Also by Cat Nicolaou,
an excerpt from her book
Sealed by a Kiss
Two months later, on Christmas Day, Jenny woke up in the crack of dawn and started the preparations for the family gathering: her kids, the grandparents, a few aunts and uncles and their children, and herself…alone…again.
She hadn’t seen Nick for two days. Now, that schools were out for the holidays and the kids were at home, she couldn’t sneak out in the mornings to meet him; and the kids still knew nothing about her relationship with him.
She missed him terribly and she was really upset because he had told her that he wouldn’t make it to her Christmas feast. Although he had originally agreed with her idea to announce their relationship during the gathering, he eventually told her that he was going to be with his parents. He even suggested then that it might be best to wait a little longer.
Jenny couldn’t stop worrying after that. She was constantly thinking that Nick had found another girlfriend and he was spending Christmas with her instead. Besides, during their last date, he had seemed aloof, as if he wanted to tell her something but then regretted it and changed his mind.
He hadn’t called her at all these past few days. She was so used to his night calls that she was even having trouble sleeping now, without listening to his voice saying ‘good night, sweetheart’. She sighed and wondered if she had made another big mistake in her life. Had she been a victim to his charms or of her own need to finally find true love? She didn’t want to give this dream up, however. Despite all her doubts, she wanted to believe that Nick was the right man for her.
She let out another sigh. I’ll wait then, she thought. What else could she do after all? She would cook, try to have fun with her family without spending too much time thinking about him and if he didn’t call her by nightfall, she would, just to see his reaction.
A few hours later, her kids woke up and ran to the living room to find their presents under the Christmas tree. That had always been Jenny’s favourite time. She loved to see happiness set on her children’s faces, and they always rained her with kisses and hugs to thank her.
“Mum, this is for you,” Rita and Helen said in chorus, giving her a small box from a nearby jeweller’s.
She carefully opened it and grinned ear to ear, seeing the pair of earrings she had spotted one day she and the girls went by the store. Her daughters jumped in joy with the happy look on their mum’s face.
“George, did you get mum anything?” Helen asked her brother.
“I’ll give it to her later,” he said indifferently, continuing to play with his new video game.
The doorbell interrupted them then and their first guests arrived.
At about one o’clock in the afternoon, a luscious meal was set on the table. Everyone was seated and Jenny was filling their plates like a proper hostess. The kids’ jokes had them all laughing and she was delighted with the festive atmosphere at her home. Her mind strayed for a second and she wondered what he might be doing.
A knock on the door halted her thoughts and looking confused at her guests, she asked if they were expecting anyone else.
“I’ll get it,” George said and ran to the door.
Jenny almost dropped the platter from her hands when her son returned in the room with their new guest.
“N…Nick,” she stuttered.
“Mum, I brought you your gift,” George told her with a sly grin on his face.
Jenny was gaping at them both. She couldn’t speak or move; her mind was racing, trying to understand what was going on. What was Nick doing there after he had said he wouldn’t come? And what was the gift her son was talking about?
“What? … How?” she managed to utter finally.
Nick approached her, took the platter from her hands, laughing at how tight she was holding it, and placed it on the table beside them. He grabbed her hands and looked at her intensely.
“Jenny, we will explain everything but first I have to give you your Christmas gift,” he said and reached into his pocket to take out a little box. “I know it will seem untimely to you, but I think it’s the perfect opportunity now that all your loved ones are here. Besides, the man of the house has already given me his blessings,” he added, winking meaningfully to George.
Jenny was in a dreamlike state. She was watching Nick, oblivious of her surroundings. She saw him opening the box, taking a gold ring out and putting it on her finger. She wondered how he knew her exact size. It fit perfectly and it was so beautiful and sparkling. She couldn’t avert her eyes from it.
“Jenny, can you hear me? I’ve asked you to be my wife,” he said, shaking her hand gently to bring her back to reality.
“But how?” she asked, staring at her son.
“I talked to him a while ago, explaining the situation between us,” Nick started, “and then we came up with a plan together.”
“But you couldn’t even stand being in the same room with him,” she said to her son again.
“We finally worked things out,” George replied. “Besides, I want you to be happy too, mum.”
Jenny hugged her son and tears flooded her eyes. She looked at all the smiling faces of her family and then her gaze drifted back to Nick. She thanked God for the second chance he had given her to start her life again next to a man who really loved her. She could feel it now; she could see it in his eyes.
“Well?” he asked. “Will you marry me?”
She fell into his arms without a word. A tender kiss sealed her new life…