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“I’ll have you know sex positivity is a gift,” Granny stated defiantly.

Rebecca placed her hands over one of her granddaughter’s ears. “Not sure it’s a gift a three-year-old needs quite yet,” she said under her breath.

Worth looked apologetic. “I told Cal to use the phrase ‘toy’ instead of… that other word.”

“The D-word,” Granny said with a cackle.

“But what if I said ‘toy’ and they asked to play with it?” Cal asked, horrified.

Rebecca sighed.

I turned to Darius. “I did warn you, you know. This is just… how they are.”

He leaned in and gave me a sweet, lingering kiss. “Babe, you haven’t met my family yet. Maybe by the time we’ve been together a few years, I’ll start easing you into it one side at a time.”

We’d stayed up most of the night sharing our daydreams and talking about the future. We hadn’t come to any firm decisions on the specifics, but when I’d told Darius about my plan to move to Aster Valley, he’d reacted by rolling me over and kissing me, which had led to some extremely enthusiastic rimming and a dirty-talking frot session so hot I had to adjust myself in my jeans just remembering it, which seemed to indicate that Darius approved.

The knowledge that we would be together for years to come made me feel so excited and happy, there wasn’t room for any guilt. I knew my mom would have wanted all of this for me—this family, this man, this excitement about the future—and I felt her presence surrounding me as I savored every moment.

“Can we start with the side that has the best food?” I teased.

“I’m afraid they both excel in that department. My Granny from Georgia makes brown sugar cornmeal waffles with sweet tea maple syrup. And Yaya makes spinach and feta tartlets. With that kind of background, I was pretty much genetically forced to go to culinary school.”

After exchanging “Merry Christmases” with everyone, I kept a tight hold of Darius’s hand as we moved farther into the room and found a place to sit on the floor near Hudson and Charlie. Charlie looked half-asleep with his head on Hudson’s shoulder.

Tilly sat on the sofa nearby, so before sitting down, I leaned in and kissed her cheek. “Merry Christmas, Tilly,” I said with a smile.

Her eyes searched mine before she let her smile widen. “You too, sweetheart. I hope you had a nice time last night and this young man gave you an amazing Christmas… treat.”

I straightened my shoulders. If I was doomed to hearing these innuendos from my grandmother for the next twenty years—and I seriously hoped I was—I was going to have to learn to respond better.

“Oh, he did,” I told her with a firm nod, ignoring Charlie’s snicker. “I’ve been very well… treated.” I lifted a challenging eyebrow at her, even as I felt my cheeks go hot.

Tilly’s eyes widened in surprise, and then she burst out laughing. “Excellent, Miller,” she said with an approving nod. “That’s excellent.”

Once I settled in next to Darius on the floor, I realized we hadn’t arrived too late for most of the gift-giving. It seemed they’d let the little kids open some toys to help distract them while everyone else got settled with coffee and tried to shake off the early morning hour.

Simone looked adorably pregnant and half-asleep in her husband Joel’s lap. His large, muscular arms held both her and their younger child while their older son played on the floor nearby with blocks. He looked as happy as a man could possibly be.

Blue was busy giving verbal instructions to Tristan as Tristan tried to assemble a complicated-looking toy. “Put that thing in the other thing,” he said, pointing to a brightly colored plastic tab and a piece that looked like it had the matching slot.

Tristan didn’t look up. “That’s what you said last night in the shower. I didn’t listen to you then, and I’m not listening to you now,” he muttered.

“Yeah, well… you owe me one. Telling me you’re too tired because of… Santa,” he hissed, “isn’t exactly the way to a man’s…” He looked around as if realizing he wasn’t alone. “Heart.”

Tristan shoved the tab into the slot with a satisfying click before beaming at his husband. “Shoved that bad boy in. What’s next?”

Blue’s ears turned pink before he busied himself with the instruction sheet, muttering, “You’re killing me.”

Mikey entered the room with two mugs of coffee and picked his way over to hand them to us. “Here you go.” After we took the mugs from him, he pulled a couple of sheets of paper out of a pocket and handed them to me. “And here is some information about the marketing job we have open at the resort. Tilly said you’d be perfect for it, and we’d love to talk to you more about it if you’re interested. On the other sheet is information for you on our chalets. We’d be happy to make one available to you at any time if you decide to come back and see…” He glanced at Darius with a knowing grin. “Aster Valley in the future.” He winked at me.