Home > A Family for Christmas(2)

A Family for Christmas(2)
Mona Ingram

The man who’d been in the elevator with him was waiting a few steps away. Green Eyes looked up. “See you tomorrow, Bruce.” The man gave a quick nod and walked away.

Maddie watched him make his way through the revolving door. “I’m so glad the new owners of the building kept that revolving door in place. It adds to the charm of the lobby, don’t you think?”

He gave her an odd look, then got back on topic. “Do you think that’s a good idea, asking a ten-year-old girl what she wants? Seriously?”

Maddie thought back to all of the gifts she’d received when she was a child. She’d been grateful to receive them, but they were rarely what she wanted. Judy Blume books when she’d rather have had RL Stine, tartan kilts when she’d rather have a cool pair of jeans. She felt guilty for thinking of it now, but if she could save one little girl from a similar fate, then she’d have accomplished something.

“Yes,” she said, noticing the way his dark brown hair curled just above his collar. “I’d be willing to bet that she knows exactly what she wants.”

He absorbed her words then nodded slowly. “All right, I’ll do that.” He smiled, and his demeanor changed radically. He really was quite handsome when he smiled. “Thanks for the help.” He waited for her to start walking and strode along beside her. “So you like the revolving doors, do you?”

She smiled up at him. “I do. They’re not something you see in new buildings.” They passed the concierge desk and she waved at David. “Goodbye, David. See you later.” She wasn’t about to discuss her recently unemployed status in front of the tall man at her side.

Green Eyes allowed her to enter the revolving door first, then started it moving with a push of his hand. For some reason she always took baby steps when walking through the door and she was slightly off balance when she popped out onto the sidewalk, but managed to recover.

“That sun is deceiving,” she said, pulling her coat closed at the throat. “It’s cold out here.”

He was wearing a beautifully cut short overcoat with a soft tartan scarf draped around his neck. She wondered idly if his wife helped him pick out his clothes. If so, she had excellent taste.

“Well,” he said, extending his hand, “I have a meeting, but thanks for the advice.”

“You’re welcome.” She took his hand. “Good luck with your shopping.”

He released her hand, turned away and then turned back. “I’m sorry, I didn’t get your name.”

“Maddie.” She smiled. “Maddie LaRocque.”

“Pleased to meet you, Maddie. I’m Chase Drummond.” He flipped up the collar of his overcoat. “Have a good evening.”

She stared after him for several long moments. Chase Drummond. She backed up a few steps and looked up at the massive piece of granite over the entrance. Drummond Building. And she’d told him she approved of the door! She almost laughed aloud. What other surprises did today have in store for her? She wasn’t sure she wanted to find out.

* * *

Maddie found herself walking toward the outdoor skating rink at Olympic Plaza, which suited her just fine because she wasn’t ready to go home yet. The area was popular with nearby office workers all year long, and Maddie was no exception. In the summer months, she frequently walked the block and a half at lunch time. Come to think of it, the fresh air and pleasant surroundings had probably helped her stay sane during her incarceration at CCA Accounting.

She really had to stop thinking like that; nobody had forced her to work for the accounting firm. She crossed Eighth Avenue and ran lightly up a set of shallow steps leading into the Plaza. The last slanting rays of the sun lit up the far side of the rink, the spot where she usually sat during warmer weather. Thankfully it was deserted now; she didn’t feel like engaging in conversation.

She sat down and stared at the ice without really seeing it. The reality of what had happened this afternoon was just starting to sink in, and the pressure of tears began to build behind her eyes.

“No,” she said aloud, hunching into her coat and rocking back and forth. “I won’t let this get me down.”

For a brief moment, she wondered how Allan would take the news and then stilled, startled by the direction of her thoughts. Allan wasn’t part of her life anymore. That had ended over six months ago.

Why had she thought about him now? Was he so firmly associated with failure in her mind? She let out a long, shuddering breath of air. She’d met Allan Jameson during her final year at Simon Fraser University. He was a couple of years older, but she’d been attracted to him instantly. They dated several times before he told her he was a widower and had a young son.

Her thoughts drifted to Connor, and she wondered how he was doing. He’d been a shy young boy of four when she first met him, and it was Maddie who had suspected the child was dyslexic. She’d learned everything she could about dyslexia, and the boy had slowly come out of his shell after his condition had been formally diagnosed and dealt with.

Looking back now, she had to ask herself if she’d loved the child more than the father. Or was that her way of handling rejection?

She’d thought things were going well. Allan could be a bit domineering, but she attributed that to the fact that he was older. She’d been working in the accounting department at a large lumber supplier, and when she’d been promoted for the second time, Allan had suggested she look into studying for her CGA.

Things changed while she was studying for her accounting degree. She didn’t know why she hadn’t recognized the signs at the time; it was so clear to her now. While she was at home studying–a built-in babysitter–Allan had been going out in the evenings.

And then a little over six months ago, he’d announced he was going to marry his late wife’s sister.

The sun slipped behind one of the tall buildings surrounding the plaza, and Maddie shivered. Hearing Allan’s announcement had been the second lowest point of her life. How could she have thought they were building a life together when clearly he’d been heading in a different direction?

It had taken her some time to realize it was partly her fault. After the deaths of her parents, she’d ached to be part of a family again, and had convinced herself that she’d found a family with Allan and Connor.

Not that Allan was guiltless. He’d talked about a future as well, but in vague, unspecific terms. She dabbed at a tear that had managed to escape. What hurt most was that she’d come to love Connor. For the first few months after she’d left Vancouver, she worried about him constantly, surprised that he’d become such a big part of her life. The experience had left her shaken. Thank goodness for Lily, who had encouraged her to come to Calgary to ‘start fresh’.

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