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Never Knew - Bethyl Holiday Fest - Stockings

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Christmas morning. The prospect of the day still gave her a thrill just as it did when she was a child. Soon they'd be up and getting ready to start the day but for now, Beth snuggled down in the blankets, trying to escape the chill in the air. Daryl's hand lay warmly on her hip. The solid presence he instinctively and intuitively asserted comforted her. Always.

She shifted her body against his, her back to his chest. Reflexively he wrapped his arms around her, buried his face in her hair. She didn't know how happy someone's arm, the right person, arms wound around her would make her blissfully happy. It happened in movies and romance novels but she had given up on that idea years ago.

That is until she met Daryl Dixon. It was so unexpected. She'd all but given up on finding the right person. She'd sworn off on blind dates, definitely no Tinder hookups, had long ago given up going to the bar with the girls hoping in the back of her mind maybe Mr. Right would be there amongst the sea of drunk people.

Then one day going about her life she turned the corner of a building in town and ran right into a man's chest, sending his coffee spilling to the ground.

The force almost knocked her on her ass except she was saved by arms belonging to that rock-solid chest saving her from more embarrassment. She began apologizing profusely. She'd been a world away in her mind, thinking about this or that, she didn't remember exactly what now. Her eyes went from his broad chest where she had just face planted, up to his face.

A devilish grin played at the right corner of his mouth, striking blue eyes looked down her at her. Her rambling apologies ceased. Ruggedly handsome, some might say he was in need of a haircut but she would disagree. The shaggy hair looked good on him. A graying goatee did nothing to hide his angular cheekbones. And those eyes, intensely staring at her, made her a little weak in the knees. Was that even a thing? Could someone make you literally weak in the knees?

Then her ramblings began again seconds later. "I'm so sorry, wasn't even watching where I was going."

" 's fine," he mumbled. Or at least that's what she thought he said, his voice was so quietly deep she felt the rumble of it in her chest.

"Oh my gosh, I'm sorry. I spilled your coffee," she said noticing the cup now on the ground in the middle of a puddle. "Let me buy you a new one." He must have just come from the diner - the one known for coffee so strong it might eat through the styrofoam cup they served it in.

"Na', it's no big deal. Really."

"Yes, it is a big deal. If I don't get my coffee my day is totally ruined." Without even thinking she took his bicep in her hand and led him toward the diner.

She still marveled at how things turned out. She was certain it was meant to be, her crashing into him that day. They sat in the diner for over an hour talking and then she had to leave or she'd be late to work so she shyly, hoping her reddened cheeks didn't show, wrote down her number on a paper napkin telling him to call her sometime. It shocked and delighted her when he did in fact call her not five minutes later to ask her out.

Behind her, Daryl was slowly waking up, as was his body. His hand went from her hip to her breast, kneading lightly. He moaned into her neck, pressing his lips to the sensitive skin on the nape of her neck.

"Hmmm," she sighed. "We need to get up and get goin'. I told Mama that we'd be there about ten." It was tradition. Breakfast and presents at her parent's house Christmas morning. Maggie and Glenn came with their small army of children as well as Shawn and his family. Thankfully they accepted Daryl as one of their own once they realized they were serious about each other and he was there for the long haul.

His only family was Merle and he and his wife, Carol, preferred to celebrate on Christmas eve. That left no scheduling conflicts with her family.

"Then you shouldn'ta be naked. How's a man supposed to get out of bed when there's a beautiful woman lying next to him?" He asked rhetorically.

Beth switched positions and straddled his hips, the blankets falling to her waist. The cold air made her pink nipples peak, her long honey hair trailed down her back. The sun was trying desperately to fight the clouds but the clouds were winning, shading the room in shadows. Her milky white skin a beacon in the grey.

He'd never grow tired of this view.

"Well, I guess we got a few minutes before we actually need to get up," Beth told him. "What should we do?" She asked coyly.

"I can think of a thing or two."

Beth reached between their bodies, slowly caressing his hardening dick. He moaned. "That might be one of the things I had in mind."

"Oh yeah?" She questioned, a small sexy smile playing on her lips. She shifted her body to line up with him, slowly impaling herself. No matter how long they'd been together, no matter how many times they'd had sex, she never grew tired of him. Never had to fake a headache or turn him down. She was unabashedly ready and willing.

He sat up, wrapping his arms around her middle, "Merry Christmas, wife."

They'd been married almost a year and the word wife still sent a thrill up her spine. And, well, in all honesty, it turned her on. Her head fell slightly backward, leaving her neck exposed to his mouth, his teeth. Her hands held onto his shoulders and she began to ride him steadily.

After a quick shower, they were dressed and ready to go. Presents and the side dishes Beth had prepared were loaded up in the car. Daryl honking, not because he was impatient but because he liked to tease Beth.

She smiled, rolling her eyes affectionately at the horn sounding through the silent house. She caught her reflection in the full-length mirror at the end of the hallway as she exited their bedroom. She ran a hand over her hair. Thanks to their little romp in bed this morning, she didn't have time to do much with it so she was letting it air dry. Large hoop earrings dangled from her ears. She wore a burgundy cowl necked sweater and black skinny jeans. She was nervous, though she had no reason to be. This Christmas, their first official Christmas as husband and wife, held a milestone in their lives and she wanted everything to go smoothly.

Grabbing her purse off the bench next to the door, she slipped her feet into chunky ankle-length boots and opened the door, giving one last look to make sure she didn't forget anything and stepped out onto the porch, yelling, "Alright already, I'm coming."

Getting into the car she reached over and gave him a small shove. "It's your fault we're gonna be late," she teased.

"Yeah," he said, putting the car into gear, sending her a wink. "You didn't seem to mind it much."

She smiled and slipped her seatbelt into place. Her smile still did strange things to his heart and he still had to pinch himself that she was actually his wife. He didn't think it was possible to love someone as deeply as he did Beth. He cared for his brother. For Carol. For Carol's daughter Sophia. What he felt for Beth was a different kind of all-encompassing, absolute love.

He didn't even mind going to her folks' house for Christmas. Or for any other holiday for that matter. Or to celebrate one of the many birthdays of various nieces of nephews that actually called him Uncle. It took Annette and Hershel a little time to get used to the idea that their daughter was seeing a Dixon. He didn't blame them for that. He'd probably feel the same way if he had a daughter. He'd want her to stay far away from someone the likes of him.

He kept showing up, proving himself to be solid and trustworthy and when he asked Beth to marry him last year at Christmas - at her parent's house in front of everyone, Annette and Hershel began to fully accept him after that.

Which was good, because he was going to marry her no matter what they said.

They returned home later in the afternoon, stuffed and baring gifts as well as leftovers. Annette cooked like they were starving and made enough food for six families. It surprised him when there were multiple gifts under the Greene Family Christmas tree with his name on them. Last year there was one, but he suspected that was more Beth's doing than the family. They have seemed to fully accept him as their son now, just as they did Glenn, Maggie's husband.

As soon as he put the leftovers away and put the opened gifts under the tree Daryl started a fire in the fireplace. Beth claimed to love the 'homey feel' of a fire, whatever that meant. He'd do it. For her.

He then sat down on the couch and promptly dozed off.

Seeing Daryl was sleeping on the sofa, Beth slipped into the bedroom and changed into something more comfortable. In the bathroom, she removed her makeup and put her hair up. Back in the bedroom, she dug a box out from the back of her underwear drawer. It was an extra special gift, one she didn't want hanging in Daryl's stocking before today.

He wasn't a snooper, but she didn't want to risk him finding it before tonight. She quietly went back out to the living room and peeked around the corner making sure he was still asleep and as quiet as possible she shoved the box down into Daryl's stocking that hung on the mantle.

When he woke he had no idea how long he'd been out.

The room was dim, save for the lamp on the end table and the fire giving the room a bright orange glow. The Christmas tree lights twinkled pleasantly, its branches shadowed on the ceiling.

It's their first tree together and he understood why Beth fussed over it even though the idea was foreign to him. She wanted it to be special and he wanted it to be special for her. So they trudged through the woods finding the perfect tree which Daryl chopped down and lugged back to the truck. He opted out of decorating it but watched Beth do it. She was happy and that's what matters. Not his aching back after carting a tree through the woods.

Beth was curled up on the other side of the couch, reading a book, a knitted blanket she'd made herself was thrown over her legs.

He poked her thigh with his toe. "Ya' gonna open your presents or what?" He asked knowing she was chomping at the bit. She was as bad as a kid. Not that he hasn't enjoyed teasing her over the last few weeks with the wrapped gifts under the tree.

She had changed out of her clothes and now wore yoga pants and one of his old sweatshirts. It was huge on her but she claimed it was comfortable. Her hair was up in a messy ponytail. No makeup. As much as he appreciated those tight jeans she was wearing earlier he equally loved it when she was dressed like this. She was just as beautiful now as when she was all dolled up.

Closing her book she said, "Well I was waitin' for you to wake up, old man."

"Old man?" He asked in mock indignation. He shot up and was on her in an instant. His fingers digging into her ribs, ticking her into hysterics.

"Oh my god," she laughed. "Stoppp."

"I'll show ya' old," and he began noisily kissing her bare neck, making her laugh even harder.

"Alright, alright, I give. You're not old," she said in between gasps of air.

"I'll show you what an old man I am later," he said, lifting an eyebrow, kissing her on the mouth this time.

"Wow, twice in one day. That's adventurous."

He laughed aloud, slapping her lightly on the ass as she wiggled out from underneath him, going to the tree.

He spoiled her and she claimed he got her too much. Maybe he did but he enjoyed watching her 'Ooo' and 'Ahh' over every gift. The best part was she didn't expect any of it and appreciated anything he got her. He'd never met someone with so much gratitude before.

"I didn't get you near as much as you got me. You're so damn hard to shop for," she joked. She got him plenty.

After they'd opened everything Beth went to the mantle on the fireplace. She retrieved the striped red and green stocking her grandmother had knitted her when she was born as well as Daryl's.

He didn't have a Christmas stocking when he was young and when Beth found this out she was aghast. Within a few days, she had given him his very own stocking. Knitted, green and red stripes very similar to hers. He was embarrassingly touched by the gesture.

He insisted she open hers first. It was filled with little things. Her favorite soap. Hair ties she was constantly complaining about losing, always teasing Daryl he was the one taking them. Pens. Her favorite chocolate candy. Little odds and ends. She was touched that every little gift was so thoughtful. If you judged Daryl by the way he looked no one would know just how thoughtful and gentle he really was. She felt lucky enough to be privy to this knowledge. She wrapped her arms around him, tears swimming in her eyes she thanked him.

"And thank you for this year, it's been amazing," she said.

"What's this about?" He asked, cupping her cheek, brushing a tear away with his thumb.

She sniffled, drying her eyes with a swipe of her hands. "Nothing, I'm fine," she gave him a thousand-watt smile. "Come on, it's your turn now."

He felt uncomfortable with her watching him so intently but there was no way out of it so he dug into his stocking. A small jar of his favorite hot sauce - he loved spicy foods, a Christmas ornament of a Harley Davidson with Bugs Bunny driving with goggles and a leather jacket. Socks, he always needed socks. And then shoved down in the toe of the stocking there was a box about four inches long. Something told him this wasn't an ordinary gift. Beth watched him with huge eyes, her hands clasped together tightly in her lap.

"What's this?" He asked.

"Open it up," Beth almost whispered.

Daryl shifted, putting the other gifts from his lap onto the floor. Removing the paper, he opened the white gift box. It took him a minute to register what it was. He watched enough television to recognize the name that was written in the plastic: First Response. If there was any remaining question as to what it was, the word pregnant was written in the little display box.

His eyes shot to Beth's who was looking at him like a deer in the headlights. The tears were back, filling her eyes. "For real? You're…"

"Pregnant," she finished for him, smiling, laughing, and crying all at once.

"Well ain't that somethin'," he said. Setting the box aside, he grasped her wrist and pulled her onto his lap.

"You happy?" She asked tentatively. They weren't exactly trying to get pregnant, but they weren't taking precautions to prevent it either. She held her breath as well as all the uncertainty she felt. That didn't stop the tears though, they had a mind of their own.

"Of course I'm happy." He wanted children badly. He hadn't realized this until he met Beth. Hadn't realized a lot of things until her. "You know I'm not good with words but I never thought I'd meet a girl like you. Never thought I'd settle down. Never thought I'd get married. Never thought I'd have kids. You've given me a life I never thought I'd have and never knew I wanted. You've given me so much and now you're gonna' give me baby? I'd say this is the best Christmas I've ever had."

Beth sighed, "Just wait till next Christmas, it'll be even better."