Under the Mistletoe

I know you don’t know all of these characters – but that’s okay! The hope is that someday you WILL know all of these characters and will enjoy each of their journeys. Until then, just enjoy the underlying love story happening like we did as we wrote this piece – just for fun. I’m breaking from the norm here and adding in a fun little bunch of posts that revolve around characters we’ve written during the Solstice Season leading into Christmas. Rose Matthews is Gabriel Kennedy’s aunt. She is having a huge celebration and has invited not only her family, but the extended family of supernatural characters Dawn and I have been writing for years. I understand that you don’t know them as well as we do, but I’m hoping you can at least enjoy them for this little series within a series. Let us know if you take a liking to any certain one or set of them. We love them all, and they each have their own stories within the Walking the Blade series.

~Rach

Alex leaned in a window and looked out. He loved being home.

“Is this how you usually spend the time? Alone in a window?” Arkin moved to stand next to Alex, holding a cup of fresh cocoa out to him. He had added a candy cane to it.

“No, I’m usually right out in the middle of it.” The blonde smiled at his friend and blew across the top of the hot chocolate drink. “Everything has changed so much that I’m just not so sure exactly where I belong in the family. Does that sound silly?”

“No. Not at all.” Arkin took a sip. He felt like he was being watched and he wondered offhandedly who it was. Could’ve been a lot of them. He hoped his presence didn’t cause Alex more problems. Poor soul had no clue the trouble he’d just brought home.

Gabriel was out there with Senias and the twins. He glanced at the window and lifted a brow at Arkin. Just what was he up to with Alex? ~ I hope Alex doesn’t get hurt. ~ He spoke to his fiance.

~ He has a big heart. I’m afraid no matter what, Alexander Matthews will end up hurt. Just not sure he’s going to let it happen easily. How many relationships have already taught him to slow down? ~

~ Too many to name that’s for sure. ~ Gabriel sighed heavily and leaned into Senias for warmth.

~ Not sure what’s going on there, but having both him and Largros under the same roof is a testament to their respect for Rose. ~ the dragon pointed out to his fiance.

~ I’m surprised they’ve kept civil as well, but really we know if they didn’t and it upset my Aunt.. Uscias would have both of their asses. ~ Gabriel smiled.

~ Very true. If Uscias… or Nathan… will chew my tail for something I do that he doesn’t approve of, I’m positive he’d have no issue doing the same to whelps like Arkin or Largros.

“Okay food and then we’ll see if Santa paid a visit.” Rose announced as she turned to go back in with Uscias.

“Well, the kitlings won’t be here until tomorrow for Santa,” Inea told Rose. “They were cranky and needed to go to bed.”

“Drakkar and Nikita are coming with their three tomorrow, too,” Essa let Rose know. “They were really happy to get your invitation. So was I. I’ve never had a Christmas.” Russell knew just how excited Essa was to experience this. She hopped on the balls of her feet and squeezed his hand as if he were keeping her from floating away.

“Well we will keep their goodies safe until tomorrow.” Rose moved to hug Essa and then Russ before walking inside at her dragon’s side.

The long dining room table was set with all types of food. Rose moved with Uscias to their seats and watched as everyone found theirs.

“We’d like to thank all of you for being here. It isn’t often that we get our children together. We have been blessed so many times this year that it’s hard to name them all so I’ll simply say a thank you for all these beautiful babies and for the continued good health of everyone here.” She looked at Uscias and smiled. “Let’s eat.”

“Did someone say they forgot the champagne?” John walked into the dining room to greet his mother and brother and sisters before they could even sit down. He had snuck in to surprise them and he was definitely carrying a full case of good bubbly. It was probably the one time of year he was cheerful.

“John! I didn’t think you were coming until tomorrow!” Rose hugged her eldest and kissed his cheek before letting him go to find his own seat. She was loving this more and more!

Arkin waited as the others clapped or sat down for the feast. He was Alexander’s guest and as such he would wait for him. Everyone seemed so comfortable at the table and among the company of others. It was odd to the dragon. He was used to the company of strangers more than anything. Or the company of Councilors. His eyes moved over Gabriel for a moment. Then, back to where the main family of the household were being happy with one another. He noted that Uscias, Avery, and Largros were also of the same tradition as he was. All of them were waiting on their significant other… or in his case as Alex introduced him – friend…

Filling his plate, Alex grabbed another and filled it for Arkin so the male didn’t have to reach across. Occasionally he answered a question and smiled but mostly he just enjoyed the meal.

“Will you be returning right after this to New Orleans or did you have other plans?”

“I don’t have other plans as of yet, and Nola is merry as ever this time of year. It’s simply warm, compared to this is all. We get snow maybe once every ten years. I’ve not really had a proper Solstice celebration or Christmas celebration in many years. So I’m thankful for the invitation here.” He broke his bread and handed half to Alex before digging his through the gravy and potatoes.

One son was still missing but Mark was always busy and all over the world so his chances of making it were slim and none. Rose took a bite and offered the next to her mate with the usual draconic blessing.

Uscias enjoyed and passed the corn muffins her way. Rose loved the sweet ones and that’s what they had made.

“Maybe you should put together a big celebration there. Oh, wait…” Largros chuckled. “Already have that.”

“Yes, we do. I like the rest of the year to be quiet. It’s magical. You know that, Largros.” Arkin winked before moving to take in some water.

“So both from the same city? Same clan?” Avery was curious.

“No, I have blood of Morias. But, we’re very nearly the same age. I was raised by humans who used magic. My clique was taken out when I was a kitling. So they moved to New Orleans from Eastern Europe to settle in what would become New Orleans. Largros’ clique hails from Trinadad and Tabago, some peppered through Haiti.”

Gabriel watched the two calmly and knew if things got bad Uscias would see to it before it upset his Rosie.

“Does that mean you share your territories? Nathan always said dragons could be very territorial.” Alex asked in interest as he listened to what was said.

“What it means, Alexander, is that they are in a territorial dispute that is up for judgement in Council soon.” Gabriel looked his cousin’s way and watched him absorb this information.

“Which means, we won’t be discussing business while here to celebrate pleasure,” Arkin stood and held up his freshly poured glass of champagne. “A toast, the newfound friends…and surprises…”

Most everyone took up their glasses on that one. Nothing they wouldn’t toast for. He sat back down while his eyes looked over the family all around the table. He wasn’t sure if he were being interrogated or not. So he paused before eating more. He reached for his fork.

When Aiden wasn’t having anything his daddy gave him, Derek got up and took their toddler elsewhere to deal with him.

Angelus watched his lycan brother with his nephew and smiled as he looked at his sister, “Aiden’s growing faster by the day, so it seems the energy is enough now. I’ll let father know the addition was plenty.”

“He’s growing too fast if you ask Derek. He isn’t ready for Aiden to be out of pampers.” Mira had Dominic asleep on her shoulder as she ate. “Alexander or do you prefer Alex?”

“Alex please.” He smiled for the lovely woman he knew as Mira. She and her lycan mate owned a fabulous nightclub in town – a hotspot for supernaturals. She had become part of the family because Pack Weylyn was part of the family… So many connections! It was difficult to keep them all straight.

“Your mother has told us you’re into fashion design. Is that right?” Being that Mira loved clothes she truly was interested in his answer.

Taking a sip of champagne Alex’s blue eyes sparkled, “Yes, I’m trying to get my own line up and going. I hope by spring I’ll have enough for a show.”

“What’s your focus?” Mira urged him onward. Of all Rose’s children this one and the absent one were the two they knew least about.

Seeing the surprise on the young man’s face, Angelus, explained, “Forgive my sister but she is what you’d politely refer to as a clothing whore. She just can’t get enough and honestly she knows her way around womens fashion. So maybe you should pick her brain for insight.” The incubus winked at his sister but then glanced Clint’s way when he heard Bryce’s small voice like a parrot.

“Whore!” The chubby faced toddler beamed at Lical as he repeated it again while clapping his hands.

After a moment of shock, everyone was laughing.

“Yeah and on that note I think it’s time we leave the table, buddy.” Clint stood up and lifted his son from Lical’s lap. “You wanna stay and finish or care to take a walk with us after we wash our hands and face?”

“Walk Lical… come Lical.” Bryce had his hand opening and closing towards her.

“Don’t be rude Bryce, she might still be hungry.” Clint whispered to his pup.

Lical stood up and not paying attention to the stares around the table, she picked up two of the cornbread muffins to take with her out of the room as she followed Clint and Bryce. She held them up on either side of her face and made a comical expression for the boy who was looking over his daddy’s shoulder. The giggles were adorable.

“Is that something that’s happening?” Eva asked Devon before handing him half her buttered biscuit and nibbling on the rest.

Tossing the bit of buttered goodness into his mouth, Devon licked his fingers and watched the pair in question.

“I’m thinkin’ so. From what I hear he’s been payin’ her visits after work and even cookin’ for her. He took our cabin and it seems he’s scoutin’ for a mate. It’s a good thing cause every Alpha needs a good mate to help lead proper.” Devon looked his mate over and grinned, “She better be confident enough to kick him in his backside when he needs it.”

“I don’t see that as a problem.” Eva had been told Lical had faced Russell with not a drop of fear. She had also helped Terry. She had also helped Gabriel and Terry escape those caves. Oh, yes… Eva had heard a lot before and after they had left the other side. And much of it was about this odd lycan that spoke not a word.

Noki was meanwhile, being an imp to Terry, moving his hand on his mate’s thigh and then into a slight tickling position whenever his mate relaxed. It was playful and if Terry really wanted him to stop, he would. But it was fun between bites.

There was a warm flush creeping up Terry’s neck as Noki teased him. He laughed softly and kissed his dragon between bites. He even fed Noki occasionally but he didn’t stop him from what he was doing.

Senias had Liam on his shoulder, rubbing his back. The baby had woken and been a bit restless. He was trying to hold off until both were ready for a bottle so there wouldn’t be two feedings at different times. Mariah had been very strict about that. She had even scolded Gareth about it – and a “Mariah” scolding was not something anyone wanted.

“Want me to take him for a bit so you can eat?” Gabriel grinned at his dragon and held a fork full to Sen’s lips, “Or are you enjoying being fed by me?” Sen knew Gabriel enjoyed pampering him when he was afforded such an opportunity.

“I like you feeding me. It’s been a while,” Senias grinned.

Stroking his knuckles along Sen’s jaw between bites, his grin softened into a warm smile, “Yes, it has.” He continued to feed his love and had eyes only for his dragon right then. Regardless of the table full of family and friends, it all faded to a dull hum as he focused on Sen and their son.

Mariah was enjoying herself, leaning on her mate and letting him feed her with giggles in answer. She hadn’t had a full family to enjoy Christmas with in quite some time. And she looked across and further down the table to the twin demons. She had something special planned for them and for her guys, but she was waiting for the right time.

With a rumble Gareth nipped at his mate’s earlobe and purred into her ear exactly what he’d do to her later once their pups were tucked in for the night.

Mariah couldn’t wait for any of it…

“I’d love to see some of your work. Get with me later and we’ll talk more. I have a lot of connections that could be helpful to you.” Mira lifted her champagne glass in a nod to Alex before sipping from it and turning her attention to her brother.

“You will not be disappointed in his creativity. The unique classical styles Alex invisions are something the fashion world needs, if you ask me,” Arkin had been privy to his friend’s portfolio. They had been planning a possible fashion show at Misconceptions… his club in New Orleans.

Alex looked at Arkin and smiled as he took another sip, “Are you enjoying yourself?” He hoped the answer was yes. That was the point in Arkin coming with him after all.

“Very much so.” He smiled. ~ Hope I didn’t overstep when I added my opinion. I never know how people are going to react. ~ He showed a bit of nervousness in his eyes. He didn’t want to make Alex upset.

Alex’s eyes widened a moment as he heard Arkin’s voice in his head. How had he done that? Shaking his head Alex took a sip from his glass, “Not at all.. thank you for it. Do you really think that about my work?” His elbow rested on the table and he laid his cheek in his palm as he looked Arkin in the eyes. He was so damned sexy.. and his voice with that hint of accent just trickled over the skin. He could listen to him talk all night long.

“Yes. I’m not one for falshoods or faux ego boosting. Although, I admit, my mouth does often get me into trouble because I don’t use it to kiss enough ass.” He smirked before picking up his glass of water and taking a good drink. He was getting full.

That made Alex laugh out loud which had everyone looking their way. “The only time I kiss ass is in the bedroom.” There was a hint of the old Alex shining through and it made his blue eyes glitter as he fluttered his lashes at Arkin.

As if just waiting for the perfect moment Rose stood up from her seat and watched as all the men around the table climbed to their feet out of respect for her.

“Enough eating and polite manners. It’s time for the music to be loud, presents to be opened and dancing to go on.” The older version of Isabel made her way from the table at her husband’s side and let him escort her to the large lenai where a small christmas tree had been set up and decorated and there was plenty of room for dancing and frolicking as well.

Uscias led her to where their two chairs had been set beneath the tall lit up tree. She motioned Mical and Aaron to her. “Being the right size I say you two are in charge of handing out all of the gifts beneath this tree. Think you arebrave enough for the job?” She lifted one brow in a perfect arch as she spoke seriously to them, “If not I suppose I could get your older brothers to do it.”

“No way Nana Rose we got this, besides our brothers would mess up.” Mical grinned as he knuckle bumped his twin and Aaron smiled and winked at the matriarch. As everyone chuckled at the antics, the two vanished beneath the tree and started handing out gifts to everyone. There was even one for Arkin.

Alex looked at Arkin with a hint of mischief in his smile.

“How..?” Arkin looked at the box and a smile curled his lips.

“I hope you like it.” He bit his bottom lip as he watched the paper being removed from the box. The watchbox said Rolex. Within was a watch with a rose gold face and tiny bits of diamond for the numbers. “I noticed you don’t wear a watch and every good businessman should have a Rolex.” Alex shrugged, “I wanted to give you something useful and not too frivolous or loud.” He quickly added, “If you don’t like it you can trade it for another.”

“It’s…it’s an expensive gift, Alex. Are you sure you want me to have it?” Arkin actually liked the style of the watch. It even had a secondary chronograph for more precise calculations. He couldn’t hide the fact that he was very happy with it, despite it being a surprise.

Rolling his eyes Alex smiled, “Of course I am so take it or I’ll pout and that is horrible to see, trust me.”

“Help me put it on?” He took the watch out of the box and let Alex do as he needed. No one had gotten him a gift before. Not like this. And it wasn’t the expense, it was just that Alex had wanted to give him something. He was just a last minute guest…or so he had thought. His eyes looked over his friend and he realized that he had not been just a last minute guest for Alex at all.

Still holding his bottom lip between his teeth, Alex slid the watch into place on Arkin’s wrist and adjusted it so it was snug but not too tight. Proud of his accomplishment he beamed. Softly, spoke, “Tada.”

“I knew there would be presents involved, so I rushed something. I didn’t have time for wrapping, but…” He took out an envelope from his jacket pocket and handed it to Alex. Inside was a letter of intent to invest in Alex’s design company. Also, a venue for a show in New York City for fashion week of the upcoming year. “I uh… I pulled a few strings. I wanted you to have your chance.”

Shocked and surprised.. he was both and he dabbed at his eyes to keep eyeliner from making tracks on his face. A New York fashion show and Arkin’s investment?! It was a dream come true!

“And you call my gift expensive?” He couldn’t resist any longer, he threw his arms around Arkin’s neck and hugged him. They were nearly the same height, Alex a bit taller but the dragon was a little more built. Their faces were only one a breath apart and he looked into Arkin’s eyes and whispered, “Thank you.. Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas,” Arkin was taken in that moment by the spritely soul before him. It was something that had kept the dragon coming back time and time again, whenever Alex was around.

Alex was slowly easing back to avoid embarrassing Arkin when he heard Aaron call out, “They’re under the mistletoe doesn’t it still count?”

Alex froze. We are just friends.. We are just friends.. he kept mentally repeating the mantra to himself. He doesn’t like you that way so snap out of it before you throw yourself at him like an idiot… like last time. Just friends means just friends. He mentally chided himself so much he didn’t even hear Arkin answer the kid’s question.

“I think it does,” Arkin replied. He didn’t realize they were now the spectacle of the moment. Not that he really cared. He’d always been one to believe in seizing the opportunities given you. And so, even as Alex took a slow step back and seemed a bit cautious… the dragon took a step forward and placing a hand on his cheek, he put their lips together. This kiss was anything but chaste…a very different experience from what had happened upstairs.

Looking into Alex’s beautiful eyes once the kiss came to an end, Arkin whispered, “It is a very merry Christmas, indeed.”

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