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.
“Maybe we should work on the garland. It will take some time.” He follows me into the kitchen.
“Okay, we have one of those air poppers in the top cabinet above the refrigerator. You’ll only need to add popcorn to it, and the cranberries are in the fridge. I’ll go find needles and thread.”
When I return from the laundry room, Edward has the air popper ready with a bowl underneath to catch the popped kernels.
“I only need the popcorn.”
“Top shelf of the pantry.”
“Do you want another beer? Or we have water and soda.”
“Beer is fine.”
I watch as the machine loudly whirls the kernels in a circle, heating them until they explode, pushing out of the chute and into the waiting bowl. Edward has a huge grin on his face the entire time as I notice he emptied the cranberries in another bowl while I was gone. I giggle at his excitement when the popping ceases and he turns off the popper.
“Here you go.” I hold out his beer.
“Thanks.” I watch as he puts the bottle to his lips and takes a long drink.
I have my wine glass to my lips and I’m mid-swallow when he asks his next question.
“Where do you want to do it?”
I choke and sputter, getting a bit of wine on my shirt.
“Bella, are you okay?”
He’s patting my back as I shake my head a few times, knowing Edward is asking innocently about stringing the garland, but my naughty mind is constantly in a whole other zone around him.
I clear my throat and nod, barely able to get out the words, “The couch in the living room is probably more comfortable than the kitchen chairs.”
“All right, I’ll set us up in there.” He stacks the cranberry bowl on top of the popcorn and holds the needles and thread spool with his other hand.
“I’ll bring your beer,” I offer.
I take a few moments to gather myself and grab a plate, adding two slices of pizza in case he wants to keep nibbling. He has two strings started when I finally sit down, setting our drinks and pizza on the coffee table.
“I think we’re all set. I started you a length.”
He places the bowl in-between us, so it’s easier to reach, and we settle into the task at hand as we listen to Christmas tunes.
“How long are you working at the Police Department?” he asks.
“Probably through February or March. Jess is due to have her baby any day, and her maternity leave will start once she delivers. She’s using the rest of her vacation days right now while she waits for the baby’s arrival.”
“That’s an understatement.” I chuckle, looking over how quickly Edward is working through our supplies. “I may put my name in at the high school to do some substitute teaching for when Jess returns, but I don’t know if my degree will count, since it isn’t a teaching degree and I have ‘zero real-world experience.’ Sometimes they require additional classes for teaching.”
“It doesn’t hurt to ask.”
“Well, the good news is that I can pass the background check. You probably had some doubts.”
Edward laughs. “No doubts. I would imagine the Chief’s daughter has a difficult time getting away with too much.”
“You’re right. I’m going to be an elf for the breakfast with Santa next week. Jasper’s wife, Alice, is excited. She has costumes for us and everything.”
“That should be fun. I’ll be on the grill making pancakes. You can also add cookie baker to your list.”
“You’re right. I’ve made my fair share recently. Is that a hint that you could use a cookie?”
“Have you always been a firefighter?” I wonder.
“Yeah. I went to the academy right after high school and it’s all I’ve ever known or wanted to be.”
I’m thrilled he’s opening up, and I hope he’ll share more of what brought him to our little part of the world.
“Chicago is a lot bigger than Forks. What are we talking, three million versus three thousand people? That’s quite a step down.”
“Something like that.” He shrugs. “I’ve had enough big city life and was ready for a change.”
“Not as many fires in one of the rainiest places in America either,” I suggest, as I can’t imagine what would prompt a move to here of all places.
“True, but there are other types of rescues or hazards that we deal with every day. I don’t mind. I got my certification for swift water rescues recently.”
“You like your job?”
“I do. The hours aren’t for everyone, but it’s only me. So, that isn’t a big deal.”
“Do you miss being away from your family?”
“Yeah. This time of year especially.”
“Well, I, for one, am very glad to know you’ll be spending your time here this year, and I have good news.”
“I have another joke for you.”
Edward groans. “Okay.”
“I thought you liked my jokes.”
“I do. I’m only teasing.”
“Why is Santa so jolly?”
“I don’t know, why?”
“Because he knows where the naughtiest girls live.” I grin, wiggling my eyebrows. “And now, you do too.”
With strings and strings of popcorn and cranberry garland circling the tree and all of our ornaments hanging in place, Edward and I are sitting on the couch, staring in wonderment at our evening’s creation. I turned out the lights earlier as we sit and marvel over the soft glow from the multi-colored twinkling lights. The smell of the Balsam fir nestled in the room’s corner isn’t overwhelming, but adds a nice fragrance to the entire house.
With Christmas songs still playing softly in the background, I can’t contain the happy sigh at the feeling of comfort we’ve created in a few short hours. It’s exhausting work, but as I sip the last of another of my mini bottles of wine, I can’t think of any place I would rather be than right here, right now with Edward. It’s perfect.
I’m nudged from my Christmas bubble of bliss when he shifts in his seat next to me. He reaches over and takes my hand in his, lacing our fingers together and holding them against his jean-covered thigh.
I wish every night could be like this one.
His voice is soft and low when he speaks, still focusing on the tree, while I gaze at his handsome profile.
“I should probably go. Your dad will be home soon.” He turns his head and his eyes meet mine.
A small smile toys with the corners of his mouth, drawing my attention to his lips.
“Right, my dad,” I whisper, as Edward moves closer.
His hand releases mine all too soon and reaches out brushing my hair away from my face and tucking those wayward strands behind my ear.
My breathing increases as my heart feels like it’s about to beat right out of my chest, stirring the embers that have been smoldering just below the surface all evening.
His eyes stare into mine, then shift to my mouth and back, until he leans in and his lips press a kiss onto my forehead.
When he pulls away, I tilt my head and reach for his arm preventing his retreat. With our lips barely a breath apart, I close the distance between us, pressing mine against his in a brief, tentative kiss that grows more confident with each loving touch. One of his hands wraps around my thigh, giving it a squeeze, while the other holds my head in place as he returns my kisses with an increasing fire. Our mouths meet over and over, until I’m forced to break away, panting for breath.
“Oh, Edward.” I gasp as I bury my hands in his hair. “Don’t stop.”
He pulls me by the waist until I’m straddling his lap. His strong hands move over my thighs and along my backside, sliding higher and pressing me firmly against his chest. His lips move along my jaw, kissing a trail along my neck until he returns to my mouth, claiming it once more.
Edward moans against my lips when I nudge his open with my tongue and it enters, exploring and tangling with his while my body rubs against him in all the right places urging for more. My hands trail lower, caressing the firm, gentle contours of his chest, hiding below the soft fabric of his shirt. He breaks off our kiss, and my lips are like a magnet to his jaw, leaving little kisses on one side then the other. My tongue trails over the stubble there until I suck gently on the lobe of his ear.
“Bella.” He groans, wrapping me in his arms tightly. “We should… “
“Go upstairs?” I whisper, tilting my hips again and encouraging him of the pleasures that await.
“No. We should stop. I think your dad just pulled up.”
The slamming of a car door has me scurrying off Edward’s lap as I try to control my breathing.
“Shit.” I pant, trying to right my clothing and smooth my hair quickly.
A shadow passes by the front window, and I can hear Dad stomping his boots up the steps before the front door swings wide open.
“Hey, Edward. Bella.”
“Boy, it smells good in here. You didn’t build a fire this evening?” He points toward the fireplace.
Oh, we did, but I can’t tell my father it’s currently between my legs. We’re both still a little ruffled from our heated exchange. Edward is holding the popcorn bowl over his lap, no doubt willing away his excitement over our kissing and touching.
“Hey, Chief. No, Bella had me busy all evening, lifting boxes and climbing ladders.”
I glance his way, and he gives me a subtle wink, while Dad removes his hat, jacket, and holster.
“It’s getting colder out there. I think there’s probably an inch of snow, but it feels nice in here.”
“Did you have time to eat? We had pizza, but there are a few slices left. They probably need reheating,” I offer.
“No. I’ll do that after I shower and change. Thanks. That sure is some tree. You did a nice job.”
“Edward did most of the work.”
“Well, great job to you both. I guess we’re ready for Santa. The only thing left is to hang our stockings.” Dad chuckles and walks toward the stairs. “If I don’t see you again, have a good night, Edward.”
“Thanks, Chief. You, too.”
Once Dad is upstairs and I hear him behind the door to his room, I let out a sigh of relief.
“That was a close call. You must have great hearing.”
“I don’t want us to get caught doing anything that your dad would consider disrespectful. I’m on his good side and I would like to stay there.”
“The good side? What about the dark side?” I giggle. “I thought you liked my cookies.”
“Oh, Bella, I do.” He wraps his arms around me, pulling me close and leaving a soft kiss on my lips. “I should get going. It’s late and we both have to work tomorrow.”
“I know,” I agree reluctantly and steal another kiss.
Edward holds my hand, pulling me to stand. “Is it okay if I borrow your truck? I can have one of the guys from the station help me return it after I pick up my car.”
“Sure. Let me grab the keys.” I locate them on the hook in the kitchen and follow him to the front door, watching as he slides on his coat. “Maybe we can do this again?”
“I can’t think of anything better.”
Edward pulls me forward as my arms automatically reach up, wrapping behind his neck. I tilt my head, and without hesitation, his lips meet mine demanding and confident. His hands slide from my waist to my back with one slipping under my shirt, pressing our bodies impossible closer, and I can feel him responding almost instantly. His warm hand against the skin of my lower back barely registers, as I’m lost in his kisses, leaving me breathless when he pulls away.
“Wow. That was—”
His smile widens at his obvious effect on me, and he places another soft kiss on my forehead. “I’ll leave your keys tucked under the floor mat when I return with your truck. I don’t want to wake you.”
“Okay, uh… thanks.” I doubt he will wake me. If there’s any chance I’m going to sleep tonight, I’ll need to work out some of the excess tension he’s created. “I could always sneak you up to my room later?”
“Always so naughty. Good night, Bella. This was one of the best nights I’ve had in a long time. Thank you.”
“I couldn’t agree more.” I lift on my toes, adding one more kiss to his smiling lips. “Good night, Edward.”
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, which will give him the courage to kiss the naughty new friend who he’s had his eyes on for a while.