Independence Day by Willa Okati

Independence Day by Willa Okati

Independence Day

Firecrackers (multi-author series)
by Willa Okati

Changeling Press

eBook ISBN: 1-59596-178-X

Ryan discovers Thom has neglected to tell people about their new coupledom. Miffed that he’s a closeted secret, Ryan’s ready to call it quits.

Time for Theodore and Joey to step in again, to bring Ryan and Thom back into each other’s arms in time for Independence Day.

Note: This story follows the Candy Heart: Valentine Vow.

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Prologue

Theodore held Joey’s hand tight in his own, tracing the thick veins. A working man’s hand. Every day of his mortal life, Joey had done good hard labor, whether constructing the cabin where they met on weekends and holidays, or hefting heavy timbers at the sawmill. He never ceased to thank whatever powers there were, whoever was in charge, that even as a ghost he could feel Joey’s hand in his. Warm, rough, ropy. Joey grumbled a bit as Theodore petted him, but he squeezed back.
The two stood gazing down at their special charges — Joey’s great-nephew Ryan, and his partner Thom. Valentine’s Day had been the turning point for those two, with a little help from the Saint himself. They’d finally admitted they were more than fuckbuddies. They loved one another, and needed each other. Not just random bumps in the night, they were partners.
Like he and Joey had never gotten to be, openly, while they lived.
“Look at them,” he said quietly, though he didn’t need to whisper. “They sleep so peacefully in the same bed together.”
Joey grunted. “Sleep better in the cabin. My kin doesn’t care for this city life.”
“Town mouse, country mouse.” Theodore tilted his head to one side. “Do you think Thom might give up this penthouse for the foothills eventually?”
“Might do. Might not. Stubborn bastard, he is.”
“Guess you’re right,” Theodore allowed. Curious, he reached forward and brushed his fingers over Thom’s bare shoulder. Thom shivered in his sleep, scooting a little closer to Ryan’s warmth. “There. Much better.”
“Fellas don’t have to sleep snuggled up like dolls,” Joey grumped. Still, a light twinkled in his eyes. He liked the closeness better, too.
“They have a ways to go yet.”
“Ayup. Reckon they’ll make it, though.”
“I hope so.” Theodore drew back. “Ryan and Thom were meant to be together, and for the whole world to see it.” He turned so he could grip Joey’s tough shoulders in his softer hands, and leaned in to brush their lips together. The ghostly kiss tingled. “I only wish we’d had the chance.”
Joey sighed. “Least they do. Reckon that’s why we’re here?”
“Do you think so?”
Both ghosts looked down at the sleeping couple. “Well,” Theodore said, “everyone needs a guardian. Even if we’re not quite angels.”
Joey tilted his head back and laughed. After a moment, Theodore joined him. No one could hear them, save for the other ghosts haunting the world, but what did it matter? They got the joke.
Better still, they had each other. They had a mission.
Ryan and Thom.

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Changeling Press