A Very Merry Hockey Holiday

Page 19


“No, I’m sorry, you’re right, I’m being a brat. I just hate being apart. As soon as my contract is up, I’m done, and I swear you are going to have to peel me off you.”
“I look forward to it. I love you, Claire. I do. So much.”
“I love you more than that,” she said with all the conviction in the world. Sometimes people picked at them saying they were so young and in love, but she loved it. She loved how intense they were about each other and couldn’t wait until the moment they would be joined together as one. It would be the most amazing occasion of her life with everyone there to share in their love. They may be young, but they knew this was it. This was forever.
They talked for a little longer about his parents, and then she yawned, dead on her feet. She had gone shopping with Reese and Sawyer for last-minute gifts.
Laughing he said, “Okay, I’ll call you tomorrow before the game.”
She smiled as she pushed back her tears. “I’ll be watching.”
“Good. Enjoy your gifts tomorrow.”
“I wish you were one of them. That would be so hot, you under the tree with a bow.”
He chuckled. “I was thinking the same thing, but you with bows on your naughty bits.”
She giggled as heat engulfed her. “Don’t turn me on if you can’t get me off.”
He scoffed. “Oh, baby, I can get you off with just my words, but I don’t want you coming, screaming in your uncle’s house. He already wants to kill me ninety-nine percent of the time.”
She giggled. “But hey, that one percent, he likes you.”
“I doubt that, but he’ll like me soon enough.”
“Sure,” she agreed and he laughed.
“Okay, I love you. Call you tomorrow.”
“Love you too.”
When she hung up, the sadness was there, but this was the life she’d chosen. Hockey players came and went on the holidays, so she’d better get used to it. Especially since she was about to marry one.
“Claire! Claire! Claire!”
Claire slowly opened one eye to see Sawyer on her chest, smacking her with his palms.
Stretching, since this wasn’t the first time her little guy had done this, she said, “What, honey?”
“Santa came!”
She smiled as she cuddled into him. She needed the comfort because when she was out of the bed, it would mean that she was spending Christmas without Jude. She really didn’t want to accept that, but Sawyer was wiggling and then was dragging her out of the bed.
“Come on, Claire-bear! Santa came!”
“I know, buddy, but I don’t want to,” she complained, kissing his hands.
“But you have to!” he protested, pulling her.
Knowing that he was going away and that Phillip and Reese were probably waiting on her, she got out of bed with a huff. “You owe me hot chocolate, kid.”
“With peppers!”
She smiled. “Yes, with peppermint.”
She took his hand and they made their way through to the kitchen where Reese was standing.
“Merry Christmas, honey.”
Claire shrugged. “Be way merrier if Jude were here.”
Reese smiled as she shrugged. “Don’t be a Grinch.”
Claire giggled as Sawyer said, “Yeah, don’t be a Grinch!”
“Claire being a Grinch?” Phillip asked, coming into the kitchen with a coffee cup in hand. “Maybe we should send her to the North Pole?”
Sawyer agreed. “Yeah, Santa needs to put the Christmas in her!”
“Sorry, I’m a little down. I’ll perk up, give me hot chocolate,” she said, picking up her little guy just as Reese handed her a cup. Music was playing, which wasn’t odd, but the song made her a little sad. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” was the song, and usually she liked it, but today she could do without hearing it.
“You have to be happy. Santa brought you something,” Sawyer said.
She scoffed. “Santa always skips me.”
“Nooooooo, not this time, come on!” He wiggled and she put him down. He pulled her into the living room, and when her eyes caught sight of the present, she squealed. Sitting by the tree with a huge red bow on his head was Jude.
His face broke out in a grin as he stood, catching her as she jumped into his arms. Covering his mouth with hers, she kissed him deeply as her heart came out of her chest. Holding her close, he smiled against her lips as he spun her around. Pulling back, he grinned down at her, the bow falling into his sweet, gorgeous eyes. Elated, she asked, “What are you doing here?”
“They canceled the game because no one can fly into New York, it’s snowing so bad. So instead of going back to California with the guys, I came home. You wanted me under your tree, so that’s where I wanted to be.”
Kissing him again, she wrapped her arms around his neck and almost started to cry. Kissing her jaw, he then kissed her nose and smiled, his heart beating against hers. She couldn’t get over how gorgeous he was, and he was all hers. She had missed him so much and he was there. In the flesh, on Christmas with her. There could be a million gifts under the tree, but the most important gift was looking deep into her eyes with his arms holding her tight to him.
“Merry Christmas, Claire.”
She grinned as she looked into the eyes of her forever. “Merry Christmas, indeed.”
The Adler residence not only looked like Santa crapped all over it with Christmas decorations but it also looked like a tornado had gone through it. Wrapping paper and toys covered every square inch of their living room, but Shea Adler didn’t care.