Driving to Portreath in Cornwall is a long and tiring journey. With our baby girl pressing down on my bladder, we had to make many toilet stops on the way, which didn’t help.
“How many bedrooms does the cottage have?” Imogen asks from the backseat, leaning forward, her legs swinging beneath her. Strewn beside her are countless toys and books, and of course, the infamous dolls.
“Four,” I smile, twisting in the seat to smile at her.
“Do I get my own room?” Imogen presses, her eyes widening.
“Yes,” I grin, glancing at Jax beside me. A smile plays on his lips as he concentrates on the road, glancing in the rearview mirror at his daughter.
“Are you and Daddy sharing a room?”
Imogen is still trying to work out the logistics of our relationship, despite me moving in.
“She is my girlfriend, sweetheart,” Jax says, as Imogen rolls her eyes.
“I know, Daddy, but maybe Jolie wants to share a room with me.”
We both laugh, and I pause, tilting my head as though I’m giving it some serious thought.
“I do love you,” I say, reaching over to pat her knee. She looks truly adorable in her tartan dress, complete with a cream roll neck jumper and matching tights.
“I love you too, Jolie!”
“I love you both,” Jax declares, and we both reply that we love him too.
The cottage we’ve rented looks like it is straight from a magazine. Traditional cobblestone and slate roof meets modern; floor to ceiling windows on the upper level, overlooking the beautiful turquoise waters of Portreath Bay. Jax guides the car to a parking space beside Jorge’s silver Mercedes, and we spot Larah and June heading out from the glossy red door, complete with a Christmas Wreath.
“Mummy!” Imogen calls out, dashing from the door over to Larah, who looks stunning in a cherry red dress that skims her bare thighs. Her hair is curled into a twenties style, complete with a red bow that holds it in place.
God, she’s gorgeous.
“Have I told you how fucking sexy you are?” Jax murmurs in my ear, spinning me around to gaze at him. His cream turtleneck jumper curls up beneath his chin, highlighting his light eyes as they skim over me.
“Hmm, you may have said something about it…” I tease, as his lips meet mine. It's easy to forget who I am when we kiss, his tongue begging for entrance at my lips, his fingers caressing my lower back. “But either way, I said it first.”
Jax chuckles, rubbing his thumb over my lips before gazing at me longingly. “Whatever I did to deserve that, I would earn millions if I could share the secret.”
“You know what you did,” I roll my eyes, turning to see Larah and a pretty brunette watching us with amusement.
“It was the leather jacket, right?” Jax laughs, wrapping his arm around my waist to steady me on the icy driveway. The brunette was the sort of woman that could carry off any hairstyle, and currently, she has an undercut, slashes of black and brown running through it, her huge brown eyes widening as I smile at her.
“You must be June,” I say, somewhat breathlessly. I hand my hand out and she tugs me towards her, enveloping me in a huge bear hug,
“I am, and you are the one carrying the precious cargo,” she declares, holding me out to examine me. Her long dark eyelashes are caked in mascara, but instead of looking tacky, she reminds me of a sixties siren. “I’ve popped the kettle on, let’s get a cuppa.”
Larah hugs me then Jax, before stroking my baby bump tenderly. “She’s getting big,” she says, following June and Imogen into the house. As I’m about to follow them in, Jax pulls me towards him, holding me flush against his body as he trails a finger down my cheek.
“I can’t believe I’m here with you. My Cinderella.”
“You are so romantic,” I drawl, pushing his hair back out of his eyes. “Larah and June are so nice, you’re lucky to have such a great relationship with them, you know, with Larah being your ex.”
Jax nods, exhaling as he shakes his head at me. “I’m lucky, but mainly because I’ve got you.”
“Stop, you’ll melt me,” I say, dragging him towards the house.
Inside I’m greeted with the scent of cinnamon and freshly brewed coffee. A dazzling Christmas tree takes up the whole corner of the open-plan room, its thick green branches decorated with red ribbon bows, golden bells, shiny silver baubles, and gold tinsel. The lights on the tree seem to be chasing each other in slow motion, and I feel Jax kiss my cheek.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” I answer without hesitation, taking in the red tartan curtains and thick wooden beams that run across the ceiling. The log fire is lit, the flames that flicker against the burnt logs sending black smoke up the quaint chimney.
“Mummy to be!” Lauren crows from the stairs at the back of the room, waving at me excitedly. She’s wearing a velvet red dress, complete with white fur, an exact replica of my outfit. Planned, of course.
“Hey girl,” I smile, inhaling her perfume as she embraces me tightly.
A warmth spreads through me when I see Jax reach out to shake Jorge’s hand, laughing heartily as he does. Larah and June are canoodling like newlyweds by the kitchen counter, which is decorated with gold and red bows. Imogen is on the floor, searching through the pile of presents that have been deposited there.
This is what it feels like to have a family.
A flutter in my stomach makes me gasp, and Jax meets my eyes instantly, concern spreading over his face. My hands move to the area, my breath caught in my throat as I wait.
“I felt the baby move,” I whisper, and Lauren claps her hands.
“Really?” Jax says, coming over to drop to his knees, stroking my bump lovingly. “Move for Daddy, baby girl.”
“Jax! She moved again!” I squeak out, as he grins, looking up at me with awe.
Imogen hurries over, her tiny hands spanning across my stomach as much as they could, her mouth beside my belly button. “It’s your big sister here, you can kick my hands if you want!”
Larah and June watch us from their position in the kitchen, and I stroke Immie’s hair with love bursting through my chest.
“As soon as I can feel a kick, I’ll tell you.”
Jax ruffles her hair as she skips back to the presents happily.
“Well, that's all I wanted for Christmas,” I laugh, stroking my bump.
“Hot chocolate?” June calls out, dumping a host of containers and jars onto the table as Larah gazes at her with pride. “I’ve got every flavour, mint, orange, Irish cream-”
“Can I have mint?” Jax grins, sending her a wink.
“You, handsome, can have anything you like,” June says sweetly, before moving her gaze to me. “Mama?”
“Mint too, please.”
Jorge and Lauren put their orders in, Irish Cream and Whiskey. “Sorry,” mouths Lauren as she adds bottles of alcohol to the counter.
“It’s okay,” I wave my hand at her as Jax rubs my back. “I don’t think the baby would like Baileys.”
“You’ve got the front bedroom,” Larah says, as Jax lifts his eyebrows up.
“Nice, thank you.”
“It's for Mama,” June points out, gesturing to my bump. “It has an en suite so it makes sense for you guys to have it.”
“Wanna see it?” Jax says to me, a mischievous glint in his eyes. Larah drops her gaze then, focusing on June instead, and I wonder if she caught the innuendo.
I bet she did.
I follow Jax upstairs, admiring the tastefully decorated hallway as he pushes open a stable type door, the sort that opens on the top and the bottom. The room isn’t overly large, and the ceilings are so low Jax has to bow his head when he stands upright. I snort with laughter as he shakes his head, flopping onto the bed.
“Who lives here normally? The seven dwarfs?” he scoffs, linking his hands behind his head as I gaze at the room. It’s in theme with the rest of the house, all deep red throws and golden lights. A huge chalkboard has been propped against the far wall, and written in calligraphy are the words, ‘Baby, it's cold outside.’
This is going to be the best Christmas ever, I just know it.