A Very Sinclair Christmas
“This is insane, brother,” Flynn complained as he squeezed his way out of Connor’s truck.
The Fred Meyer’s parking lot was almost completely full. Impatient shoppers zipped in and out of spaces on the iced pavement. Flynn tensed, waiting for the crunch of metal against metal, but the only noise his keen hearing picked up was of cheery conversation and the store’s doors sliding open and closed.
“It’s two days until Christmas. What did you expect when you decided to tag along?” Connor shot back, locking his truck and trudging toward the store.
“She’s only a few months old,” Flynn said. “She won’t remember any of this.”
Connor pulled up short in the middle of the road and glared at Flynn. “It’s not about whether she remembers, you idiot. It’s about making sure we have pictures we can show her when she’d old enough to remember.”
They followed another group of shoppers inside.
“What did Dana say about you doing this?” Flynn asked, trying not to sneeze from the scented pine cones in the lobby. He grabbed a cart and followed after Connor.
Connor muttered something that sounded suspiciously like, “What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her,” and ignored his brother pointedly until they fought their way through the crowd to the toy and infant sections.
The plastic cart handle cracked as Flynn squeezed down on it, fighting his panic. He’d thought the parking lot was bad. But this...this was a war-zone.
“Wish me luck,” Connor said. “If I’m not out in five minutes, make sure you get my body back to Dana.”
“I’ll put a bow on it,” Flynn joked, refusing to acknowledge the sweat on the back of his neck.
Connor flipped him off and charged into the melee. His height gave him an advantage over the other, shorter people in the aisles, but soon his form too was swallowed in the last rush of holiday shopping.
Flynn breathed a prayer and began counting.
* * * * *
Christmas morning was cold, with thick, fluffy snowflakes falling from the sky. Flynn and Evie stepped into Connor’s house to be greeted by the scent of fresh coffee and warm cinnamon rolls. From her seat on the sofa in the living room, Dana grinned and waved Grace’s hand.
“Hi, Uncle Flynn! Merry Christmas, Aunt Evie!”
Flynn gave Dana a one-armed hug and scooped Grace from her grip. His niece smiled at him, her hands waving as he nuzzled his face against hers. Dana and Evie settled on the couch, watching him with amusement.
“Where’s Owen?” Connor growled as he entered the room, fresh mug of coffee in hand.
“No idea. Did you call him?”
Connor gave him a dour look. “What do you think, oh mighty pack leader?”
He passed his wife the coffee over the back of the couch. Dana murmured her thanks and he bent in to kiss her. When the kiss began to linger, Evie glanced at Flynn, her cheeks reddening.
Instinctively, his wolf began to rumble at the expression on her face and he wondered if he had enough time to take her home before Owen showed up—
The front door opening ended that train of thought.
“I brought presents,” Owen called as he took off his boots and coat.
Stepping through the archway into the living room, he held up two large brown bags as proof. His cheeks and nose were flushed from the cold, but he was moving with an ease Flynn hadn’t seen before. “Where do you want me to put them?”
“Under the tree is fine,” Dana said.
Owen added his packages there and stopped long enough to coo over Grace before snagging a seat in one of the recliners.
“Can I hold her?” he asked Flynn.
Ignoring his wolf’s protective streak, he handed her over. Owen held her against his chest, tucking her head under his chin. He grinned happily up at his brother. “She smells good.”
“For now,” Connor said. He had two more mugs in hand. One went to Evie and the other to Flynn.
“Hey, you made it right,” Flynn remarked, surprised by his brother’s attention to detail.
“It’s Christmas. Don’t get used to it,” Connor said before making one last trip to the kitchen for Owen’s mug.
They eventually got around to opening their gifts. It was the first Christmas in Flynn’s memory that featured him and his brothers sitting together without shedding blood. The first year he’d been able to enjoy the lights twinkling on a real Christmas tree. The first year he would be able to share a meal without fighting for the larger pieces like his father had trained them to...
“Okay,” Evie was saying.
He forced himself away from the thoughts of his past and turned his attention back to his wife. God, he loved her. Would be lost without her. The Magi had their star, but Evie was his.
“Dana and I went in on something for all three of you,” Evie continued.
Dana handed out the wrapped packages, trading Owen his gift for Grace.
“The only rules are that we’re out of limits.”
“And so is Grace,” Dana reminded, holding her daughter protectively to her chest.
“Hurt my kid and I’ll cut off your balls,” Connor said as he shook his gift.
Owen nodded and eyed his gift with anticipation.
Evie practically sparkled from her excitement. “Ready? Open them!”
They ripped into their packages. The gift inside left Flynn sniggering and tearing apart the cardboard. He loaded his foam dart gun and aimed at Connor.
“Dammit!” Connor swore as the suction cup tip hit him in the ear.
Owen wasn’t far behind. His dart caught Flynn’s foot as he scrambled for cover behind a chair. Soon, the sounds of darts shooting and men laughing like children filled the house. Once the ammo ran out, they called a truce and sat back down at the tree.
Flynn tossed Connor a package. He held out an arm for Grace. Dana passed her over with a pout, but accepted the gift.
“I got it for Gracie,” Connor said, peppering his daughter’s face with kisses.
“Connor, she’s only a few months old.”
“Stop complaining and open the damn thing.”
Dana sighed, but did as ordered. The wrapping paper fell away and she glanced over the top of the box at him, a sweet smile curving her lips. “You picked this out?”
Connor’s shoulders straightened and his chin went up. “Of course. Can we set it up for her?”
“She may be too little still–”
“I’ll help,” Flynn offered.
Owen set his mug down and rose from his chair. “I can too.”
They set up the play-mat with no real problems. They lay under the canopy, inspecting their handiwork.
“The owl’s pretty cool,” Owen commented, tapping the plush figurine so it swung on its string.
“She’ll go for the mirror,” Flynn said. “Babies love mirrors.”
“Says the guy who didn’t know how to hold his niece when she was born,” Connor scoffed, sitting down beside them and looking it over. Clutched in his arms, Grace appeared more concerned with smiling at her mother, who was playing peek-a-boo.
“She’ll definitely go for the squeaker mouse. She’s got my killer instincts,” Connor announced and gently laid his baby girl down under the canopy.
Grace’s eyes crossed as she attempted to focus and her arms and legs flailed.
“I knew it,” Flynn said when she glommed onto the mirror.
“Freaking alpha,” Connor muttered as he lay down on his side to watch his daughter playing. “Think you’re so smart.”
They lay there together in silence, watching the newest Sinclair wriggle.
“You doing okay with all of this?” Owen asked Connor quietly, tickling the bottom of Grace’s foot with a finger.
“Depends on the day,” he said absently. His eyes crinkled when his daughter grabbed his finger and dragged it toward her mouth. “But I love her more than anything, so even the bad days are pretty good.”
Flynn tousled her downy hair. “You deserve it.”
“We all do. Now can we stop all this emotion crap and get back to the gun fight?”
“Outside?” Owen asked, jerking his head toward the backyard.
“No guns needed then,” Flynn replied with a grin. “Unless you two aren’t up for a bit of wrestling.”
The slate eyes that met his may have been the wolf’s, but the smile was pure Connor. “You’re on, brother.”
He looked back at Evie and Dana, smile sharpening to pure, lustful hunger. “You girls want a Christmas striptease?”
“Nope,” Dana replied sweetly. “But loser is responsible for doing today’s dishes.”
“Done,” Flynn agreed. He pressed a gentle kiss to his niece’s forehead, watched his brothers do the same, and led them to the door.
The crisp air caught in his lungs, but he stretched and stripped, slipping effortlessly into his wolf’s skin. He trotted toward the edge of the woods and turned. To his left, a large black wolf with lolling tongue and sardonic curl to his lips. To his right, a silver, black-tipped beast with intelligent eyes and precise posture. Behind them on the deck, two beautiful women, one cradling a happy baby in her arms.
His pack. His brothers. Their mates and child. All alive and well and together.
It was a merry Christmas indeed.