Jake Nelson POV ~
“Jake! Jakey!!” I strain on my tiptoes to try and see over the crowds of people in the airport, whipping my head round to the direction of my best friends voice. A wide grin breaks out on my face as I spot her, standing with the same battered hand made sign baring my name. You know the one, painted on the back of a cereal box, in a child’s scrawl in green glittery paint and had both our hand prints on the corners. Well, maybe it's been touched up a little over the years. A matching grin spreads across the familiar face of Georgina Evans, as I launch myself towards her, elbowing a small elderly woman out of my way in the process.
“Jakey!” She flings her arms tightly round my neck and I pick her up and spin her round, knocking into the old woman again with her flailing legs. She scowls at the two of us, and hobbles away muttering.
“Is that woman ever not in the fucking way?” We dissolve into giggles.
“Hey hey! Be careful with my wife.” I place her back on feet and pull Andy in for a tight hug. “She’s in a delicate way, you know.”
“Where’s your superstar wifey?” George looks round.
“She had to stay in England.” George looks so crestfallen I can’t contain my laughter for long. “I’m joking, she’s in the bathroom.”
“Oh my god! George you’re so big!” Abi appears and rubs George’s swollen belly. Andy stands behind her, frantically shaking his head and making stop talking motions. George’s face crumples, and her lower lip wobbles.
“I’m a fucking whale! I’m hideous!” I pull my sobbing friend into my arms, hiding my smile in her long red hair.
Andy had spent the last two months dealing with a very over emotional George as she entered the last trimester of her pregnancy. Yeah, that had been a real fucking surprising phone call. He’d since begged me daily to come back and take her off his hands.
After Abi’s band had finished the European tour with Ripping Hammer, they had been offered representation by the band's management agency. The last year had been a whirlwind of recording albums and tours of their own. My dad had appointed a manager to the store in my absence, and it was a good thing too because after joining Abi in Europe I hadn’t been back home for more than a couple of days.
The longest visit was for George and Andy’s shotgun wedding a few months ago. And now we were back from another European tour for the imminent birth of their first child.
Settling in to my old bedroom in George and Andy's house feels weird; like I've never left but also like I can't remember ever living here.
It's strange how life turns out. I would have sworn blind until last year that I would have lived with Georgie until one of us died, and now we're both shacked up with other people.
"I think....I-it's time." George's voice is shaky as she replies.
"Are we nearly there yet?" The little boy strapped in the back seat whines again.
"Daryl, we're about two minutes closer than the last time you asked." My wife hides her smile as the mini-me rolls his eyes.
"I saw that, son." I pretend to glare at my six year old in the rearview mirror, before sticking my tongue out at him. He pokes his little one out back at me, grinning.
Abi shifts uncomfortably in the passenger seat, her pregnant belly barely hidden by the baggy hoodie she'd swiped from my wardrobe.
"It's not too much longer, bud. What are you going to do when you get there?"
"I'm going to give Stevie her present!" He looks down at the shiny Christmas present he'd not let go of the whole journey.
I eventually pull onto the driveway, and before I've even put the car in park my door is pulled open and George wraps her arms tightly round neck, choking me slightly.
"Hey Smidge." I chuckle, pulling her away slightly so I can kiss her cheek.
Andy greets us from the doorway, their youngest kid, Grayson, perched on his hip. I watch as Daryl runs past us adults, before stopping and shyly handing his gift over to George and Andy's middle daughter, Stephanie. Or Stevie as she preferred to be called. She squeals as she opens it and throws her arms round a blushing Daryl.
"I just can't get over how much those two look like you two did." I wrap my arms round my pregnant wife, pressing my lips against her temple. The six year old's were carbon copies of me and George, right down the fucking attitudes. It was so freaking cute. George was already planning their wedding, and I kept pointing out to her that we'd never had any kind of romantic entanglement as much as our mom's used to hope for it to happen.
"Hey Uncle Jake, Aunty Abi." Carrie, their teenage daughter gives us both a quick hug. She'd come out all Andy; tall, dark hair, deep brown eyes. Beautiful. Just having turned fifteen I know Andy was shitting it about her getting a boyfriend during high school. I've got everything crossed our next one isn't a girl. No way could I deal with all that shit!
We settle down in front of the roaring fire, like we do every single Christmas Eve, and we all open one gift each. As usual me and George have managed to buy each other matching pajamas, much to the amusement of our spouses, both of whom still think we're psychically linked. After the presents have been opened, the paper thrown away, and the hot chocolate drunk, the kids are packed off to bed. Abi follows behind not long after, the travelling having taken it out of her, and Andy soon disappears too. George snuggles closer to me on the loveseat, and I languidly run my fingers up and down her back on top of her flannel onesie.
After rebranding McGee's Music Shop to Jake's Jingle Shack, and expanding into a small chain of six stores around the west coast with a little help from Abi's musical earnings, Abi and I were doing pretty well for ourselves. We'd relocated to San Diego, so we only got to see each other about once a month, taking it in turns to travel. After graduating college, George had taken a position in our dad's company, initially as an accountant but dad had told me they were slowly grooming her to take over when they were ready to retire. Her and Andy were still living in our college house, although the amount of work that had been done over the years meant it was nearly double the size and totally unrecognizable. Andy had landed on his feet working as the team physio for the 49ers.
George sighs into my chest. "I love you Jakey."
"Love you too."
"Happy Christmas, Smidge." George nuzzles into the crook of my neck, and soon her breathing evens out as she falls asleep. I gently press my lips against her hair and feel my own eyes getting droopy.
The crackling of the fire is soon the only sound in the house.
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