Jump to the first story
In the ten minutes it had taken for them to drive to the hall, Lou had
completely changed his countenance. He was smiling and happy, as if nothing had
happened. Jayme felt like she’d been left out of some great adventure that he
was enjoying without her. She was afraid to be left out of his world but was
unsure how to get back into it after the apparent foolish assumptions she’d
At that moment, he reached for her hand and kissed her fingers. “I’m
sorry for the things I’ve been doing that upset you. I promise, I’m not doing
anything you have to worry about.” He cut his eyes to her as he pulled into a
parking space. Once he’d cut the motor, he turned to her. “Can you forgive me
for upsetting you? Especially on Christmas Eve? No one should be upset on
Christmas Eve. Santa might not show up at our house.”
“I’d really not like that to happen.” Jayme gazed into his eyes. “Did I
ever tell you what I really want for Christmas?”
Lou’s mouth twitched and his lips curled ever so slightly. “No, but
don’t you think it’s a bit late now? It’s only four hours away.” He toyed with
“I miss getting up in the morning and finding something under the tree
that wasn’t there the night before. I guess I miss Santa Claus.” Jayme gave a
nervous laugh, expecting him to laugh at her for her childish wish. He didn’t.
“I’ve never realty thought about it but, yeah, I do, too. It’s been a
long time since he gave me what I really wanted.” He pulled her across, and
lightly kissed her on the lips, “I’ll see what I can do about that.”
Jayme smiled. “You do that.”
He sat back in the seat, his attention on the brightly decorated
entrance to the hall. “So, do you forgive me?” He adjusted his jacket before turning
to her again.
“How could I not. Lou, I do love you.” She caressed his face.
“I love you, too, Jayme.” He climbed out of the car, and came around to
help her out. “I hope we both have a great time tonight. No worries, only fun.
Jayme saluted. “Yes, sir.”
“Good.” He held out his arm to her and she hooked her arm through his
as they strolled up the steps to the brilliantly lighted dining hall that
spilled forth holiday music.
Jayme sipped her drink as
she stood at the side of the room, her gaze following Lou. He talked with a
gathering of fellow business associates but his gaze kept drifting to Kelsey.
He shared a smile with her when their eyes met, and then abruptly, his
attention switched to Jayme as if he’d only just remembered she was there. He
gave her his brightest smile and silently toasted her with a raise of his glass
before taking a drink and turning back to his conversation. She returned his
salute and emptied her glass. This party was not the happy diversion she’d
thought it would be.
As she thought about him, watching
him mingle with the others, she noted that his attention continued to stray to
Kelsey. Sure Kelsey had a killer body and she knew how to dress to attract but
did Lou have to be so obvious about it? Shouldn’t he be spending his time with
Jayme? After all, they were a couple, weren’t they? They’d been together over a
year but she hoped her earlier doubts didn't make him think the relationship was a
She wandered to the bar for a
refill. Taking the refreshed drink from the bar tender, she turned to find Lou
standing behind her. “There you are.” She smiled at him.
“Here I am.” He returned her smile.
“Are you having a good time?” He reached around her to set his empty glass on
the bar for a refill. As the bar tender mixed him a new gin and juice, he
wrapped one arm around Jayme. “I forgot my cell. I’m going to dash home to grab
it. I don’t want to miss any calls, you know. Could be big business.”
“I’ll go with you.” Jayme set her
glass down. Lou placed his hand around hers on the glass.
“No. You stay hear and enjoy
yourself. I’ll be right back. I promise.” The million dollar smile surfaced
“If you really want me to.” Jayme
felt abandoned. “Hurry back, though. I
don’t know that many people here. It’s awkward.”
He kissed her forehead. “You’ll be
fine. Twenty, thirty minutes tops.”
Before she could protest the length
he predicted, he’d downed his drink and melted into the crowd of party-goers.
* * * *
Twenty minutes stretched into thirty and then forty five. Jayme was getting
a little upset when Lou finally strolled through the door, a smile and a touch
of color that looked suspiciously like Kelsey’s on his lips. Heat flared up her
spine as she looked around for Kelsey. She wasn’t in the room. Jayme wondered
how long she’d been gone. She wondered but figured it was probably around forty
five minutes. She fumed as Lou walked toward her.
Jayme decided not to make a big deal out of it in the presence of so
many people she didn’t know. She didn’t want to cause a scene and mark herself
as a drama queen. She might have the opportunity to work with these people
professionally in the future. Better not to make a public display of the fury and
hurt she felt. She turned to the bar and collected a napkin, turning back to
wait for Lou to reach her.
He reached for her hand and moved in for a kiss. He was met with a
napkin over his mouth. The puzzled look in his eyes would have been comically
if it hadn’t been such a painful moment. He grabbed the napkin to complete the
motion of wiping his mouth. His gaze on Jayme, he asked, “Was there something
on my face?”
Jayme nodded as she took a long sip of her drink. She looked around the
room again, and noticed that Kelsey had returned. “It’s not your color,
either.” She remained calm on the outside though her insides were boiling.
Lou looked at the napkin, his eyes cutting from the evidence to Jayme’s
Jayme held up a hand. “Let it go, Lou. Not here. Finish up your party
and let’s go home… if you still live there.”
Lou stuffed the napkin into his pocket. “I was hoping to make this a
great holiday for you. I guess I blew it.” He turned to the bar tender and
requested a gin. Jayme blinked hard to keep tears from forming.
“You could say that. This isn’t what I wanted for Christmas, Lou.”
“Me either.” He took a long drink. “I only wanted to make you happy.”
They both stood with their backs to the bar, eyes sweeping across the crowd.
“Is there anything I can do to make it up to you?”
Jayme felt the bark of laughter trying to escape. She held it back.
“Sure. Give me that one wish that I’ve long wanted for Christmas.”
“A visit from Santa?”
“Right.” Jayme finished her drink and went in search of her coat, Lou
following silently behind.
* * * *
The ride home was slow. Lou didn’t seem to want to get there. Jayme
wanted nothing more than to get home, get into her warmest night gown and curl
up with a blanket to hold off the cold that ate at her. The snow on the ground
wasn’t the only chill in the car. Though the heater blasted warmth, it didn’t
make much difference.
She wanted to say something but was afraid anything she said would only
make the night worse. It was their first Christmas in the house. She thought
about the gifts she’d purchased for him that were gathered under the tree. He’d
deposited several for her and the tree looked wonderful, sparkling with lights
and ornaments. The sudden memory of the empty space now beside it marred her
attempt to cheer herself up. She’d forgotten about the missing furniture and
clothing. At least now she knew why.
They pulled up, waiting for the garage door to rise. Lou looked
straight ahead, and tapped his fingers on the wheel. When they’d pulled in and
the garage door closed, Lou killed the engine and sat back, his gaze remaining
on the wall before them. “I think we need to talk before we go in.”
Jayme groaned. “It’s cold out here.” She hugged her coat close around
“That’s okay. This will only take a minute.” He turned in the seat to
face her. “Jayme, we’ve been together for a long time. I don’t want to break
the trust we’ve built. I’m not going to lie to you. Kelsey kissed me.”
“That was obvious.” She rolled her eyes.
“The point is I didn’t kiss her.”
“Where were you when this assault on your person took place? If you’d
been with me, she wouldn’t have had the chance.” Didn’t he see that he’d made
the opportunity for Kelsey by being with her instead of with Jayme? Did he
really need his phone that bad or was that only an excuse to be some where
“That’s what I need to tell you. We were here.” He looked away.