ALL THIS TIME
Christmas Break spent in the Netherlands sounds like the perfect way for Charlotte Wright to relax with her best friend - until she sees the family that they'll be spending Christmas with!
Wolfram van der Waals makes no secret of the fact he isn't Charlotte's biggest fan, even though he's never met her before. A quitter may have given up on getting Wolf to like her, but Charlotte is determined to make it a very merry Christmas - and that includes getting Scrooge to crack a smile!
Her efforts blow up in her face and with Christmas soured, she has no reason to think of Wolf in the ensuing five years that she's spent establishing her matchmaking business in New York City. Until one day he makes her an offer too good to refuse...
A succession of memories begin an insistent slideshow in my mind, more effective than a time travel device or a polaroid.
Seeing Wolf's picture for the first time, being struck by his good looks, and more than that, the genuine friendship in his eyes as he and Xander posed for the camera. The way he looked when I saw him watching Xander and I hug at the airport, baleful and sinister. The way he caught me when I was slipping on the ice and the way he kissed me just because. The look in his eyes when I told him I didn't like him, but wanted to learn how to. All of us laughing on the way home from Efteling, like a Hallmark channel Christmas movie.
The question still haunts me. Is love something you can learn, like riding a bike? Only most people don't learn how to ride a bike by themselves.
There's a mother or a father there to encourage, push them along, run along behind them so the child didn't fall off in a moment of imbalance.
With Wolf, imbalance is all I know, and there's no one to catch me when I fall. There's only getting back up again, dusting myself off, and trying again, hoping to get two steps closer to him.
It strikes me then: Love shouldn't be this hard.
"Wolf," I say, the words strange and foreign in my throat, "I think, despite my best intentions, I've done something really stupid."
His face holds no judgment. "Tell me."
"I've gone and done the one thing you told me not to do."
Gray eyes implore me to continue.
I rip the Band-Aid off before I can steel myself. "I've fallen for you."
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