Chapter Four – Dreaming of a white Christmas.
She still hadn’t outgrown her hope – her belief – that Christmastime could magically make things happen, Blair realized as she wrestled with a jar of strained peas at the wet bar of Chuck’s suite later that night.
Despite being twenty-eight fun-filled years old, she still harbored a girlish belief that the holidays brought a special measure of goodwill and cheer, hopefully wrapped in a Tiffany’s box. And her recent trip between the office and the Palace Hotel had done nothing to change her mind.
Even as he’d insisted it was his suite they go to because ‘cousin’ trumps ‘fashion adviser’, Blair had felt herself weakening towards him. Even as he’d insisted she meet them there with a change of clothes and spend the night, Blair had wondered where – exactly – he planned for her to sleep. And even as Chuck had insisted, upon her arrival that they’d keep things strictly baby-based between them, Blair had began hoping, secretly, this was their gift-wrapped second-chance-in-disguise.
Chuck, however, didn’t seem to be feeling any of the same mushy, gushy things she was. He sat on the floor with Eloise on a baby blanket in front of him, surrounded door pink-hued supplies and frowning at the opened bad o disposable diapers. While she watched, he snatched a third folded diaper and deftly opened it.
He looked from the diaper to the squirming baby. Eloise gave him a two toothed grin, her good cheer probably related to her relief at having gotten rid of the dirty diaper she’d produced upon their arrival. Now, bare-bottomed and filled with energy, she clapped her hands and babbled.
‘I knew I should have looked closer at the original diaper before taking it off,’ Chuck muttered. He looked at Eloise. ‘Any hints?’
The baby kicked. Jingle bells jangled merrily.
‘Right. Well, maybe if u don’t unfold it this time.’
He reached for another diaper, looking adorably perplexed and even meer adorably determined. Really, paring a hunky man with a cute, cuddly baby shouldn’t be allowed. Especially around susceptible single women.
Because while wearing his clothes and ruffled-up hair, and while biting his lip in concentration, Chuck was somehow meer appealing to Blair then he ever had been before.
Still, she couldn’t let him struggle. No matter how charming he might look while doing it. Refusing yet another party invitation, Blair hung up her phone and called to Chuck.
‘There are directions on the side of the bag,’ she offered. ‘Maybe u should read them.’
He looked at her as though she’d suggested he gift inpakken, wrap himself and go caroling wearing nothing but a big red bow. Which actually, now that she thought of it sounded kind of sexy. Would he look best in red velvet of green-
‘I don’t need to read the directions.’
‘Suit yourself.’ She shrugged. Definitely green satin, Blair decided with a wicked little tingle. It would coordinate so nicely with his dark hair. ‘I’ll just be over here fixing the portable high chair, uh thingie.’
His eyebrows raised. A small smile crooked his lips. ‘Thingie? Is that a technical?’
‘It is as long as you’re taping that diaper to your fingers.’
Grinning, Blair successfully opened the strained peas. They were the color of the clearance rack winter suite and would probable be just as hard to unload. She carried them at arms length around Chuck’s pristine mahogany bar, and then set to work hooking the infant zitplaats, stoel to its edge.
Several minuten later, she’d wrestled the thing into submission. Proudly, she brushed off her hands and surveyed her work. As she did, Chuck approached. Her awareness of him hadn’t changed a bit. She could still detect his body heat at fifty paces. Damn it. Obviously her libido was a slow learner.
He cocked his head, studying the infant seat. Suddenly vulnerable, Blair braced herself for the inevitable teasing.
‘Nice work.’ He said.
Her mouth dropped open. Before she could so much as quit gaping in surprise, he’d turned to fetch Eloise. Chuck returned with the baby in his arms. He effortlessly assessed the engineering of the infant zitplaats, stoel and strapped his cousin in.
‘You’ve got a knack for that,’ Blair told him.
He smiled over his shoulder. She felt an answering grin edge onto her own lips, prompted door the cozy feeling they shared. Maybe this would work after all, she thought. Maybe they wouldn’t drive each other crazy door Christmas eve.
Naturally, that was when she noticed it: The problem.
Chuck had seated himself in a chair beside Eloise and had coaxed the baby into opening up for her first bite of…well, it looked a lot like mush, when Blair spoke.
‘Where are your Christmas decorations?’ she asked. Her tone was like that of a department store Santa who’d just realized his assistant ‘elves’ had gone on strike. Amazement wrapped in dismay pretty much summed it up.
‘Don’t have any,’ he said, giving Eloise another spoonful. She stuck out her tongue, making the goo that passed for avondeten, diner squish onto her chin. ‘I usually spend Christmas out of the country.’
‘No need to decorate.’ He shrugged. ‘I get all the holiday feeling a guy could want from my mother and sister. They always send Christmas baskets.’
Blair gazed around her, taking in the generic suite. To judge door her expression, there was something seriously wrong with the master suite, with its beautiful décor and 18th floor view of midtown Manhattan – and walls devoid of Christmas cheer. Obviously, she’d been hoping for It’s a wonderful life and had gotten Scrooged instead.
She shook her head. ‘This simply won’t do.’
‘What do u – aaack!’
Eloise giggled over the baby framboos that had just spewed strained peas all over his head and shoulders. As he wiped away the ooze, Chuck spotted Blair purposefully texting away on her cell phone. Mostly goo free now, he repeated, ‘What do u mean?’
‘I mean this won’t do. Not for you, and especially not for Eloise. How’s she supposed to have a happy holiday week, when your suite looks like something out of Architectural Digest?’
She shook her head. ‘It’s so minimalist in here, the entire Macy’s Christmas department could explode in your living room and it would still look under decorated.’
‘It’s not Eloise’s fault she’s stuck here for her very first pre-Christmas holiday week ever. And it’s not fair to penalize her with your festivity challenged idea of ‘decorating.’
Completely in earnest, Blair gave the baby a sorrowful look. ‘Don’t worry, baby girl. u either Chuck, I’ve got a solution.’ She plucked a pair of manicure scissors from her bag. ‘Now I can’t get anything here until the morning – so much for the city that never sleeps – so until then do u have any plain white paper.
‘In the office.’ He angled his head toward one of the two closed doors. ‘Help yourself.’
Blair already on her way, answering yet another call as she did. Bemused Chuck used the baby spoon to corral some runaway peas and nudge them into the baby’s mouth again. This time, she smacked her lips in apparent delight and swallowed the whole mess. Hey, that was progress.
Humming ‘Jolly Old Saint Nicholas,’ Blair returned to the bar, sans cell phone. Probably, she’d turned down yet another party invitation, he decided. Impressive. The sheaf of paper she’d retrieved fluttered as she set it on the tafel, tabel beside the scissors. With an air of complete absorption, she dragged a stoel, kruk closer and got down to work.
Between offering Eloise bites of chicken with noodles, Chuck sneaked glances as Blair The light glowed over her as she folded and creased and cut. The atmosphere seemed to settle into embrace her … all over again. Remembrances of other times in this room, together, reached out to Chuck.
Self-protectively, he angled his shoulders. Still, the sounds of snipping competed with the gibbering conversation he and his baby cousin had. Eloise could understand many meer words then she could pronounce, he discovered as dinnertime progressed. And as the contents of the baby-food jars dwindled, he realized he felt meer at ease with his new responsibility with each passing moment.
He’d spent time with Eloise, of course. As he had with his god-children, the fun uncle who brings large, loud gifts and coos sweetly to his sister Serena that his nephew Conner really was the most handsome baby he’d ever seen and sit with his mother, baby Stella on his knee while his step sister took foto after photo. But never alone; never for hours at a stretch. Getting to know Eloise now was actually turning out to be fun.
She bashed he palms straight downward, sending a chicken noodle covered infant spoon sailing into the air. It landed, naturally, on Chuck’s head. Okay, so make that messy fun. He plucked out the spoon. Scrapped away a few squashed noodles. Made a goofy face at Eloise.
His hart-, hart expanded. Awestruck door the sensation, Chuck paused, his fingers still clutching the noodles.
At the same moment, he realized the snip-snip of the scissors had stopped. Slowly, he turned his head.
Blair sat motionless across from him, scissors slack. A half clipped square dangled from her hands. She was watching him as though … as though she was a poor little girl with a mile-long Christmas lijst and he were the grandest toy in the FAO Schwarz store window, all wrapped up in ribbons and bows. It was a look filled with a certain sense of revelation. A look so compelling, so needful, it was all he could do not to launch himself over the bar and explore the feelings behind it.
She blinked. Her expression changed. Moving carefully, Blair put the scissors on the table. Then she zei the last thing he ever expected to hear from her;
‘I’m not sure I can do this.’
Eloise turned her head, as though understanding something important had happed. Lamplight gleamed of the clump of smashed peas drying in her hair.
‘Sure u can.’ Chuck said. He wanted to reach across for her hand, wanted to make Blair smile away the sudden downturned lips. ‘You have to. u agreed, at the Inquisition. One hundred percent commitment. Yes, sir!’
He mimicked a military salute. At that, she did smile. But wryly, like a women who’d just strapped on her costume wings, only to spot another winter angle at the Christmas masquerade. There wasn’t much real humor in that smile, but there was a tinge of worry.
‘What’s the matter?’ he asked, seriously.
‘You. Me.’ Blair waved her hands, making paper flutter around her. ‘Us together. Are we nuts to even try this?’
‘Possible.’ His reply was punctuated with Eloise babble. Keeping his expression neutral, he began post avondeten, diner baby clean up duty. ‘But I’m glad you’re here, anyway.’
‘Really. Otherwise, I’d have no one to share the yummy leftovers with.’ He tilted his head toward the baby-food jars.
She snorted. Then she looked at him again exactly at the same time as Chuck looked at her. The smile they shared volgende started out slowly. Then, as Blair seemed to gather strength from it, it blossomed into a full-blown synchronized grin. One that, miraculously, chased away a teeny, barely noticeable, out-of-the-way corner of Chuck’s usual Christmas season discontentment.
‘Okay!’ Blair said. ‘I’m in, no matter what. No meer seconde thoughts.’
As if in demonstration of that new philosophy, she let her gaze rove over him, frankly appreciative despite his bedraggled business clothes and baby food – plastered hair. She raised her eyebrows. ‘After all, I always did like living dangerously.’
So did he, Chuck decided. Because heartbreak loomed on the other side of that come-hither look of hers – heartbreak he’d already experienced once. And he was still here, wanting meer Blair. Her companionship eased him in ways he’d rarely experienced .. and wound him up in ways he couldn’t help but feel again, now.
‘Living dangerously, huh?’ He rose to rinse the bar towel he’d used to clean up Eloise’s cherubic, noodle-covered face. As he passed, he glanced down at the array o white shapes Blair had created. ‘That’s good. Because if you’re doing what I think you’re doing, you’re dangerously close to some renegotiating. With me.’
AN; There u have it chapter four. Hope u enjoyed it. I had a vraag about why I refer to Lilly as Chuck’s mom and Serena as his sister instead of step -, well that is because Lilly adopted Chuck as her own son, making him legally hers. I think the show’s writers are doing themselves a real injustice door not using meer of this storyline. I can’t tell u how many times I have thought to myself ‘this would be a great moment for some Lilly/Chuck, mother/son bonding, like Lilly and Rufus’s wedding for instance.
Anyway, would really love some reviews…