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“Guess where we’re going?” Derek Malveaux snuck behind his wife Nikki and wrapped his arms around her and whispered in her ear.
She set down the lettuce she was getting ready to rinse off to fix for dinner and turned around. “Are you taking me to dinner?” She smiled.
“Oh it’s so much better than that. Come on.” He took her hand. “Let’s go sit outside on the patio and I’ll tell you.
“Better than dinner out?” She giggled. “This must be good. Should I get us a bottle of wine?”
“Already on the table outside, and so is your sweater. It’s a little chilly.”
“Hmm, you’ve thought of everything. My interest is picqued.”
They went outside onto the back porch of their ranch style farm house that crested the top of a knoll where below them was a large pond, and beyond that rows of grapevines that had been cultivated for years in order to produce some of the best wines to come out of Napa Valley. Their Rhodesian Ridgeback Ollie followed them out and flopped his large self down at Nikki’s feet. A couple of ducks flew overhead and landed on the pond, a ripple effect spreading out across the water on the cool early December evening. “Ooh it’s cold out here,” Nikki said.
“It is December,” Derek replied with a grin. “And did you know we’re expecting rain next week.”
Nikki made a face. “Good for the vines.”
“It is, but cold Christmas. Brrr.” He ran his hands up and down his arms and then wrapped them around Nikki. “It’s no coincidence I asked you to come outside into the cold and told you about the rain on the way.”
“You’re acting weird.”
He reached into his back pocket and handed her a brochure.
“What’s this?” she asked.
“This is where we’re going for the holidays.”
“What?” Nikki looked at the cover of the brochure and then opened it. “Puerto Vallarta? Oh my gosh! Really?”
He nodded. “Yes. Remember the other night when we had dinner at Costa Azul and we were talking about how delicious the food is and the margaritas and how nice it would be to just get away and sit in the sun somewhere.”
“Yes.” She smiled.
“I took it to heart and got on the phone the next day and started making arrangements.”
“You are the best husband ever.” She wrapped her arms tightly around him and looked up at him. He planted his lips down on hers.
“Yoo hoo. Okay makey out session time is up. It’s time to get all rated G again, people. Little person on the premises. And what in the world are you two doing out here in the freezing cold?”
“Simon,” they said in unision.
“You’re favorite brother at your service, and tiny tot,” Derek’s brother stated.
His two-year-old daughter Violet reached out for Nikki. “Hello baby girl. Come see Aunt Nikki. You are getting so big. Where’s your Poppy?” she asked referring to Simon’s partner Marco. Violet called Simon Daddy and Marco “Poppy.”
“Poppy had to make a trek into the city. He says he had a doctor’s appointment, but he is such a bad liar. He went for Christmas presents. I just know it. Oh what do we have here?” He pointed to the brochure in Nikki’s hand and then grabbed it. “Puerto Vallarta, huh?” He wiggled his eyebrows. “So when we going?”
“We are not going,” Derek said. “We…” he pointed at Nikki and then himself, “Are going on a holiday vacation. Alone.”
Simon’s lower lip sunk into an immediate pout. “Wait a minute. You’re going away for the holidays?” He shook his head. “Uh uh. No I don’t think so. This is the first year that tiny tot even remotely understands who St. Nicholas is.”
“Santa Claus.” Violet laughed and clapped her hands. “Santa, Santa.”
“That’s right, sweetie girl, Santa,” Simon said. “But it looks like Uncle Derek and Auntie Nikki will be doing tequila shooters down south, and missing you getting the goodies out of your stocking.”
“Stocking. Tequila. Santa,” Violet said.
“Hmmm, somehow that doesn’t all work together. Look what you two made her say.”
Nikki looked at Derek imploringly. “Oh no. No. No,” he said. “I know that look. This is about you and me. Going away. Some sunshine. Fun. Fiesta time. Siesta time.”
“I know,” she said.
“You can still have all that,” Simon interrupted.
“It is Christmas, honey, and I don’t know. It just, well, it just wouldn’t really feel like Christmas without family.”
“That’s the point,” Derek said.
“Bah humbug,” Simon said.
Nikki now pouted.
“Oh God. I think I’m being ganged up on,” Derek replied. “Fine. We’ll all go.”
Simon hugged him. “You are so wonderful. Oh piñatas and tacos and what do you think they call Santa in Mexico?”
“Santa Claus,” Nikki said.
“Santa Claus,” Simon repeated with a Mexican accent. “I was going to mooch some dinner off the two of you but I think I’ll order a pizza and go see if I can find my pancho.”
“Pancho?” Derek asked.
“It’s gorgeous. It’s green and red with a little splash of yellow. Very festive.”
“Hmm. I can’t wait to see it.”
“You’ll love it. Tah tah. Call me with the details, Snow White. Say bye-bye to Aunt Nikki and Uncle Derek.”
Violet waved and her little voice said, “Bye bye.”
As Simon walked off the patio, Derek turned to Nikki and mouthed the word, Pancho.
“What did you just commit me to?” he asked.
“I’m sorry, honey. I really love being around family and Violet is so precious. We will have our alone time. We will.”
“This is my brother we’re talking about.”
“I know, but it’ll be great. You’ll see. Promise. Now let’s get out of this cold, start a fire and find a way to celebrate.”
“Any ideas?” he asked.
“A few. Oh and they include a pancho and a little salsa dance.”
“Oh Senora, I like the way you think.”