Clayton was more than aware that Tia was used to her family, even if they didn’t always get along they were the most important people in her life. It was the holiday season and to most that meant spending time with family. Usually Lilith would at least stop by the ranch and spend a bit of time with him but this year it seemed like that wasn’t going to be the case. So all he had was Tia and that wasn’t an issue with him, however if he was all she had he wasn’t sure that was going to be enough. The vampire wasn’t sure if he truly had a place or was in a position to reach out to the Ailwards but it was a thought which had crossed his mind more than a few times but he was trying to respect Tia’s wishes of some time away from her siblings.

The ranch house had become rather festive even though he didn’t usually decorate, the only thing they didn’t have inside was an actual tree. That was fine with Clay though since he didn’t see the point in cutting one down just for the décor so instead Tia had used her abilities to create them a tree right off the porch which they had decorated with lights not wanting the ornaments or tinsel to fly away and be potentially harmful to the animals on the ranch. The sun was beginning to set and he knew he would hear her truck coming down the driveway soon, there was something he wanted to show her, a Christmas present of sorts that he had been working on for awhile and keeping it from her wasn’t necessarily as easy task since it was far from small. Granted as she drove up the drive she would likely see it next to the stable, it wasn’t really the type of gift you could necessarily hide but it was just one in a series of gifts he had for her this year.

Things between them were going well, they didn’t necessarily agree on everything but they didn’t have to. Each was allowed their own opinion and neither tried to make the other feel small for thinking themselves. It was part of the beauty of what they had going, along with being from very similar lifestyles even if they were born over a millennia apart. As he sat wrapping up one of her presents one of the kittens born of one of the countless barn cats meowed at his feet wanting to go out, “Alright, alright.” He responded before moving to carefully open the door and allow the kitten out without exposing himself to the harmful rays of the soon to be setting sun. Champ was already outside roaming and likely checking on the cattle and goats which had given Clay the necessary time to finish up some of the last minute Christmas prep, though Tia had teasingly agree to make cookies with him tonight. It was been a tradition which he usually shared with Lilith but she had assured him that it was fine to keep it going an allow Tia in on if she wanted to be part of it. On the plus side the Aspect might actually help him not to burn the cookies since he and his daughter often times forgot about them a few batches always ending up ruined while the windows were opened to air the place out. And yet those were still some of his fondest of memories now that he had a relationship with his daughter once more.

The sun was finally at a safe level for him to leave the house so he placed the wrapped gift on the table before grabbing his hat from the stand and sliding into his boots to go stand outside. Heading into the stable he opened the stall doors so the horses could spend a little time roaming the land as they saw fit, Ace and Mojo lingering behind. Soon he hear the Dodge rumbling up the drive which he had recently patched up a bit since it was getting rough. Headlights began to shine in the distance as he moved to stand in front of the large greenhouse which hadn’t been there when Tia left. Afterall, she already had a spot in his heart and his house, she may as well have one on his land as well.

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Christmas was always a rough time of year around Ailward Manor, even on the Isle the season had a sort of melancholy feel to the festivities. It was always a hard reminder of the people that weren’t with them, either because their missions had gone awry and for some, they had decided to leave. As a whole the Aspects tried to pull together, promoting the happy and joyous feel of the season to the best of their ability and most years it was successful. This year, however, tensions were high. Moods were all over the place and grudges made it almost impossible for all eight of them to be in the same room. It made her angry, furious even that Venetus still couldn’t look at her, prompting an argument that Aureus had to step in and mediate. Malva sat in the corner sulking while the other stood around the room with wide blank eyes.

Gripping the steering wheel the redhead shook her head, turning up the radio to full blast. Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Were Made For Walking” set a perfect stage for the way she was feeling, having given Tuss a piece of her mind she had refused to take his shit a moment longer and had walked out. Russ, always the peacekeeper had tried to convince her to stay but she had refused, not willing to take the abuse a moment longer. She had suffered enough, taken enough of the blame. It was time for both her and Tuss to move on, to come to terms with the past and stop using it against one another. She didn’t have to stay in that house and once he had refused she had walked out.

Wiping an angry tear that trailed down her cheek she shook her head, punching a button on the radio that switched to a Christmas station. Letting the acapella group’s haunting rendition of “Mary Did You Know” sink into her mind and calm her. Opening the window the crisp wind tugged at the fiery stands of her hair, tugging the anger and resentment from her. She refused to go back home with all of that riding on her shoulders, refused to let it color the night Clay had planned for them. Breathing deeply she eased her speed, relaxing back in the seat and let the music and the night air lull her into a more amicable state.

Turning onto the drive the twin beams of light that gave her visibility touched upon the structures arranged on the ranch, her brows furrowing as the usual landscape registered as different. Her gaze was drawn to the handsome man standing at the base of the porch stairs, his smile warming her insides. Pulling her truck up next to his she out the vehicle in park, relinquishing the keys as she opened the door and climbed out, blue eyes once more scanning the landscape of the ranch. Her brows furrowed together as Clay made his way to her side, a wide and devilish smile on his face as her gaze went to the structure and back to him. “Wha’ is that?” The longer she looked at it the more the thing took shape and it finally registered in her mind what it looked like.

Looking at him her head tilted, a wide smile flirting with her lips. “Is tha’....a greenhouse?” Her voice was hushed, the magnitude of the gesture not lost on her.

The hint of puffiness under her eyes have way to a story he was sure she wasn’t ready to tell just yet. It broken his heart to know she went to visit those she cared about most and came back in such a state, it wasn’t supposed to be the season of heartache and it was meant to bring people together not tear them apart. For a supposed being of darkness he rather enjoy the light of the holiday spirit as some might call it. After all, during his human life his holidays had been rather bleak, at least until he’s met Caroline and joy had begun to once more paint his perspective. Since it was the first holiday hopefully of many to come with the two of them together he wanted it to be a happy one but it seemed the time with her family had derailed that plan a bit and he was hoping to find a way to rectify that since he hated to see Tia upset especially when she was trying to hide it.

Clay had assumed that Champ would have heard the truck coming from across the ranch but he didn’t see or hear the Pyrenees coming which meant he actually had a bit of time alone with his girlfriend which was a rarity given the amount of critters they had vying for their attention. Though at this point she might enjoy the familiar balls of fur which only knew how to give love and affection, though sometimes between the dogs, cats and horses they got a bit jealous of one another. Strong arms wrapped around her waist as the Valkyr pulled her against his chest just holding her for a spell the grin spreading farther across his lips at her question. “It’s something that’ll hopefully chase them tears and blues away darlin’.” Leaning down he kissed the top of her head as his hand trailed soothingly over her back glad to have her home since it seemed she needed to be here as much as he needed her here.

Slowly pulling away he released her from his tight embrace before taking her hand in his and raising to up to trail his lips across her knuckles. “I don’t always say the most romantic of things or use big words, I’m more about big gestures. I meant it when I said I want to make this place ours and I know how much yar greenhouse and yar animals mean ta ya and I wanted ya to know ya gotta place here.” A nervous chuckle left him as he carded his free hand through his hair clearly out of his depth. “Ah hell, it made sense in my head.” He stated in a bashful matter since he knew what he meant he just couldn’t seem to find the words.

“Do ya like it?” He finally decided to ask before he continued to nervously attempt to force words together when he was sure he was getting farther and farther from what he was trying to say. He had the words together before she got here but damn, she had a habit of knocking the sense clean out of him without even trying.

Clay's arms wrapped around her, pulling her into his chest where she gladly curled her body into. Ducking her head against his shoulder she absorbed the feeling of safety and security that gripped her heart in his company. Inhaling deeply she dragged his scent into her lungs, that woodsy combination centered and calmed her like nothing else ever could. After a long moment she lifted her head back up, looking at the giant greenhouse that sat a bit off in the distance. It was big, bigger than the three she had on her land and a bit more updated. With no idea how he had managed to get it put up without her knowing she stepped back to look into his face.

He lifted her hand, the touch of his lips to her skin had the redhead sucking in a breath. A common reaction around her cowboy as he always had a way of making her knees weak. Staring up into his beautiful dark eyes as he spoke the Aspect got teary eyed again, only this time she didn't have an urge to be violent. No, she felt an overwhelming bubble of emotion that burst out from between her lips just as he got quiet. “I love you.” Sucking in an unsteady breath Tia smiled, grabbing his hand and holding it over her rapidly beating heart. “Ya always say just tha’ righ’ thing. Even when ya don’.” She laughed, moving forward her hand gripped his shirt and yanked him in for a kiss.

It was deep and passionate, the pair of them feeding off one another as they always did. Breaking away on a gasp and a giggle she buried her face in his neck, “We keep tha’ up an’ I'm gonna end up draggin’ ya ta bed.” Nodding her head at his question she turned to look at it, nearly bouncing on her feet in excitement. “I do. It's perfect.” Once more she turned to look at him, her expression sobering for a moment. “You are perfect fer me.” She meant every word, felt it deep down in her soul.

“Can we go see?” Tia flashed him her best smile, knowing he couldn't resist her even if he tried.

Tia always said he was her safe place, especially after visits with her family and he knew that was the case now as well. Anything she wanted of him he’d gladly give and if she said jump he wouldn’t even ask how high, he’d just do it. The Valkyr had made some mistakes when it came to his personal life in the past but he hadn’t allowed someone in the way he did with Tia in a very, very long time. If he could hold her in his arms forever he’d surely die a happy man and the shock and happiness on her face was well worth all the time, effort and sneaking around to make this happen for her. He wanted her to feel like she had her own place and space she would go to if she needed or wanted to get away from him and everything else but he wanted her to know she could move everything here as well if that’s what she decided. The decision was all up to her and he hadn’t done all of this to sway her into staying but to let her know that option was more than open since he wanted her here.

All Clay wanted was to bring a smile to Tia’s face and chase away her doubts, her anger, fears and insecurities since she was more than he ever thought he’d find in this world. Watching the tears beginning to gather in her crystalline hues before spilling over but from her expression and body language he knew these were good tears as he raised his hand to her face and gently wiped away her tears with his thumb. God her words made his heart flutter and clench in the best way, “I love you too darlin’ with everything in me and then some.” The smile on his face widened and grew as her felt the strong and rapid heartbeat of his Aspect which was very much like a stampede of cattle across the pasture. “I always try so I think I deserve some credit there for sure.” He jokingly responded as he sent a wink her direction.

As she pulled him down and their lips met, sparks of passion flying from them and igniting in his bloodstream. All thoughts fled from his mind as he pulled her close deepening the kiss shared between him hoping she was able to truly feel how much he did love and care for her. “Well darlin’, I’m pretty well tempted to toss ya across my shoulder like a feed sack but that would take away from yar present.” Which he knew she was thrilled with from her actions and he knew he had made the right decision and his months of contemplation and work had paid off, especially with managing to keep it a surprise. “Aurantia there ain’t ever been no long like on this earth before and there ain’t gone be another one like ya come. Ya’re everything I could ever want, ya understand me and ya’re perfect.” And she was beyond perfect for him, he was the luckiest man in the city that was for sure.

“Oh course, come.” He said finally removing his arms from around her waist and taking her smaller hand within his own and running towards the greenhouse with her in toe. Stopping at the door he slowly pushed it open allowing the anticipation to build before flicking on a switch inside which controlled the lightening so she could get the full picture of it all.

The redhead blushed furiously, the mental image of him throwing her over his shoulder doing all sorts of things to her body. She knew he meant what he said and would no doubt make good on his threat, he’d done so before. A couple of times in fact. Ducking her head so that her hair fanned into her face, covering the look over passion and yearning that suffused her features. After taking a couple of deep breaths her sky blue hues looked at him from beneath her lashes, worrying her lower lip with her teeth as she considered taking him up on his offer. They could always revisit her gift later, however, her curiosity and excitement were a little too high to do that.

“Later.” She promised with a wink, giving him a blatant once over to seal the deal. That plan was almost derailed by the toes curling kiss they shared, her breath short as they pulled apart reluctantly. Tia’s disappointment quickly flashed back to exhilaration as her cowboy took her hand, the pair of them running to the door of her new greenhouse. Stepping back she let him take the lead, bouncing on her toes as he opened the door with a flourish and reached inside to turn on a light. Her mouth parted on a quiet gasp, her steps small as she crossed the threshold into the vast space.

It was laid out masterfully, two rows on either side and one right down the middle. The outside boxes were double-decker, slanting from the top to the bottom so that water would flow down and allow both levels to be watered liberally. Sprinkler systems hung from the ceiling, and the lights were soft fluorescent so as not to damage any of the more finicky plants. Walking along the right-hand side her fingers caressed the fresh wooden boxes reverently. Mind racing the redhead thought about the significance of the greenhouse and what message her Shadow was trying to relay. Pursing her lips she turned to look at him, tilting her head thoughtfully.

“Ya know...there’s plenty’a room ta place another one of these right there.” She pointed at the large swath of land right next to the greenhouse. “With two this size I could transplant all mah stuff here.” As she laid out her plan she took slow steps toward him, a soft smile playing on her lips. “Buildin’ a pen fer the goats would be simple, an’ ya got plenty’a room fer mah cows. An’ with everythin’ here….” She was standing right in front of him, head tilted back slightly to look up into his handsome face. “...there would be no need fer me ta go back an’ forth. Mah whole world would be right here.”

The Ailward searched his face, trying to gauge his reaction as she made the offer of moving everything to his land. They were already living together and it was getting harder for her to get up each morning to leave. Moving her plants and animals to his land would make things more efficient and ultimately seal an even deeper commitment for them both of them. She would still need to visit the manner, keep in touch with her sibling so no one got sick but that was a minimal thing. This was a permanent relocation and one she was hoping he had been thinking of too.

It was so easy for Tia to distract him without even trying, it was just the natural presence of the Aspect herself, her mannerisms and speech. She understood his world and way of life like so few did, when he spoke she didn’t look at him like he was crazy or have to translate his accent or southernisms. The modern world had continued to move on and move forward, leaving people like him behind, the Valkyr running a ranch and investing mostly in a business which wasn’t the most popular but he loved what he did. The cattle, orchard, agriculture and even alcohol production portion of it. The distillery not on this plot of land since he wanted to keep those things separate.

A grin pulled at his lips as she told him later for her gift and he would definitely hold her to it but they did have a rather exciting gift to focus on at the moment. It wasn’t just the greenhouse itself but what it represented, another step forward for them both in their relationship. Clay knew that soon enough he would have to meet and answer to the rest of her family but it was pretty low on his list of worries and priorities since she seemed to want to keep him and her family separate for the time being and he would respect that. Beside the last thing he wanted was to cause more of an uproar since he knew things between Tia and her brother Ven weren’t exactly the best.

For the moment they would focus on the here and now which included checking out the inside of the greenhouse. Given Clay had never actually needed one he had to do some research and he had seen the ones she had off land so he used that as a guide. In truth he was learning a lot with having her around since they both had a bit of a different focus but they both loved their animals and living off the land. Clay of course didn’t close to the animals he was aware he was selling for slaughter or to buyers but there were a select few he kept as his own even if others didn’t seem much worth in them. “I’m not sure it’s big enough for what all ya got goin’ but I figured it was a start.” He stated as he watched her eyes taking in everything around her. “We can change anythin’ ya want I ain’t the most knowledgeable ‘bout greenhouses.” Which was a face but he had done his best since he knew they were important to her and it was for her.

As she spoke he tried to tap down his amusement along with allowing the bit of anxiety to leave him, she was happy and that was really all he wanted. “Well darlin’ ya know we got more than enough land ta do that.” He responded as she continued to verbalize a plan of action, though he knew she was just making suggestions and seeing how he handled it all. It seemed she was rather fond of the idea of having more time together which was possible if everyone was on one large plot of land. There were a few acres to the northeast for sale so that could be an extension if they needed it but he didn’t think they would, at least not yet. “Damn darlin’ I think you figured out my plan.” He said with a board grin on his lips as a single cerulean hue closed to wink at her.

“Could probably get that all done in a week or less. Maybe a bit more.” He said with a frown knowing he had some meetings coming up with Eternal Brewing and Distillery. It was rare he actually had to be at those meetings but it was about costs and potential investors which meant the good ol’ Southern boy had to pretend to be a businessman. Thankfully no one expected him to dress up in a suit which was a plus. “So,” He said before wrapping his arms around her slender waist and pulling her against, “Ya think ya can put up with me that much?” He mused knowing he had no idea which her being such a big part of his life since she and Lilith meant the world to him.

As usual he was on the same page as her, his gift a precursor to the actual asking and she had been traipsing around the exact idea. It said volumes for how the pair of them worked, how they functioned as a pair. At times the redhead wondered if Clay wasn't clairvoyant, as he always seemed to know what she was thinking or feeling. Sometimes even before she herself could realize what was going on in her heart and mind. It made things extremely easy and relaxed, simple. They way people like them liked it.

Tia went willingly into his arms, wrapping her arms around his neck to press in close. “I think this is gonna be perfect. We can expand inta tha’ plot'a land that's fer sale up north. I have room ta build a still room and I can start makin’ soaps and things I've wanted ta get into forever an’ a day ago.” All the plans she had tucked away inside her dreams began to take shape, her excitement making her speech faster as she numbered out the possibilities. Finally she grinned wide, staring up into his warm, hazel eyes with a love that was hard to put into words. “I love you.”

She whispered the words, her heart swelling well past her throat and had she spoken any louder the tears welling in her eyes might have been frightened into falling. Never before had she felt such affection and passion for an individual, not in her first life and never in her second. Clay was a pleasant surprise that she coveted, his steady grounding presence made all the chaos in her life bearable. Sometimes she felt like she relied on him too much, that it was unfair to place such a heavy burden on him but the few times she had hinted at those feelings he had gotten angry. Not at her but at the absurdity of her thoughts.

Rising up on her tiptoes she pressed her lips to his, letting all the feelings of love and adoration and passion and pure attraction she felt for him pour into the contact. When she managed to pull away they were both breathless and the bedroom was looking better and better by the minute. “I have a confession ta make, my gift fer you isn’t near as good as this.” She giggled a little, keeping her body close to his though her gaze lowered to his chest at eye level.

Clay didn’t fancy himself a proper anything other than a good ol’ country boy with an open mind and a hell of a big heart. But as far as gifts and the things like that went he was usually pretty clueless since he didn’t think of the world in a material way, which made it good that Tia really didn’t either, so he went with what he thought she would enjoy and way the most. To be honest it was really a gift for both of them since it meant she would be around more which was a plus to him as well. Now if it hadn’t been what she had wanted he would have felt like the wrong end of an ass but as it was it seemed to have been the best decision he had made in awhile.

There was nothing he liked more than having her help him on the ranch or helping her with her green house. What he enjoyed most was the feeling of Tia in his arms, how she just understood him and he understood her. Looking down at her in his arms, he listened as she continued on with her path of thinking. Which wasn’t that far from his own, though he hadn’t known about her will to expand into such things as soaps and other items. It was rather nice to find that out to be honest, they did both have their own ambitions after all. “I can call ‘bout the other plot within the next few days. It can’t imagine that it’ll take too long to get everything close out on that if we decide to do it.” Business decisions and the likes seemed to come easier over the years of running a business and expanding came with other benefits he didn’t care too much about as well such as addition tax breaks for agriculture. A grin curved his lips, “I love ya too darlin’.” He responded genuinely since he had never anticipated caring about someone this much again.

Love was something that people took for granted every day or claimed to have while having not a single clue of how deep an emotion it was, having never actually felt it. Clay knew what love was, he had done things for love and he had done things for duty and he could say beyond a shadow of a doubt that he did love her. Even with his first wife there had been a vague shadow of a doubt, he had felt like maybe it had been the situations which drove him towards her and not his actual feelings, with Tia they had both started out at friends and things had progressed naturally since. Perhaps they had both come from a time and a way of life where the male had to shoulder more than the female and it was something Clay was used to and enjoyed, it was how he had been raised so when Tia brought concerns about it was just silly to him. It wasn’t that he took any freedom from her or tried to control her, he was just raised to be a certain way an if she told him to back off then he would.

His lips one more curved into a smile and as hers pressed against his own. Clayton would never be able to put his emotions and what he felt for her into words, it just wasn’t the kind of guy he was but he allowed his emotions to come out in actions. When you were raised that emotions could be a weakness you didn’t often speak of them so doing so with Tia meant he trusted her more than anyone in the world other than his own daughter. As their lips ended a brow rose in question, “Darlin’ just the fact ya thought of me if more than enough for me.” He responded honestly since he didn’t need or want anything from her and he had told her that. It was incredibly nice to be thought of though.

It had taken a long time for the two of them to get where they were, to a place where they could not only admit their feelings but indulge in them. Now that she had Clay in her life Tia couldn't imagine being without him, would fight tooth and nail if anyone tried to take him from her. Then again Clay wasn't the type that could be taken, hell she'd barely ever seen him glance at another woman since they had begun dating. That was just the kind of person he was, loyal and focused. It was one of the many reasons she had fallen for him, very few people understood her state of mind and upbringing so it, of course, took another country soul to bond with her own.

Grinning the redhead looked off in the direction of the plot of land they were talking about, thinking about how much land it was and what might be a decent price. Nodding her head she planned on helping with that purchase but right now was not the time for monetary discussions, right now was a time for gifts and good company. Now that his gift and the prospect of moving in permanently had been discussed and seemingly decided upon her gift didn't seem as exciting as it had this morning. Clay hadn’t just given her a place on his land he had cleared out a large spot in his life and offered it to her on a silver platter. Nothing was better or more romantic than that, at least to her.

Drawing in a breath she stepped out of the circle of his arms and bounced a bit on her toes. “So I have two gifts. Tha first is out at the truck an’ tha second will be here in tha mornin’.” The Aspect grinned pulling out the flight itinerary out of her back pocket and unfolding the papers so that he could get a gander at the passengers’ names as well as the destination. His cattle business was small but from her research, he had cultivated a name for himself among the beef industry. He had talked about expanding so many times and yet hadn't taken the leap, so Tua was going to give him a little push.

There were several decent sized cattle ranchers in Texas who were more than happy to set up a meeting with Clayton Forrester to talk partnerships. They were long established ranches with good names and top-grade cattle, the perfect mix for growing his own brand. So, she had bought two tickets round trip for the pair of them to spend a week in Austin both for business and for pleasure. Her second gift piggybacked off the first, though it was the trip that was the most important. ‘An’ before ya go belly-achin' about leavin’ tha animals I already got it covered. No excuses an’ no sayin’ no.”

The redhead tried to look stern, her sky blue hues dancing while she pointed a finger at him with as much command as she could muster towards the man she loved.

Clayton’s life had never been the easiest but even when he had been human he had never dwelled on things like that because it wasn’t the hardships that mattered but how you overcame them. Struggle was part of being alive but if you didn’t find the things worth fighting for then it was all pointless, at least in his mind. Love was worth persevering for it was also something he had only felt for his daughter in the last hundred or so years, at least until Tia. He didn’t fall fast and hard for it was a slow process built on a foundation of small things and shared values. Clay had never been the sort to seek out love, sure he had a big heart but he believed that love was something which should find you and not the other way around. But you had it, you did everything within your power to keep and he would do whatever it took in order to hold onto Tia, she was his light and salvation in a world which seemed to have left them both behind. She was a being much more than what he was a part of something he couldn’t even begin to fully comprehend but she was happy with someone as simple as him and he loved her all the more for it.

It still seemed too easy at times, like there was something looming close by and ready to destroy the happiness they had found but he was sure it was just his own unspoken insecurities. After all, Tia had accepted everything he had offered and never asked for more. In truth he was just glad to see her smiling again since he knew how things had been between her and her family and he hated that more than anything. Family was never easy but he didn’t think it should ever be as hard as what hers seemed to be, though a thousand years together and he could imagine that would put anyone on edge or at odds after awhile. The idea of the additional land did cause him to smile since it was something they could both agree on and it would be their first joint purchase should they decide to go through with it, but that was a discussion for another day or night.

A chuckle rumbled through him, “I get two gifts do I?” He teased ever so curious about what she could have possibly gotten him, “Ya know I don’t need nothin’ but you right darlin’?” Hell this was the first Christmas he was getting anything other than from his daughter or employs. A brow rose at what she was showing him and he felt a twinge deep in his chest as seeing not only both their names but the destination. Home. How long had it been since he had returned to Texas? Over fifty years at he couldn’t keep the emotions from playing across his features. “Tia…” He had the feeling the tickets weren’t just for a vacation and yet they caused his heart to flutter none the less.

Of course she had already thought about the fact that the ranch couldn’t run itself. There wasn’t much room for argument and it had been a hell of a long time since he had a day off let alone an actual vacation of sorts. “Darlin’ why do I got the feelin’ tis ain’t just a pleasure trip.” He said looking into those cunning and yet innocent eyes, how she was able to pull off both at once he had no idea but it just caused him to shake his head with a bit of a chuckle. “Ya sure ya’re family ain’t gonna think I kidnapped ya?” He teased before wrapping his arms around her slim waist and pulling her back into him, “Sides, ya know I ain’t had no luck with feeding ya excuses, ya just see straight through ‘em.” Which was probably a good thing since she had no issue calling him out when he was stalling or just trying to get out of things. It didn’t happen often but there were rare occasions.

Texas for either of them was a tall order. Christmas time was hard to travel, as the volume for travel was high all across the country but for a pair of homebodies it was asking a lot. With the farm needing to be looked after, the animals to consider, and then the added challenge of Tia's time constraints regarding travel there was a lot to mull over. Everything had been thoroughly gone over in the redhead's mind however, not just once or twice but several times and in the end she had made all the arrangements. Seeing to every detail down to making sure she had spent a good amount of time around a couple.of her siblings before coming out to the ranch this evening. A kitten hadn't been factored into things of course but she had no doubt that she knew a Guard she couple pawn the little mite off on, not to mention the kitten would cause a good distraction with her would be shadow allowing her and her cowboy to slip onto the plane unaccompanied.

Grinning as that little thought occurred to her Tia once more wrapped her arms around Clay's neck, pressing her body against his in all the right places, "Cause it's not jus' a pleasure trip." Her smile turned sweet with more than a hint of mischief written all over her face. There was no way she was going to be able to pull of playing innocent with him, Clay could see right through her no matter how good her story was. "We may have a few meetin's with some ranchers scheduled, some business opportunities fer yer business." Her fingers worked their way up into the hair at the base of his neck, stroking the little hairs that poked out from beneath his hat. "Ya always talked 'about expansion, well now ya have tha opportunity."

At the mention of her family the Aspect let out a soft snort, rolling her blueish grey eyes as she shook her head. "Aureus knows we are headed outta town an' where we are goin'." She chuckled remembering her brief conversation with her brother, "He wasn' happy tha' I wasn' takin' Sapphire with us but I convince him tha' you are all tha protection I need." Rising up on her tiptoes she silenced his speech about excuses with a long kiss, stealing both of their breath away in the process. "No excuses." She whispered to him taking his hand and leading him towards the house. They had an early flight and after all their talk she needed him close, wrapped around her with all of his protection and love.

~Completed~

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