“Vahid, is Eden the reason you don’t want to go?” she asked quietly.
He heaved a sigh. “I don’t know. I’ve seen her briefly a couple of times and it’s never been uncomfortable, but this is close proximity with just the family. Everyone knows what happened between me and her and how I used my situation with her to avoid you.” He shot her a worried look. “You can’t tell me those Antaeus men don’t still harbor a little resentment of me for living with Eden for two years when I knew you were my mate and knew you were in pain because we hadn’t mated.”
Emily squeezed his thigh. “If they do, they will keep it to themselves. I’m sure none of them wants to spoil Christmas, and I know they won’t want to upset me,” she pointed out. “It’s all in the past and it needs to stay there. I don’t think any of them will want to be the one who fucks up Christmas by mentioning it.”
“I still don’t understand why we have to spend the night and all of Christmas Day there. Why couldn’t we just go home after dinner tonight? It would be a helluva lot more fun for me to be in my own bed with my own wife and mate on Christmas Eve.” Vahid’s disgruntled expression returned.
“Oh shut up, Vahid. Look, we’re here.”
Vahid parked the car, grumbling to himself about not being able to “get any” in Sean’s house. Emily hid her smile. She knew something Vahid didn’t. He’d be getting a special Christmas gift from her whether they were in Sean’s house or not. She knew her cousin wouldn’t expect everyone to be celibate just because they were in his house. Emily had the notion that pretty much every one of the Antaeus family would be busy come midnight. Mated dragons tended to be quite highly sexed, and in an emotional situation like the Christmas holiday, they wouldn’t be able to contain themselves very well. She could just about smell the pheromones now.
Emily let Vahid carry the shopping bags full of gifts while she led the way up the walkway. When she rang the bell, the door opened instantly. Garret Renquist enveloped her in a huge hug. He rubbed her belly and kissed her cheek.
“How’s my nephew?” he asked with a big grin.
Vahid rolled his eyes. “How did my son end up as your nephew?” he asked as Garret ushered them into the house.
“Emily isn’t my boss anymore. She’s more like an Antaeus sister than cousin, so that makes the baby bump my nephew,” Garret explained logically. He helped Emily out of her coat and hung it in the hall closet as Vahid hung up his leather jacket.
They turned toward the living room where a huge Christmas tree dominated the room. Decorated in gold and silver, the tree smelled lushly of pine, and beneath its branches spilled a kaleidoscope of brightly wrapped presents.
Vahid handed Garret the two shopping bags. “Here, make yourself useful and put those under the tree,” he grumped.
“Hey! No bad attitudes allowed!” Holden Antaeus said as he sprang up from his seat by the fireplace. He hugged Emily and rubbed her belly just like Garret had. “What can I get you and Junior? Hot chocolate?”
Emily licked her lips. Anything chocolate sounded good to her. She’d been on a major chocolate craving from the moment she’d become pregnant. Vahid had been out many a night buying everything from chocolate covered raisins to chocolate ice cream to chocolate whipped cream to satisfy her cravings.
Vahid pulled her down on a love seat and wrapped his arm around her shoulders possessively, his fingers automatically tangling in her hair. “What’s that you’ve got, Holden? A hot buttered rum?”
Holden’s golden eyes flashed with laughter. “Yep. And I already know you want one. Sean’s whipping up a batch in the kitchen, so I’ll go get you one and get Em a hot chocolate.”
As Holden’s lithe form strode away, Emily called out, “Extra whipped cream! Gotta humor the preggo, remember!”