A Christmas Carol

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 Carolus Fitzgerald hated his first name. He would have been contented with plain old Charles, or even Carl. But no, his parents being both History teachers, had damned his existence with that horrible name. But it could have been worse. From the first day in school, he had told everyone to call him Charly, and luckily everybody remembered it – except some bullies back in Junior High.

Even today, him being twenty-five, living alone and having a great job as an actor in a little theatre company, it was not a problem. All his friends an colleagues called him Charly, and most of them didn't even know his real first name.

But there were always times when one is reminded of the unpleasant reality. And this day was one of them.

Charly put the chocolate cake in a box and taped it shut. On its front he stuck a little letter which he unfortunately had signed with that trice-damned Carolus. And all that because there were living two other people in the apartment complex whose surname was also Fitzgerald. But Charly wanted to make absolutely sure that the receiver of this cake knew who had sent it to him.

Charly sighed as he remembered the wonderful smile of Dane Alexanders, the young man who had moved in opposite the hallway just two weeks ago. Charly didn't know much of him, simply being too shy to address him, but Dane's pleasant voice had drifted through the hallway when he had been talking to old Mrs. Talbot next door. That deep, gentle timbre had sent shivers down Charly's spine. Not to mention that drop-dead-gorgeous body, the soft black hair, and bright blue eyes.

And now he had finally gotten over himself and baked his secret crush a cake. Yes, it was a cheesy method. But directly talking to Dane wasn't something Charly had the nerve to do. He could be bold on the stage in front of hundreds of people, but having a simple conversation with an attractive guy was beyond him. Charly's best friend Nathan had always tried to take him to clubs and bars for meeting other gay guys, but it hadn't worked.

Hence the cake with a little note attached to it that simply read: "Welcome! I hope you like the cake. Please feel free to visit me anytime! Carolus Fitzgerald, No. 10A."

The part with the visiting was still a bit too bold in Charly's eyes, but if he hadn't included it, Dane would have dismissed the intention behind the cake. And all the trouble would have been in vain.

Charly took the cake and opened the door, nervously looking down the hallway. But it was deserted, and Dane wouldn't come home for another two hours. Mrs. Talbot had wasted no time telling Charly everything that Dane told her, and so he knew that his crush worked in a lawyer's office, was twenty-seven years old and single. Old Mrs. Talbot had told Charly that with a wink; nobody could keep secrets from her, and so she knew exactly where Charly's preferences lay, including his taste in guys. If Dane, however, was interested in men, was still up to debate.

But Charly would know soon enough. He placed the box with the cake in front of Dane's door and snuck back into his own apartment. Now he had to wait.

~+*+*+~

Two hours later the doorbell rang. Charly had already waited anxiously with a cup of tea and a decidedly boring newspaper. Now he practically ran toward the door and almost tripped over his cat, Hulk. The big orange tomcat hissed softly and hopped out of the way; he knew his owner's clumsiness.

With a pounding heart, Charly opened the door. And there stood Dane, all smiles, the note from the cake in his hand. "Hi," he said. "Does Carol Fitzgerald live here?"

Charly blinked. "Carol?"

"Yeah, she signed this note that came with the delicious cake." Dane held up the paper; the corner of it was smudged with a bit of frosting, thus shortening 'Carolus' to 'Carol'.

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