Part 4 in my Christmas blog story set on Christmas Eve night, around one building, twelve characters, and six relationships - some lovers, some friends, and some family.
Thank you to everyone who read the first three parts Santa Baby, Red, and Time.
The competition to win a toasty treat on part 1 is now closed and the winner was Loveless3173 and there will be another chance to win one of my stories later in the month :)
"Hey, sweetie," Dana Reyes said as her son picked up the phone. She smiled as she heard his tired young voice and she just wanted to be home, hugging him and tucking him up in bed.
"Momma, are you coming home now?" Henry asked and Dana closed her eyes, imagining his cute little yawn.
"Yes, baby. I'm coming home now. Have you had fun?" It was Christmas Eve and she had relaxed the 'in bed by ten' rule just for the night.
"Yeah. We watched Sponge Bob and Ben 10."
Smiling, Dana tried to guess how many times Henry had watched the DVDs since she had bought them for his seventh birthday. He was nine now and she swore he must have learned most of the damn scenes off by heart.
"Can you put Uncle Teo on for me?" she asked and waited as the phone was passed on.
"Merry Christmas," Teo said. "Henry's been fine." Of course he had. Henry was the most amazing child Dana could ever have wished for. "How was your evening?"
Dana sighed as she started along the corridor and back to the elevators. "It was fine." She knew Teo didn't want her to expand on her simple answer. He had come to terms with her playing girlfriend to other men. All he asked was no details. Not that there was anything to tell about the old man, Lionel. He was sweet and lonely and he made Dana feel just a little bit sad for him.
"You heading back?" Teo asked and Dana smiled to herself as she imagined him stretched out on her couch.
Teo wasn't Henry's real uncle. He had been Henry's father's friend, as good as any brother and loyal to a fault, and that's why she refused to accept her growing feelings for him. He had been Rafe's best friend and for the three years since Rafe died, he'd been there for her and Henry.
"Yes," she assured him. "Thirty minutes."
"Well, he's ready for bed, so he'll just need tucking in. He's pretty excited about tomorrow, or today." He laughed and then sighed. "Look, about the offer of dinner, I don't think—"
"Teo. Henry adores you. He wants you there." This was the first Christmas she and Henry would be alone and without any other family since Rafe's death. She stopped as she reached the elevator and gently teased her hair around her finger as she made a decision. "I want you there," she confessed. She really did.
"Dana, I…" Teo had been spending more time at the house and with Henry this last year and lines had been getting blurry. Though there was still an unspoken rule, some fear of disrespecting the memory of a father, lover, and friend. But was it really so wrong?
She wanted him there. "Please. It would mean a lot." She pressed the button to call for the elevator and rubbed her eye. She hoped Henry wouldn't be up to early to open his presents. Teo was silent on the other end of the call and disappointment crept into her heart. "To me," she added. She didn't want to be seventy years old and wondering what might have been. "I wanted to ask you something." Nervously, she tugged at her hair, loosening the dark curl from around her finger. Talking to men was part of her job. Why was everything so hard and confusing concerning Teo?
"You're a jerk!" a man yelled from behind Dana.
Spinning around, Dana watched two men make their way toward the elevator. One was tall, with shaggy blond hair, and had a large pack on his back and a box in his arms. Following him was a dark haired man, dragging a large suitcase behind him and had a pair of lamps in his hand. They were arguing as they made their way to the elevator.
"Everything okay?" Teo asked, clearly hearing the raised voices.
"Just some guys," she said and leaned forward to press the elevator button again. Where the hell was it? Though right now, she wasn't looking to have company on the ride down. Sighing, she looked up as the lights flickered over head. That was the second time they had done that since leaving Lionel's apartment. Great. The arguing men had reached the elevator too.
Stepping to one side, she let the blonde guy reach past her and press the button again. "It doesn't seem to be working," she said and gave an apologetic smile.
"Thanks," he said and swerved off to the right and through the door to the stairs.
"Mark," his friend called after him, making an annoyed sound as he chased after him.
Dana flinched as the door slammed shut and she could here the two men's voices in the stairwell. Tiredly, she groaned and stared at the button. It remained unlit and neither elevator seemed to be working. She looked at the door to the stairs. She'd give it a couple more minutes, or at least long enough to give the two men a head start on her.
"Dana?" Teo said.
"Sorry." Dana leaned back against the wall of the hallway. She chewed thoughtfully on her lip. She should ask now. "So, I wanted to ask you that something now."
There was a moment's silence, but Teo eventually said, "Okay."
This was totally okay. "So, how would you feel about staying over tonight?" She waited, hoping if Teo said no, things wouldn't be awkward between them tomorrow. Teo's hesitation was unnerving and Dana suddenly had this horrible feeling that she had just done something incredibly stupid. "It's okay," she said quickly. "I didn't mean it. I was just thinking it would save you going home and coming back again and…" She was rambling and she knew it. "So, yeah." She pushed away from the wall and desperately tried the button again. What had she just done? "Ignore me."
"So, you're not asking me to stay?" Teo said.
Was she? Dana scratched at the corner of her eyebrow. "I don't know," she admitted and closed her eyes.
Teo suddenly sounded very serious. "Because if you were and you meant it, then I just want you to know I'd say yes."
Dana opened her eyes, her gaze settling on the light opposite as she smiled.
"I'd say yes."