Part Eighteen

8.4K 371 6

Christmas Eve passed far too quickly for Kate. It was the most time she’d spent with her mother in a long time. They shopped, collected vegetables, then stood and prepared the magnificent feast that was their Christmas Dinner. Stuart was out working most of the day, but by the time they sat that night for the meal at the elaborately decorated Christmas table in the little used dining room, he was dressed ready for dinner and already tucking into the wine. She was sat next to Stuart, her mother opposite and Paula next to her, and the atmosphere was more than strained. How had she not known that this had happened? She was such a rubbish daughter. Sighing she smiled at her mother.

                “Absolutely THE best dinner ever mother! Hope there’s enough for seconds?” her eyes twinkled and she was rewarded with a blush from her mother.

Her mother laughed, but before she spoke her brother snapped more aggressively than was usual for him, “well there would be if we didn’t have to keep the leftovers for a Christmas dinner tomorrow yet again you swan in and make the world change to meet your needs.”

Kate paused in her eating, and the whole room silenced. Looking up she saw the shocked expression on her mother’s face, the frown and uncertainty on her brother’s, and lastly the feigned shock and smugness on Paula. She may well have put him up to this, but Kate had to admit she had put the family out a lot over the years.

Turning back to Stuart she felt pain at the hint of animosity in his eyes, “Stuart, you know how things have been. If something happened to Paula you’d do whatever you had to to help her get better. That’s all I’ve been doing. Trying to help him.”

                “But Paula’s my wife, so that’s obvious!”

Kate shook her head sadly, “and I was going to be his wife, if he hadn’t almost died in an accident. I’ve apologised to Mum, I know things haven’t been made any easier by my actions, but if I had my time over I’d still do the same thing. To me it’s the right thing. If you can’t cope with me being around then I really should not bother at all, because last thing Mum needs is us arguing like this.”

Stuart suddenly looked stunned, Kate knew she’d been more candid than he expected, but he deserved that, “that’d upset her more.”

                “Then we agree to disagree!”

Their mother looked devastated at the cross words, so Kate made light of it, praising her mother’s cooking, admiring the new picture of their father that hung over the fire, and generally being the perfect dinner guest.

                “I still haven’t seen your wedding photos!” Kate announced before the brandy soaked Christmas pudding made its appearance. “Have you had them from the photographer?”

For the first time all evening Paula suddenly engaged in conversation, “they’re upstairs, do you want me to get them?” When Kate nodded the younger girl disappeared with a smile on her face. Kate’s mother smiled at her, appreciating her breaking the ice and involving Paula in the evening.

It did however backfire on her. As she looked through the dozens of images she admired Paula’s dress, Stuart’s photogenic pics, her mother, the bridesmaid group, despite the fact that she was a whole head taller than the others and upsetting the balance. Then there was more distant family, friends...and then Mason. She’d almost forgotten how he looked. She couldn’t imagine him when she closed her eyes any more. But here he was smiling up from a group photo, the dark grey suit, pale blue shirt and dark tie all immaculate, and suddenly she remembered ripping them off, she’d last seen that suit tossed in a heap in the corner of his hotel room.

Gulping awkwardly, she lowered her head, hoping that her blush wasn’t as obvious as it felt. Her whole body had heated at those rather detailed memories. Committing his face, the chiselled features, soft lips, and warm eyes to memory, she flicked to the next picture hoping no one could hear the heart that hammered so violently in her chest.

What about you?Read this story for FREE!