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“Hailee, Sunshine, wake up.”

My eyes drifted open, Cameron’s handsome face gazing down at me. “I fell asleep?” I croaked, my voice thick with sleep.

“Yeah, he’s out cold too.” His eyes dropped to the sleeping baby nestled in the crook of my arm.


Love radiated inside me as I watched Avery sleep. He was almost six months old and growing too quickly.


“Where’s Xander?” I asked.


“He’s upstairs playing with his new game.”


“Cam, I thought we agreed, no more gifts before Christmas.”


“We did.” Guilt flashed over his face. “But there was a sale at the store and he gave me those puppy dog eyes and I just couldn’t say no.”


I reached up, curving my hand around Cameron’s neck, and pulled his face down to mine. “You’re a good man, Cam. The best big brother Xander could have.” My lips brushed over his. “But you’ve got to stop spoiling him.”


“I will... next year.” He chuckled, deepening the kiss and curling his tongue around mine. Heat pooled in my stomach, desire rushing through my veins.


“God, I want you,” I breathed.


“Tonight,” his gaze darkened, “I promise.”


“Tonight? It’s Christmas Eve. You really think we’ll get Xander settled and this one to sleep before midnight?”


“I hope so... it’s been too long.” He cupped my face and kissed me again.


Avery began to stir and Cameron stood. “Want me to take him?”


“Could you? I need a girl’s minute.” I shifted forward slightly so he could slide Avery out of my arms and into his own.


“Hey there, buddy.” Avery’s eyes fluttered open and he smiled up at his dad. The rush of love I felt whenever Cameron held our son was like nothing I’d ever felt before, and tears pricked the corners of my eyes as I watched them.


“It’s your first Christmas, buddy,” he cooed softly. “Are you excited?”


“Cameron, he’s barely six months old.”


“I know.” His warm gaze lifted to mine, making my heart squeeze.


It had been a whirlwind few months. We'd lost Karen at the beginning of the year, and I'd spent the last few months of college heavily pregnant and alone. Cameron needed to be with his family, and I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. But the second, my finals were done, he was right there to get me. We moved into his parents' house. Clark needed support with Xander, and I needed the father of my child. It was a lot—still was—but we made it work. Because family... family was everything.


We kept talking about getting our own place, but deep down, I knew Cameron wasn’t ready to leave Xander and his dad, and I was okay with that.


“I’m going to take a shower and check in on Xander. If he gets hungry—”

“I got it. Go, you’re starting to smell.” Cameron’s lip curved, and I gasped.


“I do not smell.” Burying my nose in my tank top, I inhaled. “Okay, I smell a little.” Avery-spittle wasn’t exactly perfume of the month.


“I love you.” Cameron smiled. “It won’t always be like this, Sunshine.”


“Home is wherever you are, you know that.”


I left my boys on the couch while I went upstairs. Xander was quiet as I stood outside his door. He’d taken things the hardest losing Karen. He was getting there but it was a slow process.


I’d been worried at first, that the baby would make him feel even more uncomfortable. But Xander loved Avery something fierce.


“Xan?” I knocked on the door, gently pushing it open.


Curled in a ball on the bed, he slept peacefully. I tiptoed over to him and pulled the cover over his body. There was a permanent ache in my chest knowing Xander had lost his mom. He was still a child, a boy. It’s partly why Cameron and I had stayed here. He needed us. He needed Cameron. And whatever we decided going forward, it went without saying that we would include Xander in those plans.


Cameron had given up his dreams of going pro for his family and he’d never looked back, not once, and it only made me love him more.




“How’s my little man?” Cameron pressed up behind me as I watched Avery in his crib. He slid his arms around my waist and let out a soft sigh.


We’d moved Avery into his own room a couple of months ago but it had disrupted his sleep pattern. I was trying to persevere not bringing him back into our room, but it was hard.


“We’ve had a little talk and he says tonight is the night. It’s Christmas Eve, Santa is coming,” I chuckled, patting his little stomach, “and he needs to let mommy and daddy get some sleep. Isn’t that right, baby?”


Avery gurgled, smirking up at us as if he was already planning to wake us at least four times during the night.


“I swear when he looks at me like that all I see is you, Hailee.”


“Really? I don’t see it.”


“He’s going to have me wrapped around his little finger in no time," Cameron added.


“I can’t believe he’s here, that it’s our first Christmas together.” It wasn’t how I saw my life going. I thought we’d graduate college and get jobs in the city. I thought I’d have my own gallery one day, spending my time covered in paint, lost in art. I imagined going to Cameron’s games, soaking up life with an NFL player.


As if he could hear my thoughts, Cameron whispered, “Any regrets?”


I tilted my head to look into his eyes. “Not a single a one. I love you Cameron, I love our life together. And I truly believe we’re right where we’re supposed to be.”


Relief washed over him. “I’m so fucking relieved you said that. I keep thinking what if—”


“Don’t.” I slid a finger over his lips. “Don’t do that. I love you. I love our boy and Xander. Even your dad. They’re my family, Cameron. Nothing will ever compete with that.”


I swallowed thickly, her words touching something deep inside.

Fuck, I loved this woman.


I loved her compassion and heart. Her loyalty and humility.


After my mom died, Hailee was my rock. But more than that, she was there for my dad and Xander. Her unwavering love had gotten me through some of the darkest times of my life... but we’d made it.


I ran my nose along hers. “I love you Hailee Raine, more than you will ever know.” Kissing her softly, I pulled away. “Go, I’ll see to the boys.”


My heart swelled at just the mention of my son and brother. Xander was as much mine as Avery was. I couldn’t really explain our bond, but I didn’t need to. Hailee got it. Dad too. It’s why we hadn’t left and gotten a place of our own yet.


“You see to Avery, and I’ll check in on Xander, okay?”


“Deal.” I kissed the end of Hailee’s nose as she slipped out from between me and the crib.


“Daddy needs you to do me a solid tonight,” I whispered, letting Avery grip onto my finger. He cooed and kicked, smiling up at me in a way that completely melted my heart.


Fuck, this kid. He was every bit his mother and I wanted nothing more than to give him the world and then some.

I thought I loved Hailee immeasurably before Avery was born, but seeing her hold our son in her arms for the first time was like a lightning bolt to the chest, blowing my ribcage wide open and stuffing it with so much love that sometimes, when I watched them, I felt like I couldn’t breathe.




The NFL.


Dreams of the Super Bowl.


None of it could compete with watching Hailee with my son.


“Santa’s coming tonight, buddy. And I’d really like to make love to your mamma without being interrupted.”


My dad had been invited to a work thing. He hadn’t wanted to go but we’d insisted. It had been almost a year since Mom passed, he needed to get back on the horse, and rumor had it that there was a woman he worked with who enjoyed his company. He’d be back later, much later, I hoped. Because I needed some quiet alone time with my girl, to feel her naked and soft beneath me.


My dick twitched in my sweatpants and I fought a smile. “Time for you to go to sleep, buddy. I’ll see you in the morning hopefully. I love you, Avery.” I smoothed my thumb over his chubby cheek before checking the baby monitor.


I’d barely reached Xander’s room when I heard Hailee’s voice.


“I think your mom is looking down on you right now Xan and thinking what an amazing kid you are.”


“Do you think she misses me?”


“I think she misses you every second of every day.”


I hesitated, my breath caught in my throat. Xander was doing better, but he didn’t talk about mom often. It was like this wall was between him and his feelings. We were all giving him time, so to hear him opening up to Hailee was the best fucking Christmas gift I could have asked for.


Creeping closer to the door, I peeked into the room. Xander was curled up against Hailee’s side, his eyes closed and expression pensive as she stroked his hair.


“I miss her,” he whispered, the words like a vise around my heart. “I really miss her.”


“I know, Xan. We all do.”


“Night, Hailee.”


“Night, Xander. Merry Christmas, buddy.”


“Merry Christmas.” He rolled away from her and she climbed gingerly off the bed, tucking the covers over his body.


I held back, waiting for her to leave his room.


“How much of that did you hear?” she asked, pulling his door closed.


“Enough.” The word almost got stuck in my throat.


“He’s going to be okay, Cam.” Hailee gazed up at me and I knew she was right. We’d all lost so much when mom died, but we all had so much to live for, so much to remember her by.


“Come on,” I said, taking her hand. “I have something I want to give you.”




My heart beat hard against my chest as I slipped out of the bathroom. Hailee was already in bed, sitting up against the headboard playing with her cell phone.


“Jason wanted a photo of Avery.”


“I never thought I’d see the day he’d be a doting uncle.” My lips curved.


“Yeah, something tells me we’ll have to fight him for cuddles tomorrow.”


After we opened presents in the morning, we were all heading over to the Bennet’s for Christmas dinner. Jason and Felicity, and Asher and Mya were all in town for a few days. I was looking forward to seeing them. It had been a while since we were all in the same place.


“I can take him,” I said.


Hailee’s brow furrowed. “Are you okay? You seem a little nervous.”




My fingers trembled as I ran a hand down my face. “Can you come over here?”


“Okay.” Her frown deepened.


Hailee climbed off the bed and approached me. Without thinking, I dropped to one knee and stared up at her.


“Cameron... wh-what are you doing?”


“Hailee Raine,” I took her hand in mine, “I had this whole speech planned. I was going to tell you about the moment I fell in love with you, reminisce about our life together, and all of the amazing things we’ve experienced, but honestly, watching you with Avery just now, and then Xander, I don’t need to talk about the past. Because every time I watch you with our son and my brother, I fall in love with you all over again. But being the mother of children isn’t enough for me. I want you to be my wife. My other half. The better half of me. Will you marry me?”


“Oh my god,” she breathed, tears dripping down her cheeks. “Yes, yes I’ll marry you.”


Hailee threw herself down onto the floor and wrapped her arms around me. I hadn’t even managed to get the ring box out of my pocket, but it didn’t matter.


“Do you have any idea how long I’ve waited to hear those words?” She eased back to look at me. “I want a life with you Cameron. You and me and Avery and Xander.”




“Yeah.” She nodded.


“I didn’t even show you the ring.” I finally pulled the box out.


“It could be a candy ring and I’d still love it.”


I flipped the lid and Hailee covered her mouth with her hand. “It’s beautiful.”


“Here.” Plucking the princess cut diamond ring out of the box, I slid it on her finger, feeling my chest tighten.


“It’s a perfect fit.” Hailee admired it. “I love it.”


“And I love you, Mrs. Chase-to-be.”


“God, I like the sound of that. Should we call everyone to tell them?”


“Tomorrow,” I said gruffly. “Tomorrow we can tell them. Tonight, you’re mine.”


Cameron scooped me up in his arms and carried me to our bedroom. The soft sound of laughter filled the room, as he lowered me to the floor.


“I want to worship every inch of your skin, Hailee.” He cupped my face. “But honestly, I’m not sure I can wait to be deep inside you.”


My core clenched at his words, at his hooded gaze, his eyes clouded with lust.


“So don’t. I’m right here, Cam.” Hooking my hands into my tank top, I pulled it over my head and dropped it on the floor. His mouth kicked up at the corner as his hungry eyes raked over my breasts.


My body had changed since giving birth, but Cameron never made me feel anything less than beautiful.


“So soft,” he whispered, trailing his fingers over the curve of my skin. “But too dressed.” Cameron slipped his hands into my lounge pants and panties and pushed them off my hips, letting the soft material pool at my feet. He lifted me with ease, lying me down on the bed and covering my body.


“This doesn’t seem fair somehow.” I curled my fingers into the hair at the nape of his neck.

“Give me a second.” He dropped a kissed on the end of my nose and climbed off the bed to undress. My eyes feasted on his body. Cameron might not have played football anymore but his physique was still impressive. Broad shoulders and cut abs pointed to a narrow waist. His muscles were defined and strong and I loved nothing more than feeling his weight pressed on top of me.


“How long do you think we have?” I asked around a knowing smile.

“Long enough.” Cameron stroked a hand along my ankle and pulled me down the bed a little, fitting his body over mine. My legs hitched around his waist, anchoring us together as he kissed me. Our tongues tangled, slow and seductive as if they didn’t want to rush. But it was Christmas Eve and we had a six-month-old and an over-excited seven year old under the roof. Chances were, we didn’t have the luxury of time.


As if he felt my urgency, Cameron slipped his hand between us and found my center. “So wet,” he murmured against my lips, gently working two digits inside of me.


“Cam,” I breathed as my body stretched around his fingers.


“Come for me, Hailee... come undone.” He whispered the words against the corner of my mouth, his eyes fixed right on my face, watching as I hurtled toward the edge.


“It feels so good,” I panted. “But I want you inside me, Cam.”


“Fuck, yeah. Okay.” Cameron hooked my thighs wider, gently rocked into me, filling me. My breath caught as he pulled out slowly and pressed forward again, going deeper.


“Okay?” he asked, and I nodded.


“Don’t stop.”


Cameron made love to me in the dark, the room filled with our breathy moans and dirty promises. He felt so good, rocking into me, pushing me toward the edge. His pelvis bumped my clit with every roll, sending bolts of pleasure shooting through me.


“Do you have any idea how good you feel?” he groaned against my neck, licking and sucking the skin there as if he couldn’t get enough.


I hugged him tighter, never wanting it to end, completely lost to the sensations flowing through my body.


“I love you, Hailee. So.” Thrust. “Fucking.” Thrust. “Much.”


The wave of pleasure building inside me crested, crashing over me with such intensity I cried out. But Cameron was there to swallow my moans, his tongue lapping at my mouth as my body shuddered around him.


He kept rocking, harder... faster, his pace growing jerky until a low groan rumbled in his chest and he came hard inside me.


“Fuck,” he rasped. “That was...”


“Yeah, I know.” I touched the side of his face, smiling up at him.


“I can’t wait to make you my wife, Hailee. To be tied to you in every single way possible. I can’t—”

Avery’s cries came through the baby monitor.

“So much for keeping his promise,” Cameron muttered.

“It’s a big step him being in his own room.”

“I know. Stay. I’ll get him.” He kissed me softly.

“You’re sure?”


“Yeah.” Cameron climbed out of bed and pulled on his sweatpants. “I’ll be right back.”


“Take your time.” I stretched my body, reveling in the delicious ache. “I’m not going anywhere.”


“You couldn’t just give me an hour, could you, buddy?” I plucked Avery out of his crib and held him up. “You’re supposed to be sleeping.”


He smiled at me, softening my expression. “Cute kid, real kid.” I chuckled. “You want to go see mamma?”


He cooed, flapping his little hands in the air as I cuddled him into my chest. Hailee was insistent on trying to settle him back in his crib no matter what hour or how many times he had us up. But it was still relatively early, and the truth was, I missed the late-night cuddles with the three of us in bed.


“Your mamma’s going to kick my ass,” I said as we walked back to our bedroom.


Hailee was in bed, a sleep shirt pulled over her body. “Cameron, we agreed...”


“I know but I told him our good news and he’s excited.”


She rolled her eyes, fighting a smile. “Ten minutes and not a minute longer.” Hailee patted the space beside her and I climbed in, nestling Avery in the crook of my arm.


“This... you and Avery... it’s all I ever wanted, even if I didn’t know it.”


“You really mean that?” Hailee asked, looking at me through lowered lashes.


“I don’t regret a single thing, Sunshine. I only wish Mom was here to see this. To see us. Boy, she’d love you.” I gently rocked Avery in my arm.


“I like to think she’s watching,” Hailee said.


“Yeah, me too.” My gaze lifted from my son to my girl... my fiancée.


Fuck, I would never tire of saying that. At least, not until she became my wife.


Just then, the door creaked open and Xander’s face appeared. “I heard Avery. Is he okay?”


“He’s fine, buddy,” I said. “You wanna get up on here with us?”


“I... yeah.” A big grin broke out over his face. “Okay.” He ran and jumped onto the bed, tucking himself into my side.


Avery’s over-excited giggles made us all laugh.


“He’s so cool,” Xander said, taking his nephew’s hand in his. “I know I’m not his big brother but I’ll always look out for him.” He looked up at me. “The way you always looked out for me.”


Hailee caught my eye as I tried to swallow the ball of emotion lodged in my throat.


“I love you, Xan.” I hugged my brother tighter while holding my son in my other arm.


“Whoa, wait, is that—“ Xander grabbed Hailee’s hand and tugged it across my body. “You’re getting married?”


“Cameron just asked me.”


“And you said yes?”


“I sure did, buddy.”


“Holy crap, that’s awesome! First I got Avery and now I’m getting a new sister.” His grin was infectious. “This Christmas rocks.”


“Yeah, it does.” I grinned back, knowing that somewhere up there, Mom was looking down on us and smiling too.


“It totally does.”

The End.

Avery's story is coming soon in Rixon High: The Next Generation Series. Pre-order the first book here!

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