Christmas Magic, Part Three
Back at the Bed and Breakfast, Jessica and Aunt Tammy had just completed breakfast when Uncle Marcus and a man Jessica didn’t recognize brought in the tree.
“Perfect timing!” Aunt Tammy greeted her husband, kissing him on the cheek once the tree was in the house.
As Jessica put the finishing touches on the table, she took a step back to admire her work.”
“Everything looks so lovely, dear,” Aunt Tammy commented as she gently touched Jessica’s arm. “Our Jess has always taken pride in her work, never half-assing anything, always going out of her way to make a dining table look aesthetically pleasing,” she looked to Paul, the guy Jessica hadn’t recognized.
“It looks very lovely, I can tell you put a lot of work into it.” Paul made eye contact with Jessica.
She held his gaze, and she couldn’t help but admire his handsome features. He was a little too what Jessica referred to as “pretty boy,” for her, she liked her men a little more rugged, but she couldn’t deny that he had a nice smile and very pretty, green eyes.
“Thank you,” she responded.
“Jessica, this is Paul Watson.”
Jessica gasped as she made the connection, “You mean little Paul?”
“Not so little anymore,” he interrupted.
“Oh, I didn’t mean any offense, “ she paused, her eyes showing her sincerity, “I just remember “everyone calling you that because of your dad and grandad, it got confusing, three men with the same name.”
“Oh, right,” he replied. “It’s just no one has called me by that name in a very long time.”
“Paul, this is Jessica Turner, her dad was Mike Turner.” Aunt Tammy interjected.
“Only Uncle Marcus gets to call me that.” She said sternly pointing her finger in his face.
He held up his hands in defense. “We’re not getting off to a very good start,” he sighed. “I’m sorry, I remember you from when we were kids, I was just trying to reminisce as you did for me.”
“Just so you understand.”
He realized her cleverness at that moment, testing his ability to empathize, right off the bat. He was impressed. He smiled, reaching for her hand, he kneeled and kissed her knuckles. “It’s great to see you again.”
She couldn’t hide the smile that had crept across her face, she found him charming. “You too.”
Aunt Tammy and Uncle Marcus smiled at each other.
“Come,” Jessica motioned for her Uncle Marcus to join them. “You and Paul can trim the tree to your liking after we eat.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Uncle Marcus obeyed.
“Jessica is a famous chef now!” Uncle Marcus bragged.
“Well, not really famous, as well-known,” Jessica stated.
“What’s the difference?” Paul asked.
“Famous means the whole world knows who I am. Well-known means I have almost a million followers.”
“I’m a Youtube Chef.”
“Ther’s a food and travel vlogger that started on Youtube, but now he has his own show on The Travel Channel, he’s very recent, but I like him.”
“Are you referring to ‘Food to Go’ ?”
“Yeah, with Kevin Long.”
“Are you a fan?”
“Yes.” She answered honestly. She instantly turned her gaze to Aunt Tammy, her glare screaming, keep your mouth shut.
Aunt Tammy covered her first word in a cough, Jessica couldn’t even make out what the word was.
She smiled at her aunt.
Taking the hint, Paul changed the subject, “This is delicious, Jessica.”
“Thank you, Aunt Tammy made the bacon and the potatoes.”
“Well, these eggs are the perfect amount of fluffiness.” He smiled at her.
She blushed and looked down at her plate.
The remaining conversations flowed much the same way, bringing up memories of the past, talking about their current lives, and future goals. It was pleasant, and they each found themselves laughing quite often.
Uncle Marcus and Paul went to trim the tree and get it ready for decorating while Aunt Tammy and Jessica cleaned up the dishes and put away the leftovers.
Aunt Tammy hand washed a few serving dishes that wouldn’t fit in the dishwasher while Jessica made homemade hot chocolate in the crockpot.
“It should be ready in a couple of hours,” she said as she rinsed off the spoon before placing it on the spoon rest. “It’s also made with almond milk, so it’s lower in fat.”
“Always looking for ways to make treats healthier, while still being a treat.”
“Well, yeah, cause if it doesn’t taste good, then what’s the point.” She smiled, looking down at the floor. “If Kevin were here he would say if it doesn’t provide nourishment to your body, then what’s the point.”
She chuckled, “It’s a balance of both, and we always seem to meet in the middle.” She smiled.
“Well,” Aunt Tammy’s voice rose an octave, “Paul seems really nice.”
Jessica was snapped out of her reverie and brought back to the real world, “Oh, right, Paul does seem nice.”
Jessica felt confused, her aunt was just telling her to follow her heart, it was obvious she was still in love with Kevin, she knew it was. So why would she suddenly push Paul on me? She wondered, Does she suddenly know something I don’t?
Jessica sat out the cookies they had made the night before, she arranged them with lights and sugared cranberries. She brought out her aunt’s vintage Christmas mugs and matched the saucers to them as best as she could.
“You should have been a party planner.” Paul motioned to her display.
“Oh, thank you,” she turned around, blushing at his compliment.
Paul smiled. “May I be honest with you?”
“Have you not been honest with me up to this point?” She retorted.
He gave her a sly smile, “Boy, you’re sharp.”
She smiled. “Sorry.”
“No, I kind of like it, and I have been honest, just so you know.”
“Good to know,” she replied, “And I’m not always a smartass, I just am in a funk right now, and it’s not you’re fault. I shouldn’t take it out on you.”
“It’s okay,” he replied, “We all have our bad days.”
She smiled. “Is the tree ready?”
“You’re aunt is doing the official judging right now.”
“Oh, I better go and check on Uncle Marcus,”
“Why?” He rushed after her.
“Aunt Tammy has OCD and Uncle Marcus has to constantly remind her to let things go, or else there won’t be any more tree from him to trim.” She turned her head over her shoulder to look at him. “And their arguments are hilarious.” She chuckled.
“Do you play referee?”
“Sometimes,” she chuckled.
“My dear, we go through this every year.” Uncle Marcus sat up and adoringly gazed at his wife, “The tree is not going to look good when I first trim it, because I have to trim the other sides to make sure they match, but if I take too much at once, then I have no choice but to trim the rest of the tree to match that spot, so we take it section by section until they’re as even as possible, but it’s nature, it’s not meant to be perfect.”
“Okay, okay, you’re right, less is more.” Aunt Tammy gave in.
“Yes.” He blew her a kiss, and let out an exasperated sigh.
“Wow!” Paul exclaimed.
“What?” Jessica turned to him.
“You’re uncle knew just what to say to your aunt to get her to see his side without hurting her feelings.”
“It took them years, Uncle Marcus says sometimes he’s still learning, because she changes, but he always changes with her.”
“That’s really sweet.”
“I know,” Jessica had tears forming in her eyes. “I’m sorry,” she fanned her eyes. “I’m a sap.”
Paul chuckled. “You’re sweet.”
Jessica blushed, but this time she didn’t look away when she smiled.