(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, Betty White as Granny Wilma Wharton, and others as noted in the references.
Ch. 07 End: Their loving Christmas feelings expand
Sleeping in Luke Wharton’s and his four year old daughter Heidi’s home overnight–after spending a lovely Christmas Day with them–is very cozy and comfortable for Diana Groves and her four year old son Benjy. Their camping out on the family/living room couches was especially enjoyed by the kids—who slept on the pull out futon.
Everyone ended up wearing flannel pjs to bed last night—with Diana especially not wanting to wear a night gown in front of Luke, since their relationship is so new. And Luke also makes a concession to having overnight guests by wearing a pj top with his pj bottom overnight, when he usually forgoes the matching pj top—claiming the flannel pj top makes him feel too hot. So he usually just wears an undershirt over his pj bottoms in Winter. And everyone looks cutely mussed while lying under mounds of comforters and blankets to keep warm on the couches, now that the fireplace logs have burned down to embers.
And of course, with the kids having also napped earlier in the day on Christmas Day yesterday, they are raring to go first thing at 6am in the morning on Sunday, December 26, 2010.
Benjy goes to wake up his Mommy Diana on one of the long couches in the Wharton family/living room—while Heidi goes to wake up her Daddy Luke.
Benjy: “Mommy? It’s Sunday. May we have Christmas Tree French toast for breakfast?”
Diana: “Hhhhh!” Diana yawns with her whole mouth stretched wide—but her eyes are still firmly shut. “Sure, wake me in the morning, Benjy.” Then Diana burrows further into her pillow as she sleeps some more. The front of the Wharton home faces west, so the family/living room does not have much natural light in it in the early morning—which aids those who wish to continue sleeping.
Heidi: “Is your Mommy awake, Benjy?” Heidi whispers cutely—which is in her normal speaking voice volume level.
Benjy: “No.” He says forlornly. “And I’m hungry. What about your Daddy?”
Heidi: “Daddy won’t wake up either.” Then she gets a brilliant idea. “Let’s switch! I’ll wake up your Mommy and you wake up my Daddy.”
Benjy: “Alright.” Benjy sighs as he heads past the coffee table to Heidi’s Daddy Luke sleeping on the other long couch.
Heidi: Then Heidi tries to awaken Benjy’s Mommy Diana–as delicately as she did her Granny Wilma yesterday, with a gentle tap on Benjy’s Mommy’s shoulder and speaking in a soft voice. “Benjy’s Mommy. Please wake up. We would like breakfast.” Heidi waits patiently, but Diana is too deep in sleep to respond.
Whereas Benjy, being all boy, is not quite so delicate in trying to wake up Heidi’s Daddy Luke. Giving Heidi’s Daddy Luke a wide berth—with Benjy staying away from Luke’s arms in case Luke is startled and reaches out, because startling Luke awake is Benjy’s intention. So Benjy grabs the hem of the puffy comforter over Luke’s sock covered feet and pulls it off of Luke—which makes Benjy tumble backward onto the futon with a puddle of puffy comforter.
Luke: “Brrrr! I’m cold! What happened? Where’s my comforter?” Luke barks in confusion. Disoriented, Luke sits up bolt upright on the couch, clutching a thin flannel top sheet used as a blanket to his person as he slowly opens one eye and looks around the room, while keeping his other eye firmly shut.
Seeing Benjy’s success, Heidi tries to pull the blankets off of Benjy’s Mommy Diana. But Diana must have turned in the night and the blankets are tightly wrapped around her.
Heidi: “Benjy? I need help pulling the blanket off your Mommy.” So Benjy quickly goes to Heidi’s aid, and they stand at his Mommy’s feet end of the couch.
Benjy: “We’ll pull on the blanket on 3.” Benjy commands
Heidi: “What’s 3?” She asks him quizzically.
Benjy: “Never mind.” He rolls his eyes. “Just pull, when I say pull.” Heidi nods her head. “Okay, pull!”
Then both kids pull Benjy’s Mommy Diana’s blanket end near her sock covered feet, with all of their two 4 year olds might. And since Diana is considerably more lighter weight than Heidi’s Daddy Luke—and her legs are already lying near the edge of the couch side—Benjy and Heidi’s pulling efforts end up unrolling Diana from the couch and she lands on the carpeted floor on her tush.
Diana: “Owww!” Diana yells loudly.
Benjy: “Well, that should wake everyone up.” He nods his head up and down approvingly. Benjy is hungry and he needs the adults to make them their hot breakfast since Benjy is not allowed to make it himself—not even to use the toaster.
Luke now wide awake dashes around the coffee table and helps Diana from the floor by picking her up in his arms and gently setting her on the couch in a sitting position.
Luke: “Diana? How do you feel? Do you think you broke anything in your fall?”
Diana: “Just my pride. Hhhh!” Then with her still partially wrapped in her blanket, she asks. “How did I get on the floor?”
Heidi: “We unwrapped you.” Heidi smiles sweetly. Both Luke and Diana quizzically tilt their heads at their children.
Benjy: “Well, it worked for Heidi’s Daddy.” Benjy admits a tad defensively.
Then everyone turns to Heidi’s Daddy Luke, standing over Benjy’s Mommy Diana with concern on his face—along with his morning stubble. And Luke’s pj top came unbuttoned half way down over night and his only slightly hairy, but his very muscular chest torso is exposed to their view.
Heidi: “Are you chilly, Daddy?” Heidi caringly asks as she points at his exposed chest—when everyone elses’ pj tops are buttoned up, or have no opening in front and just pull over their heads—like the kids’ pjs.
Luke: “Uhh!” Luke looks down and quickly buttons up his flannel pj top. “Yes, thank you, Heidi. Let me get a fire going in the fireplace again.” Which he sets about doing immediately. “And then we can make breakfast.” He looks over his shoulder at Diana and the kids.
Benjy & Heidi: “Yippee!” There is nothing as determined as toddlers when meals are in the offing.
So Luke and Heidi and Diana and Benjy each take a turn in the bathroom to comb their hair and brush their teeth, etc—with Luke waiting to shave his bristly face stubble until later–before they all pad in their sock covered feet into the kitchen to make and eat their Christmas Tree shaped French Toast breakfasts, courtesy of Diana and one of Granny Wilma’s Christmas tree cookie cutters that she had set out for Diana. Luke and Diana let Granny Wilma sleep in a little longer. But the bacon and French toast food aromas soon rouse Granny Wilma and she joins them for breakfast, too.
As it happens, the snow on the ground is more fluffy due to more overnight snowfall on the Saturday, December 25th evening. So this Sunday, December 26th should be excellent snow sledding and snow man making [(2) above] weather for the parents and kids. Heidi’s Granny Wilma will watch safely from the sidelines of the enclosed three season back porch with a space heater in it—no need for her to tempt fate and break her hip. And Granny Wilma will also have hot cocoas ready in the kitchen to warm up the four sledders and snowman builders—Luke & Heidi, and Diana & Benjy.
And since Diana brought dressier clothes with her for their overnight stay Christmas Day night at the Wharton’s home—than were suitable for snow sledding–Luke loans her an old and oversized, but clean pair of his thermal underwear top and bottom to go over her real underwear, and then under his sister Sharon’s ski jumpsuit.
When Luke’s sister Sharon had excitedly called home to her brother Luke and Mom Wilma last night from her in-laws to tell them that her husband Gary was home on leave so she wouldn’t be home for a few days, Luke asked his sister Sharon if Diana could wear her ski jumpsuit for their sledding on Sunday. Sharon gave a hearty yes. Luke had also spoken a few moments with Gary before Granny Wilma grabbed the phone and told Gary how glad they were that he was home safely—hoping that they would see their family soon.
So after a yummy breakfast, and pottying the kids–and themselves–because their outdoor winter weather gear will take a long time to put on them and take off them, the sledding begins. Happily, there is a gently sloping small hill that goes from the Wharton’s backyard to the West, and culminates about 100 yards away in a 10 foot hill. So there will be no hair raising sled races down the small hill. But still, the two adults and two kids have fun—culminating in building a snow man in the back yard, near the three season porch, so Granny Wilma can also see it.
Then after having baths then lunch at the Wharton’s and saying their heartfelt farewells to each other—and especially to Heidi and Granny Wilma–Luke drives Diana and her son Benjy home into town at the Hampton Heights apartment complex. Heidi stays home with Granny Wilma, because now that they played outside in the snow for an hour this morning, Heidi really does have the sniffles now.
And being the gentleman he is, Luke insists on accompanying Diana and Benjy inside their building and helping them get their suitcase, present bags, and food leftovers to their apartment. Then Diana lays Benjy down for a nap on his cot in Diana’s bedroom, while she and Luke say farewell for today. Diana and Benjy would have loved to stay another night with Luke and his family, but Diana has morning and afternoon Care Receiving clients all this next week—except for the afternoon of New Year’s Eve.
Seeing Diana walk into her sitting room, Luke stands up from the couch. They have missed being alone together for lovely cuddling and kissing as they did Christmas Day afternoon while the kids napped. So Diana walks into Luke’s arms and they sit down together on her couch.
Luke: “Diana, I can’t tell you how much we enjoyed having you and Benjy as our guests this past weekend for Christmas.”
Diana: “We did, too, Luke. Your Mom Wilma is a fantastic lady and hostess, and Heidi has become very dear to us, very quickly.”
Luke: “Only Heidi?” Look smiles in a hopeful smouldering gaze at Diana.
Diana: “Not only Heidi.” Diana blushes and she shyly looks down at their clasped hands.
Luke: “And we’re fond of you and Benjy—especially you, for my part.” Luke tilts Diana’s head up by gently placing his finger under her chin. Then they sweetly and tenderly kiss each other as they tenderly embrace each other. “If only.” Luke murmurs.
Diana: “If only what, Luke?”
Luke: “Well, though I am a gentleman, I find myself wishing that we were unchaperoned and alone now.”
Diana: “I know what you mean.” She admits out loud. “But Benjy is in the next room and your Mom Wilma and Heidi will be expecting you home soon, and will worry if you delay.”
Luke: “You’re quite right, of course.” Luke nods his head in resignation. “But in the interest of getting the most out of the mistletoe you have overhead near your tree, might we avail ourselves of it?” Luke kisses Diana’s cheek and then her neck, and back to her cheek again.
Diana: “Uh huh.”
Then Luke and Diana stand and move to the mistletoe and kiss each other tenderly and adoringly for several minutes under the mistletoe again, and again, and again, and again [(3) above].
Luke: “Diana, I feel like I want to be with you every day—in every way.” Luke sighs with their romantic farewell as he kisses her neck again.
Diana: “I know, me too.” Diana sighs breathily. But are we rushing things, Luke?”
Luke: “I don’t think so. We feel so right together. But what are your concerns?”
And Diana likes that Luke respects her feelings and invites her to share her perspectives with him.
Diana: “Well, I presume that if you and I get married, you will want Benjy and I to move into your home.” Luke nods. “Is there a place for our kids in their own bedroom that isn’t your master bedroom?”
Luke: “There is. Sharon told me that she and baby Eric are moving out of our home tomorrow, Monday. With her husband Gary back home—and he’s going to be stationed in town with the armory for a bit—they will return to their own home. So we can turn that middle bedroom into a half boys and a half girls bedroom—with different decorations at each side of the room for each of them. And they will share the 2nd full bath with Granny Wilma.”
Diana: “But will your Mom want to share a bathroom with the kids?”
Luke: “Well, it was her idea.” Luke smiles, feeling like the planets are aligning for them. “I have fallen in love with you Diana. Please say that you’ll marry me, my Darling Diana.” Then he kisses her again before she has time to reply.
Diana: “I love you, too, Luke! But it’s a lot to take on, for each of us. And I will also have to check into my late husband’s monthly death insurance benefit payments to me and Benjy, to see how they might be affected by my remarrying. And then there are some monies already set aside for Benjy.”
Luke: “Of course you want to clarify those benefits for you and Benjy. But understand that you need not worry about your not having money, or making a salary. It will be your choice to work or go to school, etc. Our Wharton Family Farms Trust is doing very well financially. And I will instantly include you and Benjy in that trust as beneficiaries as soon as we are married. And your late husband’s death payout you are saving for Benjy’s schooling and college, you can keep for that purpose. Naturally, I will also support both Heidi’s and Benjy’s schooling and college costs—as well as, the schooling and college costs for any more children that we have together.”
Diana: “Luke, I also have my Care Receiving clients to think about. I can’t just leave them in the lurch.” Diana bites her lip. “They and Benjy and I have become friends—especially with Martha.”
Luke: “True. But even if we marry this week, and you move into our house, you could still give the Hampton’s Heights Apartment administrators your two week notice—giving them time to find your replacement. And we could start the new year as a family.”
Diana: “Luke? May I say a provisional yes to marrying you?”
Luke: “Yes!” Luke sends up a whispered cheer of thanks. And then he kisses Diana quite a bit more. “What are the provisions?” He asks while continuing to kiss her cheek and ear and neck.
Diana: “You are quite persuasive, you know? Ha!” Luke smiles. “Well then, we can work out the details of when we will marry—since us trying to get married in merely a week’s timeframe might not be feasible. I would still have my obligations as a Care Giver for the next two weeks or so. So having our wedding in two weeks might be a bit more realistic wedding timeframe.” She winces, her so not wanting to disappoint him.
Luke: “You are right. But after you notify your bosses and your clients tomorrow, we should use the later afternoon to fill out our marriage registration for our license at the county clerk’s office, and then talk to our Lutheran pastor about the date for our having a small wedding, unless you have a particular church affiliation?”
Diana: “Benjy and I are flexible on which church we get married in. We have sampled some of the local churches but have not settled on joining a particular one. And us having a small no frills wedding suits me fine.”
Luke: “Then there is the big matter of telling our kids. But I think they’re already on our side in this.” Ha ha ha! Luke smiles mischievously.
Diana: “I think so. Ha ha ha! And though I’m open to adopting Heidi and having you adopt Benjy—if you’re agreeable.” Luke nods with a big grin. “I would still like to honor Benjy’s birth father, my late husband, as well, in Benjy’s last name.”
Luke: “There are a few options we have for Benjy’s new last name after I adopt him, by either hyphenating it as Groves-Wharton–or using that name order, but without the hyphen. And what about your last name once we’re married?”
Diana: “As you know, I took my late husband’s last name when he and I married. So as long as my last name and your last name have a similarity to Benjy’s last name for school purposes, that should be fine.”
Luke: “I’ll talk to my Mom and Heidi tonight to tell them the good news that we’re getting married.” He smiles broadly.
Diana: “And I’ll tell Benjy.” She nods cheerfully.
Luke: “We know our kids are rooting for us. And Mom will be over the moon—as well as her helping with our small wedding planning.”
Diana: “Though we’ll need to choose our attendants, I think we know already who will be our ring bearer and our flower girl. Oh gosh! And we’ll have to get them and us wedding clothes.”
Luke: “Well, I say we skip the formal route. Tuxes are not my style. But I have a very nice blue suit I can wear. And we can find Heidi something pretty to wear, too.”
Diana; “Yes, I agree. And I’ll have to find a new ivory dress for me, and something dressy for Benjy—that doesn’t involve a comic book super hero.” Diana comically rolls her eyes as she smiles warmly at Luke.
Luke: “We can do this. Two weeks.” He nods his head affirmatively.
Diana: “Two weeks.” She nods her head.
Then Luke and Diana kiss each other tenderly and adoringly under her sitting room’s mistletoe for a few more minutes tonight before they say farewell until tomorrow, Monday, December 27th. Two weeks until they get married. Whew!
And though Luke and Diana will wait until their wedding night to fulfill their loving romantic yearnings for each other, that is not to say that Luke will wait that long to have Diana and Benjy move into what will become their home together.
To be continued with the Chapter 08 Epilogue
P.S. And a heartfelt Happy Anniversary to my wonderful husband! Love, Hugs & Holiday Cheers! Grati ;->
References for Ch. 07 End of “Of Magic & Mistletoe”, December 30, 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) Heidi Wharton with snowman is represented by an image from-Readers Digest-article 06_how_build_perfect_snowman_best_practices_decorations_Dec292020; for more, visit the link at https://www.rd.com/list/how-to-build-snowman/
3) Luke and Diana kissing image is represented by a BW N&S2004 cap of Richard Armitage & Daniela Denby-Ashe_Jul2016viaSueli
The link for Ch. 07 on my Wattpad site, will be found at: