A Kiss Me Short Story
The dulcet tones of Kermit the Frog singing “One More Sleep ’til Christmas” trickled out quietly from the stereo of Patrick’s car as we pulled into the driveway of the Evans family farm. If anyone ever said that The Muppet Christmas Carol wasn’t the perfect Christmas film, then I don’t think I’d ever be able to be friends with them. Mostly because they were just plain wrong, and I couldn’t deal with that level of stupid in my life.
Golden fairy lights twinkled along the edge of the roof of the family farmhouse, shimmering in the dark like a beacon to welcome us. We’d have been here sooner if I hadn’t had to pry Patrick away from his beloved pastry kitchen at The Pear Tree. Aaron and I had practically had to frog-march him outside and shove him into the car. Aaron’s parting words had been very loving declaration to fuck off until the twenty-eighth. I was going to take that as an instruction and if I had to tie Patrick to a bed, hide his phone and distract him to make sure he complied, well that was a hardship I was sure I’d endure.
“Here we are,” Patrick said, as he pulled the car into a small slot that had been left for us to park in and switched off the engine. “We made it.”
“Thanks for driving, babe.” I leant over and kissed his cheek, before stretching my legs out and reaching for my shoes. I had no idea how people actually wore shoes for the whole of a long journey unless they were driving. Then again, most people didn’t sit cross legged on the passenger seat. “Are you excited?”
“I think so. How about you?” It wasn’t hard to tell Patrick was nervous, since this was both his first family Christmas in several years and our first Christmas as a couple. But we’d promised his family we’d come, and I think if we hadn’t Aoife would have teleported to Nottingham to drag us out by our ears. The Evans family was adorable, if a touch overbearing.
“I think so too.”
“Are you nervous?” Patrick asked, fixing me with a long look that I couldn’t avoid.
“Perhaps.” I waved my hand. I knew I was being deliberately vague, but this was the first time I’d ever done anything like a big family Christmas. I had no fucking clue what to expect. It had always just been my mum and I, barring the first few years when we’d lived with Auntie Linda before she’d died, but the point was I didn’t remember those Christmases. I just remembered the ones with my mum. This was the first time I’d ever done Christmas with a boyfriend for fucks sake! I took a deep breath and smiled, this wasn’t about me. This was about us. “I’m fine.”
“Don’t lie.” Patrick smiled. “It’s fine, I know what my family are like. But if you get overwhelmed then just say and we can go out. The farm is huge, and we can easily escape for a couple of hours, okay?”
“Okay.” I leant over and kissed him again. “God, you’re so fucking perfect. Did you know that?”
“You keep telling me, so I suppose I should believe you.” He squeezed my thigh. “Come on, we better go in before they send Mary out to find us.”
“Oh I can’t wait to see her again,” I said. “I love your sister. She’s wonderful.”
“You know if you tell her that, she’ll remind me of it forever.” Patrick chuckled as he opened the car door. I finished slipping on my Converse and hopped out, helping him unload the various suitcases and gift bags we’d bought with us. It had been a bit of a squish to get everything in. I might have gone a little overboard on gifts…
We headed towards the back door, and I could see golden light spilling out of the kitchen windows. As soon as Patrick opened the door, I was hit by a wave of warmth and delicious smells. The kitchen was packed with people and they all descended on us before we could even announce our arrival.
Aoife pulled me into a tight hug and pressed a kiss to my cheek, then released me into the arms of Mary, who practically squealed as she squeezed me. John gave me a firm handshake and a wide smile, while the three terriers bounced around my feet desperate for attention and belly rubs. More Evans sisters, their husbands and their kids poured into the room to greet us and I was swept from person to person, until there was only one person left that I hadn’t said hello to.
She was stood in the doorway to the kitchen, her blonde hair falling around her shoulders, wearing a Christmas jumper with penguins on and smiling fondly. We were practically the same height in flat shoes and if you stood us next to each other, it was easy to tell we were related. Mum’s genetics had definitely won out, something I was endlessly happy about.
“Hi!” I practically fell on her, throwing my arms around her and giving her the biggest hug I could manage. I hadn’t seen her in a couple of months because we’d both been so busy, and I’d missed her a ridiculous amount.
“Hey baby,” she said, giving me a kiss as I breathed in her perfume. The same rose and vanilla one she’d worn for as long as I could remember. She stepped back and gave me a long look. “How’re you?”
“I’m good, knackered even though I didn’t even drive. I missed you.”
“I missed you too.” Mum smiled. “I missed you as well Patrick,” she added, beckoning him over for a hug that practically enveloped her. “I see they managed to tear you away from work.”
“With great difficulty,” I said teasingly. “I thought we might have to drag him out by his ankles.” I nudged Patrick gently, then slotted my fingers into his and squeezed his hand. He gave me a wry smile but didn’t argue.
We chatted for a few more minutes to everyone, briefly catching up with everything, before Aoife cleared her throat and waved a spatula at us. “Okay, okay, time to make yourselves useful and start peeling potatoes for tomorrow, otherwise nobody’s getting any food. Boys,” she said, pointing a wooden spatula at Patrick and I, “you’re in Orla’s old room again, the blue one, same as the summer. Gifts can go in the living room.”
“We’ll take our bags up now then,” Patrick said, grabbing a suitcase and a load of giftbags off the floor where they’d been dumped as soon as we’d walked in. I grabbed the rest of the stuff and followed him. We dropped the giftbags in the living room, and then headed for the stairs, and I casually watched the swell of Patrick’s perfect ass as he climbed the stairs. I wondered if he’d let me fuck him while we were here. Would he be totally opposed to doing it in his parent’s house? Last time we’d been here, while we were pretending to date, we hadn’t done more than bjs and handjobs. But I was a sneaky, horny bastard and the idea of fucking Patrick while he tried desperately to be quiet was one I wasn’t sure I could resist. It would be a very Merry Christmas for me.
When I reached the bedroom, Patrick had already popped his bag on the floor and was perched on the side of the bed, resting his elbows on his knees and staring into space.
“Babe? You okay?” I popped my bag down and reached out to gently stroke his shoulder.
“Hmm? Yeah, I’m fine. Just really tired.” Patrick smiled up at me and I could see the weariness behind his eyes. It wasn’t surprising—he’d been running himself ragged over the past month with the restaurant, since December was one of their busiest months, and he’d been staying up late with Aaron making plans for the new year, then to top it all off he’d just driven for nearly five hours in the dark. My poor beloved really needed spoiling, and I knew just what I wanted to do.
We headed back downstairs and into the kitchen, where a surprising amount of the family were helping Aoife prep for Christmas. It looked like a military operation.
John, Cara and her oldest son Kyle, were sat around the small kitchen table peeling and chopping potatoes before popping them in a huge saucepan of water, laughing as they worked. Mary and my mum were chatting away as they peeled carrots and cored parsnips on the kitchen counter, and beside them, Cara’s husband Steven was popping brussel sprouts off a stalk and trimming them. It was nice to see how quickly my mum had been absorbed into the general chaos of the Evans family, and my chest flooded with warmth. I don’t know why it surprised me, given how quickly Patrick’s family had adopted me, but maybe it was because this was my mum and I’d always thought she deserved the world.
“Boys,” Aoife said, as soon she spotted us. “I know you’ve had a long drive, but would you be okay to help?”
“Sure,” Patrick said. He was smiling, but it was a tired one and I could see the weariness in his eyes. He wasn’t going to say no though because that just wasn’t in Patrick’s nature.
“Don’t worry, I won’t ask much. Could you just whip some cream and chop some strawberries for the Eton Mess? The cream’s in the big fridge.”
“No worries, how much do you need doing?” Patrick asked and I could already see his face calculating.
“However much you think you’ll need, halve it. At least.” Aoife smiled. “I put two large tubs of cream out there and that should be enough. We’ve got a Christmas pudding, and Immy’s made this ice cream bombe thing she saw online, plus Orla said she’s bringing a trifle, so we’ll have plenty. You don’t need to make enough to feed the five thousand.”
“Okay,” Patrick said, looking slightly less stressed. I think sometimes he forgot that not all puddings needed to be made on an industrial scale.
“We’ve got it,” I said, steering Patrick towards the little utility room that was tacked onto the kitchen. It was tiny, with a little sink and a small counter with a washing machine underneath it, a tall cupboard in one corner and a huge fridge next to it. There was an old plastic dustbin tucked in between the fridge and the cupboard, which I seemed to remember held dog food. Last time there’d been a pile of things on the side too, but it had all been cleared away and replaced with a couple of chopping boards, a small electric hand mixer, a large mixing bowl, an enormous serving bowl with silver around the rim and the base, and several tins that when I popped them open, I released contained a mountain of homemade meringues.
“No,” Patrick said, giving me a sharp look and smile, clearly already three steps ahead of me. “You’re not eating one. If there’s any left afterwards you can have one then.”
“Spoilsport.” I grinned. Patrick had clearly made the shift into chef mode. A wicked thought tap-danced its way into my mind. I leant in close, lowering my voice. “Or should I say yes, Chef.”
Patrick froze, his face flushing. I smirked. Mission accomplished.
“Problem, Chef?” I asked sweetly as I headed for the fridge to retrieve the punnets of strawberries and pots of cream. I placed them on the side and reached for the mixing bowl.
“N-No, no problem.”
“I thought I’d whip the cream. Is that okay? You can watch, make sure I get it right.” Yes, I was playing a little ditzy, but honestly after the summer’s cake debacle there was a very good chance that I would fuck this up spectacularly. Could you overwhip cream?
“Okay, just don’t overwhip it.” Hmm, apparently you could. Who knew? Patrick stepped closer to me, watching me pour the cream into the bowl before he picked up a knife. “I’ll chop some strawberries.”
“Thank you Chef,” I said sweetly, leaning over to kiss him softly.
Patrick smiled, his face still a soft pink. “You know, if you keep calling me Chef, you’re going to make things really awkward when I go back to work.”
“Oh? And why’s that?”
“You know exactly why,” Patrick said, clearly not falling for my wily ways, as he began to slice strawberries.
“Tell me anyway.”
“Because whenever you call me Chef in that voice, it makes me think very inappropriate things that I’m not going to even mention with my whole family in the next room.” Patrick shot me a look and I grinned at him. It was supposed to be a sweet, innocent smile but I failed spectacularly. I just wanted to spoil Patrick rotten and make him forget all his stress, along with his own name.
“Don’t worry,” I said, lowering my voice and leaning in close. “You can tell me later. I want to hear all of the fabulously naughty things going through your mind.” I winked and grabbed the little hand mixer. “Do you want some cream?”
Patrick laughed and shook his head, the sound warming me from the inside out and reminding me just how much I loved him.
It didn’t take us long to assemble the Eton Mess, since it was easier for us to just make it, with its delicious layers of crushed meringue, strawberries and copious amounts of whipped cream. I’d teased Patrick as much as possible, dipping a strawberry slice in the last of the cream before licking it off as salaciously as I could. Patrick’s face had gone a wonderful shade of pink so it was worth it.
We’d stolen little bits of strawberry and cream along the way, since there was plenty spare, gently pushing them between each other’s lips and sneaking kisses in between. Being in the utility room made it seem like we were in our own little world. Behind us, I could hear the chatter of the rest of the family as they finished prepping everything. Everything just felt cosy and perfect, the way people in Christmas movies always describe things. Don’t get me wrong, I’d never had any complaints about my Christmases before, this was just different but that didn’t mean bad. It felt like they were just going to be special in their own way. Plus I had a deep suspicion that this one would be a lot more chaotic than what I was used to.
After the food was prepped, we were all ceremoniously shooed from the kitchen so Aoife could finish cooking dinner and despite many offers of help, she turned us all down. I think she was probably hoping for ten minutes of peace and quiet.
We spent the next hour in the sitting room with everyone, chatting away and catching up. There was a bit of a shortage of chairs, so Patrick and I squeezed into a corner by the roaring fire, cuddled up together and leaning against the edge of one of the sofas. Patrick soon got drawn into a conversation with Mary about the new wedding business she was setting up on the farm, and about caterers and kitchens and guinea pig events. My mum was soon drawn in and the whole conversation suddenly turned to weddings in general. I hid a smile and pretended to check my phone, casually listening as Patrick talked about his ideas and what Mary could do.
I already knew I wanted to marry Patrick, and I even had the perfect proposal planned out in my head. But my plans were just for the two of us, because I was deeply selfish and I didn’t want to share that moment with anyone. Plus I also knew that afterwards I was going to want to do deliciously dirty things to my darling chef, and having his family around would render that idea null and void. So it was going to be just the two of us, whenever we both had a spare evening where we weren’t exhausted and didn’t have plans for the next day. Unfortunately, those had become a bit of a rarity lately, so it would probably have to wait. Not that I was in a rush. It had taken us enough time to get here, and I knew Patrick wasn’t going anywhere. Whether we were married or not, Patrick and I were going to be together forever and nothing was going to tear us apart.
Eventually Aoife summoned us for dinner.
“Just something light,” she said, as we went into the kitchen to help carry things through to the dining room. “There’ll be lots of food tomorrow and I don’t want to fill you up now.”
Just something light turned out to be a table covered in jacket potatoes, mashed potatoes, cold ham, an enormous cold salmon, salads, peas and green beans, a vegetable and goats cheese tart, fresh sliced baguette, and several other things that I hadn’t even noticed because I was still staring at what I could see.
“Your mum really loves feeding people,” I said, as I sat down next to Patrick on the far side of the table, my eyes still roaming over the food.
“Yeah, it’s a thing.” Patrick chuckled. “Just wait until tomorrow, you haven’t seen anything yet.”
“I’m not complaining though.”
“I didn’t think you were.”
“I just don’t know where I’m going to put it all.” I sighed and helped myself to a large jacket potato from the plate that Mary passed me.
“You’re an adorable bottomless pit,” Patrick said lovingly. “I’m sure you’ll find somewhere.”
I laughed because he wasn’t wrong. I was very lucky to have inherited an excellent metabolism from my mum, plus since I was always dancing my butt off, I was always hungry. Levi and I had spent the past three weeks choreographing a heels routine to WAP—simply because we’d thought it would be fun. It had been hilarious but also exhausting, and my legs and butt ached from all the heels work, and my knees were covered in bruises, despite the fact I’d been wearing kneepads.
Patrick had seen a little bit of it, when he’d come to pick me up one day and I’d asked him to watch. I had been genuinely worried he might pass out from blood loss to his brain, but I always enjoyed rendering Patrick speechless and he’d been so adorably sweet and pliable that evening while I’d fucked his brains out. I’d promised him a personal performance as soon as I’d perfected the routine.
The food was delicious, and the conversation flowed easily even if it was noisy. I wasn’t sure how everyone was going to fit around the table tomorrow.
“How’re you doing?” Cara asked, from her seat on my opposite side, giving me a soft smile. “Not overwhelmed yet?”
“Not yet.” I grinned. “I might have forgotten how loud it gets though. Is everyone going to fit tomorrow?”
“Just about. This table pulls out and then we get an extra one from the garage and make an L shape, it’s a bit of a squish but it works.” She chuckled fondly. “I’m glad you’re here. Thanks for dragging Patrick down too, I know mum’s really grateful. I think she’s trying not to be too overbearing, but literally all she’s talked about for the last month was how she was getting all her family home for Christmas. That includes you by the way, and your mum. You’re both family now.”
“T-Thanks,” I said, swallowing hard and trying not to let my emotions take over. It still threw me how quickly and warmly the Evanses had accepted me, but it didn’t frighten me. I just felt like I was being wrapped in a giant hug.
Cara and I continued chatting, talking Christmas and business—since we both were heavily involved in running our respective places of work, even if they were wildly different—as the food got eaten. Afterwards Aoife produced stacks of profiteroles, soft fruit and spare meringues along with pints of cream and then a giant tub of Quality Street. By the time the meal ended I was so full I thought I might pop.
I let out a sign of contentment as I leant against Patrick’s side. He pressed a soft kiss to the top of my waist, his hand wrapping around my shoulders.
“You okay?” he asked.
“Yeah, just stuffed. I might need to go for a walk before Christmas dinner tomorrow or I don’t think I’ll do it justice.”
Patrick chuckled. “Don’t worry, I can show you around the farm tomorrow. That’ll help.”
“Done. Also, Cara says I can see the horses and I think I’d like that. They have such soft noses.”
“You sound tired,” Patrick said, kissing my head again.
“A bit.” I didn’t want to admit that a wave of exhaustion had swept over me as we sat here and now there was a deep tiredness pulling at my bones. Fuck! This wasn’t in the plan at all! Was it too late to drink coffee? I was supposed to be spoiling Patrick, not falling asleep in his arms at the dinner table. What time was it anyway? It couldn’t be later than eight… maybe nine? “What time is it?”
“Nearly ten,” Patrick answered. “No wonder you’re knackered.”
“Fucking exhausted,” he said with a soft chuckle. “It’s been a long week. Especially with all the Christmas parties and prepping for tomorrow. I still feel bad about leaving Darcie.”
“Darcie will be fine. She’s a grown-up and she’s more than capable of doing things on her own, and if she needs help she’ll just steal a minion from Aaron. He’s got plenty of them.”
“Oh definitely. Josh will volunteer as tribute before he’s even asked.”
“Are they still fighting?” I asked, thinking back to everything Patrick had told me about their relationship over the past six months.
“I think it’s more foreplay these days,” he said, and I could hear the wry smile in his voice. “Ben keeps telling them to keep it out of the kitchen, but I don’t think they can help it. I don’t think they know how to communicate in anything except profanity and snark.”
“It must be love.” I shook my head and laughed, then yawned widely. My whole jaw felt like it was cracking. When did I get so useless at staying up late? Past me would be so disappointed. Mostly because all I wanted to do was sleep right now instead of going for several rounds of intense, mind-numbing, muscle-shaking sex.
That would have to wait until tomorrow.
Right now, I just wanted to use Patrick as a pillow.
We said our goodnights and headed upstairs, crawling into bed twenty minutes later. I curled into Patrick’s side, breathing him in and relaxing for the first time in days.
“I’m sorry,” I said quietly. “I was going to spoil you rotten this evening. I had plans and everything.”
“Oh? I’m sure they’ll keep. I’m too tired for anything except sleep anyway, sorry.”
“It’s okay, I’m perfectly happy to use you as a pillow instead.”
“No change there then.” Patrick chuckled. “I love you. Sweet dreams.”
“I love you too.” I looked up at him, taking in every inch of his beautiful face. He kissed me gently and I drifted off to sleep before I’d even had time to think about anything else.
When I woke up, it was still pitch black and I was supremely toasty under the heavy duvet. I was still wrapped in Patrick’s arms and I felt like I was floating on a little cloud of happiness: I was warm and cosy, I had Patrick and it was Christmas!
I lay still for a moment, straining my ears to see if I could hear anyone else up and about but all was quiet. A gleeful smile danced onto my lips, a wriggling sensation of pure joy filling my chest. Depending on the time, there was a chance I could surprise Patrick with the most fabulous wake-up of all time.
Sliding carefully out of his arms, I rolled over onto my abandoned side of the bed, shivering slightly on the freezing sheets, to grab my phone. It was just past six, the time I usually got up. Apparently my body had decided that alarm or no alarm, that was when I needed to be awake, so awake I was. At least today, I didn’t mind so much. Tomorrow I’d feel differently.
Slowly, I extracted myself from the sheets and padded across the floor to double check the door was locked. Not that I expected to be disturbed, but you never knew and the last thing I wanted was for Patrick’s family to accidentally walk in. Poor Patrick would never survive.
Then I went to my suitcase and quietly rummaged around to find the little bottle of lube I’d secreted away, because family or no family, I was having Christmas sex. Besides, it was fun to sneak around and try to be quiet, I felt like a teenager all over again.
I dropped the skimpy shorts and oversized shirt—that had once been Patrick’s but I’d claimed as relationship spoils because it smelt nice— that I was wearing onto the floor, then climbed back onto the bed and slid back into Patrick’s arms. But instead of snuggling into him and drifting off again, I slowly began to work my fingers under his t-shirt. I brushed the skin of his belly and up to his chest, making suggestive little motions towards his nipples while I pressed soft kisses to his neck.
“Good morning,” I said, as quietly as possible. “Merry Christmas.”
“Hmm?” Patrick stirred sleepily, his eyes fluttering open and going comically wide when he saw me, his body suddenly processing the flood of sensations. “M-Merry Christmas.” He let out a soft gasp as I circled one of his nipples, teasing the sensitive bud. “Is this, is this part of your plan?”
“Yep. But you have to keep very quiet. Can you do that for me?” Patrick nodded, his eyes sliding shut. “Good boy. Now sit up and take your t-shirt off.” Patrick did as he was told and my cock throbbed as his perfect, broad chest and soft belly were exposed. God, he was so fucking sexy. “On second thoughts, just get naked now.” I grinned. “It’ll save time later.”
I watched him shimmy out of his shorts and my cock throbbed against the soft material of the duvet. As soon as Patrick was naked, I practically threw myself at him, rolling on top of him to fall between his legs and kiss him over and over as our cocks brushed together. Patrick whimpered against my lips as I ground against him, his hands skimming down my back to cup my ass and pull me closer against him. My tongue pushed into his mouth, our kisses becoming fiercer and deeper, burning with lust and desperation.
Patrick groaned and I swallowed the sound, before pulling back a little. “Remember, you have to be quiet.”
“I’ll be quiet.”
“Good.” I kissed him again. “Now I want you to relax. It’s time for me to spoil you.” With one final kiss to Patrick’s perfect mouth I began to move south, tracing my lips down his jaw and onto his neck, then across his collar and down his chest. I covered every inch of him in kisses: soft ones, little nipping ones, wet ones where my tongue darted out to lave at this skin and his pebbled nipples, sucking ones on his hips as I teased him. My fingers followed down his body, as I slowly took Patrick apart until he was panting and trembling. Then I pushed his legs apart and reached for the lube.
Patrick let out a stunted gasp as I pressed a slick finger inside him, and I smirked to myself as I watched him clutching at the sheets. And because I was an evil genius who adored spoiling Patrick, I reached forward to suck the head of his cock into my mouth as I added a second finger.
“F-Fuck,” Patrick hissed, his hips bucking and pushing his cock into my mouth. I swallowed around him and hummed happily. “Connor! I… I… I can’t.”
I looked up at him from under my lashes, giving him the sternest look I could conceivably manage with his dick in my mouth. It seemed to do the trick, because Patrick swallowed and nodded. I ran my other hand soothingly over his thigh, and then added a third finger to stretch Patrick wide.
I popped off his cock, licking up the string of saliva that had connected us and relishing the look on Patrick’s face. He always looked at me like I was the hottest thing he’d ever seen, combined with nothing but sheer reverence, even after nearly six months together. I hoped he’d never stop looking at me like that, because it always flooded me with a heady mix of emotions.
“I love you so fucking much, Patrick Evans,” I whispered, as I hovered over him, lining my aching cock up with his slick entrance. “You are the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”
“I love you too.” Patrick shuddered as I pushed inside him, his hands wrapping around my neck to draw me closer to him. He kissed me softly as I began to thrust. Neither of us was in any rush, the rest of the world could wait.
We made love slowly, exchanging gentle words of love and praise as our bodies moved together. It felt like the first time in ages that we’d really had time for each other and now we revelled in it. My body tingled like a live wire, my orgasm building into a slow crescendo that finally exploded and sent the most exquisite waves of pleasure dancing through me. Patrick stifled a cry as he came between us, his cock painting our skin with stick ropes of cum.
We didn’t stop kissing though.
Patrick’s kisses were like Christmas chocolates; one was never enough.
Eventually though, we heard people pottering around and we figured that it was time to make ourselves look vaguely presentable. Most of Patrick’s family were coming down late-morning, so breakfast was going to be fairly quiet with only Aoife, John, my mum, Patrick and I.
We took turns diving through the shower, because otherwise we knew we’d never get anywhere, and eventually made it downstairs dressed in our comfiest, yet still presentable jogging bottoms and the new Christmas jumpers I’d bought for us. Mine was bright pink with a faux knit pattern across the chest that said “Sleigh The Patriarchy”, complete with little purple sleighs and unicorns. It was ridiculously extra and I was here for it. Patrick’s was slightly tamer and was just a lovely shade of dark blue with a cream fair isle knit pattern across the chest and the upper arms. He looked very sexy and I made a note to steal the jumper later when he’d finished wearing it.
He’d get it back… but not before I’d worn it around the house until it had lost its Patrick smell. Because I was a creepy weirdo like that, and I didn’t give a fuck.
Aoife was already in the kitchen, prepping an enormous turkey. She was also wearing a Christmas jumper, with a dachshund in a Santa hat on the front and singing quietly along to the radio.
“Good morning boys,” she said as soon as she saw us. “Merry Christmas!”
“Merry Christmas,” we echoed, as Patrick headed towards the kettle to start making drinks, pressing a kiss to Aoife’s cheek as he passed.
“Did you sleep well?”
“Yes thanks, like a log,” I said.
“Do you want a hand with anything?” Patrick asked over his shoulder.
“No thanks, love. I’ve just got to pop the turkey on. Then Cara’s going to roast the rib of beef and some Yorkshires, and Immy and Orla are going to bring some puddings, ice cream, and Mary’s bringing some extra stuffing. She smiled at me, obviously noting the confusion “We’ve started cooking by committee over the past few years, since there are so many of us and they all live so close. They all help me prep and bring extras—it just makes it that bit easier. They keep telling me they’ll do more, but I like doing it, so they’ll have to drag it out of my hands.” She opened the oven and hefted the turkey into it. “There we go, all done. Now, shall we start breakfast? Then we can do presents.”
Breakfast was fresh sourdough toast with scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, orange juice and coffee. By the time we’d dished everything up, John had reappeared from the yard with the dogs, and my mum had come downstairs. It was nice to have a bit of quiet time with just the five of us and I was so happy to see how well our parents all got on. There’d be a small part of me that had worried they wouldn’t get on, and that the whole trip would be a complete shit show of awkwardness. But watching Aoife laugh at something my mum said and hearing them swap the most embarrassing stories about Patrick and I growing up—thanks mum, nobody needed to know about the time I projectile vomited all over one of her clients and then laughed—made a knot ease inside my chest.
After breakfast, we made our way through to the living room and were soon joined by Mary, who arrived bearing several tubs and tins. At least one of which looked like chocolate, and indeed turned out to be a tub of Roses that she cracked open as she sat next to me on the end of the sofa.
“Chocolate?” she asked, giving me a grin that said she knew I wouldn’t turn her down.
“Do you have to ask?” I picked out a couple and began unwrapping them, ignoring my mum’s wry smile. “It’s Christmas, chocolate is a legit food group.”
“So is alcohol,” said Mary, raising her glass of what I thought was orange juice but probably also contained prosecco.
“Exactly! So where’s mine?” I grinned and then, like he’d known I’d want some, Patrick appeared next to me bearing a glass. “Thanks, babe.”
“You’re welcome.” He fished a chocolate out of the tub as Aoife appeared carrying several huge gift bags.
“We’ll do presents now, before the family descends. We tried to do it all together for a couple of years but you have never seen so much chaos!” She chuckled and settled onto a chair that’d been bought through last night.
“Remember when Immy’s boys were little and you got all the grandkids NERF guns?” Mary asked, with a dark laugh.
“Lord, I thought the dogs would never forgive me,” Aoife said.
“I don’t know about the dogs, but I don’t think I will. Those pellets hurt!”
John laughed from the other sofa. “Can’t be as bad as the year Kyle got the remote-control car and kept chasing everyone with it.”
“Thank God you girls were all too old for Furbies!” Aoife chuckled.
“You didn’t miss much,” my mum said, shaking her head. “Connor’s was a nightmare; I eventually hid it at the back of the airing cupboard.”
“So that’s where it went! You told me it ran away,” I said in mock outrage and everyone laughed.
We chatted for a bit longer, then Aoife handed out presents. Patrick and I had bought everyone something, even if it was just little. It had been harder to know what to get everyone’s kids, so we’d mostly just stuck with sweets and small toys, but we’d tried to get all of his sister’s something nice. I always spoilt my mum, because she always deserved it, so I’d bought her presents while Patrick had organised presents for Aoife and John.
I was shocked to find that there were presents from me from John and Aoife, Mary and the rest of Patrick’s sisters. I hadn’t expected anything, and I had to choke back emotions as I unwrapped them.
They weren’t huge things, but clearly Patrick had given them some ideas and they’d been chosen with care and love. Some new legwarmers, a pair of brightly patterned leggings, some fancy lip balm and bath goodies, a cute hoodie and a gorgeous set of new make-up bags. My mum had bought me some new make-up I’d been dying for, and I couldn’t wait to play with the new eyeshadow palette because the colours were sickening. I felt spoilt rotten by the end and unwrapped another chocolate while staring at my collection.
“This is amazing,” I said, “Thank you.”
“It’s not over yet,” said Patrick, reaching down beside the sofa to pull out an enormous box wrapped in colourful paper. “Merry Christmas.”
“What the… Patrick!” I took the box and leant over to give him a kiss, my heart swelling with warmth. “Thank you.”
“You don’t even know what it is yet,” he said with a smile. “You could hate it.”
“It’s from you, so I definitely won’t!” He laughed and I grinned, reaching for the envelope I’d carefully stashed away downstairs here earlier, when I’d pretended to need the loo. “I suppose you better have this then,” I said. “It’s not just a card, promise.”
“You didn’t have to get me anything.”
“Did you two not talk about presents?” Mary laughed, reaching for another chocolate.
“We did. Sort of. It’s been a very busy couple of months,” I said with a chuckle, my fingers itching to tear open my present. We’d both agreed that we’d get presents and we’d vaguely set a budget… even if I may have ignored it slightly, but we’d not swapped ideas or anything like that.
“You can open it,” Patrick said, watching me carefully. I got the feeling he was desperate to know if I liked it. I didn’t need any more prompting, so I ripped open the paper, wild excitement burning in my chest.
“Oh my God, is this? Did you?” Reverently I lifted the lid of the box, and gasped when I saw what was inside. “Oh my God, babe. I can’t believe you remembered.”
Nestled in a mountain of tissue paper, was a pair dusty pink, velvet pole boots complete with eight-inch heels and matching velvet laces. I’d seen them a couple of months ago on my favourite pole supply site, but they’d been so ridiculously expensive that I’d not been able to afford them. Instead I’d just shown Patrick so he understood how pretty they were and how bereft I was, sighed forlornly and relegated them to my ‘buy one day when you’re rich’ list. But Patrick had remembered… without me even prompting. He’d even gotten the exact colour I’d been looking at, and the right size as well.
I ran my fingers over them reverently, feeling the soft material under my fingers. I couldn’t believe he’d remembered. Then again, I didn’t know why I was surprised. Patrick always remembered the things that were important to me. He was amazing like that.
“Are they the right ones?” he asked softly. “I wasn’t sure.”
“They’re perfect.” I turned to him and kissed him deeply, not caring that our parents were watching. “Thank you, I love them.” I couldn’t wait to get back in the studio and try them out. I was going to be an epically fabulous bitch in them, and Levi was going to be so jealous!
“Your turn,” I added, prizing my fingers away from the shoes. “Open yours.” Patrick reached for the envelope while I fizzled with excitement and tried to keep up a vague pretence of being calm. This had taken a bit of effort and organisation, but I hoped it would be worth it.
Patrick slid the card out of the envelope, grinning at the amount of glitter that came with it. Then he opened it and took out the pieces of paper that were inside, a look of confusion wrinkling his face as he unfolded them and read.
“What is it?” Mary asked, trying to peer around me to read over Patrick’s shoulder.
“It’s, um, it’s a trip to Rome.” Patrick didn’t seem to quite believe what he was reading as he stared down at the paper and then up at me. “In March? And we’re going on a food tour while we’re there? This is… this is too much.”
“Nope,” I said gleefully, failing to contain my excitement. I’d be dying to share this with Patrick for weeks and keeping it a secret had been a nightmare. There’d been so many times that I’d wanted to tell him, or even just hint, but I couldn’t because that would have ruined the surprise. “You deserve it. Ben said you hadn’t been on a proper holiday in years, Aaron said he always has to force you to take time off, and I thought this would be perfect! And I have some fabulous restaurants recommendations for us to try, and the address of the best gelato place in the city—at least, according to Levi.” I glanced at him, suddenly worried I’d done too much. “Is it… okay?”
“It’s… it’s amazing. Thank you.” Patrick took my hand and squeezed it so tightly I thought my fingers would break. “I love you so much.”
“I love you too.”
After the excitement of presents, and after I’d tried my shoes on and sashayed up and down the landing to check they fitted—that was my excuse anyway—Patrick and I wrapped up warm and he took me for a walk around the farm. We stopped to pat some of the horses, and I stroked their noses and the soft, clipped coat on their necks. The chill of the December air nipped at the little bits of exposed skin as we tramped across the frozen ground, hand in hand as we explored all the paths of Patrick’s childhood. The sky was a crisp blue, and when we reached the top of one of the hills, we could see for miles and miles across the broken, craggy hills of the farm and beyond. A couple of horses crested the hills in the distance, out on the gallops for exercise, their breath fogging in the frosty air.
“It’s beautiful,” I said, leaning against Patrick, my fingers wrapped up with his. I felt completely at peace.
“It is.” We stood there for a minute longer, the winter sun on our faces, before we turned and continued on.
By the time we got back to the house, it was packed with the rest of the Evans family. Kids were running around everywhere, screaming in excitement, while all of Patrick’s relatives mingled around drinking hot cider, beer and wine, squashing Patrick and I in enormous hugs and casually adopting my mum into their conversations.
Patrick and I quickly got changed, and then helped Orla and Cara set the tables, chatting away with them while we laid out crackers and folded napkins. The smells coming out of the kitchen were incredible and I was so hungry my stomach was practically eating itself. Breakfast suddenly felt like a very long time ago.
Not that I had to wait long and when the food was served I stared at the delicious feast that was laid out across the tables. Not wanting to be rude, I tried a bit of everything, because it all looked amazing.
“Don’t forget to save room for pudding,” Patrick said, handing me a dish piled high with roast potatoes.
“It’s fine, pudding is a separate compartment!”
It was the craziest, loudest Christmas I’d ever had—with everyone chatting away loudly, talking over each other, laughing, reading bad jokes out of the crackers—and I loved it.
After the food, we all spread out across the house to relax and Patrick and I curled up in the living room with half the kids to watch Moana and The Muppet Christmas Carol before losing terribly at several different board games while drinking John’s homemade Baileys.
Well, I lost. Patrick cleaned up spectacularly, but I highly suspected he’d played several of them before. I was also going to blame the effects of the Baileys.
By the time the evening rolled around, and some of the family began to leave, I was exhausted. But in the best way. We spent the rest of the evening just chilling out, chatting and dozing and occasionally picking at chocolates and bits of chocolate yule log.
Eventually, Patrick and I were the only ones left, curled up on the sofa together under a blanket while the last of the fire burned low, the end of my new favourite Christmas romcom, The Christmas Set Up, playing quietly on the TV.
“Can I ask you something?” Patrick said quietly, brushing a strand of hair away from my ear. His arm was around my waist and I was leaning back into his chest, which was one of my favourite ways to curl up with him.
“Of course, babe. Anything.”
“Will you marry me?” I blinked then swivelled in my seat so fast that I nearly fell off the sofa.
“Say it again,” I said softly, not quite believing what I’d heard, convinced it was a dream. “Please.
Patrick took my hand in his and stroked the skin, smiling at me softly. “Connor, would you do me the honour of marrying me?” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a little box, opening it to reveal a silver band inlaid with soft pink sapphires. “I know we haven’t been together for that long, but I can’t imagine my life without you in it. I love you more than you’ll ever know.”
“Y-yes. Yes, yes, fucking yes!” Patrick slid the band onto my finger, which unsurprisingly fit perfectly because this was Patrick, and then I fell into his arms and kissed him. “I love you too. Like so fucking much! Does anyone else know about this?”
“No, not yet. I wanted this just to be us for tonight. We’ll tell them in the morning.” He smiled that beautiful Patrick smile, and I knew no other Christmas would ever be as perfect as this one. “Merry Christmas, my love.”