Disclaimer: Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond own the adorable little mouse whose needs inspired this very adult version of their story. Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight. I’m here having fun.
Even in the low light, I can see the fatigue of the day settling on his handsome face.
“Hey, Santa. Did you finish all the deliveries to the good little girls and boys?” I tease, wiggling my eyebrows. “Ready to give the naughty list another look?”
“Hey.” Edward smiles and slumps against the doorjamb, appearing relieved I’m awake. “I’m sorry it’s so late… or early. Did I wake you?”
Even exhausted he looks positively delicious from head to toe, while I probably look like some deranged elf after trying to fall asleep for hours. I’m wearing my new, “I’m the Winey Elf” T-shirt that Angela gave me with a pair of green men’s boxers. I reach up, tug the ponytail holder from my hair, and slide it on my wrist. After running a hand through my rat’s nest, I say a little prayer it doesn’t look horrendous.
“No. I couldn’t sleep.” I wave off his concern, opening the door wider. “Come on inside.”
“Sorry, if I smell like smoke. I showered twice.”
“No apologies.” I circle my arms around his waist, giving it a squeeze and inhaling his comforting scent. “You always smell great.”
He wraps his arms around me, swaying us back and forth and leaving a kiss on the top of my head. “I just needed to hold you.”
I melt into his arms at his sweet words because wrapped around him is one of the best places to be. When he slows our movements, I tilt my head, lifting on my toes until our lips meet in a gentle kiss.
I could snuggle him all night, but wonder if he’s hungry. “Did you have time to eat earlier?” I’m curious as to how close I got to Mama Cullen’s mashed potatoes and turkey gravy, as I purchased several jars of premade gravy and simply warmed them in the slow-cooker.
“Yeah. Everything was delicious and tasted just like my mom’s gravy. Thank you.”
I nearly snicker at his kudos, as I’m blowing the lid off of the Cullen family secret recipes this holiday season—first Grandma’s cookies and now his mother’s gravy. Despite what he thinks, the Cullen women are short cut cooks. I already know, if we ever meet, I’m going to love them.
Edward reluctantly ends our embrace and holds out a reusable insulated thermal bag I recognize from Thriftway. “Here, this is for you.”
“What could it be?” I grin, opening the bag to discover a pint of my favorite peppermint bark ice cream, and a pint of the Christmas cookie version too. “Edward! Thank you and exactly my size.”
“I thought they would fit.” He winks.
“You know me so well. I should put them in the freezer, because it looks like my breakfast plans are coming together with minimal effort.”
He follows me into the kitchen, and when I turn on the light, I notice the dark circles under his bloodshot eyes instantly. I pause, cupping his jaw with my hand, and he leans into my loving touch. My thumb traces gently along his cheekbone, pecking his lips with another kiss.
“Couldn’t sleep?” My fingers linger along his jaw.
He releases a deep sigh. “It was a difficult day.”
I nod, moving toward the refrigerator. “Dad sent me a text earlier, saying something along the same lines. He went to Sue’s house, but said he was stopping by here first. I don’t know if he’s been here or not yet.”
“Your dad finished his shift and left the station before Emmett and me.”
He watches from the doorway while I put the ice cream away.
“Oh.” I look toward the back door for any sign of Dad’s stuff hanging from the hooks but find nothing.
“I went to Emmett’s for a beer, but after an hour, he kicked me out and said I wasn’t very good company.”
I wave off his concern. “Pshh. Emmett doesn’t know what he’s talking about. You’re always great company. Can I take your coat for you?”
“Nah, I’ve got it.” He shrugs it off, hanging it on the back of one of the kitchen chairs. “Instead of staying at my apartment, all I could think about was how I wished I were here… with you.”
I gasp, surprised by his words. “Edward…”
Maybe Alice is right about him and us.
Before I can figure out how to respond, he removes a red envelope from his jacket pocket and hands it to me.
“I also got you something else.”
He has no idea that I need nothing else—having him here with me is such an incredible gift itself, but I willingly accept his offered envelope. Sliding my finger under the edge of the flap, I remove the card and snicker while reading his handwritten words out loud.
“Poinsettias are red… December skies are blue… All of my naughty thoughts…” I flip it open. “Involve a very naked me and you.” There’s even a hand-drawn red heart inside.
Oh, sweet goodness.
I am rubbing off on him. And hopefully, rubbing other things together soon.
I can’t contain my giggle when I realize he has the heart of a dirty poet with so much potential. And now, all I can think about are saucy limericks I’d like to write about him…
There once was a fireman from Chicago,
Who’s had me hustling cookies and joe.
His muscles are fine, like my favorite red wine,
I’m hoping to find his cock, wrapped with a bow.
“Too much?” He asks, interrupting my thoughts before I can add a second verse.
I let out a not-so-ladylike snort. “Not at all. It’s perfect.” You’re perfect… for me.
My eyes dance with delight over my new favorite word… naked.
Edward points to the gift card from our local coffee shop tucked inside. “I have it on good authority that you favor hot chocolate rather than coffee. There should be enough for you to enjoy one whenever the mood hits throughout the rest of the season.”
“Thank you. That’s sweet.”
And he wants to get naked. With me.
There’s nothing better than that, but let’s see if I can get us at least halfway there and turn his thoughts into reality.
“I have a gift for you too.” I slide my hand in his, switch off the kitchen light, and pull him with me to the living room. “Go ahead and have a seat.”
He stops suddenly, releases my hand, and sits on the edge of the couch, surveying our creation from every angle. “Bella, what happened to our gingerbread house? It looks like…”
“Uh… would you believe urban blight?” I suggest.
“What about a gang of elves? You know, those South Pole elves are full of mischief.”
“Someone’s been eating it.” His eyes narrow, finding mine. “The front door is missing and so are some of the shutters. Half of this tree is broken, and this corner of the roof is gone.”
“Will you forgive me and take any solace in the fact that they were all scrumptious?” I share a nervous chuckle and grab the remaining present from under the tree, hoping to distract him with a joke. “Knock knock.”
“Scrumptious.” He shakes his head in disbelief. “You ate our house.”
I take the spot next to him on the couch. “How do you feel about the words nibbled strategically? It’s still here. Knock, knock.”
“Bella.” He warns, but I can see the moment I’m off the hook, when a slow smile spreads across his face. “Who’s there?”
“Merry Christmas.” I hold out the gift. “Will you forgive me? Apparently, edible architecture is a weakness of mine. I had no idea, and you left me here all alone with temptation, staring me in the face every night.”
“Of course, you’re forgiven.”
“Great. Now, open your present.”
I watch as he tears away the paper and opens the box.
“Pajamas?” He questions, while his fingers glide over the red silky material.
“Yes! You will love this. In one of my favorite Christmas movies, a character describes the most perfect meet-cute where a man and woman need something to sleep in. So, they go to the same men’s department store. The man says to the salesperson, ‘I just need the bottoms.’ The woman says, ‘I only need the top.’ They look at each other and that’s how they meet. It’s cute and romantic.”
“But we’ve already met.”
“I know, but you can keep the pants, and I’ll wear the top, then you can… sleep over.” I watch him closely as I continue to explain. “Here. Together. They’re much more comfortable than your regular clothes.”
A smile tugs at the corners of his mouth. “You want me to sleep over?”
“Yes.” And I wouldn’t mind seeing you shirtless.
I call this my Half-Naked Plan. Fingers crossed it’s successful.
I expand on my offer. “I’ll empty a drawer of my dresser, then whenever you’re available to stay, you’ll already have something to wear. You’re also welcome to leave anything in it. I understand you work all hours while mine are more consistent, but maybe this would make it easier for us to spend time together.”
My eyes wander over his CCFD T-shirt, hoping at least two of those will find a new home here too. I would love to have a worn one filled with his delicious scent in my regular sleep rotation.
“Well, let’s get changed then.” He hands me the top from the box and keeps the bottoms.
“Yeah?” I can’t believe my plan worked.
“Yeah. Maybe you would be willing to watch a Christmas movie too?”
A movie? I had only planned on watching him, but if it’s a movie he wants, then it’s a movie he gets.
I recall his mentioning that he loves The Polar Express and probably didn’t get a chance to watch it on Christmas Eve as he had to work. “I know the perfect one.”
Edward glances toward the fireplace. “How about I revive your fire?”
“You always do.” I say under my breath, but I think he heard me by the smirk on his face.
“It looks like you still have some glowing embers from this evening.”
I nod and smile. “Sounds perfect. I’ll go change. You’re welcome to change upstairs or use the bathroom down here.”
“Okay. I’ll use the one here. We’ll be faster that way.”
“I’ll be right back,” I promise.
I can’t race upstairs fast enough, eager to return. Stopping in the bathroom, I brush my teeth and run a brush through my hair before slipping into my bedroom. My T-shirt goes flying as I slide the red satiny men’s top over my head and shimmy out of my green boxers. An audit of my underwear drawer turns up zero sexy possibilities. So, I focus on color instead and choose a pair of black bikini ones when my red ones are not to be found. If only I had something with ribbons or bows, then Edward would be tempted to unwrap me as well.
I move to my nightstand, digging through the disorder, and wonder if I can covertly stash some condoms in my empty Christmas stocking since it’s still hanging downstairs. It sounds like we’re only cuddling and watching a movie, but I want to be prepared for anything. I tuck a strip of three into my waistband, because if things heat up, it’s good to know I’ll have them close at hand.
Standing in front of my floor-length mirror, I run my hands through my hair once more. The long waves are kind of wild and everywhere. I shorten the sleeve length with two careful turns of the cuffs, then strategically unbutton two buttons at the bottom and near the neck, hoping to stir more than Edward’s curiosity.
Realizing I’ve probably been gone longer than necessary, I hurry back downstairs, but I’m thankful to be holding onto the railing. Because if I wasn’t, I would miss the final steps and be ass over elbows at the sight stretched out before me.
If you give a firefighter a Christmas cookie, he will want the perfect cup of coffee to go with it.
The cookies and coffee will remind him of his favorite Christmas songs, and while hanging Christmas lights, he’ll agree to a date decorating a tree.
The decorated Christmas tree will fill him with Christmas spirit, which will give him the courage to kiss the naughty new friend who he’s had his eyes on for a while.
Sharing kisses with her won’t be enough. So, he’ll find other ways for them to spend more time together, like building a gingerbread house and playing in the snow.
He’ll wish for his favorite Christmas dinner foods but arrive late to the meal, because he’s sharing steamy kisses in the parking lot.
After arriving, he’ll learn unexpectedly the details of a secret family recipe, but before he can share his new information, he’ll be called away for a day full of emergencies and rescues.
He’ll make a surprise visit to exchange Christmas presents and accept an invitation for a sleepover…