“Your turn again,” says Serena, passing Bernie a soft, squishy parcel.
“Thank you.” She unwraps it carefully, grinning when she finds a heavy cable knit sweater in navy blue, and two pairs of socks in slate grey inside. “Perfect,” she says, leaning over to kiss Serena.
Once they pull apart, Bernie stands up and pulls the new sweater on over the long sleeve button down shirt she’s wearing with her skinny jeans. “You did a bang up job on this,” she observes, fingering the decoration on the front of the sweater. “Thank you.”
“Well, now that you’re staying in England permanently, I can’t have my girlfriend going cold, can I?” Serena frowns. “Girlfriend?” she repeats, sounding disgusted.
“Partner?” Bernie suggests.
“Lover,” Bernie says firmly, returning to her seat, and Serena grins.
They unwrap the remainder of their presents before settling down to watch a Christmas film. Bernie’s chosen A Muppet Christmas Carol, a favourite of both hers and her children when Cam and Charlie were small: watching it became a family tradition and she cannot help harking back to that tradition even if they’re not here to watch it with her.
They lounge on the sofa for the rest of the afternoon, eating mince pies or pieces of chocolate orange, and drinking the mulled wine that Bernie had insisted on making, citing Wolfe family tradition, which had made Serena surrender immediately, not that she’d felt a particularly strong urge to argue as she’d assured Bernie when she broached the subject.
The clock chimes five and Bernie jolts awake, momentarily confused as to where she is, until she spots the Christmas tree in the corner of the sitting room, which she’d helped Serena to decorate the afternoon before. She’d explained that it had always been a McKinnie family tradition to garland the tree with sparkling lights, glittering tinsel, and dangling baubles on Christmas Eve, and who was Bernie to deny her lover the chance to indulge in family tradition. Just because Jason, Greta, and Guin had gone to her parents for Christmas, while Cam and Morven had elected to remain in Hawaii for the holiday, and Charlie had gone skiing with Marcus and his new wife, didn’t mean that they shouldn’t engage in the old family traditions.
She finds herself smiling as she realises that Serena has snuggled up even more closely than she was while they were watching the film. Not that Bernie minds as she always enjoys cuddling with Serena.
After staring at the still sleeping brunette for several minutes, she gently shakes her awake. “Come on, Campbell. Rise and shine.”
“Five more minutes,” mumbles Serena, her face buried in Bernie’s side.
Bernie laughs at this, realising that Serena thinks they’re in bed. Her laughter wakes Serena properly, causing the brunette to straighten up, then wince as various muscles twinge in response to the awkward position in which she’d been half sitting, half lying.
“Ow. Why on earth didn’t you wake me before?” she demands a little grumpily.
“Because I fell asleep too, love,” Bernie says. She pushes herself up from the sofa, then draws Serena up and into her arms. “C’mere, you.” She presses a kiss to Serena’s lips while simultaneously lightly massaging her back and shoulders to ease her cramped muscles.
“Oh, that’s better. Thank you.” Serena rests her cheek on Bernie’s shoulder as she lets her lover’s talented hands work. Then she straightens up and steps back just far enough within Bernie’s loose embrace to look her in the eye. “And how’s your back?”
“Mine’s fine, thank you,” Bernie says sincerely. “I’m not the one who fell asleep at a weird angle.”
“True.” She leans in and pecks Bernie on the lips. “Sandwich?”
“Mmm, that sounds like a good idea. After that Christmas lunch, I definitely couldn’t eat a great deal right now.”
“And the mince pies and chocolate orange we were snacking on afterwards,” Serena says, and Bernie chuckles.
“That too,” she agrees.
They make their way into the kitchen, carrying the glasses from their mulled wine and the plates holding crumbs from the mince pies, and set about making sandwiches and coffee.
“Oh!” Bernie gasps a few minutes later. “It’s snowing.”
“So it is,” Serena says, moving to stand beside her and peering out at the fat flakes falling into the darkened garden.
“Come on,” Bernie says, grabbing at her hand and tugging towards the door into the hallway.
“What’s wrong?” Serena asks worriedly.
“Nothing’s wrong. I just want to go out in it, just for a few minutes. I haven’t seen snow at Christmas in years.”
“Very well, but you’ll be responsible for warming me up afterwards,” Serena says.
Bernie smirks at her and waggles her eyebrows. “That I can do, Fräulein.”
Serena laughs, swatting at Bernie’s arm as she steps out of her slippers and into her boots. “You’ve got such a one track mind.”
“Oh and you haven’t, Campbell?” Bernie asks. “Who was it who understood what I meant without further elaboration?”
Serena laughs again. “Touché.”
They pull on coats, shoes, and hats: in Serena’s case her usual ‘furry monstrosity’ and in Bernie’s a ‘trauma blue’ knitted beanie made for her by Serena some weeks ago when the temperatures started to drop as she knew that Bernie struggled a bit with the colder weather having spent so much of her adult life in countries with much warmer climates. Then they head back up the hall and through the kitchen into the back garden, Serena turning on the lights in the garden in passing.
Bernie grabs her hand and leads her out into the middle of the lawn where she spins around, her head tilted back and her mouth open, trying to catch snowflakes on her tongue.
“Admit it, Wolfe, you’re just a big kid,” Serena says, laughing at her antics.
“Nothing wrong with that,” Bernie says. She grabs Serena’s hand again and guides her in a sort of waltz around the lawn until she notices the snow’s beginning to fall more heavily. She huffs a breathless laugh, then hugs Serena as tightly as their coats will allow.
“Alright, Campbell, let’s get you inside and warmed up again.”
“Thank you,” Serena says in a heartfelt tone.
“Sorry,” Bernie says as they quickly cross the lawn and she ushers her lover inside, a hand at the small of her back.
“Nothing to apologise for,” Serena says reassuringly, pausing to take off her wet shoes on the mat inside the door. “That was fun, if a little unorthodox.”
Bernie laughs. “That it was.”
They divest themselves of their coats and hats, carrying them and their footwear through to the hall, then Bernie catches Serena in an embrace.
“Want me to take you upstairs and ‘warm you up’?” she asks, putting extra emphasis on the last three words.
“What about our sandwiches?”
“We can take them with us,” Bernie says. “I’m sure you’ll be glad of the energy boost once I’ve finished with you, Ms Campbell.”
Serena throws back her head and laughs. “Very well, then. Lead the way, Ms Wolfe.”
Bernie grins and goes to grab a tray, onto which she puts the plates of sandwiches, the full cafetiere, and their mugs, then she leads the way upstairs to their bedroom. She sets the tray on the side table under the window, then turns back to Serena.
“I’m sure your fingers must be cold,” she says in a tone of great concern. “Let me help you with your buttons.”
Serena chuckles, then lets her hands drop to her sides, allowing Bernie to work on unbuttoning her blouse.
They’re soon naked under the covers together whereupon Bernie does her utmost to warm up Serena with her skilful hands and mouth, eliciting gratifying moans and gasps from her lover as she works her to two powerful climaxes.
Then she crawls up the bed from between Serena’s legs and flops onto the mattress beside her.
“Warmer?” she asks.
“Mmm.” Serena’s dreamy hum is all the answer that she gets for the next little while and she’s in a half doze when Serena shifts onto her side next to her and leans in to kiss her languidly, trailing the fingers of her left hand up Bernie’s arm. “Thank you for that. I am definitely warmer now.”
Before she can say anything else, Serena’s stomach growls loudly and Bernie laughs heartily, then climbs out of bed to grab the tray. Serena sits up, shifting her pillows about to support her back, and Bernie passes her the tray, then slides back under the covers next to her and rearranges her own pillows for her comfort.
They eat their sandwiches and drink their coffee in a comfortable, companionable silence, then Serena asks, “Do we need to get up again?”
“Not as far as I’m concerned,” Bernie says. “I’ll take this downstairs, load up the dishwasher, lock up and turn off the lights.”
“Better be quick, then, Major because I believe you’ll get chilly if you linger.”
“Well if I do, perhaps you’ll be kind enough to warm me up?” Bernie smirks and waggles her eyebrows again.
Serena chuckles. “Well, I do think it’s only fair that I reciprocate.”
“Back in a few minutes, then,” Bernie says. She slides out of bed, pulls on her pyjamas, sticks her feet into her slippers, then pulls on her bathrobe as well, before heading downstairs with the tray.
Returning, she divests herself of her bathrobe, then slides back into bed, deciding to let Serena undress her.
“Let me warm you up,” Serena says with a smirk.
“Gladly,” agrees Bernie grinning.