All I Want for Christmas – Chapter 5
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This short Love & Found Story is a gift to YOU, my beloved reader. It hasn’t yet been formally edited yet, so please excuse any typos or errors. Happy reading and Happy Holidays, my friend!
Did you miss the beginning? Click HERE to start from Chapter 1
I hadn’t purchased a gift for Luke. Aunt Betty had agreed to help me find something tomorrow, but now that things had changed I wouldn’t be keeping that date. Instead, I managed to snag a very inexpensive ticket to Florida with the money I’d been holding on to for his present.
My eyes were red and puffy from all the tears I’d shed as I packed up my things and left the cabin. It was a miracle I managed to avoid Percy Davis who was just walking past the cabin as I was stuffing my bags into the car. I didn’t have the heart to explain and didn’t have the wherewithal to make something up.
Now I was sitting in the terminal of the Jack Brooks Airport in Port Arthur, refusing to let myself cry anymore as I waited for a flight that wouldn’t leave for another three hours.
“Damnit where the heck are you, Brody?” I hissed under my breath as I texted my brother for the umpteenth time. I knew he and mom were near Orlando but I didn’t know where they were staying and I’d never be able to find them if I didn’t get through to him.
My flight leaves in less than 3 hours. I need to know where you are so I can find you when I land.
Mom’s phone wasn’t answering either which made no sense at all because she was never, ever away from that thing. The pain from my broken heart was fraying my nerves and I was getting more and more irritated as the moments ticked by without a response.
“Let me guess,” a little old woman sitting across from me spoke as she stood and shuffled over to the spot next to me, “Your gentleman isn’t answering your calls?”
I wrinkled up my face in a frown and shook my head, “No, that isn’t it at all. I’m trying to reach my brother.”
“Oh, come now,” she patted my hand, “I know that look. A brother can’t make you look so heart shorn. Is he supposed to be meeting you here for a special trip?”
I turned in my seat and gave the woman my back. It was incredibly rude and very out of character but I didn’t need some nosy old biddy dredging up the emotions I was working very hard to keep in check.
“I remember my Walter,” she mused, undeterred by my standoffish attitude, “When he was away in the service we made a vow to send letters to each other every week. Of course it was easy for me to keep that bargain. I was at home, not off in the middle of a war we weren’t even supposed to be in,” she whispered as she leaned close to my ear, “Korea you know. The first week of missed letters annoyed me. I just knew he’d forgotten to write and that I must not mean so much to him. But then another week passed. And another…” her voice trailed off.
My chest constricted and I took several breaths as I struggled to bottle up the sadness threatening to bubble up from my center. Finally, I found enough self-control to speak, “What happened? Was he all right?”
“Oh,” she laughed, “Of course he was dear. He’d been wounded, but not seriously. He never did recover full use of that arm, but he went on to live a long, happy life. We were married fifty-seven years before he went home to be with the Lord.”
“Fifty-seven. That’s a long time,” I murmured, tears filling my eyes.
“Yes, I suppose it is. But it doesn’t seem long enough to me you know.”
We were silent a few minutes and I fumbled around in my bag for some tissue. I sniffed, sniffed again, then dabbed at my cheeks and blew my nose.
“You know,” the old woman spoke again, “I’d swear that young man over there is staring at you.”
My head snapped up and I looked at the security area to see Luke. His eyes focused on me, while he seemed to be arguing with the TSA agent at the security checkpoint. I stood and started that direction before remembering my bags.
“Oh, don’t worry, dear. I know it’s against the rules and all, but you just leave your bags right here and run check on things. I’ll keep an eye on them.”
I nodded, wiping my face again and thinking I must look a mess after all of the crying. I hated the idea that Luke would know I’d been crying over him.
“I’m sorry, sir, but without a ticket, you can’t come through,” the agent was telling him.”
“I just need to talk to her…” turning to me, his expression imploring, “Lacey, can you just come out here and talk to me.”
“I don’t think we need to talk. I know this wasn’t right for me to foist myself on you the way I did.”
“Please, Lacey,” he begged, trying to get through again and receiving a hard shove from the agent.
“Sir, I’ll have you arrested if you try that again. Now if the young lady wants to speak with you she can step out and go back through when she’s finished. Otherwise, you need to leave.”
“Lacey, I’m sorry I haven’t spent enough time with you. Can’t we just talk about this?”
I crossed my arms over my chest and stood pat, “I don’t want to talk about it. Just go away. You can feel free to see all you want of that gorgeous red-head without me here.”
And then he started laughing. That was just too much for me to handle. I dropped my arms to my sides and fisted my hands as I stomped my way past the metal detectors to him. With a hard swing of my arm, I punched him in the gut, pleased when I heard the air whoosh from his lungs.
“Jesus, Lacey. What the hell is wrong with you?”
“That was for laughing at me. This is for…”
“Whoaaa…” he backed away and put his hands up in surrender, “I wasn’t laughing at you. Not really. I was just laughing at how silly this is…”
“She’s my aunt, Lacey. My dad’s baby sister. An ‘oops baby’ as they called it. She’s just a few years older than me, but that gorgeous redhead is my aunt.”
“Your aunt?” I asked, one hand held suspended mid-punch, “That was your aunt?”
“Yes,” he rubbed his belly with a grimace. “Where the hell did you learn to hit like that?”
“But you lied about working. You said you were so busy with work you couldn’t come help me with the apartment shopping. And you insisted I look for a six-month lease. It’s like you didn’t really want me here. I’m not stupid, Luke. I can tell this isn’t how you planned things.”
“You’re right,” he said seriously, “This isn’t how I planned things. You threw a bit of a wrench into things. I had to do a little bit of correcting, but,” then he reached into his back pocket before dropping down to one knee, “Even if this isn’t how or where I planned to ask you, I still want to marry you, Lacey Sinclair.”
The blood drained from my face and the air got stuck in my lungs. I felt like I might pass out any minute if I didn’t exhale, but somehow I couldn’t. All I could do was stand there staring at the most beautiful engagement ring I’d ever seen, holding my breath in case this was all just a dream.
“Well, what are you going to say, dear?”
It was the little old lady’s voice, but I couldn’t turn to look at her. Instead, my eyes rose to meet Luke’s blue ones and tears began to trail my face, “Yes! I’m going to say yes. I do say yes!”
His smile was magnificent as he took my hand and slipped the ring onto it. Then he stood and his mouth captured mine in a deep, sweeping kiss. His arms cradled me under my backside and lifted me high as his lips smothered mine.
A collective applause finally caused us to come apart and with flaming cheeks I smiled at all of the airport staff and travelers who were gawking at us, beaming expressions of excitement on their faces.
“I knew it would be yes,” the old woman said, putting her hands to her cheeks with a sweet, satisfied smile.
As I took the bags she passed to me, I asked, “How did you know?”
“I just did. There are always silly misunderstandings in a relationship. I could tell by your face that you must have fallen into one. Just like the one I fell into all those years ago when my Walter was injured.”
“That’s why he couldn’t write every week,” I nodded, clinging to Luke’s side as I admired the ring that had slid so perfectly onto my finger.
“Oh, he wrote every week. Almost every day. Well, he had someone else write to me. He couldn’t with his arm, you see. But somehow, the nurse got the address numbers transposed. Finally all those letters made their way to my doorstep and that as they say is history.”
I watched her walk away, a mesmerized smile on my face, “They were married fifty-seven years,” I whispered as Luke nuzzled my neck.
“Fifty-seven years? That’s a long time.”
I smiled and looked up at him, cupping his face with my hands, “It won’t be nearly long enough for me. I want fifty-seven, then fifty-seven more. That’s what I want for Christmas.”
“Well, I’ll do my damndest,” he kissed me again, “You know I can’t deny my pretty little thing anything.”
Are you enjoying this Love & Found Christmas short-short? Stay tuned, the next chapter will appear in your inbox in just a few weeks.