Drawn by the enticing aroma of sizzling bacon and fresh brewed coffee, Tina strolled down the open staircase. Ty was bent over at one of the double decker ovens. A position that stretched his jeans tight over one appealing rear end.
She took a moment to admire the view before she spoke. “Something smells wonderful.”
Ty straightened as she joined him in the marble accented kitchen. Catching her by the waist, he pulled her close and dropped a quick kiss on her upturned mouth. “You’re just in time to help me lay out some cinnamon buns to bake in those cake pans.” He indicated a number of refrigerator tubes of the ready-made rolls laying on the counter. “I hope twenty-four will be enough.”
She drew back to study him. “Twenty-four rolls should be more than enough.”
His gaze met hers, but he said nothing at first. Just lifted one side of his mouth into a definite smirk. “I’ve already set the oven to three fifty.”
“Coffee first. Then I’ll do whatever you ask.” She filled a blue ceramic cup to take with her to the living room. Her hot pink warm-up pants and matching zip-up top was an excellent choice to ward off the early morning chill, even though large shafts of sunlight filtered in through the showcase windows. Cradling her cup in both hands, she blew on the steaming liquid before she took a sip, then closed her eyes to savor its welcome heat as it swirled into her.
Ty came up from behind to wrap her in his arms, and her sense of comfort was complete. “That is some view, isn’t it?”
“Breathtaking. You can see for miles and miles from up here.” She rested her head against his chest, then gazed over the panoramic landscape. Beyond the log railed wraparound deck, a forest of snow tipped evergreens climbed up to layers of haze covered mountain peaks in the distance. Directly below, the gravel road they’d traveled the day before continued on to disappear somewhere off in the rugged terrain. “We sure are out in a remote area with hardly any traffic.”
“That’s kind of the idea.” Ty’s hand left her waist as he checked his watch. “Say. Don’t you think you should get those rolls baking? No sense wasting a good pre-heated oven.”
“No. No sense at all.” Slipping from his grasp, she walked to the kitchen and set down her cup.
Thumping the first tube of dough on an edge of the counter to pop it open, she soon had all the cinnamon sugared rounds in the pans she slid into the oven.
Putting her hands on her hips, she turned to face him. “There. I’ve humored you. Now what?”
The words were no sooner out of her mouth when a tap tap tap came from the front door.
Tina spun toward the unexpected noise, then back at him. “Who’s that?”
He shrugged before a heart stopping grin flashed. “Go see.”
She cast him another puzzled glance as she headed toward the entrance. Before she even got near, the door was pushed open.
“Merry Christmas, Aunt Tina! Merry Christmas!”
Dressed in puffy coats and tassel topped stocking caps, an assortment of her nieces and nephews scampered in. All five of them, full of laughter and excited chatter, flocked around her for hugs then gravitated toward the tree as if caught in some kind of force field.
Her namesake, the youngest, glanced back at her. “Mommy says Santa knows where we are. I hope she’s right.”
“I’m sure he does.” Tina barely got that out when more footsteps from behind made her spin around. “Mom! Dad!”
Caught up in a warm three-person hug, she recognized the unmistakable laugh of her older sister Kate.
“We couldn’t stand another Christmas without you.” Cold cheeks brushed against hers followed by a warm embrace.
“It’s great to see you.” She could only utter those few words when she was wrapped up in another hug from her little sister Jan.
Stepping back, with both palms flat against her cheeks, she remained transfixed as her brothers-in-law Joe and Frank, paraded by her. Gran and Gramp comprised the caboose of their little family train.
“When did you plan all of this?” Spreading her arms wide, Tina exchanged hugs, kisses and even a few tears as she greeted each one. “I had no idea.”
“You weren’t supposed to.” Gran was the first to answer as she let her go. “And we didn’t. He did.” She tipped her bun topped head Ty’s way.
Ty leaned against the counter, with both arms folded over a plaid flannel shirt, and a grin stretched across his face.
“He even had me make up a grocery list to give to the rental company.” Her mom went over to pull him into a tight hug, right after she planted a big, smacking kiss on his cheek. “You are such a sweetie for doing this.”
His grin widened, if that was even possible, as he returned the affectionate squeeze. “I’m just glad you could all make it. On kind of short notice.”
She beamed at him. “Wouldn’t have missed it.”
Her dad came over to pull Tina into another bear hug. “It’s so good to see you.”
“It’s good to see you too, Dad.” She wrapped her arms around the first man in her life to make her feel special.
With a breath robbing squeeze he let her go to glance around. “Nice place, Ty. Nice place.”
“I’m pleased you like it, sir.”
“I don’t suppose this big a house has a piano?” He chuckled as he spoke then winked at Tina.
“Afraid not.” Ty matched her dad’s teasing tone. “I tried, but couldn’t find a house to rent that had one.”
“We’ll just have to sing acapella, Dad.” Tina joined their light-hearted conversation.
Right then and there, as her heart swelled with gratitude and love, she tipped her lips up with a smile to rival Ty’s. The love of her life.
Taking a few short steps, she launched into his arms. “To think you went to all this trouble for me.”
“It wasn’t really all that difficult.” Ty caught her with little effort.
“Somebody fetch me a stick of butter please, and I’ll start scrambling these eggs.” Already donning a frilly gingham apron, Tina’s Grandma tied the sash into a bow, then squirted hand soap onto palms she scrubbed together with vigor.
Letting Tina go, Ty spun toward her Grandma. “Just a sec Mrs. Parker, I…”
“I’ll help you, Gran.” Frank slipped off his coat he draped over a ladder backed chair. “Ask Kate. Breakfasts are my specialty.”
“Uncle Ty, can we sleep up here?”
Ty glanced up to find five sets of eyes staring at him from the balcony between the two upstairs bedrooms. Still smiling Tina kissed his cheek and went to sit on one of the couches.
“You kids can sleep…” Caught up in the moment, Ty stopped himself before he spoke out of turn. “Wherever your parents say you can.”
More can we questions filtered down on the adults. Leaving their parents to figure it all out, Ty went to sit beside Tina.
“Aunt Tina and Uncle Ty, when do we get to open our presents from you?” Apparently satisfied they’d staked out the necessary sleeping arrangements, the kids scrambled down the stairs and into the living room.
“Before Santa’s, I hope.” Staring at the tree, another little one spoke up.
“I don’t know, I.” Alarm flashed in the look Tina sent Ty’s way.
He smiled in the face of her confusion. “Not until Christmas Eve, at the earliest.”
“What are you doing?” Tina slid closer to whisper in his ear.
“Telling them when they can open their presents.” He kept his voice low like hers.
She moved her head nearer to his. “But how?”
“Those gifts you bought for everyone last month.” He continued to speak in a hushed voice. “I intercepted them and had them sent here. They should be downstairs.”
Drawing back slightly, she smiled. “Seems you just thought of everything, didn’t you?”
“Ty did you order the list of ingredients I sent you?” Tina’s Grandma raised her voice to call from the kitchen.
“Double what you wanted, Mrs. Parker. It’s all in there, I checked.”
“Good. When we’re done with breakfast, I want to get started making my Chocolate Crinkle cookies.”
“Oh. I can’t wait.” Tina’s voice rang with absolute delight. “Make plenty, please, Gran. I’ll eat a whole dozen myself.”
As Tina’s laughter echoed in the expansive living room, Ty’s heart filled with joy.
He settled his arm more tightly around her. “I figured if you couldn’t be home for Christmas, I’d bring Christmas home to you.”
Snuggling close, she hugged him back. “One more reason to love you so.”
If he never got another Christmas present his entire life, Ty was okay with that. The blue eyes sparkling into his and the grin spreading across Tina’s face was more than enough gift for him.
“Merry Christmas, Tina.”
“Merry Christmas, Ty.”
She cupped his cheek with her palm, and touched her lips to his in a kiss to warm him from the inside out. Lost in the wonder of her love, Ty recalled his initial thought when he first considered bringing Christmas to Tina this year.
Pulling this off would take a Christmas miracle.
******I hope you enjoyed my contribution to the Roses of Prose Christmas story collection, Christmas Miracles. For some about me and to see more of the stories I write, some available for free, please visit my WEBSITE
Come back tomorrow for the first part of another Christmas story written by my fellow Rose, Rolynn Anderson. A story, you guessed it, beginning with this opening line.
Pulling this off would take a Christmas miracle.