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Fretting in February

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The view from the ceiling-high window reminded Heath of a miniature landscape trapped in a snow globe. Only this landscape wasn't calm and soothing but noisy and loud, even when it was the middle of the night, and large enough to make him feel like he was trapped inside the globe with the city.

He had always preferred the ones with cottages and snowmen and Christmas trees, and his thoughts wandered back home for a while.

This city had felt exciting during the daytime, all that bustle and life and possibility around them as they had arrived, but it didn't go to sleep when they did. It kept going, and going, and going, like an endless background hum. He missed the quiet.

He felt a warm brush of fingers against his lower back and inhaled at the touch.

"Hey," Wyatt said as he settled next to Heath, glancing at him. "Everything ok?"

"Yeah. I just couldn't sleep."

They had made love earlier that night, slow and lazy and tired from the hectic trip. Wyatt had fallen asleep soon after, but even when Heath had snuggled up close to him, his cheek resting against Wyatt's shoulder, the sleep didn't come. The bed wasn't theirs, it was Wyatt's, and the sheets smelled different. The whole apartment did, and Heath couldn't shake the feeling he was staying at a fancy hotel instead of Wyatt's – theirs, now, he realized – Manhattan apartment.

The fact that they had an important evening ahead the next day didn't help in making him relax, either. He was used to social gatherings when it was on his ground, among friends and family, among people wanting a lovely holiday escape from their everyday monotony. He wasn't used to business dinners and socializing with people carrying titles he could barely string together.

"So, what do you think?" Wyatt asked, making a small gesture towards the view outside.

"It's big."

"Good big or bad big?"

"Just big."

He didn't want to disappoint Wyatt. It was still early. He could still come to love the place. He hadn't liked Wyatt either when they had first met, and look at the two of them now. Besides, they would only be here for a few days, however long their business events required. They would eventually return home. Surely he could handle a visit every now and then.

"I worry about tomorrow," Heath admitted after a while, regretting it as soon as the words came out.

"What's there to worry about?" Wyatt asked, turning to look at him.

Everything, Heath wanted to say but didn't. Instead, he shrugged.

Wyatt put his hands on Heath's shoulders and leaned in to give him a kiss, linking his hands behind Heath's neck.

"It's going to be fine," he said, eyes fixed on Heath's. "They will love you. And if they don't I'll make them, but I know they will so don't worry."

Heath smiled a little at that, then nodded. Wyatt was probably right.

"Come on, we still have a few hours before morning," Wyatt said, taking Heath's hand and dragging him gently towards the bedroom.

Outside, the traffic still hummed, but when Wyatt was lying next to him, their faces only inches apart, all Heath could hear was Wyatt's soft breathing. Feeling calm again, he closed his eyes.


The evening had gone relatively well, Heath thought. Of course he wouldn't be able to remember half of the names thrown at him come morning, but at least he was good with faces. It was also a relief that nobody seemed to make a big deal out of Heath being a boyfriend instead of a girlfriend or a wife. Wyatt had reassured him that this would not be an issue, but Heath had had to see it for himself to believe it.

But there was one thing Heath had been afraid to hear.

And then...

"I have to say you're nothing like Lindsey."

Somehow Hugh Clancy had figured out the one thing Heath had been worried about, and then he had said it out loud. Immediately Heath felt that maybe he shouldn't have come to this meeting, no matter how much Wyatt had insisted they both needed to be there. Of course the ghost of Lindsey was still hovering around Wyatt and the comparison was inevitable.

The unease at hearing this comparison must have shown on his face, because while his brain was trying to figure out a reply, he could feel a touch on his forearm. It was Loretta, Clancy's wife. She gave Hugh a frowny look that was a combination of scolding mixed with obvious fondness.

"What my husband is trying to say is that Wyatt's taste in men has definitely improved."

That didn't sound too horrible, Heath's brain tried to tell him.

"Just between us," Loretta leaned in closer to him as if she were about to tell him a secret. "We met him a few times. He didn't seem to care much about Wyatt's work. Not as much as he cared about their vacations, anyway. Made our conversations very light. But Wyatt doesn't need to know that, what's past is past."

"Yes, thank you, Loretta," Hugh stepped in, clearing his throat. "I meant it as a compliment."

"In that case, thank you," Heath said, smiling and taking a sip from his champagne. His mouth was dry. He looked around, searching for Wyatt, but only saw his back on the other side of the room. He seemed to be deep in conversation with the two men who he had told Heath earlier were interested in investing in their business.

"There is something I've been meaning to ask you," Loretta said then, glancing at Hugh who gave her a tiny nod before leaving them. "Wyatt has told me a little about you. You're free to say no, but I have a good feeling about you."

Now he was curious. He had only expected to meet his new business partners, mingle a little so he could put faces to all the names he kept hearing. He wasn't prepared for whatever this was.

Again, he looked in Wyatt's direction. Again, he only saw the back of Wyatt's impeccably tailored suit. Clancy had joined the three of them.

"Wyatt told me that you're good at web design," Loretta began, and Heath felt his shoulders relax a little. This was his turf.

She then told him about her passion for fundraising and charities, and the more she described them, the more Heath liked her. Hugh Clancy might never become his favourite person but that was all right. Loretta, on the other hand, seemed to be a genuinely nice person.

By the time Wyatt joined them, Heath had already agreed to help in organizing an event to raise money for single parent families, and he had even offered to host something small back home at the ranch, with horse riding lessons and sleigh rides and camping.

"What's this I see?" Wyatt said, smiling wide. "I leave you for a moment and suddenly you look like a kid in a candy store. Loretta, what did you do to my boyfriend?"

"I'll let Heath tell you," Loretta said and raised her glass. "I hope you know how lucky you are, Wyatt. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go find my husband."

At that, she left them, and Heath saw a puzzled but amused frown on Wyatt's face.

"What did you do to her?" he asked. "I haven't seen Loretta like that for as long as I've known her."

"Oh, you know. Just my usual magic," Heath said, laughing.

Wyatt took a step closer to him, placing one hand on Heath's waist, and their hips were touching. Heath glanced around, instinctively waiting to see a disapproving face, but no one seemed to be paying them any mind.

"What do you say we leave a little earlier?" Wyatt asked him in a low voice. "I just finished a deal and feel like celebrating. I also want to know what it is that you just did."

Heath nodded, then grabbed Wyatt by his tie and pulled him in for a kiss. A celebration was definitely in order.