An On Dublin Street Christmas (On Dublin Street #1.1)(3)

by Samantha Young

I picked it up, about to tell him how great I thought it was, when I realized there was more. Under the photograph was another framed photograph. I lifted it, my fingers trembling, and I saw that underneath this one was another.

They were photographs taken out of the photo album I’d retrieved from my family’s self-storage unit in Virginia at the beginning of the year. I’d thrown away a lot of stuff, but I’d taken the photo album home back to Scotland with me. For the past ten months I kept saying I was going to get some frames for my favorite shots and put them up in the sitting room, but I’d kept putting it off, still fearing the thought of going through the album again.

So Braden had done it for me.

I gazed down at the photograph of me holding my baby sister, Beth. I looked so different, and not because I was just a kid. There was a light in my eyes that had since gone out. Braden and Ellie had done a lot to try and put it back and it was almost there, but there would always be that tiny shadow in the back of my eyes. I missed the eyes of the girl in this photograph. The other photograph was of my mom and dad kissing. It too was a candid shot, but one I had taken during a picnic down by the river.

They photos were perfect.

Absolutely perfect.

I looked up at him, determined to keep the sheen of tears out of my eyes. I think I failed.

“Shouldn’t I have…?” Braden asked quietly, seeming worried.

Shaking my head, I wrapped my hand around the nape of his neck and pulled him down for a long, slow kiss. When I pulled back I rested my forehead on his. “They’re perfect.” I sighed, smiling teasingly.

“You know, I think I might kind of love you.”

He chuckled against my lips. “I think I might kind of love you, too.”

Our front door suddenly slammed and Ellie’s voice rang through the flat, “Merry Christmas!”

Braden cursed under his breath. “We need to take that bloody key off her.”

The rest of the day was relaxing and fun and exactly how Christmas should be. Braden and I made breakfast for Ellie and Adam, swapping Christmas morning stories without mentioning the naughty parts since that would just freak Braden and Ellie out, seeing as they were brother and sister and all. Afterwards, once Braden and I were washed and dressed for the day, we jumped in a cab and headed over to Ellie’s mom’s house for Christmas Day. Elodie Nichols was an awesome cook and the rest of the Nichols was kind of my adopted family now. It would be weird to spend Christmas without them.

Declan, Ellie’s ten year old half-brother was hyper as all hell, bounding from one present to the next and one person to the next, showing off his presents to anyone who could be bothered to listen.

He had a captive audience since we all thought he was pretty cute.

Although I did learn that giving a kid that much chocolate in the morning wasn’t the best idea if you were looking for a headache-free day.

Hannah was the opposite. She’d curled herself up in an armchair with a new book and was successfully blocking us all out.

Dinner was delicious. We had the works—soup, a big old fat turkey, three different kinds of potatoes, steamed vegetable goodness and gravy, followed by profiteroles and a chocolate pudding. We had lots of wine with dinner and little cappuccinos afterwards.

By the time Braden and I left just before midnight, I could barely walk I was so stuffed full of food. I also felt irritably overheated from all the wine. Once in the flat I stomped down the hall to our bedroom, listening to Braden’s footsteps as he followed me. I turned around to face him as he came through the doorway, and I yanked my sweater off, throwing it on the floor. I patted my slightly-rounded stomach and then popped the top button on my jeans with a huge relieved sigh.