By Christina Moore
The ringing of the telephone jolted Chris Paytah out of a sound sleep. His fiancée, Martie Liotta, stirred beside him, mumbling sleepily, "What time is it?"
Chris kissed her forehead. "Go back to sleep, wótheȟila," he said softly, shifting so that when he reached over her for the telephone, he wouldn't crush her or their unborn child with his body. He picked it up on the third ring, noting that the clock on her bedside table read 5:30.
"It's not even six a.m., this had better be good," he said into the mouthpiece when he put the receiver to his ear.
"Um, hi, Captain Paytah," replied a nervous-sounding female voice. Chris frowned as he tried to place it. "This is Jenna Malloy. I'm Patrick Walton's girlfriend."
Ah, that's who she was—Jenna Malloy. Patrick Walton was the lieutenant who ran D Shift out of Firehouse 343. That his girlfriend was calling the station's captain—at home, no less—was a bad sign that his first Christmas with Martie was about to be ruined.
"I am so, so sorry to bother you at home," Jenna was saying, "but I'm at the hospital with Patrick. We've been here about two hours already and he wouldn't let me call before now."
"What's wrong with Pat?" Chris asked, concern for his fellow fireman crowding out his annoyance at having been woken so early on his day off.
"The doctor is having some tests run, but says that based on his symptoms, it looks like a pretty severe case of food poisoning. Hell of a way to have to spend Christmas morning, in the damn ER."
"I'm sorry to hear that Pat's unwell. But it's good you're with him to keep him company," Chris told her. "Have you called his family yet?"
Jenna chuckled. "He doesn't want me to—he didn't even want me to call you, but I know he's supposed to start his shift in about ninety minutes and the way things are going here, I knew he wouldn't make it even if he claims he's feeling better. But he's still throwing up and running to the bathroom, so I seriously doubt Pat's in any shape to work. Anyhoo, I'm gonna call his mom next, then his dad—I guess we can at least be glad we've already done Christmas with our families."
Chris stifled a sigh as he rubbed a hand down his face. Ninety minutes wasn't enough time to find a replacement. The guys on A, B, and C shifts had long been looking forward to having Christmas off, to spending one of the holiest of days with their families. He knew Simon was especially looking forward to it, as he and his wife Laura had just gotten married the month before and he was planning to surprise her with a new car.
"Jenna, you just sit tight and take care of Pat. I'll take care of covering for him," Chris said then, sitting up slowly so as not to disturb Martie further. "Give him my best hopes that he gets better soon, and I'll say a prayer that the two of you are able to salvage your Christmas plans."
"Thank you, Captain. I will."
After hanging up, Chris dropped the cordless handset on the bed and got up.
"Nice view, as always," Martie mumbled from behind him.
He should have known she wouldn't go right back to sleep. Chris turned back to her and flashed a tired grin as he gave a little shake to his naked ass. "I'm glad you think so," he said. "Now go back to sleep."
Despite the yawn that escaped her, Martie nevertheless sat up, the hand that had covered her mouth falling to her rounded belly. Heat and lust flooded his veins and ran straight to his groin at the sight of her full, bare breasts resting over the child inside of her. Pregnancy, Chris decided, had made her a hundred times sexier than the day he'd met her.
"Nope, I'm awake now," Martie replied as he crossed the bedroom and pulled a pair of boxers out of a dresser drawer. "I take it you're going in for Patrick?"
Chris grimaced. "Yup."
"Mio caro, you have to work tomorrow yourself," she reminded him.
"I've worked a double before," Chris replied as he yanked his underwear up. The shifts at both stations in Gracechurch ran for 24 hours at a time. Three of the shifts—A, B, and C—each had two regular shifts a week, and D Shift had just one: Sunday. Because there was an even number of shifts versus an odd number of days in the week, each member of the D Shift team got a second day in by being the odd man (or woman) on one of the other squads during the week. The only rule they had to follow was that they couldn't work C's second rotation of the week or A's first, as the former preceded D Shift and the latter followed it.
Chris was not only the captain of Firehouse 343, he was the squad leader for A Shift. He'd be breaking the rules if he worked a double.
"Maybe in a time of crisis, honey, but there's no crisis today," Martie pointed out. "Besides, it's Christmas."
By now he'd pulled his uniform pants on, as well as a tank top and a plain, long-sleeved t-shirt—winter was in full swing in Montana and it was damn cold outside. Slipping his arms into the long-sleeved uniform shirt he'd just pulled off the hanger, he left it open as he walked over to her side of the bed, sitting on the edge and taking her hand in his.
"I know it is," Chris said softly, lifting her hand to his lips and kissing the back of it. "You know that you and the little one will be tȟanmáhel all day. But as captain, it's my responsibility to take his place, at least until I can convince someone else to do it. And given that it is Christmas, I have strong doubts that anyone's going to be too willing."
He hated to see the disappointment creeping onto her face, but Martie nodded. Taking a breath, she looked up at him with a sad smile. "Tȟanmáhel? I don't think you've used that one before."
Chris grinned lightly. "Sorry, I thought I had. Loosely translated, it means 'on my mind' or 'in my heart'. In this case, I mean both. I'll be thinking about my girls all day, and missing you both all day."
Martie raised an eyebrow. "Christopher, there's no proof yet that this baby is female. Yet from the beginning, you've believed we're having a girl. Where's that macho demand for a son that all men seem to have?"
"Oh, make no mistake about it, I want one of those too," he said with a laugh. "But something in my gut tells me the little angel nestled inside you right now is a girl."
He had placed his hand on her belly, overtop of hers, as he spoke, drawing from her a full smile. That made him feel marginally better about having to leave her. Raising his other hand to cup her cheek, Chris stared into her eyes as he said, "I promise you I will do my best to get someone to cover at least half the shift. Maybe we'll still be able to salvage our Christmas plans, as well."
Although both his family and hers had demanded an appearance, Chris and Martie had decided that they would spend their first Christmas together alone. In order to appease both families, however, they'd made arrangements to stay with both before and after the holiday. They'd spent the last two days in Billings with the massive Liotta clan, giving and receiving gifts. Chris had also received many more warnings about the pain he would suffer should he ever break Martie's heart, reminding him of the day her brother Tony had declared they would throw down if that ever happened.
They needn't have bothered wasting their breath. Chris knew, and Martie knew, that they were forever.
On Tuesday, they were due to pack up the Explorer again and head up to Wolf Point and his parents' place. Martie had already met his family, of course—much to the unending delight of his mother. Hannah Paytah had fallen in love with Martie the moment she laid eyes on her, and when she'd heard they were having a baby, she'd cried tears of joy. Of course, she'd also voiced the same opinion as Martie's mother Carmen, and was demanding that they get married before the baby was born. His grandfather, Leland, had also taken a shine to Martie, who loved the old man just as much in return. Chris enjoyed watching them together, even when the ailing octogenarian flirted shamelessly with Martie, who always laughed and told him he was a flatterer.
Today, however, they'd wanted just for the two of them. They'd talked of making dinner together and watching a few classic Christmas movies before making sweet, passionate love to one another.
With a sigh, Chris leaned forward and placed a kiss on Martie's lips. She raised her hands to hold him at the neck, drawing him closer as their tongues twined together. Liquid heat burned through him again, making him want more than just that kiss—she was naked, after all, and it would be only too easy to get that way as well. But damn it, he had a job to do, and so reluctantly pulled away from her.
Of course, it didn't stop him from tweaking one of her nipples as he stood to return to the dresser for a pair of socks.
"Fine," Martie grumbled. "If you must go, be careful out there. You know we're supposed to get more snow today."
"I know. Something to look forward to is the snow in combination with human stupidity. At least we won't be bored."
"Well, here's to hoping there won't be too much fun," Martie countered. "No one wants to end up in a hospital on Christmas. Just ask Patrick Walton."
Chris nodded. "Good point."
An hour later, after clearing a sheet of ice off of each of his windows, Chris pulled in at the station. Snow hadn't started falling yet, but it was damn bitter cold outside, and he rushed into the building as fast as his feet would carry him. Thank goodness the heating system was new and state of the art—no chance of it breaking down any time soon.
Lt. Tonja Webber, a good friend and firefighter, stepped out of the office as he approached it. "Hey, Boss. What're you doing here?"
Chris regarded her carefully. Although Tonja had gone through with her plans to move to Gracechurch and join the 343 team to honor Calvin Maynard, her late fiancé, she'd withdrawn into herself, rarely spending time with any of her fellow firefighters outside of work. With him, the man who had once been Calvin's best friend and now had his job, she was just shy of icy. She was always polite and respectful, but she'd become rather reserved in his presence, referring to him by rank or "Boss"—never by name. The woman before him was a far cry from the Tonja who'd clung to him the day of Calvin's funeral.
Clearing his throat, he replied, "Patrick's in the hospital with a severe case of food poisoning. I'm covering for him."
"You don't have to do that, I can work a double. I know it's against the unspoken rule that no one works a double, but I don't mind," Tonja replied.
Though her expression was a mask, Chris suspected he knew the real reason behind the offer: This was her first Christmas alone in four years, and work would distract her from missing Calvin.
Damn, the holidays could really sucker-punch people.
Because he didn't want to risk an argument—and truthfully, he hadn't been looking forward to having to work a double, as none of their regular volunteers had officer status—Chris brightened, as an idea had just come to him.
"How about we split it?" he suggested. "I'll work the first twelve hours while you go home and get some real sleep. You can come in and relieve me at seven. That way we won't have to fuck up anyone else's Christmas by trying to get one of the other officers to cover for Pat."
Tonja nodded. "Sounds like a plan."
With that said, Chris joined her in the office to go over the night's reports. C Shift had responded to two car accidents due to icy roads. Although transport to the hospital had been required for one of the victims, she had thankfully suffered little more than a broken nose and minor lacerations to her forehead.
"Everyone was wearing a seatbelt?" Chris queried.
Tonja nodded. "Believe it or not, they were. I guess even stupidity has its limits. Driving without a seatbelt is foolish in the best of weather. Doing so in a Montana winter?"
Chris grinned. "Definitely not the wisest of things to do," he said rhetorically.
Her fiancé didn't know it, but his being called in to work had proved fortuitous. She'd already had one special present planned for Christmas Day, but with Chris at the station for half the day and evening, Martie used the time wisely to plan a second—and much sexier—surprise for him.
After his departure that morning, she had indeed fallen back asleep, grabbing his pillow and holding it to her chest as though she were holding him. Though she would never tell Chris, Martie had cried. They'd been looking forward to this first Christmas together so much; the day was for just the two of them, and their plans having to be put on hold had put a bit of a damper on her spirits. She wanted to blame the entire episode on raging pregnancy hormones, but the truth was she was disappointed. As she felt sleep claim her again, she had said a silent prayer for a way to make the day special for the man she loved in spite of the setback.
The telephone ringing for the second time that morning woke her a few hours later. Chris, apologizing profusely for having roused her from sleep, let Martie know that he would not be working a double after all, as he and Tonja were going to split the shift. He'd be home in time for dinner as his lieutenant would be relieving him at seven that evening. Martie was ecstatic and made a mental note to call Tonja and thank her later. Then, as she sat eating breakfast, she pondered just how she was going to make this evening really special. Surely they'd do as they'd already planned, but what else could she do? She was both excited and daunted by the prospect of doing something remarkable that Chris would never forget.
Then it came to her: Everyone was supposed to be nice to get presents from Santa, but what about doing something naughty? Martie had to laugh aloud as the idea began to bloom in her mind of just what she wanted to do and how she was going to pull it off. While she worked on part of the second surprise, she thought once more on the unbelievable circumstances that had brought her to this moment. She was a strong, independent woman who had nevertheless held a secret hope in her heart that she would find someone to share her life with, a man who would love her for who she was and not be intimidated by what she did. Martie ought to have known she would eventually find him in the fire service, and she would be grateful every single day for the rest of her life for Chris. But it would have been awfully nice to have skipped over all the losers she'd had to go through before finding him.
Of course, choosing to be with Chris hadn't been without difficulty. First, there was the whole Graham Henderson thing. Martie shuddered just thinking of her former boss, and the hell he had put her, Chris, and Ronnie Thompson through just a few months before. Then there were her girlfriends and a select few of her family members—they all wondered how in the world a smart, savvy woman like herself could be so sure about a man she barely knew. Her best friend Anna, when she'd confessed to having slept with Chris the first night she met him, had given her a wide-eyed stare and several moments of open-mouthed silence, before pointing out that not using protection had been careless. Never mind that she could (and had, in fact) get pregnant, what about venereal diseases? What had she been thinking? She was a woman whose business was saving lives—how the hell could she have behaved so recklessly in regard to her own?
Martie sighed as the memories came back to her. Yes, she and Chris had been reckless. But he had been in deep emotional pain, and she had simply wanted to comfort her fellow human being. People engaged in what psychologists called "grief sex" every day. Smart, savvy people didn't always make the best of decisions, though as she felt her baby move inside of her she smiled, and she knew that had she the chance to live that night over again, she'd make the exact same decision. Even if she and Chris hadn't chosen to be together, she would have had this baby to love and care for, and she simply couldn't regret that.
Despite the horrible reason for their meeting one another, a spark had been ignited between her and Chris that first day that smoldered and grew over the first two weeks of their acquaintance. Though there had been a bump in the road that almost kept them apart for good (no thanks to her own paranoia and a couple of interfering busybodies), once things had settled, Martie and Chris had realized that what they had was something powerful and real and worth exploring. So she'd moved to Gracechurch to be with him, and soon after had discovered she was pregnant. The day she told Chris he was going to be a father, he'd told her he wanted to marry her. And he probably would have done it sometime in the three months since if she hadn't told him that despite living together, in spite of the impending parenthood, there was no reason to rush into something so permanent.
Maybe it had been her insecurity rearing its ugly head again, or maybe just a little bit of that "missing" common sense Anna and everyone else had asked about. But she had wanted—needed, even—more time to get used to the idea of becoming a mother. Of becoming a wife. Of saying sacred vows and binding herself to Chris for the rest of her life.
"It's not that I don't love you," she'd told him. "I just need time to take it all in. So much has happened to me so quickly, mio caro, that I just need a little more time to adjust to all these changes in my life."
Chris, though clearly reluctant to do so, had nodded his understanding. Of course, that hadn't stopped him from presenting her with an engagement ring bearing a 3-carat princess-cut diamond with smaller channel-set diamonds on either side and formally asking her to marry him on Thanksgiving…on bended knee and in front of every member of the A Shift platoon, no less—not to mention Simon Temple's family. She had blushed furiously even while she cried tears of joy and exclaimed that of course, she would marry him. Her only caveat had been that they weren't going to get married until their son or daughter could be a part of the ceremony. It was a condition Chris had readily agreed to, so pleased was he that she had finally said yes.
After putting the finishing touches on her naughty Christmas present, she readied herself to head out into the cold. Martie dressed warmly in layers and made sure to cover her head and ears. As she climbed into her car—more like squeezed into it—it occurred to her that she was either going to have to hire a driver soon, or she was going to have to go on maternity leave earlier than planned, because she was gaining weight at a more than steady pace and would soon be too big to fit behind the wheel.
The drive into town was slow, though not because of the snow that had started falling. It was rather pretty, in fact, all the large flakes drifting down from the sky to settle everywhere. No, it was the wind that made driving a little more hazardous today, the gusts coming from the north rocking her new Ford Escape more than usual. Martie had the feeling that the wind was but a precursor to the bigger storm the weather forecaster had predicted was on its way. Though she had survived many a Montana winter without fear before, she knew she could no longer selfishly think of only herself. She had to consider what would be best for the child she carried inside her, and holing up in the cozy apartment she shared with Chris was suddenly a very appealing prospect.
For now, however, she needed to concentrate on her driving so that she could get to the firehouse in one piece.
When she arrived at Firehouse 343, she hurried out of the car and into the station, where it was much, much warmer. She headed for the office and found it empty, and then a burst of laughter from the lounge told her where everyone was. Martie crept up to the partially open door and nudged it open, thankful for the quiet movement of the well-oiled hinges, and saw that Chris and the four men and one woman on D Shift were gathered around the television watching a movie. The appearance of Chevy Chase wearing a Santa Hat on the screen told her it was National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.
"I guess there's no White Christmas or A Christmas Carol in the station video library," she quipped.
All six of the firefighters jumped at the sound of her voice. Martie laughed as Chris tried and failed to catch the bowl of popcorn he'd launched into the air, which eventually made a spectacular mess all over the floor.
"Haggerty, will you please clean that up for me?" he said, then stood and tried to avoid stepping in the fallen kernels as he rounded the couch he'd been sharing with Will Haggerty and Ian Farmer.
"Baby, what are you doing here?" Chris asked as he reached her.
Martie smiled. "Surprising my fiancé on Christmas, that's what," she replied, standing on her toes to touch her lips to his. She then hefted the covered plastic container she'd carried in with her. "I brought a little something for everyone, as well: chocolate chip biscotti."
A round of cheers rang out from the other five firefighters. Farmer jogged over and, with an exaggerated smile, gently took the container from her and carried it over to a table, where the group gathered around it eagerly. Haggerty joined them after he finished sweeping up the spilled popcorn.
"Vultures!" Chris called out as he turned and watched them open the container and grab pieces of the Italian pastry, a smile on his lips. "Don't you people have any manners? What are you supposed to say?"
As one—two of the guys already having a bite of biscotti in their mouths—the five firefighters replied "Thank you, Martie!"
Martie smiled as she watched them begin to devour the gift she'd brought them. "Don't forget to save some for the captain, eh?" she said, then turned her eyes up to Chris. "I brought something for you, too. Wanna see it?"
Chris grinned, a wicked gleam coming into his eye. "Am I going to have to lock the bunk room door?" he teased softly.
"No. You just need to sit down," she replied, taking him by the hand and guiding him back to where the couch had been placed in front of the TV. "Sit," she commanded, making her expression serious as she pointed to the furniture. Chris gave her a mock salute and did as instructed. Martie then turned and pressed the stop button on the DVD player, popping out the movie they'd been watching and setting it aside. She then reached into her coat pocket and pulled out a thin CD case, keeping it turned so that Chris could not read the label as she pulled the disc out and placed it on the tray. After tapping the open/close button on the player, she moved to join him on the couch.
"Grab the remote and play that," she told him casually as she slipped out of her coat and set it aside.
With a curious glance in her direction, Chris reached forward and picked up the remote from the low table between the couch and the TV, then pressed play. On screen, the slightly shaky image was of Martie, and he instantly froze as her voice came through the TV's speakers.
"So, Dr. Carver, what will we be seeing today?"
There was a blur as the camera turned and a new face appeared on the screen, a woman with light brown hair and a ready smile. She wore a white lab coat over a turquoise blouse, and the nametag pinned to one side read Dr. Leanna Carver. "Today, Martie, we're going to be performing an ultrasound scan, and if Baby Paytah cooperates, we'll be able to determine whether the little one is a boy or a girl."
"Oh goodie," said Martie's voice. "Chris swears it's a girl, but I have my doubts. His mama only had boys, his brother had a boy, and trust me—boys run in my family too. We made a bet of a hundred bucks as to who is right."
Dr. Carver laughed lightly, and the camera blurred again as it was turned toward a screen on the wall. The lights were turned down and then they heard the doctor's voice again. "Okay Martie, here comes the part all we women hate."
"No…kidding!" Martie exclaimed on the video, the view shaking again. "Man, that stuff is cold! All these decades of obstetric care, and no doctor's ever figured out a way to warm that shit up?"
Laughter was heard again on the screen, as well as from a few of the firefighters, as some had drifted over to watch the homemade video with them.
"One more moment and…there's baby," said Dr. Carver.
On the screen now was the black and white but clearly definable image of a small human shape. Chris, who had joined her for a few of her appointments over the last five months but had yet to see an ultrasound, gasped audibly and leaned forward. Martie felt tears sting her eyes to watch him so enraptured with the sight of their baby.
Dr. Carver's voice described what they were seeing as she had at the last ultrasound, talking of arms and legs and facial features, noting that the baby's size was right on schedule for this stage of development. She then said that now that she'd covered all the essentials, she was going to see if she could get the baby to flash the camera.
"So to speak," the doctor added with a laugh. "Now Martie, push on your belly a little. Prod the baby a bit to see if it will turn for us."
"Okay," Martie replied on screen.
Chris turned to look at her as she sat beside him, his eyes misty with unshed tears. "This is…it's the best present, Martie. The best ever. I don't even care if it's a boy or a girl."
Martie took his hand in hers and lifted it to her lips to kiss the back of it. "Keep watching, mio caro," she told him softly, and with a smile, he turned back to the screen.
A few minutes went by in which they could clearly see the baby moving, but nothing definitive as to gender. "Come on now, little one," Martie said on the video. "We want to show your babbo whether you're a son or a daughter. Help us out here."
"What does 'babbo' mean?" asked one of the firefighters, all of them now gathered around and watching with them.
Martie looked up at the speaker. "It's an Italian word for 'daddy.' A little less common than the more easily recognized padre."
"Wait a minute, what's this I see?" said Dr. Carver's voice then. The image on the wall screen that the camera was focused on shifted yet again.
"That's not a penis, is it?" said Martie's on-screen voice.
"No, ma'am—that's the umbilical cord," replied Dr. Carver. "Look a little lower, down here."
An arrow appeared on the screen again, as it had earlier when she'd been pointing out various features. It moved to circle around what could now clearly be seen between the baby's legs.
"Looks like you owe your fiancé a Benjamin, Martie," Dr. Carver said. "This baby is definitely a girl."
Chris didn't pay attention to Martie's voice asking if the doctor was sure, nor the zooming in of the ultrasound screen that defined the baby's very female parts even more. He was too busy jumping to his feet and shouting in triumph.
"Woo hoo!" he cried loudly, turning to look down at Martie as the D Shift platoon applauded. "I told you we were having a girl!"
Martie wiped tears from her eyes as she stood and threw her arms around him. They held each other tightly for a moment before Chris drew back, kissed her lips, and then leaned down to kiss the rise of her belly. He spoke softly in his ancestors' tongue, and though her Lakota was not yet up to conversational, Martie believed he had just said "Hello, my daughter."
Chris then stood and embraced her again. "You have given me the best gift ever," he said again. "Thank you, Martie."
"You're welcome, Chris," she replied, smiling through tears of joy. As they parted again, the D Shift guys and girl came around the couch and offered handshakes and congratulations.
Martie stayed and visited with Chris and the team a little longer, even managing to snag a few of the biscotti to nibble on, but the snow was coming down harder now and Chris was beginning to worry. So she packed up the DVD of the ultrasound and bundled herself up again, walking arm-in-arm with Chris out to her car. He stayed close as she climbed in and put her seatbelt on, leaning in to kiss her more thoroughly now that there was no one watching.
"I love you," he said when he came up for air. "You've just made me the happiest man in Montana. No proof indeed."
Martie grinned, thinking of the naughty present he would be receiving later that evening. "Just wait to see what I have in store for you at home, Captain Caveman."
Chris grinned hugely. "I can hardly wait to see it," he said. "Though I doubt anything can top that video."
She turned the key in the ignition, the car engine coming to life smoothly. Martie turned the dials to clear the front and rear windows of fog, then turned to Chris and said, "We'll just see about that, won't we?"
Martie looked out the window for the sixth or seventh time, hoping to see some sign of Chris. He'd called about half an hour ago to let her know he was on his way home. She told him that she'd already started dinner and couldn't wait to see him—and to drive carefully, because the snow hadn't stopped and had begun to accumulate not long after her visit to the station. He'd promised her he would take all necessary precautions, but it didn't stop her being concerned.
Finally, his Explorer pulled into the lot. Martie grinned, and felt her nipples and her clit tighten in anticipation. She hurried over to the dining table, where she'd laid the accessories for her surprise, picked them up, then dashed over to the chair she'd set up in the living room. She was so excited and anxious for Chris's reaction, she could feel herself getting wet. He was going to love this present—whether a true Dom or not, she hadn't met one man yet that didn't like having control over his woman when it came to sex.
For this naughty gift, Martie was going to give Chris complete control over her.
Closing her eyes as she waited for him to come through the door, she concentrated on regulating her breathing—the panting would come soon enough. Or so she hoped. Goodness knew what Chris would have her do for him.
Or to him.
The sound of his key in the lock sent little fingers of excitement dancing along her spine. Martie quickly licked her lips, then took one last calming breath before the door was opened, letting in a small gust of the frigid evening air. It blew across her already heated skin before he closed the door and she felt her nipples pucker in response.
His voice trailed off, and she knew he'd seen her. How could he miss her? She was sitting on a chair in the middle of the living room, wearing nothing more than a Santa hat.
"Martie?" Chris queried. She could hear him removing his coat as he stomped his boots, likely to rid them of snow. It took all her willpower to remain silent. It was a part of the game, after all, that she not speak unless directed to do so. Chris just hadn't figured that out yet.
He walked over to her. She sensed him standing in front of her, could feel his body heat as he reached down and took from her hands the "owner's manual" she'd prepared. "Congratulations," he murmured, reading from the cover. "You are now the proud owner of a one-of-a-kind Fuck Me How You Want To doll. She is life-sized and fully functional, just waiting for you to give her a command."
Martie heard the pages rattle in his hand as he swore softly. "Holy sh… Martie, this is one hell of a surprise."
She wanted to nod. Wanted to smile. But she could not—he hadn't given her permission.
The pages rattled again, and Martie realized he must have turned to the second. It was good that he was reading what she'd written, as she wanted him to know that she was really into this, that she was doing this to make him happy. Sex could be initiated by either one of them, and she'd certainly jumped his ass more than once. But to give him complete control over her, the permission to make her do whatever he wanted her to? Had to be every guy's fantasy come true.
"If you received a pregnant model, do not feel you have to treat her like glass," he read aloud. "Don't be afraid to get a little rough and pound that pussy hard. She will let you know if play gets to be too much by saying the safe word, which for your doll is 'bambino'."
Martie listened to him swallow heavily, and then he tossed the papers aside. He leaned close, so close that his warm breath ticked her ear and made her racing pulse fly even faster. "I think I'm going to like this present very much," Chris told her huskily, then licked her earlobe.
When he stood back, she heard him undoing his belt buckle. "Open your eyes, Martie," he said, and she complied, as he'd given her a command. Martie felt her mouth water at the sight before her: Chris had freed his cock and was stroking it, getting it ready for the fun they were about to have.
Then he stopped and stepped closer. "Suck it. I want to feel the back of your throat on my dick."
Martie leaned forward and took him into her mouth, holding onto his hips as she enveloped every inch. She pulled back again, swirling her tongue around his shaft as she moved, then deep-throated him again. She moved one hand to cup his balls, massaging them as she continued to give him what he desired. Chris removed his shirt as she worked his hard length, licking and sucking as he'd told her to do.
Chris moaned deeply as she performed her task, his hands reaching down to take hold of her nipples, twisting and pinching them, pulling so that her enlarged breasts lifted away from her body. He cupped the flesh in the palm of his hands, kneading it as he continued to tease her. Electrical pulses of pleasure zapped through her, from her breasts to her navel and back again, and Martie felt wetness seep from her a second time.
Suddenly Chris pulled away from her. Martie broke character just long enough to look up at his face. He was staring down at her with raw hunger in his eyes—she could see that he very badly wanted to fuck her, but he was holding back. Whether to simply prolong the fun or because he was worried about hurting her (as he had been lately, which was why she'd put in that line about not being afraid to get a little rough), she couldn't tell.
"Stand up," he commanded her. Martie stood. "Play with your nipples."
Martie had to fight a smile as she complied. One thing she'd learned quickly about Chris was that he loved to watch her touching herself; he loved that she was confident enough in her own sexuality to caress the intimate parts of her body while he watched. It seemed to turn him on even more to see her massaging her breasts or bringing herself to climax through masturbation.
"Reach down with one hand and finger your pussy," Chris commanded. Martie complied, of course, though she noted in the back of her mind that her stomach was getting in the way. Soon, she wouldn't be able to reach her clitoris, which was something she'd have to address with him another day.
Rubbing her clit in small circles, Martie continued to watch Chris's reaction. He stepped out of his shoes, reached down to pull off his socks, and then stepped out of his pants and underwear. He began stroking himself again as he watched her. Having his eyes on her as she played with herself aroused her even more, and she could feel the first twitter of an orgasm building within.
Her breathing soon became rapid. The orgasm was getting stronger, and soon she would lose control of it.
Hesitating only a moment, Martie did as she was told. Part of her, a small one, wanted to continue, to finish what he'd made her start. But then, she'd given him control, hadn't she? Chris obviously had been able to tell that she was getting close to climax, and he wanted the pleasure of getting her there to be his and his alone. Oh damn, this was going to be such sweet torture for her, if he planned to bring her to the brink only to pull her back at the last second more than once.
"Go lay down on the couch and spread your legs for me," Chris said.
Martie immediately turned and walked over to the couch. Lowering herself carefully, she leaned back on the pillows and opened her legs wide. Oh, how she hoped that he was about to fuck her, but damn if that wicked gleam in his eye didn't just tell her that was not what he had planned at all.
"Don't move. I'll be right back," he said, then walked away and into the kitchen.
A tremor of anticipation rippled through her. What was Chris going to get? What was he planning to tease and torture her with? Would it be the chocolate sauce or the whipped cream? She shivered again, more than willing to lay there as Chris dribbled the condiment over her clit or her nipples and then licked it off. He preferred her natural taste, of course, but they'd had lots of fun playing with food before.
The clinking sound she soon heard told her it would not be food, and it would definitely be torture. Oh God, she thought. They'd never played with ice before. Would she enjoy it? she wondered. Certainly Chris would, Martie imagined, as it was his idea. But truthfully, she didn't see the attraction to using ice in sex play. How could it be fun? It was cold.
Reaching up to scratch her head, wondering what was taking Chris so long, Martie pushed the fuzzy Santa hat off. She was on the verge of breaking character again and sitting up to see what he was doing when she heard him approaching. With a sigh, she settled in to wait for whatever he planned to do with that ice.
"Wait a minute," Chris remarked as he rounded the couch. "I don't recall telling you that you could move—and yet I see that your hat is no longer on your head." He set the glass of ice on the coffee table. "Stand up."
Trying not to frown, Martie lifted herself up off the couch and stood to face him.
"Turn around," he told her, and with her curiosity rising, she did as told. A second later she felt the warmth of Chris's hand rubbing a circle on her right ass cheek, then he stunned her with a sharp smack. Martie was unable to hold in a gasp of surprise.
"In these situations," Chris went on, rubbing her left ass cheek before smacking that one as well, "when the sub is disobedient or acts without permission, then she is punished. You were naughty, Martie, and so I must punish you with a spanking. Now stand wider, then bend over and place your hands on the couch."
Sensations of a nature she could not quite define began to course through her, and though she did as she was directed, Martie began to wonder what she'd gotten herself into. She couldn't help but ask herself if she hadn't just wakened a sleeping beast—Chris appeared to be enjoying himself fully as he was really getting into the role of Dominant, and she found herself wondering if he perhaps had a Dom side after all.
Bending over this far not only exposed her ass, but the folds of her pussy as well. When Chris smacked her for the third time, it was right across the center of her cheeks, and she felt the sting across her labia as well. But something unexpected happened then—a thrill of pleasure actually followed the pain, and did again when she received the fourth smack. And the fifth, and so on…to the point that she was nearly as ready to burst as she had been when pleasuring herself. A new query flitted silently across Martie's mind then, and she wondered if, perhaps, there was a submissive inside her after all…
…and perhaps a bit of a masochist, as she was really, really enjoying getting spanked. Her hands gripped the couch cushion so tightly her knuckles were turning white.
"Oh my," Chris said, breaking into her thoughts with his voice. "It looks like someone is getting excited by her punishment. Let's try something else, shall we?"
The ice returned to her thoughts, but that was not what Chris did. Instead, he positioned himself behind Martie, placing his hands on her hips. She could feel the head of his cock brushing her labia, and she silently begged him to push it inside her. Oh, was she ever ready to be fucked. She wanted him so badly right now that she found herself pushing her ass backward.
That earned her another slap on the ass. "Don't move," Chris commanded, and she whimpered. Damn, she thought. She wanted him inside her so much that she was nearly ready to beg for it. What was he waiting for?
She heard him pluck a cube from the glass of ice, and once again Martie trembled. After having her ass thoroughly spanked, her blood heated with lust, and her pussy swollen and ready for her man to take her, it might be just what she needed to cool down a bit, until he was ready to give her what she needed. But the torture began anew when she felt him slowly moving his hips back and forth, the shaft of his cock rubbing against her folds while the head brushed against her swollen clit. She nearly jumped out of her skin when she felt the cool, wet surface of one of the ice cubes against her right ass cheek.
Chris swirled it in ever widening circles, precisely over the areas that by now were surely a bright red from the spanking. Martie felt her skin becoming slightly chilled as the sting was taken away, but her blood continued to burn as he was simultaneously fucking her without actually doing so. He kept it up even as he treated her left ass cheek to the same care.
"You're not to come unless I say so, Martie," he said then. "I can feel you trembling beneath me, trying to hold it in. In that you are being very good, mičhanté."
Lord, would the strangeness never cease? Bent over like this—with her pussy being teased and her ass being cooled—he had called her something in Lakota. And she liked it! Martie actually liked that he had given her a new pet name, even if she didn't know what it meant. She wondered if it would find its way into their daily life, or if he would save it for sexual playtimes like this one.
A moan escaped her as the ice was now being trailed along her spine and back to her ass. Chris followed that up by sliding his tongue in its wake, and then suddenly she felt his cock leave her. She whimpered, silently pleading with him to return—he hadn't been inside her but his cock had been touching her, and that was better than nothing.
Ice cold wetness touched her folds and Martie cried out in surprise. Chris slid the ice cube up and down her opening, teased her throbbing clitoris, and then once again followed with his tongue. When he reached her clit she bucked against him, and it took every ounce of her willpower not to release the orgasm that was desperately begging to be set free. When she moaned, Chris chuckled.
"So close," he whispered huskily, and she felt the heat of his breath on her most intimate skin. "But very good, mičhanté. You did not let go."
The ice teased her folds again, and again he licked the cold away. The pleasure-torture continued, and Martie began to moan as she fought the tightening in her belly. Holding it in like this, she knew she was going to have one hell of an orgasm when he did finally let her come. It was likely to be so strong she would have trouble remembering her name.
Martie's heart swelled with emotion when the realization hit her that such had been Chris's aim all along. This naughty game was supposed to be her present to him, and yet he was giving so much of the pleasure to her. God, how she loved this man…
"Mmm, as much as I love the taste of this pussy of yours, I think I want a taste of your nipples, too," Chris said then. "Stand up and turn around."
She did as she was told, as she was now fully aware of what the attraction was to using ice during sexual play. It was the same as using chocolate sauce or whipped cream, just with different sensations. The end goal, however, was the same: satisfaction. Martie decided that being tortured with ice cubes wasn't so bad if he was going to follow it with that wicked tongue of his.
Trying and failing to keep a smile from her face, she stared into his eyes briefly, seeing the love and lust and happiness she felt in herself mirrored in those dark orbs, and was pleased to see Chris smile briefly back. When he schooled his expression so did she, because the game wasn't over yet.
"Stand wider…that's it…and put your hands behind your back," he instructed.
Martie complied with his order, moving her feet slightly more than shoulder width apart and clasping her right wrist in her left hand at the small of her back. Yet another ice cube was drawn from the glass (surely he'd gone through at least two by now) and he touched it to her left nipple. Martie gasped audibly as Chris rubbed it in a circle first to the left, and then to the right. Her breathing hitched when he took it away and moved it to the other breast as he dropped his head, re-warming the puckered nub first with his breath and then with his tongue. Her head dropped back as he suckled her, and she moaned.
Chris iced and thawed her nipples several times, eliciting sharper and sharper cries of pleasure. Martie wasn't sure how much more torture she could take when he turned and grabbed another of the melting ice cubes. As he melted the first with his mouth against her right nipple, he began to slide the second back and forth across her pussy.
"Ahh," she cried out, her hips jerking forward.
Chuckling, Chris stood straight and stared into her eyes as he continued to slide the ice cube back and forth, rubbing it in a circle around her clit before caressing her labia again. Even though he wasn't warming her after each swipe as he had before, Martie could still feel the heat rising in her blood, flushing her skin and adding to the powerful orgasm that continued to grow deep in her core. They had teased each other in the past, but nothing—nothing—compared to the exquisite sensations that were the only things keeping her standing besides sheer willpower. Chris, already a highly skilled lover, had jumped into the exceptional category with this sensual torture session.
The next thing she knew, Chris was putting the tiny rock of an ice cube in his mouth. He wrapped his arms around her shoulders and brought their bodies together, then leaned his head forward to kiss her. Martie fought the urge to return his embrace even as she opened her mouth to accept his tongue, which delivered the ball of ice, covered with her essence, onto hers. They passed it back and forth as he once again moved against her, sliding his hard shaft across her slick folds, but still not entering her.
Martie whimpered in protest. Chris tipped his head back and looked at her with a smirk. "Is something wrong, mičhanté? Do you not like what I have done to you today? You did ask for it, you know."
"N-nothing is wrong," Martie gasped, assuming she had just been given permission to speak. "And I… I have loved everything. You have touched my heart…as well as my body."
Chris raised an eyebrow. "But?" he pressed, emphasizing his query with a slightly more forceful thrust between her legs.
"But when are you going to fuck me?!" she demanded.
"Oh," he replied, the corner of his mouth lifting in tandem with that insufferable eyebrow again. "You mean this?"
On the last word, he tipped his pelvis on the forward thrust and smoothly surged into her. Martie cried out loudly, in her mind thinking At last! as he filled her with every inch he had. Chris moved his arms to grab her ass in both hands, saying, "Wrap your arms around me, baby."
Martie threw her arms around his neck as he lifted her off her feet. She wrapped her legs around his waist as he withdrew and thrust deeply into her again. Crying out again, she held tightly to him as he turned and started walking toward the bedroom. When he reached it, he nudged the door open with his foot, never breaking stride, and carried her over to the bed. There he laid her down across the width of it and leaned down to kiss her, thrusting his tongue into her mouth at the same time as he thrust his cock deep into her pussy.
Moaning a sigh into his mouth, Martie tightened her hold on Chris, lifting her hips to encourage him. Not that he needed any encouragement, as he smoothly and effortlessly rocked his hips back and forth, drawing out almost completely before pushing himself into her again, going balls deep each time. The pace was slow at first, steady and careful; Martie knew he was doing that—and holding himself up off of her—to spare the baby, but damn it, she didn't just want him to make love to her. She wanted to fuck, something they hadn't really done since her pregnancy had started showing. Chris was afraid to hurt her, to hurt their child, by being too rough. And she certainly wasn't unsympathetic to his concern, but after having spoken to her doctor about it, Martie knew that there was nothing Chris could do to her sexually that would harm either of them.
To give him a little reminder of what she'd written in the owner's manual, Martie moved her arms from his neck and planted her hands firmly on his ass. She tore her mouth from his as she gave him a squeeze, smiling as she said, "Playtime's over. Now fuck me."
Chris paused for the briefest of moments, studying her face. She could see the raw need in the black depths of his eyes, one that spoke of a primal urge to take her hard and fast. To claim her as his. She could see that he was asking if she was certain, and Martie gave him a small nod, holding his gaze as she did so.
Dipping his head again for one more passionate kiss, Chris slipped himself out of her and scooted back off the bed so that he was standing on his feet. He took her by the hips and pulled her toward the edge, then positioned himself at the apex of her thighs as he took her breasts in his hands. He squeezed them, pinching her nipples between his thumbs and forefingers as he slammed his cock into her once more. Martie cried out loudly and Chris growled, the animal nature inside him taking over as he moved in and out of her. He pounded her harder with each thrust, but Martie wanted more. Releasing her tight grip on the edge of the mattress, she raised her hands to him and he took them in his, lacing their fingers together.
Faster and faster Chris moved, his pace becoming frenzied as he slammed into her again and again. Martie's breath was coming in sharp, panting gasps as the orgasm that had been building all evening surged through her once more, preparing her for what she was certain would be the strongest release she'd ever had.
"Chris…Chris…CHRIS!" she screamed a moment later, no longer able to contain the power of her climax.
He released her hands suddenly and grabbed her hips, his clasp almost painful as he madly thrust in and out, roaring loudly as he finally reached his own orgasm and emptied into her. Martie felt his cock throbbing with his release and she screamed as she came a second time.
He could tell that her climax had been the strongest ever by how utterly limp Martie had gone when they both came down from their orgasmic high. Chris smiled contentedly and sighed as he stood, lifting her carefully and walking her out of the bedroom and into the bathroom—she uttered not even a token protest, so he knew he'd loved her damn good. Chris sat her down softly on the commode and then turned to the linen closet for a washcloth, turned the tap on, and soaked the cloth with warm water. He wrung it out and then turned to Martie once more.
"Open up for me, wótheȟila," he said softly.
Martie looked up at him with a tired grin. "After all that, mio caro, I don't think I can go another round. Not for a while."
Chris laughed quietly. "Frankly, neither do I," he said as he nudged her legs apart and reached down to clean her. "You have no idea how hard it was to keep myself in control. Just walking in the door and seeing you sitting there with nothing but that Santa hat on? I swear I almost blew a wad there and then."
Cocking his head to the side, he took in the faint blush she wore and frowned slightly. "Baby, do you still have no idea of how indescribably sexy you are? You're even more attractive to me with my child inside you than you were before I knew she was there."
Martie's blush deepened, but she smiled. "Someone's been reading up on how to treat his pregnant partner, I think."
Chris shook his head as he reached to re-soak and wring out the cloth, which he used to wipe himself clean before he tossed it in the sink and then knelt before her. "While that may well be true, sweetheart, that's not why I said those things. Every single word comes from my heart, which has grown far greater in size with the love I have for you and our baby. They're not just meaningless platitudes uttered to make you feel better about gaining weight. I say them because I mean them."
His heart squeezed when her eyes misted over. Martie took his face in her hands and kissed him deeply. "I love you, too," she said when they parted. "And now…now I'm famished."
Chris chuckled again and stood, then held his hand out to her. "I worked up quite an appetite myself," he said as they crossed the hall and stepped into the bedroom. There he grabbed a pair of pajama bottoms for himself and a nightgown for her that said "Baby on board." When they were dressed, he turned to her, gathered her into his arms, and simply held her. One hand soon fell to the rise of her stomach and he asked, "You're sure the baby is okay? Did she move at all?"
Martie shook her head. Then she giggled as she felt the movement he had just asked about. "She must like the sound of your voice. While we were…occupied…she was still. Maybe she realized it was Mommy and Daddy time, who knows? But I swear that's the first time she's moved since you came home."
"She… I can hardly believe I was right, and we're having a girl," Chris said with a sigh.
Martie turned her head up to look at him. She raised her hand to his cheek and said, "Merry Christmas, Chris."
Chris smiled, feeling his chest swell with emotion as he dipped his head down and touched his lips to hers. He embraced her tightly once more as he replied, "Merry Christmas, Martie."
Then he stepped back, and with his hands on either side of her stomach, bent and kissed the roundness of her belly. "And a Merry Christmas to you too."