The sun blazed in ribbons of red and gold by the time Jose and Layla returned with their two guests. The orangry crowd with the exception of Min and Dee had dispersed. Those two had not taken their eyes off the chocolate cake layers since she’d pulled them from the freezer. Under their watchful eyes, Ambrosia Cake was becoming a reality. The Demi had retired to his office to meet with the extra security he was bringing in since the “threat level” was going up. When she’d asked what that meant, he’d looked at her in all seriousness and said, “He’s already broken her collarbone.”

And now Sara Mackie and her broken collarbone were sitting at her island. Petite and dark, her hair in a short banged cut without a hint of curl, she didn’t look old enough to be out of highschool, much less a mother, until you got to her eyes. Dark brown and haunted, those eyes had seen way too much pain.  Pain she had somehow shielded from her daughter, a darling dumpling of a girl with an elven face. The cutest dark brown page boy cut framing dark eyes that were clouded only with a child’s sleepiness. She was passed out in the wisteria room. A baby monitor provided by Barker sat on the kitchen island right next to the crystal bowl filled with freshly picked citrus. That way, Sara could monitor while she ate. She was joined at the island by Layla, Dee, and Jose. Min, unable to hike herself up on a barstool, was in a chair with a small side table Barker had produced. Dee had snickered, labeling it the kiddie table. Min threw a lemon at her.

All were now happily munching away on chicken salad, and/or chicken sandwiches. Good thing that chicken had been an oven stuffer.

Andie was putting the final touches on the ambrosia cake.

“This might be the pain meds talking,” Sara lifted her fork in a salute, “But by God, this is the best chicken salad I’ve ever eaten.”

 “Right?” Min made a gimme towards the giant bowl holding said salad. Dee passed it down for the second time, holding it, so her sister could spoon a generous portion to her plate.

 “You should try a chicken sandwich.” Dee raised her sandwich to the sky. Didn’t keep it there long, biut it was raised.

“And for dessert we have Cake. Chocolate cake with stuff in it and buttercream.” Min relayed the information with the reverence of a Knight Templar discussing the Holy Grail.

Sara’s face fell, “It sounds delicious, but I can’t have gluten.”

“Oh, honey” Jose patted her hand in sympathy, “That’s terrible.”

“Yeah, that sucks, that does.” Dee agreed.

Layla did a sympathetic “mmmm” from behind her coffee cup.

Min looked positively devastated for her, “Oh that’s…. bad.”

“Can you eat cheesecake?” Damien asked leading two giants into the room.

“I heard there was cake?” Giant one, a.k.a Maurice.

“I’ll work for cake.” Giant two, a.k.a. Max.

“Miss Mackie?” Damien prompted.

Sara Mackie pulled her stare from the giants, “Uh…what?”

“Cheesecake. It’s gluten-free.” Damien was already moving to the pantry.

“Uh yeah.” Sara said a little dazed. Max and Maurice made an impression.

“I know sister,” Jose leaned in to stage whisper, “That’s a centerfold and there’s more where that came from. It’s a parade of hot, strong men around here all the time and every one of them is straight. It’s depressing. I mean, look at them.” Both men were currently blushing like school girls, “Andie, slice me a big hunk of cake. I’ll drown my sorrows in chocolate.”

Damien returned with the cheesecake placed it on the island and shot warning glares at both cousins, “Don’t even think about it.”

“Hey, we have cake.”





After the cheesecake and cake had been consumed, the crowd dispersed. Dee and Min left for home. But in an effort to make Sara more comfortable Layla and Jose decided to stay the night, choosing their own guest bedrooms from the four left over.

Jose pulling her aside when they split the gust bedrooms were at the dopposite end of the house. “I’ve left you a little happy. Just remember, if you can’t be good, be good at being bad.”


Jose’s only answer was a giant wink. Andie watched him trot off, “I’m scared.”

“You know,” The Demi said, “I think I am too.”

When she entered the master bedroom, it didn’t look so bad. There was just a small shopping bag on the bed. So whatever it was was smaller than a bread box. She reached into the bag and pulled out…. Oh for the love of frosting.

“What is that?” Damien asked from right behind her.




His girl jumped. She’d been so engrossed in studying the tiny scap of red lace, she hadn’t heard him enter the room.

“I think it’s some kind of night…” Holding by two thin shoulder straps, she turned the skimpy garment with its two suspiciously placed tufts of white fur, this way and that, “Something.”

He could understand her hesitation. Calling that scrap of lace a gown was far too generous, “Anything else in there?”

  Before she could stop him, he reached into the bag and pulled out a card and some thin red strings connected by another tiny puff of white. “Ah… panties possibly?”

She snatched it out of his hand. “Careful,” He warned, “It looks fragile.”

“Oh, shut up.”

“Aren’t you going to read the card?” He waved the small blue envelope.

“No.” She stuffed it all back into the bag opened the closet, tossed it in, closed the door, and fell back against it, as if worried about a racey-red escape.  “And do not hold your breath waiting for me to put that thing on and play Naughty Christmas Elf.”

“Okay.” He agreed. Her eyes narrowed. His grin must have gotten through. Damn. “Although, it looks to me like it’s supposed to be Naughty Ms. Santa.”

“Whatever,” She turned her back on him and yanked her shirt off. This was getting interesting. The bra followed. Very nice. Then she produced one of his t-shirts out of the dresser drawer pulled that t-shirt over her head. oh no uh-uh. That was coming… “

Her head popped through, and she met his eyes in the mirror over the dresser “Just so you know, I’m not prancing around in ruby-red butt-floss with a puff on my muff for anybody. Ever.”

Shit. Oh shit. He sucked in a huge gulp of air and howled.




Oh for fuck’s sake. Andie crossed her arms and waited for the Demi to stop his laugh attack.

She waited

 And waited.

And waited some more.

And Damien howled. He cackled. He guffawed. He rip-roared and snorted. He fell back on the bed. Rolled to his side, held his ribs, struggled for air, and laughed, and laughed, and laughed.

And that really shouldn’t be sexy. At all.


“It wasn’t that funny.”

Some strange sounds that might have been words left his mouth.

“You’re going to pass out.”

The Demi gulped air, stuttered, stammered, and finally said two words… butt floss. Gulped some more and managed something close to muff puff. Then started with the cackling and howling again.

Andie actually did start to worry. His face was near purple.

“Uh, that can’t be good for you.” She approached the bed. Could someone actually die laughing? She touched his knee, “Damien, Breathe.”

Instead he reached out, took her by the hand, and jerked. Next thing she knew she was on the bed and he was over her, grinning like a lunatic,“Ruby red butt floss and a muff puff,  Oh shit, I want that engraved on something.”

“I’ll get you a plaque.”