The party guests were surprisingly open to my story. They didn't treat me differently. In fact, they praised me and my mom for surviving in such harsh environments. We skated around the subject of my father, though. Sarah asked about him and I gave a vague answer that clearly gave the hint.
Evelyn passed around party favors. In each bag was a handful of candy, special ornaments, and a specialized name tag to wear at work. For me and Larry, she had made one for the coffee shop. The party ended around midnight so they could get back to their families and begin preparing for Santa for those with children.
Meanwhile, we started putting our gifts under the tree. I was so excited. I couldn't wait to see the looks on their faces; especially my mom's.
I felt like a kid again, back when I believed in Santa. I always got the best gifts because of what I had to do to my father. It was his way of apologizing even though he would always do it again. I remember making cookies, setting out milk and some carrots for the reindeer. I smiled up at the roof of my room. One day, Artemis and I would get to do that with our children.
As if he could sense I was thinking about him, Artemis snuck in. He closed the door quietly and I smiled. He got into bed next to me and snuggled, putting his head on my chest.
"I miss having you next to me," he whispered and I smiled more. "You're wide awake, aren't you?"
"Like I said, it's the first I've had in 10 years. I can't wait to see their faces!"
"What'd you get me?"
"You'll just have to wait," I said.
He stuck his tongue out at me and I bit it. He made a noise of surprise and I smirked.
"Do you know how sexy that just was?" he breathed into my ear.
"Of course I do," I whispered back. "That's why I did it."
He made small circles on my back. "If our mothers weren't here, I'd have to act on that, my dear."
I kept smirking at him and slid my hand down his chest and past his stomach. His eyes shut tightly as I went under his boxers. He groaned and kissed me as I took him in my hand. His breath was hot on my neck and licked from my collarbone up to my ear.
"Let me return the favor," he groaned after he came. "Please."
"Okay," I breathed nervously.
I bit my lip and he cupped my breast, kissing it through my tank top and ran his hand to my stomach. He traced his finger lightly around my belly button and I gasped. He kissed me and continued down under my underwear. I whimpered, part of pleasure, part of fear.
"It's okay," he whispered, slowly rubbing my clit. "It's me, Artemis."
I moaned as he slid his finger into me. I bit my lower lip to stop myself from crying out as he entered a second finger. His free hand took my shirt and bra off impatiently. He sucked on my left breast and I put my hand in his hair. Unlike with my father, this felt different. It felt good. My hips moved with his fingers and he groaned.
While I came, he kept his fingers going fast until my high slowly went away. I pulled his face to mine and kissed him passionately.
"Merry Christmas," I breathed into his lips as his watch beeped, announcing it was past midnight.
"Merry Christmas to you, too," he panted.
My mom pounded on my bedroom door, waking us both up.
"Time to wake up, sleepy heads! It's Christmas!"
I chuckled and sat up, stretching. Artemis smiled at the sight of me topless and I shoved him so hard he fell out of the bed. He laughed as we both changed into different pajamas. I jogged down the stairs, excited to start the gift opening.
Each year for Christmas, my mom and I would try to splurge on special gifts for one another. It mostly ended up being gift cards to one of our favorite places to shop or eat. Now, though, she would get a proper gift. She'd finally get something worthy of her.
Evelyn went all out on gifts for me and my mom. I got some more clothes - most of them for when the warmer weather comes. I also got shoes and some earrings. She got me all the Imagine Dragons CDs and I couldn't wait to start listening to them.
My mom also received more clothes and shoes. I watched anxiously as she opened my gift. When she lifted the lid of the box, she let out a gasp and threw her arms around me.
"They're gorgeous!" she cried. "I know how you feel about fake diamonds but-"
"They're real, Mama," I smiled and her eyes filled with tears.
She had gotten me a red and green scarf she had made herself and I adored it. Then it came time for me and Artemis to exchange gifts.
"Me first," I breathed, handing it to him.
He opened it and laughed. "Thank you, sweetheart," he said and kissed me deeply.
It was a sort of computer he had been wanting. The monitor swiveled so that he could use it to write on with something called a stylus.
"I know it's nothing fancy but you said you wanted it so...." I trailed off, rubbing the back of my neck.
"It's perfect." He reached under the tree and held out a long box much like the one I had given my mother. "Here you go."
I tore off the wrapping paper. The box had "Tiffany's" on it, too, and I wondered if he got it when we were there.
I opened it and gasped. It was the necklace I had seen the day we got my mother's necklace and earrings.
"You weren't the only one who saw it," he said and I threw my arms around his neck.
He laughed as I kissed him. I showed my mother.
"That is beautiful," she said. "Where did you find it?"
"Tiffany's," I answered. "He must have gotten it the same day I got yours. Sneaky," I added, nudging him.
"We've all been invited to Larry's New Year's Eve party, by the way," Evelyn announced as we cleaned up all the wrapping paper. "What do you guys think?"
"I think it sounds like fun! And I can wear my new necklace!" I added, kissing Artemis on the cheek.
"It would be wonderful," my mom agreed.