Friday, October 28, 2011

Harvey and Lori Ferguson Ch. 11 Christmas Day Pt. 1

This is  rather short first part to the chapter--Author

There was a light dusting of snow on the ground, like powdered sugar on a pan of gingerbread, as the all the grown children began arriving at the Lassiter home Christmas day.

Chelsea had enthusiastically jumped into Trey’s arms just as John went to greet Harvey, David and his girlfriend, Barbara. She was not usually so impulsive but she was so in love with Trey and happy on this holiday that she threw caution to the winds. Melora embraced Lori and scolded her for leaving her coat in the car.

“I’m just so hot all the time lately,” Lori complained, “It doesn’t even seem that cold to me.”

“That’s the baby keeping you toasty,” Melora nodded, “Well, come in the house and if you get too warm we’ll turn down the heat a little.”

This Christmas day, amidst all the merriment, there was a family secret, one that only John knew. A few weeks ago he had gone to Club Dante and said not a word about it to Melora. She thought at the time he was over at Jim Candeloro’s house. While he was there he ran into Lalique Flynn and thought she was the most lovely and intriguing woman he’d ever seen since he'd first laid eyes on Melora over 40 years ago. At first he didn’t realize she was the little Lalique who used to come over to see Grace with her older sister, Yvette, years ago. She'd lived right next door, in fact, and he’d often seen her in her yard when she was little. Yvette and Grace had been teenagers at the time, and Lalique had been in elementary school while Lori and Trey had only been toddlers. Evidently Yvette was expected to take Lalique with her sometimes when she went next door in those days. John had not seen her in years, though, or at least not noticed her. So he felt uncomfortable when he realized who she was; Melora and he were long time friends with Errol and Olivia. But that news didn’t keep him now from admiring her face and figure. 

John had once been quite a playboy years ago, but when he’d met Melora all that had ended; she was the love of his life. Advancing years, though, had been hard on his ego, which was like any man’s delicate and over-inflated ego--only more so. Part of him longed to have a young and beautiful woman look at him the way many women used to do when he was in his early thirties and even for some time after that.

Lalique had flirted a little with him that night, but she’d been doing that with every man there. Not in a vulgar way, but still quite definitely she was trying to entice. In fact, John had the impression on that particular night that she’d had her eye on Brian Ottomas, who seemed friendly enough to her. Since he was the manager of the club, it was his job to talk with everyone, but he wasn’t responding as though he was seriously interested and John sensed Lalique was working the room to satisfy her own vanity.The problem was; ever since that night John couldn’t get her out of his mind. She was single and he checked around town discreetly and found out that there was no man in her life currently, although she had given birth to twins not that long ago. It was disconcerting to John that she would pop up in his thoughts fairly often and when he least wanted it. It made him feel like he was cheating on Melora even though he hadn’t done anything. Christmas was no different and this bothered him even more. He was finally going to be a grandfather, his grown kids and his wife were all sitting around him and he didn’t want a sexy brunette who was way too young for him showing up even if it was only in his mind.

Meanwhile, the four young couples talked with each other and John and Melora about their new businesses, new plans and what might lay in store for all of them in the year ahead.

Out in the library with his parents and Chelsea, Trey mentioned he was currently in negotiation regarding a new place of business he wanted to purchase, but he didn’t want to reveal which one it was at that time—the deal was iffy and he was the superstitious type. Chelsea’s flower shop was proving to be a real success. Melora wanted to grow closer to her daughter-in-law and volunteered to help out at the shop should Chelsea needed it. She loved flower arranging.

Melora was suddenly struck by the sight of John who was seated right below a portrait of him at about 37. He had been almost too beautiful, Melora thought as she grew a little misty-eyed. In fact, she still thought he was handsome; but it gave her a jolt to suddenly see him suddenly compared to the man he was in youth. Sadly, she knew if he looked at the portrait of her hanging in on the other side of the door to the bedroom he must feel the same. The saying “old age is not for sissies” was not really a joke.

In the front room were Lori and Harvey, Grace and Devon, and David and Barbara. Grace was till working tirelessly at the hospital while Devon's latest book was due out in late January. David, the retired former chief of detectives of Pleasantview, was house-hunting, claiming his bachelor digs were just too small now. Barbara had run into some snags at her new beauty salon, but she thought things would smooth out soon.

Of course, the women were mostly concentrating on the impending birth of Lori's baby;
Grace was anxious to be an aunt and didn't mind letting Lori know it.

Harvey kept quiet about the two possible and separate career moves he'd been considering.
The conversation was pleasant and the air was filled with the delicious aromas of roasting turkey and Melora's holiday potpourri with cedar, hollyberry and cinnamon.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Harvey and Lori Ferguson Ch. 10 Christmas Eve

Harvey and Lori had been looking forward to Christmas Eve—their close friends Melanie and Gareth Caswell would be coming over for a good dinner by Lori, gift opening and maybe even some carol singing. Lori planned to make crown roast of pork for supper, with all the trimmings. She’d had the house decorated for some time and now that the evening was here she was really excited.

When Gareth and Melanie arrived it had snowed that day and they were stomping their boots to shake the moisture off as they came in the door.

“Merry Christmas!” Melanie cried.

Of course, immediately she just had to pat Lori’s baby bump and talk to the baby.

“She’s feeling Lori’s belly like a housewife who’s guessing if a melon is good,” Harvey joked in a low voice to Gareth.

“Eh, women,” Gareth replied, “They just have to have these little rituals.”

Harvey had noticed that for some reason Gareth seemed a little irritable tonight. Normally quite even-tempered it was odd for him to exhibit such behavior, at least when getting together with friends. But Harvey shrugged, everybody had their off days, even Gareth, he supposed.

“Hmm,” Melanie said shrewdly as though she were a midwife who’d been through this many times, “You’re carrying the baby all out to the front, must be a girl. Now if your hips were wider and your butt kind of spread out it would more likely be a boy…”

“What? If my hips were wider or my butt any bigger I’d kill myself!” Lori laughed.

“Say, Melanie, would you forget the crystal ball stuff—we want to open presents and eat,” Gareth complained.

Melanie rolled her eyes but smiled and sat down by Gareth where Harvey had placed Lori’s present to her.

After opening and exclaiming over the gifts they had exchanged, Lori went to the kitchen to finish her preparations.

"Should she be on her feet so much?" a concerned Gareth frowned as he asked Harvey.

Harvey replied,

"You know Lori. It's hard to keep her from anything she's determined to do and she's been planning this dinner for two weeks," then he only half-joked, "What's the matter--don't you think I take good care of her?"

"I'll go see what I can do," Melanie said quickly and headed to the kitchen, calling, "Hey, lady, could you use some help?"

Glenn glanced at Harvey and then looked away saying,

"Sorry, man, it's just that I know how tired Melanie got when she was pregnant and overdid things."

"No problem, I think Melanie will get the kitchen situation under control," Harvey paused and then added quietly, "Considerate of you to worry about Lori, though."

Gareth shrugged and changed the subject to the recent college football game he'd attended at Sim State U.

Finally the four of them sat down to supper, which turned out to be excellent, the pork was succulent and the apple-pork stuffing delicious. Glazed carrots, along with herbed roasted potatoes, cider gravy, tomato-onion relish, broccoli casserole and hot, fluffy biscuits completed the picture.

“This is to die for, Lori,” Gareth marveled while Harvey beamed with pride.

“You have to tell me how you did it,” Melanie agreed.

Lori shrugged,

“Actually everything I cook or bake is usually from my mother’s books or her show, but this happens to be my mother-in-law's recipe. I have her family recipe for ribs too, I'll have to make you some this summer.”

“Honey, you outdid yourself,” Harvey told her, “But not all your recipes are from your mother or my mom—what about that chicken and stuffing thing you made for me? And the Ambrosia cake?”

“Yes, you’re right, but I got those from magazines, sweetie. I’m learning a few new
tricks now and then, though,” she grinned.

After they’d praised Lori’s meal for a while the two couples  moved conversation out by the Christmas tree and it became a discussion of Gareth’s job. He’d just been promoted to Director of Athletics for the Tri-County schools. Melanie brought out the latest pictures of Scarlett they’d had done at the photographers and they gave a nice 5 x 7 one to Lori and Harvey, and told stories of how adorable and intelligent the baby was. The Fergusons didn’t mind—they knew that soon they’d be doing the same thing; assuming that no other baby was as cute or as smart as theirs. In fact, they couldn’t wait to be doing that.

Suddenly Melanie said, “Let’s have some music! Lori will you play?”

So they gathered by the new piano and sang Christmas carols for almost an hour.
They didn’t even hear it when Santa Claus sneaked in and delivered some gifts, but then Melanie finally glanced out to the living room and saw him just as he was leaving. She jerked on her jacket and ran to catch him, calling to the others as she did so,

“There goes Santa!”       

But she was too late. As she came down the steps to the walk Santa melted away at the edge of the property. Where his reindeer and sleigh were Melanie did not know but he was gone, surely to the next house on his list. She wondered who it was…

“It’s time we got home anyway, baby,” Gareth grinned, “Maybe we’ll catch him there—unless you haven’t been a good little girl.”
After they had gone, Harvey hugged Lori and told her what a great night it had been. Then he helped her with the cleanup before they went to bed.

Early, early the next morning while she thought Harvey was still sleeping Lori crept downstairs to turn on the Christmas lights and she leaned way over to tuck a few last gifts for him in the pile under the tree. As she straightened up with a grunt the baby gave her a good hard kick for what she'd just done thereby squishing him or her.

“Awww, poor little nubbins,” she crooned, rubbing small circles over the area where it felt like there was a little baby butt pushing against her skin, “Mommy’s sorry for cramping your style.”

Harvey heard her and smiled to himself. He was awake and pulling on his robe.

“I’ll be right down,” he called.

“Okay, I just turned on the coffee.”

Lori really didn’t care for regular coffee; she preferred to drink creamy sweet psuedo-coffee drinks with flavors like hazelnut or French vanilla, but because Harvey was a coffee purist she’d learned to make really good regular coffee from freshly ground beans. Harvey joined her downstairs.

“Honey, look up there,” he pointed to the living room ceiling where they’d hung mistletoe.

Lori took the bait—she’d forgotten about it—and he held her close and kissed her.
They actually did not have much time this morning—as soon as they opened their gifts they would have to get ready to go over to Harvey’s parents house for breakfast. So they had planned to only open up one gift each in the morning and then open the rest later that night. 

When Lori thanked Harvey for his gift: her favorite highly expensive designer perfume in a gift set (she’d given him an I-pad), he pulled her on his lap and put his arms around her.

It was probably the best Christmas either of them had known yet in their young lives, even including their first Christmas together as man and wife. Because this year they knew that their baby would be here soon.

“Just think, Harvey, next year at Christmas our child will be with us—and all excited about Christmas I'm sure!”

He smiled,

“Yes, and we’ll be showing photographs to everyone we meet whether they want to see them or not.”

“Oh, you’re so bad. I’m glad they showed us the photos and even more glad that we have our own photo of Scarlett.”

“I’m teasing, honey, I think she’s a beautiful baby.”

“I know. I just like to remind you how mean you are and that I’m really nice to make up for it,” she admitted with a laugh.

“I see. Well, what was that song your mother used to sing to you?” he reminded her.

“Why did my mother have to tell you that? It wasn’t a song anyway, it was a nursery rhyme.”

When she was a little girl her mother used to read the rhyme to her out of Lori’s Mother Goose book. Then, any time that Lori was misbehaving or pouting, Melora quoted it to her.

“There once was a girl who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead.
And when she was good she was very, very good.
But when she was bad…

“That’s okay, honey. I love you when you’re good and I think I love you even better when you’re horrid,” he gave her a wicked smile which, with his slanted eyebrows, made him look like a satyr—at least Lori claimed it did.  And it always made her giggle.

“Well, Daddy finally told me that it was the same song Grandma Elaine sang to her when she was a little girl--so this apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Anyway, I’ll get your coffee, and then I’m taking my shower—we’re running late now.

They would have to be getting ready to leave soon, and it would be hectic but merry over at their parents’ homes, but for this short while beforehand, the day was cozy and quiet.