Azure's in high spirits. It's Christmastime! She has invited Frank to her family's traditional holiday breakfast. What could go wrong with that idea?
Frank's nervous. He comes because of Azure and he doesn't come empty-handed. All goes well until he asks her a simple question when they are alone. Then, she asks him to leave.
Will Azure's unfounded guilt ruin Christmas? Being the wise man that he is, will Frank's gift of love be enough to save Azure's Christmas spirit...and their romance?
Frank Hickman unwrapped a stick of gum and shoved it into his dry mouth. He drove slowly past the house for the second time, to the tune of John Legend's All of Me. The yard looked like a toy store had exploded there. Well, it is the Christmas holidays, he thought, removing the gum. It only made his mouth drier.
Not only did cars fill the driveway, leaving one barricaded spot untouched, curbside was a parking lot. There were so many vehicles for so early on a Christmas Eve morning. His inclination was to keep driving. However, he didn't get to act on the notion.
As he watched, the glass door to the front of the house burst open. Azure exited on the run. Frank jammed on the brake. He turned down the volume on the sound system. She sprinted right up to the truck as it hummed in the middle of the street. Her face had a peachy glow as she leaned on the passenger side door. Was the abrupt exertion the cause? He believed she was truly glad to see him.
Frank lowered the window.
"Don't think you're going to sneak off," Azure said.
Moisture returned to his mouth at the purr in her voice. He wanted nothing more than to lay a passionate kiss on her alluring lips. Her smile warmed him all over, even as cold air filtered inside his vehicle. She shivered.
"When you invited me to breakfast this morning, to meet your family—" Frank fingered the neck of his shirt, "—I thought it was to meet your parents."
A sneaky, humorous look entered her eyes. Azure wound her arms across the front of her body at the gusty wind. "They're inside." Her high spirits were evident in the naughty lilt of her voice.
"Yeah. And from the looks of it, so is everyone else."
"You know how it is when out of town guests swarm in for the holidays."
Frank remained mute, because he didn't. Tiny fingers gripped the window's edge, diverting his attention. Azure bent to lift a little body and propped him on the door.
"Who's this?" he asked.
"I call him June Bug." She made kissy sounds on the child's cheek.
"Hi, June Bug," Frank greeted. He signaled to her his jealousy with a tap to his own jaw.
Hair drizzled into her face when she threw back her head and laughed.
"That's not my name." The child's voice broke into their playful moment. "It's Darick Junior."
"DJ for short," Azure explained further.
"Okay, DJ." Frank slanted his body to extend his hand for a shake. Instead, DJ slapped him "five" in the palm.
"All right, you," Azure said, putting him down. "Go back inside. It's too cold for you to be out in your PJs."
DJ took off, much to Frank's amusement, skirting through the artfully arranged yard decorations on the way.
"Park it right here, mister." She talked to him now, indicating the vacant spot in the drive with a dip of her head. It took seconds for her to remove the makeshift barrier. "I reserved that place..." Azure flung her arm out and pointed, "...just for you."
"You mean that, don't you?" He gathered his elation came across in his tone. The unhurried curve of her fascinating smile said so.
She stepped aside with a hand on her hip for an answer, looking like a curvy goddess in her purple cowl neck sweater and fitted blue jeans.
Frank shifted into reverse while raising the window. He backed up enough to make the swing into the spot. Azure stood at his door before he even turned off the engine. She graced him with such an inviting look that his heartbeat increased to an erratic pace. He opened his door with careful deliberation to avoid hitting her.
"Every word of it." She finally replied to his question, taking a couple steps back to let him exit.
The way she caressed his arm, once he got out, continued his ascension into never-land. Getting to know her over the past months enlightened him. Her constant display of resiliency impressed him. Not once did he hear the words "why me?" come out of her mouth. Frank was wishful. The hope he was partly responsible for her merry disposition psyched him. Wrestling to rein in his rampant emotions didn't work.
She led him toward the door by the hand. The door hinges squeaked, snatching his attention away from her. Frank looked up and caught the eyes of the crowd standing in the doorway. Christmas Carols sifted outside to greet him. "Will I get a meal or...become the meal?"
Azure laughed but never stopped moving. "I know you're not nervous..."
Frank fought to hide his unease. "Not as long as you're by my side." He meant every word.
This was his make it or break it moment. The number of eyes raking over him increased the closer he got to the door. An oppressive heat sweltered under his black leather jacket. His instinct was to rip it off. That would be a dead giveaway to his plight. Therefore, he suffered.
"Geez! Back up, everybody." Azure's tone was bossy. "You'll scare Frank away...and God help you if you do that."
Those simple, yet poignant words lessened his anxiety.
Frank walked behind her, although she maintained a grip on his hand. The secret squeeze to his fingers buoyed him. Using his free hand, he held the storm door open high over her head while she entered. Comments started as soon as the soles of his shoes rested on the carpet.
"He doesn't look as old as I expected." That remark came from a young woman who sported a devious grin.
The open floor plan allowed him to watch her stroll away into the kitchen, leaving behind her snicker and another comment.
"I guess he'll do."
He didn't know how to respond. Or even if he should. Therefore, he kept silent, bracing for another onslaught from the masses. All eyes refocused on him. Delicious smells assaulted his senses. His stomach made an embarrassing growl while he stood in the encroaching semi-circle.
Shifting to a dominate stance, he rammed his hand into his pants pocket. The feel of his keys, loose change—but especially the ring—relaxed him. The chances he would offend anyone were nil. This was Azure's time. There was nothing they could do to provoke him.
"Don't mind my kid sister, Frank. She's Hateful Hanna. Dateless, mateless, and as jealous as they come."
Azure's off-handed introduction was a breath of fresh air to a suffocating man. Chuckling, he stepped up and boldly declared himself to all present. "I'm Frank Hickman." Continue reading.
Like what you've read? Finish this romance at my blog http://www.mickiesherwood.com/blog/free-reads.
Then, read the first chapter of my new novella release, Christmas Crush http://mickiesherwood.com/blog/2014/12/12/christmas-crush-first-chapter/.