Authors: Danielle Torella
Tags: #The Private Series
Both of us needing this, this force, this intensive connection, we keep it going as long as we can. Our bodies are learning from each other, I can tell when he is close by his and he can tell by mine. We collapse together at the end of it. Completely sated.
We lounge on the sofa for I don’t even know how long, he just runs his fingertips up and down my side. “What are we going to do with the tree?” I ask.
“Oh yeah,” he chuckles.
“Was I that mind blowing for you to forget?” I tease.
With a big smile, “Damn straight!”
Ben make-shifts a tree stand as I go through my boxes to find a strand of lights from my mini tree. We string them around the tree and we take a step back and look. “Needs more than just lights, don’t you think?” He asks me.
We spend most of the rest of the night stringing popcorn and finding little random objects to fill in our tree.
Our first tree.
Its Christmas morning. It’s a bitter sweet kind of day. Yes, it’s our first together, but… we go see Caroline in rehab today also. She has only been there for a couple of days and they typically don’t want a patient having visitors so soon, but its Christmas. Honestly, I don’t think they could keep out the Mitchells.
“What time did your father say to meet there?” I ask over my hot cup of coffee.
I nod, “Are you going to be alright seeing her there?”
“I have to be. How was it there when you took her in?”
“It was nice. Warm. I have heard about cold facilities who could give a crap about patients, but they … they seem perfect.” I assure him and it must have helped, because I see his forehead relax for the first time all morning.
Setting his coffee down on the breakfast bar, he walks off into the hall. Returning a few moments later with a wrapped gift.
Placing it down in front of me I ask, “What’s this? I thought we agreed no gifts?”
“Like I would ever not get you a gift for our first holiday together.” He slides it closer to me. And I feel like a shmuck, because I really didn’t get him a gift.
“But, I didn’t get you anything.”
“You didn’t have to. If you’d rather wait until after today, then it won’t be a Christmas gift…” He starts to pull it away, and I take it. Damn curiosity getting the best of me, as usual.
I tear into the bag and tissue paper.
“No. Freaking. Way!” I screech.
“I didn’t know they made pink camera lenses!” It’s a long distance lens for my camera.
Smiling at my excitement he informs me, “They don’t.”
“What do you mean they don’t? Where did you get this one then?” I am clearly confused.
He comes around the side of the counter and takes the lens from me and starts to explain, “Well, they don’t typically make these in colors. So, I contacted the company if anything like this was possible and they were mostly concerned with the components and if the paint would harm it.”
“So…?” I urge him on.
He hands me my bright pink lens and kisses my cheek, “I went to a professional who could pull it all apart, paint the casing and put it all back together again.”
“That sounds like an awful amount of trouble,” If I felt bad before for not getting him something, I really feel like shit now.
Seeing my look, he spins my stool and steps between my legs. “Hey, I thought you’d be ecstatic about this.”
“I am. I just feel awful for not getting you something, after you put so much into this for me.”
“I have you, that’s all that I need. You’re here for me now, the time I need you the most. You didn’t run off, because something scary happens.” He brings my face to his and lightly kisses me on the lips. A sweet kiss. “Now how about we get in the shower and get ready for the day?”
I nod, I hold up my beautiful pink gift and tell him thank you, “Can we have one more cup of coffee first?” I ask with a wink.
“How mean of a fiancé do you think I would be to deprive you of your
?” He asks with his panty dropping smile.
We are in the waiting area of the treatment facility that I was just in two days ago, dropping Caroline off. We get here before Jack and Gwen and they have free coffee so I get a cup for Ben and we sit and wait for them to arrive.
Ben is looking around and observing the faculty, judging how well they are here and if he can trust them with his sister. He is on guard.
I take his hand, “They are really great here Ben, don’t worry.”
Before he can reply he stands up when he sees his father and new stepmom walk in the door. He hugs them both and they hug me. Man, I will never get over how great it is to have a warm family, and I’m not even officially in it yet.
“Merry Christmas you two,” Gwen tells us and we return the greeting.
We are walked back into what looks like to be a cafeteria, but it has soft chairs and loveseats, with tables and coffee tables. There are already some families here to see their teen and young women for the holiday. The girls here aren’t forced to wear matching outfits, which makes me smile, because I know Caroline and her fashionista self.
We sit around a large coffee table surrounded with a couple of chairs and a sofa, a moment later Caroline comes gliding in. Ben rushes her and scoops her up into a big hug. My heart clenches.
She winces a little when he sets her down and he gasps, “Oh, I am so sorry I didn’t think about your arm … which is stupid, because of where…”
“It’s okay Ben.” She assures him.
He walks her to the gathering and everyone is starting to tear up and offer little smiles to keep spirits bright, but let’s face it, it’s a less than ideal way to see your loved one on Christmas day.
Caroline tells us about her schedule here and who she talks to and the activities they have her participate in. She doesn’t complain though. She doesn’t roll her eyes at the things she explains, not like how most would in this situation.
We stay for a few hours and the place has dinner catered in for everyone, which was really nice of them. Since she can’t be home for a family dinner we are here for her, like how it should be.
I notice a few girls sitting off by themselves and I nudge Caroline and nod in their direction, “Oh, them, they don’t have anyone. I have group meetings with them and they were dropped off here by a family member or by the state.”
“That’s horrible.” I feel awful for the girls.
One of the girls look over and Caroline, the sweetheart she is waves her over. The girl comes over slowly, and Caroline stands to introduce her friend. Everyone is very friendly to her and she sits with us for dessert.
It’s time for the families to leave and I wait for everyone to say goodbye first so I can talk to her for a second. “You know you can tell me anything right?”
“Of course Tess, your one of the few people I can.” She gives me a tight hug, “It’s actually nice here and the nice part is it’s a mini vacation form the jerks at school and well social media and my phone.” Her face is soft and I see her as relaxed as ever honestly.
“You know, most girls your age would have a meltdown if you took her phone and Facebook away.” I laugh.
Her face drops and she fidgets with her bandage, “Well those girls are the ones I am glad to have a break from.”
I give her tight hug and whisper, “I know. Hey, who has your phone anyways?”
“I’m not sure, I think my Dad. Would you just make sure for me, so I don’t have to worry about getting a new one eventually?”
I put a hand on her shoulder, “Sure thing. Love you C.”
We are back home, even though Jack and Gwen were trying to persuade us to come to the house for the rest of the evening, but we wanted time to ourselves. We open the door to the apartment and the glow from the tree is illuminating the living room. It’s a serene feeling in here.
Ben helps me with my coat and hangs it for me. We don’t need to speak right now to tell each other how we are doing. He glides through the kitchen and grabs a bottle of wine and two glasses. I sit on the sofa, with my legs up Indian style. I lean my head on the back of the leather and close my eyes for a moment, until I hear Ben behind the sofa, above my head.
He hands me my glass and joins me. I snuggle into his body and we just sit for a while like this, looking at the tree and just being.
“I cannot wait to use my new lens for work,” I confess, breaking the silence first.
He kisses the top of my head, “I am glad you love it so.”
I hear a funny ringtone come from one of the side tables, even Ben has this look of ‘don’t look at me, I don’t listen to that song’ I reach across and see an unfamiliar phone.
“Is this Caroline’s phone?”
His face lights up, when he realizes it. “Right! I forgot I grabbed it for her. I thought I’d keep it safe until she can have it back.”
“Oh, okay, well that’s good, she asked me if I knew where it was.” I look down at the screen and I see a photo of a daisy. Maybe she has a friend from school named that.
“Before I can set it down, Ben snatches it. “Hey! What are you doing?” I ask.
“If it’s a friend of hers, maybe she has some answers.” He slides his finger across the bar to answer the call, “Hello?”