"We have to be on our way, kids. Time to bring our young man home," Samantha told them an hour or so after they'd arrived.
Their youngest son Damon had stayed with Dylan and Elaine again while Samantha and Pete babysat Rocky. The girls raced to hug their Nana and Papa goodbye.
More snow followed in the days ahead while things went on as usual in the Ottomas household. That is, until Meadow broke the news to Brian that she was again pregnant.
"Remember that especially romantic night we had at the cabin?" she prompted with an wry smile, "Well, we're going to have a sweet remembrance of that night, just like we have Rocky to remember Twikkii Island by. Brian, my love, we must talk. Either we have to quit going on vacation or one of us has to have something done."
This time Brian didn't even blink, he nodded and then returned her smile,
"Okay, how about this, then? You have the baby; I'll have the surgery. Because we're not about to give up vacations in this family...or anything else."
The snowy weather continued, Heath and the girls played outside and drank gallons of hot chocolate, Meadow taught Rocky another nursery rhyme and did laundry on a continuous basis; it never seemed to be done. Brian worked late hours at the club and during the day kept an eye on the house going up on the edge of town. Work had come to a halt a couple weeks ago but then suddenly the temperatures went up and the snow melted in a few days. The builder was able to finish the roof and they could now work from the inside. It was time for Meadow to peruse paint chips and fabric swatches. They already knew there would be hardwood floors almost throughout the house, but she had to decide on tiles in the bathrooms and carpet in one or two rooms. It was only a temporary respite and snow began to fly again only 24 hours after they'd finished the roof.
Then, suddenly, it was December. The school Christmas pageant, neighborhood open houses, and the Pleasantview Holiday Bazaar were all on the agenda. Brook helped her mother write out all the Christmas cards and Willow worked at learning to play "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" on the piano that Brian had finally moved back to the music room. Heath joined his father at shoveling snow, he was still little but strong and willing.They didn't have any more vacations planned for the immediate future and they would be in the new house in a couple months, it was hoped.
Now that Christmas was nearly upon them Brian made a somewhat tardy foray into the new toy shop to check out the hand-made toys for sale there. So far, he and Meadow had mainly picked up things like clothes and candy for the kids. They were very late in getting their Christmas toy shopping done. After he'd talked to the owner and proprietor, Bonnie Candeloro, Brian made a note of what was available. He'd seen several things he was sure the kids would want but he knew he'd better not buy anything without Meadow checking it out; she was the head Christmas elf at their house.
So Meadow headed up there early the next day while Brian stayed with Rocky and the kids were in school. While she was shopping, Lonnie Hammond ambled in to the store. Obviously he was Christmas shopping for his daughters. Meadow thought of going over and starting a conversation, but she lacked the nerve. Her conscience pricked her because Brian had been urging her for some time to talk to both Lonnie and Heath before Heath had his birthday. So far she had resisted this idea, even though she knew Brian was probably right. By now she knew she could live through revealing everything to Lonnie, but telling Heath would be the hardest thing she'd ever done and she couldn't tell Lonnie without telling Heath, really.
Telling herself that she didn't want to hurt the wonderful relationship Brian had with his son, she put off making a decision. That reason was not the whole truth though. It was true she worried about how Heath would view Brian and how upset he would be about Lonnie being his real--no, biological--father. The reality was that she couldn't bear to think of how Heath would react not only to the news of his real paternity, but also to the fact that Meadow had been furtive about the whole thing. Now he would know that his mother had been dishonest in the way that she conceived him. She was afraid that Heath would hate her for this secret. He adored Brian and would be so upset that Brian was not really--well, she could barely voice it to herself, let alone tell Heath. What would she do if Heath resented her or Brian? What if he wanted to meet Lonnie? Brian kept saying "one thing at a time", telling her not to project into the future problems that might not even occur.
Unfortunately for Meadow, even if things went well, she couldn't bear the thought of sharing Heath with Lonnie and his family. It was selfish and she knew it, but she was frozen in place with fear and guilt.
So when Lonnie's eyes happened to meet hers across the toy shop, Meadow merely nodded and smiled in acknowledgement. She would worry about it after the holidays...
The family had dinner on Christmas Eve at Brian's parents' house with Damon, Dylan and Elaine also in attendance. When they came home Meadow headed right to the kitchen to bake Christmas cookies while Brian made sure that the children were tucked in for the night. By the time she was finished she was so tired she fell into bed immediately even though Brian was still up and about. After checking all the doors he was getting a cold drink of water in the kitchen before turning in when he was surprised to see Santa Claus. He had not realized how late it was.
Evidently the kindly gent had already filled the stockings and left presents because he paid no attention to Brian but went after the cookies immediately. It was not long--what with his hearty ho-ho's--before the girls and Heath woke up. Willow was down the stairs first and looked into the kitchen, enraptured. For once she did not go charging into a situation; she was filled with wonder as she turned and saw all the presents under the tree and the lights twinkling magically.
It was Brook who, with Heath right behind her, came down and went right into the kitchen to stare at Santa.
Santa left as quickly as he'd appeared leaving behind only the crumbs on his plate. Brian herded the kids back upstairs to their beds and then headed back down to the master bedroom. Meadow and Rocky had slept through the whole thing. As he snuggled up to her she was all warm and cuddly with sleep. Starting to wake at his touch, she muttered his name.
"Go back to sleep, sweetheart," he whispered, "It's 2 am and all's well."
Next blog update: Brian Ottomas Ch. 12 Christmas Day at the Ottomas House