Brianna slowly came to, with a pounding headache. The light hurt her eyes, so she squinted tightly and held her breath as a wave of nausea passed through her,
"My poor baby." she heard her mother coo soothingly. "Are you okay my darling?"
Bri groaned in response, unable to focus her mind on forming actual coherent words.
"You have to open your eyes." her father coaxed.
Painfully she pried them open, The room was spinning and fuzzy but she forced them to stay open anyway.
" We are so glad you're okay." Vera smiled.
"You know mom, I was just kidding about that whole giving myself a concussion thing." she told her mother with a weak smile. Her dad gave a chuckle.
"It was my own fault you know."
"Nonsense! Those monkey brained men should have not been fighting like wild animals." Vera said fiercely.
"Speak of the devil."
Aiden, Ethan and Nate entered the room, each with regret written all over their faces.
"I think you cavemen owe someone an apology." Daniel said to the three of them.
"Sorry." they said in unison, like scolded little boys.
"Sorry is not good enough. All of you will be working very hard to earn forgiveness." Vera warned icily. "Now, out! My baby needs her rest."
"Vera..... Momma V, can I have a minute with Bri?" Nate asked humbly.
"Of course my Nathan."
Brianna's parents and her brother left the room without complaint, ushering a protesting Ethan out with them. When the door closed, Nate sat gingerly on the edge of the bed next to Bri.
"I'm sorry for all of this, sweetheart." he told her, taking her hand into his much larger one.
They sat for a moment just staring at each other.
"Bri, he's not right for you. You have to see that." he finally said with frustration.
When Bri opened her mouth to protest, he kissed her gently, quieting her.
"I know you feel it Bri."
She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. He was making her so confused.
"I'm going to let you sleep now love. I'll see you in the morning."
After he left, Bri managed to crawl out of bed and change into her pajamas before collapsing back onto the mattress. Despite feeling totally drained, she couldn't fall back asleep and ended up most of the night watching infomercials.
Brianna had no clue what time she finally fell asleep, but when she woke up and looked at the clock it was already past noon. Her body felt like she'd gone ten rounds with Chuck Norris, so she dry swallowed four Tylenol and drug herself to the bathroom. A hot shower helped revitalize her, and after drying her hair carefully to avoid the throbbing goose egg on her head, she threw on a pair of jeans and a t shirt.
The house was already in full swing when she descended the stairs. Christmas music blared throughout the rooms while Vera and Nate were in the kitchen working on home made Christmas candy.
"Good morning my darling." her mother said, kissing her cheek.
"How are you feeling?" Nate asked, wrapping an arm around her waist and kissing her cheek.
"Hungry." Bri laughed.
Vera shot her a look but said nothing.
"I am not fat!" Bri huffed indignantly.
"You're right." Nate whispered in her ear. "You're not fat, just mouth wateringly luscious."
Her stomach fluttered and heat pooled between her thighs.
"Where's everyone else?" Bri asked, pulling away from Nate's embrace and grabbing an apple off the counter.
"Out shopping darling."
"Nathan dear, you can take a rest. You work too hard. Take my baby out for a ride and some fresh air."
"Yes ma'am." he saluted, then washed his hands.
Bri watched him and realized how drop dead gorgeous she found him in his fit just right jeans and black long sleeved shirt. She wanted to take a bite out of him right then and there.
"Ready?" he asked, taking her hand.
They went to the hall closet and shrugged on their coats, then stepped outside into the brilliant sunshine.
"It's beautiful out here." Bri smiled, breathing in the crisp, clean air.
"Come on sweetheart. Let's grab some breakfast and do a little shopping."
"Sounds like a great plan."
They drove in Nate's truck into town, stopping at a cafe to enjoy french toast and coffee together, then moved onto the mall.
"So what are you getting me for Christmas?" Bri joked as they strolled through the mall atrium.
"Hmmm. I was thinking either a big fat diamond or some sexy lingerie."
Bri hit him in the arm and laughed.
"Come on Nate! Be serious."
"Hey, who says I'm not." he grinned, winking at her.
Bri stuck out her tongue like a little kid.
"What are you getting me?" he fired back.
"I can't tell you. It's a surprise." she teased.
"How about you, on a silver platter?"
"Don't you ever think of anything else Nathan?"
Bri eyed him skeptically.
"Okay." he admitted. "Not since I've been back here with you, but you should be flattered."
"Dig yourself deeper in that hole Nathan Mackenzie." Bri laughed.
"Shutting up now."
Together they checked out the various stores, picking up gifts the family and ending up with a ton of bags. As they carted their load out to Nate's truck, Brianna decided it was now or never. She had been contemplating all day whether or not to ask Nate to do her a teensy favor and the thought of even asking make her heart beat wildly.
"Uh, Nate. Could you do me a favor?" she asked sheepishly.
"Anything sweetheart." he grinned, the bright sunlight shining on his sexy face.
Bri turned fire red and had to look away.
"I wanted to try a few things on, and I was wondering if you would maybe give me your opinion."
He gave her a wink as he loaded the bags into the trucks backseat.
"Where we going then?" he asked.
"Victoria Secret." she blurted.
Nate stopped dead in his tracks.
"Don't do this to me." Brianna groaned in embarrassment, concentrating on the snow at her feet.
"Victoria Secret huh?" he leered, closing the truck door and leaning against it. He was staring at her and she still couldn't bring herself to meet his gaze.
"Forget I said anything. Just, forget it. It was stupid."
"Hey now, none of that baby. I'd be more than happy to, I was just wondering what you were up to is all."
"Is it a crime to want to buy myself something...sexy?"
He let out a low chuckle.
"You have no idea how cute you are, do you?"
Instead of answering, Bri turned tail and headed back toward the mall. Nate jogged to catch up and gave her a sound smack on the rear. Bri glared at him for a second then couldn't help the smile that broke out across her face.