Josie thought she might be in a good mood if it weren't for Derrick's dad showing up at the house.
"Why didn't you tell me, Mom?" She'd whispered when she wanted to scream at her mother. How dare she? But all the while her mom was happy to see him. It was as if Josie's mind was playing trick on her, or maybe her Mom was going mental.
"He's not suppose to be here." She told Ian later when he came over to take her to all the holiday rounds, starting with his family.
"It'll be all right." He gave her a pat on the back, sporting her new scarf and hat she'd crocheted him. "Just don't think about it." Of course, it wasn't until he told her he'd stay over. That was what she wanted to hear. She didn't want to be alone. Obviously, neither did her mother.
Eli was on his way with Dorian to meet his parents for Christmas. Of course, he'd lied to his own mother how he needed to stay at his job. He didn't want to dare tell her the mall was closed. There was also his sister to think about.
"Why haven't you told her?" Dorian wouldn't let it go that he needed to explain to his friend they were half siblings.
"I don't want to spoil the holidays." Eli sighed thinking he'd do it the first of the year when school was back in session. Yet, he didn't know if that were a good idea, either. "Besides, we're good friends. I want to keep it that way."
Eli winced. People made him uncomfortable in general. "This is trying, enough for me. Coming to someone's house, announcing I'm your boyfriend." He rolled his eyes. If only Dorian's family lived faraway, but they were on a drive just across town. He would be seeing Dorian's folks in about five minutes. He'd met them before, but this time it seemed so official. His stomach was full of butterflies. He did his best not to squint his face, but he just couldn't help it.
Jai couldn't wait to open his presents. There were a lot under the tree, but he expected Santa to bring more.
"When is Dad coming?" He jumped about. Maybe too much sugar and chocolate. Before he could stop it, he was dancing around with Rosie.
"Any old time now." His mother Rox was busy with last minute snacks that didn't involve caffeine. There were plenty of fruit and celery sticks.
"I love my dad so much!" Jai sang hoping his dad got him the latest gaming system he wanted. "I love my mommie. I love you, Rosie. I love your dad. I love your grammie. I love my auntie." It wasn't quite a rap but he was saying it with such zest, as if who ever might be listening would send him something good.
Finally, his dad Jared arrived, arms filled with presents. There was his Aunt with the little ones in a stroller. Naturally, Jai went and kissed them like a good big brother. Yet he reached back for Rosie as if she would not be forgotten. He had his arm around her neck as if they were all family. And this was definitely family time.
Shan wasn't sure about this. Going home for Christmas. He missed Henry, already. Everything was so perfect with Henry. It was hard to pull himself away. In spite of his father being so predictable. The silence grew between them, but it didn't matter. Shan would not change. He was right where he wanted to be with Henry.
Except at the moment he felt as if his better half was missing, and he was in his old room, looking at all the little trophies he'd won over the years in boxing matches. It grieved him slightly to think about what happened at his last match. It was one knockout that he didn't want to wish on anyone.
Luckily, his grandmother didn't let him think long about the mishap that left someone in a coma.
"Does your mother even know what she's done to you?" Her old voice carried, and he didn't mind the wet kisses on his cheeks, as her old wrinkled fingers held on to his slender face.
"We're good, Gran. Its fine at Dad's." It might not be completely true, but there was Henry to think about.
Her head wobbled slight. He guessed that was a no. She was so frail. It broke his heart a little that she'd gotten so old. But he was growing up too. He was about to mention Henry to her.
"I would have never let him have you." She looked away all somber. "Not after what he did to you. How could she?" Her eyes swelled with tears. 'You remember, don't you?" Her dark almond eyes looked up at him as if it were something neither could forget. She had to sit down, dressed to the nines on Christmas day. One would have thought she was a Royal herself, just from some other country.
Shan set next to her on his twin sized bed.
"I remember it, like yesterday." She looked away, but then looked at him. "This old mind doesn't remember much. But I know you didn't lie. You, might have been a baby yourself. Not quite four." She shook her head. "You told me how he put a gun to your head. He wanted to kill you. He said he would. He said he would take out the one thing that made him so miserable."
Shan wished she would forget. "Yeah, I know I said that." He didn't forget. It was one of his earliest memories. "But he was really drunk." His parents lives were very toxic then. His mom spent a good time in shoving matches with him. "He's changed. Mom, didn't let me see him for a long time. A very long time. He..he has a new life now." Shan didn't mean to make his Dad sound like an angel, but he was sure his new wife didn't know how he was back then. His dad was so different with his little sister Bree. Yet, Shan couldn't quite trust him. He knew he couldn't actually love him, either.