Instead of answering Ethan crushed Brianna's lips with his own and moved his hand between her legs.
"Stop it!" Bri screamed, trying to turn her head and push him away.
"Come on Bri. I need this, I need you. Let me make us both feel good." Ethan moaned, his hands moving to the button on her jeans as he held her in place with his body. When he lowered his head to kiss her neck, Bri leaned in and clamped her teeth hard down on his ear, drawing blood.
He yelped in pain, backing up a few steps and in that instant Brianna saw Nate barrel into Ethan like a freight train. Nate dug his hand into Ethan's neck and pinned him firmly against the wall.
Ethan began to sputter and make choking sounds, his eyes wide with fear, his hands trying to break Nate's grasp on his windpipe.
"Let's get one thing straight Sparky." Nate growled in a deadly tone. "You will never touch her like that again or I will rip your fucking throat out. Is that understood?"
Ethan's face turned colors from lack of oxygen, but Nate wouldn't let up.
"I said, is that understood?"
Ethan nodded vigorously.
Nate let go, dropping him to the ground, gasping for air. Bruises from Nate's fingers were already evident on Ethan's skin.
"Don't forget it either." Nate snarled, then came to Bri's side.
"You alright sweetheart?"
Bri could do nothing but nod, feeling very betrayed and dirty where Ethan had groped her.
It dawned on her that he was seriously not who she thought he was. He could have raped her cry crying out loud. Just the thought of it made her shiver.
Nate opened her bedroom door and gestured her inside. After she entered the room Nate followed her in and closed the door behind them.
"Are you sure you're okay?"
"Been one hell of a day." Brianna laughed sadly.
"Do you need a hug?" he asked, arms wide open.
Bri couldn't help but laugh in earnest this time.
"One minute ripping out throats, the next the big bad man wants to hug."
"Only for you baby."
She stepped into his waiting arms. Nate hugged her tightly and kissed the top of her head.
"Everything will all work out Bri. Don't worry bout a thing."
"I'm glad you came here with Aiden, Nate."
"Me too sweetie."
They just held each other for awhile, enjoying the stolen moments.
"I should go." Nate finally murmured.
He didn't want to, but he knew if he stayed any longer things would go a lot further.
Reluctantly Bri released him.
"Goodnight baby." he said then kissed her sweetly. "Make sure you lock the door behind me."
When he left, she did as she was told and threw the lock tightly. Then Bri took a nice hot shower, slid into her pajamas and went to bed. She was out the minute her head hit the pillow.
Bri awoke and glanced at the clock. It was already nine o'clock, and it was dark. She slid out of bed and peered out the window. Black clouds hung overhead spilling so many snowflakes she could barely see.
"What lovely weather for Christmas Eve." she commented to herself.
Bri took her time brushing her hair and putting on her makeup. Then pulled out her suitcase and chose a clean pair of jeans and a fuzzy white sweater to wear. Once dressed she bounded downstairs. As the day before Vera was up working in the kitchen and listening to Christmas music.
Zoey was by her side, her eyes red and puffy as if she had been crying.
"Good morning my darling." Vera greeted, kissing her cheek.
"Morning mom. Morning Zo."
Her younger sister stared at her blankly, then let out a single sob and ran from the room.
"Uh, is she okay?" Bri asked as she put on an apron and started washing her hands.
Her mother merely gave a curt nod.
"So, what are we doing today?" Bri asked.
"We will finish cookies my sweet." Vera smiled warmly.
Together they began mixing and baking, having a good time. Zoey eventually wandered back in the kitchen and even wanted to help out.
Brianna liked the rare moments like this, when everyone put aside their differences and attitudes and just had fun together. Her father, Aiden, Nate and Ethan came in the back door all snow covered, their hands and noses bright red.
'It's coming down too hard mom. We can't shovel fast enough to keep up." Aiden puffed, rubbing his numb hands together.
"All of you, out of my kitchen with your dripiness! Go to the mud room and get dried off." Vera ordered the men.
Bri and Zoey looked at each other and burst out with laughter at the sight of their tiny mother ordering around four fully grown huge men. They all filed out, with Vera mopping up the floor after them. The women continued with their cookies and after awhile, Zoey made some hot toddies for them all.
"Where's the cookies? All that shoveling worked up my appetite." Bri's dad said as he entered the kitchen, the three younger men in tow.
"No cookies for you daddy. Those are for later." Zoey laughed keeping her father at bay.
"Hmm. There's only three of you and four of us. The odds are in our favor." Aiden challenged.
"You touch, and I cut off your hands." Vera warned playfully.
"I surrender." Nate said immediately, leaning against the counter. "Momma V scares the hell out of me and frankly, I'm kind of partial to my hands."
Bri was pretty partial to them as well. They could do exquisite things to her body. She blushed at her own lurid thoughts and dipped her head, hoping nobody would notice.
"Why don't you all start trimming the tree, I'll finish up in here." Bri offered.
"Want some help?" Zoey asked, surprising them all.
'Wow, I mist be in the Twilight Zone.' Bri thought to herself, but said "No, that's okay Zo. I'll only be a few minutes."
The group moved into the family room, with only Ethan staying behind. He looked like shit with a raw wound on his ear and bruises on his neck form last nights escapade, but Bri didn't feel a bit sorry for him. She didn't acknowledge him as she turned to the sink to clean the bowls and cookie sheets.
"Brianna. I'm sorry."
Slowly she turned to face him.
"I shouldn't have acted the way I did last night. I don't know what came over me. I know that's a piss poor excuse but I truly am very sorry."
Bri didn't say a word.
"I know you're mad, but I just wanted to apologize." he finished, then left the room as well.
For just a second, Bri had caught a glimpse of the real Ethan, her Ethan but that didn't change what he had done. Or rather, who he'd done. She sighed and finished the dishes. Before joining everyone else, she made a tray of cookies and hot chocolate and took it out with her.
They all trimmed the enormous tree; Aiden and Nate getting the top while standing on ladders, as they all sang with the radio and enjoyed the delicious cookies and cocoa.
To Brianna, it all felt wonderful and magical. After the decorating had been finished, everyone began putting their wrapped gifts under the tree. Between them all there were tons of gifts, and she felt like a kid again, excitement coursing through her and she couldn't wait.
"You're face is absolutely glowing!" Zoey chuckled, putting an arm around Bri's shoulders and squeezing her.
"I'm just happy."
Together the women made a delicious ham dinner with mashed potatoes, home made rolls and steamed carrots, while them men sat lounging in the family room, talking and drinking hot toddies.
They gathered at the table as a family and ate, then had dessert, which Vera had made with her own hands. A decadent black forest cake that was amazing.
Ethan was nothing but kind through the entire meal and Zoey was even pleasant, chattering away, smiling and joking with everyone. The rest of the evening went by fast with Aiden at the piano while everyone got tipsy and sang carols.
By one in the morning, everybody was pretty drunk and tired, so they all said their good nights and shuffled off to bed. A very toasty Brianna soaked in the tub for awhile, her mind wandering to the previous day. She closed her eyes and recalled the way Nate's hands had felt on her skin, touching her. Caressing her. His lips and tongue on her. The low rumble of his sexy voice.
Unconsciously Bri slid her hand down her stomach to her aching core and grazed herself, trembling at her own touch. She moaned softly, the warm water enveloping her body, intensifying the sensations.
'Nate.' she thought. ' I need Nate.'