Word prompt this week is "kiss".
GREY & CARRIE'S CHRISTMAS
My story today is taken from a WIP, sequel to "The Marriage List". It is the continuing story of Grey and Carrie. They have arrived at his parent's house in Pine Grove, a small town in upstate New York in the morning on Christmas eve and the whole family greets them:
Carrie was enveloped first in Fran’s arms for a hug. Member after member gave her hugs, then moved on to hug Grey. John eased everyone away from the doorway so he could close the door.
“I’m not paying to heat the outdoors. Get your butts in here,” he said, putting his hand on Grey’s shoulder, “glad to see you, son.”
Fran linked Carrie’s arm through hers as she walked her into the living room. The tall Christmas tree was decorated with more home-made ornaments from many years of school holiday projects stretched over four children than it was at Thanksgiving. Perhaps Fran found an old box of treasures in her attic.
The entire house sported festive decorations. Evergreen swags hugged the mantle and twined through the staircase. Snow globes, small statues of Santa Claus and other Christmas figurines perched on the wide marble mantle and the baby grand piano. One white electric candle stood proudly in each window.
There was a roaring fire in the large fireplace, bordered with cream-colored molding stained with soot in a few places. Fran steered Carrie to the wide brown velvet sofa. Jenna sat cross-legged on the floor in her fleece workout outfit. Bill sat next to her, petting the two pugs snuggled up to him. Barbara and her husband, Ernie, took over the love seat. John commanded the leather wing chair. Grey joined Carrie on the sofa and Colin pulled up an ottoman.
Carrie stood up and took her bags of gifts to the tree and placed them under and around. Then she did the same with the two bags Jenna brought in. Afterward she rejoined Fran.
“Let’s go over the schedule for today and tomorrow.” She pulled a small journal out of a large pocket in the apron and opened it to a clipped page.
“The open house has been moved to 2:30 to 7:30 so anyone who wants to can go on the Santa sighting hayride. Grey,” she said, turning to face her son, “Carrie has never been on that. It’s not long, about twenty minutes. Might be fun. Then we have our one-present exchange at eight o’clock.”
Grey nodded at his mother and directed his gaze at Carrie, who smiled at him in return.
“Dad is doing brunch this morning…what are we having John?”
“Pancakes and link sausages. Chocolate chip pancakes ‘cause Grey said those are Carrie’s favorite,” John smiled directly at her.
Carrie blushed at the attention.
“Okay, he’s going to start that in about five minutes. It’s nine thirty now, hmmm. We need to get the ham in the oven by one o’clock. So let’s eat then divide into teams. We got most of the cleaning done before you got here, Grey…”
“Gee. I’m disappointed!” He made a mock sad face. Colin threw a pillow at him.
“Right! I’ve saved a few choice tasks for you, though,” Fran smiled at him, her eyes twinkling. Grey groaned.
“I think I have all the food and I’ve been baking cookies all week. They are in tins. Still, I didn’t get around to lemon bars and you know Emma always asks for those.”
Silence fell on the room. Fran gave a quizzical look. Barbara stood up.
“Then we have a lot to do, so we’d better begin,” she said, tapping her husband on the shoulder.
Everyone got up and went to the kitchen. Together they set the big table in the dining room while John whipped up pancake batter. Barbara cooked the sausages on the grill on the deck in the back. Grey and Carrie disappeared into their room to unpack.
“Why did everyone get quiet when your mother mentioned Emma?” Carrie asked Grey as she slung her small suitcase on the bed and unzipped it.
“Don’t know. Emma, my girlfriend from high school, is a family friend now. She’s married to Matt, also from our high school. They’ve got a kid.”
“But she comes here every year for your family’s Christmas open house?”
“She and Matt come on Christmas day, in the afternoon for an hour or two, that’s all. I swear she comes only for the lemon bars.”
“What aren’t you telling me?” Carrie opened the top dresser drawer, folded her lingerie and placed it in the drawer.
“Okay, okay. She was my first…and I was hers. There. But it’s ancient history.”
“Ancient history with you or her? Losing your virginity is a big deal. Someone you usually remember.”
“I have you. I don’t want Emma, haven’t for years and years. I moved on and I assume she has, too. Otherwise, Matt is going to have a problem,” he said, hanging up a shirt in the closet.
“Perhaps your sibs don’t agree. Otherwise why did everyone clam up at the mention of her name?” Carrie folded some shirts and added them to the drawer, then closed it.
“She likes to flirt. She still flirts with me. It used to make Matt mad, but I think he gets it’s only Emma being Emma and doesn’t mean anything.” Grey took all his socks in one hand and opened the second dresser drawer and dumped them in.
“Is she pretty?” Carrie took a dress out of her bag and shook it out.
“I guess. Haven’t thought about her in a long time. She’s not as pretty as you are,”
“Oh?” Carrie hung up her dress and stopped, her brow furrowed.
“What?” He stopped.
“Do I need to worry about this woman?” She whirled around to face him.
In two strides he was in front of her, enveloping her in his arms. He hugged her tightly to his chest.
“Honey, you don’t have to worry about anything. I love you and only you. I’m not interested in anyone else. You’re mine and I’m yours. Don’t let her stopping by ruin our first Christmas together.”
“Hey, yeah. It is our first Christmas together,” she rested her head on his chest and closed her eyes, a smile curling her lips.
“Looks like we’ll have to move our ‘date’ tonight to nine, instead of eight.”
“Still gives us plenty of time…”
Grey grinned at her and dropped a quick kiss on her lips.
“Hey, you two, get outta bed and come down here. Breakfast is ready!” Colin called up the stairs.
Color rose to Carrie’s cheeks as Grey took her hand, leading her into the hall.
“Colin can be a real idiot sometimes,” he murmured as he headed for the stairs.
Blurb:Can happily ever after start with a list? Grey Andrews thinks so. After ten years of working, saving and investing, Grey finally achieved a level of wealth that allows him to do what he wants with his life. He needs a woman to share it with, but not any woman, the perfect woman. A woman who has the three essential qualities on his marriage list. But after three years of searching he isn’t any closer to finding her than he was when he started out.
Carrie Tucker, an aspiring mystery writer and divorcée struggling to make it in the world of advertising, turned her focus from men to her career after dating too many creeps and losers. She’s finally earned her big break, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become the first female creative director in a hot New York ad agency. So what if it means working nights and weekends? It’s not like she has a social life anyway.
Is the marriage list a failure or will a chance meeting at a fiction-writing conference prove the list to be the key to Grey’s happiness after all?
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