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“Perfect!” Ashlyn admired the large box in front of her that held Ali’s gift. The wrapping paper was crudely taped down and there were a few tears along the paper. She was never good at wrapping gifts. “Well, almost.”

 

Ashlyn sighed and picked up a green bow to stick on top of the gift. She grabbed the present and made her way down the stairs to find herself entranced by the smell of chocolate chip cookies.

 

“Are they done?” Ashlyn asked giddily.

 

Ali laughed. “I just took them out. They’re hot!” she warned as she slapped Ashlyn’s hand away. “You’re going to burn yourself. Wait, is that for me?”

 

“That depends on whether or not I get some of those cookies.”

 

Ali rolled her eyes at her girlfriend who was carefully setting the gift below their Christmas tree. “You’re a child. Just wait a few minutes for them to cool down, Ashlyn.”

 

Ashlyn wrapped her arms around Ali’s waist and pulled her in for a soft kiss. “It’s our first Christmas in our own house.”

 

She was right, it was their first Christmas in their new home in Orlando. Even though Ali was still signed by the Washington Spirit, she was spending her time with Ashlyn in Florida. Besides, it’s was Ashlyn’s year to spend time with her family. And it helped that Ali’s mom lived in Florida as well. They planned on spending the next day, Christmas day, shuttling between houses to satisfy both families. But for now, they had each other in their own house.

 

“I’m very excited,” Ali grinned at Ashlyn before leaning in for another kiss.

 

“Mm, as much as I love kissing you, I think I’d like a cookie even more right now.”

 

Ali swatted at Ashlyn’s chest. “Fine. If you burn your mouth on a hot cookie, that’s your own fault.”

 

“I never burn my mouth on you,” Ashlyn smirked as she watched Ali’s face flush.

 

“Shut up and eat your cookie,” the defender mumbled, pushing a cookie towards Ashlyn’s mouth.

 

She just smiled and happily chewed on the cookie before kissing Ali’s lips again. “They’re delicious, Princess.” Ashlyn glanced over Ali’s shoulder and saw that the microwave was flashing 12:03 am. “Babe it’s Christmas!”

 

Ali laughed as her girlfriend began to do a little dance and skipped over to the tree. Ashlyn called Ali over and made her sit in front of the tree while Ashlyn settled the gift she had finished wrapping earlier in front of her girlfriend.

 

“I want to record you unwrapping it,” Ashlyn announced. Ali gave her an incredulous look but laughed anyway when she saw the huge grin on Ashlyn’s face. She watched as Ashlyn pulled out her phone and aimed towards her.

 

Ali smoothed her fingers over the wrapping paper and smiled at how uneven the paper way. Ashlyn was never good at wrapping gifts so she usually left if up to Ali when they went to weddings or birthday parties. Carefully, Ali slipped her finger underneath one of the taped down edges and lifted it. Once the paper was removed, she opened the box… to find another wrapped box inside. She groaned. “Ashlyn, you didn’t.”

 

“What’s inside, babe?” Ashlyn laughed from behind her iPhone.

 

Ali rolled her eyes and pulled the smaller box out and lifted it to show the camera. She shook her head and began to tear off the wrapping paper. “Wait, do you have a knife? This box is taped shut.”

 

“Oh yeah, one second,” Ashlyn set down her phone and grabbed a knife from the kitchen. “Here.”

 

Ali took the knife and ran it along the tape. She pulled out the tissue paper that sat inside the box to find--surprise-- another box. “I can’t believe you,” Ali laughed but got to work on stripping the box of it’s paper. Two more boxes and copious complaining from Ali later, Ashlyn moved closer to the defender, knowing there was only one box let.

 

“Last one, I promise,” Ashlyn gave Ali a shy smile while Ali lifted the top of the last box. Inside sat a small black box. It can’t be. With shaky hands, Ali turned the box over to let the velvet case fall into her hands.

 

“Ashlyn,” her voice cracked. “What’s this?”

 

“Open it, Princess.”

 

Ali swallowed hard and opened the box. Inside sat a silver ring with a round cut diamond and smaller diamonds lining the band. She looked up at Ashlyn with watery eyes and had to blink them away to properly focus on Ashlyn.

 

“Alex, we’ve been through so much together. After all of these years together, you’ve made me a better person. You’ve helped me grow. You’ve helped me battle my own demons. You’ve made me so happy and I hope I’ve done the same for you. Now that we’ve purchased our own house and are starting to settle down, I think it’s time to take the next step. I want nothing more than to marry you and continue to wake up next to you and share a cup of coffee together in the morning. I want to fill this house with little ones and spend the rest of our lives making this house into a home. So, Alexandra Krieger, will you do me the honour of agreeing to marry me and forever be my partner in crime?”

 

Ali couldn’t stop the tears from streaming down her face as she listened to Ashlyn’s request. As soon as it was over she immediately kissed Ashlyn over and over while mumbling “Yes, oh god, yes,” against the keeper’s lips.

 

Ashlyn’s iPhone had been knocked onto the floor and was long discarded as the two kissed and Ashlyn slid the ring onto her fiancée’s finger.

 

“The gift I got you is nowhere near as good as the one you got me,” Ali laughed while she wiped the tears from her eyes.

 

“I am a pretty tough act to follow,” Ashlyn grinned.

 

“Stop it,” Ali giggled. She scooted towards the tree and grabbed the bag she had placed under the tree weeks ago.

 

“Gimme!” the blonde said reaching for the bag in Ali’s hands. She quickly tore the tissue paper out of the bag and threw it onto the ground before reaching inside. She pulled out an envelope and a watch. Ashlyn turned the stainless steel watch over in her hands as she admired the beauty of it. “Wow, I love it.”

 

“It’s waterproof, so you can wear it when you go surfing,” Ali smiled at the keeper.

 

“Are you sure you didn’t get it so I don’t have an excuse to spend all day in the water?” she teased.

 

Ali shrugged. “Maybe. Open the envelope.”

 

Ashlyn slid her index finger along the seam and pulled out the paper inside. There was a photo of a small French bulldog printed on the paper along with a date and a time. “Alex, why is it just a photo of a really cute dog on this paper?”

 

“It’s our new puppy.” Ashlyn was still focused on the adorable puppy printed in front of her to really hear Ali.

 

“Hold on, did you just say ‘our’ new puppy?”

 

Ali nodded and crinkled her nose as she watched Ashlyn put it together in her head. When she did, she pulled Ali into her lap and started planting kisses all over her face.

 

“Oh my god, you’re the best ever. I can’t believe we’re getting a puppy! What are we going to name it? Is it a boy or a girl?” The keeper was practically vibrating with excitement.

 

“Calm down there, Stud. It’s a boy, and we’re getting him in a few weeks when he’s old enough to leave his mama and he has all of his shots taken care of.” She loved seeing Ashlyn this happy.

 

“I can’t wait! A fiancée and a puppy in the same night? Best Christmas ever,” she proclaimed before kissing Ali again.

 

And she was right, mostly. It was the first of many wonderful holiday memories that the two would share together.