AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT: Megan Keith
A Joelly Christmas
A bonus chapter for How to Liv
Copyright © Megan Keith 2015
All rights reserved
PLEASE NOTE: This scene takes place at the end of How to Liv, before the epilogue.
If you haven’t yet read the book this will contain spoilers.
“Give it to me!”
“Yes!” I screeched, leaning over him as he pulled his arm further from my reach.
“Joel, please,” I pleaded and gave him my best puppy dog eyes and pouty lips.
“Fine, fine,” Joel grumbled, holding the packet of Tim Tams out for me. I quickly snatched them away. “But don’t blame me when your arse is the size of this house,” he teased.
“Shut up!” I took a bite and then quickly swallowed, the seed of doubt planted. “You don’t really think my arse is getting big … do you?” I asked, self-consciously.
“Let me see.” I rolled sideways on the couch so he could inspect it. Why? I’m an idiot, I guess. I should have known he’d only grope me. I always fall for his traps. Damn it! “Nope,” he said with a sharp pinch that made me squeal. “If anything it could do with a bit more meat.” Then he slapped me. I saw red. He knew how much it turned me on and he also knew we were about to have guests and there was nothing we could do about it. “It’s a bit of bad luck Adam and Raelene are on their way here,” he voiced my thoughts with a wriggle of his eyebrow. Didn’t stop him from leaning forward and running his stubbled chin along my neck to heighten my arousal though, did it? Goose bumps formed on my skin instantly and I groaned with sexual frustration, lifting my head to allow him more room.
“Liv.” He licked my neck and I groaned again in a different kind of way because that’s when the doorbell rang.
I popped the last of my biscuit into my mouth and begrudgingly climbed from the couch. “You’ll be paying for that later,” I scolded him around my mouthful.
“I’m counting on it.” He gave me a cheeky smirk.
I headed to the kitchen to put the Tim Tams away while Joel went to answer the front door. I giggled aloud when I saw the message on the fridge and quickly rearranged the magnetic letters from ‘Merry Fuckmas’ back to ‘Merry Christmas’ before a cheerful Chelsea came running into the room.
“Aunty Wiv, Aunty Wiv, Santa Cwars is coming tonight!” She barrelled into me and I scooped her up for a tight squeeze.
“He’s coming tonight? You mean tonight, tonight?” I asked excitedly and she started prattling off the list of gifts she was hoping Santa would bring. “Hey guys!” I called out over her tiny shoulder at Raelene and Adam when they entered the room.
“G’day Liv, Merry Christmas!” Adam pressed a quick kiss to my cheek and reached around me to open the fridge. “Please tell me you have cold beer. I’m dying of thirst here.” The shelves full of various Christmas foods gave him his answer and he quickly slammed the door shut with disappointment.
“Sorry, you’ll have to go out to the shed,” I told him.
We’d moved into our house about nine months ago and Joel and I had been working tirelessly these past few weeks to get it in tip top shape for our first ever Christmas together. I may have been a little over zealous when it came to the food; which meant the drinks had been banished to the fridge in the shed out the back to make room for it all. Adam and Raelene were our guests tonight for a Christmas Eve dinner and would be spending their day split between both of their parents’ houses tomorrow. Joel would normally tag along with them but had opted to host a lunch with me at home instead. It was his idea. I’d always been a slacker when it came to Christmas Day, and just gone to Mum and Dad’s. I’d help out with the food on the day of course, but I’d never actually taken on the task of cooking from scratch. It was stressing me out a little bit. Mum had perfected it; the decorations, the food, the table presentation … and I’d be happy to just make it through the day. Joel and I had spent a small fortune decking out our house with decorations the past couple of weeks and, stress from the actual cooking aside, I’ve got to say I’m impressed with the results. I was excited and felt all grown up to be hosting my first Christmas with my gorgeous fiancé.
“And then I will have a new best fwiend,” Chelsea stopped talking and looked at me with a big, expectant grin on her face, making me feel incredibly guilty for not having heard what she was saying.
“Maybe you could say that again, Chels,” Raelene encouraged, stepping forward, “Uncle Joel and Aunty Liv were too busy making gooey eyes at each other to hear that bit.”
It wasn’t until Raelene spoke that I realised I had actually been staring at Joel while my thoughts were on our Christmas lunch, and his answering wink confirmed that he had in fact been making gooey eyes at me, too.
“Ewww! Unkoo Jojo, gooey eyes sounds so gross!” Chelsea said with a scrunched up face.
“I’ll give you gross!” Joel teased as he lunged for her, tickling her little ribs and making her squirm and squeal uncontrollably. It was almost impossible for me to keep her from falling from my arms. Joel noticed my struggle and abruptly stopped. “Sorry I wasn’t listening munchkin, you’re Aunty Liv is very distracting.” He gave me a quick kiss to the forehead and stepped back, bending down to be eye level with her. “What were you saying, sweetheart?”
“Santa got me an earwy pwesent.”
“He did?” Joel asked in that small voice he reserved just for her, one that for some reason I found incredibly sexy.
“What did he get you?” I asked, forcing excitement of a different kind into my words.
“A baby. I hope it’s a girl then we will be best fwiends. But Mummy and Daddy said it might be a boy and that’s okay coz I’ll wuv him anyway. Just maybe not as much.”
“A baby?” Joel asked, wide-eyed.
“Uh-huh,” she confirmed with a nod. “It’s in Mummy’s tummy and it’s weally vewy little.” She held her fingers just so, depicting the size of a pea.
“You little ripper!” Joel boomed, causing our dog Ruby to bark. He swept Raelene into a hug that left her feet dangling in the air. “When did you find out? How far along are you?” Tears welled in my eyes at the joy on Joel’s excited face. While Raelene filled us in on the details, Joel and I shared a secret look. We’d been waiting for this announcement. Adam and Raelene had made it known that they were trying to get pregnant, and although they tried to stay upbeat and positive, I’d seen them get a little more disheartened with every negative result. Joel and I were both more than a little emotional that they’d finally got what they’d been wishing for.
“Oh Liv, ya big softie,” Raelene teased, as Adam pulled Chelsea from my arms and popped her back on the ground. “Come here.” I wiped the tears from my eyes and noticed that Raelene’s were wet too, before we hugged each other.
“I’m so, so happy for you guys!” I grinned at Adam and gave his hand a squeeze.
“Yep, my swimmers finally did what they were supposed to.” He chuckled.
“This calls for a drink!” Joel slapped Adam on the back and pulled him out the door toward the shed. I laughed at them when they chest bumped each other in celebration on their way out.
“Idiots,” Raelene said with a giggle before turning to look at me.
“You’re having a baby.” I sighed happily at her. “What an awesome Christmas present!”
“Yeah, well I’m glad you think it’s an awesome present coz that’s all you’re getting from me.”
“Bullshit.” I nudged her with my elbow. She and I both knew she’d placed wrapped Christmas gifts under the tree when she’d come over the other day. I hadn’t snooped too closely but I did know there were at least three prettily wrapped presents from her and Adam under there with my name on them.
“Mummy! Come look!” Chelsea’s excited voice summoned us to the lounge room, indicating she’d done some snooping of her own. Raelene had warned me about Chelsea’s not-so-stealthy peeking at gifts, peeling the paper back on corners and such, so I’d hidden all her presents until earlier today when I’d placed them under the tree. Which is exactly where we found her, Ruby at her feet, tail wagging. “Look at all of these!” Chelsea exclaimed.
I couldn’t help but laugh when my eyes feasted on the adorable three-and-half year old surrounded by a pile of gifts, with a look of overwhelmed wonderment on her face.
“Turn my back for a second,” Raelene muttered before walking to her. “Chels, honey, what did I tell you about this? No touching until you’re given the presents. Besides, these aren’t all yours.”
I knelt down beside her and found on inspection that the presents she’d placed all around herself were in fact all tagged ‘Chelsea’. It seemed the smart little girl had learnt to recognise her own name. While Raelene starting sifting through the items, I kept my mouth shut, knowing that we’d gone overboard on the amount of gifts.
“Oh, I’m so going to pay you back when you have your kids,” Raelene grumbled a response I wasn’t expecting.
“How do you mean?” I asked before biting my lip to stifle a laugh.
“I mean your house will be over-run with crap you don’t need, just like mine already is, and you will dread Christmas when I come around and load you up with even more.”
“Raelene, Christmas is all about giving,” I chided as if talking to Chelsea, trying so hard not to laugh.
“Don’t I know it,” she responded with a roll of her eyes.
“Wow! Someone went overboard!” Adam exclaimed as he entered the room, closely followed by a sheepish looking Joel.
“Don’t blame this all on me!” I said, pointing at Joel. “He’s just as guilty as I am!”
“I bet.” Raelene gave him a fake scowl before turning to Chelsea, “We’re all here now so you can go for it, kid! Show us what you got!”
Months of planning, and close to an hour of wrapping the week before, and Chelsea was buried in a pile of wrapping paper within minutes. She’d ‘oohed’ and ‘ahhed’ over every item before quickly tossing it aside to demolish the next neatly wrapped gift. Not that I was complaining at all, I adored her and seeing that wide grin on her face and the happiness in her squeals was the result I wanted, but wow, I really didn’t expect it to be over so quickly. That was kind of disappointing. I suppose I’ll get used to that once Joel and I have our own kids.
God, I was going to be a Mum. Not yet, but soon. We planned on getting married first. We hadn’t set the date for the wedding but Joel and I knew kids would be coming along soon after. Both in our thirties, we weren’t getting any younger. It seemed like the time before we met had been wasted and we weren’t about to waste another second.
Life was turning out to be the fairy tale I’d once given up hope of ever having. Now everything was falling into place; I had my beautiful fiancé, fantastic friends that were like family and this house which I adored. Life was full of surprises and Joel had surprised me that day in the supermarket by asking me out. I’d had no idea he’d turn out to be my other half.
“Aunty Wiv is giving you gooey eyes again, Unkoo Jojo” a sleepy Chelsea whispered in my ear as I carried her out to Adam’s car. She yawned loudly.
“Is she?” I whispered, not needing to look over my shoulder at the love of my life to know it was true. We both had a habit of ‘gooey eyes’ and no doubt I was worse than Liv. I buckled Chelsea into her car seat and kissed her on the forehead. “Merry Christmas munchkin.”
“Mwewwy … Kwistmas …” her little voice trailed off as her eyes closed.
I gave the rosy cheeked cherub one last look. God, I loved that precious girl. I couldn’t wait to have one of my own. A cheeky little Liv would suit me just fine.
“See ya, spunk,” Raelene said cheerily as she pulled me in for a hug. “Thanks again for a lovely night.”
“Merry Christmas Raelene and congratulations. Again.”
She gave me a wide grin as she climbed in the car. I spoke over the roof to Adam, who’d just finished loading the boot to the brim with presents, “Take care, mate. See ya Boxing Day?”
“Yep, for sure. There’s no way I’m hitting the shops with these two women!” He gave a full body shudder. “We’ll crack open that bottle of bourbon and watch some cricket.”
“Sounds like a good plan.”
“Merry Christmas, mate,” Adam said before climbing in the car.
I turned back to see a tired looking Liv standing in the doorway to our home. It’s a sight I’m ecstatically happy to view for the rest of my life. I’m so glad we moved here and I’m so lucky to have her. Poor girl looked beat though. She’d been cooking and preparing food all day, not only the delicious dinner we’d devoured tonight but all of the food we’d be eating tomorrow; turkey, ham, prawns, salads, plum pudding and pavlova, the list went on. I’d tried to help her out but she was determined to do it on her own. Stubborn as always. So I’d spent most of my day mowing lawns, clearing cobwebs, sweeping and washing down tables and chairs. Tomorrow was meant to be a hot one and we were planning on eating outdoors under the shade of the verandah, with the industrial fan I’d borrowed from work to keep us cool.
What Liv didn’t know was, today I’d also been in the shed putting the finishing touches on her Christmas present. We’d decided to give our gifts to one another first thing tomorrow but I couldn’t wait that long. It was just after ten o’clock now, so really it was less than two hours until it was officially Christmas Day. I could give it to her then. Right? Looking as worn out and sleepy as Liv did, I knew she wouldn’t be staying awake that long though.
I pulled her into my arms, on the doorstep to our home, and kissed the top of her head. She slumped against me and let out a weary sigh.
“I’m so tired.”
“How about you go get ready for bed then. Meet me outside in ten minutes?”
“Why?” She pulled her head from my chest and blinked up at me. “What are you up to?”
“Just do as you’re told.”
She tried and failed to look angry when a hint of a smile graced her lips. “Fine,” she grumbled then headed towards our room.
Ten minutes later she appeared at the back sliding glass door in tight little shorts and a tank top, ready for bed. It was a mild night out and the sky was clear, perfect for what I had in mind. I watched her in silence as she slid the door open and stepped outside. Her beautiful blonde hair had been freshly brushed and was sitting in soft waves over her shoulders. Her blue eyes glistened in the light reflected from the twinkling fairy lights we’d hung outside. I took hold of her hand and started walking out into the backyard.
“Where are you taking me?”
“I want to give you something.”
“Yeah, well, I’m beat Joel. Couldn’t you just give me that something in the nice, soft, comfort of our bed so that I could go straight to sleep afterward?”
I chuckled and gave her hand a squeeze, stopping to give her a quick kiss. “Your mind is always in the gutter.”
“My mind? You’re the one that changed the magnets on the fridge to Merry Fuckmas! You’re also the one that suggested we celebrate the twelve days of Christmas by trying a new position every night.”
I howled with laughter. “I didn’t hear you complaining.”
“I would never!” She acted offended, then giggled. “Doesn’t mean I want to swing from a tree tonight though, babe. I’m too tired.”
“I’m not dragging you out here for sex, Liv.”
“Is that a hint of disappointment I hear?” When she didn’t answer I turned my head to look at her over my shoulder. “I want to give you your present.”
“I know we said not until tomorrow, and I have other presents to give you then, but I want to give you this one now. Just … please.”
“Well, who am I to argue if you wish to give me pressies?” She stepped closer, giving my hand a squeeze and wrapping the fingers of her other hand around my forearm.
“Close your eyes.” I waited until her eyes were shut tight before I started walking again.
With no moon present it was dark out, but with a cloudless sky the stars were bright enough that I could see where we were going. That was a huge part of the charm of this house, no neighbours close by with their lights shining on us, no streetlights hindering the view to the stars. Seclusion and silence, the only sound to be heard tonight were the crickets chirping. The ground was a little uneven though and Liv stumbled slightly so I tightened my hold on her for the last few steps. Turning her around, I walked her backwards until the back of her knees touched the chair. Then I told her to sit. She did it awkwardly but without peeking. I loved how much she trusted me.
“Can I open my eyes now?”
I stood in front of her and admired her beauty, her perfect high cheek bones and pert little nose. My eyes dropped to the small tilt on her lips and I had no option but to steal a kiss. I bent at the waist and leant forward, pressing my mouth to hers. She flinched at the unexpected gesture but melted into me in a split second. Her warm mouth opened and invited me in. I slid my tongue against hers gently before tugging on her lips with my teeth. Her hand slid from mine and glided up my arm until it squeezed my bicep. She softly moaned and I pulled back; I’d just told her this wasn’t what I’d brought her here for.
“Okay, open your eyes,” I whispered, then sat on the seat beside her.
She blinked at the darkness in front of us and then looked left and right before down at the seat she was on. Realisation dawned on her face and she ran her fingers along the wood admiringly. “Is this mine?”
“Technically ours, but yes, the bench seat is your present. Now that we have our home on the creek I figured that we should have a better seat than a crusty old log down the way. I put it here, on this side of the tree, so we’ll get the afternoon shade.”
“I love it. But you could have waited until tomorrow, Joel, I can’t see your craftsmanship or the creek very well in the dark.”
“I know, but you already know the view to the creek. Look up.”
She immediately lifted her chin and her eyes opened wide as they focused on the sky above. “Wow.” We sat in silence for a while, both of us mesmerised by the beautiful night sky. “This reminds me of the field. You remember that night? The one of Eric’s party?”
I did. How could I forget? I also remembered struggling to tell her about my past that night … and what happened the following day. I swallowed thickly, pushing those bad memories aside, instead focusing on the starry night in the field; the reason why I wanted to give her the bench seat tonight, and not tomorrow in the daylight. That was the night I’d wanted to tell her just how significant she was to me, that I couldn’t live without her.
I pulled the small reminder of that night from my pocket and held if in front of her face.
“Can I suck your lollipop?” I asked.
She gasped then pulled the lollipop from my grasp. She squinted at it in an attempt to read the wrapper. “What flavour is it?”
“Strawberries and cream, of course.”
She started laughing but when her eyes focused on mine she silenced, her eyes wet with emotion. “You remembered.” She paused to swallow. “You really are an amazing man, Joel Turner.”
“Ditto.” I pulled her into my arms, then sniggered. “Well, to the amazing part not the man part, that is.” We both looked back to the stars. “I’m so lucky to have you, Liv.”
“Ditto. Spank you for this bench seat. I look forward to seeing it in the day time, I’m sure it’s lovely.”
“Of course it is, I built it,” I replied cockily. “It just one of your many presents though, you’ll have to wait ‘til tomorrow for the rest.”
“Speaking of tomorrow, we really should get to bed,” she said with a yawn, standing in front of me.
I slapped her arse. “I like the way you think.”
“No drawn out, long teases tonight though,” she said in warning, tugging me toward the house by one hand, the other still grasping the unopened lollipop. “I mean it, Joel! I’m more than happy with a ‘wam bam, thank you, mam’ tonight.”
Walking back to the house, my eyes focused on her lean body and I thought of all the ways I’d love to tease her all night long. Which then had me thinking back to earlier this evening, the baby talk with Adam and Raelene and the wistful look in Liv’s eyes. The way she interacted with Chelsea and just Liv in general, made me want nothing more than to get her pregnant. I wanted to start our family and I didn’t want any ‘drawn out, long teases’ in that department. I stopped in my tracks before we took the couple of stairs to the verandah.
“What?” Liv came to a stop and turned to face me with a grin. “Joel, I’m already engaged to you.”
“Then marry me already. Let’s set the date. I don’t want to wait any longer.” Her eyes lit up and she stepped closer to me. I grabbed hold of her hip and gave it a squeeze. “Next month? Next week? Let’s make it sooner rather than later.”
“Okay?” I couldn’t hide the glee in my voice. “Just like that?”
She wrapped her arms around my neck and pressed her tight little body against mine. “Yep. Let’s do it. I don’t want to wait any longer either.” She bit her lip and her fingers tapped against my neck as she ticked it over in her head. “New Year’s Eve! We’re having a party with everyone at Adam and Raelene’s, let’s turn that into our wedding. They have the perfect backyard for it. They won’t mind, will they? Ooh, I know! We could make it a surprise wedding! … Though we’d have to tell Adam and Raelene if we’re having it at their house … oh and Chelsea, I wouldn’t want her disappointed, she’s the flower girl after all. We’d have to include her and take her dress shopping.” She stilled and stared at me a moment. “What?”
“Nothing.” God, I loved her so much. I was in awe of her. I loved that she’d taken on my family like her own, and the fact that she considered them, and little Chelsea, first, for her wedding, made me love her even more.
“Shit. That really only gives us a week, Joel. Adam and you will have to go searching for tuxes straight after Christmas. Raelene can help me pick my wedding dress. I wonder if we might find something at the Boxing Day sales ... And flowers. Oh, we need a cake. And a celebrant. What if we can’t get on with such short notice? And why are you looking at me funny? You don’t like the surprise idea?”
“I think it will be perfect, Liv. Just like you. I love everything you’ve suggested. In fact, I love every little thing about you.”
“Oh, Joel.” She stood, grinning at me all gooey-like and I’m sure my answering grin looked just as gooey. Then the smile dropped from her face. “Wait. What about my parents? Mum and Dad are going away on the 28th. They won’t be here.”
“Bugger.” I’d got so swept away in Liv’s sudden planning of a surprise wedding I’d forgotten all about that fact. Her parents had recently bought a caravan and were planning on travelling for the next couple of months. That threw a spanner in the works. I was really loving the idea of being married to her in a weeks’ time, but there’s no way I’d deny Liv having her parents there. I didn’t like the disappointed look on her face so I said the only thing I could. “They’ll be back in March, right?”
“Yeah,” she said, still looking glum.
“So we can work it out with them tomorrow. We’ll pick a date when they’re back.” The weight lifted from her face a little but she still wasn’t smiling. “In March,” I added, to reiterate the fact that I still wanted it to be as soon as possible.
“In March,” she repeated with a nod.
I tucked some stray hair behind her ear and leant forward to press a kiss to her neck below it, and said, “Yes, let’s get married in March.”
My whispered words and the scrape of my stubble against her skin had her relaxing against me. Goose bumps appeared across her collar bone; they stood out in the twinkling of the verandah’s fairy lights. I rubbed my chin back and forth along her neck before doing the same with my tongue. Her hands wound around my shoulders and she whispered, “We’re getting married in March.” She sighed contentedly and her hold tightened while I continued my torment against her skin, again squeezing her hip in my favourite way. “Oh, Joel. Take me to bed. I’m no longer tired.”
I lifted her into my arms, her legs wrapped around my waist as I took the remaining steps into our home and straight to our bed.
I didn’t give her any ‘wam bam, thank you, mam’ business and by the time we fell asleep at around 1am she wasn’t complaining one little bit.
No, she was just snoring adorably in my arms as I began to think about planning our wedding tomorrow.
This was already the best Christmas ever.
For more Joel & Liv - check out their Valentine’s Day bonus chapter on my website now: http://www.megankeith.com.au/p/my-books.html
‘Being Adam’ - Adam + Raelene’s story, coming 2016. Add it to your TBR: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22553098-being-adam
I'm a married mother of three that lives in a small town in country New South Wales, Australia. I am a bookaholic and if I am not found tapping away at the laptop, you will find me hiding from the kids with my kindle in hand. My other passion is music. I love everything from indie alternative to hard rock, pop to retro, and I love to play it LOUD!
My début novel, Finding My Way is the first in a new adult romance trilogy, Crossroads being the second and New Beginnings the third book. It's about a bunch of twenty-somethings 'finding their way' in love and life.
How to Liv is a stand alone adult contemporary romance about a couple of hot Aussie sweethearts that meet by chance at the local supermarket.
My Eraser series started as an erotic novella. It was later turned into a erotic romance series. The 6th and final book has recently been released. This series must be read in order. Don't read it unless you like lots of hot and steamy sex (including BDSM) with a gorgeous, totally swoonworthy billionare.
Visit Megan Keith's Website: http://www.megankeith.com.au/
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1. If money was no object what would take out the number one spot on your Christmas list?
An around the world trip – including a cruise through the tropics, a road trip across the USA and an extended amount of time spent in the UK.
2. What was the first book you read that made you think “wow this is what I want to do, I want to be an author”?
Slammed by Colleen Hoover. I’ve always been an avid reader and dabbled in writing short stories for myself but it wasn’t until I got given my first kindle that I discovered the world of indie publishing. I never knew you could publish your own work until I found this 99c book by an unknown (at the time) author that was climbing the charts. I read it, fell in love, found Colleen had another book just out … it snowballed from there. I discovered Goodreads and some awesome bloggers that pointed me in the right direction on what to read next. I started devouring book after book in awe that these writers were doing it on their own and thought, ‘hey why not give it a go?’
3. What does Christmas mean for you?
Family. It means putting a smile on my kids’ faces, making their little dreams come true with the gifts they’ve been wishing for.
4. What’s your guilty pleasure, the one thing you hate admitting out loud?
I sometimes pretend I’m sleeping in on the weekend, when I’m actually reading in bed and don’t want the kids to know I’m awake.
5. What’s next for you in terms of writing?
I’m currently working on a standalone contemporary romance called Xander & Tilly. These two have a love/hate relationship and are making me work hard! No set date for publication as yet, but sometime early in the New Year. That’s if I don’t keep getting distracted by the other three projects that are meant to be on the back burner for now but keep grabbing my attention! I’m constantly busy and loving it.