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  • Writer's pictureBrigham Vaughn

THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS - DAY 4

Updated: Dec 23, 2023


Sparkly white and gold background. Dark green text saying "celebrate Brigham Vaughn's 10 Year Publishing Anniversary with The 12 Days of Christmas. Day 4: Micah & Justin - Snowed In

To celebrate my 10 year publishing anniversary I'll be posting one short story per day here on my blog from December 13-24th.


Every day will feature a different couple and the stories will vary in length. They'll range from sweet to a little bit spicy and hopefully will leave you with a smile on your face and a warm feeling of holiday cheer in your heart.


Thank you for ten wonderful years!


 

SNOWED IN


DAY: 4


CHARACTERS: Micah Warner & Justin Lamb + Adriana, Isabella, and Gabriella


PROMPTS: "Looks like we're snowed in for the night." and ecorating the Tree."


NOTES: Set nine years after the events of Touch & Go.


“Motherfucker!”


Justin stifled a laugh as he watched his husband stare out at the snow-covered yard. It was a blanket of white as far as the eye could see and there wasn’t a snowplow in sight. On Christmas Eve, Justin wasn’t sure how long it would take for one to make it to their neighborhood.


And the snow was still coming down hard. Fat wet flakes that coated everything in white.


“Well, looks like we’re snowed in for the night.” Micah moved like he was going to slam the front door and Justin winced, lunging for it, but he was too far away to grab it.


Thankfully, Micah caught the handle before the door made contact with the frame, shutting it softly instead of letting it slam shut.


“Sorry,” Micah said with a tired sigh as he leaned against the closed door. “I shouldn’t lose my temper. The last thing I want to do is wake the girls.”


“Yeah, good save,” Justin agreed.


Because getting a child to sleep on Christmas Eve was never an easy task. Getting their rambunctious triplets to sleep on a typical night wasn’t much better. Combine the two and well, it had been a knock-down, drag-out fight tonight.


But now the girls were settled in their beds, fast asleep, and with a little luck, they’d stay that way. Or, at the very least, stay in their bedrooms.


Justin had even resorted to covering their bedroom doors with crepe paper streamers. The red and white strips of paper crisscrossed the door frame horizontally, making it look like a candy cane. He’d told them that was how Santa would know that there were kids in the house and gently reminded them they couldn’t come out unless it was an emergency. 


It felt a little bit like cheating but, frankly, Justin wasn’t above using any tricks that would make the night go easier. Their entire plan for the big Christmas morning surprise hinged on the girls staying in their rooms all night.


Of course, now that there was two feet of snow on the ground and there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell they were going to make it out to buy a Christmas tree, it might not matter.


“Surprising them with a fully-decorated tree on Christmas morning seemed like such a good idea at the time,” Micah grumbled.


“It was a nice thought.”


“So much for that.” Micah looked crushed and Justin wondered if the disappointment written all over his face was about his excitement over the surprise as much as their daughters’.


“C’mere,” Justin said, drawing Micah over to the sectional sofa and gently tugging him down onto it. He came with a tired sigh, slumping against Justin.


Decorating the tree on Christmas Eve was a family tradition Micah’s mother had created for him and his sister, Carla. Thanks to their shitty father running out on them and leaving the family in horrendous debt, Maria hadn’t had much money to raise the kids.


Privately, Justin suspected the tradition had started out of necessity rather than a desire to create a magical holiday experience but hey, Maria had done her best.


And if she’d gotten the tree half-off at some lot on Christmas Eve because that was all she could afford? Well, it was the thought that counted. And Micah had such good memories of the tradition and had been so excited about sharing it with their girls.


How could Justin argue with that?


“I promised them a tree,” Micah said, tone mournful. “It’s already nine p.m. The place closes at ten and they’re the only one open so late. Even if we magically found a place that stayed open later, we’re fucking snowed in and we’d need … fucking sled dogs to get there.”


“No sled dogs, I’m afraid,” Justin said. “Just old Bluey.”


Their dog, Bluey, was sprawled out asleep by the fireplace. Not that there was a fire in it. They hadn’t had time for that sort of relaxation. But Bluey’s dog bed was there and he loved to snooze in it.


Frankly, the dog was older than dirt and Justin was dreading the inevitable day when they lost him. But he was a stubborn old boy, so hopefully he’d kick around for a few more years.

Justin hadn’t even wanted the dog in the first place but Micah had found him, wet and shivering, in a rainstorm one night and brought him home.


Justin had taken one look at Micah’s face and known they were keeping him.


Micah had looked exactly the same way when the fertility specialist had told them the surrogate was expecting triplets. Oh, the doctor had carefully explained the ways the embryos could be selectively reduced so they’d only have one or two babies born. But Micah hadn’t had the heart to do it and, well, Justin did a lot of things for Micah when he made that face.


He’d never regretted a single one of them.


“What do we do?” Micah asked, clearly still working over the Christmas tree problem. “I’m seriously considering cutting down one of our neighbor’s spruces.”


Justin snorted. “Let’s not resort to trespassing and thievery yet. We still have the artificial tree from last year.”


“Ugh. It’s so ratty. And last year it nearly fell over.”


“I know. It’s not ideal.”


“We promised the girls a real tree.”


“They’re old enough to understand.”


“They still believe in Santa, Justin. They’re not going to understand why he didn’t bring them one.”


“We’ll tell them Santa left us in charge of the tree and we’re terrible parents.” Justin yawned.


Micah chuckled. “You can tell them that.”


“Hey, look at me,” Justin said, growing serious. “I wanted to do this for them too. But I know how much it means to you. If you want, I’ll go knock on our neighbor’s door and offer them a wad of money if we can cut down their tree.”


“Nah, I don’t want to have to haul you out of a snowbank in the middle of the night.” Micah gave him a lopsided smile. “I’ll live without a real tree and so will the girls. There’s always next year.”


“There is,” Justin agreed. “But will you be disappointed?”


“Sure. But I’ll survive. We’ll make the best of it.” Micah glanced away. “Honestly, when I think about how much we already give the girls, it blows me away sometimes.”


“Yeah, it’s a lot compared to what you and Carla had.” Justin gently rubbed his back.


Growing up, Justin’s own family had been comfortable, but he and Micah were doing very well and sometimes they both worried they were spoiling the girls.


“Maybe it’ll be good for all of us to keep it simpler. There certainly won’t be a shortage of gifts under the tree. Whatever it looks like.”


Justin chuckled. “No, there won’t be.” They still had a pile of presents to wrap, in fact.


“Okay, let’s do this.” Micah slapped Justin’s knee, then stood. “Artificial tree it is.”


It took nearly an hour to get the tree assembled and even then, it listed a little to the side. The lights they added didn’t help it stand any straighter, but at least it was festive. They added baubles and garland, and just when Justin thought they were done, Micah spoke. “Did I ever tell you we used to string popcorn and cranberry garlands?”


Justin stalked over to his husband, grabbing him by the hips. “I swear, I will dump you in a snowbank if you’re seriously suggesting we do that tonight.”


Laughing, Micah looped his arms around Justin’s neck. “I’m kidding. But it’s funny to see you get so riled up.”


It was true. Of the two of them, Micah was the one with the hotter temper while Justin was the easygoing type.


But they both had their moments and over the years, Justin had decided they made a pretty good team.


“So, the tree’s done?” Justin asked hopefully.


“Tree’s done. Now we just have to hang and fill the stockings, then wrap about six hundred presents.”


It was long after midnight when they finally stuck the last gift under the softly shining tree.


“Well, we did it,” Micah said with an exhausted sigh.


“We did.” Justin smiled sleepily at his husband.


They staggered to the sofa and collapsed onto it. Bluey still snored in his dog bed. Justin was envious.


“Looks great,” Micah said.


Justin pulled him closer. “It does. The girls will love it.”


“Yeah, I hope so.”


For all its lopsidedness, the tree did look nice. In the dim living room, it glowed with multicolored lights, bright ornaments gleaming on its branches. A tower of festive gift boxes with big bows were stacked nearby and knitted stockings sagged from the mantle, stuffed with small toys and treats.


“And I love you,” Justin said. Because for all of Micah’s faults when they’d first met, God, did Justin love him. He loved the way he’d thrown himself wholeheartedly into his career as a sports agent when his playing career abruptly ended. It was the same way he’d thrown himself into their marriage and raising their daughters. With everything he had.


And he excelled at all three things.


Micah turned, smiling, and pressed a soft kiss to Justin’s lips. His dark hair was threaded with a lot more silver than it had been when they met and there were a few more wrinkles around his eyes too. But Justin loved him more with every single day that passed.


“Fuck, I’m tired,” Micah rasped. He scrubbed his hands over his face, slumping heavily against Justin’s body.


“I know.” Justin kissed the top of his head, yawning. “Let’s get up and get to bed. We’ll get … uhh, three hours of sleep if we make it fast.”


“Remind me not to have this brilliant idea again next year.”


Justin chuckled, but he could feel his eyelids growing heavy. He tried to pry them open, but they didn’t want to move. Neither did the rest of him as he leaned more heavily against Micah.


“Jus’ five more minutes and we’ll get up,” Justin slurred.


***


“Daddy! Papa!”


Micah let out a muffled oath as he felt a small, bony knee connect with his kidney.


“What, baby?” he mumbled, shifting and nearly falling off the edge of the bed.


“It’s Christmas. You have to get UP!” Adriana tugged furiously at his shirt.


Micah sat upright, blinking and looking around wildly, afraid he’d forgotten to get their surprise ready.


But no. He let out a sigh of relief at the sight in front of him.


They’d had to change plans last minute, but the tree was up. The presents were wrapped. And he and his husband had slept on the couch.


Fuck, they hadn’t even made it to their bed last night. And every square inch of Micah’s body could feel it. He was way too old for this shit.


He absently rubbed at his shoulder, wincing at the tightness. Stupid surgery.


Blowing out his shoulder had led to several things. A relationship with Justin. A career as a sports agent. Being able to marry Justin and have their girls. A perpetually achy shoulder …


On the whole, he’d take his life now rather than the one where he’d gone on to a successful pro baseball career. But sometimes, he could do without the shoulder pain.


He ruffled Adriana’s hair. “Let’s make some coffee before we wake Papa.”


How Justin had slept through the chaos of his daughter’s excitement was anyone’s guess, although the fact that his head was stuffed between the back cushion and a throw pillow might have something to do with it.


Micah took Adriana’s hand and led her to the kitchen. “Where are your sisters?” he asked quietly as she clambered up onto a stool at the counter.


“Still sleepin’.”


“Did you break through the crepe paper?” he asked, although he wasn’t really upset if she had.


“Nope, I crawled under it!” She grinned toothily and he turned away, hiding a smile. That was his Adriana. She was a smart one and always looked for a loophole.


“Well, after we wake up Papa, you’ll have to crawl back under, so I can wake your sisters and you can all bust through it at the same time!” He pushed a few buttons on the coffee maker, hoping they were the right ones. God, he was tired.


“Okay! Can we have hot chocolate?” she asked sweetly.


“It’s not even breakfast time!” he protested.


“But it’s Christmas!”


And well, Micah couldn’t argue with that.


“Yeah, we can make hot chocolate. After we wake up Papa and your sisters.”


Once the coffee was ready, Micah carried two mugs to the living room. He set them on the end table, then reached out to his husband.


“Babe,” Micah said, gently jostling his body. “It’s time to wake up.”


There was a muffled noise from the pillows and then a wild head of curly blond hair emerged.


“I’m up!” Justin was, if not alert, at least awake and upright now.


Micah grinned and passed over a cup of coffee.


“Thanks.” Justin squinted blearily at him.


His hair was shorter than it had been when they met. No more man bun, which Micah secretly missed though he’d never admit it. The curls were a bit thinner too, although whenever Justin peered in the mirror, squinting at his reflection like that would somehow fill in the sparser patches, Micah assured him it looked perfect to him.


And it did. Even if Justin wound up being a wrinkly old bald guy, Micah would still be stupidly in love with him.


“Daddy, daddy, the tree is so pretty!” Adriana cheerfully shouted to Micah while dancing around the cheerfully decorated, fake evergreen that listed to one side.


“I’m glad you like it.” Really, in the end, if the girls and Justin were happy, that was all that mattered to Micah.


“Merry Christmas, Adri,” Justin rasped.


“Papa!” She tore across the room and Micah grabbed her, swooping her up into his arms before she could barrel into Justin and knock the mug of hot coffee out his hands.


Her red and white striped pajama-clad legs wiggled in the air as she pealed with laughter.


“Okay, time to get your sisters up,” he said, trying not to drop her.


“How are you all so awake?” Justin asked, his eyes half-closed.


“I have no idea,” Micah said, laughing as he slung Adriana over his shoulder. The one he hadn’t torn to shreds. “I’m going to be dead by noon.”


“Yes. I think Christmas Day naps are going to be a new family tradition,” Justin said, rubbing at his face. 


“Are you coming to wake up Isabella and Gabriella?” Micah asked.


“I’m coming.” Justin hauled himself up off the couch with a groan.


True to Adriana’s word, every last piece of crepe paper was in place. Micah placed her on her feet and tried not to laugh as she wiggled under the bottom one in an Army crawl, bellowing for her sisters to wake up.


When they all stood by their respective doors, waiting for the signal to come out, Micah blew a whistle and the three girls came flying through the crepe paper, screaming “Merry Christmas!” at the top of their lungs as they raced toward the living room.


“We sure have some daughters,” Justin marveled, taking Micah’s hand and following a little more slowly.


“We sure do.” Micah smiled at his husband. He wouldn’t trade this chaotic, noisy, incredible life they all had together for the world. “Merry Christmas, babe.”


Justin kissed his temple. “Merry Christmas.”


 

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4 Comments


Guest
Dec 18, 2023

A sweet story. Thank you.

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Brigham Vaughn
Brigham Vaughn
Dec 20, 2023
Replying to

You're welcome!

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Helen Smith
Helen Smith
Dec 16, 2023

Wonderfully sweet!

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Brigham Vaughn
Brigham Vaughn
Dec 17, 2023
Replying to

So glad to hear you enjoyed it!

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