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This Christmas

This Christmas

by Monique Fisher

Sierra concentrates as if she’s performing surgery as opposed to squeezing a piping bag. Light purple icing flows out the nozzle. Sierra carefully designs small flowers all around the top of the four layered creation. She stands back and admires it. In her humble opinion this is the best blackberry lavender cake she’s ever made. And it’s a good thing too, Delia Jansen will arrive at the bakery bright and early tomorrow morning to pick it up and Mrs. Jansen was not the type who tolerated mistakes of any kind. Sierra boxes the gorgeous creation and puts it in the fridge. She takes off her apron and tries in vain to brush off the flour that’s…everywhere. She grimaces while putting on her coat and grabbing her purse. A long hot soak in the tub is just what the doctor ordered. This week has been insane. Of course, Sierra saw this coming, it’s Christmas eve and everyone is scrambling to get their last minute shopping done and that includes prepping for Christmas dinner. Christmas dessert almost always gets lost in the shuffle and by the time folks remember it, it’s usually too late.

That’s where she comes in. Sierra’s Delectable Desserts is the only bakery in town taking orders all the way up until today. She’s not totally crazy though she plans on taking Christmas day off. After she gives Mrs. Jansen her dessert she’s going to relax at home, have some wine, and spend the day watching slasher movies. Would she have preferred to spend the holiday with her boyfriend? Sure but Byron had other plans. And with him gone she doesn’t have anywhere to go. They were going to spend the holidays with his family before he dumped her. His mother, Jeanette insisted she still come but there was no way in hell Sierra would do that. Visiting her own family is absolutely out of the question. Her sister, Celeste invited her as a pity invite. It will be Celeste, her husband Gary and their kids Deja and Rue. She loves her sister and her family but with the other guests being married couples and their kids, Sierra knew what she would be in for and there was no way in hell she’d spend her only day off in God know how long answering questions about what happened with her and Byron. And knowing Celeste, the minute Sierra agreed to stop by she’s suddenly have a laundry list of desserts she just needs to have. No. Fucking. Way. Sierra is not baking another thing until after Christmas.

Her parents are also a huge no seeing as how they’re not even in the country. With neither Sierra or Celeste coming home for the holidays, her parents took the opportunity to book a trip to Tahiti which they greatly deserve. No worries. There are worse things than being alone at Christmas, though at the moment, Sierra can’t think of any. She looks up at the bakery clock. It’s 5:50 PM. Anybody who still needs dessert has ten minutes left to get their order in. Other bakeries loss is going to be her gain. Is it hard running a bakery by herself? Sure but her shop isn’t that big and she likes being in control. She has a particular way she wants things done and it’s easier to do them herself than to waste time training someone else.

Sierra lets out a sigh as she walks to her car. She mentally goes over her endless to-do list

Check email and phones for more orders

Do inventory

Shop for ingredients especially edible confetti, vanilla and organic eggs.

Those are the three most important things. Lots of folks are going to be putting in orders for New Year’s Eve parties. Last year her New Year’s confetti cake sold like crazy. She needs to be prepared for an onslaught of orders. Truth is, preparation for the holiday season started for her June but one can never be too careful.

Sierra’s so deep in thought that she doesn’t hear someone calling her name until he’s directly behind her. She jumps and screams. “What the fuck?”

“Sorry,” he says with his hands raised. He smiles at her and Sierra goes from terrified to angry. Crispin Thomas. Of course she’d run into him while trying to go home for the night. The one night she has to herself and it’s disrupted by a guy she hasn’t seen in twenty years.

“What do you want, Crispin?”

“No hi Crispin, how have you been?”

“What. Do. You. Want?”

“Tough as always, CeeCee.”

“Crispin!”

“Okay, Jesus. I need a huge favor. I was responsible for picking up the desserts for Christmas dinner and I totally forgot. The bakery is closed and the owner left for vacation. She won’t be back until January 2nd. Please Sierra, I need you.”

Sierra tries to ignore what hearing Sierra, I need you is doing to her nether regions. “You mean you need me to bake the desserts?”

“If it’s not too much trouble. I’ll pay you double what you normally charge for each one.” He smiles at her. Damn him, he knows good and well that fucking megawatt smile of his is impossible to turn down.

Sierra sighs as she thinks it over. She has had her eye on a new mixer and Crispin’s money would certainly help. Oh, well so much for that soak in the tub. “Fine. What am I baking?”

“Two sweet potato pies, a peach cobbler, a 7-UP cake and a red velvet cake.”

“How many layers for the red velvet cake?”

“I think the order said three.”

“And the seven up cake is a bundt?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Alright, let’s head to the store. We need to get ingredients. And you’re paying for those too.”

“Thank you, CeeCee.”

Crispin is the only person who calls Sierra CeeCee. She used to love it, now she hates it. She’s known Crispin since junior high. He was the handsome, popular, charming, athlete everyone loved. He dated almost every girl in their grade. All except Sierra of course. She was just his math tutor who he often convinced to do his homework for him. He’d flash that movie star smile that made everyone melt and try as she might, Sierra always gave in. After a year of this, she put her foot down and told him she wouldn’t do his homework anymore but that she was more than happy to help him. He agreed and his grades improved even more. Soon the two became good friends. Unfortunately, it didn’t last. Senior year right before winter break they had a falling out. Out of nowhere, Crispin asked Sierra to help him cheat on his math midterm. It was worth seventy-five percent of his grade and he wanted a guaranteed A. Sierra was hurt and lashed out at him. They got into an argument and stopped talking to each other. Crispin got his A and a new tutor. They avoided each other the rest of the year. They haven’t seen each other since his trifling ass asked her to cheat.

They enter Goodman’s Grocer and head straight to the produce section. “What are we getting from here?” Crispin asks.

Sierra looks at him like he’s insane. “Sweet potatoes and peaches.”

“You aren’t using canned sweet potatoes and peaches?”

Now she looks at him like he just slapped her. With shock and anger. “How dare you?”

“Sorry, sorry. You’re a professional and still a perfectionist, I see. I should have known you’d only used the freshest ingredients.”

“Damn straight.”

Crispin chuckles. His dizzyingly white smile sparkles hypnotizing Sierra for a few seconds. She snaps out of it and puts four sweet potatoes in her basket. She gets peaches, 7-up, vanilla, eggs, milk, flour, cocoa, cream cheese and some more items. By the time she and Crispin are in the checkout line, they have a full basket.

“What are your Christmas plans?” Crispin asks.

“I don’t have any.” Sierra shrugs.

“Seriously? Why?”

Sierra lets out an annoyed sigh. “If you must know I was supposed to spend Christmas with my boyfriend but he decided I work too much and left me.”

“Jesus. He left you the day before Christmas?”

“Nope. He left on Thanksgiving. Right after eating the meal I slaved over.”

“Asshole. I hope you didn’t let him take a plate home.”

“Hell no and he tried to.”

They both laugh. “I’m sorry that happened to you.” Crispin says.

“Me too. Not a lot of guys can handle a hard working woman.”

“That’s pathetic. You run a bakery and it’s the holidays, of course you were going to be busy.”

“Not to mention I do everything myself.”

Crispin smirks. “I’m going to preface this statement by saying I’m not taking your ex’s side…”

Sierra frowns. “…but?”

“But, you are a bit of a control freak, CeeCee. I know your bakery isn’t that big but you have enough space to hire a couple of employees and with all the money you’re making you can even pay them.” Crispin chuckles.

Sierra rolls her eyes. “Jesus you sound like Byron.”

“That’s the ex?”

“Yes. He said the same thing, though he wasn’t charming like you.”

“Thank you.”

“How did you know my bakery has been turning a profit?”

“I occasionally visit your social media.”

“I sometimes visit yours too.”

“Is that so, Ms. Dennis?”

“That is so, Mr. Thomas.”

Crispin grins. Sierra smiles back. Goddamn him. Crispin always knew what to say to make her smile. She clears her throat and quickly switches her demeanor. “Anyways, it’s not important. I enjoy working alone. I don’t like having people in my space. Besides, I have tons of orders to fulfill all the way until New Year’s Eve, not to mention the last minute orders, so I don’t have time to find help even if I wanted to. And as for my Christmas plans, don’t worry about me. With all the work I now have ahead of me, I’ll probably just sleep through the whole day.”

“Well if you decide to not go the Rip Van Winkle route-Jesus, say that five times fast…then you are more than welcome to join the Thomas family for unforgettable feast and good company.”

Sierra giggles. “Thank you. That’s sweet but unnecessary.”

“My invitation stands if you choose to use it. You know, my mom still asks about you.”

Sierra laughs and playfully rolls her eyes. “I’m not surprised by that. I love your mom but she has no chill. Her hopes that we get together have been made very clear.”

“Since we were sixteen. I remember when you first started tutoring me…” Crispin starts. He clears his throat and what was once a light and flirty conversation is now awkward silence.

“Listen, I’m sorry how things turned out between us, CeeCee.”

“Me too.”

Crispin’s about to say something more when they’re spotted by Gracie Chapel. She saunters over and Sierra rolls her eyes. Gracie catches this and tactfully announces loudly, “Hi Sierra. Your prescription strength rash cream came in. You can pick it up tomorrow.” Gracie comes closer puts her arm around Sierra and offers her a sympathetic look. “Having problems with your lady parts, sweetie?”

“What?” Sierra shouts.

Shoppers turn and looks at her, she gives them a warm yet slightly embarrassed smile. She turns and looks at Crispin who placing items on the conveyor belt. He looks at Sierra with shock and concern.

“It has nothing to do with my lady parts. I got a couple mosquito bites around my ankles and legs when I took my nieces camping.” Sierra explains.

“Why would you do that? You know Black people don’t go camping. I’m surprised Celeste let you.” Crispin jokes.

“Shut up. They had fun.” Sierra giggles. And just like that they’re back to grinning and making goo goo eyes at each other.

“Hi Crispin.” Gracie says even louder.

“Hi Gracie.” Crispin says cordially.

“I heard you were town. Mister big city, fancy lawyer has come to pay us commoners a visit?”

“Just visiting my folks for the holidays.”

“That’s nice.” She turns her attention back to Sierra. “Oh, Sierra I heard about you and Byron. Such a shame.

“Thanks.” Sierra replies with a forced smile.

Gracie twist the knife. “Looks like you have nowhere to go for Christmas. Is that right?”

“Actually Sierra is going to be joining me and my family.”

“Oh.” Gracie stutters. “That’s nice.”

Sierra shoots Crispin a look that asks, ‘what they hell are you doing?’ He smiles at her. His grin says, ‘don’t worry. I got this.’

Gracie steps closer to Crispin and pulls him by the collar of his coat. “Well, Crispin if you feel like catching up while you’re here come find me.”

“I don’t think so, Gracie. But if it’s not too much trouble, could you fetch Sierra’s rash cream now? I’d hate for her to have to go another day without it.” Crispin looks at Sierra. “Mosquito bites are mighty uncomfortable.” His voice is husky and deep. That’s something Sierra would never openly admit to, but she always liked Crispin’s voice. It’s manly and assertive while having a strange calming effect. It’s also sexy as all hell. And it was even like that when they were kids!

Gracie looks around and can see the other shoppers aka other townspeople, snickering at how Crispin blew her off. She lifts her head and acts like his diss didn’t sting. “I’m afraid that’s not possible.” She says, stiffly.

“I think we can make an exception.” Daphne Miller pipes up. She’s the grocer’s manager and another fellow alum of Franklin High. She never liked Gracie. That’s part of the reason Daphne hired her, so she could be Gracie’s boss. “Gracie please retrieve Sierra’s medication. Now.”

“Right away, boss.” Gracie says through clenched teeth. She gets Sierra’s rash cream and Crispin includes it with the other items against Sierra’s protest.

Crispin pushes the grocery basket towards the door with Sierra close behind. Out of nowhere, Crispin wraps his arm around Sierra’s waist and pulls her close to him so they’re both pushing the basket. He doesn’t move his arm as a matter of fact he gives her waist a squeeze. When a shocked Sierra looks at him, he winks at her. Sexy motherfucker.

Sierra’s apartment was a miniature IKEA. Right down to the frozen Swedish meatballs in her freezer. The bulk of what she called her decoration budget went towards buying appliances and upgrades to make her kitchen look professional and state of the art. While the rest of the apartment looks nice, the kitchen is her masterpiece. It looks like it was ripped right out of a restaurant, only a tad bit smaller. Crispin takes the items out of the grocery bags and places them on the counter. Sierra stops him. “You don’t need to do that.”

“I don’t mind.” He takes out more items and lines them up on the counter. Sierra cringes. Crispin sees this, stops what he’s doing and stares at her. “What?”

“What do you mean, what?”

“You made a face.”

“No I didn’t”

“Yes you did. You made that same face when I guessed a wrong answer during tutoring.”

“Okay, I have a particular way I set out my ingredients.”

“Are you serious?” He smirks. “You’re literally critiquing how I arrange stuff on your counter?”

“Like I said I like things done a certain way. You don’t need to do that.” Crispin’s grin grows wider as he backs away from the counter. “As a matter of fact you don’t need to stay I got this.” Sierra says. There’s a bite in her tone. She busies herself rearranging the ingredients on the counter. She goes to the sink and washes off the sweet potatoes one by one.

Crispin’s smile fades. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing I told you, I like things done…”

“I’m not talking about the stuff on the counter. You sound annoyed.”

“What’s with you? First I made a face and now I sound annoyed.”

“Yes, Sierra. You seemed to have forgotten but from 2000 to 2002, you and I were pretty close. I can tell when you’re pissed.”

“Fine. You didn’t need to put your arm around me or tell Gracie that I was spending Christmas with you. I’m not some charity case, Crispin.” She snaps.

“I wasn’t trying to make you feel like one. Honestly, I was trying to make Gracie go away.” Crispin says. His tone is defensive.

“Okay.” Sierra’s voice is softer. “Thanks, I guess. You can go now. The desserts will be ready by tomorrow morning. You can pick them up from the bakery then.”

Crispin doesn’t move an inch. “We need to clear the air.”

“About what?” Sierra asks. She refuses to give Crispin eye contact, instead she checks on the sweet potatoes which she now has boiling on the stove.

“You know about what.”

“Crispin, that was twenty years ago. We don’t need to rehash it.”

“I think we do.” Sierra braces herself for a conversation she’s nowhere near ready to have. “I’m sorry for the part I played in destroying our friendship. I said some hurtful things and…”

Sierra looks at Crispin with a mix of anger and confusion. “Hurtful. What you said was downright cruel. You told me I was an uptight, know-it-all who had no friends and would probably end up with no man and twenty cats.”

“Well you told me I was a typical dumb jock with shit for brains who would end up with multiple STD’s.”

“I was angry.” Sierra snaps. She lets out a deep breath and calms herself. “You were so willing to throw away everything we worked so hard for. I foolishly did your homework because I wanted you to like me until I realized I wasn’t helping you. What happened when I stopped? You started doing the work yourself and you ended up on the honor roll. Remember?”

“Yeah, my mom took us out for pizza. I think that’s when she started plotting our relationship.” He lets out a nervous chuckle. Sierra has tears in her eyes. Crispin approaches her and takes her hands in his. “CeeCee?”

“You said we were ‘pretty close.’” Sierra shakes her head. “Crispin you were my best friend. You asking me to help you cheat was like you saying that all the time we spent together was pointless and meant nothing to you. It felt like you were rejecting me.”

Crispin pulls Sierra in for a hug. He holds her close. She takes in his cologne. He smells enticing and woodsy. “How could you say that? I cherished every moment we spent together. You were the only person I could be myself around. Sierra, you were my best friend too. That’s why I was hurt when you called me a dumb jock. I knew what everyone else thought of me. Great on the field but shit in the classroom. Hearing you say that you felt the same was upsetting. I never in a million years thought that you would feel that way.”

Sierra pulls away to look at him. “I didn’t. I knew how smart you were-and still are-I was frustrated that you didn’t have enough faith in yourself and what you accomplished.”

“I was scared. I had a lot riding on that grade and I didn’t want to choke.”

Sierra backs away so they’re no longer touching. “Well, it all worked out. You got your A.”

Crispin steps forward. “Yeah, but I didn’t have you by my side. I really regret that especially since I didn’t end up cheating after all.”

“What?”

“I studied hard and passed on my own. I wanted to tell you but I didn’t think you’d want to talk to me.”

“I wish you had.”

“Me too.”

Crispin takes another step forward. His expression is unsure. He clearly wants to hug her again. Sierra nods her approval. Crispin holds on to Sierra firmly, unwilling or unable to let her go. “I’m so sorry, CeeCee.”

Sierra hugs him back, tightly. “I’m sorry too.” She pulls back and wipes away the newly formed tears in her eyes. “I should get started on your family’s desserts.”

“Right. I can go.”

“No. I mean, stay. If you want.”

“Can I help?”

“…I…I don’t know.”

“I promise not to get in the way and I’ll do anything you tell me to.”

Sierra swallowed hard. There he goes again. Between the Sierra, I need you from earlier and just being in his general vicinity, the last thing Sierra or her vagina needed was to hear Crispin’s husky voice say, I’ll do anything you tell me to. Too late, her vagina was already throbbing. “Okay, grab an apron.”

Hours later they’re done. The pies and cobbler are cooling on racks on the counter. The cakes are boxed up and in the fridge. Sierra and Crispin collapse on her couch. “I don’t know how you do that all by yourself.” He says.

“I like things done...”

“In a certain way, I know but CeeCee c’mon, that can’t be good for you. All that bending and lifting. You should hire some help. Promise me you’ll at least think about it.”

“I promise.” Sierra stretches her arms above her head, arching her back. This causes her to push her breasts forward. Crispin takes a peak. Sierra notices. “Are you enjoying the view?”

“Yes ma’am.” Crispin smirks. “Since we’re being open about the past, I think it’s only fair that I tell you…I’ve always been attracted to you, CeeCee.”

Sierra can’t believe her ears. No way! He’s lying. He has to be. Crispin literally dated every girl in their grade except her. She reminds him of this. “Is that why you never asked me out?”

“I never asked you out because you intimidated the hell out of me.”

“Seriously?”

“Hell yes. CeeCee you can be intense.”

“I guess but I always thought of myself as driven.”

“You are definitely driven. And smart, funny, sweet and beautiful. And as much as I wanted you, I didn’t want to wreck our friendship. Which I guess is kind of pointless since we both ultimately ended up doing just that.” Crispin brushes away a strand of hair in Sierra’s eye. He tucks it behind her ear.

“Thank you and since you told me something, it’s only fair that I share something with you, I love your voice. I always have.”

Crispin gives her a flattered yet quizzical look. “Just my voice?”

“Obviously I like other parts of you too.”

“Like what?”

“Crispin.” Sierra blushes.

“No, c’mon. You said you wanted to share.”

“And I did.”

“Yeah one thing. I complimented your beauty, your intelligence, your humor. C’mon tell me what else you like about me.”

“Are you saying that you only complimented me to get some kind words in return?”

“No, I said that stuff because it’s true. But still it would be nice to know what you thought of me.”

“What I think is that you’re charming. Clearly that hasn’t gone away…”

“Guilty.”

“Shut up.”

Crispin laughs. “Shutting up.”

“You’re handsome, smart, funny and um…”

“And?”

“Sexy.” She mutters under her breath.

“Did you just call me sexy?”

“Yes. Please don’t make me regret it.”

He chuckles. “I won’t.”

Sierra watches Crispin with heat and desire in her eyes. She bites her lip and squeezes her legs together. He sees this and reaches for her. He sits her down on his lap, facing him, straddling his thighs. He slides his hands up her shirt and unsnaps her bra. He kisses and licks her neck while digging his fingers into her flesh.

“Crispin?” Sierra moans.

“Yeah.”

“Do you want to see my bedroom?”

“I’d love to see your bedroom.” Crispin replies in a voice that could melt an iceberg.

Sierra’s legs are wrapped around Crispin’s waist as he holds her by her ass and carries her into the bedroom. She turns on the light then turns the dimmer so it’s not so bright. She climbs onto the bed and gets on her knees. Crispin moves quickly and within seconds he’s inches away from her. They kiss and it feels like…perfection. Back in high school Sierra overheard the other girls talk about Crispin. How he was such a good kisser and how he knew how to take his time. At the time, Sierra was conflicted about having this knowledge about Crispin. On one hand, it gave her the opportunity to see Crispin’s inner workings. On the other hand, it felt like a violation of her friend. But now, she’s grateful to have that knowledge. She’s able to mentally prepare herself for what lies ahead. And according to Franklin High’s squad of popular dingbats known as Courtney Taylor, Farrah Jenkins and Michelle Figueroa, readiness is necessary.

“Holy shit, Crispin!” Scratch that. Nothing could have prepared Sierra for what Crispin is doing to her. Not even the detailed description in the girl’s room provided by Samia Hendricks, head cheerleader. He sucks and licks her entire pussy with such dexterity he should seriously consider teaching a class. Sierra pushes his head further in as her eyes roll back in ecstasy. “Oh, God. Fuck, fuck, fuck.” Sierra shakes, her breath stilled. She sinks into the bed with a hazy, satisfied grin on her face.

“Don’t get too comfortable.” Crispin grins. “I’m not done.” He lifts Sierra up by her waist and gently lays her on top of him. They kiss some more. He clutches onto her body as he rolls over. Now on top of her he takes full advantage of the situation by rubbing the tip of his dick against her slick opening. The teasing to almost too much. Sierra thrust her hips up, hinting that she wants him to enter her. “I will.” Crispin teases. That smug smirk back on his face. Sexy motherfucker.

“Do it. Now!” Sierra commands.

“I love it when you tell me what to do.” Crispin grins.

He pushes himself inside her. “Oh, my god. The girls at school were right.” Sierra moans.

“Excuse me?” Crispin laughs. “What did the girls at school say about me?”

“You know the usual. You’re a great kisser, which you are. And you have a big dick, which you do.”

“This surprises you?”

“No, not surprised. Just pleased that a bunch of gossiping teenage girls were right.”

They both laugh then proceed to spend the entire night fucking each other stupid.

The next morning, Sierra looks over at her watch and sees it’s eight in the morning. Shit! She shoots out of bed, takes a shower, gets dressed and does her hair all without waking up Crispin. As she starts toward the bedroom door she hears, “hey, good morning.”

“Uh, hi. Look Crispin. Last night was fun but…”

“Here comes the brush off.”

“…No, no. I was just going to say. Last night was fun but let’s just be honest and call it what it was, us getting swept up in nostalgia after a really emotional night.”

“That’s all you think it was?”

“I mean, yeah. And besides I don’t know what I was thinking trying to take today off. I checked my email and I already have some more orders for New Years. I need to stock up and make sure I’m properly prepped.”

Crispin gets out of bed. Butt naked. He walks over to her and lifts her up so they’re at eye level. They’re so close their noses touch. Shit. Sierra tries to talk but her mouth won’t listen. “Take off your clothes and get back into bed.” He softly commands.

“But I have to…”

“You don’t have to do anything. Mrs. Jansen is picking up her cake at ten and we already made the desserts for my family. I will be bringing them with me along with you later today. Okay?” He kisses her.

“What about my New Year Orders?”

“Worry about that tomorrow. Besides you have a week. How many orders do you have?”

“So far twenty.”

“Fine. I’ll help you. Same deal as last night. Don’t refuse. Sierra, you need to let people help you. You were always talking about how important it was that I accepted your help. Now, I need you to accept mine." He kisses her again.

His calm yet demanding voice had a hypnotic effect on Sierra. The kisses and his nudity certainly didn’t help. “I still don’t know about going with you to your mom’s house. What are we even going to tell them? That we’re dating now?”

“Why not?”

“Crispin, we haven’t seen each other in twenty years. And now you want us to be a couple. That’s crazy.”

Crispin shrugs his shoulders. “Is it? No one knows us as much as we know each other and no amount of time apart will change that. I told you I’ve wanted you since the minute we started being friends. And you want me. I know you do.” He kisses her again. This time it’s deeper and more passionate.

“Okay.” She says, out of breath and completely under his spell. Sexy motherfucker.

The day goes on swimmingly. Of course there was the little hiccup caused by Sierra getting back in bed. She and Crispin celebrated their new relationship status so many times that she was late meeting Mrs. Jansen. After offering her a dozen white Christmas sugar cookies, things got smoothed over. They head to Crispin’s mom’s house where his grandparents, uncles, aunties and cousins are all ensembled. Crispin’s mom, Dorothy answers the door. “Sierra! Sweetheart so good of you to join us.” Dorothy wraps Sierra in what can only be described as a bear hug. For a lady who is five foot four and can’t weigh more than one forty, she’s freakishly strong. Sierra is immediately welcomed by the rest of Crispin’s family.

After dinner everyone goes into different groups and congregate around the house. The young cousins watch the littler cousins in the backyard, the older men enjoy a stogie in the den and the everyone else watches a movie in the living room. All except Sierra and Crispin. They’re out on the second floor balcony outside of Crispin’s old room. Sierra adjust herself in Crispin’s arms. She takes a quick glance at his old room. “Being here brings back a lot of memories.” Sierra says dreamily.

“I know. I can’t believe I had you in my room so many times and I stupidly never tried anything.”

“That was stupid. I totally would have let you hit.” Sierra gives him a teasing smile.

“Way to kick me when I’m down.”

“You’re not down. You have me now.”

“And I don’t intend to let you get away again.”

“Crispin, how are we going to make this work? You live an hour and a half away.”

“That’s another reason I know you and I are meant to happen. A firm downtown has been courting me for a couple of months and I’ve been seriously considering their offer.”

“If you took the job you’d only be twenty minutes away from here. You could get an apartment in town.”

“Or I can get an apartment downtown and we can have some privacy. No mom’s, no Gracie’s. Just you and me.”

“That’s tempting but I think I would prefer having you closer.”

“Yes ma’am.”

The Thomas’ next door neighbors are playing Christmas music. “Baby, it’s Cold Outside” by Ray Charles and Betty Carter comes on. Crispin offers Sierra his hand and they slow dance. When the last verse of the song starts Sierra playfully lip syncs Ms. Carter’s part. Without missing a beat, Crispin lip syncs to Ray Charles. As the slow comes to an end, they gaze into each other’s eyes. “Merry Christmas, Crispin.”

“Merry Christmas, CeeCee.”

They kiss tenderly and deeply ready to face the future, together.

The End

Monique Fisher is a force of nature--two really cute kids, a husband (also cute I bet), a full-time job, AND she's churning out quality smut like a pro. This year she released a graphic novel, Suz and Keem, with co-createor Jacqui C. Smith this year. Monique, we love you and can't wait to see what you do in 2022.



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