“Of Magic & Mistletoe”, Ch. 04: Lunch & family, by Gratiana Lovelace, December 24, 2020 (Post #1352)
(All rights reserved; An original story copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2020)
[(1) cover story]
Author’s content note: My 2020 Christmas short story here is a gentle romance mostly rated G for all, with some dramatic moments. I will serialize my story here and on my Wattpad site. I’ll continue with publishing new chapters almost every day through New Year’s Eve. I hope that you enjoy my new story.
Illustrations: I cast my stories as I write them, with Richard Armitage as Luke Wharton, Erin Krakow as Diana Groves, Thomas Brodie-Sangster as Benjy Groves, Helen Hayes as Martha Lesley, Anna Knyazeva as Heidi Wharton, and others as noted in the references.
“Of Magic & Mistletoe”, Ch. 04: Lunch & family
Diana eagerly anticipates her and Benjy’s lunch with Luke and his daughter Heidi on Wednesday, Dec. 22nd, 2010. The last time Diana saw Luke was Tuesday morning–after the previous night’s snow blizzard forced Luke and his daughter to camp out in Martha’s sitting room sofa bed. And before he left for his own home that morning, he ferried Diana back to the mall in his truck, so Diana could drive Martha’s car back to their apartment complex. But Luke also called her again this Wednesday morning to confirm that he will pick up her and Benjy around 11:30am today.
Though Diana has only known Luke a handful of days, she has missed him and his little daughter Heidi. It is almost as if a tiny ache in her widow’s broken heart is trying to mend it. Benjy is also all excitement this morning at getting to see Heidi and her tall Daddy again. It is odd how something or someone can so quickly take on importance in our lives. But then, it is the holidays, which seems to make meeting new people extra special.
Luke parks his sedan truck near the Hampton Heights apartment building entrance and he and his daughter Heidi walk into the building to collect Diana and her son Benjy for lunch. He pushes the security button for Diana’s apartment—labeled D. Groves–while smiling down at his daughter Heidi, who grins from ear to ear up at her tall Daddy. Then Diana pushes the comparable door access button in her apartment that will let them in to the main area of her apartment building.
So Luke and Heidi ride the elevator to the 2nd floor and down the hall to Heidi’s & Benjy’s apartment and he knocks on her door. Luke is wearing his less puffy and nicer long camel hair coat and a striped sweater and jeans [(2) below].
And Luke has Heidi’s hair held back by a red headband and white earmuffs while wearing her warm pink puffy coat over her ruffly on the shoulders and at the wrists white sweater and red corduroy pants. Luke thinks that she looks adorable, like a candy cane.
Diana: Rushing to open her apartment door, she invites them in. “Oh! Hi Luke, and Heidi! Welcome!” Heidi leans in and hugs Diana’s legs, and Diana hugs her back. “Benjy and I are just putting on our coats. I’m sorry that we weren’t already waiting for you downstairs.” Diana smiles warmly as much for seeing Luke and Heidi again, as for how handsome Luke looks—now that he isn’t dressed up as a Santa helper.
Luke also smiles appreciatively at Diana wearing a warm but sweetly feminine looking sweater coat [(3) below] over a jeans skirt. While Benjy is wearing a cute little boy’s red and black buffalo plaid flannel shirt and jeans. And Luke also notices that Diana looks a little skittish, like a colt. And he wonders if her clipboard is coming with her to lunch, or if she is just clasping it close for comfort. So he tries to make her feel at ease.
Luke: “Not at all. A gentleman always calls for a lady by coming to her door. Or at least they did the last time I dated fourteen years ago.” Luke smiles cordially at Diana, whose eyes are round like saucers. And he wonders if she is uncertain about the gentleman part to his statement—or maybe her concern is that he’s calling their lunch today a date?
And Diana wonders, when children are involved, is it really a date, or is it just a play date? Yet, Diana feels like they are on a date—she did dress up and fix her hair back, after all–just with respective parenting duties involved.
Little Heidi thrusts a lightweight grocery sack into Benjy’s hands.
Benjy: “What’s this?” Benjy is a typical little boy, asking first, then looking at the items in question, second.
Heidi: “Thanks fow/for loaning me yow/your snow man pjs and socks. We washed them.”
Benjy hands the sack over to his Mommy Diana. Benjy is more into wearing his hero character pjs, like Spiderman.
Diana: “Thank you, Heidi & Luke.” She looks in the sack and also sees the now slightly used travel toothpaste and toothbrush. “Oh, you may keep the travel size toothpaste and tooth brush, Heidi.” Diana smiles kindly at Heidi.
Heidi: “That’s okay, just keep them for me for our next sleep ovaw/over.” Heidi smiles brightly. She had fun with the games and yummy meals and she played cards with Benjy, the night when they stayed at Martha’s apartment. It was also very nice to have Benjy sharing his Mommy Diana with her in the morning, for fixing her hair pretty. Her Daddy tries to fix her hair, but Benjy’s Mommy does it better.
Benjy: “Okay!” Benjy nods at Heidi. He likes Heidi as a friend, his first friend—since the other kids in their apartment building in the complex are mostly older and riding big bikes without training wheels already, or babies that just lie in their cribs and poop and pee themselves. Yuuuucky! Thinks Benjy.
With both Luke and Diana struck temporarily mute again by their children leaping ahead to them growing their relationship into more sleepovers, Benjy takes the sack back from his Mommy—and nods a few times, for her to drop Heidi’s travel toothpaste and toothbrush back into it, which she does. Then, both of their parents come out of their daze and speak almost simultaneously.
Luke: “Thank you.”
Diana: “I’ll put this away later.” She places the sack on her kitchen counter. Diana almost said that she would save it for later. But that would be getting ahead of herself, with regard to her and Luke’s relationship developing.
Then Heidi tugs on her Daddy’s hand.
Luke: “Yes, Heidi sweetheart?”
Heidi: Heidi whispers cutely loudly, which means everyone can hear her. “Daddy, I have to wee wee.” Heidi fidgets.
Luke: “Oh!” Luke turns to Diana. “May we? Use your bathroom, I mean?” Then he blushes for his unintentional pun.
Diana: “Of course, I’ll just get Benjy’s snow boots on him while you do that.”
Diana waves Luke toward their full bathroom they had used during Monday night’s dinner for them here. And Luke and Heidi visit the bathroom. Then Diana pulls Benjy’s boots out of the front hall coat closet and holds them out to him.
Benjy: “But Mommy, I need to pee?”
Diana: “Can you wait a few minutes?”
Benjy: “How long is that?” Now he fidgets.
Diana: “Not long.” She hopes. And Diana also hopes that Benjy doesn’t have an accident. She’s running low on pullups pants for him. And Benjy is so good during the day, about getting to the bathroom him time—and he only has a night time accident once in a while now that he is older, when he is so tired that he doesn’t wake up in the night.
Happily, since Heidi only had to wee wee, she doesn’t take long in the bathroom. And she and her Daddy Luke leave the balhroom. So Benjy rushes in there—still without his boots on—and pees, with his Mommy giving him a gentle reminder through the bathroom door to … uh…well, to aim.
Then the adults go potty, separately. Finally, they all drive over in Luke’s sedan truck—with the kids in the back seat and Diana now sitting up front with Luke–to the Bob Evans Restaurant for lunch.
Ordering food for and with kids at a sit down restaurant is always interesting—even the family friendly places like the Bob Evans restaurant. With Benjy and Heidi each being only 4 years old, they can’t read the menu choices. So the pictures are helpful in that regard.
But the pictures also make the food look so yummy that the kids want to try everything on the menu. They are sitting parent, kid, parent, kid—the better to corral their behavior—the kids, that is. So Diana brokers the peace—before world war 4 year olds breaks out.
Diana: “Kids, How about we each choose a different meal, then set a portion of it onto a plate in the center of the table for each other to try. Will that be agreeable to you?” She cajoles sweetly.
Luke: “That’s a brilliant solution, Diana! I usually just say no to Heidi.”
Heidi: “Yes. She sighs, Daddy says that I have to be good when Gwanny/Granny eats out with us.”
Benjy: “Why is that?”
Heidi: “Gwanny/Granny only likes eating at home.”
Luke: “Ha ha ha!” He chuckles at his daughter Heidi’s astute observation. “You see, my Mother prefers her own cooking, and the economy of eating at home.” Luke explains.
Heidi: “But Daddy and I like it here.” Heidi smiles and looks around the busy restaurant filled with families and other people’s Granny’s. And the hostess lady who lead them to their table, gave Heidi and Benjy crayons and coloring mats to play with while they wait for their food.
Diana thinks that so far, this lunch date between her and Luke is as far from being a date date as they come.
Ah, kids. Don’t you just love them, Diana feels slightly chagrined. But their date having less of a date date designation also lessens her nervousness.
After everyone enjoys their meals, including tasting each others’ meals from the samples on the plate in the middle of the table—happily, their server gave them an extra plate for that—the kids fall asleep in the back of Luke’s sedan truck as he drives Diana and Benjy home. So their conversation is somewhat private.
Diana: “Thank you for lunch, Luke. It was yummy and fun.”
Luke: “Yes. Thank you for joining us. I enjoyed our outing, too. And you are a treasure trove of parenting ideas. I had never thought of making a sampler food plate to placate Heidi’s food tasting curiosity. How did you come up with that one?”
Diana: “Oh, it’s just trial and error with Benjy. He’s at that age where he tries to test his boundaries. And some of that is okay, but kids need structure and guidance. So he gets to choose new things some of the time, within reason.”
Unbeknownst to Diana and Luke, their children were not quite asleep and then woke up when they heard their names. So Benjy leans toward the front seats, while still strapped into his seat belt.
Benjy: “Mommy? Heidi wants us to sleep over at her house Christmas Eve. But will Santa find me?” He asks cutely. At four years old, Benjy is more aware that Christmas means he gets some presents, from Santa.
Diana’s eyebrow rises in astonishment as she gazes into both her son Benjy and Luke’s daughter’s Heidi’s pleading eyes.
Diana: “Oh, well. That is very kind of you, Heidi. But …”
Luke: “Uh, yes Heidi. But the only reason we slept over at Martha’s was due to the bad weather Monday night.”
Benjy: “Well, Heid’s Daddy, it’s really cold outside. Isn’t that bad enough so we could sleep over at your house?”
Heidi: “Yes, you can meet my Gwanny/Granny, and my Aunt Shawon/Sharon and her baby Ewic/Eric.” Heidi smiles. They have a houseful of people in their home. But she still wants a Mommy. “Oh! And we still have to wite/write our letters to Santa and mail them at the Mall.” She reminds the adults. Heidi may be only 4 years old, but she knows what she wants.
So Diana and Luke elect to make a quick stop at the Mall for their kids to write their letters to Santa. There are Santa helpers to actually write down what the kids want. Though the letters do get rerouted back to the parents before they leave with a standard reply letter from Santa, with a small gift.
And in addition to Diana earlier stopping to pick up a food package at their local food pantry distribution this morning, she also puts in Benjy’s name for a child Christmas gift sponsorship—in the hope that he might get a toy that he wants to play with—maybe even a little train set, where the train cars drive around a short loop of track, using battery power. Benjy loves toys in motion. Or a superhero cape would be nice, too.
And Heidi wants a dolly with hair that she can brush and fix up—which will help her learn how to do that for herself, but that is not Heidi’s reason. She just like’s dollies. Oh! And a kitten would great, too.
And each child writes to Santa about each of their most special of special wishes for Christmas. Christmas gifts so big, that only Santa will be able to give them to Benjy and to Heidi.
Then as Benjy and Heidi are animatedly saying goodbye inside the warm hallway of Diana and Benjy’s apartment building, their parents are standing several feet away from their children. The better to bemusedly watch their kids from afar, think Diana and Luke. But it also gives Luke and Diana a few moments of privacy with each other—as long as they stand away from the very popular mailboxes area.
Luke: “Tell me, Diana.”
Diana: “Yes, Luke?” She asks hesitatingly. Her breath catches, not the least of which is that they are standing very near some mistletoe overhead.
Luke: “I know that they’re only 4 years old. But do you think our kids are plotting something? Ha ha ha!” He chuckles while gazing at their kids whispering back and forth to each other and nodding. Diana looks over at their kids again.
Diana: “Most assuredly they are plotting something.” Diana nods her head wryly and smiles up at Luke.
Luke: “You say that so calmly, Diana. Whereas I am scared to death what they could come up with.”
Diana: “Well, Luke, they’re short. So that’s on our side.”
Luke: “Ha ha ha! True! We don’t have anything breakable sitting out below a six foot height at our home.”
Diana: “You are wiser, than you pretend, Obi Wan.” Diana states humorously in a mysterious voice
Luke: Liking her Star Wars reference, Luke responds with smouldering effect. “Oh, I never pretend, Diana.” Now Luke takes Diana’s hand and interlaces their fingers. Both of their breathing deepen due to Luke swiftly changing the mood of their conversation from bemusement to besotted in a heartbeat. “I like you a lot, Diana. More than I can adequately say.”
Diana: “I like you very much as well, Luke.” She squeezes her hand clasped in his.
Heidi and Benjy wander over to their seemingly enraptured parents.
Heidi: “Did you ask her Daddy?” Heidi looks back and forth between her Daddy Luke and Benjy’s Mommy Diana.
Luke: Snapped out of his reverie, Luke remembers his question. “Uh, not yet.”
Benjy: “Well Mommy, I want to. If that helps.”
Diana: “I guess, it depends upon what the question is, Benjy Dear.” She turns to look up into Luke’s eyes, and she also shyly notices the hanging mistletoe just to the side above his head.
Luke is mesmerized for a moment gazing down into Diana’s upturned eyes.
Heidi: “Daddy?” She prods him—literally and figuratively, by also poking his knee.”
Luke: “What? Right! Mom, I mean Heidi’s Granny…” Heidi smiles and nods, very pleased with herself. “Well Mom would like you Diana, and Benjy and Martha to be our guests for either Christmas Eve lunch or Christmas Day lunch. We didn’t know if you might have something already arranged. So we leave it up to you as to when you might be able to join us..”
Benjy: “Mommy, please say yes.” He pleads.
Diana: “Well Benjy, I will have to check with Martha. The apartment complex is having a pre-Christmas lunch on December 24th that we’re all attending with my other Care Receivers. Then Martha and Benjy and I were going to spend Christmas Day together quietly.” And Luke picks up on her use of past tense, were.
Luke: “Well, I warn you that though kid proofed, our home with a baby and a toddler or two it is anything but quiet—happily so. Please talk to Martha and let us know if you can join us Christmas Day luncheon—but you could come early, say 9:30am or so, so the kids can play together. Then I can arrange to pick you up at a time that suits you. The directions to our house are a bit convoluted with some recent road detours.”
Diana: “Oh?” She smiles. “Do you live in a construction zone for the highway?”
Luke: “Not quite. But we’re surrounded by farm crop fields and parklands. So we don’t have to worry about noisy neighbors—nor they of us.” He grins sheepishly. “Our home that we live in is an old farmhouse that has been in our family for a very long time. It’s not fancy, but homey and comfortable. I hope that you like it.”
Diana: “Now you have me intrigued. I love old homes! I’ll talk to Martha and call you tomorrow about whether or not we can join you for luncheon on Christmas Day.”
Luke: “That’s great! We look forward to hearing from you.”
Then the little ones make their presences known again.
Heidi: “Daddy! Please huwwy/hurry up and kiss Benjy’s Mommy goodbye under the missLtow/mistletoe. Then Benjy and I can kiss goodbye.”
Both Luke’s and Diana’s eyes widen as they look up. As they conversed, Luke and Diana have somehow now gotten themselves smack dab under the hanging mistletoe. And knowing that their kids will parrot what they see them doing, Luke and Diana kiss each others’ cheeks only, no lips, not yet—but they one up that with a friendly embracing hug to finish. Progress! Thinks, Luke!
Then Benjy and Heidi cutely kiss each others’ cheeks—but with a bit more kid slobber—and end with a full on kid squeezing hug, with Benjy lifting Heidi off the ground. Heidi is a bit more petite as a four year old, compared to Benjy as a four year old.
So Luke and Heidi wave farewell to Diana and Benjy, with each of them hopefully looking forward to spending Christmas Day together.
To be continued with Chapter 05
References for Ch. 04 of “Of Magic & Mistletoe”, wy December 24, 2020 by Gratiana Lovelace
1) “Of Magic & Mistletoe” story logo cover that I/Gratiana Lovelace created, is comprised of several elements:
a) Luke—at full height, is Richard Armitage smiling at the 2019 Sundance Festival wearing red & black plaid overshirt_Dec21-2020 viaPinterest-Grati; image edit; original image is found at https://i.pinimg.com/474x/61/da/41/61da418236dba7895c883c32074e0e12.jpg
b) Mistletoe image and history found at https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.tillamookheadlightherald.com%2Fcommunity%2Fthe-history-of-holly-and-mistletoe%2Farticle_6d7751e2-9aab-11e5-ac05-cfbfafc221da.html&psig=AOvVaw0pTsPU6tMlqIj1Mh8qHTco&ust=1608640745445000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=2ahUKEwis-PLyi9_tAhVnhXIEHSmEDVAQjhx6BAgAEBI
c) A textured red background that I/Grati created.
2) Luke Wharton is a smouldering Richard Armitage in a camel hair coat at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, downloaded Dec242020viaPinterest, Grati-mask2-crop.jpg
3) Diana Groves is Erin Krakow in a Christmas seasonimage , source-Hallmark Dec242020 viaBlastingNews, Grati-crop-szd-brt
The link for Ch. 04 on my Wattpad site, will be found at: