- Katie Ashley
- Atlanta, GA, United States
- I am the New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Best Selling author of The Proposition, Proposal, Music of the Heart, and Nets and Lies. I am represented by Jane Dystel of Dystel and Goderich for all books except for Proposition and Proposal.
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Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Here's a Halloween short story featuring the Fitzgerald's from The Proposition and Proposal
Tapping out the song’s rhythm with his thumbs on the steering wheel, Aidan Fitzgerald eased his Mercedes convertible through the streets of his subdivision. The crisp October air rippled through the strands of his blonde hair. He loved fall days like these when it wasn’t too cold to ride with the top down. Although there was a Volvo SUV in one side of his garage to highlight his new family man status, he had managed to keep his toy, aka the convertible, after Noah had been born. Instead, Emma’s reliable, but older model Camry, had been traded in for a more family practical SUV. Although Emma had thought it was pretentious, Aidan had insisted on the Volvo for its safety record. He wanted to pull out all the stops to keep the loves of his life safe and protected.
As he neared 401 Ansley Park Drive, he did a double take. Actually, he drove straight past his house before realizing it. Although he’d been living there for over five years, nothing in the yard was familiar to him. Throwing the car into reverse, he peered wide-eyed and open mouthed at the spectacle before him. His yard and two-story Cape Cod had somehow been transformed into a Halloweenapoolza.
When he had left for work that morning, there was only a decorative fall wreath hanging from the front door and two pumpkins on the porch that had been bought at Burt’s Pumpkin Patch when he and Emma had taken Noah the week before. Now there were orange and black twinkling lights adorning the rails on the porch. A witch was ass-up in the yard to give the appearance she’d flown straight into the grass. Another was smushed up against the side of the porch along with her broom. Tombstones and hay bales also filled the yard while ghosts flitted in the oak trees.
“Christ almighty,” he muttered, as he eased the car into the driveway. Although his house looked like a lot of the other ones in the neighborhood, it was a completely foreign concept to him. After parking the car, he jerked out the keys and hopped out.
As Aidan threw open the door from the garage leading into the house, delicious aromas assaulted his senses. Wait, was that Grammy’s BBQ cooking? Surely not. That shit took a lot of time and effort. At the same time, Aidan’s stomach rumbled in hopes that it was actually some homemade BBQ.
His gaze flickered around the kitchen before honing in on Emma. She stood at the stove, humming along with the radio. Close by her, Noah sat in his bouncing saucer. A grin stretched on Aidan’s face at the sight of the cackling baby. With Beau standing in front of him, Noah tried desperately to catch Beau’s tail that was thawping him in his face. Noah was laughing so hard he could barely catch his breath.
“I’m home,” Aidan called.
Beau barked happily as Emma whirled around. “Hey baby,” she said, a genuine grin spreading across her cheeks.
Aidan stooped over to pick up Noah who was holding his arms outs out patiently for his father. “Hey Little Man,” he said before bestowing a kiss on Noah’s cheek. He then turned his attention to his wife. Emma beamed as he leaned in for a kiss. Tightening his arms around her, his lips found hers warm and inviting. Just as he thrust his tongue inside, Noah’s gurgle interrupted them.
“Have a good day?” Emma questioned breathlessly.
“Pretty good. You?”
“Yeah. Busy, but it was great.”
Thinking of his now Thrilleresque yard, he blurted, “Em, what the hell happened outside?”
She grinned. “Patrick came over today and helped me decorate. Isn’t it amazing?”
“Oh it’s something all right. I’m just not sure it’s amazing.”
The corners of Emma’s lips turned down in a frown, and Aidan braced himself for some pregnancy mood-swings. “Don’t you like it?”
Aidan exhaled a wary breath. He desperately tried to decide what the best way to answer her question was without putting himself in the dog house. “It just seems like a lot when Noah isn’t even a year old.”
“Oh, but you should have seen him when we were decorating. He was grinning the entire time. And your dad had so much fun, too. Most of it was his idea.”
Great. If the other two Fitzgerald men that Emma loved most in the world were happy with the lawn debauchery, there was no point in arguing. He’d just have to suck it up and smile. He just hoped none of his bachelor friends caught sight of it, or they would demand his man card be revoked.
Needing to change the subject, he sniffed the air. “Hmm, that is Grammy’s BBQ I smell, isn’t it?”
Emma smiled. “Yep, I made her recipe just for you. Having Patrick here to watch Noah really helped to free up more cooking time. Oh, there’s some apple pie, too.”
Adjusting Noah on his shoulder, Aidan eyed Emma suspiciously. “Okay, what’s going on?”
“What do you mean?” Emma asked innocently.
Aidan chuckled. “Oh no, don’t play coy with me, Em. You went through a helluva lot of trouble to do homemade BBQ. So what’s the deal?”
Nibbling her lip, she bent over to take out the steaming Dutch Apple pie, which happened to be Aidan’s favorite in the whole wide world, out of the oven. She’d made it from scratch, which was no easy feat. When she sat down the pie, she sighed. “Fine. There is something I wanted to ask you.”
With a smirk, he replied, “I knew it. You always try to win over my stomach or my dick when you want something.”
She rolled her eyes. “I wanted to see if you would dress up for Halloween with me. You know, kinda like a couple’s costume thing, but a theme for the whole family.”
“You’re shitting me, right?” He had never been a huge fan of the holiday. During high school and college, he enjoyed the parties that featured free flowing booze and chicks in scantily clad costumes. After he’d moved into his house, he had discovered with dismay that his subdivision attracted Trick or Treaters by the droves. Usually, he hung out at O’Malley’s on Halloween night, drinking beer and waiting for the pandemonium to die down before he went home. Then just when he thought it was safe, Becky would arrive with her boys. He would usually have to give them granola bars or money because he didn’t have any candy in the house.
Putting on her best pouty face, Emma said, “It’s just I really, really wanted us to dress up as a family this year.”
“Babe, this all seems a little ridiculous considering Noah’s only eight months old. He has no idea about any of this hoopla, and he certainly won’t be eating the candy from Trick or Treating.” When she opened her mouth to protest, Aidan added, “And don’t even try to guilt me into this. I don’t think years later when Noah looks back, the fact his father refused to dress up for Halloween will not send him to therapy.”
“So you really won’t do it?” Her pouty face had disappeared and a more determined expression appeared.
He knew that when Emma set her mind to something, she usually got her way. She had tried appealing to him with extreme kindness, and he knew from her fiery disposition, that his dick would be feeling the next repercussions of his actions. She might be pregnant again and in sex craved hormone city, but she wouldn’t let that stop her from giving him the cold shoulder.
Aidan exhaled nosily. “If, and that’s a big if, I said yes, I would have to approve of the costume. No tights under any circumstances.”
Emma grinned. “Okay, I think I can work with that.”
“But before your imagination runs wild with what costumes you’re going to stick us in, I want to be fed this magnificent meal you went to the trouble to bribe me with.”
“I’ll be happy to.” She wrapped her arms around his neck and then bestowed a warm, inviting kiss on his lips. “I’d planned to appeal to your dick later on, but now that you’ve consented, I’ll save that for another time.”
Aidan shook his head furiously from side to side. “Oh no, you can pull out all the stops. I won’t argue with you.”
She laughed before kissing him again. “All right. Once Noah is asleep, I’m at your mercy.”
“Mmm, I like the sound of that.”
“I thought you would.” She pulled away and smiled at him. “Now sit down and we’ll eat.”
After he’d inhaled two BBQ sandwiches and eaten a large piece of pie, Aidan sat back and rubbed his full belly. “Okay, Em, hit me with the costumes.”
She smiled and rose up from the table. After handing Noah off to him, she dug in one of the kitchen drawers. She returned with a thick catalogue full of couples and family costumes. Tapping her finger on one of the pages, Emma asked, “How about this Star Wars one? You’d look very sexy as Han Solo while Noah would look pretty cute with some Yoda ears.”
While he had to admit that the “Baby Yoda” costume was pretty freakin’ cute, Aidan eyed the Han Solo and Princess Leia costumes contemptuously. He was still not onboard with this ridiculous couples costume thing. “Hmm, I’d much prefer you sporting the Leia Slave Girl costume to this one,” Aidan mused, with a wink.
Emma snorted before gazing down at her abdomen. “I don’t think with this belly it’s happening.”
Aidan reached out to rub Emma’s barely protruding bump. “Like you’re even showing yet.”
Shaking her head, Emma replied, “Oh whatever. With this baby, I practically started showing at conception.” She nudged him playfully. “Which confirms yet again that this baby is a girl.”
Aidan felt the familiar kick in the gut whenever the baby’s sex was mentioned. It wasn’t that he didn’t want a little girl—he loved all his nieces, especially his oldest one, Megan. It was just he knew that girls were trouble—the young ones and especially the older ones. Hell, with four older sisters, he more than knew what he was talking about. Then of course, there was the red-headed beauty sitting next to him who continued to mystify him daily.
“Did you hear me, Aidan?”
Emma smiled. “I asked you what you thought of naming the baby, Caroline, after your mother?”
“That would be beautiful,” he murmured, his chest overcome with emotions. He couldn’t imagine a more perfect name for his daughter than the one that had belonged to his late mother. Just like Emma always knew him better than he knew himself, she reached over and squeezed his hand. When Aidan gazed up at her, she gave him a reassuring smile. “I love you.”
He leaned in to bestow a tender kiss on her lips. “I love you more.”
“Mmm!” Noah grunted between them.
Aidan laughed as he gazed down at his son. “What Little Man? Are you jealous that I’m giving mommy some loving?”
Noah grinned and waved his fist. Aidan lifted him up to blow raspberries on his tummy. Noah giggled and kicked his legs. Bringing Noah back down to face him, Aidan quirked his brows at his son. “You know, Little Man, if I hadn’t given mommy some loving, you wouldn’t be here.”
“Aidan!” Emma admonished, a red flush filling her cheeks.
He laughed. “It’s the truth.” With a wink to Emma, he added, “And I plan on giving her lots of loving after you’re in bed.”
She rolled her eyes. “You’re impossible," she huffed.
“Mmm, and you’re the sexiest woman in the entire world when you’re flustered.”
Emma’s eyes stayed locked on his while her chest rose and fell in harsh pants. “W-We need to pick a c-costume,” she stammered.
Aidan shook his head. “That can wait. Let’s give Noah a bath and get him ready for bed.”
A shudder ran through Emma’s body, causing Aidan to shift in his chair. “If you insist,” she said, with a teasing lilt in her voice.
“Oh yes, I do.”
As she rose out of her chair, she pinned him with a look. “I guess this means I’ll pick the costume, and you’ll go along for the ride?”
“Oh, I’ll give you a real good ride—”
Emma shook her head. “Say it. I pick the costumes, and you’ll go along with it.”
Aidan held up his right hand as if he were swearing an oath. “Yeah. Fine. Whatever.”
“Good, I’m glad to hear it.” She reached and took Noah out of his arms. Glancing at him over her shoulder, she then proceeded to walk towards the stairs with an extra bounce and swish in her hips. When she threw him an expectant glance over her shoulder, he scrambled out of his seat and hurried to her side.
Two Weeks Later
Aidan was just putting the finishing touches on a proposal when his buddy, Mike, stuck his head in the door. “Hey man. Wanna grab a beer at O’Malley’s?”
“Uh, no, I gotta get home.”
A knowing look came over Mike’s face. “Oh yeah, Trick or Treating with Noah, huh?”
“Something like that,” Aidan grumbled.
Mike gave him a mischievous grin. “Have fun. I’ll make sure to drink a beer or two in your absence.”
“Thanks a lot.”
With a laugh, Mike closed the office door back. Knowing that Emma was expecting him home a little earlier than usual, Aidan saved his documents and then turned off the computer. He put the pedal to the metal on the way home and managed to get home with time to spare. The sun was just beginning to set, and he knew it wouldn’t be long until the doorbell began ringing with candy seekers.
When Aidan trudged down the hallway, he found Beau lying outside the bedroom door. He sucked in a pained breath. Beau was outfitted in a Tin Man’s costume complete with tin cup hat on his furry, black head.
“Not you too, buddy?”
Beau appeared to be resigned to his fate and wasn’t trying to chew off the costume. Instead, he just gazed up at Aidan with an expression like, “What was I going to do? I love her, and for reasons my doggy brain can’t comprehend, this shit makes her happy, so there.”
Bending over, Aidan patted Beau. “You’re a damn good dog, you know that?”
Beau thumped his tail in response. With a sigh, Aidan stepped over Beau to walk into the bedroom. Dread washed over him at the sight of the Scarecrow’s costume that was draped over the bed. Somehow among all the choices, Emma had decided on The Wizard of Oz since it was her favorite movie since she was a kid. She’d even played Dorothy in a high school production. And while there were worse things she could have picked, making him the scarecrow? Honestly.
“Aidan is that you?” Emma questioned from the bathroom.
“Yeah,” he mumbled.
She stepped to the doorway with Noah in her arms. Aidan’s heart melted at the sight of Noah’s Cowardly Lion costume. While most of the body was golden brown, the mane was varying shades of dark and light. A puffy tail trailed down Emma’s leg. Noah’s face peeked out from the mane to grin at him. “Looks like he’s enjoying his costume,” Aidan mused.
Emma laughed. “He is. I thought he might pitch a Fitzgerald fit when I got him inside it, but he’s been perfectly fine.” Gazing down at her son with a beaming smile, Emma said in a sing-song voice, “He’s Mommy’s sweetest and best tempered boy in the whole wide world. Aren’t you Noah?”
At that moment, Aidan’s gaze left Noah’s to take in his wife’s appearance. Damn, she even made a Dorothy costume sexy. Her long, auburn hair was swept back in the identical hair style of Judy Gardland’s. Her blue and white checked dress pulled tight across her breasts, making Aidan’s mouth run dry. While the dress came down a little longer than he would have preferred, he still got an eye-full of her fabulous legs down to where the ruby slippers glittered on her feet.
“Like what you see?” she teased.
His gaze snapped to meet hers. He gave her a seductive smile. “Yes, I do.” He took a step towards them. “I know what treat I want tonight.”
She giggled. “You’re impossible.” Leaning in, she bestowed a kiss on his lips. When she pulled away, she cocked her head, surmising him. “If you make it through tonight with whining or having that bored borderline pissed off expression of yours, I promise to come to bed tonight wearing nothing but these heels.”
Aidan snaked one of his arms around Emma’s waist. “Mmm, I’ll make sure to keep saying in my mind, ‘There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home!’”