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The Three Gifts

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The Three Gifts




Deck the Halls




The music started before 6 a.m.

Daryl knew this for a couple of reasons. Reason number one, it was Thursday. Thursday morning. One of the three days a week he got to sleep in, at least until 7, 8 if he was lucky, and Merle and Axel opened up shop across town. Reason number two, a soft female body was still draped around him like a winter blanket, cold nose tucked between his shoulder blades and sleepy mouth curving into a smile against his spine. Cracking one eye open, being greeted with their darkened bedroom as expected, he groaned into his pillow. "You got to be shittin' me. The fuckin' muppets?"

A pale, freckled arm circled around his ribcage, hugged him tight. "Would you prefer Mickey and his friends?"

A cloud of copper curls entered the periphery of Daryl's vision, and he huffed out a quiet but vehement answer to her teasing question when her lips tickled across the blade of his shoulder, settled on the round of it in a sweet good morning kiss. "Hell no." He slid his left hand over hers where it rested over his heart, his fingers absently toying with her most recently acquired piece of jewelry, and sighed. "Don't mean I like that bacon loving green frog any better."


She sounded scandalized, but she giggled all the same, and he smirked, choosing to ignore the obnoxious rendering of what passed for a Christmas classic around these parts and giving her arm a tug as he rolled to his back. "This what I'm gonna have to put up with the rest of the month? Thought you Peletier girls had better taste."

Sprawled across him with her chin propped on her crossed arms, she smiled down at him, unable to suppress a shiver as he dragged his knuckles up and down her back, catching the worn cotton of her camisole on an upward sweep and flattening his rough palm across the soft skin discovered there. Her blue eyes sparkled as her fingers lightly traced the stubble that peppered his cheeks and his chin. "You keep forgetting."

"Hmm?" Daryl hummed, because he never tired of hearing it, didn't think he ever would, and hell. If Soph wanted to listen to the fuckin' muppets, well, then. He'd just deal with having the frog chorusing fa-la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la in his head the rest of the day.

"We're Dixon girls now."

"That right?" Daryl asked, lifting his head from his pillow and claiming her lips in a clinging kiss that went on and on and on, until they had to pull apart for air. Good thing, too, because the alarm on her phone went off, and he knew they didn't have enough time for what he wanted to do to her, didn't have time for much more than another quick, regretful press of the lips before Sophia came knocking, and their day officially started. With great reluctance, he let his arms fall away, watched her crawl from their warm bed with heavy lidded eyes.

She lingered in the doorway to their bathroom, all sleep tousled and bright eyed, camisole still hiked high on her ribs and pale, restless legs on display. "Share?" she asked, nodding toward the waiting shower.

Dragging his tongue across his lip, Daryl shook his head, stifled a groan that had nothing to do with the cheery Christmas music rising to a crescendo two doors down, and she knew it. Damn, did she know it, judging by the smirk that twitched on her pretty, bruised mouth. "Better not." His own smile threatened even before she let hers have full reign, and he shook his head again. "Don't tease me, Woman," he warned. "You know we don't got much longer 'fore Soph comes bargin' in. Door's not locked."

"Too bad," she murmured, all but her head disappearing through the bathroom door. "Maybe some other time?"

"Carol," Daryl growled.

Soft laughter pealed from her lips, and she lifted her hand to blow him a parting kiss. "Happy first of Christmas, Mr. Dixon."

Happy first of Christmas, Mrs. Dixon, Daryl thought as he rolled onto his stomach, gathered her pillow and her scent close to him as the shower turned on and Deck the Halls looped on repeat just down the hall. Happy first of Christmas, indeed.