A little Christmas gift from me, to all of you. Merry Christmas Broe Loving Divas! Hugs and love to all!
The Christmas Wish
I disclaim I own nothing.
He kicked off his snow covered boots slowly and hung his coat on the hook. He moved around his cabin home quietly trying not to disturb his sister. He stepped over his nieces toys and fell onto the couch. His sister and her family were staying with him through the holidays. He had slowly distanced himself from most of the family. But Belle refused to let him celebrate Christmas alone. He would much rather shove it all back into the red tote. The one Belle had made him pull out of storage the day after Thanksgiving. Holidays were for happy people and he was anything but happy.
“Family. Brother…family, that’s what Christmas is all about.” Belle had said emphatically as she dug through the red tote.
“And I thought it was just about those shoes you sent me a picture of yesterday.” he teased. She shot him a look and handed him a stuffed Santa then pointed over top of the kitchen cabinets. As he placed the Santa, she handed him an elf, and than a reindeer. He sat the three of them together, stepped back, and shook his head.
“We, are too old for this stuff.”
“Hush! You are never to old for Christmas. Think of your niece. Besides you are just mad because of she-who-should-not-be-mentioned like, ever.” Belle said not making eye contact.
“Cute Hermione. And, I haven’t thought about her at all.” he looked away. He had tried to hide it. Yet, Belle’s silence said it all. He missed her. So much it hurt in his stomach. This time of year was the worse. They had always celebrated the holiday season from Halloween to New Years together. Time was supposed to heal all wounds. He felt like she had taken his heart with her to New York. He didn’t want to ask her to stay when they parted last. Their lives had been so separate at that point, that he shouldn’t feel this way now. But he did, it would never go away. He had only really loved her, since the day they had met; two lost kids one Halloween night years ago.
He looked up at the smiling angel atop of the tree and he could almost see her face. Her blue eyes always seemed to twinkle as they would snuggle by the Christmas tree. He thought of their last Christmas together. He had played piano while she sang Claires to their families. Her dark hair had been tied up behind her ears and she was beaming at him with her 100 watt smile. Her eyes were mesmerizing as she sang. She had worn a green cashmere sweater and white pearl earrings. If he closed his eyes he could see her standing next to him he could almost hear her voice.
“Stop it.” he barked at himself. “Just.. let it go!”
“Let it go…let it gooo…walk away and slam the doooors.” his niece was standing next to the couch holding her Sally doll from The Nightmare Before Christmas and singing so happily you could see her dimple.
He smiled, reached out and grabbed her then pulled her in for a tickle fight. She giggled and kicked as her brown curls bounced.
“Stop it, Uncle Brady! Quit…stop it, stop!” she said through laughter. He stopped abruptly and they both looked at each other wide eyed. “Don’t.” she said as she pointed at his right hand and caught her breath.
He pulled her to him and squeezed her tight. God he loved her. Maybe Belle was right. Family was what he needed. He wasn’t about to tell her that though.
“I love you runt.” he said as she pulled away and hurried towards the television.
“Let’s watch Frozen!” she squealed.
He groaned. Frozen had been in steady rotation since his sister and her family had arrived. He knew every word to every song. He had even caught himself humming For The First Time In Forever on his way to work.
“Pweaasseee?” she said with an eager smile.
“Okay, but we are definitely not building another snowman with playdoh and pretzels, it is too late.”
“Maybe in the morning?” she said snuggling up next to him hugging her Sally under her chin. He squeezed her tight and shook his head smiling.
“Mom, I can not believe you are dragging us back to this miserable town, at Christmas. You know how hard it is for me to be back here.” They had just passed the county limits sign. They were only 10 minutes from Salem. Her mother was driving slowly through the pouring snow.
“You know that your father is being honored for his work at the hospital in town.” Her mother said once again as she drove. “And you are scheduled to sing at the Christmas banquet, sweetheart.”
“I don’t want to sing.” she grumbled. “It’s been years since I sang in public mom.“ She looked out the window and watched the snow speeding by.
“Please dear, everyone is looking forward to it so much. You‘ve been practicing for weeks.” her mother was bubbly, despite her growing anxiety over her daughter’s poor attitude.
“I know Mom. I just, I really..I just don’t want to run into him.” she admitted.
“Oh…now, it wouldn’t be so bad if you did, now would it?“ she asked softly as she made their last turn toward where her husband was staying. A former colleague had offered them his cabin just outside of town. Which was nice at least they could enjoy the holiday without being cramped in a hotel.
“Not so bad? What about all of these feelings I’ve been having lately? I told you this.. it’s all I can think about. What was I thinking leaving Salem, Mom? He is the love of my life!“
Hearing that realization out loud was shocking. She gasped. Her mother giggled and shook her head ominously. They were minutes from the cabin when her iPhone began to vibrate. A local number popped up and she knew it immediately. Could he actually be calling her at that very moment? She couldn’t bring herself to answer so she let it go to voicemail. She received a text version of the message a few moments later.
Hey, it’s Belle. I was hoping we could find a few moments between holiday festivities to catch up. Let me know. Text me, call me. 555-3212 Bye. Xoxo
She immediately touched the number on her screen. All she could do was act on her feelings. She had waited too long. The phone rang once, twice and she hit the end button. Insecurity had taken hold.
“Honey, what are you doing?” her mother asked as they pulled into the driveway. Her phone buzzed twice and she jumped.
He wants to see you just as much as you want to see him, even if you are both too stubborn to admit it.
“Huh? Oh...nothing let’s go inside mom. We have a big day tomorrow.” Her mother smiled as Chloe helped her bring their luggage into the cabin. She greeted her father trying to hide her distraction. Belle’s message had her full attention.
That morning Brady woke early. Claire wouldn’t let anyone sleep past daybreak. He dragged himself up stairs to his room and into the shower. It was Christmas Eve and tonight was the banquet. He had barely given the event attention until yesterday, when Belle insisted that he must go. Whenever his sister set her mind to something it was easier not to fight it. He stepped into his room and began to get dressed. He had to go pick up his suit at the cleaners in town. And he had a last minute gift to buy for the honoree of the banquet. He had a chair on the board of directors at Salem hospital. Usually his secretary would take care of this for him but he hadn’t had much notice. A watch or a bottle of wine maybe. He didn’t recall the name of the doctor. All he knew was that he had worked there a few years prior and had left an impression.
Claire was waiting for him outside of his door as he was leaving. “Uncle Brady where you going?”
“To pick up a last minute gift.” he replied as he walked.
“For me?!” she smiled.
“No.” he laughed.
“Oh.” and with that she walked away. He pulled on his leather coat and was out the door.
He arrived in town which was decked out for Christmas. Carolers were singing in front of the church. A Santa was ringing his bell on the square. Children were throwing snowballs at each other and laughing. He didn’t realize it but he was smiling. He began to hum “Winter Wonderland.”
Suddenly he began to smell a familiar perfume. He looked to his right. Could it be? Chloe? He watched a brunette walk into a gift shop followed by a loud group of girls. He shook his head and told himself he was crazy. He could of sworn he smelled roses though. He started towards the shop following his gut.
“Hot chocolate! Here!” a man waved at Brady to come closer. Hot chocolate sounded good he had skipped his coffee so he bought himself one. Sipping slowly he looked at his watch and headed towards the dry cleaners forgetting all about the woman.
A few moments later Chloe walked out of the shop. “Hello pretty lady! Hot chocolate here!” She smiled an bought one heading away from Brady towards a dress shop. She stopped as she saw the kids throwing snowballs and she listened to the Carolers. She thought back to that day she and Brady had gone ice skating together. She began to hum “Winter Wonderland” as she enjoyed sips of her hot chocolate and dropped a few bills in the Santa‘s bucket.
“Merry Christmas!” he said as he rang his bell.
“You too.” she replied with a wide smile.
It was good to be home. Maybe running into him wouldn’t be so bad. She thought of staying through the New Year. The banquet would tell her more.
Brady walked into the kitchen and watched. Belle fused over everyone, she had been ready for an hour and she looked amazing. Her husband Shawn was trying to stand still as she fixed his tie, again.
“Belle, leave the man alone.” Brady said with a chuckle.
“Thanks bro.” Shawn said holding out his fist. Brady raised his own and bumped Shawn’s knuckles.
“Hush Brady, you need help too.” She moved from her husband’s tie to her brother’s and he groaned. Shawn laughed and left the room quickly. He mumbled something about checking on Claire as he turned the corner.
“I don’t know about this Belle.” Brady squirmed. He had been waffling all day about going to the banquet.
“You are going…especially after all I have don…”Belle stopped abruptly.
“What have you done?” Brady asked pointedly.
“I didn’t crawl out of the bed like this,” she covered. “Who do you think got Claire looking like a little cherub?” She placed her hands on both hips and Brady took a step back.
“And everything looks great sis!” he lightened up quick. When the hands went to the hips like that it meant trouble.
A short time later they were stepping out of Shawn’s car at the banquet hall. Several people were arriving all of them dressed in formal wear.
“It’s just like Elsa‘s coronation!” Claire giggled. And the entire group chuckled with her. She grabbed her Sally doll from the back seat. She had even pinned a poinsettia on her doll.
“Ready to go?” Brady bent down and presented his arm to Claire.
“Yes, fine sir” Claire took his arm. She pointed her jaw out and took a slow step with her “prince” leading the group inside. Brady smiled at his princess. They were seated shortly after. The room was decorated with silver and gold, bowls of Christmas ornaments and snowflakes on each table. A huge tree with gold and silver ribbon sat just left of the stage. Slowly, the lights were brought down as the Chief of Staff took the stage. Brady wasn’t paying much attention until the name of the honoree was announced.
“…Dr. Craig Wesley..”
Brady heard the name only and he immediately started to scan each table and their faces. He stretched to see each one and slowly began to take his feet.
“…and now his daughter Chloe will entertain us all with one of his favorite Christmas songs!” The crowd applauded loudly. Claire gasped. Brady fell on his butt back into his seat when he saw her take the stage. Shawn had to reach out and grab hold of the chair or he would have fallen backwards. Belle giggled and clapped. She looked over to Chloe’s mother who was waiting in the wings and they both winked.
“Wow…she looks like a princess.” Claire said watching wide-eyed.
“Yes, she does.” Belle smiled at her work. Now Brady knew what his sister had meant earlier. He couldn’t believe his eyes. Chloe began to sing Silent Night and she sounded like an angel. He didn’t speak, he just watched her and let himself dream about a future, with her. The crowd applauded again and she left the stage quickly. He wasn’t even sure it was real. He just sat there for moment. He felt like pinching himself. Before he knew it he was on his feet and running backstage.
“She’s gone Brady, she saw you and ran. I don’t know where she could’ve gone.” Chloe’s mother told him with a shake of her head. Brady had a gut feeling. He gave her mother a quick kiss and welcomed her back to town. He went out the exit door and found himself in a dead run. The park was close. He didn’t know how long he had sat there at the table like an idiot. But he had to find her and there was only one place he thought she could have gone.
“Chloe?” he said as he tried to catch his breath.
“Why, did you follow me?” She turned to look at Brady.
“Why did you come here?” Brady asked looking around at their gazebo. The one that they had talked about using at their wedding when they were just kids.
“I didn’t know where I was going.” she lied.
“You don‘t believe there is a reason you came to our place?” he moved closer stepping up into the gazebo.
“Things have changed. You know that. It‘s not our place anymore.” Chloe turned away and the snow began to fall. Brady removed his suit jacket and placed it over her shoulders. He held his hands on her shoulders for a second, still trying to convince himself she was real.
“Don’t.” Chloe pulled away.
“Don’t push me away again.” Brady pleaded.
“It’s been too long. I’m leaving Christmas day.” She announced careful not to look at him. His jacket smelled amazing. It was like he was hugging her. She could barely say the words. “I can’t stay here.”
“You can’t just leave me again.” He said weakly.
“I’m not leaving you. I have a life in New York. It’s not like you came to visit.” she admitted hurt.
“I didn’t feel like you wanted to see me.” he said honestly.
“All I know is when I saw you, I had to talk to you. I‘ve talked to you, so now…” She had always had a close guard on her heart. If you could get over the wall, the last thing you wanted was for her to surround it with ice. Unfortunately, that is where they were at this point. He didn’t know what to say. So he turned to walk away. “...I’ll just go.”
Chloe turned around to watch as he started to leave. Her mouth fell open and she reached a hand out towards him. Her heart was screaming for her to stop him. Her head kept her silent. He got about three steps away from the gazebo when he stopped and turned to look at her. She tried to speak but before she knew it he had her in his arms. Her lips were on his and all she wanted to do was melt right here like the snowflakes falling around them. She sighed and the feeling scared her to death.
“It’s too late.” She pulled away and ran. She didn’t look back. She didn’t want to see his face. She didn’t want to see him hurting. She didn’t want to know if he was following. She just kept running.
Brady didn’t follow. He just sat down on the bench within the gazebo. It was all still there. He could feel how much she still loved him with that one kiss. But it didn’t matter if she didn’t admit it. She was right. It was too late. Tomorrow she would be gone. He stood up and headed back for the hospital. He had promised Claire a dance. Belle was probably worried. It was over. He just had to let it go.
Later that night Brady walked into Claire’s room as Shawn tucked her into bed. Belle had just finished reading her The Night Before Christmas. Shawn and Belle left the room just as Brady sat down on her bed.
“Did you find the princess?” Claire asked.
“Yes, I did.” Brady admitted to his very perceptive niece.
“Is she going to make you her prince now?” she yawned on the last syllable.
“No, I think I’m still a frog. Ribbet ribbet.” Brady crossed his eyes and made a silly face as he mimicked a frog for his niece.
“You should make a Christmas wish.” Claire said through giggles.
“What’s that?” Brady asked wondering where his little niece came up with this stuff.
“If you make a wish on a star on Christmas Eve, your wish will come true on Christmas Day.” she said with a matter-of-fact smile.
“What did you wish for?” Brady asked.
“I ain’t telling you until it comes true. Now go on, go. I don’t want Santa to pass me up.”
He leaned in and kissed her little cheeks one after the other. She smiled at him. He shook his head and he moved to her door.
“Goodnight kiddo.” Brady said as he switched off the light. He left the door cracked slightly.
“Goodnight Uncle Brady, don‘t forget to make your wish.“ He heard her say followed by another yawn. He walked down the hall and into his room. He looked out the window and sure enough a huge star twinkled brightly at him. He laughed at the urge he had to make a wish.
“Couldn’t hurt.” he whispered. And like an love sick idiot. He wished. He wished that she would be there tomorrow for Christmas dinner with him and his family. He wished to hear her say she wanted to try again.
Christmas morning with a kid was early. Brady had no idea children would wake up at 5 a.m. to open presents. He would have to get over sleeping in if he ever had any. Claire had pulled him out of bed and down the hall. She had already visited the tree and every light in the house was on.
“Time to get up! Get up! Santa has come!” Claire squealed as she pulled him. Belle and Shawn were already piled on the couch looking like they had only slept for a couple of hours.
“Yay!” Shawn had said weakly. Belle just waved the free hand that wasn’t clutching a mug of coffee for dear life.
It took all of 20 minutes for Claire, Shawn, Belle, and Brady to destroy the delicately wrapped mountain of gifts under the tree. Christmas paper had enveloped the entire living room floor surrounding the tree. Claire was rolling through it having a better time in the garbage then with the actual gifts.
“Let’s watch Frozen!” was met with a chorus of groans as Claire made her way towards the television.
“How about we watch Ralphie?” Shawn pleaded.
“No, he’s boring. Guns are bad Daddy, you could shoot your eye out.” Claire said wagging a little finger at her Daddy.
“A Christmas Story is a classic bro.” Brady offered. But it was too late. Claire had plopped on the floor in front of the TV, Anna was already peaking inside the key hole and Belle had curled into a ball on the couch.
“Shhh, maybe she will fall back asleep.” Belle hoped. Shawn had a look that said he wasn’t so sure. Brady thanked Shawn and his sister for the gifts. He patted Claire's head but she didn't budge. He then headed upstairs to get a shower. The rest of the family would be there at lunch time. He had a few phone calls to make over seas as well. He was ready for this holiday to be over.
A few hours later Brady emerged from his room. The house smelled amazing. Belle had been cooking all morning and their parents would be there any minute. Claire had brought him the news every hour on the hour. She knew they were bringing more presents and she had a countdown going. He walked down the stairs and took a right into the kitchen. Belle was on the phone.
“But you are on your way?” she asked frantically. “Well you got her dressed now put her in the car and drive her here.” Belle laughed and hung up the phone.
“What was that all about?” Brady asked.
“Nothing! Taste this!“ She said and pushed a roll into his mouth. “Take this into the dining room and say hi to Mom and Dad.” Belle literally pushed him into the dinning room with half a roll sticking out of his mouth. He was holding something brown with marshmallows.
“Brady! Merry Christmas!” his mother said while she took the dish from his hand.
“Merry Christmas son. “his father said as he extended his hand for a shake. Brady pulled the half a roll from his mouth and choked back the other half.
“Merry Christmas Dad, Mom.” Brady said taking his father’s hand.
Shortly after Belle and Shawn came in with the remaining dishes.
“Let’s eat!” Belle said nervously.
They all sat down around the table and said a blessing over their meal. Everything was insanely good and Brady knew it would take him a week at the gym before he would feel right again. Brady finished off his pie and started to take his plate when Belle jumped up and looked out the window.
“No, wait!” she almost screamed. “We will get that!” the entire family shook their heads. “Just go into the living room. We will be there shortly.” Brady thought is was kind of odd but didn’t protest. If Belle wanted to do dishes he wasn’t about to argue with her.
Brady stood, pushed his chair back and watched as Belle and his mother hurried around the table then back into the kitchen. He could hear them whispering and giggling. He looked at his Dad and Shawn they both shrugged and continued to shovel pie into their mouths. Brady just shrugged it off and headed for the living room. He was looking at his feet when he turned the corner. It wasn’t until he smelled roses that he looked up.
“Chloe?” he couldn’t believe his eyes. There she stood in front of the tree. Gorgeous, smiling. Just like he wished.
“I’m ready to try again.” she stammered and held out her arms. Brady ran for her. Scooping her up and twirling her around. He kissed her and she kissed back. Neither of them would let the past creep in again and hurt them. He could feel it.
“I can’t believe it, my Christmas Wish came true.” She looked a little puzzled but shook her head, ran her hand up the back of his neck and kissed him again.
“My Christmas wish came true!” a little voice from behind them squealed. Brady and Chloe giggled and looked down at Claire.
“What wish was that Claire?” Shawn asked from the doorway where he, Belle, their parents and Chloe’s parents were watching with beaming smiles.
“I wished Uncle Brady wouldn’t be a frog anymore!” Everyone burst into laughter. Brady picked up Claire and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Chloe kissed the other cheek. The entire family laughed as Claire kissed them back cheek for cheek. They had a lot of talking to do before they could just let it go. A lot of work needed to be done to get to a place where they could start over. But thanks to their loving families and a little Christmas magic…for the first time in forever, at least they had a chance.