#52 Not in a festive mood
Warning: there are only a few more chapters left, and then the book is coming to an end... It’s a little shorter than some of the other books, but Nia’s story is almost wrapped up & it’s time to dive into Marcus’ life in the next book: “Guarded Marcus”.
Normally, I’m always in high spirits at Christmas’ time. The apartment is decorated with cheesy ornaments, a small Christmas tree – a fake one, because Khiêm is allergic to pine needles – and a lot of glitter, and I’ve got all my Christmas’ shopping out of the way. It should be a magical time. My first Christmas with Khiêm.
Instead, I’m a nervous wreck. Marcus is back to not answering my calls and refusing to open his door when I ring his doorbell. It sucks balls. Luckily, I have a lot of work to distract myself with. Sonia and I have final fitting for brides getting hitched at Christmas or New Year’s Eve, I’ve got a few dresses to finish for people who ordered custom made pieces on my website, and of course there is Amy’s wedding dress. Sonia is helping me with it, in awe over how well Amy’s mother made this dress. We take great care of the gown, making sure it looks like Amy’s mother finished it herself.
Mingmei stays with us for a few more days before going back to her parents’ house, and she seems to be getting over boyfriend just fine. She seems dead set on proving she doesn’t need a man. Good for her.
Khiêm asks me time and time again if I’m sure that I want to take him with me to dinner at my parents’ house. I get that he doesn’t want to cause more problems, but I want to finally officially take Khiêm home as my boyfriend. It’s long overdue.
When the night is finally there, we both dress up, and he gives me my first present right before we leave. I open the little red box and gasp when I see what’s inside. It’s a necklace with Chinese signs on it, white gold with small crystals adorning it.
“What does it mean?” I ask, admiring it.
“Heart and liver,” he replies, putting his fingers under my chin to tilt my face up to his. “My Xīngān.”
“I love it.” I press a kiss to his lips and turn around, holding up my hair so he can put the necklace on me. “How does it look?”
“Beautiful,” he says right away, but he’s not looking at the necklace. He’s looking at me like he’s never seen a girl as gorgeous as me. “I love you so much, Nia.”
“Love you too, Khiêm.”
We kiss, tender at first, but soon his tongue finds mine and I moan into his mouth, wishing we had some time before having to leave. Judging by the bulge in the front of his pants, he feels the same way. He pulls up my dress, his hand moving between us to touch me through my panties. I moan and grab his erection through his pants.
“How long have we got?” he asks, moving his lips to my neck.
“Ten minutes,” I moan, grinding against his hand.
“Turn around then,” he growls. The moment I do, he bends me over the armrest of the couch and pulls my panties to the side, his moves slow and controlled. “I’ll try to be gentle, but the second I unbuckle my pants, all bets are off.”
I shiver at his words. “Then you’d better get me off fast, Khiêm. Tick tock.”
He chuckles and slips in a finger, rubbing his thumb over my clit in slow circular motions. “I plan to, lovely.”
When Khiêm sets his mind to something, he always succeeds, so I’m not surprise to have an orgasm roll over my body five minutes later, causing me to moan his name. The second he feels my channel spasm around his finger, he pulls out and I hear his pants drop to the floor. He yanks my panties further to the side, still not taking them off, and then he’s inside of me, fucking me hard and fast, his fingers digging into my hips.
“Fuuuuuck,” he growls. “You okay?”
“Yes!” I cry out when he shoves himself in so deep I feel like we’re one single being.
He comes with hot, fast spurts, cursing loudly. He takes a second to catch his breath, and then he’s out, grabbing some tissues to wipe us clean, and pulling his pants back up.
“Wow,” I breathe, fixing my dress and panties, a little shaky on my legs. “We’ve never done that before.”
Khiêm laughs and pulls me in for a sloppy, wet kiss. “I think we both needed some stress relief.”
That reminds me of the question that has been on my mind all day… Will Marcus show or not? My good mood evaporates, and I squeeze Khiêm tightly, hiding my face against his dress shirt.
“We’ll be fine,” he assures me. “Come on, we have to go, lovely.”
He’s right. We have to go. Hopefully he’s right about us being okay too. We’re both quiet on the drive there, but it’s hard to stay sad once we’re in my parents’ house. There is so much crazy going around to occupy our minds. It’s perfect. All my siblings – aside from Marcus – are here. Dshawn and Shaughna brought their twins, of course, and the toddlers are getting all of the attention, looking cute as hell in their little tux and dress. Of course there are already stains on them, but my oldest brother and his girlfriend aren’t the types to let that bother them. In fact, they’re snuggled together on the couch, not even paying any attention to their kids covering themselves in strawberry juice. They’re perfectly happy to let Mom and Dad handle their grandkids. Lazy fuckers.
“Hey Khiêm,” Creed says, handing him a beer. “Happy you could come.”
Khiêm’s hold on my hand tightens, and he smiles brightly. “Not as happy as I am.”
“Nia!” Mom shouts from the kitchen. “Help me with setting the table!”
I give Khiêm a kiss, knowing he will be just fine mingling with my family without me. In the kitchen, I try to convince Mom that there is no use pretending we’ll all fit around the table. That ship sailed the moment Dshawn had kids. The house just isn’t big enough. It would have been better to do dinner over at his place, but Mom is too proud to admit that her oldest son has a way bigger house than she does. More money, too. She always insists that it’s her job as the mother to host dinner. We let her, because we love her to death, even though she stresses everyone out.
“We need to fit!” she exclaims, her hands on her hips as she takes in the table. “We have to!”
“We could carry down my desk and get the old table from the garage,” Pierre suggests, popping in as well. “Push them all together. We’ve got plenty of chairs if we get all the ones from our rooms.”
Before Mom can protest, I take over and tell everyone to help us to move the furniture around. Khiêm helps Aliyah carry the chair she’s trying to haul downstairs, and my heart grows a size watching him with my younger sister. He winks at me before rounding the corner, and I brace myself to help Dshawn and Creed carry Pierre’s desk downstairs.
Twenty minutes later, the living room is transformed. It doesn’t look the way it does in movies, but we’ll all fit and the food looks utterly delicious. The only things that’s missing is… Marcus.
“What a beautiful necklace,” Mom says while piling her plate with sweet potatoes. “Did Khiêm give that to you? Is that Chinese?”
“Xīngān,” I say in the best Chinese I can muster, touching the beautiful piece of jewelry. “Heart and liver.”
“That’s… not very romantic,” Shaughna comments dryly, wrinkle her nose.
Khiêm grins. “It’s basically the Chinese version of heart and soul. It’s a term reserved for those closest to you, the person you can’t bear to live without.”
“Now that is romantic,” Dshawn says, smiling at his girlfriend. “Remember when I gave you your necklace?”
Her eyes sparkly as she touches the infinity sign around her neck. “Of course I do. You proposed to me that night.”
“I thought you weren’t married?” Khiêm asks, surprised.
“Oh, we’re not. He got down on one knee and asked me if I always wanted to stay his girlfriend, never his wife,” Shaughna says like it’s the most normal thing in the world. “We also don’t have an anniversary because we have no idea when to start counting, so we celebrate whenever we feel like it.”
“We’re at two times this year,” Dshawn says, taking a bite of chicken. “But we’ve still got a few days left, so who knows, we might make it three.”
“That’s…” Khiêm looks at me for help.
“Weirdly sweet,” I finish for him. “I know. When we get married, we’re definitely going to have a date, and a ring, and an anniversary.”
“Obviously,” he agrees. “In case you didn’t know yet, I’m old-fashioned about this, so don’t you dare propose to me. I want to be the one on one knee.”
“Damn right you are.” I touch the scruff on his face and give him a kiss that tastes like beer and sweet potatoes.
“You better ask Asia for permission first,” Shaughna tells Khiêm, winking at him from across the table. “Terryl has absolutely no say in matters like these.”
“True,” my father agrees. “I’m only at the head because Asia likes to make me think my voice matters.” We all know that’s true, but Dad still looks at Mom with nothing but love in his eyes. Those two are still head over heels for each other, even after almost thirty years together.
“How long have you been married?” Khiêm asks my parents, helping himself to more green beans with bacon wrapped around them.
“We’re not,” Mom replies, taking Dad’s hand in hers. “Technically, he’s my boyfriend, not my husband, but people often act like that’s insane, so I refer to him as my husband all the time. We don’t think a ring or a piece of paper are all that important. Love and commitment, that’s what matters. Not a big ceremony, a white dress, or a ring that costs a year’s salary. That being said…” She raises her wineglass in Khiêm’s direction. “If you want to marry our Nia, have at it.”
“That’s the permission out of the way,” Pierre teases me. “All you need now is a ring and Khiêm to sink down on one knee.”
“Now now, it’s only his first official Davis’ holiday,” Dshawn says, laughing. “He might still run away screaming.”
As everyone continues to tease us, I realize something very important. Neither of us is even the tiniest bit fazed by the mention of marriage. In fact, Khiêm is practically glowing. We’ve talked about it before, but my mother telling Khiêm he has her permission makes it feel like it’s actually a possibility, not just a far-off dream. I don’t know what to do with that, especially because it’s just too weird to even consider something so life changing when my own brother won’t even talk to me.
As if my prayers are heard somewhere, the doorbell rings. Aliyah jumps up to open the door, and we can all hear her excited squeals. “Marcus! You came!”
He walks in with one arm around Aliyah, the other holding a bag full of presents. “Sorry I’m late,” he says in a gruff voice.
“That’s okay.” Mom motions at the place we set for him in case he would show. “Sit down, boy.”
Everyone stares at him as he takes his seat between Aliyah and Pierre. I don’t mean to sound rude, but he looks like crap. His hair is longer and messier than I’ve ever seen it, his button-up shirt has buttons forced into the wrong holes, making him look like he doesn’t even remember how to dress himself, and his eyes are bloodshot. He either hasn’t slept in days, or he’s been crying. Probably both.
“Dude, you look like you just crawled out of a grave,” Pierre says with the tact of a 16-year-old.
Marcus winces. “I know. Sorry. I’m not in a festive mood.”
“Look, if this is still about Nia and Khiêm, you need to grow the fuck up,” Mom says, slamming her hand down on the table. “I love you, Marcus, but they’re both adults, and he treats her like a queen. Nia has never been happier. Just get on board already.”
Everyone holds their breath, including me. This is it. Make or break.
“It’s not because of them,” Marcus grumbles, gratefully taking the beer Dad just went to get for him and downing half of it, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. “I broke up with Bee an hour ago.”