Saturday, October 10, 2009

Home for the Holiday by Wendy Stone

“Hi, Mom! It’s Kenna.”
“Baby!” I could hear the happiness in my mom’s voice and that tiny little voice inside berated me for not calling home more. “Is everything okay?”
“It’s great, mom, I just wanted to call and let you know that I got some time off around Christmas and I thought I’d come home. That is, if that’s okay?”
“Okay? Okay? That’s wonderful. Your dad will be so happy. He’s been wanting a big family Christmas with all the kids and grandkids. Now that you’re coming, it’ll be perfect. Oh, I can’t wait to tell him.”
“Wait, Mom, what do you mean all the kids and grandkids? Do you mean Bekka and Steven will be there?”
“Oh, honey. It was such a long time ago, can’t you forgive them?”
Yeah, sure, Mom,” I thought, my brain whirling around the fact that my two-timing ex-fiancé and my sneaky bitch of a sister were going to be at Mom and Dad’s for Christmas.
“Honey?”
“Yeah, Mom,” I said, offhandedly. “Sure.”
“Bring your new beaux home with you, baby. We’re all anxious to meet him.”
“Yeah, Mom,” I said, distracted. I was having problems getting the last time I’d seen Bekka and Steven out of my mind. It was at my wedding, when she’d come and broke it up to tell Steven that she was pregnant with his child. Two-faced blonde bitch.
I finished the conversation with my mom in somewhat of a daze, sitting back in my chair in my small, one bedroom apartment. I worked for the State Police Post in Lapeer, Michigan. I was a 911 operator and a good one, or at least my last evaluation had said as much. One of the officers I was in charge of keeping track of was Steven. I’d managed to pull his ass out of some minor trouble and he’d come in and thanked me. We’d gone out once and then we’d been damn near inseparable.
That was, until I made the mistake of taking him home to meet the rest of my family. He’d taken one look at Bekka with her thick blonde hair and baby blue eyes and had barely been able to speak. I should have known then that he wasn’t right for me. If I hadn’t been so stubborn, maybe...
The maybe flew from my head at the knock on the door to my apartment. “Who is it?” I yelled through the door, even though I was pretty sure I knew.
“Delivery!”
I knew that voice. I heard it almost every day at work, in the cubicle behind mine. “Get in here,” I said, opening the door and dragging Nicky in. “What are you delivering?” I asked, lust in my voice. It could have been for the food in his hands or for the hands holding the food. Both were lust-worthy.

Nicholas Evans, six feet two inches of pure male. He preyed on my mind and my libido on a regular basis. But try to get him to realize that. I sighed, wishing that I could be more like my pretty sister, with her confidence and her fashion sense. Instead, I got the Irish in the family. Red hair that held a lot of curl no matter how many times I tried to straighten it. Green eyes that always sparkled with a hint of deviltry, even after Steven. A smattering of freckles graced my nose. They were my cute factor and a place every single man I’d ever dated had felt the need to kiss.

I was curvy instead of lithe and lean, holding onto about ten extra pounds that no amount of sit ups or running at the track would dispel. Where Bekka was model height and weight, I was the shortest in the family. Even Mara was taller than I and she was the youngest in the family, still in school.

“What’s wrong?” Nick asked, holding the food above his head, where he knew I couldn’t reach it. “Tell me and I’d be tempted to share.”

“You tell me what you got and I’ll see if I want to share,” I teased.

“Meatball sub,” he said, bringing the bag down to nose height and rolling open the flap. “Your favorite, with lots of marinara sauce.”

“Ah hell, Nicky. I can’t. I’m on a diet.”

“Since when?” he said, and I could see his eyes lingering on my full figure.

“Since I heard that Bekka and Steven are going to be at Mom’s for Christmas.”

Nick dropped the bag on the counter. He knew the entire story. He’d been at the wedding when Bekka had dropped her bomb and then scuttled away with the groom, leaving the abandoned bride to deal with the fallout. “Hell,” he said, digging a hand through the thick black hair on his head. “I’m sorry, Kennie. Is there anything I can do?”

“Well,” I said, half-joking. “Now that you mention it, you could go with me and pretend to be my boyfriend.”

I stared out the window, waiting for his decision. I could feel his gaze roaming over me and I wanted to punch him. Just the thought of him looking at me like that sent my pulse racing and my heart thundering in my chest. It beat so hard I could barely hear anything over the sound.

“Pretend?” he asked softly, coming up behind me.

“Yeah,” I answered, shivering as his hands settled against my stomach. I sucked it in, trying to hide the small bump.

“Would I have to kiss you?” he asked near my ear, his nose nuzzling my hair aside.

“I-If you wanted to. They might expect it.” His lips were warm against my throat, wrenching a moan from my lips.

“Would I have to touch you?” he asked, his hands moving over my stomach and up my arms, drawing me back until I could feel every hard inch of him from his shoulder to his thighs.

“N-Nicky.” I gasped as he pressed his erection into me. “W-What are you doing?”

He turned me in his arms, pressing me back against the counter, his fingers under my chin to hold my lips up. “Practicing, so your family doesn’t think we’re playing them,” he whispered, his lips finding mine with a softness that made me want to claw my way through his clothes to reach the hard body under them. He twisted my mouth open, pushing his tongue in to play with mine.

I returned his kiss. I couldn’t help but return it. I heard him groan, pressing his big body harder against mine, holding me close. I wanted more, much, much more than what he was giving me. I stretched, standing on tip toe to put my arms around his neck, drawing my leg up the back of his until it was hooked around him. How far it would have gone, I don’t know. My damn beeper went off, a dull buzz that made me push him away. We were forced to wear them and answer immediately, a burden of the job.

My lips felt swollen, my eyes heavy. I stared at him, panting. “What the hell was that for, Nicky?”

Instead of answering me, he plucked my pager off my waistband and handed it to me. “You might want to get this,” he growled before turning away and pushing his hand through his hair again.

I checked the number on the pager and groaned. Mom must have been on the phone the second I’d hung up for them to call me so quickly. I picked up the phone and punched in the familiar number, my heart jumping when I heard his voice answer.

“Kenna?” Steven said softly, almost as if he were hiding the call from his wife.

“Yeah, what do you want, Steven?” My attention was focused on the call but I couldn’t keep my eyes off of Nicky as he made his way around my kitchen, gathering plates and a couple of beers, napkins out of the cupboard. He sat down at my scarred second-hand table, cutting the sub in half and putting it on the two plates. Then he twisted open both bottles of beer, rising and bringing me mine. I took a long pull off it, wiping my lips with the back of my hand.

“Bekka’s in her last month of the pregnancy, Kenna. Any stress could harm her or the baby. I was just going to ask if I could get you to stay away from your folks this Christmas. For your sister’s sake,” he added.

Fucking snively little weasel, why had I ever loved him? “Maybe you two should stay away, Steven. Mom sent me the invitation herself and I’m going. I’m sorry if that might make you uncomfortable, but maybe you should have thought about family Christmases when you were fucking my sister!” I hung up, taking another long drink of the beer and feeling it rush right to my head. “Fucking snively little weasel!”

“Well, don’t hold back,” Nicky said. “Tell me how you really feel about the douche bag.”

“He is a douche bag, isn’t he? A used-up douche bag owned by an ancient hooker with syphilis.”

“Gross, Kenna. Really, really gross.” Nicky waved his hand into the chair across from him and I couldn’t help but notice that he’d given me an extra meatball.

“You know, this is going to go right to my ass, Nick.”

“You’ve got a sexy ass, Kenna. Nice and soft, just right for grabbing and...”

“Shut up,” I said, self-defensively. I couldn’t sit there after talking to my ex-fiancé on the phone and listen to what Nick had to say about my ass. I just couldn’t. I picked up the sandwich, taking a bite and letting the soothing taste of marinara and bread, cheese, and onions—not to mention the meatballs—sooth my ruffled feathers.

“So about the boyfriend gig?” Nick said around a bite. “How long would you need me?”

I almost said “life” but I could just see him racing out of my door, never to be seen again. “How long could you do it?”

I could almost see the wheels in his brain spinning. “Well, I was just thinking it might be a returnable favor. My folks want me to come home for the holidays, too. We could go to your parents’ for Christmas and then mine for the New Year’s. That way neither set of parents would have a real long time to troll for information and we can make them all happy. What do you think?”

“You want to spend an entire week with me?” I asked him, shocked.

“I do that now,” he said with a laugh. “Between work and the shit we do together after work, we almost live together.”

Oh, how I wished! The thought of getting into bed beside him, of having him there every night was an aphrodisiac, and I could feel my panties getting damp.

“Besides, it’s not like they’d ever catch on that we’re duping them, Kenna. We could just say things went south a few weeks after Christmas and no one would be the wiser, right?”

“Right,” I said slowly. I picked up my beer, clinking it to his. “Here’s to making the parents happy on the holidays.”

“To making them happy and keeping them off our cases,” he added.