A Great Miracle Happened Here

When Julia Kelly and Alyssa Cole approached me about participating in the 12 Days of Christmakwanzakah Blog Hop, I jumped at the chance to bring a little sexy to the holidays. We celebrate both Christmas and Chanukah in my house, and I love stories that mix the traditions, or, come up with new ones like a game of Strip Dreidel. I hope you enjoy Ty and Sarah, and happy holidays!

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“So, how do you play?”

Sarah dragged her eyes open as Ty’s voice washed over her. It reminded her of melted ice cream, rich and sweet, but so much better. Like it was spiked with something devious, warming her as much as the eggnog in her belly.

A tradition for a tradition—that’s what Ty said when he mixed up his mother’s recipe on their minuscule kitchen counter. Now it was cluttered with the leftover remains of his good southern cooking, and Sarah was drowsy with the aftereffects of cream, cinnamon, nutmeg and bourbon.

She fingered the wooden tip of the dreidel, skimmed a thumb over the edge and gave it a spin. It twirled lazily along their Ikea coffee table and toppled onto its side.

“You spin it to win,” she said. “I guess it’s the Jewish equivalent of poker.”

She would have reached for it again and shown Ty how to twist it the way her dad taught her, but her limbs felt too loose, as if her body had melted into the sofa. Ty picked up the dreidel and studied it, his deep brown eyes nearly hidden by the hair he wore a little too long. It made Sarah think of things not at all appropriate for moments that included memories of her father.

“What are the letters?” His accent made her go hot and soft. The way his tongue curled over the letter ‘l’ was an arrow shot straight between her thighs.

“Nun, Gimel, Hay and Shin. They stand for ‘Nes gadol haya sham.’ It means ‘a great miracle happened here.’”

It had to have been a miracle, the way a nice Jewish girl from New York fell so completely for a Christian boy from Texas, and both their families were cool with it. His had been won over by Sarah’s sweet potato recipe when they visited for Thanksgiving. Her mother was swept off her feet by Tyler’s manners and charm. It helped that he was a med student.

Her dad would’ve really liked him. It was a needle to Sarah’s heart, that he’d never meet the man she was going to marry.

“Jewish poker.” Ty smiled. “Sounds like fun.”

Sarah’s stomach did a wild flip-flop at the sight of his sleepy, lopsided grin, the same way it did when they’d met. Rockefeller Center on New Year’s Day, she’d fallen ass-down on the skating rink. With her back iced over and the wind knocked out of her, Ty had appeared in her field of vision, all boyish features and messy dark hair, sensual lips hidden by his scruffy beard as he asked, You all right, miss?

It was the linguist in her that fell for him first, star-struck by the way he drawled over the ‘i’ in right, the vowel prolonged for no apparent reason but to send a shockwave of heat through her.

It was the most ‘all right’ she’d been since she lost her father.

She’d assured him she was fine, just clumsy. And terrible at skating. He helped her up and offered to give her a lesson, if she’d be so inclined. Sarah offered to let him, plus a drink after, if he’d explain how a boy who talked like that learned how to skate so well. Barrel chest tucked into a grey turtleneck, his stance casual in black skates and jeans, he’d shrugged and grinned, saying they played hockey in the south, too.

An hour around the rink and four beers later, she found out he was twenty-two and had traded his puck for a scalpel, but still missed the ice now and then. She’d explained she was a dialect coach for actors, helping them prepare for roles with accents, and asked him when he planned on taking her to dinner. Ty’s gentlemanly smile had shifted into the wolfish smirk she’d come to know so well.

The way he was looking at her now.

It was a slow burning fuse, the way he could set her off. When Ty looked at her like that, the only place she wanted to be was here in their tiny apartment in Brooklyn, a safe haven in a world that had gotten a little too hard for her to live in once the wrecking ball that was cancer swung around and stole her father from her.

Ty was the best gift she could’ve ever asked for.

She sat up and took the toy from him, set it down and spun it again. Gazing slyly at him, she said, “I could teach you strip dreidel.”

Ty quirked an eyebrow. In the last year, there hadn’t been much he wasn’t game for. “What are the rules?”

“Get the shot glasses and I’ll tell you.”

He loped to the kitchen, returning with the glasses in one hand and a bottle of Tequila in another. Sarah swung her legs off the couch and knelt on the floor. Ty landed next to her, two hundred and ten pounds of muscle and hands that knew how to turn her inside out.

“We each get a turn. Nun means nothing, so if the dreidel lands on this,” She pointed to the vertical squiggly line. “We keep our clothes on, but we do a shot and shout ‘L’chaim.’”

“‘To life,’” he translated.

“That’s right.”

It shouldn’t have been such a turn-on, the way he’d picked up the language of her heritage. It wasn’t so much the words but the way he said it, warm and husky, not to mention the prospect of him peeling his clothes off, unwrapping himself like a present.

She pointed to the symbol for ‘h’. “The Hay means half, so we have to take something off the top or bottom halves of our bodies. Gimel means everything, so if it lands on that, you have to strip.” She grinned at the flash of lust in Ty’s eyes. “And Shin means pay, or put in.”

He chuckled softly. “What are we putting where?”

“Be creative. You in?”

“A game that gets you naked? Oh, I am all over this.” He poured two shots and set them up on the coffee table. “Ladies first.”

Sarah sent the pointy, four-sided top spiraling until it clattered to its side and landed on the Hay. Ty’s gaze was hungry as he watched her skim her shirt over her head, but quiet and patient too, like he knew he’d get his when the time was right.

He spun the dreidel. It landed on Nun.

“L’chaim,” he cheered, knocking back his shot. Sarah took hers with a scowl.

“Beginner’s luck.”

“Hey, you made up the rules.”

She leaned in and kissed his smirk away. He tasted like tequila and sex and home.

Her next roll was another Hay. Sarah stood and shimmied out of her jeans, the chill on her skin erased by Ty’s warm fingers as he traced over the backs of her thighs.

“Is this against the rules?” His tone was a southern purr, all cowboy and front porches and sweet tea. “Or do I only get to touch you when I win?”

When you win? What makes you so sure that’s going to happen?”

The scoff in her voice was answered by the playful lift of his smile. “You’re the one half naked, darlin’. I’m still fully dressed.”

Something fizzled inside her when he called her darlin’, the absent ‘g’ in his drawl reminding her of their first time together, Ty’s touch lazy as he memorized her skin, the smoldering flame he was igniting making her restless and desperate. She had half a mind to ditch the game entirely and pull his clothes off him right now.

“Just take your turn, wise guy.”

It landed on a Hay. Ty locked his gaze with hers and undid his belt, the clank of metal followed by the gentle slip of leather riding out from his belt loops. The zip of his fly came next, then the flex of his hips as he lifted them and pushed his jeans off.

“Starting from the bottom,” she taunted. “That’s like eating dessert first.”

“Naw. I just know how much you like my chest.”

She couldn’t deny it. The stretch of muscle from his shoulder to his neck, the dusting of hair on his broad pecs, the dip that extended from them down to his belly—they were her sin and salvation. She’d let her fingers roam across them, dug her nails into his colossal shoulders the first time she’d been on top, the upward thrust of his hips setting off an orgasm that had her seeing stars. She’d fallen asleep with her head on his chest more times than she could count, and made his shirt soggy with tears when he proposed, so happy to be marrying him but overwhelmed by sadness too, knowing her father wouldn’t be walking her down the aisle.

Their engagement was fast—less than a year since they’d met and Ty had put a ring on her finger. But Sarah knew how quickly time could run out, and Ty wasn’t the type to play waiting games, either. When he saw what he wanted, he went after it. A hockey scholarship to college. Grades that got him into the Columbia School of Medicine. Sarah’s hand in marriage.

Another roll, and her socks were on the floor. Ty’s turn got them their next round of shots, and Sarah’s thoughts went fuzzy, her next messy spin landing almost immediately on Gimel.

Ty didn’t say anything, just watched as she reached back to unclasp her bra. Hooked her thumb in her panties and dragged them down her legs. His eyes tracked her as if he was stalking prey, instantly focused like when he’d taken her deer hunting in Texas hill country. They’d come back empty handed, their clothing rumpled and leaves tangled in their hair.

“Does this mean you lose?” His words came out rough, parched. Beneath the black cotton of his boxers, he was hard for her.

“Depends on your last spin.”

The tick of his jaw was the only thing belying how badly he wanted to end this and take her. He must have sensed that she wanted to play it out though, this weird perversion of the game she’d known as a child. Her family had never been very religious—she was a remedial Hebrew reader at best and stopped going to temple long ago, but held onto traditions practiced in the home. Chanukah was latkes and chocolate gelt, candlelight flickering from the menorah. It was her father telling her the story of the festival of lights, how there had only been enough oil left for the Maccabees to burn for one night but had miraculously burned for eight.

She’d been out of oil when she met Ty, lost in a way she hadn’t realized until he skated into her world. Her father’s death had opened a chasm in her heart, and Ty had healed it with gentle words and patience. He wasn’t the stereotypical southerner she’d grown up hearing about—he wasn’t loud and brash, didn’t have opinions on God and didn’t don a ten gallon hat. He was chivalry personified, his Texas pride something he wore on the inside. He’d sheltered her, and shown her the way to putting herself back together again.

He was her light.

Ty’s roll landed on a Shin. He curled his fingers under his shirt, stripping it off along with his boxers until he was as naked as she was, their bodies bathed by the rainbow of lights from the Christmas tree winking quietly in the background.

“I win.” His hands spanned her hips as he pulled her up to straddle his lap. “Can this be our tradition every year?”

It must’ve been what Christmas felt like—this sudden reminder that he was hers forever.

Sarah kissed his smile away until his mouth opened under hers, hot and hungry and loving. Her sweet southern boy. Her gift, her celebration.

Her miracle.

@RGraceAllen 1993 words

Thank you to the incredibly sexy Nathan Parsons for being my celebrity picspiration.

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Credit also goes to the websites where I read about Strip Dreidel: Fifty Two Shades of Blue-ish and My Jewish Learning

The 12 Days of Christmakwanzakah Blog Hop continues! Check the schedule, or follow #12DaysHop on twitter!

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