David moves his head when he hears the muffled footsteps on the carpet – Andrew entering the living room again. He nods with a stern expression, shoving up his glasses on his nose tip – kinda absentminded.
„I forced her to take one of those pills they prescribed her in hospital. Couldn’t take it any longer.“
He shrugs his shoulders, shivering slightly as if he’s feeling some icy breeze hitting his back. His eyes wander over to the fireplace. The decoration of holly glistens in the flickering light. The colourful Christmas socks seem somehow out off place now. He spent the last two days decorating the house to surprise her. There’s even a tree waiting outside in the winter garden – fully blazoned, candles and all.
With a deep sigh he gets down on his haunches and cuddles Basil who’s yelping and stirring in his basket, darting out his tongue and licking his hand.
„Would you come over here, Andy? Please?“
The tone in Dave’s voice lets him wonder and he follows the request, letting himself fall into the smooth leather cushions next to his mate. Fixing his view he seems to fall straight into an abyss – all the pain zooming back at him. There are no more words of explanation necessary. Moving even closer he opens his arms and within the next moment he already feels Dave shaking against his chest – closing his arms firmly around his back, patting him every now and then. It’s like with yawning – once somebody started with it all others have to follow and soon both men lean against each other, drowning in tears. Eventually theirs sobs die down bit by bit and loosening the grip they stare at each other with reddened, swollen eyes. Silently Andy reaches for the tissues and hand some over to David.
„Jesus, I never expected to end up in your arms one day!“ He tries a lopsided smile – a trace of tears still clinging to his long eyelashes. Andrew nudges him into his side and then starts to clean his glasses.
„I better leave that part to some blonde curly guy we both know so well – you more than I me thinks.“
„Thank you.“ David clears his throat. „Thank you, for being a true friend, Andrew.“
„Let’s face it – we both have fallen for this amazing woman – and now she needs us more than ever.“
David nods and nestles in his pocket, getting out his cigarillos.
„You mean – WE need each other more than ever. I can’t carry that load on my own – still have no idea how I could have stayed that calm on the way back from the airport.“
„I’m with you in this pain together – more than you possibly can imagine. And I’m pretty sure she does not buy it anyway that we were indestructable.“
He gets up from his seat and walks over to the side board, fetching some matches, throwing them over to Dave, who’s still looking for his lighter. He grabs them and tries to ignite one – with no success.
„Looks I’m getting another message. I better finally quit with these horrible little things.“
He dumps the pack into his pockets again and rises from the couch.
„It’s late – I better get over to me mom’s place, slipping into bed next to my lovely wife.“
Looking not really convinced he picks up his dark coat that he slipped over the rest of a nearby chair earlier, adjusting his long, black scarf.
„I’ll get you a taxi.“
„Fine. While you do so I just sneak over to check on her.“
When he silently opens the door to the bedroom he sees her tossing and tumming in the sheets, covered in sweat – making odd noises. Some sounding like her weeping, others are full of anxiety and distraught. He sits down at the edge of the bed, letting his hand gently brush over her face, moving away a few wet strands of hair.
„Baby, you’re breaking my heart! I know I should be with you here, holding you safe in my arms till morning, making you feel comforted – helping you carry the pain. Just I have some more close people to care and worry about. I’m really feeling torn just in the middle and it’s hard for me to keep to the shreds – fixing them together – not loosing my sanity. Angel, I love you – more than I ever expected – more than is appropriate in our situation – more than I can afford. Yet it’s like it is – I will be there for you – count on me!“
He merely whispered inaudibly – more to himself – yet it seems she must have heard him, or at least her subconscious. She seems to calm down, resting finally in a fetal position – her breath slowing down. He leaves a featherlight kiss on her forehead.
„Sleep, my Sivvi, rest. You will need all your strength, but I swear, it will be worth it.“
„Siv, you’ll catch your death!“
I stand there, on the patio – bare feet in the snow, just in my sleepshirt – gazing at the white flakes that dance around me – staring out into the nowhere – not realizing time and space. Andy drags me back inside, ushering me to the en suite bathroom, opening the hot water valve of the tub.
„God, your frozen to the bone already! What were you thinking?!“
„Nothing.“ Closing my eyes I try to be invisible again.
„No, you’re not doing this – no way you’re going down that path of self destruction!“
I wince when he gently pushes me into the steaming water.
„I talked to Dr. Ashcroft. He warned me about this post traumatic state and gave me some instructions. So you will do what I tell, you – OK? Otherwise I will have to book you into a clinic.“
I face him with big eyes now.
„Baby, you scare the shits out of me! Please, let me help you to come over it!“
He brushes cautiously over my hair.
„I’m going for some hot tea and breakfast now. Back in a minute.“
So this is Christmas eve day. I watch my fingers how they start to shrivel due to the constant wetness. Somewhere deep in my conscious I know I should fight. This is just not me – giving up so easily – but I’m so tired, drained and exhausted. It’s easier to let go – just drift away in suffering on my own.
„Hey, angel – no more tears.“ A warm hand touches my cheeks and then I sense the aromatic scent of spice tea.
„Here – you need to warm up from the inside as well. I put some of your fav pine honey into it.“
The hot liquid touches my lips and I cringe for a second due to the heat but it’s just the right temperature to pour it down slowly.
„Your sister called on your mobile. I told her you’re OK so far and you’d come back to her later. She seems to be a lovely person – nice voice.“
I nod imperceptibly.
„Andy, I’m sorry.“
„It’s alright, Sweatheart.“
„No, it’s not! Nothing’s alright – but I can’t...!“
Andrew interrupts me. „You can’t be superwoman, damn right! As much as I or Dave aren’t superheroes. We are all human – and weak at times. Don’t try to fix the universe. First, it’s not your job – secondly, it’s impossible – so stop trying!“
„It’s just...it’s Christmas and now look at us.“
His eyes seem to turn even bluer.
„Yes, it’s Christmas – and you’re here with me – the woman I’m in love with. What else could I ask for now?“ He reaches for the huge, white fluffy bathing sheet.
The toast with seville orange marmelade doesn’t taste really well – yet I eat it not to worry Andy even more. I for sure need to replenish some energies – if I want it or not.
„Want some bacon and eggs?“
He’s busy with a bowl and a frying pan.
„No, thanx – but help yourself.“ The smell of fried ham lets my stomach wobble but I try to fight the nauseous feeling.
„Meghan and Joe already up?“
„They’re over at Cindy’s...last minute gifts and stuff.“ He smiles. „Did you look at the clock recently?“
My eyes wander over to the digital letters on the microwave oven. Already 10.30 am!
„Well, it’s still not really bright outside.“
„Yes, and with all the snow still coming down.“
He sits down at the table now, puts down his large plate and starts tugging in. I pour myself another tea.
„Eat your fruit salad, luv. You need the vitamins – and I sliced it just for you.“
I sigh and dig the spoon into the medium sized glass bowl. Nibbling at a kiwi slice I stare out off the kitchen window again. Lost in thoughts again I sense his large hand covering mine, that is resting on the wooden surface of the table.
„Come, we’ll go out for a little walk with Basil.“
„Siv, I know you don’t feel like having lots of people around you at the moment, but we’re invited to Sylvia’s Christmas coffee table tomorrow.“
I raise my eyebrows, pulling the plaid closer up to my chin. Though the fire grants us a lovely warmth I still feel kinda shiver deep inside.
„To meet all the bleeding happy family?“ I’m not convinced at all.
„Last family gathering ended a little desasterous, as you might remember, Andy.“
„Argh, come on, Siv – that was Jack’s birthday.“
„Exactly – and this time there will be even more people. I will feel like an alien. How are you going to introduce me? Hey, this is lovely Siv – the one I share with Dave – the one that’s responsible for the tension in Dave’s marriage – the one that wasn’t able to keep his baby– the one that’s synoym for desaster?“ The one that even let his son fuck her.
There’s a moment of awkward silence and Andrew puts down his glasses.
„How about: This is Sibheen, the woman I love and want to share the rest of my life with?“
Before I can open my mouth again he closes my lips with his, dragging me into a tight embrace.
„There’s nobody going to harm or blame you for anything. That’s just you – trying to make yourself small and worthless. You are NOT!“
„I’m scared like hell to meet Jennifer.“
„Ah, that sounds different! You know, that’s quite understandable. Well, she won’t fling her arms around your neck in joy – but you recall last time you met? She’s a wise and strong personality. Are you afraid she’s going to make a scene just in front of all the others? She won’t – not with all the kids around. And she won’t tear you downstairs into the dark cellar to strangle you.“
He musters me and starts to grin slightly. „Though I’m not so sure if you’d be in for that if it would be the other way round.“
„Christ, Andy!“ I can’t help it to giggle. His dark humour just is infectious.
„Yes, that’s much better, angel!“
There’s a little knock at the doorframe and Meghan appears in the lounge.
„Sorry, don’t want to disturb.“
„Hey, this is your home – no need to tip toe, luv!“
The teenage girl smiles and comes nearer.
„Dad told us to be a little more discrete- you not feeling well.“
„That’s sweet though not really necessary.“
„Yeah, I’ll shut up, Mr. Fletcher.“
Meghan smirks now and winks at me.
„That’s just him – driving all around him nutz with his overprotective ways.“
She hesitates for a moments.
„You being such a geek with photos and stuff – I need your help with a little something...secret. Is that OK with you?“
„Sure, no problem!“ I move down the woolen plaid. „I just wanted to get up anyway as my stomach complains finally that it missed lunch.“
When Andy jumps up as well, I just shake my head.
„Yes – you are allowed to go into the kitchen and make us something yummy. Meanwhile I will help Meg with her little problem.“
Andy quickly hugs me and pinches my bum before he disappears through the doorway.
„Shall we go to your room?“
„That would be the best. Dad is way too nosy – and the surprise is for him. Do you still have your photo printer with you?“
„Yep, all my equipment is here.“
„Phew, cool! As we for sure won’t get any prints done in the shops now – obviously!“
I can’t hide a smile and follow her to her room. Joe is sitting at her desk, playing with the PC.
„So, what’s the big secret?“, Andy asks while collecting the plates and sticking them into the dishwasher. I lean back onto my chair, stuffed with pasta and tuna salad.
„Christmas surprise – my lips are sealed.“
He watches me from the distance and then the corners of his mouth curl up.
„You feel a little better, right?“
„Cause I managed nearly two portions of your fancy dinner?“
„Not just that – it’s in your voice and eyes.“ He places a towel back onto a hook and starts the wash program.
„No, thanx – not for me this time. I’m getting really tired here – perhaps I should sneak into bed early.“
The clock says 9 pm.
„OK, but before you need to come with me – I have to show you something.“
We’re heading to the front door. No idea what he’s after. Opening it some cold gush of air and swirling snowflakes meet us.
I follow the direction of his arm and am stunned. He must have exchanged the name tag above the doorbell. A shiny new brass plate catches the eye – bearing not just his name.
„Oh my god!“
He nearly squeezes me now.
„I told you, this is your home, too.“ He kisses me softly. „Looks, you need it straight into your face to believe it finally.“
„Shush, close your eyes. You need your sleep.“
I cuddle closer to Andy and he moves his arm around my waist.
„Don’t be afraid of nightmares – I will fight them all off.“
„Thanx, Don Quichotte. The windmills are all yours.“
„You switch your brain off – NOW.“
After a while of silence – the bedroom lying in the dark – I hear his accelerated breath. He seems to think I’m sleeping.
„God, Siv – I so much want to make love to you now – but I know you’re not ready for it yet!“
It’s just a very faint whipser yet a brass band couldn’t ring more in my ears at the moment. And again I feel a wave of guilt washing over me. I reach over with my hand and meet his stroking himself under the blanket. He stops immediately, obviously shocked.
„Andy, kiss and touch me all over, if it helps.“
„Jesus, Siv – I can’t use you!“
„Yes, you can. It won’t break me. I really seem to have forgotten that you need me as well.“
I take his hand and place it onto my left breast.
„Andrew, I love you. It’s not much I can offer you at the moment, but it’s freely given.“
I sense a weight shift on the bed and then some wet lips kissing over my chest, followed by his warm fingers.
„Leave out the light, please.“
He goes on pressing soft kisses all over my skin, fondling my breasts, teasing my nipples. I try to relax and enjoy all these sensations, yet my body seems to be still in kinda alarm mode. What if he can’t restrain himself after a while, being all worked up? I know how that feels and what’s going to happen then. Damn, this wasn’t a good idea at all! He seems to get these tiny messages though.
„Don’t be afraid, baby.“ He kisses me passionately between my thighs now and I let out a tiny gasp.
„I will just need a little help from you for my release.“
Moving up to me and meeting my mouth I can taste my wetness on his lips.
„Please, give me a hand job.“ His hot breath against my cheek.
I close my hand around his long, hard member and start slowly pumping up and down. He emanates a growl and adjusts himself in the sheets.
„Oh, yeah – that’s it!“
I increase speed and grip steadily and when I recognize the change in tension I quickly bend over and let his cock enter my slippery mouth. There’s the eruption. He’s twitching and shaking – yelling out his lust – and my name. Swallowing and licking him clean I finally move up the blanket again and rest my head against his heaving chest, listening to his fast breath and heartbeat.
„Thank you, Angel, thank you!“
He kisses me again.
„Merry Christmas, baby!“, I whisper.
„Yes, merry Christmas! It only can get better from here. You just have to believe in it.“, he breathes back.