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A Pillory for Christmas

Copyright © 2018 by Jackson Fuller

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a database or retrieval system, or distributed in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author, Jackson Fuller, or in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, situations and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

All characters illustrated in a sexual situation are over the ages of 21.

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A Pillory for Christmas

Junji tossed his luggage on the floor before dropping on the sofa with a heavy sigh. Gabriel set his luggage next to Junji’s and took Junji’s bulky winter coat from him. They didn’t speak as Gabriel hung up their coats in the closet. They were both dishevelled after the flight. Junji was hunched over slightly to make his tall, broad frame look smaller on the couch. A layer of black stubble sat firmly across his chin and jaw. Red still sat in Gabriel’s cheeks from the cold, but it hid the light layer of freckles that were more prominent in the summer. He had cut his blond hair short for the trip, but his family had teased him for the amount of product he wore in it, so he’d simply worn a hat, and now his wavy hair was mussed without it. They were both tired and tense, and that tension hung in the silence between them.

Junji was a quiet person, and Gabriel knew when his silences were comfortable and when they weren’t. They had argued in the car over the best route to take home from the airport. Gabriel had won, but he’d been wrong, and they sat in traffic for an extra forty minutes with Junji quietly fuming beside him. He didn’t think Junji fumed now; he seemed more defeated than anything. It had been a long week, and the argument in the car home was their breaking point.

Gabriel picked up their luggage to take it upstairs, but he set it down when Junji said, “I know I’ve been rough to deal with lately-”

You haven’t,” Gabriel said, quickly. “This was stupid. We never should have gone to see my family.”

The corner of Junji’s lips tilted to smile, and Gabriel tried not to look sheepish. They could only afford one trip for the holidays, and they went to see Gabriel’s family for Christmas instead of Junji’s for New Years. They usually saw Junji’s family once a year, and Gabriel hadn’t seen his for several years. It hadn’t been an argument. Junji wanted to meet Gabriel’s family. He didn’t celebrate Christmas – or even enjoy it much – but he made the effort for Gabriel. Still, he was out of his element. There were too many people he didn’t know and they mostly spoke a language he didn’t understand. Gabriel knew it had only made Junji more homesick, with endless food more like what they had together at home rather than what he’d have with his own family.

And Gabriel had been picked apart by his family. He had a husband they didn’t approve of and no clear career goals. They thought it was embarrassing he just hung off Junji while he figured out his own way. Gabriel was needled and reminded that he wasn’t good enough in their eyes. He knew it wore down Junji too, even though they weren’t openly rude to him, their disapproval was an endless string of passive aggressions that extended to strongly suggesting they sleep in separate rooms. They carried out conversations in front of him in a tongue he didn’t speak and often switched languages just to exclude him.

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