Title: One Special Christmas

Rating: T

Summary: Yet another possible sequel to the movie One Special Night (and filling in a few missing pieces!)

Disclaimer: One Special Night was produced by kaBOOM! Entertainment Inc. for television, so these characters don't belong to me, and I make no money from this work of fiction. All I get out of this story is the satisfaction of seeing Robert and Catherine together as they SHOULD be.

Catherine got into Robert's vehicle, still clutching her white scarf and the red box with the precious necklace in it ... the necklace she had thought she would never see again. She couldn't believe that Robert had actually FOUND it! As he walked around to get in behind the wheel, she opened the jewellery box again and her fingers traced down the gold filigree to the pearl at the bottom. Tom had found the pearl in an oyster when they had been on one of their rare holidays, and had had it set at the island jewellers the very next day so that he could present it to her the final evening of their four day vacation to celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. She recalled that they had laughed until they had cried over the superstition of pearls being for tears ... yet not two months later, Tom had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. Tears of laughter, tears of sorrow ... now she blinked back tears of happiness that Robert had taken the time and made the effort to recover the keepsake she had thought gone forever.

Taking the necklace out of the box and pushing open her coat, Catherine tried to fasten the chain at the back of her neck. When he got in, Robert started the Suburban, then noticed her struggles.

With a loud sigh, but a smile to temper it, he said, "Turn around and let me fasten it."

Catherine was surprised. Robert's hands were large, like Tom's had been. Tom could never have manipulated anything as tiny as the clasp on the chain. "It's quite small ..." she began, even as she twisted around, still holding the ends of the chain behind her.

Robert's hands closed over hers. "I'm used to it," he chuckled. "Two daughters, remember? Not to mention MaryBeth ..."

His words died away and the silence was palpable. His fingers tensed, then, as Catherine slid her hands away from his, he began to work on fastening the clasp. When he bent forward further to squint at what he was doing, Catherine could feel his warm breath on her neck. She shivered involuntarily.

"It's all right, Robert," she murmured, "I don't need it on."

Then his hands spread over her shoulders and she distinctly felt his lips on the nape of her neck. "All done." His voice was husky. He pressed another kiss to the back of her neck, closer to her shoulder. "You smell wonderful, Catherine."

Her trembling increased, and she had to break the sudden tension in the vehicle. Forcing a laugh, she drew slowly away from him and turned back to face the front, saying in a voice that shook only slightly, "Having a hundred women smell my scarf to determine my perfume must have made an impression."

Robert settled back behind the wheel, grinning. "That's right. So, ready?"

"Where are we going?" Catherine asked as they pulled out of the hospital parking lot. "You said you had something to show me?"

"Yes, I do," he nodded, then reached over and turned on the CD player. Strains of the classical music Catherine loved spilled out.

She smiled, then admitted softly, "I bought a Sarah Vaughn tape, and listen to it all the time now." She re-folded the scarf he had returned to her, then repeated, "Where are we going, Robert? I can't be away too long. I'm on call ... and I'm supposed to be over at William and Marina's by noon."

"Maybe you'd better give them a call and say you're not going to make it," he suggested blandly. "We know the cell phones work here."

Somewhat exasperated, Catherine frowned at him. "I have responsibilities, Robert," she reminded him. "I can't just walk away from the people depending on me. How far away IS this ... something ... that you wanted to show me?"

"Not too far." He sounded vague. "Lori looks well this morning, doesn't she? And little Marybeth will be all right?"

"She'll be fine," Catherine said. "It wouldn't hurt for them both to stay another night in the hospital, just for observation, but then they can go home."

"If she came home today, she'd have to cook the turkey," Robert grinned. "I think Jaclyn was hoping she WOULD be home."

"Another reason I decided to keep her in one more day. Will Lori ..." Catherine hesitated, wondering if she should ask, then decided she might as well. "Will she be coming back to your place ... or is Jeff fully re-instated in her life now? I know that on Thanksgiving you thought they would work it out ... but then, last night I heard him tell her she had to forgive him ... so I gather they weren't back together until last night."

"He did? What'd she say? I just kind of took it for granted that he'd be back when the baby came ... never thought about it. What'd he do that needed forgiveness?"

"I thought YOU would know!" Catherine stared at him.

Robert glanced at her, then focussed on the road again. "Nah. I don't get that involved. It probably wasn't much ..."

Catherine frowned. "Breaking up a family and leaving your husband, even for a short time, USUALLY infers that it was something important enough for the woman, Robert."

"Well, Lori was a little emotional ... because of the pregnancy, you know ... I always knew she would come to her senses ..."

"Robert, you are being ridiculous! Lori is your daughter! You should be finding out about these things from HER point of view, I should think! It sounded to me as though JEFF was the one who had done something, and he wanted Lori to forgive him and take him back!"

"I just don't like to stick my nose in other people's business," Robert said dismissively. "If Lori had wanted to tell me the whole story, she would have. It was enough that she brought my best bud Michael and moved in with me. Isn't this a nice day for Christmas? Much nicer than the last time we drove together ... although we seem to be arguing just as much now as then."

Catherine was about to retort angrily, but she swallowed it and gazed stormily out the window for a few minutes. He was right, they WERE arguing again ... and she didn't WANT to argue with him. It was Christmas Day ... and the month since Thanksgiving had seemed so long with no word from him. After a moment, she changed the subject, repeating what she had said earlier in the parking lot. "I WAS at Murray's that Sunday after Thanksgiving."

"I thought you might have been," was his laconic reply. Then he shot a glance at her as he turned onto a secondary road. "So you enjoyed the chocolate chip pancakes?"

"Yes," replied Catherine rather shortly.

"They're much better with company. Especially my best bud, Michael. We'll have to go there soon ... the three of us."

"I'd like that," she admitted, softening and turning to look at him.

"So would I. Very much." His warm gaze met hers, and the colour rose in her face again at the blatant look of desire she intercepted. Then his hand was on hers which were trembling slightly in her lap. "Very much," he repeated. His thumb slipped under her glove and over the palm of the hand he had captured.

Catherine caught her breath at the sensual feel, her toes almost curling. The tension in the vehicle was almost palpable. Her trembling increased, and she shifted in her seat trying to ease the throbbing in her lower body. She wasn't misinterpreting his unspoken signals, was she? It had been so long since she had been pursued by a man interested in her sexually. "Robert ..." her voice died away in a whisper. She looked away and out the window again, wondering once more where they were heading but realizing there was little point in asking.

"I thought about you a lot," Robert suddenly confessed.

Again Catherine's breathing hitched and longing for him flooded her body. She spoke softly, "When you didn't call, it seemed that maybe ..." her voice trailed off.

"I wanted to call," Robert said, and the frustration he had been feeling was suddenly obvious in his voice. "I just felt it was a little too soon ..."

At that moment, the vehicle swerved after hitting a patch of ice hidden under a faint dusting of snow. Robert swore under his breath and his hand left hers hurriedly as he struggled to keep the Suburban on the road. After fishtailing wildly, they plunged forward into the ditch, Catherine throwing out her hands to brace herself. They jerked forward, then stopped.

"I don't believe this!" Catherine gasped, wondering whether to laugh or cry. What was it about driving with Robert that had their lives derailed every time?

"I can't believe this happened twice!" Robert muttered. He put the car in reverse and spun the tires, trying to back out. Not even the four-wheel drive was any help. He was furious with himself. He had had this morning all planned ... and now look where he was! He glanced at Catherine, and she saw the anger in his eyes.

"I had nothing to do with it this time!" Catherine put up her hands defensively. She had been driving last time, and had endured enough of his caustic comments about her choice of vehicle for winter driving, as well as her questionable skill on icy roads.

"You stay in the car, I'll go for help," Robert sighed, pulling on his gloves and preparing to get out and walk in the brisk, cold wind.

"No. YOU stay in the car. I have responsibilities. People depend on me." Catherine retorted. How could he even THINK that she could sit around waiting to be helped? At least if she was walking, she would feel she was doing the best she could in the circumstances!

They both reached for the door handles, and got out of the car. Robert grinned as he let her walk on ahead. She was so predictable! That was one of the things he loved about her. She turned impatiently to see if he was coming, and he walked faster to catch up to her. It was amazing how, after just one night, they knew each other so well. They walked on together, neither speaking at first, but both feeling very comfortable in their silence.

"Oh!" Catherine exclaimed, catching sight of a cabin through the trees. "I've tried to find my way back here! I've always got lost!" She looked at Robert, her delight shining in her eyes.

"Well, I've spent a lot of time here ..." Robert said offhandedly.

"Really?" she asked, disbelieving. When he didn't answer, just kept walking towards the cabin, she followed, her eyes on the smoke coming out of the chimney. "If you've stranded us here on purpose, it was a waste of time. Charlie and Robin are HOME, it seems."

"Maybe Howard and Millie will let us in to warm up." Robert kept walking.

"Robert," Catherine scolded him, picking her way along the path carefully, not wanting to fall flat on her face again. "You can't barge in on people on Christmas morning!" Robert opened the porch door and went right to the inside door. Catherine tried again. "We mustn't interrupt, Robert!"

Robert knocked on the door. "I'm sure they'll be happy to see us!" He knocked again.

"They're probably afraid to answer the door!" Catherine chuckled. Saying nothing, Robert turned from the door and headed back outside. "Robert?" Catherine asked, coming up to the outside door, her eyes following him as he walked briskly around the corner of the cabin. "Robert?" Then the sound of breaking glass came to her. Her eyes went wide. "He's CRAZY!"

Heading back to the inside door, she waited for Robert to open it. When he did, she stepped inside and, as she took off her scarf, demanded, "Where are Charlie and Robin?" Inwardly she cringed. That sounded as if she expected him to have killed them and disposed of their bodies or something.

"Howard and Millie moved to Florida," he announced. "The place was for sale."

"THIS is your vacation home?" Catherine asked, incredulously. She looked around the cabin, which hadn't changed much in the month since they had been here. "You ... BOUGHT it?" She turned to allow Robert to remove her coat.

"Yes. Just for an emergency. In case I ever got stranded again." He tossed her coat on to a chair, and put his hands on her upper arms as she turned back to him. "Do you believe in second chances?"

"I'm a woman of science. I only believe in what I see." Catherine replied. Surprise, then understanding and shyness darkened her eyes. She didn't pull away, but he could feel her tensing slightly.

Robert closed the door gently, and took hold of her again. "Merry Christmas, Millie," he said huskily.

Catherine stared at him, happiness shining out of her eyes and shimmering through her veins. In the back of her mind, she remembered when he had carried her into the porch and had told her she needed to be picked up. Their eyes had met and clung just as they were now. She now acknowledged to herself that she had wanted him to kiss her that other time, had shamelessly hoped that he would kiss her ... all the time knowing he could not and would not. He would be faithful to his wife.

"Merry Christmas, Howard," Catherine replied softly now, conceding to him in their game of names. Yes, Merry Christmas. Unlike that time a month ago, now there was nothing between them to keep them apart. MaryBeth was gone, just as Tom was gone. They would always be remembered, always be loved, but they were gone and the old Robert and the old Catherine had gone with them. There were no ghosts here in the cabin at this moment, only Howard and Millie or Robin and Charlie or, well, the NEW Robert and Catherine. And Catherine knew Robert was going to kiss her. Thank God, he was going to kiss her at last!

Their lips met, tentatively at first, and her arms tightened around his waist. His kiss was gentle and sweet as though he was savouring the experience ... as though she was not the only one to be intrigued with the other. She slowly began to relax, and her body softened against his. All at once a growl escaped his throat, shot straight to her core, and she shoved all the memories aside as he kissed her with such passion that he seemed ready to combust.

Catherine knew that feeling. It had been a long time for her, just as it had been for him. Their kiss deepened and lingered, and she felt warmth and texture and hot, hot need. Her body burned, and it certainly wasn't because of the weather outside! No, she was hot for Robert, for his taste, for his touch. The breath hitched in her throat and her arms slid up to his shoulders. He pulled her closer and ground her lower body against his, nudging her in a simulation of what he most craved. Catherine moaned, soft and needy, and she angled her head more to her liking. The one voracious kiss turned into two, three ... too many to count.

They had both loved previously, loved profoundly, and they had both lost what they had valued most. When Tom had died, when MaryBeth had forgotten Robert, Catherine and Robert had both sealed themselves off from others in many ways, because no one else could quite understand their pain. Then, Thanksgiving Day, they had found one another and it seemed that nothing had been the same since. Despite the pain both had endured in the last month, hope had returned now. What a glorious Christmas present for both of them!

At that moment, the telephone rang.

"Ignore it," Robert murmured against her lips, running his hands up and down her back caressingly.

Catherine, however, had tensed again in his arms, and begun to resist the determined assault on her senses. "Robert, be sensible. There could be a problem ..."

"There WILL be a problem if I can't continue making love to you ..." he grumbled, pressing kisses on her cheeks and ear as she turned her head away.

The telephone continued to ring, and then the shrill sound of Catherine's cell phone added to the disruption. Catherine began to laugh helplessly. At last she twisted out of his arms. "You get your phone, I'll answer mine," she said.

"Damn!" Robert muttered. "Well, remember where we were!"

Her eyes were soft and eloquent as she said, "I could never forget that, Robert."

He reached for her again, but she pointed to the telephone on the cabin wall, then found her cell phone in her coat pocket and answered it.

O o O o O o To Be Continued