The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Under the Mistletoe

Day Two and story number two! Feeling festive yet?

Over Egg Nog Lattes © Billy London

There had to be something in here. Reya begged all the possible ghosts of Christmas to help her. Reya’s sister had to be the fussiest cow ever, and having made her case to their parents, bemoaning the lack of birthday gift and Christmas present last year. She had ways to go to ensure she had a peaceful day - and that was all anyone could hope for over Christmas. A little bit of sodding peace.
“What are you looking for?”
Reya whipped around. A slender, beautiful woman looked at her with disinterest, waves of sleek black hair tumbling over her lace blouse. “I don’t know.” Reya offered.
The woman rolled her eyes. “Well, who are you buying for? Do hurry up darling, it’s closing time.”
“My sister.”
“And what does she like?”
“She’s really fussy,” Reya said. “That’s why I’m stuck.”
“Aren’t we all? Here.” The woman handed over a dress. “Silk, lined, classic. Took me a long time to convince the designer to let me stock, but she did. Because I’m persuasive.” The arch of her brow told the story of her success. “I’m assuming your fussy sister is a size eight.”
How she knew that, Reya would never know. “Spot on.”
“Come along, I have to be in Sheen in two hours. My sister in law has well deserved champagne chilling for me.”
Fascinated by the woman’s accuracy, Reya followed her to the ornate cashier desk. Carefully, she folded the dress in scented tissue paper, then inside a glossy box, and finally placed it into a luxurious, glossy bag, the name Sofia swirled across the front in gold lettering. “How long have you been open?”
“Three months,” the woman announced with pride, her green eyes narrowing with amusement. “And we’re magnificently in profit already.”
“Didn’t it used to be some wiccan boutique?”
“Exactly. It’s much better as my boutique.” She rang up the dress and Reya handed over her credit card. “Your sister will be pleased. I was named in Charisma magazine as a destination shop.” She smiled at Reya, and she was convinced no one ever said no to her. “Merry Christmas and all that soppiness.”
“And to you. Thanks Sofia.”
She waved a thin hand through the air, and returned to tidying the racks of beautiful rainbow of clothes. Relieved that her final shopping was complete, Reya stumbled into a coffee shop and collapsed into a chair. She felt something tugging at her coat and looked down. Oh come on. Day away, please! Little Owen from her nursery class gazed up at her with his big brown eyes.
“Hello Miss Reya.”
No one could pronounce her surname. It was a given anyone over four would have the same problem.
“Hello Owen,” she murmured, scooping him from the floor and sitting him on her lap. “Where are your parents?”
“Daddy’s buying you a coffee. He said you look tired.” Reya’s eyes went straight to the counter where tall, dark and strictly off-limits for being a far too good looking father, was busy handing over his card. Doctor Be Good To Me, the mums called him. He and his partner had finally started behaving like normal adults for their son’s sake. Actually, it had been his former partner, Carol who had blazed a trail of hatred through the nursery, trying her best to keep Niven away. Reya truly wished parents wouldn’t bother. Their children wouldn’t appreciate it when they were older.
Niven set the ceramic mug in front of her and sat down opposite. “Someone looks comfortable,” he commented, nodding towards his son, who had snuggled into the crook of Reya’s neck.
“Sorry Daddy,” Owen murmured, lifting a hand to rest against Reya’s collarbone.
“Looks like it.” He replied, lifting an eyebrow. Despite speaking to him up close on several occasions, he didn’t come over as any less intimidating outside the nursery. “Finished your shopping?”
Reya looked over Owen’s head to check on her bags. “All done. Last minute dot com as per usual. What about you? Why aren’t you at home wrapping?”
Niven’s face shifted. “Carol’s picking him up in half an hour. We’ve got about two hours together on Christmas day.”
Oh. How disappointing for him. “At least you’re able to talk and make plans.”
He smiled at her, and she felt as mushy as a marshmallow in hot chocolate. “You’re sweet. What are you doing for the holiday?”
“Spending time with my parents, my sister who happens to be married to my ex boyfriend.” Saying it aloud over time lost its shock value. Except to people who hadn’t heard the story before. Niven looked appalled. Reya glanced down at Owen who was fast asleep. “It sounds worse than it is. We’re all friends now. I’ve even bought her a present.”
He stared at her thoughtfully. “What time’s dinner?”
“Oh, we never eat before four.” She glanced up from brushing Owen’s forehead with the tips of her fingers. “Why?”
“Can I come? To be honest with you, once Owen goes with his mum, the rest of the day’s going to be seriously lacking any entertainment.”
She stared at him. “Why? Seriously, why?”
“I never like unfair fights,” he replied, lifting his coffee cup. “Your parents won’t mind will they?”
“Or you like fighting too much?”
“No,” he said with a laugh. “My GP told me I’m not confrontational.” He laughed again. “It’s true. Don’t make that face. Owen, you awake?”
His son shook his head against Reya’s breast. Niven retrieved his phone from his pocket. His expression darkened briefly, then he shucked on his coat and scooped Owen from Reya’s lap. “Carol’s here. Can you stay for five minutes while I explain the beauty of my plan?”
Reya nodded, dumbfounded. 
“Excellent. Owen sweetheart? Wake up and say bye to Miss Reya.”
Owen lifted his sleepy head and waved a hand weakly in Reya’s direction. “Happy Christmas Miss Reya.”
“And to you Owen.”
“I’ll be back,” Niven mimicked Arnold Schwarzenegger to Reya’s burst of laughter. Once he left, she sent her father a text message. He was more au fait with technology than her mother. 

Have a friend who wants to come for dinner tomorrow. Is that okay? She sent swiftly.

A little notice would have been courteous. But as we are cooking for Armageddon, one more mouth won’t make a difference. Any dietary requirements for her?

It’s a he, Dad. And not that I know of.

Is this a boyfriend?!!! 

The extra exclamation marks sent another ripple of laughter through her. Niven returned to the cafe and gently touched her arm as he sat back down.

I hope so Dad. We’ll see you tomorrow.

“Are you sure?” Reya asked eventually, when she couldn’t stare at those arched cheekbones of his. 

“You know Owen adores you. And I’d do anything for someone my son loves. So yeah. We’re going together.”