I was getting ready to spend the single most important holiday of the year alone. Completely and utterly alone.
That meant he wouldn’t be there Christmas Eve. No making Christmas cookies, or listening to my dad sing off-key while my mom bustled around wrapping last-minute gifts. No decorating the tree. No midnight Christmas kiss.
No waking up in Grey’s arms. We were actually going to spend our very first Christmas in different states.
That was until Grey gave me the most unexpected gift of my life.
T.A. Foster once spent a monthlong spring break on South Padre Island, where she soaked in the Texas sun, beach, and learned what real Texas country music is. Sometimes fiction does spring from reality.
She grew up catching rays and chasing waves along the North Carolina Outer Banks and now resides in the state with her adventurous pilot husband, two children, and two canine kiddos.
T.A. has an undergraduate degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a graduate degree in Educational Psychology from Texas A&M University. When she’s not chasing her two-legged and four-legged children or trying to escape for date night, you can find her reading, writing, or planning her next beach trip.
“In here, Eden. Come see,” Mom called from the living room.
“Ok, ok. What’s different with the tree this year?” I stopped in the doorway. “Wow, Mom. It’s amazing.” I stepped closer to examine her latest work of art.
The twinkle lights sparkled all over the tree. All of our family ornaments were on display, but there were new ones. It sparkled from the inside out. There had to be at least fifty glitter snowflakes. Some made from mirror, others coated in a white shimmer.
“I can’t believe you added all of this. Where did you get the idea?” I circled to the other side, not wanting to miss a single decoration.
“Oh, it just hit me one morning when I was doing child’s pose. It threw off the rest of my class, because I wanted to get out of the studio and start on the ornaments.” She laughed. “I used crushed glass on most of the snowflakes. I’m hoping we’ll have a white Christmas this year. The tree should get us started.”
My mother had always been crafty, but this looked like the work of a professional.
“I think it’s the prettiest tree we’ve had.” I reached for my phone in my back pocket.
“What are you doing?”
I stepped back and snapped a photo. “Taking a picture to send to Grey. He has to see this.” I forwarded the picture along with a message.
Wish you were here to see this in person.
Seconds later, he wrote back.
Me too, baby.
Why don’t you change your mind? Promise you’ll love it.
I bet I would.
I sighed. There was no changing his mind once it was made up. That determination could be an amazing characteristic, but right now, it made me sad that we were in different states.
“How about we get you settled in your room, and I’ll have dinner ready in a few minutes? I bet you’re tired from the trip.”
“A little.” I shuffled down the hall in search of my old bedroom.
Other than summer and holiday breaks, I hadn’t spent much time here since I graduated from high school. Pictures from school were on the walls—all the things that I didn’t pack for the Texas move. My mother had even unpacked my childhood tree and placed it on the dresser. It made me think about the tree Grey probably had with Pops. It was good to be home, but my heart hurt more now than when I got on the plane in Brownsville.
It was only a week. I could do this for a week, right? I watched the lights on my tree change from blue to red to green. Who was I kidding? I was going to be completely miserable as long as Grey and I were apart.