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Bonus Scene: Golden and Grateful, a bonus scene for Defiance and Dedication

The following is a little Thanksgiving (and Frankie-versary) present for all of you. It takes place during Defiance and Dedication. Thank you for being my Heathens. Thanks for loving Frankie the last two years. I have had so much fun writing this series! 


“Maybe next year,” Frankie said as she stretched her legs over mine. I ran my hand up and down her calf as she made a face at me. From the hurried chatter I could just make out, Chloe was not a fan of Frankie not coming up for Thanksgiving. The temptation to tickle her feet was right there, but I behaved. A cold front had moved in the day before and there was snow blowing against the windows. It was kind of nice to just be curled up with her in our living room, hot coffee in our mugs, and the cats sprawled out around us while the fire burned merrily.

Granted, it was a gas fireplace but so much better than nothing and Frankie always got tickled when we just turned it on. We’d been debating a movie when her phone rang because today was going to just be us—and Jeremy—but mostly us and we weren’t going anywhere. The only place we had to be was right here.

“I get that.” Frankie’s soft laugh pulled another smile from me. I loved that she loved her new family. Even if she remained a shade reticent and wary. I’d rather we were all cautious until one hundred percent certain. It was so much better for her huge heart, even if she’d already fallen in love with her sister. “Chloe, emotional blackmail will only go so far.”

I raised my eyebrows, should I swoop in and interrupt? But she only rolled her eyes and smiled as she shook her head.

“No, that’s exactly what you were doing. Alec’s right. Uh huh…no, I’m very well aware that it’s sisters before bros, but… uh uh. No ma’am.” Toes curling, she leaned forward to claim her cup and took a sip as Chloe offered up her defense. “Exactly. So, I’ll call on Thanksgiving Day, and we can talk then, but I’m not driving up there this year.”

A moment of silence.

“Because I have plans.”

I grinned.

“No, that’s not code for anything.”

Oh, I could fix that.

As if reading my mind, she jabbed me with her toes.

Chuckling, I cupped her ankle and settled her legs back across me.

“Wonderful, yes, I love you too—go on and help your mom, I’ll call on Thursday.” Another couple of minutes of reminding her she already promised to call and then Frankie hung up with a groan. “Man, little sisters can be annoying.”

If she didn’t sound so fucking happy about it, I might have worried. “Jake and Coop have been telling you that for years.”

“Their sisters are adorable though.”

“According to Coop, so is yours.” I grinned. “I’m actually looking forward to meeting the little spitfire.”

“She’s gonna wrap you around her little finger just like this,” she said with a snap of her fingers.

“Impossible,” I told her as she settled her coffee down and I could shift to pin her to the sofa. “Someone else already has me completely wrapped around her finger.”

“Oh yeah?” She shifted her legs so she could wrap them around me. It was both sensual and comforting. Getting hard around her was as easy as breathing, but having her just wrapped around me was the kind of thing I’d never known I needed.

“Yeah,” I told her, cupping my hands against her head so I could just study her. “Body and soul. I’m sure your sister is cute, but I’m very firmly taken and damn happy about it.”

She laughed. “You are so smooth sometimes.”

“Only sometimes?” I pulled back and stared down at her. “Try all the time.”

“No, because occasionally you are a great big dork who dirty talks his way out of trouble and I let you.”

“You let me?” Lips pursed, I shook my head. “So that’s how it is?”

“Oh yes,” she informed me. “That’s exactly how it is.”

“Uh huh.” As soon as I skated my fingers down her sides, her eyes widened.

“Archie!” Her squeal as she tried to wiggle away made me laugh, but it was too late for her. I had all her ticklish spots memorized.

Unfortunately, she knew mine and retaliated even while she was laughing. It was all fun and games until we nearly knocked her coffee cup over and I froze. Her eyes went comically wide with horror and I eased up, pulling her with me and then with great ceremony handed her the coffee mug.

We were both panting, her eyes sparkled, and her cheeks were flushed from the laughter. I probably wore the stupidest grin on my face. “So,” I said. “What did you want to watch?”

She snickered. “I don’t know—I think that’s where we were when Chloe called.”

True. I reached for the remote and started skimming through the channels until I found the one with all the holiday movies. No matter how much we complained, we never objected when Frankie wanted to watch them. Well, we didn’t complain much.

Halfway through the first one, I was glaring at the screen.

“We don’t have to watch this,” she murmured.

“You like it.”

“Yeah, but you’re clearly not enjoying it.”

“It’s not that.” We had finished our coffee already and I needed to take a break and go on the hunt for more. Only one of the cats had returned to join us after the tickle war and he was curled up in her lap.

“Then what is it?”

“That moron,” I said, pointing at the screen. “He’s too fucking busy for her? It’s about to be Christmas and he sent his secretary to get presents and he hasn’t even noticed she’s not in town anymore.”

Frankie grimaced.

“And that kills me, she’s great and he’s clearly an idiot.” I wrapped an arm around her. “No way in hell would I ignore you at Christmas.”

“Archie, you don’t ignore me at any other time.”

True. That mollified me a little and I pressed a kiss to the crown of her head. “Good. If I do, just slug me.”

She elbowed me gently and I glanced down to find her grinning. “What are you going to do when she falls for her best friend now that she’s back in her little town?”

I considered it for a long moment. “Be glad that your best friend loves you as much as I do.”

“Smooth, Archie, very smooth.”

Chuckling, I just snuggled her closer and we finished the movie and rolled into the next one. Surprise, surprise, the city idiot didn’t know what he had until he almost lost her. That was never going to be me. I knew exactly what I had and what I’d always wanted. She was right here. We were golden.

For that, I’d always be grateful.

When the phone rang closer to lunch and it was Coop, I paused the movie and answered with a, “Greetings, best friend in the small town, don’t worry, corporate boyfriend is definitely taking care of our girlfriend just fine.”

Frankie dissolved in laughter as Coop hummed. “Someone got sucked into the holiday movies…”

Yeah, see, he got it.

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