Jimmy reached over looking for the edge of the blanket and found only the empty sheet and the slight impression on the mattress. "Lou?" When she didn't answer he turned over in the bed, squinting at the doorway. It was empty and open. "Louise?"

He ground the heels of his palms into his eyes, struggling to wake as he listened for the tell-tale sound of her footsteps on the hall floor.

It was bitterly cold when he lifted back the blanket and set his feet on the smooth boards. His robe was on the back of a nearby chair and settled around his body quickly warming and welcoming him as he secured the belt.

The house was still in the dark of night and as he passed by the other bedrooms he didn't have to check to know that they stood as empty as the other half of his bed.

With his hand reaching for the familiar smooth line of the banister he descended the stairs, his ears listening intently for any sound from the floor below. Turning at the landing he caught sight of Lou, framed in the doorway between the main room and the kitchen, her head leaned up against the dark wood, her hair in a loose braid on her shoulder.

Jimmy swallowed the sudden lump in his throat and continued his way down the stairs, his gaze focused on his wife. He was nearly to the bottom of the stairs when she looked up at him, a decided twinkle in her eyes. She lifted a finger to her lips to let him know he needed to be quiet.

He reached her side and she lifted her hand to his cheek, gently tilting his face down toward her so that she could brush her lips against his. "They're asleep."

Prying his attention away from her warm hands and the sweet distraction of her lips he looked over at the couch. Louis and Dara were cuddled amongst the cushions, Louis' blanket covering them both. "What are they doing down here?"

"It's sort of your fault." Her tone was light and the look in her eyes was mischievous. "You told them they could open their presents in the morning." She smoothed her hand along his arm and even through the thick flannel he felt her touch and leaned into it. "So," she looked up at the clock on the wall, "I think they came down here to wait."

Hugging Lou to his side he kissed the top of her head and watched their children sleeping in the flickering light of the fireplace. The long day before, walking the streets in the bitterly cold winds, fighting the gusts and intermittent snow flurries, was forgotten as Lou wrapped her arms around him and snuggled close.

"Should we wake them?"

He barely heard her whispered words, as taken as he was by the simple scene before him, but when she repeated her question he roused enough to answer. "In a few minutes, for now…" He looked down into her face, relearning every gentle curve of her face, "let's just enjoy the moment."

Her lips curved into a bewitching smile. "Sure… I like the sound of that." Louise reached up and brushed her knuckles against the side of his face. "Merry Christmas, Jimmy."

"Merry Christmas, Lou."

Breathtaking Prompt - asleep on the couch

Author's Note: From Santa to Liki... Merry Christmas

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