With the horrors of Halloween behind them, Kiko and Dom turn their puzzle solving skills to surviving the holiday season. Dom hasn't had a proper Christmas in years, and Kiko's sister visiting makes him feel almost like family -- until his brother, Devin, decides to show up and throw his disapproval into the mix.
Just when it seems like they have enough to deal with at home, local artist Cat asks them to solve her vandalism problem. Still shaken from their last mystery, Kiko and Dom only agree to help her due to the lack of murder.
But when the property damage escalates and Kiko begins receiving threatening letters, this harmless little problem turns deadlier than anyone thought. And if they can't get to the bottom of the family drama fast enough, Kiko might never be home for the holidays again.
“And weren’t you supposed to be cleaning the house?”
“Lunch break,” said Dom, shrugging.
“And you had to come all the way into town for it and disrupt my store?”
“Didn’t think you’d mind,” said Dom, snagging the empty pizza box.
“Gaby’s going to be here soon,” said Kiko, wanting to move closer and kiss Dom, but Chad was still poking about, looking for the coasters. “I’m sure she’ll drop by here first but she’s probably going to want to unpack.”
Dom blinked, something suddenly striking him.
“You’re not going to be there when we meet?”
“Not unless she decides to stay out here all day,” said Kiko. He allowed himself to give Dom’s hand a squeeze. “You’ll be fine if she shows up. She wants to meet you.” He paused. “Did your brother ever say when he was arriving?”
“No,” said Dom. He pulled his hand away. “He called a couple times but didn’t leave any messages.”
And Dom clearly hadn’t answered. Kiko just nodded.
“Thanks for all the cleaning. I really appreciate it.”
“Sure,” said Dom, and turned to the stairs. Kiko followed him up, watching his ass as he went. The sudden burst of desire made him wish he and Dom had tried a little harder to make time for more sex than they had. Kiko always had a harder time indulging himself when he knew guests were around and he envisioned the next few weeks being frustrating in that regard. Just before Dom turned the handle on the door Kiko reached out and grabbed a cheek, squeezed.
“Are you really going to keep me from cleaning?” asked Dom, but when Kiko looked up at him he was shooting a smile over his shoulder.
“You’re cruel,” said Kiko, releasing him. “Go on, then.”
Katie seemed relieved to have him back again. She’d had to postpone a Mother Goose reading for a moderately sized group of antsy children in order to ring up customers, many of whom were buying lunch to eat in peace while their kids listened to a story. Kiko helped her at the register and then brought out the food as she moved over to Mother’s cage and picked out a book.
Chad finally appeared with the holiday chicken coasters right when Katie was finishing up her last book, leaving Kiko relieved he hadn’t had to go track the teen down. Just when Kiko was feeling guilty for not putting at least some thought to Chad’s problem, his sister entered with her kids.
Gabriela beamed when she saw him and Kiko made his way over to greet her, hugging her around her puffy winter coat. Her cheeks looked flushed from the cold, but she hugged him back warmly.
“Hey, Uncle Kiko, can I have this?”
Kiko broke away to see his nephew, Nathan, tugging at a sparkling ornament on the tree. Both the five-year-old and his two-year-old sister, Rachel, were taken with the shining tree. They were bigger than Kiko remembered, but then, he hadn’t seen them in nearly a year now. But they had the same shining eyes, the same excited smiles set in chubby faces several shades darker than Kiko’s or Gaby’s. Kiko could barely believe he was seeing Rachel standing so easily.
“Sorry, Nate,” said Gaby, breaking free from Kiko’s embrace and removing the ornament from her son’s grasp. “We’ll decorate our tree later. Don’t you want to see the goose?”
Nathan’s eyes lit up, and even Rachel looked excited, though Kiko doubted she had any memory of Mother. Gaby took Rachel’s hand.
“And I need one of your famous eggnogs,” she said, smiling wickedly at Kiko. He smiled back.