Sloane: Get your asses to the rink!
Willa: I’m not playing hockey.
Willa: It’s not safe. Hard ice. Sharp blades. A bunch of men trying to prove that they aren’t past their primes. Fuck that noise. I’m going to sit on my ass and cheer for Luke.
Winter: I think show jumping is probably more dangerous. Medically speaking.
Sloane: Winter, are you coming?
Winter: Can’t. I’m sick.
Willa: Yeah. Me too. I’m sick. *cough cough*
Summer: Well, you’re all boring. I’m on team Sloane! Merry Christmas! Let’s fucking goooo!
I thought my best Christmases came when I was child. When the magic was still alive and thrumming. But somehow this Christmas takes the cake. It takes all the cake. And all the magic is thrumming.
I woke up in Jasper’s arms. In our perfect, cozy little house. The home we’ve slowly made together. We made love while snow fell outside the window before we even got out of bed. And then we hopped into one of our very safe SUVs and headed straight for Wishing Well Ranch.
My mom and Harvey met us at the door with welcoming hugs and kisses as they ushered us into the bustling ranch house. Everyone was there.
We’ve all been together all day long, and my heart has never felt fuller. Every time I get too far, Jasper reaches for me. I barely go for five minutes at a time without feeling him touch me in some way. Without him pressing a kiss to my hair for everyone to see.
It’s . . . Well, it’s magical.
Almost as magical as this new tradition. The first of many Christmas traditions I plan to make with Jasper.
“I thought skating was supposed to be easy? You assholes all make it look so easy!” Rhett complains as he clomps around like Bambi on the ice, all long legs and awkward motions.
“Bad word, Uncle Rhett!” Luke, his six-year-old nephew, calls while skating speedy circles around his uncle.
Summer laughs before getting up off the log where she’s been sitting with Willa. “I can help you, babe!” she calls as she skates effortlessly over to Rhett.
He rolls his eyes. “Seriously? You’re good at this too?”
Summer just shrugs, acting all saucy as she winks at him. “I’m good at everything.”
I laugh from where I’m leaning against Jasper’s net, taking it all in. Soaking it all up.
“It’s just proof that you’re overachieving!” Jasper’s voice draws my head up to the path that leads down to the ice. Cade laughs, each of them pulling a plastic sled loaded with snacks and thermoses filled with hot drinks. Harvey and my mom come after them, carrying blankets and even a couple of lawn chairs.
“You’re overachieving too, Gervais!” Rhett shouts as Summer takes his hands, skating backwards in an attempt to teach him how to skate.
Jasper shrugs, eyes finding mine almost instantly. “Yeah, the difference is I know it.”
I shake my head at him because I don’t feel like he’s overachieving at all. I feel like everything is just right.
We play the world’s most ridiculous hockey game. Summer, my mom, Luke, and me against everyone else. People sub in and out willy-nilly. Cade constantly leaves the game to check on Willa and refill her hot chocolate. My mom and Harvey argue over whether she needs to wear a helmet. She says no; he says yes. Rhett falls on his ass multiple times. Everyone makes fun of him. Jasper stops every single shot on net and laughs at every person who tries to make a play against him.
Except Luke. Luke is the only one who scores any goals, and Jasper makes the biggest, goofiest show of trying to stop him every time. Watching him with Luke is adorable. It makes my ovaries hurt.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him smile so much.
I’m not sure I’ve ever been more attracted to him than I am at this moment.
I’m not sure I’ve ever loved him more than I do right now because, impossible as it seems, every day we spend together I just keep loving him harder.
“Coming for you, Gervais,” I call as Summer passes me the puck.
“Bring it, honey. Show me what you got.”
But instead of trying to score, I stop in front of him, spraying ice all over his pads. We’re grinning at each other like crazy people as I pull off the beautifully painted helmet on his head, hooking my fingers through the metal bars as it dangles at my side.
“I need a kiss first,” I say, trying to keep my expression neutral.
Because I know he’ll never turn me down. I’ve learned that where Jasper Gervais is concerned, he’ll do absolutely anything to keep me happy.
Including kissing me in the middle of a family hockey game just because I asked.
So I’m not surprised when his glove hand comes to the side of my face and his mouth drops onto mine without a single moment of hesitation. I’m not surprised when I hear everyone hooting and hollering as we kiss on that little piece of ice in the middle of the ranch. I’m not surprised when he takes it a step further and slides his tongue into my mouth.
But I’m still a competitor. And I hate to lose. So I extend my stick and nudge the puck past Jasper’s feet while he stands there kissing me senseless like I asked him to.
I hear Luke cheer. “Ahhhh! That was so gross. But Aunty Sloane scores! We win!”
Jasper chuckles against my lips with a gentle shake of his head. “Nice goal, Sunny.”
“Thank you, Jas.” I do a little curtsy. “Who knew you were so easily distracted?”
Our gazes lock, his irises bouncing between mine. “You’ve been distracting me for years. This is nothing new.” But then his voice drops low and anticipation hums through my core when he murmurs, “But you’ve got my attention now.”
My brow pinches, and I try not to blush as I smile up at him. He’s even taller on his skates, towering above me. Frost-touched cheeks, sparkling midnight eyes, caramel hair flopped down over his forehead, looking so fucking handsome it hurts. “Oh yeah?”
His mouth drops to my ear. “Yes. Really feeling the spirit of giving this Christmas. And I’ve just decided I’m going to be giving it to you all night. Actually, maybe all afternoon . . .” His head snaps up, and he pulls me into his body as he calls out toward the side where everyone is sitting, “Game’s over! Sloane and Summer’s team wins. We’re heading out.”
I bark out a laugh, but he winks and reaches for his helmet, guiding me off the ice.
“Where are we going?”
“Home, Sunny. We’re going home.”