Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Morning At Devon's

Soft Christmas music flowed from the many speakers suitated around Devon's living room as I sat, curled up, under a blanket on his couch Christmas morning. I was waiting for him, he was rattling around in the kitchen, making us some hot chocolate, before we opened the few presents that rested on the floor beneath the tree we decorated a couple nights before.

Closing my eyes, I leaned back into the cushions and thought back over past Christmas', I couldn't think of one where I was as much at peace as I was sitting in his living room. It was a strange thing - being at peace in the home of the man who caused so many sleepless night - but it felt right.

I heard his footsteps, heard the mugs as he placed them on coasters on the table in front of the couch and then I felt the cushions move as he lowered his body down next to mine. "Janie," he whispered softly as his hand brushed my shoulder. "You aren't sleeping, are you?"

I smiled, shaking my head as I opened my eyes. He was leaning in over me, his eyes were the first thing I saw. I lifted my hand to his cheek, my fingers tracing the shadowy outline of his stubble. "I'm just relaxing," I told him as he turned his head towards my hand, his eyes partly closed.

"We can open presents later," his lips moved against my hand as he spoke, "if you wish."

I shook my head, reminding him that we had lunch with his parents and then supper at Amber's house later. "This is the only chance we'll get to do it before we head out."

It was cute, his little growl of protest, as he turned to look at the tree. "Hmm," he turned to me, a smile on his face. "Let's just sit here, sip hot chocolate and admire our handy work," he told me as he moved to hand me one of the mugs on the table.

I laughed, "didn't we do that the other night when we decorated it?"

He gave a little shrug as he took a sip from his mug, "don't you think it's worth admiring again?"

Devon didn't wait for me to agree with him, he leaned back into the cushions, his shoulder brushing against mine as the rest of his body, from his arm to his thigh rested against me. "This is nice," he stated as his eyes drifted shut.

Taking a sip of the rich and creamy hot chocolate, I took a moment to observe him while he relaxed next to me. Devon was a good looking man, sucky thing was that he knew it and he used that to his advantage for years. I'll admit that it was his looks that first attracted me to him but there's something about him, something I just can't explain that kept me coming back for more when he repeatedly cheated on me.

Maybe I was crazy. Maybe I was naive. And maybe I'm setting myself up to get my heart crushed once more but I do believe that he's changed. He doesn't seem to be the same guy he was even a couple months ago; that guy wouldn't have gone out of his way to make Christmas special for me nor would he be there for me as much as he has been.

My eyes travelled from his closed eyes down to his lips. Mmmm, those lips. How many times have they sent shivers down my spine? I took a sip of hot chocolate and wondered how much better it would taste if I were licking drops from his lips. I bit my lip to stop from groaning out loud as I told myself I had to stop before the warmth spreading through me took control of my body and made me do something I shouldn't.

"I can feel you watching me," he opened open eye to peek at me before he closed it again and smiled.

"I was debating whether or not to kick you," I told him.

"Yeah right," he laughed. "Why would you want to kick me?"

"It's Christmas morning!"

He raised a brow and turned to me, his eyes wide open now. "Merry Christmas, here your kick?"

I nodded.

He looked offended.

"I wouldn't kick that hard," I explained, "Just enough so you know I wanna open presents."

"A kiss would work as well," he informed me.

"I know," I slipped off the couch and made my way over to the tree. "But you wouldn't stop at a kiss," I glanced over my shoulder. "You couldn't stop at a kiss."

"Oh, no, no, no, no, no!" He jumped off the couch to join me. "You," he tweaked my nose as he spoke. "Couldn't stop at a kiss; you can't control yourself around me, you want my body." With that said, he pulled his shirt up over his head, pushing his chest out and shaking his body, "you want it don't cha baby? Don't cha?"

"Stop it!" I cried out in laughter. "You're such a freak!"

He drop his shirt and grabbed for me, wrapping his arms around me as I stood side on to him. "Yeah, I hear you love me freaky baby! Muah!" He kissed my cheek.

I shot a questioning look at him.

"I'm allowed my delusions, it's Christmas afterall."

Laughing, I placed my hand against his cheek. His arms tightened around me as my gaze met his briefly before I turned away.

"Janie," his hand left my waist, travelling up my arm until his fingers gripped my chin as he turned my face towards him again. He was mere inches away, the aroma of hot chocolate drifted by my nose with every breath he took. "Janie," he sighed, his thumb tracing the outline of my bottom lip. I thought he was going to kiss me, I parted my lips, tilted my head back and waited. But he didn't, he just smiled and said, "Presents?"

I felt stupid as he pulled away from my to sit on the floor in front of the tree. And if the feeling stupid wasn't back enough, I started to wonder if he was even interested in me at all.

"Come on, sit down," he urged as he gathered the presents.

I stood there like a moron, watching him.

"This one..." he trailed off as he looked towards me and realized I was still standing. He leaned back, tilting his head all the way back as he looked up. "This is new for me," he said jokingly but when I didn't laugh, he sighed. "I'm trying to be a gentleman."

"What? Why?" I frowned, I didn't ask him to be one.

He shrugged, "I was told I was rude and crude?"

"Who told you that?"

Once again, he shrugged. "No one?" He chuckled but stopped short when I just stared down at him. "Look Janie, I'm trying really hard not to take you, right here under the tree, so cut me some slack and get your cute ass down here so we can open presents!"

My eyes widened, that was the Devon I was use too - telling me what to do, not asking. I knew how to deal with that Devon. I was about to say something to him but he had to go and throw me for a loop - he pouted and said, "Pretty please baby?"

I laughed, I didn't know what else to do. He didn't seem too upset at that though, he grinned and moved over so I could sit down in front of the tree with him.

"This one is from..." he opened the tag on the gift bag, " parents, to you."

"To me?" I was surprised, I didn't expect them to get me anything.

"Yes, to you," he poked around in the little pile until he found a matching gift bag. Checking the tag he announced that he found his from his parents. "I'm hoping for socks."

I shook my head, turned to the navy box on my lap, that I pulled out of the gift bag, and froze as I read the white writing. "Devon..." I adsently grabbed for his arm. "This box..." I looked up at him, he was halfway into his gift but stopped long enough to ask me what was wrong. "It's a Ralph Lauren box!"

"Yeah," he shrugged, "so?"

I stared at him. "So? That's all you have you say?" He nodded and told me that it was a store like any other. "No it's not," I exclaimed. "It's a freaking expensive place and..." I shook my head in disbelief. "You parents didn't have to get me something from there."

"Oh don't worry, it's probably socks."

I laughed, "What's with you and socks today?"

Grinning, he told me that's what he asked his parents for. "They never get me socks though." He turned back to his gift and I hesitated. He must've saw for he poked me and told me to open it and enjoy. "My mom loves Christmas because it's the one time of year dad doesn't freak out when she shops - open it, love it and wear it today when we go to lunch."

My eyes narrowed, "You know what she bought me!"

"Well she did ask me clothing sizes," he said with a shrug and ripped the cover off his box. "Damn it!" He sighed, turning the box towards me, "No socks."

"What did you get?" I went to poke around in his gift but he pulled it away, telling me I could see his after I opened mine. "Ok, fine," I started to open the box. "But they didn't have to get..."

Devon leaned over and kissed me.

" anything," I said against his lips.

"They like you, they want you to like them." He smiled, "They also want me to settle down," he kissed me again. "They know how I feel about you."

"Devon, I..."

He laughed and pulled away. "They aren't bribing you Janie! They just wanted to get you something nice. It has nothing to do with me."

I didn't believe him but I let it go. To be honest, I was stoked that they got me something for Christmas and really over joyed that it came from Ralph Lauren, I never owned anything from there, I didn't care if it was socks.

Of course, it wasn't sock. No, his mom and dad gave me a black slim-fit cashmere crewneck sweater and a pair of white pants.

"What did you get?" I asked breathlessly after spending a good ten minutes going on about how much I loved what his parents gave me, how soft the sweater was and how excited I was to wear it when we went to see them.

"Well..." he reached into the box and grabbed something. "I got socks!" He waved the black socks in front of my face and told me that he was set for Christmas now, that I could have all his other presents.

"What else did you get?" I laughed.

He glanced at the box, pretended to look embarrassed and whispered, "Underwear."

"Oh? Can I see?"

"Later," he grinned, "I'll model them for you."

I ignored that comment as he pulled out the rest of the stuff his parents gave him - a blue striped polo shirt, white chinos, a light brown cashmere crewneck sweater, and a plain white dress shirt. But out of all that, he held the socks by his side the entire time we were opening presents.

There were just four presents left under the tree - the ones from Amber and Reed for us and the ones we had for each other. "I'll be right back," he jumped up and jogged towards the bathroom, returning moments later with a box of tissues.

"Are you getting sick?" I asked when he said down. He told me no. "Are you going to cry?" I asked him jokingly.

"I might," he said as he pulled out the gifts from Amber & Reed. "Here you go baby," he handed me a box that had to be a foot squared and then picked up his tiny gift box from them. "I'm trying to figure out why mine says, 'and especially from Alexis'."

"Open it and find out," I answered as I untied the green ribbon that Amber had tied around the pretty solid red giftwrap.

While I carefully opened the gift from Amber, Devon ripped the ribbon and wrap off his. He pulled the inside box open and pulled out a piece of paper and read, "Alexis walked around the store with these in her hands the whole time were we shopping." He looked puzzled as he tugged back the tissue paper to reveal two different picture frames, one had child like writing that said 'Uncles are the coolest' with some little pictures (car, hammer, planet, baseball, saw, etc) and inside the frame was a picture of Alexis and Devon. "Hey, that's the day care," he said in disbelief. The second frame was a double frame with a picture of Alexis when she was a baby in one side and a poem in the other. Devon read the poem outloud, it spoke of having fun together and being buddies forever.

"Hmmm," he stared at the frame once he finished reading it.

I waited, to see if he would say something else but he just sat there staring at the frame. I asked him if he was ok, he nodded and motioned to my present. I reluctantly turned my attention back to the box on my lap and he finally lifted his head a little. He took a deep breath, let it out and finally turned his wet, red eyes my way.

"What did you get?" He asked, trying to get my attention away from him.

I lifted the lid off the box and pulled back the tissue paper. "Ohhh...." my breath caught in my throat as I my eyes misted over almost so that I couldn't see the picture of me as a little girl on the front cover of the scrapbook. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the tissue box inching towards me. I laughed and cried as I took them from Devon. "You knew about this?"

He nodded.

I dabbed my eyes with the tissue and then asked him what Amber did as I pulled the book out of the box. I got my answer on the first page, she had written me a note. "Janie, I know that this month has been a difficult one for you; not only did you lose your mom, you lost all the special mementos of the time you shared with her and of the important events in your life. I know that nothing can ever fill that void you feel but I hope that this book of 'memories' will help ease the pain over time. I hope you like it. Merry Christmas my friend, I love you, Amber."

I started to flip through the pages and I was surprised to see so many pictures of me, my parents, my old friends and places that were special to me. I was shocked when I came to my school years and found a copy of the inside cover of our yearbook and a brunch of messages from all my old classmates. "How did she...?"

"I believe Amber called every single person she could think off to make this for you."

"Wow." That was all I could say. I started to bawl all over again, thinking about how much trouble she went through for me. And then I started to bawl because seeing all the pictures and stuff made me miss my mom.

For the longest time, Devon held me and let me cry. When I finally calmed down, he handed me a new tissue and jokingly told me we had to get Amber back for making me cry. I smiled at him and asked to be excused for a moment, I wanted to go and splash some water on my face.

I felt a lot better when I returned to the living room a few minutes later. "Ok," I sat down next to him again. "Let's open more."

"Ok," he handed me his present for me before picking up mine to his.

"Wait," I held my hand over the little hole that he had just finished making in the paper. He looked up, puzzled. "I just wanted to tell you that it's not much and I will make it up to you."

"Janie," he shook his head. "I don't care if you spent lot on it or not, that's not what's got me excited."

"It's not socks," I told him with a grin.

"Oh damn," he chuckled. "I was hoping." He removed my hand from the gift and told me to open mine.

I was watching him as I ripped the paper from the box in my hands.

"Oh hell yeah!" He exclaimed when he pulled the lid off the large rectangle tin to reveal all his favorite cookies.

"You like it?" I asked nervously.

He nodded and pulled a peanut butter cookie out of the tin, "This is better than socks!" He took a bite and I swear his eyes rolled back into his head. "Heaven," he moaned as he chewed. I watched him eat the cookie, his eyes didn't open until the last bite was gone. "I gotta have another one," he told me as he picked out a shortbread.

"I'm glad you like it," I smiled as he nodded happily. "I wasn't sure they would turn out but your mom did tell me that you loved them."

"You made these?" His hand stopped in mid air, his cookie was almost touching his lips.

"Yeah," I shrugged. "Amber helped me but I did most of the work."

He dropped the cookie into the tin suddenly and shoved the tin aside. I started to question what he was doing but when he took back the present he gave me, I felt terrible. "I'm sorry you..."

Devon pulled me off the floor and unto his lap. There was no time to react, his mouth claimed mine and my toes curled! His kiss was that passionate! When he released me, I had to hold on tight to his shoulders for I feared I would float away otherwise.

"You really like it," I grinned stupidly.

"Yes, I do," he chuckled. He pressed his lips against mine once more and then told me it was easy to buy a present but to make one was really something special. "I never had anyone make a present for me," he told me. "Let alone spend hours baking, just for me."

"Well," I ran my fingers from his temple to his ear and smiled, "You are pretty special."

"So are you Janie." He gave me a squeeze, "Now open your present!"

Laughing, I pulled the box towards us and opened it. ", thanks Devon." I smiled but really I was wondering why on earth he would give me a set of 4 glasses for Christmas.

"They are really cool," he told me. "Check them out."

Even thought I didn't want too, I opened up the box of glasses for him. "They are..." I looked at him. "What's that?" I was pointing to the smaller box nestled between the four glasses.

"I don't know," he smiled.

"Sure you don't," I chewed nervously on my lip as I pulled the jewerly style box from the middle and set aside the glasses. The velvet cover of the box lifted off easily, its removal revealed a brownish colored tissure paper. I glanced at him, he kissed my cheek and motioned towards the box.

"You can breathe," he whispered as I unfolded the tissue paper.

"Ok," I flashed him a smile as my fingers gently pulled the cotton covering from the box. "Oh!" I gasped, almost dropping the box.

"Careful," he slipped his hand under mine, holding me steady. "Do you like it?"

"It's beautiful," I took a breath. "I love it but you didn't have too."

"I know," he reached around me with his other hand. "Want me to put it on you?"

"Yes," I reached up to pull my hair away from my neck as he took the jewelry box in his hand and carefully lifted the white gold rope chain from its cotton bed; the little heart pendant swung gently as he brought it to rest against my chest. "I love the little diamond sitting at the bottom of the heart," I said as my fingers touched the pendant. "It's so beautiful Devon," I looked over my shoulder and he met my gaze. "I love it, thank you." I turned towards him and wrapped my arms around his neck. "Thank you for making this Christmas special."

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Out Of The Blue

"What am I going to do?" I was sitting in Amber's kitchen coloring with Alexis as Amber and her mom were making dinner.

"I don't see what the problem is Janie," Amber looked up from the vegetables she was peeling. "If Devon is fine with you being there with him, then why not -"

"Oh Amber," Lenore waved off what Amber was about to say. "Janie, if you aren't comfortable staying at Devon's place, or if you are afraid that he will take advantage of the situation then you shouldn't be there."

"Well mom," Amber stopped what she was doing. "Where do you suggest she go?"

Lenore's eyes widened.


"Mrs. Sands?"

"I have an idea," Lenore exclaimed. "I'll have to check out some things but I'm sure that we can have you out of Devon's place as soon as you want to leave there."

"Really mom?" Amber raised a brow. "Where exactly are 'we' going to move Janie?"

Lenore rolled her eyes before looking at Amber, "Well if you were any kind of friend, Janie would be staying here and Devon wouldn't have a chance to push her buttons like this again."

"Whoa!" I exclaimed, holding up both hands in mock surrender. "Ok, I don't mind staying with Devon, he's been great since the fire. I'm not being manipulated by him, he's not pressing my buttons and to be honest, I like living with him. I just don't want to be in his debt! If we were living together, equally, then it wouldn't be a big deal!" I stopped long enough to ask Alexis not to slap me in the mouth with her giant crayons.

Lenore came over to the table, "What are you saying Janie? That you are seriously considering getting back together with Devon?"

"Oh," Amber came running over to sit down too.

"Well..." I grinned, "There's just something about him that keeps pulling me back. It's not even a bad thing, it's..." I sighed.

Amber squealed excitedly as she clapped her hands together.

"Oh Amber really?" Her mom looked at her. "Just because he's Reed's friend, doesn't mean he's good for Janie." She paused for a beat before adding, "Now Reed's brother is a good guy."

"Mom! No!" Amber whined. "Sean is a good guy but Devon loves Janie."

Alexis slapped her hands against the table, giggled and said, "Dada!"

"But your daddy is taken sweetheart," I smiled. "Plus your mommy would kill me if I looked at him that way."

"Oh no," Amber smiled at me. "If you want him, feel free. Sometimes he just drives me crazy."

I laughed and almost said something about not needing to hear what he does to her in the bedroom but instead, I told her that I wasn't interested in Reed like that. "And Lenore, as good a guy as Sean is, I don't..."

"Oh Janie," Lenore went on to tell me that I should give Sean a chance because I wasted enough of my life on Devon. "He's a good boy Janie, but you need a man. Some one who'll take care of you, not play with your heart."

"Mom you don't know Devon all that well, he really does care for Janie. Yes, he did screw up in the past but he wants to make up for it." Amber turned to me, "Tell mom what Devon did for you a couple nights ago."

I couldn't help but smile as I told Lenore about my outing with Devon and the hours we spent decorating his place when we got home from the store. "When we were finished, he lit started a fire and we snuggled together on the couch and drank eggnog. It was the most romantic thing we ever did together," I sighed happily. "It was the best night ever."

Beside me, Amber reached over and squeezed my hand, "It's the best feeling in the world, isn't it?" She asked. "Every time Reed does some thing romantic, I feel like the luckiest woman in the world."

"I bet you do," I grinned. "But now what do I do?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, he's being great. I feel happier than I ever felt with him before but what do I do now? How do I let him know I'm interested in him like that?" I gasped. "What if he loses interest in me now that I'm interested in him?"

"Oh don't be so silly Janie! Devon isn't going to stop loving you if you show him some interest. In fact," Amber gave me a knowing look. "Put on something sexy and you'll always have his interest."

"Amber a woman shouldn't have to 'put on something sexy' in order to keep a man's interest," Lenore seemed to scoff at the idea completely.

"Is that so mom?" Amber raised a brow. "Then what was with those 'outfits' in your closet? You are telling me you never got all sexy for dad?"

"Oh Amber! Honestly!" Lenore jumped up from the table and returned to the stove, mumbling something about children thinking they know it all while Amber and I laughed.

"She's right though," Amber leaned in to whisper to me. "You don't have to put on something sexy to keep Devon's interest, you just have to care about him and the rest will happen."

I told her that I knew what she meant but I wasn't so sure that picking things up with Devon was the right thing to do at the moment. "I just want to get back on my feet, you know?"

She nodded, "Yes, I know all about it. That's what I was trying to do when I told Reed that I wouldn't move in with him when I moved back here. I needed time to find my place here and in his life. I needed to know that what I was feeling for him was real and not just residual feeling from when we were first dating."

I spent the rest of the evening at Amber's house, Devon came by around ten to pick me up and take me back to his place. Just after we walked in through the door, his phone rang and he ran to answer it.

"It's for you," he plopped down on the couch next to me and held out the phone. With a questioning look, he told me it was Amber's mom.

I gave him a shrug in response to his question. "Hello Mrs. Sands," I said cheerfully when I placed the phone to my ear. "What can I do for you?"

"It's more like, what can I do for you Janie dear," Lenore replied before launching into a story about her evening after she left Amber's earlier. I was barely paying attention so it came as a huge shock when she said, "Carl and I talked about it and we would love it if you would consider moving into the guest house until get on your feet."

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Out Of Nothing At All

I was laying in the living room last night, flipping through one of Devon's architecture magazines, checking out different styles of homes I wished I had the money to build on my mother's land when I heard his keys in the lock. I sat up, a little nervous about seeing him, I had been going over what I was going to say to him all day.

You can do this, I took a deep breath as the knob turned and the front door opened slowly.

"Jan-ie," he called out in a sing songy voice as he poked his head through the opening. "Hey sexy lady," he grinned when he saw me sitting on the couch.

He was acting strange and that made me forget all about what I had been worrying over for the last couple days. "What are you doing Devon?"

"Oh nothing," he pushed the door open and whistled as he wandered in the door and crossed over to where I was sitting. "How was your day sweetheart?" He fingered the magazines that were scattered on the cushions between us. "Do a little light reading?"

"Uh huh," I smiled. "I was doing a little 'I wish' browsing."

"You know," he picked up the magazine I was reading when he came home. "I can do anything in these magazines."

I smiled, "Yes I know and you are very good at it too."

His face lit up, "Thank you Janie, I didn't even know you noticed my work before."

"Are you kidding me?" I jumped up excitedly. "I read all the articles about you and your designs, and I drove by most of the sites..." I trailed off when I realized just how stalkerish I sounded but it was true, I followed Devon's career very closely, I used to think I needed to know everything he was doing in order to be with him.

"I didn't know that," he told me in all seriousness. "I thought you were bored by what I do."

"No!" I exclaimed as I grabbed his arm. "I'm in awe of what you do, I can't believe some of the designs you do. I mean, Reed and Amber's home? That's beautiful Devon."

"You saw the folder of pictures that Reed had on that house. It had to be everything Amber wanted, she designed her own house."

"No way," I laughed. "It may have been Amber's ideas but you, you made them work and now they have a beautiful home to enjoy."

He shrugged, "It's what I do Janie."

"You are so talented Devon, why do you make it seem like it's not a big deal?"

"I also design boring office buildings too Janie."

"Yes but even then they seem to stand out some how."

He chuckled, "Be careful Sweetheart, I believe there are stars in your eyes."

"Whatever," I rolled my eyes. "Why can't I compliment you without you making it a joke?"

"Janie come on, I said 'thank you' already. I'm a guy, we don't handle all that mushy complimenting well."

"No?" I raised a brow. "Then how come you basked in the glory of my after sex compliments?"

"In the euphoria I feel after sex, you could've told me I was the worst lover in the world and I would've laid there with the same stupid grin on my face," he glanced at me. "I would've known you were lying, but I still would've laid there like a moron."

"Whatever," I grabbed the magazine from him. We sat there for a while in complete silence. I was ok with that but I guess he wasn't, he poked me in the ribs. I gave him a dirty look, "What was that for?"

"I was thinking about something today at work."

"Oh damn," I sighed. "It's going to storm now, isn't it?"

"Ha ha," he whacked my leg with a magazine.

"Hey!" I pulled the magazine from him and asked what he was thinking.

"Well, it's December 21," he paused as if he was waiting for me to say something but I just gave him a questioning look. He sighed, "I know the past couple weeks haven't been easy for you and maybe you just don't feel like it but I was wondering if you wanted, and you don't have too, but if you do we could, I wouldn't have a problem with it at all..."

I held up my hand to stop his rambling. "Devon what are you trying to say?"

"See the thing is, I know how much you love this time of year..." I turned away from him and he sighed. "Janie I know it's tough because you miss your mom, and I know I'm not a great substitution for her at all but I was thinking, if you wanted, we could go out tonight and pick up a tree and decorations and..." he reached out a hand and touched my shoulder, I turned to him with tears in my eyes. "Oh Sweetheart," he groaned. "I just wanted you to be happy, we don't have to go if you don't want too, in fact, I'll cancel Christmas this year!"

"You can't do that," I chuckled as I wiped away my tears. "There will be a lot of unhappy children if you do that."

"Oh I don't care," he moved down the couch towards me, pulling me into his arms. "I just want you to be happy."

"Devon..." I was at a lost for words, I didn't know what to do, so I hugged him and nodded.

"Is that a 'yes'?" He asked hopefully.

"Yes," I laughed. "I can't have you cancelling Christmas just because of me."

A half hour later, Devon and I strolled through the crowds of holiday shoppers, making our way towards the stores Christmas displays and I felt like I was 5 years old and it was Christmas morning all over again.

Until I stood in front of the seven foot tree I was falling in love with and I realized that I couldn't afford the stand it would sit in. "I can't do this," I walked away and instead of arguing with me, he just followed me, not saying a word until we were standing outside his car in the frosty evening air. Then all he said was, "I'm sorry."

He unlocked the doors, opened mine and stood there, waiting for me to get in. I tilted my head back to gaze up at him. I expected him to be upset but he wasn't. He stood there looking so calm as he held the door open for me; it was different than anything I could've expected from him.

I lowered my head and stared at my hands. "With all my mom's debts, I can't afford this Devon."

"Who said you had to pay for it Janie?"

My head shot up. "I can't let you continue paying my way and buying stuff for me Devon, it's not right." I took a deep breath, "I was going to tell you when you got home tonight, I don't think I should be staying at your place anymore, I've burdened you long enough."

"Burdened me?" Devon gripped my chin as he leaned down until his nose almost touched mine. "Listen here Janie, you are not a burden. If I didn't want to help you, to have you at my place, you wouldn't be there." He released me, "Janie, Janie, Janie..." he shook his head as he looked helplessly at me. "You have no idea how scared I was that night, do you?"

I stared at him blankly.

"God Janie! When I called Amber's to talk to Reed, she was freaking out, crying and mumbling something about a fire at your place and having to be there for you. I didn't know until I got there that you weren't even home at the time. On the drive over, I pleaded with God - do you have any idea how often I talk to Him? Not at all. But the drive over, I pleaded with him, begged and even offered myself to Him in your place -"

"Why would you do that?"

"Because I love you damnit!" I jumped, surprised at the force behind his words. "I'm sorry," he said softly. "I love you," he repeated. "I know that I repeatedly screw our relationship up. I know I'm not the world's greatest boyfriend - hell, I'm probably the guy every mother warns their daughter about - but God, Janie! I thought I would lose you that night and it scared the shit out of me!"

"I heard all this before Devon."

"No," he shook his head furiously. "Not this. This is different."

"How is this different? It all sounds the same to me."

"It's different because I'm different Janie and so are you." I closed my eyes, he growled softly. "I know you don't believe me - I don't blame you Janie, I wouldn't believe me either but I swear it's true. This is different." He touched me, my eyes flew open to meet his. He gazed into my eyes for the longest time before turning away - I figured he saw he wasn't really getting anywhere and was giving up but as quickly as he turned away, he spun around to face me again. "This is different," he insisted. "If this were a couple months ago, I would kiss you - use your feelings for me to my advantage and make you see things my way - but I'm not going to do that. I'm going to ask you something Janie, if you want to do it - great - if you don't, then that's ok too." He waited a moment and then he asked if I was ok with that.

I considered it for a moment before nodding slowly, "What do you want to ask me?"

"Ok," he went to touch me but he stopped and shoved his hands into his pockets. "Janie, will you let me make this the best Christmas you could possibly have under the circumstances? Will you let me buy a tree and decorations? Will you help me put it all together when we get home? Will you make this the best Christmas I've ever had?" His lips twitched as he jokingly added, "I guess that was more than one question."

I went to answer but he stopped me. "Wait, let me ask that again, I think I can do better." I raised a brow as I tried not to laugh. "Janie," he smiled as he started again. "Will you spend Christmas with me?"

"I have a question of my own before I answer yours," I told him. "Actually, I have a couple."

Without hesitation, he nodded. "Go ahead, ask."

"I was wondering," I glanced around the busy parking lot, at all the happy families and I felt a pain in my heart. I shook my head, "No, I need to know that you are ok with me finding another place to stay. I need to know that you won't be expecting me to slip into the role of 'girlfriend' if I agree to stay for Christmas." I lifted my hand to his face, his eyes closed briefly when my fingertips brushed his jaw. "I'm feeling very vulnerable Devon."

Devon wrapped his hand around mine, holding it in place as he turned his head and kissed my palm. "I know," he lowered our hands between us. "That's why I'm trying not to push you," he smiled sadly. "I don't want you to leave after Christmas," he admitted. "But I won't stop you if that's what you feel you have to do."

With a gentle squeeze, I whispered, 'thank you.' And then tugged on his hand, "So what are we standing around here for? The tree isn't going to buy itself!"

I would love to say that we, with childlike abandonment, ran hand in hand back towards the crowded store but it wasn't that picture perfect. No, it wasn't like that at all. He walked along side me as I hobbled my way back towards the door, catching me every time my crutch slipped in the snow.

That was prefect.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Too Close For Comfort

"That's why I think you should give me the land," my dad said smugly over his glass of wine.

"Excuse me?" I stared at him blankly. "You think I should give you the land that my mom left me, the land that had been in her family for generations, because you feel you deserve it after being married to her?"

Dad scoffed, "It's not like you can afford to rebuild on the land Janie. The taxes alone are more than you can afford. I'm only thinking of you dear."

Yeah, right! I shook my head in disbelief. "Is that all you wanted?" I asked, he had been calling Devon's place since the night of the fire and calling Devon at work everyday to set up this meeting. "You don't want to know how I'm doing? If I'm having nightmares? Or if I'm even missing mom?"

"Janie come on! Of course you are having nightmares! That woman was horrible!"

"Hey!" I jumped up, not caring that my actions drew the attention of those seated in the restaurant around me. "I loved mom and I miss her everyday dad. I'm not going to just give you the only thing left from the time I spent with her and I don't appreciate the way you belittle her, even now, after she's dead." I grabbed my purse and crutches, "I have to go."

It didn't take much for him to catch up with me, I was, after all, trying to maneuver through a bust restaurant on crutches. "Listen Janie -"

"No dad, you listen. That land is all I have left from mom, I may not be able to live on it right now but I plan on doing so in the future."

"Be reasonable Janie, you can't afford it."

"You're right," I admitted. "I don't have a lot of money to throw around like you do but I'll be damned if I just give my mother's family land over to the man who screwed around with her heart long after the divorce was final." He tried to tell me that I didn't know what I was talking about but I didn't want to hear it, I found out lots of stuff since the fire that I didn't know. "I know that neighbours talk dad, I know about the visits you made to the house while I was out, I know about the booze you brought mom." My dad paled and I wanted to punch his lights out. "I know all about the promises you made to her dad, all the lies you told her about coming home and being a family again."


"No," I snapped. "I don't want to hear it," I told him. As I turned to left, I threw one last comment over my shoulder, "As far as I'm concerned, you killed my mom."

When I got back to Devon's last night, I wanted to head straight for his bathroom, fill his huge tub with bubbles and hideaway for the rest of the night but he was waiting by the door when I let myself in.

"Your dad called me," he helped me with my coat. "He told me that you were upset and he just wanted to make sure you got back here ok."

"Sure he did," I rolled my eyes.

Devon watched me cross the floor to his couch to sit down. "Did you at least finish your meal before you got upset and stormed out?" I glared at him. "I'm just asking because I ordered some Chinese take out," he told me with a smile. "I called them just after I hung up with your dad, I figured you would be hungry still."

He joined me on the couch, "Did you want to talk about what happened?"

I shook my head and then started to spill everything that happened. By the time I was done, he was holding me and I was crying, a situation that has happened a lot since the fire. "God, I hope this doesn't become a pattern for us," I said jokingly when I could speak without sobbing again.

"I kind of like this," he murmured.

"You do?" I glanced up at him.

"Mmhmm," he smiled, "I don't like the reason this is happening but I like being the one to comfort you instead of being the one to piss you off." He pressed his lips against my forehead and sighed contently. "Despite all the energy you put into pushing me away Janie, I don't believe that your feelings for me have changed." He pulled back enough to gaze into my eyes. "I know my feelings for you haven't changed."

"Devon -"

He cut me off with a kiss. "Don't," he pleaded softly. "Don't think, just let this moment happen."

The moment he was talking about just involved me being all wrapped up in his arms, I didn't have the energy to fight him so I didn't.

This morning as I pretended to be asleep while he got ready for work, I realized that I couldn't stay here any longer without losing myself in him again. It's time I found another place to stay.

Telling him that will be the hardest part, he seems to like having me around.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Beginning To Be Me Again

I woke up on the couch this morning, like I have a couple mornings since I've been here, and immediately I started to think about what I could do to show Devon I really appreciated all that he's down for me. Sure, something sexual crossed my mind but I didn't think I was really in the right place, mentally, to open up that can of worms again.

So I did the next best thing. I pushed the blanket back, rolled off the couch and headed into his kitchen. After a quick search of his fridge and cupboards, I decided that I would make him breakfast. I'm not much of a cook, so bacon, eggs, toast and coffee would have to be good enough.

"Well it can't be any worse than the junk he normally eats for breakfast," I muttered as I tugged the coffee filters out of his cupboard. On a normal morning, Devon got up at 6 to shower and shave. He was dressed and out the door by 7 so he could stop at the corner fast food restaurant for some imitation egg and bacon sandwich and really horrible coffee before he headed into the office for 8.

"At least I know how to make a great cup of coffee," I smiled as I pressed the button on his coffeemaker. "All those pots of coffee I had to make at the office are finally of some use to me."

As the coffee perked, I rummaged through his cupboards until I found his grill and toaster. "This is going to be great," I told myself as I heated the grill up and pulled the bacon out of the fridge.

A few minutes later, the bacon was sizzling nicely on the grill and the aroma of fresh brewed coffee drifted through the kitchen. After turning the strips of bacon over, I pulled a mug from the rack and filled it with the hot rich brew before heading off across the floor to Devon's bedroom.

Even though I heard him stirring a few minutes before, I still paused outside his door, knocked and waited for his 'come in'. "Good morning," I flashed him a smile as I neared the bed.

"Mmmm morning," he pressed his hands against the mattress to push himself up into a sitting position. "Couldn't sleep?" He glanced at the unused pillow next to his.

"No," I lowered myself onto his mattress. "I actually fell asleep on the couch last night."

"Oh, I see." He spotted the mug in my hand. "What's that?"

"Coffee," I held it out to him. "You still like it black, right?"

"It's for me?" I nodded and he smiled. "Thank you," he took the mug from me and brought it up to his lips. "Oh yeah," he sighed happily, "That's the ticket."

I grinned. "I'm glad you like it," I said as I stood to return to the kitchen and his breakfast.

"Where are you going?" He asked me. "Why don't you grab a cup of coffee and come sit with me for a few minutes?"

As tempting as he looked sitting there with is hair all messed up and sleepy expression on his face, I resisted and told him I had to go back tot he kitchen before the bacon burnt. I was halfway through his bedroom door when I heard him scramble out of bed as he mumbled, "before the bacon burns?"

I made my way over to the grill with Devon on my heel. "What are you doing?" He asked as he stared at the grill full of bacon before turning his disbelieving eyes my way. "Are you...making me breakfast?"

"Yes," I moved closer to him and pressed my hand against his chest. "I thought it would be nice to do this for you for being so nice to me since my mom..."

"Oh Janie," he placed his mug on the counter and pulled me into his arms. He rubbed my back and spoke soothing words to me as I sobbed against his chest. "You don't have to do this for me, you don't owe me anything baby."

"I know," I sniffled as I looked up at him. "I just thought it would be nice, you wouldn't have to go to the corner to get something to eat and..."

"That's a good idea," he reached up to tuck a stray strand of hair behind my ear. "I like this," he nodded towards the grill. "I've never had anyone cook anything for me before."

"Don't get used to it," I chuckled nervously as I moved out of his arms.

"I won't," he grinned. "I'm not about to take this for granted Janie."

While I finished cooking breakfast, Devon set the table and then he stood near me with his back against the counter while he drank his second cup of coffee. "This is awesome," he told me for the third time. "It smells wonderful in here and that," he pointed to the plate of bacon and sighed. "I can't wait to eat."

It may not have been a big deal for me to cook breakfast for him but long after he had gone to work, I was still smiling. It felt good. It was the first time since the fire that I did something that made me happy.

And it really helped that Devon was very appreciative of my efforts. Plus he told me, before he left for work, how happy he was to see a smile on my face again. "It looks really good on you Janie."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fine And Dandy - I Won't Let Sorrow Bring Me Down

I'm laying in Devon's living room, on his couch, with his laptop on my lap. The only sounds I hear come from his big bulky stereo headphones that I've plugged into the laptop so I could hear music instead of listening to my thoughts anymore. It helps a little.

Or it did until I came across the Christmas music he has on here. Now, I'm trying really hard not to fall to pieces again as the memories of Christmas past haunt me.

Christmas to me was always the best time of year, it always seemed so magical. It seemed that no matter what was going on around me, the spirit of Christmas was strong enough to push the bad stuff away for a while.

Growing up my parents fought all the time, so much so that I thought it was normal for parents to argue. They tried to keep it from me but sound travelled so easily in the early morning hours. But that didn't seem to matter around Christmas time, that seemed to be the only time my parents were happy together.

Looking back on it now, I know that they were just pretending. The happiness they displayed during this time of year was only a mask they wore so the rest of the world wouldn't know that they thought they were trapped in a relationship with someone one they didn't love.

Well, that was my dad's reasoning I guess. He's the one who left while mom was left to sink into the depths of depression. Do I blame him for what happened to my mom after he left? You're damn right I do! My mom was head over heels for him, she married him despite the disapproval of her family because she was sure that he was the man for her.

Yeah, for her and every other woman who climbed into his bed.

My dad was never faithful and my mom knew that. Once I asked her how on earth she could live with knowing her husband was out screwing anything that walked and she replied, "He's not a bad man Janie, he may have mistresses but it's me he comes home to every night." I asked her how that could possibly be a healthy relationship and she become upset. "I love him Janie," she told me. "You wouldn't understand because you've never been in love but when you do, you'll find out that you'll do anything to keep the man you love."

"I don't think so," I told her then. "I'll never let a man use me like he's using you. It's not love mom, there's no way it could be."

Little did I know that not even three years after I had that conversation with my mom, I would find myself in pretty much the same position with Devon. And like my mom, I stupidly believed that it was ok. That it was alright that he cheated all the time because I was 'his girl'. It wasn't until I saw Reed hurting over Amber's leaving that I realized what my parents had and what I had with Devon wasn't a real relationship. That's when I swore to myself that I would find a man who loved me like Reed loved Amber.

I'm embarrassed to admit this but for a while I thought that in order to have that love, I would have to have Reed. No, I didn't make a play for my best friend's man but I thought about it. It wouldn't have worked Reed was too heartbroken over Amber to even notice anyone else. And when he did start to pull himself out from the bottle he drowned himself in, all his focus was on finding her and convincing her to give him another chance.

I thank God everyday that I was smart enough to realize that having Reed wouldn't mean I would have the love he felt for Amber before I did something stupid.

Which brings me to Cary. He's sweet and kind. He's funny and smart but that's it. I knew from the beginning he wasn't for me but actually having a man want my opinion and want to spend his spare time with me was new and I convinced myself it was love. That's why I agreed to marry him so quickly.

But then Devon had to go and 'change'. He had to go tell everyone who would listen how much he 'loved' me and it made me hopeful. I resisted him for a while but I knew it would only be a matter of time before he talked his way back into my bed.

And boy, did he ever talk his way back into my bed! I actually believed that we were given a second chance but soon the dream like state washed away and I realized that it still wasn't everything it should've been. Part of it was me holding back from him because I didn't want to end up like my mom did when my dad finally left her. I didn't want to be like her and there were too many similarities between my dad and Devon. The other part of it was that I was comparing our relationship with Amber and Reed's and, sadly, it came up seriously lacking.

Maybe I have to stop comparing my relationships with those of the people around me. Maybe I have to stop looking for reasons to leave.

I mean, if you would've told me a couple months ago that there would come a time when I would spend almost two weeks with Devon and he wouldn't once try to get into my pants or make a move on me, I would've laughed in your face. But that's the way it's been since the fire, I've been here every single day and he hasn't made a move even though his eyes and body tell me that he wants me.

He's been really good to me since it happened. He helped me plan the funeral, he stood beside me at the cemetery. He's held me when I need a hug. He's been everything I need him to be. I have a feeling if it weren't for him, I would've given in to the depression that's lurking in the shadows.

I want to do something for him. Something to show him how grateful I am that he's been so good to me but I don't know what. I'm open to suggestions...

Sunday, December 9, 2007


I haven't stopped shaking since that night. I haven't been into work, I haven't been out of this place actually. I'm too scared to be anywhere out there at the moment. Right now, I'm sitting on a couch in a room that I never thought I would see the inside of again. A place I didn't think I would ever be welcomed. The events of the other night has changed that.

That night. I want to cry every time I think of it. It's so unbelievable. I can't believe that it all started so innocently. It started with me getting ready to leave Amber and Reed's house after being over there most of the day last Saturday - God I can't even believe it's been a week since my life got turned upside down and inside out.

I was leaving Amber's house, getting ready to go home when Sean came over. I felt weird seeing him again since the last time I saw him, he walked out of my room instead of kissing me. At first I was pissed that he invaded my space but soon I was angry that he left without kissing me. Now though, I just fell strange when I think about what could've happened. Amber and I had joked since the moment she met Reed, how it would be perfect if he had a brother I could date but I never thought - I mean how could I even think about him or see him or anything without seeing Reed? And unfortunately, that's all I see when I look at Sean. It's creepy.

"How's my favorite sister in law?" Sean greeted Amber with a kiss on the cheek and then asked where Reed was.

Amber told him that Reed was still at work, "But please feel free to go and rescue him," she told him. "I would love to see my fiance," she giggled when she said 'fiance', it was cute.

"I'll do that," he told her, promising to have Reed home within the hour.

"Oh thank you!" She hugged him tight. "You have no idea how long it's been since -"

"Hey, hey, hey!" Sean held up his hands in mock surrender. "I don't need to know about my brother's sex life...ever!" He turned, as if to walk out the door and 'noticed' me - like he didn't see me before that. "Hey Janie," he had the nerve to flash his pearly whites at me like nothing ever almost happened between us. "Didn't see you there," he lied as his eyes ran down over my body. "You were heading out? Did you need a ride? I didn't see a car out there."

"No, that's -"

"Oh would you Sean?" Amber butt in with a grin on her face. "I would really appreciate it, Alexis is getting cranky and needs a bath."

So I that's how I ended up with Sean driving me home, once again.

"I wanted to talk to you about the other day," he said after a long silence as we drove to my house.

"I don't know what you are talking about," I stared out the passenger window.

He laughed, "Oh you know exactly what I'm talking about - Spitfire."

I rolled my eyes. "My name is Janie, do you have problems remembering simple stuff like that?" I turned to him, "I know they say the memory is the first thing to go when you get old..."

"Don't be worrying about my memory Sunshine, it hasn't forgotten the look in your eyes before I left the other day," he paused, glanced at me and smiled. "You wanted me, badly."

"Uh huh," I scoffed. "I want you, I need you...oh baby, oh baby!" I rolled my eyes as I quoted a line from '10 Things I Hate About You' - I had rewatched that movie the day before.

He just laughed but his smile faded as he turned a corner. His eyes widened, his jaw dropped as he stared, unblinkingly, out the windshield.

"I'm not that into -"

"Janie!" Sean reached out, grabbed my arm. "Please tell me I'm on the wrong street."

"No, this is..." I froze.

Sean pulled up to the curb. "Janie," he turned to me but I didn't see him, I was transfixed on the bright orange-red flickering flames and the black smoke that consumed my house. "Janie," he shook me. "I'm sure that it's not as bad as we think," he told me. "Let's go see where your mom is and -"

"Mom?" I felt my heart jump into my throat. "Mom!" I pulled on the door handle hard enough that it almost came off in my hand. Shoving the door open, I leapt out only to fall on my face onto the side of the road. "Mom!" I screamed out as I slammed into the ground.

"Janie hold on!" Sean ran over to me, he tried to help me up but I was crawling - that's right - crawling towards the group of people, my neighbours, who were all gathered as they watched my home go up in smoke.

"This can't be happening," I said as he pulled me off the ground and held me at his side. "I have too...I need..." There was a loud bang, I screamed and jumped. "Mom!" I wrestle against his hold but he wouldn't let me go.

"Janie I'll go check on your mom, why don't you sit down and -"

"You think I can just sit?" I stared at him in disbelief. "That's my HOME Sean! My HOME! And my MOM! Could you just sit?"

"No, I would have to know..."

"See? I need to go find -"

"But you can't get around that well Janie!" He pushed me backwards until I was up against his car. "Sit here and I'll go see what I can find out," he ordered.

I felt helpless as he ran from me and into the crowd. I can't even tell you what I was thinking at that moment, all I can remember is thinking that Sean would find mom and she would explain to me what was going on. She would tell me that she accidentally dropped her cigarette and it started a fire, like she did before. Only this time, I stared at the inferno that was my house. All my memories of being in that house started to flash before my eyes - playing in the back yard with my parents, barbecues, parties and sleep overs with Amber. Oh mom, what did you do? Why did you have to get drunk and start a fire again? How many times have I told you about smoking and drinking?

It seemed like a lifetime passed since Sean left my side to go find out what had happened. I was starting to wonder where he was, I decided to go find him when I heard a voice I certainly didn't expect.

"Janie! Oh thank God!" His arms were around me, his lips pressing tiny kisses all over my face as he mumbled his thanks.

"Devon?" I was confused, how did he get there? "What are you doing here?"

"Amber called me," he told me as he held me at arm's lenght and stared down into my eyes. "Baby I thought the worst. Amber called me freaking out, said something about fire and you...I didn't even take the time to ask, I just came over here." He glanced behind him before turning his worried gaze back at me. "What happened here?"

"Isn't it obvious?" A familiar male voice came from behind Devon. "Darla got drunk and burnt down the fucking house! God! She never fails to ruin my night!"

"Dad!" I gasped.

"What?" He glared at me. "Are you going to defend your mother this time? Tell me that she didn't mean any of this? That it was a mistake?" He started to mumble, I made out 'always throwing a wrench in my happiness, the spiteful bitch.'

"Mr Wells," Devon's arm slipped around my waist as he turned to my father. "I really don't think this is the right time to get into this, let's just wait and see what Mrs Wells has to say about-"

"I'm afraid that's not going to happen," Sean reappeared with a somber look on his face, his eyes were on me and nothing else.

"What the hell are you doing here?" Devon demanded as he tried to step between Sean and me.

Sean's eyes drifted from me to Devon, "I was bringing Janie home," he told him as he turned his attention back to me. "I'm sorry."

"Well it wasn't your fault," I said stupidly. "Amber did have to put Alexis to bed..." I trailed off as he cringed. "Sean what...?"

"Janie," he reached for me but I slapped his hands away and demanded that he tell me what he was sorry about.

"They couldn't help her Janie," he reached for my hands and I let him take them. I was shaking, I didn't want to hear what he was about to say, I had a bad feeling what it was. "They tried everything but they were too late," I felt my knees give out and Devon's arms tightened around my waist as he held me upright. "They just brought her out," he shook his head. "She died before they could get to her."

In slow moment, I heard him say those words. In slow motion, I looked from him to the fire and back again. "NO!" I cried as I struck out at him.

"I'm sorry," he dodged my punch. "I'm so sorry Janie, your mom didn't survive."

"No!" I screamed at him. He repeated that he was sorry and he made a move to come towards me but I turned from him...

...right into the warmth of Devon's arms. I pressed my face against his chest, my hands gripped his shirt as I sobbed uncontrollably for my mom.

It's been a week since that night, I know I said that before and I'm sorry I repeat myself it's not easy to wrap my mind around it still. Everything seems unreal. A dream. A nightmare.

Amber had asked Sean to bring me back to her place but I couldn't go there. I didn't want to be around them, they didn't know how it felt and I didn't want to be a burden to them.

He didn't know how I felt and I didn't want to be a burden to him either. But I let him take me back to his place. I let him hold me as I cried myself to sleep that night. I let him try and soothe me when I woke up screaming from the nightmares.

He's been so good to me since that night. He hasn't pushed me for anything, he's been here for me. He's let me do what I needed to do to deal with this and he's given me everything I could possibly need. He even resisted me when I started to strip for him, even though, I saw his desire for me in his eyes and in the telltale bulge in his pants.

He's been everything I needed and wanted. It has left me wondering why I ever thought he wasn't the man for me.

Did I give him the chance he deserved after everything happened with Kelly? Or was I still upset and getting back at him for all the times he hurt me in the past?

I wonder those things but neither one of those questions was the biggest question on my mind. That one was, why is he doing this? Why is he being so good to me after all I did? Why does he still care?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Going Crazy

So much as happened. So much. I don't even know where to start. I don't know how to explain it. I don't...

The pain is more real than I thought it would be. But yet nothing seems real. I feel like I'm living in a daze. Like nothing is real.

But it is. I smelt the smoke. I smell the smoke still. It stings my eyes. It burns my throat. It haunts my sleep.

Not that I sleep much. I can't. It's been so long. I'm so tired.

To sleep is to dream.

I don't want to dream.

I want to wake up and find that this was all a dream.

Oh Dear God! Please let this all be a horrible, horrible dream.