I went outside to cool off for a moment and found him standing on my verandah, leaning up against the siding, looking out into the woods. One hand was in his coat pocket, the other was wrapped around the handle of a large paper shopping bag, stuffed with wrapped presents. I didn't wrap these ones and I was sure I looked after everything. He already dropped off the presents for the children and I. We always exchange something. Besides vitriol, remembrance and bodily fluids, I mean.
What are you doing?
Stopping in to say hello.
We're heading out in an hour, Caleb.
I know. I just thought I would pop in, I won't stay though. You're having a busy day. I just needed to see you. Just for a minute.
Ben's Superman hearing led him outside and he pulled the door behind him.
What brings you here today?
He changed demeanor before my very eyes.
I'm headed to a few functions tonight but I wanted to drop off a few things I had set aside. I don't have much time so I'll leave these with you. He passed the bag to Ben and shook his hand. Merry Christmas, brother.
You're not coming to church this evening?
We'll see. I'll do my best.
Fair enough. Ben took the bag and retreated back inside to a raucous amount of noise.
Don't acknowledge my shortcomings, princess.
I had no intention of doing so.
You know, Bridget, they're very lucky. You're a gift. You know that?
I'm just trying to do the best I can.
I don't make things easy for you.
No, you don't.
It can't be helped.
Sure it could. And maybe you would be happier too.
If I made things easier?
If you did that I'd be alone. I don't want that.
You wouldn't be. You have everything to offer someone.
Except my heart.
It was never my heart you were after, you just wanted to take what Lochlan had. How does jealousy grow into this?
I didn't count on you.
He whispers the last word and I know our conversation is over. He's not going to give me the satisfaction of seeing him break. Not today. He moves in and wraps his arms around me tightly, kissing my temple, squeezing me hard against him. His coat is rough and I lift my chin up. He presses his head against mine.
Merry Christmas, Bridget. I am in awe of the beautiful woman you have become, in spite of all of us.
I shake my head. I want to fight but he won't. Instead he kisses me full on the lips.
See you tomorrow.
I nod. He is coming for the morning, because we put Henry first. Henry wants his dad there, then his dad's going to be there. Only Henry doesn't know yet. It's a surprise. I can be a grownup.
I can be generous.
I can be really freaking late for dinner. It's an hours drive. Goodnight. Merry Christmas.