#Holiday (Hashtag #6.5)


by Cambria Hebert

Romeo

One wasn’t supposed to be annoyed on Christmas Eve, but that’s exactly what I was.

We’d just finished a brutal game, taking the win by the skin of our teeth. The winter wind had whipped around us on the field so hard there was more than one moment I gripped the ball and wondered why the fuck the game was even being played.

Some of the passes I’d thrown would have been perfect if not for that gusty, wicked wind. It damn near pulled the ball right into the other team’s hands on more than one occasion.

So I wised up. I started throwing into the wind.

Why fight against something when you could just use it to your own advantage?

It had been a ballsy move, but fuck.

I hated feeling like I had to claw my way to a win. It wasn’t that I minded the work, but it took a lot of energy, and I was tired.

Plus, it was Christmas Eve. As much as I loved football, I loved Rim more. Knowing I could be home beside a crackling fire, with white lights twinkling in the tree, the sounds of my family, and my wife in my lap…

It made the blustery weather that much more bitter.

The National Football League usually tried to stay away from holiday games. They realized it was a sort of hardship to ask us all to play when most everyone else was enjoying the season… but there was usually still a Christmas Eve game.

And the Knights just happened to be in it this year.

Our record this season was kickass. Despite the rocky nature of our team relationships when I took over the starting quarterback position, me, B, and the rest of the guys had plowed through it just like we did the end zone.

I’d always doubted the Knights would ever feel as much like home as the Wolves had, but those doubts were in the past.

If the rapport and loyalty I felt in the locker room hadn’t been proof enough, the fact that we were literally on the fast track to the Super Bowl was.

We were going to make it to the big game. We were going to win. Especially after tonight.

When we did, me and my team would be that much closer.

The snow, frigid temperatures, and the date weren’t even enough to stop us.

My body was sore, my shoulder ached, and I wanted a beer.

A blowjob might be nice, too…

But none of that was why I was so annoyed.

Nope.

I was annoyed because the paparazzi was stalking us.

You’d think since they had the choice to be home with their families, that would have won out over following around some guy they didn’t even really know.

But that was the thing.

They weren’t following me.

It was Rim they wanted a piece of.

Even before we got married, the press loved her. She was photographed at games, at any event she went to with me… Hell, they even photographed us out on the street for no reason at all. Her clothes, her hair, the ring I slid on her finger… It was all fair game.

And now they were constantly looking for something else.

What all the damn magazines so “affectionately” called the baby bump.

Seemed our marriage, my winning season, and the fact we were building a house with a gate was a clear indication that soon, she would have a little football player in her belly.

While I rather liked the idea, it wasn’t exactly accurate.

The press didn’t care about accuracy, though. They only wanted to sell their rags off grocery store shelves.

Rags = gossip magazines.

Rim with my baby growing inside her was quite the hot sell. It didn’t matter that she wasn’t pregnant, that we never even said we were trying to get pregnant.

The Knights quarterback baby watch was officially underway. All the hoodies and coats Rim wore were now just an excuse to hide her growing bump.

My wife being followed and stared at, constantly photographed, pissed me off.

What’s worse?

It made her anxious. The attention wasn’t welcome, and as good as she was about dealing with it all, I knew she was growing weary and fearful.

It’s true my little niece, Nova, had been the reason we put the family compound on the fast track, but even if she hadn’t come along, I’d still be hitting the gas on the house.

Rim needed somewhere safe and away from the prying eyes of the public.

Hell, at this point, we all did.

The reporters were like vultures standing outside the box where Rim and Ivy sat for the game. It was colder than a thirty-year-old virgin’s vagina outside, so they couldn’t sit in the stands.

B and I shared a look as we shouldered our way through and slipped through the door. I could tell by the way his dark eyes gleamed and the rigid set of his jaw that he was just as pissy and tired as I was tonight.

The press had been equally aggressive about getting pictures of Nova. And that meant Braeden was basically a walking time bomb.

No one could even look at that little girl with anything other than sheer adoration or he was ready to throw down right there.

And, yes… I admit…

I might have been the same way.

What? She was freaking adorable.

My eyes sought out Rimmel the second the door closed behind us. She was close by, standing beside Ivy and a couple of the other team wives. Ron Gamble was on the other side of the room with what looked like a glass of eggnog in his hand.

Rimmel’s entire body rotated toward me before her eyes even found mine. I smiled, the familiar feel of possession licking through my body like a flame. I fucking loved the way she automatically responded to my presence, as if she were so attuned to me it was second nature.

A smile stole over her features, and some of the irritation I felt was calmed. Even though we stared at one another, our eyes holding a private conversation of their own, my feet didn’t carry me toward her.

Instead, Braeden and I made a beeline for the large gray baby seat near Ivy’s feet. The corner of a thick pink blanket trailed over the side and brushed against the floor.

We crouched at the same time. Braeden gently slid the carrier around and easily pushed up the small canopy pulled over the top. I tucked the blanket back up inside the seat, and we both stared down at the newest addition to our family.

Nova was only three months old, but she pretty much ruled our house. She was sleeping peacefully, her lids closed, hiding the beautiful blue eyes she’d inherited from her mother. There was a pink pacifier in her mouth, and it moved in a steady motion as she sucked at it even as she slept.

On her head was a purple hat with an orange bow on the front. Knight colors. The rest of her tiny body was buried under blankets.

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