“Bébé, what are you doing?” I called from the bed as I looked at Yin fussing around in our little kitchen on the other side of our studio apartment. I bit back a smile when he whipped around toting two mugs in a candy cane motif.
“I was trying to bring you some coffee with peppermint creamer, Mr. Sleepy Head.” The attempt at sounding stern was thwarted by the grin on his face. He closed the space between us in a few steps and handed me the steaming mug.
I reached out for the drink knowing it would probably be too sweet. And that I would drink it anyway, because how could I not, when it was made for me with such love? It was still hard to believe sometimes that I had this life.
I patted the spot on the bed next to me, as Yin blew on his own cup. “Come sit with me.”
He held up a finger and looked down at his drink. “Let me wait until this cools down, because you know me, I’ll probably spill this all over the bed and then we’ll spend Christmas at the ER.” I had to bite back a laugh, because he was a little clumsy. So I waited patiently until he was ready.
Yin finally took a small sip from his coffee and grimaced. “Yeah, the peppermint creamer isn’t really helping. I just don’t like coffee.” He looked so disappointed that he wouldn’t be able to partake in holiday themed caffeinating.
“Tea?” I asked, as I took a few more sips of the minty coffee. Yin slumped his shoulders and dipped his head in defeat.
“Yeah. I’ll go make myself some.” He shuffled back to the corner of our apartment that served as our kitchen. I felt the buzz of the caffeine waking up my brain as I placidly watched Yin move. My boyfriend, my man—my whole life if I was honest. I didn’t know how it was that I’d gotten so lucky, but I would never get tired of marveling at this little nest we’d made together. With the help of so many people, but still. Here we were. Some days I could just revel in that for hours. That Yin and I had managed to overcome as much as we did and end up here together. But that wasn’t quite true, we’d fought like hell to be here, both of us.
Yin was slight and sunny, but he was also strong, and so smart. I pushed hard, driven to accomplish my goals, and he was the exact same way. He always said that we were both strivers. We had come up against so much to get here and we knew the value of every little thing we had. That kept us focused. And he was right of course, but for me it was more. He’s what brought everything together for me. It had been almost three years since I met him and I still could remember what I felt the moment I saw him.
Yin made me feel so much back then that I was scared of it. I’d wanted him more than anything, I feared if I reached for him I’d ruin the friendship and that meant too much to risk. I just could not make myself believe that I could have so much. How could I be so lucky to have something like that in my life? So I kept him at bay, convinced just having him as a friend was an embarrassment of riches. But Yin wouldn’t let me deprive us for long, and after a year of resisting I finally fell.
(C) Adriana Herrera, Carina Press, 2020. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.
Denpo Myint “Yin” Thuta is living the dream. His dream. A good job, higher education, supportive community and, best of all, his live-in boyfriend, Ari. Yin has his happily-ever-after. . . if only he and Ari could take the time to actually enjoy it. With the holidays fast approaching, Yin’s determined to change all that and surprise Ari with an over-the-top gift that will leave him in no doubt how much he’s loved–even though they agreed to keep things simple this year.
Like Yin, Aristide “Ari” Douniama worked so hard to secure his future that he may have forgotten how to enjoy his present. Despite there being plenty to be thankful for in the moment. With big plans of his own in the works to surprise Yin, Ari may or may not have gone overboard. Or forgotten to check their respective schedules.
’Tis the season of giving, and in their quest to celebrate the “perfect” American Christmas–and failing–Ari and Yin get a much-needed reminder that they already have the greatest gift of all: each other.
About Adriana Herrera
Adriana Herrera was born and raised in the Caribbean, but for the last fifteen years has let her job (and her spouse) take her all over the world. She loves writing stories about people who look and sound like her people, getting unapologetic happy endings.
When’s she not dreaming up love stories, planning logistically complex vacations with her family or hunting for discount Broadway tickets, she’s a social worker in New York City, working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence.