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Christmas with the Sheriff by Korey Mae Johnson – Serialization (Part Three)

Did you miss Chapters 1-2? You can find them here.

Did you miss Chapters 3-4? You can find them here.

Chapter Five

Jo didn’t worry about her sore bottom for very long. When Jack came back into the house, he wrapped his thick, muscular arms around her and she simply melted into him once again.

Thus started a couple of the quaintest, most fairytale days imaginable. Jack’s blue eyes entranced with her every movement, making her feel like a goddess.

A sex goddess.

He could barely keep his hands off her long enough to rustle up food for them, and they mostly just stayed in bed, fucking or snuggling after fucking. No matter how sore he left her each time, Jo couldn’t seem to help herself. She felt drugged by pleasure from his every touch.

But on Christmas Eve morning, after waking each other up in what she decided was the best way possible, he grumbled and said into the back of her neck. “I need to go out to the garage and work on that truck I’m giving you and Mags. It needs a few hours of love first. I haven’t driven it in ages.” He hugged her body tighter against his own. “I hate leaving you, though.”

“I need the break from your cock anyway,” she said with a sigh, then giggled when he made a grumpy noise. “What? I think my pussy is as red as you left my poor butt the other day.”

“I’m making up for lost time. I’ve been dreaming about that pussy for years. At least the timing worked out. With college behind you, we don’t have to wait too long for step two…”

“What’s step two?” she asked, turning her head to raise an eyebrow at him.

“Step two?” he repeated sheepishly, as if saying it like a question made it less menacing. Then he shrugged and offered innocently, “The thing after step one, which was snag you.”

“And I’m snagged,” she assured with a nod of her head. “But what’s step two?”

He evaded the question by pushing himself up the bed and out of the covers. “Look, I don’t have all day to talk to you about when I’m eventually gonna start putting babies into you. I have to get that truck running.” With that, he leaned over to pat her rump, ignored the fact that she was looking at him with her mouth dropped wide open, and put on his pants before leaving the room.

She blinked at the door behind him and blushed, almost wanting to put her hand down to her clit and start stroking, imagining the pure erotic thrill of the idea of having that man’s babies. But she hadn’t gotten to snoop around the house yet, and this was a great opportunity. Every time she’d look into a cupboard, he seemed to be right behind her, wondering what she needed.

In her mind, Jack was so fascinating and wonderful that everything in his house had to be fascinating and wonderful too. Instead, she found that she was sorely needed. Jack had absolutely no designer’s eye. The house was so quiet, so lonely, so dark. She twisted her lips as she came across the perfect word to describe it: his little log-cabin home was cave-like. It wasn’t just that there wasn’t enough of Jack’s personality to it. There was no personality whatsoever.

Even the closets were uninspired. Everything was organized, nothing was fun. It was like the place was an Airbnb he’d rented, not a home where he’d lived for nearly eight years. And as she looked around, she envisioned herself moving in and merging her style with his. It seemed perfect. Jack was her complete opposite—when they were together, everything seemed balanced.

She was an artist—she wanted color around her. She wanted warmth and stimulation.

It was then that an idea hit her like a bolt of lightning to the brain. A thought that she could almost hear in her ear as she imagined her aunt’s wrinkled face. “I always thought Christmas was the most romantic time of the year.”

Christmas. She hadn’t enjoyed it for so long since the holiday reminded her so much of her lost parents. But this year, she felt happier and more complete than ever before. It was time to bring back her favorite holiday and share it with Jack. Besides, Maggie was right, in a way. Christmas was romantic, and colorful, and spiritual… It was the perfect time to move forward with Jack into Step Two… Whatever Step Two was. Hopefully living Happily Ever After, but she was uncertain how many steps Jack thought there were, so it was hard to say.

She grinned widely as an idea began to form. It was perfect. She would awe him with her artistic, holiday talent. She could decorate a tree like no one’s business… once she had one. In the dorms, she had won a tree decorating contest using nothing but aluminum foil and a pack of colored candles—and she hadn’t even been passionate about it. She just didn’t like seeing anyone else winning any art contest.

She couldn’t find much in any of the closets—mostly just extra blankets and some jackets and suits that he probably hadn’t worn for a decade. Lots of cowboy boots, which was typical for any man in rural Oregon. Lots of flannels… Lots of nothing she could use.

She bit her lip thoughtfully and grabbed her jacket. There had to be something outside. Maybe in the garage… which was hopefully not overrun by spiders or anything else creepy-crawly.

As soon as she stepped out the side door, she saw Jack under the hood of the car. “Hey, Jo. You bored?” he asked, glancing up to find her looking at everything but at nothing in particular.

“No,” she replied.

“Because if you are, I have internet. Feel free to use my computer,” he continued.

“I’m not bored,” she assured. She suddenly spied a snowmobile on the other side of the car. It was in incredibly good shape. “Woah! A snowmobile?” she said, unable to contain her excitement. She had never actually seen one off the ski slopes. “Couldn’t we get to Maggie’s the back way and not use the bridge?”

“No,” he said. “Sorry baby, there’s only one seat, to start. Secondly, though—we’d still need to cross the river, and it’s just not gonna happen in a snowmobile. I only use it when I’m trying to make extra money working security on the slopes.”

She looked disappointed for a moment, but then she grinned. Well, at least it would help her drag a tree back. There was a forest right behind Jack’s acre—she could easily find a small pine. “Can I drive it?” she asked, going over to the snowmobile to play with the handles.

“Nope,” he responded, sounding like he was reaching for something deep under the hood. “You need a permit to drive it. And my permission, which you sure as hell aren’t getting when you just plowed into a tree two days ago.” He gestured in the direction of her crashed truck.

“I drive all the time without doing anything weird. I’m a good driver.”

“That Chevy was dented and looking like hell long before my tree got in your way,” he pointed out.

“What? And it’s impossible that Maggie made the dents?” she puffed, plopping herself down in the machine’s seat.

“Yeah, it is. She barely ever drives. So… Yeah, as I said. You don’t have permission to touch that snowmobile. It can’t protect you from booboos like your Chevy was able to.”

“I wouldn’t make booboos,” she affirmed flatly. It was exactly this sort of talk that had made her think for so long that he viewed her as a child.

She heard a winding noise as he screwed something into the car. “Jo?” he finally asked.

“What?”

“It’s a ‘no’ to the snowmobile. I can’t go with you, anyway, and teach you to drive it. It’s a busy day.” He stood up from the hood of the car and wiped some oil off of his hands with a rag. “My neighbor, Frank, just came by and reminded me that, instead of giving you another dose of cock, I’d promised to help him take his stupid tree down before it lands on his roof. So I’ll be out most of the afternoon. I figured that the kitchen is stocked with hot chocolate, you told me you’re in the middle of binging Ozark, and apparently I made your pussy good and sore, so you’d be set for a few hours.”

“Fine, tell me I can’t do anything fun and then abandon me in your house,” she teased.

He gave her a firm look, although she thought it was clear she’d been joking. “Are we done giving me grief for now?” he asked her, putting his hands on his hips.

He looked very no-nonsense, so she just looked up at him and nodded. “Yeah, for now.”

“Good,” he grinned. “Why don’t you come next door with me?” he asked, although she knew that Frank, who lived ‘next door’, was a half-mile away.

She looked at the snowmobile. When she was rummaging through the house, she had seen a drawer full of keys. She could use the time he was gone to go, cut down a small tree, put it up, decorate it, and have everything looking gorgeous by the time he got home.

She shook her head. “No. I’ll just hang around. Maybe watch a movie. How long will you be gone, you think?” She had to ask that question deadpan, like she was more annoyed by his absence than curious about it.

“Two, maybe three hours. Are you sure you just want to hang out? Because Frank’s wife could probably use some company,” he suggested.

“Nah.” She shook her head, looking sincerely disinterested. “Not today.”

“Alright.”

Jo thought he looked a little disappointed, but she ignored it. He was going to be thrilled when he came back and saw the decorated house. “Did you see where the movies are?” he asked.

“Yeah, I was looking through your house a bit already. Making myself at home,” she admitted with blameless innocence.

He laughed. “My brother said you’d be snooping through the house. I just got off the phone with him.”

She cocked her head to the side. “Oh, really? And why does Tom think that?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. Something about you deciding if I’m marriage material by going through my stuff.”

“You’re lucky that wasn’t the test,” she assured. “Because you stuff is all very boring.”

He shook his head and admitted, “Exactly what I told him. Like, what would you find?”

“I haven’t found a porn stash yet, anyway,” she grinned, delighting when he blushed slightly.

“Nor will you. My browser history has been cleared,” he replied good-naturedly, but then he waved her on. “Alright, alright. Feel comfortable. If you need me, just hike over.”

“You got it.”

As soon as he was out of sight, though, she went searching through all of the boxes in the garage. She found a bag of old ribbons, lights, and Christmas decorations—even a tree stand, which made the whole thing seem too easy, it was practically a sign. She put that in the house and grabbed the axe from the wall along with some nearby rope which was probably normally used to tie things to his truck. All there was to do now was to grab a tree, tie it to the snowmobile, and drag it home. She’d seen it done in the movies a dozen times.

Whistling merrily, she walked into the house and opened the drawer full of keys, returning to the garage with a pocketful of contenders. It was the third key she tried that started the engine. She looked behind her for a moment and then back at the machine. It was sort of tricky putting the snowmobile in reverse. There were so many buttons and levers everywhere…

But at last, after she’d strained every cell in her brain, she finally got the thing to work. It did make her nervous. It was so loud. But then again, the neighbors were quite far away and she could hear a chainsaw in the distance. Hopefully the sound of the chainsaw would distract anyone who might hear it—and Jack in particular—from the noise of the snowmobile.

This is way more fun than I expected, she grinned to herself maniacally, whizzing the machine around and through trees before she even had a thought of trying to find her perfect one.

Wonder why Jack’s got his shorts in a bunch about me driving it?

Then, suddenly, she realized that she was going too fast and she didn’t really know how to work the brake. She figured it out at the last possible moment, stopping just in time before she smashed into a pine tree.

It’s very important that you not crash, she reminded herself. If you think Jack is being a dick about driving now, it boggles the mind to imagine what it would be like if that were to happen.

She turned the snowmobile off and took the axe from the compartment behind her. Tree… tree… she thought, squinting at all the greenery around her. Too big… Too small… Has bird’s nest… Has a spider on it… Ewwww. She considered for a moment the idea of climbing a larger tree and cutting off the top, but the image of her breaking her neck in the middle of the woods in the snow led Jo to decide that wasn’t the best of ideas.

Perfecto. She spotted it. The perfect tree. God bless Oregon, the land of Christmas trees.

In no time at all she had made the life of that particular tree much shorter and was dragging it to her snowmobile. It wasn’t too hard to rope it just right—the hard ice coating over the snow, she figured, made it a perfect time to drag a tree at a rapid pace. The ground would act like a slide, and the snow beginning to blizzard overhead would nicely cover her tracks. If she played her cards correctly Jack wouldn’t even have to know that she took the snowmobile out at all. She could act like she found the tree right in the beginning of the forest, put it up, and shazam! Instant Christmas.

She was practically whistling all the way back to Jack’s cabin. It was going to be such a nice holiday underneath the Christmas tree and decorations, in Jack’s arms… She was so excited she had trouble wiping the smile off of her face.

Slowly, she maneuvered the snowmobile into his garage. It easily slid into place. Well… almost. She looked around and noticed that she was probably three feet further forward than where he had parked it. She had the most awful feeling that Jack would notice. Grunting thoughtfully, she quickly put it in reverse.

She was forgetting, of course, that it was the most difficult machine to maneuver, ever. Thus, she did not go backward. She did not even stay still. The snowmobile, instead, launched itself quickly into the wall of the garage. The impact not only smashed a large hole in the wall, it also created a huge mess as every childhood toy, every baseball—and yes, even a boxed, fake Christmas tree—all tried to kill Jo by falling right on top of her from their places overhead. She covered her head and was only slightly bruised after the ordeal, but she was now more horrified than when she had mauled Maggie’s car.

She looked at the catastrophe all around her. This was not good. This was not good at all.

There was only one thing she could possibly do: continue with the decorating, make it the most gorgeous Christmas ever, and hope that when Jack came in his house to kill her, he would be filled with the Christmas spirit, grant her mercy, and have sex with her instead. This was a best-case scenario, but she liked to be as optimistic as possible around the holidays.

The worst-case scenario: this would be her last Christmas, so she better enjoy the few remaining hours she had left before Jack got home, saw the damage, and killed her.

Unfortunately, now she really wasn’t in the mood for decorating. She was more in the mood for crawling into the fetal position and waiting for Jack to come home and throw her into the snow outside to freeze to death. But, pressing on, she tried to get her creative juices flowing—it was probably going to be her last creation. Might as well not ruin it.

It took three hours to get the house looking like she had planned (except for the garage, which she refused to go into and face). She sat cross-legged on the couch, biting her lip, wondering if she should go and hike out the extra fifteen miles in the snow to get to Maggie’s, incoming snowstorm be damned.

But before she was able to consider that incredibly nonsensical idea for too long, she heard Jack shuffle into the garage, and then the sound of his boots stopped. He was still… for a long time. Her heart was beating so quickly she was becoming dizzy, nearly unable to dread this for a moment longer. Hopefully he didn’t die of a heart attack, she sighed mentally.

Then she heard the most peculiar thing: the sound of his footsteps heading away from the garage. On top of that, she didn’t hear them again for another fifteen minutes. She finally went to the window to see where he had disappeared to, but just as she did the front door opened.

Jack didn’t look happy; his eyes looked dark, as if he hadn’t slept in a long time. She straightened herself and folded her hands in front of her, her eyes as round as saucers as she stared back at him.

Finally, he said something. “Are you alright?” he asked, but it sounded as if he was certain that she was but was double-checking for some reason. Probably because he wanted her in good health before he killed her.

“Yeah,” she admitted, her voice barely audible.

He looked around the room for a long moment, then sighed. “It looks very nice in here,” he granted. “I would ask for your side of the story, but it seems pretty obvious, so let me just guess.” His face looked extremely resolute to Jo, as if he was trying his best to be patient with her.

“You decided I was just being obstinate and silly about not wanting you to drive the snowmobile without a permit. You thought I was just being a jerk for not changing my plans and teaching you to drive it, despite the fact that you drove into my tree while high just a couple of nights ago… I guess I can understand that you wanted to surprise me, which is why you didn’t ask for my help with axing the tree down on what was probably the neighbor behind me’s property. I think it was utterly foolish—a horrible idea—but it was a nice gesture. And it does look very nice in here,” he repeated. “But that still leaves no reason for blatantly disobeying me, does it?”

Her ears sang at the word ‘disobeying’. It made the butterflies in her tummy go crazy. It sounded like he was lecturing her before a spanking. There was an upside here that wasn’t lost on her, namely that he didn’t sound like he was lecturing her before he murdered her. Still, she didn’t want the spanking, either. “Jack, I’m sorry,” she said sincerely. “But you know it was just an accident! I just thought it would be so cheery in here with a tree and…” She looked in his hand and shuddered at what she saw. It was a stick… That’s where he’d gone—to cut a switch. “Jack, please. I’m an adult… and I know I’ve done something wrong, and stupid, and reckless, but hasn’t our relationship evolved enough where you don’t have to resort to spanking me?”

“Joanna,” he sighed, sounding exasperated and looking at the ceiling for a moment before he focused on her. “I love you. I love you more than anything. These last couple of days when I’ve been able to actually hold you have been amazing. But you need to know that in this relationship when you disobey me, especially so recklessly as you did today, there will be consequences.”

Her heart felt like it weighed a thousand pounds as she realized the meaning behind his words. It was an ultimatum of sorts. Being his meant being spanked when he felt she needed it.

She had never trusted anyone to anywhere near the extent Jack was asking her to trust him. Except for Maggie, Jo had looked only to herself for emotional support, guidance, and comfort. But she feared even breathing without Jack now that she knew what it was like breathing when he was there. She could never go back! It had taken no time at all for her to become addicted to him.

Jack was completely still as he watched Jo make the biggest decision of their lives. She opened her mouth, closed it again, then finally swallowed and nodded. “I… I understand that.”

They looked deeply into each other’s eyes for a long moment, his relief at her answer obvious on his face. Then his expression turned stern again. “Alright, it’s time. Strip, Joanna.”

“Jack…” she said, crossing her arms over her chest. “I just can’t undress myself for a—”

“Yes, you can,” he assured her. “And this can get a lot worse than a spanking if it has to…”

With a pouty glare, she began to undress. Jack went into the kitchen, and when he came back out with the bark now peeled off the switch she crossed her arms in front of her and straightened her posture, still in her underwear.

“Very cute,” he told her. “Everything, please. Panties and bra, too.”

“This isn’t very romantic,” she sulked, turning around and taking off her bra.

“This isn’t meant to be the romantic part of the evening,” he replied, obviously enjoying the view as she shyly slid down her panties and stepped out of them, already blushing bright pink.

Jack stepped forward, grabbed Jo’s arm, and led her to the sofa before sitting down and pulling her over his lap. She was already groaning from being in this position. The indecency of it! But she wasn’t concerned about such things for long. In the next second, all she was worried about was how hard his hand felt when it cracked loudly against her bare bottom.

She gasped, wondering how she’d gotten herself into this position again and especially how she’d ever agreed to get into it somewhat willingly. She had forgotten about the switch, which was on a table across the room. It might as well be in China as far as she was concerned. It meant nothing to her; it was where it couldn’t hurt her right now. All she could care about was how on earth she could get Jack to stop and immediately commence the more pleasant part of the evening.

“Please! I’m so sorry about the snowmobile!” she cried. “And the garage! And your stuff! I really am sorry! It was an accident!”

“An accident, young lady,” he scolded, “that could have been avoided by obeying me. If you know what’s good for you, you’re going to open your ears and realize that I’m on your side. I don’t say ‘no’ just because I want to. I have reasons. Good reasons. Reasons that normally center around you and your happiness. If you learn one thing tonight, Joanna, you will learn that if you blatantly disobey me, you will always wind up in this position in the end, no matter if your plan works the way you’d like it to or not!”

It felt like the spanks had been coming down for so long that he had to be tired, but Jack still seemed interested only in keeping her from squirming out of his grasp and in making sure her bottom was turned the right shade of dark pink before he let her up off his lap.

Jack was a strong man; he was fit, worked out often, and was constantly training for his job. Jo was slim, nearly a foot shorter than him, and only jogged. She did not feel like she had even a fraction of the strength he so easily wielded, and fighting him off was futile. She was helpless.

“Ja-a-ack!” she wailed. “Ple-e-ase!” Tears started to squeeze out of her eyes when she realized she had lost all control in this situation. “I can’t take any more of this.”

“You should have thought of what could happen when you were rummaging through the house for my keys,” he replied. He didn’t seem worried about how hard he was spanking…

“You’re killing me!” she assured.

“I’m blistering your naughty behind, actually,” he retorted grimly, sounding tired of her dramatics. “And we’re not done. You’ll sleep on your tummy tonight and hopefully be much wiser in the morning than you were this afternoon.”

She did not like the ‘we’re not done’ part. She figured it couldn’t get worse… until it did. Jo thought for a brief moment that her spanking was over when Jack lifted her off of his lap, but then he led her around to the arm of the sofa and bent her over it. When she looked over her shoulder and saw the switch in his hand, Jo did the only thing she could do—beg for mercy and promise never to disobey again in the hopes that she would sound too pathetic to punish further.

“Jack, don’t,” she pleaded as he slashed the switch through the air in a practice swing.

Then the switch lashed down on her already burning backside and she screamed.

Another stroke landed a moment later and she screamed again, then began to beg in earnest.

It wasn’t really about coherent words at this point, she just needed Jack to understand that she was as sorry as it was possible to be and no amount of switching could make her any sorrier. He didn’t seem to agree, though, and his hand on the small of her back kept her pinned to the arm of the couch despite her best efforts to squirm away as he welted every inch of her bottom.

Jack had stopped scolding her, clearly believing that everything that needed saying had been said and now his mission was just to ensure that he didn’t have to do this again any time soon.

If only he knew that he’d accomplished that goal already… The switch was absolutely unbearable, and it wasn’t just the infernal sting that was humbling her, either. She just felt so… naked. She was exposed, totally and utterly, with her bare, thoroughly punished bottom in the air, her back arched, and everything on display for the man who was chastising her so relentlessly.

And then, just like that, it was over. Jo heard Jack toss the switch aside, but she didn’t move—she just lay there, bent over the arm of the sofa, crying into the seat cushion.

“It’s alright, baby,” he cooed, rubbing her back gently. “It’s done with. Forgotten.”

Jo continued to cry until he picked her up and settled himself down on the sofa, this time with her sitting on his lap rather than bottom-up over it. She wrapped her arms tightly around his chest and hid her face in his shirt as he continued to comfort her.

When she was finally herself again, Jo looked up at Jack with glassy eyes, and he cupped her face in his hands. Then he kissed her—hard. Harder than she had ever been kissed. And suddenly it wasn’t just her bottom that was burning. Everything between her legs was now on fire.

She kissed back, then reached down and started undoing his buckle.

“We’ll save my belt for next time you’re really naughty,” he said with a predatory grin.

That shouldn’t have made her smile, and it certainly shouldn’t have made her pussy clench.

“…although perhaps I should punish you for that big wet spot you’re leaving on my jeans.”

She blushed crimson, but he was too busy shucking his pants and boxers down to notice, and before she could even consider coming up with a retort Jo felt herself being lifted off his lap.

Was he going to carry her to the bedroom again? Jo got her answer a moment later when she was spun around to face him with her legs spread and his body between them, then set down.

But not on his lap.

She gasped as he impaled her on his cock, pulling her down as he thrust his hips upward. She didn’t scream like she had the first time, but it still hurt plenty. He hadn’t gotten any less huge, after all…

Then he began to bounce her up and down on his cock and she quickly forgot all about the pain… and about everything else except the feel of him inside her. Fisting her hair, he pulled her in for a kiss, and she moaned around his lips as her climax overtook her.

Jo came, and came hard, but Jack didn’t stop or even slow down. He just held her in place, pinned helplessly on his cock, and kept right on fucking, driving deeper with every brutal thrust.

He kept his lips locked with hers even as she climaxed, but he paid for his hubris when she lost control and bit down so hard on his lip—or maybe his tongue—that she tasted blood.

She wasn’t even sorry…

Jack didn’t seem sorry either, and if Jo had thought a little pain would soften his cock she’d been horribly wrong. He didn’t stop until she’d screamed out her third shattering orgasm.

When he lifted her off his cock at last, they sat for a while just nestled together in a blanket. Jack seemed to be thinking over something, and he sounded almost nervous when he finally spoke.

“You know, I have to admit, this Christmas scene you set up is amazing. Just perfect.”

“It is, isn’t it?” Jo said dreamily. “Maggie always said Christmas was the most romantic time of year. Perfect for moments like these.”

“I was thinking, since it is Christmas, it’s just about the perfect time for giving you a gift.”

Jo snorted and sat up, holding the blanket to her. “You don’t have to give me anything, Jack. It’s been enough of a gift to be snowed in with you this week.”

“The feeling’s mutual,” he said, shifting his weight and grabbing something from his pocket. “I just thought maybe you’d like to be snowed in with me… for longer?”

He passed her a box.

Jo was unsure what to expect until she opened it and saw what it contained. She closed the box, almost in shock, before opening it again, barely able to believe her eyes.

“Is this what I think it is?” she asked, looking at the gold and diamond band in front of her.

“It was my mother’s,” Jack explained, and then took her hands. “Marry me, Jo.”

Her world felt like it was spinning very quickly around her; delight and hesitation both rose up in her chest at once. Was this too fast? They had only been ‘together’ a few days, after all, but she’d been in love with him for so long it felt like she had been waiting for this moment forever.

She took the ring out of the box and put it on.

“It fits,” she said simply, her eyes twinkling.

“It really does.” He kissed her again.

Jack wasn’t her opposite, she decided. He was her puzzle piece, and they fit perfectly.

Epilogue

One year later…

“Maggie,” Jo chided, trying to rotate her huge belly enough to put her plate on the low table by her knees as she sat on the sofa, all while putting up her hand to stop a second plate from being handed to her. “No more pie. The doctor said I could gain twenty pounds, not fifty.”

“You’re eating for two,” Maggie reminded, seeming to grow more excited by the second over her nieces’ pregnancy, especially as she was coming close to the end of it.

For now, Maggie appeared pretty content to hold onto Tom’s baby, who was only a few months old. Tom and his wife had met Jack in the middle—they’d moved to Bend, the nearest big town, and Jack had started to work for Tom’s company. The plan would keep the cousins together, keep Jack in better funds, and keep his brother nearby.

“Yeah, but the second person is barely over a foot tall,” Jo laughed.

“Hey, no laughing,” Jack reminded with a chuckle, pointing to his wife. “Remember—you do not want to have the baby on Christmas. Don’t be cruel to our child.” He winked at her. “No one will ever be able to make it to his birthday parties if that happens.”

“He’s right,” Tom said, trying unsuccessfully to steal back his own baby as he spoke. “Don’t give up now, sis. You’ve got one more month to go. No laughing, no quick movements.”

Jo rolled her eyes at Tom and shared a commiserating look with his wife.

Maggie sighed happily and rushed to fill up Jack’s coffee. “I’m so happy you were able to spend Christmas with me this year,” she said with a warm, wrinkled smile.

“Sorry again about last year,” Jo said with a blush. “But… you know,” she gestured to her belly as if it was proof that Jack and she were officially together even more than the ring she wore on her finger. “…It sort of worked out better that way.”

“I know. You’re welcome,” Maggie said with a mischievous wink, then pouted when Tom finally reclaimed his baby for a moment.

“What do you mean, Mags?” Jack asked, lowering his eyebrows in confusion.

“Why do you think I sent you out for cookies so late in the afternoon?” Maggie shrugged. “And that tree collapsing the bridge was a little too convenient, didn’t you think?”

“You… you collapsed the bridge?” Jo asked, aghast.

“Well, technically Kevin from next door did it… with my chain saw.”

Maggie laughed heartily, and Jack didn’t seem to know how to react. His expression went from stern to amused so quickly it was hard to tell.

“Of course, I didn’t expect her to get in an accident,” Maggie said, waving dismissively with her hand. “That was especially convenient. The next morning, I was going to harass Jack to pull you away from the hooligans and force you to stay at his place, anyway. But the bridge kept you both snowed in together…”

Jo’s face was still for a moment as she processed. “You’re crazy, old woman,” she said. “I can’t believe you! You—you seemed so concerned when I left the house! I didn’t even like him then!”

“No. But you loved him. And you were perfect for each other. You both just needed a little push!”

“And a chainsaw, apparently.” Tom added wryly.

“And, you know, Christmas is…” Maggie continued, unperturbed.

“The most romantic time of year?” Jack finished for her, unable to control his grin.

Jo reached out to take her husband’s hand, then smiled at her scheming aunt. “Well, I’m not sure what you got for me this year, Maggie, but it will be hard to top last year’s present…”

The End

This serialization will be removed on or around 1/15/2024.  If you fancy having a version for your eReader, you might want to buy a copy!

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