With a musical laugh, she leapt into his arms, wrapping herself around him. Then she snuggled in and smiled against his lips. “Mmm. You missed me.” She wriggled against him. “Or at least a part of you did.”
He entwined his fingers into her hair and kissed her, deep and serious. “All of me,” he said. “All of me missed you. All of me needs you in my life. You are my life. We’re doing this, Willa. And it’s going to be good.”
She got anticipatory chills. “Yes, please. We’ve done it in my kitchen, but not yours . . .”
With a rough laugh, he kissed her again. “You know damn well what I meant. But your idea works too. And after the kitchen, it’s the upstairs bathroom. There’s a handheld showerhead there that you’re going to like.” He flashed his wicked grin. “A lot.”
She slid her hands to his jaw. “Are you sure?”
“Hell yeah. That showerhead’s going to rock your world—”
Laughing, she went to kiss him but he stopped her. “I want you to be okay with all of this,” he said. “With me.”
“I know. And I am. So much. I’m completely yours, Keane.”
Her words seemed to light him up from within. “And you’ll tell me if it gets to be too much. I don’t want you to run—”
She gently covered his mouth with her fingers. “I learned tonight when I thought I’d blown it with you that nothing is ever going to be too much. Now you. You’ll let me know if I drive you crazy?”
He laughed. “I love your crazy. I love you, Willa. With everything that I am, I love you.”
“Oh,” she breathed softly. “You’re good.”
“Give me five minutes in that shower and you’ll see how much better than good I really am.”
She smiled against his lips. “I haven’t given you your Christmas present yet.”
“What is it?” he asked.
The full-blown smile across his face was brighter than all the lights in the city. “Best present ever,” he said and Willa knew that Christmas, not to mention the rest of her life, was never going to be the same again. It was in fact going to be better than her wildest dreams.
On Christmas morning, Keane woke up like he always did, slowly. He took a deep breath and smiled as the scent of Willa’s shampoo filled his nostrils. This was because her hair was in his face. In fact, she had shifted in her sleep and was lying half on top of him, using him as her personal body pillow.
The day hadn’t even started and already it was his favorite Christmas of all time. It’d only taken four little words—I love you, Keane—to make his world complete. But it was so much more than that. It was him realizing that the woman he loved more than anything loved him back every bit as much. It was her being okay with losing herself in him because she knew that she’d always find herself there too. It was her trusting him, believing in him, in them.
She was wearing his favorite pj’s—absolutely nothing but her birthday suit—and he slowly ran his hands over all that creamy warm skin he loved so much.
“Hmph,” she murmured, not moving an inch.
He stilled, not wanting to wake her all the way, knowing she needed sleep since he’d kept her up most of the night checking off items on their “list.”
He’d drawn the Bad Elf fantasy, and in a twist he’d made her the bad elf. The vision of her in nothing but an elf hat and tied to his headboard was going down in history as his all-time favorite, but he was open to topping it.
Still draped over him, Willa wriggled. “Why did you stop?” she asked, eyes still closed, voice groggy.
He went back to stroking her. Every time he stopped, she wriggled and made a noise of discontentment, making him laugh. “Merry Christmas,” he murmured in her ear and took her lobe between his teeth.
She sat straight up. “It’s Christmas!” she exclaimed as if she’d actually forgotten.
“Yeah,” he said, hands on her ass, rocking her into him, loving the gasp that wrenched from her throat. On a mission now, he began to tug her even closer, his gaze locked on his target . . .
“Wait,” she gasped, crawling off of him, running naked to her duffel bag on the floor. “I have another present for you.”
“Mmm,” he said watching as she bent over to rifle through the duffel. “You’re giving me a gift right now—”
She grabbed his discarded shirt and pulled it over her head. Then she whirled and ran back to him, jumping on him like a kid on . . . well, Christmas morning. “Open!” she demanded.
The bag was bright red. He peeked inside and pulled out a pair of . . . boxers with eyeballs covered in glasses all over them.
“Interesting,” he said.
“Crap!” She snatched back the boxers and stuffed them in the bag again. “Those are for Haley.” She ran to her duffel again and came back with another bright red bag, same size as the other.
This time he pulled out a box of joke condoms that said Size Matters! Think Big! He laughed and reached for her. “This here’s a present that needs to be shown how to use—”
“No, wait!” she said, laughing as she evaded him. “That’s Pru’s!” And she once again exchanged the bag. This time she peeked into it first and sighed. “Okay, this is it.”
He took in her shaky smile and the way she was fiddling, and realized she was nervous. Setting the present aside, he sat all the way up, stuffed the pillows behind his back, and then pulled her into his lap. “Better,” he said and reached for the present again.
When he pulled out the vintage tape measure, he let out a long breath. “Is this—”
“From the turn of the twentieth century,” she said. “It’s got a lightweight brass casing with a conversion table on the other side. After you told me about that time you spent working with your uncle and how much you liked his antique tools, this felt like something you might like.”
“Love,” he said, marveling at it. It was amazing. “Where did you get it?”
“I found it at an antique store on Divisadero Street.” She shifted uncomfortably, clearly embarrassed. “It’s not much, and I’m not even sure it really works, I just—”