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Jamie and Edward, from Under the Sun, spend Christmas Eve with Edward’s parents.
“Christ, get off me,” Jamie complained.
Edward scrutinized Jamie’s appearance as they stood beside the car on the snowy driveway. “You want to make a good first impression, correct?” Something just didn’t feel right. What was wrong with his otherwise gorgeous boyfriend?
Jamie sighed and batted Edward’s hand away. “It’ll be fine. We’ll all be fine.” He gave Edward a firm look. “We didn’t fly a million miles to have a terrible Christmas. It’ll be fun.”
“A million?” Jamie’s comment teased a smile at the corner of Edward’s mouth.
“Okay, maybe two million.” Jamie looked at Edward with his beautiful, green eyes, and, as always, Edward relaxed. Just a little.
“Yeah. You’re right. It’ll be fun.” Drinks with his parents on Christmas Eve, what could possibly be more fun than that? Everything would be fine. He had been on edge all damn day. This was the first time his parents were meeting Jamie, the first time Jamie was meeting them, and Edward just wanted everything to go smoothly. He glanced at Jamie. His parents would adore Jamie, because who wouldn’t? Jamie was sweet, and kind, and bloody perfect. Edward chewed on his lip as he considered what was waiting for them inside. It was easy to imagine the worst. He expected his mother would end up having one too many sherries, and being the merry flirt that she was would be draped over Jamie by the end of the evening, his father would be on fine form reeling off awkward dad jokes, and his dry and sarcastic sense of humor would go straight over the top of Jamie’s head, and then there was his brother who mostly communicated in grunts and back slapping.
“So, are we going in, or we just gonna stand out here ’til we freeze to death?” Jamie raised his eyebrows and shrugged his fur-lined coat higher onto his shoulders.
“Maybe you should have gotten your hair cut.” That had to be it. Edward ran his fingers through Jamie’s hair. Scott and Dylan were clearly bad influences with their beach bum flowing locks. He curled his finger in the back of Jamie’s hair where it had grown in dark curls over his collar.
“I thought you liked it?” Jamie closed his eyes, clearly enjoying the attention Edward was paying to his hair. He breathed in deeply and opened them again.
Edward pursed his lips and gave a short shrug. “Yeah,” he said in a low voice. “I do.” It wasn’t his opinion he was thinking about.
“Relax.” Jamie wrapped his fingers around Edward’s wrist, and gently pulled Edward’s hand down and to his mouth. With a smile, he pressed his lips to the back of Edward’s curled fingers. When Edward sighed, Jamie pressed his other hand to Edward’s cheek. “Okay?”
Jamie’s hand was cool against his skin. “Yeah. Yes,” Edward decided. He leaned forward and kissed Jamie. He checked his boyfriend out one more time, unable to resist the urge to straighten the collar of Jamie’s shirt. Taking Jamie’s hand in his, he walked up the driveway, past his parents’ car, and to the front door. Straightening up, Edward glanced at Jamie, then pressed the doorbell. The familiar tune chimed, and after a few short moments his mother answered the door.
“Eddy, darling.” She pulled him into a hug, half dragging him into the house as she laid lipstick kisses on his cheek. “God, I’ve missed you.” She hugged him tightly. “Are they not feeding you out there?” She squeezed his shoulders. “We’ll soon fix that.”
“I feed myself just fine, Mum.” He kissed her cheek when she released him. He stepped back, glad to be free from her red-sequin and scratchy hold, and looked at Jamie. “Mum, this is Jamie.”
“The soldier?” Her eyes lit up as she looked Jamie up and down.
Edward went to correct her, but Jamie stepped forward, extending his hand.
Edward’s mother took Jamie’s hand in hers. “Elizabeth, please. Come in. Come in. Let’s have a look at you. Jonathon, come out here,” she called through to Edward’s father. She looked at Jamie, and appeared instantly smitten as she combed back a loose strand of gray. “Let me take your coat.”
With a polite smile, Jamie removed his heavy coat and handed it over to her. “Thank you.”
“Thank you,” Elizabeth repeated softly. “That accent.” She held Jamie’s coat to her. “Jonathon, Edward and his young gentleman friend are here.”
Jamie glanced over at Edward. He seemed amused by it all.
“Boyfriend, Mum. Just say boyfriend.”
Elizabeth dismissed his suggestion and waved her hand at him, indicating she wanted his coat as well. “Your brother isn’t coming tonight, so it’s just the four of us.”
“What?” Edward cleared his throat. He had counted on Andrew and his fiancé Emily being there to take some of the heat off him and Jamie, to sway conversation away from the two of them as a couple, the inevitable questions regarding marriage equality, their plans for the future, and — Breathe, Edward.
From the expression on Jamie’s face, he knew exactly where Edward’s mind had headed, and as had become the standard Jamie reaction, he wrapped his hand around Edward’s, then leaned in and kissed him, interrupting Edward’s plummet into full on panic attack.
“Huh,” Edward managed. He looked at Jamie, then at his mother who wore a large smile on her face. “That’s a shame.”
She shrugged. “He’ll be here tomorrow.” She beamed. “I have to admit I’ve missed having a houseful since they moved out.” She gave an excited shake of her shoulders. “Oh, it’s been too long since I had both my boys here for Christmas.”
“Hello, son.” Edward’s father stepped into the hall. He was dressed in a comfy looking large brown cardigan over a pale blue shirt. His grey hair was sticking up in various directions. Had he just woken up?
Elizabeth made a disapproving sound. “Look at the state of you. You fell asleep in front of the fire again, didn’t you?” She shook her head and turned her attention to Jamie. “I’ve been in that kitchen for the last hour, and what does he do? Has a nap.”
“Opening packets and bunging nibbles in the oven didn’t need the both of us, Lizzy.” He raised his eyebrows, and turned to Jamie. “I do love a warm cocktail sausage roll though.” He winked, and held out his hand to Jamie.
“So do I.” Jamie shook Jonathon’s hand, then gave Edward a bemused look.
Edward simply smirked. There was plenty of time to get Jamie acquainted with his mum’s party food later.
“Right, enough standing around. Go make yourself comfortable, and Jonathon will get you a drink.” Edward’s mum shooed them through to the living room.
“What would you like?” Edward’s father asked. “We have some wine open, or beers, or soft drinks if you prefer. Who’s driving?”
Jamie raised a hand. “I volunteered. But I’ll have one of those beers.” He sat down on the sofa, and quickly studied the room.
Edward amused himself imagining Jamie’s marine training kicking in and him strategizing the best means of escape. “Wine for me,” he told his dad.
When they were alone, he joined Jamie on the sofa. “That was okay,” he said, and blew out a breath. His chest felt a little tight, and he was on the brink of stressy, but it wasn’t so bad. He leaned into Jamie when Jamie rested his hand on his knee.
“They’re fine. Stop worrying. Seriously, they seem real sweet.”
“Really?” Edward looked up at the ceiling.
“Well, they made you, and you’re damn adorable.” A wide smile spread across Jamie’s face.
Edward laughed. “Ah, see, what if I told you I was adopted?”
With a sigh, Jamie shook his head. “I’d tell you to shut up.” He wrapped his hand around the back of Edward’s neck, and pulled him into an open-mouthed kiss.
Closing his eyes, Edward enjoyed the tender moment. He briefly allowed himself to relax into the kiss, almost forgetting where he was. Not that he thought either of his parents would care about catching the two of them kissing. But just in case… Before he could fully justify to himself why he should end the kiss, Jamie beat him to it. He met Jamie’s eyes as he leaned back.
Edward nodded. “Better.”
“It’s a vol-au-vent.”
Jamie eyed the pastry case. “What’s in it?”
“Well, those ones are prawn cocktail.” Edward pointed from one plate to the next. “These are chicken, and the gray-looking ones are mushroom. They’re both in some creamy sauce or something.” Edward shrugged, then bit into a slice of quiche. He looked over his shoulder, pointing out to his mother, “There’s a lot of food here, Mum.”
“Mushroom?” Jamie studied the lumpy looking filling, then added it to the pile on his plate. He moved along the table picking up a selection of things he recognized and a few he didn’t. “What’s with the cheese and the pineapple, and the… What is it?”
Edward laughed. “A hedgehog.”
“Funny looking hedgehog.”
“It’s a classic party table centerpiece. Get a potato, wrap it in foil, stab a bunch of cocktail sticks in it.” Edward waved his fisted hand up and down to mimic stabbing said foiled potato. “Then decorate with cubes of cheese and pineapple. Or, instead, cocktail sausages. I’m thinking of suggesting it to Adam and other caterers.” He popped a chicken nugget into his mouth. After a few chews, he said, “I think I’m drunk.”
Jamie snorted a laugh. “Drinking on an empty stomach. I thought you knew better?” He took his plate and headed back to the sofa. When Edward joined him, he gently nudged his shoulder to Edward’s. “You okay?”
“Uh-huh,” Edward said around a mouth of food. He held his hand over his mouth. “And thank you.”
Edward glanced to where his parents were sat together on the opposite couch. “For being nice. For humoring them, and their quirks and questions.”
“They’re harmless.” He gave Edward a chaste kiss. Considering Edward thought his parents high-maintenance, Jamie had prepared himself for the worst. As it was, the English couple were just as easy to love as their son.
“Did I tell you Emily has been taking tap classes?” Elizabeth said. “They’re putting on a show in the New Year. Shame you’ll have gone back by then. She’s really enjoying it.”
“Tap dancing?” Edward sounded surprised.
“I used to tap dance,” Jonathon piped up. “But I had to give it up.”
“Really? Why?” Jamie asked.
Edward shook his head. “Don’t do it.”
Jamie looked at Edward confused. “Don’t, what?”
“Encourage him.” Edward pursed his lips as he looked straight at his father.
Ignoring Edward, Jonathon continued, “Yeah, I kept falling in the sink.” He sat back with a grin on his face, seemingly pleased with himself.
Edward groaned. “Nice one, Dad.”
“Falling in the sink,” Jamie repeated, then chuckled to himself.
With a smile, Edward leaned closer. “I warned you.”
At least Jamie had understood the joke. Shuffling back on the sofa cushion, he got comfy. Food had halted the many questions Edward’s parents had had for them, including how they met, about his job at Bowyer Industries, lots about Sapphire Cay, and whether he and Edward were thinking of taking things further with their relationship.
Marriage. They had never talked about it, not properly. Edward had made his opinions clear, well, his thoughts on one particular evening when they were both a little tipsy after another successful wedding at the Cay. For a guy who fifty-two weeks of the year pretty much lived, breathed, and dreamed everything ‘wedding’, Edward wasn’t all that keen on the idea himself.
“Pass the Twiglets, Jonathon.” Elizabeth’s voice interrupted Jamie’s thoughts.
Jamie looked at Edward’s parents. Did marriage make their relationship any different to what he and Edward had? Did Lucas and Dylan feel any different about one another? He glanced at Edward, his gaze shifting to Edward’s ring finger. It might be nice to have that extra something. Maybe. Just, not yet.
“Are you all right?” Edward pushed his glasses up his nose and narrowed his eyes.
“Hmm? Oh yeah. I was just thinking.”
“About anything good?”
Jamie smiled. “Always good, Eddy.”
Edward clicked his tongue in disapproval of his mother’s nickname.
“How about this one?” Jonathon said to his wife. “What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations?”
With a sigh, Elizabeth took a handful of Twiglets from the bowl he held out to her. “I don’t know, darling. What do you get?”
Jamie smirked. Edward’s parents were all right.
“Whoops.” Edward snorted as he grabbed hold of Jamie when they stepped outside.
“We could make up the spare room if you like?” Elizabeth turned to her husband. “We should have thought, but with you saying you had the hotel booked, and–”
“It’s fine,” Jamie insisted. He’d only had the one beer, unlike Edward and his bottle and a half of wine. They should have just given him the bottle and a straw. “All our things are at the hotel anyway.”
Edward gripped Jamie’s arm tightly. “It’s fine,” he repeated Jamie’s words. “We’ll be back tomorrow for a proper McAllister Christmas dinner. Show Mr American-Soldier-Boy how it’s done.” He smirked before leaning up to kiss Jamie on the cheek.
Extending his hand to Jonathon, Jamie thanked his hosts. “Thank you for a lovely evening.”
Jonathon shook his hand, then made way for his wife to wrap her arms around both Jamie’s and Edward’s necks, and pull them into a warm hug.
She kissed Jamie on the cheek. “We’ll see you tomorrow. Drive safe, and look after him.”
“I will.” Jamie gave a short wave, then helped Edward to turn around and get his bearings so they could head for the rental.
Jonathon and Elizabeth gave them a wave. “Merry Christmas,” they said together, then headed inside into the warm.
“So, you’re going to look after me?” There was an edge of seduction in Edward’s voice as they got to the car.
They stood together for a moment. Jamie smiled and reached up to adjust Edward’s glasses, which were sitting at a strange angle on his nose. “If by look after you, you mean getting you a glass of water and putting you to bed, then yes.”
Edward blew out a breath. “Fine.” He hiccupped. “Ah, bollocks.” He hiccupped again, and looked at Jamie with a pathetic expression on his face.
Grinning, Jamie took Edward’s hand in his. He laughed when Edward hiccupped for a third time.
“It’s not funny.”
“It’s a little funny.” He squeezed Edward’s hand.
Edward’s body jerked with another hiccup. Breathing in, he tried holding his breath, but failed as he started laughing instead. “Help me,” he whined.
“Come here.” Jamie dragged Edward forward and held his face, drawing the man into a passionate kiss. Having Edward close was all he wanted. Just the two of them. Forever. Licking his lips, he pulled back, smiling as he stared at Edward, who was standing with his eyes shut. “I love you,” Jamie said. He smiled when Edward opened his eyes.
“I love you, too.” Edward smiled as he realized his hiccups had gone. He wrapped his hand around Jamie’s wrist and turned over his hand to see his watch. Squinting, he read the time. “Past midnight. Does this mean I can open one of my presents when we get back to the hotel?”
Jamie shook his head. “Who says you’ve got any presents?”
“I do, because you value your life. Plus,” he said, and jabbed Jamie in the chest, “I have been a very, very, very good boy this year.” He pursed his lips in a seductive pout. “And you know it.”
“I see.” Jamie hugged Edward’s waist. “Okay. You can open one.”
“Yes.” Edward as good as fist-pumped the air.
Jamie didn’t think he’d ever seen Edward this drunk before, but he kind of liked it. “Come on. Let’s get you back.”
Edward shook his head, refusing to move. “I want you to answer a question first.”
“A question?” Jamie quirked an eyebrow. “Okay.”
“When Mum and Dad asked about, you know, the marriage stuff? What did you think?” Edward gazed at Jamie, and drew his lower lip between his teeth. “I know you said it wasn’t something you and us had thought about, but if you had to, what would you think?”
Jamie looked at Edward. Was there a right and a wrong answer? “I don’t know. I guess it would depend on what you wanted.”
“Sneaky, sneaky.” Edward rested his hand on Jamie’s chest. “You got out of that one didn’t ya?”
“So, what would you want?”
Edward smirked. “Depends on you.”
Jamie sighed. “Idiot,” he softly chided. “Come here.” He pulled Edward into another kiss. “I don’t care whether you want to get married or not. What I said that time about growing old and wrinkly and bald together, I meant it. I’m happy, if you’re happy.” He kissed Edward. “So, are you? Happy?”
Nodding, Edward cupped Jamie’s cheek with his hand. “Very happy.” They kissed again. “Now, let’s go. I want to see what that cylindrical present is.”
“What? You looked?” Jamie walked around to the driver’s side.
“Uh, you need to learn to hide things better.” Edward pulled open the car door, and went to get inside.
“I love you, Edward McAllister.”
Edward stopped and grinned. He looked at Jamie, and told him, “I know.” He met Jamie’s eyes over the roof of the car. “Happy Christmas.”
Jamie smiled, then got in the car. “Happy Christmas.”