Slowly she walked in pushing the door closed with one hand.
He jumped to his feet. The look on her face was one he’d never seen before. “Holly, what’s wrong?”
She blinked once then again. “It’s snowing.” She whispered.
It was then he noticed her hair and jacket were covered with flakes. “Snow?”
“Yeah, snow.” She nodded.
His heart began to beat faster, something was wrong. “What happened? He asked reaching out to brush the flakes off her shoulders.
Instead on answering she held out her hand.
Gerard looked confused, “Batteries? You had them in the car?” He asked knowing she hadn’t been gone long enough to have purchased them.
“No.” Holly shook her head. “Nick knew I needed them.”
Gerard tried to quell the fear that was filling his soul. “Nick? But he’s not here tonight.”
“He’s here. He knew what I needed.” Holly said slowly.
Gerard threw the batteries down on the hall table. Then moving quickly he pulled off Holly’s coat. She offered no resistance or help. “Let’s sit down.” He said taking her arm.
Holly shook her head. “Gee, what’s my middle name?”
Now he was sure her mind had slipped. “Oh Sugar. I don’t know but why’s that matter?” He just wanted to get her to the sofa.
“That’s right, you don’t know.” She blinked rapidly. “But he did. How could he know?”
Gerard tried to get her to move again. “Come on. You need to sit down.”
This time she took a step back. “My mom and dad loved Christmas.” She whispered. “That’s when they first met, at a Christmas party.”
“Holly you’re scaring me.” He whispered. “I don’t understand what’s going on.”
She took a deep breath. “My middle name is Noel. Holly Noel. Can’t get much more Christmasy than that.”
Should he call someone? He was trying to decide when she spoke again.
“Nick called me Holly Noel.”
“Honey, Nick’s not working tonight.” He said slowly as if speaking to a child.
“Yeah, he is.” Suddenly she reached out and grabbed the front of his sweater. “You heard the sleigh bells right?”
“Oh Holly.” His voice was ragged. “Yeah, I heard them.” He whispered believing something in her mind had snapped and it was his fault. “Of course I heard them, we all heard them.”
She released his sweater. “Good then I’m not crazy.”
“Of course you’re not crazy. You’re just confused. It’s been a very emotional night.”
She covered her face with her hands a moment then took a deep breath. Slowly she lowered her hands and he was shocked at how different she suddenly looked.
“Gee, I want to read the letter.”
“You said I could.” She reminded him. “I want to read it, I need to read it.”
He was shocked. Never would he have imagined when she’d left the house earlier she’d return and want to read the letter he’d written while she was still in the hospital.
“Gee.” She was watching him closely. “I’m not crazy, I haven’t gone off the deep end but I need to read it now.”
The determination in her voice made him nod. “Okay, I’ll get it.”
When he returned from the study Holly was seated in the chair next to the Christmas tree. Silently he handed the two page letter to her praying it was the right thing to do. Scared what would happen when she read the words he’d poured out on the paper from deep in his heart.
She took the letter and began reading. For a moment he watched but fear made him turn away. Slowly he walked across the room to the large windows. In the reflection of the glass he could see her, her head bowed as she read. Closing his eyes a moment he opened them not allowing himself to look at her but at the snow falling outside. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. In such a short time the yard already looked completely white. The patio lights below allowed him to see how quickly the snow was falling. Time dragged on and on. Still he refused to allow himself to look at Holly. She had to have read it all by now. Leaning forward he pressed his forehead against the glass closing his eyes.
“It is magical.”
Her voice so near caused his eyes to open. Slowly he turned to face the woman now standing beside him.
“Do you still mean this?” She asked holding the letter up.
His voice was full of emotion. “Every last word.”
Holly took a deep breath. “The path was right but the time was wrong.”
He stood completely still. “I don’t understand.”
“I do.” A beautiful smile suddenly covered her face.
“Please tell me what’s going on?” He begged.
“I will.” She whispered. “But first I really think you should kiss me now.”
His heart skipped a beat. “I should kiss you now?”
“Yeah.” She nodded. “I really think you should.”
For a moment they simply stared into each other’s eyes. Then Gerard opened his arms and she fell into them.
“Oh Holly.” He hugged her tightly needing to feel her body in his arms. Then he moved back ever so slightly and began covering her face with kisses unable to stop.
“Gee.” Holly giggled. “Nice but I was really hoping for something a bit more romantic.”
His lips crashed down on hers. The kiss soon left them both breathless.
“That’s better.” Holly whispered as her hands slid under his sweater to caress his back. “Much better.”
Gerard’s hands too had found her bare skin under her sweater. They urged her body more closely to his. “Holly I love you.” He whispered into her ear.
“I love you too.” She sighed contently. “So much.”
For several minutes they simply held each other close. Finally Holly forced herself to take a step back. “We need to talk.” She said smiling up into his face.
Seeing that she was still smiling her words didn’t scare him. “Yeah talk and kiss more.”
Holly giggled, “Well that goes without saying.”
Once more they kissed this time letting their hands roam each other’s bodies. Gerard moaned when Holly forced herself to move out of his arms. “If we keep this up nothing will get done.”
He was trying to force his mind to work again but his body was still doing the thinking. “We’ll definitely get something done.”
Holly laughed, “Uh yeah but Gee.” She turned to look outside. “It’s all so wonderful. It’s Christmas Eve, it’s magic.”
“I did promise you magic was real.” He said reaching out to touch her cheek with his finger.
“You did, indeed.”
Now that her body wasn’t pressed against him his mind was slowly working again. “Holly what the hell happened when you left?”
“Let’s sit down and we’ll talk. But first check on Molly and make sure she’s sleeping, okay?”
He nodded with a smile on his face. When he returned a few minutes later Holly had kicked off her shoes and was waiting on the sofa. As soon as he sat down next to her she snuggled up to him.
“I can’t believe this is happening.” He whispered putting his arm around her. “I was so afraid when you left.”
Holly looked into his eyes. “You were afraid?”
“I was afraid you wouldn’t come back.” He whispered. “I mean I thought you’d come back because of Molly, you’d come back for her but not me.”
Holly took a deep breath, “Gee first off I want to say I’m sorry.”
He began shaking his head. “No Holly, don’t be sorry. What you said needed to be said.”
“Maybe.” She said slowly. “I did need to let go of all the anger I was keeping buried deep inside but a lot of that anger was really directed at me. I don’t ever want to let things build up inside like that again. I honestly was physically sick when I left.”
He stroked her hair. “But something happened?”
“Yeah.” She smiled, “But even though you say you believe in the magic of Christmas snow I’m not sure you’re gonna believe me.”
“Hey, I’ll believe. You said you love me, I’ll believe anything that caused you to say that.”
“I do love you.” She brushed her lips against his for a quick kiss. However, when he tried to deepen the kiss she moved back slightly and laughed, “Talking, we’re supposed to be talking.”
“Right.” He nodded. “Talking.”
Holly truly hoped he would believe her but even now she was still having trouble believing herself. “I got to the gate and Nick came out to the car.”
Gerard frowned, “He’s really working? He told me he’s never here on Christmas Eve.”
“Well he is. I mean if you want you can drive down to the gate and see him.”
He laughed, “I’m not leaving you for a minute so I’ll take your word for it. So what did he say to you?”
“The first thing he said was he was so sorry that John hadn’t been able to drive up here and play the sleigh bells over the PA.” She paused waiting for that bit of information to sink in. “Seems John got a call right after we arrived that his mom was ill and he had to leave even before Nick could get here to replace him.”
Gerard was frowning. “But we heard the sleigh bells.”
“Yeah, we did.”
“But no one came up here?”
Holly shook her head.
Gerard was searching his brain for an answer. “Maybe someone down the road has an actual sleigh.”
“A sleigh?” Holly laughed.
“Well you know hooked up to a horse or something.”
Holly considered this. “Suppose that could be. Seems sorta strange we’d hear it just when we were out listening but it could be possible.”
Suddenly he gave her a shocked look, “Oh hell, Holly. Don’t tell me you’re thinking…”
She laughed, “I’m just telling you the facts. Then Nick handed me the pack of batteries.”
“Did you tell him why you were you were going to buy batteries?”
“Sugar you were pretty upset when you left. Maybe you mentioned it.”
Holly sighed, “See told you, you don’t believe me.”
“No.” He said hurriedly, “So Nick gave you the batteries, then what?”
“He said he’d hate to think of me out in this weather.”
Gerard nodded, “Well yeah. It’s really snowing out there.”
“Of course he said that before it started snowing.” Holly giggled.
“Well he probably was monitoring the weather.” Gerard reasoned.
“Yep, he said he was watching the radar.”
“There you go. He knew the snow was coming.” Gerard said nodding. “That makes sense.”
Holly laughed, “Sure does.”
Gerard suddenly remembered something else. “Why did you ask me if I knew your middle name?”
“Because I knew you didn’t. I’ve never told anyone my middle name because I’ve always thought it was silly. I mean really, Holly Noel?”
“Your parents loved Christmas.’ He said remembering what she’d told him earlier.
“It was their favorite time of year.” Holly said softly as memories of her long gone parents flittered through her mind. “They even got married on Christmas Eve.”
Gerard stroked her cheek. “I’m sorry they’re gone.”
Holly sighed, “Me too.”
“Wait.” He said as his mind returned to the original question. “So you said he knew? You mean Nick? Nick knew your middle name?”
“We were talking about the snow. I told him my mom used to say Christmas snow was magical.” She paused a moment. “And Nick said, you know she was right Holly Noel.” She giggled, “At first I didn’t even realize what he said but then it hit me.”
Gerard stated at her.
Suddenly Holly’s smile faded and her voice turned serious. “But the most important thing Nick said was that one of the saddest things is being given a wonderful gift but not allowing yourself to accept it.”
Gerard’s heart started to beat faster. “Have you been given a wonderful gift?” He whispered.
Holly looked deeply into his eyes. “Yes, a second chance at a happy life. A second chance to love and be loved. But I had to be sure.” She whispered. “That’s why I knew I needed to read the letter.”
“Holly every word in that is from my heart.”
“I know.” She blinked back tears of happiness. “When I told you that Molly was the best gift you ever gave me that was only partly true. Your love is the wonderful gift but fear almost made me refuse it.”
He was overcome with emotion. “Oh, Holly.” Words failed him.
Her smile came from deep within. “I’m ready to accept that gift and to treasure it. In return my gift to you is my love for you that never faded.”
Gerard pulled her onto his lap in one swift move. The kiss they shared spoke so that words weren’t needed. Finally it was Holly who sat back.
“We gotta stop.”
She scooted off his lap. “Yeah, it’s Christmas Eve we have so much to do. We have to put the presents under the tree and we have a doll house to assemble.”
He didn’t want to do anything but love this woman but he knew she was right. “Then we kiss some more?”
Holly’s laugh was musical. “Yeah, for sure.”
An hour later they were still working on assembling the doll house.
“Crap.” Gerard said as he poured over the instructions again. “This is insane. It should clearly say on the box that you need two days to put this thing together.”
Holly who was sitting beside him on the floor laughed. “I knew this wasn’t going to be easy.” Suddenly she had a thought. “Oh, what about the cars? Did they get delivered?”
“Yep, they’re in the garage but with this snow…”
“Not exactly the right weather for the girls to drive them around the backyard.”
He glanced over at the patio doors. “It’s still snowing.” He said in wonder. “Look, how beautiful.”
Holly followed his gaze. “We have our own winter wonderland.”
Gerard couldn’t stop himself from reaching out to touch her cheek. This night had turned out better than he could have ever imagined. “Maybe we should take a break.” He whispered brushing his thumb over her lips.
“Oh no you don’t Mr. Way.” Holly giggled. “If we keep getting distracted we’ll never get this put together before morning and I’ve already warned you Molly will wake up early.”
“But she did get to sleep later than usual.”
“Doesn’t matter.” Holly smiled, “Kids have a natural built in alarm clock just for Christmas morning. She’ll wake up early.”
Again he looked out at the snow. “I’m hoping the snow makes up for whatever it is she asked Santa for that we didn’t get.”
Holly nodded. “Me too.”
“Okay.” He said picking up the instructions again. “Note to myself, can’t kiss Holly again until we get this house put together.”
She giggled, “Well maybe one kiss.”
“Yeah just one.” He threw down the instructions and the next thing Holly knew she was laying on the floor. Gerard slid his hand under her sweater then under her bra. His fingers found her sensitive nipple and slowly began to caress. Holly moaned as pleasure tore through her body. It had been so long since she’d been touched like this.
It wasn’t enough for Gerard. He pushed up the sweater and bra needed to taste her. When his lips latched on to her nipple he felt her whole body quiver. “Holly.” He breathed against her skin. “I need…”
The sound of the floorboards upstairs creaking was like a splash of cold water.
“Oh crap.” Holly whispered automatically pulling her bra and sweater back into place. Gerard sat up.
“I’ll handle it. Stay here.” He whispered before jumping to his feet.
Holly sat listening. She could hear his voice and Molly’s upstairs. A quick glance at her watch told her it was just after 2 am. When he came back downstairs he was smiling.
“She fell right back asleep.”
“What was she doing up?” Holly asked.
“Had to go to the bathroom.”
“She didn’t ask where I was?”
“Nope, she was still half asleep. By the time I got there she had just walking into the bathroom. I waited for her to come out then got her back into bed.”
Holly sighed, “Good.”
He sat back down on the floor. “Now where were we?”
She scooted further away. “We were just about to work on finishing this doll house.”
“Nope pretty sure that’s not what we were doing.” He said reaching for her.
She shook her head, “Gee, we have to get this done. Think about how we still have to finish this, get it upstairs and get the rest of the gifts under the tree.” She paused then looked down. “And besides…”
“Well besides..” She forced herself to go on. “Besides I don’t want the first time we make love to be on the floor.”
“Sugar, we’ve made love before.” He said gently.
“Well yeah.” Holly smiled, “But not for a very long time.” Suddenly she glanced away. “And I haven’t made love since so..”
Memories of that night long ago filtered through his brain. He’d gone to her house, they’d made frantic love on her floor, then he’d walked out of her life.
“Gee?” She was now looking at him.
“This time when we make love it’s gonna be perfect.” He said softly. “Not on the floor but in our bed.”
Holly’s eyes grew wide. “Our bed?”
“Woman, this is our house. Don’t tell me you don’t understand that.” He paused praying she would understand. “I want you and Molly to live here, I want us to make a life together.” He nervously added, “Unless you’d rather live somewhere else. I mean I’ll go wherever you want.” He stopped abruptly when he saw her shaking her head.
Holly continued to remain silent.
“No?” His heart started to sink. “You don’t want us to build a life together? But I thought…” He was silenced by Holly placing her finger over his lips.
“The no was for when you asked if I wanted to live anywhere else.” She smiled, “So I’m assuming that was some sort of marriage proposal?”
“Wasn’t very good, was it?”
She grinned, “Hey, I liked it.”
“So you’ll marry me?” He held his breath waiting for her to answer.
“Well if Molly and I are gonna live here then I suppose I must.” She teased.
The way she’d just answered to him was pure Holly. “Yeah, suppose you must.” He leaned towards her but she put out her hands to hold him back.
“We gotta get this done.” She nodded towards the doll house.
“But Holly.” He whined. “I did just propose and you did just accept. I really think that calls for a kiss.”
Her heart was so full of love she thought it might burst. “I suppose that does call for one kiss.”
The kiss ended up keeping the doll house unfinished for quite some time.
It was after 3 am before they had everything done. They were both exhausted, but their love fueled them on. As the last package was placed under the tree Gerard stood back. “Perfect.” He whispered.
“Almost.” Holly said wrapping her arms around his waist. “You still have to eat the cookie Molly left for Santa.”
“Gee, didn’t you see her set out the plate with a cookie on it before we left for Mikey’s?”
He glanced over at the table by the tree. “No, I didn’t notice.” Suddenly he frowned. “Uh, there’s a bite out of it.”
Holly removed her arms then moved towards the table. Indeed there was a bite out of the cookie. But that wasn’t what shocked her. “Oh.”
Gerard was now standing behind her. “What the…” Molly had left a small piece of paper with the words printed FOR SANTA. Under that was scrawled Merry Christmas in a different hand.
“Gee, you did that, right?” Holly whispered staring at the paper.
He shook his head, “I didn’t even know she’d left out a cookie.”
Their eyes met.
“This is getting sorta freaky.” Gerard said slowly.
Finally Gerard forced himself to turn away. “Well, so okay. This whole night has been magical so guess we shouldn’t be surprised.”
“Guess not.” Holly smiled.
He took her into his arms. “Okay, go put your PJ’s on.”
“Yeah, guess we should try to get a little sleep.”
She was just about to crawl into bed when the door opened. Without a word he took her hand to lead her out of the room.
“Gee?” She whispered then had to cover her mouth to keep from giggling out loud.
He pulled her down the hallway to the living room. “I’m assuming you’re laughing at my sleepwear?”
Holly gazed at his pajama pants and shirt. “Well they are appropriate.”
“Hey.” He ran his hand down the shirt decorated with Yoda wearing a Santa cap. “Thought you’d like it?”
“It’s totally you.” She laughed. “But what’s up? I though we were going to sleep.”
“You didn’t think for one minute I wasn’t going to hold you in my arms tonight, did you?” He nodded towards the sofa where he’d already placed a pillow and blanket.
“We’re gonna sleep on the sofa? But what about Molly?”
“We’ll tell her that we were waiting for Santa but fell asleep. So all we have to do is act all surprised when we see all the stuff under the tree.”
Holly nodded, “Suppose we could.” Her gaze when to the cookie again.
Gerard laughed, “Stop thinking about it.”
“Sorta hard.” Holly admitted.
Gerard walked over to the sofa. He laid down then held out his hand. “Come here, woman.”
She shook her head. “Nope not yet.” Leaning down she pulled a brightly wrapped package from under the sofa where she’d stashed it earlier. “Here.” She handed it to him as soon as he sat up.
Holly sat by him. “Well your Christmas gift of course. I want you to open it now.”
“You are my Christmas gift.” Gerard said softly looking into her eyes.
Holly smiled then urged him to open the gift. When the paper was removed to reveal the drawing his eyes grew wide. “This is beautiful.”
She sighed, “I tried my best but drawing isn’t one of my better talents.”
“Are you serious?” He frowned, “This is unbelievable.” His gaze took in all the details. “You drew our house.”
“When I was drawing it I was just drawing your home because I know how much it means to you.” She whispered.
“You were really drawing our home.” He said leaning forward to kiss her lips. “Thank you.”
He got off the sofa and set it on the mantel next to the drawing he’d done for Holly. “We’re filling our home with things we’ve made each other.” He said softly turning back to face her.
Tears of joy filled her eyes. “Yep, we are.”
He crossed back over to the sofa and once he was in place he beckoned Holly to join him.
She slid her body into place next to him then he pulled her into his arms. “There, this is perfect.”
For several minutes they both were lost in thought. The only light filling the room was colorful lights of the tree and the dying embers in the fireplace.
“Holly?” He knew she was exhausted and was afraid she’d already fallen asleep.
“Thank you for coming back for me.”
“Had to.” Holly’s voice was soft, “I love you.”
His hand slid under her pajama top to cup her breast. “Gerard.”
His laugh so close to her ear tickled, “Hey, can’t blame me. The woman I love is I my arms. What do you expect?”
“Go to sleep, Gee.” She yawned.
“Yeah there is always tomorrow night.” He suddenly frowned, “Uh you and Molly will stay tomorrow night, right?”
“Yep.” Holly said her eyes slowly closing. “But tomorrow night we’ll have two little girls in the house.”
Again it grew silent for several minutes.
“Holly?” He whispered.
“I can’t believe I’m saying this but I want us to wait until we’re married.”
Holly’s eyes flew open. She rolled over to look into his eyes. “Really?”
“Well that’s assuming you’re gonna marry me as soon as possible.”
She smiled, “I think I could do that.”
His lips met hers. For several minutes they kissed until Gerard finally stopped. “Damn it woman, you’re killing me.”
Holly giggled feeling his need pressing against her.
“Roll over.” He groaned. “And get to sleep.”
“As you wish.” She said rolling back over. He threw his arm around her pulling her in tight against him.
“Nite Gee.” She said with a smile covering her face. “Love you.”
“Love you too.” He whispered.