The Christmas Cabin

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“I’m not looking forward to the holidays, if I’m honest,” my friend Matt said from across the table. “It won’t feel right celebrating without my dad. And I have to go up to the cabin next weekend and get everything ready for family Christmas, and it was his cabin…”

“It’s got to be hard,” I said. “Holidays are painful when you lose someone, and then to be in his favorite place. Without him.”

Matt’s dad had died a few months before. They’d had a complex relationship, to put it mildly, and those can be the hardest to mourn. I knew that from my own life.

He looked tired. His normally cheerful, easygoing face had a shadow of darkness to it, like a fog blocking his personality. I knew what that was like. His shoulders, beefy from outdoor work, were slumped, and he leaned on the table. He’d given me one of his wonderful hugs when I arrived, but I could feel his heaviness pass into me. He was as good looking as ever, tall and muscular, but the sadness seemed to diminish him. His spirit wasn’t broken, but it was definitely cracked in several spots.

“Thanks for dinner. This was amazing, as always. I’m happy to eat anyone else’s cooking these days, but it was great regardless. Hey, just a thought, do you want me to come help you get the cabin ready? Thanks to Covid, my schedule is all clear,” I said.

“You really would? It’s just a bunch of cleaning and decorating, no fun really.”

“I haven’t been anywhere in forever, and a cabin up north is the safest place possible. I’d be happy to help. I’d even love the drive. Anywhere besides my house and the grocery store.”

“That would be way too nice of you. But I’d love the company,” he said.

“I know grief is exhausting. Another pair of hands isn’t a bad thing. But only if Sea snuggles me to sleep.”

“I think you like my dog more than me.”

“Maybe.” I smiled.

“Yeah, we just want to make Christmas nice for the kids. As normal as it can be, anyway. It’s my present to everyone to get the place ready so they can just drive up and relax.”

“I get that,” I said.

“And then since I broke up with Jenny last year, my brothers do nothing but give me shit about not getting laid, because they’re five.” He rolled his eyes.

“Oh jeez, that sucks. I hate feeling all of the judgments at holidays. Like because I don’t have a husband and three kids, I have failed miserably at life and will be viewed as an overgrown child for the rest of my days.”

“Yeah, as weird as my family is, with all of the half-siblings from my father’s million girlfriends, we still have those judgments too.”

“Do you maybe want to pick someone up before Christmas? Hit a hookup app? So you can have a smug little smile when they laugh at your perceived celibacy.”

Matt laughed. “I’ve thought about it, but it’s just so complicated right now, and that feels so five years ago for me.”

“With Covid, you mean?”

“Covid and, well, just feelings and stuff. Like a lot of days I’m just down. I’ve never watched so much TV in all my life. Then I worry about if, well, I can’t perform. I hate to admit it, but I’m sure you know grief can do that. Or what if I cry from the feelings, or need to be alone, or whatever. That would be so uncomfortable with a stranger.”

“Oh, I am quite familiar,” I said. “It was a long time before we met, but I have been there. I mean, some people have an increased sex drive when grieving, which is weird for them too, but others just aren’t into it. Or they’re into it for five minutes and then don’t want it. Like a wild card. I had to read about this after Rob died, since I was so surprised by myself.”

“Yeah. So I think I’ll just pass for now. Let them laugh. I miss it, sex I mean, but I don’t need complications right now. Sorting out my dad’s complicated estate has been plenty.”

Matt finished showing me around his new house, Sea following us at every turn. I couldn’t help but watch him move as I walked behind him. I’d always been attracted to him, but I’d wondered if we were compatible. I was not like the girlfriends I’d known him to have — they wore makeup and drank at parties and had fun. Until Covid started and quarantine decided we’d all be staying home for a while, I’d been way too busy trying to make a living in the freelance world and holding my life together with herculean effort and zip ties. There hadn’t been time to sit still, let alone have fun.

Matt and I had met working on a production tour, sweaty and grimy from hauling equipment and prepping events. Amongst the crazy egos and sleep-deprived, extremely long days, he’d stood out as a steady, dependable presence. Tours get their energy from rumors, and as a seasoned veteran I could count on him to tell me what gossip was completely nuts and what had a grain of truth to it. Together with our friend Aiden, we’d had some great dinners out, and that had made all the difference on the grueling tour. And afterward, since we only lived about an hour apart, we’d met for lunch or dinner occasionally, finding we had in common a love Anadolu Yakası Escort for true crime podcasts and coping with crazy families. He’d been through hard times too, so I could be honest about my life and not try to pretend that freelancing was working out. He knew sometimes it didn’t.

But I had always wanted him, I knew that. Since the first day I saw him on site with tattoos all over his muscles. At first I’d been scared of him — this huge inked guy who didn’t talk much. But once I was around him for five minutes, I knew he was like a puppy. In the best way possible.

Several tattoos were unfinished. I’d asked about this, and each one had a story like his friend had been dating the tattoo artist but then they broke up because his friend was cheating but he was just waiting for the woman to settle down and not express her anger at her ex by messing up his tattoo, so it might be a while. I’d joked that he was probably the most easygoing person I’d ever met — that even unfinished ink on his body hadn’t bothered him a bit. He’d told the stories with good humor, even.

I was feeling tired and it would be a long drive home, so I told Matt I’d be heading out. I’d appreciated seeing how well he was doing despite his grief.

“I have an idea,” I said softly, after relishing his warm hug goodbye, letting it travel down to my toes. “You can forget that I ever said this, but please don’t get mad at me.”

“I won’t get mad,” he said. I believed him. I’d never seen him mad, which is remarkable in the production world. Tempers flare like the sun.

“You know I haven’t dated in years. I haven’t had the energy for it.”

“It’s not the easiest thing, I know.”

“What if, maybe, we added benefits to our friendship.”

He looked a little shocked.

“You promised not to get mad, but just think about it. It could be good for us both, just some comfort. I mean, I miss sex too. It’s been so long I can barely remember it. Next weekend, we could just see if you feel like it. I know you can be mature about this stuff — hell, you’re still good friends with your ex-wife. If it didn’t work out, we’d both get over it. It’s also a different environment, easier to forget about than at home. And you know I won’t judge, no matter what happens. I think it could help both of us cope with the holiday. And at least I’m already in your Covid bubble.”

“Okay.” He smiled. “You surprise me sometimes, Sasha.”

“Think about it. If you don’t want me to come up next weekend, just text me. Then we forget I ever said this and mortified myself. But if you do want me to come up, let me know. 100% it’s your move.”

“I’ll text you.”

I patted Sea one last time, and then I smiled and waved as I walked to my car.


He replied. I really didn’t think he would. It hadn’t been my sexiest proposal ever. I held my breath as I opened the text.

‘I’ll take you up on your offer. Should I get off work early? Head up on Friday afternoon?’

Dang. This was going to be fun.

‘Works for me,’ I replied. ‘Let me know what time you think you’ll get there.’

‘You can ride with me, if you want.’

‘Naw, I’ll drive myself. That way if I annoy you too much you can just send me home. Thanks though!’

I didn’t want to feel trapped or dependent. Just in case things went south or Matt ended up with really strong feelings. Or in case I had a big reaction. I trusted him, but grief does strange things to a person. It was safer this way. Fully consensual.

I was definitely a ball of nerves as I drove up. It’d been a long, long time since I’d faced the prospect of sex. Even though this would just be a weekend of exploring possibilities, knowing that it could happen — I hoped I remembered how. I hoped I could be as patient and relaxed as I needed to be. For him. My body was already reaching for a higher frequency, one I’d long neglected. I told myself to calm down and stop developing expectations. I hoped I would listen eventually. I tried to focus on the task I was driving toward, not the person.

It was a four-hour drive from my house to “up north,” as we call it in Michigan. Many years before I’d been a babysitter for a family with a house near Traverse City, and I’d met them there dozens of times. Having taken the kids out frequently to explore the area, I knew it well and loved it. The drive was like an old friend. I remembered where to exit the freeway and which turns to make on the curving, hilly roads as I approached Traverse City. Matt’s family cabin was about 30 miles outside the small city, close enough to head in for dinner in non-Covid times but far enough to feel truly rural. The up-north culture of endless boating and golfing in the summer, skiing and snowmobiling in the winter, and hiking anytime was all around us.

As I approached, I discovered that the “cabin” was more like a lodge, a five-bedroom house with a full garage and a finished basement with billiards, I’d soon find out. It was a massive log home with a tall peaked Pendik Escort metal roof that would sound heavenly under the rain.

Surrounded by woods, the trees creaked peacefully as they swayed in the wind. A thin blanket of snow had fallen, just enough to be pretty but not enough to challenge driving. Matt had already started a fire, and I could smell the woodsmoke as I got out of my car. He’d heard me drive up, and Sea rushed at me through the open door, barking. She jumped on my legs and tried to lick my face, and I petted her happily.

“How was your drive?” Matt asked, walking up with a smile. “Let me help you with your bags.”

“If you insist.” I smiled back, handing him the larger one. “I’ve always loved the drive up here. It was like coming home.”

Sea followed us inside, jumping and dancing in the snow.

“This place is huge, and absolutely gorgeous. I had no idea.”

“My dad saved all his life for it. I’m glad he got to enjoy it for a couple years. We may have to sell it, but we are having one last Christmas here first. Let me show you around.”

We walked through the open kitchen to the great room. A massive stone fireplace dominated the space, the blazing fire casting light and shadows all over the room. Leather sofas, live-edge log tables, wool blankets, amber-glowing lamps, and iron accents completed the log-home décor.

I turned to Matt and looked into his eyes.

“How are you doing, being up here? Was it hard?”

“I’m doing okay,” he said quietly. “I’m glad you’re here though.”

I gave him a hug. “I’m happy to be here. In whatever way helps you.”

He held me for an extra second before pulling away.

“I’ll put your stuff in this room. It has an en suite bathroom.”

“Thanks! Now, how can I begin? Christmas tree first? That might jumpstart things.”

“Dinner first.” He smiled. “Are you hungry? I made soup.”

“Sounds great.”

The soup was delicious. We sat in the dining area just off of the kitchen. It was dark now, but the room was encased by windows and would have a woodsy view in daylight. Matt had also brought sourdough bread, and it was a great winter dinner.

He told me a little more about the place as we ate, answering my questions. He seemed a bit down, but he was trying. And maybe I was wrong, but I thought there was an undercurrent of excitement.

I wasn’t wrong.

After we put our plates in the sink, Matt sat on the leather sofa and patted the seat next to him, looking at me. Sea was asleep on her bed in the corner, so no doubt he meant me. I sat next to him, and he took my hand. Then he leaned over and kissed me, cautiously at first and then building up. I was definitely feeling some sparks.

He pulled back, and I smiled at him a little shyly. He pulled me to his chest, and I laid there for a few moments, my arms around him and his around me.

I was happy to let Matt set the pace, and it seemed like he needed a breather before the next step, whatever that was going to be.

“Honey, this room needs a Christmas tree, stat. Are you doing real or fake?”

I sat up and looked at him.

“I wish we could have a real tree, even cut one from the backyard, but I won’t be here to water it all week. So fake it is.”

“Point me in the direction, and I will find it.”

We retrieved the tree and decorations from the basement closet. I swept the floor first and dusted the log wall, just in case, and Matt put the tree together. I plugged it in. Ready for the next step.

“You can’t turn it on until it’s done,” he said. “Family rule, been that way since I was a kid.”

I smiled.

“Well, my rule is that we need Christmas music for this.”

“And a drink,” Matt said. “You feel like champagne? I found a rather nice bottle in the basement earlier.”

“My favorite.”

He found a Christmas music station on the TV, and the mood had begun. He handed me a flute of champagne as I looked into the box of ornaments.

“What do you guys do, ribbon, tinsel, the whole nine?”

“Just ornaments and lights, pretty much. We’re simple folk.”

I laughed. “I can handle that.”

I parsed through and picked out the most ostentatious ornaments. It would be easier to balance those out first, and then add the demure ones. I got started, moving around and concentrating on my artful task.

Matt was gone for a few minutes, carrying logs next door. The huge fireplace was shared with the master bedroom, and I guessed that he was starting a fire in there too.

Matt settled onto the sofa when he was done. I glanced over, and he was definitely watching me.

“You could help, you know.” I smiled teasingly at him.

He was quiet for a moment, watching. “Baby It’s Cold Outside” filled the room, and the fire crackled and blazed an amber glow on us.

“I have a dare for you. I know what would make me smile next week. I mean I feel like a teenager asking this, but I’d have to think of it every time I look at the tree. Finish decorating it — topless. I mean, Kurtköy Escort I wish I had a sexy Mrs. Santa costume right now, but since I don’t…”

I chuckled, covering my face with my hands. I took another sip of champagne. I was already feeling its loosening effects.

“Fine.” I smiled. “But you have to undress me.”

“Come over here.”

He was grinning as I walked the few steps across the room.

“But those big windows,” I protested, “and I’ll get cold…”

“Are you afraid a deer might see you? There’s no one for miles. I’ll add some wood to the fire.”

He took my hand and pulled me to him as he stood up. He kissed my lips lightly, and then he unbuttoned my flannel shirt, working his way down. He pushed it off of my shoulders and then down my arms. It fell to the floor, and I stood there in my bra. I was glad I’d picked a nice black lace one.

He reached behind and unclasped it, pulling it away.

“That’s it,” he said quietly, smiling. “This will be my favorite tree decorating ever.”

I gave him a sideways smile and went back to the tree. Matt added a couple logs to the fire, as promised, poking it to stir up the heat.

“This is ridiculous, for the record.” I smiled shyly.

“Not from where I’m sitting,” he said, sitting back and taking a drink.

I finished hanging the ornaments on the tree, and then I reached way up for the star. I looked over, and he was still watching my every move.

“Now do I get to turn it on?” I laughed. “Does it pass your inspection, sir?”

“Everything passes my inspection,” he said, looking from my breasts into my eyes.

I found the button and turned on the tree. Then I turned off each of the lights in the room. There was only the glow of the fire and the colored lights on the tree.

“The tree is reflecting off your skin,” he said. “Little colored spots all over your chest. You have to let me take a picture.”

“Oh my God, Matt, if you must. But nothing identifying — only skin.”

He got up and moved closer, framing my breasts in his phone. I heard it snap a picture. I couldn’t believe I was allowing evidence of this.

“I want to get your back, too.”

He spun me around, moving my hips and framing my back angled against the Christmas tree lights.

Then he put his phone into his pocket, and his hands were on me. He took my hips and pulled me to him. My bare breasts were against his flannel shirt, his firm pecs underneath. I looked up into his eyes.

“I can’t believe you’re letting me do this,” he whispered. “I’ve wanted to for so long.”

“So have I,” I said.

Then he kissed me, wrapping his arms around my back and pressing me into him. His kiss was tender but with a growing need, his warmth transferring into me. One hand moved to my chest, and gently his fingers traced the edge of my boob. Then he took a full grasp, the pressure against my hard nipple making me breathe in sharply, sensitive skin under his work-rough hand.

He pulled me down onto the sofa, and I laid back on the pillows. He kissed my neck, and I moaned. Then he kissed a trail down to my chest, gently kissing the sensitive underside before taking my breast into his mouth. He caressed the other as he suckled, and then he switched.

“I love this,” I whispered, lightly rubbing my hand over his hair as he pleased me.

He went on for a long time, and I just laid back and enjoyed, my arms above my head grasping the sofa.

He pulled up and kissed me on the mouth before laying his head on my chest.

“As great as your tits are, I’ve still not got much going on,” he said, smiling sheepishly.

“Honey, this is the most fun I’ve had in years. You have no idea. Even if nothing else happens tonight, I’m a happy girl.”

We laid there for a few minutes. I enjoyed the warmth and the weight of him, a real live man cuddled with me once again.

“I think we should get in the hot tub,” he said, looking up at me.

“Um,” I said in mock horror, “you buried the lede, buddy. You never told me there’s a hot tub. That’s only my most favorite thing.”

“I turned it on when I got here. It should be nice and hot by now.”

“Well, it being winter and all, I did not pack a bathing suit, my friend.”

“You are more than welcome to wear nothing at all.”

“Not just yet,” I said, giving him a kiss on the cheek.

I went into my room, and I dug sleep shorts out of my bag. I was already topless, so I guessed I was comfortable with that. I was doing this one step at a time, wading into the sexual waters instead of diving in headfirst in case the temperature was a shock. I pulled off my jeans and panties and slid on the shorts. I put my hair in a quick ponytail to keep it out of the water.

He’d slid a door open to the deck, so I walked out. I spotted the hot tub around the corner. Matt was already inside, and my refilled champagne flute was next to his bourbon glass.

He gazed at me as I walked over, the cold, snowy deck boards under my bare feet making me move quickly. I practically hopped into the tub, the swirling water a welcome change from the biting chill on my bare chest. The usual slight chemical smell wafted up from the water.

“Oh this is nice,” I said, reaching for my glass. I took a sip and set it down.

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