Christmas Eve Out-take from The Remembrance Trilogy
If you haven't read The Remembrance Trilogy, it would be my advice
to read it before reading this post. There are major spoilers!
Out-take (furture scene) from The Remembrance Trilogy,
Copyright 2014, Kahlen Aymes, All Rights Reserved.
It was late, and Julia would be sleeping on the couch, waiting for me, because of my God-forsaken schedule, yet again. Aaron and Jenna had helped Jules string lights around the room and windows, even down the sides of the house. It’s older architecture made it look like a gingerbread house and the light snow from last night’s storm dusted them like glittering frosting. I sighed in regret that it hadn’t been me to help her. My breath came out in a wintery cloud as I walked from the driveway to the back door and shoved the key in the lock.
The house was dark, except for the LED lights covering the Christmas tree and reflecting off of the glittering ornaments. There were garlands of greenery with sparkling red and gold balls and white lights on the fireplace mantel and arrangements of candles among it and the three stockings hanging beneath it. Aidan’s was positioned front and center between the two with Mommy and Daddy embroidered across fluffy white cuffs. Aidan was too young to really know yet, but we’d decorated the house to the nines; his little eyes got wide and fascinated by the tree every time we brought him into the room. He had my eyes and they were dark blue.
I smiled and my heart swelled with love when I saw Julia lying with Aidan cuddled in her arms. They were both underneath a ruby red cashmere throw that had been a favorite of mine when I was young. My mother brought it out only at Christmas because it belonged to my grandmother, and now she’d sent it to us to continue the tradition. Aidan was lying on his stomach, nestled to Julia’s chest and she had the cashmere all tucked in around him. His little cheeks were working as he suckled in his dreams. I smiled through my exhaustion. He was so perfect and the absolute joy of our existence.
I tried to be quiet as I passed through the living room to the front entry to kick off my shoes and slid out of my coat, not wanting to wake them but at the same time hoping I’d get to talk to Julia and hold my son. I shoved everything unceremoniously into the coat closet and shut the door with a soft click. In no time, I was sitting on the floor in front of my wife and son, listening to Julia breathe and Aidan suckle; one hand settled on Aidan’s back and the other curled around the top of Julia’s pillow so I could softly stroke her hair. I loved these two more than anything in the world.
Julia stirred and her eyes fluttered open, a slow, soft smile spreading across her perfect mouth. “Mmmm… ” Her right hand lifted from around the baby and reached for my cheek. “Hi, scruffy boy.”
I huffed in amusement, smiling. I sat up on my knees, my arms wrapping around them both in a hug and, at the same time, placed a soft kiss at her temple. I made sure not to squash my son, but damn if I didn’t want to crush them both to me. Julia’s hand slid from my cheek around and into the hair at the back of my head. I turned my face into the curve between her neck and shoulder. “I love you.”
I squeezed harder one last time and then pulled back so I could look into her green eyes, so full of love. “I love you, too,” she replied in her sleepy voice. “I missed you today.”
I was still astonished at my life. With my rough schedule and limited time with my family, it was still so perfect. I took her mouth in a soft, open mouth kiss that soon became deeper as her hand behind my head pulled me closer and I could feel her body quicken. Our tongues mated in a slow and deep tangling, that made my chest and body tighten. I wanted more, but Aidan grunted between us and I loosened my hold, one of my hands moving to his soft downy head. Julia and I laughed softly as he settled back against his mother’s breast in satisfaction, his long lashes resting in dark crescents on his round face. I bent to kiss his forehead.
“Your son is protesting. How was your day?” Her fingers continued to caress the back of my head and play in my hair. I loved how she touched me; the love between us was tangible. My hand cupped her cheek as I stared into her eyes. After all this time, when we were in the same room together, I had to be touching her.
“Okay.” I shrugged. I hated telling her about the things I dealt with on a daily basis. Some days, like today, were filled with sadness and death. I’d had a heart attack victim I couldn’t save and a car accident where both parents and a child had died, leaving one behind. I had to excuse myself and rush to another more deserted part of the hospital before I completely lost it. I’d broken down and cried like a baby, but the situation made me all the more aware of how precious life was; of how precious this woman and this child were. As if I needed more reminders. “Better now.”
“Are you hungry? I saved you some dinner.”
The house smelled amazing and my stomach grumbled. I smiled softly. Julia’s unending effort to take care of me was always such a comfort. “Yes. Starving.” I didn’t want to stop touching her, but I placed another brief kiss on her open mouth and began to stand and at the same time reaching for my baby son. In the three and a half months since his birth, he’d grown by leaps and bounds. I took him from his mother’s arms, careful not to wake him as I turned him over and cradled him close. I loved the baby smell and I inhaled deeply as I pressed my lips to his little head, completely covered in dark hair. His mother attempted to comb it into order, but it was fine and often stood straight out from his little head after he’d been asleep. He was so precious. Julia pushed away the blanket and began to stand up, laughing at my indulgence.
“I’ll get it ready. Do you want to put him to bed?”
I raised him up in my arms and pressed my cheek to his forehead, grinning at my wife. “Not really, but I know I should.”
These small moments when just the three of us were together, or when I was alone with either one of them, were the most precious. Just the peace and warmth; the love I felt in their presence was, at times, overwhelming.
I’d made a decision, earlier in the day, and I wanted to speak to her about our Christmas plans. Regret overwhelmed me. It was Aidan’s first Christmas and I was almost certain I’d be working all of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Both sets of parents wanted to see the baby, of course, and mine had invited all of us to Chicago. It would be impossible for me to go, but it seemed needless to ruin every one else’s holiday.
I walked toward her and leaned in to kiss her again. My lips moved with hers and I sucked slightly as I pulled away and Julia’s hand came up to my face. Her green eyes danced up at me, the unspoken words between us clear. I could see in her eyes, she knew something was depressing me and that I needed her. We’d be wrapped around each other as soon as I’d eaten and showered.
“Say goodnight to Mommy, Aidan.” Her hand moved to the top of his head and she kissed the cheek of our sleeping son.
“Night, baby,” she murmured and I headed up the stairs to his nursery.
The low lights cast a dim glow so I could see what I was doing as I laid him down on his back, careful not to wake him. He was already swaddled, but because he’d been against the warmth of his mother and sleeping comfortably, I decided he needed another blanket. He was so beautiful, I could have stared at him for hours. I couldn’t help reaching out to touch him, brushing my hand along the top of his head and then my index finger along his downy soft cheek. He was so perfect and I could see both Julia and myself in his little face… so similar to the portrait she had done of him before he was born. My heart felt like it would burst every time I looked at him. Aidan was the best part of us: the culmination of all of the love and all we’d been through; all the waiting, all of the years, all of the pain and yes, all of the complete and utter joy. I’d drag myself to hell and more, just to stay right in this place with the two of them.
I turned on the baby monitor and switched off the lamp before making my way into the master bedroom to take a quick shower. I knew Julia would be puttering around and have a plate ready for me, so I hurried through it and quickly stumbled into some old grey sweats and a Harvard t-shirt I’d grabbed off the top of the clean laundry still waiting to be put away in the basket by the dresser. I hadn’t dried my hair well and already the water was running down my neck to soak into the collar of my shirt. I went back and grabbed a towel and quickly scrubbed at it as I made my way downstairs.
I left the towel around my neck and walked leisurely down the stairs and into the kitchen. The baby monitor receiver was sitting on the counter next to my wife as she pulled a plate of food out of the microwave. She was dressed, as I was, in old sweats topped off by one of those sexy, fitted t-shirts the hugged every curve.
“What’s for dinner?” I asked, sliding my hands forward across her hips, then wrapping my arms around her to pull her back against me. I bent and nuzzled the side of her neck and she arched it to give me access. I ran my nose up to just below her ear, inhaling the soft scent of her perfume. I couldn’t help it, I placed a hot, open mouth kiss along the skin and she sighed. My dick twitched and began to engorge.
“Mmm… Lasagna.” She pushed her ass into my groin playfully, laughing softly. “Come on, babe.” She turned in my arms and pushed against my shoulders, knocking the towel to the floor. “I’ll take care of that in a bit, but first–you need to eat.”
I stared down into Julia’s beautiful face as she gazed up at me, her hand sliding up to my chest and around the back of my head, fingers curling roughly in my hair. Her lids dropped and her mouth fell open. I knew that look, and I could feel the urgency in her grip on my head. She wanted me, and suddenly eating seemed less important than touching her. “Do I?” I whispered against her temple and pulled her against me, so she could feel my hardness against her. One of my hands slid up and into her hair at the side of her head just before my mouth crashed into hers, my tongue plundered her warmth and sweetness I was most hungry for, tangling with hers.
Her left arm slid around my shoulders and she stood on tiptoes to that she could kiss me back with equal fervor, so I lifted her against me and off of the floor. In seconds her legs were around my waist and our arms were holding each other tight. The kisses were still hungry, the touches urgent; the need always out of bounds.
I walked forward, my intention to set her on the counter, but the second I got close enough Julia pulled her mouth from mine. “Baby,” she panted against my mouth, as I tried to coax hers back into more kisses. “I don’t need an ass full of lasagna.”
I laughed softly and pulled back just enough to lean my forehead on hers, but moved away from the counter and sighed heavily. “I can think of worse things.”
Julia placed another soft kiss on my mouth and smiled up at me, her green eyes were soft and full of love. Her fingers kneaded the tight muscles where my shoulder and neck came together. “Come on, eat, and then we can play.” She was beautiful and adorable at the same time.
“Okay.” I hugged her tight, before letting her legs slide down mine. Her hand brushed along my jaw. Shit! In my haste to get back downstairs, I’d forgotten to shave after my shower. “I want to talk to you about something, anyway.”
Her brow furrowed as he brought my plate to the table and I sat down.
“What is it?” Julia set an open beer next to my plate full of steaming pasta, then brought out a salad, dressing and fresh garlic bread before handing me a fork.
I took a long pull on the beer and she took the chair to my left.
I loaded my fork. “Most likely I have to work both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and I don’t think it’s fair to you and the baby to be stuck in Boston all alone.” She shook her head, her face telling me that she didn’t like where the conversation was going.
“I spoke to my dad earlier and they still want you to come to Chicago. Of course, they don’t want to miss Christmas with the Aidan.”
“Ryan! You’re his daddy. It’s you who shouldn’t miss this time with him! Even if it’s only a few hours.”
I took a bite and the cheesy tomato flavor filled my mouth. It was delicious as always.
I had to be honest, it did make me sad at the possibility of being away from Aidan and Julia for Christmas, but I hated the idea of them being without the family and Julia deserved to experience his first Christmas with everyone doting on them both. My heart ached to say it, but I forced the words out. “He’s so little, babe. Next year will matter more to him.”
“I can’t leave you here alone on Christmas,” she said adamantly, sitting back in her chair and folding her arms in protest. “Besides, we can’t really afford it. We’re going to make that extra house payment. Right?”
That had been our original plan; to skip a lot of presents for each other and pay down on the house. Julia only worked part-time and my salary wasn’t what I would make when I was finished with my residency, and material gifts didn’t mean that much between the two of us. Other than the bracelet and her wedding ring, Julia didn’t place much value on such things, even though I longed to lavish her with more.
I reached out and pulled one of her reluctant hands into mine. I could tell by the way she resisted, she was upset by the mere suggestion.
“Honey, it will be okay.” I shrugged slightly. “It’s only money. So, we don’t make the extra payment; it’s not the end of the world and I’d feel better if you’d go. I’d be an asshole to leave you sitting here, when you could be with people who love you. Paul and Marin have been invited, too, and Dad said they’ve agreed to make the trip if you’ll be there with Aidan. It’s the best solution for everyone.”
I pulled her hand toward me and placed a gentle kiss on her wrist, my eyes imploring her.
“What about you being with people who love you?” The little crinkle appeared above her nose. “You can’t help that you have to work.”
“Neither can you. Why should we both suffer?”
She swallowed and her eyes glassed over before she looked away for a beat before they shot back to meet mine again. “Last year was so miserable. I don’t want to be away from you this year.”
“I don’t want to be away from you, either, but we won’t be together, anyway. Not like we both want. We can celebrate a few days afterward, when I’m off the Monday and Tuesday following. We’ll just pretend that it’s really Christmas, then. You remember how whole hog my mother goes at Christmas. Come on, sweets. I want you to go.” I leaned back and took another bite. “I’ll feel better working, knowing you’re not home alone.”
“I’m not alone,” Julia huffed indignantly. “I’ll be with our son. And maybe Aaron and Jenna.”
“Aaron has to work, too, I checked. We both think you and Jen should go to Chicago. We’ve already booked your flights.”
“I’m glad you and your brother have it all planned out for us, but I hope the tickets are refundable.” She was angry and it showed in the way she pushed away from the table and started to clean up the kitchen, leaving me there to finish eating. My heart thrummed, despite Julia’s attitude, and I bowed my head so she wouldn’t see me smirking. How could I fault her for being pissed that I wanted to send her and Aidan a thousand miles away from me? I was one lucky bastard.
I took another swig of my beer. I wasn’t stupid and so yes, I did take the insurance. I knew my wife well enough to realize I needed her buy-in before making definitive plans.
“Aaron and I were only trying to do something nice. You can bring back some of that god-awful fruit cake, my great-aunt Mable sends.” I tried to tease her, reminded of the first time I told her about how awful it was, that first Christmas after we met when I flew her to Chicago from California. I glanced over my shoulder to see her stiff back and furious way she was loading the dishwasher and putting the leftovers away. I needn’t have bothered, though, because she slammed the refrigerator door hard enough for all of the glass bottles in the door to clang together. Clearly, my attempt to lighten the mood wasn’t working. “Look, if you don’t want to go, don’t go. I just wanted you to be somewhere nice and where you could really enjoy the holiday. And, our folks will be disappointed if they can’t see the baby.”
She stopped and turned around, her face softer now. “I know, you were only thinking of me and everyone else. As usual.”
I pushed my plate away and got up to walk into the kitchen. She swallowed as I slowly approached her, her eyes glistening. There definitely were worse things than having a beautiful woman crying over the prospect of leaving me. Especially a woman I loved more than anything else in the world. My heart tightened and I sighed deeply, looking down into her sad expression. She turned her face away as one tear tumbled down her face and I reached for her shoulders to pull her toward me, sliding my hands down her back and toward her ass so I could squeeze it playfully. Her forehead fell to my chest but her arms didn’t come around me like I wanted them to. I rested my chin on the top of her head and rubbed both of her arms.
“I’m sorry,” she said softly, barely keeping the crack out of her voice.
“Hey. Look at me.”
“No,” Julia mumbled but her hands moved up to fist in the front of my shirt.
“Julia, look at me,” I persisted and finally she lifted her liquid green eyes to mine. I cupped her face and wiped at the tear tracks with both thumbs, bending to kiss her mouth at the same time. “Think of it as my Christmas present. From you.”
“Uh…,” she huffed and closed her eyes. “I don’t want another sucky Christmas.”
“It won’t be.” I bent my head and sucked lightly on the sensitive skin of her neck, then softly drew circles on it with my tongue. I knew it was a particularly erotic gesture, one the usually sent her into trembles, which was my goal at the moment. I’d worry about convincing her to go to Chicago another day, after I’d enlisted the help of Jenna, and both of our mothers. “Let’s stop whining about time we don’t have together and take advantage of now, okay?” I whispered against her flesh and dragging my mouth up over her jaw to take hers in a passionately punishing kiss.
When I lifted my head, Julia spoke. “But—” I pressed my lips to hers harder to shut off her words.
“Uh uh,” I mumbled against her mouth. “No more tears. No more worries. Only love.”
I kissed her again deeply, and when I was sure her objections would not return, I hauled her into my arms, intent on taking her straight to our bed. My arms were holding her weight under her butt and she was wrapped around me, her arms and legs tightly caged me in. Julia’s mouth opened hotly against the skin of my neck, nibbling and sucking seductively as I turned to walk from the kitchen.
“Monitor,” she murmured softly, still kissing my neck and jaw. Her voice was low and sultry and my cock instantly sprang to life. I quickly returned to the kitchen, carrying her and she picked up the monitor without missing a kiss. I made it to the carpeted staircase, but my eyes were closed and I wanted to lose myself. Julia was grasping at my hair with her free hand and I pulled her pelvis closer at the same time as I deepened the kiss. She was hot. So hot, I could feel her heat burning against my groin. Between that, her mouth and tongue making love to mine, I was distracted and my foot slipped on the stairs, causing me to fall forward slam with Julia into the stairs with a thud. The baby monitor fell from her hand and toppled down to the foot of the stairs, and our mouths ripped apart.
My eyes shot up to Julia’s, both of us panting. I wasn’t sure if my lack of breath was due to anticipation or the fall we’d both just taken, but I didn’t care. Julia arched her pelvis into mine; both of her hands sliding down my back over my ass to pull me tighter against her. I couldn’t help it, my hips ground into hers and I groaned, my breath leaving in another huff.
“God, Julia. Mmmm… Are you okay?”
Her eyes opened slowly, but remained half-lidded, her gaze languid, and she bit her lip.
“Mmmm… Make love to me. Here. Now. I don’t want to wait,” she whispered, her mouth reaching, once again, for mine. “You feel so good, Ryan.”
We kissed, over and over, vacillating between rushed and frantic and then slow and deep, my hands explored every curve, pushing up her t-shirt and pulling down her bra to give access to the luscious curves and dusky pink nipples, and all the while my hips moving in slow rhythm against her, grinding through our clothes. I didn’t want to rush… but I couldn’t seem to help it. Julia’s hands were demanding as she pulled on my clothes to get to the flesh beneath them, yet when her fingers found my skin, they turned reverent.
I could still feel it in every touch, see it in every glance and I still wanted to give everything I had to give. I loved her… I missed her, and I wanted her with the same urgency that I experienced the first time we made love all those years ago. It still felt new; time lessened nothing. The fire between us still raged as hot as it ever did, the love still so intense, I felt like it could kill me or offer salvation, and I was still overwhelmed by the love between us. It physically hurt.
My heart felt as if it would burst inside my chest. I closed my eyes as the feelings of pleasure and pain engulfed me simultaneously. It still left me breathless and hungry.
“Oh, God… ” I ground out, pushing her sweats down her hips, my fingers slipping inside her panties. Her breath hitched and then rushed out.
I kissed her hard, hungrily plundering the warm recesses of her mouth with my tongue and she sucked it in deeper. It was beyond hot and I grew harder and bigger. Julia’s heels dug into the calves of my legs as her pelvis rocked up and toward mine, her hands working to get my sweats down enough to free my erection. Her fingers were warm as they closed around it, hard, and she began to work me up and down, her thumb circling the engorged head. It felt amazing and Julia made me desperate to bury myself inside her. Maybe I’d be able to slow down once that happened, but not now.
I ripped my mouth from hers. “Jesus,” I panted against her collarbone, my chest heaving against hers. It was impossible to get her free enough of her pants to enter her, so I wrapped on arm around her waist and hoisted her up with me and used my free hand to push the material down her thighs enough to lift one foot and finish the job.
I didn’t take the time to shed my own. She was still squeezing and pulling, and it wouldn’t be long until I lost complete control. I lifted her against me and made it the three steps, then turned and sat on the top step and in one motion bringing Julia to straddle my lap, her knees resting against the stair I was sitting on. She didn’t wait, and positioned my cock at her entrance. She was hot and slick and I couldn’t wait another second. An arm circled her hips and pulled her pelvis flush with mine, sheathing me completely. Her flesh burned mine as I filled her and finally I felt like I could breathe.
“Oh, baby. Yes.”
Julia’s elbows were resting on my shoulders, both hands holding my head and fisting in my hair. “Uhhh…” her breath left in a rush, as our hips moved in slow, deep thrusts. “Oh my God. You feel so good,” she breathed, resting her forehead on mine. Our eyes locked as our bodies merged. The position allowed for deeper penetration and I loved how I could bring us so close together and still see the love and desire on her face.
It overwhelmed us both. Julia bit her lip and her head fell back, one tear squeezing from her left eye, she arched her neck as her head fell to one side. My tongue traced the salt trail up her cheek, my intent to find her mouth with mine. I knew the reason behind her tears and I just had to say it out loud.
“I still love you so fucking much,” I whispered against her lips. “So—fucking much!”
I ended the call just as Ryan came down the stairs, carrying little Aidan and hoping he didn’t overhear my conversation with his mother. I loved how Ryan doted on our son and I loved watching the two of them interact. I knew he’d be amazing, and he only exceeded my expectations. I smiled to myself as I shoved my phone into my purse. As usual. Those two were my whole world. I didn’t think loving Ryan more was possible, but seeing how much he adored Aidan; my heart exploded. And, my little man… he was his daddy all over again.
My bags sat next to the door, waiting. Ryan was dressed in his scrubs, ready to leave for another 12 or 13-hour day. It was Christmas Eve and though I’d lost the argument about taking Aidan to Chicago, I’d managed to stall leaving until today.
I sighed heavily. I could see his underlying sadness at the prospect of missing Christmas with Aidan and myself. Even though he was putting on a pretty good act, and the whole thing was his idea, I knew he wasn’t at all happy about it. Despite his act, I knew him better than I knew myself and I could clearly see his conflict.
Aidan was squirming slightly in his father’s arms, and I stood on tiptoe to kiss Ryan even as my hands reached for the baby. Ryan’s mouth sucked on mine just enough for me to want to prolong the kiss. I sighed against his mouth when a cry broke from the baby.
“Yes. I was dead last night. Did he wake up at all?”
“Just once around three.”
“Sorry, baby. Something smells good. Muffins?” Ryan smiled happily when I nodded, and walked around me to go further into the kitchen to lift the towel over the bowl of them on the counter.
I planted a kiss on the top of Aidan’s head once he was fully ensconced in my arms, and he promptly stopped fussing when I laid him back in my arms and popped the bottle into his mouth. His little fist rested securely against my hand that held the bottle and he started suckling with gusto. He was growing well, and was already close to fifteen pounds, chubby as a cherub and adorable. I smiled into his little face, and was captivated, his blue eyes looking up at me as he worked on his meal. I was sitting at the kitchen table, watching Ryan go about getting cereal, fruit and black coffee, placing two of the warm muffins on a small plate. He brought everything to the table in two trips.
“Do you want juice?”
I’d decided not to nurse because I wanted Aidan easily consoled by either one of his parents and I didn’t want to hoard all of the special times with the baby by making him solely dependent on me. Some of my favorite moments were watching Ryan with him and he valued the closeness with our baby.
I never ate while feeding the baby so he didn’t offer food, but sat a glass of orange juice in front of me before sitting down to my immediate left and shoved his spoon into his frosted flakes. I smiled.
“You need to start eating oatmeal or Total. Aidan will be hooked on those damn things, too.”
Ryan paused after taking a bite, grinning back at me. “They’re good.”
“They’re full of sugar.”
“What’s the difference if I ladle sugar onto corn flakes or eat these instead? I ate these my whole life and you never said anything about it. Breakfast of champions.” He loaded his spoon extra full and filled his mouth. “Yum!”
I tried to scowl but I had to laugh instead. I couldn’t argue with Ryan. He was hilarious and I could tell when Aidan got a little older, I’d really be in for it. I couldn’t wait.
The baby’s eyes got heavy as he suckled the body and Ryan reached over and brushed his knuckles over Aidan’s head and then the curve of my face. He’d stopped eating and was gazing at me intently, and my eyes locked with his.
“I want you to go, but I’m going to miss you.”
“Me, too. I don’t have to go.”
“No. It’s crazy for you to stay here, when you could be with the family.”
“You’re my family, babe. You know that.”
Ryan’s expression softened further and I could see the love and joy my words brought for him.
“I know. I’m sorry I have to work so damn much. It sucks. I’m afraid I’ll miss out on Aidan growing up.”
I remembered voicing that concern before we ever decided to try getting pregnant, and I wouldn’t trade Aidan for anything, but my heart felt sad that Ryan missed so much time with him. I took a load of video of the baby for him whenever he was working and sent it to his phone and I knew he loved every minute of it, but it was also bittersweet that he wasn’t actually with us. I tried the best I could to share as much as possible.
I was lucky. My job with Vogue had somehow morphed around my situation and I was grateful. It allowed me to work when Aidan was sleeping and still be a full-time mommy. I felt sad for Ryan that he couldn’t spend as much time with our son as I did.
I could feel his sadness as if it were my own. My throat tightened but I pushed the sorrow away and I smiled brightly.
“Hey, we’re going to celebrate in a couple of days. Right?”
“Yeah.” Ryan’s lips lifted in a soft smile and he resumed eating his breakfast.
“Is Jen meeting you here?”
The boys’ plan was for Jenna and I to take a cab to Logan International because the guys would both be working and they didn’t want to leave a car parked in airport parking.
“Yes, Aaron is dropping her off in a little while.”
Jenna was meeting me at our house and we would be going to the airport, but not for what Aaron and Ryan had planned for us.
Ryan couldn’t hitch a ride to the hospital with Aaron because their schedules didn’t mesh, so he left fifteen minutes later, with some long kisses, tight hugs and promises to call several times in the next three days. I went upstairs into the bedroom and set the scene, leaving the iPod and the note on Ryan’s pillow after making up the bed.
Shortly after I’d laid Aidan down for his morning nap, Jenna knocked on the back door before coming in. She was looking beautiful, her cheeks pink from the cold and her long, blonde hair streaming straight down from the red beret-styled stocking hat she wore. She grinned from ear to ear.
“Suckas!” she giggled and I joined in. “This will be a blast!”
Our little plan began to take shape. Ryan’s bombshell just two days prior had me scrambling to get it arranged in time, but he was so exhausted, he’d gone straight to bed right after our love-making session on the staircase and a quick shower. I was able to call Jenna without him knowing what I was up to and she’d readily agreed. Luckily, she was reluctant to leave Aaron behind as well and we both got to work making phone calls. That hard part was convincing both sets of parents to change their plans at the last minute, but somehow we pulled it off. Gabriel and Elyse would be flying in to Boston, instead of Jenna and I flying out. As would my parents, Paul and Marin. Gabe didn’t have any surgeries planned that week and my parents had already planned on traveling, so were able to make the change.
Jenna and I both had cancelled our airline tickets the morning before so now she sat with me making a grocery list for the evening meal. I told her what to write down as I unpacked my suitcase and stashed it away.
Despite Ryan’s logic and his argument for sending me to Chicago with Aidan, I just couldn’t bear to be away from him on Christmas. Even if he wouldn’t be home for most of it, I couldn’t have him feeling alone or sad. Everyday was precious, but Christmas was meant to be with those you loved most. And God knew who that was for me. My place was always beside Ryan. No exceptions.
“Did you have to pack a suitcase to fool Aaron, too?” I asked, grunting as I shoved the suitcase over my head and back on the shelf at the top of my closet.
“Pfft! Hell, no!” Jenna laughed. “He was passed out on the couch when I packed.” She made quote marks with two fingers on both hands. “You couldn’t get away with that, huh?” She asked, her eyebrow shooting up in amusement.
“No. I tried. Ryan was giving Aidan a bath and I thought I could, but we both ended up playing with him through the whole thing. I had no choice but to do it for real while Ryan played with Aidan in the middle of the bed. He carried the suitcase out to the entry afterward anyway, so there was no way could it be empty or he’d be wise to what I was up to.”
“I’ll babysit my nephew… you can do the hard stuff.” Jenna grinned at me. She and Aaron loved Aidan dearly and doted on him constantly. They would make excellent parents when the time came, and I felt safe leaving the baby with them the one time Ryan and I were able to have a date night since he was born.
We decided that the Christmas Eve meal would be simple. Hors de Oeuvres, fresh bread, cheese and fruit and two soups. I made clam chowder and hearty Beef and Lentil soup with a clear broth base. I’d be able to make them and put them in crockpots on the counter so everyone could help themselves. When Ryan came home to a dark apartment, and he’d think that I’d set him up for the time I’d be away.
After our shopping trip, Jenna changed Aidan’s diaper and gave him his bottle, sitting in the living room, cooing at my son while I braised the beef and made the chocolate cake for the Black Forest I’d serve for dessert. All of the boys adored it and it was difficult enough that I didn’t make it very often. I hadn’t been able to cook as many elaborate meals since the birth of my baby.
The timing was right, and when Jenna put Aidan down for his afternoon nap, it was time to go pick up Ryan’s parents at the airport. I took a quick shower while she was gone and soon after, found myself ensconced in a huge bear hug from Ryan’s father.
Elyse kissed my cheek briefly. “Where’s my grandson?” She beamed at me. “I’m dying to get my hands on him.”
“He’s napping, but he should be up soon.”
“I’ll just look in on him.” She smiled brightly and headed off down the hall.
“Elyse. Let the baby alone,” Gabriel smiled at me and shook his head when his wife ignored him and disappeared down the hall. “She’s been driving me crazy.”
“Thank you for coming, and changing plans so fast.” He was still holding both of my hands and squeezed them.
His green eyes, so like his son’s, sparkled down at me. “Our pleasure. Thank you for loving my son.”
I smiled and nodded. Nothing needed to be said in response.
“When do the boys get done tonight?” he asked.
“Aaron around six. Ryan—it’s hard to say. At least 9. Depends on how busy they are. His schedule was 8 to 8, but he never get’s home on time.”
Elyse came into the room carrying a still sleeping baby in her arms.
My eyes widened. “How did you manage that? He always wakes up when I pick him up when he’s asleep.”
“I’ve either had more practice, or I’m Grandma. I’m unsure which. He’s so beautiful! Gabe, look at his little dimples and long eyelashes.” She brought him near Gabriel, who gazed down lovingly.
“Yes, he’s perfect.”
I was glowing and went to offer them something to drink and eat. “We’re eating late, so can I get you a snack?”
Soon, Aidan was awake, so I took him so Elyse could eat the sandwich I’d made for her. I changed him and got him fed, but it wasn’t long before Gabriel had him. I laughed at how he laid him on his knees and baby talked at him. It was strange watching it, though I should have expected that Ryan’s distinguished father, would turn to goo around the baby, like we all did.
Aidan’s wide eyes watched his grandfather intently and his dimples deepened in a smile and his grandparents turned to mush. It was amazing to watch. He was getting to the age where every thing he did was so adorable and was smiling a lot and playing with toys. I set up his play gym so they could lay him down and let him bat at the dangling objects to make noise and watch the blinking lights run across the top. It was one of his favorite things and it would occupy him for a while.
I left the three of them with the car seat and promised to meet them at Jenna’s and Aarons after I picked up my parents. Jenna and I planned on all of us being over there when Aaron came home for his surprise.
“Meet you at my house, girl!” Jenna called as I pulled on my coat.
“Yep! I turned the soup down to low, so it should be fine. Jenna, if you can just stash any dishes in the dishwasher, I’d love you. I don’t want any evidence we’ve been here all day when Ryan gets home.”
“Okay. No problem.”
“Love you guys!”
Elyse and Gabriel were both on the floor with Aidan, completely mesmerized by their first grandson, and barely noticed I was leaving.
At Logan, I parked the car and made my way into the American Airlines terminal to wait for my parents. They were back together and my mother was living with my father in San Francisco, which made me very happy. Both of them were much more content. I could see it when they came walking up the ramp, my father’s hand around my mother’s shoulders. She smiled as he bent his head and spoke to her.
As soon as she saw me, she broke from the embrace to hurry toward me and hug me tight. She smelled like my mother. The same perfume that she’d worn her whole life floated around me.
“Ugh.” I grunted and laughed when my father’s sturdy frame smacked against my back and he enfolded us both in a huge embrace.”
“My two girls! I love it!”
I stepped back from them. Each one had a small bag and I took my mothers. “Thank you for doing this.”
“Aww, honey,” my mother said and hugged me again. “We should have planned this in the first place.”
“Do you have checked bags?”
They didn’t, so we made our way out of the airport and into terminal parking.
The whole way back to Aaron and Jenna’s my mother shot off question after question about the baby. My father sat in the backseat and smiled at me in the rearview mirror as I navigated from the interstate and into their neighborhood. I grinned back.
“Maybe Ryan and I will get some sleep tonight now that we’ll have help with Aidan if he wakes up.”
“Isn’t he sleeping through the night, yet? You did by the time you were two months old,” my mom replied. “But you’ll get no complaints from me.”
“He still wakes up once.”
“Maybe you need to start him on some cereal before bed. If he didn’t get hungry, he wouldn’t wake up.”
I sighed and parked the car. “Yes. Ryan suggested the same thing, but the pediatrician insists we wait until he is closer to six months.”
“Oh, for pity’s sake, Julia. Your husband is a doctor. Surely he knows what is best for his son.”
I smirked and cocked my head to one side and by the time my father and I had climbed out of the car my mother was history. “Okay, we’ll— try it.” I stumbled on the words when I realized I was speaking to myself.
I looked up and my mother was already at the door and Jenna was opening it with Aidan in her arms. “Okay, well, thanks for listening, Mom,” I mumbled.
“You can’t blame her. That baby is all she’s been talking about since he’s been born.”
The evening should have flown by, both sets of parents doting on Aidan and all of us catching up. It was fun when Aaron came home and we all hid in the bedrooms, though he was wise to it, because it wasn’t like Jenna to leave a spread of food laid out on the dining room table. But, I was anxious for my own husband to be part of the group.
“What the hell?” we heard Aaron mutter; followed closely by a loud bellow. “Jenna!”
But it was Elyse who burst out of the room and down the hall first to find the surprise on his face before he scooped her up in a big bear hug. “Mom!”
Elyse planted a kiss on her son’s cheek and Aaron smiled broadly and wagged his finger at Jenna and I who were grinning at him.
“You are sneaky asses, but I love it!”
It was wonderful to see Aaron hug his parents than mine, happiness glowing like a beacon from his face. “Ryan invited me over later, so we were just going to hang out, but this is better. Does he know?”
Aaron flung his arm around Jenna and kissed her cheek. “No. Why were you going there instead of here? He could have come over after his shift.”
Aaron’s face twisted wryly. “Really? We knew Jules would leave food, of course!”
“Speaking of Ryan, I’d better feed Aidan and then I’m going to beat him home and hide in the closet!”
“What? Are we eating friggin’ sandwiches on Christmas Eve?” Aaron blurted.
“Aaron!” his mother admonished.
“What’d I say?” Aaron looked nonplussed. “Jules is here… and we have a meat tray?”
Jenna smacked Aaron on the back of his head. “No. We’re going over there later, dickhead. All of us.” Everyone burst out laughing except Aidan who was getting cranky and fidgeting in my mother’s arms.
I took Aidan in my arms and settled down to feed him. I hadn’t had my hands on him all night and he was beginning to fuss. I was as eager to hold him as he was to get in my arms.
“Hush, baby.” I nuzzled his cheek with my nose and kissed his temple. “Mommy missed you, too. Are you ready to eat?” Aidan settled right down against my chest, content to be with me and have his bottle. It wasn’t long before he was sleeping. Elyse and my mother both sat near me, unable to take their eyes of my son for an instant.
“You’re a wonderful mother, Julia,” Elyse said lovingly. “Ryan must be very proud of both of you.”
I touched Aidan’s cheek softly with the index finger of my right hand even though I held the bottle in that hand. He was so precious. I glanced from my son to both of our mothers. “He’s so like Ryan. Did you see the little dimples?” I smiled.
“Yes, darling. He’s so beautiful. He’ll be another lady-killer, for sure, and it’s plain how much he adores you. He quiets right down when you take him.”
I was rocking Aidan in my arms as he sucked on his bottle with his tiny body plastered up against mine snuggly. I loved the feel of him against me, so content and safe.
“He’s perfect.” I looked up at both of them and knew my face had to be full of the love I felt, and my throat tightened slightly with the emotions racing through me. “They both are.”
I was tired. My legs ached slightly from standing all day, but as I pulled into our driveway my heart fell slightly. The Christmas lights were on outside because they were on a timer. It didn’t look any different than it did the night before, no outside evidence that inside, it was quiet, without my wife and child waiting for me.
I’d texted Aaron when I left Mass General so it wouldn’t be long until he’d be here, making it less lonely. We’d probably eat whatever Julia left us, drink beer and watch ESPN like it was just another night. I inhaled a deep sigh as I turned the key in the lock.
The inside of the house glowed with the tree lights that Julia had left on for me, and the house smelled wonderful, but I couldn’t place the aroma. I’d get a shower fast before Aaron arrived, knowing he’d beat a path to my door because he’d be starving by now.
I dropped my keys on the end table and left my coat on the sofa before climbing the stairs. There was a lamp on in the bedroom, which seemed odd, until I saw something lying on the center of the bed. It was a note from Julia and her iPod.
I picked them up and sat down on the edge of the bed, kicking off my shoes at the same time. The note wasn’t in an envelope, and it smelled of Julia’s perfume. I unfolded it and began to read.
Leaving you was hard. I don’t want to be away from you on Christmas Day or any day. I know you think you were doing what’s best for me, but being away from you is never best for me… or Aidan. It hurts.
Every time you touch me, my heart and body melt … as if it’s the first time. I love you, as much, if not more, than ever…
“Ughhh…” I fell back on the bed, the letter still in one hand and I ran the other through my hair, regretting that I’d shipped them off to Chicago. I closed my eyes as my chest tightened painfully as I tried to fill it with air. My lungs didn’t want to expand. “I’m an asshole!”
“Not so much.” Julia’s voice filtered softly around me and I rolled onto my side to see her emerge from our closet. She was beautiful, her long hair flowing in soft waves around her face and the soft smile on her mouth, glistening softly with lip gloss.
I sat up, dropping the paper and iPod in my hand to the floor. “What—?” I shook my head slightly, unbelieving, yet joy filled me. “I thought— Is Aidan here, too?”
“He will be soon. Kiss me.”
Her knees came to rest beside my thighs on the bed as she climbed onto my lap and our arms wound around each other. I laughed softly as her hands pushed my hair back and our lips touched gently. The kiss started with slow gentle caresses and light licking and sucking, but it grew passionate and wild, our tongues tangling roughly and each of us pouring all of our love into it. When I finally pulled my mouth from hers, we were both panting and I was rock hard, but I was still concerned for my son.
“No, seriously. Where’s the baby? Everyone will be so disappointed.”
Julia sat back on her haunches, still resting on my knees. My hands slid down to cup her bottom and I squeezed gently. Her lips curled into a bright smile. “No one’s disappointed. Are you disappointed?”
I kissed her mouth again, hard and then more softly. “You know the answer to that— I didn’t really want you to go.” I whispered reaching for another kiss.
The house was quiet and I could hear our back door open and voices coming from below as Julia pulled away and stood up, grabbing my hand and pulling me up behind her. “We have to go downstairs. Aidan is sleeping and I need to put him down, but I’m pretty sure there are others who want to see you.”
“What did you do?”
“Jenna and I decided you and Aaron weren’t shipping us out. We made our own plans and everyone is here.”
“You and Jenna—are amazing.”
“Merry Christmas,” Julia said, smiling softly. She was so sweet to me. “I love you. We all do. Everyone is here.”
As much as I wanted to rush downstairs, I had to wait a minute. “Baby, I’ve got a raging boner. I can’t go downstairs right away.”
Julia burst out laughing. “Okay. I’ll get Aidan to bed and you change, first, but hurry, I have dinner ready.”
“If your father is here, does that mean Black Forrest?”
She stopped and turned, shaking her head. “I can’t fool you, Matthews.”
“Oh, you fooled me.”
I stood and walked to her, my hand coming up to cup her face. I brushed her jaw with my thumb and starred into her dark green eyes.
“Thank you for always knowing what I need. What’s on the iPod?”
She stood on tiptoe to kiss my lips. “I found a song that made me think us us… back at Stanford, when we first met. At the time, I didn’t dare to hope for this.”
My heart swelled until it felt as if it would crack open my chest. I brushed the back of my knuckles against her petal soft cheek. It hurt to have ever caused her pain, albeit unintentionally. If only she’d know I was in love with right away. I wished we could just crawl into the middle of our bed and share the iPod like we started doing so long ago.
“I thought about getting one of those dual headphone jacks…” Her eyes shot up to mine, so luminous.
“Don’t you dare,” I whispered, shaking my head and lightly caressing her mouth with mine.
Her breath quickened and she laughed softly, kissing me back. It was all I could do to remember the others in the lower level of our house.
“I want to see them, but damn if I don’t wish we could just close the door.”
“There is time for that, later. My mom will get up with Aidan tonight. But we thought we’d try the cereal. My parents convinced me to trust my doctor-husband.”
Her lips lifted in a soft smile.
I kissed her hand before she left the room and I stood there for a minute, still stunned at the turn of events. I didn’t know why I was surprised. Whenever I tried to take care of her, she took care of me. It was just like Julia to do exactly what I needed. Each and every time.
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah! Thank you for making this year so amazing!!
I'll be posting more of how to subscribe to this blog and what is coming from me in 2015.
<3 Spread peace and love... be safe.