Gareth

There was nothing I enjoyed more than teasing Livvie. Except maybe the fact that she gave it right back to me. She wasn't afraid to taunt and tease, which was what she'd done last night. I'd had to sit at the table long after everyone had left, because of the hard-on she'd given me. I could still feel her foot gliding up and down my cock while we'd eaten dinner. I tasted blood biting back the groan. She sent me a cheeky smile as she rose from the table to help my mom with cleaning up the kitchen. 

I'd joked with her about coming into mine, but she wouldn't. She was too worried about making sure my parents continued to like her. How long would it take for her to realize their feelings wouldn't change? However long it took, I'd make sure my parents subtly reassured her that they absolutely adored her. I'd discussed marriage with them, and they were both elated to gain Livvie as a daughter-in-law. I'd even looked for rings, but I couldn't find the perfect one. Until I did, I'd wait. I had no plans on going anywhere. She was stuck with me. 

"Hey there," I greeted her with a hip nudge. She scooted over, and I slid onto the love seat next to her, my cup of hot cocoa and mini marshmallows in hand. 

"Hi, yourself." 

We sat in front of the roaring fire, the crackling sound lending the perfect ambiance to the snow falling outside. My parents had built an extra room off the back of the house with an entire wall fireplace and floor to ceiling windows that faced out to the copse of trees that gathered at the farthest edge of the yard. 

The Christmas tree stood in front of the windows decorated with blue and silver ball ornaments and white twinkling lights. A bright, giant star graced the top. The snow skirting around the bottom was barely visible with all the presents that surrounded the base. The fresh scent of pine filled the room. My parents had been getting a live tree my entire life. The faint sound of Christmas music came from the speakers of the surround sound system mounted to the ceiling in the four corners of the room. The magic of the holiday was in full bloom inside this room.  

Livvie wiggled her wool-sock covered toes that her stuck out in front of her toward the fire, and she laid her head on my shoulder. "It's beautiful in here. I've never seen a more perfect Christmas atmosphere. When I was growing up, I was lucky if I got to help decorate the tree. I always felt like I was on the outside looking in." 

I wrapped my arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. "You're on the inside here, and will be for as long as I have to say. Which is forever. One day in the future we're going to have our own tree, and our kids are going to come running down the stairs way earlier in the morning than they should, excited to see what Santa brought them. We're going to create our own traditions and our own Christmas magic." 

Livvie sucked in a breath. While I’d talked about marriage to my folks, it wasn't a topic I'd brought up with her before. My intentions were perfectly clear with talks of our future and kids. She tilted her head up and her eyes sparkled with wetness from the shimmering lights. "What did I ever do to deserve you?" 

"You were just being you. The moment I saw you standing at our table at that diner, nervous and tapping your pen, while you took our order, there was something about you I was drawn to. I'm still drawn to. It's this inner spark that shines for everyone to see." I planned on spending the rest of my life nurturing that spark. I never wanted it to dull, because the very essence of it was what made Livvie absolutely perfect. For me. 

She leaned up and brushed her lips across mine before pulling back and staring deeply into my eyes. "I love you so much." 

"I love you, and I'll make sure that I tell you every single day. Merry Christmas, Livvie." 

"Merry Christmas." 

We continued sitting together in front of the fire while it crackled and burned, holding each other and letting the magic settle over us. 

***

Christmas morning was upon us. It was much earlier than I usually got up during the week, but the smell of fresh baked cinnamon rolls filled the air, and my stomach rumbled with hunger. It was a tradition that I'd missed since I hadn't been able to come home for the holiday last year. For as long as I could remember, every Christmas morning, my mom would get up at before the crack of dawn and make homemade cinnamon rolls with icing. They were what I looked forward to most, right behind the presents of course. 

This year, I was looking forward to seeing Livvie's expression while she opened the gifts. I wasn't sure what my parents had got her, but I was sure she'd love them. I rolled out of bed and tugged on a tee-shirt and pair of fleece sleep pants, as well as my wool socks. Then, I headed down the hall and softly knocked on Livvie's door. 

Within a minute, she opened it looking absolutely adorable with her hair piled on top of her head, her eyes bleary with sleep and a grumpy frown on her face. She was not a morning person. "Good morning, sunshine." 

I laughed as she snarled at me. "What in god's name time is it?" 

"You are so adorable when you're cranky in the morning." 

She flashed me a death stare. 

"Come on, it's Christmas morning. Let's go see what Santa brought us." I bounced up and down with only a minimal of feigned excitement. Anything to get Livvie on board. I did my job well, because a reluctant smile crossed her face. 

"Fine, fine. Let me at least brush my teeth first." 

"Hurry up. You don't want the cinnamon rolls getting cold, do you?" 

She perked up at that. "Cinnamon rolls, you say? You know I can't resist them."

"Then it's a good thing I had my mom make extra. Go, get your teeth brushed and come on." I left her and headed downstairs to find my mom in the kitchen drizzling the icing. 

"Good morning," she greeted me with a kiss on the cheek. "Where's Livvie?"

"Morning. She'll be down in a few minutes. She is not a morning person, so she's a tad cranky this morning," I laughed.

"But, it's Christmas," my mom exclaimed. 

"I don't think she's had any great Christmases to get her enthused. To her, this is really just another day." 

My mother's expression softened. "Well, I hope after this year she changes her mind and looks forward to every Christmas from now on. I know your father and I will do our best to bring some holiday cheer this morning." 

"I know you will. She'll learn to love the holiday as much as you do, I think." 

"Morning," Livvie greeted us as she dragged herself into the kitchen wearing fleece pajamas. "It smells delicious in here." 

"That's my famous cinnamon rolls. I've been making them for twenty-five years. Ever since Gareth was born. It's become our tradition." 

"Well, that's most definitely a tradition I can get behind," she laughed. "They're one of my favorite treats." 

"I hope mine live up to your expectations then." 

Livvie smiled. "I have no doubt they're going to be amazing." She gazed out the window. "Oh my gosh, it's snowing again. Or still. I don't know if I ever remember having a white Christmas before. Wow, it really is beautiful." 

The back door opened and my dad stepped through wearing his blue puffy jacket and a beanie on his head covered in the white stuff, stomping his snow boots on the door frame of the mud room. His nose was bright red. Once he'd slipped off his coat and hat and hung them on the peg on the wall, he unlaced his boots and left them sitting next to the door. He went straight for my mother and wrapped his arms around her waist, nuzzling her neck.

"Mmm, you smell good enough to eat," he whispered loud enough for Livvie and I to hear. We exchanged glances and her cheeks flushed.

"Come on guys, at least wait until we're out of the room before you start doing that," I joked with an exaggerated groan. 

My dad just laughed and spun my mom around to drop a swift kiss on her lips. A devious thought came to mind. Turn around was fair play. I grabbed Livvie's hand and pulled her to me, plastering a loud, but chaste kiss on her lips. She leaned into me and played along until finally I pulled back. Her cheeks turned bright pink, but my parents only laughed.

"Oh, honey, do you remember when we were that young and in love?" My dad asked my mom, his hand wrapped around her hip, holding her against his side. They both had smiles on their face. 

"I'm still in love with you as much now as I was then," my mom replied. 

Livvie's expression was one of adoration. Apparently all women, no matter what age, loved romance. 

My mom straightened and clapped her hands. "All right, kids, let's eat." 

"Yes, because once we're done, we're opening presents and then later on this morning, I want you guys to help me build a snowman," my dad chimed in. 

God, it had been years since he and I had built a snowman. Usually it ended up in a giant snow ball fight. I had no doubt today wouldn't be any different. Only this time, Livvie would be with me. This was going to be so much fun. 

Cinnamon rolls were handed out and we all gathered around the tree to eat. Once we finished, Livvie helped clean up the kitchen while my dad and I gathered around the tree, queuing up the Christmas music, and making everyone some hot chocolate from the Keurig in the den. The two women joined us, and I donned the Santa hat to start passing out presents. 

"This one is to Livvie from Santa," I said, handing her the medium-size box wrapped in shiny powder blue paper with silver bells etched into it. 

"Here's one to Mom from me." Another one passed.

"Dad from Mom." Pass.

"Oh, this one's mine. How exciting." Everyone smiled at my antics and Livvie shook her head. 

On and on it went. I barely paid attention to any of my gifts, although they were all great. I especially loved the new dive watch I'd received. Instead, my eyes were on the young woman sitting on the floor with a throw blanket wrapped around her. She took her time opening each gift, careful not to tear the paper on any of them. Livvie admired each one, slowly, with such an expression of awe on her face. Her fingers caressed the blue, cashmere sweater, the crystals on the much more feminine watch than what I'd received, the aquamarine birthstone necklace in white gold, and the tin full of drawing pencils with coordinating sketchpad. 

Suddenly, she cleared her throat and jumped up from the floor. "Excuse me," she muttered as she rushed out of the room. 

The three of us stared in shock at each other. My mom started to rise, but I waved her down. "Let me." I came to my feet and headed down the hall in search of Livvie. I found her in the bonus room staring out the window, her arms wrapped around her waist. Her shoulders trembled. 

"Hey, are you okay?" I asked softly. She jerked at my voice and sniffled before wiping her face with her shirt sleeve.

"I'm sorry, I'm being stupid." 

I tugged her arm, and she turned toward me. Her eyes were red, her cheeks splotchy. "I'm not sure what this is about, but whatever it is, it's not stupid. Talk to me, babe." 

"I just got a little emotional. I've never had such nice presents before." 

"Aww, come here." I pulled Livvie into my arms and just held her tight. I wasn't sure what to say to that, so I didn't say anything. Merely hugged her while she squeezed me tight. 

Finally, she pulled away. "I'm feeling better now." 

"Are you sure?" I bent a bit and stared into her eyes.

She nodded. "I promise."  

"Okay." Her hand was warm in mine as we headed back out to the living room. I gave a short nod to my folks, who smiled, and didn't ask any questions. 

Livvie and I took our places. She carefully put her items away, while I picked up all the wrapping paper and stuck it in the garbage bag. All the gift boxes were stacked and ready to be stored back in the plastic box my mom kept them in to use again next year. 

She stepped over to my parents and gave them both huge, long hugs. "Thank you so much for everything. This was an amazing Christmas that I'll never forget." 

My mom palmed both of Livvie's cheeks, her eyes never leaving hers. "You are more than welcome. I think we got the better present though. I'm so happy you're part of our son's life, and I want you to know Ryan and I love you very much." 

Tears filled both women's eyes as they hugged each other tight. Even my dad and I got a little misty-eyed. This was what I'd wanted. My parents to see how wonderful Livvie was, not just for me, but as a person. The two of them broke apart, their smiles watery. 

"Alright, everyone. Now that everything's all picked up, who's up for making that snowman?" My dad asked excitedly. We all groaned good-naturedly. "Come on. Last one out has to go gather the sticks for arms and they don't get snow cream for dessert tonight." 

"Snow cream?" Lizzie asked, her nose wrinkled in confusion. 

"Oh, you're not going to want to miss it. I'll race you upstairs, and I'll explain later." I took off running. She screeched in outrage and was hot on my heels.

"No you don't mister. I don't know what the stuff is, but if it's making you haul ass, I'm all over it. You're not going to beat me." 

The two of us dove into our rooms, Livvie giggling, while we hurried and changed clothes. All the while I couldn't stop smiling. This was the best Christmas ever.