Happy birthday to Crystal’s Many Reviewers from the men from Trouble Comes in Threes.
A Purrfect Birthday
“You want to what?” Kirk scowled at Remi.
“What? You got anything better to do?”
“Well, no.” Kirk looked at Dolf. “You sure you can’t go?”
Dolf leaned against the counter sipping his coffee. He’d seen the slight desperation in his mate’s eyes. “I have to going to the office for a little while, but you go ahead.”
Kirk huffed. “Tal? What about you?”
“Can’t. One of the houses my crew’s working on may have lead paint, so I really need to go to the site. You go on, though.”
“Look, go with Remi and have fun.” Dolf ruffled Kirk’s hair. “We can get together later this evening and maybe go to Arches to eat, or something. How does that sound?”
“Well, I guess. I was just kind of hoping we could spend the day together.” Kirk pulled his wallet out and checked to see how much cash he had on hand. “I’m going to need to run by the ATM to get some cash out before we go, Remi. What’s the name of this place again?”
“It’s called The Eagles Nest. They have batting cages, a mini golf course, and a couple of go-kart tracks.” Remi clasped Kirk on the shoulder. “Come on, you can stand to be away from your mates for a little while.”
“Speaking of mates, where’s yours?”
“It was his Sunday to work. Now, let’s go.” Remi bounced on the balls of his feet. “I can’t wait to get behind the wheel. And no crying when I beat your ass either.”
Kirk snorted. “This from the person who’s scared to go more than five miles over the speed limit.” Kirk grabbed a light jacket and waved at Dolf and Tal. “I’ll call you guys later. Don’t work too hard.”
“Have fun!” Tal waved back. “And kick his ass for us!”
“Ha!” Remi threw over his shoulder as he pushed Kirk in front of him. “Not happening. Later!”
Tal shifted from foot to foot, biting his lip. Dolf stood at the counter, still sipping his coffee. Tal started to speak, but Dolf shook his head. Tal bounced in place again, and Dolf hiked an eyebrow. Finally he heard Kirk’s truck start, backup, and leave.
“Okay, they’re gone.”
“Oh thank the goddess.” Tal raced around the counter. “I thought for a moment there Remi wasn’t going to be able to get Kirk to go.”
“Remi can be damn persuasive when he wants to be.” Dolf rubbed his hands together. “Now, we got a couple hours to get the place ready before Kirk insists he’s ready to come home. You call Heller and tell him to bring all the stuff we stashed at his house while I call Sam and tell him to bring on over the food I ordered.”
Tal pulled his cell phone out of his pocket. “I can’t believe our mate actually thought we weren’t going to do anything for his birthday.”
Dolf also retrieved his cell phone. “He can’t help it, sweetheart. There were too many years he had to do without. That’s a hard mindset to get out of.”
“I know. I wish we’d met him sooner. He was alone for so long. We could’ve—” Tal blinked fiercely. “Okay, yeah, not going there.”
Dolf engulfed Tal in an embrace. His kind, sweet-hearted mate often became emotional when he thought about the hard times Kirk endured before they arrived in his life. Dolf brushed a kiss against Tal’s bright blond hair. “Shhh. He’s ours now and will never want for anything again.”
“Okay, okay.” Tal sniffed then pressed a kiss to Dolf’s cheek. “Gonna call Heller now.”
“Good.” Dolf released Tal who wandered out of the kitchen as he dialed Heller’s number.
Dolf called Sam. They’d been planning the surprise birthday party for Kirk’s forty-second birthday for quite a while now. The numerous gifts they’d bought Kirk had been stashed at Heller’s house. No way he’d take the chance of hiding them here—Kirk would probably find them.
After he called Sam, Dolf went to one of the spare bedrooms and unearthed what few decorations they’d bought. They hadn’t bought much—just a banner that said Happy Birthday and some streamers. The point wasn’t the decorations. As Tal had mentioned, Kirk hadn’t done much in regards to his birthday.
Kirk hadn’t had the friends or the money, no matter how hard he worked. That had changed now since he had them. Dolf grabbed the bag of goodies and returned to the kitchen. Before he started decorating, he called the rest of their friends and told everybody to be at the house no later than three.
* * * * *
“It looks good, don’t you think?” Tal asked, staring at the kitchen.
The multicolor banner that said Happy Birthday hung in front of the windows that overlooked the backyard in the kitchen. On the kitchen table set a large sheet cake decorated in blues, greens, and yellows. Matching plates were set off to the side along with plastic silverware. All the other counters in the kitchen had a variety of snacks upon them.
Dolf glanced around. “Indeed.”
Aidric and Brier were there already and helping themselves to the snacks that had been laid out. Marshell, Janelle, and Sam had brought plenty of beer and several two liter bottles of sodas. Heller and Lawson had just arrived with the presents he and Tal had bought for Kirk.
“Everybody remembered to park in the back, right?” Dolf asked looking out the V-shaped prow window in the front of the house. His phone chimed letting him know he had an incoming text from Remi. A quick check he turned to face everybody standing around in the living area.
“Okay, everybody take their places. They’re about ten minutes out.” There was a scramble behind Dolf as he shut off the lights in the living area.
Everyone hid in the kitchen. Kirk very rarely came in through the front door—most of the time he parked in the driveway and entered their home through the garage which opened into the kitchen. He couldn’t wait to see the look on Kirk’s face. They waited silently until they heard Kirk’s key in the door lock.
“I still say you should’ve been disqualified,” Kirk griped as he unlocked the door.
“You’re just jealous I won that last race.”
“You won because you bumped me. Just in case you’re confused, that’s called cheating.”
“Don’t be a sore loser.”
Kirk opened the door and stepped into the kitchen “I got your sore—”
“Surprise!” everyone yelled.
“H-holy shit!” Kirk dropped his keys, grabbed his chest, and fell against the door as people swarmed him. “Jesus Fucking Christ!”
“Where?” Remi exclaimed looking around quickly.
Tal furiously blew on one of those cheap party horns as he threw confetti at Kirk. Dolf had on one of those silly pointed party hats. Lawson and Heller were both hooting and hollering Happy Birthday. Janelle stood with her arms crossed, laughing. Brier grabbed more confetti from Tal and threw it at Kirk too.
Aidric hurried over and put one of the pointy party hats on Kirk then, since Kirk was still in a state of shock, manage to get a sash on him said Birthday Boy. Sam started singing a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday that soon had everybody joining in. Marshell made his way over and threw his arm around Remi and started belting out the lyrics too.
Still singing, Dolf and Tal wrapped their arms around Kirk, trapping their mate in the middle. As the song came an end both of them laid a big ol’ smooch on Kirk. Heller, of course, had the cell phone ready to go and record the moment for prosperity. The laughing, singing, and shouts of Happy Birthday calmed down and everyone crowded closer to Kirk, smiling.
“Are you okay, there, sexy?” Dolf asked.
“I’m… I’m… Jesus fucking Christ.”
Tal giggled as he laid another kiss on Kirk’s cheek. “I think you said that already.”
Kirk squeezed both Tal and Dolf. “Guys…” Kirk cleared his throat, and then cleared it again. “I don’t know what to say. I didn’t think… I had expected…God. Um, no one has ever thrown me a surprise birthday party. Hell, no one’s ever given me any kind of birthday party. I’m… shit. I’m grateful. I’m actually beyond grateful. I… you guys are my family. I love you. All of you.”
“Awww!” Tal wiggled closer to Kirk. “We love you too.”
Dolf slapped Kirk on the ass. “We sure do. Now, come on. Brier has been eyeing the cake for a while now, so we better cut it. ”
“Wait, wait!” Heller and Lawson had been pouring champagne while Kirk tried to get his thoughts in order, and were now passing a glass out to everybody. “First, a toast to Kirk.”
There were several shouts of agreement.
“To Kirk,” Heller said. “May you always stay the pain in the ass we all love. Some of us more than others, granted.”
Lawson shook his head as he wrapped his arm around Heller’s waist. “Nice, hellcat.”
“Here, here!” Marshell raised a champagne glass. “To Kirk, who isn’t afraid to tell you when you fuck up.”
“To Kirk.” Remi raised his glass too. “May your engine always run smooth.”
Sam snorted. “To Kirk and all the things I’ve heard in his automotive shop… like: I need a good pump.”
Aidric laughed. “I heard this last week: Something is wet down there.”
Brier, grinning, added, “My favorite was: Why am I the only one doing all the work?”
“I particularly liked: You need a head job.” Marshell raised his glass to Kirk.
“And he made sure to pass that on to me, by the way.” Remi nudged Marshell.
“Jesus, you all got too much time on your hands.” Then Kirk laughed outright. “And you’re all a bunch of pervs too.”
“Of course. They all hang out with you. Happy Birthday!” Janelle raised her glass too.
Everybody shouted Happy Birthday, drank the champagne, and made their way over to the cake. “Quick, blow it out before something catches on fire,” Lawson said.
“Jeez, did you guys put all forty-two candles on there?” Kirk moved into position in front of the cake. Dolf and Tal were on either side of him.
“Yup,” Remi replied, camera at the ready. “Look at that blaze.”
Kirk bent over the cake, but glanced back up at Remi. “Wait until your birthday. Going to be interesting with over a hundred candles on it.”
“Blow!” Heller yelled, and then shot a quick look at Lawson. “Shut up, you.”
“Good lord.” Kirk sucked in a big breath to blow out the candles.
“Make a wish too!” Tal yelled next to him.
“I got all I want.” With a wink, Kirk blew out the candles.
* * * *
Hours later the house was quiet. Kirk put the last of the bottles in the recycling bin and wiped down the countertops. The click of nails on hardwood floor caught his attention. Grinning, he turned. A beautiful, snow-white cat strolled in from the living room and came over to him.
The cat stretched up and patted Kirk on the thigh. “Meeow.”
“Well, hello there, cutie.”
Electric blue eyes stared up at Kirk. Tal patted Kirk on the leg one more time then dropped back down to the tile floor that ran throughout the kitchen. Kirk looked toward the door when he heard more clicking coming his way.
Dolf sauntered in, also in his werecat form. His magnificent black fur caught the lights, and those electric blue eyes traveled over Kirk too. Both cats prowled through the kitchen, sniffing at every hidden crevice, as Kirk finished what few things were left to do.
Tal pranced over and batted at a piece of wrapping paper that had been missed in the cleanup. He sniffed it, slowly touched it… then shook his paw frantically when tape stuck to his paw. Kirk leaned against the counter trying not to laugh as Tal sprinted across the floor waving his paw. Dolf jumped on him and bit carefully at the tape.
Dolf swatted him.
Tal meowed loudly then ran under the kitchen table, weaving his way through the chair legs. Dolf jumped up on a chair and waited for Tal to run under him. When Tal did, he swatted at his tail. Tal flopped down, and he jumped off the chair, landing on Tal. Tal rolled onto his back with Dolf on top of him, his hind legs kicking furiously.
“Unfair advantage!” Kirk called and lifted Dolf off of Tal.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I hear you.” Kirk sat him down on the tile.
Tal sprinted toward the den.
“Rawr!” Dolf bellowed at Kirk.
“He’s getting away,” Kirk reminded Dolf.
He turned around, stuck his tail up in the air toward Kirk, and then he too shot out of the kitchen into the living area, hot on Tal’s trail. Kirk followed at a more leisurely pace. Tal yowled playfully over his shoulder at Dolf.
Tal ran full speed ahead then launched himself at the couch. Dolf cut across the top of the coffee table and sprang at Tal. Tal, the little imp, put on the brakes and pulled up short… then ducked. Dolf sailed straight over Tal’s head, hit the floor, and then rolled until he came to stop. He hopped up, plopped down on his butt, and nonchalantly licked a paw.
“Yeah, nice try. I see what you did there—trying to act like you had that planned.” Kirk smirked. “I’m not buying it.”
Dolf prowled toward Kirk and then swatted the lower half of his leg.
“Meooow,” Tal purred from behind Dolf, his tail wagging back and forth behind him. Dolf turned to look at Tal.
“Don’t think waving your tail is going to help you out there, Tal.”
“Rawl!” Dolf dropped to his belly, eyes following the tail wagging in front of him.
“But then again, what do I know?” Kirk pulled his shirt off then unzipped his jeans. “While you two are cute and all, I was wondering if the human version maybe would like to come out and play.”
Both cats hauled ass out of the living area.
When Kirk finished taking off his clothes, he smirked. “Works every time.”
Tal and Dolf walked back in, gloriously naked and human.
Grinning, Kirk held his hands out to his mates. “Oh yeah, what a purrfect birthday.”