#49 Most important order ever
We celebrate Thanksgiving with Khiêm’s parents, who are doing this huge American feast for their four kids and all their significant other – including me. All Khiêm’s sisters have boyfriends, and they couldn’t be more different. Mingmei’s boyfriend is an athlete who got a football scholarship and goes to the same college she does. He’s surprisingly shy for a guy that looks like he could lift this entire house with all of us in it. Ngoc’s boyfriend is a year older than Khiêm, a real estate developer, and completely and utterly devoted to his girlfriend. Seriously, the guy does nothing but dote on her. She only has to look at something and he will fetch it for her. Phuong’s husband is a quiet, serious guy with black-rimmed glasses. He’s a lawyer and works with Ngoc, but he didn’t meet Phuong through her sister, funnily. He keeps touching her baby bump with a sweet smile, to the point where it annoys her so much that she tells him to keep his paws off her.
The guys aren’t relaxed around Amy and Quang. Not at all. Even though they’ve all been around longer than I have – many years, in the case of Ngoc’s and Phung’s men – they seem just as tense as I felt that night they came over for dinner at our place. Everyone looks surprised when Quang smiles brightly when I walk in and hands me a glass of wine, while Amy whisks me away to help with dinner.
“What has gotten into Mom and Dad?” Mingmei asks Khiêm incredulously.
“It’s the Nia effect,” he replies with a huge grin, winking at me. “It’s impossible not to love her.”
Dinner isn’t a quiet affair this time, not at all. Khiêm’s father is no longer disappointed in his son, which makes for much easier conversation. He brags to the other three men that his son works very hard and he even tries to explain Khiêm’s podcast Blue Balls to them, which is hilarious, since he refuses to use the word sex. He’s wearing his merch shirt with the logo on it, and no one has the heart to tell him it represents a penis with a set of blue balls. The man is trying so hard.
After dinner, Amy takes me upstairs to show me an old Christmas dress with a tear in it, asking if it would be possible for me to fix it. I promise her I can get it done in time, but I refuse to have her pay me for it.
“Your son is the best things that has ever happened to me,” I tell her earnestly. “He’s done so much for me and I feel I can’t truly return the favor. The least I can do is fix his mother’s dress.”
Amy smiles. “I’ve never seen Khiêm this happy,” she says, sounding a little emotional. “You even got Quang to like you, and he absolutely hated Khiêm’s previous girlfriends, even though he’d never admit that out loud. You’re different. I quite like you for my son.”
Obviously, I pretty much float back home at the end of the night. Khiêm and I can’t get over how different his parents act around him ever since his father saw that Khiêm’s job isn’t easy, and that it pays the bills at least as well as an office job would.
“Thank you,” he tells me as we take off our fancy clothes and slip into bed in our underwear.
“I didn’t do anything.” I snuggle against him and touch the scruff on his face with a small smile.
“You got me to try with my Dad,” he says, tearing up. “I didn’t think things could ever be like this during a holiday. Normally, everyone is so quiet when I’m around, and the night usually ends with Dad and I in a fight, and Mom hiding in the kitchen.”
“That was all you, baby,” I whisper, kissing him tenderly. “You did that.”
“You defended me to him,” Khiêm goes on. “None of my exes have ever done that for me, Nia. They always sided with my parents and started asking me if I’d ever be willing to pick a normal career for their sakes. You just… you’re so…”
“I’m yours,” I reply, getting emotional too. “There is absolutely no reason for you to change. Ever. Anyone who says you should is stupid and needs to get their ass handed to them.”
He chuckles. “Oh Nia, you have such a way with words…”
We kiss for a while, but he pulls back when I start tugging down his boxershorts. “We need to tell Marcus. I want to celebrate Christmas with your family.”
I grunt and roll onto my back, staring up at the ceiling. Khiêm is right, and I obviously want that too, but Marcus won’t answer my texts or phone calls. I’ve tried showing up at his place, but he won’t even open the front door. Mom has made it clear she doesn’t approve of the way Bee has been treating Marcus, and now he’s mad at me for telling her. He won’t even listen to me when I tell him that I didn’t do it on purpose. He won’t even come to family dinners when I’m there.
It’s like I’ve lost my brother completely, and that hurts.
“You miss him,” Khiêm says, pulling me back to him. “I know you do. He’s your brother, but also your friend. And Nia… he’s hurting.”
Khiêm and Marcus have been texting lately, and they even video called a few days ago, but when I came home and walked into view, Marcus hung up the phone. Yeah, real mature. At least Khiêm hasn’t been shut out completely, thank God. He did say nasty things about Bee, but not as bad as what I said, and he didn’t tell my mother, so I guess it makes sense Marcus forgave him before me. From what Khiêm has told me, things between Marcus and Bee are tense. Living together is a bit of a challenge for them, apparently, but Marcus refuses to talk about it even with Khiêm and Jagger.
“I could tell him,” Khiêm says, kissing my cheek.
“No, I want to do it together,” I groan. “Just not… not like this.”
“If we can’t manage to get him to talk to me before Christmas, we’ll just tell him over dinner at my parents’ house,” I promise, although the thought alone makes me nauseous.
“Okay,” Khiêm agrees, brushing my hair out of my face. “Deal. I’m sorry for pushing you, but I love you so much and I want to… I just want him to know.”
“Yeah, I get it, he’s your best friend.” I throw my leg over his and press myself up against him. “A month from now, he’ll know, one way or another. Now let’s stop talking about my brother while we’re in bed.”
“What would you like to talk about instead?” he teases, running his fingers down my back until his hand is cupping my ass.
“How about we do something that doesn’t require any talking at all?” I propose, tugging down his shorts enough to free his cock, rubbing it until it stands to full attention. He slips his hand into my panties and groans when he feels how wet I already am.
“Great idea,” he agrees with a groan.
I know once he gets devoted to making me come, it’ll be a long time before he’ll let me focus on him again, so I push him down on the bed and kiss my way down his body. When I get to my favorite part of his anatomy, I wrap my lips around it and take him all the way inside of me. He groans in appreciation and grabs a handful of my hair, using it to keep me in place while he bucks up, fucking my mouth. I moan around him, and he curses loudly, yanking me away before he gets too carried away.
“Fuck, you’re too good at that,” he pants, his cock twitching at the loss of my warm mouth. “Come here, lovely.”
I lay down next to him, and he kisses me softly while his hands wander my body. He grinds against my leg while he touches me so lightly that I shiver in eager anticipation. He knows exactly how so get me to the edge within minutes just by gently caressing me, and he smiles against the column of my throat as I come with hoarse moans, my entire body trembling from the white-hot arousal coursing through my veins.
“So beautiful,” he murmurs, shifting so he’s on top of me. “So sexy.”
“Hmm,” I manage to get out right before he starts rubbing the tip of his cock against my clit, keeping it up until I come again. The waves of pleasure are still rolling over me when he enters me, his moves uncontrolled and frantic, chasing his own relief.
I wrap my legs around his waist and urge him deeper, raking my nails down his back hard enough to leave marks. He grunts against my shoulder, pressing sloppy kisses on my skin.
“Come for me,” I whisper into his ear, knowing that will set him off. “Please, Khiêm.”
When I say his name in a strangled moan, he groans my name and empties himself inside of me, holding onto me for dear life as he gives me all he’s got. He rolls off me a moment later, wiping us clean with his boxershorts. I make a quick trip to the bathroom, and then we’re back in bed, naked, snuggled against each other.
“My Xīngān,” he murmurs into my ear while he strokes my hair.
“What does that mean?” I ask, yawning slightly.
He chuckles. “Literally it means heart and liver. It’s Chinese. It’s what my dad calls my mother, because he likes using her own language to tell her how much he loves her. He started learning Chinese the day they met. It means… it’s a term you use for the most important in your life, someone you can’t possibly live without.”
I look into his gorgeous brown eyes, overcome by emotion. “And I’m yours?”
“Of course,” he whispers, kissing the tip of my nose. “Who else?”
I go to drop off Amy’s Christmas dress in early December, but it’s Quang who opens the door. He ushers me in, telling me that he’s making lunch for him and Mingmei, and that they could use my help since Mingmei is more like Khiêm and Quang in the kitchen than she’d like to admit. I have lunch with them, and afterwards, Quang orders Mingmei to do the dishes, saying he needs to talk to me for a moment.
Nerves bubble up in me right away. I have no idea what he needs me for, but it can’t be good if I go by his intense expression.
“Nia,” he says the moment we’re alone in the living room. “I need your help.”
“Okay…” I swallow audibly. “What can I do for you?”
“Amy told you about her wedding dress,” he says, putting his hands flat on the table as he leans forward. “I hadn’t heard her tell that story in years. It got me thinking… Back when we got married, we didn’t have much money, and when her mother died, the funeral took up what little we had left, so our wedding was small and her dress simple.”
“You want to do it over?” I ask, already getting where this is going.
“Yes, I want to propose to her again and have her plan her big day the way she’s always wanted, now that we can afford it.” A small smile curls up his lips. “Can you finish her dress?”
“Sure,” I say right away. “Show me.”
He leads me upstairs to one of his daughters’ old bedrooms that has since become a mess, boxes everywhere. On a clothing rack in the back is a white garment bag, and he unzips it with the utmost care. The dress is creamy white and flowy, with an intricate flower pattern all over it. The pattern stops halfway down the train, and it obviously needs some more beading on the bodice and maybe a belt or something, but there is no denying how beautiful the gown is.
“Can you do it?” he asks almost nervously.
“Yeah, sure. When…?”
“I want to propose to her on New Year’s Eve, just like I did the first time. And I’d like to show her the dress that night as well.”
I smile to myself. “I can see where Khiêm got his romantic side from.”
Quang gives me a surprised look. “He’s romantic?”
It saddens me that his parents don’t know him all that well, but I’m happy to help rectify that. “Very,” I say, zipping the dress back into the garment back. “He’s extremely attentive. For our first date, he decorated the entire living room with flowers, fairy lights and candles. He even tried to cook for me.”
“Tried?” his father echoes.
I giggle at the memory. “It was inedible.”
“That’s my son.” Even though he’s talking about Khiêm being the worst chef ever, there is obvious pride in his voice. “Could you not tell Khiêm about the dress? I want this to be a surprise for the kids as well as Amy.”
“Of course,” I vow. It will be hard to keep a secret from my boyfriend, but it’s for a good cause. “I’ll keep the dress at the boutique.” I grab the bag and turn to go back downstairs, but Quang’s hand on my shoulder stops me.
“Of course, you and your family are invited for New Year’s Eve,” he tells me. “Amy’s brother always throws a huge party. He’s happy to have you. Any and I would love to meet your parents and siblings.”
“O-okay,” I stammer. “Sure. Yeah, I think they’d be up for that.”
Feeling like I’m in a dream, I walk down the stairs, call goodbye to Mingmei and get into my car with Amy’s wedding dress carefully draped across the backseat. No matter what the rest of my life will look like, whether or not I will open my own store one day, I already know is going to be the most important dress I will ever make.
Except… except for my own dress, one day. And maybe, if we have a daughter, I’ll get to make hers as well. The thought makes me giddy, and I drive to the bridal boutique to get started on the dress with the biggest smile on my face.