A Heart of Stone Christmas

By: K.M. Scott

Chapter One




Nina


The smell of pine cones and cinnamon wafted through the house, even overwhelming the odor of dirty diapers and baby formula I’d gotten so used to in the past twelve months. Tressa, Diana, and Ethan had fallen asleep for their afternoon nap, so I could finally have some time to myself to wrap Tristan’s present. For weeks, I’d kept it hidden in the towel cabinet down near the indoor pool, hoping he wouldn’t suddenly take to swimming again after his long days at the office. I’d made sure he had better things to occupy his time every night, just to be safe.

Not that making love to my husband was just a diversion, by any means. Even as the father of three infants, he was the same sexy man I’d fallen in love with in this very house. However, I’d gone out of my way to surprise him with my present this year, and even though I knew he hated surprises, he’d love this one.

Sure Cara would hear the babies if they woke, I quickly snuck down to the pool to retrieve the box that contained the watch I’d had specially engraved for Tristan. A stainless steel Rolex with a black face and silver Roman numerals, it was perfectly him—formal, classic, and sexy. On the back, I had engraved the words To the man of my dreams.

With the gift hidden behind my back just in case he returned, I quietly crept past the babies’ room, looking in on them as I made my way back to the living room. Turning on the stereo, I played Christmas carols low enough so only I could hear the music as I sprawled out all my gift wrapping necessities around me on the floor in front of the Christmas tree.

I opened the gift box and studied the watch. Tristan may have been used to having money, but to me spending a king’s ransom on a single item still seemed extravagant. As he often said, my middle class roots ran deep. I knew he appreciated that part of me, but since he’d encouraged me to splurge on myself after the birth of the triplets, I’d taken the opportunity to pick up the gift one day as Jordan and I walked up Fifth Avenue toward our appointment at the spa. Her eyes had almost bugged out of her head when the salesman announced the price. I may not have looked stunned when he told us the watch I was sure would be perfect for Tristan cost more than my first car, but inside I was that same modest person she was and just as shocked that any watch could cost thousands of dollars.

Running my fingertip over the watch face, I admired the Roman numerals. Perfect for my husband, to me they seemed incredibly old fashioned, but that was Tristan to a T. The coolness of the stainless steel band warmed slightly against my touch, and I imagined it against his wrist and peeking out from underneath his suit jacket in some meeting he’d attend as those around him commented on his wife’s stunning Christmas gift choice.

I set the box next to me on the floor and rolled out the silver and red foil wrapping paper in front of me. Cutting a large square, I folded it around the box carefully, making sure to make it look as nice as possible, and taped each end closed. A red ribbon would look perfect, so I snipped enough length to wrap around the length and width of the package. Taping it in the center, I used the scissors to curl the ribbon just like I’d learned from my mother when I was a little girl. When I finished, I set the wrapped gift down in front of me and stuck a gift tag with Tristan’s name and the words “Love, Nina” next to the bow.

“Perfect.”

A noise from down the hall told me my free time had ended, and I jumped to my feet to head to the children’s room to check on them. I found them still sleeping, and chalking the noise up to Cara washing their clothes in the laundry room, headed back to enjoy a glass of red wine and some Christmas carols.

As I stepped into the living room, I was horrified to see Tristan standing in the middle of the room with his present in his hands. Dressed in a dark grey suit and deep green shirt I picked out for him that morning, he smiled at me, but I shook my head and grabbed the package from his hold.

Hiding it behind my back, I asked, “What are you doing here? It’s only three o’clock in the afternoon. Shouldn’t you be at work or in a meeting or something?”

His smile faded just a little. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say you’re not happy to see me. I do know better, don’t I?”

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