Events in this short story occur during Ashe and Riley’s holiday vacation in Yorkshire
Riley’s cheeks were sore. It wasn’t from the cold, even though they’d been out the whole day walking around the Grassington Dickensian Christmas Festival, a holiday market that had residents dressed up in period attire for the first three Saturdays in December. It transformed the village into the world of Charles Dickens, Scrooge and Tiny Tim, complete with buskers, carolers and boys offering to shine your shoes for a few coins. There was also shopping—lots of shopping—whether in the stalls or in shops that lined the town square.
Riley had bought so many locally made gifts to ship back to New York that they had to return to the hotel twice to drop off the bags before venturing out again. She’d been so intent on reading her shopping list that she completely missed the mistletoe hanging by the door—twice—until Ashe cleared his throat that second time, blocked her way and kissed her in front of everyone in the hotel lobby.
Riley’s face had turned a bright shade of red as Ashe gave her one of his swoon worthy kisses, complete with a full body dip that had her holding on to him for dear life, and she turned even redder when everyone in the lobby applauded.
“Show-off,” she had muttered though Ashe only shrugged, grinning.
“How else can I get your attention when you’re too distracted by everything else?”
Riley wagged her finger at him. “Wait till your precious phone starts to ring. Then we’ll see who really gets distracted.”
Then it was Ashe’s turn to blush.
No, her cheeks were not sore from the cold that evening either after they watched the fireworks that capped the last day of the festival, but from all the smiling and laughing she did the entire day. After all, how could one not smile when meeting the parents of the man she’d been seeing just four months earlier, and for the first time? She was petrified, of course, although most of all, she was happy. After all, she finally got to meet the people who brought up the Hollywood actor whose face graced Times Square for most of November, and whose movie, Sentience, was closing in at a billion dollars in gross receipts worldwide.
But as they walked around the festival, stopping to listen to the carolers or watch a magician do his thing, Ashe Hunter, the actor, was nowhere to be seen, not when he was back to being a Yorkshireman first, and damn proud of it. Riley saw the armor he always wore as an actor fall from his face and bearing the moment they arrived at the Grassington Lodge the night before, and the way his adopted posh accent was replaced by one that had him saying owt, nowt, and summat. Respectively, she knew they meant anything, nothing and something. And that was just for starters. Riley especially loved it when he called her petal. It was way better than being called babe.
That Ashe had planned to have her meet his parents at the festival was perfect. Anywhere else, like the family home in Reeth where they’d be staying after the festival until Christmas would have left Riley an emotional mess all throughout their time in London. Instead, meeting his parents and his niece, Rowan, for the first time over breakfast at the hotel’s dining room (where they were also staying) had been the perfect way to meet them, made even more fun when Rowan refused to leave Ashe’s side for most of the morning. Only when Rowan was finally convinced that her uncle hadn’t replaced her spot in his heart did she finally declare that Riley wasn’t competition after all. When Ashe caught Riley watching him, he winked at her playfully, probably wondering how she was handling her rivalry with a 4-year old.
But while Riley may have handled her alleged rivalry with his niece with grace earlier that day, she wasn’t handling the current one—his work—very well. With Yorkshire being five hours ahead of New York, and eight hours ahead of Los Angeles, it meant that everyone else was still in work mode while she and Ashe were ready to turn in for the night. Thank goodness their suite had two bathrooms. That way he could do his thing (work while getting ready for bed) and she could do her thing (getting herself ready for some action under the sheets).
After checking her reflection one more time and arranging her blonde hair over her shoulders, Riley pressed her ear to the door. Ashe was still talking, this time about a Broadway play, his low voice giving her goosebumps as she eavesdropped. Given that his upcoming production schedule had just been pushed back after flash floods threatened film locations in the Australian outback, Ashe was exploring options to fill the sudden opening in his schedule. And this time, much to her delight, he was entertaining offers closer to home—New York.
Ashe was standing by the fireplace when Riley stepped out of the bathroom. Barefoot, with the ever-present iPhone held to his ear, he was wearing a white t-shirt that emphasized his broad shoulders and slim hips over black lounge pants she got him for his birthday the month before.
As Riley walked—no, sashayed—towards him, Ashe stopped talking and watched her, the phone call forgotten.
“By gum, you look absolutely sinful, petal.”
“Do you like it?” She lifted the hem of her red Santa helper outfit and twirled in front of him. It featured a bustier top that highlighted her ample breasts and slim waist (the corset feature was certainly helping there) before flaring at the hem barely mid-thigh. Red high heels completed the look and Riley could have sworn that Ashe’s jaw dropped.
“Of course I do.” His voice even went an octave lower than normal.
“Then why are you still on your phone?” Riley asked, pouting as she stopped in front of him and traced her hand from the center of his chest down to just above the waistband of his pants.
“Gotta go. Something just came up,” Ashe said to whoever he’d been talking to, hung up the phone tossed it towards the armchair behind him.
She giggled as her gaze drifted lower, to the front of his lounge pants. “And I’m sure something will come up – ooh! but it already has!”
“Naughty lass. But I like it,” Ashe murmured as he lifted a lock of her hair and twirled it around his finger. It was really just an excuse for him to look down at her outfit, but Riley didn’t mind. At least he was off the phone. “So, where were we?”
Riley bit her lower lip. Ashe’s gaze moved lazily from the tip of her head all the way down to her red high heels again. The way he looked at her made Riley feel so beautiful, more beautiful than all the women he made love to onscreen.
Ashe frowned. He leaned forward a bit, peering into her cleavage. On anyone else, it was rude. On Ashe, it was adorable. It had only taken her thirty minutes to decide on its specific placement, along with the rest that came in the package.
“What’s this?” Ashe brought his hand up to touch the rise of her breast but Riley smacked it away.
“Nuh-uh, Mr. Hunter.”
It was Ashe’s turn to bite his lower lip as he continued to peer down at her cleavage anyway, and Riley couldn’t help but giggle. “A mistletoe,” he murmured.
“My eyes are up here, you know, in case you were, um, talking to me.”
Ashe chuckled, still peeking and obviously not listening. “Two mistletoe. With instructions.”
“They’re quite easy to follow.”
“I hope there’s more besides the two that I see.”
Riley blushed, remembering how she had surprised herself with her placement of the last tattoo with the words Kiss Here above an arrow that pointed downwards. She was never comfortable asking Ashe to do the things she loved having him do to her, the ones that had her biting the sheets to muffle her cries of pleasure.
It always embarrassed Riley at first whenever he’d tell her to say the things out loud as he made love to her, though it was also one the biggest turn-ons that had her begging for more. So when she spotted the tattoos sitting next to a pair of candy panties, and even an edible cock ring at a novelty shop earlier that day, she figured she’d let the stickers do the job of telling him. She would have bought purchased all three, but Ashe had walked into the shop right then and she had to hide the tattoos underneath a pile of handmade Christmas cards.
“I guess you’ll just have to find out, Mr. Hunter,” she whispered, her eyes lowering as she felt her cheeks burning beneath his gaze. “But you don’t have to find them all tonight, you know.”
“Oh, I will, petal. It’s imperative now that I find every single instruction. And I will be thorough.” Ashe tilted her chin up so she was looking up at him. his blue eyes studying her face like he always did. It never failed to send the butterflies in her belly fluttering like mad.
Ashe cradled Riley’s face in his hands, and without saying another word, kissed her. It was the type of kiss that took its time—soft, and almost feathery as his lips brushed over hers—even though Riley felt so giddy she could have hoped around the room in her excitement. It was like watching someone unwrap a present ever so slowly and all she wanted to do was rip the wrapper to shreds and be done with it.
But that was the thing with Ashe. He took his time, although Riley had a sneaking suspicion that he did so only because he knew how impatient she would get. Even when her body hummed with so much energy and excitement, he’d only make her wait longer. It was almost like a game, Ashe watching her squirm with every deliberate flick of his tongue or touch of his hand or his mouth against the most sensitive parts of her, but she’d be lying if she claimed not to love every minute of it.
Day-old stubble scratched Riley’s skin but she didn’t care. As she pressed herself against him, she loved inhaling the scent of clean soap with woodsy notes that engulfed her senses. She loved the feel of his arms around her, the way they always made her feel safe. She loved the way he kissed, the way he took his time at first, savoring her mouth with his tongue, nibbling her lower lip and sucking playfully. The things he did to her always made her weak in the knees, and she wondered if wearing high heels made all this an occupational hazard.
Riley loved the way his hands moved around her body, exploring her curves just as his tongue plundered her mouth. When he tugged the top of her bustier lower to free her breasts, she loved how he squeezed and then pinched her nipple with his thumb and index finger. As his mouth left her mouth to nibble her ear lobe, Riley loved the way his fingers found the laces of her corset and slowly pulled the knot loose, before moving lower to cup her buttocks and squeeze, digging his fingers into her flesh. Ever the multi-tacker, that was Ashe Hunter.
Suddenly he pulled away. He was breathing hard, and studying her with narrowed eyes, and Riley wondered what he was thinking. But before she could ask, Ashe hoisted her unceremoniously over his shoulder. She shrieked with laughter and earned a playful spanking on her bum before Ashe tossed her onto her back on the bed.
“Was I too loud?” she asked, knowing that playful smack was just the first of many that evening.
“Not yet,” Ashe murmured as he slipped his shirt over his head and tossed it onto the floor. “But I promise you will be.”
And just as he promised, Riley had to muffle her cries against the sheets as he followed the trail of temporary mistletoe tattoos with his mouth, his tongue, and his hands, pleasuring her till she was trembling with each orgasm that claimed her. He started with the ones on each breast, nibbling, licking, sucking before moving down to the ones on her torso (she didn’t want to waste the package) all the way to the one just above the V between her legs with instructions and an arrow that pointed where to kiss, though Ashe didn’t need to be told where or how. He knew every inch of her and just the thought of him taking her made goosebumps rise on her skin. When his mouth found her so wet for him, Ashe kissed her there and savored her with his tongue, his mouth and his hands doing the things that made Riley’s toes curl as she pressed her face into the covers to muffle her moans as wave after wave of her release claimed her and left her shaking.
When it was his turn, Riley was begging for him to claim her. She was his, body and soul, temporary tattoos or not. And when he finally filled her, Riley was almost beyond reason. She loved the maddening way he took his time, watching her as she suffered from the want of having him inside her to the way he locked eyes with her every time she shattered with each orgasm. She craved the way he held her down with his body, his fingers woven with hers and pressed down on the bed.
How she both loved and feared the way he opened her up, layer after layer of her insecurities laid bare, whether it was about her body not being perfect (though he always insisted she was) to the way she allowed herself to let go before him. She didn’t have to wonder why an orgasm was often described as a small death, because it was. Death to the masks one wore with everyone else but the truth, that moment of vulnerability between them. And when Ashe’s release came, it left him out of breath and shaking, too.
Afterwards, with Riley back snuggled up against him beneath the thick covers, they watched the first snow start to fall outside their window.
“It’s going to be a white Christmas,” Riley whispered as Ashe drew her closer, his breath warm against the back of her neck.
“It’s going to be a perfect Christmas, Riley, made even more perfect with you here with me and my family.”
“Thank you,” Riley whispered, content with the warmth of his body wrapped around her. “What can I do to make it up to you?”
“Just be your beautiful self, petal. That’s all I ask.” Ashe whispered and for the next few minutes, they watched the snow fall outside.
It was better than any television show, Riley thought just as she heard Ashe chuckle. She turned around to face him, eyeing him suspiciously.
“What was that evil chuckle for, Mr. Hunter?”
“You’ll find out soon enough.”
“What do you mean, ‘soon enough?’”
“You’re not the only one who spotted that naughty paraphernalia, petal,” he murmured as Riley squeaked in protest to his hand tickling her waist. “However, my choices leaned more towards the sweeter variety.”