Let It Snow!

I know what you're thinking and you're wrong. Dead wrong. It was not a bad idea to invite Mom and the family for Thanksgiving. Sure, she and Jolie are off to a rocky start, but Jolie is unlike any woman I've ever been involved with. And, no I'm not talking about the color of her skin. Race has never mattered to me… What I mean is that this relationship is different. This one is slower. I usually rush in, but I'm finding that slow isn't so bad.

Thomas stopped short as his mother blocked his path from the cellar to the entryway. "Mom? Excuse me," he said, jokingly as he tried to edge around her.

"Where have you been? I've been looking for you."

He jutted his chin toward the closing cellar door and then down to the two bottles of wine in his hand. "Jolie sent me on an errand." He held up the bottles for his mother's perusal. "What do you think of these? Higgins' been hiding the good stuff, but when Jolie asks, he gives the okay. She has him wrapped around her finger."

"He's not the only one," Martha murmured.

Thomas frowned. Here we go again. "What now?"

He headed toward the dining room. His mother followed. "How serious are you?"

He set the bottles down hard on the tables, taking his growing irritation out on the bottles of fermented grapes. "How many times will you ask me? I am dead serious about her."

She waved her hand in a quick, dismissive gesture. "Don't use that word."

"You asked."

"And don't use that tone with me," she bit out.

"I care about Jolie and I want you two to get along."

"And if we don't?" Martha countered. "If she makes it impossible?"

Thomas met his mother's stare dead on. "I don't believe it's her."

He waited for his mother's response. She gave none, simply turned on her heel. Thomas considered going after her. But what would be the point? He had high hopes for Thanksgiving and the two important women in his life meeting each other. When his mother's crystal blue eyes flashed with dislike within seconds of meeting Jolie, he didn't know what to think. He only knew one thing. He wouldn't give up.

"Hey! Big Guy!"

Jolie's voice caught him unexpectedly. He hadn't heard the kitchen doors swing open or felt her gaze on him. He waggled his eyebrows and leered. She blushed and laughed.

"Come here!"

"Your wish is my command," he said with a bow. He went to her and she allowed him entry to the kitchen. "Here I am, but the door doesn't lock."

"What are you talking about?"

"The door," he said, pointing over his shoulder, "swings open. If you have your way with me on the counter, everyone will hear."

Brown eyes lit up with laughter. She swatted him with a dishtowel. "Your family and Higgins are right out there. As if I'd throw you on the counter!"

"What about the floor?"

"Thomas!" She wagged her finger at him as a warning.

He grinned and helped up his hands in mock surrender. "You don't have to scream. I'm all yours."

She took his hand and pulled him to her. "That's good to know."

He leaned forward and covered her mouth with his. Her lips parted. He wasted no time in taking advantage of the opening. His tongue sought the sweetness of her mouth. A low moan escaped from her. Their surroundings no longer mattered. He closed his arms around her, pulling her soft curves hard against his body.

"Thomas, your mother said—"

"Jolie, I need you—"

Maggie and Rick's voices burst into the kitchen. Thomas grudgingly released Jolie. Her brown eyes and resounding sigh mirrored his disappointment and irritation. They turned to acknowledge their unwelcome interruption.

"Happy Thanksgiving, Maggie," Thomas said with a faint smile.

"Yes, Rick?" Jolie inquired. "What did you need?"

"You at the Club right now," he replied.

"Right now? I'm in the middle of preparing the sweet potato cheesecake." She glanced at her watch. "I'm not scheduled to go for another two hours!"

"Something's come up," Rick said, somewhat apologetically. "Joe slipped on pineapple juice and was rushed to the hospital. He sprained his ankle and can't stand on it. With the head chef out on doctor's orders, you're the second in the command."

Thomas closed his hands over her shoulders and gently massaged. "Rick, it's Thanksgiving. Have a heart."

"What am I supposed to do?" his friend asked, a bit sarcastically. "Order pizzas? I'm the manager and it's my job to—"

"Rick," Jolie interrupted, "it's okay. I'll go." She patted Thomas' hands. "Maybe I'll be back before the Cowboys play. Please, don't let my cheesecake burn."

"I have it covered," he quietly assured.

"I can help," Maggie piped in.

Thomas felt Jolie stiffen. "Thanks," Jolie said. She directed her next comment to Rick. "Do I have time to change?"

"Do you have to?" Rick asked. A frown wrinkled his brow.

"I guess not," she replied.

"Want me to drive you?" Thomas offered.

"No, you should stay with your family."

"I'll walk you to the car."

"Make it my car," Rick said. "I'm coming in with you. Maybe I can help." He glanced at his wristwatch. "We'd better get a move on."

Thomas sent his good friend an annoyed glare. "Start the car. We'll meet you out there."

"What should I do until you come back?" Maggie asked, her gaze focused entirely on Thomas. "Is everything else done?"

"Yes, pretty much," Jolie responded. "You may want to check with Higgins. He may need help with something."

Maggie's cheeks reddened. She spun on her heel and slammed through the swinging doors. Thomas bit back an amused chuckle. Jolie warned him that Maggie's interest went beyond friendship. He denied it. Maybe he spoke too soon.

Taking Jolie's hand, he led her out to Rick's car. "You okay?"

"Yeah." She shrugged. "You won't even notice I'm gone."

He shook his head. "Don't be so sure about that."

~^~

Okay. Thanksgiving didn't turn out quite the way I planned, but I have high hopes for Christmas. It's the happiest time of the year and by now, Mom knows that her matchmaking attempts for Maggie and me won't work. Jolie is the woman in my life. Mom will have to accept that.

The weather display at Chicago's O'Hare Airport refused to report good news. No matter how many times Thomas glared at it or questioned a flight attendant. His and Jolie's connecting flight to Virginia was grounded. Indefinitely.

"What did she say?" Jolie asked, the twinkle of laughter danced in her eyes. "Was the tenth time the charm? Has the blizzard bypassed us?"

"No." He dropped onto the empty seat beside her. "Sleet and snow…icy runway. That's all she knows. She sounds like a broken record."

"Oh, Thomas," she cooed, rubbing his back. "It will be okay. Christmas in Chicago could be fun."

His eyebrows lifted. "You'd rather spend Christmas at an airport than at my mother's?"

She pulled her hand away. "That's not what I said, and I don't want to talk about your mother."

"What would you rather talk about?" He put her hand on his back and released a low growl when she continued to rub it.

She laughed. "You're silly."

He gave her a playful frown. "I wasn't always. You bring it out in me."

"Oh, not. You had that rubber chicken and gorilla suit longggggggg before you met me."

"But I never had so many interesting uses for the rubber chicken or gorilla suit until I met you."

Jolie's responding laughter was so loud that they received stares and frowns from the other, stranded travelers.

"No, problem," Thomas said to them. "Hysteria caused by the delay. She'll be fine in no time."

"I suppose you have the cure for my hysteria," she said once her laughter subsided.

"Excuse me, Mr. Magnum." A flight attendant appeared.

"Yes?" He stood and glanced toward the window. Dark clouds had settled hours ago. There wasn't much to see, but he hoped there wouldn't be snow. There wasn't. He smiled. "Our flight…?"

"Has been grounded for the night. Ice on the runway is too much to risk take-off or landing," the woman said with a tight smile. "We're offering all of our passengers hotel accommodations. Here is a voucher for you and Ms. Ikawa. Taxi cabs have been provided for your convenience."

~^~

We landed in good ole Virginia the day after Christmas. Believe me, the delay was worth it. Mom greeted us with smiles and Jolie…well, she had plenty to smile about, believe me.

Let it snow. Let it snow. Let it snow.

The End

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