Alyssa silently creeped back to the couch and waited for Joey to come out of Tony’s room. "He’s out like a light." Joey whispered loudly from the hall.

"Yeah." Alyssa nodded and flipped the ignored TV off. "Um, we should uh, talk about Christmas Joey."

"Yeah, I’ve been thinking about that." Joey sighed as he fell onto the couch beside her. "It’s only like a week away."

"Five days." Alyssa smiled.

"Right, five days." Joey grinned back and rubbed his eyes slowly. "I uh, I talked to my mom. She told me they came down to see Tony last week?"

"Yeah… they came down for the day."

"How’d that go?" Joey asked.

"Good." Alyssa said after a moments thought. "It was kind of awkward at first. I wish you could have been here."

"I wish I could have too." Joey said softly. "Did Tony um, have a good time?"

"Yeah, we all went to the little street craft fair thing over in Bakerwood."

"Sounds like fun."

"Yeah, I’m really glad they came down. They’ve been calling too."

"That’s good." Joey nodded. "So… what do you guys usually do for Christmas?"

"We spend Christmas Eve at my parents house, the whole family dinner and gifts thing. Then Tony and I come home and we have our own little Christmas with Santa in the morning." Alyssa explained as she glanced across the room at the two little stockings hanging off the bookshelves. "Christmas afternoon we usually swing back around my parents to see Jason and Katie."

"Hmm, I’d like to see him on Christmas." Joey said softly.

"Okay." Alyssa nodded. "You can uh, stay here if you want. You know, Christmas Eve night. Then have a little family Christmas with us in the morning."

"Would that be okay?"

"Sure." Alyssa smiled and gently placed her hand on Joey’s arm. "Tony would like that… and so would I."

"You’re sure?"

"Of course." She laced her fingers through his. "Are you going to stay tonight? Or do you have a car here?"

"No, I don’t. I had Ben drop me off. Is it okay if I crash on the couch?"

"You don’t have to take the couch Joey."

"Well I just meant…" He blushed slightly and stared at their hands intertwined.

"Don’t be silly Joey." She shook her head and stood up.

"Well speaking of bed, I’m beat. Would it be bad if I ditched you out here and went to bed?"

"Sure… go ahead. I’m going to finish watching "ER", I’ll be in later."

"Okay." Joey pulled himself off the couch, then leaned over Alyssa to give her a quick kiss on the cheek, "Goodnight Lyss."

"Goodnight Joe." She practically whispered. Joey stood up straight and licked his lips quickly, then headed down the hall to her room. She heard him moving around in the room, then the light squeak of her bed as he lay down and made himself comfortable. Alyssa smiled to herself as she turned the volume up on her TV and concentrated on the show.

Alyssa stayed up a while longer, catching the headlines for the eleven o’clock news before going to bed. She changed into her pajamas and climbed under the warm blankets beside Joey. He was sound asleep and breathing deeply on the pillow beside her. Alyssa curled up beside him and rested her head on his shoulder, then draped her arm over his sturdy chest and sighed contentedly. She closed her eyes and fell asleep feeling whole.

 

The next morning Alyssa opened her eyes to the sound of chatter and cartoons in the living room. She frowned slightly as she opened her eyes and rolled over in the bed to face the door. Tony always came in to get her when he woke up, what was going on?

"Hey Tone, where does your mom keep the cereal?" Joey asked from the kitchen. Alyssa heard cupboards opening and closing and she laughed to herself. "Ah ha… here we go." Joey pulled the cereal out and placed it on the counter, "What kind do you want? Raisin Bran, or Cheerios? Gross, you like this stuff?"

"No, I like eggs." Tony said from the floor in front of the TV.

"Eggs?" Joey thought about making eggs for the little kid, "You don’t like cereal?"

"No, I like eggs."

"How about toast?" Joey asked hopefully.

"With peanut butter?"

"Um… where does your mom keep the peanut butter?"

"I don’t know. It’s by the bread." Tony laughed at the cartoons as Joey began his search through the cupboards again.

"I can’t find the peanut butter. How about cereal?"

"How about eggs?" Tony stood up and rubbed his eyes as he stumbled into the kitchen. His Star Wars pajamas were a little too small for him, but he loved them and didn’t care that his sleeves were up near his elbows and that he looked like he was waiting for a flood.

"Your things don’t fit." Joey said, noticing the sleepy boy standing in the doorway.

"Can I have eggs?" Tony asked again. "The peanut butter is there." He pointed at the breadbox.

"Let’s have toast instead." Joey nodded and pulled the breadbox open. He took out the loaf of white bread and the chunky peanut butter. "Okay kiddo, where’s the toaster?" Joey looked around at the empty counters.

"It’s in the cabinet under the coffee maker." Alyssa smiled from the doorway.

"Thanks." Joey opened the cabinet and pulled out the shiny chrome toaster.

"You want eggs honey?" Alyssa messed Tony’s hair and stepped into the kitchen beside Joey as he placed two pieces of bread in the toaster.

"We’re making peanut butter toast." Tony explained.

"If you want eggs I can make some." Alyssa offered.

"Toast is cool, right Tone?" Joey asked as he opened the peanut butter and pulled a knife out of the drawer.

"Right." Tony smiled and walked back out to the living room to watch "Blues Clues".

"Has he been up long?" Alyssa reached for a bowl and poured herself some cheerios.

"Nah, about an hour or so. You were zonked and I thought you’d like to sleep in."

"I loved it, thank you."

"So what’s the plan for today?" Joey leaned back against the counter and watched Alyssa eat her cereal.

"What time are you here till?"

"Ben’s picking me up at noon to take me to the airport."

"Okay." Alyssa nodded. "We were going to go get a tree this afternoon, but if you want to help, you can come with us."

"A Christmas tree?"

"Yeah."

"Sure, I’d love to." Joey took the toast out of the toaster and spread a thin layer of peanut butter on them. He grabbed a paper towel and placed the pieces on it to carry them out to the table. "Toast is ready kiddo." He said. Tony jumped up and ran to the table to eat his breakfast. Joey put two more pieces of bread in the toaster and sat at the table with Tony and Alyssa.

"Joey’s going to come with us to get a tree, how does that sound?"

"A Christmas tree?" Tony asked.

Alyssa laughed and nodded, "Yeah a Christmas tree."

"Okay and can we get a really huge tall one?" Tony took a bite of his toast and wiped his peanut buttery mouth on his sleeve and smiled.

"You bet." Joey smiled. "How tall?"

"Like 9 miles high."

"Nine miles? That won’t fit in the house. How about something like 6 feet tall?"

"How tall is that?" Tony asked.

"It’s as tall as me. See?" Joey stood up and imitated a tree. "It’d be like this with lights and ornaments and lots of presents underneath. Would that work?"

"Presents for me?" Tony asked excitedly.

"Maybe one or two." Joey nodded.

"Maybe a hundred?"

"That’s a lot of presents…" Joey stepped into the kitchen to make his toast.

"And mommy can have some and you too. And for grandma and grandpa and for everybody." Tony took another bite and laughed.

"Sounds cool." Alyssa smiled.

"Yeah." Tony nodded.

"There’s a Christmas tree lot up by the recreation center, we can head over there." Alyssa said to Joey as she took a bite of her cereal.

"Works for me." Joey nodded. He glanced at his watch and said, "It’s a little after nine, so we should probably get going pretty soon."

"Okay." Alyssa nodded and smiled at Tony, "Are you ready to go get your Christmas tree?"

"Yeah." Tony wiped his mouth and left a half-eaten piece of toast on the paper towel as he jumped out of his chair and ran down the hall to his room.

"Wear warm clothes!" Alyssa shouted after him.

"I will!" Anthony shouted back.

"I’m going to go get dressed, did you want to shower or anything?"

"Nah, I know I’m all funky, but I don’t have anything clean here. Poor planning on my part." Joey shrugged and ate the last bite of his toast.

"You should leave a change of clothes here, just in case." Alyssa said softly as she got up to put her bowl in the sink.

"Yeah…" Joey said slowly. That was a little too close to "moving in" for him, no matter how much it made sense.

"I’m going to go throw some clothes on, I’ll be ready in a minute." Alyssa breezed past Joey, her hip brushing his shoulder as she rushed by.

Alyssa dressed herself in jeans and a long sleeved T-shirt, then went to the living room to grab her shoes and put them on. She tied her shoes, then Tony’s and they were ready to go.

"All right, so we’re looking for a nine mile high Christmas tree, right?" Joey asked as the three of them got out of the car at the tree lot.

"Yeah." Tony laughed and took Alyssa’s hand. Joey adjusted the baseball cap on his head and pulled his sunglasses out of his pocket to complete the look.

"Cute." Alyssa smiled over her shoulder and walked across the parking lot to where the trees were lined up.

They walked up and down the aisles looking for the perfect tree. Alyssa decided that she wanted a big full tree with lots of needles and a great pine scent, so she walked around smelling all the trees.

"This one mommy, this one smells good." Tony picked at the low branches of a tree in the corner.

"You think so huh? Let’s see." She leaned over to sniff it, "Wow, that smells pretty good to me."

"You know that all Christmas trees smell like this, right?" Joey reached over and pulled the tree to a standing position.

"I know." Alyssa smiled up at him and examined the tree from all angles while he held it up. "This tree is perfect, good job Tone."

"Is it nine miles tall?" Tony bounced around Joey’s feet, craning his neck to see the top.

"Nope, almost though. It’s almost seven feet." Joey looked at the tag near the top of the tree. "Will it fit in your house?"

"Yeah, I think so." Alyssa nodded.

"It will." Tony nodded, as if he knew.

"So is this the one?" Joey asked.

"I think so, what do you think?"

"It looks good to me. No big holes or anything." He spun the tree around to get a good look. "Yes?"

"Yes." Tony and Alyssa nodded and Joey picked the tree up. They walked it to the front and paid for it, then fought to tie it on top of Joey’s SUV. Joey drove them home slowly and helped unload the tree onto their front porch.

"Where’s the stand?"

"In the garage." Alyssa said as she pulled her hair back into a ponytail. "I’ll go get it." Joey looked at his watch quickly and nodded, "Do you have to go?"  She asked.

"In about an hour." He nodded. Tony tugged at the bottom branches of the tree, dropping pine needles all over the porch, "Hey Tone, don’t do that." Joey shook his head at the child.

Alyssa let herself into the garage and dug around, looking for the bright red tree stand. She found it under a tarp with the big box of Christmas decorations. She took it into the house and dusted it off on her jeans.

"Tony, dude, don’t pull on the branches, you’re making needles go all over the place." Joey sighed and tried to move the tree away from his grasp.

"Anthony." Alyssa said sternly. "Joe’s asked you twice to stop it."

"But I-"

"No, you need to listen to him. He’s a grown up."

"He’s my daddy." Tony nodded, lowering his head.

That took Alyssa by surprise, not that Tony said the word "daddy", he’d been saying that for a while, just the whole situation. She’d never actually thought about Joey disciplining him. "That’s right. He’s… he’s your daddy so you need to listen to what he says. When he asks you to stop pulling the tree you need to stop."

"Okay." Anthony said, looking like a shamed puppy. "I’m sorry daddy." He said softly.

"It’s uh…" Joey looked to Alyssa for some support. "It’s okay." He tousled Tony’s hair and smiled, "I just don’t want to make a mess out here."

"Let’s get the tree set up inside before Joey has to go." Alyssa held the door open for the "men" as they brought the tree inside. Joey set it in the stand and Tony went to grab a cup of water to pour in the base.

"Is it straight?" Joey asked as he leaned halfway into the tree.

"A little to the left."

"Your left or my left?"

"Towards the window." Alyssa explained.

"That window?" Joey looked at the window behind the tree.

"Away from the door, it needs to bend away from the door."

"Like this?" Joey moved over an inch, unable to see anything but branches.

"Okay that’s too far." Alyssa squinted at the tree, trying to picture it with lights. Joey moved it around, turned it a quarter of the way, tilted it and all but stood on his head to get it straight.

"Lyss…" Joey sighed when she asked him to move it back the way it was just seconds before. "What did you do last year?"

"I just threw it in the stand and let it go as crooked as it was." She smiled.

"It almost falled over."

"Fell. It almost fell over sweetie." Alyssa corrected him.

"Then you know what?" Joey asked as he pulled his head out from the branches.

"What?" Alyssa laughed at the pine needles stuck in his hair.

"This is fine." He let go of the tree and stood back. He ran his hands through his hair to get the pine needles out and looked at the tree.

"That looks great." Alyssa beamed at the slightly off centered, not quite crooked tree.

"Ben’s gonna be here any minute." Joey looked at his watch and sighed.

"Do you have a show tonight?"

"Yeah." He nodded. "Hey, you’re coming to the show in New York right? On the 30th?"

"Yeah." Alyssa nodded. "I got the plane tickets last week. You um, you said we could stay at the hotel with you?"

"Of course, for new years. What better place to be, right?"

"Right."

"I get to go on a airplane and see you and Justin on the stage with the lights." Tony said excitedly as he climbed under the tree and poured his little plastic cup of water in the base. At the rate he was going, he’d be transporting tiny cups of water all night.

"That’s cool, we’re gonna have an awesome time. I’ll get you some ear plugs so your ears won’t hurt." Joey smiled.

There was a knock on the front door then, it was time for Joey to go. "Hey Ben." Joey smiled and held the door open for the security guard.

"Hey Joe, you ready?"

"Yeah, just a second." Joey nodded, "Um, Ben, this is Tony… he’s my uh… he’s my son."

"Well hey there big guy, how’s it going?" Ben smiled at the shy four year old. "He’s cute." Ben smiled and tucked his hands in his pockets.

"I’ll be back on Christmas Eve." Joey said to Alyssa, "What time do you guys get back from your mom and dads?"

"Around 8 or so, so Tony can get to bed on time."

"Okay, I’ll plan on getting here around then." He picked Tony up and gave him a big hug. "I’ll see you in three days, how’s that sound?"

"Good." Tony laughed as Joe kissed his cheek.

"Then you can fly out and see me, and Ben here, he’ll take care of you."

"Does he work with you?" Tony whispered.

"Kind of, yeah. Ben makes sure I don’t get hurt." Joey explained.

"And me too?"

"You too." Joey nodded. "When you come out to see me, Ben will make sure you don’t get hurt."

"And mommy?"

"You bet." Joey smiled and set Tony back on the floor. "I’ll call you during the week to touch base." Alyssa wrapped her arms around his neck quickly and brushed his lips with hers.

"Fly safe." She smiled.

"I will."

"I’m Alyssa by the way." Alyssa extended her hand to Ben.

"Hi Alyssa, I’m Ben."

"Nice to meet you." She smiled.

"I’m sorry to rush things along here, but we’ve gotta go." Ben nodded at Joey.

"I’ll see you later." Joey waved over is shoulder as he followed Ben down the walk to the car.

"Thanks for helping us get our tree up." Alyssa called after him. He smiled and waved as he climbed into the car and shut the door.

Tony sighed and said, "He’s really busy."

"Yep, he sure is." Alyssa watched the car stop at the end of he block, then turn the corner. "He sure is." She picked Tony up and spun him around on the little porch. "But we get to go in an airplane! How cool is that?"

"That’s cool mommy." Tony laughed out loud and tossed his head back.

"Let’s go decorate the tree." She set him down and laughed as he regained his balance. They headed back to the garage to get the box of decorations and spent the rest of the afternoon decorating the tree and house… better late than never.

 

Joey called a few days later to confirm that he would be there Christmas Eve before Tony went to bed, and that he’d be staying at Alyssa’s to celebrate Christmas morning with them. "We don’t really do much." Alyssa explained. "We just usually open presents and have breakfast, then put the toys together and play for the afternoon. My mom usually has dinner around four so we head over there to visit, but that’s about it."

"Sounds good to me." Joey smiled and sat back on the little couch on the bus.

"Aren’t you going to your parents?" Alyssa asked.

"We’re doing that Christmas Eve." Joey nodded. "I’m going to bring their gifts down with me when I come."

"Oh… okay." Alyssa said softly.

"My mom said that you guys can get together and go out or something when we’re in New York, since you’ll be up for the show. I’ll be busy most of the time, so that’ll be cool for you guys."

"Okay, that sounds like fun." She smiled and twirled the cord around her finger.

"Is Tony around?"

"No, he’s at preschool. They’re decorating stockings today."

"Oh that sounds like fun." Joey laughed.

"Hey Joe, you’re late." JC said as he poked his head onto the bus.

"Okay." Joey nodded at JC, "I’ve gotta get going, I just wanted to touch base with you."

"All right, have a great show." Alyssa smiled and opened the fridge to get a soda out.

"Always." Joey laughed and hopped down the stairs and off the bus. "I’ll see you in two days."

"Okay, bye."

"Bye, love ya." Joey said quickly.

"Love ya too." Alyssa whispered with a smile. Joey clicked the phone off and stuck it in his pocket, then followed JC and the security through the barricade and into the venue.

 

Christmas Eve passed by in a blur of red and green wrapping paper, plates of food, dozens of cookies and sweets, and truck loads of presents. By the time Alyssa herded Tony into her car with all of his new gifts, it was after eight. Joey was supposed to be to their house soon and she didn’t want to be late.

Alyssa and Tony unloaded the car when they got home and stacked all of his new toys from grandma and grandpa in his room by his toy chest, then changed into their warm pajamas to drink hot chocolate and wait for Joey.

"Can we watch a movie?" Tony asked as he snuggled into the corner of the sofa.

"Sure, how about the Charlie Brown Christmas one?" Alyssa pulled the movie out of the closet and slid it into the VCR.

"Okay." Tony yawned then took a sip of his luke warm cocoa. He’d had a long day, and Alyssa doubted he’d last much longer.

Alyssa pulled Anthony onto her lap as the movie started and slowly sipped her hot chocolate. Before the opening credits were over, Tony was sound asleep with his head resting in the crook of her arm. She waited until the movie was over, then carefully carried him into his bedroom.

Alyssa checked the time on the VCR as she walked back into the living room and saw that it was a little before ten. She picked up one of her new books and refilled her mug before sitting on the couch to read.

All of the lights were off except the tree lights that blinked different colors at random, and the little table lamp beside her. She flipped open her book and started reading with interest. Two chapters later she yawned and rubbed her eyes, it was close to midnight and she was getting worried about Joey. He had said he’d be there before nine, and here it was almost three hours later.

Alyssa sighed in frustration and sat her empty mug on the end table beside her book. She tugged the little cord and turned the table lamp off, then stood up to stretch. She padded across the living room and switched the porch light off and headed for her room. She yawned and peeked in on Tony, then heard a soft tapping on the front door.

Alyssa smiled to herself and went to the front door. She slowly flipped the entry and porch lights on before she pulled the front door open, "I’m sorry I’m so late." Were the first words out of Joey’s mouth.

"It’s okay." Alyssa whispered. She held the door open and he walked in out of the cold. He quickly shed his coat and dropped it across the back of the recliner. "Tony’s going to be excited to see you tomorrow." Joey set his bag of gifts on the floor beside his feet.

"Yeah, I’m sorry I missed him. Traveling on Christmas Eve is crap." Joey yawned and pulled Alyssa in for a hug. "Thanks for letting me stay here."

"Anytime Joey, you know that." She let her fingers travel down the soft wool of his sweater and inhaled his light cologne.

"I know." He nodded, but kept her held close. "And I’m sorry I’ve been kind of weird since uh... this whole thing."

"No Joey, don’t apologize. It’s my fault. I mean, if I had just-"

"No, Lyss come on. We’ve both made mistakes, but let’s just forget about that. About those." Joey smiled and kissed her slowly. "I… " He started to talk, his pulse quickening at the thought, "I uh, want to make this work Lyss." Joey took a deep breath and blew it out with a nervous laugh. "I’ll bet you never thought you’d hear me utter those words huh? I wanna make it work. I want the relationship. Oh man… that is hard to say."

"Wow… Joey, I um… whoa." Alyssa looked down at her shoes quickly, and took a step back. "I know that you love Tony, but Joey this has to be an all or nothing thing. I know you’ve been doing the "daddy" thing for the last month and a half, but this is a lifetime commitment to Tony, not to me."

"Alyssa, I know that." Joey smiled and reached for her hand. His large, warm hand circled hers and he continued to smile, "I love Tony, and I love you Alyssa. I want to make this work." He said slowly.

"Well I… Joey I love you too." Alyssa said, almost confused. This wasn’t entirely unexpected, but at the same time, she wasn’t sure where he was going with this.

Joey glanced at his watch quickly and saw that it was 12:02am. "Merry Christmas Lyss." He whispered as he pulled a small box out of his pocket. He held it out to her, and she stared at it, her mind racing a million miles a minute. A look of fear crossed her face as she wondered how in the world she was going to say "no."

Alyssa reached out her hand, but not for the box. She rested her hand flat against the wall to help balance herself, all of a sudden it became necessary to remember to breathe. Joey laughed softly at her reaction, and placed his hand on her arm to help steady, "You okay?" He asked with a slow smile.

"I… yeah, I think so." She offered him a shaky smile.

"Lyss, it’s not what you think." He laughed softly. "I’m sorry if I scared you, or if you were thinking it was… you know… it’s… this isn’t a proposal. Not really anyways. Here…" He used his free hand and flipped the little box open. Inside was a tiny silver band with just a flicker of a diamond chip embedded in the center. "This is… my dad gave this to my mom when they were like, in high school. It’s a promise ring." He carefully took it out of the tiny box and rolled it between his fingers.

Alyssa breathed a slight sigh of relief and attempted a smile, "A promise ring?"

"Yeah, you know. It’s like, I promise that there will always be "us". Kind of like a pre-engagement thing."

"Joey I just don’t think that-"

"I’m not talking about anytime soon." He shook his head quickly. "I mean eventually."

"Eventually?" The fog lifted from Alyssa’s mind and things started to make sense.

"Eventually I’d like to propose. Sometime… later." Joey smiled and slid the ring on her finger, a perfect fit. "But for now, I promise to be here for you… and for Tony." Joey wrapped his arms around Alyssa waist and she rested her cheek on his chest.

"You scared me half to death Joey." She laughed softly, definitely relieved.

"Sorry." He laughed and kissed her gently. "Merry Christmas."   He whispered with his lips hovering just above hers.

"Thank you." Alyssa smiled and looked at the tiny ring on her finger. It really was a pretty, yet simple ring. It couldn’t have cost more than a hundred dollars, even back then, but it was given from the heart and that made it priceless. "I have something for you too." She smiled and walked over to the Christmas tree sitting in the corner of the room. She sat on the floor in the glow of the multi colored lights and searched for the box with Joey’s name on it. Tony’s gifts from Santa were set in front of the other gifts, and included a little BMX bike with training wheels and a big pack of Matchbox cars.

He joined her on the floor, not bothering to turn on the overhead light. They sat with their knees touching, not saying a word as she looked through the multitude of gifts. "Here you go." She sat back and presented him with his gift.

Joey smiled as he read the gift tag, "To Joe, Love Lyss." He carefully peeled the paper off of the box and crumpled it up before he lifted the lid off the top. He looked down at the cloth covered photo album with a current picture of Tony on the front. "Into the eyes of your future" was stitched across the front.

"This is perfect, thank you." Joey smiled and lifted the photo album out of the colorful box, "I can fill it up with all the pictures I’m gonna take." Joey laughed and leaned over to kiss Alyssa again.

"Well wait, look inside." She smiled and scooted back so that she was leaning back against the couch.

Joey flipped open the cover and was met with the image of a very pregnant Alyssa, smiling with her hand on her bulging tummy. "The big day" said the caption. "Oh man… look at you." He laughed and moved to sit beside her.

"Not bad for nine months." She smiled as he turned the page.

"Oh wow, Alyssa, this is perfect. Wow… look at him." Joey whispered, paying close attention to Tony’s newborn pictures. A red and wailing baby with a head full of jet-black hair, arms flailing out as the doctor lay him on the scale. Six pounds four ounces, 18 inches long. Joey slowly turned the pages, spending minutes staring back at his own eyes. He was literally speechless as he watched his son grow up before his eyes. Tony’s first taste of baby food, with applesauce all over everything. Tony sitting up by himself, his first Christmas staring wide eyed at the lit up tree, crawling across the grass in their backyard while eating dirt. Tony’s first tooth, his first Halloween dressed as a lion, his first wobbly steps towards Alyssa waiting with her arms wide open. Tony’s first birthday with a big #1 candle in the middle of his cowboy hat cake. All of his firsts and special moments caught on film. His cute little expressions, his bad haircuts, everything was all new to Joey.

It was more than an hour later when he came to the last picture in the half empty book. Joey had Tony on his shoulders to help the little boy slam dunk his basketball. Joey was laughing and looking up at the basket while Tony looked shocked to see the ball go through the hoop. It was a classic picture, and one that fit perfectly in the book.

"This is amazing Alyssa. Really." Joey whispered and wiped his eyes quickly. "It’s so hard to believe that he’s mine sometimes, because I missed all of this." He nodded at the photo book. "But… Alyssa thank you so much." He hugged her awkwardly as they sat on the floor.

"You’re welcome Joey." She smiled and placed her hand on the back of his neck as he held her close. She yawned softly and tried to cover her mouth with her hand, "I’m sorry, I’m just so tired. Tony’s going to be up early."

"Okay." Joey nodded and stood up, offering his hand to help pull Alyssa up. He stretched his back and yawned. It was after one in the morning and he had had a long day.

"C’mon." Alyssa whispered and nodded toward her room. Joey glanced back at the couch then shrugged and followed Alyssa down the hall. She switched the lights off on the way, then stood in the dark in her room, letting her eyes adjust.

"So, did Santa come already?" Joey whispered over the bed.

"Yeah." Alyssa nodded and pulled back the blankets. She removed her robe and slid under the covers on her side of the bed. Joey stood there for a minute, then quietly removed his clothes and slid in beside her.

Joey pulled her close and hugged her from behind, resting his chin on her shoulder, "Can I tell you something?" He whispered.

"Hmmm?"

"You were even more beautiful pregnant." He laughed softly and kissed her neck.

"Don’t even start." Alyssa laughed and covered his arms with hers over her stomach.

"I’m just saying…"

"Well just don’t even think it."

"I’m not." He smiled.

"Good." Alyssa laughed and closed her eyes, content with the feeling of his arms surrounding her in warmth.

 

 

 On to the next part

 

Copyright � 2000 Amy Lynn