It was three days before Christmas and William realised he had a rather major issue. A very important issue.
He had forgotten to get a present for Noah.
The Christmas season was a busy one for the company so it had been at the back of his mind first and then had completely slipped from his mind.
Now the office had closed for the Christmas holidays and he had remembered a little too late. For most people three days was enough to choose a present for their significant other, but for William it had to be perfect as it was his first time getting a present for Noah.
He had a feeling Noah had already got his present for him judging by how calm he was. Then again it was too easy for Noah, all he had to do was bake him something sweet.
That was not an option for William for two reasons; he couldn't bake and Noah didn't like sweet things.
"You're out of it," Noah observed at dinnertime. "You've been picking at the ravioli. Do you not like it?"
James had been concerned about their ability to survive without him cooking so he had been teaching Noah his favourite meals before he formally retired.
"No, it's not that," he said quickly. "I was thinking about something else."
Noah's face became concerned and William knew he had worried him.
"It's really nothing to be concerned about. Are you okay with doing the Christmas Eve shift?" he changed the subject hastily.
Noah made a pained expression.
"It's going to be busy and hectic so I can't say I'm looking forward to it," he paused. "Unless you want to visit me?"
William was keen to agree. He always liked to visit Noah at work.
"Of course I'll visit. I don't have anything to do that day anyway."
Noah grinned. "That will probably be the highlight of my day. Have you got everyone presents yet?"
Why did he have the feeling that Noah knew he hadn't picked out a present for him yet? There was something about that smile.
"I was going to use these few days to get the ones I haven't got," he answered honestly. "I've picked Katherine's already."
That should distract Noah from working out that he hadn't got him a present yet. He knew he had chosen the right distraction when Noah wiped his brow in relief.
"I was a little worried when I saw that book on the bed- I thought it might have been your personal reading. She will love it."
Whilst William had been careful to only pick out clean looking romance books for Katherine before, he was willing to let the standard slip for Christmas. Not too far though.
"Did you really think I would pick out a book called 'The Alpha marked me' with a photo of a topless male for my personal reading material? Of course it was for Katherine."
Noah smirked at him.
"Not really. I knew immediately. You're just quite fun to tease."
William still didn't have any ideas by the next morning, so he called Eliza over for assistance. She would have to have at least one good suggestion as the most creative and fashionable member of the Quinn family.
"Just ask his parents what he would want as a present," Eliza said to him after he had reported his failure to find a present. "Or lose your pride and ask him outright."
William knew the second one wasn't an option because it would feel like he hadn't put any effort in.
"I get the feeling he doesn't get along with his parents and I am not asking him myself."
"They raised him, they have some idea of what he likes," she pointed out and crossed her arms. "Did you at least get me a present?"
William now understood why she had been a little sour since he'd brought the issue up. It did seem like he had sidelined her Christmas present.
"I saw something last month that I knew you would like so I got it then," he replied.
Eliza sighed for some reason that he couldn't work out.
"Have you got my parents anything?"
"I have," William confirmed.
"Got that at the same time as yours."
Eliza raised an eyebrow.
"You've got everyone a present apart from your boyfriend. How did you manage that one?"
Normally William left getting a present for his aunt until last due to their poor relationship and would always give it to Eliza as a proxy. Now that hurdle was out the way, Noah's present was the difficult one.
"I wanted it to be the best one so I wanted to leave it until last so… I ended up forgetting," he admitted.
His cousin sighed and put her hand on his shoulder.
"I get it now. I am very willing to help you, but I only know a few things that men like to have as presents and I don't think any of them are his style."
"I know," William groaned. "He doesn't like sweet things and he doesn't seem to have a favourite food."
"Perfume?" Eliza asked.
"He wouldn't be able to wear one," William explained. "When you work in food you can't wear strong scents. It would be wasted."
Eliza took a sip of her tea and leaned back on the sofa. She suddenly perked up and William knew she had thought of something.
"The only thing I know that Noah likes for sure is you!"
William blushed and then realised that she hadn't actually suggested anything.
"I've already told him that I love him and we're going out. There's nothing else to add onto that yet. It's only been a few months."
Eliza sank back into the sofa in defeat.
"That is true. Give me some time to think of something."
William waited patiently for her response. She had always been the imaginative one. He busied himself with the plate of Christmas themed gingerbread men that Noah had left for him in the morning. They were nicely spiced and he was enjoying eating the sugary decorations.
"I can't think of anything!" she exploded after a few more minutes of silence. "It's frustrating."
She pulled out her phone and started scrolling.
"Let's ask Katherine- I know she gives you ideas for dates sometimes. She's got to have something about a present."
Katherine was brought up to speed very quickly and immediately started whirring off ideas. William would have been impressed if any of them had been usable.
"Katherine, the only thing we know he likes for sure is William," Eliza said eventually. "Most of your ideas would work, but Noah is unique and William wants to do his best for their first Christmas together."
"...Can't William just give himself to Noah?" Katherine suggested. "In the most recent book I read, the main character did that for a present."
The subject of the conversation hid his face in a cushion. The whole phone conversation had been a mistake. He should have told Eliza it was a bad idea.
"Um, I don't think William likes that idea," Eliza said immediately. "Do you have any other more suitable suggestions."
"Some gay erotica?" his secretary suggested next. "They can get some ideas from it."
William squirmed on the sofa in embarrassment. It was an odd thing to listen to his cousin and secretary talk about his love life down to the fine details.
"William really doesn't like that one. Something less sexual?" Eliza asked.
"...I don't have anything," Katherine admitted. "I've got some more ideas in the previous vein though."
William held up his hand and Eliza took the hint.
"Thank you for your contribution," she said. "We've got to go now. Bye."
William didn't emerge from behind the cushion until he knew she had ended the call for sure. Eliza's face was red as well, but he knew it couldn't compare to his.
"I think asking Katherine was not the way to go this time, sorry about that. Should we ask Dave next?"
Anything was better than asking Katherine for ideas. William gave his approval and hoped that Dave would keep the conversation to normal ideas.
"Noah's present? He drinks coffee and tea for definite. Get him some fancy tea or coffee beans or something like that," Dave suggested.
After Katherine's gift ideas that sounded much better, but William wanted it to be special. That idea could work another year.
"I want to do something special," he said.
"Ah," Dave said. "Something special…"
William waited again and Eliza jumped into the conversation.
"By the way, nothing erotic please. Katherine was enough for William. His face is still red."
"I can't believe you went to her for romantic present advice instead of me," Dave complained. "Of course I wouldn't make you uncomfortable or make a bad suggestion."
"Thank you," William said quietly. "I really appreciate that."
"Anytime," Dave replied. "Anyway, you could get him a piece of jewellery. Something couple themed."
William decided that he liked that one. It was something special that he was comfortable with doing.
"I think he likes it," Eliza said.
"I'm happy that he's happy," Dave answered. "I take it that I'm supposed to keep this conversation a secret from Noah?"
"Why?" William asked sharply.
"No reason," Dave said in a suspiciously innocent tone. "I've got to get back to the patisserie now. It's getting really busy."
Christmas Eve rolled by very quickly after that conversation and William was a frantic mess until he picked up the rings from the jewellers.
He had paid a lot of money to have the job done quickly and was now feeling lighter about the next day.
The windows of the patisserie was beautifully decorated with tinsel, Christmas trees and fake snow. William had let the design team handle the interior decorations without interference and was happy with their work. It gave off a Christmas vibe without being gaudy.
He pushed open the door and realised that the queue was all the way to the door. His idea of a patisserie was definitely a hit. He waited dutifully in the queue for his turn and snagged the last available fondant fancy. Dave turned up at the counter as he was paying.
"Have you had a rough day of present buying?" he teased. "Your hair is a mess and your cheeks are red."
William patted his hair down and picked up his order. The queue behind him had definitely multiplied which pleased him and worried him at the same time.
"Noah should be out to see you in a minute," Dave continued on. "I'm guessing you had plans to meet and you aren't here as the big boss."
William hung around by the counter for a few minutes and his boyfriend soon turned up. Noah looked a lot less smooth and composed than he had in the morning which William chalked up to the Christmas rush.
"I am so happy to see you," Noah said in a low voice. "I'll come and join you in a moment."
The Christmas rush had definitely not been fun for him. The marketing team had an idea to run an event just before Christmas that offered personalised cakes made to order which had been a lot more popular than predicted. William had got extra staff hired, but he knew the bulk of the work had been done by Noah.
William managed to snag a table and Noah sat by him a few minutes later.
"Someone put plain flour in one of the cake mixes instead of self raising and as you can guess, it's taken some time to catch up and there's more customers to make cakes for because it's Christmas," Noah explained. "I know I look like a mess."
William poured him some tea and put it in front of him.
"You look like you need it," he said. "Is there anything I can do to help?"
"Stay with me," Noah said immediately and took his hand. "I need a recharge."
William smiled and squeezed his hand.
"You have two days off now," he told him.
Noah was more alert after finishing his cup of tea. That was worrying for William.
"So is the cause of your stress in your pocket now?" he teased.
How had Noah known his present was in his pocket? It appeared that Noah was very aware of what had been going on. Dave must have let something slip.
"It might be," he replied awkwardly.
Noah beamed. "I'm glad you resolved it. You can go home after this and relax now. You've been looking worried for a few days."
William watched Noah return to the kitchen later on and wondered what he had done to deserve such an understanding boyfriend.
Noah's present turned out to be a box full of personalised fondant fancies. Each one was a different colour and flavour combination. William had always thought the fact that the icing on a fondant fancy was the same flavour no matter the colour was a disappointment. He was delighted to know Noah felt the same way and had found the potential.
It was hard to restrain himself to just eating four.
"Please make space for the Christmas lunch," Noah laughed. "James has been in the kitchen for a while."
William closed the box and knew it was time to produce his.
"It's quite small and doesn't have the same care and personal time spent on it like yours, but I hope you like it," he said and held out the wrapped present.
Noah accepted it and gracefully tore off the wrapping paper. William watched his face as he opened the box. Noah had a faint smile on his face.
"So you did go for the couple rings," he said with a grin. "Personalised ones too. I like it."
He placed one on his finger and reached out for William's hand to slide it on his finger. By now William had a suspicion that he had been present for the phone conversation with Dave.
"How much did you know about this?"
"A little," Noah replied and admired his hand. "I didn't manipulate anything though. I wanted you to choose it yourself and stop worrying."
William now had something to worry about.
"Did you know about the other suggestions...?"
"I knew their theme," Noah said vaguely. "I also had the feeling I didn't want to know the details just so you wouldn't feel embarrassed."
William sighed and Noah frowned.
"Was it something I said?" he asked softly.
"I just don't know what I've done to find someone like you," William admitted. "You're very understanding."
Noah pulled him in for a hug.
"Don't feel like that. I don't know where I would find someone who puts up with the fact that I hate their favourite food like you do. Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas," William said and found the courage to do something he hadn't done before.
He put his arms around Noah's neck and placed a kiss neatly on his lips. Noah responded in the same way and then again more enthusiastically. William's face was scarlet red by the time James came to collect them for Christmas lunch.
"Why is your face so red?" James asked.
"He's very cute," Noah told James in a very straightforward manner.
James looked like he didn't want to know any more information.
"We are going to have lunch now and I hope you two can stay unstuck from each other's lips for an hour or so."
William knew he wasn't being completely serious with them and happily led the way to the dining room with his couple ring on his finger.
"What did he get you in the end?" he heard James ask.
Noah grinned and held out his hand.
"A couple ring."
James took a look at it and gave an approving nod.
"I saw a certain book when I was dusting and I had a fear it was your Christmas present from William. I'm very glad it wasn't that book."
Noah snorted and William nudged him before leading the way to the dining room. It was time to relax and enjoy the rest of the day. It was his first Christmas with someone he loved and he hoped to have many more.
I know it's been a while since I wrote this. I intended to add something for the end of the year and was delayed by work so it's ended up being this late.
This extra takes places between the end of the story and the time skip in the last part. I reread this story a while ago and really enjoyed it so I wanted to return to it briefly.
Thank you to everyone who reviewed or commented as well as a big thank you to Veronica8 who promotes this story in the forums.
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