I don’t want a lot for Christmas
There is just one thing I need
I don’t care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree
I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is you
– All I Want for Christmas, Mariah Carey
One Year Later
Morgan Penthouse: Living Room
It was already technically Christmas when Jason Morgan ushered his girlfriend through the front door of their penthouse, a pair of gold stiletto heels dangling from one hand, a matching evening clutch in the other.
Elizabeth Webber grimaced as she limped over the threshold and tossed the Manolo Blahniks on the sofa. She perched on the arm and wiggled her toes. “Men created heels, you know that right?”
He just smiled as he flipped a switch that turned on the lights of their Christmas tree arranged between the fireplace and the terrace doors. The white lights twinkled against the red and green paper chains they’d created from construction paper earlier that month.
She’d laughed when she’d brought home the materials, a bit embarrassed. It had been a holiday tradition at her grandparents’ house to make paper chains, and she’d thought it’d be nice to continue the tradition with him.
His family couldn’t offer much in the way of holiday traditions beyond pizza on Thanksgiving and arguments on Christmas, so Jason had happily volunteered to continue one of hers.
“You’re not going to ask me why I wear them?” Elizabeth asked as she straightened and joined him at the tree, naturally sliding her arms around his waist. He drew her closer with an arm around her shoulders, tucking her head under his chin.
“You’ll just tell me something about fashion and image, and I’ll regret asking, so we’re skipping that.” His fingers danced down the bare skin of her upper shoulder as they stood there a long moment—their first quiet moment in days with the holiday rush, the corporate parties, and the general insanity of being employees at ELQ this time of year.
“We didn’t get to do this last year,” Jason began as he pulled away with a hesitant smile, “but my father used to let us open one present on Christmas Eve. When we were kids, he told us it was the presents from him and—” His smile faltered a bit. “And the rest would be there in the morning from Santa.”
“That’s sweet,” Elizabeth said, gratefully letting the moment pass by. They both knew that even at Christmas, as a child, his stepmother Monica had likely made it clear any present to Jason would not include her. “I have just the right one for you.”
She moved past a few gifts for Nadine and Robin—they were going to have dinner with her former roommates and their boyfriends after brunch at the Quartermaines. Six months earlier, Elizabeth had moved out of their loft to live with Jason amid tears and promises that nothing would ever change.
But it had—Nadine had started to date Johnny Zacchara a few months earlier, and Robin was eight months into dating a doctor she worked with at the hospital, Patrick Drake. It was hard to believe that just a year earlier they had been single, commiserating their romantic woes over wine and chocolate. She missed that sometimes, even though they made it a point to get together once a month.
But living with Jason? Being with him for an entire year? Watching her best friends find love, too?
Some change was good.
Elizabeth plucked a medium rectangle wrapped gift and handed it to Jason. “Here. I mean, it might not be good or anything, but you said—”
He offered her an exasperated smile as he tore the silver wrapping paper away to reveal a framed canvas of the Piazza San Marco and the markets and vendors surrounding the Venetian square. “You finished it,” Jason murmured, holding it one hand and tracing his fingers over the market stalls with the other.
“I hadn’t painted in ages, but when we went to Italy last winter…I don’t know—taking photographs wasn’t enough, you know? I had to find a way to capture the way the light hits the water. I’m not sure I did it, but—”
He stopped her rambles with a quick press of his lips to hers. “Thank you. This is—I want to say it’s great, but I don’t know if that’s the right word. I’m—I’m not good at this. I can…I can remember walking through this square with you.”
Elizabeth’s smile bloomed. “That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to hold on to that moment, and like I said, painting does that for me. I never have much time anymore with everything at ELQ—and I love designing parties, I do—but this was always my first love.”
“You should do it more,” he murmured, looking back at the scene. At the market stalls. “And you know, I’m glad you gave me this one. Because…it goes with my gift.”
Jason carefully set aside the painting on the flat green surface of the nearby pool table and kissed her again, lingering over the softness of her lips, the faint taste of chocolate from the pastries she’d eaten at the party earlier that night.
Then he stepped back and drew a small box from behind another stack of neatly wrapped gifts.
Elizabeth stared at the box for a longer moment before raising her eyes to him. “Jason—”
Jason handed her the box, wrapped in shiny gold paper. “I saw this in Venice last year. I wanted—I wanted to give it to you then, but I knew—”
Elizabeth carefully tore back the paper, letting it fall to the ground, revealing a white box. She flipped it open to find a silver ring inside, with a crimson red stone.
She furrowed her brow at it before raising her eyes towards the table in front of the sofa where a vase sat. “This is—the glass from the market. I bought the crimson-colored glass from—”
“I know it doesn’t look like a—” He hesitated, feeling an uncharacteristic flutter of nerves in his chest. “I would have asked you six months ago, Elizabeth. A year ago. Because I knew.”
“Are you—” Elizabeth’s voice trembled. “Are you asking me—”
Jason took the box from her and drew out the ring. “I love you. And I want to love you for the rest of our lives. I want to have a family with you. I want to make paper chains with our kids.”
She laughed, the sound mixed with a sob as a tear slid down her cheek. “That’s what I want. I want that so much, Jason—” Elizabeth held out her hand, wiggled her fingers. “I can’t believe you’ve had this since January. I love you, too. Yes. Yes!”
He grinned, slid the ring onto her fourth finger and then caught her as she launched herself into his arms.
“When?” he asked, pressing his face into her silky hair.
“Tomorrow? Now? I don’t want to wait another minute.” Elizabeth drew back with, framing his face in her hands. “I don’t care how or when. Kiki can work magic and get everything together. I want to start on the rest of our lives.”
“Sounds good to me.”