It was a week before Christmas, and Lana had been invited to do a show at a gallery in New York City. Since Natalia was going to be with her mother for a few days, Dylan didn’t hesitate to go with her. They decided to fly in a day before the show and stay for a few more days after so they could explore a bit. Dylan insisted on splurging on a suite in one of the many swanky hotels in the city.
After getting settled in at the hotel on the first night, they bundled up and prepared to face the cold as they explored Times Square. They walked the streets of the city, taking in the busy atmosphere. Once they were so cold they felt like their noses were frozen, they stepped into a small Italian restaurant that was dimly lit and played romantic music. They sat and talked, dragging their meal out over the period of an hour and a half, and successfully finishing an entire bottle of red wine followed by drinks with their desert. Once they had warmed up with the help of the alcohol, they set out again to continue exploring.
As they headed back to the hotel later on, they stopped on the sidewalk where they could clearly see the iconic tree at Rockefeller Center. Dylan smiled as he watched Lana’s eyes light up like a child. With each day that passed since she had been released from the hospital, he watched as she slowly let her guard down and let herself enjoy simple moments again. He knew that with the help of her therapy sessions, she was learning to let herself be open to all of her emotions in lieu of keeping up with the façade that everything was fine. While she had been trying to protect herself and act in self-preservation, she had also become accustomed to not letting herself enjoy the greatest moments in life. It was as if she had conditioned herself to be numb to everything, afraid to be hurt by direct insult or by having things she cared about taken away.
Dylan slipped his arms around Lana’s waist and pulled her into him, smiling down at her before pressing his lips to hers. She grinned into the kiss before allowing him to deepen it as she wrapped her arms around his neck. Their tongues danced together as their bodies heated up, begging for more skin to skin contact. By the time they separated they were breathing heavily. Dylan tangled his hand in her hair as she nuzzled into his warmth while they continued to embrace each other. Lana tilted her head so she could press her lips to his cheek, whispering into his ear.
“What are you doing to me?” Her lips grazed against his skin and he smiled. “You make me want things I never thought I could have.”
“Baby, all I’m doing is loving you,” he whispered back. They exchanged smiles before their lips connected again. He rested his forehead against hers and looked into her eyes. “What is it that you want?” Lana laughed softly and shook her head.
“If I said it, I’d sound just as insane to you as I do in my own head,” she paused with a slight blush. “It’s hard to believe with everything that’s happened, and how madly I’m in love with you, that it was only seven months ago that you walked into my life.”
“I agree,” he cupped her cheek and brushed his thumb back and forth, smiling as he leaned in for another kiss. “Crazy how I’m already thinking about giving you my last name,” he whispered. He kissed her deeply before she could even respond.
Lana couldn’t help but replay his statement in her mind throughout the rest of the night. The only time she was remotely distracted from it was when he gave her multiple orgasms, first in the shower and later in the bedroom. Ever since she had moved in with him she had thought about it, but she thought she was crazy and just getting caught up in the moment. Her brain told her she was absolutely insane, and things were moving too fast, while her heart pushed her to stop overthinking and let herself be truly happy for once in her life. She was finally able to console her thoughts by pointing out to herself that there was no ring and no previous mention of an engagement. She forced herself to believe that he was just testing the waters, and he wouldn’t actually act on his emotions anytime soon.
The following night found them at her showcase which had generated a bit of publicity. Dylan stayed by her side through photographs and as she answered questions for the papers, blogs, and local news crew. Throughout the show he mingled, charming the guests with his words and looks while Lana attended to her customers. The show had originally been scheduled from 8 PM to 11 PM but ended up running long past midnight due to the sheer volume of people that walked through the front door. By the time the doors were closed, Lana had decided it was time to look for an agent, as she had so many requests for shows, and even a few people who had asked her about doing private work. She had once thought about doing private photo shoots for couples but had wanted to focus on getting her work out for purchase first. Maybe it was time to consider private shoots. She was even in a position to name a good price.
It was Christmas Eve and the house had finally quieted down. Dylan’s parents had already retired to the guest room, while his brother and his wife camped out in Lana’s office, and his sisters shared the sofas in the living room. Lana had gone to take a shower after getting some things prepared in advance for Christmas dinner, and Dylan said goodnight to his sisters before ascending the stairs. He saw the dim glow under Natalia’s bedroom door and he smiled, heading down the hallway and softly knocking on the door. Something had seemed off with her since she had come over the day before, and he needed to know what it was. She called for him to come in and he stepped inside, pushing the door closed again behind him. She was bundled up in her blankets on the bed reading a book by the light of the small lamp on her table. He sat his bottle of water on the nightstand before climbing onto the bed next to her and pressing his lips to her forehead. He moved to lay on his side, facing her and propping his head up on his hand. He watched her as she continued to read, until she looked at him and rolled her eyes.
“Dad, you’re such a weirdo sometimes,” she sighed before marking the page in her book and setting it down.
“What? I’m not allowed to appreciate having my daughter with me on Christmas for the first time in three years?” He smirked. “I’m not upset that you went away with your mom, but it’s nice to finally have you here for a change. It feels good to have the whole family here.”
“Yeah, it is pretty nice,” she agreed. “I miss spending time with family. I mean, I’ve spent time with mom’s family but it’s different with your side. Everyone here is happy to be around each other,” she shared, looking at him with a smirk that made him laugh. He took a deep breath as he reached up and tucked some hair out of her face.
“Are you happy, baby girl?” He questioned thoughtfully. She looked at him with a shrug. “I’m not just talking about Christmas, I’m talking about in general. Are you happy for the most part?”
“I’m happy here, with you and Lana, if that’s what you’re asking.”
“What about when you’re with Mom? Is everything okay there?” He clarified. She shrugged again.
“I guess,” she cleared her throat. “Things are just different now that she’s dating Kris. He practically lives there now, and he acts like I don’t exist.”
“Does mom still spend time with you?” He furrowed his eyebrows.
“Sometimes,” she paused. “I know she loves me, and I love her, but things are just different now. I feel like it’s all about Kris and what he wants.”
“Do Lana and I make you feel like that?” He swallowed nervously.
“Relax, Dad,” she smiled, and his tension softened a bit. “If I didn’t like her, I would have told you.”
“Good. We’ve always had a good line of communication and I don’t want to lose that,” he sighed as he moved onto his back and rested his hands on his chest. “Are you happy living with mom?” He looked over at her again and she shrugged. “I’m not saying you shouldn’t be, I just want to make sure you’re happy.”
“I guess. Why? Would I be allowed to move in with you and spend more time here if I want?” She questioned almost nervously.
“Nat, you can do whatever you want to do. If you want to be here full-time with us you can, but if you would rather stay with Mom you can do that too, I just want you to be happy.”
“Are you sure Lana would be okay with me staying here?”
“I’m sure she would be, she knows that I’d do anything for you. We talked about you a lot when we first started dating. She knew from the beginning that we’re a package deal.” She nodded in response. “Just think about it, okay.”
“Okay,” she nodded with a small smile. Dylan stood, leaning over and pressing a kiss to her forehead again before they said their goodnights and he left her alone.
He headed back to his bedroom, following the sounds of Lana softly singing along with the radio into the connected bathroom. She was wrapped in a towel as she brushed out her hair. They exchanged smiles in the reflection of the mirror as he moved behind her, stripping his shirt off before he slipped his arms around her waist. His lips went to her neck, slowly trailing down and across her shoulder. He untucked her towel, letting it fall to the floor as his hands moved to massage her breasts, then focused on playing with her nipples until they were pert. She could feel him growing against her and she pressed her hips back into his. His breath caught in his throat and he moved one of his hands down to the apex of her thighs, working his fingers into her slick folds before slowly circling her clit.
“I need a shower, don’t get dressed,” he whispered huskily into her ear and she nodded. “I can see you’re already turned on, but don’t touch yourself either,” he added and she pouted. “I want to be the one to make you come.”
He rubbed her for a minute more before pulling away. She watched his reflection as he dropped his sweatpants and boxer-briefs, his erection standing at full attention. She contemplated joining him in the shower but decided against in in lieu of setting the mood in the bedroom. She turned on the gas fireplace and lit some alternating height pillar candles on the nightstands and dressers. She made sure the bedroom door was locked before lying back on the bed and putting her arms behind her head in attempt not to touch her swollen clit. She could feel how wet she was with every movement of her body, and she was about to give in and keep herself entertained when Dylan stepped out of the bathroom, still in the buff. He reached over and turned off the switch for the chandelier above the bed before stalking towards her, pulling her legs apart before climbing onto the bed and burying his face between her legs.
Lana’s back arched off the bed as she gasped at his sudden decision, one of her hands grasping into his hair. He quickly worked her up to the edge, pulling away just as she was about to come. He flashed an evil smirk and she responded by pushing him down on the bed and quickly taking him deep into her throat. His hips bucked involuntarily, and he placed his hand on the back of her head, urging her to keep going. She moved quickly, moving her lips and tongue the way she knew would drive him crazy. She tasted his salty fluids leaking from his tip, working him just a bit more before pulling away. She moved to lay on her side, but Dylan quickly sat up and grabbed her by the hips, pulling her over to straddle him.
She bit her lip seductively as she reached down and positioned him at her opening, slowly sliding onto him and taking him in completely. He let out a soft moan as she began to ride him, digging his fingers into her hips. She had gotten him so close that he was struggling to hold back. He closed his eyes, tightening his grip on her hips and forcing her to still for a moment. When he opened his eyes back up, she flashed him a mischievous smile.
“You’re an evil woman,” he breathed huskily.
“You started it,” she replied softly, gently rocking her hips.
“You’re lucky I love you.” She smiled and started moving her hips again, quickly gaining speed. “Okay, you’re done teasing,” he growled, quickly moving her onto her back and taking his position between her legs.
Dylan leaned down and kissed her deeply, resting himself against her slick heat as he gathered himself again. As he nipped and sucked at her skin, taking time to tease each of her nipples before coming back to kiss her lovingly again, shifting the mood from playful to passionate. He slowly filled her once again as she arched her back off the bed and let out a moan which he silenced with a kiss. He took his time with her, wanting the moment to last as they shared kisses and hushed words while they made love to each other.
After they finished, giving each other all they had to give, they climbed under the blankets and she rested her cheek against his chest as he brushed his fingertips back and forth across the back of her shoulders. Lana had an arm draped over his waist and his cheek rested against the top of her head. Usually Dylan would fall asleep after they made love, but Lana could tell he was a bit unsettled. She tightened her arm around him and pressed her lips to his chest before looking up at him.
“What’s on your mind, Dylan?” She asked softly, and he gave her a small, knowing smile.
“Well, I was talking to Nat before I came in. I was asking her if she was happy with everything, not just with us, but with her mom and stuff,” he started, and she nodded for him to continue. “She didn’t say too much except that her mom has a lot going on, and she had asked if we would be okay with the idea of her moving in with us.” He ran his hand through his hair in frustration. “She didn’t directly say that was what she wanted to do, but I think she’s kind of thinking about it and she wants to make sure that we would be on board.”
“Of course,” Lana smiled. “I want her to be happy too, and if what she wants is to live with us primarily I’m completely on board.”
“That’s what I figured,” he tucked some hair out of her face. “I mean, if that’s what she decides, she needs to be sure. If that’s what she wants, I’ll have to take Mari to court again so I’m not paying out the child support for her to blow on her boyfriends. I just wanted to make sure you would be okay with it.”
“Absolutely. I want what’s best for everyone.” She smiled up at him and he leaned in, kissing her lovingly. He smiled, stroking his knuckles over her cheek before rolling them over and resting himself between her legs again, caging her in with his arms. He kissed her sweetly before trailing kisses back her jaw and down to her neck, lightly nipping at her earlobe as he tangled his hand in her hair. He clenched his eyes shut and said a silent prayer as he rested his forehead against hers.
“Marry me,” he whispered, his warm breath heating her skin as his hand tightened in her hair. Her arms tightened around his waist and he opened his eyes and looked directly into hers. “I know you’ve been seriously hurt in the past and it’s hard for you to put this much trust in anyone. I want to spend the rest of my life giving you the love and support that no one ever has.”
“Dylan,” she whispered, not sure what to say.
“Lana, I’ve lost every single person I’ve ever considered family with the exception to everyone under my roof tonight. I can’t stand the thought of ever losing you.” He pressed his lips to hers. “I want us for the rest of my life. I’ll do anything, just...” he trailed off and she could see he was struggling not to cry. He closed his eyes as he took a deep breath, resting his forehead against hers again. “Please, marry me.”
Lana reached up and brushed away the lone tear threatening to fall with the pad of her thumb. His eyes fluttered open and she had never seen him so raw, so vulnerable as he was in that moment. She couldn’t promise him that her past would never haunt her. She didn’t know if she would have moments of weakness when she would completely freak out, thinking she couldn’t be what he needed her to be. But, she knew that if she had those moments he would pull her through just like she had learned to do with him. She could promise him that she would always love him, and she would be there for him through thick and thin.
“Okay,” she whispered, sniffing back her own tears. His eyes lit up and he grinned.
“Okay as in yes?” He clarified as his excitement grew.
“Yes!” She smiled with a small laugh.
The pair celebrated by consummating their newly strengthened bond. They fell asleep in each other’s arms, and when they woke up in the morning Dylan asked her if he had been dreaming. She assured him that she had agreed to marry him the night before, and his excitement spurred on a quick romp between the sheets before they got themselves ready for the day and finally left the bedroom. They had agreed not to say anything about their decision to his family, as they felt it would only be right if Natalia found out first without an audience.
Lana and Dylan’s sisters made a large breakfast scramble that consisted of eggs, potatoes, onions, peppers, and cheese with a side of bacon and toast. They quickly ate as Natalia bounced in her seat, excitedly awaiting their gift exchange. Since she was the only grandchild in the family at this point, she always got beyond spoiled by his family. She also seemed to truly enjoy watching others open their gifts, getting caught up in the overall excitement of the holiday.
The most exciting gift exchanged was a small photo frame that held a black and white picture of baby booties that Dylan’s sister-in-law Brooke had handed out to him, his sisters, and his parents. Everyone was overjoyed with the news of a new baby in the family, especially Natalia who nearly bowled her over with excitement. It set the atmosphere for the rest of the day, which was spent by the men talking and drinking beer while the women focused on making Christmas Dinner. They ate and drank until their stomachs were content, spending the remainder of the evening sitting around the fireplace and sharing their fondest holiday memories.
The week seemed to fly by until the 30th when Dylan’s family had returned home with exception to his youngest sister Megan, who was staying with a friend nearby. He had offered for them to stay for New Year’s Eve since he always threw a party, but his parents weren’t really into it, Brooke was beyond exhausted after the weeks excitement, and his oldest sister Heather had already committed to plans with her friends down home. Dylan wasn’t a huge party person, but they always shot off fireworks on the beach, and there was a perfect view from the back of his house where everyone would gather to watch them at midnight.
The weather was mild, and Natalia was sitting outside by the pool in her jeans and sweatshirt drawing while Dylan and Lana cleaned up the kitchen after lunch. Lana finished up washing a few larger dishes while Dylan loaded the dishwasher. She rinsed out the sink and shut the water off, turning around and leaning back against the counter with a small sigh. She exchanged smiles with Dylan as he shut the door to the dishwasher and moved over to her, slipping his arms around her waist. She draped her arms around his neck and they shared a small kiss as they took in the quiet of the now empty house. They then joined Natalia outside, and Dylan flashed Lana a small smile as he took her hand in his and led her over to the lounge chair next to Natalia. He sat down on it sideways and gently pulled her down next to him. He gave her hand a soft squeeze before turning to look at his daughter.
“Hey, Nat. Can we talk for a minute?” Dylan asked with a smile.
“Well, since you’re smiling, I’m probably not in trouble for anything, so sure,” Natalia replied with a smirk as she set her art supplies to the side.
“Nope, not in trouble. Unless you did something that I just don’t know about yet,” Dylan smirked, and she rolled her eyes. “Just kidding.”
“What’s up Dad?” Nat sighed as she spun to face them, crossing her legs Indian style in front of her.
“Well, Baby, there’s something that we need to tell you,” he started as he looked over at Lana again with another squeeze of her hand.
“You’re pregnant?” Natalia smirked at Lana.
“Oh God, no. Slow it down, girlie,” Lana laughed.
“Really, Nat? I’m trying to be serious,” Dylan glared semi-straight faced.
“What? Statistically speaking if you have one child out of wedlock, it’s more likely to happen again,” she smirked. Now it was Dylan’s turn to roll his eyes.
“Can you please stop being a smartass for two minutes? I know it’s my fault and you get it from me, but just give it a rest,” he told her, flashing a small smile.
“Sure, Dad. What’s up,” Natalia sighed, finally giving in.
“Well, you know I usually like to talk to you before I make any major decisions, but something kind of happened the other night that I wasn’t really expecting,” he explained, and Lana looked at him with a smile.
“Okay,” Natalia took a deep breath. “What happened?”
“Well, on Christmas Eve when everyone was here, and I finally had you here with me for the holidays I realized that I’m at the happiest point in my life right now,” he started, and Natalia smiled widely. “I have my beautiful daughter who won’t stop growing up, I have the best family in the world, and I finally found someone that I want to share everything with,” he added, then slipped his arm over Lana’s shoulders and pulled her up against his side, intertwining his fingers with hers and resting their hands on his lap.
“When Lana and I first met, we we’re very honest with each other about what was going on in our lives, and since day one she’s been supportive of my goal to be the best that I can be for you,” he smiled at his daughter. “Long before it was even on the table for you to meet her, we had talked about you and she understood that you would never come second to anyone in my life. I still stand behind that idea, that you will always come first. The only difference now is that Lana has made it pretty obvious that she wants what’s best for you too.”
“Nat,” Lana cleared her throat, “I want you to try to understand that even though it’s just been less than a year since your dad and I met, and he let me into your lives, I’ve really grown to love both of you. Before I moved in here, I looked forward to seeing you too when I would come to visit your dad. Now, I worry about you almost as much as your dad does. I want you to be happy, and I want you to know that you’re one of the most important parts of our relationship. I would never do anything to intentionally upset you or strain your relationship with your dad. Like he said, I knew from the very beginning how close he was to you, and I don’t want to change that.”
“Are you guys moving to another country or something?” Natalia questioned seriously.
“No,” Dylan laughed, and Lana smirked. “Nat, what I’m trying to tell you, is that I realized all of this at once the other night. Everything hit me at the same time, and I knew right then and there that this is what I wanted for the rest of my life. Lana has been the best thing that’s happened to me aside from having you. So, normally I would have talked to you about it first, but it just kind of happened and I asked her to marry me.”
“You did?” Natalia smiled, and her eyes lit up a bit. Dylan nodded. “What did you say?” She asked Lana, still smiling.
“Well, I said yes!” Lana grinned as Natalia stood from the chair and she stood to give her a hug. “Are you okay with this?” Lana asked softly as she tightened her arms around her.
“Yes!” Natalia answered as she smiled up at her excitedly.
“Good. Your dad and I just want you to be happy, and I want you to feel like you can come to me about anything too, okay?” Lana questioned, and Natalia nodded in response.
Dylan stood and put his arms around both of his girls. This time last year he was lying in bed all alone with no one else in the house and trying to figure out ways to distract himself from the loneliness that surrounded him. He never would have imagined that within a year’s time he would have met and fallen so deeply in love with someone, let alone be in the position that he was in now. For the first time in his life he had a family of his own, and he couldn’t wait to build on it in the future.