Thank you to every single person that took their time to vote in the Profiler's Choice Criminal Minds Awards. We are busily tabulating your votes and will announce the winners very shortly, as well as who won those coveted gift cards. We had several tight races and are proud to tell you that your response was overwhelming - over 170 voters! Again, congratulations to all our nominees!
In other news, December 25th is right around the corner. Everyone that signed up for the CM Christmas Fic Exchange, please remember your stories. We want this to be a WONDERFUL gift experience for all involved. If you have any questions, feel free to pm either myself (ilovetvalot) or tonnie2001969.
Finally, if any of you have any idea for issues/activities that you'd like to see "Chit Chat on Author's Corner" forum tackle in the form of discussion threads and/or challenges, please let us know. We want to bring you all some really fun threads in the New Year!
As always, thank you to every reader, reviewer, favoriter, and alerter that enjoys our stories. Hearing from each of you means a great deal.
"Please," JJ repeated, her soft eyes beseeching him as she tugged again, her tiny fingers wrapping around his strong hand.
Sighing, Dave let JJ pull him down beside her. "You owe me," he muttered under his breath, settling beside her on the hard floor, his hand wrapping around her narrow waist as he pulled her body next to his.
"I know," JJ whispered, pressing a soft kiss against his lips. Seconds later, she let out a happy sigh as she pulled away and turned back to the open chest. Pulling out a gorgeous matched set of silver candlesticks, she held them up. "What about these, Dave? Do you remember them?"
Blinking as he eyed the candlesticks filling either of her hands, Dave reached for one, smiling faintly. Tracing his fingers over the angel-engraved base, he nodded slowly. "These graced the center of Nonna's dining room table every year. She'd put red cinnamon scented tapered candles in them and only light them after we came back from midnight Mass. She'd leave them burning until after Christmas dinner," he remembered, his smile lingering as the smell of spices seemed to waft through the air. "Then," he snorted, shaking his head ruefully, "she'd make us kids clean the wax off them until they shined again the next day. Payment for our presents, she'd say," he winked.
Nodding ever so solemnly at his memories, JJ teased, "The least you could do."
"Of course," Dave agreed, handing her the stick back and watching as she placed it to the side, her movements careful and protective of the heirloom.
Reaching into the trunk, JJ pulled out a set of stained glass ornaments, each bulb a different depiction of the Nativity scene. "Now, these are simply wonderful," she said, fingering one hand blown bulb with gentle fingers, her touch as delicate as if she was trying to capture a snowflake.
"Oh," Dave breathed, staring down at the ornaments in awe and surprise. "Those were Nonna's pride and joy," he recalled, touching one finger to the fragile glass, his fingertip touching hers. "My Nonno gave her that set the year before he died. She faithfully hung those bulbs on the tree every year after he passed. And she'd cry the whole time," Dave said quietly, his throat suddenly tightening as he remembered his grandmother's lined face, her sorrow palpable in the midst of the holiday celebrations. "It was her way of making sure he was there every year, I think. She never got over losing him."
"How long were they married?" JJ asked curiously, her words easy as she recognized the slow change overtaking her new husband. Careful does it, she warned herself, not wanting to destroy the mood that was so obviously surrounding them.
"Sixty-four years," Dave smiled, reaching into the chest in front of them and pulling out a white porcelain heart ornament, a fraying red ribbon looped through it. "This was their first ornament that they put on the tree the year they got married," he smiled. "Nonna guarded this with a fierce hand."
"Then it definitely needs to be on our tree. I'd say the first ornament of a couple married for that long definitely brings some luck to our table...or, tree as the case may be."
"Whatever you want, Bella," Dave agreed, pressing a kiss to her temple as she stroked his cheek. He couldn't resist pulling her closer for a moment, burying his nose in her hair, the faint whiffs of peaches enticing him. Reluctantly, he finally loosened his grip, knowing that he was halting her desired treasure hunt. And he hated to admit it, but he was actually enjoying this walk down memory lane…as long as he was taking it with her.
"I do have one question though," JJ commented, furrowing her brow as she leaned into the trunk, searching for the item amid the other decorations that she needed to illustrate her question.
"Hmmm," Dave hummed, lovingly running his fingers over the ornament he held.
"What does this," she asked, pulling a handmade quilt from the chest, "have to do with Christmas?"
Eyes narrowing on the find she held in her hands, Dave blinked. Reaching for it, he shook his head as his fingers sunk against the worn cottons. "I haven't seen that in over forty years," Dave breathed, awestruck.
Handing the beautifully intricate over into his shaking hands, JJ tilted her head as she studied his face. "I can tell by the look on your face that it means a lot to you."
Nodding, Dave swallowed past the thickness clogging his throat. "This," he said, sliding his hands over the fabric, "was my Nonna's last gift to me. She gave it to me the Christmas of my sixteenth birthday," he explained, his tongue suddenly unable to find the words. "It's a wedding ring quilt. And it wasn't really made for me, but for the woman I'd spend my life with."
Blinking, JJ shook her head as she looked down at the patterned quilt again. "I don't think I understand."
Smiling as he tugged her hand and pressed it to the fabric underneath his, Dave murmured, "The year Nonna gave me this, I think she sensed her time was drawing near. I mean, it wasn't exactly a typical gift for a sixteen year old boy. When I opened it Christmas Day, she took me aside and explained the meaning for me."
"Which was?" JJ prompted, truly interested.
"It's said that if a man and his wife sleep beneath the wedding ring quilt it offers them the warmth of fertility. It's sort of a good luck charm," he winked, his eyes sparkling in the muted light of the attic. And while he had felt his Christmas spirit disappear when his Nonna had left this earthly realm, he suddenly realized that perhaps she had left the perfect gift…and given him another gift in this amazing woman.
"Really?" JJ cocked an eyebrow, her lips starting to quirk as she felt his thumb slide against her wrist.
"Mmmm," Dave nodded, a slow grin forming against his lips. "As it happens, this very quilt proved effective for not only my Nonno and Nonna, but my mother and father, as well. I'd honestly forgotten I had it."
"Don't take this wrong, Dave," JJ grinned, narrowing her eyes as she winked. "But, I'm a little grateful for that fact. Sleeping under a quilt that you'd shared with one of your former wives really holds very little appeal to me."
"Have no fear, babe. This quilt hasn't been used in at least fifty years. You're safe," he laughed, a lightness overcoming him, surprising him with the release it offered.
"Well then, Agent Rossi," JJ murmured, rising and offering her husband her hand. "I think it's about time we put Nonna's gift to good use. Care to join me in a slightly recycled holiday tradition?"
Taking her hand, Dave nodded as he rose, the quilt tucked firmly beneath his arm. And as he followed his new wife down the ladder and back into the brightly lit home, he realized that, perhaps, there was still room in his life for a bit of Christmas happiness after all.