Peyton rips into hers and goes perfectly still, her eyes latch on the gift. I spot tears and my heart sinks. Oh, no, I made a huge mistake.
Her head slowly lifts. “You...you got me this?” she asks as she removes the Tamagotchi from the packaging.
“Cason told me a story and I—” Before I can finish she throws her arms around me.
“I always knew you were special, Londyn. Thank you. You can’t even believe how much this means to me.” My heart overflows with happiness, and my breath stalls when I turn to see the intense way Cason is staring at me.
“Open yours,” I manage to get out.
His throat makes a gurgling sound as he swallows. “Londyn,” he begins, his grip on his present tight.
“Open it already,” Peyton says and tears at the paper to expose the Transformer inside. I never was certain which one he wanted, Peyton wasn’t either when I posed the question, but after a bit of research I discovered Optimus Prime was a sure bet.
He breathes heavily, his brow furrowed as his mouth turns down in a frown. My heart races, and once again, I hope I didn’t make a mistake.
“Thank you,” he says quietly.
“Who is this one for?” Peyton asks.
“Um, all of us, actually. Go ahead and open it.”
She tears into the package, and laughs when she discovers snakes and ladders. Cason’s head finally lifts, and I can’t stop staring at him, even though he’s looking everywhere and anywhere but at me.
“I’ll, uh, I’ll be right back,” he says and takes the eggnog glasses into the kitchen. I debate on going after him to make sure he’s okay.
Peyton nudges me. “I think you broke my brother, in a good way.”
I point to the kitchen. “Should I—”
“No, give him a minute. This is a lot to take in.” She leans into me and wraps her arm around my shoulder. She presses her lips to my cheek, and I feel her tears slide over my skin. “Thank you, Londyn. This is exactly what we needed, and the fact that you knew that...” She breathes deeply and lets it out. “My brother is the luckiest guy on the planet. We both are.”
Cason comes back. We both turn, and I’m stunned, silent when I see how dilated his eyes are. Peyton, however, she stretches her arms out and feigns a yawn.
“You know what, I’m exhausted from all the travel. I think I’m going to call it a night.” She covers her mouth and yawns again. “How about we pick up here tomorrow, and after breakfast, which Cason is cooking of course, we can spend the day playing snakes and ladders?”
“Are you sure, you just—”
“I think that sounds like a reasonable plan,” Cason says, his voice thick and deep. My blood pulses as his gaze zeroes in on me. Being the sole focus of the man’s attention—his hunger—is like a powerful aphrodisiac. I blink, and when my eyes open again, Peyton is gone.
“Oh, okay, then,” I say and climb to my feet.
Cason holds his hand out to me. “We should probably get to bed, too.”
“Are you tired?”
I STAND OUTSIDE the security check-in and drag my sister in for another hug. I can’t believe her time with us is already over and while she says she has paperwork, over the holidays, I don’t really think that’s entirely true. She just wants to give Londyn and me time alone. I still can’t believe Londyn arranged all this, or how full my heart is at this very moment.
I finally let her break from the circle of my arms, and say, “Call me when you get back to your place safely.”
She gives me that familiar eye roll. “I’m a big girl, Cason. I can take care of myself.” She pokes me. “Londyn is a big girl, too, but I think she likes it when you take care of her.”