“You should take Abby out to the lake before it gets dark,” my dad suggested. We’d just gotten warm and dry, but we could take the truck to the lake without having to be outside. My mom was working on Christmas Eve dinner and every stomach in the house growled at the smell of the food. My brothers were stalking the kitchen like starved lions and getting slapped at with spoons and towels.
“I’m ready!” Abby appeared at my side with no shoes and her hunting cap on.
“My dad’s going to let you keep that hat,” I pushed it down over her eyes.
“I’ll wear it to every game.”
I let the truck warm up in the garage while Abby got dressed. The lake was an easy ten minute drive around the back of our property, where it met their neighboring farms. It was too wide and deep to freeze in winter, and in summer it watered our land. The sun shone brightly in the afternoon sky, making the water appear black and glassy.
“Wow, it’s beautiful!” Abby lifted up in her seat like a kid peering over the dashboard. Low hills on one side were covered with snow, reflecting off the surface. I drove over to the dock.
“We swim here in the summer, have barbeques and parties.”
“You must love coming back here every year,” she said. “You’re so lucky to have all this.”
“You can visit anytime you want.”
Abby leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. It was a sudden and I think I gasped. The lines in this challenge of Max’s were getting blurry – she was definitely flirting with me when there was no one around to see. She just smiled to herself.
“I will visit you again, Jordan.”
Christmas Eve dinner was too much even for us. My mother made everything I could think of and we ate for hours. My father even declared Abby an honorary Staal because she ate a piece of every single pie that hit the table.
“No wonder you’re all athletes, you just wanted to be able to eat all this!”
My mom beamed. We all helped clear up and Abby went right to the worst task – scraping plates. I passed her mine and kissed her head. “Thanks babe,” I whispered. I didn’t even mean it for anyone else to hear.
Twenty minutes later, we were sprawled out in the living room watching football on TV. Total food coma. Abby squeezed in next to me; I put one leg over hers, she leaned on my chest and snuggled right in. It looked remarkably like the way Eric and Tanya were sitting. He caught my eye and nodded.
She looked at me and smiled. “So comfy.” It almost made me groan with desire.
“Abby, what is your family’s Christmas tradition?” my dad asked, kicking back in his recliner with a cup of coffee.
“We don’t have many,” she said, her voice vibrating against me. “But in the States, A Christmas Story is on 12 times in a row for Christmas Eve to Christmas Day. Twenty four straight hours. We always watch that.”
“Marc’s favorite! Marc, set us up?”
Soon we were all laughing and quoting lines from Abby’s favorite movie ever, according to her. She was still nestled into me and I realized too late that I was twisting her hair in my fingers. She didn’t seem to mind. When the movie was over, my dad called time for our family tradition.
“Each person gets to open one gift on Christmas Eve.”
You’d think we were eight years old. The huge Christmas tree was covered in lights, glowing like a space station with presents stacked underneath. We all made a lot of money and we liked to spoil our parents at Christmas. It had turned into us spoiling each other as well.
Eric gave Tanya a beautiful diamond bracelet. Tanya gave him a watch. My parents each picked the same brothers’ gift to open – last year it had been mine, this year it was Marc’s. My mother got a gift certificate to the nicest spa in New York City and my father got dinner at the fanciest restaurant. They both got plane tickets for Valentine’s Day. Jared got a new laptop from my Eric and gave Marc a new iPhone.
“Abby, this one’s for you.” My mom looked so excited as she fished a box out from under the tree. Abby turned to me with her eyebrows raised. I just smiled. She unwrapped the box to find a Kindle – one of those electronic book contraptions.
“You’re always reading on the road, I thought this would be easier,” I said. She jumped on me with a squeal.
“I love it!” Her happy face was so close to mine, I couldn’t stop myself. I kissed her. Our lips stuck together like magnets, holding fast. I felt a tingle everywhere, even where she wasn’t sitting in my lap.
“Whooooooop!” Marc and Jared hollered. Abby pulled away and laughed, smiling shyly with her arms still around my neck.
“Was that my present?” I asked. It brought the house down. I flipped Abby and dumped her onto the couch next to me, giggling.
“No! Your present is under there!” My mom dug around and came back with a big package wrapped in bright green paper with a huge red bow attached.
“Abby, you didn’t have to get me anything.” I was surprised.
“Well it’s for everyone,” she said. I tore through the paper to reveal one of those shiny Kuerig single-serving coffee machines that most of the guys have in their houses. My dad cheered when he saw it. A second package held a bunch of the coffee cartridges in all different flavors.
“How’d you get that here?” I asked. It had definitely not been in her bag.
“Shipped it. Crosby gave me your address.” She was so proud of herself.
“Thank you, Abby,” I hugged her tight, stunned by her thoughtfulness and definitely desperate to kiss her again.
“Thank you all for taking me in at Christmas,” she answered. Everyone dug in and chose a coffee for themselves while my mom took the machine into the kitchen. In ten minutes we each had a perfect, delicious cup of coffee. Except Abby.
“Mine is special.” She held up a hot chocolate cartridge. “I don’t drink coffee.”
I kissed her. Either way, she had totally won the challenge and I would start begging any moment. I could see her brushing her teeth as I turned into my room. The corner of her shirt was folded up, revealing a tiny sliver of bare skin above the low waistband of her pajama pants. She saw me in the mirror and shook her butt in my direction. Five seconds after the water stopped running she appeared in my doorway.
Oh God I’m definitely going to kiss her again. I stood but Abby didn’t move toward me. She just leaned against the door, looking up at me with the corner of her lip curved into a smile.
“You cheated,” she whispered with a mischievous look.
“No way. I’m allowed to kiss my girlfriend whenever I want.” I grabbed her, snaking my arms around her back and pulling her tight against me. Her hands went into my hair and she held my face close.
“If you say so. Game on, baby,” she said then she wiggled free and scooted across the hall.
A/N: This one is wicked short, but there's another coming very soon!
4 years ago