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.
The emergency alarm screams throughout the fire station building as I cover my ears. I look on as Emmett, in full Santa costume, climbs into the passenger seat of the fire truck parked at the other side of the building and Edward takes his place behind the wheel with Mike sitting in the rear seat.
A siren from one of the police cars wails as Tyler takes off in a hurry. Lauren Mallory and Eric Yorkie waste no time either, jumping into their ambulance as they depart from the station with Edward not far behind.
They moved all the police cars and fire trucks out back to clear the area and set up for the Santa breakfast this morning, making them still accessible if an emergency should arise. There’s one truck parked in front where a few of the kids linger with wide eyes before trickling inside, hoping to have their pictures taken with Santa.
“Will Santa be back?” The little boy in line asks Alice who is in full elf costume like me.
Alice ordered us the most adorable short green dresses with a cap sleeve that are cinched at the waist with a black belt and a gold buckle similar to the one Santa’s wearing. There’s also a fluffy ruffled layer of red crinoline that gives the dress its adorable shape. I love the large buttons on the front that look like pieces of candy while the red and white striped tights are keeping my legs warm. Alice is wearing a high-heeled black boot with a thick faux white fur around the top and mine are similar but without the heel.
“He will. Why don’t you go have some pancakes, so you’re ready to meet him when he returns in a little while?”
Some kids refuse to budge from their spots, not wanting to miss the chance for their time with Santa, but Alice and I move toward the kitchen, filling in for Edward and Mike, even though Jasper has everything under control.
“There’s an accident out on one-oh-one near the Forks Sol Duc Campground. Hopefully, they won’t be gone for long.”
“What can we do, Cap? Put us to work,” I suggest.
“Alice, could you please stay out front and make sure toy and food donations are getting sorted properly? Check on Jess too, and see if she needs a break from selling tickets.”
“Okay, I’m on it.” She leaves a kiss on his cheek and disappears through the doorway.
“Bella, maybe you can take these warming dishes full of pancakes out to your dad and Jacob. Angela said she would be here to help, and I was going to put her to work making pancakes, but you can fill in until she gets here. She sent a text earlier that they were busy at the church sorting coat donations. So, she may not be able to get away.”
When I return from the serving line, I add an apron to cover my outfit, but can’t help teasing Captain Whitlock. “So, how do you like your pancakes, Cap? Medium or well-done?”
A huge grin breaks out across his face as he dispenses the perfect amount of pancake batter from a special pitcher-like container. With an exact repeated squeeze, he fills the entire grill in front of us quickly. “After about three minutes, you should see the little bubbles burst—that’s when you’ll know it’s time to flip. Wait for another two minutes and they will be golden brown.”
I grab a spatula and wave it over the perfect circles. “Got it. Is this all we’re serving?”
“No, there’s sausage warming in the oven ready when they need more out front. I’ve got juice, milk, and coffee that we’ll need to monitor and refill when they look like they are running low.”
We work in companionable silence as the sounds of excited attendees filling the tables in the truck bays increases. Jasper turns up the Christmas tunes in the kitchen a little louder, and I’m bopping along to the beat when he finally clears his throat getting my attention.
“Edward was driving your truck the other night.”
I shrug, trying to play it off as not a huge deal, but when I found a candy cane hooked to the steering wheel the next morning, I was grinning all day. There was a little note with it that said, “You’re a lot like a candy cane, sweet and a little twisted—E”. I tucked the note in my bra for safekeeping and thought about licking his candy cane all day long.
“Uh… yeah. He helped with setting up our tree at the house.”
“Tyler and Jacob were… disappointed at his arrival. No. The better way to put it is they were green with envy.”
I roll my eyes.
“He likes you.”
“I like him.”
“This isn’t an easy life, but you already know that considering your father.”
“That’s why I believe you’ll be good for him. I worry about Edward being alone. He hasn’t opened up to the possibility of spending his time with anyone else, since he was hired two years ago. What we see, every day, really wears on the soul, and depression can be a sneaky bastard. He may not want to talk about it, but…”
“I know. I’ll be there when he does.”
“Alice can help too. She’s dealt with my ornery ass for years.”
“Thanks. I’ll keep that in mind.”
The squeals and screams of the room full of children ring out when the wail of the siren gets closer. Emmett is still riding in the passenger seat in full costume with the window down and his arm out waving to everyone. But what concerns me instantly is that Edward isn’t behind the wheel; it’s Mike.
I squeeze Alice’s arm when I realize that Edward is nowhere in sight. “Where’s Edward?” I whisper, as dread fills me from head to toe.
“I’m sure he will be back soon. Try not to panic.”
My alarmed eyes find her calm ones instantly.
“Right. There’s probably a reasonable explanation.”
“Let’s get Emmett inside and start working through this massive line of kids.”
“Take a few deep breaths. We’ve got this.”
I nod as we watch Emmett walking toward us. When he finally closes the distance and sits in the special area Alice created. My nerves and curiosity need some answers before I can focus.
I lean in close. “Edward is okay?”
“Yes. He rode to the hospital with Lauren and Eric.”
My eyes widen in panic.
“He’s a universal donor—O negative.”
“It’s rare, but he’s one of the few who can donate to any blood type. They have him on a regular donation schedule, but due to the accident, he decided to make his donation immediately.”
I nod, feeling the relief at Emmett’s words. “Thank you.”
He lowers his voice. “You okay?”
“Yeah. Yeah, I’m better now.”
Emmett gives me a knowing grin. “Okay, let’s do this. Who’s first? Ho, ho, ho!”
Alice waits for the first child to climb onto Santa’s lap, ready to handle the photos while I move into position, preparing myself for maintaining order as the gatekeeper between Santa and his adoring fans.
Edward arrives at the fire station when we have about twenty kids left, and it’s nearly impossible for me to focus, but I keep the line moving, as I watch him greet my father across the room. They smile and laugh at something Edward says, then he glances in my direction, offering a wave. I return it with a grin, but the urge to run and jump into his arms and kiss him senseless is overwhelming. I stay put, watching the exchange continue, then my father departs for his overnight shift.
When the last kid shares his Christmas wishes and is on his way home, Emmett makes his way to the bunkroom to change. I know I can’t stay away any longer and move to where Edward’s sitting at a table finishing a stack of reheated pancakes, surrounded by Mike, Jasper, Ty, and Jacob.
“Do you want my spot, Bella?” Mike offers, preparing to stand.
But Edward reaches out preventing his departure and pushes away from the table, pointing to his lap. “I’ve got a spot for my favorite elf right here.”
My smile widens, and there’s no chance I’m turning that offer down. “Hey.”
I wrap an arm around his shoulders while one of his wraps around my waist. His other hand squeezes my knee, but he leaves it resting there and tilts his head to mine. I lean closer, placing a quick peck on his lips.
“I like your costume. You look nice, not naughty, like I expected, but I know better.” He winks.
I whisper a promise in his ear. “I’ll show you naughty.”
“I have no doubt.”
We turn back toward the others at the table as the conversation has ceased, and all are focused on us.
Jacob and Ty appear stunned, but Jacob is the first to speak. “Wow. I didn’t see that coming.”
Mike and Jasper share a knowing look.
“What did I tell you, Cap?” Mike boasts, smiling from ear to ear. “I know I’m busy with Jess and the pregnancy, but I also know Bella. We went to high school together, and Edward was driving her truck. She never lets anyone drive the Beast.”
“Hey, I rebuilt that engine,” Jacob shares, holding up two fingers. “Twice.”
“What does that have to do with anything?” Mike questions.
Jacob defends. “I’m saying, I’ve been behind the wheel of the Beast.”
Mike isn’t buying it. “Not the same. At all.”
“I went to high school with Bella too,” Ty interrupts, shaking his head. “But I had no idea either.”
Edward pats my knee, distracting me from their conversation. “Are you working today?”
“No, but I am tomorrow.”
“All right, guys. Enough sitting around.” Jasper stands. “We need to finish cleaning, fold up the tables and chairs for storage, and get the trucks back inside. Edward, we’ll see you tomorrow.”
“You got it, Cap.” Edward kisses my cheek. “I have something for you. Will you come with me?”
Oh, I’d be more than happy to come with you. I giggle, but I suspect Edward knows I’m having naughty thoughts when he squeezes my leg.
“Upstairs,” he clarifies.
“Sure.” I stand, and Edward joins our hands, leading me toward the stairs when we see Emmett.
“Are you two out of here?” he asks.
Edward nods. “Yeah. Thanks, man. See you tomorrow.”
“Okay. Garrett will be here within the next hour for his shift. So, no worries. See you later, Bella.”
Edward pulls me along behind him up the stairs. “Come on, I need to grab my bag.”
“Why am I getting the impression you aren’t working tonight either?”
“Because I donated blood earlier, and now, I have a mandatory twenty-four hours off from work. Emmett has agreed to take the rest of my shift. So, I wonder what I should do?” He wiggles his eyebrows as we enter the room.
“You’re asking me?”
He leans closer, kissing my lips, but pulling away too soon. “Yes. I thought, if you would like, we could spend it together.”
My smile widens at the thought. “That sounds like a great idea.”
“Any ideas? And I should share that I’m prohibited from any strenuous activities for twelve hours.”
I wrap my arms around his shoulders, interlacing my hands behind his neck, as his move to my waist. Now that we’re alone, I can’t hold back and need more of him, especially those lips.
“I have some ideas.”
I crush my mouth to his as my kisses are returned with a heated frenzy of want and need, stoking the fire building between us. His hands slide along my back, pulling my entire body flush with his, eliciting tiny grunts and groans when our mouths meet again and again. My fingers weave through his wild wavy hair, and I tilt his head, pushing and pulling him to my will until he breaks away.
“Bella.” He gasps, touching his forehead with mine as his ragged breath fans across my face. “What you do to me.”
I can’t keep the proud silly smile off my face while trying to control my breathing. “So, you would be ready for strenuous activities around what time?”
“Eleven tonight, but that’s still ten hours away.” He grins, pulling back, but pecking my lips once more while lacing our fingers together. “I have an idea, and I think you will love it.”
“Are you wearing a shirt during this activity? Because I’m on board with going topless.”
“You’re such a naughty elf. No one is going topless.”
“That’s no fun, and I think you like my naughtiness,” I tease.
“Oh, Bella. I do.” He smirks, lifting our joined fingers to his lips, leaving a sweet kiss on the back of my hand.
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…