I pull into the driveway of the house I share with Tommy, the tree is strapped to the roof of my little car. I knew I should’ve taken Tommy’s truck, but that would’ve clued him in on what I was doing. Not that I ever have to ask permission; it’s just that he would’ve been his usual grumpy, introvert self and I would’ve spent more time convincing him that we should definitely throw a Christmas party than buying the actual tree.
“Surprise!” I yell, when Tommy walks out the door, his head cocked to the side as he looks at me and then at the net-covered tree currently mounted to the roof of my car.
“Did you forget the chainsaw, Clark?” he asks, making me laugh and I’m hit with all the memories from when we first met through the Mystery Matchmaker dating app.
“Nope, but I am gonna need your help getting this thing off here,” I say, throwing my hands out with flourish at the beautiful tree I found and cut down myself.
“I thought we said we’d go small for Christmas, given it’s our first,” Tommy chides, playfully teasing me as he leans in for a kiss before heading into the garage to grab some tools.
Being from Massachusetts, Christmas is go big or go home, and while I have zero interest in going home, I’m all about going big when it comes to Christmas trees. And this year being our first one together means we go extra big.
“Eighteen feet!” I call out to Tommy, and I hear him laugh out loud.
“Penny! That’s a bit much, don’t you think?” Tommy says, but the smile on his face says he’s all about indulging me.
“It’s gotta be big,” I say, clenching my teeth and wrinkling up my nose.
“And why’s that?” he asks with suspicion in his voice and a look on his face that tells me he knows why.
“Since Jack and Lauren’s house renovations have only just started, I offered to host Christmas,” I announce with far too much excitement. Nodding my head now so he catches on and sees how happy I am.
“I thought we said lowkey? No big tree, no crazy party? Don’t forget how Seymour loves to torment the tree. Imagine him taking down this beast,” Tommy says, reminding me of how I told him about Seymour trashing many of my Christmas trees in the past.
“I’ll lock him in the bedroom. Please, can we put it up?” I beg, sidling up against him, kissing a trail along his neck.
“I’d rather we be locked in the bedroom, but you know I can’t say no to you.”
“Yay!” I shout, throwing my arms around him. “We don’t have a ton of time, so help me get this big boy off of here and decorated.”
“By the way, how did you manage to find an eighteen-foot Christmas tree on Christmas Eve?”
“Oh, I have my ways,” I reply, winking, but not cluing him in on the fact that I literally drove all over the Napa Valley area to find the damn thing.
I’ve been up since six this morning hell bent on finding a tree and getting back here before I have to work the tasting room for the Christmas Eve party. I was worried I’d have to drive all the way to Sacramento, but I found this beauty on my last stop in Napa. It will fit perfectly in our two-story entryway and will be the centerpiece to the family Christmas party I’ve always wanted to host.
“I thought Ellen and Will were having Christmas at their house?” Tommy now asks, both of us out of breath from pulling the tree down and hauling it into the house.
“Yeah, I told Ellen I’d do it. The more I thought about it, the shittier it felt to have them host. With two kids and having to deal with all that entails at Christmas time, I felt like she deserved a break, and she had no issue saying yes.”
“Since we don’t have kids, it’s probably only right for us to host. Someday, we’ll need people to repay that favor,” Tommy says, smiling at me, because we know babies are in the future, one day.
We get to work instantly on decorating the tree with Tommy pulling out all our decorations. We said we weren’t going to put a tree up, but it was really starting to not feel at all like Christmas. Despite the vineyard fully decorated with millions of twinkling fairy lights and the wreaths hung all around, the tree is what really makes it feel like Christmas.
And like clockwork, Seymour slinks out from the bedroom where he’s been curled up sleeping on our bed for the last five hours. The second he eyes a shiny red ornament, he’s on it like flies on shit, batting it around the room.
“Hey, hey!” Tommy shouts, snapping his fingers at Seymour who literally doesn’t even look up. He’s too busy chasing his newest toy across our hardwood floors.
Of course I think he looks adorable, but Tommy is already letting out hard sighs and eye rolls. Seymour skids across the floor in front of us now, sliding right into a pile of garland, taking a strand with him.
“He’s going to take this tree down,” Tommy chides, narrowing his eyes at me, but all it does is make me laugh. He’s such a cute grump. “You know he’s going to love when the ornaments are hanging, dangling there for his enjoyment.”
“It’s an eighteen-foot tree and he weighs like fifteen pounds. There’s no way he can take it down,” I say, just Seymour makes another round and nearly sweeps Tommy off his feet.
He reaches down and snatches Seymour off the floor, kicking the loose ornament back into the pile. “You gotta take it down a notch, dude,” Tommy says, talking to the cat and I can’t help but smile. He loves to pretend he hates Seymour, but the number of times I’ve found them cuddled up together is numerous.
He tosses him back in the bedroom and closes the door, rejoining me as I look over at the clock. I have to be at work in two hours, and I haven’t even dropped the real bomb on Tommy.
“Hey Pen, do we even have anything to make for Christmas?” he asks, as if he’s reading my mind.
“Well, I was hoping I could give you a list and you can pick everything up while I’m at work,” I reply, hesitantly.
“How about I just invite Leo and have him cater it for us?” Tommy suggests, like Leo isn’t completely overwhelmed with his chef duties at both Somerville’s and Apple Jacks.
“While that sounds wonderful, I’m pretty sure he’s busting his ass to get everything ready for the Christmas Eve dinner here.”
“Even better. I’m sure there will be leftovers. I’ll just swing by there and pick up whatever he has left,” Tommy quips, dusting off his hands, feeling far too proud of himself.
“I love your resourcefulness, but good luck with that plan,” I tease, swatting him on the ass as I walk by to hang a few more ornaments.
“And good luck with keeping this tree standing.”
“You’re a cheeky shit,” I tell him, but I just love his playful banter. He makes me so damn happy, grumpiness and all.
As much as I know he’d love for it to be just us for Christmas, Ellen and Lauren are like his family, growing up together and now with Lauren and Jack coming to live here while their house is done, it’s only right that we’re all together.
“Oh and I forgot to tell you,” I murmur, moving so I’m now standing next to him. I slide my hand up under his shirt, my fingers trailing along his bare skin. “Lauren and Jack are staying with Ellen and Will tonight, so we’ll have our house to ourselves.”
“I think we have a date with our shower where my naked dick and balls are going to meet up with your coochie,” Tommy says, and I smack him in the arm as his head falls back laughing.
“You really know how to ruin a moment. And are you never going to let me live that down?”
As much as I was okay with us not doing anything big for Christmas, seeing the smile on Pen’s face as we finish decorating this huge ass tree she’s found us, makes me glad we’re now going all in on it, especially with this year being our first Christmas together. Plus, my sexy as fuck wife loves the holidays, Christmas especially, and I love seeing her happy, so yeah, I’ll pretty much go with whatever plans she has for tomorrow.
“Okay, I gotta head to work, you’re all set for the shopping?” she asks, stretching her arms above her head.
I grin, stepping closer as I slide my arms around her waist, my hands slipping under her sweater and up her back, pulling her into me. “I’m all set for taking you back to our bedroom and having my way with you,” I murmur, kissing a path up her neck. “You know, naked dick and balls, coochie, all that.”
Pen lets out a breathy laugh as she exhales, her fingers slipping into the front of my jeans, teasing me. “God, I wish,” she breathes out. “Can we put this on hold till I’m done tonight?”
Chuckling, I grab one of her hands and move it lower. “I don’t know, does this feel like I can wait?” I ask, squeezing her hand against my dick.
“Tommy,” she whines, all breathy and sexy. “So not fair.”
I bite and suck at her skin, pulling her earlobe between my teeth. “We can call it payback for tomorrow, can’t we,” I tease.
She squeezes my dick again, making me groan. “You don’t really mind, do you?” she asks.
I kiss my way along her jaw to her mouth, sucking on her bottom lip as I say, “No, I don’t mind, babe. It’ll be fun.”
She smiles against my mouth, kissing me quickly, before slipping from my grasp. “Good,” she says, smiling. “But I’ll still make it up to you tonight.”
She backs away from me, a cheeky smile on her face that has me half tempted to run after her and drag her back to our room after all. Before I can reach her though, the tree starts rattling, branches shaking as a couple of ornaments mysteriously fall to the floor.
“What the fuck?” I murmur, turning to see what’s happening. I part the branches and am greeted with a pair of evil green eyes as Seymour stares back at me, somehow having escaped our bedroom and sneakily climbed halfway up the tree. “Hey, you sneaky little shit,” I say, reaching in and grabbing him from the branch he’s now perched on. Penny laughs, shaking her head a little as I hold him tight to my chest even as he tries to swat at some ornaments. “Ten bucks says this cheeky fucker brings the whole tree down before Christmas.”
She shrugs, still smiling as she holds up her arms and says, “Maybe, but I gotta go to work. See you later hot stuff, love you!”
I’m pushing a cart around the grocery store, Pen’s list in my hand as I try to dodge the million or so people that all seem to be doing last minute Christmas shopping like I am.
“Fuck me,” I mutter, as once again, someone crashes into me because they aren’t looking where they’re going. I’m on the verge of either saying fuck it, and begging Leo to cook us some food or turning homicidal and taking everyone in this place out just so I can shop in peace.
“Tommy?” comes a voice, interrupting my thoughts.
It’s a voice I haven’t heard in forever and when I turn around, I see Caitlyn, my ex, standing behind me.
“Oh my god, it is you,” she says, smiling. She walks closer, her arms out as if to hug me and I quickly maneuver the cart in front of me so she can’t. “Caitlyn, hi,” I say. “What are you doing here?”
My question is probably kinda rude and it does ’cause her to stop in her tracks, but I don’t really care, especially given she was the one who gave me the ultimatum about leaving Napa because it was too small and boring for her. After telling me that I was too boring for her.
“Oh, um, I actually…” she trails off as her eyes drop to my hand resting on the cart. “You’re married?” she blurts out, not bothering to hide her shock as she stares at my left hand.
“Yep,” I say, smiling as I look down at my wedding ring. “Sure am.”
“When, um when did that happen,” she stammers out. “And to who?”
I clear my throat, not saying anything until she finally lifts her eyes to mine. “You don’t know her,” is all I say, before adding, “What are you doing in Napa?”
She blushes a little, clearly not expecting my brush off. “Oh, I’m um, I’m visiting a friend. I was going to call you actually, see if maybe you wanted to catch up?”
“Why?” I’m being a dick, I know that, but I really don’t care.
“I don’t know,” she says, shrugging, her cheeks still a little flushed. “I thought maybe we could—”
Another cart crashes into me and I use the opportunity to end this conversation, having no desire to continue it anymore. “Look, Caitlyn, let’s not bother with the small talk or catch up or whatever. We both know we aren’t going to be friends. I’ve moved on, I’m happy. I really hope you are too.”
It’s true, what I tell her, despite the way things ended between us. Because as much as I might have thought I wanted to make a life with her, now that I have one with Pen, I can see that before, I was always settling, compromising on stuff I never should’ve had to compromise on.
With Pen I never have to give up anything. She lets me be who I want to be, and she makes me happy. Happier than I’ve ever been. We’re a team and I wouldn’t trade what I have with her for anything.
“I hope you have a Merry Christmas,” I add, giving her a quick smile before I turn around and walk away.
By the time I finally get home, I feel physically and mentally exhausted from battling the people and the lines at the store. Still, as I unpack the groceries and wine, following the instructions Pen has left me for what to do with the meat for tomorrow, I can’t help but smile.
Smile at how different my life is now compared to only a year ago. At how happy I am every single morning that I get to wake up next to Pen, to every day that I get to spend with her and to every night that I get to pull into my arms and fall asleep with her.
“Oh god, you fucking sap,” I mutter to myself, smiling as I close the fridge door.
Seymour materializes in the kitchen, meowing at my feet, as he curls himself around my legs because he wants his dinner.
“Yeah, yeah,” I say, bending down to pick him up. He purrs against me, head butting my chest as I put him on the counter and dig out a clean bowl and tin of food. “You better not destroy that tree tonight, mister,” I say, hitting him with a hard stare that he completely ignores. “Remember your mama loves Christmas and we both love her, so keep it cool, okay?”
I put the bowl on the floor, shaking my head as I watch Pen’s cat jump down and start eating, wondering how the fuck my life has changed so much that I am not only talking to, but trying to reason with, a fucking cat.
“Jesus,” I say, scrubbing a hand over my face. “You’re fucking losing it.”
Knowing I can’t stay here having a conversation with a cat while I wait for my wife to come home and question whether she should even be married to me because I’m talking to our pet, I head into the bedroom to change my shirt. Then I grab my keys and head out to walk down to the winery.
“Hey, what are you doing here?” Pen asks, shooting me a quick smile when I walk in as she tops up someone’s wine glass.
I move behind the counter, standing behind her, my hands on her hips as I lean in and kiss the side of her neck, not really caring about how borderline inappropriate this is for the workplace. It’s Christmas Eve, surely no one gives a shit. Plus, it’s never stopped Jack.
“Missed you,” I whisper, my mouth at her ear. “Came to help and hang out.”
Penny glances over her shoulder, smiling as she leans in to kiss me. “Help, huh?” she asks, a smirk on her face.
I grin, squeezing her waist as I whisper, “Well yeah, but thought maybe we could also sneak a quickie in the back room before we head home for the main event?”
Penny bursts out laughing, turning in my arms as she throws hers around my neck. “Sure you did,” she laughs, pressing a hard kiss to my lips. “Let’s see what we can do.”
“Jack! Hurry up!” I yell out to him. We’re supposed to be at Tommy and Penny’s in ten minutes and there’s no way that’s happening. It will take us longer than ten minutes to get out to Somerville’s, so I guess I should just let it go. Looks like we’re going to be late.
“Just getting out of the shower,” Jack calls back and I know he’s full of shit. He hasn’t even gotten in the shower yet. My guess would be that he fell asleep and has only now woken up when I yelled at him.
He spent the better part of the day working on Legos with Oscar, and they had us both up at the crack of dawn to open presents. It’s been an exhausting day, but so worth it to see the looks on Oscar and Olivia’s faces when they saw the presents under the tree. It’s the first Christmas morning we’ve spent with Ellen and Will and the twins, and soon enough, Jack and I will be adding to our family and celebrating with our own kid.
“He’s not ready yet, huh?” Ellen asks, as Olivia sidles up next to her mom, looking up at us.
“Of course he’s not. He’s an Aussie. It’s like he’s always on relaxed mode. I’ve never seen him in a hurry for anything.”
“You better hope he kicks it in the ass when you go into labor or you’ll be having that baby in the vineyard,” Ellen jokes, and we both hear Olivia let out a gasp.
“Mom, you said ass,” she says, whispering the word ass.
“Who said ass?” Oscar calls out, racing around the corner to join us. It’s like that kid has a radar for swear words.
“Mom did,” Olivia immediately accuses, pointing at Ellen.
“Well, an ass is a donkey, so maybe she was talking about a donkey,” Oscar defends, making Olivia giggle at his knowledge of how to swear without getting in trouble.
“I need both of you to stop saying the word ass or I’m telling your grandma and you won’t get any more presents,” Ellen barks, glaring at both of them, which only makes them laugh harder.
“You ready?” Will asks, holding Ellen’s coat and sweetly helping her put it on. Even after being married all this time, he does so many adorable things for her.
“Yep,” she replies.
“Let’s go to Grandma and Grandpa’s where they’ll let you eat crap and drink soda,” Will says, rounding up the twins.
“Yay for crap!” Oscar shouts, tossing a hand up in the air.
I kiss the twins goodbye, wish Ellen and Will a Merry Christmas, and off they go.
And Jack still isn’t ready.
“Jack! Seriously, what are you doing?” I call, making my way to the guest room at Ellen and Will’s house, only to hear the shower running in the attached bathroom.
At least he’s in the shower, I guess.
“Can you at least move a little faster?” I ask, walking into the bathroom and talking to him through the glass shower door.
“Because we’re late, Jack and it’s making me anxious.”
“There’s a present on the bed for you,” Jack calls back, knowing gifts are my weakness. He already bought me something and we exchanged gifts this morning with the twins, and Ellen and Will.
“You can’t bribe me,” I say, but my eyes shift over to the bedroom and I can’t help but wonder what he has for me.
“Yes I can. You love presents and this one is a big one. Go take a look,” Jack presses, peeking out at me from the shower and smiling that cheeky smile of his.
“Ugh,” I huff out, stomping out of the bathroom, knowing he won. He has my mind spinning with what it could be, and that’s when I see the little box sitting in the middle of the bed.
I grab it and sit down on the edge of the bed just as Jack walks out of the bathroom, a towel wrapped around his waist.
“Open it,” he prompts, motioning to the box in my hand, tied with a white ribbon.
I pull the ribbon and lift the small lid to reveal two gorgeous rings. One is a full circle of diamonds and the other is the same ring, but with the birthstone of the baby. They are stunning and so thoughtful, and I feel the tears well up in my eyes.
“Jack, this is too much,” I start to say, but he shakes his head.
“Not at all. I want you to have something to remember us before we had kids and something to remind you of how special it is to me that we’re having a baby together. And when we have another, there will be another ring to match.”
And now I’m full-blown crying. I take the rings out of the box and slip them on my finger, stacking them on top of each other perfectly.
“Jack, they’re gorgeous. I love them,” I say, standing up and wrapping my arms around his neck, totally forgetting that we are way late for dinner tonight.
“I’m glad you love them.”
“I love you,” I tell him, pressing up on my toes to kiss him. His hands slide down and grab my ass, making me giggle.
“And I love you,” he replies, letting his towel fall to the floor, attempting to seduce me.
“Nope, not a chance. We’re late,” I say, shaking my head and pushing away from him. I walk around and swat him on the ass to get him moving.
We’re almost an hour late when we pull into Penny and Tommy’s driveway, and I hope she hasn’t gone to a ton of trouble getting things ready. But I’m obviously wrong because the outside of the house is all decked out with lights, something that has never happened before.
Grumpy Tommy has been reformed by his bubbly girl, decorating for Christmas and hosting a dinner. It’s so cute, and Ellen and I could not be happier to see him so happy.
“Wow, look at this place,” Jack says, noting the lights are not Tommy’s brand.
Penny must have heard us pull up because she opens the door, a huge smile on her face when she sees us.
“Yay! I’m so glad you’re here!” she calls to us, and I can’t help but smile at her excitement. It’s contagious and I’m sure Tommy is feeling her excitement too.
“Thanks for having us,” I say, walking in the house and taking in the stunning decorating inside now too. “Oh my god, Penny, it looks amazing in here. That tree.”
“You can thank Tommy,” she says, and I try not to let the shock show on my face, but my mouth drops open.
“What?” I reply, my eyes wide as I look over at Tommy, who is drinking a beer like he had nothing to do with any of this. “This was you?”
“Me?” Tommy asks, pointing to himself like he has no idea what we’re talking about.
“I was working in the tasting room and came home to this. He can’t take credit for the tree, but the rest was him. I pretty much started sobbing when I got home,” Penny says, walking over to Tommy and wrapping her arms around him.
“We don’t need this getting out. If the guys at Somerville’s and Apple Jacks know I’m not a hardass, it’s all going to go to shit,” Tommy jokes.
“Don’t worry, mate. Your secret is safe with me. I went out and bought my wife some jewelry and spent a ridiculous amount of time picking it out.”
I flash my hand to Penny, and she squeals out loud, grabbing my fingers to get a closer look.
“This one is the baby’s birthstone,” I tell her, and she coos at how damn sweet of a gift it is. Jack really out-did himself.
“Way to set the bar so high, Jack,” Tommy says, sarcastically, glaring at him and Jack laughs. “Now I gotta meet up with you and figure out what I’m supposed to get Penny when we have a baby.”
“Judging by the way the house looks, I’d say you’re doing just fine on your own, mate,” Jack says, clapping Tommy on the back.
“And to make things even better, Tommy did all the shopping for the food and got everything ready,” Penny tells us, leading us into the kitchen.
The island is set with a charcuterie tray and some wine, and Tommy reaches over and hands me a glass of sparkling grape juice.
“This one’s for you,” he says, smiling. “I remembered just as I was leaving the store that you can’t drink, so I grabbed the stuff we used to drink when we were kids and our parents would get together.”
“That’s so sweet of you,” I say, reaching for a cracker and some cheese. “Thank you.”
“Well, it looks like this is going to be a great Christmas,” Jack chimes in, smelling the air as the ham cooks in the oven.
“Yeah, it does,” Penny says. “It means a lot to have you both here. I’m so glad I decided to work here all those years ago. I never would’ve met Tommy, and I wouldn’t have such great friends.”
Jack holds up his glass, nodding in Penny’s direction. “Cheers to good friends,” he adds, echoing Penny’s sentiments. “The kind of friends who let us live in their house and cook us dinner.”
There’s nothing better than spending a holiday with friends that have become family.
“Fuck, okay, I think I’m officially done.”
Lu rolls her eyes as she comes and sits beside me on the couch, resting her head on my shoulder. “I’m pretty sure you’ve said that at least two other times already, babe. And yet you still kept eating.”
I grin, wrapping my arm around her shoulder and pressing a kiss to the top of her head. “Did I?” I tease. “’Cause I’m pretty sure I mean it this time.”
She pokes me in the side as she curls her legs up on the couch. “Yes, piggie, you did,” she says. “God, anyone would think you’re the one having a baby.”
Chuckling, I rub my hand over Lu’s tiny belly, which has barely popped but is still fucking adorable. “Speaking of, did baby get enough food today?”
Now it’s Lu rubbing her hand on my stomach, smiling as she asks, “I don’t know, did you?”
“Cheeky,” I murmur, pulling her into my lap as I wrap my arms around her and press kisses all over her face and neck, making her squeal. “You’re lucky I love you, Lulu.”
“And you’re lucky I love you too, piggie,” she says, grabbing my face in her hands and planting a kiss on my lips. “You better not—”
“Okay, who needs a drink?” Tommy asks as he walks into the living room with a plate of cakes and some other stuff, all of which looks amazing.
“Yep, I won’t say no,” I tell him, leaning forward to grab a couple of the chocolate brownies off the plate as he sets it down, one of which I put in my mouth before offering the second to Lu.
“Are you serious right now?” she says, hitting me with her what the fuck face.
“What?” I ask with a mouthful of brownie.
Lu gives me a slow blink, glancing over her shoulder at Tommy and Penny, who are standing watching us with smiles on their faces before turning back to me. “Um, you literally just said you were done,” Lu says, crossing her arms over her chest as she tries to be all serious and shit. “Like two seconds ago.”
I grin at her, pulling her back to me as I press a brownie kiss to her mouth. “Yeah, but now I’m not,” I say, nuzzling her neck. “Besides, I need to keep my stamina up, don’t I? You’re like a crazy little sex machine now I’ve knocked you up and it’s fucking—”
Lu slaps her hand over my mouth as Tommy laughs, moving to grab a couple of glasses and a bottle of what looks like whisky. I tip my head in his direction, widening my eyes a little in the universal yep-pour-me-a-drink look, before I turn back to Lu.
Nuzzling and biting her hand, I move so my mouth is against her ear. “I’m not complaining, babe,” I whisper, so only she can hear me. “In fact, I fucking love it.”
“Hmmm,” she replies. “Well at this rate, you’re gonna be in a food coma the second your head hits the pillow, so they’ll be no—”
I press my mouth against hers in a hard kiss, silencing the rest of her words. “Don’t you even say such rubbish, Lulu,” I tease. “You know I have much more stamina than that.”
“We’ll see,” she mutters as Tom hands me a glass of whisky.
“Lauren, can I get you anything?” he asks.
“No, I’m good, thanks though. This whole day and all this food has been amazing,” she says, smiling at Pen who has taken a seat on the couch opposite us. “Next year it’s our turn.”
Pen smiles as Tommy sits beside her, throwing an arm around her shoulder and pulling her into his side. “Yes, in your new house, it will be so exciting!”
Lu settles herself beside me again as she turns to face our friends. “I know it’s literally only just starting, but I already can’t wait for it to be done.”
“It’s gonna be a while, you know,” Tommy says with a chuckle. “This place took almost a year to build.”
“Nope,” Lu says, shaking her head. “Tessa has promised us we will be in before next Christmas. And we’re only adding on, not starting from scratch, so I’m hoping she’s right.”
“Speaking of Tessa,” I say, reaching for a Tim Tam. Lu watches its path from the plate to my mouth, her eyes wide and her mouth hanging open a little. Chuckling, I bite it in half before offering the other half to her. “Come on, babe, you know you want to,” I tell her.
“I can’t believe you brought my Tim Tams over,” she says, pouting a little as she takes the half a biscuit I’m offering her.
Laughing, I shake my head at her. “We literally have an endless supply, Lu. You know we aren’t running out anytime soon, you gotta learn to share, babe.” She rolls her eyes a little, but I know she doesn’t really mind. I can’t believe she’s not sick of them yet, she eats enough of them. “Anyway, what I was gonna say is, speaking of Tessa. Do we know what the story is with her and Dylan.”
Penny laughs. “God, you two are hopeless,” she says, gesturing between me and Tommy.
“What?” we both say in unison.
“Hopeless, right?” she repeats, looking at Lu who replies, “Oh yeah,” with a nod.
“No seriously,” I say, taking a sip of my whisky. “What’s the story with them?”
“They hooked up,” Pen says, shaking her head at me. “You knew that.”
“Yeah, yeah,” I reply. “But I mean, what now. Are they like back together or?”
“No,” Lu replies, glancing at Penny. “But Dylan wants her back, right?”
Tommy rolls his eyes as Penny proceeds to give us all the rundown on Dylan and Tessa and how they used to hook-up before Tessa ghosted him. It’s actually kind of funny now having her working here and it is definitely giving me ideas for a new project.
“Okay,” I announce, leaning over to grab another Tim Tam.
“Jack!” Lu half shouts, smacking my hand. “Stop!”
“Baby, it’s for you,” I say, pretending like I was getting it for her as I hand over the biscuit.
She smacks at my shoulder before leaning in to give me a kiss as she takes the Tim Tam. “You’re so full of shit but thank you.”
Grinning, I pull her back onto my lap. “Anyway, what I was thinking is, we need to get them back together,” I start. Tommy is already shaking his head at me even as Pen laughs, clapping her hands together.
“Yes! He definitely wants her back, let’s do it!”
“Or,” Tom says, “we could just let them sort it out, you know, like adults.”
“Pfft,” I scoff, laughing as Penny turns to him, her mouth hanging open a little.
“I see, like how that worked out for us, huh?” she asks, poking him in the ribs till he’s squirming beside her.
“Babe,” he growls, grabbing her hand and kissing her knuckles.
Laughing, I hold my hands up. “Look, leave it with me,” I announce. “I think we all know with my three for three record so far, I’ve got this.”
“Three?” Lu asks, a confused look on her face.
“Well, these two,” I say, gesturing to Tommy and Penny. “And obviously us,” I add, leaning in to kiss her. “And I mean, we can probs count Ellen and Will too, because I mean you calling her all sad and shit ’cause I’d left definitely played a part in them getting together.”
Lu shakes her head, rolling her eyes hard as she laughs and says, “Oh my god, Jack, you are unbelievable.”
“Oh, I know, baby,” I tease, winking at her.
“A skunk is what got Ellen and Will together, not you! And certainly not fifteen-year-old you on the other side of the world, geez.”
“Fine, fine,” I concede, holding my hands up in mock surrender. “Let’s go with two from two then, and about to be three from—”
My words are cut off by the movement from the front entryway.
“Um, Tom, do you have something living in your Christmas tree?”
“What?” he asks, putting his glass down as he half stands from the couch. “No, why?”
“Well, ’cause it’s moving,” I say, my eyes on the tree. “Actually, it’s kinda swaying.”
“Fuck,” Tommy mutters as he stands.
“Oh my god,” Penn laughs, shaking her head as she follows after him. “Seymour!”
“That fucking cat,” Tommy says as the tree now shakes violently. “He’s gonna bring it down, babe, I swear.”
“No,” Penny says laughing, as Lu and I follow them into the foyer. “He’s tiny, he couldn’t poss— Oh my fucking god,” she says, freezing as the tree sways violently to the side. “Tommy! Grab the cat!”
Tommy dives toward the tree as a million baubles suddenly go flying, the branches rustling. Penny bursts out laughing, her hands over her mouth as she moves next to Lu who is also trying not to laugh. Knowing it will be one hell of a mess if it does fall, I move over to where Tommy stands, desperately trying to grab the cat.
“What do you want me to do?” I ask.
Tommy glances over his shoulder, a half-smile on his face as he shakes his head. “Fuck knows,” he says laughing. “The little shit has climbed too high.”
“Reckon it’s gonna go?” I ask, glancing up.
Tommy stands back, his hands on his hips as he looks at the tree. “Yep,” he says, glancing at Pen. “Which means you’ll owe me ten bucks, babe.”
“No, he’s tiny,” Penny says. “Surely he couldn’t bring it—”
The rest of her words are cut off as the tree sways once more, their cat now hanging from the highest branches, swinging from them like some sort of psycho before the whole thing tips and goes crashing to the floor.
“Oh fuck,” Pen mutters as the rest of us burst out laughing.