Panic or laugh?
That was the question running through my head like a rabid Pomeranian as I looked down at the present in my hand.
Weren’t Secret Santas supposed to be funny?
This was work, not family.
That was supposed to mean presents were silly and cute and low stress. That last one was key because the only reason management had even agreed to let us continue the tradition was because we’d promised not to take it too seriously or to get in a competition this year.
Last year had been…stressful.
So far everyone had obeyed the rules…well, everyone but my Santa.
Looking down into the decorated bag piled with tissue paper, I thought it should’ve just been filled with candy or something silly…nope. My Secret Santa had gotten me a big baby bottle filled with Hershey’s Kisses and a new binkie.
A fucking binkie.
I wasn’t embarrassed about being little, but no one, and I meant no one at work had figured out that part of my life in the five years I’d been working there. I’d been careful but not paranoid. Hell, I’d even been open about being gay…which was one of the reasons last year’s Secret Santa had almost been the last.
One asshole in accounting had thought it would be funny to give the only gay guy at the company a bag full of dicks.
Plastic dicks on a keychain.
A penis stuffy.
Well, that one had been kind of cute.
I’d actually been impressed at the sheer number and variety, but I’d made the mistake of opening the present right as the big boss had come into the holiday party, and he hadn’t been impressed.
With him being super religious, I’d thought as the only out guy at the company that I was going to be fired right then. But weirdly enough, he’d taken more offense at the idiot in accounting who’d ruined Jesus’s birthday.
Yep, there were lots of fun reasons this was my last day at the company, and not just because I was ready to be my own boss.
Co-workers were nuts.
They either talked too much or not enough.
They either ignored you or asked weirdly personal questions.
They either brought desserts constantly or were on weird diets and only ate tuna for weeks on end.
And now they either got you penises or binkies.
How the fuck had they known?
The only sense baby toys made was that someone knew I was little…but how?
At least the note on the package had said to open it in private, and they’d made that easy by hiding it behind my desk. I was actually grateful they’d gone to such lengths to make sure I hadn’t opened it at the party like most other people had.
So…my mysterious gift giver didn’t have a goal of embarrassing me, right?
Taking a breath, I looked at it logically.
It was candy I liked, so that had to mean they were trying to make me happy. Since that seemed like a good point, I kept studying the present. They wanted to keep this a secret, so they respected my privacy.
No one had ever even hinted about the BDSM stuff or my being little, so it hadn’t gotten spread around. The gossip around the office spread like wildfire, so my Secret Santa had been careful. But what did that all add up to?
And how had they known the kind of binkie I liked?
Leaning back in my chair, I tried to think. The last time I’d been little in any kind of public-ish way had been at the local BDSM club’s Halloween party. I’d gone with a friend who’d been my stand-in Daddy for the night, and I’d played with the other littles for the most part.
Had someone from work been there?
With about half the people in costumes it’d been impossible to see everyone’s faces, though I couldn’t remember anyone standing out. But I also hadn’t been looking. I’d never seen anyone from work there, so I’d never worried about it.
But clearly, I should have.
With logic making everything look better, the panic receded. They’d have given me the present in person if they’d wanted me to be outed at work. They picked something they thought I would like. They picked a gift that would be useful and fun.
It was actually the best Secret Santa gift I’d ever gotten.
Shit, it was one of the best presents I’d gotten in the past few years.
Taking another deep breath, I tucked the paper back around it and forced my shoulders to relax. I had a present I was going to enjoy later and this was my last day before freedom…hell, it was the last few minutes before freedom.
Was that part of it?
Was this a message because it was my last day?
Tucking the present at the bottom of the box that was going to hold all the last-minute things I was taking home, I arranged everything around it so it was mostly hidden. Adding in some notebooks I’d purchased and all the weird things I’d collected filled up the rest of the box, and soon I was done.
It felt a bit anticlimactic.
I’d been waiting for this moment for so long I thought it would feel bigger, but I was just relieved. Working in marketing had been my dream job until I’d started living the daily grind of the nine-to-five. If I’d fit in with the company better maybe it would’ve gone differently, but I’d felt like a fish out of water since day one.
I’d managed to do my best to make friends and be polite, but it’d never gone past that. Luckily, I’d figured out that my skills were marketable to a lot of different people, and two years ago I’d started planning the next phase of my life.
I was going to be self-employed as of…shit…as of five minutes ago.
Picking up my box, I headed to the door to my tiny closet of an office and started making my way toward the elevator.
And utter chaos.
Everyone in the entire company seemed to be leaving at the same time. It was wall-to-wall bodies as we all waited to go down to the parking deck. I’d hoped to just hide in anonymity but that didn’t happen.
Janice, good friend to dick man, smiled and wiggled her way over. “Sidney, I didn’t see what you got.”
And clearly she wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to ask about it. I couldn’t decide if she was just nosy or if she was hoping for a repeat of last year, but I just smiled. “I got movie tickets.”
A few people around me nodded and everyone started randomly commenting on what they’d gotten. Since my nonexistent movie tickets seemed to be the best gift, I got lots of props from everyone.
My Secret Santa would be the hit of the office if anyone actually figured out who’d picked me. But since I had no desire to further the discussion on that, I didn’t ask if anyone knew mine or who they’d gotten.
Thankfully, the large bank of elevators all opened at the same time and bodies started automatically moving. Cindy got shuffled to another one and I was left getting a wave from her and few other co-workers who’d finally realized it was my last day.
I hadn’t brought it up much, though since I’d been training my replacement for the last three days, there’d been no way to hide it. But I’d timed it to be right as everyone would be frantically distracted, and that seemed to have paid off.
The ride to the parking deck was slightly nerve-racking because I kept imagining dropping the box and the bottle flying across the elevator, but I managed to make it to the parking area without doing anything stupid.
Relief flooded through me as I found my car in the far corner of the building. I’d gotten out with no drama. No nosy people digging through to see my nonexistent movie passes and no chocolate candies flying around the elevator.
And no penises.
His boss had apologized and sworn the guy thought it was a fun way of showing that no one cared that I wasn’t straight, but I thought that was debatable, and something in his eyes said he doubted it too. However, I wasn’t the type to make a scene, so I’d just accepted the apology and moved on, staying clear of accounting for as long as I could.
Which was surprisingly easy, actually.
They were on the other side of the floor, and as long as I made sure to use the right copier, I’d only had to go over toward that area when I wanted to use the breakroom.
Needless to say, I’d consumed a lot of peanut butter and jelly over the past year. Between that and bringing coffee from home, I’d managed to avoid dick guy until he’d accepted a new job a few months ago.
And I was healthier because I’d drunk a lot less caffeine this past year, so it wasn’t all bad.
As I started to shift the box so I could dig out my keys, hands reached around me. “Let me help with that.”
Doing my best not to blush at the voice that always sent a shiver down my spine, I had to work to keep my voice even. “Thank you.”
AKA…Dick guy’s boss…well, ex-boss.
I was short as fuck, so it was easy to wiggle free and let him take the box. “Not quite enough hands.”
Between the box, my computer bag, and all the other bits and pieces I’d collected, setting everything down wouldn’t have been as easy as I’d planned.
Doing my best to avoid the accounting department meant I hadn’t seen much of Ross over the past year, but distance from my crush made it easier to actually date real men, and it’d kept everyone else from realizing that I did stupid things like trip every time he came near me.
Yep, it’d been helpful to keep office gossip down, but I still hadn’t met anyone I’d clicked with. Even the few Daddies and Doms that I’d dated had felt wrong. But since dating less meant working and planning more, it’d let me do a fabulous job of getting my business ready.
I’d meet someone eventually.
Unlocking my car, I opened the back door of my small compact and set everything down on the floor of the car before turning to reach for the box. Ross was standing there looking down into the box, not seeming to be interested in handing it over. As he looked up, there was something curious about his expression.
“I heard you got movie tickets?” Ross cocked his head, studying my face.
There’d been so many people waiting for the elevator that I wasn’t sure if he’d been behind me or if the gossip train was just that efficient.
“Yes, I had a generous Secret Santa.” Staying with the lie just seemed easier, even if I wasn’t working for the company any longer.
For some reason, Ross didn’t seem to agree with me. “You don’t really go out to the movies much. I thought you’d get something to draw with or something for your new business.”
He paused and it felt very heavy for some reason. “Maybe even chocolate. I know how much you like Hershey’s Kisses.”
Okay, no assumptions, nothing weird here.
I wasn’t the only one who had a candy dish filled with things like chocolate kisses.
This was basically still work and Ross was just making small talk.
“Oh, you know, picking out gifts is hard.” Swallowing, I did my best to sound relaxed and normal. “I think they were generous and it was thoughtful. I really should get out more.”
“I heard you were starting your own business.” It was a completely random detour in the conversation, but it was safer than talking about the gift, so I took it.
“Yeah, I’m looking forward to being able to work on it full time.” Because it was going to be a hell of a lot less hours than I was working now.
Sure, I was going to miss steady paychecks and the benefits, but the rest was just too stressful.
Ross actually smiled, nodding his head faintly. “You have to have been putting in a lot of hours—I bet you’ve been busy.”
Was he hinting at something?
God, I was so bad at reading people.
“Yeah, but it’s worth it.” I reached for the box and didn’t really give him much of a chance to keep it, so he had to hand it over. “Thanks for the help.”
Anyone else would’ve said goodbye and left as I put the box in the car, but not Ross.
That didn’t seem to be a good sign.
Straightening, I stepped back and closed the door, but again, he did his own thing and didn’t move an inch. I even had to brush against his chest to move, and I had to fight the urge to touch him more deliberately.
Temptation was not good for me.
I didn’t have the best self-restraint, and my common sense was sometimes lacking.
Though in my defense, Ross had a chest that was made for a suit and my fingers always itched to stroke him. But I behaved at work. I was professional and I didn’t draw attention to myself. But God, he was so fucking sexy.
“Oh, sorry.” I wasn’t sure why I apologized since he was the one who hadn’t moved, but it just popped out of my mouth.
His lips quirked as I stepped back. He knew what he’d done, but he wasn’t going to apologize…or move. He was like a big sexy tree that was planted right by my car. “It’s no problem.”
Sure, it wasn’t.
What the fuck was going on?
“Thanks for your help.” Had I already said that? I was just grasping at straws at this point. “Um, I…”
What was I supposed to say?
His expression said I was missing something, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to know what it was. He was so ridiculously distracting that any conversation was bound to turn awkward no matter what he wanted to talk about.
God, please don’t let him ask about anything difficult.
I didn’t need to look insane or weird or kinky or—
“You know…” I knew the minute he interrupted my panic attack that I wasn’t going to like what he said. “It’s almost like you didn’t appreciate my present.”
Panic or laugh?
When Sidney opens his Secret Santa gift and finds a binkie and an oversized baby bottle full of his favorite chocolate, he knows someone at work has figured out his biggest secret. But when they go to great lengths to protect his privacy, he finds he’s more curious than scared.
Who’s his Secret Santa?
Ross knows he might not have chosen the most conventional way to show Sidney he was interested, but now that Sidney is on the countdown to leaving the company, he’s running out of options. So it’s time to stop being subtle—since the only thing that’s gotten him is shy smiles—because Ross is ready for so much more from the sweet sub with a sticker addiction.
When the Christmas season shows two men they have more in common than they ever thought, they’re both left wondering if Santa has given them the best present ever…love.