Candle Seven (Part 2)

Mark made a shape in the air. “I need a box. Kind of like this one.” He gestured to the cardboard box carrying Luke’s gifts. “Made of wood. Or glass. Or even metal, I guess, as long as it’s beautiful.” Wrong word, Tavery. “I mean elegant.”

Jodie gave him the strangest look. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Neither do I.” He pointed at the compartments in the cardboard box. “See these? I’d like the box I get to have these if possible. I want to showcase Luke’s gifts so they won’t get broken.”

“You’re talking about a curio cabinet.”

She understands. Thank God. Or He nodded. “Where can I get one?”

“There are a couple of great furniture stores over in St. Pete, but I’d honestly suggest — ”

“Furniture? How big is a curious cabinet?”

Curio. They can be six feet tall.”

Mark closed his eyes. “Jodie, I just need a little box like…” He turned, scanning for something in her shop to compare with the vague image in his head. He spied a dark piece of wood tucked edgewise onto a high shelf. Probably it wasn’t quite what he wanted, but it might give her a better idea.

Now if I can just reach it. When he stood below the object, Mark stretched up, wishing for his eight feet of dragon height. Come on, come on…

   He hooked the object just under the dark piece of wood. Both items tumbled off the shelf. He leaped back, managing to catch them both without getting more than a shower of dust for his trouble.  The object he’d grabbed was a rumpled plastic tablecloth. But the dark wooden edge he’d seen was actually a rectangle, shallow in depth. The wood glowed like dark chocolate held over a flame.

The box sported shelves instead of individual compartments.

Mark grinned, and then sneezed. “Jodie? I want this.”


Luke finished setting up the last candle just as Mark pulled into the driveway. Wherever his lover had been, he’d done more than run because he was carrying a wrapped package carefully in both hands, balancing it like a tray. Mark’s eyes glowed with anticipation. Apparently, even though this was Luke’s giving day, he’d decided to give something himself. That was just fine because if the gifts ended today they could get down to the real joys they’d been missing out on.

The joys I saw him begging for when he came up out of the water. The joys I promised we were going to start having by the hundreds.

Luke opened the door for his lover.

Mark’s eyes were sapphires. He brushed his lips down Luke’s jaw, giving the genie just a hint of teeth. “I know it’s your day, but I couldn’t help myself.”

“I don’t mind.” Once Mark was inside, Luke closed the door. Then he watched his lover take in the score of unlit candles.

Mark paused in the doorway to the living room for a moment. Then he glanced at Luke and smiled. “Romantic setting. I love it.” He laid his gift on the couch. “Dance with me?”

“After I light the candles.”

Mark glanced toward the window. “It will be sunset in a few minutes. Light everything but the menorah, then come dance with me.”

Luke snapped his fingers for the show of the thing, lighting nearly all the wicks at once, leaving only the menorah alone. The soft glow of so many tiny fires brought out all the subtle tones in his lover’s hair and skin; Luke stood fro a moment, simply gazing. Then he recreated the tango he’d fallen in love with a century ago, and the sultry notes wove themselves through the room.

Mark raised his eyebrows. “Is this going to become our tango?”

Was this the music they’d danced to in that hotel room back in May? Luke blushed as he guided Mark into the dance. “I forgot which tango I’d played for you.”

Mark kissed him, interrupting the steps. “This one is ours now.” He grinned as they caught up with the music. “Although I might not let you lead forever.”

My Mark. Luke ruined the steps as he pulled his lover tight against him.


Half past midnight, Mark laid his head on Luke’s chest and closed his eyes. “All the candles are out?” He yawned, smiling when Luke stroked his bangs away from his forehead.

“Yes. Go to sleep, my Mark. You were asleep on your feet down there.”

Not quite true. He’d been half asleep in Luke’s arms on the couch after they’d made love for the second time. Mark let the comment stand. “I forgot to light the menorah again.”

“And we forgot to exchange gifts. So what? I received exactly what I wanted tonight. Did you?”

The dragon yawned again. He couldn’t keep his eyes open anymore. “Yup.” He nestled closer. “Night, Luke.” He was gifted a little more energy and he exploited it. “You’re going to love my present. It’s hard, elegant, and holds a great treasure.”

“What is it?”

“If you guess correctly, I’ll say yes.” Not that I know what it’s called.

He fell asleep listening to Luke’s guesses.

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