I took the phone back to the bedroom with me, getting into bed with Cayden.
“Everything okay?” he asked. I shook my head.
“My mom called me,” I told him. “I should probably call her back, but I really don’t want to talk to her.”
“Maybe it’s about Christmas,” Cayden said. “You should at least call her back to see what she wants.”
He was right. She probably was calling me about tomorrow. I’d already told her that I wasn’t coming. I dialed her number.
“Tiffany,” her voice came across the line. “Why didn’t you answer my call?”
I groaned. I knew it was a bad idea to call her. I could tell by her tone of voice that she had been drinking. It wasn’t a surprise.
“Sorry, Mom,” I said. “It was in the other room. What’s going on?”
“Tomorrow is Christmas,” she said. “I thought I would call to tell you our plans. We’re going to eat around six, so I suggest that you come over before that.”
“I told you that I’m not coming,” I said.
“You’re coming,” she said. “It’s non-negotiable. You’re just lucky that I’m not making you bring anything. See you tomorrow.” With that, she hung up the phone. I put my phone down on the side table.
“I guess I’m going to my mom’s tomorrow,” I told Cayden. I wasn’t happy about it, but I knew that my mom was right. It was non-negotiable.
“I can go with you if it would make you more comfortable,” Cayden said. His words surprised me.
“I don’t want to make you do that,” I told him. “Plus, you have a functional family to hang out with on Christmas. I’m not about to take you away from Austin on Christmas so you can attend my shitshow of a family dinner.”
Cayden grabbed my hand.
“My family does lunch,” he said. “Austin is going to be so busy with his toys that I’ll be the last thing on his mind. He won’t even notice I’m gone.”
Cayden was probably telling the truth. I remembered Christmases growing up. I would play with my toys all day long, not even taking time to eat a meal. I was sure that Austin would be the same way. Even so, I still wasn’t sure if I wanted him to come to Christmas with me.
“It might be awkward,” I said. “I don’t want to introduce you to my crazy mother. She might scare you away.”
“Nothing will scare me away,” he said. “I’ll go with you. It could be a good thing.”
“I doubt it,” I said. “There is no such thing as a good thing and my mother. Really, I don’t think you want to be exposed to that on Christmas Day. I wouldn’t want her ruining your holiday.”
“I’m going with you,” Cayden said. He leaned over and kissed my forehead. “Just text me tomorrow and let me know what time to come and pick you up.”
I sighed. He obviously had made up his mind and I wasn’t going to fight him. Maybe he was right. Maybe I would be less uncomfortable with him there. Maybe my mom wouldn’t be such a bitch with a stranger in her house. She tended to put on her best façade around other people.
“I should head home,” I said. Cayden nodded.
“I should get back to my mom’s,” Cayden said. “Thank you for coming over tonight.”
I smiled and kissed him softly on the lips.
“Thank you for an amazing orgasm,” I said, laughing. We both got out of bed and began to get dressed. I’d really wanted to stay in the warm bed with him, but I knew that he had to get to his parents’ house. Hopefully I could spend the night sometime soon. I wanted to sleep next to him and feel his body against mine throughout the night.
I went back to the living room to retrieve my bra. Once I was fully dressed, I walked to Cayden’s front door and put on my boots. Cayden walked around and turned off all the lights. He grabbed the dinosaur from his kitchen table. I was glad that he had remembered it, because I’d totally forgotten that it was why we originally came here.
“Merry Christmas, Tiffany,” he said, leaning down to kiss me.
“Merry Christmas!” Austin burst into the guest room at my mom’s house. He began to jump up and down on the bed, waking me from my deep sleep.
“Daddy!” he exclaimed. “Santa came last night! There are a ton of presents for me under Grandma’s tree! Let’s go!”
While I was excited to see him open his presents, I was also exhausted. After I came back to my mom’s house, I spent a lot of time wrapping all of the presents under the tree. Between that and the hot sex that I’d with Tiffany, both my mind and body were completely tired. I knew there was no delaying Austin, though. He was bound and determined to open all of those presents right away.
“Time to open presents!” Austin screamed, running out of the room. My only saving grace was the aroma of coffee drifting in from the kitchen. I would need a cup, or ten, to survive this morning. I walked downstairs and joined my parents on the couch. Austin began to tear into his presents. Between myself and my parents, he had received a ton of gifts. After he was done opening everything, I went to the kitchen and poured myself a huge cup of coffee.
“How did last night go?” my mom asked, joining me in the kitchen. I sat down at the dining table and took a sip of my coffee.
“Great,” I said. “Did you like Tiffany?”
My mom nodded as she took a sip of her coffee.
“I would have liked to talk to her more, but from what I can tell, she’s a great girl,” my mom said. “I can see why you like her.”
I was glad that my mom had liked Tiffany. I knew that she would but hearing her confirm it made it even better. Even before I met Tiffany, I’d often wondered how my family would react the first time I brought a girl home other than Layla.
“Daddy,” Austin said, coming into the room. “I love this dinosaur!” He pressed a button and the dinosaur roared to life. I smiled.
“That is a really cool dinosaur, buddy,” I said. He smiled back at me.
“It’s the best!” he said. “Everyone at school is going to be so jealous that I got it. Santa is awesome!”
He dashed out of the room as quickly as he entered. I was right. He was going to ignore me all day. I couldn’t blame him, though. The dinosaur was pretty cool.
“I’m actually going to Tiffany’s family Christmas dinner tonight,” I told my mom. “I hope it’s okay that I leave Austin here.”
“Absolutely,” she said. “That’s great that you’ll be meeting her family, too. Are things getting serious between you two?”
“I’m not sure,” I told her. “Things are definitely progressing, but I don’t think either one of us is walking into this blindly. She went through an awful breakup about a year ago and hasn’t dated since. The guy was a real asshole from what I could tell. It’s no wonder she’s reluctant to get into a serious relationship.”
My mom sighed.
“That’s too bad,” she said. “I hope for both of your sakes that you can get through your pasts and start a real relationship. Austin was talking about her all last night.”
“He was?” I asked. With all of the Christmas excitement, I hadn’t gotten a chance to ask him what he thought of her.
“Oh, yes,” my mom continued. “He couldn’t stop telling me how nice she was and how pretty she was. He said that she was prettier than his teacher.”
I laughed. It sounded like a typical thing for Austin to say.
“He’s not wrong,” I said. Tiffany was more attractive than Ms. Flowers.
“I am really happy for you, Cayden,” my mom said. “You deserve to be happy with someone else. It’s time.”
I nodded. It was time.
Later that morning, my sister came over with her family. Her kids bounced in, as crazy as Austin was. We were exchanging Christmas presents with them, too, so Austin had even more gifts to open up. As the kids opened their presents, I went into the kitchen to help my mom finish preparing lunch. Ham, dressing and all the fixings. It was like Thanksgiving on steroids.