Bonus Scene: “Mistletoe Fights & Kisses,” a brand-new post Fierce Dancer scene
The following is a brand new scene that takes place following Fierce Dancer. This is a very special scene brought to you not only as part of the review challenge as indicated below but also as part of the holidays.
Fierce Dancer is Book 9 in the 82nd Street Vandals series. To read more, Savage Vandal is Book 1.
Note: This scene is brought to you because of a Review Challenge. What is that? And also, please be aware that spoilers may lie ahead.
“Mistletoe Fights & Kisses”
The music cranked as Vaughn drove across the bridge connecting us to Braxton Harbor. The guys drove most of the night, swapping out while I crashed in the back with one of them—currently Freddie—who had his arms wrapped around me while I cushioned against his chest.
As excited as I was about getting home and seeing the guys, the clubhouse, and more, I savored these moments with Freddie. He’d gotten more comfortable with casual contact, but sleeping together wasn’t always easy for him. The fact he’d just cuddled me close was probably one of the best presents I could have gotten.
“Grabbing coffee on our way to the Clubhouse,” Vaughn said, his voice pitched low. Rome sat in the passenger seat, he’d roused a little while ago. I was supposed to be asleep but I’d been enjoying Freddie’s arms, my view of Vaughn’s profile and the soft strains of music he’d turned down to talk to Rome.
“Good,” Rome said, rolling his head from side to side. “Any calls?”
“Nope,” Vaughn said, and a soft chuckle escaped.
“Huh.” The comment from Rome pulled a smile from me.
“Just cause they haven’t called,” Freddie muttered, “doesn’t mean they aren’t tracking us.”
I tucked my face against Freddie’s shirt to smother my giggles. He rubbed a hand up and down my back. He wasn’t wrong. All of us had trackers now. Not just me. My bracelet had one, but I also wore one as a charm on a necklace the guys had made for me.
Freddie had one in his wallet. He wasn’t a big fan of jewelry. Vaughn added one to an earring on his left ear. Rome had pierced one of his nipples and I was still getting used to the new accessories. Either way, we weren’t alone. Jasper, Kellan, Liam, and Mickey also had trackers of their own.
They weren’t necessarily panic buttons—though I had one of those too—they just allowed us to locate each other in case of emergency. Otherwise, we just tracked each others phones.
How had Liam put it? Our backups and contingencies had backups and contingencies. We’d worked hard to earn our security back, but the guys still liked me to have at least one of them with me. Considering some of our near losses? I refused to argue with them as long as they took similar precautions.
“Don’t rain on our good time with your pragmatism,” Vaughn said without an ounce of irony. My heart bounced at the playfulness finding its footing in him again. I’d been worried about him the last few months. His grief had been bottomless in some ways and it wasn’t just about any one person—but about the accumulation of so many.
Rome had stuck close to him too—that told me I wasn’t wrong in my concern. But one way I took care of them was to let them take care of me. Such stubborn men. Then I wouldn’t have them any other way.
“You awake, awake, Boo-Boo?” Freddie asked, pitching his voice lower and I tilted my head up to flash him a smile.
“Need me to move?”
“Yes,” he said. “My bladder isn’t apparently not enjoying the company as much as the rest of me.”
Laughter escaped me as I rolled upward, then he tugged me around for a quick, but very real kiss. “Morning,” I murmured.
“Merry Christmas,” he reminded me and I laughed.
“Eve…Merry Christmas Eve.” I wanted to wake up in Braxton Harbor, in our place in the Clubhouse. I wanted all of us to be together, even if Milo was off in New York. He was with Lainey and I’d call him the next day.
“It’s Eve,” Vaughn confirmed. “We’ll be there soon, Dove. Don’t worry.”
I blew out a breath. It didn’t matter that I knew it was eve, there was a stomach dropping moment thinking we’d be late. Ever since I’d said I wished we could be home for Christmas and the guys looked at our schedule and said we could do it. We didn’t pull the whole show. We just gave them a few days off and my next performance was New Year’s.
The surprise had been Vaughn’s idea since we weren’t sure how long it would take us to scatter everyone before we hit the road. By agreement, we weren’t telling them we were on the road to them but if they asked, we would.
It seemed a good compromise to avoid even the pretense of lying and preserve the surprise. The sun was barely a suggestion as Vaughn pulled up to our favorite coffee shop. “Need a bathroom, Boo-Boo?” Freddie asked and I grinned at him.
“I’ll get the coffee.” Rome was already heading inside and Freddie followed after him. A sigh escaped me as I watched them go.
“They’ll be right back,” Vaughn said, scanning the street. I half-wondered when our vigilance would reduce. Then again, my nightmares hadn’t retreated. Not fully. Some days it was easier to believe that Uncle Fuckbucket was gone. Others, I’d wake up in a cold sweat, certain that he was right there waiting for me.
“I know,” I assured him, then scooted forward so I could lean between the front seats. “How are you doing?”
That pulled his attention from the street. Christmas decorations were up in all the windows and along the street lamps. It was gray, damp, and rainy without a spec of snow in sight.
I didn’t care. A wet and rainy Christmas was fine by me. Anything that involved being with my guys.
Expression softening, Vaughn twisted in his seat and he brushed his fingers down my cheek before smoothing back my hair. It was probably a wreck from sleeping curled up with Freddie.
“I’m good, Dove. You don’t have to worry about me.”
“Of course, I do. Just like you worry about me.” I caught his hand and kissed his fingertips.
“Touché,” he said with a chuckle. He flicked his gaze up a beat before the doors opened and Rome and Freddie returned wreathed in the rich scents of coffee, chocolate, and—
“They had sugar plum cheese danishes!” I almost squealed. Normally, I’d be embarrassed but the matching pair of grins on their faces were absolutely adorable. Rome slid into the backseat with me while Freddie took the front seat.
After giving Vaughn a quick kiss, I half climbed in Rome’s lap after my danish. The guys were laughing, and a real sense of joy unfurled within me. The tour had been amazing. I couldn’t wait to get back out there, but—we were home and we were together.
Rome handed over the paper bag filled with my prize and I rewarded him with a kiss. Once we had the coffees sorted and there were more treats—Freddie had also grabbed two boxes of donuts, we headed for the warehouse.
I polished off the warm danish with a happy sigh. I did offer to share but the guys all said no and I wasn’t complaining. The sugar rush hit as Vaughn turned down the alley heading toward the warehouse itself.
“We’re almost there.” I half-bounced in my seat. The guys were all grinning too. So either they were just as excited or my thrill was contagious. Probably both. The guys had been family forever and they made this wonderful spot for me right in the middle of all of it.
Vaughn hit the remote and I downed another long drink of coffee before setting it in the cup holder. The interior of the warehouse looked like it always did, wide-open, with pallets of goods waiting loading and a series of very familiar cars and one truck parked in a line.
Kellan and Jasper were already up and they were on the far side with loaders near the two rigs that had been backed in. A delighted sound escaped me that had Freddie flashing me a wider grin.
I barely waited for the car to stop before I had the seatbelt off and the door open. I’d seen Liam a couple of months earlier. And Jasper had managed a one night stop over a few weeks ago. But I hadn’t seen Mickey or Kellan since we left.
Abandoning any pretense of grace or decorum, I ran across the warehouse toward the pair who both wore startled grins. Kellan thrust a clipboard at Jasper just as I got there and I bounced off the ground and into his arms.
The solid feel of his embrace grounded me and sent me flying in the same breath. Jasper let out a whistle and then said, “Wrap it up boys. We’re closing now. Shipments can go out after Christmas. Go home.”
Then there was a warm hand in my hair and I lifted my gaze to meet Kellan’s. “Merry Christmas Eve,” I said and then his mouth fused to mine and I sighed into the kiss. I had no idea how long we stood there, kissing, devouring each other but there was a thump.
“C’mon, share her,” Jasper said and Kellan let out an aggrieved sound as he lifted his head and then I was in Jasper’s arms. “Look at you, sneaking home…” he said before he kissed me.
I laughed, savoring the connection with him every bit as much as I had with Kellan. I murmured, “Good surprise?”
“Hmm,” Jasper groaned. “The best surprise.”
“C’mon, lets get you inside…” Kellan was saying, but Jasper just started walking toward the clubhouse while I kept my legs wrapped around his hips.
“Are Mickey and Liam here?” Cause if they weren’t, I wanted to call them.
The door to the clubhouse opened and there was a solid thud of a fist slamming into someone and I twisted as Liam went flying as Rome grinned at his brother.
But Rome wasn’t quite quick enough to miss the punch he got from Mickey.
“It’s okay,” Jasper soothed, then hurried forward and thrust me into the doorway in front of him. Mickey blinked. He’d gone from staring at Rome to me then to Jasper and back to me.
“Hi,” I said, worry sinking me. “What happ—”
Mickey tugged me right out of Jasper’s arms and then crushed my lips with his.
“Need to get those cleaned up…” Freddie said. “I don’t think Boo-Boo is gonna go for it.”
Kellan chuckled. “Probably not.”
“She might,” Jasper said.
Liam grumbled. “You were supposed to be Jasper.” I thought he might be talking to Rome.
“You’re supposed to be faster.” Rome’s dry response had me laughing against Mickey’s lips and I finally managed to come up for oxygen.
“Wait… what is going on?”
“We’ll tell you, Hellspawn,” Liam said, curving an arm around me and pulling me away, even as he twisted me and Mickey so Mickey was in the doorway and just as Liam cleared me from the area, Kellan and Jasper pounced Mickey.
What the hell?
The punches they delivered were real, even if they were light but it wasn’t until we were all piled into the living room that I got the story.
There was mistletoe over the door. One of the rats had set it up as a joke years earlier. So the guys tended to punch anyone under the mistletoe. That joke grew—and became something of a tradition.
One they’d avoided when I’d first got there for—reasons.
“So—you hang mistletoe in random places and then wait, like it’s a trap, to spring the trap?”
“Pretty much,” Jasper said with an unapologetic grin. In the light of the living room it was hard to miss the hints of bruises. They weren’t bad but there was a shadow on his jaw, and Liam had the beginnings of a black eye. Kellan’s lip had been split.
“We keep score,” Vaughn said, chuckling. “Whoever gets the most hits, who got the most punches…”
“But why?” Were they crazy?
“Cause it’s fun,” Freddie told me, laughing. “Course, now we add a new category.”
“Yep,” Rome said, lifting me right out of Liam’s lap and into his. “Most kisses.” To prove his point, he kissed me.
When I glanced up, I saw the mistletoe hanging above his chair. It wasn’t the only place. There were sprigs in random places everywhere.
They’d have to walk some zigzag to avoid it.
“Look, it’s been something to do,” Jasper said with a shrug and Mickey laughed.
“Like you didn’t start the shit this year,” he commented.
“True, but I also got the first hit in, so I’m already winning.”
They hung mistletoe to punch people.
“So, I don’t have to punch you guys, right?” Cause that didn’t seem as much fun as kisses.
Liam snorted. “You’ve got a wicked right, Hellspawn. But no, you don’t have to punch anyone. We’ll amend the rules.”
“Unless it’s a rat,” Kellan said. “If a rat tries to kiss you under the mistletoe…”
“I’ll punch him,” Freddie, Liam, and Rome all said in unison.
Laughter bubbled up through me. I was home and we apparently already had our first tradition.
Mistletoe fights and kisses.
“Guys,” I said, capturing their attention. “We’re going to need a tree.”
“And more mistletoe…” Liam’s grin widened. “There’s a going to be a bunch going up in your room right over the bed…”
Yep. I liked this.
I liked this a lot.
Our first Christmas as us and who we could be.
To Be Continued in 2024 when Emersyn and the guys return for Dirty Dancer, that will follow her on tour with the guys and as well as their trips home and a little something more. You can also see more of the Vandals in Bay Ridge Royals beginning with Shamelessly Loyal. Be sure to subscribe to news and updates so you don’t miss a thing.