Henry and Jack had thought nothing could ever drive them apart. They were wrong. Three months have passed since Jack walked out of the home they shared, and Henry had been too stupid to take back the hurtful things he'd said.
Both assured by their respective parents the other would not be present at Henry's mother's annual Christmas gathering, they attend. Finding they have been duped into seeing each other, Henry realizes that this may be his only chance to try and make things right. But will he be able to convince Jack to come home?
[Chapter One by RJ Scott is HERE, Chapter Two by Chris Quinton is HERE]
Jack stood breathlessly before Henry. Anger heated his face as he looked at the man he had once called ‘love’. What the hell did Henry think he was doing? There was no reason for Henry to invade his space. No reason for his warm, soft lips to lock with Jack's in a passionate kiss. No reason. Not anymore.
"What the hell, Hen?" Distance seemed like the best idea right now. Turning on his heel, he then made for the door.
"Jack, wait," Henry called after him.
Curiosity got the better of him, and with a frustrated sigh, he turned around and met brilliant blue eyes he hadn't looked into for three months. Though Jack hated to admit it, Tim had been right. There was something different about Henry. Months of working under Parry had brought about an air of importance. The way he held himself, straight and tall, and the slight tilt back of his head echoed his grand position on the surgical team. He folded his arms and made sure to keep his distance. One kiss was quite enough for their first encounter since September.
Henry cleared his throat as he rubbed at the spot where Jack had pushed him away. "I didn't think you'd be here," he said.
"I didn't plan on being, but you know how my mother can be." Jack looked Henry up and down. Why did he have to look so damn good? "If she'd told me before we'd made it to the front door, I wouldn't have come." He unfolded his arms and curled his hand against the pocket of his suit trousers. His fingers circled around the memory of the ring box, and he tightened his fist against the burn of hurt and disappointment. This really wasn't the evening he'd hoped for. In fact, he'd pretty much played the night out in his head before they had even left the house—drunken middle-aged women, a collection of terrible Christmas jumpers, and eating enough posh nibbles to sink the Parrys' luxury sail boat.
"How have you been?" Henry asked, breaking the uncomfortable silence that had settled between them.
Jack pressed his mouth in a line and shrugged. "Busy. I have a year six class this year so lots to prep." Not that Henry cared. Too much work for too little money had always been Henry's opinion. "How's Birmingham?" He wasn't sure why he asked when he was already sure he knew the answer.
"Good. Actually, great," Henry said far too enthusiastically for Jack's liking. Of course he was doing great, probably off saving lives with one hand tied behind his back whilst hopping on the spot.
Jack shook his head. He didn't want to feel like this again—the mix of envy and inadequacy swirled around his head. "Look, I'm going to go," he decided. "I have stuff to do."
"Jack," Henry said, but Jack raised his hand, shutting him up.
"Merry Christmas," he said and made his escape.
When Henry emerged from his hiding place, the last thing he needed was to be confronted by his self-appointed stalker.
"Everything okay?" Georgina asked and narrowed her eyes as she settled her sight on Jack on the other side of the room.
"Everything's fine," he said through a tightened jaw, trying to suppress the urge to snap at her and tell her to fuck off.
Georgina leaned in close as she held her wine glass against her chest, sticking out her breasts to exaggerate what little cleavage she had. "You were right to dump him, you know. You could do so much better."
Henry tapped his fingers in an angry rhythm against his leg. His mum's Christmas party was not the place to kick off at his boss's daughter. For one, he liked his job, and two, his mum would never forgive him.
"Yeah. I just need to do something." He caught sight of his mother neatly rearranging the plate of mini quiches. "Over there." The brush off sucked and he groaned inwardly as he made his way toward his mother.
"Oh, Henry, I wondered where you got to. Would you be a darling and get some more bottles of fizz from the wine cellar?"
"Can Dad go?" Henry asked, looking along the long buffet table to where Jack seemed to be making excuses to his parents. He was going to leave.
"Your father's stolen away to his shed with Father Clarkson. I need you to do it." She had the look. The Emily Lewis look, and that wasn't something someone ignored. But right now, Henry did his best to do so. He wanted out of there. Emotions reared inside him and his pathetically patched up heart started to break again. He had often wondered how he would feel if he saw Jack again and now he knew. He hurt like hell.
"Mum." He rested his hand on her shoulder and gently curled his fingers over the shoulder pad in her bolero jacket. "I'm going to head off." He was prepared to play the 'I've surgery in the morning' card if he needed to. Even if this time it was a lie.
"It's still early." His mum looked incredibly disappointed and his resolve of just a moment ago started to fail. "We haven't had the toast or served dessert. You can't leave yet."
He cast his gaze towards Jack. Angela Hughes also had the look as she did her best to stop her son from leaving the party early. He and Jack had often laughed about how similar the two women were. Both were strong-willed, sure-headed, equally competitive, and both very proud of their sons. He smiled as Jack looked wearily in his direction and for a moment he felt the old, familiar connection between them.
"Henry?" His mum looked firmly up at him and he knew he wasn't going to win.
"Fine," he said. There was no point in arguing. "How many bottles do you want?"
To Be Continued... December 21st on Lisa Worrall's Blog