15 DAYS TO CHRISTMAS
“Guys, really, what am I supposed to get you? I have no ideas! Give me a clue!” Natasha asked for the hundredth time, gaining only laughs in response. I smiled, pouring popcorn into the bowl.
We were all lounging in my apartment, as we often do after a stressing day, although tonight was a little different, because we were to watch a crucial match for our team. It was the last one of the round, essential for us to get into the last sixteen, no less. The team has worked awfully hard for this, so you can imagine how nervous we fans were. Well, the guys and I were, the girls are fans, yes, but not as obsessed as we are.
I just love soccer. I’ve played for a while, but then I had to quit, you know, too busy for sport, which kinda made me lazy instead. I mean, I still go jogging every night after work with Liam, but no more than that, yes, sometimes he manages to drag me out to play a little, but mostly the job kills us both.
Oh, Liam is one of my besties, of course, well, all the five people I share my life with are my besties, but Liam just stands a little notch higher, mostly because he was my teammate back to when I played, and you know, teammates tend to make awesome friends.
I played in a mixed team because our school didn’t have enough funds for two teams. I was actually the first girl allowed in what was once a merely male soccer team, but now is happily mixed. Liam was my fiercest enemy in my battle to enter the team, but in the end we both won.
We were all lounging in my apartment, waiting for the match to begin, when Natasha came up with this thing. It’s always a drama for her, she’s one of those Christmas spirit all over the place types, so she’s very much into it, and every year she spends tons of money to get everyone something unforgettable.
We have known each other for six years, we all went to the same college. Although Liam, his brother Ethan and I go way back. We went to school together.
“Guuuuuys!” Natasha whined, dragging on the letter in a desperate attempt at getting their attention. Liam and Ethan made a show of not even hearing her, Caleb seemed more sympathetic, but that’s because he’s a sweet guy, and ... he kinda has a small crush on her. Only I know that, shhh!
Within six years we’ve had our ups and downs, like ... when Ethan and I tried dating, and Liam didn’t take it too well, convinced that that would have destroyed our group and him, because, in case we broke up, he’d have had to choose between his bestie and his brother, and he didn’t want that.
Ethan and I lasted five months, then, simply, it didn’t work out, but Liam’s catastrophic prophecy didn’t become true: his brother and I separated on accord, therefore we were easily able to remain friends. We’re still so friends that sometimes we’re each other’s wingman, mind you.
“Sarah!” Natasha called out for my help, and I chuckled, bringing the bowl with popcorn and some beers into the living room.
“Guys, please, answer.” I pleaded with them as I lay everything onto the coffee table, purposely standing in front of the TV, to obstruct their view. Predictably, both brothers groaned, while Caleb merely rolled his eyes. Because they didn’t answer, I stood in front of the TV, arms crossed.
Caleb sighed. “Anything related to my job is fine, Nat, really.” She smiled, grateful.
I fixed my gaze on Liam and Ethan, knowing they can’t resist for long when I stare like that, in fact Ethan budged quite soon: “Whatever is fine, Nat, don’t bother.” Quite vague, but at least it was an answer.
“Liam?” I pressured. He merely snorted in response. “Please, be nice for once, and answer your friend, will you?”
He rolled his eyes. He’s always like that, takes everything as a challenge. You can bet your head, if you tell him to do something, he’ll do the opposite just out of spite.
“Come on, just mention whatever.” Ethan nudged his younger brother, I bet to get to the ultimate goal that was finally seeing the soccer match.
I’m no fool, I knew the match would start in 10 minutes, so I wasn’t blocking anything except for boring statistics. It wasn’t a big deal, Liam is just a bull that has to make a point every time ... you can’t imagine the stubbornness wars we wage.
In the end, right when Melissa was entering the living room, saying hi to everyone, Liam pretended to be pondering, even rubbing his chin in thought, and finally started: “All I want for Christmas ...”
Natasha was edging on her seat, grinning, happy to finally have an answer, while I kept the stare contest with that stubborn bull that is my best friend, knowing he was onto something, the half grin on his handsome face told me that much. You’ll never be able to count the women that fall for that grin, believe me.
“... is to watch the damn match without your ass in sight.” Liam finished. I rolled my eyes at his childish comeback. “Along with the new Hugo Boss fragrance. Yeah, that sounds fine, Nat, thank you very much.” He smirked. “Now get that ass out of my face, Lancaster, the match is starting.” Liam gestured for me to shoo away from the TV.
I’d have stayed just to make a point, but the players were entering the field, I could hear them, and I was more interested in seeing them than bickering with my friend for the umpteenth time.
However, I did sway a little on my way to the couch, passing right by Liam’s face, smirking as I countered:“Don’t act like you wouldn’t want a piece of this, Carter.” Nah, he doesn’t, but he knows I know he checks me out way too often.
Trust me in this, girls, he might be the best, best of your male friends, but he’ll still check out your ass when you walk away. Fine with me, I do check out his as well. Hey, Liam Carter might be a bit of a jerk most of the time, but he’s got a fine ass.
“I was wondering ...” Melissa started by mid-match break, when we were all inebriated by the three goals our team had already scored, virtually securing its place in the last sixteen.
I was sprawled on my big sofa, half leaning against Ethan, head on his shoulder, lazily eating popcorn, half annoying Liam with my feet, content with our team’s work. Caleb, Melissa and Natasha sat comfortably on the other sofa.
“Do we really need to buy Christmas gifts this year?” Melissa wondered.
I arched an eyebrow at her, confused. It would be typical of her to try to get out of having to spend money, but I didn’t understand what was she trying to say, especially because she kept beating around the bush, talking about how we’ve been friends for long, have shared so much, that there’s virtually no secret among us, we’re always open to everything, we’re young ...
“Cut to the chase, Mel. What is it? Another one of your tricks not to spill money?” Liam asked harshly, rolling his eyes.
I hit his stomach with my foot for the rudeness, and he sent me a dirty look, gaining my angelic one. We always do this. He’s annoying as heck when he really wants to, but I’m no less ... and I’m persistent, much more than him.
How do you think I got to not only enter the male soccer team, but also become vice-captain, practically the second best player after Liam himself? Especially with him and his pals trying to stop me. I’ve been ostracized not little back then ... you know how it is, all guys, a girl in a male team ... they didn’t take it well.
Melissa bit her lips, evidently flustered, which had me frown. Normally she’s quite outspoken, why would she be embarrassed now? In front of us even.
“What did you have in mind, Mel?” I asked, better leaning against Ethan, who lazily wrapped an arm around me, rubbing my stomach, which is a habit he took when we dated and hasn’t been able to give up. I don’t mind, it’s kinda relaxing.
In truth, Ethan and I are better off being friends, as a couple we didn’t really work out, yet that doesn’t mean that we don’t have residual habits of that period ... how can I say it ... well, my ex and I kinda hook up now and then.
Nothing big, and our friends don’t exactly know this, Ethan and I just ... help each other out in the moment of need. Some might say it’s not exactly sane for a habit, because we’ve been in a relationship, we’re friends even, and we’re always hanging out ...
I’ll tell you it’s perfectly fine like this, we’re much better off now being only friends with benefits than when we actually dated. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like we’re secluded in our sort of thing, no, we just ... hook up whenever, but also go to dates when the chance presents itself. It’s obvious that we cease sleeping together every time we’re seeing someone.
Last time for me was in summer, it was only a fling with a tourist, it could have become more, but none of us was really serious about it, in the end I think the guy just wanted to try something new, have a summer fling, that sort of thing.
Fine with me, I was bored out of my mind, Ethan was outside town for a while. I think I dragged it on even too much with that guy, I mean, we weren’t really two of a kind, but he was quite good in bed, I’ll give you that.
Ethan is awesome, though. Man ... he’s amazing in the sheets. That might be one reason why I’m not that beyond sleeping with him even if we broke up long ago. I’ve had a few sex partners, yet none of them ever got to Ethan’s level.
See why I still hook up with my ex? He gives me what a girl needs, but no other guy has ever given me. Not that the others weren’t good, it’s just that Ethan is ... beyond every level.
“Well ...” Melissa restarted, fidgeting. I eyed the TV, where players were already coming back from their break.
“Just say it, damnit.” Liam nearly barked, an eye on the screen as well.
Ethan was just full on focused on that, the distracted way with which he rubbed my stomach told me that much, because I wound up feeling his hand slip beneath my sweater. He does that when he spaces out. He says he’s picturing what we’ll do next when we’re on our own. I say he’s only a belly fetishist.
This guy somehow always finds a reason to have his hands on me, and consequently get into my pants. Can’t say I mind ...
Melissa took a deep breath as we all watched her, puzzled, well, Liam was more irked, his eyes kept switching from her to the TV and vice versa. “It’s just that I’ve ... read somewhere that ... some groups, after years of friendship, start splitting because of the sexual tension amongst the members and ... well, I don’t want that to happen to us.”
I frowned, marveled. Where does that come from? I looked up at Ethan for a moment, and found he was already gazing at me, the same doubt as mine floating in his eyes. I bit my lip, wondering if Melissa was talking about us ... would now be the time to tell them Ethan and I are still hooking up? “Well, um ... actually ...” I started, ignoring Ethan’s questioning gaze.
I was cut off by the referee’s whistle mixed with Liam’s bark: “Later!”
I would have been just as focused on the match as he was, but ... I was more concerned about Melissa’s statement. My eyes traveled back to Ethan, and I noticed he was staring at me as well, instead of the match, which is all saying, given what a fan he is too. Last time we slept together was ... well, yesterday.
We’ve been doing this for four years now. Not a few months. We’ve been secretly hooking up for four years, how would our friends take it? And Liam? What would he say? He was the most relieved one when his brother and I broke up, I don’t think he’d be glad to know we’re playing such game.
“Alright, what is it?” Liam grumbled, shooing away my feet to lay on the sofa, obviously gaining a dirty look from me, which was soon replaced by a giggle when Ethan solved the problem by pulling me better into him, practically onto his lap, daring more than he ever has in such circumstances, but hey, who cares, I was comfy like that.
Liam, content and happy because the team won and successfully got into the last sixteen, kinda hyped by beer, lay on the sofa, taking it all to himself, while I was kinda cornered, well, Ethan and I were, because, like I said, I was practically sitting onto his lap. It was quite comfy ... enough for my feet to still annoy Liam, ha!
Playing innocent, I turned to Melissa, wondering what did she want to say, and she stood, in order to face all of us. Natasha was as much sprawled on the sofa, her head on Caleb’s lap, I bet causing him a few technical problems, if you know what I mean.
Ignoring Liam as he tried to shoo away my feet that were at the sides of his face, I listened to Melissa: “Well, the thing is ... you guys know I like psychology, right?”
We all murmured in acknowledgement. Sure as heck we know. In college she kept trying to psychoanalyze us every time ... never getting it right. In fact later on she switched major.
“Well, I like to read researches and such, and ... I read somewhere that at some point, even the strongest group winds up falling apart because of the unsustainable sexual pull amongst members.”
I frowned, while the others murmured amongst them, just as confused. Ethan cracked a small smirk as he pinched my thigh, nearing my ear, so that only I could hear him as he spoke, his tone alluringly: “She’s talking about us, isn’t she?”
I smirked, shifting in my position, enough to better sit onto his lap. “You give yourself too much credit, Carter.”
The sneaky jerk caught me off guard by biting down on my earlobe, nearly making me moan out loud. “You do that for me, sweetie pie, every time you scream my name out loud.”
“You’re a jerk, you know that, right?”
He chuckled lightly, the sound filling my ears, and he tightened his grip on me, enough for it not to be that unnoticeable, but the others were too busy questioning Melissa. “Yet this jerk gives you the best sex of your life, and you love it.”
He’s right. Oh, well. I smirked, shifting enough to rub my ass against his crotch. “When the others go, you stay.” I ordered.
Ethan smirked, once more biting my earlobe. “Your wish is my command, milady.”
Well, what can I say, I’m a sucker for great sex, and sure as heck Ethan gives me that. Who would refuse such unspoken deal in my place? I mean, I’ve got my ex ready to satisfy my every need at a snap of my fingers, but without strings attached.
No dates, no complaints, no fighting. Just me, Ethan, and some good old hanky panky. The friendship is a great plus, especially because we’re perfectly able to split the two things without issues.
“So I thought, why not just ... get rid of it?” Melissa wondered.
I frowned, confused. Too busy rubbin against my ex with benefits here, I didn’t hear what the others were saying. “Wait, what?”
Liam rolled his eyes, groaning. “Always so slow, Lancaster, huh? Like in the field.”
“Shut up, Carter, or you’ll eat my foot.” I moved my heel to his mouth, only to retrieve it when the jerk actually licked my bare heel ... ewww! “You’re disgusting!”
“Hey, you started it.”
“If you taste as bad as your foot, I’ll skip you.”
I furrowed my brows, taken off guard. “What?” Damn Ethan and his sexy ass.
Natasha grinned, sitting up straight to resume it for me: “Here’s the thing. Mel came up with a peculiar way for us to celebrate Christmas. We never know what to buy to each other, right? So why not ... offer a service instead?”
She nodded, grinning quite enthusiastically, I’d add. “To cut it short, Mel suggested that we do a Secret Santa.”
My frown deepened. A Secret Santa? That’s all? I thought it would be something more scandalous, given their flabbergasted faces.
Much to my surprise, Liam smirked as he sat up, his green eyes beaming of a weird glint as he gaped at me. “A ... Sexy Secret Santa.”
He laughed, shaking his head, while the others seemed busy taking in Melissa’s idea. I wasn’t the only late one, Ethan was just as confused as I was, but Liam was focused on me, and I don’t think I’m wrong when I say those green eyes pretty much did an X-Ray of my body.
It’s nothing new, Liam does check me out, like he does to Melissa and Natasha too, but this time it seemed ... weird, as if something were already crossing that perverted mind of his.
“A Sexy Secret Santa.” He repeated, eyeing each of us one by one, receiving Melissa and Natasha’s accomplice grins, as if I were supposed to understand just by the phrase.
“Take it this way, Sarah, we all have fantasies.” Melissa injected.
“Dirty fantasies.” Liam pointed out, green eyes always fixed on me, an impish grin on his lips.
“The study I read, it says that, 8 times out of 10, those fantasies involve close friends.” Melissa went on.
“What kind of studies do you read?” I questioned, disbelieving. Do scientist have all this time to waste?
“Doesn’t matter. Listen to me, Sarah.” Melissa reclaimed my undivided attention, which I gave, despite still feeling Liam’s eyes on me. “I was saying, we all have dirty fantasies, even the most chaste person fantasizes, and most of the times, it’s about a close friend. Now, most people grow old without ever being able to fulfill their most secret fantasies, so I thought ... we’re all young, barely 25, it’s the right time, isn’t it?”
I’m pretty sure I’m gonna get early wrinkles for how much I was frowning, trying to put together what Melissa meant.
“We ought to buy Christmas gifts for each of us, right?” Melissa continued, eyes on me, as well as everyone, including Ethan. I guess he already came to the right conclusion, which I might have to, but I wasn’t sure just yet ...
“Well, I thought, why not give a different gift this year? Something each of us has long desired, something we would never ever, not even in our wildest moments, dare reveal to living soul.” She smiled. “Take me, you and Nat, okay? We tell each other everything, don’t we? Things the guys can’t even fathom, right?”
Cue the awes from the boys, but I ignored them. Ah, the talks we girls have when they aren’t around ... I remember the time I told them how was Ethan in bed ... the girls couldn’t quit staring at him, it was hilarious to see his dumbfounded look.
I smiled at Melissa, nodding, and she smiled back, Natasha doing the same to both while the boys wondered what did that mean. Melissa ignored them, going on with her explanation: “We tell each other everything, but ... not our deepest fantasies. Do we?”
I bit my lip. Nope, definitely we don’t. For instance, they don’t know what I desire the most, which is...
“Well, what if there was the chance to fulfill those secret desires?”
“Sexy Secret Santa?” I repeated automatically, kinda seeing what she was getting at. She grinned, they all did, especially Liam. Of course he would like this, he’s such a kinky freak.
“Yes.” Melissa was brief.
“You mean ...” I trailed off, pointing at each of us.
Her grin widened, and she came to sit onto the coffee table, in front of me, which might have sounded innocuous ... what had me flinch was the fact that she slyly placed a hand on my thigh – way upper than normal –, eyeing both me and Ethan. “Yes.”
I smirked, my eyes on her hand. This is gonna be one hell of a kinky Christmas.