Noelle was right: I was too excited to sleep. I fell asleep fine, snuggled up next to Cayden who was in such a deep sleep he didn't even flinch when I pressed my ice-cold feet up against his shins and pulled his dead-weight arm around me. But the second I sensed the morning sun peeking through the blinds above the desk-turned-window-bed, I was wide awake. I didn't know if it was 7 am or 10 am, but I knew it was Christmas morning.
I scooted back in the bed until I was pressed against his warm body to see if he reacted. If he wrapped his arms around me, he was awake and was just pretend sleeping while he waited for me to wake. If he didn't, he was still dead to the world. I snuggled closer and felt his warm stomach against my back. But that's all I felt, because for once, we weren't naked. At my parents' house, you just never knew when one of the dogs would shove the door open, jump in the bed, and pull the covers off you.
At first, he didn't move, but I felt his breathing change. I knew he was on the edge of sleep and wake. If I stayed still, he'd slip back over into a full-on deep sleep. But if I adjusted myself just so, I could nudge him into wake mode. I yawned and arched my back, pushing my backside a little harder against his waist. just as expected, I felt his warm hand slide up my thigh and droop across my waist. Bingo.
I pulled his body tighter against me and felt him nuzzle into my neck, where he probably planned on hiding so he could drift off to sleep again. But then I felt him kiss the back of my neck and goosebumps spread across my body.
"Merry Christmas," he whispered, sending another wave of goosebumps down my neck, across my shoulders, down to the fingertips of both hands.
"Merry Christmas," I said, kissing the area between his thumb and pointer finger on the hand that was wrapped in mine. I let go of his hand and turned until I was facing him, still wrapped up against him. I pressed my forehead against his chest and closed my eyes.
"This is already the most perfect Christmas ever," I said, sliding my finger just underneath the band of his boxer briefs. We both held our breaths for a moment. We were listening. I could hear the TV on downstairs so I knew someone was awake. I could smell coffee.
Then I looked up at him and put one finger against my lips, giving him the universal "Shhhh" sign as I reached into his boxers with my other hand.
There's something fun and exciting about silent sex. Every movement is in slow motion. Moans are replaced with sighs. You keep your eyes open the whole time because you want to see the reactions you can't hear—the goosebumps, the arched back, the quivers. You move and turn in tune with each other so as to not make the bed rock or the floorboards creak. It's sort of like a really fun game of interactive charades where everyone wins. The best part is pulling his hand over my mouth when I don't think I can keep my victory call on mute.
Minutes later, we were downstairs making coffee, thoughts of Christmas sex still fresh on our minds.
"So, did you sleep OK?" Dad asked as he sat down at the kitchen table to read the newspaper.
"I think I slept a full 12 hours," Cayden said, shaking his head. "I never sleep that much."
"Jet lag will do that to you," Dad said, and then, "Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas," we both said back. Then I pulled Cayden into the living room, hoping for some alone time to open our presents. But just our luck, Noelle was sitting behind the large, oak desk, typing away at the computer, and Jay was on the couch next to her, sipping his coffee.
"Are yall going to open your presents now?" Noelle asked, excited.
"Let me guess, you're going to sit right there and watch us?"
Both Jay and Noelle nodded their heads, eagerly.
We both shrugged and went for our presents under the tree. Jay scooted over and we plopped down on the couch next to him, setting our coffees down on the table behind us.
"OK, open this first," I said, pushing a box toward him.
He unwrapped it slowly, almost like he was trying to preserve the wrapping paper. Noelle and Jay watched from their posts. Small rip after small rip, he finally uncovered the front of the box and smiled.
"A digital picture frame? How perfect!" he said, holding the box up front of him.
"It has a remote control and everything, and I already uploaded all of our pictures on it," I said.
He leaned in and kissed me. "It's perfect."
Then he handed me a box. "Your turn."
I didn't waste any time tearing into it, shreds of wrapping paper flying this way and that. I held a yellow box that said "Anna Sui Flight of Fancy" on it.
"Is this perfume?"
"Yes. Is that not the one you pointed out in the store when we were in London looking for an outlet converter?"
I thought back to that trip, 6 months ago. I remembered. I'd pointed out the yellow Harajuku Lovers perfume. I'd told him I used to wear it back in the day and I loved the scent of it. I think I might have even sprayed it on him.
I suddenly felt awful. He'd put so much thought into getting me something perfect, something he knew I wanted. He'd made note of me pointng out that perfume 6 months ago. He was good. But it was the wrong one. Should I pretend like it was the right one? He'd be so disappointed if he knew he picked the wrong one.
"It's not the right one, is it?" he said, reading my mind.
"Well, I think I pointed out the yellow Asian one. The one with the dollheads. But I'm sure this one is nice, too!" I said witha big smile and a shrug, trying to reassure him.
"Damn! There were two yellow ones next to each other and I thought I picked the right one!" He looked defeated.
"Oh, it's OK! Maybe I'll like this one better!" I said, opening the box as fast as I could and spraying the perfume into the air between us. We both leaned in and took a whiff. It was beautiful. It smelled like flowers and vanilla and fruit and sex. But it was a subtle smell.
"It's perfect," I said, meaning it.
"I do quite like it," Cayden said, feeling a little better about his purchase.
"OK, now this one!" I said forcing a plain white envelope into his lap.
He opened this one less cautiously, tearing it quickly across the top.
His face lit up as he pulled out two tickets to the Mavs basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs.
"No way! This is awesome!" he said, "but what are these?" He held up two plastic cards.
"Those are $30 gift cards for each of us to spend at the game. They're platinum-level seats and those are platinum giftcards, so we can buy $60 worth of booze!"
"Seriously??" He literally looked like a kid on Christmas morning.
"Yep. And we have platinum parking passes, too. We're going with Joey and Joyce. She got him tickets for Christmas, too. The game is this Thursday."
The smile on his face told me I'd done well. But his smile grew even bigger as he handed me a smaller box.
I took into my hands carefully. I don't know why, but something told me it was fragile.
I unwrapped a small, white box. Then I opened the box and inside it, there was a small suede bag. I pulled open the top of the bag and poured a silver heart pendant into my hands. My jaw dropped. It was exactly what I wanted, and exactly what I didn't think he'd get me. He knew I wasn't very girly, so I assumed jewelry wasn't even on his radar.
I stared down at it, heavy in my hand. Two birds standing next to each other, surrounded by roses, were inscribed across the thick sterling silver.
"It's a locket. I wanted to pictures of us in there, but I'm rubbish at cutting, so I thought I'd let you do that. But that way, since we can't always be together, at least we'll always be together right there," he said, pointing again to the heart in my hand.
I hadn't spoken yet. I felt my eyes welling up with tears. I felt Noelle and Jay and Cayden waiting for my reaction.
Without looking up I said, "I told Meg last night that all I wanted was a heart-shaped necklace from you. I seriously never would have thought..."
I finally looked up and kissed him. It was one of those kisses that wasn't meant for bystanders to see. The kind you share alone, in the bedroom. The kind we'd shared that morning, in fact. But I didn't care if Noelle and Jay saw the kiss.
"I love it."