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A Merry Little Christmas(59)

By:Melanie Schuster

"While you're feeding the baby, I'm going to get you some lunch, dear," Lillian said as she left the room.

Donnie built a fire and made sure it was drawing properly before coming  to join his wife and daughter. There was a big ottoman nearby and he sat  down on it, smiling as he listened to the song his wife was singing to  Lily Rose. With all the decorations lit and the scent of the pine  filling the house, the fire crackling and a light snow falling, she was  softly singing, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" to her newborn  daughter. Angelique reached out for Donnie and smiled when he leaned  over and kissed her. She stroked the side of his face and suddenly  grabbed his earlobe.

"Just remember, darling, if you ever tell me another lie, I won't be  responsible for what happens. If you think I was mean when I was  Evilene, just try telling me another whopper like the ring story."

Donnie laughed at the determination on her face. They had discussed the  disastrous ring fiasco and Donnie had apologized profusely and  sincerely. He'd also returned the ring and purchased an astounding  peridot necklace and earrings for Angelique, as well as a pearl starter  necklace for Lily Rose.                       


He gently removed her hand from his ear and kissed her fingers. "I'll  never tell you anything that isn't true again, my Angel. You mean far  too much to me. And besides that, I'm too afraid of you to try it."

It was Angelique's turn to laugh fondly at her husband. She held up her  left hand and admired her ring again. "Adonis, this has been a very big  year. This time last year I couldn't remember why Christmas was so  wonderful. I felt all alone, unhappy, just lost. Now I have my beautiful  baby, my beautiful husband, and I remember why Christmas is the season  of miracles. I've had more than my share of miracles this year, and more  happiness than I deserve. I love you so much, Adonis, it's going to  take a lifetime to show you." They leaned toward each other for a  gentle, tender kiss.

"I love you, my Angel. You're my miracle, you and Lily Rose. And this is  a lifetime I look forward to sharing with you. Thank you for loving me,  baby."

"The pleasure is all mine, for always."


The house was filled with the sounds and smells of the holiday.  Christmas carols were drifting from the stereo, the game room was filled  with assorted Cochran nieces and nephews, Jordan and Pippen were  snoozing in front of the fire and there were friends and family all  around. Angelique had never felt so content in her life. Everyone had  come to have brunch with the new family, and, despite her mother's  protest, she had felt energetic enough to help with the preparations.

"But, Mama, I have to start doing more and moving around more or I'll  never have my energy back," Angelique pointed out. "You can't be up here  forever. I've got to get back on my feet completely."

"Just don't rush it, Angelique. There's no hurry; you're not in a race, you know."

"I know, Mama, but I'm going to tell you a secret. I want to start  working on our Christmas present. I still can't believe it, you know."

In an act that continued to stun both her and Donnie, Big Benny had  given them his gift over their Christmas Eve dinner. He presented them  with the deed to the house in Palmer Park and announced that he and  Martha were moving into a condo.

"Are you kidding, Daddy?" had been Angelique's response to the gift.

Benny's eyes had twinkled at her and he assured her that he was not. "We  want to scale down our lifestyle and we want to keep the house in the  family. And this house is getting a little crowded for you."

They had reiterated this idea when they came over after church for Christmas brunch.

"We just don't want the upkeep of a big house anymore. This will be so  much better for the both of us; we'll be able to travel more and just  relax without having to maintain that gigantic place," Martha told her.

"You children need a bigger place and I never wanted that house to leave  the family. It's yours with my blessing," Benny said as he cuddled Lily  Rose. "This is a magnificent baby. She gets prettier every time I see  her." She rewarded him with a tiny grimace that could have been a smile  or a little gas.

After Angelique was finally shooed out of the kitchen permanently, she  went to shower and change into something festive in which to greet their  guests. Donnie was on the bed, lying on his back with his arms crossed  behind his head.

She smiled. "There you are. I've been missing you," she whispered as she cuddled up next to him.

"I can't have that, my darling. How are you feeling?"

"Perfect. Absolutely perfect. How are you feeling?"

Donnie sat up and braced himself against the headboard, bringing  Angelique with him so that his body supported her. "I'm feeling very  humble, Angel. I'm feeling grateful for my wife, my baby, my family and  my friends. And I'm thinking about A.J., too," he admitted.

Angelique understood completely. A.J. had come over early on Christmas  Eve to visit Angelique and bring her and the baby presents. The best  gift of all was the portrait he'd taken of Donnie, Angelique, and Lily  Rose. A week or so before Christmas he'd brought over a professional  backdrop for their session. They dressed in off-white so that at last  Lillian would have her complete set of family pictures. A.J. had had a  difficult time posing them, as Donnie kept looking at Angelique instead  of the camera. But he promised them they would have something beautiful  and memorable and that's just what he gave them. The baby was wide  awake, her big eyes staring curiously into the lens. Angelique was  leaning against Donnie with her eyes slightly closed and Donnie was  kissing her temple, oblivious to any onlookers. They looked serenely and  supremely happy and in love. A.J. had given the portrait to Angelique  and watched in satisfaction as her cheeks flushed pink and her eyes  flooded with tears.                       


"All I ever wanted was for you to be happy, Angel. I think I got my  wish. You're an exceptional woman, one of a kind. And that's a  remarkable baby you made, she's just what I would have expected of you.  Be happy always, Angel." He'd kissed her on the forehead and left  shortly afterward.

Angelique was still in awe of his generous gift. "That was a wonderful  thing he did for us, wasn't it? A J. has meant so much to me, I'm glad  you two have started to get along. He's my best friend Adonis, I'd hate  to lose him."

"You never will on my account, Angel. He's a good man. We'll be friends one day, I'm sure," he promised.

They were quiet for a few minutes, enjoying their closeness. Angelique  finally broke into their reverie with a confession. "I have to tell you  something. I've been mousing around for the past few days and it  suddenly dawned on me that your dad wanted me to tell you this, or he  wouldn't have told me. He knows I'm not going to keep any secrets from  you."

Donnie raised an eyebrow and grinned. "That sounds like Pop all right. So what is it you have to tell me?"

Angelique related the story Big Benny had told her on the day he'd sat  with her. When she finished, Donnie looked as dazed as she had.

"So what are we supposed to do now?" she asked.

"I don't think we have a choice, Angel. But we're not doing anything  until after the wedding. Once we get back from our honeymoon, we'll  start on it then." He looked at her with great love and tenderness.

"Until then," he smiled and picked up the remote for the CD player, "let's just have a merry Christmas, my Angel."

With a flick of his thumb, the room was filled with the sound of her  most beloved songs and she relaxed in the arms of her most beloved  husband. "Merry Christmas to you, too, Adonis. This is just the  beginning of a lifetime of them, you know."

His eyes filled with love for her as he agreed. "A lifetime of love."