"The raspberry cordials are the best," she declared, as she opened the box of candy. "Those, and the white chocolate."
"White chocolate?" he repeated, disapprovingly. "I'll never understand how you eat those things. They're repulsive."
"They're delicious, and you have no taste."
He grinned playfully. "I have excellent taste in women."
She smiled back. "You can't take the credit for me. That was just fate."
"Whose fate? Yours or mine?"
"How could it be one without being both?" Sitting up in the bed, she browsed through the candy. "What's the heart-shaped one?"
He pored over the guide that came with the box. "Hazelnut."
"I love hazelnut. I'm having that one."
"I've always liked the hazelnut ones."
"Tough luck." She held the chocolates out of his reach, eyes twinkling. "This is supposed to be my Christmas present, remember? I should have first dibs."
"Christmas is a season of giving," he told her. "You should be generous. You should share." He pinned her arm to the pillow with one hand, trying to grab for the box. She fended him off with her elbows and knees. "You know what you are? You're a miser."
"A miser, huh?" She rolled out of his arms and shoved a pillow between them as a barricade. "I tell you what. I'll just be a miser, then, and you can sleep over there by yourself."
"Ah, but I have the list." He waved it at her, trying not to laugh. "If you're not careful, you'll bite into a butter cream."
She snorted, pretending to ignore him and go to sleep. He pushed the pillow aside and gently ran his fingers along the bare skin of her back, tracing an intricate, invisible pattern from the nape of her neck down along her spine. Slowly, she turned back to face him. "You think you can change my mind, huh?"
"That's the general idea."
"You're an evil, evil man."
With one swift movement, he reached across her body, and seized the box of candy. "No, I'm not. I'm a good man." He popped the heart-shaped piece into his mouth. She opened her mouth to protest, and he leaned down and kissed her deeply, the chocolate on his tongue melting against hers.
After a very long moment, he pulled back, and regarded her with a satisfied smile. "See? I share."
She nodded slowly. "Yes. Yes, you do."
He set the box down and opened his arms. "And I'm not evil?"
"Not entirely." She drew closer to him, kissing him again. "And you do have excellent taste."
He held her at arm's length momentarily, studying her face with amusement and affection. "Did you just make a double-entendre?"
"Of course not." Her hands disappeared under the quilt. "It was a single-entendre."
"Good. Oh, and sweetheart?"
Shambala's eyes twinkled wickedly. "If you so much as think about taking my raspberry cordial, there's nothing in this world that can save you. Am I making myself clear?"
Ben clasped her hand as she moved into his embrace. "Perfectly."