Chasing Clouds Christmas Bonus Scene
“Merry Christmas,” I whisper to Reid, as the sun peeks its way into the bedroom of our new house on Davis Islands, not too far from Billy and Missy’s. We searched for months for the perfect house, from one end of Tampa to the other, until this one was passed to us through word of mouth. We jumped at the opportunity, walked through the open airy home and loved every bit of its character and southern charm. We placed an offer that couldn’t be refused, moved in November first, and now here we are celebrating our first Christmas in it together.
“Is that today?” Reid cracks open one eye at me and then closes it to go back to sleep.
“You know it is.” I go to nudge him, but instead he grabs my arm, rolls to his back and pulls me over him. His bare skin is warm and I snuggle into him placing my head on his shoulder so I can stare up at him. Long dark eyelashes rest on his cheeks, and his jawline is covered with morning stubble. He’s so handsome, at least once a day I feel the need to pinch myself to know I’m not dreaming.
“Hmm,” he mumbles, running his hand down the length of my back. His fingers slipping under the edge of my sleep shorts.
“No no no. No, time for that,” I wiggle away from him and he groans in complaint.
“There’s always time for that,” he turns his head toward me, smirks and opens his eyes. Eyes that are clear, happy, and content.
“Not this morning, I’m going to make you breakfast.” I slip out of the bed and pull on a short robe.
“Breakfast?” he asks, confused but intrigued at the same time. Reid is very particular about his routines, and every morning he has a large protein shake before heading off to the Tarpon’s training facility to work out. As an athlete, he’s very much my body is my temple, and he’s incredibly strict with what he puts in it.
“Yep. The holidays are about traditions and we are going to start some. I found a frittata recipe from Starving for Southern that I think you’ll love. Don’t worry, there’s no crust, and I’m filling it with lots of vegetables.”
“Mmm, that actually sounds really good,” he yawns and stretches showing off his perfectly sculpted frame.
“That’s what I thought, too.”
“But, I thought we were already starting traditions? We bought that poor Charlie Brown Christmas tree you had to have the day after Thanksgiving.”
“Hey, are you making fun of our tree?” I cross my arms over my chest. “Someone had to have it, why not us?”
“Maybe because it has giant holes, like it’s missing structural branches, and the trunk is crooked?”
“You said you liked it.” I lean against the edge of the bed and narrow my eyes at him.
He’s teasing me and can’t hold in his grin, but then pauses, and my insides tighten as his eyes drift lovingly and slowly over every feature on my face. “I do. If you like it, I like it,” his voice a little rough and I let out a sigh, dropping my arms at his sudden tenderness.
Bending down, I give Reid a quick kiss and as his hands reach for me, I jump back and laugh. “Come out in about twenty,” I say, leaving the bedroom. He doesn’t respond, but I hear the rustling of the sheets.
Walking through our home, I can’t help but smile at how quickly we settled in and made it our own. It isn’t a large house, but it’s ours and it’s perfect. It’s designed to model an old bungalow style home, yet current enough to have tall ceilings and an open floor plan. And right now, it’s decorated from top to bottom in reds, greens, and gold.
I love Christmas.
Stopping by our seven-foot Charlie Brown Christmas tree, as he calls it, I see what he’s saying, but I still think it was meant for us. I plug in the lights and then move to the stereo to turn on some Christmas music.
I’ve been up for fifteen minutes and I’m already so happy.
“Is this to be another tradition we have? Holiday music in the mornings?”
Turning, Reid is walking toward me. His hair is sticking up, his bare chest and arms are muscular but lean and smooth, and he’s thrown on red sleep pants that are hanging low on his hips. He looks delicious, like a present I want to unwrap.
“You bet. I just love Christmas music.”
“I know you do, along with those never-ending Hallmark movies.” He pulls me into him and hugs me, placing his head on top of mine.
“Hey, no knocking those movies!”
“No sleeping in?” I glance up at him and he shakes his head.
“It’s Christmas morning, does anyone ever sleep in?” he smiles and squeezes my backside.
“I guess not. Okay, breakfast time!” I pull away from him, but he locks onto my arm.
“Not yet, I have something I want to show you.”
“What do you mean?” I look up at him and frown, while his face lights up with mischief and excitement.
“Reid. We said no gifts. That this house was our gift to each other.” I dig my heels into the carpet and resist him tugging on me.
“I know, but I didn’t listen, and besides, this is kind of for me too.” He pulls harder and I follow.
Part of me feels guilty, I should have known he wouldn’t stick to our agreement. Since the day we met he’s been doing things for me, he loves it, which means he certainly wasn’t passing up this opportunity. I shake my head as he moves us to the kitchen and think next year, it’s game on.
That is until he stops us by the window that looks out over our backyard and down to the dock, which leads out into the bay.
Gasping, I push one hand against my chest and with the other point. “What is that?”
He chuckles. “What does it look like?”
“But . . . but . . . but . . .” I stutter, looking back and forth between a workshop that wasn’t there yesterday and him. “How? When?”
“Didn’t you find it odd that I had a full day of activities planned for us yesterday?” he drapes his arm over my shoulders and tucks me in next to him. My arm slips around his waist.
“No, I thought it was great. I love shopping and eating and driving around looking at Christmas lights.”
He chuckles. “I know you do, which is why it was easy to plan. The construction crew was outside waiting for us to leave yesterday morning and they finished up for the day about five minutes before we got home. I knew you wouldn’t see it in the dark.”
“They were working last night? Christmas Eve?” I look up at him.
“I might have given them a little incentive to.”
“Reid,” my lips press together and flatten.
“What,” he shrugs. “Playoff tickets are hard to come by.”
“I can’t believe you did this,” I look back out at the perfect little workshop that matches the exterior look of our home. “Thank you. Thank you so much.”
“I know you planned on working in the garage, but you needed your own space and I wanted you to have it. It’s not finished, but it will be next week. Merry Christmas, Princess.”
“I love it, Reid. More than you can even imagine.”
“More than me?”
I look up and find him grinning.
“Never,” I smile back.
I pull on him to bend down and kiss me, but instead he shakes his head, leads us to the entrance of the dining room and stops.
“Traditions, right?” his hands settle on my hips and he looks up at the mistletoe hanging over us.
“Yes, traditions,” I whisper. How one heart can be so happy and so full, I’ll never know, but mine is. Reid doesn’t even realize, he’s the greatest present in the world, and I’m the lucky girl who gets to call him mine.
Lifting up on my tiptoes, his eyes fall shut as his warm lips settle on mine and I think, we definitely need to start every Christmas morning with a kiss just like this under the mistletoe.