“What are you guys doing here?” Kat asked, completely stunned.
“AJ invited us.” Aunt Gina answered.
Kat turned to find AJ leaning against the front door with an ear to ear grin. “Surprise!”
“You told me no one else was coming over!” Kat cried with tears forming in her eyes.
“Technically they didn’t come over; they came out for a visit.”
“You’re such a wiseass.” Kat pulled AJ close and kissed him deeply. “I really didn’t think it was possible to love you any more than I already do, but I was wrong.”
“So you’re happy?” AJ whispered.
“More than you know.” she answered, kissing him again.
“No offense guys but can we actually come in or do we have to visit from the front porch?” Mike inquired. “It is a little chilly out here and we’re kind of crammed in.”
AJ pulled Kat over to the side and pushed the door so that everyone could come in.
“Welcome to Casa McLean.”
“Damn!” Mark said as he made his way down the hallway. “If Kat ever decides to leave you AJ, I’ll move in!”
“There’s not a chance I will be leaving!” Kat yelled. “And you’re not his type anyway!”
“Definitely not dude.” AJ added.
Kat walked down to the kitchen with AJ’s arm wrapped around her waist. This was the best Christmas gift she could ask for. Her family meant so much to her and to have them here for the holidays after having missed them for so long was wonderful. She couldn’t have been happier nor could she thank AJ enough.
Nick and Brenda were just as excited to see Kat’s family again. Brenda had stayed close to them when Kat left but Nick hadn’t seen them since the Christmas that AJ had proposed.
“The whole family’s back together again.” Brenda said as she hugged Aunt Gina. “This is really a Christmas gift for all of us.”
“It absolutely is.” Aunt Gina replied.
Everyone turned to look at Nick who had a very concerned look on his face.
“What’s the matter Nick?” Chris asked.
“We only have enough food for 4 adults and 2 kids.”
“Oh my God Nick!” Brenda shouted with a hard smack to his arm. “Everyone’s all excited to see each other again and you’re worried there isn’t enough food.”
“Don’t worry.” AJ said with a chuckle. “I snuck Aunt Gina in yesterday when everyone was out.”
Aunt Gina put her hand on Nick’s arm. “There’s a ton of food down in the fridge in the basement. All we need to do is heat it up.”
“Oh thank you!” Nick exclaimed. “I was really getting worried.”
The guys headed down to the basement to bring up the food while the women took Jake and Ryan into the living room.
“How are you doing sweetheart?” Aunt Gina asked with a concerned look. “You look really tired.”
“I am but the doctor says it’s ok.”
“How can it be ok? You’re thinner and the circles under your eyes have gotten worse. You can’t tell me that’s ok.”
“The doctor says my symptoms are stable and I scheduled the surgery for the week after New Year’s.”
She could see that her aunt was deeply worried. Aunt Gina had been there when she was a baby and had watched her go through it all; the doctor’s appointments, the treatments, the drugs, the hospital visits.
“Please trust me Aunt Gina. I’m going to be fine. I don’t want you to worry about this right now. It’s Christmas Eve and we need to have some fun and enjoy the time we have together.”
Her aunt was about to protest when she heard the guys heading upstairs. She didn’t want AJ to hear the conversation and get all concerned.
“Please Aunt Gina. I don’t want to talk about this now and I promise I will keep you informed of everything. Let’s just not do tonight.”
“Alright honey but you had better be telling me the truth.”
“I am, I swear.”
Nick poked his head around the door. “Hey Aunt Gina, what do we have to set these things for?”
“I’m coming Nick.”
“Please help them. Those guys may wind up burning the house down if you don’t handle things.” Brenda said with a laugh.
Aunt Gina got up and hugged both women before she headed into the kitchen.
“Thanks for distracting her.” Kat said as Brenda moved next to her. “She worries too much.”
“She loves you, we all do. We wouldn’t worry if we didn’t care. You need to let her be concerned. I can’t imagine how hard it is for her to see you going through this again.”
“But I’m fine.”
“You’re not fine, Kat, you’re just stable.”
“I don’t wanna talk about it anymore.” Kat said standing up. “Let’s go enjoy dinner and the gifts.”
Brenda didn’t say anything else as she followed her friend and the two little ones into the kitchen.