It still never ceased to amaze Laura and Remington how five small children could make shambles out of a room in such a short amount of time. Laura always accused Remington of going overboard at Christmas and spoiling the children by buying out half of the toy stores in greater L.A. Secretly, though, she knew it was just his way of living the childhood he had never had and she certainly couldn't begrudge him that. She didn't even really mind that he went overboard in his gift giving to her as well, with rare pieces of jewelry, designer clothes, chocolates, flowers, and even art glass.
Laura walked closer to the tree and peered down at some of the presents. She spotted one wrapped in red and white candy cane striped paper. The tag read, "To Mummy, From Laura and Remy." Laura smiled to herself as she thought about the twins. The present beside theirs was a big green one tied with a red velvet bow that said, "To Laura, From Remington." Laura picked it up and shook it gently. When it didn't rattle she deduced it was a dress box. She sighed, knowing that if it was another designer dress it would be a while before she'd be able to wear it.
She laughed softly as she saw brownie crumbs on the empty Santa plate and the empty hot chocolate cup. The children had insisted on leaving a chocolate snack for Santa, so while Remington had laid out the children's gifts earlier that evening Laura had done her part and made the hot chocolate and brownies disappear. Suddenly, she realized she was hungry again. A midnight raid to the kitchen seemed like a wonderful idea, even though it was actually only 3 a.m.
Laura ambled into the kitchen. Turning on the bright overhead fluorescent lights, she was a disappointed. She'd half expected to find her husband there raiding the refrigerator. Where could he be?
A sudden horrifying thought occurred to her. Though she knew it was completely irrational, she found herself wondering if he could actually have left her.Laura had once feared that Remington would one day leave her. Ever after all these years, her insecurities occasionally still surfaced when he would 'disappear' with no previous explanation. This was one of those times and the feeling was overwhelming.
Her disappointment and fear soon turned into anger. How could he leave on Christmas Eve?! Wasn't that's just like him? Leaving her and the kids in the lurch on Christmas --and with her family coming the next day!! How could she ever explain his absence?
She yanked open the refrigerator, hoping she'd find the answers there. She peered in at all the goodies she and Remington had prepared together for Christmas dinner. Too bad the turkey wasn't cooked yet, she thought. A turkey sandwich would have been good. She thought about cutting into one of the pumpkin pies, but decided against it because she didn't want to explain the missing piece. The cheesecake was tempting, too, but it presented the same problem.
Oh, to hell with it, she decided. Who cared about one measly missing piece anyway? She cut a large slice of cheesecake, placed it on a place and took it to the kitchen table. She took a large bite and chewed thoughtfully, angry and irrational as only a hungry expectant mother can be at 3 a.m.
I should have known this day would come someday, Laura thought. I'd wake up and he'd be gone. Men! They were all alike! Their brains were in their heads and their hearts were in their pants.
She wolfed down another bite of cheesecake.
But how could he pick Christmas Eve?! She wondered if their near fiasco at the art museum the previous month had something to do with it. Laura thought they had resolved that affair nicely and put it behind them. True, Brendan and Rory still had some guilt concerning their part in that little adventure, but Remington and Laura considered that healthy. And it helped to keep the boys in line for the time being.
Laura's fork was poised near her mouth for another bite when she heard a noise behind her.
"Lau-ra!" Remington chastised as he approached her. "I leave you alone for a second and here you are, stuffing your face with cheesecake. Tsk tsk!!"
"I was looking for you," Laura explained defensively."I woke up and you were gone."
"Well, I wasn't in the refrigerator,"Remington explained as he got a fork from a drawer and helped himself to a bite of Laura's cheesecake.
She slapped his wrist. "Get your own piece!" she demanded.
"You know what they say--once a thief, always a thief. You must admit, stealing cheesecake is a lot safer than stealing jewels, eh? At least, you can swallow the evidence."
Remington easily swiped another piece. Laura was so lost in thought she didn't even protest.
"Kind of takes the fun out of it, Luv, when you don't even try to stop me," Remington explained.
He waited a moment for her to reply, but when she didn't, he decided to probe further.They had learned during the course of their marriage that it was far better to get things out in the open. Pulling out a chair and sitting beside her at the table, he said, "Okay. Out with it."
"It's nothing,"Laura replied sheepishly as she pushed her cheesecake around on the plate. "Really. It's...silly. I don't want to talk about it."
Remington cupped Laura's chin in his hand. She had no choice but to look at him as he said, "I was only gone for 15 minutes, Laura. After all these years, why do you still think I'm going to disappear one day? Haven't I proven my loyalty to you and to the children a million times over?"
"Of course, you have. And I hate it when I get this way. I know you're not going to leave. I guess I'm just afraid that our life together is too good to be true. That our happiness can't last."
Remington leaned close and gave Laura a kiss. "They say the way to truly appreciate something is to realize that it may someday be lost. Thank you for appreciating me."
After another kiss, he tried to swipe one more bite of Laura's cheesecake.
This time she once again slapped his wrist. "Oh, no! Steal your own!"
Remington rose and walked to the fridge. "You're a cruel woman, Laura Holt," he said as he cut himself a huge slice before returning to the table.
"So, where were you?" Laura asked nonchalantly. "Watching for Santa?"
"As a matter of fact, yes," he admitted as he attacked his midnight snack.
"I never believed in Santa as a child--I guess because I was never really a child," he explained. "But now, Christmas has a whole new meaning. It's like I'm a child right along with Brendan and Rory and Laurie and Remy and Abby. I don't want to miss a bit of the magic. If I could get away with having my picture made with Santa, I would."
Laura smiled warmly, took his hand and kissed it tenderly. "Next year we'll look for Santa together," she said.
After another kiss, they piled their dishes in the sink and returned to their bedroom. They closed the door and turned off the light.
Laura quietly read it and smiled, tears filling her eyes. The note from Remington was the real treasure--not the fur coat. She was already making plans to lock away his beautiful declaration of love in her memory box, along side the letter he had written her at the Sensitivity Spa. Those two items were truly her two most prized possessions.
"I didn't realize how personal the card was when I read it, Mrs. Steele. I was trying to figure out where the gifts came from."
"That's quite all right, Ellen. And please, call me Laura."
"I must admit, Laura, that I envy you. Not for the fur coat, or the nice house, or your successful career--but because you have a husband who loves you and his family more than anything. You don't know how lucky you are."
"Yes. I am lucky. Very lucky," Laura admitted.
"It's awfully sweet of you to give the children their Christmas, but I simply can't accept the fur," Ellen insisted. "It's enough for me just knowing Brett and Charlotte had a nice Christmas."
"I insist you keep the coat! You deserve it and we want you to have it, really. It was just a mix-up. My husband must have put my card in the wrong box. He gave me the most beautiful white fur, and I certainly don't need two furs," Laura explained.
Brendan suddenly heard his father's footsteps approaching. He quickly turned and ran up the stairs.
Felicia was worried by the look she saw on Brendan's face as he took off running. She walked back over to where Rory and the twins were playing while Remington escorted Weasel to the front door. No need to let Michael know she'd been eavesdropping.
Remington entered the formal living room after hearing Laura's voice. Upon hearing the story, he and Laura shared a knowing glance. Both knew their oldest son was behind this Christmas steal. Oh, the joys of parenthood!!
After a few minutes, Felicia became more and more worried by Brendan's absence. Well, Michael had told her to make herself at home. If anyone asked, she'd simply say she was looking for a diaper for the baby.
Having decided, Felicia climbed the stairs still holding Abby, who was now asleep. All the doors off the hallway were open except one. Assuming it must be Brendan's room, she tried to open it, but the door was locked. No problem. She pulled a lock pick out of her skirt pocket and neatly picked the lock. She smiled to herself ... first time she'd ever picked a lock holding a baby!
She quietly pushed the door open and entered the bedroom, closing the door behind her. Brendan, wearing his black outfit from the night before, was just zipping up his freshly packed black flight bag. He looked up, startled.
"Going somewhere?" Felicia calmly inquired.
Brendan paused for a moment. Then he squared his shoulders and spoke boldly. "I'm running away and don't you try to stop me!"