The Christmas One
Merry Christmas to my wonderful readers!
Here’s a little Christmas vignette, featuring Sam and Meghan.
I hope you enjoy it!
Light spilled into the bedroom, bathing Meghan’s face in its soft glow. I lay next to her in our bed, watching the beams play across the smooth white skin of her cheek. Pale red lashes teased the faint freckles, and one lock of her hair had fallen near her full red lips. I brushed it away with the tip of my finger, but she didn’t stir.
I loved the luxury of gazing at her when she was asleep, when she didn’t know I was staring. If she caught me doing it during the day, I’d never hear the end of it. She’d tease me, her face going that soft pink that made me want to pull her close and nibble down her neck. And most mornings, I was up and out of bed long before the sun rose. Working a farm was a twenty-four/seven job, and it was only this time of year, in the dead of winter, that I got a little break. I wasn’t about to waste it by jumping out of bed before I had to.
“What time is it?” She spoke without opening her eyes.
“Early. For you, anyway. It’s not seven yet.”
“Mmmmmm.” She hummed, her lips pressing together. “Then why are you awake?”
“How did you know I was?” I leaned closer, catching her ear lobe between my teeth.
“I could feel you staring at me. It’s creepy.” She shivered as my tongue tickled a spot on her neck.
“It might be creepy if I were some random guy, but I’m your husband, which means I’m exempt from creepy-guy status. I can stare at you all I want. I’ve got a signed document giving me permission.”
“Hmph.” She sounded skeptical, but I spied the subtle twitch of her lips.
“Hey, baby?” I nuzzled the curve of her shoulder.
“Yeah?” She opened one eye, regarding me with curiosity.
“Merry Christmas. I love you.”
Meghan turned toward me, sliding her arms around my neck. “Merry Christmas, Sam. I love you, too.” She kissed my jaw, then my cheek, working her way to my mouth, where she took her time, teasing my bottom lip with her teeth, tracing the outline with the tip of her tongue.
“Don’t you want to see what Santa left you under the tree?” I snuck one hand under her nightshirt, over the warm satin skin of her stomach and up to cup her breast. My thumb circled her stiff nipple, and I was rewarded with her sharp intake of breath.
“I think I’d rather unwrap the gift that’s right here.” She snuggled closer, pressing her hot core against the stiffness between my legs.
Thrusting my hips forward, I growled into her ear. “Have you been a naughty girl? Do I need to—”
“Merry Christmas, Uncle Sam! Are you awake, Auntie Megs?” My niece’s voice cut throw the haze of desire. It was followed by the slam of the kitchen door and the pounding of her footsteps heading toward the stairs.
“Fuck.” I dropped my forehead against Meghan’s shoulder, groaning.
She giggled. “Actually, I’m pretty sure that’s off the table right now.” She nudged up my chin with her finger, sealed my lips with one intense, soul-stabbing kiss, and then sat up, patting my ass. “Come on, Uncle Sam. You need to get your, uh, self, under control before Bridget opens that door. In three, two, one . . .”
“Come on, you guys! Mommy and Daddy said I can’t open anything until you come downstairs. We walked all the way over here, and guess what? Daddy says it smells like snow. And I saw a deer right on the edge of the woods. Are you coming?”
“It never fails to amaze me that I can spend hours shopping and wrapping, and the opening is over in a matter of minutes.” My sister yawned and snuggled back against her husband, tucking her feet beneath her on the sofa. My eyes strayed down to where her grey cotton shirt stretched over the small bump at her middle. I glanced at Meghan, wondering if her thoughts were following my own, but she was occupied on the floor, examining a new set of charcoal pencils Santa had brought Bridget.
“Which is actually a good thing in this case, since we need to get over to Mom’s. Reenie just texted that she and Smith are already there, and Iona’s crew is on the way.” Flynn swiped his thumb over his phone and grinned at me. “We’ll leave the newlyweds alone.” He kissed the top of Ali’s head, his hand skimming over her bump in a way that was both possessive and casual. “Enjoy it. Once the rugrats come along, the relaxing Christmas mornings are a distant memory.”
I snorted. “Yeah, the last relaxing Christmas morning I had was before Bridget was born.” I’d spent more holidays with Bridge than Flynn had, and I wasn’t going to let him forget it.
“Touche’.” Flynn was a good guy, and I knew he appreciated the years I’d taken care of Ali and Bridget, when he wasn’t around. He nudged Ali up. “C’mon, woman. Get moving, or Mom’ll be calling to see where we are.”
Meghan and I stood by the Christmas tree as they bundled up for the short walk back across the fields and down the path, to the small house they’d built on the farm. Ali stood on tiptoe to kiss my cheek.
“Merry Christmas, big brother. See you later on for dinner at Mason and Rilla’s?”
I nodded. “Yeah, but we’re not staying late. We’re hitting the road early tomorrow morning, so we can get to the Cove by lunch time. Meghan’s mom is anxious for us to be there.”
“Understood.” She hugged my wife before they were all out the door, Bridget’s excited chatter the last thing I heard as they disappeared around the bend.
And then the house was quiet. Meghan sighed and turned toward the fridge.
“You want some eggs, or shall I make pancakes?”
“Hey.” I came behind her and circled my arms around her waist. “You okay?”
“Of course.” Her voice was too bright, too perky. “Why wouldn’t I be?”
The effect of the words was ruined by the catch in her breath. I closed my eyes, dropped my face to bury in her neck and pressed one hand over her flat stomach.
“It’s stupid.” She spoke so softly, I had to concentrate to hear her. “I mean . . . it wasn’t even . . . we barely knew I was pregnant.” She sniffled. “And it wasn’t like we wanted a baby so soon. It was just an accident.”
“Meghan.” I gripped her upper arms and turned her to face me. “No child of ours could ever be an accident. And no child of ours will ever be unwanted.” I lifted her face so that I could see her eyes, bright with unshed tears. “I won’t pretend to know what you went through, or what you’re feeling now. But I hate that you’re hurting. And I’d do anything to stop it.”
She rubbed her forehead against my shoulder. “I don’t think there’s anything I can do except get through it. I’m trying to be happy for Rilla and for Ali—I am happy for them. But it still hurts a little that they’re getting what I was too dumb to know I wanted.”
“Darlin’, you weren’t dumb. We were both surprised, and we were still adjusting when—well, when there wasn’t anything to adjust to anymore. Stop beating yourself up.” I brushed at her cheeks with my thumbs, swiping at the salty tracks. “And when the time’s right, it’ll be our turn. There’s a baby in our future. I know that for sure.”
Meghan sniffed again. “How can you know that? Maybe this was our baby. Maybe our only chance.”
“I know, because we’ll never give up. When we’re ready, it’ll happen.” I kissed her on the mouth, hard and quick. “And until then, I’m going to enjoy the time I have with my gorgeous, sexy wife.”
She gave a half-laugh, half-sob and caught her hands together behind my neck. “How on earth did I ever get lucky enough to find you?”
I laughed. “You got drunk at a bar in my town, had a bad serpentine belt, and I just happened to be the guy who came to your rescue.” I touched my lips to the turned-up tip of her nose. “And then you came back and rescued me from my dull and boring life. See, baby? It all works out.”
Meghan threaded her fingers through my hair and tugged me down toward her face. “Merry Christmas, Sam. I love you.”
“Merry Christmas, Meghan. I love you right back.” I gave in to her coaxing and kissed her again, this time slow and full of promise.
When she came up for air, some of the pain had seeped out of her eyes. “How about those pancakes?”
I bent, scooping her up in my arms and holding her tight to me. “Pancakes later. First . . .” I pivoted and made my way to the stairs. “You. Me. Upstairs. Naked. Lots of naked.”
She giggled, and the sound warmed my heart.
“You always have the best ideas.”
The End . . . for now
The familiarity of home, the warmth of family ties, the sweet sensation of being wrapped in the arms of THE ONE love that meant everything. . .each story is a remarkable package of all this and more.
USA Today Best-Selling Romance Author
From the Author
The One Trilogy begins with Sam and Meghan’s story in The Last One . . .
Nobody ever said love was simple.
It continues with Flynn and Ali’s re-discovered love in The First One . . .
Can first love last forever?
And it concludes with Mason and Rilla’s surprising romance in The Only One.
Sometimes love isn’t the easy choice. Sometimes it’s the only one.
Writing these books has been an amazing experience. For nearly a year, part of me has lived in the small Georgia town of Burton. I’ve loved watching this community: embracing their sorrows, celebrating their joys and exulting in their love stories.
I hope you’ll spend some time in Burton, too. One warning: you may not want to leave.
And if you enjoy The One Trilogy
, come back to Burton for the Always Love Trilogy
. Always For You
is available now, and Always My Own
is coming January 26th!
The Last One
FREE on all venues for a limited time