“No, we can’t.” He stood up. “I’m going to check upon Chef Durand. Maybe eating something will lift your spirits.”
“I doubt it,” she said.
Forcing aside his annoyance, he headed into the gourmet kitchen to check on Chef Durand’s progress. Minutes later, the chef brought out their dinner and served them at the dinner table. With dinner served, he walked back to the kitchen, leaving Dane alone with his wife.
She took a seat across from him and looked down at her stewed pork. “It really does smell good,” she admitted.
It did. Dane dug in. Though the food was good, eating in such tense silence with Allyson wasn’t exactly his idea of festive.
Still, it wasn’t going to do any good being upset with her. He hadn’t been all that excited about the prospect of Christmas in New York, so she deserved a little leeway with her feelings now. Even if it did sting to know that his plan to spend their holiday in the tropics didn’t sit well with her.
“What kind of things do you usually do with your family for Christmas?” he asked.
She shrugged. “Exchange gifts. Sing carols. Drink eggnog.”
“I don’t know about the eggnog, but we can do all that other stuff here,” he said.
“Yeah, but it’s not the same,” she murmured.
“It’s not,” he relented. “But what if that’s the beauty of it? All over the world people celebrate Christmas differently, and that’s what makes it so great.”
Her expression softened. “It would be nice to learn about how people celebrate Christmas here. I mean, Christmas is probably beautiful all over the world. It’s not bad or wrong just because it’s different.”
“I just miss my family,” she said. “I was really looking forward to both of our families spending time together for the holidays. That’s the thing about Christmas—we don’t know where we’ll all be in the future, but at least we know for this Christmas we’ll be together. Or at least, I thought we would be.”
He took a big gulp of fruit juice. “You never know. The weather might still clear up and we’ll get back to New York before Christmas Day.”
Allyson lowered her eyes and her entire body seemed to wilt. “With my luck, I doubt it. No, Dane, I think we’ll be spending the holidays here at the villa.”
“Relaxing might do you some good,” he reminded her.
“I don’t want to relax.” Her voice rose, the agitation unmistakable. “If I wanted to relax I wouldn’t have decided to organize Christmas. Now it’s looking like we’ll have to cancel everything, and that takes organization, too, believe it or not.”
“You need to organize a cancellation?” he asked, baffled.
“Yes, of course I do,” she said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world. “The caterers are coming over tomorrow so that we could both taste the final product. It took forever for me to find the right caterers. I had to make sure the food was something everyone would like. It had to be the comfort food my family would like, but somehow appeal to your family, too.”
“Makes sense.” Getting the right food had probably been a serious undertaking for her. While his parents would have been content to eat caviar, her parents wouldn’t have known what to make of it all. Sure, her parents sometimes tried a little too hard to seem like they had adjusted to Allyson’s newfound wealth, but they were still middle-class people. Caviar and escargot wasn’t exactly the type of food the Smiths had on their traditional Christmas menu.
“And,” she went on, “it would have been great for your side of the family to finally meet Owen. He’s my nephew, but he’s yours as well, Dane. You might not be related by blood, but you’re family now. This was our first chance to make real connections as a family.”
“We can still try to do that,” he said. “If we make it to New York too late, we can try to find a weekend to celebrate Christmas—”
“No. Absolutely not,” she interrupted. “Christmas is Christmas. There’s no replacement for it.”
Unwilling to give up, he suggested, “How about New Year’s?”