Santa Will Find Us
Copyright© 2016 by AA Nemo
Rachel Adams smiled and stretched like a cat under the feather comforter in the big comfortable hotel bed. She was wearing a dark blue silk pajama top loaned to her by Marcus. She couldn’t remember when she had had such a good night’s sleep. She had awakened in the midst of a mildly erotic dream – she and Marcus were sitting on the rug in front of a fireplace in some kind of lodge and the way he looked at her made her body tingle with the promise of erotic delights.
As she became aware of her surroundings, she discovered she was alone in the bed and in the room. Suddenly her mommy alarms started going off. Where was Sarah? Where was Marcus? All pleasant dreams and the comfort of her surroundings were thrust aside as she sat up in the bed in a panic. Had he taken her? Was he some monster who had lured her to this hotel just to abduct her daughter?
Calm down. Marcus is not a monster. There had to be an explanation. She got out of bed and moved to the French doors. There was a sliver of light at the gap in the curtains. She pulled them open and her heart leapt with relief.
Outside in the bright early morning sunlight was Marcus and Sarah. They were bundled up against the cold sitting side by side at a small table on the large rooftop deck outside the room, and Sarah was laughing. They appeared to be playing some kind of board game. Both had insulated plastic cups in front of them and Rachel could see the steam escaping from the hot beverages. Next to them was a small folding table that contained what looked like breakfast dishes.
Sarah was dressed warmly in a down jacket, corduroy pants, red boots and a winter-white newsboy cap. Rachel was puzzled. Where had those clothes come from? Her daughter looked relaxed and happy, the sadness and uncertainties of the last days and weeks long gone. Rachel smiled. Sarah looked like some ad for ‘Nordstrom Kids’ How had he managed that? She thought about Pru. Had Marcus somehow in the night ordered up clothes for Sarah? Was that what the telephone conversations were about after they got to the room? He appeared to be a resourceful man and obviously was able to make things happen.
Rachel’s stomach growled. How can that be? She had eaten her fill the night before, so how could she possibly be hungry? Against one wall in the room was a black marble counter and on it was a tray with an insulated cover. She uncovered the dishes and discovered an array of food, from oatmeal to scrambled eggs and bacon, and fresh fruits neatly sliced. Next to the tray were two black carafes which were labeled ‘coffee’ and ‘cocoa.’ She poured herself a cup of coffee, which smelled wonderful, splashed in a little cream, grabbed a slice of perfectly cooked bacon and moved into the bathroom.
As she munched on the bacon she examined herself in the mirror. The harried and worried woman who had greeted her in the mirror just yesterday was absent, although her current crisis-induced thinness made her look waif-like. A look many of her east-side acquaintances would kill for. Eat your hearts out, girls.
She pulled a brush through her shoulder length auburn hair thinking about yesterday’s magical evening, and how it contrasted with the weeks and months before. After Marcus put Sarah on the bed, Rachel got her undressed and into her pajamas. During that process Sarah barely moved. Oh, to be young and able to sleep the sleep of a child!
In her exhausted and slightly tipsy state Rachel hardly took notice of Marcus on the phone. She desperately needed a shower. She pointed at the bathroom and he had nodded his understanding.
Rachel spent a great deal of time there letting the hot water soak away the tension in her muscles away. She also spent a long time washing her hair. They hadn’t had any hot water for a week before their eviction, and in the grubby hotel they stayed in the two nights previously, the rust-stained fittings had given up precious little hot water and the shower’s cracked and moldy surfaces were no place to spend any time.
When she finished her shower she thought she heard Marcus still on the phone. He was obviously a success at whatever it was he did and probably had business even on Christmas Eve. Dressed in the thick white hotel robe, her body glowing from the wine and the hot water, she couldn’t face putting on the under-things she had been wearing, so she figured she’s just sleep in the robe. When she opened the door to the bathroom, she discovered a dark blue silk pajama top hanging on the door knob. She picked it off the hanger and slipped back into the bathroom. Rachel hung the robe on the hook on the back of the door, and put on the soft garment. It came to her knees and obviously belonged to Marcus. As she buttoned it the sensuous material brushed her very sensitive nipples, making them stand out. She smiled, and said to her reflection, “Rachel, there is no way you can go into that room looking like this. What would Marcus think?”
She frowned, trying to remember the last time she and Dave had made love. He was always so busy, as was she, that they rarely had time for intimacy. Dave was a good lover but toward the end they hardly saw each other and communication seemed to take the form of text messages, even though they were often in the house together.
Marcus had removed his shoes and was in slacks and shirt sitting on the small sofa. He was just putting his phone away as she came back into the room. He hadn’t turned on any more lights since they arrived so the room was still only illuminated by a small lamp near the bed. She felt self-conscious as his eyes followed her, and she knew he could see her nipples as they hardened again in reaction to his inspection. She quickly got into the side of the bed nearest the bathroom and pulled the covers to her chin. Had Sarah not been there would she try to seduce him? Everything about the evening had been romantic, and with the wine and the feel of him as he comforted her there was no doubt about it.
“Thank you for the pajama top. I was afraid I’d have to sleep naked...”
She blushed. Why did I say that? Actually she loved sleeping naked, but after Sarah was born she moved to wearing pajamas since it was not uncommon for her to have to get up in the night to see to her daughter. The pajamas were easier than fumbling for a robe in the dark, and a darn sight warmer in the cold house at night. Sadly, Dave didn’t seem to care what she slept in.
She blushed again, when he said, “You look beautiful in it. The color suits you, and it is a cold night.”
Was he referring to her prominent nipples? She wanted to tell him it wasn’t the cold that affected her, but held her tongue.
“They have lots of spare blankets and pillows, so I’ll just bunk here on the sofa.”
Up to that point she hadn’t even thought about the sleeping arrangements. “Oh, I’m so sorry to turf you out of your bed. Will you be alright on the sofa?”
He laughed his nice laugh. “Believe me I’ve slept in many places a whole lot worse.” Then his expression turned serious. “It’s a small price to pay to see you smile.”
She blushed again.
Now it was his turn to use the bath. He moved to the lamp and turned it off, and then moved close to her side of the bed. “Good night, Rachel.”
“Good night, Marcus.”
Rachel lay in the dark for a few minutes. The clock showed a few minutes after ten, still relatively early, but she was exhausted and with the meal and the wine and the hot shower and mostly of the lack of worry for a change, she easily drifted off to sleep.
Rachel absently brushed her hair in front of the bathroom mirror as she relived the evening before. He told her last night that he knew she was in trouble. How had he known? She would have to ask him. Was he her guardian angel? No, he was definitely flesh, and from what she felt when he held her last night as she cried, also muscles. He had the body of an athlete – not some bulked up ball player, but maybe more like a competitive cyclist. And later, oh yes later ... when she’d awakened and in the darkened room had seen his restless shape on the too small sofa. There was some light from the street lights through the gap in the curtains on the street side windows.
She got out of bed and went to him. She could tell he was awake.
He quickly sat up, the falling blankets exposing his bare chest. “Rachel, are you okay?”
She hesitated and swallowed. “Marcus, there’s plenty of room on the bed.”
“I’m fine, really.”
“Nonsense,” she said with humor. “I’ll just move Sarah over here. She won’t even notice, and you can have that side of the bed. I should have thought of that earlier.”
“Yes,” she said softly, her heart suddenly beating faster.
Sarah didn’t even stir as Rachel moved her to the sofa, covered her, and kissed her sweet face. She felt so fortunate to have her. She was a blessing.
Soon the two adults were in the bed, Rachel acutely aware of his presence only inches away, but before she could think about it much more she was asleep. Sometime later she woke to find him spooned against her and his strong arm protectively draped over her bare hip. As she lay there she sighed with contentment. Sleeping in his arms seemed like the most natural thing in the world. Smiling, she had gone back to sleep.
She looked at the smiling face in the mirror as she relived the memory and especially the feel of his body pressed against hers. Had she dreamed that part? She shook her head and almost laughed. No, it was definitely real. She couldn’t recall that she had ever felt so protected and secure and loved in her life.
Loved? Was she falling in love with him? Did he love her? What nonsense! That idea was most certainly the fantasy of an affection-starved urban widow. She hadn’t even known him a day yet!
Shaking her head as if she could push thoughts of the night before away, Rachel left the bathroom in search of her clothes. She hated to put on anything she had with her since it all needed to be washed, but there wasn’t much choice. She opened the closet across the small hallway from the bath and her breath caught. Her few items of clothing had been replaced by a number of women’s outfits, which included underwear, shoes and bags!
“Marcus what have you done?” she asked aloud.
Most of them still had Nordstrom tags on them. Ah, the ever resourceful Pru again. Rachel wondered what Pru must have thought as she went through her store picking out items of clothing and accessories for a woman Marcus had just met. Had Pru’s dreams of a future with Marcus been shattered?
“Tough luck, Pru, I’m not letting him go.” She spoke aloud, and then laughed at the absurdity of that statement as she picked out matching light blue panties and bra, some skinny jeans and a soft red cashmere cowl neck sweater. All the items fit her perfectly. Obviously Pru had a good eye for sizes since she had only seen Rachel for what, five minutes? And most of that time she was drooling over Marcus.
She slipped on a pair of ballet flats and moved to the French doors to the rooftop deck, grabbing a piece of toast on her way, and refilling her coffee cup.
She paused, watching Marcus and Sarah. He poured her some cocoa from a carafe on the table and they seemed to be in an intense conversation about something. Both were smiling. Marcus was dressed in wool slacks, ankle boots, a navy sweater, and a dark brown leather jacket. He really is a fine looking man. Her mind went back to the night before and the image of the two of them spooned together. Rachel’s body tingled, and she shivered.
“Good morning you two and Merry Christmas!” she said as she stepped out. The air was crisp, but the rain had passed and the sun was up – and the view – it was spectacular. The deck overlooked the sparkling blue waters of Elliot bay, and the snow-capped Olympics to the west provided an unbelievable backdrop. It was going to be a magnificent Christmas day.
Sarah jumped from her place at the table and ran to Rachel. “Mommy, you were right ... Santa found us!”
Hugging her daughter she caught Marcus’ eye, and mouthed, “Thank you.”
He responded with a slight smile and a shrug.
As Rachel approached the table she saw a game of Chutes and Ladders, something she had played in her own childhood. She wondered where he found it in this era of electronic games, and on Christmas Eve to boot.
“And Santa brought me this coat and hat and these new pants and these boots!” She put one foot forward so Rachel could inspect a pair of red boots with a faux fleece trim.
Rachel bent over and hugged her daughter. “Very nice, obviously you were a good girl this year.”
“Can we go and open your presents now?”
She turned and looked at Marcus. He smiled and nodded.
“I still have a present under the tree, but Mr. James said I should wait to unwrap the last one until you woke up, so we played games and I ate oatmeal and drank cocoa. I thought you were never going to wake up, but Mr. James said you needed your rest so we came out here. Can we go in now?”
All this was said in a jumbled rush which probably reflected too much cocoa as much as the excitement of Christmas morning. Rachel smiled and nodded.
Marcus got to his feet and went to Rachel. “You look wonderful. I hope everything fits. It was kind of a rush thing...”
As Sarah disappeared through the door to the room, Rachel hugged him and kissed him on the lips. What was only meant as a quick kiss to show her pleasure and thankfulness, caught both of them by surprise, and it lasted far longer than either had planned.
They broke apart as Sarah’s insistent voice from inside the room brought them back to reality. Reluctantly they moved their bodies apart a few inches and their breathing began to return to normal.
Still holding her, he said, “Guess we better go unwrap presents.” She never wanted him to let go. And she definitely wanted many more kisses like the one she had just experienced.
Speechless, Rachel only nodded. He took her hand and gently led her back into the room. She mused that she probably would have stood frozen on the deck for a long time had he not taken her hand.
Rachel watched her daughter at the far side of the room take a present from under the tree. The tree? How had he done that? It was not a real tree of course, but it was authentic looking, and perhaps three feet tall with twinkling white lights. It was on the small table in the corner across the room, near the windows. How had she missed it earlier?
“Sit here Mommy.” Sarah pointed to an upholstered arm chair next to the window.
Marcus watched with great amusement as Sarah handed her a foil wrapped box. As she opened it Rachel was amazed to see an iPhone. “Oh Marcus ... thank you.”
How did he know I didn’t have a phone? It took a great deal of will to hold back tears.
“Can I open my last present now Mr. James?”
He looked at Rachel who nodded. “Okay.”
The excited girl ripped the foil wrapping. “Elsa and Anna dolls!” Sarah was so excited she jumped up and down. Even after a couple of years Frozen was still her favorite movie. Her last few toys, games, and books were packed away at Mrs. Grayson’s house.
“I didn’t get to ask Santa but he knew anyway!”
As she started to take the figures out of the box Marcus said, “Sarah, I think there’s one more.” He handed her a slim box, and as she tore the foil wrapping she said in an excited voice, “The movie, Mommy. Santa brought Frozen too, and two books about Elsa and Anna!”
Her smile seemed to light up the room. A tear ran down Rachel’s cheek.
Sarah moved to the small table by the doors to the deck and surveyed her Elsa and Anna figures, leaving Marcus and Rachel alone, even though they were only about eight feet away.
Rachel started to get up but Marcus waived her back to her chair. “Santa brought more for you too.”
He handed her a small silver-wrapped package. Inside, was a simple ring of gold embellished with glittering red and green faceted stones. As she pulled it from its box a heavy gold rope chain came with it. “Marcus, this is too much. I can’t accept this. The clothes and the phone and all Santa’s gifts for Sarah, I just don’t know...” She sat and looked at his concerned face as her tears flowed.
He knelt next to her and took her hands which still held the beautiful pendant. “You know, Santa will be very disappointed if you don’t want what he brought. He had to think very hard about a special gift for a special lady on Christmas.” His eyes were so soft and loving that she released his hands and wrapped her arms around his neck.
She whispered. “Thank you Santa. Thank you for everything.”
He put his arms around her. “My pleasure Rachel, my pleasure.” This time the long kiss was no accident. Eventually the kiss ended and he stood. Holding her hands, he asked, “May I?” He nodded toward the pendant she held. She handed it to him, and he moved behind her and hung it around her neck. It was the most beautiful piece of jewelry she had ever received.
She stood and hugged, him feeling the warmth of him as he held her. Finally as they drew apart he said, “Rachel, I’d like you and Sarah to come to Christmas dinner with me this afternoon at my daughter’s home.”
Still reeling from the gift and his embrace, she tried to comprehend what he had asked. “Your daughter? Dinner? Are you sure?”
“Yes, I think you two should meet. I’m sure you’d like each other.” Rachel’s heart leapt at that statement. He wanted her to meet his daughter. That meant he saw a future for them beyond this Christmas Day.
“But what could I say about ... about ... I mean...”