bed and hugged it to his chest. “I haven’t. I was a good boy and did as I was told.” He glanced out at the beach. “It was actually kind of nice doing nothing. I read a book, walked the beach, took a nap.” He chuckled. “I could get used to it.”

“That actually sounds amazing,” Ryan said, his voice left a warm sensation in Kaden’s chest, as if Ryan was smiling on the other end of the call.

“Maybe when we’re old and gray we could retire to the beach. Sit on the porch under a blanket every night, watch the tide roll in.”

“I could go for that,” Ryan said. There was the sound of voices on his end. “Damn. I’m really sorry, I’m going to have to go.”

“Don’t make me say it.”

“Yes, yes. I know. It’s fine,” Ryan said in a higher tone. “Okay. I better go. Love you and Happy Birthday.”

“I love you, too.”

“Talk later?”

Kaden smiled. “Sure, but if you’re tired, I understand.”

“You know, sometimes you can be too nice,” Ryan said.

“You like it when I’m nice.”

“Also pretty fond of you when you’re naughty.”

Kaden tossed away the cushion. “Shut up and get back to work.”

Ryan laughed. “Okay, okay. Love you. Bye.”

“Bye, Ry.”

Ryan ended the call.

With a sigh, Kaden relaxed into the pillows. He leaned his head, stared out to the decking and beyond to the horizon. The low roar of waves echoed in from outside. In the past this would have been perfect, being here, just him, the beach house, the ocean. All that open space. Three years he’d been with Ryan and now all he wanted was to share everything with the man he loved, including this view.

“Maybe next time,” he uttered. Because there would be a next time, and another, and so many more opportunities to see this view together.

Taking a deep breath, he sat up, rolled his legs over the side of the bed. “Now what?” he wondered. He picked up his phone, smiled as the screen lit up and showed a photograph of him and Ryan, all smiles and hugging. He made his way to the lounge. His memory wasn’t perfect about the interior, the design, the furnishings, but the place certainly had the same feel as it had back then.

I wish he was here.

The day crept on, afternoon, through dinner and into early evening, and eventually, exhausted from doing nothing, Kaden fell asleep on the couch.

When he woke the room was in darkness. He frowned and sat up, flinched as a loud bang echoed outside, followed by a crackle and pink light illuminating the room.

“Fireworks?” he wondered, getting to his feet as a second went off, this time blue and white light glowing through the translucent drapes. At the door, he leaned his head, searched the sky, then flipped the switch for the porch light and slid open the door. He stepped out, folded his arms across his chest against the cooler evening air. Another firework went up and he looked down at the beach to where he assumed it had been set off.

“Surprise,” Ryan called to him.

“Ryan?” His chest lurched in excitement. “What are you…?”

Ryan lit another firework, jogged to a safe distance away. The rocket whistled as it shot up into the sky, a spiral of yellow sparks streaking upward.

Kaden made his way down on to the sand. He smiled when he met Ryan in a warm hug. “What are you doing here?” He buried his face in Ryan’s shoulder, breathed in the comforting scent of his partner.

“Happy Birthday,” Ryan said and pressed a kiss to Kaden’s cheek.

“Please tell me you didn’t throw a tantrum to get them to finish early.”

Ryan shook his head. “No. We wrapped up early, so I had Larry drive me down here.”

“But I thought you said—”

Ryan poked Kaden in the chest. “Well, it wouldn’t have been a surprise if I told you.”

“Still—” Kaden was shut up when Ryan held his face, pulled him close and caught his mouth in a firm kiss. He squeezed his arms around Ryan.

They embraced for a long moment, Ryan slipping his leg between Kaden’s, applying pressure to his crotch. “Is that a rocket in your pocket?” he whispered in Kaden’s ear.

“Hey,” Kaden said and pulled back.

Ryan grinned. “So, do you want your birthday present now, or…” He stroked the back of Kaden’s neck.

“Oh, I don’t know. I’m pretty tired.” Ryan pouted and Kaden laughed. “I love you,” he said and cupped Ryan’s cheek. He stared into Ryan’s eyes. “Thank you.”

“For what?”

“Nothing in particular. For being you. For being here, being with me. For every day of the last three years. Just…” He shrugged. “Thank you.”

A smile spread across Ryan’s face. “I love you, too.” He rested his hand over Kaden’s. “You know that, right?” He brought Kaden’s hand to his mouth and pressed a kiss to his knuckles.

“Yeah, I do.” He squeezed Ryan’s thumb and glanced back at the beach house. “Let’s go inside. I’d like to open that present now.”

“I hope you like it.” Ryan brought Kaden’s hand down to his chest, lay it over the zipper of his jacket.

Kaden leaned in, gripped Ryan’s waist, pecked small kisses from Ryan’s ear to his mouth, and said, “I already know I will.”


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