Yesterday, I published part 1 of this Christmas story. If you missed it, you can read it here. Part 1 Where There’s a Will…
Now, I’d like to invite you to read Part Two.
Two hours later, wearing a floor-length, chocolate-brown silk gown, that hid the scars crisscrossing her legs as well as the unflattering flat shoes, so like the ballet slippers she’d worn for years, Brandi stood next to the tree staring out the living room window, watching for her private chauffeur to arrive. Glancing at her watch, she saw it was after five.
Great. I’m being stood up by the date I didn’t want in the first place. How perfect is that?
She was about to call Jane when a black limo pulled up to the curb. The uniformed driver opened the back door and Jarret stepped out. Dressed in a dove gray suit with a charcoal shirt and a Christmas tie, he was as handsome as she remembered.
Moving out of the window, she reached for her coat and clutch, staring at her cane before deciding to leave it behind. Without it, after a short period of time her mobility would be limited, and she could use her discomfort as an excuse to bail early.
The doorbell rang.
Opening the door, she smiled. Standing there in all of his plus six foot glory was the one man who could still make her heart do flips. In the five years since the wedding, silver had peppered his dark brown hair, adding rather than detracting from his appearance. He was clean-shaven, the way she preferred her men. In his hand, he held a box.
“I see you’re ready,” Jarett said, stating the obvious, his hazel eyes conveying more warmth than she’d expected. “I’m glad you left your hair down. It reminds me of flowing lava.”
“Aren’t you afraid you’ll get burned?” she teased, fighting not to touch the copper curls cascading over her right shoulder, not sure whether the comment was a compliment or an insult.
“I’m hoping for it,” he answered cryptically. “I thought this might add to your holiday appearance, but you look perfect just the way you are.”
“I’ll bet you say that to all the girls,” she parried, reaching for the corsage of white roses with holly and pine. “It’s beautiful. Thank you. Can you pin it on?” She felt like a teenager going to the prom she’d never been able to attend. By the end of her last year in high school, she’d made the National Ballet and had moved to Toronto.
He reached for the corsage, pulled out the two beaded straight pins. “I’d forgotten how tiny you are,” he said bending down to attach the flowers to the left shoulder of her dress. “You know, if you’d stuck around ten years ago,” he continued as if he could read her mind, “I would’ve asked you to the prom. Since I couldn’t then, I thought I’d at least bring you the flowers, although I know you’ve been given dozens of roses over the years.”
“Yeah, but those were given to Alexandra Jameson. These are the first ones I’ve received in a very long time,” she answered, a tinge of sadness in her voice. This wasn’t the time to feel sorry for herself. She was over that, but the chances were, regret would come later once she was alone again. “Thank you.”
She didn’t comment on the prom, not because she didn’t want to, but because she was too stunned by his admission to say anything. Other than teasing her, he’d never indicated he’d been interested in her one way or another—of course, her life had been crazy back then. She’d barely had enough time to eat and sleep between school, ballet classes, and rehearsals for the ballet that had been her stepping stone to the top.
“I never understood why you danced under another name,” he said.
“It wasn’t another name; it was my middle name. The executive director thought Brandi was too kitchy for a prima ballerina.”
“I always thought it was cool.”
“You always made fun of it.”
“Maybe,” he admitted, “but it got your attention. I made sure no one else did.”
The realization that no one had ever called her by any other name but her own surprised her. Why had she never noticed?
“Why did your parents call you that?”
She chuckled. “It seemed like a good idea at the time, and given the color of my hair even back then, they thought it was fate. Back in high school, they’d dated a bit before my dad’s father was transferred to England. They kept in touch for a while. Brandi was the song playing when they first kissed and again when they kissed goodbye. When they met again fifteen years later…”
“That’s kind of romantic, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, but when Jane came along four years later, she got a normal name.”
He laughed. “Her name may be normal, but your sister is a force to be reckoned with.”
“Amen to that.”
He took her coat from her and draped it over her shoulders. Before she could stop him, he handed her the cane.
“I wasn’t going to bring it…”
“I know. Jane figured you’d leave it behind as an excuse to cut out early.”
Shaking her head, Brandi sighed. “She knows me too well.”
“Sisters should know one another like that. It shows how much they care.”
He waited as she locked the door, and then tucking her arm in his, he led the way to the limo, and helped settle her into the car’s luxurious interior. It wasn’t the first time she’d travelled in such a vehicle, but it was the first time she’d done it with the man she’d pined over years ago. If he’d asked her to the prom, would she have said yes?
“Thanks for picking me up,” she said, surprised when there was no one else in the vehicle. “Where’s your wife?”
“I’m not married—never have been. The girl I wanted wasn’t available.”
“I can’t believe that blonde from the wedding didn’t get you to put a ring on her finger,” she answered horrified at the peevishness in her tone.
What the hell’s wrong with me?
He guffawed loudly. “You must mean Destiny, my plus one at the wedding. She realized I wasn’t rich enough for her and married a Vancouver plastic surgeon three years ago.”
“I’m sorry,” she said, feeling like a fool.
“Don’t be. I’m not. I consider it a lucky break.” He sat back as the chauffeur poured them each a flute of of champagne—Dom Perignon—nothing but the best.
“Well, this must be costing a pretty penny.” She thanked the driver who’d handed her a glass and sipped.
“Actually, it isn’t. Destiny just didn’t stick around long enough. The limo belongs to the company, although I sprang for the champagne.” He raised his glass in a toast. “Here’s to us, old friend reacquainted at the most wonderful, magical time of the year. Sort of like your parents.”
“History repeating itself?” She sipped her wine again. “So, what is it you do that has a limo on the company payroll?”
“I own a construction company. The limo impresses foreign clients when they come to view my designs.”
“I see.” She wanted to say something witty, but felt as awkward and gauche around him as she had as a teenager. It looked as if her ability to dance wasn’t the only skill she’d lost.
Now, please drop by and visit Tuesday Tales for those with on-going stories. Don’t forget to come back here tomorrow for the final part of Where There’s a Will….