For pjstillnoon. (Great penname, by the way!) Sorry your Secret Santa fic a little late. :/ In my defense, we have family coming later this week to celebrate, so I'm not /technically/ finished with Christmas. :D Still, I apologize, and I hope you can forgive me.

And, McBreezy, thank you for allowing me to enter the challenge, even though I missed the deadline. Or deadlines.



Always one to do for other people before doing for herself, Gillian had gone back and forth about buying the plane ticket and splurging on the vacation. She finally decided to just go for it-she couldn't remember the last time she'd been on a real vacation, and she deserved to take some time for herself.

Kicked back in a lounge chair by the pool, she sipped bottled water as the hot, mid-afternoon sun beat down on her. Though she loved the potential for snow and everything about Christmas in D. C., she had to admit that the warmer Miami temperatures were quite nice.

The fact that she was practically surrounded by muscled men with perfectly bronzed bodies wasn't so bad either. She knew they weren't necessarily her type, but what harm was there in looking? The paperback she held had been opened to the same page for the last fifteen minutes, but the words weren't holding her attention like the muscles.

A shadow came over her and didn't go away like it should have if someone was merely passing by. Someone was standing over her.

"Excuse me," she said, squinting and shielding her eyes with the book as she glanced up at the person. "You're blocking the sun."

"And you're drooling, love," came the reply. "You must be enjoying…your book," he smirked.


He grinned as he tossed his duffel bag on the ground and pulled a nearby empty lounge chair next to hers.

She sighed. "What are you doing?"

"You don't want me to sit next to you?"

"I mean, what are you doing here?"

"No one should spend Christmas alone," he said, flopping down onto the lounger.

"And with Emily at Zoe's…" Gillian supplied, remembering Emily's excitement when she announced her Christmas plans.

"I was going to be alone, and so were you," Cal finished.

"How do you know?"

"Oh, I see," he replied with another smirk. He surveyed the people in their lines of sight. "And which one of these fine gentlemen have you chosen to spend Christmas with?"

She squirmed and put the book on the chair beside her. "I don't know what you're talking about."

"Your observation techniques aren't very subtle, Gill."

"I was thinking!" she insisted.

"Yeah, about the men you were staring at!"

The sun must have intensified because she suddenly became very warm. "How long were you watching me?"

He reclined in the lounge chair, his interlaced fingers behind his head. "Let's just say that I didn't see you turn a page."


It wasn't long before Cal grew antsy. He sat up and sighed, attempting to get Gillian's attention.

She had opened the book once again, but she still couldn't concentrate on the words.

Cal sighed again, louder.

"What is it?" she finally asked.

"Are we just going to sit here?"

"The point of a vacation is to relax. You should try it." She then noticed that he was wearing jeans and boots. "Aren't you burning up?"

"Yeah, but my room's not ready, so I couldn't change."

"You're staying here?" She wasn't really that surprised.

Cal nodded. "Costs an arm and a leg!" he protested.

"You should have told me you were coming. You could have stayed with me," Gillian teased

"Oh, yeah?"

"On the pullout couch," she finished with a grin.

"Ah, just my luck."

Her grin widened. "Maybe next time."


Another half hour passed-with Cal interrupting her reading every few minutes-and eventually, she closed the paperback. No doubt, she would have to reread the book later.

"Where are we having dinner?" he asked.

She raised an eyebrow and looked at him. "Dinner?"

"You mean to tell me that I came all the way to Miami, and you won't even have dinner with me?"

"You've got to give a girl some notice."

He scooted to the edge of the chair and patted her knee. "This is vacation, Gill! Be spontaneous!"

She rolled her eyes and eventually said, "I guess I do have to eat."

"That's the spirit!" Cal said as he stood and stretched.

He helped her up, and she wrapped the towel around her waist, tossed everything in her bag, and slid her feet into her sandals. Then they picked up their bags and went inside to see if Cal's room was finally ready.

After getting Cal checked in, they waited for the elevator. The air inside the hotel was cool on Gillian's heated skin, and the drastic change in temperature made her shiver. Cal put his arm around her shoulder and gently rubbed it, but the gesture only made her shiver again.

The elevator arrived then, and they stepped inside. Gillian pressed the button for her floor, which Cal informed her was also where his room was located. Once off the elevator, they walked toward Gillian's room.

"Where's your room?" she asked as she unlocked and opened the door.

"It's the opposite direction."

"Then why did you walk this way?"

"Just wanted to make sure you got inside safely."

She smiled and patted his chest. "That's nice. Thank you."

"One hour?" he replied.

"One hour," she confirmed.

She walked inside and the door clicked shut behind her. She smiled and shook her head, actually glad that Cal had crashed her vacation.


Exactly one hour later, Cal knocked on her door. Gillian smiled brightly when she opened the door. "You look nice."

"So do you," he replied, stepping forward and kissing her cheek. "As always."

She thanked him and grabbed her purse, then joined him in the hall. "I know of a good place that's only a few blocks away. We can walk."

He laughed. "You know a place? How long have you been here?"

"Do you want dinner or not?"

"Of course, of course! Lead the way!"

Even though they had to wait over an hour before being seated, Cal had to admit that the food was worth the wait.

They left the restaurant, and Gillian suggested they walk back to the hotel by way of the beach. Once on the beach, they stopped to remove their shoes, and Cal rolled up his pants legs so they wouldn't get wet-he knew Gillian would want to walk in the water.

They strolled along the beach, hand-in-hand, and just as Cal suspected, they soon ended up ankle-deep in the Atlantic. For a long time, no words were spoken; they just walked, enjoying the sound of the waves and being with each other.

"What's on your mind?" Cal asked sincerely. "You've been quiet since we left the restaurant."

"What are you really doing here, Cal?" she said, going with the direct approach.

"I told you. Everyone needs to be with someone on Christmas."

There was a reason he chose those particular words, and they both knew it.

"Just Christmas?"

Cal waited for only a second before replying. "No, not just Christmas."

Gillian smiled and only barely contained an elated squeal. "Does this mean that we're, you know, together?"

"Yeah, I think it does. Is that okay?"

"Better than okay."

"Good." He grinned and kissed her quickly, then guided her out of the water and toward the hotel. "How about we make some waves of our own?"

Perhaps they wouldn't be needing that second room-or the pullout couch-after all.


Thanks for reading!