“You licked chocolate off your lip,” Jason reminded me as I began getting into bed.
“Why are you frowning?” I pouted.
“I wanted to lick it off,” he sulked, wrapping his arm around my waist and pulling me into him before I could escape into the warmth of the duvet.
“You have to hear your challenge first,” I interrupted him with an apologetic smile.
“Jamie,” he growled, resting his head against my forehead. He wanted to finish what he’d started, as did I, but I needed to say this first.
“For tomorrow,” I continue. “Because it starts first thing.”
“It starts on Christmas eve?” He looked at me blankly. I think he expected us not to do any challenges for the next few days.
I nodded, slightly distracted by the trail of golden brown hair leading into his boxers.
“Jamie,” he reminded me with a slight smirk. He knew exactly what I was looking at.
“You’re not going to like it,” I grinned wickedly because I’d been saving this one.
He groaned and squeezed my waist gently. “If you ban me from touching you, I’m not going to manage more than ten minutes.”
I giggled. That was never going to happen. I needed his touch and the tingles it brought more than I needed my next breath. “No,” I shake my head. “I want you to be nice to Matt.”
“Matt?” He recoiled with a slight scowl.
“For a whole day,” I nodded.
“Okay…” he replied uncertainly.
“And you can’t just ignore him, you have to actively be nice to him.”
“Little squirrel,” he sighed. “Are you asking for a spanking?”
“Yes,” I teased because I knew it still surprised him when I asserted myself sexually and I liked that. “But that’s not relevant.”
“I dislike Matt intensely,” Jason sighed, planting an apologetic kiss on my forehead.
“I know,” I pouted. “I know better than anyone that Matt can be hard to like but, Jason, he’s still my brother and I love him.”
“He’s aggressive and he talks to you like dirt,” he growled. “I don’t like him.”
“Well then you’ll fail the challenge,” I shrugged, feigning nonchalance. “Can’t you at least try? For me?”
“Jamie,” he responded with a hint of irritation.
“Please,” I replied sweetly and with no small amount of eyebrow fluttering.
“I’m not making any promises,” he mumbles gruffly, showering small, butterfly kisses down the side of my face.
“Jason,” I pleaded, only slightly distracted by the warm touch of his lips.
“But I’ll try,” he reassured me.
“Thank you,” I breathed out a sigh of relief.
I knew Matt was hard work. I knew he didn’t make friends easily and it didn’t really bother him. I also knew that it was all a façade; deep down he was actually quite sweet and caring, he just chose to bury it under layers of gruff exterior. Several layers.
“But I need something to make it worth my while,” he murmured against my skin, peeling my spaghetti straps down my arms so he could drag my t-shirt over my head.
“Oh?” I responded coyly. “What might that be?”
“What’s mine.” His voice oozed confidence as the words rolled from his full lips.
“I’ll always be yours,” I replied with a contented sigh
“Morning, Craig!” I called out, hearing the front door open and assuming it was him because he was due back from his night shift any second.
“And Bella!” I grinned, seeing that he had company. “How are you?”
“I’m great,” she grinned back.
“I’m fine, thanks for asking,” Craig teased me, scooping me up under the arm that wasn’t holding shopping bags.
“You have Bella with you,” I replied, flailing wildly so he had to put me down. “I knew you’d be fine.”
He scoffed but carefully released me again so I felt less like a sack of potatoes. As I steadied myself on my feet once more, he handed me the shopping bags.
“What’s this?” I asked, peaking inside. There were eggs, flour, sugar, cocoa powder, chocolate chips. Everything I needed for baking.
“I finished all the baking last night,” I told him with a grin of accomplishment.
His response was to raise an eyebrow at me.
I frowned in confusion but then followed his line of sight to the snack cupboard.
No, no, tell me they didn’t.
I rushed over and pulled the cupboard open. My carefully written “do not eat, or else” note had been replaced with a “Sorry, Jelly!” note in what looked suspiciously like the twins’ hand writing.
“I’m going to kill them,” I groaned, hanging my head in despair at the lack of baked goods in the cupboard.
“We all knew it was going to happen,” Craig grinned, pulling me into a hug. “That’s why I came prepared.”
“What if I don’t want to bake any more?” I protested sulkily.
All that back-breaking effort gone in a few seconds down the twins’ gullets.
“It’s Christmas, Jelly bean.You go through this every year. You know we all appreciate it,” he whispered gently.
I knew he understood my frustration, but I also knew he wanted to eat some cookies as well since it was Christmas and he was relaxing his diet for the Christmas period.
“Morning!” One of the biscuit thieves greeted us as the two of them joined us in the kitchen.
I glared in response.
“She’s pissed at you,” Craig told him, releasing me to return to Isabella’s side.
“Meh,” Danny shrugged. “She’ll forgive us.”
I shook my head with my arms folded for good measure. They did this every year and they kneew how much time it took me to bake all these things.
“You two have no respect,” Jason growled at them. “She spent hours baking all that.”
“What difference does it make when we eat it? It’s still going to get eaten.” Danny responded with little interest, getting a loaf of bread out the freezer.
“I doubt they ate it all on their own,” I chimed in because there was no way they would have eaten everything without leaving at least one for Ian.
Danny said nothing, he simply carried on preparing a hundred slices of cheese on toast for the army of Carters.
“They had help,” Ian enters the room in his usual ninja fashion, idly scratching his cookie filled stomach.
“I hate you all,” I glared at my eldest brother with venom.
“Don’t tell lies, Jelly,” he reprimanded me seriously, his twitchy arms threatening to cross over his chest and make the transition to soldier mode.
I glared at him further because this wasn’t really the moment for lecturing me when he’d just eaten all my Christmas baking along with his lackeys.
“If I bake again, you guys aren’t allowed any,” I sulked.
“Not gonna happen,” Ian informed me abruptly.
“Then I’m not baking,” I continued my childish strop, well aware that I was overreacting but far too irritated to care.
“Jelly bean,” Craig sighed. “I’m knackered. I’ve been up all night working. I’m going for a nap and if there aren’t cookies when I come down, there will be consequences.”
He was joking but I glared at him anyway, only relaxing slightly when he kissed my forehead.
“I guess it is Christmas tomorrow,” I grumbled begrudgingly. Christmas needed cookies.