Author(s): Double Trouble
Banner by: Us
Disclaimer: All characters and plot lines that appeared in the series or in the books are not ours. The concept of Roswell does not belong to us either. They all belong to Melinda Metz, UPN, yada, yada, yada…
Pairings: M&M, M&L, K&T, and A/I
Summary: (AU without Aliens) In Double Date best friends Michael and Maria and their best friends Max and Liz got together over the summer. This little fic-let picks up at Christmastime and follows our Double Date couples as they meet up with two other couples for Christmas.
Author’s Note 1: This is a mini sequel to our fic Double Date. For those who haven’t read it, here is a little summary – don’t worry, you’ll understand this without being familiar with the former fic.
Summary Double Date: (Don’t read if ya still planning to read the fic, since it would ruin all the fun, lol.)
M&M are best friends from college, but already have hidden feelings for each other. Maria goes home over summer to meet her family and friends. She works some shifts with her best friend Liz, who is a single and isn’t looking for anything serious with a guy.
Michael and his best friend Max, who’s suffering from a break up, decides to visit Maria in Roswell. They stay over the summer and M&L start to make out and have sex, but decide that this thing between them is just a summer holiday thing. M&M finally admit their feelings.
The fic ends with both couples being together of course. Tess has a small role in the fic as a friend of the girls who has a crush on Kyle. She stayed away from him since he is Liz’ ex, but during the fic she asks Liz if it would be okay to go out with Kyle.
Isabel is only mentioned as Max’ sister.
*** If ya wanna read the fic Double Date.
Author’s Note 2: This fic is just a little something we came up with to say Merry Christmas! Not a bit of angst hiding anywhere in this one!
Michael led the way along the path that wound around to the townhome they had rented for the long Christmas weekend. Maria wasn’t far behind him, using him as a shield every time the wind blew, flinging snow over them. Their luggage had already been delivered so that was one less thing he had to worry about carrying inside. He had opted for a cabin rental but had been outvoted by the girls, although as soon as Maria had informed him that the townhouse had a hot tub he’d given in and gone along with the majority.
Max’ older sister and her boyfriend Alex were following them and he chuckled under his breath when she started rushing him once more. She had informed him more than once that her California blood was not used to the cold and could he please hurry up… which only made him slow down but she hadn’t quite figured that out yet.
He unlocked the door and Maria and Isabel both just about knocked him over to get inside where it was warm. He glanced around at the interior as he shrugged out of his coat and hung it on a peg behind the door. He turned and had two more coats shoved at him as the girls made a mad dash to the fireplace that the concierge had assured them he had sent someone to prepare as soon as they had arrived to check in.
“Looks like the luggage and room divisions have been left to us,” Alex remarked as he glanced at the rather daunting mountain of luggage piled neatly on the opposite side of the front entrance.
“Think maybe you guys had better take the bedroom on the first floor, man,” Michael said with a shake of his head. “I don’t even have to look to know that the majority of that’s gonna belong to Iz.”
“Yeah, shut up, Guerin. I couldn’t convince Alex to leave his laptop at home, not even for Christmas... so if ya wanna complain about too much luggage...” she elbowed her boyfriend, “he’s your target.”
“One bag, one laptop case, honey,” Alex said, shaking his head.
“Still, I really don’t know why you had to bring it.” She rolled her eyes.
“Did I say a word about all the makeup and hair accessories you brought with you? Or even think about sayin’ a word about your PDA that I know for a fact is already packed with an itinerary for our time here?”
Maria sighed as she stood next to Michael and leaned against his side. “Why did we ask them to come again?”
“We didn’t. Isabel threatened, remember? She knew Max an’ Liz were comin’ and figured it’d be the perfect time for them to meet each other’s significant others. Since it’s a neutral meeting place and all.” He rolled his eyes and looked at Isabel. “You’d think the two of you could’ve managed to do that sometime in the past few months.”
“Us?” Maria asked.
“You said the two of you...”
“Oh, no, I just meant Max an’ Isabel... they could’ve set up a visit so they could meet each other’s boyfriend an’ girlfriend.”
“Did I hear my name?” someone asked from behind when the front door opened again.
Isabel ran back to greet her brother, hugging him tightly. “You’re late,” she said when she finally leaned back to look at him.
He glanced at his watch. “We are?”
Alex snorted under his breath. Leave it to Isabel to set up a schedule without consulting anyone else, he thought with an affectionate smile. “You’re only late if you had plans to be here at a specific time,” he said, holding his hand out to her brother. “I’ve heard a lot about you. I’m Alex Whitman.”
“Hey, Alex,” Max greeted and frowned when something poked his shoulder insistently.
“Ya know, I’m still standing halfway outside,” Liz said, rolling her eyes.
“For God’s sake, Max, where are your manners?” Isabel chastised as she pushed him aside and pulled his frozen girlfriend inside. “You’re Liz,” she said, stating the obvious and ignoring Michael’s muttered, “Ya think?”
“Liz!” Maria shrieked and shoved everyone out of the way to hug her best friend.
Even prepared for her exuberant best friend, Liz still stumbled back several steps when Maria pounced, hugging her as if she’d never let go.
“So, this’s fun,” Michael said. He glanced at Max. “You’re cool with it if we don’t do that, right?”
Max snorted. “I don’t wanna hug you,” he answered, fisting his friend’s upper arm.
“Well, now that we’ve got that all out of the way,” Isabel interrupted before the guys got into a play-fight in the foyer, “why don’t we get settled? The guys can take the luggage to the rooms and us girls can go over the list I’ve made...”
Alex tuned the rest of that out and glanced at Michael. “So, you’re cool with us takin’ the room on the first floor?”
Michael nodded. “Sure, go ahead.” He smirked inwardly. Why would he mention that the one with the hot tub was on the second floor?
Max glanced at the stairs and then back at Michael. He had conceded the first floor bedroom pretty easily. Too easily, he decided. “I think I’ll just check out the bedrooms on the second floor.”
Michael looked at his friend, deciding what to do. He met Max’ challenging eyes and grinned before they suddenly both started to run through the room.
Maria glanced at Liz and shrugged. “Sorry, Chica.”
“Sorry... about what?”
She grinned when she heard the guys pounding across the second floor and doors being flung open in their wake. “That you just lost out on the hot tub.”
“Maybe Max won.”
Maria snorted. “Yeah, and maybe it’ll be 80 degrees and sunny here on Christmas Day.”
“That’s just mean.”
“No, no,” she denied. “I sent you the link for the resort... if you didn’t look at it, that’s not my fault.” She grinned wickedly. “Perhaps you were browsing an online leather catalog for Max’ Christmas present?”
Isabel’s left eyebrow lifted at Maria’s tone. She had a feeling they were talking about something else altogether. “My brother... and leather?” She shook her head. “I can’t
Liz laughed, surprising her boyfriend’s sister. “You wouldn’t want to, believe me.”
Maria giggled. “Oh, hell, that was a summer.”
“A HOT summer,” Liz corrected with a roll of her eyes. “I still can’t believe his ex said he didn’t have a wild side.” She shook her head. “She’s sorry now, believe me.”
Isabel made a face. “I don’t wanna hear any of this.”
Alex smiled at her disgusted expression and took the opportunity to introduce himself to Liz. “The good thing about her cuttin’ your story short... she won’t share any of her risqué stories either,” he said with a wink.
Liz smiled. “Really? I love risqué stories.”
Isabel cleared her throat. “Then you should have lots of fun with Alex... he’s a writer and he writes absolutely filthy scenes in his books.”
“Oh, he might wanna write about Liz and Max’ summer then,” Maria said with a wink.
Alex lifted an eyebrow in response to that but before he could get a word out Isabel shook her head. “We have a list to go over. Alex, be a sweetie and take care of the luggage.”
He shot a dirty look at her. “I think you forgot to mention that all those scenes were inspired by you, my love.”
Maria and Liz laughed so hard they nearly fell over.
Isabel looked at her boyfriend, so shocked that she didn’t see Michael coming up behind her until he ripped the list out of her hand.
“I know you don’t think we’re goin’ out there to chop down a Christmas tree,” he said, shaking his head when he saw the first thing under the guys’ side of the list.
“And we are not going out to give chocolate to kids,” Maria said as she glanced at it too. “Seriously, Isabel, we’re here to relax.”
Alex reached between them to take the list, wadding it up into a paper ball and walking into the living room to throw it in the fireplace. “No lists, Iz... we talked about that.”
“But... but…” she stuck her bottom lip out.
“No buts,” he said, shaking his head at her. “The year’s been hectic enough... the word for this week is...” he looked at the others, hands held up. “What’s the word, you guys?”
“Relaxing,” Maria said.
“Catching up!” Liz continued.
“Sex,” Michael grinned.
Max wrapped his arms around Liz from behind, pulling her up against his body. “Yeah, c’mon, Sis... let it go this year. Let’s just kick back and relax... catch up...” he lowered his head to nip at Liz’s neck. “And have lots of sex,” he growled in her ear.
The tall blonde sighed. “Fine.”
“C’mon, honey, I promise you, we’ll have lots of fun without the list. Besides, you promised you’d help me work out that scene,” he said with a wink.
Loud laughter was heard from outside when the door was suddenly opened again and a snow-covered Tess stumbled inside.
“Tess, you guys made it!” Maria and Liz yelled at the same time. The others hurried to get out of the way when the girls ran over to greet their friend.
“You’d think they hadn’t seen each other in years,” Michael said with a look at Max.
“Ladies,” Kyle greeted the girls when he showed up in the doorframe with a grin, shaking the snow from his clothes.
“Do we wanna know why the two of you are covered in snow?” Liz asked, waggling her eyebrows.
“Just a little snowball fight that I won,” Tess said with a wink at her new boyfriend. They had only been together for two months now, but it felt like it much longer.
“I think you’re wrong,” Kyle denied. “But, I suppose I can let you have a victory.”
Liz shook her head and gave him a hug. “Some things will never change,” she laughed.
Michael grinned as he greeted Tess. “Finally got him interested, huh?”
“It’s all about timing,” she said with a wink. “Well, sexy underwear might’ve helped.”
“It definitely made it a lot more interesting,” Kyle said, kissing her quickly before he wandered off to inspect the room.
“Where’s our room?” Tess asked.
“You guys have the third bedroom upstairs,” Max answered.
“Yeah, you kinda got the smallest of the three, but it’s got a great view!” Michael said
“Who cares about the view,” Tess wiggled her eyebrows.
“As long as the view includes you an’ lots of red lace I could care less,” Kyle said agreeably.
Maria shook her head in amusement as she walked over to her boyfriend. “Did ya get the one with the hot tub?” she whispered into his ear.
He wrapped his arms around her and grinned. “Um-hmm, already knew which one it was ‘cause I paid attention when you were showin’ me the floorplan... I just let Evans think I was makin’ a run for another one and I jumped on our room.”
“You’re so clever,” she said and stood on her tiptoes to kiss him.
“Yeah, for a cheater,” Max muttered as he started pulling his and Liz’ bags out of the pile. He winked at Liz. “Bet we get in that hot tub before vacation’s over.”
“You can have it during the days,” Maria said generously.
“Thanks, Maria, we’ll plan our spontaneous sexual encounters around that,” he said dryly.
Michael tried not to laugh at Max’ put out look but failed.
“I think this was the best Christmas dinner I’ve ever had in my life,” Tess said as she licked her fingers.
Kyle groaned. Did she have a clue how much that was turning him on?
Maria grinned. “You shouldn’t do stuff like that when your boyfriend’s around.”
“Huh?” the curly blonde said innocently, knowing that Kyle was watching her.
“It was definitely good,” Liz agreed.
They had all been a part of the cooking process. The girls more than the boys of course, but they had helped as well.
“I’m voting for just leaving the dishes for tomorrow,” Maria suggested. “Right now I don’t feel able to move.”
“You guys can go over to the living room and we’ll just put the dishes in the sink,” Isabel said.
“We will?” Alex asked, lifting his eyebrows in amusement.
“Ah, Iz, you’re no fun,” Michael shook his head and started to put his and Maria’s dishes together to carry them over to the sink.
“No fun?” Isabel echoed. “I am too fun! Tell them, Alex.”
“Yeah, tell us, Alex,” Max said, leaning back in his chair with his arms crossed over his chest. He was getting a kick out of watching his sister with her boyfriend. Alex was okay in his book. The guy catered to her at times, but he knew when to put the brakes on with her too.
“I think I’m stayin’ outta this,” Alex decided and got up to clear away his and Isabel’s dishes as well.
“I’d recommend keepin’ him around,” Max whispered as he leaned in closer to his sister.
“I’d recommend you shut up,” she told him sweetly.
“And they say good sex makes you mellow.” He rolled his eyes at her.
“Maybe the sex isn’t that good,” Kyle mumbled around a mouthful of food.
Alex just snorted at that.
Maria grabbed Michael’s arm when he came back to the table. ‘Let’s get out,’ she mouthed at him and stood up.
He nodded. “We’re gonna go for a... walk, so we’ll catch you guys later.”
“Walk?” Maria snorted. “I wasn’t planning to go out in the cold.”
“Fine, Sexy, I was tryin’ to be discreet, but have it your way. Folks, change of plans... we’re not goin’ for a walk. We’re really just tryin’ to get outta cleanup duty so we can go make out for a while.”
Liz laughed. “Sounds good, why don’t we do the same thing, Max?”
Max grabbed her hand and stood up. “Later, guys,” he tossed over his shoulder as he dragged her out of the room.
The two couples went over to the living room. Maria and Michael got comfortable on the smaller couch, which was fluffy and comfortable while Max and Liz decided to sit in front of the fire.
“Did we ask for company?” Michael asked in between kisses.
“It’s Christmas, Michael,” Maria reminded him.
“Okay, but if Evans breaks out anything leather we’re outta here.”
“Ha ha,” came from the other side of the room. “That’s gonna follow me forever,” he muttered to Liz.
“You can wear leather for me anytime,” she said with a grin.
“I doubt I can wear that ever again, darlin’.”
“That’d be a shame,” she pouted. “Not ever?”
Before Max could respond Maria giggled. “Sorry,” she whispered when Michael pulled back to look at her. “I’m just imagining Max in those chaps when he got busted.”
He made a face. “You’re thinkin’ about him in leather chaps while kissin’ me?”
“Not like that,” she said, slapping his shoulder. “Can you imagine his expression?”
“We should’ve spent Christmas at home,” Max complained.
“Home in Roswell where everyone knows the leather story?” Tess teased when she and Kyle walked in and took ownership of the big armchair so they could snuggle up close.
“MY home,” Max mumbled. He could feel the tips of his ears flaming bright red and it had nothing to do with the fire they were sitting in front of.
“Oh, California,” Kyle said with a mischievous grin. “Yeah, y’all up there are a little bit off your rockers. Got those nude beaches an’ stuff, so I guess wearin’ a pair of ridin’ leathers with your junk hangin’ out might not get a second look there.”
Maria started to snort under Michael’s kisses again. He sighed and rolled over enough to get more comfortable.
“You’re just determined to make me work for this tonight, aren’t ya?” he said with a teasing look.
“Uh-huh, there’s a hot tub waitin’ for us.”
He grinned. “True. Okay, I can behave for a little while longer.”
They all looked up when loud clattering suddenly came from the kitchen. “What was that?” Tess asked with a frown.
“Santa?” Kyle guessed. “Think he’s comin’ down the wrong chimney.”
Michael leaned forward on the couch to have a look at the open kitchen door. He placed one hand on the floor to steady himself.
“You’re crushing me,” Maria complained.
“Oh, sorry. Evans, I think your sister’s tryin’ to get on the naughty list an’ right before Christmas,” he said with a big grin.
“Really?” He got up quickly, grabbing his cell to take a picture.
“Maxwell Evans!” Isabel shrieked just moments later, making everyone else laugh.
Max tossed his phone to Michael as he ran back into the room and hurried to put as much distance between his irate sister and himself as she came through the doorway.
Liz glanced between the two of them as they eyed each other. Max looked wary, as if he’d just poked an angry rattlesnake and Isabel looked ready to kill. Interesting, she thought, embarrassment and red ears was not something that only Max suffered with.
“Don’t give it to her, no matter what,” Max told Michael.
Isabel turned her murderous glare on Michael but before she could take more than two steps in his direction he threw the phone to Kyle.
He fumbled with it, nearly dropping it three times before he got a good grip on it. He pushed a button and his eyebrows lifted at the shot Max had captured. “Wow, you guys work fast... and I’m not talkin’ ‘bout the dishes,” he said with a grin.
“Lemme see,” Tess leaned over, almost shoving Kyle from the armchair.
Alex came in behind Isabel, left shoulder braced against the doorframe as he watched the others. She would play the irate card for a while before she finally gave in and laughed about the situation. Of course, he’d heard enough about her and Max’ childhood that he knew payback would be coming and the younger Evans would do well to watch his back for the next few days.
Max walked over to get his phone back, shoving it deep into his front pocket. He knew his sister would never ever try to get it from there.
Isabel smiled slowly and shook her head at him. “Just wait, Max... you know you’ll pay for that one.”
“At least I have something to threaten you with now,” he said, unconcerned as he walked back over to Liz.
She’d just let him keep thinking that because she was about to turn the tables on him. “We’ll see,” was all she said. “C’mon, Alex, let’s finish up in the kitchen.”
Kyle laughed. “You know how that sounded, Iz, right?”
Isabel pointed at him. “You can just as easily be on my bad side... do you really wanna go there?”
“You don’t wanna go there, believe me,” Michael told him knowingly.
Kyle just shrugged. “Hey, I live a long way away, what’s she gonna do to me?”
“It’s better to watch out... she’s got a devious mind and a mean big sister streak a mile wide.”
“C’mon, guys, it’s Christmas. No more bickering,” Maria tried.
“Yeah, I don’t know about you guys but I’ve got other things in mind,” Michael said. He shot a glance at Isabel over his shoulder. “Besides, if Isabel’s that horny that she can’t even wait to get outta the kitchen we should just leave ‘em to it.”
She stuck her tongue out at him, but left it alone for now.
“So, you have other things in mind?” Maria teased.
“Anything that ends up with you naked... and I have a very long list of possibilities.”
“Uh-huh, we might wanna wait until we’re alone, baby.”
He glanced around the room at the others. “Hey, you know me... not the kinda guy who likes to share. So, what’d you have in mind?”
She snuggled closer to him and sighed. “Just hanging out and talking, listening.”
He shifted around a little bit and pulled her closer. “I’m good with that too.”
She smiled lazily and concentrated on his heartbeat that she could feel through his chest. The year had been crazy and busy, but it was ending in just the right way.
Liz snuggled up closer to Max, her thoughts on the past few months. She hadn’t had any idea what the future held for them when they had run into each other that day on campus but now she knew that no matter what it was they’d be together.
“You okay with bein’ here instead of home in Roswell?” Max asked quietly.
“I’m about to say somethin’ totally mushy so no teasing,” she warned. She nodded when he motioned for her to go on. “It wouldn’t matter if we were in Roswell, with your family in California, back in our apartment, or here with our friends... as long as we’re together it feels like we’re home.” She looked at him, amazed that she still felt that crazy dizzy feeling she got just from being around him.
He smiled. “That was mushy, but I like it,” he teased and cradled her cheek. “Love you, Liz.”
She punched his shoulder lightly. “This from the king of mushy declarations,” she mumbled against his lips. “Love you too.”
“Think Danny will be very sad that we aren’t there for Christmas Day?” Maria asked. The little boy adored his big brother. They were inseparable most of the time.
“I told him we’d call first thing Christmas mornin’ an’ I’ll bet he’s gonna be pretty busy with all his presents.”
“We’re gonna spend some time with him when we get back to Cali.”
He nodded. “Yeah, he likes that. And he loves hangin’ out at our place.”
“Won’t ya come to Roswell to visit Amy?” Tess asked.
“Mom’s gonna be out of town over the holidays and she’s planning on visiting us in a couple of months so we’ll see her then,” Maria said.
“Aww, I was hopin’ us girls would be hanging out in Roswell before we go back to college.”
Max glanced at Liz. “We can change our plans up if you wanna do that.”
“Why don’t you guys come and stay with us for a while in Cali?” Maria suggested.
“We could take a weekend trip,” Michael said. “Rent motorcycles and head up the coast… camp out on the beach?”
“Camping?” Maria asked, horrified. “No way, buddy, one night out in Frasier Woods was enough for me and it’s all I intend to do for you in that department.”
“Not even on the beach? By the ocean?”
“C’mon, M’ria, that could be fun,” Liz begged.
“My cousin’s got a vacation place on the beach up in Santa Barbara,” Alex said as he and Isabel joined them. “All the fun of bein’ on the beach without havin’ to sleep outdoors.” He grinned at Maria. “Indoor plumbing too.”
Max snorted. “Yeah, well, you wouldn’t talk Isabel into goin’ anywhere that didn’t have indoor plumbing.”
Maria laughed and high-fived the other blonde. “And you’re not alone, chica.”
Liz tipped her head back against Max’s shoulder to look up at him. “I don’t mind spending the night on the beach.
He smiled. “Well, I guess we’ll have that beach all to ourselves then.”
Alex retrieved his laptop before dropping down on the couch next to his girlfriend so he could send a quick email off to his cousin. “What were you sayin’ about me bringin’ the laptop again?”
She rolled her eyes. “Just be quiet, honey, will ya?” She turned to look at Kyle and Tess. “What about you guys, are ya in?” She leaned against her boyfriend when he just grinned and shook his head at her as he pulled up his email.
Tess glanced at Kyle before nodding. “We’re definitely in.”
“Cool, this should be fun,” Maria said excitedly as she glanced at Michael.
“Santa Barbara, that’s what? About a six-hour ride from home?” Michael asked.
“Yeah, six hours if you drive like my grandma,” Alex snorted.
Isabel shook her head at him. “Alex couldn’t follow a speed limit if his life depended on it.”
“Think your cousin will answer soon?” Liz asked.
Isabel rolled her eyes. “Are you kidding? Ronnie’s hardly ever offline. He’s addicted to compute games.”
“You say that like he’s a teenager.” Alex rolled his eyes before glancing at the others. “He’s a designer for one of the major gaming companies so if any of you guys are into games, lemme know. I can get ‘em for ya before they hit the market and at a major discount.” He motioned at the screen when an email popped up. “Yup, he said the place is free. He’ll call his neighbor and we can pick up the keys from her when we get there.” He grinned. “Ya gotta love technology.”
“You’re not getting a new Playstation game,” Maria told Michael when Alex’ comment about his cousin got his attention.
He smirked. “No?”
“Whipped,” Kyle coughed.
“How long have the two of you been together again?” Michael asked, gesturing to Tess.
“Couple months… why?”
Michael snorted. “We’ll talk again in a few months and then we’ll see who’s whipped.”
“Michael, you’re only gonna dig yourself in a hole if you keep goin’,” Maria murmured with a smile.
“Whatever,” he grumbled and tickled her sides.
Maria giggled and squirmed around, trying to escape and only succeeding when she fell over the side and ended up on her backside on the floor.
Michael looked over the edge of the cushion, making sure she was okay before he laughed. “Whatcha doin’ down there?”
She glared at him. “Ya know, maybe I’ll just keep some of your presents for myself.”
“Ya got me presents?”
“It’s Christmas, of course I did.”
“Um-hmm, gonna let me open any up tonight?”
“Nope,” she said, and bit her lip. “Well, maybe one.” She wiggled her eyebrows.
“Okay, you two can cut that out right now,” Liz said with a roll of her eyes.
“Says Miss I-tried-to-blow-my-boyfriend-in-the-backroom-of-the-Crashdown-even-though-I-knew-my-father-was-there,” Maria said, sticking her tongue out at her friend. “Okay, so, what’re we gonna do now, guys?”
Isabel rolled her eyes when her brother’s ears turned red. “No need to guess who you were with,” she said, sticking her tongue out at Max.
“Hey, we could play cards,” Tess suggested. “Maybe Poker?”
“I’m good with Poker,” Max agreed. He and Isabel had played often enough and winning against her was a challenge.
“Strip Poker?” Kyle asked, interested.
“I’m sooo not playin’ that with my sister,” he said, shaking his head.
“Yeah, me either,” Isabel made a face.
Maria got up and dragged Michael with her over to the fireplace next to Max and Liz. She smiled at her best friend when she saw the happiness in her eyes. “C’mon, people.”
“What is this?” Kyle asked. “Couple’s Poker?”
“Yep, this way you guys can’t cheat.”
“Obviously you’ve never played Poker with Max and Isabel,” Michael muttered under his breath.
“Why? You’ve had experience playing Poker with them?” Liz wondered aloud.
“Yeah, they both cheat,” he answered, earning death glares from Max and Isabel.
“That’s not true. It’s not our fault that you lose hand after hand,” Isabel protested.
He shrugged and glanced at Tess. “It won’t matter to Parker ‘cause she’s playin with Max, so I’ll warn you.” He pointed between Max and Isabel. “Just watch ‘em… I’m tellin’ you, they cheat. I’ve never won a hand of Poker against either of ‘em and no one’s that lucky.”
Tess narrowed her eyes. “I’ll keep an eye on ‘em.”
“We can handle ‘em,” Kyle said confidently as he sat down behind Tess and wrapped his arms around her. His eyes widened as he watched Isabel shuffle the deck of cards. “Okay, I’ve never seen anyone outside a casino handle a deck of cards like that,” he said.
Michael groaned. “Let the cheating begin.”
“Found the Poker chips,” Alex said as he settled down behind Isabel. He leaned forward to set a bowl of chocolate-covered pretzels in front of her, popping one in his mouth before he started dividing the chips up between the four couples.
“Should we keep an eye on Alex too?” Maria asked.
“Um, why’re you wantin’ to keep an eye on me?”
“Oh, Michael says your girlfriend cheats,” Tess said with a grin.
“Oh.” He nodded. “She does… not that it matters when it’s just the two of us and a game of Strip Poker,” he said with a wink. “Even when I lose I’m winnin’.”
Isabel grinned and kissed him briefly. “I just have a very competitive nature and I like to win.”
“You do,” he agreed and reached around her to snag another pretzel.
Max watched the interaction between his sister and her boyfriend and smiled. They were already acting like an old married couple and yet they had only been together as long as him and Liz. She was happy though. He could see it in the way her eyes glistened when she looked at Alex and he could see it in her body language.
He was glad that Isabel had found someone like Alex. He didn’t just see the dominant woman that she appeared to be. His sister had so much love to give. She just didn’t show that to everyone. And, of course, he’d never admit that he felt that way about her.
Alex glanced over at the couple to his left. He had just met them earlier that day but he liked them. They were playful and it was obvious they enjoyed getting out and doing different things. Out of the four couple they had been together the shortest amount of time but they seemed to be pretty stable and settled into their relationship. Besides, anyone who was willing to tease Isabel and who could hold their own against her comebacks was okay in his book. Kyle and Tess had both jumped in and pitched in to help him when ‘the list’ had reappeared during dinner preparations, making a game of getting rid of it while managing to keep the mood light.
No, he didn’t know them all that well, but he had a feeling the two of them were gonna be together for many Christmases to come.
“C’mon, slowpoke,” Tess complained in a teasing manner as she waited for Liz to throw some chips into the pot. Max and Liz were discussing their next move, whispering things in each other’s ears and giggling at whatever they were saying.
Liz had always been an open-minded person, the kind of person who wore her heart on her sleeve. It was still hard to believe and a little weird that she had been with Kyle for a pretty long time, but that was in the past and that was where it belonged. Max Evans had managed to turn her world upside down and make her believe good relationships were possible and everyone could see how happy Liz was with him.
Liz stuck her tongue out at Tess. “Be patient, would you? Good things come to those who wait.” She laughed at the look Tess shot her, settling more comfortably back against the best thing that had ever happened to her. She glanced at her best friend and smiled at the picture she and Michael made. He was wrapped around Maria, his chin resting on her shoulder as he studied the cards she held in front of her. He whispered something that probably wasn’t in any way related to the game but it made her laugh and she turned her head to kiss him.
Her gaze lowered to his left hand where it rested over Maria’s on his raised knee and she wondered if it meant anything that his thumb constantly brushed back and forth over her ring finger. She wouldn’t be surprised when she finally got a call from Maria telling her the two of them had gotten engaged. She had a feeling it was only a matter of time. Neither of them was rushing their relationship, they were taking their time and just enjoying being together and being in love.
“I’m goin’ all in,” Maria decided after a while, earning a surprised look from Michael.
“Me too,” Tess nodded.
“Same here,” Isabel said, following suit.
“Yep, me too,” Liz stated decisively.
The Christmas lights blinked merrily as they all threw their chips in the middle of the circle of friends.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year, Everyone!