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Fake Christmas Lexy Timms 2022/8/3 13:45:41

He glanced out the window. The sun was setting, a reflection of its red and gold rays bouncing off a wing of the plane. They would be in New York soon. But the thought of spending Christmas with a bunch of people while his wife pulled further and further away didn’t appeal to him.

“I also sent a message to your mom,” she continued quickly. “She wanted to know if she should send something to Nicholas Handel. Guess she had the same thought I did.”

“Great minds,” he said blandly.

“Anyway, I told her that it was probably best not to.”

He glanced back at her and raised an eyebrow. “You changed your mind?”

“Yes. I mean, you were right. Sending Nicholas and Francesca a card for Christmas was kind of a ridiculous idea,” she said. “And I don’t think sending a card to either of them would go over well. They’d probably think we were trying to rub their misfortune in their faces. I’m guessing they resent us enough as it is.”

“That’s the right call,” he said. “Wouldn’t want them to get the wrong idea.”

Her lips pursed. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means we don’t always know people’s motives,” he said flatly. “We think we know a person, but maybe we really don’t.”

She flinched. “What’s wrong, Dane?”

“Nothing.” Getting into another argument about Cameron wasn’t going to change anything. The unease about the guy was all his, and somehow he was going to have to get over it. “Haven’t gotten into the Christmas spirit yet.”

“You will. Just wait until we’re surrounded by all our friends and family.” Allyson reached for the fizzy drink on the table between them and took a sip. The frosty glass had been decorated with metallic wrapping paper and the drink topped off with a candy cane garnish. Exactly the kind of thing his wife would order and appreciate.

Watching her look over the glass with a smile on her face made some of his annoyance disappear. Here they were, on a luxury private jet, and the thing that had caught his wife’s eye was a decorated cup and candy cane. With Allyson, it really was the simple things. Maybe that’s what they needed to get back in sync. Some simplicity. If only he knew how to make their complicated lives less complicated.

“Your mother says she’s gotten you a gift you’re going to love,” she said. “Maybe that will lift your spirits.”

He gave her an incredulous look. “Don’t you think I’m a little too old to be getting excited about Christmas presents from my mom?”

“Gosh, it didn’t even occur to me, but you must have been impossible to shop for,” she said.

“You must have had everything as a child.”

“I did not have everything,” he said defensively.

“Oh yeah? What kind of presents did you used to get?”

Memories of past holidays flitted through his mind. “Nothing that unusual. Action figures. A television. I think one year I got a polo mallet.”

She threw back her head and laughed. “A polo mallet? What kind of present is that for a child?”

“I was fifteen,” he said. “I’ll have you know that I was a damn good polo player. I needed that mallet. I also got a horse the year before.”

She stared at him, eyes wide. “You’re actually serious.”

He nodded. “Oh, for my eighteenth birthday my parents bought me some shares in a local sports team. And an ice rink.”

Holding up his hands, he admitted, “Okay, maybe my childhood wasn’t exactly normal. What did you get?”

“Doll houses, stuffed animals. I think one year I got a chemistry set,” she replied. “But those presents were from Santa, not my parents.”

“I never got presents from Santa.”

An amused expression flashed on her face. “Why? Were you a badly-behaved boy?”

“Oh no, I was actually a pretty well-behaved kid, considering what a brat I could have been,” he said. “I just mean that I never believed in Santa as a kid.”

“You’re joking!” She was staring at him like he had just sprouted horns. “Why didn’t you believe in Santa?”