Dominic popped open a couple fresh Coronas and headed into the living room. Letty sprawled across the couch, taking up most of it, and Mia sat in her armchair, legs curled up under her, purple and gray crocheted blanket spread across her lap. It was fuzzy, unraveled in places. Getting old. It was one of the last pieces their mom had done before her death and Mia kept it close.
He handed one of the beers to Letty; she moved her feet so he could sit down, then shoved her bare toes under his thigh to warm them.
"Where's mine?" Mia teased, but a mug of hot apple cider spiced with rum steamed on the arm of her chair.
"You really want to mix those tastes?" he asked and she shook her head, laughing.
"We gonna wait for the guys?" Mia asked.
"Hell no." Letty half sat up to gulp her beer. Her body flexed, skin smooth and muscles strong. He loved watching her move, the swell of her breasts beneath her shirt and the long line of her throat beautiful things. The way her lips quirked when she grinned. He hooked his arm over her legs and took a long drink from his beer. "They know what time we're starting tonight. And you know they're not gonna roll in until it's time to eat."
"I guess." Mia looked thoughtful and a little sad.
Dom sure as hell understood that. They'd put up a cheap little fake tree and strung white lights around it, but that's about all they'd done. It was nothing like when they were kids and Mom and Dad decorated the house until it glowed and they dressed up for midnight Mass and got dragged out into the cool darkness. He remembered the way his shoes had pinched and how their neighborhood had been so quiet when they came home. Dad had always carried Mia into bed, she'd fall asleep on the car ride, but Mom would stand with him in the yard, trying to spot stars through the clouds and the smog. Her hands were always cool, her fingers rough from the work she did in the garage, and her touch soothing.
Late night or not, they'd be up before dawn, Mia waking him and dragging him downstairs. She wouldn't bother Mom and Dad, she'd simply sit, wrapped in a blanket, staring at the tree, her eyes so big in her little face, her smile so wide, until she was bouncing with impatience and he went to wake their parents because he couldn't stand for another minute her not getting what she wanted, not when he could take care of everything.
He drained his beer, faster than normal, but he was a big tough guy, he could take it, and headed into the kitchen for another. He lingered at the fridge, fighting his phone until he got it to send a text: Get here now.
The guys would come running. They always did.
Fresh beer in hand, he headed back into the living room.
"What do you want to watch first?" he asked and set his beer on top of the television. A pile of movies -- the cheesier the better -- was haphazardly stacked on the coffee table. Later they'd shove them to the side to make room for Chinese food and rolling joints.
"I'm in the mood for something large and reptilian devouring humans," Mia said and tucked the blanket more firmly around her legs.
"Jurassic Park or Lake Placid?" Letty asked.
"Don't care." Mia blew on the top of her drink and then took a cautious sip. It wasn't steaming quite so much, and she smiled and took a bigger drink.
"Lake Placid it is," Letty said.
Dom grabbed it from the pile and set up the dvd player, then took his beer to the couch while the previews played. Letty already had the remote control. It would be an easy thing to grab it from where it sat on her stomach, but he let her have it. She liked being in control.
Before he got settled, he grabbed the blanket from the back of the couch and spread it across Letty. She tucked her feet against him again and he threaded his arm through her legs, holding her tight.
The guys showed up before they even finished the previews. The corner of Dom's mouth twitched, almost a grin. They knew to jump when he said. Didn't even have to ask how high.
Leon showed up first, by himself, with brownies and shit his current girl must have baked, because the last time he tried, he'd nearly burned down his kitchen. Or maybe he'd figured out how to set the timer so he didn't get wrapped up in something else and forget about what he was baking.
Jesse and Vince came in together, carrying more beer and a small bag of wrapped presents. The paper was shiny and there were even bows stuck on top. Meant Jesse had taken care of it. He tossed the gifts under the tree with the few others there.
They grabbed dessert and settled around the room, Vince too close to Mia, Jesse sprawled right in front of the television. Letty squeezed her legs against Dom's arm and when he glanced at his sister, Mia had a tiny little smile on her face.
"Get the lights," he ordered, and Leon did before he slumped into his chair. Letty started the movie and Dom took a slower, more satisfying drink. Yeah, things weren't the same with Mom and Dad gone, but this was good too, Mia happy and his girl pressed against him.
Letty nudged her foot against him to get his attention. Her grin promised wicked things later and he stroked his hand along her thigh, foreplay for what he'd do when he got her upstairs. She was his favorite gift, the best prize he'd ever won, his wild girl, and when she looked at him like that, he knew he was lucky as hell.
She tilted her bottle of beer against his, and only the faintest clink of glass on glass gave away their private toast.