Monday, December 20, 2010

Advent Calender Day 20: A Little Sprig of Mistletoe

On the fifth day before Christmas, my Advent calendar gave to me a tipsy kiss beneath the mistletoe.

A forgotten prequel to ALL HE WANTS by Emily Ryan-Davis

“And a little splash of rum,” seventeen-year-old Telly Johnson whispered to herself as she topped off a fresh glass of eggnog with a generous pour. There was so much liquor flowing at her parents’ Christmas party that nobody would notice a bit of missing booze.

Masculine, laughing voices neared the kitchen. She hurriedly screwed the top back on the bottle and grabbed a handful of red-sugar-sprinkled cookies before heading for the back stairs. Nobody would notice as long as she didn’t get caught.

As she placed her Santa-slippered foot on the bottom step, “Jingle Bells” grew louder and a draft whooshed across the kitchen, cooling the backs of her legs. Cringing, she froze in place. Maybe if she didn’t move—

“Telly?” Warm and deep. His voice.  Heat rushed her cheeks before he said, “I didn’t know you were home.”

It’s the rum, she told herself, turning slowly to face him. One look at Keith Moss, U.S. Marines t-shirt stretched across his muscular chest, and she knew the rum thing was a dirty lie.

“I didn’t know you were home,” she countered. “Jamie didn’t say you were coming.”

“Did you ask him?” Keith stepped into the kitchen, letting the door swing shut behind him. He dropped three crushed beer cans into the recycle bin and reached for the refrigerator. Telly eyed his headgear. White fake-fur and crimson velour hid his short blond hair. A bunch of mistletoe danced on the end of a red spring coiled to resemble the cone of a Santa hat.

The mistletoe gave an alluring shimmy when Keith resurfaced with another beer. He popped the top and leaned against the ‘fridge door. Telly curled her toes in her slippers. Damn her sweet tooth. And the rum. She should’ve stayed upstairs with the holiday romance she’d bought for the weekend.

“It’s freezing outside,” Keith said. “Why aren’t you wearing pants?”

“Because I don’t wear pants to bed.”

“This isn’t bed. And I’m not the only guy who could’ve come into the kitchen to catch you in your nightgown.” Keith made a face and raised his beer to his mouth but lowered it without drinking. His eyebrows lowered and drew together. “Is that spiked?”

“Um. No?” She edged up another step. “It’s rude for guests to go into the kitchen at a party. Nobody’s going to see me. See? I’m going back upstairs now.”

“Uh-huh.” He pushed away from the refrigerator and caught her forearm before she could turn and dash up the stairs. Holding her in place, he raised her glass and sniffed. “Yeah, that’s what I thought.”

Her fingers tightened around the glass. “Are you going to tell?”

“I should. Rum could stunt your growth.”

Telly stared at him. “You’re drunk.”

Her brother’s best friend laughed. “So are you. Difference is I’m allowed to be.”

His stupid mistletoe danced a jig to the tune of his mirth. Telly pressed her lips together, then asked, “How many kisses have you gotten tonight?”

Keith heaved an exaggerated sigh. “Not nearly enough. Jamie excluded young, single women from the guest list.”
He somehow managed to extricate her drink from her grasp. Telly let it go. She had something else in mind, and as long as he had both hands occupied…

“You have to get at least one. You’re standing under mistletoe.” Quick, before she lost her alcoholic courage and before Keith thought ahead far enough to dodge, she placed her hands on his shoulders and stood on tiptoe to kiss his him.

Expecting something brief – expecting Keith to recoil in shock – her eyes flew open when, instead of jerking away, he parted his lips and licked into her mouth. Telly dug her fingernails into the muscle padding his shoulders. A low sound of pleasure vibrated from his throat and he stroked deeper. Liquid heat rushed south, leaving her cheeks cold and her abdomen hot. Suddenly uncertain, she pushed at his shoulders.

Keith let her go but not far. He sighed against the curve of her neck, kissed her earlobe, and murmured, “I’m not sure who’s going to kill me harder, my dad or your brother.”

“Don’t tell,” she whispered shakily.

“I’ve had too much to drink. I probably won’t remember to tell.” He straightened and backed away. Telly watched him pour her spiked eggnog down the drain. He glanced sideways at her. “Really. No drinking. ”
He fingered his mistletoe, then pulled the hat off and tossed it in the trash before leaving the kitchen.
She rescued the silly hat and took it to bed with her, hoping it would come in handy again some day. Maybe when she was legal and Keith was home again.

Fortunately for Telly and Keith, the opportunity does come again this Christmas. For very legal kisses, check out ALL HE WANTS, available now at Ellora’s Cave.

Merry Christmas!
-Emily Ryan-Davis

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