When the invitation arrived, the letter-pressed, heavy card stock, handwritten name and address should have been enough of a hint to Zach that this wasn't going to be like any Christmas party he had ever attended.
The note about formal attire only helped to seal that deal.
"Are you sure I--" Zach had started to ask as he and Shaun were walking toward the entrance of the restaurant where the party was being held.
"Dude, seriously, if you're going to ask one more time if you look okay, I… I have no idea what I'll do." Shaun stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and grabbed Zach's arm, stopping him as well. "You look great. You look amazing. Honest."
Shaun smoothed his hand over the collar of Zach's suit, he slid the fabric of Zach's tie between his thumb and forefinger. "In fact, I would much rather be at home getting with your suit wrinkled on its way to the floor. But I have to put in at least some face time with the publisher and my editors. Plus, this sure beats the frozen pizza we would've been eating tonight."
Zach smiled at that and rolled his eyes. "Nice try. It's totally your turn to go grocery shopping."
Shaun took Zach's hand and they walked into the restaurant.
Whatever Zach had been expecting, the reality of the party blew that image right out of the water. There were tables of hors d'oeuvres as well as waiters who were offering them to guests on small trays and who were circulating flutes of champagne, wine, and, eventually, eggnog.
Adorning the walls of the room were huge posters of book covers festively decorated in garlands and Christmas lights.
On one table there was a television playing a loop of the major television interviews that their authors had given during the year, and next to the screen was a display of the awards the books, authors, editors, and company had received.
"Angelique," Shaun said to the black-haired woman who was approaching them. He extended his hand before she arrived and warming shook hers when offered. "I'd like you to meet my partner, Zach."
An hour in, Zach's met almost everyone at the publishing house (although he can't say he remembers anyone's name except for the publisher and Shaun's editor, Brandon), he can now cross 'eating goose liver pate' off of his bucket list (even if it wasn't ever on said list), and he'd bet his Cal Arts scholarship that the eggnog that he's been drinking is *not* non-alcoholic (even though the waiter said it was).
There's a warm muzzy feeling just at the edges of Zach's senses. Not enough to impair him, but enough to make the edges of everything seem a bit softer. He scans the room for Shaun, and when he spots him just under a doorway, an idea comes to mind.
"Hey," Zach says, sliding his hand along Shaun's side and underneath his suit coat. Shaun's arm automatically wraps around Zach's shoulders in response.
"Hey yourself," Shaun answers, smiling politely at the woman (Sandy? Sarah?) who walks by them. "How are you doing?"
"I'm good. I'm good." Zach rubs the soft fabric of Shaun's shirt between his thumb and index finger. "So, do you remember what you said earlier, before we got to the party?"
Shaun's brow furrows and Zach has to ball up his free hand to stop himself from smoothing the crease between Shaun's eyebrows. "I said a lot of things before the party, can you narrow it down a bit?"
"You mentioned something about wrinkling my suit because--"
Shaun cuts him off quickly, "Okay, yes, I'm with you now."
"I was thinking--"
"You're not going to suggest… Babe we're at my publisher's Christmas party." There was a flush spreading from Shaun's neck to his ears and his cheeks were getting pink. Zach isn't sure if it's because Shaun's scandalized. . . or turned on.
"No," Zach says, elongating the 'o' more than was needed in part because he likes the way it sounded. "I was going to suggest that, since you're standing under the mistletoe, and since I'm your boyfriend, that maybe I could do this as a placeholder until we get home and then you can wrinkle me and my suit as much as you'd like."
With that longer than needed explanation out of the way, Zach moves so he's standing in front of Shaun and, keeping his one arm still around Shaun's waist, uses his free hand to cup Shaun's jaw as he leans up and kisses him.
"Finally! Someone is taking advantage of the mistletoe!" Someone says from the far side of the room and there's a scattering of quick applause.
'Maybe,' Zach thinks as he and Shaun pull apart again. 'This is more like Christmas parties I've been to than I thought.'
A waiter holds out a tray of chilled nog glasses. Zach waves him away.