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A Perfectly Split Christmas: A Split Short Story, page 1


A Perfectly Split Christmas: A Split Short Story

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A Perfectly Split Christmas: A Split Short Story

  A Perfectly Split Christmas

  Copyright © 2016 JB Salsbury

  All rights reserved

  No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written consent of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

  Interior Design & Formatting:

  Christine Borgford, Type A Formatting

  Table of Contents

  A Perfectly Split Christmas

  Author’s Note





  A Look at SPLIT ~ available now

  About the Author

  Other Titles by JB Salsbury

  Dear Readers,

  Thank you to all who took a chance on my first stand alone novel, Split.

  While weaving their story, I fell in love with Lucas, Gage, and Shyann and wasn’t quite ready to let them go. As a thank you for supporting this new and exciting adventure, I wrote A Perfectly Split Christmas as my gift to you. This free short story gives you a small and sexy peek into the lives of this unconventional couple. I hope you enjoy it!

  Wishing you and yours all the best this holiday season and in the New Year.

  Happy Reading!


  “Are you sure this is the one?” Blinking up I’m nearly blinded by the sunlight reflected off the snow-covered tree.

  I peek over at Lucas, one hand on his hip the other to his side holding a handsaw. He runs his teeth over his lower lip as he considers my question. As much as I love him in all his hats, the gray-knit beanie he’s wearing now is my favorite because it doesn’t hide his eyes that are squinting in the most adorable way as he concentrates.

  “Positive.” His boots crunch a jagged pattern in the white fluffy stuff as he circles the towering Blue Spruce. “This is the one.”

  This is the third tree in an hour that he’s said is “the one” only to change his mind and keep looking. If it were anyone else I’d tell them to pick one already, but this is Lucas’s first real Christmas and I want him to have the best tree these mountains have to offer.

  He steps close to me and his big body exuding comfort.—Not only is he warm, but also I’ve come to learn the distinct scent of his skin and it all works like an instant muscle relaxer. The swishing sound of his winter coat pulls my attention to his arm as it swings up and he rubs the rough shadow of his jaw. No, not his jaw.

  His scar.

  I wonder if he’s thinking of them, his brothers and sister who were never able to enjoy even the simplest celebration.

  My heart squeezes.

  “It doesn’t need to be hard, Lucas. There’s no right answer.” I try to keep my voice light and fun, but I can feel the tension radiating around him like a fog.

  His gaze moves from the tree and his expression softens when he looks down at me with a small, almost embarrassed smile. “Your lips are turning blue.”

  “They always do when I’m cold.”

  The space between us dissolves when he turns and presses his chest to mine. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about him in the few months we’ve been together it’s that his first priority is always me. When his big hand locks on my hip I lift my chin, knowing exactly what he’s after.

  His soft lips brush against mine. “Mmm . . .” Another brush of his mouth. “They are cold.”

  “How do yours stay so hot?”

  He kisses the corners of my mouth, my upper lip, and then the bottom, sharing their heat with me. “My internal temperature must run hotter than yours.”

  Pushing my hands up his chest and over and around his neck I curse my gloves and all the puffy fabric between us. I tilt my head and lick my way into his mouth.

  The sound of the handsaw hitting the snow is followed by a low groan as he deepens the kiss. His arms circle my waist and he shifts so that our bodies are as close as we can get them. I’m practically standing on his toes as he worships my mouth with his. My fingers tingle with the need to touch, to feel his heart pound against my own even if only to prove he’s equally affected. How quickly his kiss can turn me from chilled to wanting to strip myself bare in the thirty-degree weather.

  An icy breeze blows through the trees with a moan and I shiver in his arms.

  He smiles against my lips. “I need to get you home before you freeze solid.”

  I run my teeth along his jaw and dip to the space just below his ear. “I’m not that cold anymore.” I nuzzle his neck, breathing in the spicy pine scent.

  He chuckles in a way that reminds me of Gage, but I can tell by the gentle way he’s holding me that Lucas is still with me. “Your nose is like an ice cube.”

  That’s probably true. I haven’t been able to feel my nose for about thirty minutes.

  I press one more kiss to his lips before leaning back to meet those stormy gray eyes. “Come to think of it, getting back to your place and out of all these clothes sounds nice.”

  “My place,” he whispers as if he’s talking to himself.

  I open my mouth to ask him what he means, but he runs his thumb along my lips, his fingerless gloves allowing me the pleasure of the work-worn pads against my skin.

  I delicious tremble slides up my spine.

  The hunger in his gaze turns to worry. “You’re freezing, Shy. You should’ve said something.” He snags the saw off the ground. “Let me get you home. I can hike back and get this later—”

  “Whoa, whoa, whoa.” I grip his arm, laughing. “No way. We came out to get a tree and I’d rather freeze to death than go home empty handed.”

  He glares at me, but says nothing. Instead his eyes dart to the side as if he’s hearing someone talking in his head.

  Which, I now know, is exactly what’s happening.

  Butterflies explode in my belly at the thought of hearing from Gage.

  It’s been so long since Lucas’s alter personality surfaced, I’d begun to wonder if we’d chased him off completely. I haven’t seen Gage in a month, and loving him the way I do, well . . . I miss him.

  “Lucas, what is it?” There’s no chance of hiding the hope in my voice.

  He shakes his head and turns back toward the tree.

  “What’s he saying?” Talk to me.

  With an uneasy shrug, he looks down at me and there’s a war waged in his eyes. It hasn’t been easy for Lucas to share me with his alternate personality. Even now that Lucas is healing and has more control over Gage’s appearances, he’s still nervous about leaving us alone together.

  “He hates that you’re cold.” His eyes move to the side again, and then he smiles. “He’s giving me crap about having you out here so long.”

  My heart swells.

  I prop my hands on my hips. “It’s not like I’ve never been in the snow before, boys.”

  His eyebrows pinch together and he nods. “I’ll get the tree.”

  I can’t help but stare as Lucas squats low. His jeans pull tight around the powerful muscles of his thighs and as he reaches forward to get the saw under the tree, I’m treated to a perfect view of his denim-clad ass.

  “This shouldn’t take long.” He’s so sweet the way his jaw tenses as he concentrates, the masculine determination in his eyes as he saws down his first ever Christmas tree. “Then we’ll get you home.”

  We’ll get you home.

  I’ll never stop loving the unconscious way he talks about Gage reminding me how far he’s come in accepting his darker side.
br />   But lately I’ve seen the strain in his brow, the way he massages his temples, and how his jaw stiffens. I wish I could figure out a way to get him to relax enough to let Gage come forward rather than constantly pushing him back.

  It’s not enough for me to love Lucas for exactly who he is, I want him to love himself too.

  The tree falls to the ground in a streak of snow flurry. My chest swells with so much manly pride it’s almost hard to swallow.

  My first tree. Our first tree together. As much as I’d like to sit here a little longer and soak in the feeling of satisfaction and joy, bathe in the appreciation and tenderness I feel pouring from Shyann, Gage is clawing to get out and take care of her and I’m not ready to leave her.

  Not yet.

  “Here, let me help.” She reaches down to grip the tree trunk.

  I hoist it up and start moving before she gets her hand on it. “Not a chance.”

  “Hey!” She laughs as she attempts to grab the top of the tree as it drags through the snow.

  “Shy, please. Get your butt up here and keep me company.”

  She stomps through the snow to my side and I tuck my chin to hide the smile pulling at my lips.

  “You never let me do anything.” She huffs out a white plume of breath in the cold air.

  I shrug. “You’ll get over it.”

  Her gaze darts to mine, and her eyes narrow.

  I know what she’s looking for. “Nope. It’s still me.”

  “When you say things like that it’s hard to tell.”

  My lungs collapse a little. “I’m sorry.”

  She hooks her glove-covered hand around my forearm to avoid the saw and squeezes. “No more apologies, Lucas. You have nothing to be sorry for.”

  I nod even though I don’t totally agree. Being in a real relationship with Shy is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I can’t say the same for her. After all, being in love with two people in one body can’t be easy.

  We walk back to the cottage in silence, but I don’t miss the way Shy keeps staring at me.

  I’ve been holding him back lately, and I’m pretty sure she knows it. Thankfully Gage hasn’t pushed too hard to come forward. But he’s my irrationally protective side, my violently possessive side and as Shy blows into her gloved hands to warm her face I sense his patience wearing thin.

  I drop the tree on the porch and kick the snow off my boots before heading inside to stoke the smoldering embers and throw a log in the woodstove. Buddy is curled up on his plush dog bed absorbing the heat.

  “Someone’s enjoying the luxury of indoor living.” I rub his head and after a good, long stretch he trots to the door to lie in the sunshine.

  Shy kicks off her boots and drops her gloves. “You want me to make some hot chocolate?”

  “Sure. Do you still want the tree here?” I adjust the stand we’d set up this morning right in front of the bay window that overlooks the creek.

  Her hands slide around me from behind and she nuzzles my shoulder blade. “Wherever you want it is fine with me. This Christmas is for you. All of you.”

  My gut clenches with a weird combination of anxiety and excitement.

  I’ve never had a real Christmas before and I have no idea what to expect from Gage. It’s part of the reason I’ve been holding him back. Something I was incapable of before Shy, but now have a little control over. Gage must know how uneasy I feel otherwise I wouldn’t be able to hold him back.

  I pull her hands from my abs up to my chest, and press her knuckles to my lips. “I think it’ll look great here.”

  She moves around to my front and those blue eyes that probe deep into my soul are filled with warmth and acceptance. “I love you, Lucas.”

  God, will I ever tire of hearing those words?

  I suck in a breath and run my nose along hers, closing my eyes and relaxing into her hold. “I love you too.”

  She presses a light kiss to my lips. “We have so much to look forward to.”

  “I know.” I groan when she sucks my lower lip into her mouth. Her tongue swipes once before she nips hard enough to send a swift pinch of pain from my mouth to my gut. “Shy . . .” My hands lock tight around her lower back as the black flickers behind my eyes.

  “Yeah?” Her breathy response is pure innocence before she sucks my upper lip and follows with the same pleasure-pain nick of her teeth.

  I push back the veil as it descends, threatening to plunge me into darkness. “You’re playing with fire.” My breath is ragged as it saws in and out of my lungs.

  She slides her hands around my waist and down . . . down . . . down . . .

  “I know exactly what I’m doing.” Her voice is like a purr and my hips flex in response.

  “Can’t hold him back when you do this.” I dip my tongue between her lips loving the way she eagerly takes me deep into her mouth.

  She rubs her body against mine, her nails bite into my bare flesh, and I feel myself being pulled into the black. “Then don’t.”

  The veil falls.

  I tried.

  I really fucking tried.

  But a man can only handle so much.

  A pillar of strength I am not. Not when it comes to Shyann.

  Luke deserves to have this. To have a normal holiday with a woman who loves him more than her next breath. He earned this shit, and if I were a better man I’d leave him to it.

  Only problem is I’m a selfish prick in love and fuck if I’m gonna sit back and watch when she’s begging me to come out and play.

  Her eager hands and painful bites are my calling card and she knows it. She doesn’t use it often, allowing Luke and I to trade off and on at our leisure, but when I stay away too long my woman gets greedy.

  I grab her waist and walk her back a few steps making her stumble until her ass hits the table. She gasps, but rather than feel her muscles tense beneath at the sudden shift from Luke to me, she melts in my hands.

  “Fuck, baby.” I drag my lips from her mouth, hoisting her up to get better access to her neck. “You’ve got too many clothes on.” I rip at her scarf and pop all the buttons on her jacket, pushing it off her shoulders to get to the tight sweater underneath.

  “You came back,” she whispers as I drown in the scent of her neck and the softness of her skin.

  “Tried to give this to Luke, but you wouldn’t let it be.”

  She wiggles to the edge of the table, arching into my touch. “I missed you.”

  God, she tastes so good. There isn’t an inch of skin on this woman’s body I haven’t sampled and it all tastes like heaven. “I could tell. Conniving little minx.”

  “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Her giggle vibrates against my lips and I get that warm feeling in my chest that only Shy brings.

  I stand back and look down at her, pink cheeks, wet lips, and those eyes that can bring the strongest man to his knees with want. “Don’t be coy, Shy.” I shove my fingers into the hair at her nap and run my thumb along her lower lip. “You know exactly how to get to me.”

  She shrugs, looking proud and sexy as all hell at the same time.

  Guilt washes over me in a wave so heavy it slumps my shoulders. “Luke deserves this holiday, baby. Not me.”

  She takes my hand and turns to press her lips to my wrist. “No, Gage. You’re wrong. You both deserve this. I know what you’re doing, trying to stay away, but please . . .” Her voice cracks and I swear if she cries I will kick our asses for making her sad. “I need you both, Gage. I love you both. Can’t you share Christmas?”

  The corner of my lip twitches. “We’re not very good at sharing.”

  “Funny.” She sits up tall, pushes her hand under my shirt, and up my bare chest. I suck in a breath as her nails rake along my skin. “You seem to share me just fine.”

  If she had any idea how often we push and pull to get time with her she’d take that back.

  “I love you, Gage.”

  I almost double over as her words hit me straigh
t in the sternum. I swallow hard.

  “Don’t disappear on me, okay?” Her blue eyes glisten with the weight of a love I’m only just beginning to understand. “I don’t want to lose you. Either of you.”

  On overwhelming feeling of brotherhood swells behind my ribs, like getting a fist-bump or an atta-boy. Luke is reassuring me. He’s also shoving me forward with a feeling of urgency to erase the doubt and worry in her eyes.

  “We’ll try harder, baby.” Luke floods me with impatience and what feels like a slap on the back of my head. I clear my throat. I’m so bad at this shit. “Whatever we have to give is yours. There’s nothing you could ask for that we’d deny you.”

  Luke’s feelings fade away and are replaced with contentment, as if he’s satisfied with my response.

  “Oh really?” A flash of desire in her eyes calls my body closer until I’m pressed between her open thighs and her hands are locked at the back of my neck.

  “What do you need, Shy?” I trace the shell of her ear with my lips and absorb her responding shiver while imagining all the ways I could get her naked on this table.

  “What I need . . .” She tilts her head and I trail kisses down into the V of her sweater. “Is for you to . . .”

  “Yeah?” I’m practically salivating to hear her say it, to put into words the desires of her body.

  “Get the tree up and get the lights on so I can hang the ornaments.”

  My body locks up and I stand to gaze into those eyes that are dancing with laughter. “You’re kidding.”

  She presses a quick peck to my lips then pushes me back to hop off the table. “Nope!” Her long feminine fingers flick toward the tree stand. “Get busy. I’ll get the hot chocolate.”

  I pull the knit beanie off my head and run a hand through my hair trying to temper my overheated libido. “I think I might just pull back and let Luke take this one.”

  But I search for him in the recesses of my mind and all I feel is his laughter.

  A chuckle bursts free from my chest.

  Well played, brother. Well played.

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