In the box was a wide, simple, gold, human man’s wedding band.
Staring at the often neglected symbol of another culture’s connection between male and female, Callum felt something shift in him so huge it was as if the entire room moved. His chest tightened as did his gut but his mind blanked of everything but that fucking ring.
His eyes moved to Sonia.
“You don’t have to wear it,” she repeated on a whisper.
He used his forefinger to lift the ring from its satin bed, dropped the box but pointed his finger at Sonia.
“Put it on me,” he ordered, his voice so thick it was almost harsh.
She studied him uneasily for a moment before scooting forward on her knees, taking the ring from his forefinger and grasping his left hand. Then she slid the ring on his ring finger.
He stared at the gold gleaming against his skin.
“It fits,” she said softly and his eyes moved to hers “Um…” she mumbled, “Merry Christmas.”
Before his brain told his body to do it, Callum surged up, his arms going around her, taking her with him as he propelled them to the floor, twisting so he landed on his back and Sonia on him.
Then he wrapped his hand in her hair and crushed her mouth down on his in a bruising, possessive kiss as he rolled his weight onto hers, pillows cushioning them, wrapping paper crinkling all around.
Then he took his wife on the floor amongst discarded Christmas paper and boxes and he did that in a bruising, possessive way that she could not misread or misunderstand.
Even so, when it was over, their breathing had steadied, her limbs were wrapped around him and he was still seated inside her but up with his forearm in the pillow he’d tucked under her head. He was running the tips of his fingers across the features of her face, she still asked tentatively, “I take it you like the ring.”
His eyes captured hers and he growled, “Yes, I fucking like it.”
The doubt clouding her eyes disappeared, a hint of a smile touched her mouth and she whispered, “I’m glad you like it.”
He was bending his head to kiss her again, her head was tilting to let him when the doorbell rang.
Callum stopped his descent.
Sonia blinked up at him. “Who could that be?”
He knew who it was.
“Our family,” he replied and when her eyes grew wide he explained simply, “It’s Christmas.”
The doorbell rang again and when it did Callum regretted his decision to give her the exact opposite of her lonesome Christmases past.
That was until he felt her hand at the side of his head, her thumb sweeping along his cheekbone and he heard her soft voice say, “No, it’s the best Christmas I’ve had in years.”
Callum gazed at the tender gratitude gleaming in his mate’s eyes only a second before he slanted his head and did what he’d intended to do moments before.
The doorbell rang three more times before the door was opened.
* * * * *
“Fucking hell, Cal, is that a wedding band?” Calder practically shouted at him from across the dining room table.
His family, and hers, had arrived bearing shopping bags stuffed full of even more presents. Everyone got a cup of coffee while Callum started a fire in the fireplace in the living room, Ryon started one in the dining room and Sonia turned on Christmas music. Then they had Christmas around Sonia’s downstairs tree before Sonia and Callum went upstairs and dressed in all new clothes. After that, Regan and Sonia made breakfast. It was Sonia’s recipe. Crepes filled with cream cheese sweetened and flavored with almonds and citrus, drenched in a sweet, slightly alcoholic citrus syrup and sprinkled with roasted almonds. His wife, he was pleased to note, when she had a mind to do it, could cook. It was fucking glorious.
Calder’s exclamation came after breakfast while everyone was still seated at the table.
Sonia was walking back into the room with full mugs of coffee for the both of them and she stopped dead at Calder’s words as everyone at the table, which was littered with their breakfast dishes, turned to look at Callum’s left hand.
“Yes,” Callum replied calmly, pushed his chair back and reached forward, snagging Sonia with an arm around her hips and pulling her to him at the same time he divested her of his mug of coffee.
“Our males don’t wear wedding bands,” Caleb declared, his eyes looking at the ring as if it was a rotting sinew wound around his finger.
“One of them does,” Callum returned firmly, carefully seating Sonia’s stiff body in his lap under the studiously remote gaze of Gregor and the openly annoyed gaze of Yuri as well as everyone else.
“For God’s sake, why?” Calder demanded to know.
“Because, this morning, for Christmas, Sonia gave it to me,” Callum answered.