"I'm going to miss you," Jackie hugged me at the doorway of my room our two bedroom condo. "You better call me when you guys land so I know you made it safely. I'm going to be checking the news to make sure no planes have crashed.” 

I rolled my eyes and went back to packing. "You're being ridiculous. Flying is far safer than driving. There's way more car accidents a day than there are plane crashes." 

"You're literally flying across the whole country. That doesn't make you nervous?" She shuddered. 

It did, especially since I'd never been on a plane before, but there was no way I was admitted it to Jackie. "It'll be fine. It's not like I'm going to be by myself." 

She smiled. "How does it feel to be spending Christmas with your love muffin's parents? That's like serious. I mean, you're flying cross country to spend the biggest family holiday of the entire year with a couple people who didn't really like you at first. Who'd have though that two years ago, we'd all be where we are?" 

It was crazy actually. Gareth and I had been together for over two years. His parents had finally fully embraced our relationship, but it had been a challenge to say the least. "It's a little weird actually. I mean they're happy for us, but staying with them, in their house? It's a little disconcerting. I have no idea what the sleeping arrangements are going to be. I definitely don't know that I feel comfortable sleeping in the same room with Gareth under his parent's roof." 

"I'm surprised you haven't moved in with him already. Not that I want you to leave, because I love having you as a housemate, but neither of us are really ever here anymore." 

I plopped onto the corner of my bed. "We've talked about it, but I just don't know if I'm ready. That probably sounds stupid considering we've been together for this long and we pretty much spend all our time together anyway. It's just..." I trailed off. 

"You're just waiting for it to go to shit, because no one ever stuck around when you were a kid," Jackie finished for me. 

She and I talked a lot about my foster experience. I'd told her all about each family I'd lived with. Which ones were nice, and which ones were shitty. The ones I'd hoped would decide to ask me to be part of their family. And how devastated I'd been that they didn't. Besides Gareth, Jackie knew more about me than anyone. I nodded. "Yeah, pretty much. My life is going way too well." 

"I can't imagine how you're feeling, but since I'm your best friend, I'm going to tell you to get your head out of your ass. You deserve all the great things that are happening. You have a sexy boyfriend whose parents like you and an even sexier best friend." 

I choked out a laugh. Leave it to Jackie to tell me like it was. 

"You're the almost social worker for God's sake. You need to do something about that negative self-talk, girl. You are an amazing girlfriend and bestie. You like kids and animals. You're way too cheerful, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. There's no reason why your life shouldn't be going well. Trust me, you rock."

My eyes burned, and I jumped up to hug her. "What would I do without you? Thank you for being the best friend a girl could ask for." 

"You're welcome." 

The knock on the door pulled us apart. "Oh, that's Gareth. I need to finish packing quick." 

"I'll send him in. You two have fun, and have a Merry Christmas. I'll see you when you get back." 

She left, and I heard faint voices down the hall, until a minute later, there was a light knock on the doorframe. I ran over and threw my arms around my man. “Hey, baby. I'm almost ready, I swear." 

Gareth patted my ass and laid another kiss on me. "We have time." 

I hurried and grabbed a few more things from my closet. It was a lot colder in Washington than it was in North Carolina so I wanted to make sure I had enough warm clothes that I didn't freeze my ass off. I was a Southern girl, through and through. The most amount of snow I'd seen in my life was about seven inches. Where Gareth's parents lived, they got over a foot of snow sometimes. I wasn't sure I was ready for that yet. Could the plane even land with that much snow? I needed to push the thought aside. I certainly didn't need to have a mini break down on my first flight. 

My conversation with Jackie brought up something I really needed to talk to Gareth about. "So, what are our sleeping arrangements going to be?" 

He smiled that sneaky smile that told me he was up to something. "You're sleeping in my bed with me every night that we're there. We're going to have loud monkey sex that keeps my parents awake until early in the morning. Then we'll both do the walk of shame down the stairs and greet my parents for breakfast while you wear a skimpy negligee and I wear nothing but my boxers."  

I narrowed my eyes at him. "You are such a jerk." 

Gareth busted out laughing. "Oh, the look on your face. I have no doubt my conservative mother already has the spare room dusted and ready for your arrival with clean sheets and an empty dresser drawer and closet space." 

"Good. And your punishment for being a butt is no Christmas sex for you. Especially not in your parents' house." 

He looked so crestfallen, I had the clench my lips together to stop from laughing. He deserved it. "Oh, have pity on a poor man. You know I was only teasing. You wouldn't deprive me of your beautiful body for that long, would you?" 

"You're damn right I would," I huffed out, arms crossed over my chest. 

Gareth dropped to his knees, laced his fingers in prayer, and scuttled over to me, begging the whole way. "Fair lady, please don't punish a pitiful soul such as me. I'll do whatever you ask if only you forgive me." 

He stared up at me with the most pitiful expression, blinking rapidly, trying to look repentant. Instead, he only looked ridiculous like he had something in his eye. "You're such a goof ball." I laughed as he reached up to tickle me. 

"Tell me you're sorry for torturing me like that," he growled, my giggles growing louder. "Tell me." 

“I’m—I’m sorry," I gasped out between breaths. 

His tickling ceased, and I stared down at him, my laughter dying down. God, I loved this man so much, and I'd do anything for him, including fly across country to spend Christmas with his parents. He rose to his feet and gave me a deep kiss, his hands clutching my hips. 

"I know you're nervous, but everything is going to be fine." 

I glared at him. "I remember the last time you said that. It was the first time I met them and as you recall that didn't go so well."

Gareth winced. "That was such a long time ago. My parents love me and adore you." 

"I hope they like their presents." I bit my lip nervously. What do you buy people you don't know that well? Especially your boyfriend's parents? I'd never been great at picking out gifts. 

"They're going to love them. Now, finish getting ready and stop worrying." 

I nudged his chest and he moved away. "That's easy for you to say. They're your parents. You know the kinds of things they like." 

Gareth threw me a look. 

"Okay, I'm done being whiny. I promise," I assured him after I saw the expression of disbelief on his face. "Pinky swear." 

I turned back to my bed and quickly finished throwing the last few things in there. "Come help hold this down so I can zip it, will you, please?" 

Once my suitcase was closed, Gareth picked it up and carried it out to the living room where Jackie sat on the couch watching some reality tv show. "Have a great time, love birds. Don't forget to call me the minute you land, bitch." 

"Yes, mother," I called out. "Merry Christmas. Love you.” 

“Love you, too. Merry Christmas.” 


Five hours later I'd never been so happy to be on the ground again. I decided that I was most definitely not a fan of flying. Between the takeoff, the weird clanging noises that made me think the plan was falling apart, when in fact, it was only the landing gear, and the jerky landing, I was dreading the return trip. 

"There they are." Gareth tugged my hand, and I followed him until I spotted his folks as well. They were all smiles standing there waving at us. 

"You made it. Welcome home," Dr. Brown greeted his son with a hug while Mrs. Brown pulled me into her arms. His mom greeted him next, and we switched hugging partners. 

"Did you guys have a nice flight?" Gareth's mom asked us. 

The jerk next to me laughed. "Mine was fine, but Livvie's not so much." 

His mom sent me a sympathetic glance. "Oh, honey, I'm so sorry."

I glared at Gareth before smiling at the older woman. "Thank you, Brenda." 

It still felt weird calling her by her first name, but after her son and I celebrated our one year anniversary, she'd insisted. We headed to the baggage carousel, picked up our luggage, and were finally on our way to the house. It was just turning to dusk, so I could see a little bit of the city. Charlotte was the biggest city I'd ever been in, but Seattle was nothing compared to that. I'd never seen so many pine trees in my life. I tried to imagine what it would like during the summer with everything being green. I bet it was beautiful. 

Gareth pointed out Mount Ranier, but there was a lot of cloud covering so it was difficult to make out. I hadn't been able to catch a good view of it up in the air either, because we’d been on the opposite side of the plane. I was looking forward to some better weather, and hoped I'd be able to see it fully. The pictures I'd looked up on the internet didn't do it justice, I was sure. 

Eventually, we pulled into the driveway. Gareth and his dad carried our bags inside while his mom and I followed. 

"Let me give you a tour," Brenda offered. She showed me where each room was, including the downstairs bathroom. Then, she led me upstairs. "Here's the bathroom. There are clean towels under the sink as well as a few toiletries, although I'm sure you brought your own. But just in case you forgot anything, please help yourself." 

Gareth stepped out of his room and after his mom turned, he sent me a sexy wink. I smiled and smacked his arm. "Here's your room. The remote for the television is on the nightstand. I left the top dresser drawer empty for you, and if you need to hang something up, there are some hangers in the closet. If you need an extra blanket or pillow, they're at the end of the hall in the closet. Help yourself if you get cold." 

"Thank you so much, Brenda." 

"You're welcome. I'm so glad you're here and able to spend the holiday with us. I'll let you two get settled. I've got a casserole warming in the oven, so whenever you're hungry, come on down." 

She gave us each a hug before heading back downstairs. 

"Just in case you want to sneak into my bedroom tonight, you'll have to be extra quiet. My parents' room is just below mine." Gareth waggled his eyebrows at me. 

"Shhh," I hushed him. I didn't know how well sound traveled in here. "I already told you I'm not going to be sneaking into your room. What if your parents caught us?" 

He sidled up to me and pulled me tight against him, nuzzling his nose in the crook of my neck. Damn him. He knew I had a hard time resisting anything when he hit that spot. "What if they did? Don't you think that makes it even more exciting? Knowing that either of them could barge in anytime and see me fucking you and that beautiful pussy of yours." 

I couldn't control my moan, especially as his teeth nipped the skin at the fold of my neck. "That makes you hot thinking about getting caught doesn't it?" 

He was right. The thrill of the possibility did get me hot. I could feel myself getting wet. With a loud, pop, Gareth lifted his lips, and I sagged against his chest, my breathing heavy. I sucked in a deep breath before slowly letting it out. "You're an evil, evil man." 

Gareth only laughed. "C'mon, let's go down and see what my mom made for us. You can think of all the ways you're going to get me back while we're down there." 

I smiled deviously. "Oh, you bet I will." 

He was going to regret teasing me like that.