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.
“What should we do first?”
It’s a loaded question, and in my mind, there’s no question what I want to do when we arrive at home. My naughty thoughts are racing through all the possibilities now that we will be alone for hours with no interruptions. Dad’s working until midnight, but I’m sure Edward won’t take the bait, despite my shameless flirting when we were selecting a tree earlier. I even made him blush a few times at some of my more raunchy Christmas jokes.
“Let’s find all of your supplies, then we’ll install your tree in the stand, followed by lights.” He isn’t to be derailed from our task at hand.
I point toward the box on the kitchen table. “What about the pizza? Would you mind if I snagged a slice? I’m starving.”
“Only if you’re willing to share a bite or two.” He grins.
I don’t use that word lightly, and with Edward, there is nothing about him that isn’t a religious experience. I would be a devout parishioner and happily on my knees, worshipping at the Church of Edward Cullen every Sunday or even daily, if that was a possibility. Normally, I don’t trust anyone until I’ve heard them use the word “fuck” a few times, then I know they’re my people. But he has me using it enough for the both of us. So, I’ll let that rule slide, but maybe there’s a chance I can get a few dirty words to spill from those delectable lips given the right situation.
But shared food, especially pizza? That’s like… like a gateway for kissing. Since I seem to be the conductor on this naughty version of the Polar Express, I can’t grab a slice from the box quick enough, hoping that it leads to any degree of sexy times with this hunk of a man.
“Here you go. First bite,” I offer, holding a slice to his lips, but he shakes his head.
“Not a chance. Ladies first.”
He’s always such a gentleman, but I’m too damn hungry to put up any resistance. I take a quick bite, turn the slice around, and hold it perched at his waiting lips.
His tongue peeks out wetting his lips, and he leans in for a bite. I wait for the verdict, hoping he likes Pacific Pizza’s sausage and onion, as it’s one of my favorites.
“Do you like it?” I ask, taking another bite.
“Yeah, I’ve had their pizza before, but for whatever reason, it seems even better now. It must be the pizza holder.” He winks.
There’s no way I can keep a huge grin off my face with a compliment like that.
“Sure, then let’s go find your ladder.” He takes a larger bite this time and moves toward the back door with me following closely behind.
Edward has no trouble retrieving our Christmas boxes from the cobweb-filled garage attic. I do little more than point for the next box and finish our slice while he easily does all the heavy lifting. When the last box is on the floor, I prepare to help take the boxes inside, but he stops me.
“Why don’t you grab us another slice while I bring these inside?”
“You like sharing?”
“I think I like you feeding me.” The slight wiggle of his eyebrows is all the encouragement I need.
“Say no more. I’m on the job, then I can add hand feeding to my resume with all of my other odd jobs.” I lean down lifting some of the smaller boxes. “I can get these.”
Once I’m back inside the kitchen, I remove my jacket and stay put while Edward brings in the rest from the garage, taking bites of pizza after each delivery. When the final box is stacked in the living room, we push and pull the furniture in the room to make space for the tree.
“So, you’ve had a few unusual jobs?”
I snort while watching him set the tree in the stand while we try to get it straight. “Yeah. I’m a college graduate without a steady job, but with plenty of student loans demanding payment each month. A little more to the left.”
“It looks good. I’ll get some water for you to add to the base, but we’ll wait to fill it up all the way until we finish decorating.”
“Okay,” he agrees easily.
When I return to the living room, I watch Edward empty the pitcher and continue sharing my job history. “I’ve taken part in research studies, completed surveys, and last year I worked for the Post Office when they needed extra holiday help. Can I get you a beer?”
“Sure, one won’t hurt.” Edward stands, searching for the light box.
I return from the kitchen with his open beer in hand. “Here you go.”
“Thanks. Are you drinking?”
“Yeah, I will pour one of my little mini bottles of wine. My best friend Angela got us a wine advent calendar to share. So, I’ll have a glass of one of those—be right back.”
When I return to the living room with my wine and a new slice in hand, I find Edward checking the light strings for any non-working bulbs.
“You’re so thorough.” I lean down, offering him the first bite.
“It’s my job. These all look good. Thanks.” He takes a large bite, stands, and begins winding the strings of lights through the branches while I watch.
I know I should help, but we’ve been on the go ever since I left work. I just want to keep sharing pizza slices, drink my wine, and marvel how Edward’s in my living room. He looks so at ease and comfortable here that it brings a smile to my face, but I return to our earlier conversation.
“Back to my job status. This year, I’m filling in for Jessica and will pick up a few shifts at the diner whenever Sam needs help. But all of those are the normal temp jobs. Don’t tell my dad, but I did the whole body-for-hire thing until my money ran out and I couldn’t afford my rent, forcing me to move back home.”
He pauses, adding lights to the tree. “Body-for-hire?”
“Yeah, it sounds more illicit than it really is.”
“Edward, I’m shocked by your impression of me. Are you a painter by any chance?”
“No, but maybe I should consider a new hobby.” A sneaky grin spreads across his face, but he doesn’t make eye contact.
“And I’m the naughty one?” I tsk, shaking my head, but not before easily teasing him more. “Not nude modeling, but I would for the right person. You let me know when you have your supplies, and I’ll work you into my schedule. I promise.”
The blush on his cheeks sends a thrill through me, but I let him off the hook.
“No, body-for-hire is like when you need someone to wait in line for tickets or you need a date for a reunion, wedding, or even Christmas dinner. It’s that type of thing. I was a live mannequin for a window display at a clothing boutique in Seattle once. There was also the time when I was the bingo caller at the local VFW when ol’ Coach Clapp was recovering from a heart attack.” I hold out the slice of pizza for him again.
“VFW?” he asks after finishing another bite.
“Veterans of Foreign Wars. They’re a rowdy bunch, but that may have been my favorite job. Let’s see what else… oh—I was a fortune cookie writer. It’s probably the only job close to applying my degree outside of taking notes for classes and selling copies of the pages.”
“What was your major?”
“The final one was English, but I switched twice, which set me back on finishing my coursework in a timely manner.”
“So, you’re wanting to be a writer?”
I swirl what’s left of my wine. “I don’t know. I think given enough time, I would have changed majors again, but my dad gave me a very strong lecture after five years and said I needed to stick with something. I enjoy writing and reading. I accepted an editing job after graduating, but it was too solitary and I quit. I learned a valuable lesson on that one: don’t quit your paying job until you have another lined up.”
Edward tilts his head at an odd angle, raises his chin, and adds a weird accent. “Lesson learned.”
I giggle at his Tom Hanks impersonation. “That was very ‘Polar Express’ of you.”
“It’s my favorite movie, but I always try to watch it on Christmas Eve.” He steps backward, surveying his work. “Maybe another strand of lights.”
“Oh! Let me get some music going. I have one of those little speakers. I’ll run upstairs to get it and start a Christmas playlist.”
While I’m upstairs, I change into a pair of comfy plaid pajama pants and a T-shirt that says, “Come to the Dark Side, We Have Cookies,” hoping I’ll bring a smile to Edward’s face. If that doesn’t work, maybe he will be able to tell I’m braless and appreciate that view as well.
I flip open my laptop, log into my new account, and start the holiday tunes playing. With the speaker in hand, I drop it off on a living room side table and return to the kitchen, refilling my wine glass.
I move to the doorway. “Do you want to share another slice of pizza? I finished the last one while I was upstairs, setting up our music.”
“Sure, the lights are done.” He turns around and his eyes move lower to my chest, lingering a little longer than is appropriate. “Nice shirt.”
“Thanks. I thought you might like it. The lights look great. What’s next?”
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 his heart with Christmas spirit…