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Authorís Notes: Usual disclaimers apply. Not particularly festive so apologies, but this one poured from me like water.
You crossed the room as they left us, giggling all the while. I never asked you why. The sound stuck to my insides like tainted caramel; sweet, warm and trapping my breath and my senses the instant I heard it. As always.
When you wished me a Merry Christmas as we exchanged smiles and tight hugs I felt light as air. You were the first to do so although you shouldnít have been. I held onto those two words for as long as possible, almost crying when they eventually drifted up in the air and into the lit hearth beside us. Watching them disappear into the flames I blamed my sigh on tiredness and no more.
You thought nothing of nudging against me tucking your long legs underneath you as we sat on the rug emptying and filling conversation and wine glasses. How I did not gasp when the small of your back pressed against my thigh I will never know. You looked so content, so comfortable and unquestionably beautiful.
The coral sweater and dark denim suited you well. Casual yet brimming with sophistication, and all finished exquisitely by mahogany coloured heels and delicious chocolate hued nail polish on your toes. I remember wishing I had a better view of them. Part of me desperate to face you; the other swooning in disbelief as your long russet hair swept off your shoulders and on to my chest I was hardly breathing. Yet somehow I managed to call out.
Your name sounded like a secret as it left my lips but you did not baulk. Instead you turned my way and took the golden wrapper from between my trembling thumb and forefinger. When you tugged at the ends of the wrapper the sound was deafening. You opened it in slow motion, never taking your eyes off mine. I was sure you read my mind. As the chocolate dropped from your grip and into my mouth I knew you did. I moaned quietly, blinking as the tip of your finger closed my jaw tight spilling the dark sweetness into my mouth. The taste must have lingered on my tongue for some time but I donít recall. All there was on my mind was you. When our eyes collided again, triumph and disaster looked the same.
I knew as our hands tangled, your green eyes suddenly steeped in tears that this would be all we would have. I felt the softness of a kiss hover over my lips but it never came. You jumped as he called your name but you did not let go. Not at first. Thank God my husband was a lousy poker player; if Jed had wiped Leo clean that night I am certain he would have noticed your hand in mine or me digging my bare feet into the carpet as your fingers traced a wish over my palm.
That was our kiss, Claudia Jean. We have met numerous times since that Christmas night but that moment was never recreated. These days we blame chemistry on good wine and electric silences on the fight for the last chocolate.
I smile as you win again, three small words burning on my tongue. They are a blessing and a curse. Too hard to say to the one I should, and the only words I long to say to you.