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Part Nineteen

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For a moment Kate had taken in the sight of him greedily, he was like a mirage, an oasis in a desert, and she almost wanted to reach out and touch him, make sure he wasn’t an illusion. As his lips rolled up into the curve of a smile, she finally processed the fact that he was here, in front of her.

Then she reminded herself that she’d drunk dialled him three nights previously and she’d had no contact, no return call, nothing. He’d deliberately left her hanging on; she could now see that so clearly. If he was here for Christmas, he’d known he would be when she’d called, he could have phoned her, told her she’d be seeing him, but no. Had he wanted the element of surprise, wanted to wrong-foot her?

She didn’t know. All she knew was that she was livid!

                “Hey Kate. It’s so good to see you again.” He offered as some sort of olive branch.

                “’Hey Kate?’ You bastard!” she snarled. “You planned this, didn’t you? Let’s put Kate on the back foot again. I’m not some pawn in your stupid game Mason! This is my life you are screwing with!”

He raised an eyebrow, otherwise his face completely calm, “it’s not your LIFE I want to screw Kate...but then you know that.”

It was purely instinct that saw her hand fly up and aim for his face, but he was quick, and wise to her, intercepting easily. “Calm down or I’ll have to start calling you Kat!”

She could feel her nose wrinkle in anger, knew that she was baring her teeth, but she didn’t care. “Get out of my way. You’re so despicable!” hearing his snigger only riled her more. With a huff and a nose pushed in the air, she stormed past him, but was unable to ignore the words he breathed.

                “God you’re horny when you’re angry.”

Kate felt as though she were about to explode. She felt such contempt for him, but she couldn’t deny the effect of seeing him looking so good was having on her. Handing him a look that could kill, she continued into the elaborate hallway. As she unbuttoned her coat and made to hang it up with the others, a door opened from the lounge and Peter emerged.

In typical Peter fashion, he skipped across the hall, delight on every inch of his face, “Kate! I’ve been waiting for you to come FOREVER!” He announced before throwing his arms around her neck.

As she circled her arms around him in a reciprocal manner, she glanced up to see Mason, the sureness and confidence long gone. In fact Kate was almost relieved to see that spark of jealousy in his eyes.

Breaking the embrace with Peter, she allowed him to take her hand, and lead her into the lounge, babbling excitedly as they went. Christmas with the Wightman’s followed a similar pattern every year. Lots of alcohol in the morning, a very late lunch, then gifts during and after the meal. Every year there were four other guests after her, Peter and Clarissa, Margaret – who she now realised was Mason’s mother, Judith and Malcolm the nearest neighbours and their daughter Sarah, but Peter told her excitedly as she entered the heavily decorated room with the ornate tree and dozens of gifts, that the neighbours were in the Caribbean on a holiday. So it was just the four of them, plus his ‘wonderful’ cousin Mason, the pride in the words screamed of a rather ironic case of hero-worship, and she felt awful all over again.

Peter then excitedly pointed out all his gifts amongst the dozens under the tree. When Kate, after giving the appropriate amount of excitement turned around, Mason was lounging against the door frame watching the little drama unfold. Heat flushed her cheeks, partly through reaction to him; she’d never had anyone cause her to react like this, but also because he was witnessing the sham that her life was.

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