It was an early afternoon in the holiday season and Torie was out shopping for Christmas gifts. She was standing at a street corner on Honey Ville square, waiting for the light while talking on her cell phone.
Nearby stood a young woman with long dark brown hair past her shoulders, dripping wet. Her clothes were dirty and damp, mistaken as a homeless woman, whom strangers passing by on the street handed her change. She listened to Torie’s conversation to her mother. Noel admired her, staring with sad, teary eyes and pouty lips from crying long hours. She noticed Torie was about to step out into the street where a large black pickup truck was speeding towards her.
She quickly acted by grabbing hold of Torie’s shoulders and jerking her back from the road. Startled, Torie saw the truck speed by and looked to Noel while breathing heavily. Her heart was pounding. She gripped her bags of beautifully wrapped Christmas gifts tied with brightly colored ribbons and bows.
“Thank you” Torie said to Noel realising how grateful she was for her saving her life. Noel was soft spoken and chose to slightly nod.
“Excuse me…” Torie called to her, noticing how dirty her clothes and hair was. Even her face had smudges of dried dirt over her cheeks and forehead. Who was this young woman who saved me? Torie thought. She looked quite sad and Torie felt sympathy for her. Torie was a mother and was nurturing, it came naturally for her to love others and show a certain compassion for those less fortunate. She saw something when she stared into Noel’s sad green eyes; she felt something she hadn’t felt in a long time. Hope.
So unlike the strangers, who passed this young woman by, who were rushing to find the perfect gift for their loved ones, Torie took a moment to carefully observe Noel and came to a decision that day, a decision that would change her and her families holiday season, a decision that would change their life, forever.
“I would like to invite you home with me for dinner.” Torie began. “In thanks for saving my life.” Noel looked confused. “You could wash up and change into some dry clothes.” Torie continued, “My husband and I would love to have you.” Torie smiled at her, “Please come.”
Noel felt something different that moment staring into Torie’s eyes. Something she had been longing to. A motherly figure stood before her with an opportunity. She raised the corners of her mouth to smile, but sadness in her heart kept her smile small. She nodded.
“I’m parked by that little coffee shop across the street.” Torie said, while crossing the street alongside of Noel who shuffled her feet, wiping the pavement with the bottoms of her damp pant legs.
“You must be cold in those wet clothes. I’ve got something that should fit you upstairs.” Torie said while setting the bags of gifts down onto the entry floor, next to the stairs of her home.
“My husband Paul should be home at 5:30pm.” Noel stood next to the front door dripping wet, glancing around the house which was clean and organized. The walls painted in soft colors, the smell of cinnamon filled the room.
“Come” Torie gestured long for her name, “Noel” She responded in a shaky, soft tone. “It’s nice to meet you Noel, I’m Torie.” She smiled while gesturing to the stairs, “Come, I’ll show you to the bathroom and find you some clothes so you can wash up for dinner.”
Noel fallowed her upstairs and waited next to a bedroom. Torie took a few minutes then returned with a pair of clothes she handed to Noel, a pair of blue jeans, a t-shirt and some socks.
“The bathroom is right there.” Torie pointed to the open door across the hall then continued. “I’ll be downstairs in the kitchen cooking dinner. After you’re all cleaned up, come join me. My husband should be home by then and you can meet him.”
Noel washed up and dressed in the clean clothes Torie had given her. She gathered up her dirty clothes then carried them downstairs, into the kitchen where she saw Torie cooking and her husband Paul sitting on a stool looking through some mail. He looked to her and Torie did shortly after and smiled. She walked over to Noel taking the dirty clothes from her.
“I’ll run these through the wash for you.” Torie smiled. “Wait here.”
Paul stared at her confused, trying to figure out who she was. They haven’t had guests over in almost four years.
“Hi there” He began, “I’m Paul, are you a friend of Torie’s?” He questioned. Noel being shy wasn’t sure how to respond to whom she was or why she was there to him. Torie walked into the kitchen and saved her from having to try.
“This here is Noel, she saved my life today.”
Paul looked concerned now, “Don’t worry honey. I’m alright.”
Torie continued with cooking, “There’s a TV room just through there. Dinner will be another hour.” She said to Noel, wanting a moment alone with Paul to explain. Noel got the hint and excused herself.
“So, what happened today?” Paul asked again in a worried tone, “Well, I was on my cell with mom when this big black truck”
“You were driving and talking?” Paul interrupted, “No honey, relax. I was standing at a cross walk when this big black truck came out of nowhere and as I was about to step out into the street someone grabbed me by the shoulders and pulled me back, just then this black truck sped by us.” Torie smile, “If it wasn’t for Noel I’d be”
“Thank goodness you’re alright.” He walked over to her pulling her into an embrace, kissing her.
“She was dripping wet from head to toe. She looked like she’d been through a lot.” Torie began. “Paul, I think she’s homeless.”
Paul felt sympathy for Noel, “I’m glad you invited her, it sounds like she could use a good home cooked meal.”
“I hoped you would agree. I just couldn’t leave her there after she saved my life.” Paul kissed his wife, then began taking over the cooking, “Here, let me finish up. You should keep her company until dinner.”
“You don’t mind?” Torie smiled.
He kissed her, “Go.”
“I love you.”
“I love you to.”
Torie joined Noel in the TV room; she was standing in front of the fire place admiring a few family photos on the mantel. Torie stood next to her, “That’s our son Shawn.” She said, looking to Noel, “Whose that next to him?” She questioned, noticing a young girl who appeared to be eight teen at the most.
Torie sighed; it was filled with grief and deep sadness that she hadn’t seen signs of until that moment. “That was our daughter Kelly.” Noel looked to Torie realising that they had lost their daughter. Short curls of dirty blond hair. A beautiful smile and green eyes like her mother. A tear rolled down Torie’s face and Noel knew right then that their family was still recovering from their loss. “How long ago did she die?” Noel asked. Torie wiped her face from the tears, “Almost three years.” She answered while setting the picture down. “When Kelly got sick.” Noel put her hand on Torie’s shoulder in comfort, “I’m sorry.” Torie smiled small, “Thank you for coming here.” She sniffled, “We haven’t had company in a long time.”
They sat down in the dining room for dinner with Paul after the table was set. “This looks great. Thank you.” Noel said before taking her first bite. Torie smiled at Paul feeling like a family again for a brief moment.
“So Noel, where is it you’re from?” Paul began to question out of curiosity. “I grew up here in Fester.”
“So, you have family here?” Paul asked. Noel sighed, “No”
“Where are they?”
“Paul?” Torie interrupted, not wanting to make Noel uncomfortable. “No, it’s alright.” Noel said, “I don’t have family. I grew up in a foster home.” She answered.
“You poor thing” Torie felt for her, “that must have been terribly hard.”
“We’re sorry to hear that Noel.” Paul added.
Noel was quiet while she continued eating her dinner. Torie and Paul exchanged looks of sympathy for her.
When dinner was finished Torie got up and brought the dishes into the kitchen and Noel helped. She was grateful for their hospitality and felt blessed to have met them. They’re a loving couple who cared a lot about others. They missed having a family because of their loss and their son being grown up. They felt at home with Noel.
It was becoming late and Noel wasn’t sure how to go about leaving. She wasn’t even sure where to go. She was in the entry when Torie walked over to her, “Noel” Torie said. “Would you like to stay over and rest up? We have an extra room you could sleep in. We would love to have you.”
“You’ve already done so much for me.” Noel began, but Torie cut her off. “Please stay.” Noel saw the sadness return to Torie’s eyes and realised she wasn’t just asking because she wanted to help, but also because it filled the void. Noel nodded, not wanting to see her upset. She liked their family and felt wanted.
Torie showed her to a bedroom upstairs and flicked on the light switch. “This was our daughter’s room.” Noel looked around the room, not seeing any signs of her daughter’s belongings. “Of course, it’s not exactly how she left it. We thought it best to get rid of her things so we could start living again.” Torie walked to the dresser where a pair of purple pajamas was folded. “For you” she said with a smile, “There’s an extra toothbrush in the bathroom for you as well.”
“Are you sure this is okay?” Noel asked. “More than sure” Torie walked to Noel staring at her with a big smile. “We are so blessed to have you.” Noel felt tears building up inside, “If you get hungry during the night, feel free to roam the kitchen cupboards.”
Torie made her way downstairs finding Paul in his office, filing a few papers. “Hey sweetie” he said giving her a kiss. “Did you see her out?”
“Not exactly” she answered. “I invited her to stay over. It didn’t sound like she even had a home to go back to.”
“Torie” he held her face in his hand, “You can’t keep her.”
“It’s only for the night.” He saw the truth in his wife’s eyes; she didn’t want to send her away. “Torie, she’s a grown woman. We have no right intervening in her life.” “But Paul” “We don’t even know her.” “I need to help her” Torie said. “She isn’t a stray cat. You can’t just adopt her.” “She doesn’t have a place to go.” “We don’t know that.” Paul said, “She has no family; she was dripping wet and cold when I met her. Paul, this girl saved my life without any motive behind it. I have to, we have to help her.”
Paul’s voice softened and he finally understood and he walked to her, pulling her into his arms in a loving embrace. “I know you miss her. I do to. Having Noel here makes some of the pain, go away.” He sighed, “If you need this. If you need her then I support you, but you have to be honest with her. If she wants to leave, you can’t pressure her.” “Thank you Paul.” “I love you” He kissed her, “I love you to.”
The following day Torie sat down with Noel after they shared breakfast. Paul was at work and it was Torie’s day off. Torie sat on the chair next to Noel in the dining room. They sipped some hot tea and Torie began, “I need to tell you something Noel.” Noel lowered her cup, “yes.”
“I am so thankful you were there when that truck would have hit me. The last thing our family needs is another loss.” She continued, “I wanted to ask you something, or more purpose something.” She took a moment then went on, “We would like you to stay with us, at least until the New Year. You could stay in Kelly’s old room and we’ll get you some clothes and supply everything you need here. We could have a family Christmas together.” Noel was silent, unsure what to say. “We understand you know little about us, but we’re asking” Torie took another moment to gather her next words.
“When we lost our daughter, we lost a part of ourselves. We lost a part of our family. Our son Shawn doesn’t come home to visit. He calls once every few months and hasn’t taken our calls. We haven’t been the same since Kelly passed. Her loss crippled us and we’re still mourning her. We miss her dearly.
When you saved me I saw something in your eyes. I saw something I lost, that we all lost. Hope” Torie smiled with tears in her eyes, “We would like to adopt you for Christmas.” Silence filled the room while Noel took in everything Torie had said to her.
“I am so thankful for everything you and your husband Paul have done for me. I’ve never been treated by anyone the way you have in a twenty-four hour period, in my whole life. I grew up in foster care.” Torie listened, noticing tears stirring inside Noel’s eyes. “It was lonely, I felt abandoned my whole life and forgotten. I didn’t understand why my parents gave me up. No one would tell me.” Noel sighed, “I found out who they were a few months ago. My father died of an over dose five years ago and my mother lives six hours from here, in Casistark.” She took a moment then continued, “Her names Janet and she’s rich. She has two children, eleven and six with her boyfriend Gabrielle who smelled of beer and cigarettes.
Who spent an hour telling me how rotten I was and what a mistake I had been. She told me that my father raped her and she hated me the moment I was born.” Noel cried. “She couldn’t even look at me. She never held me.” Torie immediately shot up from her chair and pulled her up into her arms. Noel cried on her shoulder, “She couldn’t even name me.”
“Shh” Torie calmed her softly, then gently pulled her away to look at her. She stared into her sad teary eyes, “Listen to me” She said.
“You are wonderful. You are a gift and a blessing. I am so blessed to have met you. You are a blessing.” She hugged her close.
Noel cried, “Your safe now, you’re alright.” Torie reassured her, hearing Noel’s cries soften and calm slowly.
Later that day Noel was in the kitchen having a glass of orange juice when Paul walked in and looked to her, she immediately noticed his tears. He walked to her pulling her into his arms in a hug. “I’m so sorry.” He said and she knew then that Torie had shared her story.
It was a week before Christmas and the second day from when Noel met the Connor family. Torie and Noel dressed up warm and took the car to Honey Ville square to the mall. Torie wanted to buy a few things for Noel that she needed.
“How about something like this? “Torie said while holding up a brown jacket that was way too plain looking. “Yeah, that’s good” Noel said.
Torie heard the dislike in her voice and smiled, “Hun, if you don’t like it, just tell me. This is your shopping day and your clothes. I want you to like them.” “Okay, I hate it.” Noel smiled back, making Torie laugh.
Noel picked out a few things from a small clothing store called Madison. She looked to Torie as she opened her wallet, taking out her card to pay. A wallet sized photo floated to the floor and Noel knelt down picking it up. It was a picture of her son Shawn. He was a handsome young man with brown eyes and chestnut brown hair like his father Paul.
Noel smiled small, handing it to Torie who caught her look. “He’s a handsome young man isn’t he?” she said. “I miss him.”
“Why doesn’t he come to see you and Paul?” Noel questioned. Torie picked up the bags and they left the store together. “He moved out a few months after we lost our Kelly and he slowly distanced himself from us.” She sighed. “We all dealt with loss our own way.” Torie put her arm around Noel. “I’m really enjoying your company.” Noel smiled big, “There’s my smile.” Torie said.
“Thanks for the clothes Torie.”
“Are you hungry? We should grab some lunch from the food court.”
“I’d like that.” Noel answered.
Torie and Noel sat in the food court enjoying a lunch together without knowledge that Torie’s son Shawn was doing some shopping of his own. He noticed his mother with a young lady who he didn’t recognise and kept an eye on them from a fair distance.
“This is so good.” Noel said taking a bite of her poutine which is a plate of French fries smothered in mozzarella cheese and gravy. “Can I try?” Torie asked. Noel pushed her plate towards her and she took a bite of it. “Mmm, your right” She agreed, “This is good” then took another bite.
Noel laughed while guarding her plate, “hey!” Torie laughed.
“I was wondering Noel.”
“What’s that?” She replied. “How old are you?” Noel smiled then answered, “Twenty-one”
“Where were you staying?”
“Foster care.” She answered. “I was supposed to go to college or get some kind of job and find a place of my own, but I kept putting it off.” She said. “I couldn’t start a life without knowing my real parents.” She sighed, “Now I wish I hadn’t.”
“You’ll know when you’re ready to be on your own.” Torie said.
Torie answered her cell phone while Noel continued eating her lunch. “Shawn” Noel looked up at Torie surprised. “I’m so happy you called. Your father and I have been trying to reach you. Did you get my messages? We wanted to invite you for Christmas.”
“Is anything new with you and dad? He asked, avoiding her invitation. “A few things” she answered, looking to Noel. “I’m free this afternoon if you wanted to get together for lunch.” He said. “I’m actually in the mall right now, having lunch.”
“Me to.” He said, “In the mall I mean.”
Torie looked around, “you’re in the mall?”
“Perhaps dinner would be better; it looks as though I’d be interrupting.” He hung up before Torie could respond.
Torie looked confused, “He’s here in the mall.” She sighed, “He’s still very upset.”
“I’m sorry.” Noel put her hand over Torie’s.
They arrived back home, close to 6:00pm and saw Paul in the doorway of the kitchen which was across the entry. “We got so much stuff.” Torie said in a proud voice. “Did you get everything you needed?” Paul asked Noel. “Yes.” She answered with a smile, setting down the bags. Torie greeted Paul with a kiss, “You’ll never guess who called me today.” She said.
Shawn walked up from behind Paul and Torie immediately rushed over to him, greeting him with a long hug. “Shawn” She held him tight. He peered over her shoulder looking at Noel who stood quietly in the entry next to her bags. She felt awkward and shy. Shawn was more handsome then the photo she remembered. He was tall and dressed in black slacks and a white button down shirt. His sleeves were pulled up on each arm.
“Shawn. We would like you to meet Noel.” Torie introduced them to one another. Shawn stared her down, “A very Christmas name” He said.
Noel smiled small, “Mine’s Shawn, no Christmas at all.” He looked to his mother, “Dad filled me in” Torie nodded, then smiled at Paul. “I’ve got dinner started. Shawn helped out.” Paul said. “Alright, well” Torie looked at Shawn and Noel who were fixated on each other. “Paul and I are going to finish up with dinner.”
When they left the room, Shawn walked over to Noel picking up her bags, and then stood in front of her, staring into her green eyes. “I’ll help bring these to your room.” He said, “Come along Christmas.”
“Noel” She corrected.
He looked to her while walking upstairs with her, “Noel.”
Shawn set her bags down onto her bed, and then looked around the room. “This was my sister’s room.”
“I’m sorry for your loss.” Noel said.
“Can I say something to you Noel?” He asked her. “Of course”
“Come” He sat down on the bed and she joined him. He took her hand in his, staring at her. “I haven’t seen my mom this happy in a long time.” He began. “Even my dad seems happier since you” he smiled small. “I want to thank you for that.” He kissed her hand. “Dad thinks your some angel sent from God the way you came into their lives.” He added.
“It was your mother who saved me.” She responded. “If it wasn’t for her.” She sighed.
He touched her chin, looking into her eyes, “whoever saved who. I’m glad you’re here.” He got up from the bed and walked to the door where he stood looking at her. “It was nice meeting you Noel.”
“It was nice meeting you to Shawn.”
The family sat down for dinner together and Shawn sat next to Noel. “How is work going for you?” Paul asked Shawn, “It’s alright, nothing too special happening.”
“Our son’s an accountant.” Torie said to Noel.
Shawn looked to Noel who was looking at Torie smiling, “Oh” she said, looking to him. “That’s great.”
“Not really.” Shawn joked, “It’s boring as hell. I have this guy I work with who complains as much as an eight year old girl who lost her Barbie doll.”
“But the pay’s good.” Paul added with a big smile. “That’s the upside.” Shawn agreed.
“So, your dad said you’re coming for Christmas?” Torie said to Shawn.
“I said I would think about it.” He corrected in irritation. “I’m not much for the holidays. We haven’t had a Christmas together since Kelly died.” He said.
Noel sat back, feeling tension in the room. “Shawn, we have company.”
“She’s practically family, right?” He snapped, “Filling the place of Kelly.” He looked to Torie, “isn’t that right mom?”
Noel felt uncomfortable being there, “I can’t even drive past Marco’s without tearing up. It’s been almost four years and here you two are, adopting some homeless girl.” He snapped, “Who we know nothing about except that her mommy’s no good and her daddy’s dead shit.”
“Shawn!” Paul said sternly, “what next.” Shawn went to add more, “That’s enough Shawn.” Paul gave him a look.
Torie left the room and Paul followed her knowing she would need his comfort.
Noel got up from her chair, “Are you leaving to?” Shawn snapped. He got up with her and walked over to her. “What happened to you being happy I’m here and how happy your parents are?” She began, “have you changed your mind?”
“You shouldn’t even be here, let alone in Kelly’s bedroom.” Noel saw through him and slipped her hand into his knowing she couldn’t become angry. It would only make matters worse and she was in unfamiliar territory.
“I know you’re hurting and being here doesn’t help that.” She said, “It gets easier”
Shawn was silent, “your parents always talk about how much they miss you and wish you would come home.”
“I’m twenty-seven. I have a home of my own. I have a life.” He pulled his hand away from hers. “You know what I mean Shawn.”
“They pulled the plug on her” he said in great sadness, “the doctors said they wanted us to consider taking her off of life support and they did.” He cried.
“Shawn” Noel said gently, “they did what they believed was best for their daughter.” He covered his face with one hand, “I miss her so much.” Noel came to his aid and hugged him tightly, “I wish I could have done more for her.” Noel hugged him tightly, rubbing his back, “I couldn’t even look my parents in the eyes for a year and then I just spent my time working so I wouldn’t have to.”
“I’m so sorry.” Noel said.
Later that evening, close to 10:00pm Shawn was leaving. Torie and Paul saw him to the door, giving him a hug goodbye. He looked to Noel who was standing on the bottom stair. He took her hand, “Thank you.”
He opened the door to leave, “I’ll stay in touch.” He said to his parents then smiled at Noel on his way out the door. Torie walked to Noel holding her face in her hands. “Thank you.” She began, “you brought our son home.” Torie hugged her and Paul walked over and put his arms around both of them in a family embrace.
There were a couple more days until Christmas and Paul and Torie went out to get their last minute shopping done before the big day. They planned a big dinner and even Shawn was going to be there. Noel stayed at their home going through a Christmas catalog sitting in a cozy chair in front of the decorated tree.
She hadn’t seen Shawn for a few days so it was a nice surprise when he stopped by around lunch. Noel answered the door still wearing her pajamas. He walked into the house taking off his scarf and jacket smiling at her.
“Is it Pajama day?” He said, gesturing to her Pajama’s.
“Cute look for you” he commented while hanging up his jacket and slipping off his shoes. Noel stood in front of him with her arms crossed staring at him. It was hard for her not to blush in front of him. She felt an instant attraction towards him.
“What brings you?” She asked.
“I had some time to waste and my car brought me here.” He answered coy.
“Your parents are out Christmas shopping.”
He walked to Noel standing inches from her, “So we’re all alone.” He said causing her cheeks to turn red and it wasn’t until then when he realized she was attracted to him. He smiled.
“Did you eat? I’ll make us some lunch.” He said walking into the kitchen with her close beside him. They stood on either side of the island and she watched while he made them each a sandwich. “Did you come in hopes that your parents would be home?” Noel asked.
He smiled big, “No.” he answered knowing she really wanted to know whether or not he came here to see her. “Here.” He slid the plate with her sandwich on it and she thanked him.
“It’s cold outside. I think it’s going to snow tonight.” He said while gazing out the kitchen window. “I don’t think so.” She said. He faced her smiling, “I’m telling you Noel. It’s going to snow, I can feel it.”
“Nope” She said as a challenge.
“Alright, we’ll see whose right. I’m staying just so I can throw you in it.” He replied.
“I most certainly will miss Christmas” She gave him a look. “I guess you better hope I’m wrong.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah” She finished.
After she had eaten her sandwich she walked over to him and placed her plate into the sink and turned to walk away. He moved into her holding her face with one hand and wiping her lip with his other while she stared into his eyes. “You had something right there.” He said lowering his hand from her lip, “You have really pretty eyes.” He said.
She smiled, “So do you.”
“Traffic was insane.” Paul said walking into the kitchen with a few bags of gifts fallowed by Torie who both noticed how close to each other their son and Noel were standing. Noel quickly moved away from Shawn and pulled her hand through her hair.
“You’re still not dressed?” Paul said with an innocent laugh. “It’s Pajama day, right Christmas?” Shawn said. Noel gave him a look.
“Shawn, leave her alone.” Torie defended her kindly.
Shawn walked over to Noel and put his arms around her tight, “She knows I’m only kidding.”
“Shawn” Noel said in a playful tone. He let go then walked over to his mother giving her a kiss on the cheek. “I’ll be in the office; I have to look something up.”
“Don’t move the papers next to the printer. I haven’t gone through them yet.” Paul said as Shawn left the room. “Gotcha pops.”
Torie smiled at Noel, “So, you and Shawn huh?” She said. Paul looked to Noel and then to his wife, “What’s this?” He asked. “Noel likes our Shawn.” Torie said.
Paul smiled, “Does our Shawn like Noel?” Noel felt embarrassed and Torie walked over to her giving her a hug. “We’re only teasing love.” She kissed her head then walked over to her husband giggling with him on their way through a door at the end of the room where they kept their gifts hidden. After they disappeared through the door Noel hurried out of the kitchen and upstairs to her room to get dressed.
It was after dinner and the family was in the TV room watching a movie together. Paul and Torie cuddled in a big arm chair while Shawn and Noel sat at a distance from one another on a sofa. Noel was snuggled up in a red throw when Shawn got up and left the room.
He came back a few minutes later and walked over to Noel gently pulling her throw off of her and taking her hand to help her up. “Come.” He said, “I want to show you something.”
Shawn led her by the hand over to the front door and took her outside after making her put on some shoes and a jacket. As soon as she stepped outside with him, they were greeted by snowflakes dancing through the air.
“It’s snowing.” She said aloud. He grabbed her and picked her up into his arms, “I told you I would throw you in it.” He said while holding her. “I guess you can’t throw.” She laughed.
“There’s not enough snow to throw you in.” He continued, “I’m half way there though.” She giggled.
He spun her around in his arms while she tried to catch snowflakes in her mouth. He gently put her down holding her close to him staring up at the snow flakes. “It’s so beautiful.” She said.
He stared at her seeing her looking up at the snow, “Very beautiful.” He said. She looked to him seeing him staring into her eyes. He moved in, bringing his lips closer to hers, “We made hot chocolate with” Paul said standing in the open door seeing them together and realising what he walked in on. “I’m sorry.” He apologised.
Shawn moved away from Noel walking to his dad, “I’ll take a hot chocolate.” They went inside together while Noel stood outside crossing her arms. She wanted to enjoy the snow a little longer. Shawn came to the door. “Are you coming?” He asked her. She looked to him then walked to the door going inside. He closed the door behind them and helped her with her jacket, hanging it back up while she slipped out of her shoes.
The family sat in the living room sipping their hot chocolate and baby marshmallows in front of the burning fire place. Noel sat on a love seat next to Shawn and Paul and Torie snuggled up to one another.
“I love marshmallows.” Noel said while picking them out and eating them. “You’re not supposed to eat them out of the cup.” Paul kidded.
“What else would I do with them?”
“Drink them.” Torie added.
Shawn smiled at Noel, and then did the same as her and she smiled back at him. “Shawn just want’s that kiss.” Paul joked.
“Watch it pop.” He said to his dad.
“Son, I’m a grown man. I can twist you into a pretzel.”
“Owned” Noel joked.
“You just keep eating your marshmallows like a squirrel.” Shawn kidded back hearing everyone laugh. Noel then imitated a squirrel making them all laugh harder.
Shawn scooted over to Noel taking one of her marshmallows from her cup of hot chocolate. She looked at him, “hey!” He smiled at her. She covered him up in the throw she had over her legs and Paul and Torie got the que for bed. They excused themselves saying they were tired then said their goodnights heading upstairs together.
“I love your parents.” Noel said sipping her hot chocolate. Shawn took the cup from her and set it down on the table next to them. “Hey.” She said. His hands were then in her hair and his lips on hers and she kissed him back, her hands on his neck and face.
He gazed into her eyes for a long minute, “you are the best thing that’s ever happened to us in a long time.” He said. “I’ve already got my Christmas wish.” She felt so loved by him in that moment and overwhelmed with happiness. A few weeks ago she was rejected by her own mother and now she had a family that loved her and an attractive, gentle man holding her close saying sweet nothings to her.
Shawn and Noel quietly went upstairs together into her bedroom closing the door behind them. He kissed her holding her close against him walking towards the bed with her. “Do you want this to?” He asked. “Yes.” She answered.
He looked upon her, “You are so beautiful.” He kissed her, “look at you.” He kissed her again, holding her closer.
They awoke in each other’s arms, the sunlight shining through the curtains and his mother opening the door after a knock. “Hey, hey, hey” Shawn said quickly pulling the covers over them, “Shawn!” She said embarrassed, pulling the door closed. “I’m so sorry you two.”
“I’m starting breakfast.”
“Thanks mom.” Shawn said looking to Noel who was red in the face holding back laughter, “Oh my god.” She said, sitting up in bed next to him with her arms on him, “Do you think they mind?”
Shawn lay her back down, lying on top of her, “They love you.” He answered.
“What about you?” She said shy. “They love me to.” Noel laughed.
“I’m falling in love.” He added.
Snow covered the ground and the trees danced their snow flake branches to the marry wind. It was Christmas day and the family sat down next to the tree to open their presents together as a family. Their real gift was the gift of joy that spiraled through each room of their home. They found hope through desolate feelings of grief through a meeting of a stranger. A chance of possibilities through one good deed brought the Conner family together again.
Shawn took Noel by the hand and led her outside. They were dressed up warm and gathered up snow to make their own snow man next to the mail box in the front yard. They were setting the second large snow ball on top of the first when they were hit by a snowball. They turned seeing Torie and Paul challenging a snow ball fight and like the young hearts they were, they took it and began throwing snow balls back at them. The snow ball fight turned into a neighborhood snowball fight within minutes when all the children from the houses next to them came outside to play. It was a wonderful end to a new beginning of their many Christmas’s to come.
Shawn held Noel tight in his arms kissing her on the cheek and his parents smiled on the front steps holding one another as the snow began to fall in tiny flakes. It was a beautiful Christmas Day and the Conner family settled into their new lives as a family again.
Written By: Systematic Mermaid