All I Want For Christmas

(Evangelineís POV)

"Are we there yet?" Shannon, Marcie and I ask collectively, hiding our smirks behind our magazines.

"I swear, the next person who asks me that is going to get put out of the car."

OK, so we deserved that. We have been nagging Michael for the better part of an hour. Even still, we turn to John, but he only shrugs and says, "I told you guys to stop fifteen minutes ago. Michael tends to be a bit less good-humoured when he has to drive."

Shannon snorts. "A little!?"

Before Michael can respond, Marcie leans forward and turns on the radio. "Lady Marmalade" is playing and before I even realize it, everyone in the car is singing along. Well with the exception of John. Heís content to stare at Michael like heís lost his mind.

"Lady Marmalade, Michael? Honestly. Do you even know what youíre singing?"

"Donít start in on me, Johnny. I still remember when you used to sing in front of your mirror."

John glares at him while everyone else laughs uproariously. I reach forward and put my hand on his shoulder.

"Donít get mad at him. You started it. And you know it was a funny comeback."

"Yeah, whatever." He grumbles.

We simultaneously yawn, and Shannon raises her eyebrows and asks, "Long night?"

"Get your mind out of the gutter. We were up working all of last night so we wouldnít have to bring our work on vacation."

Michael snorts and shoots a quick glance at me. "John left all of his work in Llanview? Did you threaten to shoot him if he didnít?"

"Thatís very funny little bro. Are you aware that I can still kick your ass?"

Michael shrugs. ""Iíll tell Mom."

"Youíre still a Mamaís boy as big as you are."

I glance over at Marcie and Shannon to discover that they are fast asleep. I decide to follow their lead, that way if John and Michael decide to kill each other, I donít have to be a witness. And besides that, I donít want to be too tired to go skiing with everyone else later on.

I close my eyes and I can feel myself drifting off...

.... "Evangeline, weíre here. Itís time to get up." I can hear Marcie gently prodding me awake, but Iím too tired to do anything else but wave her off and mutter, "Give me ten more minutes."

Someone opens the car door and a gust of cold air jolts me awake.

"Okay forget it. Iím up."

I open my eyes to find everyone grinning at me with amused looks on their faces.

"Boy Evangeline, you sleep like a log!" Shannon exclaims.

"More like a dead person." John mutters.

I could cause him a large amount of embarrassment with that comment, but I decide not to. Instead I pull on my coat and slide out of the car, where Michael and John have already started pulling the bags out of the trunk. I was actually quite dubious that everyoneís stuff would fit in the car. I know that I donít pack lightly and Iím pretty sure that Marcie and Shannon donít either. Plus there was the added bulk of all the Christmas presents that we brought with us.

I suddenly realize how irrelevant and nonsensical my thoughts are and I figure itís probably to keep me from getting nervous at the thought that in a few minutes, Iím going to be meeting Johnís mother for the first time. I was supposed to have met her at Thanksgiving, but at the last minute I had to go home for a family emergency and so John went to Thanksgiving dinner with my regards and apologies.

Iím actually glad in a sense that our plans at Thanksgiving fell through. At that time, I wasnít very sure of my place in his life and I worried that if his mother didnít like me, it might drive a wedge between us. It seems stupid now, but at the time, it seemed to make perfect sense.

After checking in, we head straight to the condo since Mrs. McBain has been there since yesterday afternoon. John knocks on the door and we all stand back waiting for her to answer it. When she does, everyone is caught up in the flurry of greeting her and so I just hang back. After about a few seconds, she notices me and says, "You must be Evangeline. Iíve heard so much about you, I feel like I know you."

"Hey John, you must have left your manners in Llanview with your work." Michael says, nudging his brother in the side.

"Sorry. Mom, this is my girlfriend, Evangeline. Evangeline, this is my mom, Eve McBain."

"Itís very nice to meet you Mrs. McBain."

She pulls me into a warm hug and asks, "Do I really look that old?"

"Um, no."

She stands back and grins and I can see a sparkle in her eyes that looks familiar. Itís the same one in Johnís eyes when he smiles. "Iím just joking. Mrs. McBain is John, Michael and Shannonís grandmother. You can call me Eve."

"Ok. Itís very nice to meet you Eve."

"And it is fantastic to finally meet the woman who is responsible for putting the glow back into Johnís eyes."

I turn to look at John, who comes closer to where weíre standing and hugs us both around the shoulders.

"Itís great that my two favourite people in the world have finally met."

Shannon clears her throat loudly and casts a meaningful look at her cousin. He rolls his eyes. "Two of my favourite people in the world."

Itís Michaelís turn to roll his eyes. "Do you always have to get your own way?"

"Of course I do. Iím special."

"If you say so Shannon."

Marcie, forever the peacekeeper suggests that we take our stuff to our rooms and unpack. I think weíre all a little tired of hearing those two harp on each other. Theyíve been arguing since they got in the car and that was a long time ago.

There are only three bedrooms, but Shannon says that she doesnít mind sharing a room with Eve, so that doesnít really pose a problem. John and I head to our room with our stuff to unpack. Once I get inside, I flop down on the bed with a huge sigh of relief. John turns to look at me with a grin.

"See, I told you that my mom would love you."

I flash him a cocky grin and toss my head. "I wasnít worried."

"Is that why I had to practically drag you to the car this morning?"

Alright, he got me there.

"No, itís because I was just beginning to realize how crazy it was that I was going skiing. Itís cold up here and snow hasnít really been known to be friends with my hair."

What? I never said I was gonna admit it. He gives me a dubious look.

"Yeah, it was all about the snow. Letís go back out to the living room before they decide to start decorating the tree without us."

In the few minutes that weíve been gone, the living room has been transformed to a scene straight from a Christmas card. Thereís a roaring fire in the fireplace that I failed to notice earlier, everyone is standing around the tree with mugs of hot chocolate in their hands and joking around as they hang Christmas ornaments on the tree.

Marcie notices that weíve re-entered the living room and gives us each a mug of hot chocolate and a smile. John looks around the room and exclaims, "Wow. Is this really my family or did I wander into the wrong living room?"

Eve grins good naturedly and says, "This Christmas is a special one and for once weíre going to have a normal holiday celebration. That means no fighting and no teasing."

"That sounds like the same thing my grandmother has been telling my cousins and me since I can remember." I remark.

"Does it work?"

"Last Christmas, we almost caught the living room on fire by knocking over the Christmas tree."

She laughs. "Oh well I guess Iíll just take what I can get."

When we finish decorating the Christmas tree, Eve and I head into the kitchen to fix lunch and get to know each other better in the process. As weíre leaving, I can feel Johnís eyes on us and apparently so can Eve, because she says, "Donít worry sweetheart, I wonít tell Evangeline any embarrassing stories. At least, not unless youíre around for her to laugh at."

"Gee, thanks Mom."

As weíre washing vegetables, Eve looks up from the sink and says to me, "You know, he really loves you a lot."

"I love him a lot too. More than I ever thought possible."

"I never thought Iíd ever see that light come back to his eyes. These past few years have been hard for me. Both of my boys were so lost and I didnít know what to do to help them find what they were looking for. I realized that I had to let them find it on their own and it was the hardest thing Iíve ever had to do, just sit there and wait. You and Marcie have been godsends to this family. I said this to Marcie when I first met her and now Iím going to say it to you. Thank you for giving me my son back."

"You have two wonderful sons Eve. I think I can speak for Marcie and myself when I say that Iím surprised they both werenít snatched up before."

Eve gives me a knowing smile. "Many women have tried, Evangeline. They were just waiting for the right woman."

I smile bashfully, but donít say anything.

"I like to be a little conceited at times and think that you and Marcie interested John and Michael because we all share some similar interests and talents. I know that itís not true, but hey, a woman can dream, canít she?"

I laugh, but Iím a little confused. "What do you mean?"

"Well you probably know that Iím a lounge singer and Marcie sings and you have a wonderful set of pipes on you."

"How do you know that?"

"We were just singing Christmas carols a little while ago. I have to say I was very impressed."

"Oh yeah. Thanks."

"I also heard all about your piano training and dancing and exploits on the middle school, high school and college basketball team. Every time I talk to John on the phone, I hear something new about you. Michael thinks that youíre fantastic and Shannon is always telling me how cool you are. Whatís your secret?"

"I appreciate that from the beginning, John thought I was important enough to share his family with me. And I really like Michael and Shannon. Shannon is really funny and sweet and Michael and I have been close since he took on the guy that attacked me in a train station."

"I heard about that. John and Michael were really upset about it. John was ready to kill the guy and Michael was really worried that John would blame it on himself and do something stupid. But it all worked out in the end, which is what matters."

"That is all that matters. We had problems and we worked them out until weíve arrived at the place weíre at now. And it feels really good to be here."

"Iím sure it does."

We both smile at each other and return to fixing lunch. After a few minutes, John pops into the kitchen and asks, "Mom, can I steal Evangeline for a minute?"

"What if she doesnít want you to steal her?"

"OK. Evangeline, can I steal you for a minute?"

I glance at Eve, but she just waves and shoos me away. "Lunch will be ready soon anyway. Iíll just finish up."

"If youíre sure." I turn to John with a grin. "Steal away."

He drags me out the kitchen and into the hallway. Before I can say anything, his lips meet mine in an intense, heated kiss. When we pull away, I ask, "What was that for?"

"Just being you. I wanted to do that all morning."

I grin and say, "Well thatís a good enough reason.",before pulling him towards me in another intense liplock. A few seconds later, Shannon passes us on her way to the bathroom. She smirks and shakes her head as she closes the door. When she comes out, weíre still standing in the hallway, with our foreheads touching.

"Would you two get a room already?"

"We have one." I retort.

"Well use it."

John grins devilishly at his cousin and says, "Donít worry, we plan to."

"Gross! I did not just hear that!" she exclaims, rushing down the hall. "Aunt Eve, John is corrupting my innocent mind!"

Eve steps out of the kitchen with a grin. "Shan, your mind hasnít been innocent for a while now. I donít think that John can really do anything to corrupt it any further."

"Thanks a lot!"

I turn to John, who is still laughing at Shannonís retreating form. "That was evil John."

"No that was payback. Donít worry. Sheíll get over it."

"I very highly doubt that."

After sitting down to a delicious lunch of chicken stir-fry, Eve disappears for a few minutes and returns laden with a stack of photo albums. John, Michael and Shannon groan collectively while Marcie and I look on with intrigued smiles.

"Mom, Iím begging you, please put the photo albums away." Michael says, grimacing when she beckons Marcie and me over to where sheís sitting.

"Every year at Christmas, we go through the photo albums and add new pictures. Itís been a family tradition since John was born."

"It sounds like a wonderful tradition." Marcie says, giving Michael a sideways glance.

"Yeah but thatís only because youíre glad for the chance to see embarrassing photos of me." He grumbles.

The first picture in the album is a baby picture that I know must be of John. Heís sitting on the floor in just a diaper and a Santa hat and really hamming it up for the camera. His bright blue eyes are alight and he has two dimples that look like they go on forever. The caption next to the picture reads, ĎSunnyís first Christmas, 10 mos. oldí

Ok, now Iím confused.

"Why does the caption say Sunny? Does John have another brother that he hasnít told me about?"

John rolls his eyes and looks away, leaving Eve to answer the question. Which she does. Gladly.

"Well he was just such a happy baby that we took to calling him Mr. Sunshine. And pretty soon, it got shortened to Sunny. When he was in the seventh grade, he decided that it wasnít cool to have a nickname like Sunny and wanted everyone to call him Jack. I opted to just stop calling him Sunny."

Marcie and I stare at him for a few seconds and then Marcie shakes her head and says, "I donít see it."

"You donít see what Marcie?", I ask, knowing full well where this is going.

"The whole Mr. Sunshine thing. Heís more like Mr. Stormcloud."

I shake my head. "I donít think so Marcie. Heís more like cloudy with a chance of sunshine."

John puts his arm around my waist and pulls me close to him. "The sun is always shining when youíre around."

I gaze up into his eyes with a grin. In the background I can vaguely hear Marcie saying, "Thatís so sweet." and Shannon groaning and saying, "Just shoot me now." But neither of us respond because weíre too busy conveying just how much we love each other. After a few seconds, we snap out of it, only to find everyone else giving us weird looks.

"Why are you all staring at us like that?"

"Where did you guys go? It was like your bodies were here, but the rest of you wasnít." Michael asks.

"I donít have any idea of what youíre talking about little bro."

"Forget it."

We return to looking through the photo album, Marcie and me laughing at all the embarrassing pictures of John and Michael. My particular favourite is one of Michael and John in their back yard wearing superhero underwear and posing like Superman. I didnít even think it was possible for two human beings to turn as red as Michael and John did as Marcie, Shannon and I teased them about the picture. Eve offered to give us a copy, but John and Michael protested so heartily that we decided it was punishment enough that we knew about the picture.

Towards the bottom of the stack were more recent pictures of the family. In most of the pictures where John was high school aged, Shannon was with him. I knew that she was important to him, but I donít think I realized just how much until now. I mean, there are pictures of him with her at every dance recital and school play that she was ever in. He was even at her high school senior prom. That one warranted some explanation.

"Um, can someone explain why John is at Shannonís senior prom? Because the last I looked, John is a little too old for high school."

Shannon grins and tousles her cousinís hair, causing him to glare and swat her hand away.

"Good oleí Johnny. Itís actually a very funny story. My date was this big jock who all the girls wanted to date, so he thought that I should feel honoured that he had chosen to ask me. When John met him, he told the guy that if the only reason he was taking me to a prom was to try to take advantage of me later, then he should leave me alone. Whatever else John said put the fear of God in him and so he decided to take another girl who didnít have a scary cousin who might kill him. After that, I wasnít even going to go, but the night of prom, John showed up in a tux with a corsage. And we all know how much he hates to get dressed up. So I got dressed and we went to a prom fashionably late, so I got to make a big grand entrance. And all the girls kept exclaiming about how hot he was. Which I donít see, but thatís probably because heís my cousin."

Wow. Just when I thought, I couldnít be more in love with John McBain. Thatís the sweetest thing Iíve ever heard of a guy doing. Especially for a cousin that he claims is pesky and a royal pain in the butt. Even Marcie seems awed. Michael just looks like heís tired of hearing the story year after year.

"Oh come on you guys. Youíre acting like John is some bug hero or something. All he did was take Shannon to the prom after he scared away her date."

Marcie smiles and says, "Do I detect a hint of jealousy?"

And all too quickly and emphatically, Michael shakes his head and says, "Iím not jealous!"

John raises his eyebrows at his little brother, setting us all off into bouts of laughter. It is really amazing and funs to watch how John and Michael interact with each other. I always missed that when I was growing up, having an older brother or sister. Or even a younger one. Although... over time, Michael could be considered as my younger brother.

Whoa! Pause; rewind. Where on earth did that come from? For that to ever happen, John and I would have to get married. And just a few weeks ago, I was very vocal about the fact that I wasnít ready for marriage. But then again, I wasnít ready for marriage theoretically and I didnít know that John was in love with me, nor would I admit that I was in love with him.

On the other hand, weíre new to this love thing. I need to focus on making this level of our relationship work before thinking of raising it to another level. And I just realised that Iím giving myself a headache thinking about something that isnít very important right now. I made a promise to John that I would leave all distractions in Llanview and I intend to keep that promise and have fun. I shake my head in an effort to clear my mind and look up to find that everyone but Eve has left the room in the time that Iíve been thinking.

"Where did everyone go?"

"I figured you werenít really with us. They went to get pictures to put in the blank album. Itís sort of our version of a year in review."

"Iím a little curious as to what pictures John will select for the album. The things that he thinks are picture worthy always tend to be a little crazy. "

Eve smiles. "I can almost guarantee that youíll be in most of the pictures and you wonít be able to remember when he took them. All of the pictures he takes of people are candids. I guess he likes the element of surprise."

"And here I was thinking it was just because heís crazy."

Before Eve can respond, I hear a familiar husky voice asking, "Whoís crazy?"

"You are John. And while youíre at it, stop having conversations with yourself." Shannon chirps.

John and Michael glance at each other and nod and in a matter of seconds, theyíre chasing Shannon around the living room. When they catch her, they begin tickling her unmercifully. In between fits of laughter, she squeals out, "This isnít fair. Itís two against one. Aunt Eve! Make them stop!"

Eve just smiles and says, "My nameís Lane and Iím not in it."

"Your name is McBain and you know it."

"On some days. And on other days, my name is Lane. You see; Iím crazy too."

"Oh thatís real mature Aunt Eve."

Nobodyís asking me, but in my opinion, it canít be that bad if she can carry on a conversation. But like I said, no one asked.

Shannon makes one last attempt to get her cousins to stop tickling her.

"Stop tickling me or I will tell Marcie and Evangeline every embarrassing story of yours that I can remember!"

And immediately, they stop. Ah, the power of blackmail.

"We arenít even touching you. Maybe youíre imagining things Shannon. Maybe youíre actually in Llanview and just dreaming about this." Michael remarks.

"That made very little sense. As a matter of fact, I think it made none at all."

Maybe itís time for a little intervention.

"You know what I think? I think maybe we should look at those pictures and then try to hit the slopes before they close for the day."

"I think thatís an excellent idea Evangeline." Marcie says.

Shannon contributes a few pictures of her working on the Love Center with the rest of the Love Crew. According to her, it was actually not that bad working on the project. Marcie and I know why, but weíre not going to be the ones to tell. I just have two words. Shirtless guys. Not that John isnít hot himself or that I want someone other than him, but hey. It never hurts to look.

Michael and Marcie have a collection of cute pictures of the two of them together at various places in Llanview. Thereís even one of Michaelís cast, taken with the infamous digital camera. John and Eve didnít think it was as funny as the rest of us did. I remember John telling me that if they didnít cost so much, he would have probably thrown the binoculars and digital camera out the hospital window. It seemed a little drastic to me, but I didnít say anything because he was still pretty pissed about it.

When it is Johnís turn to share the pictures that he brought with him, Iím pleasantly surprised. The first one on the stack is one of us doing the Electric Slide with my cousins at Jessieís Sweet Sixteen. There has never been a party in my family that doesnít include everyone getting up and doing the Electric Slide. So Jessie and I spent part of the afternoon the day before her party teaching John the Electric Slide and the Cha-Cha Slide (just to be on the safe side). It turns out that they both came in handy.

The next one is a picture of Nora and me holding a trophy that we won for playing doubles tennis at the annual LPD Sports and Family Picnic Day. John, Bo, Antonio, Nora and I wearing black face paint on our cheeks and T-shirts with rolled up sleeves after a game of Capture the Flag later that day are in the next picture. That day was the most fun that I had in ages. The last time I played Capture the Flag before then, I was 10.

I glance at John and he grins at me. "I still canít believe that you like to play Capture the Flag. It just seems so rough and tumble for you."

"Did you happen to notice that all but three of my cousins are guys? We played a lot of very rough games."

Michael gets a nostalgic grin and says to his brother, "Hey John, do you remember when laundry days when we were little?"

He laughs and Eve smiles and shakes her head.

"Oh yeah. Laundry seems so dull now, without that game."

I think the confusion and intrigue are showing pretty clearly on Marcieís and my faces, so Michael begins to explain.

"We would throw all the laundry out and put on every piece of clothing that could fit on us. We started with our clothes, then momís, and then we put on dadís clothes. Then whatever was left, weíd scatter it on the steps and take turns rolling down the "hill". Mom always freaked out when we did it though."

"Maybe I freaked out because almost every time you did it, someone hit their head on the landing, "Eve says with a grimace. "And it was impossible to tell whether or not one of you was screaming because you were having fun or because you hurt yourself."

And they still have that penchant for doing dangerous stuff. I wondered where they got it from and thereís my answer.

After placing our favourite pictures in the album, we all head off to our rooms to get bundled up to go skiing. As John is dumping out the contents of one of his bags, I stand in the doorway smirking, with my arms crossed. After a few seconds, he feels my gaze and he turns around.

"Why are you looking at me like that?"

I grin sweetly and attempt to skip past him, but his arm darts out and wraps around my waist, and he pulls me closer to him.

"You know John, Iím sure that everyone is waiting for us and we havenít even started getting dressed."

"Three things. One. I donít remember, were we sitting around nude talking to everyone? We are dressed." I roll my eyes at him, but he goes on as if I hadnít. "Two. Have you met my cousin Shannon? We could be in here for an hour and she still might not be ready. And we wonít have to take so long if you just tell me why you were smirking at me like that."

"Like what?"

Itís hard not to start laughing, because itís so weird that itís so important that he knows everything that Iím thinking. I should rephrase that. Not weird, just new and exciting and so I want to drag it out as long as possible without aggravating him.

"Youíre enjoying this arenít you?" He attempts to make his voice and face stern, but the look doesnít quite extend to his eyes, as theyíre twinkling. He seems to enjoy the chase as much as I do.

"Immensely. I also enjoyed those pictures. I canít believe you even have some of them."

He gets a shy look and says, "Yeah well... I thought that they would be special to you. And those days were important to me, and I wanted to share them and you with my family. Iím proud to be with you; Iím happy to be with you. And I just want everyone else that I love to know it."

Iím floored. Itís like he knows the things that every woman wants to hear and he just says them. But I know that he didnít just find this out somewhere, heís sharing his true feelings for me. And that just makes it so much better.

"WOW. John McBain. There is a romantic side to you after all."

"I try."

"Thereís a conceited side to you too."

John looks like he is about to say something when thereís a knock at the doorway and Michael sticks his head in the room.

"Would you two hurry up?"

From down the hall, we can hear Eve calling, "Mikey are they ready to go?"

"Mom, theyíre not even dressed!"

"Michael!!" John and I yell, blushing crimson at the giggles that we hear coming from the living room.

"If we really werenít dressed, would you still be standing here?" I ask, crossing my arms indignantly.

"First of all, if we werenít dressed, the door wouldnít be open right now."

"I should really hope so John. Because I wouldnít want to have another traumatic Christmas like the one I had when I was five."

Michael turns and walks down the hall, leaving John and I to get ready.

"What kind of a traumatic Christmas did Michael have when he was five?"

John pulls a thick sweater the same colour as his eyes over his head before answering me. "One Christmas, he happened to catch our parents making out under the mistletoe. He always manages to be in the wrong place at the right time and this time it was his fault. He was sneaking out of bed to wait up for Santa."

"Sounds like a story straight out of the song ĎI Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause.í"

I put on a bright red sweater and the black snow boots I bought specially for the occasion, seeing as how I didnít have anything in my closet that would be appropriate for skiing. I also ended up having to buy a parka, since I donít own one, but I was able to find one that I liked. Actually John picked it out, so I donít like it. I love it.

I think that Iím going to make myself sick. Itís amazing that any of our friends can still stand us with the way that weíve been acting these past few weeks. Itís pathetic, I know, but I really canít help it. Iím in love with John McBain and I want the whole world to know. Maybe if I shouted it loud enough from the top of this mountain they might all hear.

This thought brings what I know is a goofy grin to my face.

"I donít think I want to know why you have that grin on your face." John says as he threads his fingers through mine and we walk out to the living room.

"If itís anything like whatís been on her mind in the past few weeks, we donít wanna know either." Shannon quips.

"Hey!" I push her lightly, but I canít help but to smile.

In the past few weeks, Shannon and I have gotten especially close. She and John are so much alike, with their in your face attitudes. They both like to pretend that theyíre so tough, but in truth, theyíre both a bunch of softies. And Shannonís matter-of-fact commentaries on life always has me in stitches.

Michael looks at his watch and says, "We should get going if we want to get any skiing done. Especially since half of us donít even know how to ski."

At once, Shannon, Marcie and I get indignant looks on our faces and exclaim, "Hey!"

John grins. "Hay is for horses."

Michael and John give each other high-fives as they walk out of the door. Shannon and Marcie look like theyíre going to say something to them, but I shake my head to silence them. They give me puzzled looks, so I pull them aside to explain what I have in mind. Eve offers to help us, saying, "They could do without being so cocky."

A few minutes later, theyíre still a few yards in front of us, turning back occasionally to tease us. Shannon, Eve, Marcie and I shovel up snow in our gloved hands, turning it into hard compact snowballs. The next time they turn to tease us, we throw the snowballs at them as hard as we can, hitting them both square in the face.

They retaliate by picking up snow and throwing it right back at us. We were expecting it, so we duck and the snow flies above our heads. We continue in a heated battle until Michael gets hit in the forehead with a snowball and hunches over in pain.

"Oww! You guys hit me with a stone!"

We look worriedly at each other and rush over to where Michael and John are standing together. Before we can say anything, weíre hit with an onslaught of snowballs.

"You guys are the biggest bunch of jerks Iíve ever met in my life!" Shannon exclaims, stomping off to where Eve is watching us in amusement.

"That was really mean! We were scared that there was something really wrong with you Michael!", Marcie exclaims indignantly.

"But it was funny."

Marcie stands there glowering at Michael while John stands by, still laughing uproariously.

"John, itís really not funny." I say, elbowing him in the ribs.

"Ouch! I was laughing at Michael. Look at the look on his face."

I look over at him and canít help bursting into laughter myself. He looks frightened as Marcie berates him.

"Okay that is pretty funny. I can bet that Michael wonít be doing anything that stupid any time soon."

"And Iím guessing that this should be a lesson to me?"

"You know me so well."

He smiles and shakes his head, dislodging some of the snow thatís in his hair. I suddenly get caught up in a feeling of whimsy and I grab Johnís hand, laughing loudly.

"Whatís so funny?"

"Come on and make a snow angel with me."

He shakes his head. "Iím gonna look like an idiot."

"What? Afraid youíll spoil your rep?"

"No. I feel like an idiot already and I havenít done anything yet."

Okay, so goading him into it isnít going to work, so Iím going to have to use some other method of persuasion.

I flop down on my back and begin making snow angels, while John watches me, laughing. A few minutes pass and I reach up and say, "Okay, Iím all snow angeled out. Help me up please."

He grasps my hand and with a yank, I pull him down beside me.

"Youíre good, I gotta give you that. But Iím still not gonna do it."

"Oh come on McBain, youíre already covered in snow, you might as well do it. And itíll make me laugh."

"Thatís what Iím afraid of."

But nonetheless, he rolls over onto his back and begins to make a snow angel.

"Isnít this fun?"

"I donít know. Iím too cold to think."

A grin comes to my face and I roll over on top of him. "Let me see if I can warm you up then."

Before John can reply, we hear Eve calling, "John? Evangeline? Weíre all ready to go and weíre waiting on you two."

I roll off of him and John stands, offering me his hand so that I can get up. "You ready to go?"

"You bet."

John wraps his arm around my waist and we stumble laughingly to meet the rest of his family.

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