(NOTE: Contains explicit language and adult themes suitable for ages 16+)
© K.L. Hall and www.authorklhall.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to K.L. Hall and www.authorklhall.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
ONE YEAR LATER
From the tall fir tree decorated with bright lights and colored ornaments, to the colorful stockings for the kids and each of us hanging from the mantel, the Calloway home was almost ready for Christmas. The entire house smelled like sugar cookies and tinsel as I sat Indian-style on the carpet. Boyz II Men’s “Let It Snow” was blasting all throughout the house as I rocked side to side to the melodic beat while wrapping a present for Law. It was no secret that Christmas was my favorite holiday. I even dragged Law out to buy the biggest trees we could find the day after Thanksgiving. The entire house smelled like oranges for a week when we first brought them inside. I placed the brightly wrapped present with a bow next to the others under the tree and smiled.
“Perfect,” I whispered.
“What’s going on in here, Mama Claus?” Law asked as he walked into the living room with the twins in his arms.
“Hey, Daddy Claus.” I smiled when I looked at him and rubbed my growing belly. A part of me couldn’t believe we were having kids so close together. The twins were almost two and a half years old, and I was almost eight months into my new pregnancy with another bouncing baby boy.
I slowly climbed to my feet and walked over to the three of them. I took Andreas Jr. into my arms and walked into the foyer. I ran my fingertips along the stairway handle wrapped in garland and white Christmas lights. Everything was perfect until the annoying hum of the air conditioning brought me right back down to earth.
“Ugh,” I groaned.
“Baby, it’s December, and it’s seventy-seven degrees outside. I don’t want to spend another Christmas like this. For the first time in a long time, I want a fun, old-fashioned Christmas, okay?”
“And what exactly is an ‘old fashioned Christmas’?” he asked, while bending his fingers in air quotes.
“I want a house full of friends and family…I was even thinking about inviting my parents.”
His eyes widened. “Word?”
“Yeah… haven’t made the calls yet though. It’s just a thought.”
“What brought this on all of a sudden? It’s not like this is the first Christmas you’re spending in Miami.”
“I know, and that’s exactly why I want a change, especially since the twins are getting bigger now. I hate taking them to get their photos with Santa with fuckin’ flip flops on. I want winter coats and scarves and gloves and snow and outdoor ice-skating rinks, Law.”
He shrugged. “I’ve never been ice skating in my life.”
“I went once as a kid I think, but it sounds so fun, doesn’t it?”
He shook his head in disagreement. “Nah, not to me.”
I sucked my teeth. “Whatever, Party Pooper.”
“Look, whatever you want this Christmas, you can have it.”
“Yeah, I do. You know I’d do anything for you and my kids.”
“Eek!” I squealed. “It never snows here, so I was thinking… why don’t we pack up and go somewhere? I want the twins to experience a white Christmas. Can you imagine their faces when they see snow for the first time? It’s going to be so magical,” I beamed.
“Where do you wanna go?”
“I don’t know. I started looking up flights earlier, but then I got distracted and started doing some more decorating.”
I studied the look on his face and frowned. “You don’t like it?”
“Don’t get mad, but it’s like Santa threw up in this mothafucka, baby.”
My lips pressed tightly together as I swallowed the comeback that was about to spring past my lips. I never wanted my kids to stop believing in the magic of Christmas. I wanted them to keep their innocence for as long as they could. Once they found out that Law and I were really Santa and all of their gifts came from the store instead of the North Pole, everything would be ruined. If putting them on a plane to take them somewhere that they could experience Christmas the way it was shown on TV would keep the magic going a little longer, then I was all for it, even if they probably wouldn’t remember it.
“Can you stop grinching up my Christmas before it even gets here, please? You know how much this means to me.”
“I do, baby, and that’s exactly why I told you that you can have whatever you’d like.”
He bent down a kissed my stomach, which made me smile. “And that is why I love you,” I told him. “And you, and you too!” I said, kissing the twins.
I loved Raquel with every beat of my heart, but her obsession with Christmas was too much. She had one Christmas tree in the foyer and another in the living room by the window. She probably would’ve put one in our bedroom if I’d let her. There was a big wreath on the outside of the house with the letter C on it. In the kitchen, there was a countdown calendar on the countertop that read ‘Twenty-Four Days ‘til Christmas’ in cursive letters and garland on top of all the kitchen cabinets. If she wanted to get away for the holidays, I would give her that, but I was a Florida boy, and I didn’t do cold weather.
While Raquel hung more decorations on the tree, I put Amani in the downstairs playroom with her brother. I walked back into the living room with Raquel and wrapped my arms around her waist.
“You think we’ll be done after this one?” she asked.
I moved her hair out of the way and kissed her neck. “It’s up to you, baby. You know I’ll keep shootin’ the club up whenever you want me to,” I joked.
“Ha-ha. Very funny. Can you help me hang some of the lights in that box over there?”
“Raquel, you’re almost eight months pregnant, remember? Take it easy.”
“My doctor said everything is fine, and I feel really good today.”
“He also told you that after you delivered the twins, that any pregnancy thereafter would be considered high risk.”
She rolled her eyes. “I know, Law. Just let me revel in the Christmas spirit, okay? I promise I’ll relax later.”
I tossed my hands up in surrender. “Fine. Do your thing, Mrs. Claus. Don’t let me get in your way.”
Although we didn’t talk about it, Raquel suffered a miscarriage around the holidays the year before. As happy as she was to be pregnant again, I knew she was trying to fill whatever void there was in her heart with glossy wrapping paper and big red bows.
She smiled. “Thank you.”
Christmas meant things to her that they could never mean to me. I was fully prepared to get a pair of slippers or a World’s Greatest Dad mug as a gift and pretend to like them while she wore the Santa hat and made millions of memories in the form of photos to last a lifetime. As a kid, I hated seeing something I desperately wanted to buy but couldn’t. When the twins were born, I swore they would never know that feeling. I was going to continue to provide for my family, no matter what.
I pulled the lights out of the box and started hanging them. “So, about the Christmas getaway you’re planning… Is it just us and the kids, or Blaze, Camille, and the kids, too?”
“Of course, and maybe I’ll try to see if Justice, Sydney, and the kids can come too. That would be nice, right? We haven’t seen them in a few months. How nice would it be for all of us and the kids to get snowed in together while sipping hot chocolate?”
“There is such a thing called make believe, you know?”
“Yeah, I know.” She laughed lazily. “But I want the real deal this year.”
“I already told you, I got you. You plan, and I’ll pack.”
“Perfect. Are Blaze and Camille still moving today?”
“Yeah. The moving truck is outside now.”
“I cannot believe they bought the house directly across the street from us. This is going to be so amazing for all of our kids to grow up together.”
“I know that’s what my mother would’ve wanted,” I told her.
“Maybe you should go check in on them to see if they need some extra muscle. I would offer, but…” She paused and pointed to her stomach.
“You stay your ass in this house and keep cookin’ my son in the oven,” I told her.. “I’ll see you later,” I told her as I dropped a quick kiss on her forehead.
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