“Mommy!” Abby rushes toward the couch where I’m nursing her little brother. Micah, Jr is in my arms and enjoying a leisurely breakfast. He’s only two weeks and our little Abby is thirteen months now.
It’s the first Christmas that she’s old enough to take part in the festivities. Even though she doesn’t fully understand the celebration, she’s definitely absorbed the excitement and energy from her grandparents. They love having so many young grandkids and dote on all of them.
Beside me, Micah moves his arm from around my shoulders to pick our little girl up. He holds her in his lap. “Shh, Micah is still eating breakfast.”
Just like she does every morning, she leans forward to press a soft kiss to our baby’s head. I worried what it would do to our little family to have another baby in the mix.
While it is more exhausting now, our family doesn’t lack for love. If anything, having another child has expanded my heart. I didn’t know it was possible to walk around feeling this much love all the time.
“Gentle, gentle,” Micah reminds her.
She points to the tree in the corner of the room that’s stacked with presents. She doesn’t know it yet, but there’s a dollhouse under there that Micah and his brothers spent most of the night putting together.
They cussed a lot and even swigged some brandy. Cassie and Peyton and I had fun watching our husbands who were determined not to be bested by a complex child’s toy.
“Gifts soon,” Micah answers. “When Mimi and Pop arrive.”
Christmas is at our house this year. Last year, it was West and Cassie’s. They were newly married and so cute together.
Abby pouts and I know that look. It’s the one that gets Micah to give her whatever she wants. She’s the apple of his eye, and he’s wrapped around her little finger. If I don’t intervene, she’ll be opening all of her gifts in less than thirty seconds.
“Breakfast for you first,” I tell her.
“Mommy is right. Breakfast first,” Micah insists and swings her up into his arms. He takes her into the kitchen while she babbles on about her teddy bear’s latest adventure. Once she started talking to us, she hasn’t stopped. I have to slow her down to understand her sometimes, but Micah never does.
He’s so in tune with her. When we were staying at a hotel out of town, he insisted on dropping everything to come home. Within just a few minutes of arriving, it became clear Abby had an ear infection.
The adoration between them is mutual though. She follows Micah everywhere on the farm. Or everywhere that he deems safe enough for her to follow. If he doesn’t and she has to stay at the office or the house, she sits by the door and pouts until his return. It’s the cutest little thing and her love for her daddy always makes me smile.
After both kids have finished breakfast, Micah Jr falls back asleep.
Micah passes me a cup of hot tea and presses a kiss to my temple. “Take a minute before the craziness begins.”
I smile and watch him take Abby back to her room to help her get ready for the upcoming day.
I invited my mom to travel here and bring my siblings. But they caught the flu so they’re having a low-key Christmas at home right now. Of course, Micah sent gifts. He practically bought the whole toy store out for my brothers and sisters. He spoils them every chance he gets, and I always have to hold him back.
I’m halfway through my tea when there’s a knock on the front door. I hurry to let Sydney in. She grins at me and looks around at the empty living room. “Am I early?”
“Just in time,” I reassure, accepting the homemade pecan pie she passes me.
She’s been doing so well in the past year here. She still works at the office with Micah, and she’s started taking night classes. She’s not sure what she’s going to get a degree in yet, but Micah has reassured her that the path will appear when she’s ready.
She still lives with Micah’s parents, and she was prone to angry outbursts for a long time. But they helped her get into therapy and have done everything possible to support her. She’s beginning to blossom thanks to their love.
“Cee!” Abby calls when Micah carries her into the room. She’s now wearing her bright red Christmas dress and her hair is in a tiny ponytail with a white bow. She can’t say Sydney’s name, so she’s taken to calling her Cee.
She reaches for her birth mom. Abby is still too little to really understand the relationship. But she knows that Cee loves her. As she grows, we’ll share the truth with her. She’ll know that she has two moms and two dads that love her. We’ll talk openly with her about what adoption is and how glad we are that she made us a family.
Sydney accepts Abby and listens as she talks enthusiastically about Christmas and presents and what her dolly is up to these days.
Before I know it, the rest of the Kringle family is arriving and we’re all piling into our tiny living room where we open gifts, tease each other, and take pictures.
I text my mom the one of me with Micah and wish her a merry Christmas. She wishes me one back.
Micah will call her later. He calls her every week to check in on her and my siblings. They don’t even know they have a need and he’s already meeting it. He loves my family as fiercely as his own and he’s so generous with them. It’s another thing I love about him.
After the gifts are opened and everyone is milling about, Micah grabs my hand and tugs me into the bedroom. He pushes me against the wall and presses a soft kiss to my lips.
“What’s that for?” I ask him, pausing to stroke his beard. It’s getting so long. I’ve tried to encourage him to go to the barber shop in town. But he hates spending time away from me and the kids. If he could glue the three of us to his hip, he probably would.
He takes my other hand in his, linking our fingers together. He stares down at our clasped hands. “I was just thinking about those lonely Christmases growing up. About all those times I wanted a family. And now you’ve given me one.”
He swallows hard and when he looks up at me, there’s a sheen of tears in his gaze. But there’s more than that, there’s love and devotion. So much affection and gratitude.
My heart swells in response. Everything he does is for this family, and he asks for nothing in return. “You’re a devoted father and an incredible businessman. You’re a generous son and a sexy as hell husband. And I love you so much, Micah.”
He pulls me into his arms for a hug, careful not to squeeze me too tight. Things are still healing since the birth and he’s gentle. Of course, he’s gentle. This is Micah. He has a filthy mouth when we’re making love but he’s always gentle with my body and my heart. “Merry Christmas, Chloe.”
My throat is tight with unshed tears of my own. “Merry Christmas, husband.”
When I agreed to be Abby’s nanny last year, I got the best presents a woman could ever ask for: a gruff single dad who would become my husband and a little girl who would steal my heart. Now, I have a son with his father’s eyes that takes my breath away every time I see him. I couldn’t ask for anything more for Christmas. I already have everything.
My best friend wants me to breed her. A noble man would tell her no. Good thing no one has ever accused me of being that.
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