A/N: Well girls, this is it. The last chapter of my little Christmas story. (Even though it's Easter now haha!)
To everyone who has been following my little Rali saga…thanks so much for all of the support! I write these stories for myself mainly to keep Rafe and Alison "alive" but it makes me happy to hear that you enjoy reading them too!
This last chapter will answer all your questions. I thought of a few different ways I could write this last chapter, so it was tough deciding on what to do, but I hope you'll be pleased with the way I ended things. And to Gracie, a special thanks for helping me with the little block I had with this chapter. ;)
And one more thing, this is not really the end. I can't let Katrina grow up too fast. (And neither can Rafe apparently LOL) She'll be around and cuter than ever coming up in my next story. :)
Until then…enjoy!Chapter 17
"WAKE UP! WAKE UP! IT'S CHRISTMAS!"
Alison rolled over in bed. "What time is it?"
"Ten after seven," Rafe replied groggily.
"MOMMY! DADDY! WAKE UP!"
Rafe and Alison were suddenly jolted awake as Katrina pounced on their bed, shaking them relentlessly.
"Come on! You've gotta see what Santa left! Hurry!" Katrina then jumped off the bed and ran out of the room.
Rafe and Alison sat up slowly, trying to get their bearings.
"Guess we should hurry before she opens up all of them," Rafe said.
When Alison and Rafe made it to the living room, Katrina had already started opening presents.
"Mommy! Daddy! Look what Santa brought! Dora!" Katrina held up her Dora the Explorer doll.
"I think that's from Aunt Livvie, baby."
"I love Dora! And look what else I got! Coloring books! And crayons!"
"Sweetie, there are some more presents over here with your name on them."
"Ooo!" Katrina ran over to where her mother pointed, grabbing the biggest box she could find.
Rafe smiled as he watched Katrina. She wasted no time tearing the wrapping paper off and opening up the boxes. It reminded him of Alison.
Katrina gasped loudly. "A pony! A pretty, pretty, pony!"
Rafe and Alison both smiled, sitting on the couch to watch their little girl open all of her presents.
Katrina pulled the huge stuffed animal out of the box and sat it on the floor. Seconds later, she was sitting on it's back, holding it's reins like a true cowgirl. "Giddy-up, horsy!"
Rafe laughed. "I gotta get the camera for this."
As Rafe left the room, Katrina began looking for another present to open. She grabbed the box and tore the paper off, opening it as fast as she could. "Aww! A baby! Mommy, look! A baby!"
Alison laughed. "And she doesn't poop either! Although she does wet."
"A peeing doll!" Katrina laughed like that was the funniest thing she had ever heard. Katrina took the doll out of the box and took the diaper off to investigate. Sure enough, there was a little hole for water to come out.
"Rafe! Hurry up with that camera! You're missing it!"
"It needs a battery change! I'm coming!"
"Mommy, what's this?" Katrina held up a mysterious card.
"Where did you get that from, baby?"
"It was in the box."
"Let me see."
Katrina handed the card over to her mother.
Alison smiled, seeing the words on the front. To KATRINA, From: SANTA. She wondered what Rafe was up to.
"Looks like Santa left you a note."
"OOO! Read it! Read it!" Katrina begged.
Opening the card, Alison was a surprised to see the handwriting. It wasn't Rafe's at all.
I know for Christmas, you wanted a real baby. And I promise you, it's on its way. But you'll just have to wait for a while. So be patient!
In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this doll baby. She's almost like the real thing!
Merry Christmas, Katrina!
"WOW! Santa is SO COOL!"
"Merry Christmas, Princess!" Rafe said, walking into the room with the video camera.
"Hey, Daddy! Look what Santa brought me! A doll baby! Santa brought me this one until the real baby comes!" Katrina picked up the doll and held it in front of the camera. "Look at her, Daddy!"
"She's beautiful, Princess!"
"And she even WETS herself!" Katrina laughed. "I'm gonna get some water!" Katrina ran out of the room, still laughing.
"Whew, I'm glad she loves it," Rafe said, feeling relieved. "I was worried she'd be disappointed there wasn't a live baby in that box."
"Yeah, speaking of that. Rafe, when you were wrapping that up, did you put this in there?" Alison held up the card.
"I didn't wrap it. I used the gift-wrapping service at the mall. What is that?"
Alison handed him the card. "It's a note. From 'Santa'."
Rafe opened the card and read it. As he did, a smile formed on his lips. "I know who this is from."
Alison gave him a confused look. "Santa?"
Rafe laughed, handing the card back to her. "Yeah. Otherwise known as Ed. I recognize that handwriting anywhere."
"I should have known," Alison smiled.
Rafe gave Alison a smile. "Maybe Ed knows something we don't?"
"Guess we'll find out soon."
"I got some water!" Katrina announced as she came back into the room, holding up a cup. "I gotta put it in her bottle and feed her. Then she's gonna go pee pee!" Katrina laughed, sitting down on the floor to play with her new doll.
Rafe turned to Alison. "Would you like your Christmas present now?"
Alison smiled. "You know I do! Oh! Let me get yours too!"
Rafe and Alison both walked over to the tree, stepping over the heaps of wrapping paper Katrina had left everywhere, and picked out their presents for each other.
"Okay, you first," Rafe insisted, placing Alison's present in her lap as the two sat back down on the couch.
"Wow, this is a big box."
"Go ahead, open it."
Alison gave Rafe a smile, then quickly tore off the paper. Once she did that, she found a box. Alison carefully lifted up the lid, and squealed in delight when she saw what was inside.
"Cake decorating accessories!"
Rafe laughed, knowing that would be her reaction.
"Oh my gosh! Look at all of this stuff! A cake stand! A cake knife! A cake tester! Oh! 52 piece decorating set! Rafe! How did you know this is what I wanted?"
"Well you're always complaining you never have enough of those things. I thought it was time you finally did."
"Aww! Rafe, I love it! Thank you!" Alison happily kissed Rafe. "Okay, your turn!"
"Alright." Rafe carefully peeled away the wrapping paper. As he opened the box, he smelled the distinct smell of brand new books. Rafe picked a few of them out, glancing at the titles. "Alison, these are the books that I wanted."
Alison smiled. "I know. I ordered them like a month ago. You've got all the classics in there in. Tom Sawyer. Huckleberry Finn. Old Yeller. Charlotte's Web. Bridge to Terabithia. Oh, and my favorite. Island of the Blue Dolphins. Plus tons more."
"Alison, this is great. The kids at the center are going to love them."
"I was almost worried that I'd have to return them and buy you something else when it looked like the center was going to close down. But then I thought, nah, either way, you'd be working with kids and you could use them."
"This is great, Alison. Thank you."
"Oh and look. There's something else in there."
Rafe picked up something wrapped up in tissue paper. As he unwrapped it, he saw he name printed, and he realized what it was. "A nameplate!"
"Now you finally have one to put on your desk at work!"
"Alison, I love it all." Rafe turned to Alison, giving her a kiss.
"Look! Look!" Katrina shouted, holding up her half-dressed doll over a miniature diaper. "She's peeing!" Katrina rolled with laughter.
"You know what, Princess?"
"Maybe you could put your baby down for a nap right now. I still see a couple of presents with your name on them. And there's a huge box behind the tree."
Katrina's eyes grew wide with excitement. She had forgotten there were more presents! "Oh boy! Oh boy!" Katrina left the baby on the floor as she hopped up and ran over to the tree. She stepped behind it, noticing for the first time the very big box with a red bow on the top. Katrina attempted to move it, but it was just too heavy.
"Daddy! Help me!"
Rafe handed the camera over to Alison, and then walked over to the tree. Rafe picked up the box and placed it in the middle of the room. "Open it up, Princess!"
"This is a BIG present!" Katrina said, ripping the paper off and tossing it aside. Finally, she was able to lift the flap of the box and peer inside the box. "It's a dollhouse! Daddy! It's a dollhouse just like Santa said he would bring!"
Rafe helped Katrina take the dollhouse out of the box. He set it on the floor, and right away, Katrina started to play with it. "Oh it's so pretty! It looks like a little tiny house!" Katrina then grabbed the miniature people inside. "Look, Mommy! Look at the little people for the house!"
"I love it, baby!" Alison gave Rafe a smile, knowing how hard he had worked to build that house.
Katrina was so excited, she just didn't know what to do with herself. She wanted to play with all of her new things, and yet, she still had MORE to open! And when she was finished opening them all, she didn't know what to play with first!
All of the excitement was making her hungry. Katrina walked over to her mother, who was just as excited over her own Christmas gifts. She couldn't wait to bake a cake and use all of her new accessories.
"Mommy, I'm hungry!"
"What do you want to eat, baby?"
"Okay, French toast it is!"
As Alison began to get up, Rafe pulled her back. "No, that's okay. I'll make breakfast today."
Alison smiled. "Really?"
"Yeah. Why should you always be the one? You deserve a break today."
Alison grinned. "All right. I'll take you up on that offer. But just a word of warning...you burn it, and I'll make you redo it. And so will Katrina."
Rafe laughed. "Okay."
"Oh hey, could you do me another favor?"
"Sure. What's that?"
"That basket underneath the sink with the kitchen washcloths...they're dirty. You mind throwing them in the washer and starting it? I already have a load of clothes in there."
"Sure. I can do that."
"Thanks." Alison gave him a quick kiss, then stood up. She walked across the room, giving Katrina a kiss as she played with her toys, then left the room.
Later that morning, as everyone was occupied with other things, Alison managed to slip away for a while. She closed the door to the bathroom, locking herself in.
In her hand, she held a brown paper bag. She reached inside, taking out the pregnancy test and examining the box. She must have read and reread the box like a dozen times.
Alison was convinced she didn't need a test to know the truth. It was almost as if she could feel the change come over her, no matter how subtle.
But she played it on the safe side. It wasn't a sure thing yet. She didn't want to get her hopes up, or Rafe's for that matter. If he knew she was taking a test right now, of course he'd get excited. Better to wait until she was completely positive before she said anything.
Alison gasped, started by the unexpected knock at the door.
"How much detergent am I supposed to use? The cap has three lines," Rafe called out from the other side of the door.
"Just follow the directions on the container. It's a really dirty load."
Alison looked down at the box again in her hands. "Well. Moment of truth," she said to herself, taking the test out of the box.
"Daddy, whatcha doing?"
"I'm helping out your mother," Rafe said as he put the remaining dirty towels into the washer.
"You're doing the laundry?" Katrina stood on her tiptoes and peered inside the washer, always fascinated how water poured into the machine and filled it up.
Rafe looked down to his daughter. "It's a really dirty load. I think I'll put in a little extra." Rafe began to pour the detergent in.
"Yeah, put in a whole bunch!"
"Okay, now time to make breakfast." Rafe closed the washer lid and headed back into the house. As he looked back, he noticed his daughter wasn't following him. "Katrina, come on."
"I wanna play!" she said, hopping onto her motorcycle.
"Princess, you don't have enough room in the garage to ride that."
"Yes I do," she said, going around in circles with it.
Rafe sighed. He hated that motorcycle already. "Don't stay in here too long. Breakfast will be ready soon."
Rafe shook his head, then headed back into the house to get breakfast started.
Alison smiled as she watched Rafe prepare breakfast.
In her mind, nothing was sexier than watching a man cook. And she was proud of Rafe. She hadn't had much hope for him years ago, considering the only thing he could manage to make was toast, and even that he would burn. But he worked hard, and it was nice for a change to have him make breakfast.
Alison sneaked up behind him, curling her arms around him. "Almost finished?"
"It'll be a while."
"It smells good."
"You have a moment? Because I have another Christmas present for you."
"Oh yeah?" Rafe said with a smile.
"Mmm-hmm. Come sit down with me."
Alison took Rafe's hand, leading him to the kitchen table.
"I don't see a present anywhere."
Alison smiled. "Well, see, it's not exactly the kind of present I can give to you wrapped."
"Oh? Well you've got me curious."
"MOMMY! DADDY!" Katrina burst into the kitchen, coming in from the garage, laughing hysterically and covered in suds.
"Oh my god! Katrina! What in the world!" Alison looked Katrina over, trying to figure out an explanation for her appearance.
Katrina giggled uncontrollably, struggling to get out it. "I was playing in the garage…and then the washer….it just went CRAZY! COME LOOK!"
Rafe and Alison ran to the garage. And sure enough, it was complete chaos!
The washer was vibrating wildly, making all kinds of loud noises as it churned the clothes and water inside.
Suds were everywhere, spilling out of the washer and onto the floor, covering it in a wet bubbly mess.
"Uh oh," Rafe said softly.
"Oh my god!" Alison ran to the washer, reaching over to turn it off.
"THIS IS FUN!" Katrina jumped into the suds, picking up a handful and throwing it into the air. "It's snow bubbles!"
"Katrina Rose, that's enough! Your clothes are soaked! Go change!"
"No, Mommy! I wanna play in the bubbles!"
"Katrina," Rafe warned. "Do what your mother says."
Katrina plopped down on her belly, rolling once more in the suds before quickly getting up and running back into the house.
"Rafe! How much soap did you use!"
"You're only supposed to put in a capful!"
"Well you should have told me that!"
"I said to follow the directions on the bottle!"
"Well it was a really dirty load, so I put in a little extra."
"How much extra!"
"I prefer not to answer," Rafe admitted.
"Oh! Look at this mess!"
"Don't worry. I'll clean it up."
"Oh. Okay. Alright, look, why don't you clean it up and I'll go finish breakfast, okay?"
Alison stepped back into the kitchen, finishing what Rafe had started. It looked like her good news would have to wait.
Rafe smiled, watching Katrina from the hallway as she put together the pieces of a train track. The train had been a last minute gift. When he saw how much she had wanted one at Ian and Eve's Christmas party, he couldn't help but give in.
"Hey, breakfast its ready."
"Hey. I'm real sorry about the washer. I was just trying to help out."
"I'm sorry I yelled at you. I won't put you in charge of it again."
"Yeah, I might break it," Rafe said with a laugh. "Hey, weren't you going to tell me something?"
"Yeah, I was. I…"
"Someone's at the door!" Katrina hollered.
"I'll get that." Alison walked over to the door and opened it, seeing her grandmother waiting on the doorstep.
"Merry Christmas, Alison!"
"Nana, Merry Christmas. Oh please, come in." Alison took Amanda's coat and gave her a hug. "It's so good to see you."
"NANA!" Katrina ran over to Amanda and hugged her. "Merry Christmas!"
"Merry Christmas, darling! I brought some presents for you!" Nana handed her several bags.
"Oh boy!" Katrina grabbed the bags happily and ran back to where she had been playing on the floor. Within minutes, all of the toys had been unwrapped, and Katrina was quite possibly the happiest girl on Christmas morning.
"Oh thank you, Nana!" Katrina ran to Amanda, throwing her arms around the older woman.
"You are most certainly welcome!"
Katrina ran back over to the floor to play with all of her new toys.
"What you got, Princess?" Rafe asked as he walked into the room, seeing the floor, once again, littered with wrapping paper after he had already picked it up.
"Nana brought me some presents! Look at the little doggy!" Katrina turned on a little dog and set him down, laughing as he walked across the floor and barked.
"Hello, Amanda," Rafe said.
"Hello, Rafe. Merry Christmas. I'm glad you both are here. Can we all sit down?"
"Sure." Alison said as the three of them took a seat.
"Darling, I didn't just come here to give Katrina Christmas presents. I came here because I wanted to talk to you."
"The youth center. That anonymous donor who paid for it…well, that was me."
"Nana, it was you!"
"Amanda, I don't know how to thank you."
Amanda smiled. "You don't have to thank me. I did it because it was the right thing to do, and I wanted to help."
"Nana, why didn't you tell us before?"
"Ever since you left the mansion, Alison, you've been so independent. I know you insist on doing things yourself, and you don't always accept my help when I offer it. And darling, that's fine. But when I saw how important this was to you, and Rafe, and Katrina as well, I couldn't just sit back and do nothing. I had originally made that fellow an offer to move his company somewhere else, oh but he refused. He was an awful man. But I guess he got what he deserved because then I heard all of these reports on the news that he was arrested. So I took the opportunity to pay for the center."
"Nana, this has got to be one of the best Christmas presents you've ever gotten me." Alison hugged her grandmother.
"Amanda, thank you again. This really means a lot to us."
Amanda smiled at both of them. "You're welcome. And I imagine that center will bring a lot of good things to this city for many years to come."
Just then, the sound of someone beeping a horn out in the driveway was heard.
Amanda lit up. "Oh! That must be my special surprise!"
"Special surprise?" Alison asked.
"Katrina, darling!" Amanda called out. "Come here."
Katrina got up from the floor and bounced over to her great-grandmother. "Yes, Nana?"
"Darling, I have a very special present for you waiting outside."
Katrina's eyes widened with excitement. "ANOTHER PRESENT! Wow! What is it! What is it!"
Amanda laughed. "Well you'll just have to go outside and see for yourself! But I will tell you…it's so big, I had to have help bringing it to you!"
Rafe and Alison looked at each other, the same thought on each of their minds.
"Alison, please tell me it's not what I think it is."
Alison shook her head. "I would but unfortunately, this is my nana we're talking about."
They held their breath, grabbing their coats and shoes as they nervously followed Amanda and their daughter out the door. And there, standing in the middle of the driveway, was exactly what they feared to be true.
"A PONY!" Katrina squealed as she ran over to it. "NANA! THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!"
"I found her in the stable this morning! Santa must have left her there!" Amanda laughed.
"She's so pretty! I'm gonna name her Cookie!"
Rafe stared at the brown, four-legged animal standing in his snowy driveway, his mouth wide open. "I can't believe your grandmother actually did it. She could have got her a dog. She could have got her a cat. But no. Oh no! She went out and bought our daughter a pony. I can't believe it."
"Oh, I can believe it," Alison said.
"Can I ride her? Please!"
"Oh yes, of course, darling! Gus, will you?"
The horse handler picked up Katrina and placed her on the pony's back. "Hold on tight, little miss."
"Oh boy! Mommy, Daddy! Look at me! I'm sitting on the pony!"
"How many times are we going to have to drive her over to your grandmother's just to ride that pony?"
Alison smiled as she watched Gus lead the pony around the yard, Katrina laughing the whole time. "At least several times a week I'm sure."
"Look! I'm a cowgirl! Giddy up horsy!"
As much as Rafe hated the idea of his daughter having a pony, he did have to admit that he loved seeing her happy. Rafe looked at Alison. "Kissing boys. Having a pony. Wanting a two hundred dollar dollhouse. We certainly have our hands full with that one, don't you think?"
"Yeah, and it looks like our hands are about to get even fuller with another one."
"Yeah, no kidding. Wait a minute…what?"
Rafe eyes grew wider, realizing now what Alison had wanted to tell him earlier. "Alison, are you? Are we?"
Alison smiled, shaking her head. "Yes. Merry Christmas, Rafe."
"Alison!" Rafe wrapped his arms around her, picking her up a little as he gave her a kiss. "When did you find out!"
"This morning! I was waiting for the right moment to tell you but I kept getting interrupted."
"This is real? We're really going to have another one?" Rafe's eyes shone with happiness.
"We're really going to have another one, at least that's what the test said," she laughed.
Rafe couldn't help but kiss her again. "This could quite possibly be the best Christmas ever."
Alison smiled. "I think Katrina would agree."
Rafe smiled, putting his arm around Alison as they looked over at Katrina, laughing and cheering on her new pony.