“Two Little Elves”
a Kindred Series Extra
“I know it’s exciting, but we still have to sleep.” I chuckle at Mia.
“Carter,” Carm sighs. “You might have better success at putting her to bed if you take off the flashing santa hat.”
“But she likes it.” I grin, as Mia’s eyes go wide.
“Exactly, which is why she won’t go to sleep.”
“Does she really need to sleep?”
“Do you really need to sleep?” she arches her eyebrow at me.
“Yes I do, we have a busy day tomorrow.”
“Then there’s your answer.” she says, leaving the nursery.
I reach up and tug off the hat and throw it out of the nursery. Trying to look as stern as I can, I face my daughter and prepare for the screams.
“It’s bedtime now, Mia.” I tell her.
She looks at me, her eyes going wide, like she’s trying to work out what to do next.
Then she surprises me completely by laying down and hugging her bear to her.
“Good girl,” I croon. “You’re the best little girl in the world and Daddy loves you so much.”
She yawns, rubs her eyes and lets out a snuffly little, gasp like breath. I stand and watch as her eyelids flutter closed and she slowly falls asleep.
“You have magic powers.” Carmen whispers from the doorway.
“Well, it worked this time. Likely hood is, it won’t ever again.” I walk out of the babies room and pull the door to. “She’s tired out from all the fun with everyone today.”
“Then she’ll be exhausted tomorrow.” Carmen laughs softly.
We head downstairs and into the kitchen where dinner is sitting waiting to be devoured before a night of wrapping presents and watching Harry Potter.
I pour Carmen a glass of wine and grab a beer for myself, and join her at the table.
“Can you believe it’s Christmas? And not just Christmas, but our first Christmas with the babies?” she grins as she chinks her glass with my bottle.
“It doesn’t feel possible, does it?”
“No, it doesn’t. But it is, and I really can’t wait. I think your Mom is the most excited out of everyone though.”
“Mom is so excited, Jack text before I put the babies down, she was making more gingerbread men and cookies.”
“But she made loads today already.”
“I know, but she said we can’t possibly run out.”
“Are we mad having everyone over here for Christmas lunch? Should we just have gone out like Mum suggested?”
“No, here is better. The house is big enough, there e’s space for everyone and you can’t beat being at home for Christmas.”
“And you don’t think it will be too much? All the cooking and entertaining?”
“Carm, everyone will help with the cooking, you know Mom and your Mom will. And as for entertaining, we’ve got Harry, Josie and the babies, they will entertain us all.”
“You’re right. I just… I want it to be perfect.”
“And it will be.”
We finish dinner, clear away and head into the lounge with a hot chocolate and some of Mom’s cookies.
“The first one?”
“Of course the first one,” I roll my eyes. “I want to see Christmas in the Great Hall.”
While Carmen puts the movie on, I get the wrapping paper and remaining presents and lay them out by the coffee table.
“It’s fun, right?” she smiles, nodding to the pile of presents we need to wrap.
“Well, it’s a lot more fun when you have babies to buy for. Mom said they’ll be more excited by the wrapping paper than what’s inside.”
“Then please remind me why you keep adding to their pile?”
“Because I can… and don’t play innocent with me Mrs. Manning, you added three yesterday.”
“They were clothes though, they don’t count. They need those.”
“Whatever,” I roll my eyes. “Press play.”
“You’re getting a little demanding there, Manning. Wanna pipe down?”
“Sorry,” I grin. “Just excited. And tired. And excited.”
“You’re worse than a child.”
“I know, but it’s the night before Christmas Eve, Carm.”
“Ssssssh! It’s starting.”
I lean closer to her and sing the opening music in her ear. My warm breath on her neck makes her shiver and she moves away a little more.
I keep watching then lean right back in right before Dumbledore speaks.
“I should’ve know you’d be here… Professor McGonagall.”
I burst out laughing seconds before she does.
“You’re such a dork.” she chuckles, turning to face me.
“But I’m your dork, so it’s okay.”
She smiles, leans forward and places her hands either side of my face before leaning in to kiss me. “It really is.”
The next morning during breakfast, the door bell chimes, filling the house with the sound of The Ronettes Sleigh Ride.
Carmen continues feeding the babies their breakfast while I head to answer the door.
“Morning, Mom.” I grin as I open it.
“Good morning, darling boy. How are you?”
“A little sleepy, but excited. You okay?”
She steps in and removes her hat and boots. “I’m great sweetheart, I thought I could come and help get the last few bits sorted if Carmen would like me to?”
“I’m sure she’d love it. Jack awake?”
“Yes, he’s awake with Alice. He’s letting Josie sleep in.”
We walk into the kitchen and the sound of Mom’s voice has Mia flapping her hands and trying to peer around to see her Nana.
“Morning, Hillary.” Carmen beams.
This right here is one reason I love her. How many wives would be this happy to see their mother in-law at eight am on Christmas eve? I mean, okay, no one has a Mom like mine, but still.
“Good morning sweetheart.” Mom smiles, heading over to kiss her on the head.
“You’re here early.”
“I was awake, I think the jet lag… or maybe it’s just all this excitement, huh?” she beams, tickling Rueben under the chin.
“Coffee?” I ask.
“Yes please.” she nods.
“He’s just getting showered, they’re going to the airport to pick up your sister and then he’s helping Jack with the groceries for tomorrow. Josie refuses to go to the store today. Says it will be utter madness.”
“Josie’s right,” Carmen laughs. “But I still have a few bits I need to get.”
“Can I help?” Mom asks.
“We could go together? I don’t really know what I’m doing and I’d like to make sure we have everything you’re used having for Christmas lunch as we as everything we have.”
“You worry too much, darling,” Mom smiles. “I could eat bread and water and I wouldn’t care, I’m with my Grandbabies and children. That’s all that matters.”
“I can’t believe Lex and Tyler couldn’t fly over sooner, what time does their flight get in?”
“In a couple of hours. Dad’s going to pick them up with your brother.”
“Jack’s going to behave isn’t he? With Tyler I mean.”
“Your brother is just looking out for her, but I’ve told him, Tyler put in a lot of effort with us before he went back for Alexis. He deserves to be welcomed, he’s who Alexis loves and wants to be with, so therefore, we love him too.”
“Exactly.” I agree.
“I can’t wait to meet him,” Carm says. “I’ve heard so much about him.”
“This is the first Christmas in a couple years that we’re all together.” I grin.
Mia must pick up on all the excited vibes, because she bangs her hands on the tray of her highchair and startles Rueben, who looks at his sister and then shrieks in delight too.
“Are you excited, baby boy?” Carm laughs.
“Of course he is, he knows he’s going to be spoilt!” Mom laughs.
“Not too spoilt I hope…” Carmen says.
“Of course not…” Mom smiles feigning innocence. “Just enough.”
“Don’t let me go shopping on Christmas eve ever again.” I groan, stretching my arms above my head and bending down to touch my toes until I feel the satisfying pull at the back of my thighs.
“Of course, but your Mum is like, Superwoman, Carter.”
“Did she ninja out in the queue?”
“No,” I laugh. “She just managed to calm me down and get everything we needed without a hair on her head being misplaced or the slight raise in her voice when person after person had trolly rage at her.”
“She’s great huh?”
“She is, and now, thanks to her…” I smile, pointing to all the bags we have to unpack. “We’re ready for Christmas.”
“Yeah? Can you talk and unpack?”
“Sure I can.” he smiles, heading over to help me unpack the many bags we have on the kitchen counters.
“I think, what we should do is, I’ll bathe the babies while you chill out, tomorrow is going to be crazy. Then when they’re ready for bed, we can read the Christmas book Megs gave us and then when they’re in bed….”
“I’m liking the sound of this…”
“I’ll get dinner, something easy because we have a lot of people here tomorrow, and then… you and I make use of the giant ass tub we have that we hardly use together, and then…”
I step closer to my husband, wanting to show him how much I approve of his plans.
“We get an early night.” he grins.
“If by early night, you mean, I get to show you the underwear I bought especially for tonight in mind,” I whisper in his ear, enjoying the shudder that runs down his spine. “I’m in.”
“I didn’t know there was underwear.”
“That was kind of the point… a surprise.”
“Tell me about it, I’ll act surprised.” he groans, turning his head to capture my lips.
We’re halfway through a kiss that I can feel everywhere, I’m seconds from telling him, in explicit detail what it looks like and what I hope we’ll get up to later, when the unmistakable sound of Mia crying from the lounge where her and her brother are playing in their travel cot we set up in there.
We sag against each other, both a little breathless, our heads together and I smile.
“That’s the reality of being married with two children… shall I get them, or will you?”
“You unpack, I’ll get the munchkins.”
“Deal.” I smile, kissing him one last time.
He turns to leave the kitchen then stops, looking back. “Oh, and later?”
“We’ll pick up right where we left off.”
We all have lunch together, then while the babies have their nap and Carter helps Jack, I decide to help calm the buzz of excitement in my stomach and get rid of some of my nerves at hosting Christmas for everyone by doing the one thing I know will calm me.
I change into yoga pants and a t-shirt and close all the doors leading to upstairs. I find my iPod and scroll through until I find my warm up playlist that hasn’t been used for so long.
I stretch, over and over until I feel my limbs warm up, then I find the song I found a couple of days ago and put it on repeat.
It’s a Bruno Mars song, but an acoustic version.
I close my eyes and let my legs and arms take over, I don’t think, I just feel.
I can feel the song take root inside me, and as the song grows, so does the feeling of calm only being absolutely lost to the music brings.
I keep dancing, over and over until a routine is formed, and I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve listened to it.
When I’m desperate for a drink, I realise it’s got dark outside and the twins should be awake.
Suddenly starting to panic, I turn the music off and turn around, and I find the three of them, Carter, Mia and Rueben, sitting on the floor in the doorway watching me.
“Beautiful.” Carter smiles.
“How long have to been there?” I ask a little embarrassed.
“About fifteen minutes, they only just woke up, I’ve been back about half an hour, I wanted you to dance. You haven’t lately and I know it helps.”
“Are you still sleepy?” I ask the twins, taking in their flushed cheeks and hooded eyes.
“They were wide awake, I think watching Mommy soothes them.”
“I just felt like…”
“Like you needed it. It’s okay, Carm. You need to dance. Like I need to run.”
I lean over and kiss all three of them. “This is why I married you, you understand me.”
“And I married you because you can bend into some fantastic positions.” he teases.
“Daddy, behave yourself.” I growl.
“I will… if you promise to show me some of your… moves… later?”
* * *
I wake up first thing on Christmas morning to the calm and silence of a still fast asleep house.
It’s still dark and Carter is breathing peacefully next to me.
I turn and look at the clock, 5.25.
I know I should go back to sleep, that today is going to be a long and chaotic one, but the feeling in my stomach and my suddenly racing pulse tells me, I’m awake now, so I might as well make use of the time.
I climb out of bed, leaving Carter warm and welcoming, and creep into the hallway. I peer into the nursery and smile at my two sleeping miracles before heading downstairs.
I switch on the Christmas tree lights, and the lights that run along the fireplace. Next, I switch on the Christmas village light and head into the kitchen to switch on the lights on the tree we have in there.
Closing the door to keep from waking anyone up, I make myself a mug of coffee, take it over to the padded bench and sit, with the fairy lights twinkling at me, the rain splattering against the big patio doors and my coffee.
I tuck my feet up under me and reach for my phone, which is where I left it charging when I went to bed last night.
A shiver runs up my spine remembering…
Carter’s kisses and his hands that fit like they were made just for my body.
My phone lights up in front of me with a message from Megs.
Megan: Happy Christmas beautiful. I hope today is everything you want it to be. Your first as a Mummy will forever be scored on your heart and will hold some of your most treasured memories. Take time to absorb it all, don’t stress if lunch is late, because no one will actually care. Remember we all love you so much, that we’re so proud of you. We’ll see you later tonight.
I smile at her message.
Of course she’s awake with two little ones, and of course she would think to send me a message.
Me: Thank you. Everyone is still asleep, I’m sitting in the kitchen trying to remind myself this isn’t a dream. That it’s real and it’s my life. I don’t know what I did you get so lucky. Can’t wait to see you later, Enjoy Christmas lunch… and the deliciousness that is your brother in-law 😉
Megan: Oh, I intend to. Did I tell you Jonathan is there this year too?
Me: NO!!! Right, I’m coming over 😉
Megan: I’ll get photos and tell you everything!
I chuckle and put my phone back down. I drink my coffee then decide to make a start on peeling the vegetables for later. Mum said they can be prepared early and this will save time. So that’s what I’m going to do.
A little over and hour later, a half asleep, deliciously crumpled Carter appears at the kitchen door yawning and scratching his head.
“Why are you awake before me on Christmas day?”
“Because I was too excited.” I grin as he walks over to me wearing just his pyjama pants.
“I was hoping for a repeat of last night…” he tells me, wrapping his arms around me and kissing my neck.
“We still have time…” I groan.
“Actually we don’t… They’re awake, happily kicking around, but Mia won’t be like that for long, you know she won’t wait.”
“Shall we get them down for presents then?”
“Yeah…” he smiles, pulling back. “Happy Christmas, Carm.”
“Happy Christmas, Carter.”
An hour later, the babies are surrounded by paper and clothes and toys, and just like Mum told me they would be, they’re more interested in the paper.
“I think it must be your turn…” Carter beams, reaching for a present.
“And I think it must be yours, too.” I tell him, reaching for another.
He hands me the present, perfectly wrapped and tied with a red, velvet bow and watches me.
I carefully unwrap it and when I realise what it is, a tear escapes and rolls down my cheek.
“It took me forever to pick. Daniel helped in the end.”
Sitting in a silver frame, is a black and white photo of the four of us that we had taken with Daniel.
“I love it, and I already know where it’s going.”
“Right above the table in the kitchen, right?”
“I thought so… it’s where I pictured it going.”
“Thank you, Carter. Now yours.”
He’s like a child, and rips it open quickly, then lifts off the lid.
“No way!” he booms making Mia clap her hands together.
“Way.” I laugh.
“And we have a hotel and everything?”
I knew exactly what I was going to get Carter this year. He keeps going on about how he wants to visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour, that he needs to see everything and that we should go together. So that’s what I got him. Tickets and a night in a hotel.
I’m both a little excited and nervous about a whole night away from the babies.
“No babies?” he asks, arching an eyebrow.
“Are you excited and scared about that too?”
“Thank you, it’s… perfect.”
He leans over and kisses me then hands me another present.
“This is from me.”
“Who was the other one from then?”
“The three of us.”
I open the small box he hands me and tucked inside is a beautiful ring.
“It’s white gold, and one for each of us.”
Sitting on the band, sparkling up at me are four diamonds. It’s absolutely beautiful.
“I love it, thank you.”
We spend another hour unwrapping more little gifts from each other. There’s a jumper I said I wanted, along with a pair of boots and a new hat. Carter gets a new pair of running shoes, a jumper and a new coat.
“Do you think we should get ready for everyone arriving?”
“Mom will be here soon, so unless you want to be in you pjs… I’d say yeah.”
We all shower and get ready for the day.
I treat Carter by wearing a new red dress, and he treats me by wearing my favourite charcoal trousers and a black shirt.
We dress the babies in two cute little outfits, making them our two little elves for the day. It was Carter’s idea and even though I didn’t like it at first, when you see them in their matching his and hers outfits, you can’t help but think they’re the most adorable pair you’ve ever seen.
Everyone arrives and it’s loud and exciting.
“Merry Christmas!” Josie yells when we open the door. “Kiss me! I have mistletoe!”
I laugh as we kiss cheeks and hug each other, ushering them in from the cold.
“Carm, this is Tyler.” Lex smiles, holding hands with the famous Tyler Wilson.
“It’s lovely to meet you finally,” I smile, kissing his cheek. “We’ve heard a lot about you.”
“And seen a lot of videos.” Josie calls as she walks towards the kitchen.
“Well yes, that too,” I grin. “Come on in.”
When I follow Jack into the kitchen where Rueben is with Daddy, his whole face lights up at seeing his Uncle.
“Hey, Little Dude!” Jack beams. “Don’t you look cute!”
Rueben holds his arms out, stretching for Jack and Carter happily hands him over. The smiles on their faces light up the whole kitchen and Rueben, as he always does, settles into his Uncle and watches everything happen.
“I know, right?” Carter laughs. “Our two little elves are so damn cute.”
“We have the most beautiful Grandbabies, Nick, don’t we?” Hilary beams, kissing Rueben.
“We do.” he agrees, wrapping one arm around her waist.
“And Princess is a elf too?” Josie grins, leaning over to pick up Mia while Carter picks up Alice and kisses her cheek.
“I want cuddles!” Lex demands. “Stop hogging the babies, you get them so much more than I do!”
“You could see them more if you lived here, too.” Jack tells her, not letting go of Rueben.
“Or you could all move over to Chicago and we could live in one of those massive houses all together…”
“We’re not a cult Lex.” Carter chuckles.
“I didn’t say a cult, I mean, I don’t want us all to pray together or anything… unless… you could all bow to me, I am a Goddess after all.” she laughs.
“I don’t think a Goddess would be as small as you are, Titch.” Carter grins.
“I don’t know,” Tyler grins, wrapping her in his arms. “You’re pretty Goddess like to me.”
Jack makes a sound like he’s being sick, while Josie slaps him, and Carter laughs.
“Anyway…” she scowls. “They’re so gorgeous,” Lex smiles at Mia and Rueben. “Like so adorable and perfect.”
“They’re are, our two perfect little elves.” I smile tears filling my eyes at the scene before me.
There’s a knock at the door announcing the arrival of my parents and I wipe at my eyes, trying to control the wave of emotion currently washing over me.
I’ve only gone a few steps before Carter wraps his arms around me and pull me to his chest.
“It’s okay,” he breathes. “It’s okay.”
“I just… it’s just…”
“Mom’s getting the door, come here.”
While Hilary opens the door to my Mum and Dad, Carter turns me around and pulls me into his body.
I rest my head on his chest and try and slow the flow of tears.
“It’s all so perfect, how did it get to be so perfect?” I sob.
“We deserve it. You deserve it, Carm.” he tells me, kissing the top of my head.
“Not just for us, Lex is here with Tyler, your Dad is here, healthy and happy. I don’t know, Carter… I don’t think I deserve all this.”
“You do, babe. You really do.” he whispers.
It takes a few minutes to calm myself down, and when I pull back from Carter, Mum scoops me into a hug, telling me it’s all okay too.
We make our way back into the kitchen, where Jack, Josie, Nick and Hilary have everything under control. Josie takes one look at me and comes over, wrapping me in a hug.
“I love you,” she tells me simply. “And I’m so happy this is our life.”
“I am too.” I reply tearily.
“It all works out in the end, doesn’t it?” she whispers. “Everything has a way of sorting itself out. I thought everything was going to work out very different a few years ago… and then when you told us what you were going through… I was scared you wouldn’t get this and it hurt, Carm. It hurt more than anything. But now, now you’re Mummy to two beautiful children and you’re married to the most wonderful guy who just gets you. Completely gets you, I love watching you two together. So it worked out, didn’t it? For you, for me, for Megs…”
“It really has.”
She squeezes me once more then heads over to where Jack is standing with Carter, Alice in his arms, Carter holding Mia.
I scoop my son from my Mum’s arms and go to stand with them.
As I look around my kitchen, at all the happy, smiling faces, at the room filled with those I love the most, I feel like the luckiest person in the world.
And I guess I am.
© K.A Hobbs 2016.
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