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Everything was covered in a blanket of new fallen snow. The town was a glow in a kaleidoscope of colors as the setting sun seemed to summon the Christmas lights, that draped over every house top and barren tree, to come to life. The whole city was like a winter wonderland. The sidewalks newly shoveled to allow carolers to stroll with lifted voices that sang of the seasons most treasured traditions. Every lamp post embraced with bright red ribbons and toped with delicately woven bows. Snow men, built by merry children, laced the yards, glistening in the rising moonlight. The wind of the early evening was bitter cold and Miss Parker pulled her coat more tightly around her as the joyful sounds of "I'll be home for Christmas" echoed through the darkness.
It had been just one week since she had gotten his call in the middle of the night, telling her of this wonderful small New England town and of the it's connection to her mother. The next day the clues had begun to arrive that had lead her to find it herself. When she arrived, she discovered that Jarod had made all the arrangements for her stay. He had checked her in to a small bed and breakfast located right in the center of downtown. It's location perfectly selected to put her in walking distance of almost everything. He had left directions to the orphanage her mother had worked at twenty five years earlier and had arranged for her to go there on the twenty-first day of December to meet with the woman who ran the place. She had spent the first two days asking questions about Jarod and had discovered he had left just hours before her arrival but not before he had made a sizable donation to the orphanage in her name.
Her high heels had proven to be useless on the slushy walkways during her first few days of exploring, which lead her to choose a pair of black leather knee high boots as their replacement. They seemed to enhance her wardrobe of short skirts and were much easier to maneuver through the snow in. Her first visit to the orphanage,which would later become known to her as Hannah's Safe Haven,was both a nerve wrecking and tiresome adventure. She had known the house instantly when she found it that early winter morning. A tall brick building, whose array of tacky Christmas decorations dangled carelessly from the roof top and whose yard was a tribute to nose- less snowmen, stood out like a sore thumb in the perfect row of gingerbread like houses. She had spent the morning talking with the founder and head mistress of the house, Hannah Myers, and by mid afternoon had somehow found herself engulfed in a snowball war with the occupants of the house.
She had spent the next two days working tirelessly helping them to prepare for the Christmas party in which her donation had made possible. Tonight was the party and she had promised a few of the children she would make an appearance before her departure from this almost too friendly town. Never in her life had she felt so welcomed by everyone she had met. Never had she felt like she was doing something her mother would be proud of but here in this place where her mother had spent only a short time, she felt just that. It was as if she was doing what her mother had asked; finishing her work.
Rounding the corner, she was met with proof positive that her time had not been wasted. The house's new decorations were stunning and seemed to allow the building to blend perfectly with those that surrounded it. The new snowfall had covered the muddied tracks of children's feet through the yard and the only snowman that remained adorned a top hat, two black button eyes, a carrot nose, wax lips, and a very expensive Gucci scarf. In the window a huge Christmas tree sparkled, sending out a welcome to all those who passed. Standing there, Parker decided instantly that it looked more like a home than a refuge for lost children.
"She's here." A child squealed from the open doorway.
Parker smiled and made her way towards the growing mass of children who had assembled in her wait.
"I am glade you decided to stay for the party." Hannah called out from behind the masses.
Parker's entrance through the doorway was like the parting of the red sea, as the children made a path for her to reach Hannah. "I can't stay long but I did promise I would stop by and so here I am." she replied, as she reached the grey haired woman.
"It means the world to them." Hannah smiled. "Dinner is ready and waiting in the dinning room. Shall we?"
"Lead the way." Parker said, as her hands were grabbed by two little boys and she was pulled down the hall.
The next hour was filled with eating and laughter, a sound that filled even the ice queen's heart with warmth and hope. When they had finished the turkey feast, they retired to the living room to sing Christmas carols. As they sat gathered around the piano, Parker noticed a small girl perched on the window seat in the far corner of the room. Sliding the child from her lap, she moved to where Hannah was standing.
"Who is that?" Parker whispered, pointing to the child at the window.
"That is Abigail Winters. She is the newest member of our family, been here just a little shy of three weeks. I am afraid she is having a hard time adjusting." Hannah said sadly.
"What brought her here? Where are her parents?"
"Her mother died of cancer and the state is in the process of looking for her father. He abandoned the family when her mother discovered she was ill." Hannah filled in the missing gaps. "Poor thing hasn't spoken a word since she was found sleeping next to her mother's body."
"Would it be all right if I tired to talk to her?"
"It would be a blessing." Hannah smiled, placing her hand on Parker's shoulder.
Parker moved slowly across the room thinking to herself how much her life had changed, how much she had changed since Jarod had reappeared in her life. She sat down quietly next to the child and turned her eyes heavenward to the star filled sky outside. "Sure is a pretty night, isn't it?" she whispered.
A pair of deep green eyes looked up at her from a tiny face lost in a mass of dark brown curls. Her tiny bottom lip half clasped between her teeth. She blinked innocently and nodded her head in response then turned back to her star gazing.
"My name is Miss Parker. What's yours?" Parker persisted.
"I'm Abby." A voice answered in barely a whisper.
"Well it's nice to meet you Abby." Parker said holding out her hand.
Abby turned again looking from Parker's out stretched hand to the crystal blue pools of her eyes. Looking back to the sky, she grasped the tattered rag doll in her arms to her chest.
Parker let her hand drop back to her lap. "What's your doll's name?"
"Christmas Angel." Abby answered.
"That's a beautiful name."
"Mama gave her to me on the Christmas we found out she was sick. She said that she wanted me to have someone to watch over me when she was gone and thought a Christmas Angel would be the best. My mama's gone now. She's up there with the other angels." Abby said sadly, pointing to the sky.
"I know." Parker said softly.
"Do you think they celebrate Christmas in heaven?" Abbey asked, looking up at Parker with tears in her eyes. "It was mama's favorite holiday and I would hate to think that she didn't get to have it anymore."
"I hope they do because my mom's favorite holiday was Christmas." Parker said, wiping away a stray tear that had escaped down her cheek.
"Is your mama in heaven too?"
"Maybe they are having Christmas together."
"I bet they are."
"Do you miss her?"
"Everyday. But after awhile the hurt will get better, I promise." Parker said, opening her arms and taking Abby into them in a warm embrace.
"Miss Parker you asked me to tell you when it was seven." Hannah called to her.
"You’re leaving?" Abby said the hurt evident in her voice.
"Well I was. . . . " Parker began, trying to explain that she had work to do back in Blue Cove.
"Its fine no need to explain if you have to go then go. Everyone leaves in the end." Abby said harshly, slipping out of Parker's arms.
Hearing her own feelings slip from the lips of the child before her, Parker's heart stopped. She looked around the room at all the eyes that were now upon her. Each face a memory of the pain she knew they felt, she had felt that same pain once or perhaps still. Suddenly, she decided that the Centre could wait a few more days. It wasn't like anyone was waiting to celebrate the holidays with her, Sydney had gone to be with Michelle and Nicholas in France, Broots and Debbie had left to spend Christmas break with his parents. With her father gone, she had no reason to suffer through a relentlessly horrid evening with Lyle again. As she stood there, she realized that there was nothing but an empty house waiting for her back in Blue Cove unless of course one counted the rabbit Jarod had given her for Christmas five years before. "You know what my mom's favorite thing to do after dinner on Christmas Eve was?" she asked, her mind suddenly made up.
Abby turned around surprised and shook her head no.
"She used to read me a story. My mother loved books and one of her all time favorite stories was "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. Would anyone like to hear it?"
Abby nodded and moved back over to stand at Parker's feet. "So you’re going to stay?"
"Where else would I be on Christmas, than with the little girl whose mom is decorating the tree in heaven with my own." Parker said with a wink.
Making herself cosy in the large chair by the fire, Parker pulled Abby on to her lap as the other children gathered at her feet. "Marley was dead to begin with: there is no doubt whatever about that. The Register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge's name was good upon 'Change for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a doornail." Parker began.
Hannah watched with a smile, from the back of the room, as Parker told the story of Ebenezer Scrooge. Her mind floated back to twenty years earlier, when a friend of hers with the same face had told the same story to another group of children. It warmed her heart to see Catherine's little girl was so much like her mother and she was sure that somewhere in the heavens above, Catherine was proud of her too. Turning, she spied Jarod through the window, making his way up the walk, and rushed out to meet him
"Jarod, there is something I think I need to tell you before you go into the house." Hannah said breathlessly, coming down the front porch steps.
"Is something wrong Hannah?" Jarod asked concerned.
"Well that depends on your definition of wrong." Hannah smiled
"What is it?"
"It's Miss Parker." Hannah began, but was stopped by Jarod's voice.
"Miss Parker? Is she all right? What happened? Where is she?" Jarod interrupted panic lacing his words.
Hannah looked at him confused then smiled widely. "It's nothing like that Jarod. It's just that Miss Parker is still here."
"She is inside with Abby and the others. It's the damnedest thing, that child hasn't spoken a word in the two weeks she has been with us. Miss Parker sat down next to her and in just moments she got that child to open up like a flower in spring time."
Jarod smiled and peeked through the window. "She does have a way about her."
Hannah immediately noticed the change in his voice when he spoke of Miss Parker. Smiling at him, she couldn't help but to address the subtle softness of his tone. "Have you told her?" she asked.
"Told her about what?" Jarod looked at her confused.
"That you’re in love with her. I mean you are in love with her aren't you?"
Jarod could feel his cheeks warm and turned his attention from Miss Parker back to Hannah. "I tried once but things between us are complicated. I don't think she is ready to hear about my feelings."
"Well I'm not sure what she is or isn't ready for, but I do know that it never hurts to hear that someone loves you. Just something to think about is all. On to other things then, what shall we do about the children?"
"Tell them Santa Claus is here."
"You know what that might mean Jarod. There's the chance she'll call a sweeper team and haul you back to the Centre."
"Maybe, maybe not. Those children have had enough disappointment in their lives. I am not about to be the cause of more. They are expecting Santa and Santa they will get."
"You’re a good man Jarod with a good heart. We are truly blessed to have you." Hannah said, giving him a hug, "I'll slip back in and prepare them."
When the story concluded Miss Parker and Hannah brought the children back to the dinning room for hot chocolate and warm cookies.
"Where's Abby?" Parker asked, realizing the little girl was not sitting at the table with the others.
"She's not here?" Hannah searched the room with her eyes. "Could you keep an eye on the others? I'd better go look for her."
"You stay. I'll go look for her. I have a feeling I might know where she is." Parker said, grabbing a cup of cocoa and a plate of cookies.
"Are you sure?"
"Positive. If I don't find her I'll come and get you." with that Parker was gone.
Walking into the living room, Parker spied Abby back at the window. Her mind floated back to a memory; the first Christmas after her mother had been gone. She recalled sitting in a similar window searching for the same thing she was sure Abby searched for now; some proof that her mother was there, watching over her, some small sign that she wasn't alone. With a heavy heart and a soft sigh, Parker made her way across the room and resumed her place at the child's side.
"I brought you some cookies and hot chocolate." Parker said, holding out the items in her hand.
"No thank you. I'm not really hungry." Abby replied absently, still looking to the sky.
"I'll just set it here in case you change your mind." Parker responded, sitting the items down on the table next to them.
"Can I ask you a question Miss Parker?" Abby asked innocently.
"Sure what do you want to know?"
"How come your here with us and not at home with your family?" she asked catching Parker off guard.
"I don't have a family." Parker said. Hearing the words out loud brought tears to her eyes as they were just another reminder of the life that had been stolen from her.
"Where's your daddy?"
"I don't know."
"I don't know where my daddy is either. Mama use to say that he had things to take care of before he could have a family. I hope he is having a good Christmas. Mama use to say that just because someone isn't with us doesn't mean they don't love us."
"It sounds like your mommy was a smart woman." Parker said awed that someone so young understood one of the things she as an adult still struggled with.
"Oh she was and pretty too." Abby smiled sadly. "What did your mommy look like?"
"Just like me." Parker whispered softly.
"Then she was pretty too." Abby said, wrapping her tiny arms around Miss Parker.
The soft ringing of bells caught Parker's ear as she embraced Abby's tiny body. "Did you hear that?" she whispered.
Abby nodded her head excitedly as she darted out of Parker's arms to search the skies for the mythical man in the red suit and his reindeer pulled sleigh.
"HO HO HO MERRY CHRISTMAS!" Jarod bellowed, pushing the door to house open and stepping inside.
Parker's head jerked upward at the familiar voice just in time to catch him dusting the snow from his velvet red suit and cap. Instinct drove her hand to her lower back only to find that she had left her gun back in her room. She got to her feet and began to cross the room towards him, when Abby's joy filled voice stopped her in mid stride.
"Santa!" The tiny voice cried as she bolted from the windows ledge and flung herself into Jarod's arms. "Oh I knew you would come, I just knew you would."
"Why Abigail Winters look how much you've grown this year." Jarod replied, snuggling her close to him.
"You've got rosy cheeks." Abby smiled placing her tiny hands on his face before she kissed the end of his nose.
Moments later, the other children ran screaming into the room and Jarod placed Abby down and greeted each of them with a hug and a smile. He spent the next half hour devouring all the cookies and milk he was given and then gleefully told the children it was time for them to read him their Christmas lists. This announcement sent children darting in all directions to gather the lists, they had been constructing for days.
Jarod watched as Parker sashayed her way across the room towards him. His eyes immediately drawn to the hypnotic swinging of her hips, he found himself blushing for the second time that evening. As she got closer, the sweetness of her perfume engulfed him. He felt his stomach do a flip flop and wondered if he had eaten too many cookies.
"Merry Christmas Miss Parker." He grinned up at her.
"What the hell are you doing here Jarod?" she sneered annoyed at his apparent ease around her.
"I thought that was obvious." Jarod answered with a chuckle.
"Cut the crap Jarod and just answer the question." Parker growled. "Do you want to go back to the Centre? Is that it? "
Jarod frowned. Maybe he couldn't trust her after all. "Is that all you think about, the Centre? It's Christmas Miss Parker. Your mother's favorite time of year."
"Don't bring my mother into this Jarod. Christmas or not I have a job to do." Parker growled.
"Maybe that's the problem. You never let your mother's memory in. What's the matter Parker afraid that you may be more like her than you think?" Jarod retorted. "Now if you'll excuse me I have my own work to do." Jarod rose to his feet and began to walk away when she grabbed him by the arm.
"What makes you think I'm not going to take you in right now? Or call in a sweeper team?" She hissed.
"Because even though you like to pretend you don't have a heart, I know you do." Jarod whispered, leaning in so close his hot breath cascaded over her lips.
She was speechless as she stared up at him. The only thought that entered her mind was the last time he had been so close; their near kiss at Ocee's cottage. She felt him slip his arm gently out of her hand and although her mind was screaming for her to hang on her body let him walk away. She stood there a moment or two longer feeling the pounding of her heart in her chest, hearing his last words echo through her mind.
Hannah had arranged the living room perfectly, sitting a big cosy chair by the fire and the children had formed a sitting line, their wish lists in hand. Jarod moved carefully among them to take his throne at the head of the line.
"HO HO HO." He bellowed reaching out his hands to the first child in line and pulling the small boy onto his lap. "So Timmy, what do you want Santa to bring you for Christmas this year?"
"A fire truck with real hoses, so I can help Miss Hannah put out fires." Timmy replied proudly.
"Have many fires here?" Jarod questioned with a chuckle.
"Only when Miss Hannah tries to teach Roberta to cook." Timmy chimed innocently. His comment sending a tall lanky girl screaming his name with fury in her eyes, who was stopped in mid flight by Hannah.
"Well Timmy I'll do my best." Jarod said with a crocked smile, as he pulled a gift out of his bag and handed it to Timmy.
"Thank you Santa." Timmy smiled, taking the present and kissing him softly on the cheek, before sliding off his lap to allow another child a turn.
Miss Parker and Hannah stood watching from the back of the room, as each child took a turn sharing their Christmas wishes with Jarod. Miss Parker couldn't help but to smile at some of the wishes; a doll, a bike, a truck, a book, they all seemed so simply to provide; things that one would find in any child's room in abundance. It was then that she truly realized that these weren't just any children. They were as special as the circumstances that had brought them there. Some had seen too much or felt too little, some had been forgotten others lost, but each of them no matter where they had come from, no matter what they had endured in their short lives was a gift. In realizing that, Parker began to understand why all those years ago, with so much to lose, her mother had chosen to give her life to save the children of the Centre.
Miss Parker's eyes fell to young Abby, who sat patiently at the end of the line. The young girl’s eyes were wide with hopeful anticipation as she watched the other's wishes granted. When it was finally her turn, Abby walked up to Jarod very slowly and climbed up onto his lap. Parker could feel herself inching closer, wondering what Abby's wish was.
"Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas Abby," Jarod said shooting her a smile. "What can Santa bring you for Christmas this year?"
Abby smiled sweetly and looked up into Jarod's big brown eyes, then cleared her throat and began to read from the crumpled paper in her hand. "Well Santa at first I wanted to ask if you could send a friend, but the angels must have been watching and sent me one instead." Abby smiled over at Miss Parker. "So I just have a few others on my list. Send a hug to mama and tell her that I'm fine, she's waiting up in heaven and I know I'm on her mind. Give a kiss to Daddy and tell him I understand, I know that he will be here just as quickly as he can. And now I have one last wish I hope you make come true. You see this new friend the angels sent me needs a little help too. She needs a special Christmas present and she won't ask for her self. Her eyes are soft and kind but hidden far beneath there's a lonely kind of sadness, so I ask you bring her peace. I fear that she is lonely, so I ask if you could send, a special kind of someone who would be her friend. Now this person must be caring and giving with their heart and promise never to leave her once the friendship starts. They must promise to love her always and make her dreams come true. I know it's a large order and that's why I'm asking you."
"Sounds like you have made a wish for everyone but yourself Abby." Jarod said, blinking a tear from his eye. "Isn't there something you would like for you?"
"I have all I need." Abby said unselfishly.
"What about a new doll?" Jarod asked, pointing at the tattered rag doll in her hand.
"No thank you this doll is special to me and I don't need another."
"So what is the name of your friend?" Jarod asked with a smile waiting to hear the name of a child at the house.
"Her name is Miss Parker and she is right over there." Abby grinned pointing over at Parker. "She is kind and sweet and oh so pretty. I bet she would make someone a good mommy."
"I bet your right." Jarod grinned back. "I'll tell you what I'll do my best."
Abby reached up and gave Jarod a kiss on his cheek, then wiggled off his lap.
"Abby." Jarod called after her.
"Don't you want your present?" He asked, holding out a small box.
She strolled back up to him and gently took the box from his hand. "Thank you."
"Well aren't you going to open it?"
"You want me to open it right now?"
"Yep the sooner the better." Jarod smiled.
Abby shrugged her shoulders, then slowly and carefully unwrapped the box. When all the wrapping was removed, she slide the lid off the box to find nothing but a folded piece of paper inside. Taking out the paper, she unfolded it and began to read. I'm waiting outside. Was all it said. "Who is?" Abby looked at Jarod confused.
"The only way to know is to go look." Jarod grinned.
Abby looked over at Miss Parker. "Will you come with me?"
Parker, curious to see what miracle Wonderboy had managed to wrangle this time, shook her head yes and held out her hand. Abby rushed over, grabbed the outstretched hand and pulled Parker towards the door with Hannah and Jarod close on their heels. When they reached the door Parker put her hand on the knob and looked down at Abby. "So you ready?" Abby nodded and Parker pulled the door open to reveal a man standing on the porch.
"DADDY!" Abby screamed, as she dashed away from Miss Parker and into the stranger's arms.
"How did you?" Parker asked Jarod confused.
"It's Christmas Miss Parker anything is possible." Jarod answered.
Snickers came bubbling from all around them. "What's so funny?" Miss Parker asked with mock annoyance.
"Santa has to kiss you." Abby announced proudly.
"Excuse me?" Parker bit out.
"You’re standing under the mistletoe. You do know about mistletoe right? When ever your standing under it you get a kiss. Mama use to say it's the best place to be at Christmas."
Parker and Jarod looked up to find hanging just above their heads was mistletoe. Parker fidgeted nervously and looked around. Jarod, who found it the perfect opportunity to do what he had been dreaming of since the Island, smiled as he stepped forward, slipping his hands around her waist.
"Do you have death wish I should know about?" Parker threatened softly.
"It's tradition Miss Parker, who am I to argue with tradition." Jarod smiled, pulling her into his body.
"Jarod. . " Miss Parker began but before she could finish Jarod's finger pressed softly against her mouth, sending chills through her body.
"Shhh. ." he whispered, as he leaned in closely the warmth of his breath washing over her lips. He could feel her body begin to tremble, as he wrapped his arms more securely around her, crushing her body to his. Placing his fingers gently under her chin, he lifted her face to look at him.
She was immediately lost in his soft, compassionate, brown eyes. In that instant, the ice queen began to melt, allowing the little girl trapped inside, her first breath of life in twenty years. The world around them disappeared into the storm of snowflakes that rained gracefully down from the sky. Her eyes floated back and forth between his entrancing eyes and the soft pink forms of his lips. She could feel the pounding of her heart and the calling of his lips, as she moved slowly upward until her lips brushed softly, tenderly against his.
He pulled her closer, as the kiss transported him back to another time and place, when they were children and nothing seemed impossible. Deeping the kiss, he realized that she still tasted like vanilla and peppermint. She still felt perfect in his arms, as if she was made for them. He wanted to hold her like that forever afraid that when the kiss was over the feeling inside him would vanish.
The soft eruption of giggles all around them brought them back to the time and place at hand. Pulling reluctantly back, Jarod kept her trapped in his embrace unwilling to lose the moment.
"Come on children it's time for bed." Hannah said ushering them all back inside.
"Merry Christmas Santa. Merry Christmas Miss Parker." They called as the disappeared through the door.
"Merry Christmas." Jarod and Parker called moving away from each other.
"It's getting late. I should go." Parker said awkwardly, heading back inside.
Jarod bowed his head in disappointment and followed in behind her.
"Are you sure you have to go Miss Parker?" Hannah asked, handing her her coat.
"Merry Christmas Hannah. Thanks. . For everything." Miss Parker said, giving the old woman a hug before heading back towards the door. Spying Jarod out of the corner of her eye, she stopped and turned to him. "Merry Christmas Jarod." she called softly to him, before heading out the door.
"Well?" Hannah said, turning to Jarod once Miss Parker had gone.
"Well what?" Jarod asked defeated.
"Aren't you going to go after her?"
"What good would that do? She made it pretty clear what she wants."
"It's Christmas Jarod. The one time of year that anything is possible if you believe in it. So I guess the only question that remains is do you believe in what you feel heart?" Hannah patted him on the arm and turned to head up the stairs. "It's late. I'm going to head up to bed. Just one more thing before I go didn't you promise a certain little girl that you would do your best to make her Christmas wish come true? Good night Jarod may God Bless."
Miss Parker made her way down the snow covered pathway to the street, stopping a time or two to glance back at the house. Although she would have never admitted it aloud, she was going to miss the house and the people inside. In the week that she had visited, she had come to some realizations about her mother, her life and even herself. Walking out the gate, she looked back one last time to say goodbye to the house, the people and the woman she had been allowed to be for a few days. A lone tear escaped down her cheek and she brushed it away quickly, as she pulled her coat around her and began walking back to the hotel.
The air was filled with the sweet sound of carolers singing "Winter Wonderland" as Parker rounded the corner of the town square. The streets where quiet and empty as most were home with friends and family celebrating the holiday. The cold was almost unbearable, as she pulled on her coat trying to draw in more closely around her. She found herself missing the warmth and comfort of Jarod's arms, a weakness she would never admit to anyone. She had thought of him constantly since the days of the Island, often wondering what life would have been like if Ocee hadn't interrupted them; if the almost kiss had been stolen instead of dismissed.
Her mind floated then to the kiss on Hannah's porch. She could still feel the warmth of his breath on her lips and the chocolate and peppermint taste of his kiss. A chill ran down her spin at the thought of his arms no longer holding her in his embrace. She scolded herself for her weakness. Not only the weakness of loving him but the weakness of not being able to tell him as well. She looked heavenward thinking back to Abby's comments about Christmas in heaven and wondered if her mother was up there somewhere perched on one of the million stars looking down on her.
"Miss Parker!" Jarod's familiar voice called out in the darkness from somewhere behind her, stopping her in her tracks.
She turned around slowly to find him approaching in a horse drawn sleigh. "You really should make an appointment with Syd to have your head examined. First a santa suit and now a sleigh, better be careful people will start to talk."
As the driver pulled to a stop just a few feet away, Jarod jumped from the sleigh. "What about you?" He said breathlessly.
"I'm not the one dressed in red velvet riding around town on Christmas eve in a sleigh."
"Cute, not funny, but cute."
She shot him a mocking smile and began walking again.
"You never told me what your Christmas wish was." Jarod replied, walking beside her.
"Go away Jarod, before my christmas generosity wears off and I haul you but back to the Centre." She threatened.
"You told me once that a turning point only comes when you have something to turn to, well here I am." Jarod remarked, grabbing her by the arm and turning her to look at him.
"I think you drank to much eggnog." Parker retorted, yanking her arm from his hand.
"Damn it Parker. When are we going to stop playing this game. If I'm not the one running, you are. When do we stop chasing each other in circles and finally get somewhere?" Jarod yelled, grabbing her upper arms with his hands and forcing her to listen to him.
"Easy for you to say Jarod. You have your freedom." Parker sneered, trying to wiggle free from his grasp.
"You call this freedom. The cage maybe gone but the walls are the same. Don't you get it Parker? As long as your inside that place, so am I."
"What are you talking about?" She retorted, stilling her moments.
"No matter where I go or what I'm doing my thoughts are never far from you. I wonder where you are, what your doing and if your okay. Everywhere I go, I take you with me and I leave a piece of me behind, trapped inside the same walls that hold you. I'm in love with you Parker. I've been in love with you for as long as I can remember. I love the way you smell like lavender and vanilla. I love the way you scream when your frustrated, the way your voice sounds in the early hours of the morning when I wake you from a pleasant dream. I love the way you make me crazy and the way you feel inside my arms, like you were made to fit inside them. I love you Parker with all that I am, with all that I will ever be I love you." Jarod stated, pulling her to his chest and encircling her with his arms.
Intoxicated by the sweetness of his cologne, Parker took a deep breath and snuggled into his chest. as the tears she was fighting to hold at bay came crashing in warm, salty rivers down her cold cheeks.
Jarod could feel her body trembling uncontrollably in his arms, as her shoulders heaved with her tears. He ran his hand in tender circles down her back in an effort to comfort and warm her. His stomach a flutter of activity and a lump in his throat, as he waited for her response.
Suddenly she was filled with warmth and courage, she looked upward to see a star shining more brightly than the others. It's brilliance like a halo of light in the darkness sending her a message from the heavens. She pulled back and looked up to find his warm brown eyes embraced with hers. It was in that moment that she stopped running and surrendered to him, bearing her heart and soul. "I love you too." She whispered reaching up and brushing a wet lock of hair from his face.
Jarod looked upward with a smile to thank whatever it was that had gotten them to this point, that's when he noticed it a wreath of mistletoe dangling from a lamp post just above their heads. He laughed and pointed at it. "Mistletoe, you know what that means?"
"Who am I to argue with tradition." Parker smiled, brushing her lips against his in tender kiss.
"Merry Christmas Parker." Jarod smiled, pulling back and leading her to the sleigh. Helping her inside, he climbed in after her then pulled a blanket to cover their legs, as he wrapped his arms around her.
"It just may be." she smiled snuggling against him as the sleigh began to move passed a group of carolers, who had gathered holding candles and began to sing "Have yourself a Merry little Christmas. May your heart be light. From now on your troubles will out of sight. Here we are as in olden days, happy golden days of your. Faithful friends who are dear to us gather near to us once more. Through the years we all will be together if the fates allow. Hang a shinning star above the highest bow. And have yourself a Merry Little Christmas now".
The stars in the sky shone brightly in the darkness as a little girl watched out the window of a car stopped near by. Her big, deep, green eyes sparkled like christmas lights, as she watched the sleigh being pulled away gracefully through the snow. Her once pale cheeks a glow with rosy warmth as she snuggled a tattered rag doll to her chest. Her lips pulled up in a joyful smile as she held tightly to her daddy's hand. "Merry Christmas Mr. And Mrs. Santa Claus." she whispered quietly into the night as the car moved onward towards home.
Have a Merry Christmas and be sure to make your wish. You never know it just may come true because at Christmas nothing is impossible!