Mine for Christmas
AD Lawless © 2018
All Rights Reserved
The scent of burning sugar cookies greeted Matt as he walked into the apartment he shared with his brother. Wrinkling his nose, he shut the door behind himself and kicked off his boots. At least it was warm inside, even if it smelled like Jake had baked charcoal cookies. Again.
“This is bullshit!” Jake yelled from the kitchen, followed by a clatter Matt assumed was his brother throwing the cookie sheet.
He rolled his eyes, unzipped his jacket, and hung it up on the hook just inside the doorway. Then he headed into the kitchen.
“Burn the cookies again?” Matt asked with a smirk. Jake sent him a dirty look, his brown eyes narrowed with the kind of irritation only little brothers could bring about.
“I followed the recipe! I even set the timer two minutes early! Brent’s gonna kill me. I promised cookies for the bake sale at the elementary school, and I can’t get a single freakin’ batch to come out right,” he complained, rubbing a hand over his face and looking so painfully miserable that Matt took pity on him.
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll make a few dozen,” Matt offered. Being the resident family baker meant Jake’s eyes lit up in response. So Matt rushed to qualify his offer and temper Jake’s expectations. “You have to decorate them though. I gotta head over to Cody’s as soon as I’m done. Our final project is sucking the life out of me.”
Jake smirked. “Not the only thing you wish was sucking the life out of you.”
Matt rolled his eyes and crossed his arms. “We’re just friends, man.”
“You say that like you haven’t been in love with him since you were twelve,” Jake retorted with a lopsided smile.
“Shut up, I have not. Want me to make these cookies or not?” Matt refused to acknowledge just how close to home that hit even if they both knew Jake was sort of right.
Jake’s eyes widened and his hands came up placatingly. “Shutting up.”
The ingredients for sugar cookies were something Matt knew by heart along with dozens of other favorites of theirs, and he grabbed the measuring cups, bowls and things he needed. In no time flat, he had the dough ready and stuck it in the refrigerator.
He wandered into the living room and found Jake sitting on the couch.
“Hey, I’m gonna leave the dough to chill while I jump in the shower and get my stuff ready to head out later,” he said, leaning on his palms against the back of the couch and stretching his back a little.
“Want me to cut them out?” Jake asked, tilting his head to glance back up at him.
“Yeah, no. Just stay out of the kitchen until I’m done. I don’t wanna have to start all over again,” Matt teased.
Clearly fuming a little, but unwilling to risk Matt’s wrath, Jake sneered briefly before turning back to the TV. “Fine.”
Upstairs Matt shot off a text to Cody and let him know he’d be a little late and then took his time getting ready. Usually he’d leave the dough to chill a lot longer, but however long it took him to get ready would have to do this time.
His thoughts were still hung up on what Jake had said. It was true he had history with Cody, but not like Jake teased. In grade school they’d been best friends, but by junior high they’d gone their separate ways. Cody had gone out for sports, baseball in particular, and he’d been popular, funny—pretty much everything Matt wasn’t.
In high school, Matt had been the kind of guy who was socially awkward in large groups, who preferred to spend time one-on-one or with just a few people, because the pressure of performing for a crowd got to him.
After a while he’d stopped paying attention to what Cody was doing, and they’d barely noticed each other around. Then they’d graduated and that was that. End of story.
Or it had been, until his second year of college when Matt had rushed into his first chemistry class of the fall semester late, sank into the only available seat at a lab desk and looked over into amused, familiar, hazel green eyes. Grown up and ruggedly handsome with dark hair and stubble that drew attention to the sharp cut of his perfect jawline, Cody had somehow ended up even better looking than he had in high school.
That was months ago now and they’d steadily spent more and more time together. Mostly studying and working on their assignments, or at least that was how it always started off. They usually ended up playing video games or watching movies before they parted ways.
So, Jake was wrong in some respects. He hadn’t been in love with Cody since he was twelve…but he was absolutely in love with him now. Pathetically in love with him, following him around like a sad puppy dog and happily soaking up his attention. It was the kind of love Matt used to think was just a myth, but unfortunately it turned out to be all too real. It was especially pathetic since it seemed like Cody wasn’t interested in him that way.
Matt knew Cody liked guys, had seen him leave parties to hook up with them sometimes, but it was like Cody just didn’t see him that way. Resigned to his fate as Cody’s friend, Matt figured it was better than nothing. He and Cody got along, they had fun, and if there was a piece of the puzzle missing for Matt, well, he could deal with that.
The buzz of his phone in his hand startled him out of his thoughts. It was a text from Cody saying no big deal. He tossed his phone on his bed; he’d better get showered and get the baking over with.
Once he’d finished getting ready, he headed back downstairs and cut the first batch of cookies, then put them in the oven he’d had preheating and set a timer.
After that, he wandered back into the living room and watched mindless TV with Jake in between baking until the last batch came out of the oven. Satisfied that Jake could handle it from there, he stopped and patted him on the shoulder as he was on his way to the door.
“Good luck with decorating them,” he called out as he stepped into his winter boots. “Just keep it simple, dude. Don’t try getting too fancy.”
“Thanks, Martha Stewart. I’m pretty sure I can handle some icing and sprinkles,” Jake replied.
“Wait until they cool off though, or they’ll melt the icing and make a giant mess,” Matt said, shrugging into his coat and zipping it.
He looked up to find Jake in the entryway, his face a weird combination of fondness and annoyance. Probably a look big brothers everywhere sported as frequently as he did. “Yeah, yeah. Thanks for the help. Kids and I appreciate it.”
Matt smirked. “Well, it’s for a good cause. I didn’t mind.”
Jake’s job as a teacher was something Matt had always been proud of him for. They’d lost their parents when Matt was still in high school and Jake had been in his first year of his bachelor of education. Somehow Jake had managed to juggle work, school, keeping a roof over their heads, and keeping them fed. Sometimes Matt thought there was no way he’d ever be able to pay him back. Not that Jake would ever ask him to.
“Well, either way, thanks.” Jake looked a little embarrassed and then cleared his throat. He messed up Matt’s already messy hair on purpose, lightening the mood. “Have a good time with Cody.”
A lopsided smile tugged up the corners of Matt’s lips as he scrubbed a hand through his hair to fix it. “Sure. I’ll see you later, ’kay?”