“You’re a total drip.” Robin confirmed for me just in case I had any doubts on the matter, confiscating my book off the bedside table as he put down the last box of Christmas decorations on the bed. “Stalky and Co. WHO reads this kind of thing?”
”Evocative?” Robin flicked through the book with growing horror. “HALF of it’s in Latin. You’re a geek Hayes! A WET geek.”
I got up off the counter and took down cups. “Making tea. What’s he doing?”
“Nothing except what?”
“We’ll never know.” I told him. “We don’t want one.”
“Candles?!” Robin demanded behind us.
I nodded and my stomach jumped still higher as he hung the tea cloth over the banisters and started upstairs, offering his hand to me at the top. I took it and trailed him into our room where he took a seat on the bed and drew me in between his knees.
Damien didn’t push any further. Quietly, he unbuttoned my jeans, pulled them down and I went where he led me, to his right and across his lap where I buried my face in the familiar sanctuary of my arms and the duvet. It wasn’t going to help, but the illusion was always there that it might.
“He’s been much more of a pain without driving you to hurling dried fruit at his head.”
I took a deep breath and stepped back, doing my best to look calm. “It needs doing, let’s just get on with it.”
“If need be, we’ll make do with a cheese sandwich and a bunch of flowers from the garden,” Damien informed me. “That’s a much better option than you rampaging around getting yourself into a state. Lose the mood and I’ll think about us carrying on.”
“Rubbish, there’s bound to be faulty sets, we just exchange them.” Damien said, picking up his jacket. The phone rang as I opened the front door. Damien picked it up and I heard his voice change in between, “Hello?” and “Oh hello Jerry.”
I flushed, heading towards the car. “I need to get back, Damien’ll be……” Somewhere, wanting something. I let it trail off without being explicit. Allen called after me.
“There aren’t any left of the type you’d chosen.” The man said, looking around the racks. “There are those- luminous, very nice-“ Bright red, Damien would have a fit and we’d look like an advertising brothel. ”Or these, multi coloured ones.”
“We like the small white ones.” I explained. “With different flashing patterns.” Which I played with to annoy Anastasia when I got really bored. I gave the man a look of what I hoped was appeal.
“I met Allen and Robin at the garden centre.” I said, taking the lights into the lounge.
We WERE jinxed. I’d told him. ”I don’t care,” I said hotly, “I’m not going out to buy ANY more lights.”
“Then YOU take them back!” I said, heading out of the room with my temper finally fried. The lounge door ricocheted back off its hinges as I slammed it, and the phone started to ring as I was about to run upstairs. That didn’t help.
“She does NOT hate you.” Damien rubbed my arm which lay under his hand and ran it up to stroke my hair. “And she raised three teenagers, she’s been shouted at before now.”
”Bad example.” Damien said, dropping a kiss on my forehead.
”It WAS funny.” Damien disagreed, fending me off. “Go on. Ring her, you’ll feel much better once you have.”
I took a few deep breaths. Then keeping hold of his hand, got up and headed for the phone.
”I’d probably be better still if they went to the carol thing without us.” I suggested. Damien shook his head at me, went to phone and left me to sprawl on the bed and spent twenty minutes on the oxygen cylinder. It was still a nuisance, but between that and the Bricanyl, I’d had two autumns better than I’d managed in years.
”Hello.” Damien said patiently, loosening my grip. “I think you’ve had enough to drink darling.”
”No, we don’t.” Damien said, steering me away from the freezer and sitting me at the foot of the stairs. “Wait there a minute darling.” He walked out of my sight, which was so unfair that I got up and wandered after him, wondering why I’d never noticed the ripples in the carpet before. They were so pretty, like little rivers. I trailed them to the doorway of the lounge and smiled at Allen. SUCH a nice man.
”I’m fine. It’s Christmas.” I told him happily, picking up my glass to finish the wine. He prised it gently out of my fingers.
”It’s the Marsala .” I said warmly. “It’s lovely. Very sweet. It’s lovely when it’s very very sweet. Very very sweet indeed.”
”Everything’s wonderful.” I comforted him, feeling on top of the world. “You’re wonderful. Robin’s wonderful. Everyone’s wonderful.”
”Oh Nicky you are going to pay for this SO badly in the morning.” Damien said ruefully, pushing my hair out of my eyes. “Stay there darling. I’m going to get you a lot of water and a lot more coffee-“
”We need to go out for a walk.” I told him. “It’s Christmas. We need to go and get some more lights.”
”We’ll live with the singing ones.” Damien leaned down and kissed my forehead, leaning his against mine for a moment. I loved it when he did that and tonight it made me giggle helplessly.