Chloe was afraid. She was sitting in front of the Christmas tree in her pjs, with Trixie to her right and Lucifer to her left, both wearing fleecy pjs and delighted smiles, and she was terrified.
She should have known, when she saw the ridiculous number of boxes under the tree. She’d given Lucifer very specific guidelines, but it was, after all, Lucifer. She’d assumed he had found some loophole. She was prepared to be lenient, it was his first Christmas celebration, and he could have misunderstood something. Maybe he thought he could buy a dozen extra gifts, as long as the tag said they were from Santa. She’d decided they’d enjoy opening their gifts, and they’d talk about it later.
But then Trixie came out of her bedroom and dragged them away from the coffee and towards the gifts. She was becoming quite comfortable with having Lucifer around all the time. In the months since his return from Hell, he spent as many nights in their apartment as he did at the penthouse. Trixie hadn’t said anything, but every now and then there was a little knowing smile that communicated quite clearly she was pleased with this development.
They had settled in in a semi-circle, Lucifer handing out the gifts. The two he handed them first were eerily similar in size and weight, and Chloe ripped into hers with gusto. She couldn’t recall the last time she had been so thrilled to see what was under the tree for her.
Her first gift was a new tablet. Far more fancy that anything she would have bought for herself, not that she would have. She saw a look pass between Lucifer and Trixie and wondered if her daughter had convinced him Chloe wanted a tablet. She made a mental note to ask her daughter later.
“It’s quite advanced, I understand. Though it runs on the same system as the tablets Trixie uses at school, so if you run into any trouble I’m sure the urchin can help you set it up.”
Trixie nodded quite vigorously, and Chloe knew this was going to be, for all practical purposes, Trixie’s new tablet. Still, she thanked him warmly, and waited for Trixie to open her gift. She knew It wasn’t going to be another tablet, because she had expressly forbid any gifts that cost more than $50. It turned out to be a DVD set. A couple of animated movies, including one that had been her favorite back in her hot tub days - Spirit.
Lucifer handed each of them another gift, and this time, Trixie went first. It turned out to be a doll set, or more accurately a toy horse perfectly sized to go with the doll house Trixie already had. Chloe’s gift was a silver bracelet with gems the color of her eyes.
With a smug grin that seemed to indicate he’d saved the best for last, he handed Trixie another flat gift that turned out to be a framed picture of a young mustang that looked not unlike Spirit and the toy horse. Something was up. She was trying to put it together when the actual words Lucifer were saying registered.
He was telling Trixie that they’d go to the ranch soon and she could name the horse, but she couldn’t ride him yet.
“You gave Trixie a horse? A real horse?”
“It’s only a little one.”
“A horse is way more than $50, Lucifer.”
“Well, this one was free. I didn’t buy him. I told you I have a horse ranch a few hours away. We adopt a number of mustangs every year. A couple of years ago, one of the mares was pregnant and soon after we took her in, he was born. So you see, the horse didn’t cost me anything at all, and the frame was well within your limit.”
Chloe closed her eyes and breathed deeply. Was he exploiting a loophole, or had he misunderstood? Either way, Trixie was off, trying out names and wanting to know who would take care of the horse and when she could go see him.
Lucifer listened indulgently for a while, a self-satisfied grin plastered all over his face. Finally, as Trixie started to rip into one of the gifts Chloe got her (nothing that could compete with a real horse!), Lucifer reminded her that she still hadn’t opened the long box he’d handed her.
She opened the box. Slowly she pulled out a crop made of the finest leather. Black, with highlights the exact color of her eyes. In her mind, she replayed the conversation they had at that Ihop and she knew exactly what was in all those other boxes. Riding boots. Orgy pants. A corset the color of her eyes. A harness. Everything she would need to take her stallion for a ride. None of it fit for an actual horse.
Her eyes shifted from the crop in her hand to her daughter, now pulling the toy horse out of its box and completely disregarding her, to the boxes still under the tree. And she was afraid. She was very, very afraid.