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A special note to my Christmas draws nearer, so does my husband's return from the war zone in Afghanistan. This said, posts will be slowing DRAMATICALLY after the holiday. Bear with me. Slower updates are expected to last approximately a month. But, real life and a family reconnection will take precedence. I'm sure you all understand. But, take heart, a happy hubby makes an energetic writer.

And as always, thanks to our readers! Your reviews and alerts make our day and we love hearing from you! We don't own a thing, but we sure wish we did.

Because I don't say it often enough, nothing would happen in these stories without my wonderful co-author and friend, tonnie2001969. Too often, the author name ilovetvalot is mistaken for just one person. There are two of us. Tonnie2001969 collaborates on every single one of these stories and I can't say ENOUGH wonderful things about this woman!

A special thank you to Graveygraves for her JJ/Emily Christmas prompts: watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on TV; spiked eggnog that one of them didn't know was spiked; unexpected Christmas gift

Give Me No Splendor, Gold or Pomp

Chapter One

Blinking back tears, Jennifer Jareau stared at the television screen as the closing credits to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer scrolled across the screen. Her house, much like her house, felt empty as a tomb, the silence almost deafening as the music faded and the plasma screen went dark. Reaching for her glass of red wine from the mahogany table beside her sofa, she took a fortifying sip and briefly wished that she'd taken the extra energy and spiked the eggnog in her fridge.

But she hadn't, so the wine would have to serve her purpose.

Perhaps if she drank enough, it would dull this hollow feeling inside her chest.

Leaning her head back against the sofa, she inhaled deeply as she tried to quell her anger. But her ex-lover's unexpected Christmas gift had ruined any hope she might have held that this could be anywhere near a Merry Christmas.

When Will had arrived, unexpectedly, on her doorstep tonight, she'd assumed he had only wanted to visit with their son. Unfortunately for her, he'd had different ideas. Since he was leaving for New Orleans on Christmas Day, he'd asked to spend the night with their son, reminding her, that if not for her, they would be spending it as a family.

And parsed in those terms, how could she deny him?

She was the reason they wouldn't be a family for Christmas. In the long run, she knew she was making the right choices. Staying together for the sake of Henry would have ultimately backfired in all their faces. But in the short term, her decision hurt like hell.

Because she missed her little boy.

Glaring at the presents under the tree, she knew she'd done the right thing...allowing father and son this special time together. For in as much as Will had made a lousy partner to her, he was a wonderful father to Henry. And in the end, that's what mattered.

Honestly, it was a relief that they'd finally pounded the last nail in the long overdue coffin of their relationship. He wanted things she couldn't give him...and her lie over Emily's "death" had only complicated things further between them. He couldn't understand how she could claim to love him, but be willing to risk everything for a woman she merely worked with. In truth, he was jealous of the devotion she'd shown for Emily - and the rest of the team. He wanted to be the first thought in her mind in the morning and the last thing she thought of at night. He wanted a traditional relationship.

He wanted everything that she'd never be able to give him. It didn't matter how hard she'd tried to feel fake it, it just wasn't there to offer him. Which was sad because he deserved a hell of a lot better than she'd given him in the two years they'd shared together.

Wiping a tear, she shook her head. Why the hell was she shedding tears over a decision that had been hers alone? It wasn't as though she loved Will the way she should have...the way he deserved.

Oh, she adored the man he was...the charming blend of endearingly sweet qualities that made him unique. Mostly because he was one of the good ones...his archaic views on relationships aside. No, instead she mourned the fact that she couldn't bring herself to love him the way she should have been able to. The way she couldn't love any man.

She'd spent more years than she wanted to admit attempting to convince her body and heart that she just hadn't met the right man. But what she'd finally been forced to admit, if only to herself, was that the right man didn't exist.

Not for her.

Because at the ripe old age of thirty-one, Jennifer Jareau had finally confessed to herself that she simply wasn't interested in men.

It was women that drew her eye. Or more specifically, one woman, she acknowledged with a mental sigh.

Emily Prentiss.

Confident, secure in her own skin, Emily Prentiss.

Unlike her, Emily knew who she was...what she wanted. It was one of the many things JJ admired in her colleague. No matter how hard the choice she was faced with, Emily did what was right, not what was easy or acceptable. Whether it was chasing a terrorist across the globe or telling her friends and colleagues that she was, in fact, a lesbian, Emily did it with a brand of honesty seldom seen in today's world.

It humbled her. It terrified her. But, lately, more than anything else, it fascinated her.

And as that forbidden fascination had grown for her friend, so had the chasm between herself and Will. Finally when an abyss had separated them, JJ had found the courage to be honest with the man who'd helped her create a perfect combination of their very best qualities.

Oh, she hadn't shared that she'd fallen in love with one of her best friends. But, she had told him that she'd finally realized that hiding behind the shield of heterosexuality was ultimately going to destroy them both. And, surprisingly, he hadn't been shocked.

Groaning aloud as her doorbell pealed, JJ glanced at the clock. Please God, she prayed, anything but carolers. She'd hate to go to jail on Christmas Eve for throwing some unsuspecting singer down two flights of stairs just to watch them bounce. But, in her defense, her holiday cheer had long since evaporated. And she only hoped it would make a return with her son's arrival in the morning.

Jerking open the door as the bell rang again, JJ's glare turned incredulous as she stared at the intruder standing just over the threshold. Blinking in shock, her jaw fell.

"Uhmmmm, Merry Christmas?" Emily said hesitantly as she limply held up a trio of gift bags in her hand.