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  • Writer's pictureBrigham Vaughn


Updated: Dec 23, 2023

Black background with evergreen branches, snow, and red berries. Red text saying "celebrate Brigham Vaughn's 10 Year Publishing Anniversary with The 12 Days of Christmas. Day 7: Russ & Stephen - Ugly Sweater

To celebrate my 10 year publishing anniversary I'll be posting one short story per day here on my blog from December 13-24th.

Every day will feature a different couple and the stories will vary in length. They'll range from sweet to a little bit spicy and hopefully will leave you with a smile on your face and a warm feeling of holiday cheer in your heart.

Thank you for ten wonderful years!




DAY: 7

CHARACTERS: Russ Bishop & Stephen Parker + Austin Parker-Bishop

PROMPTS: Ugly Sweater Party + Secret Santa Gift Exchange

NOTES: This is set in the time between the final chapter and the epilogue of Full-Balance.


“You look very festive today, Mr. Parker.” Russ flicked the white pom-pom on the end of Santa’s hat, just below his husband’s right nipple.

Stephen looked down and made a face at the ugly Christmas sweater he wore. “I know I used to complain about the holiday parties we had before, but they just keep getting worse every year!”

“Shh. Don’t let the organizers hear you say that,” Russ whispered, smoothing a hand over the fuzzy candy cane on his own sweater. “Especially Sherri.”

Stephen chuckled.

Ugly sweater or not, Stephen was a handsome man. Still as much of a silver fox as ever. And really, everyone looked hideously festive at the moment.

When Stephen and Russ had first met, Vantage Marketing—the company they both worked for—had hosted lavish holiday parties at a swanky hotel downtown on weekend evenings.

The upscale parties had now become office parties held in the afternoon on a business day and, this year, involved ugly sweaters.

Privately, Russ agreed with his husband. This was a serious downgrade.

“I thought you were the one in charge of the budget anyway,” Russ teased. Stephen was the chief financial officer of the company.

He snorted. “One would think so. But the board is ‘looking to trim waste’ so …”

Russ held up his plastic cup of too-sweet punch. “Well, here’s to ugly Christmas sweaters.”

“And potlucks.” Stephen touched their cups together.

“Hey, I thought the apple-gouda pigs in a blanket appetizer we brought was delicious,” he protested.

“It was. And I suppose the hotel dinners were never anything to rave about anyway.” Stephen sighed. “Maybe I’m getting nostalgic in my old age.”

“Maybe we should have a night out soon,” Russ suggested. “Just the two of us. Get all dressed up. Have a nice dinner. Enjoy a few drinks …”

“That sounds nice,” Stephen said.

Russ pulled out his phone. “Let me see what’s on the calendar in the next few weeks.”

“Too much,” Stephen said, sighing again. “I swear, Austin is going in a least a dozen directions every day.”

“At least he can drive now,” Russ pointed out. “We don’t have to ferry him around anymore.”

“True.” Stephen rubbed a hand over his face. “Maybe that’s what’s making me feel old.”

Russ grinned. Their adopted son Austin had been thirteen when he’d come to live with them as a foster kid. But he was seventeen now. Able to drive. Applying to colleges … Suddenly, Stephen wasn’t the only one feeling old.

“I just don’t want to miss one of his school events,” Russ said, squinting at his digital calendar.

“No, I don’t either. Let me know what date you come up with.” Stephen pressed a kiss to his lips. “I’m going to go ask Peter something.”

Distracted, Russ waved vaguely. “Shit. At this rate, I might need a whiteboard and the ability to bend space and time to find a free night this month,” he muttered to himself.

“I still think it’s cheating,” Sherri said.

Russ lifted his head to look at his coworker. “Huh? What is?”

“That you and Stephen got each other in the secret Santa gift exchange.”

Russ laughed. “Well, we certainly didn’t rig it. You were the one who organized it, after all.”

“Oh, I know. It just seems like it's easier if you’re married to the person. I got the new girl from the mailroom who I’ve only met once before.”

“I guess.” Ross replied, distracted by his phone. Shrugging, he admitted defeat on finding a free day. It was going to take more than a casual perusal of his calendar.

“What did he get you?” Sherri peered at the gift box beside him.

“A tie.”

“Oh.” She looked disappointed. “That’s not very exciting.”

On the surface, maybe not. Although it was a lovely tie.

But knowing Stephen, it wasn’t just about the look of it. They dabbled in a few kinky things from time to time and Russ would bet Stephen had plans to tie him to the headboard with the aforementioned lovely cranberry-red silk.

Stephen had gone to rather elaborate lengths this year and created a DIY Advent calendar filled with fun little toys. So far, Russ had opened a bottle of luxe massage oil, a ribbed stroker, a set of cock rings, a tingly minty balm, and a prostate massager.

Russ got hot under the collar just thinking about trying them all out.

When they were going to use all this remained to be seen, however.


“A week away together … Stephen …” Russ’s voice went soft. “How long have you been planning this?”

Grinning, Stephen leaned forward and brushed his lips across Russ’s. “Oh, since about August.”

It hadn’t been easy waiting until Christmas morning for Russ to unwrap the final gift.

Stephen had thoroughly enjoyed picking out the twenty-four smaller gifts that Russ had been opening every day since December 1st. But this was the cherry on the already delicious sundae.

The couples-only tropical resort got rave reviews. They’d be able to swim, relax in the sun, and enjoy cocktails to their heart’s content. Of course, that was if they managed to leave their hotel room while they tried everything else Stephen had purchased.

But it was the time alone with his husband that Stephen was most looking forward to. As much as they both loved Austin, it was nice to get away when they were able.

Nice to spend some quality adult time together.

Stephen could just picture the gauzy curtains blowing in the warm breeze, Russ deliciously stretched out on a big bed, tied to the posts with that cranberry-red silk tie while Stephen teased and tormented him …

He shivered and Russ must have caught something in his gaze because he smirked at Stephen. “So, when are we going?”

“I finagled some things with Peter to make sure you could take the third week in January off work.”

“Well planned,” Russ said. “It does come in handy that you’re such good friends with my boss.”

Stephen smirked back, proud of himself.  

“What are we doing with him?” Russ asked, tilting his head in Austin’s direction. “Because I’m not leaving a seventeen-year-old home alone for a week. Even if he is the best kid in the world.”

Austin—who’d had his nose buried in his phone for the past half hour—finally looked their way, grinning. “Do I want to know what you have planned for this vacation?”

“Nope,” Stephen said.

“Got it.” He set his phone aside. “And I’m hanging out with Evan and Jeremy. Duh.”

They were some of Russ and Stephen’s closest friends and always happy to have Austin around, so they had eagerly agreed to let Austin stay with them for the week.

“Do they know that?” Russ asked, clearly amused by their son.

“Yes! Dad and I planned it with them already!” Austin protested.

“Well, that was nice of them,” Russ said with a smile.

“Evan, Jeremy, Dad, and I are all very thoughtful,” Austin said.

Russ stood, ruffling a hand through Austin’s red hair before pressing a kiss to the top of his head. “You are. And I love all of the gifts. Including the vacation. Thank you both.”

“You’re welcome, Other Dad.”

Stephen chuckled. Poor Russ. He’d lobbied hard to be called Papa or Father or Pops or anything but Other Dad.

But Other Dad had stuck.

“Now, who’s helping me clean up this mess?” Russ asked, bending down to scoop some gold star-patterned wrapping paper off the floor.

“Not it!” Austin hollered.

Russ playfully batted it in his direction. “Nice try.”

“Well, you asked,” Austin insisted, picking up the paper. 

“That was my first mistake,” Russ teased.

Stephen laughed and stood, reaching for the red and gold bows scattered across the floor.

“Hey, you didn’t get much this year,” Austin protested, looking at Russ. “I mean, everything I bought you was pretty small and Dad just got you the trip.”

“Well, I love everything you gave me and it’s a very generous trip,” Russ pointed out, hooking an arm around Austin’s neck and kissing the side of his head. “Plus, don’t forget that red tie he got me in the secret Santa exchange at work.”

“True. But that’s boring.” Austin squirmed away.

“Hmm. I might still have a few more stocking stuffers stashed away somewhere,” Stephen said, smirking at Russ. “I’ll have to check later.”

“Don’t forget the Advent calendar,” Russ shot back. “You gave me that.”

“Oh, I never got to see that,” Austin said. “What was in it?”

Stephen stifled a laugh. “Trust me. You don’t want to know.”

“Oh. Eww.” Austin wrinkled his nose. “Gross. I thought you meant chocolates or something fun like that.”

“It’ll definitely be fun,” Russ said, eyes twinkling.

This time, Austin was the one who threw the wrapping paper.


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Helen Smith
Helen Smith
Dec 19, 2023

Light-hearted and fun!

Brigham Vaughn
Brigham Vaughn
Dec 20, 2023
Replying to

Sometimes you just need a bit of a laugh, right?

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