“I can hardly believe it’s Christmas Eve,” Elizabeth murmured, tilting her face up to the falling snowflakes.
Jessica lifted her daughter Maja into her arms. “Look at the Christmas tree, Maja-bear. It’s bigger than last year, isn’t it?”
“Daddy takes pictures,” Maja said decisively. “They’ll be on the front page.”
“That’s right.” Jessica kissed Maja’s cheek. “And Liv and Lily will be here soon and you can all play while us grown ups do boring things.”
Maja squirmed. “Wanna play now!”
Jessica lowered her to the ground and watched as Maja ran off to join the crowd of children watching city council members decorate the large tree in the courtyard outside General Hospital. “Today’s Liv’s last therapy appointment isn’t it?”
“Mm…Dr. Jones said that as long as she keeps doing her exercises at home and come in for some follow ups this spring, she’s healed.” Elizabeth smiled at her best friend shyly. “We told her last month she’d be the flower girl at our wedding and it seemed to help her progress.”
“Yes, the omniscient wedding which there is no date for yet.”
“And no agreement about,” Elizabeth nodded. “But it’s going to happen, Jess, I know.”
“Hey, I know the sucker’s crazy for you and I applaud the abstinence thing. I just…don’t want you to get hurt.”
“I know but these last three months have been the most incredible of my life,” Elizabeth murmured. “I’ve loved Jason since I was nineteen years old but I’ve fallen in love with him all over again. He’s just…he’s so warm and generous–he’s still the man he used to be only…”
“Not a jackass,” Jessica said dryly.
“Yeah, there’s that.” Elizabeth slid her hands into the pockets of her winter jacket. “Jason and I were meant to be a family, Jess.”
“Speaking of the family…” Jessica nodded to the front doors where Jason was exiting with Olivia in his arms. He set the girl on her feet and she ran unsteadily towards her friends.
“Livvie!” Maja chirped. “You didn’t miss the star!”
“Oh, I hope she doesn’t try to climb the tree again this year,” Jessica muttered as she moved quickly to supervise.
“It’s so good to see her running,” Elizabeth murmured as Jason joined her side. She toyed with the necklace hanging around her neck. “How did the appointment go?”
“Dr. Jones is very pleased with her progress. She’ll be walking and gripping normally by this time next year and she’ll be doing it so well, you would never know she was sick.” Jason wrapped an arm around her shoulder and tugged her to his side.
“You ready to be woken up around dawn and spend most of the day putting together those ridiculous presents you bought her?” Elizabeth asked, smiling up at him.
“Am I ready to spend my first Christmas with my daughter?” Jason asked instead. “To spend the day with my family? Yeah, I think I can handle it.”
A few hours later, a fire lit was in their living room. Olivia had been fed and bathed and was sitting between them on the couch as Jason read her ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas.
“Nothing against Mommy,” Olivia said as Jason closed the book, “but it’s really nice to have you read the book with.” She hugged him tightly. “Do I get to open a present tonight?”
“Well…” Elizabeth hesitated and then smiled at Jason. “Sure.”
“Excellent.” Olivia scrambled off the couch and stood in front of them in her long blue cotton nightgown with a lacy collar. “Can I pick the present?”
“Whatever you want, Princess.”
Olivia reached under the tree and pulled out a tiny wrapped box. “Okay, so I’ve got a present for Mommy that I want her to open and it’s kind of for Daddy. And when you open it, Mommy, I’ll tell you which present I want.”
Elizabeth smiled and took the box from her daughter. She opened the top and blinked at the ring inside.
“It was in the gumball machine at the hospital,” Olivia explained. “Kristina told me that you guys can’t married again without a ring so I got one that looks like the one Daddy gave you before.”
Jason looked at Elizabeth’s stunned expression. “She kind of jumped the gun on me,” he said, with a half smile as he reached into his pocket and removed a velvet box. He flipped the lid open to reveal an amethyst stone set in a gold band. “It’s Olivia’s birthstone, I didn’t want you to feel you had to choose between the rings.”
Elizabeth licked her lips. “Jason…”
“Say yes, Mommy,” Olivia stamped her foot impatiently. “I wanna be a flower girl.”
Elizabeth laughed and pressed a hand to her eyes to wipe a few errant tears. “Well, how can I say no to that?” she murmured. She slid the ring from Olivia onto her pinky and then looked at Jason. “Yes.”
He took the ring from the box and slid it onto the ring finger of her right hand and then used that hand to tug her into his lap where he kissed her. “I’m going to make you so happy this time, I promise you that.”
“Yay!” Olivia squealed. “Now I can tell you the rest of my present!”
Elizabeth and Jason turned to their daughter. “What is it Princess?”
Olivia grinned. “A baby brother.” She frowned. “Or a sister. It doesn’t really matter–I’m not picky.”
“Oh, really?” Elizabeth grabbed Olivia around the waist and planted her daughter in her own lap. “Well, maybe if you’re really good, Santa will bring you one next year.”
“Oh, he will,” Olivia said seriously. “I asked for Daddy to come home last year and look, now he’s home.” She planted a kiss on her father’s cheek. “Santa freaking rocks.”