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Thread: Loving Christmas Linda – The Special Embrace

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    Registered User Biggus's Avatar
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    Loving Christmas Linda – The Special Embrace

    51-year-old Paul Hartley found himself stranded in a strange town with less than a week to go before Christmas.
    Although to be fair an unfamiliar town would have been a more accurate description, but nonetheless he was stranded almost a hundred miles from home in Abbeyvale, with a seriously sick car in the garage and a distinct lack of will to contemplate traveling home to the north by train.
    In truth he was in no hurry to return home to the empty soulless house that he was once happy to call home, which now held no comfort for him.
    Paul’s wife of twenty-five years, Elaine, had died earlier that year, finally losing her battle with cancer.
    Their three children were all grown up now with homes and families of their own so there was only him in a house full of reminders.
    The house would be full at Christmas, full of noise and hustle and bustle, and the usual mix of love, laughter and tears, but for now it was cold and empty.
    So he booked himself into the Abbeyvale Court Hotel for the weekend and he would drive home on Monday once the car had been resurrected.
    Finding himself in a strange (unfamiliar) town just a handful of days before Christmas and with more than a little time to kill he decided he could fill part of his day by doing some last-minute Christmas shopping.
    So after breakfast on Saturday morning he left the Hotel and as Paul stepped outside he shivered, the day was cold, grey and damp and clouds scudded across the December sky, it was the kind of day that chilled you to the bone.
    He made his way towards the high street, which was only a five-minute walk, the receptionist had assured him with a smile, as she jotted down some brief directions.
    In an effort to warm himself up he walked briskly following her directions down the narrow almost Dickensian lanes and alleyways, passing picturesque Victorian and Tudor buildings, well mock Tudor at least, as he went.
    It was indeed five minutes when he emerged onto the busy cobbled pedestrianized high street which was a curious mixture of the ancient and the modern.
    At one end of the street a Norman Church was visible and at the other was what appeared to be a municipal building with rather pretentious Georgian columns.
    There was still evidence of a row of Edwardian shop fronts but much of the street was modern with a little too much sixties influence to be easy on the eye in Paul’s opinion.
    The street was crisscrossed along its full length with festive lights and decorations which did their best to brighten the scene.
    Paul decided to familiarize himself with what the town had to offer in the way of shops, so he turned left and joined the throng of shoppers, with gloomy faces to match the weather, and headed towards the Georgian pillared building which turned out to be the public library.
    As he dodged between the Christmas Lemmings Paul made a mental note of the shops that interested him, which he would return to.
    His progress was hampered by erratic shoppers who appeared to move independently to any logic.
    Some seemed to zigzag everywhere and very few possessed the ability to walk in a straight line for more than a few paces and others would take a few steps and then stop for no apparent reason, then after a few moments pause carry on, normally in the same direction.
    The sound of cheery Christmas songs and carols could be heard from every shop he passed though the cheeriness of the music was clearly not reflected on the faces of the shoppers going in and out of them.
    As he passed one shop Noddy Holder screamed “it’s Christmas” to the outside world, just in case any of the reluctant shoppers were in any doubt.
    When Paul reached the other end of the high street where the Norman Church stood there was a little square, which he wasn’t able to see before, in the center of which was the war memorial, and to its left was a magnificent Christmas tree, festooned with a myriad of assorted baubles, ornaments, tinsel, lights and surmounted by a beautiful angel.
    Assembled around the tree was the Salvation Army band and Paul took a few moments to admire the tree and listen to the band and while he listened he was taken back to a distant time and place where he and the love of his life had held hands as they sang along.
    The clock chimed, and he was brought back to the present and he took a few more moments while he decided on his first port of call, not realizing at the time just how important a decision it would prove to be.
    Paul decided on Woolworths, always a favorite of his at Christmas, but on this occasion, it also happened to be the closest, so he walked briskly towards the store and pushed open the door.
    As he prepared to enter he paused to hold the door open for a woman coming the other way and he waited patiently as she put her purse away into a huge handbag and he wondered what response he would get for his trouble.
    Paul had found that the older he got the less women appreciated courtesy, the simple act of holding open a door could provoke a wide range of responses, a smile, a thank you, a nod, a sneer, a tut, an accusation of male chauvinism or a colorful mouth full of abuse, and he couldn’t always tell who was going to do what.
    When the woman had finished fiddling and securing her bag she moved to step through the open door and as she passed Paul she looked up and said
    “Thank you” followed by a broad smile, and then she stopped in her tracks as Paul returned her smile and then he too just stood there.
    Both of them stood motionless on the threshold as slowly the recognition set in and they were both dumbstruck, not believing their eyes.
    Neither of them were sure how long they stood looking at one another for, but long enough for a queue to form behind each of them.
    When they realized what they had done they both blushed and excused themselves and stepped out onto the street away from the door apologizing profusely.
    When they were clear of the crowd neither of them knew what to say, and still couldn’t believe their eyes, but Paul knew in his heart without a doubt that he was looking at Linda Parsons, who he had last seen 30 years before being driven off in a taxi, disappearing off through the snow, with her palm pressed against the glass as she craned her neck to keep sight of him through the snow spattered window until the very last moment, until the cab had gone from his sight.
    But here she stood before him as beautiful as ever she was in his eyes, the soft curls of her light brown hair, which hung beneath her hat, still danced about her shoulders, it just had fine strands of silver threaded through it.
    Her smile was still able to melt his heart, even after all those years and her smiling eyes still had the same sparkle and he thought the years had been kind to her and less so to him.
    As he studied her he was fumbling for the right words to express his joy at seeing her when she reached up and hugged his neck, kissing his cheek at the same time, and spoke softly in his ear.
    “Paul, is it really you?”
    He simply said “yes” and they stood in a long comfortable embrace, and he didn’t know how long they stood there, not wanting to let go before she relaxed her grip and he kissed her forehead
    “It’s so good to see you” he said feebly, and she put her head on his chest, squeezed him and sighed.
    Linda released her grip and pulled away slightly and put her hand up to his cheek and caressed his grey beard.
    “Do you have time for coffee?” She asked almost pleadingly
    “Of course,” Paul said, and she put her arm through his and led him across the high street, asking quick fire questions as they went.
    Paul explained about his car breaking down and that he was staying at the Abbeyvale Court Hotel as he was in no rush to return home
    She responded with “oh really” and “oh dear” internally delighting in his misfortune as they walked into the nearest coffee shop, Café Société, and sat on a large comfortable sofa and over coffee they told the tales of their lives spent apart.
    And throughout Paul looked at her with adoring eyes, periodically pinching himself, expecting to awake from a dream, as he had done so very many times before.
    He told her about his wife and children and she told him of her marriage to Daniel and the subsequent divorce.
    The good man that Paul gave Linda up for turned out to have feet of clay and degenerated into a violent drunk, they had no children, which although unsaid was clearly a regret for her.
    With the aid of several cups of coffee they managed to talk away the entire morning and Paul suggested they might spend the rest of the day together and have dinner together at the hotel.
    Linda readily accepted the invitation to dinner with a delightful smile but then she looked at her watch and suddenly jumped up in alarm
    “Look at the time, I have to go” she flustered then she said she had a prior commitment
    “Lunch with mum” she added rather unconvincingly, saying it was something she couldn’t get out of as he helped her back into her coat, the smell of her hair evoking memories of their past embraces.
    She fished out her mobile phone as they left the coffee shop, from her huge handbag and they exchanged phone numbers, and firmed up the details for the evening, then with a hug and a kiss she was off.
    Paul stood and watched her walk away, her coat tails swishing behind her, she stopped briefly and turned to give him a smile and a wave, then with the phone to her ear she hurried off again talking animatedly and he stood watching until she disappeared from sight before he went back to his Christmas shopping and treated himself to a new shirt for the evening.
    Paul bought all the gifts he was looking for, plus paper, tags, cards etc. and with all his shopping complete he returned to the hotel for a late lunch.
    After that the rest of the day seemed intolerably long, and in an effort to kill some time he went for a swim, used the gym, and then went for a walk.
    He got a haircut, even though he didn’t need one, he even wrapped the Christmas presents he had bought that morning, but the time passed so interminably slowly.

    Paul walked into the hotel bar at 7 o’clock, an hour early, partly for some Dutch courage and in part because he had run out of things to do so he ordered a drink and then sat at the bar.
    Even though he wasn’t expecting her until eight, every time the door opened he turned to look for her and when it wasn’t her his self-doubt crept in, and with every false alarm the doubts got worse, what if she doesn’t come? What if she changed her mind? What if she never intended to come? What if? What if? What if?
    Then at a quarter to the hour the door opened and there she was, the love of his life, and every bit as beautiful to him as ever, in spite of the passing years.
    Linda was wearing a simple black knee length dress, black tights or stockings and four-inch stiletto shoes, and he thought her legs were as shapely as he remembered them.
    In fact he thought that everything about her was as wonderful as he remembered, even though she was thirty years older.
    She held a black leather clutch bag in her hand and her face looked a little anxious until Paul stood up and then it lit up with the most radiant smile.
    Relieved to find him there, she walked towards him almost tottering on her heels and that made her laugh.
    “Hello” She said, and he responded “Hi” and took her hand as she climbed onto a stool.
    Paul kissed her cheek and the fragrance of her perfume was quite intoxicating, going straight to his head like a strong spirit and the combination of her scent and his desire for her almost made him swoon.
    He ordered her a drink and they nervously made small talk, like two strangers on a blind date, until the waitress led them through to the restaurant.
    “How did your lunch with your mum go?” Paul asked once they were seated at their table and she blushed the deepest red in response
    “The lunch date was a little white lie” she admitted
    “Oh?”
    “Because I needed the afternoon to get ready” she said, “for this”
    “And the animated phone call you were having when you left?”
    “Was to my sister, to rally the troops and get me presentable” she confided and they both laughed and any awkwardness between them was gone.
    “Well, all I can say is that it was time well spent” he said, and she blushed again at the compliment.
    Over dinner they talked with such an easy familiarity as if her departing taxi had only been a week earlier rather than 30 years.
    By the time they had finished their coffee the restaurant was empty except for Paul and Linda and a very weary waitress waiting to clear their table.
    The evening seemed to have passed by in the blink of an eye and had all too soon come to an end.
    They got up and made their apologies and Linda went through the door to the ladies while Paul signed the bill.
    “Good night” he said, “and I must apologize again for keeping you so late”
    After leaving a large tip on the table he went in search of Linda through the same door she had used, and he found her standing by the Christmas tree.
    She had retrieved her coat and scarf from the cloakroom, which were draped over one arm, and her bag was in her hand.
    Linda stood with her back to him gazing out of the window, but she could see his reflection in the glass and smiled at him and he gasped at the beauty of her and pinched himself again.
    He wanted to kiss her so much, but he was afraid, afraid to break the magic of that special kiss, that perfect moment when they kissed in the snow all those years earlier when he let her slip from his grasp.
    For 30 years he had revered that moment, reliving it whenever on a winter’s night he heard the Salvation Army play, or when the snow fell during Christmas time, or when he felt a snowflake on his skin, or stood in a taxi queue on a winter’s night.
    For 30 years he had wanted to be back there in that moment holding her in the snow, and there she stood a few steps away from him, yet he was hesitant.
    But as if sensing his turmoil, she turned away from the window and he took those few steps to face her.
    They stood beside the Christmas tree for a few moments just looking at each other, then she smiled her most heart melting smile as she caressed his cheek before she pulled him to her and kissed him gently on the lips, a warm sensitive and tender kiss.
    When their lips touched electricity ran down his spine and it was as if they were young again.
    When their lips parted she smiled at him coyly and flushed a deep shade of pink and a second later they met again, and her kiss became more intense, more passionate.
    Her coat, scarf and bag fell to the floor as their arms enveloped each other and they stood locked in passionate embrace as the tree lights twinkled beside them.
    Linda pulled away for a moment before burying her face in his neck and then softly spoke in his ear.
    “You see, that was as good as the first time”
    “How could I have doubted it would be perfect?” he responded and cupping her flushed cheek in his palm before he slid his fingers beneath her soft brown curls and caressed the soft downy hair on her nape as he pulled her head toward him, so he could kiss her sweet lips again.
    The next time they paused she put her head on his chest, still holding on to him so tightly as Paul kissed the top of her head and smelled her hair.
    He held her and didn’t want to let her go, and then he said
    “Please stay, I can’t watch you disappear from my life again in another taxi”
    In response she lifted her head from his chest and looked at him and said
    “I’m not letting you go again, not now, not ever”
    Then she smiled at him coyly and blushed like a virgin before she buried her face in his chest again.
    A moment later she scooped up her coat, scarf and bag from the floor and took his hand and they walked in silence to his room.
    Outside in the corridor she looked deeply into his eyes and kissed his mouth before Paul opened the door and let her walk inside.
    She immediately dropped her coat and bag onto a chair and turned to face him as he followed her and she reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck and whispered in his ear
    “I never stopped loving you”
    Paul’s arms enveloped her and pulled her close to him and then they kissed, at first soft and tender but then more urgently and he began to un-wrap his most special Christmas gift, wrapped in lace and silk instead of paper and ribbon.
    Caressing her body from neck to lacy stocking top and their love was at last made absolute.
    When their act of love was complete, and their dreams realized they lay holding each other in the afterglow, silently content until they drifted off to sleep.

    Paul awoke to find Linda stood silhouetted against the window, gazing out into the night, wearing his shirt to cover her nakedness and she turned her head to look at him and said
    “It’s snowing”
    Paul slipped out of bed and joined her at the window, and standing behind her encompassing her in his arms they watched as the snow settled on the courtyard and she hugged his arms and said
    “How perfect is that?”
    They stood for a few minutes taking in the snowy scene, both thinking back to the last time they enjoyed the snowfall together then she inclined her head, so he could kiss her and when his hands moved from her soft belly and cupped her breasts she led him back to the bed and they made love again.

    He woke early the next morning and lay in the half light and held Linda’s sleeping form in his arms and as he lay there he thought how good the fates had been to them that weekend.
    If his car hadn’t broken down, and had he not rejected the idea of taking the train, he would not have been shopping on that cold grey morning.
    He thought about the moments he spent admiring that tree in the square and listening to the Salvation Army band, and what thought processes made him do what he did.
    Was it destiny that he chose to start his shopping at Woolworths, and at the very that moment Linda was preparing to leave, or just blind luck?
    They could have chosen any one of the five doors along Woolworths frontage but they both chose the same one, surely that had to be fate.
    Although it didn’t really matter to him, all he knew for sure was that 24 hours before that day his life had been so sad and empty and now it was full to overflowing and he was finally with his soul mate.
    Linda was in Paul’s life at last and he wanted her never to leave it again, but if fate decreed that the special embrace on one special night of that special weekend was all they could have then he would have been content, but he didn’t have to.

  2. #2
    TheFairyDogMother kiz_paws's Avatar
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    I am really enjoying the Paul and Linda love story.
    Beautifully written, Biggus.
    Our task must be to free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty
    ~Albert Einstein

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    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    Really really well done!

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