Chapter Six – It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…
Geez, Blair was skittish all of a sudden, Chuck thought. He watched as she taped a paper snowflake to the window, then stood back to judge the effect against the shimmering lights outside. She hadn’t sat still for meer then two minuten at a time. Not since he’d held out his hand to her and mentioned their ‘unfinished business.’
He’d been referring to the paper-snowflake-cutting lessons she’d promised him of course. But Blair’s shocked expression when he’d explained as much has sent him on another course. One of wondering what she’d been thinking of.
Could it be possible Blair had been hoping for… more? meer closeness, meer intimacy, meer from the reunion they’d stumbled into? He didn’t know, and he….
Her cell phone rang. With a practiced gesture she answered it. After a few seconds, Chuck heard the same gentle refusal she’d been giving all night.
‘Nope, sorry. I’m busy tonight. Out of commission.’ A pause. ‘Probably all week, actually. Maybe I’ll see u on Christmas eve?’
A few meer nods, some chitchat as she applied extra tape to a snowflake on the window. Then Blair zei good-bye. This time, before flipping her phone closed and putting it away, she turned it off.
Chuck stared. He’d never known Blair to deliberately cut herself off from potential socializing. Seeing her voluntarily check out oh her social whirl was like seeing Santa turn up clean-shaven and buffed-up unthinkable.
Seeing Blair now, so close and still so far away, made him realize how much he’d missed her. She’d been wonderful with Eloise. He still didn’t understand some of her reasoning’s, like the her Barbie philosophy, but Chuck couldn’t dispute her surprising effectiveness. Blair unfailingly managed to cheer up his cousin, to comfort her and bring a smile to her chubby little face. Watching the two of them together was enlightening.
So was watching her transform his windows.
A few feet away from his position as the bar, Blair steeped away from the window with a flourish. ‘What do u think?’
He examined the paper blizzard. ‘I think it’s terrific. Very Christmassy.’
‘And I think u should come over here, like u promised and help me .’ Chuck raised the paper and scissors in his hands. ‘My snowflakes keep falling apart.’
She bit her lip. She hesitated. Then she cautiously took a seat.
He dragged her chair closer. Their shoulders touched.
In response, Blair jerked. She laughed nervously.
‘It’s been a long time since we were alone,’ she said.
‘Believe me. I know.’
Her gaze lifted. Something sparked between them, something familiar and intoxicating. Something sweeter then Christmas cookies, spicier then cinnamon sticks, brighter than a star. For some reason, the song ‘I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus,’ spiraled through his head. Chuck looked around for some mistletoe.
Blair spoke. ‘I’ve been thinking. Since we’re going to be together for the volgende few days, we should have some kind of game plan. Something to keep us on the straight and narrow.’
‘The straight and narrow? Nah. It’s overrated. I just decided.’
‘I mean, something to keep us apa….’ She paused. Regrouped. ‘Busy as possible.’
‘Busy.’ He waggled his eyebrows teasingly. ‘I like the sound of that. Busy doing what?’
Kissing leaped to mind. So did caressing, talking, laughing, snuggling beneath a nice toasty blanket, making up for lost time….
‘Making a really wonderful pre-Christmas week for Eloise,’ Blair said. ‘Showing her lots of neat holiday stuff, getting a Christmas tree, decorating…’
Confused, Chuck gestured toward the window.
‘There are lots of Christmas things we haven’t even touched yet. The boom in Rockefeller Center. Visiting Santa. The Macy’s Christmas windows. Shopping for gifts.’ She brightened, sitting up straighter. ‘I’ll bet I can find just the right thing for you!’
Gift shopping. Oh, no. Like a reindeer facing a foggy Christmas eve without Rudolph, he froze. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to find great gifts for the people he cared about. He did. It was just that … well. He was terrible at actually doing it. And Chuck hated doing anything he wasn’t good at.
‘Do u have’ – he swallowed hard – ‘a wish list, of something?’
Blair waved her hand. ‘Oh, u don’t have to get me anything!’
Oh yes he did. No man was idiot enough to buy into that line. At least Chuck wasn’t. ‘I want to.’
She smiled. Seeing her happiness, he really, really wanted to.
‘Let’s concentrate on Eloise for now,’ Blair said. ‘Okay? While I was decorating the windows, I came up with a lijst of holiday things we could do together. Lets see….’
Forging onward with tinsel-bright enthusiasm, she ticked off one Christmas-related activity after another. Chuck’s head swam with visions of evergreens and flashing lights and fruitcake and stockings and…
‘Pin the nose on Rodolph?’ he asked, raising his brows.
‘It’ll be fun! I promise. So, are we in agreement?’
‘To give Eloise the best pre-Christmas week ever?’
She nodded, eyes shining.
‘Sure. Why not?’ Grinning, Chuck picked up his paper snowflake, which looked meer like a deranged doily, and set to work again. ‘If we’re lucky, I might even remember meer Christmas carols to sing.’
‘On seconde thought…’
They both smiled, cozily together amid the drifts of paper scraps. Then, with a businesslike are, Blair grabbed a fresh sheet of paper. Folding and cutting rapidly as she spoke, she said, ‘Here’s how u make a snowflake. u cut here, fold here, cut some here, unfold and…voila!’
‘Voila?’ But his hadn’t even…
‘Voila.’ Covering her mouth with her hand, Blair yawned noisily. Her chair scrapped as she stood. ‘Well, I’m tired. It’s off to bed with me. Here I go I’ll just get some linens and a blanket from the closet. No, don’t get up. I remember where everything … I mean, everybody stores spare bedding in the closet, don’t they?’
He gaped after her. Before he could so much as stand to help make up her temporary bed, Blair had outfitted the sofa like a vintage hemelbed and was rummaging through her overnight bag.
‘I should have offered u the bed.’ Chuck paused a hand through his hair, watching her. ‘But now with Eloise sleeping in there…’
‘That’s okay. I don’t mind.’ She straightened, something roze and flimsy in her hand.
At the sight of it, Chuck’s interest…and interested parts of him…perked up. ‘Okay. Thanks.’
Blair turned ‘I don’t mind that u didn’t offer. I was going to take it anyway.’ She smirked. ‘See u in the morning, Chuck. Sweet dreams.’
He lingered, imagined the slide of that delicate roze fabric against his skin as she come to him, imagined the wondrous impact of Blair’s body joining with his as he stripped it away. She would smile when he looked at her, the way she always did. He would –
‘Do u want me to turn out the light for you?’ She turned away. Not quite smiling. Disappointed, frustrated with his own inability to resist her, Chuck just nodded.
It wasn’t until he reached the end of the sofa – and heard Blair sigh – that he realized that he wanted to follower her. He smiled. Maybe, just maybe, there was hope for them yet.
Alone in the dark, Blair finished shedding her clothes. She cast them aside. Pulled her roze night overhemd, shirt over her head. And sighed. Two conflicting thoughts assailed her:
Whew! That was close.
I wish Chuck had followed me.
Not that his leaving her alone wasn’t what she’d intended, all along. It was. After all, being alone with him would only make her want him more. It would only make her wish for more, only make her hope Christmas contained enough magic to overcome their differences. And that was ridiculous, wasn’t it?
All Chuck was interested in was work. Work, work, work. Not her, not life, not fun. When she’d entered his office to get the paper earlier, Blair had realized immediately his workaholic ways hadn’t changed a bit. Architectural plans still littered every available surface, interspersed with contracts and out dated uithangbord straat journals. Awards lined the walls, evidence of his dedication.
Signs of anything non-work-related had been nonexistent, and not just in Chuck’s office. His whole suite seemed a testament to how little tie he spent there … bare walls, spotless functional furniture, no embellishments save framed family foto's and a few plants. Probably, Blair thought as she turned over in his bed, Lilly had put the photo’s up and he hired a service to keep the greenery thriving.
He’d been amazing with Eloise, though; she had to admit it. Caring, thoughtful, funny. With his tiny cousin, Chuck had cut loose. He’d worked to figure out what the baby needed. He’d made time to be with her.
To Bair’s surprise, Chuck had even arranged time off from the office for both of them, lasting until Christmas, if necessary. Listing to him make those arrangements with his assistant, she’d hardly been able to believe her ears. Honestly, Chuck taking time off was like….like Charlie Brown scoring the biggest, fancies Christmas boom on the lot: highly unlikely.
She and Chuck were so different from who they had been ten years ago, so different from each other. So why, Blair wondered, did she still want him back?
u love him, her hart-, hart whispered. u do.
So? Smacking her pillow, Blair turned over again. So what if without Chuck, she felt like a Christmas ornament with no bough to rest on, like a festive wreath with no door to hold on to? That didn’t mean she was just going to cave in.
Losing him had hurt. And losing him all over again would be even worse. Until she found some evidence he’d do meer this time than squeeze her into his life between meetings and lost weekends, Blair intended to do all she could to resist Chuck, and all his charms.
Piece of fruitcake, she assured herself. After all…how irresistible could one man possible be.
AN; Thanks for the reviews. Hope u are enjoying your holiday seasons. Please review!