The Heart Wants Those Magic Moments

Lena tried her best to keep her composure as J.D. stared at her from behind his desk. She could feel his stare everywhere, and it made her burn.  She took a deep breath and looked up. He was on the phone, but his eyes were trained on her. She let out the breath and looked back down at the paperwork in front of her. She could not let him do this to her. She had someone to come home too. She had someone that counted on her. She had someone…someone…her thoughts wavered. She had to look at him again. She slowly raised her head and saw that he was standing now still on the phone looking through a file cabinet in his office. Her eyes traveled looking at his dark brown hair, his green eyes, his soft lips and then his angular bearded jaw as it moved in frustration. She smiled as her eyes traveled even further down. His striped shirt that covered his broad shoulders well. His jeans…Annabelle stopped cold. She shook her head as if it could clear her thoughts away.

“Stop it, Lena. You can’t think that way about your boss.” She whispered to herself looking back down at her work.

“Thinking what way Miss Daniels?” a deep voice asked. She jumped at the intrusion. She looked up into his green eyes and smiled appropriately. She prayed he did not know what she was thinking.

“I need to stop thinking about this paperwork,” Lena said half heartily. She knew her answer was lame but sighed in relief when J.D. accepted her answer.

“Paperwork is the bane of our existence,” he replied smiling at her. “Can I see you in my office, please?”

Lena nodded and followed J.D. as he closed the door behind them, slowly locking it tight. She stood near his desk as he closed the blinds, shutting the two of them off from the office. They both looked at each other. It had felt like hours before J.D. made the first move. He grabbed Lena’s hand and pulled her closer to him. Gently taking her head in his hands, he laid a kiss on her lips that shook her to the core. She felt her hands wrap around his neck to pull herself closer to him. They broke apart to take a breath.

“I’ve wanted to do that all day.”

Annabelle stopped. Her eyes glazing over. She continued Lena’s thoughts in her head. She knew what she had written. She sighed and let her head fall onto the table with a loud ‘thunk.’

“Ow,” She said aloud to no one. She knew she had to write this. To get Ethan out of her head. His looks. His voice. His concern. His advice. His annoying ways. The way he smiles. The way he moves. The feel of his beard on her cheek. His eyes. His lips.

“STOP IT,” Annabelle yelled aloud to herself. She raised her head and ran her hands through her hair. She needed to stop thinking this way. She needs to write it and then burn it. Just to get it out of her mind. This was one piece of writing Ethan didn’t need to see. She looked up at Lena and J.D. in mid-embrace. She felt her jaw go slack.

“Oh my God,” Annabelle said noticing something different about J.D. His eyes had changed from brown to green but most importantly of all, J.D. sported a beard that he never had before. A panic grew.

She saved the small piece of writing under a different name and a different file. Never to be seen by anyone but her. Taking a deep breath, she shut her laptop and watched her two characters carefully. It was like watching the beast turn into the prince. J.D.’s green eyes and new beard disappeared into thin air as he dropped his arms from Lena.

Annabelle let out a sigh of relief as her little secret died the minute she closed that laptop.  That relief short lived as she realized what had just happened.

“Shit.”

“Let me guess? You don’t like what you wrote again? God, why can’t we get a creator that knows what she is doing?” Lena asked walking away from J.D. to lean against the kitchen table towards Lena.

“Why are you so bitter? I don’t write you that way.” Annabelle asked her earning a shrug in return.

“I like being bitter.” Lena announcing letting out a loud laugh.

“Why don’t you guys start dinner. I know J.D. wanted to try out a new recipe.” Annabelle responded, rolling her eyes in response. J.D. smiled at her as he turned towards the kitchen.

“Should we expect Ethan?” Lena asked with interest. Annabelle looked up startled at the question.

“No. Not tonight. It’s guys night with Eli and Jack.” Annabelle said getting her wits about her.  Lena raised one eyebrow before giving Annabelle a lazy smile.

“Right. Guys night.  Not like Ethan hasn’t ditched that before for you.” Lena said getting J.D.’s attention.

Annabelle sat up straight, her fingers messing with the top of her laptop. “Don’t make me lift this back up and have you do the Macarena for hours on end.”

Lena let out a laugh before winking at Annabelle. “J.D.! Buddy. Let’s make some dinner!”

As Lena distracted J.D. from the conversation Annabelle didn’t want to have, she laid her palms down on the top of her laptop.

“Shit.”

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Men in Santa Hats

It was the week before Christmas. Most people would be out shopping, rushing to get the last perfect gift for their friends and family.  That is not what Annabelle is doing. She is sitting in a bar, an elf hat on her head, gripping onto a beer bottle.  She let her brown eyes scan the bar around her.  Her mother was at the end with three of her friends taking shots, Elizabeth was closer to the live band, reindeer antlers adorned on her head as she swayed to the music. Lena sat next to her a sour look on her face.

“This is pathetic.”

“We haven’t even started yet. This is the meeting point for everyone.” Annabelle explained taking a sip of her beer. “Get a drink and relax. It’s going to be a long night.”

Lena gave Annabelle a look before calling over the bartender.  Annabelle swung herself around on the bar stool to watch Elizabeth sway to the band who were playing a rock version of ‘O come all ye faithful.’

“Who is paying for this?” Lena asked loudly as the bartender made her vodka soda for her.

Annabelle turned around in her chair to look at the bartender. Leaning in she whispered, “Men in Santa Hats.”

The bartender nodded and walked away to take care of another customer. Lena looked at Annabelle a big smile growing on her face. “Is that how I should have been paying all this time? Why have money?”

“No. It was set up in advance. Each bar we go to will have that code. They will bill my mom later.” Annabelle explained taking a long swig of her beer.  Lena raised her glass towards Sarah in appreciation before downing her drink in a few gulps.

“Bartender!” Lena called out all excitedly as the bartender made his way back to the two girls. Lena leaned in suggestively towards the bartender. “Men in Santa Hats.” The bartender winked at her as he took her glass.

“I need to reevaluate how I’m writing you these days,” Annabelle muttered under her breath as she finished her beer. As the bartender came back with Lena’s drink, Annabelle pointed to her own. The bartender grabbed her beer from the cooler without breaking eye contact with Lena.

“4.50.” The bartender said to Annabelle leaning against the bar towards Lena.

Annabelle stared at him in amazement. She had ordered from him just five minutes before. She looked around quickly to make sure no one was close enough to hear. “Men in Santa Hats.” She said flatly. The bartender didn’t respond.

“She’s with me,” Lena said to the bartender moving in closer across the bar.

“Who is me?” The bartender flirted back.

Annabelle sat there for a moment before grabbing the beer from the bar and slipping off her seat. “Jokes on him. I have never written a sex scene with her in it. God knows if she knows what she is doing.” Annabelle muttered as she walked towards Elizabeth on the dance floor.

“HEY!” Elizabeth yelled over the music. The band was now playing ‘Hotel California, ’ but Elizabeth was still swaying to a nonexistent beat.  Annabelle playfully rolled her eyes as Elizabeth put her arm around Annabelle’s shoulder forcing her to sway to the music with her. Annabelle laughed as they swayed to the music, the band appreciative of their participation. Annabelle felt herself relax for the first time today as she took a sip out of her beer bottle.

“Annabelle! ANNABELLE!” a screeching voice came from behind the two, Annabelle tensed up, dragging her beer bottle back to her lips, chugging what is left.  She moved away from Elizabeth and made her way over to her mother, who was flanked by two of her best friends.

“Hey, mom,” Annabelle said as she walked over with her empty beer bottle. She placed it on the bar.

“Annabelle? Your buddy is keeping the bartender busy. Can you get him to come back over here?” Sarah asked with a big smile.

Annabelle gave a strained smile back as she looked down at the other end of the bar. Lena was practically sitting on the bar now as she twirled her hair and batted her eyelashes at the bartender.  He was talking animatedly about something that Annabelle was sure Lena didn’t understand.  She was like a newborn in so many ways. Taking a deep breath she walked towards the two of them, trying to work out a way to get the bartender back to her mother and her friends.

“Hey, bartender guy,” Annabelle said as she walked up. Lena looked over at Annabelle with a disgusted look.

“Annabelle! We are in the middle of something here.” Lena said through gritted teeth.

Annabelle cocked her head in amusement. “Do you want me to call J.D.?”

Lena’s demeanor changed as she hopped off the bar.  She gave a brief smile at the bartender before running off towards Elizabeth.  The bartender yelled after her.

“Who is J.D.?” The bartender asked giving Annabelle a confused look.

“Her husband.”

“She didn’t have a ring on.”

“Yeah well, I’m not there yet in the book,” Annabelle responded leaning against the bar. “I’m going to need you to go back down the bar towards those three ladies. They will be giving this fine dive bar lots of money tonight so you better start sucking up for a great tip.” Annabelle told him, slightly surprised at her candor towards the stranger.  Looking confused he nodded at Annabelle as he made his way towards her mother. Annabelle watched as her mother mouthed a ‘thank you’ before giving the bartender her order. Annabelle felt herself smile.

“Lena, that’s not how normal people dance,” Elizabeth yelled before falling into hysterics. Annabelle couldn’t take her eyes off her mother. She was proudly showing off her ring to the bartender, a bright smile on her face as he took her hand to look closer.  She hadn’t seen her mother that happy since she was a little kid.  Her mother let her hand drop to her side as she grabbed her Cosmo to take a sip.

“You don’t have a drink.” A voice asked breaking Annabelle’s thoughts.  She turned towards the voice and came face to face with a stranger. He looked like the guys she saw coming out of the frat houses in the morning.  Skinny jeans, a button up shirt and meticulously styled hair.

“Nope. I don’t.” Annabelle answered.  The bartender made his way back to them grabbing a beer from the cooler underneath and handing it over to Annabelle. “Now I do.”

The stranger laughed as he took a sip of his drink. “So, what brings you here?”

“It’s my mom’s bachelorette party,” Annabelle told him pointing over at her mother at the end of the bar.

“Congratulations are in order then. What are the plans for the night?” the stranger asked leaning in closer to Annabelle. Annabelle leaned away.

“We are just hanging out here. Maybe we will bar hop around. It’s all up to the bride.” Annabelle told him taking a swig of her beer. She saw the other two bridesmaids walk through the door, their hats on their heads, Annabelle waved at them as they passed, hoping they would stop. They didn’t.

“Sounds like a fun time. Excited to have a stepdad?” The man asked moving in even closer to her.

Annabelle gave a polite smile and moved back. “What are you up to tonight?”

The guy sighed and looked down at his drink. “I’m waiting for some friends. Decided to get here early. Check out the talent.” He said, winking at her.

Annabelle tried to keep her polite smile up. “Talent?”

“I have to admit, I didn’t expect to find anyone, but I see things are looking up.” The stranger said to her with a low voice, moving closer again.  Annabelle let her smile fall, her mind scrambling to find a way out of the conversation when a godsend appeared.

“THE MEN IN SANTA HATS HAVE ARRIVED.”  A familiar voice yelled out into the bar.  Eli and his groomsmen walked into the bar all wearing the same pair of Santa Hats that had lights on the ball at the end. Annabelle could see out of the corner of her eye her mother perk up.

“Oh come on! How come he can yell out the secret code word!?” Lena shouted to Annabelle, her hands on her hips in annoyance.

“What code word?” Annabelle yelled back giving Lena a dirty look. Lena gave her a dirty look back as she turned her attention to the men walking into the room. Annabelle’s eyes quickly searched for one person.

“Ethan! Hey, baby! Come here.” Annabelle yelled once she spotted Ethan wander in.  He stopped short and looked at her from the door.  He looked at her with one eyebrow raised as she waved him on.  He pushed through and slowly walked towards Annabelle, his puzzled look still present on his face. Annabelle wrapped her arm around his waist and gave him a quick kiss on his cheek.

“What are you guys doing here?” Annabelle asked with an extra sweetness in her voice.  Ethan looked down at her and wrapped his arm around her shoulders in response. He looked up at the guy who was still standing a little too close.

“You know Eli. He can’t stay away from Sarah for too long,” Ethan told her as he looked the stranger over, “Hi. I’m Ethan Cooper.”

“My boyfriend.” Annabelle quickly added to the end of Ethan’s sentence. The stranger backed up a bit and put out his hand for Ethan to shake.

“Nice to meet you. I’m Harry. I was just keeping your girl company. Have a great night.” Harry said backing off and walking away.  Annabelle and Ethan stood there, their arms still around each other.

“Is he gone?” Annabelle whispered as she leaned in closer to his ear.

Ethan looked around and leaned down slightly. “He is behind us. Hold on, baby.” Ethan whispered in her ear making her laugh.

“I’m so sorry for that. I owe you one.” Annabelle whispered back into his ear.

“Eh. This one is on me, honey.” Ethan whispered back. Annabelle squeezed his waist in response.

“So, seriously, why are you idiots here?” Annabelle asked as she watched the groomsmen wander around the room.  Annabelle craned her neck to see J.D. and Lena having a conversation on the dance floor, every so often J.D. looked over at them.

“I wasn’t kidding. Eli missed Sarah. It’s sweet.” Ethan told her.  He let his fingers rub at her shoulder. The two of them stood there in comfortable silence as the two parties mingled around them.

“Hey, you two. What’s going on?” Elizabeth asked as she came over.  The two of them broke apart, Annabelle a bit faster than Ethan.

“He saved me from a real charmer. Where the hell were you?” Annabelle asked crossing her arms.  Ethan smirked as he walked over to lean against the bar.

“I was listening to Lena talk about the bartender. I thought she and J.D. see each other?” Elizabeth asked looking back at where J.D. and Lena were standing.  “Also, I could have sworn J.D.’s eyes were brown.”

Ethan’s head snapped over to J.D. Annabelle looked over to trying to see J.D.’s eyes. “Maybe he has the type of eyes that change color. It does happen.” Annabelle reasoned as she heard Ethan huff in response.  J.D. looked over at her giving Annabelle a good look at his face.

“They are green,” Annabelle said. J.D. noticed Annabelle staring and waved over at her.  Annabelle waved back before turning to Ethan, who was now staring down at his beer bottle. Before anyone could talk again, Jack popped through the doors of the bar. “Hey! Next time warn a guy when the whole party changes location.” Jack yelled as he noticed the three of them standing next to the bar.

“Ah. The ladies of the hour. How are you two doing on this fine night?” Jack asked slightly stumbling into the side of the bar.  Elizabeth laughed as he grabbed onto her shoulders to steady himself.

“We are good. I see you are doing good too.” Elizabeth said to him still laughing at his antics.  Annabelle gave a smile as she turned back towards Ethan who was staring at Jack.

“Maybe you should call it a night,” Ethan suggested.

Jack shook his head. “Nah. I just need some water and coffee. I have to be here for my dad.”

The four of them turned their attention to the end of the bar where Eli was hugging Sarah, big smiles on their faces. The bar had gotten considerably louder, but you couldn’t tell just looking at them.  They were in their own little world.  Annabelle felt herself smile at the couple as they stood there oblivious to their looks.

“It’s been a weird month, hasn’t it?” Ethan asked Annabelle quietly.  Annabelle broke out of her trance.  Elizabeth and Jack had moved down the bar to order their drinks, leaving Ethan behind with her.

“Really weird. I didn’t change his eye color. I don’t think I did.” Annabelle said to him.  They both looked over at J.D. who was still looking at Annabelle.

“You know J.D. has a crush on you,” Ethan said suddenly, taking a long sip out of his beer.  Annabelle looked at Ethan with a big smile on her face.

“No, he doesn’t!” Annabelle said to him laughing at his serious expression.

“Yes, he does. I can tell.” Ethan told her moving in a little closer towards her.

She leaned in closer to Ethan looking at him with fake outrage. “Explain yourself then.”

Ethan wrapped his arm around Annabelle’s shoulders again, pulling her in close to his body.  She let him do that, melting into him.  He leaned down and pressed his lips against her temple. It was a simple sweet act that sent shivers down her spine.  Annabelle looked up at J.D. who had a scowl on his face.  She saw him put his hands into his pockets as he watched Ethan.  She saw a similar flash in his now green eyes.

“Oh my God,” Annabelle whispered.

Ethan pulled his lips away from her temple and put them near her ear. “Told you. Somehow, your creation has a thing for you.”

“No. Well, yes but I know what is going on now.” Annabelle whispered back.  She looked down and then back up at Ethan biting her lip. “I’m turning J.D. into you, Ethan.”

Watching My Stories

Annabelle walked up to her apartment carrying take out for the four of them when she heard Ethan yelling through the door. Concerned, she quickly opened the door and threw herself into the apartment. There Ethan sat on the couch yelling at the television in front of him. Annabelle took a deep breath and dropped the bags of food onto the counter. She turned her head to survey the apartment.
“Where are J.D. and Lena?” Annabelle asked Ethan. She was met with silence. She could see Ethan physically stiffen. “Well?”
“Um. Lena is in your room reading a book and J.D. is in the bathroom.” Ethan reported, his voice soft. She could see him slowly inching his way towards the remote that sat next to him on the couch.
“What are you watching?” Annabelle asked moving closer to the couch. She could see his fingers stop their journey. Almost like they were embarrassed. Annabelle leaned against the back of the couch and leaned down towards Ethan’s neck. She could see his green eyes were panicked, his whole body frozen. She placed her mouth close to his ear.

“Ethan. Is that a soap opera?” She whispered dramatically.
She saw his eyes dart around the room before letting out a sigh, his whole body relaxing. “Yes. It is a soap opera. I like to watch soap operas.” Ethan announced a slight quiver in his voice.
Annabelle pushed herself back up and away from the couch to grab some French fries out of the take-out bag. She wandered back towards the front of the couch, plopping down next to Ethan. “I love soap operas. I was raised on the CBS lineup. Every day after school my grandma used to pick me up, and we would watch all the soaps she taped that day. I don’t think I know this one.” Annabelle told him as she gingerly bit into a fry.
Ethan looked over at her in wonder. She noticed, out of the corner of her eye, Ethan bite his bottom before giving her a small smile. “This is a British soap called Emmerdale. I got addicted during my freshman year in college.” Ethan told her reaching over to grab a fry.
Annabelle moved the fries out of his reach giving him a playful look. “My fries. Yours are on the counter.” Ethan kept reaching over, Annabelle moving even farther away on the couch. With a smirk and gleam in his eyes, he ran his hands down towards her sides.

“Don’t you dare.” She warned.
Both were still. Annabelle felt her breathing grow labored as she waited for the tickle assault on her body. Ethan stared her down, biting his bottom lip. “Does Jack know you have your stories?” Annabelle asked with baited breath.
Ethan’s eyes darkened as he slowly smiled at her. She could feel his fingers start to press down on her waist lightly. The first assault made her giggle before he began to tickle. Once he got going, she felt she was going to die from laughter. She squirmed on the couch trying her best not to flash the guy. He laughed along with her as she yelled for a truce at the top of her lungs. He stopped looking down at the floor next to the couch. Annabelle took the interruption as the time to catch her breath. That is when she noticed she was laying down on the couch and he was straddling her hips.
“The fries fell onto the floor,” Ethan announced. Annabelle tore herself away from the scene in front of her to see her fries spilled all over the floor.
“Come on! I guess you are sharing your fries now. See? Tickling is a lose/lose situation.” Annabelle told him crossing her arms over her chest in defiance. Ethan’s eyes shifted over to Annabelle’s. He let his hands travel down to her hips as Annabelle gently wrapped her legs closer to Ethan’s.
“I don’t know. Things don’t seem so bad now.” Ethan whispered. Annabelle’s breath hitched as she uncrossed her arms and let her hands glide up Ethan’s arms cupping his face. She gently rubbed her thumb across his cheek. He melted into her touch, moving down, his lips inches away from hers. She licked her lips and closed her eyes as she felt his warm breath.
“I don’t understand why so many adults love Harry Potter? It’s just an allegory for innocents, war and standing up to bullies!” Lena’s voice ran through the living room. Annabelle opened her eyes and pushed Ethan off her. She watched in horror as he fell off the couch and onto the floor near the fries.
“Oh my god. I’m sorry!” Annabelle heard herself squeal as she sat up on the couch. Ethan, on his back, stared up at her with a dazed expression.
“What’s going on? Is everyone ok?” J.D.’s voice rang out as he left the bathroom. He rushed over to the couch. “Are you ok Annabelle?”
Ethan huffed in response.
“I’m fine. Ethan?” Annabelle asked putting her hand out for Ethan to grab. He looked at it for a minute before taking the offer. She helped him sit up and lean against the edge of the couch.
“I think we interrupted Mom and Dad.” Lena sing-song to J.D. as she gave Annabelle a wink.
Annabelle looked at her concerned. “I need to adjust how I am writing you. At least you aren’t so angry anymore.”
Ethan hummed in response as he cleaned up the French fries on the floor. Annabelle watched him, but her mind was somewhere else. Mostly remembering his breath as he got closer. She placed her fingers gently onto her lips, remembering.
“Is this our food?” Lena asked as she opened the bag, pulling out the other set of fries.
“HEY! Those are Ethan’s fries. Drop them.” Annabelle bellowed making Ethan jerk in response.
“It’s fine. We all can share.” Ethan said giving Annabelle a wink. He stood up with the floor fries and wandered over to the kitchen to throw them out. Annabelle grabbed the remote and paused Ethan’s soap opera.
“Tell me more about this soap you are so embarrassed to be watching,” Annabelle asked as she turned her attention to the paused screen. Two guys were sitting in a pub with pints in front of them.
Ethan looked up at the screen and gave a smile. “Well, that is Emmerdale. It is set in a village, and it’s about the adventures the village people have.”
“Sounds good. Want to watch from the beginning of the episode?” Annabelle asked him.
Lena groaned in response. “I’m going to eat in your room. I’m not into soaps. J.D.? Wanna watch with me?” Lena asked batting her eyelashes. J.D. shrugged and followed Lena into the bedroom.
Annabelle made herself comfortable on the couch as Ethan got his food. He walked back and looked questionably towards Annabelle. “Aren’t you hungry?”
“Nah. I’ll eat later. Let’s watch.” Annabelle said changing the subject. Pressing the remote to play the show from the beginning, Annabelle settled in. As she watched the opening theme, Ethan offered her a French fry. She considered it a minute before taking it and throwing it into her mouth. She could see him smile at her.
They watched in silence, Ethan handing her a French fry every couple of minutes. After a while, Ethan becomes engrossed as they get to the scene she walked in on earlier. Two guys, Annabelle guessed were married, stare at each other from across the street. Both take a deep breath before running to each other for a hug, one throwing his bag to the ground and pulling the other man close to him. Both were breathing as heavily as their hearts beat, the show went into a commercial break.
“Wow. That was intense.” Annabelle said looking over at Ethan. She noticed his eyes were shining as he stared at the screen. “Are you ok?”
He broke from his spell and quickly rubbed his eyes against his arm. “I’m all right.” He murmured.
“Were you crying?”
“Maybe. It’s just, these two have gone through so much, and there have so much more to face.” Ethan said to her his voice uneven. “They have one hell of a love story. I should show you what happened from the beginning some time.”
“What? Like, true love? Yeah, ok. That can only happen in a soap opera.” Annabelle replied reaching over to his plate to take another fry. She slowed after seeing Ethan’s astonished face. “What?”
“You don’t believe in true love?” Ethan asked grabbing the remote and paused the show.
Annabelle felt a shift in the atmosphere. “I feel like true love is manufactured for movies, tv shows, novels and holidays that require greeting cards.”
“You write romance,” Ethan said as if he was still trying to get his mind around her statement.
“Yeah, I can control that romance. I can make it work out the way it should. I can make it messy, and I can make it clean. I’m the master of the romance universe.” Annabelle explained feeling slightly uncomfortable at Ethan’s expression.
“That’s no fun. Romance is that factor that throws your world off kilter. It is the thing you didn’t know you needed there. It is that person that keeps you center. It’s your partner in crime. It’s the other half of our damaged, broken soul.” Ethan told her, his voice rising with excitement.
“Are all souls damaged and broken?” Annabelle asked with a teasing tone.
“All the best ones are. Maybe that’s why you are having so much trouble writing for J.D. and Lena. You deny your romantic center.” Ethan told her grabbing the remote and fiddling with the buttons.
“I don’t think I have that romantic center,” Annabelle admitted. Ethan looked her with soft eyes that made her stomach flip and flutter away. “Does that mean I will be stuck with those idiots forever?” Annabelle quickly joked trying to defuse the intense feeling that went through her. Ethan laughed in response and put his arm around the back of the couch and started the episode back up.
Annabelle watched him as he watched this couple he seemed to love. She sat back and slowly moved in closer to him, letting her body lean against his. His eyes never left the screen as he took his stretched-out arm and moved it around her shoulders pulling her in closer. She smiled and watched the show Ethan seemed to love so much.
Maybe she did have that romantic center. It just needed to be woken up by the right person.

Devil with a Purple Dress

Lena walked towards the door, her hands reaching out for the handle. She held it over the cool metal for a minute, gearing herself up for the conversation she was about to have. She took a deep breath and threw the door open.

“Hey! What’s up?” Lena asked, trying to appear as casual as possible. 

“Hey? You texted me?” J.D. asked holding his phone up to show Lena.

“Yes! Come on in.” She said cheerfully moving out of the way.  J.D. looked around cautiously before moving into the apartment.

“Are you still not talking to me?” Elizabeth asked as she checked her lipstick in the camera on her phone.

Annabelle stuck out her tongue in response before turning back to the story on her laptop.  She poised her fingers back over the keys waiting for inspiration to come back. After a minute she sat back and turned her head towards the window of the town car.

“That’s mature.” Elizabeth drawled as her phone clicked off.

Annabelle didn’t respond. Being rushed out the house with very little packed didn’t put her into the most jovial of moods.   Then again, one could argue that is her fault. Hiding under the covers and telling Elizabeth to leave a message didn’t seem to work. Now she was stuck in a town car on her way to her relatives and The Plaza Hotel.

“This would have been easier if you just called your mother back,” Elizabeth commented to Annabelle.

Annabelle turned her head back to the computer, staring at that blinking cursor.  A little notice in the right-hand corner told her she had ten minutes before the computer shut down on her completely. She sighed and slammed the laptop shut.

“You don’t think I know that?” She replied.

“I know. What is making you act like this?” Elizabeth asked dropping her phone into her purse.

“I’m not over dad.”

“Obviously. Such a daddy’s girl.”  Elizabeth teased hoping to get a smile out of her.

“It just feels too soon,” Annabelle replied letting her index finger on her right hand outline the top of her computer.  Elizabeth opened her mouth to respond when her purse vibrated. She paused and grabbed her phone out of her purse.

“You have been talking to someone a lot today.” Annabelle drawled, looking up from her computer.

Elizabeth typed quickly on her phone. “I’m talking to a combination of your mother, my mother, and Jack.”

Annabelle sat straight up in her seat. “Jack? You have Jack’s number?” She squeaked.

“We have been in contact. Since you wouldn’t answer anyone, I’ve been your go-between. You owe me some hazard pay. Jack is, um, unique.” Elizabeth commented.

“He is a nice guy.” Annabelle weakly said letting her eyes fall to her computer again.

Elizabeth went quiet for a moment as she finished typing. “I let them know that the two of us are five minutes out.”

“Them?”

“Jack and Ethan.”

“Ethan is still here?” Annabelle asked.

“Yeah. He is Jack’s best friend. He is practically a groomsman at this point.” Elizabeth said throwing her phone into her purse. “Ah, I believe we are here.”

Annabelle looked up and over at the opposite window. The car slowly made its way down the short street towards the front of the Plaza Hotel. Annabelle’s eyes traveled over the lush red carpet and black and gold doors that lead to reception.  The car stopped, and a well-dressed bellman opened Elizabeth’s door.

Annabelle considered pushing her friend out the car and locking herself in but quickly determined that too childish, even for her. Putting her computer into her single bag, she followed Elizabeth out of the car. A cold wind whipped her hair around as she looked around. The cold gum splattered concrete glowed against the warm colors of plush red carpet and shining gold fixtures that surrounded the door. She turned towards the foundation across the street that had seen better days but stood as a testament to what came before.  Annabelle watched as tourists with their cameras took selfies nearby trying to get the huge Apple logo that gleamed beyond the foundation into the shot. Another testament to how fast things change.

“Annabelle? Earth to Annabelle.” Elizabeth yelled from the stairs that lead to the front doors of the hotel.  Annabelle turned back and noticed Elizabeth waving her on.

“Coming. I’m coming.” Annabelle replied, taking her time walking up the stairs towards the lobby.

****

Annabelle followed the bellman around her room like she hadn’t been there before. She was shown the IPad to control the lights, heating and other electronics in the room. She was shown the bathroom and all it entails. Then the bedroom where they dropped off the hastily packed bag and dress bag that hung in the closet off to the side.  She walked the bellman back to the door passing his tip into his gloved hand with a smile. He smiled back and shut the door behind him.

“Well, here we are,” Annabelle said out loud. Didn’t expect a response seeing as she was alone.  She made her way down the hallway towards the bedroom making a sharp right towards the closet. Opening it, she grabbed the dress bag and swiftly threw it across the bed.  Without even looking at what was inside she walked away, flopping onto one of the two chairs that flanked the front of the bed.  She bit her lip and turned her head back towards the bed. She stilled for a moment before getting back up she walked with purpose towards the bag, reaching for the zipper.  She slowly let her fingers glide the zipper down the track, small bursts of purple peering from beyond the brown bag. Annabelle let go of the zipper and pushed the brown bag away to get a better look at the dress she had to wear tonight.

Her ringing cell phone broke the silence. Annabelle let go of the brown bag and shuffled over to her purse pulling out her cell phone. She sighed and put the phone to her ear. “Hi, Mom.”

“Wow. I didn’t even know you could speak. This is truly a great day.” Her mother droned into the phone.

“Funny. I’m here. Isn’t that what is required of me?” Annabelle said walking back over to her dress on the bed. “I assume you picked the dress for tonight. Purple. Always purple.”

“Purple is your color honey, and I already knew you were here. Elizabeth’s mom texted me.”

“Oh great. I got minders now. I wonder if this is what it is like being in the Trump family?”

“Annabelle. That’s not nice. You know damn well that we acknowledge our crazy.” Her mother said with a hint of a smile in her voice. Annabelle sighed. “I just wanted to make sure that you knew all the details for tonight.”

Annabelle made a noncommittal noise.

“I will take that as a no. You are to be expected at 6 pm in the Terrace Room.  I assume Elizabeth will make sure of that. Please wear the dress I got you. Purple is very much your color. I want you to look good. You are representing our family.” Sarah said forcefully through the phone.

Annabelle gave a tight smile. “Can’t wait to represent the family. See you at 6 pm.” Annabelle clicked the phone off tossing it next to the dress on the bed. She stared down at the phone before she reached down for her bag that rested just below the bed on the floor. She pulled out her computer letting the bag fall to the floor. Walking back towards the one chair, she sat down and sat the computer down onto her lap.  Opening the computer open she was presented with the blinking cursor once again. She poised her fingers over the home keys and waited for inspiration to strike.

Stop Fondling My Books

“This is really nice. I’m glad we did this.” Sarah said picking up her wine glass and taking a sip.  Everyone sitting around the table muttered in agreement. Annabelle did a quick assessment as everyone settled in.  Eli only had eyes for her mother; Jack was staring thoughtfully at the menu while Ethan stared straight ahead while drumming his fingers on the table.

“So, Eli, how did you and my mom meet?” Annabelle asked breaking the silence.

Eli gave Annabelle a blinding smile. “So, a few months ago, I was sitting there with my coffee in Starbucks reading the paper when I noticed your mom sitting nearby. She was giggling at her nook, and she has one hell of a laugh. I had to talk to her. I didn’t want to look like a creep or someone with a bad pick up line or anything,” Eli explained. “I decided to be brave and walk over there and ask her. Point blank.”

“The rest they say is history,” Sarah said giving Eli a wink. Eli gently grabbed Sarah’s left hand across the table and planted a kiss.  Annabelle watched them eyes traveling to their joined hands.  She could not help but notice that her mother’s ring finger was sparkling.

“Your finger is shining,” Annabelle said.  Eli and Sarah paused before letting go of each other’s hands.

“That shiny object is one of the reasons why we had this dinner,” Sarah said.  Annabelle looked over at Jack who was looking over at her confused.

“Eli and I are engaged.” Sarah blurted out.  Annabelle stared blankly at her before sitting back in her seat, her fingers gripping the armrest of the chair.

“You two are engaged?” Annabelle asked quietly.

Jack looked at his dad and then Sarah.  “I thought Annabelle knew about this. I thought this was a celebratory dinner.”

“Does it look like she knew?” Ethan muttered. Annabelle looked over at Ethan before shooting a look at her mother.

“When did this happen?”

Annabelle asked. Sarah looked down at the table. “Two weeks ago.”

The three of them looked over at Annabelle.  She gave a quick nod towards her mother before standing up and walking straight out of the restaurant.

She felt the cold instantly on her bare arms as she walked out the restaurant door.  Annabelle crossed her arms as she walked faster towards her place.  Her mother. Engaged. Annabelle was in uncharted territory.  She was used to her mom dating, but she never expected it to go this far.  Annabelle was convinced her mom would be an old blue haired lady in Florida having a Golden Girls moment. Not engaged in Jersey.

Annabelle slowed when she got to her building and walked inside. As she walked the two floors to her apartment, she could hear a Talking Heads song blasting through her door. Annabelle instinctually reached towards her purse quickly remembering it wasn’t there. She left everything she needed at the restaurant.  She sighed and raised her fist to bang on the door trying to compete with the wailings of Road to Nowhere.  She waited a few seconds before banging on the door again.  She could hear the music stop and the locks clicking open.  The door swung open to reveal Elizabeth with a beer in one hand and a cookie in her mouth.

“Don’t you ask who it is before opening the door? Do you know how dangerous it is just to open the door?” Annabelle yelled barging past Elizabeth who was stunned to see Annabelle banging on her door.

“Don’t crazy people, like you, usually use a key?” Elizabeth asked her voice muffled from the cookie.  Annabelle had already made her way to her fridge and was rummaging for something stronger than beer.  When she spotted the Silver Patron tequila bottle behind the Slim Fast shakes, she could hear a heavenly chorus.  She grabbed the bottle and the closest glass and poured a little of the clear liquid out.  Elizabeth watched her friend, confusion evident on her face.  Annabelle downed a shot of the liquid and coughed violently.

“I left everything at the restaurant,” Annabelle told Elizabeth her voice strained.   Elizabeth swallowed what was left of her cookie and walked over to the kitchen counter slowly.

“Why are you walking so slowly?” Annabelle asked pouring more Patron into the glass.  Elizabeth gave a strained smile in response.

“That is what I usually do when I don’t want to scare an angry person with alcohol,” Elizabeth told Annabelle as she took another shot.  She coughed again and reached for the bottle, but Elizabeth put her hand over it.

“I think it’s cookie time.  You had your fill of tequila for one night.” Elizabeth said using her left hand to pull the bottle of Patron closer to her body while her rights hand pushed the cookies into its vacated place.  Annabelle grabbed for the cookies, took one out, and shoved it into her mouth.  As Annabelle busied herself with cookies, Elizabeth picked the Patron up off the counter and made her way back to the refrigerator.

“Now tell me why you have no coat, no keys, and no phone and are self-medicating,” Elizabeth asked opening the refrigerator door and placing the patron back behind the slim fast shakes.  She slammed the door and made her way back to Annabelle who was now looking at a piece of cookie in her hand.

“My mom did have an ulterior motive for the dinner tonight,” Annabelle muttered as her right hand rubbed her left.  Elizabeth stared at Annabelle blankly before she gasped dramatically.

“Do I get to be your maid of honor?  I can help you find a dress, and we can try to make the best out of this situation.  Maybe I can smuggle you to Canada, and you can start a French pine comb statue making business!” Elizabeth told her, no irony ever entering her voice.  Annabelle just stared at her, the grasp on a cookie growing tighter.

“Do you think you can reach Canada before I fling this cookie at you?” Annabelle asked darkly.  Elizabeth tilted her head in confusion.

“Ok.  There won’t be a double wedding…”

“No. There will be a wedding.  My mom is engaged!” Annabelle exclaimed interrupting Elizabeth. She froze and let the new information process.

“This is new behavior for her.” Elizabeth finally said.  Annabelle popped the rest of the cookie into her mouth and reached into the bag for another one.

“She has never gotten engaged before,” Elizabeth said to Annabelle who nodded in agreement.

“I know. I never expected her to get married again. It is unnatural.  She can’t really love this guy.  She barely knows Eli Cooper.” Annabelle said shaking her head in disbelief.  Elizabeth leaned against the counter and looked at Annabelle thoughtfully.

“Cooper. You knew a Cooper at some point, right?” Elizabeth asked.  Annabelle sighed and leaned against the counter.

“Jack Cooper. We went out on a date our freshman year. Well, no. I thought it was a date. He thought it was a day out with a friend.” Annabelle volunteered.

“Was Eli Cooper nice?”

“Yes, he was very nice.  He really likes my mom and seems to treat her well.  I can’t handle another guy taking the place of…” Annabelle said trailing off and looking down at the cookies in front of her.  Elizabeth gave her a sad smile.  Before either one could say what they were thinking, Annabelle grabbed her stomach.

“Ok. Cookies and tequila were not a good idea.  I’m sorry.” Annabelle told Elizabeth running off to the bathroom next to her bedroom. Elizabeth went to follow her but heard a knock at the front door.  Elizabeth sighed and made her way towards the front.

“Sarah? I think you should come back tomorrow…” Elizabeth said stopping short after she saw who was standing there.  Elizabeth gasped and slammed the door and locked it and then she looked through the peephole.

“Who is it?” She asked sweetly.  She could hear a laugh coming from the other side.

“Oh, now you ask!” Annabelle yelled through the bathroom door.  Elizabeth looked back at the bathroom and stuck out her tongue.

“We have Annabelle’s jacket and various objects.  Her mom sent us to check on her.” The man said through the door.  Elizabeth shook her head at the peephole.

“What is Annabelle’s mom’s name? And who are you?” Elizabeth asked.  She could see the guy smile at the door and adjust Annabelle’s jacket on his arm.

“I’m Jack Cooper, and this is Ethan Parker. Annabelle’s mom, Sarah, is going to be my new Stepmom. Carol Brady if you will.” He told her.  Elizabeth recognizing the Cooper name unlocked the door and threw it open.

“Jack Cooper or is it Greg Brady? Who are you supposed to be?” Elizabeth asked Ethan as the two men cautiously walked into the apartment.

“I guess I’m Cousin Oliver,” Ethan responded dryly.  Jack motioned for Elizabeth to ignore him.

“Elizabeth, right? I was told you would be around. Sarah said you are Annabelle’s best friend.” Jack said.  Elizabeth nodded reaching out for the coat and purse resting on Jack’s arm.

“Don’t worry. Her phone and keys are still in there, but I didn’t see a wallet.” Jack said looking at the kitchen.  Elizabeth followed his gaze and threw everything onto the couch.

“She didn’t bring it with her tonight. Sister Cindy is in the bathroom if you are looking for her.” Elizabeth said smiling at him.

“Does that make you Marsha or Jan?” Jack asked as he smiled back at Elizabeth.

“I’m Alice.  I take care of things around here.” Elizabeth told him.

Jack opened his mouth to respond as his cell phone rang. He excused himself before turning away to answer. Elizabeth quickly ran her fingers through her blonde hair and tried to brush off any crumbs left on her shirt.  As she cleaned, she noticed that Ethan was now freely wandering around the apartment.

“Where is Annabelle?” Ethan asked Elizabeth as he paused in front of her bookcases.

“She is in the ladies room,” Elizabeth responded.  “Who are you again?”

“Jack’s friend,” Ethan said as he pulled out a book, looking at the back cover.

“Oh no. Here comes the book snob.” Jack joked walking over towards Ethan. Elizabeth followed Jack, her eyes looking over at the closed bathroom door.

“I’m not a book snob. I’m just very protective over my books.” Ethan responded as she flipped the book onto the side, running a long finger over the spine. “Annabelle apparently doesn’t feel the same way.”

“Come on!” Annabelle yelled as she opened the bathroom door.  She threw open the door and walked with purpose towards the three of them.  Elizabeth and Jack shared a look while Ethan continued to run his finger over the spine.

“Stop fondling my books,” Annabelle demanded of Ethan.  He raised one eyebrow and smiled at her.

“You think this is fondling?”

“Put down the book,” Annabelle asked pulling it out of his hand and holding it close to her chest. “What are you two doing here?”

“Your mom wanted to make sure if you were ok and return your stuff to you,” Jack said pointing to the pile on the couch.

“I know she has a phone and legs. She could have done it.” Annabelle muttered as she put the book back up onto the shelf.

“That’s what I said,” Ethan muttered back.

“She wasn’t sure you wanted to see her. You did just kind of run out of there. Which is unlike you Annabelle.” Jack said running his hand through his dirty blonde hair, letting a few strands fall over his blue eyes.

Annabelle stalled, her eyes taking in what Jack was doing.

“Thank you, boys. In one more hour, she would be lost without her phone.” Elizabeth said to break the silence in the room.

“Are you ok?” Ethan asked as his eyes moved over the other books in her case.  He paused and looked over at her waiting for a response. Jack and Elizabeth shared a look between them.

“I’m fine. Thanks for the visit. Time to go.” Annabelle whispered to Ethan turning away to walk back to the kitchen.

“It will be okay.  It’s not like they are getting married tomorrow. Sleep on it. It will look better in the morning.” Jack yelled towards Annabelle who was making her way back towards the cookies.

She stopped in front of the counter and turned back towards the group. “How many sentences?” Annabelle asked. Elizabeth and Jack looked over at her confused. Ethan turned towards her with a smirk on his face.

“Uh, time to go. She has officially lost it.” Elizabeth crooned pushing the two guys towards the door. Jack nodded at Annabelle as he walked by towards the front door.

Ethan slowed down. “Twenty-two. Why?”

Annabelle shrugged in response. “Just wondering.” She watched Ethan nod and walk out the front door to meet Jack.

“Thanks for stopping by! Have a great night guys.” Elizabeth said waving as she shut the door. Once she locked it tight and turned back to Annabelle. “Hello? What the hell just happened?”

Annabelle picked up a cookie and looked around. “Where is my Patron?!”

Christmas Wrapping

Ethan sat in the living room surrounded by yards of silver, red and green wrapping paper. There was scotch tape resting on different surfaces hanging on for dear life while Ethan attempted to wrap an oddly shaped present. Annabelle sat at the kitchen table with her laptop in front of her. Her fingers were poised over the keys as she watched Ethan struggle with his task.
“You know. For odd shaped presents, I usually just put them in a beautiful bag. It makes life easier.” Annabelle said to him trying to hide her amusement. Ethan, losing space to place his tape, put it on his forehead.
“NO. I will figure this out.” Ethan defiantly proclaimed to Annabelle. Her nose crinkled at the tape that decorated his forehead.
“Do you need me to hold the tape or…” Annabelle offered. Ethan raised his hand dramatically in response. Annabelle made a noise and went back to her writing.
Lena sat on the couch surviving her domain. This was the first time she had complete control over the Christmas decorations. At least the inside decorations. The tree glimmered with color lights that twinkled around all the Lenox ornaments. The angel that graced the tree had been her grandmothers. It had officially been passed down to her this year. She smiled at it proudly as he reigned over the tree. She liked to pretend that the angel was keeping all the different decorations in line when she was not in the room. The thought made her laugh aloud.
“No matter how many times I have seen this it is still weird,” Ethan said to Annabelle as he watched Lena stand in front of the tree laughing aloud. Annabelle’s eyes snapped from the screen to the sight in front of her. Annabelle shrugged and turned her attention back to the laptop screen.
Lena stopped laughing and crossed her arms. She could hear J.D. come through the front door. She turned to look at him.
“How did it go outside?” She asked him as she turned. She gasped at the sight she saw. J.D. had grass stains all over his clothes and pieces of greenery stuck in his hair. She rushed over to him.
“NOT THE WRAPPING PAPER!” Ethan bellowed as Lena ran through a freshly cut sheet of paper. Her feet crumpled the fine paper as she brushed past. Lena didn’t stop, though. She was under Annabelle’s control.
“I’m sorry!” Annabelle yelled out in response. She watched as Lena rushed over to J.D. stopping at her destination. “I sincerely didn’t expect that to happen.”
Ethan huffed and waved his hands in the air. “It’s ok. I’m ok. It will be ok.”
Annabelle let out a snort of laughter. “What was that?”
Ethan took a deep breath and made the gesture again. “You worry about your children. Please just watch the wrapping paper next time.”
Annabelle bit her lip as she started writing again.
“Are you ok? What happened?” Lena asked as she tried to brush some of the tree needles off his clothes. J.D. kept a stoic stance.
“I fought a tree and the tree won. Lesson learned kids, fight mother nature and Mother Nature will always win.”
“That is so true,” Ethan commented as she snipped a piece of ribbon. Annabelle stopped typing and looked up at Ethan. She smiled and continued writing.
“That is so true,” Lena said to J.D.
“Funny,” Ethan called out wrapping the ribbon around the present.
“Either way I got the lights up. Our little piece of land is going to be cooler than the top of the Chrysler building!” J.D. proclaimed. Lena looked at him puzzled.
“That sentence makes no sense honey.” Lena looked at him concerned.
“I understand it. Isn’t that what matters?” J.D. responded taking off his jacket. Lena looked at his head in response.
“Did you hit your head?” Lena asked him pulling him close to look over his head. J.D. tried to brush off her concerns.
“I’m fine. Don’t worry about me.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m positive.”
Lena did not look so sure. She let go of him and watched him go to the kitchen to grab some coffee.
“Are you sure?” Lena asked again still concerned for J.D.’s safety. J.D. huffed and took a big swig of the warm coffee.
“I’m PERFECTLY fine. I think the author is just trying to pad out her word count while she decides where she is going with this.”
“I’m with you J.D. I have no idea where you two are going with this either. It’s like your mom is distracted or something.” Ethan said as he moved onto a new present to wrap. He didn’t need to turn around to know that Annabelle was going to retaliate for that remark.
“Do you know what? I think dad needs to mind his own damn business. Just awkwardly wrap your presents and watch your slightly creepy religious movies on Hallmark. Mom has this. She just needs inspiration.” J.D. said defiantly taking another big gulp of coffee.
“Don’t disparage the Hallmark Christmas movie. They are awesome. You just wanted to hurt me.” Ethan said to Annabelle while he tried to tape one side of the wrapping paper to the present.
“You know what else? Right now he thinks he has it down. Some might say that he is the master wrapper.” Lena said sweetly winking at J.D.
“Oh. OH. I’m not even going to touch that one. Dirty. ” Ethan declared as he looked over his shoulder and gave Annabelle a wink. As he did this, he pushed the scissors down onto the wrapping paper in front of him. Or so he thought. Annabelle had looked back down onto the keyboard when she heard the yell.
Djlfadklfkldazfdlkmfkldklg
Both Lena and J.D. yelled out gibberish. Annabelle’s fingers had pressed down on the keyboard in surprise as Ethan yelled out in pain. She jumped out of her seat and ran over to Ethan’s side. She forced his hand up so she could get a better look. He had sliced his finger but not enough to cause any real harm.
“Hold on. I’m getting the first aid kit.” Annabelle told him as she got up to walk to the bathroom.
“Not through the wrapping paper!” Ethan yelled out. Annabelle smiled to herself as she jumped over the haphazardly placed paper around him. She did not have the heart to tell him that his precious wrapping paper had some blood on it. She grabbed the kit out of the bathroom and rushed back over making sure not avoid the paper. She sat next to him and opened the case. She looked up at him and noticed that his eyes were trained on the cheesy Hallmark movie. She smiled and gently grabbed his injured finger. He winced at her touch.
“This is one of my favorites. Hallmark has done a ton of rags to royal Christmas movies, but this one actual earns its payoff.” Ethan said as calmly as possible as Annabelle applied some pressure to the finger to make sure the bleeding stopped. She listened to Ethan babble about Hallmark movies as she splashed some water on the wound before putting some antibacterial spray. He hissed.
“I have a tiara,” Annabelle said to him trying to distract him from the slight pain. He looked over at her with a smile.
“I’m sure you do. I think you would like this movie. Everyone is normal. Except for the royalty part.” Ethan told her as she started to place gauze on the cut.
“All the good ones have a royalty subplot,” Annabelle said back as she taped the gauze to his finger. “I should have J.D. and Lena go down the same route.” She finished up and gave his finger a quick kiss. “You will live for now. Don’t let the scissors ruin your wrapping dreams, my dear.”
Ethan laughed and looked down at his finger. Annabelle sat back on the couch and watched Ethan inspect his finger. He looked up at her.
“Are you going to leave them like that?” Ethan asked her. Annabelle looked over her shoulder and the frozen J.D. and Lena. She turned back and hummed to herself.
“If we are going to make J.D. and Lena royal I have to do my research,” Annabelle told him trying to get herself conformable on the floor. Ethan stared at her letting a small smile grow on his face.
“Good to know you do your research. Thanks for the finger.”
“Thanks for wrapping my gifts for me.”
“What? Have I been wrapping yours too?”

Mistletoe Kisses

Oh, look. Another mini story that won’t make sense unless I sit here and explain it. Once again, grammar/syntax issues blah blah blah. Read and enjoy.

********

Annabelle hung the last ornament on her Christmas tree. It was her favorite. A popsicle reindeer she made when she was in the first grade. She had her mother’s decorations this year since her mom did not have time to do the tree this year. Wedding plans were taking over her life. It was up to Annabelle to keep the traditions that make the holidays what they are. She walked back to admire her work. The tree held pink and white twinkle lights and all of her childhood keepsakes. Placed on top was her great grandmother’s angel that held a special place in her heart.

“Dinner is served.” She could hear J.D. yell out into the living room as he opened the door. Behind him, Lena held the Chinese food up into the air like it was the Holy Grail. She presented it to the group carefully letting it settle on the kitchen counter. Ethan came in last, dramatically shutting the door behind him.

“Do you know what your children did today?” Ethan said sharply to Annabelle. She turned at the melodramatic sound of his voice. She raised one eyebrow in response. Ethan tore off his gloves and jacket and placed them on the kitchen chair, leaving his ratty old scarf around his neck. He ran his hand through his short brown hair in frustration.

“They aren’t my children…” Annabelle muttered to herself as she watched Lena and J.D. pull the food from the bag. Ethan looked up in surprise.

“Did you create them from your head? Did you create their looks, their thoughts, and personality?” Ethan asked as he advanced towards Annabelle. She watched him get closer as she considered his questions.

“Technically, yes. I did create how they look. However…” Annabelle faltered, as Ethan got even closer to her, a playful glint in his eye.

“However…I didn’t create their personalities. You know they say that the environment around them makes their personalities. It is not from DNA.” Annabelle said confidently even though she knew she might be completely wrong.

“I don’t think it applies to these two. These two are all you. Which…is a bit worrisome.” Ethan teased. Annabelle felt a rush go through her body. She didn’t know if it was anger, but some feeling was growing through her body.

“What is that supposed to mean?” The words came out of Annabelle’s mouth with a harsher tone that expected. Loudly too since J.D. and Lena stopped their pillaging of the Chinese food to look up at them. Ethan smirked at her.

“Touchy subject I see. Well, kiddo, those two in there came from you. We do not know why they are here among us, but here they are. They are a reflection of what you are and what you feel. Isn’t that what you told me once about writing?” Ethan jokingly argued. He had gotten close enough that Annabelle had to look up to engage with his eyes. She grabbed onto his scarf to pull him closer to her face.

“I don’t know if that is a compliment or a criticism doll face.” Annabelle hissed. Ethan looked down at her in surprise. Annabelle kept eye contact with Ethan. She could feel how thin the scarf was under her fingers as she held on tight. She could feel him place his hands on her shoulders gently rubbing them with his thumbs. Annabelle rubbed her thumb over the old wool. Both were silent for a moment.

“You need a new scarf,” Annabelle muttered breaking eye contact to look down at the scarf. Ethan stopped moving his hands and looked at his scarf confused. She continued, “how long have you had this thing?”

“It’s my dad’s,” Ethan whispered. Annabelle felt her breath catch in her throat at the answer.

“Hey. You guys! You are under the mistletoe!” Lena excitedly yelled from the kitchen. Both Annabelle and Ethan looked up at the hanging toxic plant.

“I did not put that up there,” Annabelle muttered.

“I did! I got the idea from those movies Ethan likes to watch on television! Hallmark…Hallmark Christmas movies!” J.D. announced as he took a big spoonful of rice into his mouth. Both Ethan and Annabelle looked back down at each other; Annabelle’s eyes naturally fell to Ethan’s lips.

“Um. Well…” Ethan stammered. Annabelle, taken off guard, looked back up at Ethan’s eyes in amusement.

“Come on. Kiss her! Dinner is getting cold, and we want this tension to end.” Lena said with an edge in her voice. She looked longingly at the chicken and broccoli and then back at them. She rolled her eyes in annoyance. “Like this dollfaces!” she exclaimed as she grabbed J.D. by his shirt and planted a loud smooch onto his lips. She pushed him away and gave a pointed look at Annabelle and Ethan. Annabelle let out a light laugh as she moved in closer to Ethan.

“Ok. Maybe you are right. My children are insane.” Annabelle whispered into Ethan’s ear before giving a quick peck on his cheek. She let go of the scarf and pushed herself away from Ethan.

“Alright my friends. What did you get to eat?” Annabelle asked as she traveled towards the kitchen. She noticed out of the corner of her eye that Ethan still has not moved from his spot. He had moved his hand to his cheek.

“Hey, Ethan. Do you want some white rice or do you want to keep standing there like a chump?” Lena growled out. Annabelle looked at Lena with alarm on her face.

“I need to review how I am writing you tonight.” Annabelle declared as Lena shrugged her shoulders in response. Ethan had moved back towards the kitchen, taking his scarf off as he walked.

“Like mother like daughter.” Ethan teased earning a light slap on his arm from Annabelle. He winked in response.

“So. What did the children do today?”

Knock. Knock.

I wrote this quite a while ago. The grammar and syntax are a mess, but the sentiment is there. Check it out and tell me what you think!

***************

Knock. Knock.

Annabelle stood in the hallway. Her fisted hand raised to the door.

Knock. Knock.

She never expected to be here. She did not think she would see this door again.

Knock. Knock.

Her pristine white dress dirtied on the bottom. Remnants of a run she never expected to make.

Knock. Knock.

She was always the good girl. She always did what was expected of her. Always got good grades. Got into the right college. Picked the right major. Found the proper boy with the proper family. She did everything she was taught right.

Knock. Knock.

Did she want him? Did she want James?

Knock. Knock.

Her head did. Her heart.

Knock. Knock.

He wasn’t him.

Knock. Knock.

He didn’t listen. He didn’t try to make her laugh when she was down. He didn’t care about her ridiculous theories on life. He didn’t even notice her faults. He never called her out. He never smiled at her the way he did. Like he knew all her secrets and still loved her.

Knock. Knock.

He wasn’t him.

Knock. Knock.

All he had to do was open the door.

Knock. Knock.

Answer her knock.

Knock. Knock.

A knock that would change everything.

Creak. Swoosh.

Cold air blasted her face as he came into view.

“Annabelle?” He asked surprised. His shirt unbuttoned and a tie in hand. She smiled and lowered her hand.

“Ethan.” She replied a smile growing on her face.  He smiled back and leaned against the doorframe.

“Shouldn’t you be married by now?” He asked her his eyes trailing down her body towards the muddy bottom of her wedding dress.

“I…I couldn’t do it. Not when you exist on this earth.”

Ethan snapped his eyes back up to her face. “Isn’t that a little dramatic?”

Annabelle sighed in response. “Only you could ruin a romantic moment such as this.”

“That is my best talent darling,” Ethan replied. “This is literally something out of one of your books.” He said to her pushing off the doorframe and throwing his tie around his neck.

“I don’t think Topanga or J.D. would have the nerve to do this.” Annabelle quickly grabbed onto Ethan’s tie and pulled him towards her. Her mouth inches away from his. She could feel his heart pounding and his breath hitch. “Can I…kiss you?” Annabelle whispered her eyes trained on Ethan’s mouth.

“I thought you would never ask,” Ethan whispered back. Annabelle licked her lips and tilted her head. She could smell his mint soap as she tentatively pressed her lips against his. She felt a spark go through her body. A spark she always wrote about but never felt. She felt his hands cup her face, his thumbs gently rubbing against her cheeks as he deepened the kiss. She let go of his tie, wrapped her hands around his waist, and pulled him closer. She could feel him groan and start to pull her through the door.

Creak. Slam.

He slammed the door with his foot. She broke the kiss and placed her forehead on his. She felt lightheaded.

“That wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.” She said in a playful tone. He smiled as he let his hands brush down her arms. She shivered in response. “I ran. I couldn’t do it. Not while I knew you were here. You are my person Ethan.”

“Only you could quote a television show at this moment. You sure know how to ruin a romantic moment.” Ethan joked as he grabbed her hands. He moved his forehead away from hers and looked into her eyes. “Too bad the show sucks.”

“As usual you are wrong.” Annabelle shot back.

Ethan huffed in response. “Grey’s Anatomy is an overdramatic mess. I can prove this in four parts.” He told her a smirk on his face.

Annabelle smirked back as she pulled off his tie and let it drop to the floor between them. “Oh, this I have to hear.”

“Ok. Part one. No hospital would tolerate sex between employees,” Ethan said as he reached forward and took off her veil letting it fall to the floor, “there will be no sex in the champagne room my dear.”

“Right. I am sure that is not true. Part two?” Annabelle asked as she laid her hands on Ethan’s chest and slowly slid them up pushing off his shirt. He let it fall to the ground. She slid her hands up and around his neck resting her arms on his shoulders.

He coughed. “Part two. No way would so many people die in a short amount of time. I think in the time I watched this show with you at least a million couples were broken up by a crazy death.” Ethan told her grabbing her waist and pulling her closer.

“It wasn’t a million couples. That show has been on for a long time but not enough for a million couples to die dramatically!” Annabelle argued as Ethan’s hands reached behind her for the zipper on her dress. She felt her body grow hot. Every nerve ending was on fire. He slowly pulled it down. She could feel his breath on her ear. Once the zipper was down the dress naturally, fell to the floor. She gasped at the feeling.

In her ear, she could hear him start to whisper into her ear. “Part three. Meredith and Derek have to be the worst type of couple.” Her breath hitched.

“Not cool. Meredith and Derek are the heart of the show.” Annabelle whispered back. She could feel her heart start to beat as she moved her arms and let her hands travel down to his belt buckle. She began to pull the leather strap out from the buckle when she felt his hand stop her. She moved back slightly to see his face.

“Are you sure?” He asked quietly. Annabelle smirked and pulled out the strap and pushed the post from the hole in the leather. She gripped the pants button and wet her lips. She slipped the button through the hole and slowly lowered the zipper. She moved her hands to his hips and looked up at him. His eyes were darker than before.

“What do you think?” Annabelle, mustering up all her bravery, asked him. Before she could pull down his pants, he grabbed her, picked her up and threw her over his shoulder. He walked them down the hall towards his bedroom. “I see someone has read my newest book.” Annabelle quipped as he walked them into his bedroom. A room she has been in many times but not in this position.

“Of course, I never miss an Annabelle Jones novel. Got to catch up on the adventures of J.D. and Lena.” He said back lightly smacking Annabelle’s butt. He placed her down in front of his bed. Annabelle laughed and smacked his chest in response.

“Real cute jackass,” Annabelle said to him with a wink. He laughed and pulled her in for a kiss. He ran his hands up her back and slowly lowered her backward onto the bed. He moved his lips to her neck, nipping at her heated skin.

“What about point four?” Annabelle asked running her hands up Ethan’s bareback. He stopped what he was doing and looked at her confused.

“Point four?” He asked breathlessly. Annabelle let out a chuckle.

“Point four of why Grey’s Anatomy sucks?” Annabelle said helpfully. Ethan rolled his eyes.

“Fuck point four.” He replied.

“Speaking of fuck…” Annabelle started to say when Ethan’s lips on hers interrupted her train of thought. She let her hands glide down to his pants, pulling them down as far as she could. She started to pull down his boxers when a loud sound filled the room. They both stopped, frozen in place.

“It’s the phone,” Annabelle said to Ethan. They let it ring long enough to have the answering machine pickup. “Who still has an answering machine let alone a landline?” Annabelle teased as the message played.

“Says the woman who likes to write longhand on any type of paper she can get her hands on.” Ethan teased back.

“Ethan. It’s James. I was hoping I would catch you before you came to the church. Guess not. Annabelle is not coming. She left us all a note and ran. We are all looking for her. Call us back. I’m…we are really worried. Ok. Bye.”

The machine beeped at the end leaving a room louder than before.

“You were right. I write longhand on any piece of paper I can find.” Annabelle said in response trying to quiet all the loud silence. Ethan looked down at Annabelle before rolling over to lie next to her. They both laid there in complete silence. She heard Ethan sigh before seeing him run his hand over his face.

“Annabelle. What are we doing?” He asked.

Annabelle turned her head towards Ethan. “I don’t know. Actually. No. I do know what I am doing.” Annabelle sat up in the bed. “I was sitting there in the limo in front of the church. I was looking down at my hand. At the ring, James put on my hand a year ago, I felt this sense of dread. Like, if I went through with this wedding I would just be letting not only myself down but James too. I couldn’t do it. Not when I knew I was in love with you. It wouldn’t be fair to James. I hurt him enough by saying yes and planning a whole wedding with him.”

“Why did you say yes then?” Ethan asked his voice heavy with emotion.

“I thought I didn’t have a chance with you. I saw how happy you were with Victoria and I wanted you to be happy. Why should I ruin that?” Annabelle told him not sure how he was taking this new information. The information she kept secret for so long.

“You had to know. You had to know that I have been in love with you since you told me off in the Plaza lobby. I didn’t say anything after you got engaged because I thought it was what you wanted. I want you to be happy Annabelle.”

“I hated you in the plaza lobby that night. Only you could be turned on by someone yelling at you.” Annabelle told Ethan which got a smile out of him. “I fell in love with you when you started giving me answers in parts. It only happens when you are either very passionate about a topic or just trying to annoy me. It’s hot.”

“Figures. Only you would be turned on by someone trying to annoy you.” Ethan retorted. “We are some pair. We are in love with each other because of our worst qualities.”

“We just bring out the weird in each other. Is that such a bad thing?” Annabelle asked Ethan. He was quiet for a moment.

“No. I think we bring out the weird and the best in each other.” Ethan finally said. Annabelle smiled. He continued, “You should go and tell James in person that you can’t marry him. It is only fair to do it in person and not let the note do all the work.”

Annabelle looked over at him and saw him sigh. She moved back down the bed and swung her legs over his body, so she was straddling him.

“I agree. I should go to talk to James’ face to face. First things first, though.” Annabelle said before dipping down to kiss him. He kissed her back running his hands down her back to pull her closer. They pulled their lips apart, and Ethan pushed a stray hair behind Annabelle’s ear.

“I love you,” Ethan told her as he slowly ran his thumb across her cheek. Annabelle felt that spark again, but it was so much stronger now.

“I love you more.”