And the angst continues… just for a little bit longer 😉
Day 9: A Gift for 4xamom from eys1214
BETAED BY MSSTITCHER
The sun glared at me as I made my way to Pam’s beach house. A few missed turns later and a quick stop at a Farmer’s Market where I stuffed myself with fish tacos, I finally reached my destination.
“Eric!” Pam screeched, running toward me as I heaved my luggage out of the trunk.
I dropped my bags on the ground and greeted my old friend with a smirk. Jetlag and an overly excited Pam made such a disastrous combination.
“Pamela,” I breathed out, extending my arms and bracing myself for one hell of a hug.
A slap across the face knocked me out of my jetlagged haze instead. “Is that how you greet a friend now?”
“Friends don’t ice friends, jackass!” she snapped. Ah, that familiar snark.
“I missed you too.” I grinned, pulling her flush against me.
She pummeled at my back. “You’re a dick, you know that. You’re a big, fucking dick.”
“You should know, you’ve seen it before,” I teased.
“And that’s when I realized I was better off with girls.”
We shared a laugh. After a few more jabs and a healthy serving of her special brand of snark, Pam gave me a tour of her five-acre property by the Cali coast. The beach house had six bedrooms, a spacious kitchen, a wrap-around porch and two sitting areas.
“Nice dig. I assume business is doing well?”
She shrugged as we made our way upstairs. “I can’t complain.”
Pam came from money. The only reason she studied in Louisiana was to stick two fingers up to her controlling parents – and also to chase a girl she had dated for a span of 16 days. Following Pam’s relocation in California, she had ventured into a clothing business with her partner Amelia.
“How’s Amelia?” I hadn’t heard about her in five years when I fell off the grid and became dust in the wind.
“We broke up, but we’re still business partners.”
“Oh. Sorry.” I was. I thought Amelia was it for Pam.
She wrinkled her nose. “What’s that look?” she pointed at my face. “You, of all people, should know nothing lasts forever.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Not even if you put a ring on it.
Five Christmases ago…
My knuckles had turned white around the wheel of the car I had rented for the week as I stared at the rear view mirror, watching the woman who had broken up with me via FedEx.
The move to Sweden had proved challenging. I had promised Sookie before I left that I’d phone her every day and that’s what we did. Maintaining constant communication was the first rule in surviving a long distance relationship—yep, we Googled it. She would wake up early or I’d stay up late to accommodate our seven-hour time difference.
At first it was easy, miserable as we both were we made a vow to make it work. And damn it, I worked my fucking ass off. I’d regale her with stories – my new flat, new co-workers, new office, new country, new diet—and she’d listen with rapt fascination. In return, she would tell me about her adventures in night school along with a few meaningless gossips here and there. The juiciest one was when Sam reconnected with his long-lost brother from Canada. I had no idea Sam was Canadian. I filed that tidbit away in my ‘not a single fuck’ drawer.
We also tried Skype — and discovered the joys of cybersex. It was enjoyable at first. But it only made me miss her more. My hand had nothing on her.
Like every long distance relationship, it proved harder and harder to sustain. As the project went into full swing my schedule got clogged, we barely had time to talk. I was always on-site, working until it was too late for me to call her. The times when I did get to phone her, she’d be despondent, probably as tired as I was. Sadly, those were the good times. There were days when we couldn’t even carry out a civilized conversation. We’d just lash out at each other until it was a full-blown scream fest. That became our new normal.
That was the problem with us. We never did anything halfway. Together we were madly in love, apart we were just mad.
The months dragged on and the distance between us could no longer be measured in miles.
Then one day, late in August, she called me in the office.
“I need you, Eric.”
“What’s wrong?” I could tell she had been crying by the hoarseness in her voice.
She then broke into sobs. She couldn’t even get a single comprehensible word out.
I pinched the bridge of my nose. She couldn’t have phoned me at a worse time. I was on the other line with Sophie-Ann giving me a thorough dressing down while our crisis containment team along with our company lawyers were giving me the low-down on the on-site accident that severely injured five of our contractors.
All I got was more sobs.
“Baby, can I call you later?”
“Come home,” she said breathlessly. “You said that I can always ask you to come home and you will.”
I took a deep breath, warding off a massive headache as the legal team hammered me.
“Sookie, now’s not the time, please. I’ll call you later.” I hung up on her before I lost the last shred of patience I had left.
I didn’t get to phone her back until a couple of days later where I made small talk with her voicemail.
I had tried to contact her the entire week but only received radio silence. When I’d finally gotten in touch with her again she seemed off, distant.
She sounded cold. I was fucking arctic. I was physically and mentally exhausted and her mind fucking games weren’t doing me any favors.
“Where were you?” I asked, trying to keep my voice leveled.
Out? I was gripping the phone so hard I almost crushed it. “I was calling you all week.”
“I was busy. Gran was—”
“You were so busy you couldn’t even spare a few minutes to talk to me?” I lost it. I could feel my face burning in contempt.
She huffed, or maybe she choked a sob, I couldn’t be sure. “I don’t wanna fight, Eric. This week has been hell for me without you being an ass.”
She appeared to be ready for a fight. Fucking bring it. “Hell?” I laughed bitterly. “You have no idea what hell is, Sookie.”
I was seething, vitriol threatening to spill. I wanted to tell her that hell was me treading on thin ice. Hell was facing the wrath of the Swedish government – our client – for someone else’s goddamned mistake. That was hell. And after the week I had, all I wanted was to hear my girlfriend’s voice who couldn’t even be bothered to pick up the damned phone.
There was a strained silence on the other line and for a moment I thought she had hung up on me.
“You have no idea what I’m going through, you son of a bitch,” she spat each word with the fury that would have slain a lesser man. She was livid.
Well, fuck, so am I.
I took a few steadying breaths. I was drained. I couldn’t do this again. I couldn’t get into another verbal tirade with her. I might end up saying something I might regret.
“Maybe we should take a break.” Like that.
As soon as I said those words I knew I’d made a big mistake.
She gasped. “What?” The silent plea was implicit. I clenched my jaws and grasped the edge of the drafting table in front of me, swallowing thickly as I tried to silence the battering of my heart that had skyrocketed to my throat.
I wanted to take it back. I didn’t want a break. I only wanted time to gather my wits and remind myself who I was doing all this for. But we were imploding. I could hear the ticking time bomb in my head counting down. We were like ‘Galloping Gertie’ —the bridge in Tacoma which kept swaying violently against the wind until it finally gave in and collapsed. As much as I didn’t want to hit pause, this might be the only way I could see us surviving this fucked up storm.
I could hear her muffled cries. I steeled my nerves.
“Is that really what you want?” she murmured gruffly when I offered no response.
My heart was stuck in my throat. “It’s what we need,” was all I could say.
Neither of us said goodbye because this wasn’t it. This was a pause. A chance for us to breathe.
A pause, I kept telling myself before I let my world succumb to darkness.
I hadn’t heard from her for a month. It took everything in me to stop myself from calling her.
Soon. I’d talk to her soon. I’d apologize shamelessly and she’d have no choice but to take me back.
Soon apparently was too late.
Two months after the ‘pause’ a package arrived in my apartment. The FedEx box looked ominous. It was from her. I opened it with shaky hands and found a smaller box tied with a red bow. Under the bow was a card that read: Dream bigger for both of us.
My heart plummeted to the ground when I saw what was inside the box. Her ring – my ring — held by the leather string I’d given her that night.
I was gutted. I fisted the ring and squeezed it tight. I hadn’t realized just how hard I was clutching it until I saw the smear of blood on my palm where the diamond had pricked my skin.
I tried getting in touch with her but all my calls went straight to voicemail. Her brother and grandmother also couldn’t be reached. I finally asked for Pam’s help. She was already in California and like me, clueless as hell.
Three days later, Pam gave me the news that twisted the knife in my chest.
I wanted to fly home at once to confront Sookie. But Sophie-Ann had forbidden me to leave. If I left the Swedes high and dry, I’d get sued for breach of contract and all my designs and revisions would be sequestered. I’d be penniless and jobless. In the heat of the moment, I’d told Sophie-Ann that I’d get back at her for this. The witch merely cackled.
Which brought me back here: Merlotte’s, where it all started.
The bar owned by her husband.
I had a week off from work as we went on our holiday break and made good use of my time by flying home to settle some unfinished business. Apparently my traitorous Sookie had had quite a year. While I was whoring myself in Sweden, she was doing the same thing with her boss.
They had gotten hitched in Canada in September, stayed there for a month before they returned to the US, husband and wife. Fan-fucking-tastic, isn’t it?
When Pam broke the news of her marriage I felt something inside me die. Betrayed by the woman I’d sworn to love more every fucking day.
I waited outside the parking lot of that wretched bar. I had some things I needed to say and they weren’t appetizing to say the least. So I waited for the crowd to thin out, for the rest of the staff to go home to their respective families as I lurked in the shadows like a fucking stalker. I checked the time on the dashboard — it was half past ten on Christmas Eve. How fucking ironic. I saw the last customer leave, along with the staff, and decided to make my move, not giving two fucks if Sam was there.
The overhead bell clanged as I entered. I repressed the urge to look up to see if the mistletoe was still there to mock me.
She was bent over a table wiping it down, “Sorry we’re closed,” she hollered without turning around.
“You still don’t know how to lock the door,” I muttered, marching toward her.
Her spine stiffened at the sound of my voice. Slowly, she whirled to face me. I closed in, raking my eyes over her features. She still looked the same. Same long, blonde hair pulled in a high ponytail, same curvy hips and narrow waist, same maddeningly beautiful face that had haunted me for the past year. I moved closer, and that was when I noticed not everything was the same. There were bags under her eyes, shallow lines on her forehead and her lips I used to kiss senseless were dry and chapped.
“Eric,” she breathed out.
The sound of my name on her lips almost doubled me over. I balled my hands inside my leather jacket to remind myself why I was here. Grind that damned axe, Northman.
I forced myself to smirk, “Evening, Mrs. Merlotte.”
She paled, her shoulders had gone limp. “Let me explain. You don’t know the whole story.”
“Right. Because you never told me,” I spat. Grind that fucking axe.
She looked down, blinking rapidly. “Sam was going to be deported.”
Pam had explained that to me too, probably to soften the blow. Nothing could have alleviated that kind of pain.
It seemed that Sam’s long lost brother had blackmailed him. He wanted Merlotte’s to himself. When Sam refused to give up the bar, his devious brother placed an anonymous tip to the INS about the shady status of his citizenship – or lack thereof.
“Is that supposed to make me feel better?”
She glared at me, her chin jutting out in defiance. “You weren’t supposed to feel anything. We were broken up.”
“I only needed time,” I gritted out.
“And I fucking needed you!”
“I suppose you don’t need me anymore?” I inched closer, invading her space. I caught a whiff of vanilla in her hair with a hint of cinnamon and sugar – she smelled like Christmas – my Christmas. “You traded me for what? For this?” I forced myself to sneer, to preserve what little pride I had left. “Is this is it, Sookie? Is this the dream? I knew you were easy to please I just didn’t realize you were this… cheap. To think I splurged for a ring. Tell me, what did Sam promise you in exchange for his green card? Did he at least give you a promotion?”
I saw it coming — her hand flying in mid-air – before it connected to my cheek. It stung like a son of a bitch. But I held my ground. I welcomed the pain. I rubbed the side of my face, taking pleasure from the fact that my words would linger longer than her handprint on my face.
“You broke up with me!” she yelled, her shoulder shaking.
I almost pulled a Ross and screamed ‘We were on a break!’ Luckily I was able to stop myself. It was funny in a sitcom, in real life, it was a motherfucker.
“How many times are you gonna break me, Eric?” she sobbed, tears streaming down her cheeks.
“Break you?” I snarled, stepping forward until I was flushed against hers.
“Break. You?” I repeated, gnashing my teeth. I seized her wrist and slammed her palm against my chest.
Her fingers were splayed, quivering as my torso heaved in tune with my ragged breath. “You broke this. You broke me. If you knew how much pain you’d caused me you wouldn’t be able to stand there and look at me. You promised me your tomorrows, Sookie, remember?”
She stared back at me, unblinking. Her fingers curled and fisted my shirt. “We’ve run out of tomorrows, Eric.”
No. Fuck, no.
I snapped. The quiet desperation in her voice shattered whatever restraint I had as I palmed the back of her neck before I covered her lips with mine. She stilled; her lips tight. I pressed harder until I felt her mouth slacken and move against mine, returning my kiss with the fire that blurred out everything else. I pushed her up against the wall as my free hand cupped the cheeks of her ass, hauling her up. I could feel the heat of my anger slipping away, replaced by a different kind of burning. I fisted her hair, freeing the locks from her ponytail.
I needed more. I wanted more. I deserved more.
She whimpered, pliable under me. Her hips bucked, grinding my erection. Fuck, I could take her right here, right now. I could do that because she belonged to me.
Her fingers dug into my shoulder blades and I growled hungrily. I’d been famished for so long and only she could feed me.
I was lost, my axe slipping out of my grip. She moaned into my mouth and I had forgotten how to breathe. Her legs wrapped around my waist and I carried her to the bathroom without tearing my lips off hers. The door slammed shut behind us as I perched her on top of the sink, unzipped her shorts and yanked them down. I would have gone down on her, like that one time a hundred moons ago. But I needed to be inside her. I needed to feel her.
My vision turned foggy as I swept my tongue down her neck while I dropped my pants to knees.
I pushed into her and it was like coming home. She yelped, her fingers clamped like a vice into my shoulder. I fucked her hard, punctuating every thrust with a guttural growl.
“You’re fucking mine,” I snarled, fisting her hair and giving it a gentle tug so I could claim her lips. What we were doing was sinful, blasphemous even, and I couldn’t give a damn.
I felt moisture damping my cheeks, sliding down my lips, and I realized those weren’t her tears. They were mine.
We came at the same time. She was breathing hard against the crook of my neck, soaking my jacket with her tears.
I love you, I almost said. Come back to me.
But the words got stuck in my throat when I heard pounding footsteps outside the door — the unmistakable sound of hard soled boots thumping against wooden floors.
She froze. Her arms that had been wounded around my neck went limp and slipped down. My fingers dug into her hips refusing to release her.
She pressed her hands against my chest. “Please, Eric,” she husked.
Please, what? Please let her go? Please accept that we were over? Please fucking what?
With my hands still fastened on her hips, I lowered her off the sink. She tugged her shorts up, didn’t even bother to wipe my DNA clinging down her thighs. As though that wasn’t enough to gut me, she dropped to her knees on the tiled floor and wept.
I wanted to touch her but I stopped myself. My mouth went dry as I watched her cry. Each muffled sob was like shards of glass getting shoved down my throat. My eyes burnt, my throat closing up. I watched her cry as I held back my own tears. I wanted to hold her, pick her up and whisk her away – get her as far as possible from this fucking town, from everyone who dared take her from me. I wanted to tell her I would never give her up.
I never did all those things though. Instead I swallowed hard, and told myself to soldier the fuck on.
“Sook?” a voice seeped through the door. It was her husband’s. I felt my blood boil. “Cher, is that you? Are you okay?”
I ground my teeth so hard they squeaked. I grabbed my pants that were stuck on my knees and wrenched them up. I felt dirty. She made me feel dirty.
She looked up and with a pained look in face, she whispered, “I’m sorry.” She didn’t say anything else. She didn’t have to. I understood. She would never leave Sam. Not for me.
I clenched my jaw and let the wave of those two pathetic words wash through me.
“I hope to God he treats you right.” Better than I did.
I dragged in a breath, and a couple more for good measure, before I ran my fingers through my hair, peeled the door open and punched her husband in the jaw.
I’d never beg. I’d never stoop that low.
“This is your room,” Pam declared as we stepped inside one of the six upstairs bedrooms. Like everything else in the summer house, this room had an airy feel to it — planked ceiling, white walls, enormous bed, mismatched furniture and blue gauzy curtains covering the large bay windows overlooking the ocean. “It has the best view of the ocean.”
“Not bad,” I said impassively. “I’ve seen better.”
I wasn’t lying. I had a better view of the archipelago from the bay window of my top-floor apartment in Stockholm.
Pam rolled her eyes. “You’re a pompous ass. I’ll make sure you pay for that.”
“I look forward to my retribution.” I plopped on the couch by the windows and almost got fucked in the ass by a miniature plastic Thor and his damn hammer stuck under one of the cushions. I yanked it and held it to Pam.
“Oh that’s my nephew’s toy. He’s into Thor.”
Pam snatched the toy from me. “He’ll be looking for this later.” There was a hint of wickedness in Pam’s eyes as she slipped Thor in her back pocket. I shrugged it off.
“You better get some rest,” she said. She had given me a couple of sleeping pills when she showed me the master suite earlier. I was tempted to ask for Xanax too but it might be too early to zone out. “I’ll wake you up tonight for the party.”
I suppressed a groan. Of fucking course there would be a party. It was Christmas Eve after all. Pam wouldn’t be Pam without her notorious soirees. I could only hope the pills were strong enough to help me sleep through it.
“Oh, before I forget, there will be kids here later. Karin’s bringing her Gremlins; be decent. In case those little monsters sneak in.”
I merely nodded my assent, fatigue catching up to me.
Pam left me to my devices and I quickly hopped into the shower. I usually slept naked in Sweden but with the impending threat of children roaming the halls, I decided it was better to be safe than sorry.
I was rummaging through my belongings — which Thalia had methodically packed for me — in search of a pair of pants and plain white shirt when something caught my eye. Tucked between my neatly folded shirts was a gift-wrapped box. I checked the card taped onto the silver and red wrapper.
I know you don’t like presents but I think you’ll like this one.
Happy holidays, Chief.
Thalia. Sweet, meddling Thalia. She was right, I despised obligatory presents. I had always asked her to return the ones my employees gifted me in the past four years. Yeah, my employees. I had my own architectural firm now. Scorned and wounded from that brutal rejection, I went back to Stockholm and began building my empire. I had stayed in L&E for a month while I put my plans into motion.
I was half-Swede so it wasn’t difficult for me to expand my rolodex in Sweden. As soon as I’d tendered my resignation from L&E I started the process of poaching its clients on top of my newly-acquired local contacts. Sophie-Ann was furious, even threatened to sue. I merely leered.
I didn’t realize it was possible that the one person who could make me feel so invincible could also snuff all the light inside me. Sookie was my sunshine in a pretty blonde bottle — my one weakness. I didn’t want her to see me as a failure. Without her, failure no longer terrified me. Sophie-Ann could raise all kinds of hell and I still wouldn’t care.
I left L&E the way I left Sookie, I never looked back. I cut off that fucking cord. I stayed under the radar for a few years, moving to Norway as I mapped out the blueprint for my own company only to emerge back in Stockholm years later to steal Sophie-Ann’s clients from under her nose. Losers, weepers, fuckers.
I hired a new breed of architects and engineers from all over Europe, new blood to draw blood. Yes, I wanted L&E to bleed. I wanted Sophie-Ann to know how it felt to lose the one thing she valued most. Call me vindictive, I couldn’t give two fucks.
I poured blood, sweat and tears – yes, there were times when I cried myself to sleep but I’d deny it even at gun point – to North Design. Three years after its launch, my baby had grown into a beast – one of the most successful architectural start-ups in all of Europe.
It wasn’t all work and no play for me though, I wasn’t a fucking monk. I had started dating European women who were perfect for me. They didn’t have to stand on their tiptoes and crane their necks to reach my lips.
All in all, I was fucking peachy.
I examined Thalia’s present – it felt like a hard-bound book, must be one of her romance novels she insisted I read for future reference. If only she had met me when I was with Sookie… I was the perfect book boyfriend – again, her words, not mine.
I tossed the gift on the couch by the window, I’d give it back to her when I returned.
Two sleeping pills later, I crashed into a fatigue-induced coma.
I woke up with a jolt when I felt a soft hand stroking my chin.
“Son of a bi—!” I jerked upright, blinking rapidly to zoom in on a pair of baby blue eyes.
“Are you gonna say the B-word? Mommy said that’s bad,” said the boy with mussed up long blond hair, who was kneeling beside the bed, dipping his small thumb in my cleft chin.
Must be one of the little monsters Pam had warned me about.
I spied the open door and wondered if I had forgotten to lock it before I dozed off.
“Hey, li’l man, what’re you doing here?” I asked, swinging my legs off the bed. I hooked my hands under the boy’s armpits and lifted him to sit in front of me. “Where’s your mom?”
“She’s downstairs with Auntie Pam. She thinks I’m sleeping.”
I turned my gaze to the window. It was dark outside. How long had I been out? I peered at my wristwatch. 9.30pm. So much for sleeping through the night.
“Well, shouldn’t you be in bed?”
“I was. But Auntie Ginger’s snoring woke me up.”
“Oh.” Someone’s gonna get fired tonight. I strained my ear. There was noise coming from downstairs – most of it was Pam’s butchered rendition of Baby, It’s Cold Outside. I expected more ruckus knowing how wild Pam’s gatherings could get. Nope, no howling girls in the background, Pam must have mellowed down with time.
“I think it’s best if you go back to your room, champ, before your mom checks in on you and freaks out.”
The boy laughed. “Boy, she sure will.”
I chuckled along with him although I had no idea what was so funny. The boy’s laughter was infectious.
“I like your chin dimple. I have those, too. Here,” he pointed at his left cheek, “and here,” then jabbed a finger to his right. He grinned and the deep dents in his cheeks made him look more angelic.
“Only handsome guys have dimples. So congrats champ, you have a bright future ahead of you.” I raised my palm for a high-five. He didn’t leave me hanging.
“Yeah, that’s what my mom said. She said my dad has a chin dimple too.”
“You haven’t seen it?”
“Haven’t seen my dad in for-e-ver,” the boy made a face, jutting his lower lip into a pout. The way Sookie used to do. I shrugged off the memory, no need go down that rabbit hole.
“Mommy said he’s working in the North Pole with Santa.”
Hate to break it to you, buddy, but your mom’s full of shit. “You must get a lot of gifts on Christmas then?”
The boy bobbed his head enthusiastically, grinning from ear to ear, lighting up the entire West coast. “Yes, yes, yes! I love Christmas! Do you have a gift for me?”
I swallowed. I didn’t even think to get Pam anything. I looked around helplessly. It would have been easier to say, ‘No, buddy, I don’t. See, we just met. I don’t even know your name. And you’re not supposed to take gifts from strangers.’
But something in the boy’s expression gave me the chills, as though it was physically impossible to let him down.
“Hmm,” I tapped my finger to my chin dimple. “Let me see.” Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw the silver and red wrapper by the window. “A-ha!” I hopped off the bed and dashed to the couch.
The boy squealed as he followed me, running and skipping as though I had given him the moon. I snatched Thalia’s present and hoped to God there was no picture of a naked man on the cover.
The boy clapped his hands and jumped onto the couch, he rubbed his palms together in a comical way that made me feel all fuzzy inside.
“You know this used to be my room?” the boy asked as he gingerly hooked his finger around the ribbon looped around the box like a surgeon in an operating room.
“It is?” I asked, confused.
He nodded. “Every time when we visit Auntie Pam, this is where we sleep. I like it here. I can see the sea and the sun.”
I wondered why Pam had assigned it to me when this charming little man loved it so much. Perhaps I could switch with him and his mom tomorrow or later tonight after the party. I’d hate to disappoint my new friend.
I watched my guest gently tear off the wrapper as though it would be a crime to tear the glossy paper. He had his tongue stuck between his lips, brows on a tight knit, as his tiny fingers skated along the sides trying to figure out where the wrapper had been folded and taped.
“You can rip the wrapper you know, I won’t mind. That’s actually the fun part.”
The boy shook his head without looking up. “What if my daddy wrapped this himself? D’you know how hard it is to wrap gifts? Haaard. That’s why Daddy can’t come home, he doesn’t have a day off.”
“So your dad’s an elf?” I played along.
“Elf?” The boy snapped his head at me and pouted. “There’re no elves. How old do you think I am? Three?”
I laughed. “How old are you then?”
“Four.” He held up four fingers — in case I didn’t know how to count.
“I see.” I bobbed my head. “What’s your name?” I couldn’t help but ask.
“I have two names,” he wiggled two fingers — a peace sign. It seemed to be the boy’s thing. It was either he thought I was that stupid or he was just keen to show off his counting skills. “You can call me Basti, everyone does.”
“Short for Sebastian. Mommy loves Little Mermaid.”
I chuckled, remembering how Sookie had forced me to watch it with her before. “Your mom named you after a lobster?”
“Crab,” Basti pointed out. “Red crab. Mommy said it’s because my dad gets red when he’s crabby. Auntie Pam said Daddy gave Mommy crabs. Not sure.” He shrugged.
I guffawed. This guy was a hoot. Best company I had in years. I heard footsteps coming from downstairs. I could go and rat out my friend or I could make Pam and Karin – and Auntie Ginger– sweat a little. I opted for the latter. I wasn’t ready to let my little Red Crab go just yet.
Basti had finally stripped off the wrapping paper. He folded the wrapper into a small square and chucked it in the waistband of his Thor pajama bottoms. “I collect them,” he quipped.
I shook my head. I’d heard of kids collecting boxes but never neatly-folded wrappers. This guy’s just weird.
Thalia’s gift was indeed a book. With only the light streaming from the hallway and the bedside lamp illuminating the room, I couldn’t get a good look at the cover. Basti held it up toward the window to study it closely. Silly man, could he even read yet?
“Oh!” Basti exclaimed, smiling broadly. “It’s Mommy’s book!”
My eyebrows drew together as I leaned in to inspect the book. It wasn’t a romance novel. It was a self-help book with the picture of Sweden’s Mount Kebnekaise on the cover.
Dream Bigger, Leap Higher, read the cover.
My heart started hammering wildly in my chest even before I could read the name of the author at the bottom.
AS THE TITLE OF THIS STORY APTLY SUGGESTS THERE WILL BE MORE OF THIS
POSSIBLY EVEN TOMORROW. MANY THANKS TO THE AWESOME EYS1214 FOR HER WONDERFUL CONTRIBUTION, DO LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS AND LIKES AS ALWAYS THEY DO END UP WITH HER!
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