Eloise couldn’t believe they’d missed caroling to have sex three times. How was she supposed to show her face to his parents or her mother? Sitting on the edge of the bed, she fingered the shirt she would have worn had she and Marcus made it caroling.
“What is going through that pretty little head of yours?” Marcus asked, he bent down and placed a kiss on her temple.
“How am I to face your parents and my mom after skipping caroling to have sex?” she asked, he stared at her and burst into laughter.
“My parents won’t care, they understand the urge to have sex is strong after you mate. I am sure my mom explained it to your mom when they went caroling,” he tried to reassure her. She only shook her head, still embarrassed.
“Baby, please don’t worry. Everyone loves you and can’t wait to hear you play the piano. I didn’t know you could play,” he commented, sitting next to her on the bed.
“I’m not a professional at it, I only play for my students,” she remarked, the reason she hadn’t told him was that she knew he would ask. She enjoyed playing the piano, but it wasn’t something she was passionate about. Her mother pushed her into learning, she had told her when she was younger, she needed a skill to show off. She thought her mother wanted her to learn to play so she would have something her father could be proud of. She knew her father would never want her. She had been a mistake he couldn’t take back. Spending the past thirteen years learning how to live for herself taught her she didn’t need to change for the people important to her to accept her. Find Marcus had been the last piece to the puzzle of what made Eloise complete. For thirty-one years, her mother had always told her she didn’t need a man to make her who she was but finding Marcus had made her life brighter.
“Professional or not, it is amazing that you can play. I am hopeless when it comes to keeping a tune. My mom tried to get me into band, my band teacher suggested at the end of the year I try out for football instead,” Marcus shared. She couldn’t help but giggle.
“What did you play?”
“Saxophone, I squeaked every time I played.”
“Reed instruments are hard,” she offered to soften the blow of her laughing at him.
“It’s okay, I hit my growth spurt and played on the football team,” he answered.
“What position did you play?”
“I know nothing about football, but it sounds impressive,” she replied, he laughed and pulled her in close.
“You don’t have to worry about knowing football. I don’t have to watch the games at home.”
“No, you should watch them, I don’t want you to change for me. I can grade while you watch and get the hang of the game,” she hastily replied, she didn’t want him to stop doing something he enjoyed.
“Sounds good, we should head down, I can hear everyone making their way back to the house.” He pulled her onto her feet and kissed her gently. Keeping her hand tucked in his, they walked down the stairs just as the whole family was coming into the house.
“Aunt Ellie, you missed Grandpa single Jingle Bells while the rest of us sang We Wish You A Merry Christmas!” Jill burst out, running over to wrap her arms around Ellie’s waist. She returned the hug and smiled up at everyone.
“I’m sorry we missed it,” she replied.
“It was so funny,” Gregory added, he tugged on her hand and she let him pull her into the living room. She laughed and let the children surround her, the only child who wouldn’t speak to her was Vincent. She had an inkling why too, he probably was mad she helped his mom figure out what was going on with his homework.
“Can you play us a song?” Bobby asked, pointing to the old piano in the room.
“Sure,” she replied, sitting down at the piano, she opened it and ran her fingers over the worn ivory keys.
“This was my mother’s, she used to play all the time,” Beth shared, Eloise looked over her shoulder to see Beth give a sad smile. She could tell her mother was no longer around and Beth missed her dearly.
“What would you like to hear?” she asked the children, looking directly at Vincent.
“Can you play Frosty the Snowman?” Kelly asked, Eloise, nodded, did a few quick scales to warm up her fingers and began to play. She smiled when Marcus came to stand next to her at the piano facing out leaning his arm on the top.
“You play beautifully,” he said, and she laughed.
“Frosty isn’t a hard song to play.”
“Still, it is a skill I can’t compare to,” he replied, bending down he placed a gentle kiss on her lips. She finished the song with a flourish and turned to face her new family, they were all clapping loudly.
“Can you play another?” Gregory asked.
“She’ll play again once the party starts, right now you need to go up and change into your nice clothes. The party will be starting in ten minutes,” Dana said, Gregory groaned but did as she asked.
“You haven’t lost your touch,” her mom said, Eloise turned around on the bench and watched her mom sit down on a worn couch.
“Thanks, I play for my fourth graders. So when are you and Joe thinking of getting married?”
“We were hoping for a quick wedding out in Vegas. We’ve been together for ten years, it is time to make it official.”
“I like it, Joe has been a great man for you and stepdad for me. Even though you two met when I was technically an adult, he has always treated me as his own,” she replied, her mother blinked back tears.
“I am so glad to hear you say that. When your father rejected you at eighteen, I worried you would be put off men forever. Marcus seems like an amazing mate, and if the sex is as good as it seems to make you miss caroling. I say you hold onto him for the rest of your life,” her mom said, Eloise stared at her in shock.
“That is why you missed caroling, correct? Beth explained to me you two had mated yesterday and would be spending time cementing your bond,” she explained, Eloise hid her face in her hands.
“He is amazing Mom, and yes the sex is that good,” she replied, might as well own to the amazing sex Marcus and she was having.
“Has he asked you to marry him yet?”
“Not yet, I think he wants to wait until this stalker business is over,” she replied.
“Speaking of stalker, William is home in Washington with his family. He flew in as Joe and I were flying here. I also found out he is a shifter, but not what kind. I heard from Maryanne at the grocery store, she knew they were a shifter family, but not what type of shifter.”
“My guess is a mountain lion, that is what killed Jimmy,” Marcus interjected, Eloise had felt his comforting presence while she and her mother talked.
“That would fit your timeline,” her mother replied, with a firm nod.
“It looks like William remains our prime suspect, and we know where he is,” Marcus explained, Eloise reached out and took his hand. He squeezed her hand and she instantly felt better.
“So we should be safe here?” she asked.
“Yes, I think you were right, we spooked him with the police coming to your apartment,” Marcus replied, Eloise, relaxed against his body. His family would be safe from her stalker and she was free to enjoy the rest of her time here.
“Ellie, Lola, could you give me your opinion on the appetizers we will be serving at the party?” Beth called, she let go of his hand and walked away to the kitchen with her mom.