Thursday, December 31, 2015

Review of Netflix Series Making a Murderer

I’m going to attempt a mostly spoiler free review with a few minor plot points sprinkled in to make it cleared. From an author’s perspective, the 10 ep documentary offers insight into the behind the scenes workings of court reporters, lawyers, and law enforcement. In particular, it demonstrates interrogation/police procedures techniques, the good and the ugly. The interrogation of a sixteen year old boy with a 70 IQ who doesn’t know the meaning of the word “inconsistent” is especially disturbing. His mother didn’t know the meaning of the word either. I felt so sorry for the poor kid. From a writer’s perspective, I’d recommend watching it if you have an interest in writing crime fiction.  I learned a lot. However, I’m going to issue a ‘possible trigger warning’ because it deals with two disturbing cases of violence against women.

Netflix Description: Filmed over 10 years, this real-life thrilled follows a DNA exoneree  [Steven Avery] who, while exposing police corruption, becomes a suspect in a grisly new crime.

I found myself going through a lot of emotions as I watched the series, because I didn’t like the central focus of the doc, Steven Avery. He is a shitty human being. I was proud that the film makers didn’t shy away from that fact. I felt really sorry for his parents, who seemed like good people. But even though Steven is an asshole that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have rights. Innocent until proven guilty. Period. 

I’ve seen a lot of justifiable anger posts online about the cases. I’m more upset about his nephew, but I can understand the ire. Overall, I like the style and format of the documentary. It was gripping to watch. I felt like the victim’s family got a little shafted, because we only had press conferences from the brother. They were stiff and formal, which can never properly demonstrate their grief. I can't imagine how they were feeling.

Has anyone seen the series? Do you think the jury made the right decision?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

New Interview

I was really excited when Rick R Reed asked me do a interview for his blog. Several of his books are on my all time favorites list. The Chaser series is fantastic. You can find the interview here. I talk a little about writing When One Door Opens. In  Caleb/Logan news, I am hoping to put out another free short story again this year. The focus last time was on Christmas, so I'm moving on to Valentines' Day. Look for the story to be posted in February.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Desk Talk with C.S. Poe

The very lovely C.S. Poe, author of Love Has No Expiration, interviewed me on her blog about my writing space in her new feature Desk Talk. Check it out if you're interested in my Diet Coke and PlayDoh obsession, approach to writing, and future projects. You can find the interview here.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Greatest Hits Collection

I'm excited to announce that my novel When One Door Opens was selected to be included in Dreamspinner Press Year Six Greatest Hits collection. The collection includes four other wonderful books as well for $9.99.

Mary Calmes: Frog
R. Cooper: A Boy and His Dragon
Lisa M. Owens: Worth the Coming Home
Xavier Mayne: Frat House Troopers
JD Ruskin: When One Door Opens

ISBN-13 978-1-63476-615-9
Pages 920
Cover Artist Paul Richmond

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Paperbacks on Sale

If you like paperbacks, I'd suggest you head over to the Dreamspinner Store. They have a massive sale in the month of April for all in stock paperbacks. You can find my books here, but many others are also on sale.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

New Book Trailer

My paranormal romance has a new book trailer for Finding MattThe talented folks at have created a new book trailer for me. They use graphics and animation to create such a unique style. I hope you like it as much as I do. I'd love to hear what you think.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

When Christmas Comes to Chicago (A Logan & Caleb Short Story)

When Christmas Comes to Chicago
(A Logan & Caleb Short Story)

By JD Ruskin

Note: This story takes place approximately three months after the conclusion of the novel When One Door Opens, which featured the unlikely pairing of an agoraphobic and an ex-con. This short story will likely make no sense if you haven't read the novel. This story is rated "M" for mature audiences, meaning it is not work safe. Thanks to Brit. Columbia for helping with the editing. I've included photographs I took on a recent trip to Chicago's Christkindlmarket. Copyright © 2014 by JD Ruskin All rights reserved.

Chapter 1

Chicago's Magnificent Mile consisted of over four hundred stores crammed into one commerce-fueled location. Logan had headed for North Michigan Avenue as soon as his shift had ended today. There were guys from his shift still at work sorting packages. He had been afraid he would get stuck there too, but there were benefits to dating the boss's nephew. The Mag Mile was a far cry from Logan's usual shopping location, but he'd had hope of finding a Christmas gift for Caleb. After two hours of wandering through foul-smelling department stores and dodging frantic shoppers, he still didn't have a gift. He'd have to wade back into the Christmas Eve chaos as soon as his meeting with his parole officer, John Dabb, was completed.
Logan stepped into Dabb's cramped office. The M&M themed décor was such a contrast to the rest of the sterile, police building. He wondered if that was the point.
            "You're late," Dabb said, in lieu of a greeting. His gray eyes and salt-and-pepper hair added to his steely exterior.
            Logan sat down in the chair across from his PO's desk, contorting his body to fit in a chair that wasn't designed for someone who was six feet seven inches. He was so damn thirsty his throat itched. But it wasn't water that he was craving. It was probably a good thing his shopping trip from hell had ended up here. Not that he had any intention of telling Dabb that. "Why did I need to come today instead of the end of the month?"
Dabb didn't miss a beat. "Because a disturbingly high number of my probies end up celebrating the New Year in the slammer."
            Logan could understand that. The construction company he used to work for would shut down for two weeks during the holidays. As a consequence, he didn't have a single Christmas memory from the past five years prior to prison. Apart from drunk, more drunk, and extremely drunk.
Dabb's other parolees likely didn't see him half as often as Logan did. But those ex-cons weren't dating the nephew of one of Dabb's oldest friends, Harrison Klass. What would happen in six months when he no longer had Dabb peering over his shoulder? If his life imploded, would he take Caleb down with him? He shook off the thought.  "I promise to be a good boy. Now can I get out of here? I still need to get Caleb's Christmas gift."
            "You waited until Christmas Eve to start shopping? The stores are going to be insane."
"I had an idea for a gift but then I had to change it." Logan rubbed the back of his shaved head. "Caleb…insisted we spend no more than twenty dollars on a Christmas gift for each other." He cleared his throat. "And it ain't cause he's hurting for money. He just added three new regular customers for his web design business."
            Dabb adjusted his rimless glasses. "Have you tried asking him why the limit?"
            "I know why. He wants me to save enough money to get a new apartment."
            "You should," Dabb said, “your apartment is a rathole."
Logan couldn't argue about that. He had the chewed clothes to prove it. "I've been working non-stop since Cyber Monday because so many damn people buy shit online. With all the overtime I'm getting, I can afford to buy him something decent for Christmas and still save for a new place."
            Dabb linked his fingers together. "Do you know what Caleb is getting you?"
"I caught him sneaking a peek at the tag on one of my shirts, so I'm guessing a Bear's t-shirt if he can find one on sale."
"I'm surprised you don't have a closet full of Bear's gear."
"Pretty much everything I had worth anything was sold to pay for damages to the bar and medical bills before I went into prison."
"Ah," Dabb said, without a trace of sympathy. He pointed to the sign on the wall. 'ACTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES.'
            There was a kind of comfort in Dabb's no-bullshit-or-excuses world view. Logan listening to his own bullshit had landed him in the slammer. He'd believed that the world had fucked him over. In reality, he'd needed no help in dismantling his life, one piece at a time. His current apartment neighbors had similarly destroyed their lives by letting their vices take control. Was it any wonder Caleb wanted him to move? Caleb was a Grade A worrier, so it shouldn't be a surprise that he would insist on a frugal Christmas, helping Logan in the only way available to him.
            "I've never dated a guy," Logan blurted out, wishing he could draw the words back into his mouth. Trying to get dating advice from his PO was all kinds of wrong. Why not just buy a copy of Cosmo and hand over his dick to the cashier? Desperate times. "I don't…want to disappoint him, but I can't think of a decent gift for only twenty bucks."
            Dabb pulled out an envelope from his desk drawer and tossed it to Logan. "Give Caleb that for me. You don't need me to help you figure out a gift for your boyfriend, so get the hell out of here so I can go see my girls."
            Logan stood up and picked up the envelope. "Just give me one idea. What would you get him for Christmas?"
            "A new boyfriend," Dabb said, his voice deadpan.
            Logan wondered how much extra time he'd get if he beaned his parole officer in the head with one of his M&M plushy dolls.
            Dabb must've seen something in his face, because the bastard laughed. “Consider yourself lucky you don't have to spend a lot of money. I blew an entire paycheck on freaking doll clothes at the American Girl store.” He made a disgusted face. “Doll clothes, Logan.”
            Logan stood up and picked up the envelope. As he headed for the door, Dabb said, "When people say it's the thought that counts, they're not just spouting a Hallmark greeting card. It's the truth. So put a little thought into how you feel about him and you'll figure out the perfect gift."
            Logan turned back toward him. "I love him."
            Dabb nodded like he wasn't surprised. "So show him."

Chapter 2

As Logan exited the building, his cell phone rang. He pulled it out and looked at the display. Harrison Klass, Logan's boss and Caleb's uncle, was calling him. He answered the call, hoping he wasn't about to be dragged back to work.
"Logan, I was hoping you would do me a favor," Klass said, his voice as prim as usual. "I need to pick up Caleb's gift and I'm afraid I won't make it in time."
            Even with the seasonal staff Klass had hired, they were drowning in packages. Logan felt lucky to have escaped. "Sure, just give me the details."
            "Thank you for your help. I need you to go to the Christkindlmarket and buy him some Marzipankartoffeln."
            Logan rubbed his bristled chin. "You want me to buy what from where?"
            "Christkindlmarket is the German market they have every year at the Daley Plaza. And Marzipankartoffeln are Marzipan shaped like potatoes."
            "Uh…okay," Logan said, wondering why the hell Klass was buying Caleb German potatoes. He paused. Something about the name Christkindlmarket sparked a memory, but he lost hold of it when Klass spoke again.
            "The market closes early on Christmas Eve at 4:00 P.M. I'll be lucky to leave work before 7:00 P.M. I'll repay you the cost, but you mustn't spend more than twenty dollars on the marzipan."
            "Twenty dollars," Logan repeated, wondering if Dabb had called Klass to snitch on him about his gift freak out. "Why that amount?"
            "Oh, it's a family tradition of a sort,” Klass said, sounding embarrassed. “Caleb's mother hated how commercialized Christmas had become. Her rule for Christmas was small gift, big love. Gifts had to be heartfelt instead of expensive.”
            Logan suspected it had more to do with a tight budget than anti-commercialism. It couldn't have been easy to stretch a disability check between herself and Caleb even with her brother helping her out. "So why the marz…er…potatoes?"
            "Marzipankartoffeln." Klass sighed. "Caleb and his mother went to the market nearly every year since it opened in the late nineties. He hasn't been back since she died."
            Two hours wasn't a lot of time considering the traffic in the Loop. Hopefully, Logan would be able to find a gift for Caleb there too. An idea occurred to him. "Maybe I should give Caleb a call and see if he wants to meet me there."
            "That isn't a good idea," Klass said quickly. "It will be much too crowded."
            The urgency in Klass's voice surprised Logan. "Caleb handled the Cub's game when it was plenty crowded and that was months ago. He's done real good with his therapy since then."
            "Caleb never went to a game with his mother. Going to the market would bring out strong emotions which would likely lead to a panic attack."
            Logan's stomach tightened. "Then why give him the marzi stuff if you think he can't handle it?"
            "I hope that one day he'll be well enough to go again."
            "He can't know that without trying."
            "Caleb has spent the last three Christmases alone in his apartment. Are you really willing to risk making it a fourth because he relapses? Isn't it enough that he's agreed to attend my Christmas party?" 
Klass's words made Logan hesitate. Christmas parties were a foreign concept to Logan, but Caleb had probably had them growing up. Until his mother died and he spent years punishing himself out of misplaced guilt. Logan hated the idea of Caleb having spent the last three Christmases alone in his apartment. Even if the party was a small one, it was a big step for Caleb to be willing to go.
Klass seemed to take his silence as acquiescence. "You don't need to go to Christkindlmarket. I'll think of something else for a gift and see you both at the party tomorrow."
"We'll be there," Logan said, before ending the call. He pulled up Caleb's number from his contacts and then hit the End button. Caleb hadn't had a panic attack in months, but that didn't mean he was cured. Logan didn't even know if Caleb wanted to go to the market. What had Klass called it? Christkindlmarket? Klass had said it was a German market. When Logan finally realized why he knew the name, he put in a call to Caleb.
Caleb answered the phone on the fourth ring.
“Hey baby, how are you doing?” Logan asked.
“Good, I delivered Mrs. Simon her cookies. Her son is on the way to pick her up.”
Logan snorted. Caleb had been secretly supplying Mrs. Simon's grandkids with cookies for years and letting Grandma take the credit. “That old bird has you wrapped around her finger.”
Logan could hear Caleb's smile as he said, “True but she's earned it.”
Logan heard the sound of water from the sink being turned on. Attempting to make his voice sound casual he said, “I was wondering if you wanted to meet me down town. We can go to Christkindlmarket before heading back to your place.”
Caleb didn't speak for several seconds, which was a bad sign. “Mrs. Simon gave me a scarf and now you want to go out. Am I getting an intervention for Christmas?”
“What? No, I just—”
“Because I've been out. Maybe not in two weeks, but I've been really busy. It only made sense to ask Ming's Market to deliver my grocery order.”
Logan smacked the phone against his forehead. An elderly neighbor was better than any high-tech security system because they heard and saw everything. Whereas Logan had somehow missed the fact that Caleb hadn't been going out lately. The streets were crawling with tourists and suburbanites, so it shouldn't be a shocker.
"Look, you don't have to come with me if you don't want to. But I need to go," Logan said, realizing it was the truth. "And then I'll come by your place, okay?"
Caleb's breathing was audible. "I'll meet you there."
            "Wait," Logan said, but the call had ended. Had he just royally fucked up? He would learn soon enough. In the meantime, he needed to haul ass if he wanted to get a present before Caleb got there.

Chapter 3

Richard J. Daley Center Plaza had been transformed into a maze. The 50-foot steel abstract sculpture by Pablo Picasso loomed overhead like an angry gatekeeper. Dozens of small booths of wood and red striped canvas were packed together to form a tunnel. People were lured inside with the scent of beer and cheese. A vendor from Wisconsin handed out square pieces of baked cheese to the mice. They gobbled up the samples before continuing on their way.
As Logan walked, he saw a myriad of ornaments, wood crafts, candles, and cold weather gear. A collection of ornate, metal beer steins made his mouth water. Or maybe he was getting closer to the German beer sellers. At the end of the tunnel was this year's donated Christmas tree; It had to be at least sixty feet. In the light of the day, Logan could see the signs of a makeover on the decorated tree. Someone had filled in the gaps in the tree branches, because Mother Nature had no use for perfection. Logan wished they'd left the tree alone. Had he ever had a tree growing up? He wasn't sure. He remembered his mother having a cheap, plastic nativity set and a wreath Logan had made in school with a hanger and plastic sandwich bags. After she had taken off, his father had made no attempt to celebrate the holiday.
The center of the maze had an open square, giving Logan the option of going forward or taking one of the tunnels to the right. His height gave him an advantage in navigating the crowd. Food vendors selling everything from pretzels to potato cakes to something called a currywurst were blended together with even more handmade crafts and religious items.
A large structure had a sign proclaiming it to be the 'Sweets Castle.' As Logan approached he realized there was a line to get into the castle, but he had at least twenty minutes before Caleb would arrive. A roasted nut seller attempted to lure people out of line, but no one was budging. Figuring they must know something he didn't, he joined them.
            A couple of minutes later, Logan needed to duck his head to enter the building. The Sweets Castle was another maze, ending with a row of cash registers instead of cheese. The walkways were narrow and Logan took up a lot of space. The shelves had a dizzying number of brightly colored packages for sale with brand names he didn't recognize, many of which were in German. He spotted marzipan fruit, sheep, and pigs but no potatoes as he shuffled along in line. As he turned the corner, he saw a sign advertising gingerbread with the word 'Lebkuchen' printed below. After talking to Klass, he realized he'd had cookies from this market once before. He hoped Caleb would like them as much as he had.
When Logan reached the shelf, he saw the gingerbread packaged in decorative metal tins, many of which appeared to be music boxes. He had intended to buy the wrapped version of the cookies, but he thought these tins would appeal to Caleb. He picked up a blue and silver box; the price tag on the bottom listed it as twenty-four dollars. A circular tin was thirty dollars. Damnit! The Klass family tradition needed to be adjusted for inflation.
            The line of people in front of Logan took a couple of steps forward. He quickly checked the remaining boxes. He found a tin with a winter forest scene for twenty-two dollars.
            "Just fucking pick one," said the guy behind Logan.
            Logan turned around and found a short, portly man with flushed cheeks and glassy eyes glaring at him. The man's breath reeked of beer and bratwurst. The woman next to him jammed her elbow into his side and said, "Be quiet, George."
            Instead of listening to reason, George pushed the woman away from him, making her knock against a shelf of cat-themed chocolate boxes, unharmed but stunned. He muttered something that sounded like 'stupid wife' before stepping closer to Logan.
            "Move it." George pushed his hands against Logan's chest, looking confused when Logan didn't budge an inch.
            "You need to back off, George," Logan said, feeling more pity than anger, which was either thanks to his AA meetings or the knowledge that Dabb would kill him if he got arrested.
            The woman—presumably George's wife—stepped forward. "Please, honey. Let's just go home." The expression in her watery blue eyes reminded Logan of the way his best friend, Michael, used to look at him. Hopeless. Powerless. Resigned.
            When George raised his chubby arm to hit her again, Logan moved. He grabbed George's arms and pinned them against the man's body tightly. And then he lifted the fat bastard off the ground about a foot. "You need to get yourself some help, George." Raising the man higher until they were eye level, Logan continued, "I'd recommend you find yourself an AA meeting."
            Color drained from George's face, panic burning away some of the booze in his system. "S-sorry."
            Logan grinned. "Have a Merry Christmas." He let go, causing George to land on his ass.
            George crawled away from Logan before getting to his feet, leaving his wife behind as he scrambled out of the castle.
            The wife smiled wanly and then pointed to a small chalkboard sign. "Since today is the last day of the market, everything is twenty percent off." She turned and followed after her husband.
            "They have Al-Anon meetings for the family of alcoholics that can help you too," Logan said.
            She paused but didn't turn around. "Merry Christmas."
            "Merry Christmas." Logan grabbed the blue and silver box and headed for the checkout. As he was exiting the castle, his phone beeped. Caleb had arrived at the plaza.
            Logan quickly headed for the entrance to the market. He hadn't noticed the security guards positioned around the perimeter of the maze, likely to keep drunken mice from wandering onto Michigan Avenue and ending up road kill. He spotted a guard eyeing Caleb. Caleb stood frozen at the entrance to the maze; his blond hair swaying in the icy wind was the only sign of movement. He wore no gloves or hat, but he was wearing a scarf the color of his vibrant green eyes.
            Logan hurried over to him and grabbed the arm of his gray peacoat. "Let's go by the tree." He pulled Caleb through the crowd until they reached the Christmas tree.
            With his back to the crowd, Caleb examined the pine needles like he was peering through a microscope. He exhaled plumes of white smoke as he breathed rapidly.
            Logan resisted the urge to ask Caleb if he was okay. He wished he could hold Caleb, but they were already drawing too much attention from curious patrons. "I didn't bring you here as a test." He briefly squeezed Caleb's hand. "I already know how fucking brave you are."
            "Then why," Caleb asked, his voice hoarse.
            Logan licked his lips. “There was this old priest that ran the AA program in prison.”
            Caleb stilled, like Logan was a deer he didn't want to spook.
            Considering how little Logan talked about the year he spent in prison, he shouldn't be surprised by the reaction. How do I explain prison life to a man who's never even had a parking ticket? “We had an extra-long AA session on Christmas Eve. He brought in homemade Gingerbread cookies. He said they were donated by sellers at a German Christmas market called Christkindlmarket.”
            For the first time, Caleb picked up his head and looked around. “Here?”
            Logan shrugged. “I think so.” He noticed that the walkways were becoming less congested as the closing of the market drew nearer. “The cookies were good but it was more than that. It was the first time I listened to him instead of just hearing.” He opened the plastic bag and pulled out the tin of gingerbread cookies. “Merry Christmas, baby.”
            Smiling, Caleb accepted the gift. “Danke, ich liebe Lebkuchen."
            "Do you speak German?"
            "I'm not fluent like my mom was, but I took German in college. They didn't offer it in my high school, so she taught me. A lot of the vendors here are from Germany, so she would have me practice by ordering food or buying candy."
            "Does that mean you can explain what a currywurst is?," Logan asked, pointing toward a large display.
            Caleb scrunched up his nose. "A hot dog with ketchup and curry powder."
            Logan thought that sounded pretty tasty, but he kept his mouth shut. Caleb was a hot dog purist, meaning ketchup was forbidden. And Logan didn't want to endure another lecture on the subject.
            Caleb inhaled and exhaled slowly. "They have really great potato pancakes here."
            "Do you want me to go get you some?"
            Caleb shook his head. "Grab that table." He pointed to a tall red table that had no chairs. "I'll get the food. The best booth is in the back."
            "Okay," Logan said, forcing the words out of his mouth. He refused to treat Caleb like his uncle, like he was fragile. "Let me hold on to the cookies for you." He accepted the tin from Caleb before walking toward the table. He waited anxiously for five minutes before Caleb joined him.
            Caleb placed a plate of potato pancakes with sour cream, two forks, and two mugs of hot chocolate on the table. "The leberkäse is really good too, but I couldn't carry it."
            Logan nodded. "We can go get it together." He picked up a fork and snagged a bit of the pancakes. They were crispy and full of buttery flavor. "What exactly is this leberthingy?"
            Caleb grinned. "Leberkäse means liver cheese."
            Logan coughed. "Please tell me you're kidding."
            "You're going to love it."


Chapter 4

After two plates of leberkäse, which Logan learned had neither liver or cheese, they headed back to Caleb's apartment.
Caleb unlocked and opened the door, releasing the scent of pine and cinnamon.              Logan followed him inside. "Your place looks great." Since the apartment manager didn't allow Christmas trees, Caleb had decorated his three book shelves with lights and garland.
"Thanks," Caleb said before taking off his jacket and scarf. He hung them on his coat rack.
Taking hold of the front of Caleb's green sweater, Logan yanked him forward and kissed him, tasting a lingering hint of hot chocolate. "I've wanted to do that all day." 
Caleb's long, blond lashes fluttered open. "I've missed you."
The Christmas bonus Klass gave out was more like a bribe to keep workers from quitting during the hectic holiday season. "Blame your uncle. I've been working double shifts nearly every day since Cyber Monday."
Caleb kissed Logan again. "At least you don't have to work tomorrow."
Logan pulled out the envelope Dabb had given him from his coat pocket and handed it to Caleb. "I nearly forgot that Dabb told me to give you this." Much to Logan's annoyance, Dabb had made it tamper-proof by covering it in tape.
Logan stripped off his jacket as Caleb opened the envelope. He thought he saw Caleb stuff something the size of a credit card into his pocket.
Caleb smiled. "John liked the cookies I mailed him."
"It's bad enough you're on a first name basis with my PO. Do you have to exchange gifts? That's got to be illegal, right?"
Caleb rolled his eyes before heading for the kitchen.
Logan followed him. "Wow." On the counter was a three tier chocolate cake. A wreath of green icing had been added to the top. But the rest of the kitchen was a disaster by Caleb-standards, which would put Martha Stewart to shame. There were dirty dishes in the sink, chocolate smears on the counter, and a full trash bag.
Caleb picked up a small plastic bag with red icing. "It's for the party tomorrow." He ducked his head. "I was working on it when you called."
Logan winced. For a neat-freak like Caleb, the state of his kitchen showed how upset he had been by the call. "How about I take out the garbage while you finish it?"
Caleb frowned at the cake. "The wreath is off center. Maybe I should scrape it off and try again?"
"Baby, the cake is gorgeous," Logan said, which was the truth. But it was a lot of cake. As far as he knew, Michael and his sister were the only ones going to Klass's Christmas party, which wasn't much of a party. But that's what happens when you leave the rum out of the eggnog.
Caleb bit his bottom lip. "We have time for me to fix it." He took out a small card from his pocket and held it out for Logan to see. It was a 'Get Out of Jail Free' Monopoly card.
Logan took the card from him. "That's what Dabb gave you?" He flipped over the card. It said, 'See you tomorrow.' He tightened his jaw. "Who all is coming to your uncle's party?"
Caleb picked up the icing and added a red bow to the wreath. "Just friends and family."
Caleb didn't lie, but he was a master avoider.
"Did you invite my parole officer to the Christmas Party?"
Caleb widened his big green eyes. "No." He sighed. "Technically Uncle Harrison invited him, because they're friends and John's daughters are with their birth mother tomorrow. But it will be fine. There will be no alcohol." His fingers fluttered on his cheek, an anxiety sign that Logan had only recently learned to spot. His gaze directed toward the cake, Caleb said, "It'll be a real Christmas party."
No fucking way was Logan going to ruin this party for Caleb, even if it meant getting stuck under the mistletoe with Dabb. After pulling Caleb away from the cake, Logan wrapped his arms around Caleb's waist and hugged him. "It'll be a great party." He kissed Caleb's cheek. "Let me help you clean up."
Caleb kissed him. "Ich liebe dich."
When order was restored to the Klass kitchen, they retreated to the living room. Caleb handed Logan a red gift bag before sitting on the brown leather couch next to him.
Logan pulled out the green tissue paper to reveal a Bear's jersey. He took the jersey out of the bag. Flipping it over, he found 'Cutler' and '6' was printed on the back. "What happened to only spending twenty dollars on a gift?"
Caleb squirmed in his seat. "I got it at a second-hand shop. The owner sold it to me for twenty bucks."
Logan stared at him. "It still has the official NFL tags on it and it looks brand new."
"You'd be surprised how many people donate clothes with the tags still attached. Don't you like it?"
"I love it, but that's not the point." Logan pointed a finger at him. "You cheated. No business owner in his right mind is going to sell this jersey for twenty dollars. They'd charge you at least forty," he said. It was more like sixty but Caleb's big green eyes and gorgeous face made for an excellent haggling tool. A thought occurred to him. "Was this second-hand shop the new client you took on last month?"
Caleb bit his bottom lip. "It's possible he gave me a discount." He looked up at Logan through his blond lashes. "If it's worth forty, we could share it."
Logan grinned. "In that case, you should try it on."
Caleb waited several seconds before he snagged the jersey from Logan's lap and stood up. With pink cheeks, he took off his sweater and put on the jersey. He then removed his jeans, briefs, and socks.
Logan would never be able to wear the jersey in public again without getting hard. It didn't matter that the too-big jersey covered more than it revealed. Logan loved the idea of Caleb's skin pressed against the fabric. "Come here and let me check the fit."
Caleb shook his head. "I look like a kid playing dress-up."
Logan grabbed the front of the jersey and yanked Caleb toward him. "You look unbelievably hot." He encouraged Caleb to turn around and sit on his lap. "Lean back for me."
Caleb leaned back, his body stiff.
Logan kissed the side of Caleb's neck. "Relax, for me." He rubbed the scratchy material of the jersey against Caleb's nipples. Caleb leaned his head back against Logan's shoulder and groaned. His nipples were more sensitive than Logan's. And Logan loved to watch him unravel. He squeezed and teased the buds until they hardened enough to be seen through the fabric.
A wet spot on the front of the jersey showed how much Caleb enjoyed the rough treatment.
Logan pulled the material taut, showing the outline of Caleb's hard cock. "Tell me what you want for Christmas, little boy."
Caleb laughed. "That's so wrong."
Logan pressed his hand against the tented fabric. "Are you sure about that?" He bit Caleb's earlobe. Sliding his hand under the jersey, Logan petted the soft blond hair on Caleb's stomach. 
"God, Logan, please."
Logan pulled Caleb's cock from under the jersey and ran his thumb over the glistening tip. Caleb's skin was hot against the palm of Logan's hand. Pressing his mouth against Caleb's ear, he said, "I'm superstitious. I'm afraid the Bears won't have a winning season unless you come all over this jersey." He dragged his fingers over Caleb's balls and up the front of his shaft.
Caleb sighed and spread his legs further, in a blatant invitation.
Logan pressed his palm against the head of Caleb's cock before closing his fingers over it. He twisted his hands like he was opening a jar.
Pushing upward into Logan's grip, Caleb angled his face toward Logan for an awkward attempt at a kiss. His soft lips grazed Logan's stubbled jaw.
With his other hand, Logan reached down to cup Caleb's balls, gently massaging.
Caleb made a sound in the back of his throat when Logan tightened his grip on Caleb's cock.
Logan relished moments like this when he could forget about his own dick and focus solely on Caleb. He loved the way Caleb's cheeks flushed, the way his fingers dug into the leather couch, and the way his breath hitched as Logan stroked his cock. As Caleb's orgasm drew closer, he forgot to be nervous or insecure or polite. He focused solely on the pleasure Logan was giving him.
After a few more strokes, Caleb went rigid and spurted out, splattering the jersey with come. Logan nuzzled the side of Caleb's face as he slowly recovered.
When Caleb reached for him, Logan said, "I can wait." He kissed Caleb. "We have all night."
Caleb slid off Logan's lap and took hold of his hands. "I didn't deliberately stop going out, but I hadn't expected it to be so easy to slide back into bad habits." He kissed their joined hands before releasing Logan. "Thank you for reminding me why it's worth it to keep trying to get better."
Logan felt like he'd swallowed a tennis ball. "I love you so much." And he would have all night to show him.
Caleb stood up and held out his hand. "Come to bed."
As they retreated to the bedroom, Logan realized Dabb had given out the best gift. Not that he had any intention of telling his PO that.

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