Christmas Eve is finally here, and while I look forward to tomorrow, I’ll miss the excitement and anticipation tonight will being.
Today’s post marks the last instalment of my Christmas story written just for you. If you missedd parts one and two, you can find them by looking at yesterday’s post.
Without further ado, let me invite you to read the ending of Where There’s a Will…
“I was sorry to hear about the accident,” he said as the limo moved along the busy Victoria street where houses shouted out their joy this Christmas. “I know how much being able to dance meant to you.”
“Thanks. Sometimes I think this is all a bad dream and like Clara I’ll wake up and it’ll just be a memory, but…”
“When life gives you lemons, you can either let it get you down or make lemonade and get on with it. You’ve never struck me as someone who’d give up easily.”
“If I were, I would never have made it. I’ll never be able to dance again, but I’ve got the memories and enough money to support myself for the rest of my life. I’m just not sure what I’m going to do with that life.”
“Coming home was the right decision,” he said. “Could you teach?”
“Ballet? I suppose I could, but I’m not quite ready for that yet.”
Their eyes met, and she could have sworn her heart stopped beating.
“You know, I’m a little disappointed about tonight,” he said, reaching out to take her empty hand, surprising her by the quick change of topic.
She cocked her head questioningly.
“I was really looking forward to carrying you out kicking and screaming.”
Brandi burst out laughing, the tension seeping out of her. “You wouldn’t have.”
“Maybe not,” he said and winked, “but we’ll never know.” He held onto her hand.
Within minutes, the limo pulled to a stop in front of the country club beautifully decorated for the occasion. There had to be several hundred lights wrapped around the pillers, pine trees and other trees and shrubs, and artificial snow gave it a wintery look.
“Wow! The club certainly knows how to put on the Ritz, doesn’t it?”
“Blame your sister. She’s the one who arranges the décor. This is her baby, as is the charity Valentine’s Day dance she hosts each year. Last year, Jane’s silent auction raised over thirty thousand dollars for the BC Children’s Hospital at this event alone. I happen to know that one item tonight has already sold for twenty-five grand.”
“You’re not serious?”
“I am. The purchaser paid the money this afternoon on the proviso the item would not be put on public display. He didn’t want to chance losing it.”
“Wow. That must’ve been some … what was it?”
She knew what that poster was. She’d signed and provided it herself. It was the one from her first ballet as the lead. Swan Lake, five years ago. Who on earth would pay twenty-five thousand dollars for a poster?
“Yup. Your sister is certainly dedicated. Wait until you see inside.”
“Without that hospital, my niece, Hope, would never have survived,” Brandi said. “Jane takes her fundraising responsibilities seriously.”
“Are you ready to face the lions?” he asked.
“As ready as I’ll ever be.”
“Don’t worry. I don’t plan to leave your side.”
“You don’t have to do that,” she said. “I’m sure you have friends here. I’ll be fine.”
“Don’t have to do it, but I want to do it.” He rang the doorbell before she could comment.
“You’re here and dressed for the occasion,” Jane said, when Jarrett escorted her into the club’s main room, all decked out for the festive season. “I almost expected you to back out.”
“I came close, but I figured you wouldn’t let me, and as I’ve learned on the way over, he would’ve dragged me here as you’d requested.”
“No,” he wouldn’t have,” Jane laughed, “but I’m sure he’d have tried to persuade you to attend. Now, come on over here and say hello to everyone.”
Brandi followed her sister into the room, leaning on Jarrett for support even though she clutched her cane in her left hand.
“You look wonderful, darling,” her dad said, kissing her. “How’s the house?”
“It’s great. You did a wonderful job.”
“Not me. Jarrett did all the work.”
“You didn’t say anything,” she said turning to look up at him, noticing the slight flush on his face.
“It wasn’t very much really—mainly redoing the bathroom and putting in sturdier staircases and railings.”
“Well, I appreciate it. I’m more solid on my feet right now, but when I’m tired and my back aches, I feel like I’ve danced all night.”
“Brandi,” her mother pushed forward. “Let me look at you.” She frowned. “You’re still too thin.”
“Mom, you saw me just last week. I can’t gain weight that quickly…”
“I know, but you’re even smaller than you were when you danced.” Her mother’s face turned a deep red. “I’m so sorry…”
“Mom, it’s okay. I used to be a prima ballerina. Now, I’m not. I’ve accepted that. You have to accept it too. We can’t keep dancing around the elephant in the room.”
“I know, sweetheart, but I didn’t want to be the one to bring it up.”
“Then let’s not talk about it anymore.”
Swallowing her pain, Brandi moved from relative to relative, friend to friend, shaking hands, answering nosy questions, and accepting their commiserations, until she was ready to scream.
“You look like you can use a break,” Jarrett said. “Santa’s on his way in, and while he visits with the children, let’s grab some air.”
“You’re a lifesaver,” she said wholeheartedly.
He led her down the hall to the back of the clubhouse and into the empty dining room that opened onto the terrace, a fairyland of lights and automated Christmas figurines. She stopped in front of the glass doors.
“Oh, this is beautiful.”
“Not as beautiful as you are,” Jarrett said. “I snuck this in here before I rescued you.” He pointed to the champagne bottle and two glasses sitting on the table closest to the French doors. He poured wine into two flutes, handed her one and with the bottle in his hand, offered her his other arm. “We’ve got about an hour before everyone piles in here to eat. Come outside. It’s even more magical there.”
Opening the doors, he led her to a rattan sofa and wrapped a blanket around her shoulders.
“I suppose they keep blankets out here for the guests?”
“Of course they do,” he deadpanned, making her giggle.
“You’re like a Boy Scout, always prepared.”
“You don’t know the half of it,” he said. “Look up.”
She raised her glance and saw the tiny clump of mistletoe he held high above her head.
“Merry Christmas, Brandi.” He bent his head to kiss her.
His lips were soft and tender and broke through the walls of loneliness she’d hidden behind for longer than she could remember. He slowly pulled away.
“I’ve been waiting more than ten years to do this,” he said quietly.
“But you never said anything.”
“What was I going to say? What could I have said? You were destined for great things and my place was here, but I knew you’d come home one day and I’d be waiting. You’ve always been my girl, even if you didn’t know it. The only thing that stopped me from coming to Toronto after the accident was Jane. She said I had to let you heal. I did, but I can’t stay quiet any longer. We’re on the verge of a new year, and I want you to be part of my life from now on. I won’t rush you, I just want you to let me in.”
Tears filled her eyes. “Consider yourself admitted,” she said smiling. Leaning forward, she kissed him. In the background Tchaikovsky’s familiar music played.
“If your parents named you after the song the first kissed to, does that mean we have to name our daughter, Sugarplum?”
She giggled. “No, but Clara isn’t so bad. Merry Christmas, Jarrett.”
He bent his head and kissed her once more.
Well, that’s it for me. Now, please drop by and visit all the Tuesday Tales for the remaining stories written just for you.
And may all your seasonal wishes come true.