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Moonlight and Mistletoe: A Crime and Periodicals Christmas Present




     I was zoned out, sitting criss cross applesauce in front of the Christmas tree, gift tag stuck to my thumb as I wrapped the few remaining presents with Weston and Ruby. Four in the morning was way too early but we had three kids in the house that were chomping at the bit to tear open their presents, so an early morning it had to be. The lights from the tree twinkled and added a golden hue to the living room at the Logan Ranch as the pre-dawn moonlight shone through the windows to cast everything in a magical Christmas glow.


      “Wrapping presents sucks. Opening them is way better,” Weston grumbled as he taped up the last present then started rustling through the plastic bags in search of a bow to stick on top.

He was right, it was the worst. I made a mental note to buy nothing but gift bags for next year—shove the present in, pile on some tissue paper—boom, done.


     “I brought you some coffee,” Ruby said as she handed me a mug.


     “Thanks.” I smiled and raised it to my lips, then hesitated before sipping it.


     “What’s wrong? Too hot?”


     “No, it’s fine—”


     “Oh! Ohhhhhh, Ruby, look!” Crap. Weston’s grin was huge as he pulled out the pregnancy test I’d bought at the Piggly Wiggly yesterday while I was picking up the last-minute Christmas stuff. I’d forgotten to hide it and now he was waving it over his head. At the sound of the stick tapping against the inside of the box, Ruby’s head whipped to the side to see.


     “Are you pregnant?” Ruby cried, slamming her own mug to the coffee table, hot chocolate sloshed over the side as she dashed toward me.


     “I don’t know yet. Hence the test,” I answered.


     “Gimme that coffee. Caffeine is bad for the baby.” She snatched my mug, turned around, and all but tossed it next to hers on the table.


     “I know that, that’s why I haven’t had any for three days. My period is late and I—”


     “Ew,” Weston said and held his hands out as if to ward off my words.


     “Come on.” She pulled me off the floor and rushed me to the bathroom at the rear of the living room. She shoved me inside and shut the door. “Take the test I have to know. Hurry up, pee on that stick, Wyatt will be home soon, the kids will be up, then I’ll have to wait, and I can’t live like that!” Her voice grew more manic and higher pitched with every word she shouted at me through the door.

With a laugh I opened the door to find Weston standing behind Ruby, the test in his outstretched hand and a smirk on his face.


     “Oh. Sorry, Aunt Sabrina.” Ruby’s eyes were lit up as bright as the Christmas tree as she beamed at me.


     “It’s okay, honey. I’m excited too, I—"


She loudly clapped her hands together then slammed the door in my face. “Pee on it!”


     “Can you chill a little bit, Ruby?” Weston teased her. His voice muffled on the other side of the door.


     “Heck no!” she shouted. “No chilling. Pee on it!”


     I sat on the edge of the tub and studied the box. It should only take three minutes. Three minutes to maybe a completely different life—again. I thought of the all the many minutes that had led me here today. Each minute composed of a decision, or an action that may end up making me the happiest woman in the world. Once upon a time I was full of indecision and doubt, paralyzed by my own fears. I still got scared—almost every day something freaked me out—but I would never freeze my life again. There was too much to live for.


So, I stood up, pulled my pajama pants down, and I peed on it.



Exactly three minutes later …



     Bang, bang, bang on the door. I shook my head and shouted. “Ruby, were you listening to me pee?”


     “I tried to make her leave,” Weston shouted.


     “Well? Come on! Tell us!”


     I threw the door open and held the test up. “Look for yourself.”


     “Two lines! Two lines! Oh my god!” Ruby’s face crumpled as she burst into tears and threw herself into my arms. “I am so happy right now.”


     “So, what will we be to your baby? Cousins, right?” Weston asked.


     Ruby pulled out of my arms and faced Weston. “Family relationships are too much like math—once removed, steps, halves, too much crap to keep track of. And duh, Weston, Ruby Jr.’s mom and our mom are sisters, that makes us cousins. But I want to be more than that. I’m going to be Aunt Ruby.” She turned to me with a tremulous smile, happy tears and hope shining in her eyes.


     I grinned at her. “You’ll be the best aunt in the world, Ruby. Of that I have no doubt.”


     She let out a breath. “If I’m half as good as you, then I’ll be the best in the world.”


     I gathered her close and kissed the top of her head. “I love you, sweetheart.”


     “You should wrap that up and give it to Wyatt for Christmas,” Weston suggested, gesturing to the pregnancy test.


     Ruby pulled back and flopped her hand against Weston’s arm. “Good idea, Weston. And I’ll record him opening it. I bet he’ll cry; don’t you think he’ll cry?”


     “Ruby, don’t be judgy,” Weston chided. “If a man can’t cry when his lady tells him she’s having his baby, then when can he?”


     “I’m not judging him. Crying Wyatt is hot. My YouTube channel got over 50,000 hits on that wedding video with him crying as Sabrina walked down the … uh … um, never mind. Let’s go start the coffee, Weston.”


     “We already made coffee.” He held his mug aloft as his lips twisted to the side. His eyebrows popped up in amusement. He rarely got the better of Ruby.


     “Whatever. Come help me with the cinnamon rolls then.” She started to head toward the kitchen, then turned back to flop backward over the side of the couch. “Gah! Fine! I’ll take the videos down.”


     “Videos?” I exclaimed, emphasis on the plural. “There’s more than one?” I was incredulous as I crossed into the living room.


     “Pssshht, no.” Ruby stammered and sat up, her face turning red as she stared at the wall behind my head.


     “Wyatt is kind of a crier, Sabrina,” Weston was sage as he patted my shoulder. “He’s in touch with his emotions and that’s a good thing. Remember when Mel graduated from kindergarten?” I couldn’t help but sigh as I remembered that day. Wyatt was the sweetest man I’d ever met. Full of love and tenderness, yet always strong and protective when he needed to be. And Ruby was right—crying Wyatt was totally hot. There was something about a man so big and strong, so masculine and virile, coupled with the fact that he was also willing to be vulnerable and let his feelings show …  


     Well, it did things to me. The kinds of things that got me pregnant. My eyes flicked to the pregnancy test in my hand and I smiled at the memories of all the delicious things that could have colored those little line blue.

Weston tossed me the Piggly Wiggly bag. I quickly wrapped the stick in green tissue paper and plopped the last bow on top just in time.


     “Yeeaaaasssssss! It’s finally Christmas!” The sound was deafening. Footsteps thundered down the hardwood staircase as the screaming voice of Mel echoed throughout the house and in my ears. Trailing her down the stairs were Harry and Mak. My father popped his head out of the bookshelf lined hallway to my old apartment on the side of the house. He moved in there after Wyatt and I got married and the two of us moved upstairs to our own wing of the ranch house. Wyatt was on duty but should be home any minute.


     “Merry Christmas, one and all!” Harry cried as he ran into my arms.


     “Merry Christmas, bug.” I murmured into his ear. Tears filled my eyes when I thought of what a great big brother he would be. More tears came when I thought of Mak and Mel as big sisters. I never, ever thought I could be this happy.


     As my eyes drifted across the room and I decided to tell Wyatt in private. I slipped the wrapped test into the pocket of my robe. Weston saw me do it and with a slight nod, he whispered into Ruby’s ear. She smiled softly and with the twist of an imaginary key, she turned her fingers over her lips to lock them.


     “Where’s Daddy? Why isn’t he home yet? Is this present mine?” Mel jumped up and down next to the tree, she had already formed a small pyramid of gifts at her feet. Her red curls were in wild disarray, her Fancy Nancy Christmas pajamas sparkled in the tree lights, and her manic Christmas joy was quickly spreading throughout the house—and with how loud she was, that joy was probably infecting the entire populace of Green Valley as well.


     “Riri, Mel is the worst on Christmas,” Mak groused from her position on the entry way bench waiting for her dad to arrive.


     “She’s just excited, honey.” My father grinned at her as he shuffled out of the kitchen with his coffee.


     “She’s going to blow up like a nuclear bomb. No one is safe—” Mak’s thought was interrupted by the front door swinging open.


     “I’m home! Merry Christmas!” Wyatt’s greeting was for all of us, but his warm eyes were on me as he swept Mak up into his arms to kiss the top of her head.


     “Present time!” Mel shouted before the Christmas carnage began and the wrapping paper started flying.




     This was the first Christmas since my childhood that I felt the complete meaning of family on Christmas morning. Before Sabrina, I always felt like something was missing—a partner to share the marvel of watching the kids open their gifts, someone who loved reading them stories, trimming the tree, making them happy just as much as I did. With Sabrina, I had everything I’d ever dreamed my life could be. Meeting her and making her mine was the best decision I had ever made in my life.


     I had a pocket full of mistletoe, a bottle of champagne, and a very special present to show her exactly what she meant to me. Moonlight glinted through the sheer curtains of our bedroom as I made my way to our bed. Sabrina was tucking the kids in for the night—no small feat since they were all still hopped up on Christmas cheer—and story time should last long enough for me to get the room ready.


     I stood in the middle of the bed to hang the mistletoe from the ceiling fan—no way she could miss my intentions with it hanging right there—the champagne was chilling in an ice bucket on the dresser and the candles were lit in their sconces. Sitting on the edge of the bed, I flipped open the small red velvet box, an eternity ring made up of our birthstones—mine, Sabrina’s and each kid—twinkled in the candlelight.


     “Well, it took a minute, but they’re finally out,” she announced with a grin as she entered the room, closing the door behind her. Quickly I flipped the box shut and held it out to her.


     “Another present? I have one for you too.” She joined me on the edge of the bed and passed me a green tissue paper wrapped gift. I set it on the mattress to watch her open hers first.


     She opened the box. I took the ring and slipped it on her finger. “Oh, Wyatt,” she whispered as she held her hand out. “I love it; it’s perfect. Open your gift.” She giggled softly to herself before a look entered her eyes, one I’d only seen her give to Harry and the girls.


     My body tensed as anticipation raced through it and I realized what that look meant. I tore the tissue paper from the present.


     Two perfect blue lines.


     One magnificent new possibility.


     “Darlin’ …” The breath left me along with my voice. With the softest of smiles, she swiped a delicate fingertip underneath my eye to wipe away the tear that fell. I took her hand and kissed her palm. “I can’t say I’ve ever been this happy. You make everything in my life better than I ever could have imagined.”


     “I love you so much, Wyatt, and every day it grows. Can we always be like this?” Her beautiful eyes smiled into mine as she cupped my cheek and wiped away my tears.


     “We will always be like this because I’m going to love you forever, Sabrina. Every day I promise to show you how much.” My hand slid down her body, around her narrow waist to rest on her belly, where our baby grew. Safe and sound, wanted and loved. I scooted back to the middle of the bed, pulling her along with me. “Look up,” I whispered. Her eyes left mine to glance at the ceiling fan adorned with mistletoe.


     “You always have the best ideas,” she murmured. I swept her hair over her shoulder and took her mouth in kiss that I hoped showed her how much I cherished her and always would.


     “We’re going to have to add another stone to this ring,” I whispered against her lips as she wrapped her arms around my neck and held on.


     “I can’t wait,” she said between kisses, her hands moving over my chest, down my abs and lower, to lift the shirt over my head.


     Our kisses grew urgent as we tumbled backward to the mattress. Covering her body with mine, feeling her move frantically against me—wanting me, needing me, loving me like only she could—my heart was finally full.

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