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This Christmas
Chapter Eighteen


Our last morning in the Bahamas, we slept in until, like, ten o'clock in the morning. We'd made love outside on the porch until 1:00 am, and we were both too exhausted to get up for an early breakfast. Instead, I rolled over and tickled Taylor with her tresses until she smacked me.

Does it sound too bizarre that I hope we're like this forever?

I jumped up and grabbed my boxers, half running and half walking into the kitchen as I slid them on. Taylor grabbed a pillow and followed me, her bare feet pounding on the hardwood floors. I didn't exactly see her grab the pillow or anything, but I sure as hell felt it when she ambushed my side.

"You freak! What the hell!"

She smacked me again, harder that time, and I almost freaking fell over. Damn, she's strong.

"That's for tickling me with my own hair. I was trying to sleep, dammit!"

"Like you hadn't slept enough already..."

She groaned. "Well, someone kept me up a little late last night, if you know what I mean."

I looked up and noticed for the first time that she'd managed to grab a tee-shirt before she started chasing me with the pillow. My tee-shirt. For some reason, that made me smile.

"The way I remember it, you most certainly weren't complaining," I retorted jokingly. "By the way, what's up with the clothes?"

She glanced down at the tee-shirt and shrugged. "It's cold in the morning?"

I chuckled. "What, and you were afraid I couldn't warm you up?"

"I was thinking that we should probably get food first."

I knew that grin. Bull-fucking-shit. "Whatever. You just wanted to get me back for waking you up, and you can't run without clothes on."

She rolled her eyes. "That makes no sense. Anyone can run without clothes on."

"Unless they've got breasts," I replied with a smirk. She arched an eyebrow skeptically at me.

"So I suppose you just grabbed your boxers because you felt like it?"

Shit. Busted. "What's your point?"

"You're limited by your anatomy too, nitwit."

At that, I couldn't help but bust out laughing. "Nitwit? What is this, a Shakespearean insults class?"

She narrowed her eyes in mock anger, but I could see her stifling a smile. "Maggot breath."

"Snail food."

"Noodleless numb nuts."

"Big-breasted bumbler."

Taylor glanced down at her B-cup breasts with doubt and sighed. "Psychotic pea-brain."

"Pissing, pooping, poodle-face."

Both of us were on the verge of laughter, but she still managed to hurl an insult my way.



Taylor's disgust was immediate. "Are you fucking kidding me? He's a fucking moron!"

"And Hamlet isn't?"

"Hamlet's just pretending to be a moron. Romeo's a fruitcake."

I winked at her. "Well, in that case, Merry Christmas, baby."

She just groaned. In moments, though, we were both giggling like mad.

"I can't believe you know enough Shakespeare to beat me in an insult contest," Taylor finally managed to get out. I chuckled.

"Believe it. When it comes to literature, I'm well-versed."

"I'm impressed."

I wiggled my eyebrows. "Oh, there's more where that came from." I adopted a Hamlet-like confusion and tapped my chin. "To be or not to be? THAT is the question."

Taylor grinned. "Oh, baby..."

"Whether 'tis nobler to..." I didn't get to finish the monologue. We were laughing too hard. Taylor threw a piece of frozen French toast at me when I tried to continue, though, which introduced the issue of breakfast. When we finally calmed down, I pulled her into a hug.

"Do you want to cook or find a restaurant?"

She frowned at me. "Why would I want to find a restaurant?"

"Well, I figured that, since it's our last day here and all, you might want to just relax."

She winked. "Age, cooking with you is one of the most relaxing things in the world."

"Really?" That's news to me. My mother used to say that my cooking was indigestion waiting to happen.

"Really. Can you scramble eggs?"

My eyes lit up at the thought of playing with the stove. Sue me, but it kinda looked like fun. "Fuck yes. Where's the frying pan?"

"All of the dishes are hanging over the island, hon. Butter, eggs, and cheese are in the fridge."

I reached over Taylor's shoulder and grabbed the frying pan, dropping a kiss on the side of her neck before moving back to the stove. I set the pan down, and she spun me around.

"What was that for?"

She smiled softly. "Proper kiss." With that introduction, she stood up on her tip-toes and pressed her lips to mine. I would say that sparks flew, but something tells me that I should cut down on the Hallmark phrases before we're due to see the Boys on New Year's Eve, or I'll catch hell for it.


She laughed against my lips and pinched me on the butt. "Now, go and scramble some eggs."

I tried to ignore the way my lips were tingling. "What are you going to do?"

She grabbed the bread down from above the fridge and pulled a few pieces out of the plastic package. "I'm making homemade French toast. The frozen shit is good, but it's got enough calories to build another Backstreet Boy."

I rolled my eyes. "Lovely, Taylor."

"I thought so too."
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is my girlfriend. Why I love her, I'm not quite sure, but I do.

Okay, so that's a crock of shit. I could give you a thousand reasons for loving her without stopping for breath. Not that she has to know that, of course.

"Hey, Alex? Were you going to scramble those eggs before or after the plane takes off?"

I stuck my tongue out at her and began to grease the pan. "Before."

"Good to know. I'm starting to get hungry."

I shook my head in amusement as she started whisking egg yolks in a bowl. Whistling to myself, I cracked two eggs on the edge of the pan and dropped the yolks into it. I was just starting to sprinkle the cheese when Taylor reached up to grab the pancake pan, but her arms were too short. Sensing a chick flick moment, I moved closer to her, pressed my chest to her back, and leaned my mouth to her ear.

"Let me get that for you." I nibbled her earlobe for only a second before grabbing the pan and handing it to her. "There ya go."

It was Taylor's turn to shake her head. "Thanks, I think." She tossed the pan on the stove and spun the dial so that the burner flamed.

I love that she can cook.

"Hey, can you hand me the piece of bread that's in the bowl?"

I shrugged. "Sure thing." Walk up to bowl, observe piece of bread, reach to get piece of bread... "What the hell? It's covered in egg!"

Taylor glanced up at me with a smirk. "No shit, Sherlock. How do you think French toast is made?"

"Not with egg!"

She burst out laughing, and I had to fold my arms over my chest. I knew I was having a Nick moment, but a guy's got to attempt to retain his dignity, here.

"You know, Age, if you don't keep scrambling those eggs, you're going to get an ash pancake."

Ha fucking ha.

I sighed and continued to stir the eggs around until they looked sufficiently scrambled. At that point, I slid them out of the pan and onto the waiting plate. They didn't look too bad, either. Victory!

When I turned around, Taylor was eyeing the eggs with a raised brow. "I'm impressed, dude. I had no idea you'd actually be able to scramble those."

I shrugged nonchalantly. "All in a day's work. Anything else you'd like me to do for breakfast?"

"Sure. You could go ahead and make some hashbrowns if you'd like. I think we've got potatoes in the cabinet."

Shit. "Yeah, about that..."

"What? Hashbrowns are easy. You can handle it. Hell, you've probably handled it before, what with these mad cooking skills you seem to have hidden from me."

Way to shoot a guy's ego. "Well..."

Taylor took one look at the lost expression I was sporting and cracked up.

She was kidding. Go fucking figure.

"Hey, be nice."

She smirked at me. "I am being nice. I'm cooking your breakfast."

"I made the eggs!"

"And what beautiful eggs they are," she finished, stifling laughter. It wasn't long before the two of us were giggling again. I moved next to her by the stove, and she taught me the basics of cooking French toast the old-fashioned way. I even got to flip a few of the pieces.

Don't tell, but Taylor makes me want to learn the arts of domestication. I figure that's one of those sure-fire signs that we're meant to be.

"The Boys will be so impressed when you offer to cook on the tour bus," she teased, and I rolled my eyes. Honestly, we have more fun trying to coax Kevin into cooking. Nick can't cook for shit and Brian does well to boil water without burning anything, but Kevin's just plain hopeless. Out of the five of us, Howie's probably the only one who can cook more than one meal for his girlfriend.

That's kind of pathetic, isn't it?

"Baby, I don't need to cook to impress the Boys," I replied, feigning an air of arrogance.

"You just shake that beautiful ass of yours, right?"

"Of course!"

Taylor shook her head in amusement. "You know, Age, it's times like these that make me wonder exactly why you have teenage girls chasing you all the time."

I frowned delicately. "You mean you don't find me irresistible?"

"Not in the slightest."

I began to drop tiny kisses along the back of her neck, enjoying the way the muscles tensed as I touched them. "Not even when I do this?"

My lips found her jaw line, and I could hear her draw in a particularly sharp breath.


I laughed to myself. "Ooh, tough customer. How about when I do this?" I spun her around and kissed her with all the love that had been building up while I watched her flip pieces of French toast on the stove. With the bread sizzling in the background, I deepened the kiss until she moaned. The second she started kissing back with equal passion, I released her.

"You might want to get back to that toast before it burns," I teased. She groaned, eyes still closed.

"You're such a shit."

"But you love me anyway."

She chuckled lightly. "Yeah, I do. I may not know why, but I do."

I wrapped my arms around her waist and rested my head on her shoulder as she tended to the toast. "Bullshit. You know why."

"What if I don't?"

I shrugged. "Then I'd just have to show you. You know, give you something to work with."

She didn't turn around, but I could feel her smiling against my cheek. "I love you."

"I love you too."

She leaned back into me, and I knew I was smiling into her hair. Every time she says that she loves me, it feels like the first time. Her voice gets soft, and everything about her just seems so feminine that I can't help but cave. It's scary how quickly we've fallen into this, how quickly domestication and teasing and shit became normal, but it feels right. It feels like we were meant to be like this. For the first time, there's no awkward tension involved in the shift from best friend to lover. Had I been Nick, I'd have been stuck in some soap opera where the girl takes freaking forever to come to the conclusion that she loves me too, but things are different with Taylor and me. Everything is natural.

I love that we've managed to escape so much drama.

I love that my voice gets equally as soft when I tell her that I love her too.

I love that she always says it first. Truth be told, Taylor's my first low-maintenance girlfriend, and I'm seriously enjoying it.

"Hey, baby?"

I kept my eyes closed, but nodded just the same. "Yeah?"

"You mind getting an extra plate for me to put this French toast on?"

I had to laugh. "Not at all. Give me two seconds?"

She chuckled and shot me a meaningful look as I made my way to the cabinet. "I'll give you more than that."

I winked at her. "I hope so. I wasn't too keen on having to let you go anytime soon."

She shook her head. "No need. I'll be right here."

And that, kids, is head and tail of it. Or Heads and Tails of it.

Insert maniacal laughter here, would you? I'm going to go have breakfast with my girlfriend.