Leandro expected Silas to head for his vehicle, whatever that might be (Leandro amused himself guessing the possibilities, settling on an unassuming, always reliable pickup in a dark blue that matched his eyes) where Leandro would be told either to get in or to get back in his own trusty gray Outback and follow him. So he was a little nonplussed when Silas turned away from the small parking lot next to the restaurant and started walking down the broad sidewalk of the town’s wreath-and-garland-festooned main street. There were a few people out on the town, though most folks seemed to be inside the shops and businesses that lined the central thoroughfare or tucked away in their homes on the side streets beyond. Leandro got the sense that someone followed them out of the diner and stayed behind them, trailing them down the pavement, though when he glanced over his shoulder there wasn’t anyone there.
Leandro shrugged and instead looked over at his companion, who, as it turned out, was just a shade taller than Leandro’s lean and limber 6-foot-1. The day was bright and sunny but quite brisk, and while that blue sweater might do a great job of showing off Silas’s shoulders it was still just a sweater. He watched as the chilly wind ruffled the man’s loose, black hair energetically, as though it were making up for there being nothing much to play with on Leandro’s own close-shorn noggin. “Did you, uh, forget your coat in the restaurant?” he asked.
Silas smiled enigmatically. “I’m usually pretty warm.”
Leandro snorted inwardly. Hot, even, he thought. “Where we headed?” he asked, stuffing his hands in his jacket pockets. “Is the party this way?”
“Sort of,” Silas said. Without further explanation he made a sudden left turn into a shop—a big, cozy yarn shop, Leandro saw. Swallowing his surprise he followed Silas into the store, the shop bell jangling merrily as the door closed behind them.
The store was a riot of color, jam-packed with every kind of yarn in all weights and types, with racks of tools, notions, and patterns wedged in amidst the vivid visual bedlam. Cheery Christmas-themed classical music sifted overhead from hidden speakers. Leandro looked around in wonder. It’s like a candy store for cat ladies, he thought as he followed Silas through the tessellated walnut cubbies packed with skeins in every conceivable hue, then he felt instantly guilty for thinking it. Lots of people knit, he chided himself sternly, and only some of them were ladies with cats.
As in demonstration of his self-critique, a cute, fresh-faced blond in a chartreuse tee shirt and dark jeans popped out of the back just then, clearly the proprietor despite his relative youth—like Silas he looked to be in his early thirties, “just past the bloom of boyhood where real masculinity began” (as Leandro had once been told by a self-conscious hookup who’d just turned 33). The blond lit up when he saw Silas and immediately enfolded him in a very intimate-looking embrace. “Sweetie, so nice to see you,” the blond enthused. His gaze quickly moved to Leandro. “And who’s this?” he purred, raking his eyes over Leandro’s lanky form.
“Hi, I’m—” Leandro said, starting to raise his hand to shake, or maybe wave, but before he had a chance to do either the blond closed the distance between them in a snap and wrapped him up in the same tight, extra-friendly hug he’d given Silas, sliding his hands right under his open coat and up his long back underneath it. “—Leandro,” he finished lamely.
“Leandro plays softball,” Silas offered, as if this were an important item on his social CV. He was leaning against the counter with his arms folded over his chest, watching the two of them in obvious amusement.
“I can tell. Hi, Leandro,” the blond said, looking up at him with a big smile and a light in his pretty hazel eyes. “Is that South American?”
“Brazilian,” Leandro answered automatically. After a second or two he realized the hug was still happening and Leandro, knowing it was probably rude to just stand there, went ahead and returned the embrace, wrapping his arms tentatively around the yarn guy’s slim form. In response, Yarn Guy squeezed Leandro back in a way that was, he had to admit, not at all unpleasant, and thanks to the leftover arousal from his encounter with Silas Leandro decided to just enjoy the hug for however long it lasted. Folks sure are welcoming here, he thought, a little bemused.
“This is Gus,” Silas put in, still watching as if they were doing this for his entertainment.
Gus met Leandro’s gaze and bit his lip playfully, clearly reveling in their mutual embrace. “Do you like me, Leandro?” he asked, as bright and cheery as a unicorn high on rainbows.
Not expecting the question, Leandro’s first impulse wads to shoot Silas a quick, narrow look. You pimping me out, “alderman”? he wanted to ask. Silas, as if guessing the unvoiced question, just smiled benignly at them, those dark-blue eyes twinkling as if he, or maybe it was the town he served, somehow had the power to make Christmas magic real.
Leandro looked back down as Gus, who was still holding him close like that was just his thing. Heck, this guy was so friendly he could probably get away with dipping down for a kiss. The thought made him smile. Gus, encouraged, let his hands roam a little under the jacket. “Hmmmm?” he prompted, as cute and irrepressible as anyone Leandro had ever met. To his surprise he could feel Gus’s hefty cock thickening against his hip, only inches from his own persistently half-hard tool.
Leandro couldn’t help but smile. Gus’s open directness actually was kind of sexy. “I do like you,” he admitted.
Gus beamed, squeezing him tighter. His hazel eyes turned shrewd. “I bet you’d like me tall,” he said. “Tall like you? Yeah?”
Leandro chuckled, not looking away from those eyes. He almost felt hypnotized. Anyway, he had no impulse to lie, and the fact was he did kind of prefer making out with guys his own height. “Yeah,” he agreed. “I’d like ‘tall you’, sure.”
Gus’s eyes glinted, and his smile seemed to get even wider. “And ‘hung me’, right? You’d like me really hung?”
Leandro smirked, wondering how Gus has guessed his latent inclination toward size-queendom—a proclivity his already half-forgotten ex, Will, had sadly not satisfied. To his own amazement he ground his groin, which currently featured his own three-quarters-hard tool, against the thick near-boner his yarn-loving, hug-happy Yarn Boy was sporting. “I’m not sure you need help in that department,” he said. Shocked at his own brazenness and smarm, he kept staring, his crotch still pressed firmly against Gus’s.
“But, even more hung than that, right?” Gus persisted. “Like, way, extra hung?”
“Sure,” Leandro agreed, wanting to laugh. “I’d like ‘way, extra-hung you’.”
Gus grinned. “Sweet!” he said, then surprised him by pushing up on his toes for a kiss. Leandro, already turned on by the embrace and the sexy-talk, not to mention the feel of Gus’s strong body and hard, thick cock, responded instantly, opening for Gus and joining him for a minute of sensual, reality-shifting snogging before Gus finally dropped back down, red-cheeked and very happy.
“It was nice to meet you, Leandro,” Gus said, unwrapping himself from around him and taking a step back.
“C’mon, stud,” Silas put it, standing up from where he’d been leaning against the counter. “I got a couple more folks for you to meet.”
Dazed and aroused, Leandro looked at Silas, then at Gus. “I bet we’ll see each other again soon,” Gus said with a wink.
Silas took Leandro’s elbow with a chuckle, and Leandro let himself be led out of the shop. Something had just happened, but he wasn’t quite sure what.
As they exited the store, returning to the sunny, Arctic afternoon, they passed someone lounging against the building by the shop door. At first Leandro went past him without really noticing him, too distracted by what had just happened in the yarn store, but then the figure pushed off the wall and approached. “Hey, Leandro,” said a familiar, saucy voice.
Leandro turned and gaped. The speaker was none other than the blond yarn store cutie, Gus. Only… okay, this was weird. How was Leandro looking Gus right in those bright, cheeky hazel eyes? Tall Gus just beamed at him, as though he were waiting for Leandro to figure it all out. “Thanks for this, by the way,” the blond said, nodding downward. Leandro looked down and his jaw dropped as he took in the long, thick, very prominent tube of inviting cockflesh that draped down the left leg of Tall Gus’s long, dark jeans. The fat bulge seemed to go on forever, finally stopping only when his eyes got to the vicinity of the guy’s knees.
Leandro’s eyes jumped up to meet the other man’s, at once baffled and fighting back a tsunami of arousal. “What the—?” he started to say.
Just then a dark-skinned, professorially handsome guy wearing round, dark-framed glasses passed by them and entered the shop with a jingle of bells. Before the heavy door closed he distinctly heard Gus greet the man with a happy, “Hey, husband!” Leandro looked into the shop with a start, and, sure enough, there was Gus—the original Gus, short like before and presumably more conventionally hung—greeting the new guy with a big hug and a very dirty kiss before disappearing with him into the back.
Leandro transferred his helpless stare to Tall Gus, who still stood there on the sidewalk with him, smug and perky, then around to Silas, who was observing them together with what looked like approval. He started to ask, “Twins?”… but he knew that was wrong even before opening his mouth. He said nothing.
Silas nodded, seeming to approve of this as well. “C’mon,” he said affably. “Like I said, more folks to meet.” He turned and started down the sidewalk, the breeze picking up just then as if it had been waiting for another chance to tousle the man’s dark hair.
Leandro and Tall Gus followed a step behind. Leandro swallowed. Some stray brain cell hit on the obvious fact that Tall Gus was, like his progenitor, only wearing a neon chartreuse tee shirt. He looked over, and Tall Gus had his arms folded tightly over his defined chest, gooseflesh rising over his forearms; though he was still smiling contentedly, it was obvious he was cold and would soon be shivering. Whatever it was that kept Silas running hot, Tall Gus hadn’t gotten it.
Wordlessly, Leandro pulled off his coat as they walked and offered it to the other man.
“I’m okay,” Tall Gus said, still smiling.
Leandro sighed and pushed the coat toward him again. “Dude,” he said.
Tall Gus’s grin turned lopsided and he took the coat gratefully. Once he was in it, Leandro expected him to shove his fists into the pockets like Leandro had done. Instead, almost bashfully he extended his hand toward Leandro. Leandro took it. They walked a little ways in silence.
He tried to make sense of his feelings. He was already deeply attached to Gus—this Gus. Like, this was his soulmate, the guy he was supposed to meet if this really were a Christmas rom-com. Was that fair to the other guy, though? He wasn’t sure.
“Gus,” he started to ask, then faltered before soldiering on. “Do you—like me?”
When he gave Tall Gus a furtive glance, he found him being smiled at with Gus’s patented incandescent smile. “Yeah, Leandro, I do,” he said, squeezing his hand. “I like you a lot.” His eyes added, More than I can say.
Leandro smiled, slightly abashed at the naked affection Gus showed him. That was good. They walked hand-in-hand toward their next destination.
He didn’t have long to wait. After crossing a side street Leandro saw they were approaching a bakery called Hank’s Sweets, the garlanded, fake-frosted window of which was packed with delicious-looking cakes, pies, muffins, cookies, and every other kind of yummy dessert you could produce with a bit of flour and an oven. Silas went right in. Leandro made to follow him in, still holding hands with Tall Gus, but his new friend unexpectedly held back. “I’ll wait out here,” he said.
Their faces were close. Leandro, not liking the sound of this, felt his dark brows drawing together. He remembered the sense of someone being behind them as they approached the yarn store, and finding Tall Gus waiting there when they came out. It suddenly hit him that he didn’t want this man to revert to the insubstantial, unseen hint of a man he’d been before. “You—won’t go anywhere?” he said, his worry audible in his own ears.
Tall Gus smiled beatifically at him and, irrepressible as always, pulled him in for a messy kiss. When it was over he made a show of adjusting the massive bulge running down his leg, and Leandro, no longer shocked by anything that had to do with this man, grinned at him. Reassured, he headed into the store.
Inside the bakery Leandro drew in the heavenly smell as he walked over to where Silas was standing with a tall, beautifully muscled, sandy-haired hunk in a white apron over a long-sleeved navy tee that squeezed the man’s perfect biceps and thick chest in a way that made Leandro envious. The man’s eyes lit when he saw Leandro, though his expressions and demeanor were obviously more subdued than Gus’s. “Wow, new meat. Has it been five years already?” he asked Silas quietly as Leandro approached.
“Another turn of the wheel,” Silas agreed philosophically. He seemed about to do introductions, but Leandro beat him to it.
“Hi,” he said, offering his hand. “I’m Leandro.”
The baker raised an eyebrow at him, as if to say that Leandro should really know better, and stepped forward to wrap him in a tight hug, just as Gus had. Leandro, having half-expected this, returned the embrace, swiftly finding his arousal ramped up by the feel of the man’s heavy, exquisitely-carved muscle. The lats against his arms, the pecs against his chest, the biceps pressing into his flanks—all of it felt fucking amazing, and Leandro had stop himself from letting out a quiet moan.
The baker chuckled, enjoying the embrace as much as Leandro. “I’m Hank,” he said into Leandro’s ear. He was a couple inches taller than Leandro—not a bad height. His voice was low and a little rough, as though speaking wasn’t his most effective means of communication. His stubble rubbed pleasantly against Leandro’s jaw.
“Hi, Hank,” Leandro said, like he was welcoming someone home.
They enjoyed the hug in a bliss of gentle foreplay for a few moments, both of them hard but ignoring their huge boners as best they could while they mashed their bodies together. Hank’s hands were moving, making slow swaths along Leandro’s long back, and Leandro was doing the same across the slightly broader expanse Hank offered.
Hank pulled back just enough to meet Leandro’s gaze. Everything else seemed to drop away but Hank’s pale green eyes. “You like me,” Hank said, still stroking Leandro’s back as they pressed themselves together.
It wasn’t a question, but Leandro gave him a breathy “Yes” anyway.
Hank’s eyes glittered. “What about my muscles?” he asked. “Do you want me more built?”
Leandro shook his head. “No,” he said. “You’re perfect like this.”
Hank smiled softly at the compliment, not beaming like Gus but clearly gratified. He slid his hands both higher and lower on Leandro’s back, the left one approaching Leandro’s butt. “You like this, though,” Hank said.
Leandro, feeling almost intoxicated, nodded. “You want more of this, right?” Hank pressed. “More hands to stroke you, to hold you? You’d like me like that?”
Leandro tried imagining Hank holding him close, hands stroking him everywhere, and his rigid cock surged, threatening to explode into orgasm. “Yes,” he agreed breathlessly. He pressed himself closer to Hank, wanting the questions to be over so they could kiss.
Hank’s green eyes seemed to fill his sight, even as the pleasure of their bodies threatened to swamp his sensory apparatus. “What about my cock?” Hank asked seriously. “Do you like it?”
Leandro and Hank had few secrets from each other on that front—they could feel each other’s raging erections, and Leandro could tell Hank’s was wide and flat and easily an inch or two past than Leandro’s fat, unusually long boner. “It’s perfect,” Leandro said again, staring hard into Hank’s eyes.
“How about two? Would two be twice as nice?” Hank said.
“Fuck!” Leandro said, loving the image of two of Hank’s wide, flat erections jostling each other and sliding against each other’s slime. Unable to hold back any long he dove in for a fierce kiss that lasted for an untold amount of time, and it was only the last-minute recollection that his khaki chinos were dry clean only that stopped him completely letting go and cumming hard in his pants as they kissed.
It took Leandro a moment to realize that Silas was frowning, something he hadn’t seen him do before.
He tried focusing his sex-addled brain enough to figure out what was going on. They were outside the bakery—Leandro didn’t remember ending the kiss or walking out of the shop, he just knew he was rock-hard and incredibly horny from the make-out sessions with Hank and, before him, Gus. He concentrated on Silas, then turned to see what he was staring at.
Leaning against the side of the building, just as Tall Gus had been, was a new version of the sandy-haired cake-baking demigod. This Hank was dream-muscled like the original and just as wildly handsome in his own subdued way, but he (and his tight navy long-sleeved tee) also happened to have an extra set of arms just below the originals, making him incidentally a few inches taller than his original. All four arms looked amazingly strong and led into a heavy, complex set of layered pecs under his straining shirt that Leandro was having trouble keeping himself from exploring with his own two hands. His eyes dropped to below Four-Armed Hank’s waist where just the ghost of a double-thick bulge pushed out against his loose jeans and, over them, the white fabric of his apron.
Leandro swallowed and looked over at Tall Gus, who was staring at Four-Armed Hank in rapt fascination, not so much in attraction as in awe that he existed at all. Four-Armed Hank was staring at Tall Gus with exactly the same look on his stubbled face.
Quickly, Leandro glanced in through the window. The original Hank was still there, watching the tableau on the sidewalk with raised eyebrows.
Leandro looked back over at Silas, a little mystified at the man’s unhappy scowl. To be honest, he was not sure how well his brain was working, but he thought he understood what was going on with all these little visits. “What?” he said. “Isn’t this what’s supposed to happen?”
“They’re supposed to mix,” Silas groused. He was clearly both confused and annoyed, though Leandro sensed he was also intrigued. Clearly, whatever this was was unprecedented in the… however long this five-year cycle of creating true love for random Christmas visitors had been going on.
“Oh! I get it!” he said suddenly as it dawned on him. He turned toward his two dream men. “They’re supposed to combine the traits I like and ask for into the ideal man for me!” Fuck, he really was sex-drunk, though he wasn’t sure if that was helping or hindering his thought processes at the moment. Maybe his carnal intoxication was opening up new vistas in his brain he wouldn’t other otherwise see. Like a bacchanal. “So, why didn’t you guys… you know, mix?” he asked, going ahead and asking the question that must have been on Silas’s mind as well.
Tall Gus turned and smiled at him, piercing his heart with deep, mutual love. “You didn’t want me to go,” he said simply.
Fuck, the feels!
Four-Armed Hank turned to look at him then, and Leandro felt himself shot through with the same shared forever-love he felt for Tall Gus. There was a hint of worry in those green eyes, and Leandro rushed to extinguish it. “I don’t want you to go, either,” he said firmly. Four-Armed Hank gave him a gentle, infinitely pure grin.
“Hmph,” Silas said skeptically. Then, decisively, he said, “The third one will fix it.”
Leandro looked over at him in surprise, but Silas was already crossing the street, heading for the local fire station. “Wait!” Leandro called, waiting for a car to pass and then jogging after him, his two grinning soulmates in tow. “Wait! Silas! Is that such a good idea?”
Silas looked utterly perplexed as they approached their final destination—an empty storefront not far from the exact center of town, across from the town-hall and the little park with the gazebo where no doubt all sorts of quant and picturesque community gatherings would take place in the warmth of summer. They were a little crowd now: Leandro was all but surrounded with love, what with Tall Gus, Four-Armed Hank, two extra-limber, semi-stretchy copies of a fit, biracial fireman named Zack, and an extremely ripped version of Brett, the redheaded bookstore owner, who couldn’t stop smiling around the fat hard-on he had pushing out between his full lips, matching the equally impressive one he had outlined in his pants below. All of them were Leandro’s true love, and Leandro knew he couldn’t live without any of them.
Leandro gave Silas a friendly hug, enjoying the feel of the man’s sculpted body, though now that he had found his soulmates—all five of them—he didn’t have any lust left for anyone else, just affection. “You ready to give up, Si?” he teased him as they stepped apart.
Silas smiled and shook his head ruefully. “Clearly, I’d better,” he said, holding Leandro’s gaze. “There’s something special about you. Maybe the town decided it needed that. Either way, I know you’ll be happy here.”
Leandro was about to object that his life was back east—not that he’d sorted through what that would mean with five newly-created soulmates—but Silas just nodded up at the signage over the empty shop-front. Leandro looked up to see that the clean, professional lettering read “Leandro Ruiz, Physical Therapy,” and the moment he saw it he knew that his life here would be complete.
He looked back at Silas in gratitude. “What about you?” he said. “Did the town give you your true love?”
Even as he said it, he caught a glimpse of a good-looking man in old-fashioned clothes wrapping powerful arms around Silas, just as both of them disappeared as if they had never been. Leandro wasn’t sure, but he had a suspicion that Silas’s lover was the town itself, and as he was gathered into a massive, many-armed hug by his posse of impossible lovers Leandro knew he was happy for Silas—almost as happy as he was for himself.