Ariana’s heart beat twice as fast it usually did as she lead Nathan to her bedroom, his warm hand wrapped securely around hers. She eased open the door and flipped on the light and it was is if nothing existed in the room except her bed. She eased the bedroom door closed again, careful not to wake anyone else up, and let Nathan lead her to the bed. He tugged the ponytail holder from her hair and buried his hand in the silky strands, kissing her hard.
She kissed him back, falling onto the fluffy white comforter with him on top of her. She slid the top button on his shirt out of the buttonhole and his hands went straight to the zipper on the front of her onesie.
She pressed her body to his, needing him close. His hands slid to her bare waist and she felt herself melt under his touch. When it was all over, she curled up beside him, her head on his chest, listening to his heartbeat and feeling his chest lift and fall with every breath, his arm wrapped securely around her.
He presses his lips to her temple. “Merry Christmas.”
Ariana wasn’t sure when she fell asleep but when she woke, she was alone in bed and Nathan was getting dressed in the dark. She sat up.
“Why are you leaving again?”
Nathan went straight to her, sat down on the bed and cupped her face in his hands. “No, No.”
He kissed her forehead. “I was going to wake up you, I promise. I just thought you probably don’t want to have to explain this to your family in the morning and I should probably spend at least part of Christmas with mine.”
Ariana closed her eyes. She knew he was right, but she didn’t want him to be. She didn’t want him to go. She’d just gotten him back.
“This won’t be like last time,” he said as if reading her mind. “I wanna keep this going, us, no matter what it takes. I love you, Ari. I won’t lose you again.”
She kissed him, tears running slowly down her face. “I love you too.”
“I’ll see you soon, okay?” He whispered against her hair.
She nodded, her throat too tight for words. Grabbing a robe, she rose and followed him to the front door. As they stood in the entryway once again, Ariana couldn’t help but marvel at how much had changed in only a few hours.
She tried to pretend she wasn’t as scared as she felt inside as she gave his hand a confident squeeze. He kissed her forehead again, lightly, then left a long lingering one on her lips.
“Merry Christmas, angel. We’ll talk soon, promise.”
Even as Ariana echoed Nathan’s holiday greeting, she knew nothing under her tree in the morning could possibly compare to the gift she’d already been given--a second chance at love.
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