Chaos At Christmas – Episode 32

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Once Dandy was back in his ordinary clothes, Ferelith took him to the bar where they were soon provided with drinks. He looked at her closely. “So why are those pretty eyes of yours looking so sad?” Ferelith wasn’t sure how to answer.

“Is it a matter of the heart?” Tears welled up unprompted, making her blink fast. She nodded and he gave a sigh. “It usually is.” He picked up his tumbler and held it out to her. They clinked glasses. “To love in all its pain and glory.”

They sipped their drinks.

Do you love him?

Dandy asked quietly.

This time, the tears spilled down her cheeks. “I think I do,” she said in a shaky whisper.

He brought a perfectly laundered handkerchief from his top pocket and handed it to her. She took it gratefully. “Let me give you a piece of advice, my dear, from someone whose heart has been broken more times than I care to remember. Grab opportunities for love whenever they come your way. Life is too short to waste them.”

Now Ferelith was crying freely. “It’s such a mess. I just don’t know what to do.”

He looked at her for a long, thoughtful moment. “I never did give you a present, did I?” He looked round. Attached to the nearby pillar of the bar was a bouquet of mistletoe.

He reached out and snapped off a small sprig. Lifting it above their heads, he leant forward and kissed her gently on the cheek. Then he held the mistletoe out to her. “Now pass that on.”

“Merry Christmas, Ferelith.”

“And to you, Dandy.”

He wrapped her in a warm hug. “Don’t worry, things will work out for you and Geraint.”

She watched as the taxi drove off down the drive and thought that there are some people whom you just get on with and Dandy had been like that. They had sat together at the bar, she had told him about Geraint and, somehow, the two of them had become friends. The taxi turned the corner and disappeared off down the road.

She felt that she would like to return the favour someday. She would take Dandy out for a drink and offer him a sympathetic ear as he told her all about his worries. The corner of her mouth twitched; she suspected that he would have some colourful ones.

But it had helped her to talk to him. As she had done so, her thoughts and feelings had become clearer in her head. It was the first time she had admitted to anyone, even to herself, that she loved Geraint. But she realised now just how true it was and the admission made things much simpler. When you loved someone and there was a problem then you sorted it out.

A vague frown of uncertainty creased her forehead. But how? It was almost 11 o’clock on Christmas Eve. Geraint would have gone home hours ago. He probably wouldn’t be back at work at the hotel for at least another couple of days. She couldn’t bear to have the situation hanging on unresolved between them for that length of time; she needed to speak to him face to face.

It occurred to her that it would be easy enough to find out where he lived from the hotel’s personnel files. But could she just turn up on his doorstep on Christmas Day? Anyway, she didn’t want to leave things until tomorrow. She wanted to sort them out with him now!

The thoughts whirled around in her head in confusion. She had to do something but she didn’t know what. She turned uncertainly to go back into the hotel but, as she did so, something caught her eye. In the gardens, she could see a light and a figure moving about. Her eyes widened in shock. It was Geraint.

She blinked and shook her head. It didn’t seem possible. But it really was him. She hadn’t bothered to put on her coat to say goodbye to Dandy but she didn’t care as she hurried across the lawn.

She slowed down as she approached him. Although it was dark, it was easy enough to see. There were lights from the hotel, and from the distant streets, and from the decorations round the oak tree.

Also, Geraint was wearing a yellow helmet with a torch attached to it, like a miner’s helmet. He had his back turned to her and he was walking slowly about the flower beds, leaning down to peer at things and making notes on the tablet in his hand.

Ferelith came to a stop, feeling suddenly uncertain. This was the first time she had spoken to him since they had parted at the end of the concert. She had felt so happy. There had been a whirl of joy inside her at the memory of their kisses and the thought of what the future might hold. But then, without her really knowing how it had happened, everything had become horribly messy and confused.

She cleared her throat. “Hi Geraint.”

Her voice took him by surprise; he had clearly been deep in thought. She searched his face as he turned, trying to get some hint of his feelings. He was frowning, though that might have been caused by whatever he was doing. “Evening, Ferelith.” He smiled slightly but perhaps that was simply politeness. “Is the party finished then?”

She nodded. “Things are breaking up now. It seemed to go well.”

A silence fell between them as if neither of them was quite sure what to say. Ferelith felt dismay drifting over her. That was the thing she had always liked about Geraint; being with him had felt so natural. But now that seemed to have changed.

Somewhere at the back of her mind, a little voice was calling out to her, “Tell him, Ferelith. Tell him that you love him. Tell him that you’re longing to throw your arms around him and kiss him. Tell him that you want to be with him for the rest of your life!”

But she was scared. What if that wasn’t what he wanted? What if what had happened at the concert had just been a passing moment and he wasn’t really interested in her romantically? She didn’t think she could bear that.

“What are you doing?” she eventually asked. It wasn’t at all what she wanted to say but someone had to break the silence

He gestured at the flower-beds. “There’s so much needing doing to get the grounds back up to standard. I’m just trying to make an assessment of the situation.”

She looked at him in confusion.

At 11 o’clock on Christmas Eve?

He shrugged. “I needed to be doing something. Otherwise, I’d just be sitting at home thinking about…” His voice tailed off. He frowned and looked down at his tablet. “I’m just making some notes. I want to make a list of priorities for when the team gets back to work.”

His answer only prompted more questions in Ferelith’s mind. But she didn’t know how to ask them. “Perhaps I could help?” she suggested instead. “Maybe I could make the notes while you do the assessing?”

He hesitated. For a horrible moment, Ferelith thought that he was going to turn down her offer. But then a smile crossed his face. And it was a genuine smile. He was pleased. “OK. Thanks for that.” He handed her the tablet and she took it, trying not to let the wave of relief she felt show too obviously on her face.

To be continued…

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