H shrugged. “My mother told me that it was all a bunch of nonsense.”
“Dane, promise me you won’t do that to our kids,” she pleaded.
“You want me to lie to our kids?” he asked.
“I want you to give them a sense of wonder,” she replied. “Teach them to have an imagination. Besides, it’s possible that Santa is real. You said it yourself: some things are true even if people don’t believe in them.”
He let out an exaggerated groan. “Trapped by my own words.”
“Promise me,” she begged again, sounding positively horrified that she even had to ask.
Placing a hand on his heart and raising the other, he said solemnly, “I promise not to tell our kids that Santa isn’t real.”
“You had better warn your mother, too,” she said. “I don’t want her ruining Christmas for her grandchildren.”
“Oh, so you finally found something to criticize her about.” He chuckled.
“Promise me, Dane,” she said sharply.
Hand on heart again, he said, “I solemnly swear to make sure my mother never tells our children that Santa isn’t real.”
“Right, because that isn’t true or accurate,” she said. “Santa is real.”
He stared at her. She was dead serious. The look on her face made him laugh. “Allyson, what am I going to do with you?”
“You’re going to love me and cherish me forever and ever.” A sudden, delighted laugh escaped her. It was such a beautiful sound. High and clear and pure. Like she was laughing from her soul. He had missed that sound terribly.
They talked for a little while longer until Allyson began yawning.
“Why don’t you go take a nap?” he suggested.
“I am kind of tired. Been a busy week.” She yawned again. “Are you sure?”
“Of course, I’m sure,” he said. “You deserve to rest. I’ll wake you up before we land.”
She got to her feet and approached him to give him a quick kiss. “Goodnight, Dane.”
“Goodnight,” he said as she slipped away to the bedroom. “Sleep well.”
He focused his attention on reading the newspaper, making sure to go over the business section carefully. When he finally set the newspaper down, he heard the captain’s voice over the speakers.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. and Mrs. Prescott... this is your captain speaking...” The captain’s voice trailed off. Then the captain said the words Dane had never wanted to hear. “We seem to have a bit of a problem.”
His stomach knotted as he followed the flight attendant to the cockpit.
The pilot and the co-pilot nodded a greeting to him.
“What’s going on?” Dane demanded.
“There’s a snowstorm over the Northeast that’s bigger and more violent than anticipated,” the captain said. “We won’t be able to land in New York City.”
He swore under his breath. Allyson wasn’t going to like this one bit. “Where are we going to land instead?”
“We can turn and head toward Richmond, Virginia,” the captain answered.
“Are we going to be able to get out of Richmond once we land?” Dane asked. “Maybe take a train or a rental car?”
“The city of New York is basically at a standstill for the next twenty-four hours at least,” the captain replied. “A state of emergency is probably going to be declared. People have been advised to stay indoors. Non-essential travel is basically impossible.”
“If it isn’t an emergency, forget it,” the captain informed him.
With travel to New York now impossible, it looked that they weren’t going to be getting home until at least Christmas Eve. Which was cutting things close in regard to their Christmas plans. “I don’t think my wife’s going to want to spend the next twenty-four hours in Virginia.”
“We’ve got to land somewhere,” the co-pilot said.
A sudden idea seized him. He knew a way to salvage this trip and make his wife happy. “Wait. Do we have enough fuel to fly further south?”
“How far south are we talking, sir?” the pilot asked.