Adam and Mia’s First Christmas Together
December 24, 2014. Newport Beach, California.
“I hate shopping. Loathe. It turns me into a big ol’ Scrooge this time of year,” Emilia said as she rearranged the holiday cookies on the plate next to the game board. We were in our living room with the Trivial Pursuit board on the coffee table. Emilia sat on the ground in front of it facing Jordan and April, who sat opposite from her on the love seat. As always, she was beautiful, even if just in jeans and a green T-shirt showing the TARDIS surrounded by Dr. Seuss characters that read “Doctor Whoville.”
She was vibrant and healthy, her shiny dark hair curling just below her ears. My eyes traveled down her slim form, appreciating every curve, every move, every sly smile or wink she sent me.
It had been a cozy, quiet Christmas Eve—just the way I’d wanted it. We’d turned down invitations to be social due to the fact that we’d be spending the next day with lots of family. Tonight was a night to relax, spend some time together with a few close friends and just enjoy our very first Christmas together as a couple. So far, it was going great.
“I love shopping,” April said. “But I hate figuring out what other people really want rather than what I think they want…”
“I imagine that’s got to be especially hard for you, Mia,” Jordan said. I braced myself for another cousin joke. Fortunately, it didn’t come. Jordan had been very fond of pointing out that Emilia and I were now cousins by marriage. But he’d finally cut it out.
I guess once I’d started firing back about his accidental Internet porn star status, it wasn’t funny anymore.
“What do you get the billionaire who has everything?” Jordan asked.
Emilia raised a brow and looked at Jordan across the game board. “You sound like you’re running a pick up line by us. Like something you actually would have said to a woman back when you didn’t have an awesome girlfriend.”
Jordan rewarded her with one of his typical cocky smiles and April laughed, throwing him an accusing stare. “That does sound like him. Even if he isn’t quite a billionaire yet.”
“Getting there,” he said with a wink as he lifted his mug of eggnog for another sip. Then he looked meaningfully at the game board. “Wasn’t it someone’s turn?”
“You just want the agony over with as quickly as possible,” April said, pointing to his playing piece, which, sadly, was bare compared to the rest of ours.
Jordan turned to glare at his new girlfriend. “You better be quiet, young lady.”
Her grin widened. “Or what? Will you withhold your sexual favors?”
“Why would I punish myself for you being a smartass? Maybe I’ll just return that little blue box I was going to put under the tree tonight.”
April perked up. “Blue as in…Tiffany Blue?”
Jordan picked up the dice and tossed them, then moved his playing piece. “You’ll have to see, won’t you?”
“I could seduce it out of you,” April said, her dark blue eyes gleaming with mischief.
“I’d certainly enjoy you trying to do that. But since Christmas is tomorrow, it’s not like I have to keep the secret for much longer.”
“Tonight’s the last night of Chanukah. You could just give it to me tonight.”
“I could. But I won’t.”’
“Not even if I…” She leaned in to whisper something that put that cocky grin back on his face.
“Alright you two, get a room or play the damn game,” I said. “Enough lovey dovey.”
“Yeah because only you two are allowed to act that way,” Jordan said.
Emilia’s brows shot up. “We’re not ooey gooey lovey dovey.” She turned to me. “Are we?”
“No, not at all,” Jordan said, rolling his eyes. “Someone read me a damn question already. It’s arts and literature. I might as well say ‘I don’t know’ now.”
“Caveman,” April sniffed, taking up a card. “Oh this is a good one. Which famous novel begins with the line, It was the best of times, it was the worst of times?”
“Easy,” grunted Jordan. “A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. And the only reason I know that is because of Star Trek.”
April frowned, apparently confused by the geeky reference. “Well that’s correct. Good thing you’ve had at least some exposure to the classics.”
“It’s your turn.”
“Someone read me an entertainment question,” April said.
Emilia drew a card and her eyes widened when she read the question. “Oooh, excellent question. What was the one time that Zoe Alleyne disobeyed her captain, Malcolm Reynolds in Firefly?”
April’s face clouded. “Oh, um…Firefly.” Her eyes shifted to one side and the other. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that movie.”
“It’s a TV show,” Jordan answered. “And you don’t watch TV, so you might as well pass.”
Emilia frowned. “We could give her a hint.”
“That’s not in the rules,” Jordan said. “Besides, I need a snowball’s chance in Hell of beating her so I say no hints.”
Emilia narrowed her eyes at Jordan and then turned to his girlfriend, completely disregarding him. “It has to do with a wedding…”
April shrugged. “I saw the movie but I didn’t see the TV show. I have no idea.”
Emilia replaced the card in the box and I leaned forward to explain, not wanting to pass up the chance to bring up the subject. “Well Mal, Zoe’s captain, ordered her not to marry Wash, the ship’s pilot. But she disregarded the order and married him anyway.”
Emilia rolled the dice without even looking at me. “My turn!”
Jordan, of course, picked up on what I was getting at. “Speaking of weddings, is there a date yet for the wedding of the decade?”
“You mean yours?” Emilia said without missing a beat. “How would we know?”
Jordan’s mouth quirked. When these two turned the snark on, they could really get the sparks flying. Sometimes it was fun to watch them spar. “Actually there’s only one of us in this room wearing a big ol’ glittery diamond on her finger,” Jordan said.
“You’d look kinda funny with an engagement ring on, Jordan.”
“You’ve got the rock but still no date…why is that?”
Emilia’s jaw set in a way that was perfectly adorable and I had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from laughing. “Maybe that’s what’s in the Tiffany box. Maybe you two will beat us to the altar!”
“Hell no,” April breathed and Jordan jerked his head toward her with a scowl. She leaned over to grab his face and kiss him. “Love you, but we’ve been together for two months. No one’s running out to get married over here.”
“We don’t need a date,” Emilia said, fiddling with the dice.
“Says you,” I said.
Her mouth quirked and she gave me side-eye. “We’re good for now…” her voice faded out when I didn’t say anything. We’d had this discussion before and she’d changed the subject, a few times.
It was starting to get worrying.
We ended up playing for another half hour and after some more chatting, some more joking around, Jordan and April got up to leave. They had to leave early in the morning to spend Christmas day with his family up north. It wasn’t a cold night, but it was chilly. We put on sweaters and walked them to the bridge from Bay Island to the peninsula, wishing them a Merry Christmas. As Jordan only lived a mile and a half down the road, they walked home, arm in arm, her head resting on his shoulder.
We watched them until they were out of site. I looked at Emilia and noted the little smile on her lips. “She’s sure has a mellowing effect on him. I like it. He’s still a pain in my ass but at least he’s easier to put up with.”
I laughed. “He’s just a pain in your ass because he challenges you.”
As we turned to go back to the house, she slipped her hand inside mine. I closed my fingers around it. “No more than you do.”
I sighed. I’d all but given up trying to get to the bottom of the wedding date issue. But Jordan had a point. And I wanted to know…so I gave her fingers a little squeeze.
“So…if you’re still concerned about getting me a gift—”
“I got you a gift,” she interrupted.
“You could give me a date. That would make me very happy.”
There was silence and I was surprised to note that I was holding my breath as I waited for her to respond.
I sighed and looked away, as Adam’s fingers tightened around mine. That same fear twisted around my spine again like a constricting snake. Biting my lip, I didn’t say anything until we got to the front door and I pressed my thumb on the lock to open it.
I glanced up to see that he was watching me like a hawk. I frowned, looking away.
“Hey,” he said, tilting his head and bringing a hand up to my chin. “What’s wrong?”
I shook my head, suddenly choking on the emotions rising up.
He frowned, moving closer. “Emilia. What’s going on? Why are you sad?” I let him pull me into a hug and figured I should just be straight with him. Avoiding the question for so long had done nothing toward making him drop the subject. I should have known better, really. Adam was not the type of man who let any subject important to him be dropped.
And I knew that this was important to him. Very important. To us both but…
I pulled back and nodded toward the interior of the house, so we went in and closed the door. I took Adam’s hand and led him over to the couch, sitting close beside him.
“We can talk about this but…you have to promise not to mock me.”
His dark brows came down, black eyes nearly piercing a hole right through me. “I would never mock you…about something this serious, anyway. I’m still going to mock your entomophobia.”
“My what?” I asked, completely confused.
He gave me that irresistible lopsided smile that guaranteed my unsurpassable desire to jump him in ten seconds flat. “Fear of insects. I looked it up.”
I shuddered. “I keep you around to kill the bugs.”
“So you’ve said.”
We sat in silence for a moment while I took a deep breath. He leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. “You can tell me.”
I nodded and adjusted how I was sitting, turning toward him while putting my hand on his leg. “So this is going to sound completely stupid to your super logical genius brain but please hear me out…”
He sighed. “I’m not a cyborg.”
“Most of the time…” I completed for him and we both laughed.
He brought his hand up to my cheek and caressed it. I closed my eyes and licked my lips. “The first half of this year was the worst I’ve ever had to go through.”
A shadow crossed his darkly handsome features. “It’s ranked up down there in the bottom two or three for me, too. Last year this time, we were in a pretty horrible place. ”
“So even though it was the year when we finally got our shit together and we got engaged and things have been wonderful since…I always knew this was not the year I wanted us to get married. I don’t want our wedding sullied by that past.”
“Okay…” he said, his voice neutral. “So January 1, 2015, then?”
I blew out a breath and let my head fall against his solid shoulder. “Adam.”
He turned and kissed my hair. “I’m serious, Emilia. It’s time for us to get past this and I’m very…”
“—Eager for you to become my wife.”
“But nothing will change, so why does it matter? We’ll still be here, working hard, living together, happy, in love…”
“I could say the same for your reasoning, though. If nothing will change, then why are you afraid of it?”
“It’s not logical and that’s why I can’t give you a good reason. I feel like…like it would jinx things. It’s like I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
“You feel like things are just too good to be true?”
I pressed my face against his soft sweater and he trailed his fingers through my short hair. “Yes, something like that. Like the minute we change our status, it’s all going to go to shit again. It’s irrational. But please, can you humor me?”
“I’ll humor you…for now. But I’m not going to let that stand forever.”
I brought my head up and looked him in the eyes. “I’m not asking for forever…just…six months? Can we put this discussion on hold for six months?”
He stared at me fixedly for a long moment and I could tell that about a dozen things were going through his mind at the same time. He had that look, like he was trying to make a decision on how to proceed. I held my breath wondering which Adam would win out—the alpha wolf who needed to be in control of every situation or the understanding, brilliant fiancé I’d been sharing this beautiful home with for the past six months.
Finally the corners of his mouth turned up with a smile. “I can do six months…”
I let my breath go, relieved. “Thank you. This doesn’t mean I don’t want to marry you—that I’m not absolutely certain that you are the only man in the world for me. It’s just me and my stupid fear.”
His hand slipped from my hair to the back of my neck and he tugged gently to pull my head toward his. We kissed gently. “I love you,” he said.
“I know,” I answered and I returned the kiss. “I love you, too. So much I never even realized it was possible.”
He gave me that panty-melting lopsided grin that always made my heart lurch a little too much. And if I didn’t know any better, I’d think he knew exactly what effect it had on me.
“Come over here, little girl, and sit on Santa’s lap.”
I laughed, scooting over. I threw my leg over both of his to straddle him.
“Careful,” he said, wincing.
“What’s up, Santa? Is your rheumatism acting up?”
“No, I helped Liam out doing some sessions of fight training with him. He’s, um—getting a lot better.”
“Like as in…better than you? Did you let your cousin beat you up?”
“I didn’t let him, no.”
“Maybe I could kiss everything better for you…starting with this sexy mouth.”
We kissed and the touch of our lips deepened, his tongue entering my mouth to sweep all my doubts and fears to the side for a few moments and replace them with single-minded thoughts of him. His hands slipped down my back to tuck under the hem of my shirt and press my chest against his.
“About that gift you owe me…” he said, his voice husky.
“Is this where you tell me you want me to unwrap your big hot package, Santa?” I asked.
He pulled his mouth away from mine right before he expelled a rush of air from the laughter. “I wasn’t, but that’s a great idea. I’ve definitely got a package for you.”
“A very, very big package,” I agreed, nodding. I shifted against him and he let out a quiet groan. “Oooh. A hard package, too.”
“Mmm. Have you been naughty or nice?”
“I plan on being very naughty right here, right now…with you.”
“Oh God, you’re starting to drive me a little crazy.”
I kissed him and then pulled back. “Santa…I don’t think your intentions are wholesome.”
“Oh they’re very wholesome. You know that old adage…Every time a nerd gets laid, an angel gets his wings,” he said with a waggle of his eyebrows. His hands slid to my butt.
I unbuttoned his sweater, kissing my way down the hard column of his neck. “Well, we should do our part to help the hosts of Heaven, then.”
“Damn straight…” he muttered, yanking my sweatshirt up over my head. His hands came up to cup my breasts over my bra. “Oh yes, that’s what I’m talking about.”
I began unbuttoning his shirt under the sweater. “You have way too many clothes on for my tastes,” I said.
“We should both get naked as quickly as possible.”
And with that, we began a frenzied tug of war with each other as we hastily undressed each other between hurried, passionate kisses and requisite groping, of course. It had been a little while since we’d shown this couch a good time…
The hard planes of Adam’s bare chest pressed against me as he pushed me beneath him without removing his mouth from mine. His hand was tugging on my underwear when the doorbell suddenly began to ring. And ring. And ring. Over and over again incessantly, like the most annoying car alarm you’ve ever heard.
And whoever was doing it was simultaneously pounding the door down as well.
“Whoever the fuck that is, they need to go before I have the sudden urge to hunt them down and kill them.” Adam said between deep breaths, his mouth traveling down my neck, headed to my bare chest. I closed my eyes, arching my back in anticipation.
Suddenly both our phones started ringing to join into the chorus.
We were being punked. What the hell?
And as mine rang, it chimed with several text messages at the same time.
“I think our friends found us.”
Adam had his lips wrapped around my nipple.
“Hmm. You mean our ex-friends,” he muttered, pulling away slowly, his dark eyes alight with arousal. I put a cool hand to my flushed face, reaching over to pull my phone off the coffee table. Heath had sent me a voice text. I pressed the button and held it up for Adam to hear.
Mia, we know you’re in there. Tell that dude to get off of you. It’s too early for Christmas Eve nookie.
“Fucking cockblocker,” Adam muttered but started to pull on his clothes regardless.
“I guess a quiet Christmas Eve all on our own was a little too much to ask.”
“Ah cheer up…if your old man aches and pains aren’t still bothering you, we have all night after we get rid of everyone.”
“Old man, hmm? I’ll show you how much of an ‘old man’ I am later.”
I smiled, pulling on my sweatshirt and heading to the door—which had not stopped being pounded on. “Maybe you’ll have to show me more than once. Merry Christmas to me!”
When the door opened, I was greeted by our closest friends. Heath, Connor, Kat, Jenna and Alex.
“Surprise!” They yelled and began to sing Christmas carols. And Adam didn’t even pretend he was happy to see them. That just amused them more.
“All right, spiked hot chocolate and fully leaded eggnog for everyone,” I called.
After they entered and made their way to the kitchen, Adam pulled me against him by the door and whispered in my ear. “Merry Christmas to me…later.”
I threw my arms around his neck and pulled him tightly to me. “Oh yes, Santa. I promise it will be.”