It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas… Part two

Ben and I made it back to the house around noon and then he was off again to check on his patients at his practice. I was grumbling uncharitable things under my breath about the lack of help when Mark wandered in to the kitchen. The smell of alcohol hit me and my head snapped up.

“What is it, Mark?”

He looked at me, eyes wet with tears. “I miss Max.”

“Oh honey,” I gathered him up in a hug. “I know you do.”

“I want him back, Marlowe. I want him back so bad.” He shuddered with his tears and clung on to me.

There was nothing that I could say to make him feel better. I knew that much. So I stood there in the kitchen and rubbed his back while he cried. Miles came in and saw us together and without saying anything, wrapped his arms around the both of us. A small hiccup from Mark shook us out of our reverie and I patted Miles on the shoulder.

“Miles is going to finish putting away the groceries for me and I’m going to take you upstairs, where you’re going to lie down for a change.” Mark protested and I held up a hand to his mouth. “No. I know you haven’t been sleeping. You will take a nap and I will stay with you, understand?”

Mark relented and nodded. I guided him out of the kitchen and up the stairs, calling for Gibbs along the way, but he was too busy being a puppy with the Twins in the other room. I shrugged and Mark and I walked up the stairs together. I talked Mark in to getting in to bed and pulled a chair over. I closed the curtains in the room and then sat down in the chair.


“Yeah Mark?”

“I love you.”

“I love you too, Mark.”

“You’re the best friend I could have.”

“You’re damn right I am.” I heard Mark laugh a little and I smiled.

“I miss him. We had just started talking about adopting when he died.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“We didn’t want to tell anyone yet. Still discussing where we were going to adopt.” I heard him shift in bed and then a sigh. “I’ll sign the papers on the thirteenth. The Realtor found a buyer already.”

“So that’s it? You’ll finish moving in here then?”


I thought about it for a while. “You know you’re welcome to stay as long as you want, right? You’re family.”

“Yeah.” There was silence from his side of the room for a bit and then he said, “as much as I miss Max, I’m glad I have you.”

“Me too, Mark. Now close your eyes and try to sleep. I’ll be here.”


There was some shifting around. His breathing evened out after a while and I yawned. I might as well take a nap too since I was here.

Ben shook my shoulder a few hours later and motioned for me to come in to the hall. I checked on Mark, he was still sleeping. I stepped out in to the hall ans stretched. My neck popped and Ben winced.

“You know, most men would be jealous if they came home to find their girlfriend sleeping in another man’s room.”

“He’s not sleeping. Had a break down today.” I said as I stepped in to his arms and hugged him.

“I know. He’s been pacing his room and the hall for a couple of weeks now.”

“He’s hurting and I don’t know how to help. Mine was so different.”

“We’re doing what we can. He knows we’re here for him if he needs help.”

“I know. It’s just frustrating.”

“I know, ‘Lowe.” He said and he kissed my hair.

“I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

“I’m gonna go back and sit with him some more. Will you take dinner tonight?”

“Yeah, I can do that. Pancakes?”

I smiled. “Apples and cinnamon?”

“You got it.” He kissed me and strolled off down the hall.

I smiled and walked back in to Marks room. Settling down in the chair again, I heard Mark sigh and roll over.

“How long was I out?” He murmured sleepily.

“Well, it’s about six now and you went down about one; so about five hours.” I replied. “Ben’s home, he’s making apple cinnamon pancakes.”

“My favorite.” He said with a yawn.

“Mine too so if you want some, you’re going to have to get out of that bed and shower. You reek.” I said and watched him smile.


“While you’re doing that, I’m going downstairs to hassle Miles about Denver. I feel nosy today.”

“He took Denver’s ring back to the store.”

That brought me up short. “You’ll have to elaborate on that.”

Mark sighed. “He’s not going to propose anymore. He’s pretty much going to break things off with Denver because they just can’t seem to work out their issues.”

I tapped my fingers on my chin. “Is there a pool on how long that’s going to last?”

Mark laughed so hard there was tears coming out of his eyes. “Yeah. I’m in for twenty that says they’re back together again by Valentine’s Day.”

“Damn it, you stole the good one.”

Mark hiccuped and started laughing again. “I know. That’s what Ben said when he put his twenty in the pot for Saint Paddy’s.”

“Why am I always the last one to know about these things?” I whined.

Mark grinned. “Because you’d tell Miles and we’re not ready for him to find out yet.”

“I can keep a secret from Miles. I’ve had more practice at it.” I huffed. “Take your shower. I’m going to have pancakes. I will save you some.”

I walked out of the room before Mark could reply and made my way downstairs to give Ben an earful about not telling me about the pool. When I walked in to the kitchen, it was covered in flour again and my very tall boyfriend looked like a ghost. I couldn’t help my reaction. I started laughing.

“What happened?” I said through laughter and hiccups.

“The Twins.” Ben said, ruefully.

That only made me laugh harder. When something cold and sticky hit my chest and sank under the collar of my v-neck t-shirt, I stopped laughing and eyed Ben.

“I hope you know, this means war.”

“Bring it, Red.”

I threw a handful of pre-seasoned apples at him and the war was on. It ended when Jude came in and yelled at us. looking down at my feet while she stared us down, I nudged Ben. He nudged me back and then Judge separated us with an exasperated sigh.

“You two act more like the pair of nine-year-olds that I just took upstairs to bathe.”

“He started it.” I said, sullenly.

The noise his mother made was hilarious.

“You’re thirty years old, Child. You know better.”

Ben snickered and I stepped on his toes. He cursed at me and made Jude smile.

“Clean this up. I’ll ask Miles what to do about dinner.” She said as she walked out of the room. A second later, she stuck her head back in the room and said, “and no making out!”

I started laughing again as I reached for the broom closet. I found myself plucked from my path and plopped on to the counter. I eyed Ben, who leaned down and kissed me. I reached up and pulled him closer, kissing him back. When we broke apart he kissed my nose.

“Thanks for being a five-year old with me.”

“Likewise.” I said and kissed his chin.

“Marry me?”


He kissed me hard and pulled me back in to his arms. I kissed him back, wrapping my arms around his waist and keeping him close. I always imagined the big fan fare and the huge moment; but sitting on that counter in the kitchen covered in flour and spiced applies, I realized that this was perfect.




The blizzard rolled in to town a couple of days ago, so everything got put on hold. I’ll be frank, I did not enjoy the boredom of being stuck inside the house for the last couple of days. Especially not with a house full of people and the emotions that were flowing through the house.

The good news is that with all the people in the house, it decided to open up more rooms Thursday night. As it stands now, instead of my small two bedroom cottage, I have five bedrooms, three bathrooms, a new office in the fully converted attic with its own widow’s walk, a full library (with books, don’t ask me how that happened, I don’t know), and a much bigger kitchen with attached dining room. All of this is now packed in to four floors.

All of this has made me re-think the idea of having someone come in and clean the whole place, top to bottom, at least once every two weeks. That’s a lot of room for me. Well, I guess it’s not just me now. Mark has agreed to move in for a while, just until he’s gotten his feet back under him after last weekend. I’m a little afraid of him being alone right now. He loved Max so much and they were so happy together.

He spends most of his days up in his new rooms, writing in that journal of his. I’m giving him his space for now. He goes back to work on Monday though. I can’t imagine what that’s going to be like for him. He’s a CPA and his office faced Max’s, who was a real estate attorney on the same floor. I have a feeling he’s going to take Gibbs with him for support. I can’t imagine anyone is going to tell me he can’t have his puppy with him.

The Sheriff came and took Mark to identify Max’s body at the morgue now that the blizzard is over and the roads have cleared. He came back looking pretty destroyed. The part of me that was never really around relatives when something like this happens means that I don’t know how to really handle it when it happens to family I do care about. Normally I was the family member that was notified the night before the funeral and wasn’t really expected to show up. Anyway, Mark went straight up to his rooms after grabbing a bottle from my cabinet and I didn’t bother to stop him. The last week has shown me just how unprepared I would be if Ben or Miles ever died. I think that’s why I want Mark close by for now.

Ben showed up shortly before dark with the dogs in tow. They were all covered in snow which meant that Ben had outside appointments. After clean up and filling Ben in on what happened, he managed to coax Mark out of his rooms to watch the football games in the living room. I went up to my office until Ben came up to tell me that Mark had gone to bed early. We went out to dinner instead of staying home. Don’t worry, we made sure to bring home food for Mark. Grandmama Murphy wouldn’t have let us forget him. Though, she did send home enough to feed an army. I’m pretty sure that woman knows more than she’s letting on about things. Even after we filled her in on Mark, she just nodded and advised us to keep doing what we’ve been doing for now. She also reminded us not to over crowd him. Which won’t be a problem. Ben and I have been trying our best not to try to force him to spend time with us.

After bidding Grandmama Murphy goodbye, Ben and I went home. We separated in my driveway, him to his house and me to mine. It’s been six months since I moved to Blueville. I’m still finding this town weird. Why? Because when I turned back to wave to Ben, I caught sight of George who was flying over head. I still have her egg in my fireplace, which did not make me feel comfortable with her flying so close over head. Ben keeps assuring me that she gave the egg freely as a gift and that there are no repercussions from accepting the egg and keeping it safe in the fireplace.

I’m not entirely convinced though and I don’t think that I’m going to sleep very well tonight.


Still waiting

Ben called with news. Some good, some not so good.

First, the not so good:

The ritual is still going on out at The Park’s new location. We’ve still got no news directly from the Sheriff, but it looks like there have been a few people who have turned back. Most of them aren’t living, however.

Mark didn’t take that news well.

He’s been crying and sleeping since Ben delivered the news. At the moment, Mark is currently passed out on my sofa again, with Gibbs. Yes, he named the puppy after that TV show he and Max used to watch together. I’m thinking that my house might bud a new set of rooms for Mark in the next couple of days, possibly as early as tonight. It’s been rather annoyed at all the people coming and going. Not only Ben, but people stopping by to see how Mark is doing and if there’s any news.

It seems that being Miles’s cousin has a downside after all.

After filling in as many people as I could on what little news that I did have, I finally shut the door and stopped answering it for everyone but Ben and the delivery guy who was bringing lunch.

Now for the good:

The dragon egg is apparently staying at my house. At least, for now. Ben says that the fire will need to stay stoked, which isn’t really a problem because it started snowing this morning so the fire will stay stoked for now. I’m not buying Ben’s theories about dragons being “just like puppies” either.

So there’s that. I’m running out of things to say, really.

I keep walking around the house and dusting or tidying up while keeping an eye on Mark, as if he were my own brother. I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t have the best relationship with my real brothers, Miles, Mark and Max were the closest things I’ve had. That makes what’s happening twice as hard.

At least I wasn’t in love with Max. Mark is destroyed and I keep thinking about what would happen if I lost Ben. I know our relationship isn’t a year old, but damn if that man isn’t a part of my every day life. There’d be a huge hole that’s missing if he were gone.

I’m going to make dinner. Since the snow is falling down I’m thinking a beef stew would be nice.