Giggles filtered through Catherine's sleep fogged mind, and she reached out to Nick, only to be met with cold sheets. She opened her eyes and squinted at the clock. It was past eight. Alarmed, she jumped out of bed and put on her robe.
"Let's bring Mommy her Christmas breakfast."
Catherine quickly tugged off her robe and discarded it haphazardly. She slid under the covers and tucked them up to her chin, closing her eyes just as the door opened.
"We made you breakfast, Mom." The bed bounced a little and she knew that Lindsey had flung herself onto the bed.
Catherine slowly opened her eyes and yawned for effect. "It's morning already?"
Nick walked in carrying a tray of food. She could smell the coffee from here, and her stomach growled. She sat up and hugged Lindsey. "Merry Christmas, baby."
Lindsey snuggled into her hug. "Merry Christmas, Mommy."
Catherine looked over Lindsey's head and smiled at Nick. "So, what did my two favorite people make me?"
Lindsey sat back and pulled the tray that Nick had set on the bed closer to them. "We made pancakes, eggs, bacon," she wrinkled her nose in disgust, "and coffee."
Nick chuckled, "You'll like coffee when you're older, wait and see."
Lindsey shook her head, "I don't think so, Nicky."
Nick launched himself at her and began to tickle her. Catherine saved her breakfast just before it slid off her lap and onto the floor.
Catherine shook her head at their antics, still surprised at Lindsey's easy acceptance of Nick. She had thought that anyone daring to take Eddie's place would be met with considerable resistance, but he hadn't. Maybe it was because he hadn't tried to.
"I'm trying to eat here." She made her voice overly stern.
Pausing mid-tickle, they looked up at her innocently. Then they sat up and pretended not to look at each other.
She chuckled and snagged a piece of bacon, swirling it in maple syrup before taking a bite. It was heavenly.
A couple of bites later, she noticed Lindsey fidgeting. "Why don't I eat this while we open presents?"
Lindsey brightened, "Can we, please?"
"That sounds like a plan," Nick replied.
Lindsey grinned and flew out of the room.
She waited till she heard Lindsey's shriek of excitement. "Christmas breakfast?"
Nick smiled. "I thought you needed the extra sleep."
She leaned into Nick and whispered into his ear, "Something kept me up late."
He nuzzled her neck. "Putting that bike together did take an awful long time."
Catherine rolled her eyes and rose from the bed. She pulled her robe on and cinched it tight. "Ready for your first Christmas with the Willows' women?"
Catherine stopped short.
Nick pulled her close. She tumbled into him and down on to the bed. He rolled on top of her and stared deep into her eyes. "I love you, Catherine Willows."
"I love you too, Nick Stokes," she breathed.
He leaned down and traced her lips with his tongue, licking the corner of her mouth. "Mmm, maple," he murmured, and then dove in for a kiss.
She blinked in disappointment when he pulled back.
"Now I'm ready." He eased off her and held out a hand.
She took his hand, smiling, and he helped her up. "Merry Christmas, Nick."
He smiled brilliantly. "Merry Christmas, Cath."