Shoutout to tomboy22. I read her story "Raising Lizzie" (go check it out) and decided to work on an update for this. I know I say I'll try to update soon all the time, but I am trying to not procrastinate this semester (which I also always say, but I have a busy schedule, so I think if I don't procrastinate and if I prioritize, I should be able to work in some time to write and post).

For those of you who are back in school, I hope your semester goes well. Enjoy the story and I will try to update again soon, maybe next week or the week after.

P.S. I wrote this last night but my internet went out, so I'm posting it now.

"Derek, are you awake?" Nora called from the living room. She'd just asked Casey to make sure the other kids were dressed and ready before George's parents arrived. "Hurry up, or you won't get your present."

Nora and George let the kids open a small gift up on Christmas Eve. The grandparents would bring a gift over too, as well as some sort of tasty treat. George's mother usually got pretty creative with cellophane and confectioner's sugar. She always found a way to go beyond the typical red, white, and green with her creations, and Nora especially admired them. She always asked the kids to give the decorative part to her once they finished eating whatever was inside. It would more than likely not stay intact, so she ended up using the contents for a crafting project.

"He's awake," Lizzie said, coming down the stairs. "Not sure if he'll be out of bed soon, but he's awake at least."

"Are you sure? Was his door open?"

"No, but he said he was awake. I think he was watching something on tv and wants to wait until it goes off."

"If you go back upstairs, can you tell him to hurry up? Your grandparents should be here in maybe fifteen minutes."

Lizzie nodded and went straight back upstairs, knowing that if she didn't, Derek would have to scramble to get dressed as their grandparents were pulling into the driveway. When she reached Derek's bedroom, she knocked on the door and then walked in.

He was lying on his bed, the television off and the room tidier than usual.

"Are you sick?" she asked.

Derek lifted his head up from his pillow. "No, why?"

"I can actually see your floor."

"So, what? I did a little cleaning. I've been bored since I got home. There isn't much to do."

"Hockey, go to the movies."

"I can do that later. I still have plenty of time. I wanna relax now. It hasn't even been that long since the semester ended."

"Okay...My mom says get dressed."

"Give me, like, another few minutes. It doesn't take me that long to get ready. I just put it off to the last minute, so it seems like it takes forever."

"Okay." Lizzie left the room and shut the door.

Forty-five minutes later, after a quick meal, the entire family was sitting in the living room, most of the kids having already eaten all of the pretzels and chocolate their grandparents had given them. Nora, of course, had made sure to collect the discarded bags and decorative string.

Almost all of the kids had chosen a spot on the floor. Casey was sitting on the couch, but Derek was on the floor next to Marti, hoping she got a toy that required assembly.

"Okay, who wants their present first?" Nora asked.

"Me, me!" Marti said, followed by Edwin and Lizzie trying to prove that they should open their present first. "Smerek, hold me up," Marti told her Derek, hoping to attract more attention.

He did as he was told, and Nora handed Marti a present. She always got her present first, and Derek was glad because he could rely on the fact that he could help Marti the entire time, instead of having to talk with Casey.

Marti tore the wrapping paper away to reveal a Barbie doll. "Thanks, daddy. Thanks, Nora. Can you help me open it?" She handed the box over to Derek.

"Sure, Smarti." He opened the box and started removing all of the pieces, as Lizzie got her present next.

By the time it was Casey's turn, Derek tried to focus on putting the Barbie doll's butterfly wings on. He wasn't able to see her smile, which he knew she would have done, because as soon as the wrapping paper was off, he knew it was a gift she'd wanted for a while.

"What do you think, Derek?" Casey asked, and Derek turned for a second to see her wearing a new necklace.

"Trying to put on these wings here." He held up the doll.

"It looks great, Case. You're sure it's the right one? I wanted to be sure."

"Yeah. Thanks, mom." She leaned over to hug Nora, then after looking at her mother's facial expression, she said," Thanks, George," with a laugh. He'd probably bought it, but her mother was the one to pick it out.

"You're welcome, Casey," George said.

"Derek's turn." She grabbed a present from under the tree and held it out to Derek, who took it without so much as looking at her. She was about to tell him that he could say thank you, but she decided against it.

Derek quickly unwrapped his present, which was a video game. He thanked his dad and Nora, and then sat it on the floor and picked Marti's doll up again, hoping nobody would think it was off for him to not be ecstatic about the present. Although, he couldn't run off and play it yet, as they had company, so he assumed he would be okay. He just felt bad that he was ignoring Casey. But he knew he had to, or else their family would notice something was up.

But revealing what was going on themselves was rather easy to control. It was the unexpected text that Derek got when he woke up the next morning that they needed to worry about.

Okay, I wasn't sure how to end this, but I thought of a cliffhanger. Hopefully I'll post soon so you won't be left in suspense too long.