A story two years in the making. Never thought it would last this long.
Of course if you’re new to the saga you can follow the links below to catch up:
Yep, that is all. Enjoy!
The house was crowded, not in the Monday commuter train crush style, but in the warm cozy way of holiday laughter and merriment. Beth and her mother worked the kitchen while I kept an eye on the drinks. Thankfully the kids were deep asleep in their room after an exhausting play session on the snow covered Forest of Dean. I manage to sneak in a short nap before the first of the guest arrive. Millie lay sprawled in front of the fire, enjoying a good belly rub from Stephen’s supermodel girlfriend who earlier bombarded me with questions about whether I bred Cocker Spaniels because she wanted one just like Millie.
Milo and Skye crisscross legs here and there, hoping for a tasty threat to slip past someone’s fingers. Lilly decided that she was now Empress of the Christmas Tree and hissed at anyone who got a tad too close to it. Mr. Mueller, Beth’s dad, sat in front of the television with his beloved bulldog, Buster, at his feet.
Arthur Hoyle, entertainment reporter for the Beep, and a friend of mine since my first show on BBC2, jump in front of me, nearly sloshing his brandy over my shirt. “Soooo….”
“But,” he stammered in the way that put countless celebrities at ease, “just a peek, you know, an advance. I mean we both work for the same people.”
“Excuse me,” I said to Mariam Etheridge, whose character died on my current show, but not for the reasons the press, including my dear friend Arthur, reported at the time. He followed me all the way to the kitchen. “You’ll have to wait for the Christmas Show like everyone else. Just after the Doctor. You won’t want to miss that, would you. Besides the same people that pay you to dig up gossip” Arthur pouted, “I mean entertainment news” I said with extra air quotes, “pay me to keep the ratings up. Spoiling my own show just won’t cut it.”
I poured him another glass of brandy and send him on his way. “Just don’t get to close to the tree Arthur!” I yelled as he went back to the living room.
“Is she still up there?” asked Beth. She loaded another tray with pastries.
“I tried once, I tried twice, I tried three times and while she has not rejected my advances with her oh so very sharp claws, she simply snakes back up again as soon as she knows I’m not looking. Although we haven’t lost a single ornament, not yet anyway,” I said.
“Hrrm,” said Beth. She handed me the tray. “Back out you go.”
I waited for after everybody had triple helpings of turkey and pie before I retrieved the little box I hid in a corner of my office. I rushed across the snow covered ground around the house to the back door, so as not to spoil the surprise. I called everybody into the kitchen, slipped a handkerchief on the floor in front of Beth and went down on one knee. “Elizabeth Katherine Mueller,” I opened the little black box, “would you do me the honor of being my wife?”
The look of shock on her face I expected.
The abject horror in her eyes, not so much.
And the way she sped out the house made me sick to my stomach.
I slowly got up, surrounded by friends and family. Their collective silence pressed on me from all sides. No one dared say a thing, less they make it worse. I shuffled outside. There stood Beth, snow frosting her red hair. She jumped when I touched her shoulder. “Oh, I’m sorry.” I bit of a stormy retort. I’d scared her and whatever anger or resentment I felt did not compare to what I saw on her face. “It’s not… I mean, I want to, but I thought we had more time….” The words dissipated in a cloud of fogged breath.
“I thought this is what you wanted, but if it isn’t, I mean not right now, then I can wait, but….”I approached her. The snow crunched beneath my feet. She still had her back to me. “Ring or no, I want to be with you for the rest of my days. I don’t want my children calling somebody else mommy or in fifteen years or so ‘oh mum’.” She chuckled. “I want to wake up every morning and see those emerald eyes of yours. I want to hold your hand when you’re sick and kiss you when you’re well. If not now, I’ll wait. I’m not going anywhere, not by myself anyway.”
Her shoulder trembled. She sobbed uncontrollably yet quietly. “I just wanted a break, you know. I just got back to work. You have your show. And the kids. I….”
“I’ll get you a coat before you catch a cold, okay?” I turned around.
“No! I mean, yes, YES! I want it, for you and for us,” she said.
A flare shot up from the bottom of my stomach to the top of my head. My breath came in short spouts. “You mean?”
“Yes! Dammit, Roberto Alejandro Gutierrez, YES!”
Cheers erupted from the house. I hugged her. “Just for the record, you chose me. Remember that day at the cafe. I was actually looking at the barrista, well until her boyfriend showed up. Then you came up and, well remind me to thank Millie.” Beth punched me in the shoulder.”What was that for?”
“I had this great gift I was going to give you, but you just had to go and do this.”
“You said yes. Best, gift, ever. That and two wonderful kids,” I kissed her. “Merry Christmas.”
And of course, it would not be the Holidays without some holiday song and cheer! From the Trans-Siberian Orchestra: Christmas Canon Rock!