So the first of December rolled around and the house decided to go all out. I was woken up by Ben shaking me. He was laughing.
“HabibI, you have to come see this. It’s hilarious. My mother is freaking out.”
I yawned, lifted my head out from under a pillow and shoved my hair aside to look at him.
“Come see!” He said. “I got up to go pee and the house decorated itself!”
I groaned and wiggled my way to the edge of the bed. I stuck one foot out and touched the floor. With a yelp I pulled my foot back inside and burrowed in to the covers.
“Nope, too cold. Go back to bed, heathen.” I pulled the covers over my head as I heard Ben laugh.
Something landed on my hand as I debated braving the floor again to jump him. I peeked out at it and found a pair of my fluffy socks.
“Damn it. You know my weakness.”
“Get up. I have coffee. We’re not going anywhere anyway. We’ve got another foot and a half out there and it’s looking to keep falling all day.” Ben said as he walked out of the room.
I got up with a sigh and put on the socks as my feet dangled over the side of the bed. I was looking out the window when it dawned on me that four-thirty in the morning should not be that bright outside. Getting all the way out of the bed, I grabbed my robe as I passed the chair and put it on. When I glanced outside, I saw the house was lit up completely and there was a new row of white pine trees that had lights on them lining the drive way.
I sighed. “House? Can you get rid of the pine trees, please, and give us tall Oaks? They’d look nicer all year round. You can even put the lights on them if you like.”
The house rumbled in response and I got the general feeling to look away from the window.
“I’m going downstairs for coffee. Thank you, House.”
I tied the robe as I trudged downstairs. Ben met me in the hall way with a steaming mug.
“What was that?”
“I asked the house for a change in it’s decorating plans. I think it likes my idea.”
“What’d you ask for?”
“If the house does as I asked, you’ll see soon. Just don’t look outside yet.”
I sipped from my mug and slowly woke up. That’s when I noticed the inside of the house was just as decorated. There were garlands and wreaths everywhere. I poked my head in to the great hall and found a fourteen foot tall pine tree, fully decorated. I sighed.
“Let me guess, the house has trees everywhere?”
“Yup. Every single room, except for ours. I fully expect by the time we go back upstairs, to have one where the settee is.” Ben said, sipping his coffee.
“Where’s your mother?”
“Lying down. The house shocked the hell out of her when the tree in her room.”
I snorted a laugh. “I know something of what that’s like.”
“You house wanted you to have fun on the fourth. The fireworks were awesome, by the way.”
I leaned against Ben and took in the sight of our tree. At least we didn’t have to go get it and then get have to work out how to get it in to the castle. I was still pondering the tree when I heard a muffled yell from upstairs. I looked up at Ben who smiled at me.
“Miles.” We said together and then started laughing when Mark joined him.
“You know, this house is rarely quiet for long.”
“Would you have it any other way?”
I thought about it for a minute, then shook my head. “No.”
“I thought so. Whose turn is it for breakfast?”
“Mine. I need pants if I’m going to make breakfast though.” I said as I made my way to the stairs with my mug.
Ben followed behind me with his own. “I’ll help.”
“Liar. You just want the shower before all the hot water is gone.”
He laughed as we ducked in to our room. “Maybe.”
An hour later I was downstairs, beating the batter for pancakes when Jude came in. I smiled at her.
“How was your first house decorating?”
She snorted. “This town is bat-shit crazy.”
“Welcome to Blueville. The little town in the mountains where everyone’s definition of ‘bat-shit crazy’ changes on a daily basis until it’s not only normal, but acceptable.” I said with a laugh as I dipped out batter to fry up a stack of cakes for her.
Jude laughed and poured herself coffee. I put the stack of pancakes in front of her a few minutes later while she was sipping from the mug.
“Tell me about how you met.”
“Your son helped me move in when Miles bailed on me for Denver. Apparently, they had really fantastic sex and he passed out.”
Jude choked on a bite of pancake. I slapped her back to help her dislodge the piece.
“Excuse me? He helped you move in?”
“Yeah. He was home that day, the reason escapes me now, but he was quite cross with Miles because no one was helping me.”
“Well, I did raise him to mind his neighbors.”
I grinned and wiggled my eyebrows at her. She inhaled coffee down the wrong pipe as she laughed. Ben walked in at that point and thumped her back for me.
“Are you trying to kill my mother?”
“Nope, just make her laugh.” I said as I dipped out more pancakes for Ben.
Pretty soon the whole house was up and I was making another batch while discussing what we were going to do that day. That’s when Jude announced she was leaving on Monday. The room went quiet. Kind of. I burned my hand so there was a round of expletives and laughter at my carelessness. The Twins thought it was particularly funny until the Sheriff, who was still here because he’d taken the weekend off, glared at them and motioned for them to be quiet.
“But you can’t leave! We like you here!” I said.
“I can and I will. I have a dig to catch up on. Two weeks. I’ll be back in time for Christmas and New Year’s.”
I looked up at Ben. I could tell he was hurting too, but he’d respect the decision. At least he had his mother back in his life.
“Okay, so I think the first thing we should do today is head to town if we can and pick up groceries. That storm might get worse, I want to make sure there’s enough food in the house.” I said, changing the subject.
“I have the roads to check on. Can I leave the twins here?” The Sheriff asked.
“Absolutely. We’ll take them for the day.” Ben said before I could.
“I’ll stay home with them.” Mark spoke up. “I have nothing to go out for. I can do my work from home.”
“It’s settled then. They’re staying. Go do police work.” I said to the Sheriff.
He laughed and got up. “Yes, Ma’am.”
I sat to eat and Ben got out the list we’d been writing for the week. We went over it together, cutting the sugar out to the protest of the Twins and Miles. Thirty minutes later, Ben and I were piled in to my truck and headed in to town with the list. Miles, Mark and Jude were in the living room, playing on the Wii.
I just hoped the TV was in one piece when we got home.