Part Twenty

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By the time Kate had finished her second drink she was far more relaxed, and far less angry. Everything Mason had said made sense, she knew she would’ve been angry if he’d started to pester her before she was ready, and if she’d known he was going to be here for Christmas she would have tried to worm her way out of coming. She didn’t like the fact that he seemed to play her so well, but play her he had. Now he was lavishing attention and time on her and it was going to her head.

                “So don’t your family mind that you’re not with them for Christmas?” The words shattered the cocoon of deep thought she’d settled in.

Looking up at Mason she smiled, he was such a beautiful man he was a pleasure to look at, “I’ve not spent Christmas with them since the accident I don’t think. I was there yesterday, it was a compromise. But in answer to your question we have had several rows about it, even yesterday!”

He nodded knowingly, “but this is the last year?”

It was half question half statement of fact, and she knew if he was still in her life then he’d not allow any other outcome. “I haven’t told my mother everything on so many levels, but I have told her that I’m going to be around more. My father died a year ago, this is my mother’s first Christmas without him...I should’ve been there.”

                “But you spend your life trying to please others so what you want doesn’t happen.” It was a simple summary of the last five years and she nodded, feeling those telltale tears well. They were never far away when Mason was about.

                “I did what I thought was right Mason, please don’t beat me up over this anymore.”

He smiled, “I don’t want to beat you up, I’m just still trying to work out why you’ve done it all these years. It doesn’t seem the most logical thing to me. But I’m glad too that you’ve decided to change that. It’s not a healthy relationship Kate, him taking everything and giving nothing back.”

She sighed, for so many years Peter had been a constant reminder of everything that she’d done wrong. And now? The guilt was still there, in some way, but just how much penance can one person serve? She was starting to realise that she had suffered a long sentence. She needed to regain some of her independence whilst she was still young enough.

                “Mason, it is what it is. Can’t we just get past it? I can’t stand here and justify things to you that you probably won’t understand. As I said to my brother just last night, if I could turn back time I’d do the same again for him, and that is all I can say about it.”

Mason watched her, the determined bottom lip, the defiance in her eyes, she was begging him to question her, she was spoiling for another fight, and whilst the thought of verbally duelling with her excited him, they had to get through a formal dinner when they got home and he couldn’t manage that if he was desperate to win the battle by dragging her into bed, because that was what this was. An unspoken battle for control of the relationship that seemed to be developing. A rather exotic and erotic level of foreplay. He didn’t care whether she thought she was the winner or not, he just wanted it to continue.

As they left the pub and started the walk back, Mason linked his fingers through hers. They both wore gloves, which made the contact decidedly less electric, but she didn’t pull away and they settled into some sort of truce, at least until later. He ignored that thought; they had to get through dinner first.

Back at the house the smells of roasting turkey, stuffing, honey roast parsnips, delicious gravy all assaulted the nostrils in a very seductive way. Feeling like the Bisto kids now that the alcohol had fuelled their hunger, they both threw off their outer clothes and followed their noses to the dining room.

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