“I can do it!”
Rose froze at the eager voice that had called from the end of the table. With a deep breath, she turned to look at Luisa, taking in the twinkle in her eyes with a sinking feeling in her stomach. “Aren’t you busy? I would think that this would be a busy time for you.”
“No,” she said. “November is our big month, you know, lines up well with Valentine’s Day. This isn’t any busier than normal - if anything you’re saving me from overly festive nurses.”
Rose bit the inside of her cheek sharply. She had just been trying to make conversation, tossing out that she was going to start looking for someone to help her plan the holiday party at the Marbella, but this - this was last thing she’d expected. Or needed.
“I wouldn’t want to bother you, I was just going to hire someone,” Rose hedged.
“Well now you don’t have to!” Emilio said with a smile. “You two can do this. It will be good for you two to spend some time together.”
Thankfully he didn’t notice the smirk on Luisa’s face or the way Rose’s skin flushed a delicate pink.
“It’s perfect,” Emilio said boisterously, rubbing Rose’s leg under the table.
“Perfect,” Luisa repeated with a wide grin.
“Perfect,” echoed Rose resignedly.
“What the hell were you thinking?” Rose hissed, wheeling around to face Luisa, who laughed. She laughed . People didn’t laugh at her, and she felt anger rise in her chest only to be replaced by something that felt surprisingly like arousal. They had stepped out of the restaurant, ostensibly to make plans to meet up, but Rose was more concerned with getting answers.
“I was thinking it would be really funny to watch your face when I said it,” Luisa replied.
“That was your entire plan?”
“Yes,” Luisa responded. “And look how well it worked.”
“Oh yes, it was wonderful. You do realize that you now have to actually help me plan this party, right?”
“I gathered as much, yes.”
“And?” Rose prompted.
“And I’m okay with that.”
“Luisa!” Rose snapped.
“Rose!” the other woman responded with a smile. “Now that we’ve established that we know each other’s names, what’s the next step for the party planning committee?”
The redhead sighed quietly. “We’re a committee now?”
“I”m going to have t-shirts made.”
“Even better,” Rose sighed.
Her frustration with the situation almost outweighed the slight shiver of anticipation that ran up her spine at the thought that of being able to spend time with Luisa. Almost.
“I printed out a list.”
A piece of paper dropped on top of the invoices Rose was looking over. “Of?”
“How to plan a holiday party,” Luisa replied, settling onto the desk.
Rose scanned the paper. “So we’re taking our guidance from someplace called Hello Endless now?”
“Luisa,” Rose sighed, dropping the paper back to the desk and leaning back in her chair to look at the brunette perched on her desk. “I know how to plan a party.”
“Then why did you even ask for help?” Luisa asked.
“Technically I didn’t,” Rose muttered darkly. ’ I mentioned that I might start looking for someone and you came out of nowhere.”
“I volunteered as tribute.”
“Except instead of the Hunger Games I get to hang out with you,” Luisa continued.
“Which to be honest is kind of the same if you’re in a bad mood.”
Rose couldn’t help but give a small laugh at that. “That’s probably fair.”
“I’d volunteer anyway,” Luisa replied, avoiding her eyes and running her fingernail along a ridge in the desk. Rose inhaled sharply. “Luisa..” she said quietly, warning in her voice.
“I know, I know.”
After an awkward moment of quiet, Luisa gave a small cough. Rose chanced a glance up at her and saw Luisa's face transform from something very close to melancholy to a wide smile that left Rose unsettled as she realized that it didn't quite reach the other woman’s eyes.
“So what's first?” Luisa asked brightly.
“No, come on. Only three weeks left until the party!” Luisa snatched the paper off of the desk and stood. “Okay first on the list - decide on the type of party. Christmas. Done.”
“Number two - make a budget. Infinite. Done. Now number three - guest list. Here’s where it gets complicated - can we get away without inviting that brunette that Raf is dating?”
With a snort, Rose gave in, letting Luisa have the change of subject. It wouldn’t do either of them any good to talk about it anyway.
“If I hear one more Christmas song I am going to burn this place to the ground.”
Luisa laughed. “Well as long as you're not being dramatic about it.”
“I'm not. I'll do it.”
“Pick one and this will all be over.”
They were tucked away in a corner of the Marbella’s dining room, the table in front of them covered in pictures and papers.
“No it won't!” Rose snapped. “It's all reindeer and bells this month. It never ends.”
“Just pick a band, Rose!”
“I don't care. I hate them all.”
“Oh my god , how old are you?” Luisa asked.
“Too old for this.”
“Hey, you can hate all of the happy Whos in Whoville as much as you want but you are still going to have to pick a band,” Luisa pointed out.
Rose sighed and leaned back in her chair. “No.”
“You do it.”
“Not my job.”
“Yes it is,” Rose insisted. “You wanted to assist me? Assist.”
“I have many ways that I can assist you.”
“Luisa,” Rose snapped.
Luisa laughed. “But you seem so tense.”
With a deep breath, Rose closed her eyes and began counting to ten.
“Fine if I have to pick,” Luisa said. “I'm going to have to go with Hank and the Gator Boys.”
“You're not funny,” Rose replied with a glare.
“I am actually. Also, Hank plays a mean fiddle.”
“No, hear me out. Look at how much effort they’ve put in here. They even match!” Luisa flipped the picture over so Rose could see it and she couldn't stop the laugh that overtook her.
“Five guys in overalls doesn't count as matching,” she said with a smile.
“I disagree,” Luisa grinned back. “So are we going with Hank? Or are you going to act like an adult and do this?”
Silently, Rose put out her hand and let the other woman drop the pile of papers into her hand.
Rose raised an eyebrow at her and Luisa just stared back at her, challenge written across her face. Fighting the warmth tingling up her spine, Rose turned her attention to the list of bands in front of her, willfully ignoring the spark of triumph on Luisa's face.
“Oh look! Mistletoe!”
Rose looked up from the papers in her hand and laughed. “You can’t act shocked when you put it there, Lu.”
With a grin, Luisa said, “So it’s ‘Lu’ again?”
Feeling momentarily caught, Rose said, “No, I just -”
“Hello, darling,” Emilio said, breezing into the room and pressing a kiss to Rose’s cheek.
“Oh. Hi. I thought you were leaving for Jacksonville this morning,” Rose said, equal parts thankful for the distraction and annoyed that he might not be leaving at all.
“I am, I just wanted to grab something from my office.” He turned to Luisa, “ Good morning, tresoro .”
“How’s the party coming along?”
“It’s not coming quite the way I would like, but it’s getting there,” Luisa said cheerfully.
Rose glared at her over her father’s shoulder, giving him a strained smile as he turned to look at her. “It’s going to be wonderful, darling. Just some...glitches.”
“You two will work it out, I’m sure,” he replied, moving toward the door, when the mistletoe above caught his eye. “Ah! Mistletoe!”
With a grin, he gave Rose a firm, rather lengthy kiss, and she clenched her hands, doing her best to ignore the mutinous look on Luisa’s face.
“Goodbye, my loves,” he said disappearing down the hallway and into the elevator.
“Goodbye,” they both echoed faintly.
In the uncomfortable silence left in his wake, Rose found herself at a loss for words. She felt like she’d been caught being unfaithful, but not to Emilio - to Luisa. It was unsettling.
“I, uh -” she hedged.
Her words were cut off as Luisa pulled her in for a fierce kiss, seemingly intent on re-staking territory that had recently been encroached upon. Part of Rose wanted to fight it and pull away, but, truly, she had been lost the moment Luisa had touched her.
She let the other woman back her into the wall by the door, feeling her hand sliding roughly under the hem of her dress, and the possessiveness inherent in every one of Luisa's actions set a warmth burning low in her belly.
It had been too long. She was like a live wire, sparks of energy left in the wake of every touch, lick, and bite along her skin until she felt like her world had narrowed into this one moment now with her back against the wall and Luisa inside of her and, really, that was always the problem with Luisa - she had a particular way of changing Rose’s perceptions of the world, altering them so they included far more of her and far less of whatever Rose had previously deemed important.
She let herself sink into it, knowing that it wouldn’t end well, particularly for Luisa, but she couldn’t help herself. It was Christmas, and while normally that meant very little to her, some part of her was aching to spend it with the one person that meant anything to her. She knew that she would have to quash that part of herself, but decided, somehow both selfishly and masochistically, that it could wait until the new year.
For now, there was mistletoe and Luisa.
Their meetings were much more fun after that.
There was the meeting about linen styles and colors where Luisa spent more time interested in the way she could spread Rose across the table than any of the tablecloths.
Then the tasting for the caterer where she managed to her come twice under the table without a single person noticing.
The meeting about the dress code where Luisa made a very convincing case for nudity, the late night ‘emergency cancellation’ of the caterer that allowed them an uninterrupted night together as they ‘handled the situation’, and a flurry of last minute ‘check-ins’ in the week leading up to the party to make sure everything was on track. Rose insisted they be called check-ins - Luisa kept trying to call them quickies.
Quicker than either of them expected - or wanted - the day of the party had arrived, and, despite the fact that the party planning committee had done less planning than anticipated, they had pulled off something as close to a winter wonderland as Miami would ever get. It was honestly...lovely, Rose thought as she looked out over the lights and candles that sparkled below her.
“So when do I get my performance review?”
Rose smiled and turned around to find Luisa leaning against the wall. “You want a review?”
“I do,” Luisa said, sauntering forward. “As long as it includes the words 'beautiful’ and 'spectacular.’”
“Ah, how about ‘persistent’?” Rose said brushing a strand of Luisa's hair behind her ear.
“I'm okay with that as long as you throw an 'earth-shattering’ in there,” she said with a smile, wrapping an arm around Rose's waist and pulling her hips into her.
“I can do that,” the redhead replied huskily.
The sparkling of the Christmas lights reflected in Luisa's eyes and Rose found herself momentarily, frustratingly hypnotized. Luisa tipped her head up and brushed her lips across Rose's softly. “So is it everything you hoped it would be?” she asked.
“Sure,” Luisa said with a grin.
Luisa raised an eyebrow.
“I mean, I'm still wearing my underwear.”
The brunette's pupils dilated slightly and the beginnings of a wicked grin perked at the edges of her lips. “I think I can help you with that.”
“I thought you might be able to.”
For a minute they just breathed each other in. Then Luisa leaned in and brushed her nose against Rose's. “Merry Christmas.”
Rose gave a soft sigh. She didn't do this - holidays, celebrations, spreading cheer, and yet - “Merry Christmas, Lu.”
Well, Rose thought, tis the season.