Christmas used to be a time of joy for me, but since my mother's death three years ago the holiday has lost all meaning, becoming nothing but a harsh reminder of what I've lost. I've become bitter and skeptical of everyone around me, and the cold aloofness has kept me from being hurt that deeply again. But this year the thought of yet another blue Christmas alone sends me on a path that will change my life forever.
Somehow, I managed to fall into a restless sleep and before I knew it the nurse came in to wake me up and bring me breakfast. I scowled at her as she raised my bed and set the tray on the table before me. I grimaced at the dried out eggs and hard toast. There was no way I'd eat this so I just pushed the table away. "Where are my clothes?" I demanded of her.
"They're in the closet over by the bathroom, dear. Everything you came in with is in there." She made a notation on my chart at the foot of my bed and then left the room.
I wanted to be gone before Carter got there. I slid from the bed, gripping the back of the gown closed. Cold air slipped under the hem and I winced at how chilly the tile felt on my feet. Everything was where she’d said. I bundled my clothes together and headed into the bathroom to get dressed. Maybe I underestimated Carter because when I came back out, he sat in the same chair from last night, a magazine propped open on one knee.
He looked up and smiled. "Ah, good, you're already dressed. I took the liberty of going into your apartment and grabbing a coat for you since you were brought in without one last night. Also the little girl who lives next door to you wanted me to tell you Simba is okay and she'll take care of him until you get home."
I tightened my lips into a flat line. "I'm not going anywhere with you. I'll take a cab home."
"Don't be ridiculous. I'm already here and besides we have to stop at the lot and pick out a tree. Oh, I went by my parents' house and snagged some of their decorations. My mom has so much of them she insisted I take some of hers." Carter stood and held out the jacket. It was my favorite one, the one my mom had given me the year before she started to get sick. Though a little worn in some places, it still provided enough warmth against the chilly winds and snow.
"Thank you," I said stiffly. "But I really don't need a tree or decorations."
Once again, he didn't listen to me and waved away my refusal. "You can make me dinner on Christmas Eve and we'll call it even."
I shook my head and started to tell him no once again when the door opened and one of the orderlies came in with a wheelchair. "I can walk," I protested.
"Hospital policy. Please have a seat, Mr. Lords. You'll be out of here in no time." The orderly gestured to the wheelchair.
With a sigh, I gave in and settled into it, embarrassed once again. Carter just silently followed along, a smile on his face. Once the papers were signed and I was outside of the front doors, I got out of the chair. I stepped in the direction of the nearest taxi, but Carter grabbed my arm and led me toward the parking garage. "I can walk on my own," I said, disturbed at his touch and nearness.
"Of course you can. I just wanted to make sure you were heading the right direction," he soothed. He stopped at a red pickup truck, unlocked the passenger door and opened it, waiting for me to get in. I glared at him, but slipped into the front seat. I breathed a sigh of relief to be out of the cold air, huddling deeper into my jacket.
Carter loped around the front of the truck and slid into the driver's seat. Christmas music played from the speakers when the engine started. I crossed my arms and turned my head to stare out of the window as he drove.
Meet J.R. Loveless
J.R. Loveless is a native Floridian who spends her days in an office physically, but mentally is frolicking between the pages of her imagination. Writing has been a lifelong passion for J.R. and she has pursued it from an early age, even winning awards in school and finally beginning her life as a published author in 2010.
She is a self-confessed Potterhead spending her days with her three furbabies and enjoying the major chapters on her long journey through life. One day she hopes to visit far off places and have grand adventures like those of the characters in her stories.
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