Merry Christmas Ana!

"Ana, you've been off for an hour, go home!" Jo called from the kitchen.

"I know Jo, I just want to help you get the dinner rush taken care of before I go." Ana told her boss.

"Isn't your Mom coming in tonight?" Jo asked her.

"I want you to go home!" The older woman said walking from behind the counter and taking the tub from Ana.

"Fine…" Ana sighed, no matter how hard she tried, the stubborn woman was not going to let her win. "I just want to help."

"You need to get ready for tomorrow, Marcus said you were making the Christmas dinner tomorrow, I'm looking forward to it."

"It's going to be a tight fit having everyone at our apartment." Ana said as she wrapped herself in her long coat, lifting her hair out from inside it.

"It'll be fine." Jo told her.

"I've got Mark and myself, along with Lucy and her boyfriend, Lu and her husband, you, Jess and Ellie, and my mom, its gunna be pretty tight quarters." Ana told Jo.

"Well I guess you better go home and get everything set up… That sounds like a lot of seating to find." Jo laughed ushering Ana out the door.

"Okay, I get it, I get it…" Ana laughed. "I'll see you tomorrow, two o'clock, don't forget."

"Two o'clock." Jo repeated then went back into her diner.

Ana walked the two blocks to the bus stop, which would take her right outside the apartment she shared with her boyfriend Mark. This is their first Christmas together, she loved him so much and wanted to make this Christmas special for him.

Riding the bus wasn't a common thing for her anymore she normally had her car, or Mark did and he picked her up from work, the diner was only about half a block from the Empire State Building where he worked. Today, being Christmas Eve got off of work early and was going to pick up Laura from the train station.

"I'm home!" Ana called as she pushed the door to their apartment open, extracting her keys before closing and locking the door behind her.

"Ana!" Her mother exclaimed as she came out of the kitchen. "I missed you so much baby girl!"

"I missed you so much too Mom!" Ana said hugging her mother tightly. "How as the train ride here?"

"I quite enjoyed it actually." Laura told her daughter. "It was peaceful, and the view along the way was beautiful."

"I'm so happy you're here." Ana told her.

"I had to come see my baby girl for Christmas." Laura admitted. "Now, about this boyfriend of yours…"

"I love him so much, Mama. "Ana told her mother, as she watched Marcus make a pot of coffee.

"I know you do, he's got such a good heart." Laura looked over at the young man also. "He reminds me so much of your Daddy. He as such a good heart."

"I know he does." Laura told her daughter. "I'm so happy you found him."

"He found me," Ana chuckled, "and I'm happy he did too."

"So you said I'm going to get to meet all the people that helped you when you came here." Laura still blamed herself for Ana running away, she often had 'If only' thoughts running through her mind 'If only I had been home more…' 'If only I had seen what was going on in my own home…' 'If only I pushed Ana a bit more about what was bothering her…' 'If only I hadn't been so stupid… ' 'If only I had done something when he started hitting me…' 'If only I had seen the true evil within his heart…' 'If only I had listened to my instincts…' Because of this she didn't like to say 'Ran away' Ana could see the hurt on her mother's face.

"It's not your fault Mom, really it's not. It's his fault… I was too afraid of him to tell you." Ana attempted to reassure her mother.

"Okay, well… I'm sorry my sister is a liar; that she lied about where she lived." Laura told Ana.

"I'm not!" Marcus came into the living room of the apartment where his girlfriend and her mother were talking. He handed Ana a cup of hot coffee. "If she hadn't I never would have met my Ana!" He kissed the top of his petite girlfriend's head, causing the girl to blush in front of her mother.

"So what's for dinner?" Ana asked Marcus.

"I took the liberty of ordering from that Chinese food place we love." He told her.

"Did you order extra egg rolls and fried wontons?" Ana asked him.

"Yes, I got two extra orders." Marcus laughed, Ana usually has a couple of egg rolls or wontons just before bed, and they were her favorite snack. At that very moment the buzzer went of announcing the delivery person waiting to be buzzed in. "Yeah?" Marcus said after pressing the little button next to the front door of their apartment.

"I got a delivery for you, Marcus." The male voice answered.

"Okay, Eddie come on up." Marcus said pressing the little red button to the left of the intercom button, granting the deliveryman access to the building.

"Sounds like they know you guys pretty well." Laura chuckled.

"It's our favorite take out place." Ana told her mother. "Sometimes I work late at Jo's diner, or when we are feeling lazy we order from them."

"I prefer a home cooked meal, but sometimes we're just lazy." Marcus laughed.

"Ana is a wonderful cook!" Laura told him.

"Marcus is a wonderful cook too." Ana told her mother.

"I hope you don't mind sleeping on the couch." Ana said as she helped her mother put sheets and a blanket on the couch.

"It's perfectly fine, sweetie." Laura said as she handed Ana the pillow to put on the couch. "It's a small apartment, but that's okay, you two are starting out great."

"You really think so?" Ana asked her mother.

"Yes, I really think so, baby girl." Laura said brushing a stray hair out of Ana's face. "I can tell that there is a lot of love between you two."

"Yeah, I really love him." Ana told her mom. "I'll see you in the morning… Goodnight and sleep well."

"Goodnight and sleep well Ana." Laura said as she laid down on the couch, Ana turned the light off leaving Laura eliminated by the Christmas tree lights.

"My mom really likes you." Ana said walking into the bedroom dressed in pajama pants and a big t-shirt.

"I like her too." Marcus said, he was propped up in their shared bed reading a text book.

"How's your classes going?" Ana asked him as she pulled her hair up into a sloppy bun for the night.

"They're going… slowly." He told her.

"I know it's not easy, but you're getting a college degree. You can do Babe, I know you can." Ana told him as she crawled under the blanket with him. "I love you." She said then reached up and turned off the lamp on the night stand next to her then nuzzled her pillow.

"I love you too." He told her as he closed his book and set it on his night stand, also turning off his light; he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her against himself, nuzzling her sweet smelling hair. "Goodnight."

"Goodnight." She said softly as she drifted off to sleep.

"Merry Christmas!" Marcus said waking Ana up. "Your mom made breakfast." Ana smiled as she smelled the delicious scent of their traditional Christmas breakfast of eggs bacon and toast.

"I love my mama." Ana said as she threw back the blankets and hopped out of bed. "Merry Christmas." Ana told him going up on her toes to kiss him softly. She slipped on her slippers and walked into the living room.

"Good morning baby girl!" Laura said to her eighteen year old daughter. "Merry Christmas!" She said as she set the table, placing the food out for them.

"After breakfast we'll open presents." Marcus told them.

"I need to start the ham and boil eggs." Ana told him. "Then we can open presents."

"Ok, that sounds good." He told her. "After that I need to run an errand."

"Run an errand?" Ana asked him.

"Yeah, nothing big, I just want to check on the homeless shelter." Marcus told her. "I won't be gone too long."

"Do we need to put gas in the car?" Ana asked him.

"Yeah, I'll do that too." Marcus told her.

"Okay," Ana told him.

"Hey, sweetie, I'm back." Marcus said to Ana, he had just got done running his errands.

"Great!" Ana called to him from the kitchen. "Can you help my mom set the table… We're going to have to eat in the living room too."

"Okay." Marcus told her. It wasn't long before their guests started showing up, each bringing a gift and a dish for Christmas dinner. Ana was cooking the Christmas ham and deviled eggs, along with homemade pumpkin pie, candied yams, and pea salad.

Before they knew it the apartment was so full that there was hardly any room to move about. "Ana!" Marcus called over the chatter. She couldn't hear him. "ANA!" He yelled over everyone, the room went silent.

"Yeah?" Ana walked over to him, the crowd of people parting to let her through.

"There's something in your Christmas stocking." He told her.

"How is there something in there, they were just for decoration." Ana was a bit confused, who put something in it. Marcus handed her, her stocking. She reached her hand into the soft fabric clutching the box nestled in the toe of the stocking pulling it out. She examined the small gold box tied with a beautiful red ribbon.

"Open it!" Ellie called out, causing everyone to laugh. For some reason Ana felt like everybody in the room knew something she didn't and her heart began to race as she opened the small box. She gasped at what she found.

"Ana, I know we haven't known each other for very long." Marcus started as Ana stared at the item in the box. "You are all that I can think of, and you have been ever since I saw you staring up at that bodega sign… That day I gave you my dinner."

"And mine!" Lucy called from across the room.

"We don't need to even start planning anything right now, but I know down in my soul that I want to spend the rest of my life with you." Marcus took a shaky breath then continued. "Please marry me."

Ana felt like she couldn't breathe, her heart pounded in her chest and all she could hear was the blood flowing through her head, a few tears fell as she looked up from the beautiful emerald ring, the same green as her eyes, the stone was small but size didn't matter. "I will!" She said softly. "I will!" She said louder, wrapping her arms around his neck pulling him down to kiss her.

Everyone in the apartment cheered. From how it sounded they all already knew he was going to ask her. "Merry Christmas Ana!" Everyone called out to her.

A/N Merry Christmas Kassandra! I hope you enjoyed your Christmas gift!