This is a bonus three scene sketch for fans of Dark Love. It was written for the 2016 Valentine’s Day Blog Hop. It may or may not turn into something larger.
Getting to Yes
Stephen del Mar
Dieter turned off the shower then leaned against the tile. He wasn’t sure the hot water helped the hangover. At least he didn’t have that morning-after funk anymore. He wiped the water out of his eyes. He hadn’t gotten this drunk in months. Not since Flora May’s funeral.
He slid the shower door aside and pulled his towel off the hanger. He needed to face New Year’s Day. Was last night a celebration or an attempt to forget? A year of so much loss and one bright spot. He rubbed the towel over his head. A blindingly bright spot he couldn’t pin down.
He frowned at the empty bed as he headed for the closet. Another night without Yanko. That’s when the drinking started. He’d been looking forward to ringing in the New Year with him. It seemed important. Their first New Year together. But he didn’t say anything when Luca and Tamas dragged him to the party back at the Cathouse. Why wouldn’t he want to party with his own friends? Did he expect Yanko to read his mind?
A few minutes later, he walked into the kitchen. “Bacon?” He looked between Boris and Meg. Neither one was known for cooking. “Who cooked breakfast?”
Boris didn’t look up from his coffee cup. Meg, uncharacteristically, patted him on his shoulder then turned around. “I’m perfectly capable of scrambling eggs and frying bacon. Would you like some?”
He nodded and sat down at the breakfast bar next to Boris. He took a mug off the wrought-iron rack and filled it. “So how was the party?”
He snickered. “That good.” He asked Meg, “Is Tucker still there? I expected him and Yanko back.”
“Yanko go work. Tucker still there. Luca hide clothes. Sent me get some.”
Meg set a plate of eggs and bacon in front of Dieter. “And why did he hide my husband’s clothes?”
Boris looked at her. “He say Tucker get naked in their home he stay naked. Can walk back naked.”
Dieter started to snicker again then stopped at the look Meg gave him. She said, “Yes. Well if that works, let me know. That man will strip at the flick of a faerie wing.”
Meg gave him another sharp glance causing Dieter to suppressed a chuckle and a comment about what do you expect if you marry a stripper.
She turned back to Boris. “I’ll get you something for him. I imagine you want to get back to Vladimir.”
Boris shrugged. “Need talk.”
Meg sat down again and took a sip of her tea then said. “I thought it might come to this. Is this about your past? That must be a hard secret to carry.”
“No. Need talk you.”
Dieter put his fork down. “About what?”
“Need be American. Need protect Vova.”
“I don’t understand,” Meg said.
“He graduate. He go back Russia. Dark love no good there. Very bad. Family no like. If Boris American, can marry him. Make him American, then can stay, no?”
Gently, Dieter asked, “Do you love him that much?”
Boris’ golden-hazel eyes locked into his. “You think I betray Wolfgang?”
He held Boris’ gaze. “No.”
Boris looked down. “Think that sometime. No love like Wolfie. Boris different. Love different. Still love, no?”
Meg patted his arm and said fiercely. “Yes, it is. But citizenship takes time. You won’t be eligible yet. We need to start working on getting him a green card. What’s his major?”
“Computers. Don’t understand when talks about it.”
“Well dear, I think between our businesses and contacts we should be able to sponsor a native Russian speaker that is good with computers.”
“And there’s the refugee or asylum angle too,” Dieter said.
“The anti-gay violence in Russia is well documented. If he can show his family is hostile and he’d be threatened, I think that can help. We’ll talk to some people, okay? But you can still get married if you want. If you’re sure. And that way it wouldn’t look like you’re marrying him just for citizenship.”
Boris stood and wrapped his arms around Dieter, then went and kissed Meg on the cheek. “Blagodarya.“
“You’re welcome, dear,” she said.
“Get Tucker clothes. Spend day with Vova. New Year start. Good year.”
Meg stood up. “You know, I don’t think other women my age have to do this for their husbands.”
Boris followed her toward the stairs. “Other women no married young stud.”
Dieter spun around and saw a sly grin spread across her face. “No, they most certainly are not.”
After seeing Boris down the front stairs, Meg came in and placed a small and very ornately carved wooden box in front of Dieter. He set his last fork of egg back on the plate and pushed it away. “Why did you bring that down?”
“Why is it still in my safe?”
He didn’t say anything for a moment. He kept looking at the box because he couldn’t face her.
“I started making plans on your suggestion. There is a timeline for this type of thing you know.”
He still didn’t say anything.
“Dear One, a surprise birthday party can be great fun. A wedding…”
“I just haven’t found the right time.”
“As my Aunt Ruthie would say, Poppycock. Haven’t you already committed to this? Why is it so hard to set a date?”
“Are we? He hasn’t even moved in yet. Sometimes I’m afraid he’s ready to bolt. That this is all too much for him. That things were said at the height of emotion and he feels trapped.”
Dieter looked up at her. “I know. You don’t like to get involved.”
She sat down next to him. “I do like to limit my engagement in personal drama, but Dear One, you are my family as is Yanko. Our dear Ricky didn’t fully move out until a good two months after his wedding and he has a more grounded background than poor Yanko. For some, impending marriage can feel like a cage door about to slam shut. Or you ever think he just might not trust it? That he’s a bit afraid to really believe it’s all going to happen?”
He frowned and shrugged. “I don’t know what to do about that. How can I make him believe and trust in me?”
She pushed the box closer to him. “Show him the rings you had Esme make for your wedding. It’s time for a yes, a no, or a not now. I need to know.”
“Look, even if he says yes. We aren’t going to want a show like your wedding.”
“Oh Dear One,” she laughed. “You couldn’t afford a wedding like mine and you don’t have nearly the number of relatives to offend. I can do small and tasteful. But things have been scheduled.”
“I didn’t approve that.”
“Yes. Well, you do have some good friends who are over fifty and we’d like to see you boys do this while we’re still able to enjoy and remember it.”
“When did you become such a drama queen?”
Her eyebrows went up. “Moi? Surely couldn’t be the company I keep. Now I believe you have the morning off. Take that box and go for a walk. It is a lovely morning. Not everyone can go for a morning stroll in their shirtsleeves on January First. Go, or do I need to sick the faeries on you?”
“The bugs have their purpose. If they’re going to infest our water garden they might as well be of use.”
He picked up the box. “Don’t have a choice it seems.”
“Finally got there. We all knew you would. I’ll start calling people and let Gus know we’ll have a special dinner down in the courtyard tonight.”
“But what if he says, no?“
She studied his face. “You really believe that’s a possibility?”
“It terrifies me.”
She touched his cheek. “Oh Dear One, just trust the magic.”
He sat stunned. A moment ago he would have bet his life, his soul, and everything he owned that Megan Bennett would never, ever utter those words.
Dieter leaned against the sky-blue stucco wall of La Posada del Marineros. The late morning sun danced on the Little Cypress River. Three pelicans skimmed above the ripples, rose a few feet and landed on a dock. The chatter of tourists came from across the street as a tram unloaded in front of the Castillo.
He took a deep breath of the sea air. “It shouldn’t be this hard. Why is it hard?” He didn’t have an answer and he wasn’t sure Meg had one either. Maybe he was just a chicken shit. What he wanted to do was have a beer with Innes and a long talk. Was it weird to want to talk to his ex about his future husband? But Innes was dealing with drama back in Cooter Crossing. He shook his head, “Small towns.”
He took another breath and walked through the arch into the courtyard of the hotel. He paused at the fountain in the middle. When they restored it, an over-sized base was added. In the round tiled pool, aquatic plants grew in dark, glazed pots. He crouched down to get a closer look in the shadows under the leaves of a water lily. Little tadpole-like creatures with glowing blue strips wiggled. Indistinct but happy thoughts washed over him. A large water-bug-shaped nymph edged her way out of the roots. Dieter, how delightful to see you.
He smiled and whispered, “Good morning, Moon Glow. Faelings are looking good. Everything going well?”
He felt motherly pride. Oh yes. We’ll have a Posada Clan soon. It’s so exciting. Two Fae clans in the city.
“And don’t forget, Esmeralda Pena has invited the Fae to her garden.”
Yes, we hear the new Witch of the Wood will bring a swarm with the new moon.
His chest tightened at the memory of what happened in that wood. Would he ever forget the feel of Yanko’s cold body in his arms? His dead lips?
Concern filled his mind. Dieter?
He faked a smile. “I need to go.”
The faelings wiggled and Moon Glow did a little dance.
He stood up and headed down an arched hallway that led to the hotel’s offices. Do or die time I guess. He winced at that thought. There’d been too much dying.
The assistant manager’s office door was open and soft guitar music drifted down the hallway. Yanko sat behind a desk, glancing between two computer screens and a pile of paper. Dieter knocked on the open door.
Yanko looked over with a frown that changed into a smile. “Hi there.”
Dieter smiled back and settled into one of the chairs in front of the desk. “Missed you this morning.” He hoped it didn’t sound accusatory. He rubbed the outline of the box in his jean’s pocket. He didn’t want to start an argument.
“Sorry about that. I passed out last night. I wanted to come back, but Tuck started doing this striptease drinking game, and well.”
Dieter grinned. “And who would want to miss that?”
“Exactly. And there is so much work to do. I’m not complaining. Being fully booked is a fantastic problem to have. Especially in this economy.” He shook his head. “When we started this little venture we expected that marriage equality would happen eventually, but not right away.” He looked from Dieter back to computer screen. “Next week will be the first anniversary of the ruling here in Florida. We’re booked through spring. Everyone wants to get married in paradise.”
Softly Dieter asked, “Can you blame them?”
Yanko still stared at the monitor. “Not really, but they all want the same damn day and Anders took a booking for the entire hotel on Valentine’s Day. He won’t even tell me who’s it for. It just says private party.” He looked at Dieter. “I need to contact these people. It looks like the biggest event we’ve done so far. We have to make plans. What’s the secret?”
And here it is. The moment of truth. He stood up, pulled the little box out of his pocket and placed it on top of a stack of papers. “What’s that?” Yanko asked.
“You know Esmeralda Pena and her shop?”
His eyes narrowed. “His mother.”
Dieter frowned. Yanko didn’t like Blaze and tended to not use his name. “Yes. She made those for me.”
Yanko took the box and slid the cover back. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t look up.
“I’d like to put one of those on your finger as the sun touches the Gulf on Valentine’s Day. Yanko Santiago, will you be my husband?”
He looked up and studied him. Dieter wondered if he was seeing his aura again. What color was it now? Then their eyes met. Like the first time they met across the Esperanza’s courtyard on a hot summer night. “I said yes before.”
“I need to hear it again. I need to know you still mean it. I need a date. I want to make it real. Bound by law, ritual, and gold.”
Yanko looked down and slid the lid closed. A tear ran down his cheek. He pushed the box away.
Fucking no! Dieter screamed in his head. Please God, not no!
Black eyes found his again. “I will be bound. I will stand with you till I can stand no more.”
“So, that’s a yes?”
He stood up and came around the desk. He closed and locked the door. “So much yes. Come here. We need to ring in the New Year.”
Dieter smiled. “Oh yeah. Happy New Year.”
He whispered in Dieter’s ear, “Did you doubt my answer?”
He didn’t say anything and Yanko pulled back and studied his face again. “Did I cause your doubt?”
Dieter gave a little shrug. “My little insecurities aren’t that important. Not right now.”
Yanko ran his hand under the front of Dieter’s shirt and laid his palm over the melted nub of a crow feather hanging from a leather thong. “Never doubt this. Please.”
“I don’t want you to feel obligated.”
“But I am obligated.” He smiled at the frown crossing Dieter’s face. “But not to you.”
“My soul. He’s been through hell. How could I deny him his perfect mate?”
“So are you saying I’m being silly?”
“I’m not saying anything, but I might ask something.”
Yanko’s eyes sparkled and he grinned like the devil as he unzipped his pants. “I’d ask, why are you still standing?”
Dieter sank to his knees.
“What, no answer?”
“Not supposed to talk with my mouth full.”
Yanko leaned back against the door. “I do love southern gentlemen.”