Since it’s exactly 6 months until Christmas Day today (yes, I’m absolutely one of those people :)), here’s a short story about Cate, Kian and Lola’s 1st Christmas. It takes place after ‘My First Half‘ but before ‘Two Halves‘.
“What are you doing?” Cate giggled, looking down at Lola all bundled up in her pushchair. “Are you blowing raspberries at Mummy?”
While Kian was training with Manchester Rovers, Cate had taken Lola into the village to run some last-minute errands. It was the perfect Christmas Eve day; the weather was cold and crisp but although it was forecast, it hadn’t started snowing yet. The St Ignatius youth choir were singing Christmas carols in the square outside the bank and all of the shops were decorated with fake snow and fairy-lights.
“Cate, is that you?” It was Madeleine, one of her old classmates. Although they’d never really been close friends, when they’d been at high school, they’d tied with the best GCSE results in their year and so they’d been photographed together for the local newspaper. She must be back home from university for the Christmas holidays.
”Hi Madeleine,” Cate forced a polite smile. “How are you?”
“I’m good, really well,” Madeleine tossed her poker-straight blond hair over one shoulder. She looked down at Lola, who was looking up at the stranger with wide eyes. “Durham’s great. Is she…?”
Before she could finish, Lola clapped her little hands together, “Mama!”
“Yes,” Cate hated the blush that crept across her cheeks, “she’s mine.” Madeleine looked at her with such pity, as if having Lola must have completely destroyed her life when in reality; she’d actually enriched it in so many ways. She might not have been planned but as soon as she’d been placed in Cate’s arms, she’d fallen hopelessly in love with her little girl.
“OK, well I’d better be going,” Madeleine was in such a hurry to leave that she almost tripped over her own feet. “Merry Christmas,” she called over her shoulder.
“Ugh,” Cate grumbled as she walked through the front door. “I’m never leaving the house ever again. I’ve decided I’m going to do all my shopping online in future.”
“What happened?” Kian took Lola so that Cate could finish bringing in the shopping bags. He tickled her tummy, “why’s Mummy in such a grump, huh?”
“I bumped into Madeleine while I was out.” She dumped the bags on the kitchen counter.
“Who?” Kian frowned.
“Madeleine LaCoeur. We were at high school and college together. She used to go out with Jake Moloney.”
“OK. I still don’t get why that’s got you in such a grump though?”
Cate sighed, “it’s the way she looked at me.” She looked across at Lola. “I didn’t like it, that’s all.”
She decided to change the subject, “how was training this morning?”
“It wasn’t too bad,” Kian shrugged, “the gaffer gave us the usual scrooge-like lecture about not overdoing it.”
The fixture list had been kind to Rovers this year; they had a home game against Burnley on Boxing Day so although he had to go into training on Christmas morning, Kian could spend the rest of the day with his family instead of being stuck in a hotel.
After she’d finished putting the shopping away, Cate found Kian and Lola in the lounge. “Can you watch Lo for a bit longer, I’ve got a few things I need to finish up for tomorrow?” Since it was Lola’s first Christmas, they’d definitely gone over the top with presents for her. The toys that they’d bought weren’t expensive but there were a lot of them; they’d wanted her to have lots of big, sparkly parcels to open on Christmas morning.
When she went back downstairs again, Kian was lying on the sofa with Lola curled up on his chest fast asleep. Her heart turned almost completely to mush at the sight of the two of them. A football highlights programme was playing quietly on the TV.
“You OK, angel?” Kian blinked, looking up at her.
“Mm,” Cate leaned over and brushed her lips against his. Kian reached up and placed his free hand on the back of her neck, deepening the kiss until she felt all hot and tingly inside and had forgotten all about Madeleine’s misguided pity.
Although it was going to be much quieter this year with her older sister, Remy spending Christmas in Italy with her husband, Vincenzo’s family, when they got to her mum’s house for the annual Christmas Eve party, it was still noisy and chaotic.
They were barely through the front door before Kian was dragged into a discussion about Rovers with her older brother, Ben and her sister, Liv’s boyfriend, Ryan.
When the doorbell rang, Cate got up, shifting Lola on to her hip and walked down the hallway to answer it. It was Zeke, another old college classmate. She hadn’t seen him since they’d got their A Level results and he’d called her a “dumb housewife”.
“Hi Cate,” Zeke shifted awkwardly.
“Hi,” Cate replied coolly. She was still feeling a little sensitive after having bumped into Madeleine in the village. It felt like everybody was judging her for being such a young mum. It wasn’t like she was a teenager anymore; she’d had her 20th birthday a couple of months ago. “What can I do for you, Zeke?”
“Mum asked me to return this,” he handed Cate a glass serving dish. “He thought she might need it for the party tonight. She and Dad have gone to New York for Christmas.”
“Um, thanks,” Cate was about to close the front door when Zeke said, “I’m really sorry for what I said to you that day. I was disappointed with my A Level results and I took it out on you.”
Cate nodded, acknowledging his apology. It didn’t mean much because if he hadn’t at least thought it beforehand he wouldn’t have called her a “dumb housewife”.
When she closed the front door, she didn’t feel like going back to the party. It was too hot and stuffy inside the house so she grabbed their coats from the pantry and took Lola outside to the back garden. As they walked down the steps from the kitchen to the back patio, it began to gently snow.
“Look at that, baby girl,” Cate marvelled, reaching out the palm of her hand to catch some of the tiny flakes.
Lola did the same and giggled when they melted on her hand.
Cate put her down on the ground. She could walk a few steps if she was holding on to something.
“No,” Lola looked up at Cate and pointed to the ground.
“That’s it,” Cate beamed with pride. Just because Madeleine and Zeke were following a more conventional path by going to university, it didn’t mean that they were any happier than Cate. She knelt down so that she was at Lola’s level. “Snow.”
“Hey, what are you guys doing out here?” her sister, Liv called from the top of the steps.
“We’re enjoying the snow,” Cate called back.
“No,” Lola thrust her hand out towards Liv.
“Mm,” Liv scooped her favourite niece up off the ground and kissed her tummy. “You are too cute, Lola Bean. I’m really hoping your mummy puts a lovely big bow on your head and gives you to me as a Christmas present tomorrow.”
“Not a chance,” Cate laughed.
“What are you really doing out here?” Liv asked while Lola busied herself playing with Liv’s long, swishy ponytail.
“I don’t know,” Cate shrugged. “I’m just not really in the party mood.” She explained about Madeleine and Zeke and how she felt that people were judging her for being a young mum.
“Who cares what they think?” Liv said. “As long as you’re happy, that’s the most important thing.”
“I am,” Cate took Lola back from Liv. “I didn’t think it was possible to love somebody so much, you know?”
When they went back inside, Liv snagged a bottle of wine from the kitchen table and they snuck upstairs to Cate’s old attic bedroom. “I’m kind of avoiding Ryan,” Liv explained. “He keeps flirting with the Mackenzie’s 17 year old daughter, Shona.”
In between sips of wine, Liv played pat-a-cake with a giggling Lola. “I know you’re still upset about what those jerks said but if it’s any consolation, I’ve literally never seen a happier kid than this one,” Liv gestured towards Lola, “and that’s down to you, sis.”
Cate smoothed out Lola’s soft black hair, “I worry sometimes that I won’t be a good mum because I had Lo when I was so young.”
“Pfft,” Liv waved her hands in the air, “you’re an amazing mum, Cate. Anybody can see that.”
“Thanks,” Cate bumped shoulders with Liv, “and your boobs are so much better than Shona Mackenzie’s.”
“Totally,” Liv giggled.
“So this is where the real party is, huh?” Kian’s sister, Sinead joined them.
“Nene,” Lola reached her arms up to her aunt.
“Ugh,” Sinead lifted Lola up onto her lap. “You are like the worst birth control pill ever, you make me so freaking broody.”
About an hour later, Kian interrupted the conversation, “hey, do you mind if I steal my wife away for a couple of minutes?”
“Poor Kian,” Liv giggled, the wine she’d been gulping down had started to take effect, “is that all you can manage these days?”
Cate quickly covered Lola’s ears. “Liv,” she hissed, “no dirty talk in front of my baby girl.”
“I second that,” Sinead grimaced. “I’ll watch Lola for you.”
Kian led Cate downstairs and outside to the alleyway where they’d had their first kiss two years ago on Christmas Eve. “Are you sure Lola will be OK up there?” Cate asked, biting her lip.
“Sinead’s got her, she’ll be fine.”
She raised her eyebrows, “the same Sinead who when she found out that I was pregnant suggested that you get a paternity test because I’m such a ho-bag?”
“She adores Lola, you know that.”
He nudged Cate back against the wall and when she looked up, there was a sprig of mistletoe in the same place it had been two years ago. “What were you so upset about earlier?” Kian asked, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear.
“It was nothing,” Cate shrugged.
“It must have been something, angel,” Kian said softly. “Tell me.”
“I just…” Cate sighed, “I hate it when people look at me like my life is over because I got married and had a baby. They think they’re so much better than me just because they’re going to university. I could still go to university if I wanted to, I only deferred my place.”
“Of course, you could,” Kian insisted. “You know I’ll support you, whatever you want to do.”
“I know,” Cate smiled. She slid her hands inside the warmth of his wool coat. “I love that about you.”
“Do you know what I love about you?” Kian kissed just below her ear.
“What?” Cate asked a little breathlessly.
“Everything.” Before she could accuse him of being corny, he’d claimed her mouth.
With one hand tangled up in her inky-black hair, he slid his other hand down her back until he was gripping her cute little butt and hauled her up against him. “Mm,” Cate showed her appreciation by rubbing her soft breasts against the hard muscles of his chest.
“Temptress,” he grunted as his erection tried to claw its way out of his trousers.
“Hey, you started it,” Cate gasped.
“I did,” Kian brushed his thumb across her well-kissed lips. “As soon as we get home and our girl’s fast asleep in bed, I’m going to finish it too.” The delicious husk to his voice made her shiver.
“Is that a promise?” Cate teased.
Kian quirked an eyebrow, which always made Cate’s tummy do a never-ending succession of back flips. “What do you think, angel?”
“I think,” Cate pressed the backs of her cold hands against her flushed cheeks. “I’m suddenly feeling really tired. Let’s get our girl and go home.”
“Come here,” Kian wrapped his fingers around her delicate wrist and tugged her towards him. They’d just put Lola to bed and were in the sanctuary of their bedroom.
“Happy anniversary,” he murmured, kissing the juncture between her neck and shoulder.
Cate unbuttoned the front of his grey shirt and trailed her fingers lazily over the bumps and dips of his hard muscles. “We got married in summer,” she reminded him.
“I know but we had our first kiss on Christmas Eve. That’s when you became mine.”
Cate raised an eyebrow. “I became yours, huh? What about you?”
“Oh, I became yours long before that, angel.”
He unzipped her black, lace dress, letting it fall to the carpet in a crumpled heap. Cate shivered as she felt the heat of his chest against her bare tummy.
She reached between them and undid his belt. “What’s the rush?” he asked, stilling her eager hands.
“You’re wearing too many clothes,” she protested.
Kian took a step back and removed his shirt and trousers so he was clad in just his black boxer shorts. “That better?”
“Almost,” Cate pressed herself against him, feeling the thick ridge of his erection against her tummy.
He reached behind her and deftly unsnapped the clasp of her bra. As it fell away, Cate whimpered as the lace dragged against her sensitive flesh.
“Fuck,” Kian grunted. He closed his eyes, savouring the feel of her bare breasts against his chest.
His cock throbbed against her and she wriggled impatiently.
Kian took a step back and drank in the sight of his wife, her soft curves almost completely bared to him. Her dusky-pink nipples were puckered with desire. He thought back to last Christmas Eve and he couldn’t help but chuckle.
“Hey,” Cate frowned, quickly folding her arms across her chest. “You’re not supposed to look at a half-naked lady who’s had a baby within the last year or so and laugh. That’s just mean.”
“I’m sorry,” Kian quickly apologised. “I wasn’t laughing at you, angel. I was just thinking about what you said last year when you were getting ready for your mum’s Christmas Eve party. Do you remember, you were worried that after the baby was born you’d never want to have sex again?”
“I still might not,” Cate pouted, “if you’re going to laugh at me every time I take my clothes off.”
“Angel,” Kian tugged her towards him. “I promise I would never, ever make fun of you like that.”
Cate looked down at the scar which marked her abdomen from giving birth to Lola. “My body isn’t the same anymore.”
Kian lifted her up and laid her down on the bed. “You are the sexiest woman I’ve ever seen.” His large hands cradled her ribcage and he kissed every inch of the scar she was so ashamed of.
“It’s fucking beautiful,” Kian insisted. He stripped off her black silk panties and kissed every inch of her soft skin until she was a quivering mess beneath him. Kian tugged off his boxers, freeing his painfully-hard cock. “It’s like that for you,” he grunted, settling between her parted thighs. “Only for you.” She came with his first thrust, clasping him tightly in her silken warmth.
Kian stroked her flushed cheek, “I love you, angel.”
“I love you too,” Cate sobbed, her head flung back against the pillow as he dragged her to climax again and again until she was tired and spent. Only then did he allow himself to find his own release.
When Kian woke up the next morning, Cate was sat up with her back against the headboard, anxiously chewing on her bottom lip. “What’s up?” he asked, stretching his arms above his head.
She was staring at the baby monitor on the bedside table as if it was going to jump up and bite her. “It’s nearly 7am and Lola hasn’t woken up yet.”
“She didn’t get to bed until late last night,” Kian tried to reassure her, “you know how much our girl loves her sleep.”
“I know but it’s Christmas day. Shouldn’t she have woken up by now?”
Kian laughed, “angel, she’s only 10 months old. She doesn’t really understand what Christmas is all about yet. Do you want me to go and check on her?”
“I’ll come with you,” Cate slipped out of bed. When they got to the door of the nursery, before they went inside, Kian squeezed her hip, “it’s going to be fine, angel.”
“I know,” Cate braced herself and pushed open the door. Lola was stood up at the bars of her cot. When she saw them, she grinned, “Mama!”
“Oh my goodness,” Cate almost tripped over her own feet in her haste to get to her daughter. “Hey, baby girl. Happy Christmas.”
“I told you everything would be fine,” Kian came up behind them and nipped Cate’s earlobe.
“Ugh, I love our families but I’m so glad it’s just us again,” Cate sighed as she settled Lola down on her lap. After Kian had finished training, they’d had Christmas dinner at her mum’s house and they were now back home and in their pyjamas ready to open their Christmas presents.
“What happened with Liv and Ryan?” Kian asked, getting the presents out from under the tree.
“Liv caught him kissing Shona Mackenzie at the party last night.”
“Who?” Kian adjusted the fluffy Santa hat which had slipped down on one side.
“I love you for pretending that you don’t know who she is,” Cate rolled her eyes.
Kian looked confused, “as much as I’d like to take the credit, angel, I genuinely don’t know who you’re talking about.”
“The Mackenzie’s have lived in the same neighbourhood as both our mums for the last 15 years.”
“Come on,” Cate continued. “You couldn’t have missed Shona last night – long, blonde hair, high heels, skimpy dress, boobs out to here. I don’t know who she thought was going to be at the party last night, she looked like she was auditioning to be on Page 3.”
Kian shrugged, “no wonder I didn’t notice her, I’m not into blondes.”
Cate rolled her eyes again, “that’s not what your last gazillion girlfriends would say.”
“Hey,” Kian protested, “I never had a girlfriend before you. You’re my one and only, angel.”
Lola was making grabby hands at the big stack of shiny parcels just tantalisingly out of reach.
“Come on then,” Cate laughed, “I think we’ve made you wait long enough. Merry Christmas, baby girl.”
After they’d opened up all their presents, Cate went to get a glass of water and when she came back, Kian had balled up some wrapping paper and was trying to teach Lola how to kick it like a football into the makeshift goal of a big, empty cardboard box.
“You’re starting her young.”
“She loves it,” Kian insisted. The ball of wrapping paper went flying into the box. “She shoots, she scores,” Kian picked Lola up and took her around the room in a victory celebration, “and the crowd goes wild. Lola! Lola!”
“You’re crazy,” Cate laughed. She took Lola from Kian. “Your Daddy’s crazy, isn’t he?”
“Crazy happy,” Kian grinned.
“Me too,” Cate tucked herself into his side.
Thanks for reading!