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.
I end up signing up for a digital music account and jump on their current offer, giving me three months of free access. I only need to make sure I remember to cancel at the end of the three months or risk them charging me ten dollars a month in perpetuity.
Edward is right. The Christmas songs filtering softly from my computer put me in a better mood as I’m exhausted from the holiday pace already. Between the cookie baking every evening and timing the coffee making in anticipation of his daily visits, it’s a full-time job. I hope he and everyone else appreciate these extra attempts at bringing a little Christmas cheer into an otherwise dreary and dated office environment.
“Hey, Bella!” His voice is music to my ears when he enters the station, and I notice he’s bundled up in a heavy jacket.
“Hey, Edward. What’s up?”
He pauses listening to Eartha Kitt belt out her seductive version of Santa Baby and a slow smile grows across his handsome face. “You took my advice.”
“Do you have Rufus Thomas on your playlist?”
“Uh… maybe.” I have no idea who he is, but I’ll be searching for whatever Christmas songs he may sing and adding them to the list as covertly as possible.
“I like one of his called, I’ll Be Your Santa, Baby. You would probably like it too.”
Bingo. I have a title and will add it to the list before Eartha is finished.
“Is it naughty?”
He shrugs with a crooked grin. “You’ll see.”
“Are you here for some cookies or coffee? It looks like it’s getting colder out there.”
“Maybe just one or two.”
He spies his favorites, nabbing them from the tray next to the few remaining gingerbread men and where Emmett’s candy cane cookies used to be. The red food coloring I used to color the cookie dough hasn’t faded on my hands despite my repeated attempts at scrubbing it away. Now, my hands are a weird shade of pink and I have no intention of making those again.
“Yeah, Dad said they are calling for snow this week. It’s really too early for us to have snow as it usually falls in February, but you never know. It may only be a dusting.”
“Are you here alone?”
“Yeah. The guys went out to sit at the city limits to slow everyone down with the roads getting icy. I’m sure they will all be back soon. Did you need something?”
“I wanted to ask the Chief a question, but you’ll probably know the answer.”
“Okay. Let’s hear it.”
“We’re hanging outdoor lights next door and I was wondering if the Chief would want us to do this building too?”
I shrug. “I’m sure Dad won’t mind.”
“Great. We have some smaller multi-colored ones that are extras. You could add them to the windows on each side of the front door, if you are interested. Or I could do it, if you’re busy.”
“They aren’t those new ones that will hurt my eyes, are they?”
“No, they’re old school. I’m not sure they even blink.”
“Okay, bring them over.”
“Great. I’ll be right back.”
My heart lifts a little at his promise.
More alone time with Edward?
I scurry over to the coffee pot, grab it, rush into the break room, and dump out its almost full contents. I wash everything as fast as possible, keeping an ear out for the front door. He still hasn’t returned when I finish and go to work on brewing a new pot with his special coffee.
Once the coffee is going, I make a quick pit stop in the bathroom to make sure I look okay and to fluff my hair a little because it’s starting… the afternoon flattening that makes it look like I put in zero effort this morning when that is far from the case. Every day that Edward could stop by is a day to make an effort.
When he finally returns, I’m sitting at my desk trying to focus on typing up a report for my father. But I realize quickly with Edward in the entryway, working on hanging the lights, I’m one hundred percent distracted.
“Need any help?” I offer. “We probably have tape or something.”
He holds up whatever stuff he’s using in one of his hands. “No, I’m good.”
You got that right, Edward Cullen. Oh, so good. He has no idea how good.
With all the supplies he needs at his feet, I look on appreciatively when he removes his jacket, setting it on a chair nearby. A quiet gasp passes through my lips when those strong forearms of his are revealed. I’m a sucker for those softly defined veins that appear naturally with how much he works out. Maybe he wears short-sleeved T-shirts to torment me because as his arms flex and move, he has me wishing for a bigger reveal.
He’s stretching to reach the top of the window when I get a peek at the sliver of smooth skin at his waist. I wonder if I turned up the heat, he would need to take off his shirt. I’m ready to walk a hurried path to the thermostat when Edward’s voice barely filters through my scheming thoughts.
“How do you think it’s looking?”
He looks so good and that jaw has me licking my lips. I’m positive it would taste better than any Christmas cookie, if only he would grant me access. I’ve been close enough to know he smells great, but I’m always curious about what I don’t see too. He has a couple of moles on the back of his neck and a sprinkling of freckles here and there, which would be delicious to run my tongue across, if the opportunity ever presented itself.
I watch as he bends, lighting up one window full of lights, and another sigh escapes my chest at that perfect ass, begging me to squeeze it.
He stops, waiting until my eyes meet his. “Bella?”
“What? I’m sorry. My brain is all over the place these days. What were you saying?”
“The lights?” He waves his hand toward the window and moves to the other side to work on those.
“Oh, the lights are amazing. You know, great—I mean, just what this place needs.”
I look on as he secures the multi-colored lights along the border of the window.
He steps back, surveying his work and smiles. “Christmas lights always remind me of decorating our Christmas tree back home. My mom demands a fresh tree every year with plenty of twinkle lights.”
“You aren’t going back to Chicago this year?”
“No. I volunteered to work so the other guys with young families could be with them on Christmas morning.”
“That’s incredibly thoughtful of you.”
He shrugs. “It’s different since I’m older now, but I’ll miss doing the traditional things, like creating popcorn and cranberry garlands for the tree.”
“Popcorn and cranberries?”
“Yeah. Did you ever do anything like that?”
“Not really. Are you putting up a tree this year?” I wonder. And now I’m on the fence about whether this conversation will lead to me adding popcorn and cranberries on my latest grocery list.
“No. That’s too much effort for just me. My apartment is kind of a bleak afterthought, since I spend most of my time at the station.”
He looks around at the small space. “Are you going to decorate a tree here?”
“Probably not, but I’ve been after Dad about setting one up at home.”
“That sounds like fun.”
“It does, but it’s a lot of work for one person, and he is always too tired or unavailable. So, we don’t have a tree yet.”
“Would you… would you be interested in the job?”
“Uh, I don’t know. If this is some kind of tradition for you and your dad? I don’t want to get in the way.”
“Not a tradition at all, but if you’re willing, then we could make it a date.”
“Yeah. We could pick up a pizza to share, put on some of your favorite Christmas songs or a movie, and decorate the tree. I mean, it sounds more like a working date, but I promise there will be your favorite Christmas cookies and advent wine.”
“Advent wine? Is that some religious thing I don’t know about?”
“Not exactly, but I would be in church every Sunday, if it was. With the way you look, you probably aren’t a big drinker, but Dad has beer in the fridge too.”
“The way I look?”
“Uh… yes. You are so fit a-and healthy. All of that hard work in the gym is, um, paying off. Yeah, definitely paying off, and you may not want to derail anything with wine or beer.”
“Bella, I’m eating your cookies…”
I have no idea what Edward said after he used those magical words in a sentence, but if there’s any possibility that Edward is willing to eat my cookie, no “s,” then I’m one hundred percent on board for that. An occasion this special calls for a new disposable razor to be added to the restocking list.
“…the cookies really sweeten the deal, though.”
He pauses as he’s deliberating the pros and cons of a date until a sneaky grin threatens to take over his lips. Perfect lips, I would love to press mine against over and over.
“Okay, it’s a date, but I’m buying the pizza,” he states.
He’s agreed to my proposed date? How in the world did I manage this?
Of all the Christmas miracles, this has to be up there as one of the greats. Angela was right. I think the cookie angle was the opening I needed. Now, I need to pull myself together, so he doesn’t think I’m having second thoughts, and lay out a solid plan.
“That would be great. I’ll get my dad to float me some cash to pay for the tree. We have plenty of ornaments in the attic above the garage, if you can help me get them down.”
“No problem. And… uh… maybe some popcorn and cranberry garland?”
“Of course—I hear it’s the go to for garland this year.” My grin widens as I wonder where Grandma Swan’s sewing basket is at home. Let’s hope it has at least two needles and thread inside.
“Great. You’re the best, Bella. Thanks for including me.”
“I have tomorrow night off.”
“Then we have a plan.”
Together. I squeal internally with excitement because I’m not sure how he would respond to my fist pump. I’ll save that for when I’m alone or sharing my news with Angela.
“I can’t wait. I should probably get back to helping the guys hang the rest of the Christmas lights.” He thumbs toward the door.
“Okay. I finish here at six tomorrow night.”
“I’ll be here, and we can take your truck to the tree lot.”
“It’s a date.”
“See you tomorrow.”
“Bye.” I watch through my newly festive front windows as Edward walks toward the fire station and far enough away that he can’t hear or see me when I spin around and thrust my hands in victory at each word. “Yes! Yes! Yes!”
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.