Hello again everyone! This is an idea I've had for a long while now, but wouldn't you know it! I had to wait until Christmas when it would actually be appropriate to post! It's just a little oneshot and its kinda an extension of the episode, "Diamond Jim Brady." It takes place in the present so just imagine how everyone looks in season six! Well, here goes nothing!
Disclaimer: I don't own anything, but at the moment I control them! Muah ha ha ha ha!!!
Brock took in a breath of the cold, crisp air as he walked down the streets of his neighborhood towards his ex-wife's house, toting a plethora of presents in his arms. It was well past sunset at the moment and stars twinkled above him just as brightly as the Christmas lights that adorned the line of houses before him, but none shined more brightly then the house he was heading for, he soon discovered. It might have been just because he was so fond of the place, but there seemed to be an unearthly glow about it that made it more welcoming than all the other houses. It just seemed to radiate with warmth and love. When he walked up the front porch and opened the front door, that warmth increased tenfold.
Christmas had always been his favorite holiday ever since he and Reba had been married some twenty-six years ago. Since his family hadn't been really big on tradition and togetherness, it had been a joyous surprise to find that Reba was the polar opposite. Having grown up in a rural, southern Oklahoman home, she had been brought up on nothing but tradition and family values, and that never showed more than around Christmas. This year was no exception.
As he closed the door behind him and took a look around, Brock felt as if he had stepped back in time. Despite the fact that they had to postpone all of the traditions until Christmas night due to complications, everything felt the same as it had on Christmas Eve about thirteen years ago, when they had first settled into that house. The tree stood tall and magnificent by the staircase just as it always did, beautifully decorated with ornaments collected over the course of their marriage and even after it ended. Their same nativity was set up where it always was and the same decorations covered every aspect of the room, from the red, white and green candles sporadically placed about the living room to the special Christmas centerpieces that sat on the tabletops. From the kitchen he could smell their traditional meal of roast beef cooking in the oven. He never felt more at home.
Just as Brock was setting the presents underneath the Christmas tree, Reba came out from the kitchen and jumped back a bit in surprise.
"Brock, I didn't know you were here," she told him as she removed the apron from around her waist and tossed it onto the breakfast bar.
"Merry Christmas to you, too," he answered sardonically. Reba rolled her eyes.
"I'm sorry, Merry Christmas," she replied sincerely. He extended his arms out and she reluctantly gave him a quick hug. When they parted, Brock smiled and stood awkwardly silent for a minute.
"So where are the kids," he finally thought to ask.
"Upstairs enjoying the gifts I let them open this morning," she replied as she took a look under the tree. "Are those the gifts you brought for them?"
"Yeah, they can open them as soon as Barbra Jean gets here."
"Speaking of the Queen of Baboon, where is she?" Brock glared at the insulting remark, but chose to let it slide.
"She's picking up Henry from the church party for the kids. She should be here soon."
"Oh joy," Reba replied sarcastically as she walked around the couch and took a seat. Brock took one last look around to make sure there was no one else around before clearing his throat.
"Actually, I'm glad we're alone…"
"Why, are you planning something that requires no witnesses," she joked, prompting him to chuckle a bit.
"Sort of," he admitted. "I just wanted to get the chance to give you this without jealous eyes watching." He reached under the tree and pulled out a small box hidden behind some other gifts.
"Give me what," she asked excitedly as she flew from her seat and around the couch to his side by the tree. He handed her the box and grinned.
"Open it," he urged, to which she complied. She removed the lid from the box and found yet another box inside, only this time it was a small jewelry box. She gazed at him with her mouth agape as she tossed the bigger box aside and held the jewelry box in her hand. Then, as she slowly flipped the lid open, she let out one of the biggest gasps of her life. Inside the box sat a pair of three stone, white gold, diamond earrings; the most beautiful pair of earrings she had ever seen.
"What do you think," he asked, though the expression on her face was more than enough of an answer. Reba was absolutely speechless.
"Brock…what…why," she questioned breathlessly as she fingered the delicate piece of jewelry.
"Well, remember about a year and a half ago when Van bought you those diamond earrings you always wanted and you had to give them back?"
Still staring at the earrings in awe, Reba just nodded her head wordlessly.
"Well, I felt awful that you had to do that, especially when I was the one who kept you from getting what you always wanted in the first place, so I saved some money and bought you these."
"Oh Brock," she cried, a huge smile adorning her face. "That was wonderful of you." She thought about it for a moment and seemed to realize something. Her smile quickly faded away and she closed the box. "But I can't accept these."
"Why not," he questioned with a frown.
"Because with all the money you owe to the government, you need all the extra cash you can find! I can't let you blow it on some unnecessary gift!"
"Don't worry about that, Reba. I'll come up with the money somehow," he assured her, but she shook her head.
"Still, you shouldn't be giving me extravagant gifts like this, not when you have a wife sitting at home!" She tried to hand the box back over to him, but he pushed it back towards her.
"Barbra Jean understands why I had to get you these. You deserve them, Reba!"
"I can't take them," she still refused as she opened the palm of his hand with her opposite and placed the box firmly in it. She was about to walk away when Brock reached out, grabbed her back, and pulled her close to him. Perhaps a bit too close, he soon realized, for she soon assumed an uncomfortable look. He ignored it and gently placed the box back in her hand, all the while never losing eye contact with her.
"Reba, if it hadn't been for you, I wouldn't be anywhere near where I am today. You've given so much to me, and now it's your turn to get a little back. I want you to have these, Reba, you really deserve them. And I won't take no for an answer." He clasped her fingers over the box and held her hand in his, staring deeply into her brilliant blue eyes. Another one of those tender moments passed between them where no word was spoken but emotions soared like doves. After awhile, Reba eased her hand out of his clasp and opened the box once more.
"Well, I guess I have no choice then," she said with a chuckle. Brock didn't join in her laughter, however. He continued to stare at her, trying to capture and keep what had just passed between them for as long as he could. He noticed her began to squirm under his gaze, so he quickly looked away.
"And here I thought Van would be able to afford something like this before you could," she joked. Brock chuckled.
"Funny you should mention that," he said. "He was actually planning on buying you diamond earrings this Christmas." Reba's eyebrows shot up in disbelief.
"Yeah, you should have seen the look on his face when I told him I had already bought you a pair."
"Oh the poor thing," she replied sympathetically, her voice cracking with laughter.
"Oh don't worry about him. Don't tell him I told you, but he bought you a diamond necklace to match."
"Wow, this Christmas is turning out to be the best one ever!" She fingered the earrings once more and looked up at Brock with a loving smile.
"Thank you, Brock. This was a lovely gesture and I certainly do appreciate it." Brock smiled somewhat shyly at her.
"You're very welcome," he replied tenderly.
Reba closed the space between them and wrapped her arms around his neck in an embrace. Brock gladly accepted the gesture and wrapped his arms around her waist in return. It had been a while since he got to hold her like this, and he wasn't going to take a single second of it for granted. He took in the sweet scent of her soft, red hair and smiled, wishing they could stay that way forever.
All of a sudden, reality came back to him full force as he saw the front door open and a new yet familiar face breeze in.
"Hi honey," he called out as he closed the door behind him and removed his coat. "Hello Brock."
"Oh, hi darling," Reba replied as she pulled out of Brock's embrace and immediately ran over to the other man's side. He watched with a pang in his heart as she stuffed his gift in her pocket and placed herself into his open arms.
"Hello Jim," Brock greeted with a tinge of bitterness in his voice.
"I wasn't interrupting anything, was I," Jim asked as he stared between the two.
"No, nothing at all, right Brock," Reba answered as she looked back at Brock. He shook his head.
"Nope, you weren't interrupting anything," he lied through somewhat gritted teeth. He then watched as Jim bent down and gave Reba a tender kiss on the lips. He could feel his stomach churn with uneasiness at the scene before him.
James Billings, preferably known as Jim. Reba's new boyfriend. He was about Reba's age, divorced, no kids, and a successful (and by successful, he meant very rich) businessman with movie star good looks. He had lived here in Houston all his life, was intelligent, funny, sensitive, and a genuinely all around good person. He seemed to have it all, something which absolutely burned Brock up inside.
What upset him the most, however, was how close the two had become so quickly. They had only been dating for about six months, yet they had an amazing connection like Brock had never seen before. They were always so happy together and their love for each other shined through as brightly as the Christmas tree. He had always said he wanted Reba to find someone new and be happy, but now as he watched the other man hold her close and kiss her tenderly, he wasn't so sure about that wish now. It was terrible of him to even think that, he knew, but he couldn't help but feel that something was being stolen from him. Something he knew he just couldn't live without.
"So Brock, I hope you don't mind invading all of your family's Christmas traditions," Jim said, snapping Brock out of his reverie.
Of course I mind, Brock thought bitterly "No, its fine," he insisted instead.
"It's just that after my parents passed away and me being an only child, I tend to spend every Christmas alone."
Then get a dog. "No, I understand." Brock stuffed his hands in his pockets and shuffled his feet awkwardly as Reba looked up at Jim sympathetically and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
"No one wants you spending Christmas alone, Jim," she assured him. "Besides, it's not like your invading anything. You're part of the family too, you know." Jim smiled gratefully at her and gave her yet another kiss. Brock rolled his eyes in disgust and turned his head. The least the man could do was to stop fondling his ex-wife right in front of him.
You're part of the family too, you know, Brock reviewed her words in his head. When did that happen? Sure, Jim and the kids got along spectacularly, but family? Wasn't that taking things a little too fast? In his opinion, the answer was yes. Heck, he had even been granted the privilege of coming into Reba's house without knocking, something only which her closest loved ones did. Every fiber of him wanted to scream out at them to slow down. He wanted to grab Jim by the scruff of the neck and through him out onto the street. He wanted it to just be him and Reba, like it was so many years ago. He wanted to share his Christmas memories and traditions with her and her alone (well, and the kids too, of course). He wanted things to be exactly the way they were, when they were together and things were good. Why couldn't it just be that way anymore?
As if on cue, the answer busted in right through Reba's front door. Barbra Jean entered the house with Henry in tote and slammed the door loudly behind them.
"Merry Christmas to all…" she called out.
"And to you, a goodbye," Reba concluded for her with a smug smile. Barbra Jean smiled sardonically at her.
"Ha ha, Mrs. Scrooge," she retorted, to which Reba just rolled her eyes.
"I'm sorry, Barbra Jean, come on in. Kids! Everyone's here! Time to start," she called up the stairs as she parted from Jim's embrace. As she went in to the kitchen to bring out the Christmas cookies, Barbra Jean quickly let go of Henry's hand and moved in on Jim. Henry ran over to the tree and enthusiastically began ripping through his gifts.
"Well, hello there," Barbra Jean greeted Jim in a low, throaty voice. Jim smiled graciously at her and took a small step to the side to put some space between them. Barbra Jean caught onto this and quickly filled in the gap.
"Jim, it's so nice that you get to spend Christmas with us this year. It's not every year that we get to spend it with a," she eyed him up and down, "handsome man such as yourself." Brock cleared his throat poignantly. "Except you, honey," she amended quickly with a sheepish grin. She then proceeded to whiff the air about Jim. "Boy, you smell delicious. What's that you're wearing?"
"It's, uh, the cologne Reba bought me for our six month anniversary," he answered as he stared rather awkwardly about him. The look on his face told Brock that he was desperately searching for some means of escape. He couldn't blame him. It seemed like with every good-looking man that came into Reba's life, Barbra Jean just had to throw herself at him. It didn't bother Brock personally, for he knew that it was just her way and she would never act on it, but it did bother him because of what it must do to Reba. Though she would never admit it, he knew it must have seemed to her like Barbra Jean was trying to steal yet another man away from her, something which must hurt her deeply. He wished he could put an end to it somehow, but he knew for a fact that old habits are hard to break. That was just Barbra Jean's nature and they all just had to learn to accept it.
Just then, Reba reentered the living room with a plate of Christmas cookies in her hands. "Reba," Jim called out with a hint of relief in his voice as he abandoned Barbra Jean's side and rushed over to Reba. Barbra Jean assumed a wounded look and reluctantly joined Brock over by the Christmas tree. Reba placed the cookies down on the coffee table just as the younger half of the family came bounding down the stairs.
"Hey Mr. H," Van called out as he reached the landing first. "What did you bring us?"
"Merry Christmas to you too, Van," he replied with a chuckle. He gestured toward the Christmas tree and smiled. "Take your pick."
"Sweet," Van called out as he flew down to his knees and began digging through the pile of gifts in search of his own. Cheyenne and Elizabeth joined him by his side and did the same, followed by Kyra and Jake.
"Nice to see that our presence here is so appreciated," Brock whispered to Reba, causing her to giggle a bit.
"I thought you'd be used to it by now! You know all you've been is a walking dollar sign to them!" Brock laughed and nodded in agreement.
"Some of those gifts are from me too, kids," Jim called out to them, causing a round of cheers from the gang. Jim turned his attention towards Reba and smiled.
"I have a surprise for you too," he told her with a sly smile. "Come with me." He took her by the hand and led her from their spot by the couch over by the entrance to the kitchen to give them a bit of privacy. Brock took a seat on the chair perpendicular to the sofa as he watched Jim pull out a key attached to a bow and hand it over to Reba.
"What's this," Brock could hear her ask.
"It's a key," Jim replied. Reba rolled her eyes.
"I know it's a key! I mean, to what?"
"Well, I know how much you enjoy horseback riding, so I went out and got you you're very own horse!" Reba's eyes grew wide as saucers.
"You got me a horse?!"
"Yup! He's at a stable with my horse that's owned by a friend of mine just outside of the city. They'll feed him and take care of him there, and we can go riding whenever you want! He's beautiful, Reba, I can't wait for you to see him!" He looked into Reba's eyes and smiled. "Do you like my gift?" She shook her head as tears formed in her eyes.
"I love it," she replied emotionally. "It's one of the most thoughtful gifts anyone has ever given me!" Jim, in turn, cupped her face in his hands tenderly.
"Nothing's too good for you, Reba." He pulled her in close and captured her lips with his. Lost in the tenderness of the moment, neither noticed Brock begin to squirm fretfully in his chair. He couldn't bring himself to tear his eyes from the scene, though it hurt him more than he could have imagined. He needed a distraction, something, anything, to divert his attention elsewhere.
Thankfully, the din in the living room increased immensely as gifts began to be exchanged and opened. Soon, the house was filled with sounds of Van raving over his autographed Dallas Cowboy football, Cheyenne gushing over her fancy new make-up kit, Elizabeth showing off her new Barbie dolls, Kyra strumming her new guitar, Jake drooling over his new video games, and Henry banging away at his new set of drums. All this, plus Barbra Jean's usual loud nature, drowned out the sound of Jim and Reba's kissing and sweet talk. Yet, even though he couldn't hear them, Brock couldn't help but watch their every move.
He watched as Reba pulled out Jim's gift and hand it to him. He watched as Jim opened it and revealed a beautiful new watch that she must have spent a fortune on. He watched as Jim flipped it over and read the inscription on the back of it; something along the lines of 'With love, from Reba', Brock wasn't quite sure (he wasn't so good at reading lips). He watched as Jim removed his current watch and slipped his new one on fondly. Then tossing the box aside, he pulled in Reba closer by the belt loops of her jeans and placed his hands on her hips. Brock watched as Reba smiled lovingly and began to play with the lapels of Jim's jacket, a habit she had when she was being flirtatious or when she wanted something; at the moment he could tell it was the former rather than the latter. He watched as Jim managed to pull her even closer and gave her a sweet, tender kiss. This, Brock imagined, was what torture must feel like.
What am I doing, Brock questioned himself harshly as he forcefully tore his eyes from the couple. I have a family! I can't be doing this! He glanced over at Barbra Jean, who was sitting by Henry's side and helping him bang on his drums to an unknown beat. Brock smiled slightly as his son assumed a bored look on his face and attempted to walk away, but his wife prevented him, having more fun with the drums than Henry apparently.
Brock loved his family, he knew he did. He could feel it every time he looked at them. And though his and Barbra Jean's relationship was going through a bit of a strain at the moment, his love remained the same. But none of that ever touched the love he felt for Reba. It was as if the feelings he had for both women were on completely different wavelengths, never meeting but both forever present. The question was which wavelength tugged at his heart the strongest? At the moment, he was pretty sure he knew the answer.
"Alright everyone, dinner is ready," Reba called from the kitchen, snapping Brock out of his reverie. Apparently without him noticing, she had slipped off to the kitchen and finished preparing the holiday meal. Man, how long was I out, he thought to himself as he got up from his seat and joined the rest of the family at the table. Once everyone was settled in their seats and the food had been served, they prayed over their meal and began to dig in. This probably was one of Brock's favorite Christmas traditions, sharing a meal with the people he was closest to. They all sat around and exchanged pleasant and often embarrassing stories, causing uproarious laughter and tender smiles all around. It was one of the few times out of the year that they all actually sat down together without arguing or there being some big emergency, which was refreshing in that household. Brock was sure they all loved it just as much as he did.
After dinner, the table was cleared and it was time to sing Christmas carols. Everyone parted ways to opposite sides of the tree, the good side versus the bad side. It usually ended up being Reba on the good side with Kyra next to her; apparently she was the only child that inherited the singing talent from her mother (Brock assumed it came with the red hair). The rest of the children had unfortunately been cursed with their father's singing voice, and now as punishment, he was forced to stand and sing next to perhaps two of the most tone deaf people in the world: Cheyenne and Jake. Van and Barbara Jean were just okay singers so they ended up being somewhere in the middle, and little Elizabeth, who was already beginning to show signs of singing ability, huddled close to her grandmother.
"Honey, don't you want to come stand next to mommy," Cheyenne asked with outstretched arms, but Elizabeth shook her head.
"Grandma sings prettier," she replied, causing everyone to laugh.
"Smart kid," Van said with a laugh, causing Cheyenne to glare at him and jab him in the side with her elbow. She then assumed a wounded look and crossed her arms bitterly, obviously oblivious to her lack of singing talent. Jim walked up to Reba and wrapped his arm around her waist. Reba smiled shyly at him but made no attempt to remove it, causing Brock's jealously to soar.
"Okay everyone," Reba said, "let's begin." On her cue, everyone launched into rendition of Jingle Bells. After a couple of more carols were sung, everyone took a seat in living room and were about to move on to the next tradition, when suddenly Elizabeth's tiny voice piped up from her seat on Cheyenne's lap.
"I want grandma to sing," she said, prompting a flattered smile from Reba.
"Aw, that's sweet of you, darling, but I don't know…"
"Aw, come on, Mrs. H! Sing a sing," Van encouraged.
"Yeah, Reba, go ahead and sing! I've never heard you sing by yourself before," Jim threw in. Reba pretended to mull over the request for a second before smiling widely.
"Well, alright! What do you want me to sing, sweetheart," she asked Elizabeth as she leaned in towards her. Elizabeth grinned.
"Quiet night," she cried out excitedly. Reba furrowed her brows.
"I think you mean 'Silent Night', honey." Elizabeth just shrugged and nodded. Reba smiled even more.
"Alright, I'll sing 'Silent Night' just for you!" She flicked her granddaughter's nose, causing her to giggle excitedly. She then turned her attention to Kyra.
"Kyra, grab you're new guitar," she told her. Kyra just scoffed.
"Yeah right," she replied sardonically. Reba glared at her.
"Alright then, I can just sing a Capella and you can provide harmony for me." Kyra's look of disdain was quickly replaced with a look of fear.
"I'll go get my guitar."
"That's what I thought," Reba replied triumphantly. As Kyra went to fetch her guitar, Brock got up and turned off the house lights, leaving the room lit with nothing but the Christmas tree lights and the candles around the living and dining room. Reba looked at him questioningly.
"It's to set the mood," he explained as he took a seat on the floor by Barbra Jean's feet. A moment later, Kyra returned with her new guitar and took a seat on the couch Brock had previously occupied. Reba sat down on the couch's armrest next to her.
"You know when to come in, Kyra," she asked as she tugged on her outfit and smoothed down her hair. Kyra rolled her eyes.
"Don't I always?"
"Just checking," Reba assured her. She then to clear her throat, took in a deep breath, and began.
"Silent night….Holy night…All is calm…all is bright," she sang a Capella. After that, Kyra began to strum her guitar lightly to the tune of her mother and the song went on.
Her sweet voice filled the room and brought with it a sense of warmth and peace that touched them all. Brock always loved to hear her sing, especially during Christmas time, and besides the togetherness he hoped the carol sung by Reba was the one tradition that would never go away.
When her song was finished, an enthusiastic round of applause filled the room. Reba smiled and took a slight bow and urged Kyra to do the same. Van wiped a few tears from his eyes.
"That was beautiful, Mrs. H," he choked out. Cheyenne looked at him with her brows furrowed and shook her head, sometimes annoyed with his dramatic displays of emotion.
"It really was, Reba," Brock assured her. "You and Kyra did a wonderful job."
"Wow, I had no idea you could sing like that," Jim told Reba, a look of astonishment plastered all over his face. Brock scoffed.
"Some great boyfriend you are," he said icily under his breath. Not under enough, he soon discovered, for Reba shot him a dirty look. Brock shrunk under her gaze and avoided eye contact with her, thinking if looks could kill he would have been writhing on the floor.
"Man, I wish I could sing half as good as you, Reba," Barbra Jean gushed at her, providing Brock a much needed aversion. Reba's smile quickly reappeared.
"Thanks y'all," she said sincerely, embarrassment coloring her cheeks. She quickly changed the subject.
"Okay, time for Brock's rendition of 'The Night before Christmas'," she announced. The younger kids cheered and snuggled up close to him as Reba handed him the book from the shelf. Once Reba took her seat, Brock opened the book and began.
The magic of the story became evident as a peaceful hush came over the room. As he read, Brock couldn't help but look around and take in the serene looks on his family members' faces, causing him to really feel the magic of Christmas. He wished things could stay that way forever.
When he finished his narrative, he closed the book and smiled. To his left and right, Elizabeth and Henry were leaning against him, sound asleep. Jake had fallen asleep in his seat next to Henry and even Van was nodding off in his spot by Cheyenne. Reba noticed this too and laughed softly.
"It's been a long day," she whispered as she got up and nudged Jake.
"Jake honey, it's time to go to bed," she whispered in his ear.
"But I'm not tired," he replied sleepily, his eyes only half open.
"Go on now, darling. I'll be in to wish you good night in a while." Obviously too tired to argue, Jake got up from his seat and trudged up the stairs, Kyra following shortly after. Meanwhile, Cheyenne smacked Van on the arm to wake him up.
"Jingle bells, jingle bells," Van began singing loudly as he was startled from his slumber. Reba shushed him quickly.
"Van, Van! We're not singing carols anymore," she told him as she pointed to a sleeping Elizabeth being carried off upstairs in her mother's arms. Van rubbed his eyes vigorously.
"Oh," was all he managed to say, still obviously half-asleep. He watched as his wife and daughter mounted the stairs and disappeared, but he made no attempts to follow them. Instead he leaned his head back again and slowly began to doze off. Meanwhile, Barbra Jean scooped up Henry into her arms and began to head for the door.
"Merry Christmas everyone," she called over her shoulder. Brock watched as she slipped out the door without so much as another word. He shook his head and sighed. He didn't know how long this tense slump they were going through would last, but he sure hoped it wouldn't be for long. He felt a small hand pat his shoulder and turned around to find Reba staring up at him sympathetically. Jim could see they needed a minute alone, so he tapped Van on the shoulder, causing him to jolt awake yet again.
"Come show me what you have to drink, Van," he told him as he started to head toward the kitchen. Van gave him a confused look and stood up.
"Okay, but I'm not sure its good to get drink on Christmas day." Once they were out of the room, none were left but Reba and Brock.
"Things still not going well with you and Barbra Jean," she asked after a moment of silence. Brock shook his head.
"I don't know what it is, Reba. It's like ever since she lost the weight, I don't really know her anymore. I mean, she acts kind of the same, but there's something different. I just can't put my finger on it." Reba nodded to show she understood.
"I'm really sorry, Brock," she told him truthfully. "Is there anything I can do?" Brock smiled at her appreciatively.
"I wish there was, but I think this is something we have to work through on our own." Reba patted him on the shoulder once more.
"I understand," she replied. Another minute passed where they said nothing but just enjoyed each other's presence. Suddenly, Reba remembered something.
"I think I might have something to cheer you up," she told him as she ran over to the tree. She proceeded to pull out a small, rectangular box that had been hidden behind the tree and handed it over to him.
"What's this," Brock questioned.
"A pony," Reba replied sarcastically. "Just open it!" He obeyed and removed the lid from the box, revealing a beautiful watch sitting on a cloud of cotton. He lifted the watch and held it out to the light.
"Wow, this is great," he told her. Suddenly, he remembered the watch she gave Jim earlier. "You gave me a watch too? You going for a theme this year?" Reba smacked him playfully on the arm and laughed.
"No! This watch just happens to be very special! Take a closer look!" Brock squinted at the watch and it suddenly dawned on him.
"This looks exactly like…"
"It's your father's watch," Reba interrupted him excitedly. Brock's mouth dropped open in surprise.
"My father's…" he began, but his voice trailed off in astonishment. A few months earlier he had been forced to pawn that very same watch to make his payment to the government on time. It had been the only remaining piece of his father he had owned and it had nearly killed him to give it up. "I thought I'd never see this again."
"You almost didn't," she admitted. "I had to follow it to five different pawn shops before I was able to get it back."
"Well, I felt kind of bad that you volunteered to pay my part of the debt to the I.R.S. and had to give up something so special to do it. I couldn't let that happen, so I just bought it back." At her words, the wavelength of his love for her tugged on his heart full force.
"Reba, I don't know what to say," he replied emotionally.
"Wow, isn't that a first?!" She gave him a smug yet playful smile. Brock glared at her.
"You sure do know how to kill a moment, don't you," he toyed with her. Reba smiled apologetically.
"I'm sorry," she admitted. "You don't have to say anything. And it was the least I could do after you bought me these beautiful diamond earrings." She took the small jewelry box out of her pocket and flipped the lid open again. Brock was about to open his mouth and point out that she did this before she knew he was going to give her the earrings, but he figured why spoil the moment?
Instead, he placed the box aside and slipped his father's watch onto his wrist. Reba followed suit and removed the delicate earrings from their case to put them on. Once she did, Brock watched in amazement as the diamonds caught the light of the candles and sparkled brilliantly, match the glow she held in her astonishing blue eyes. He couldn't help but have his breath stolen away by the sight of it. She looked simply beautiful.
In a reflex move, he moved forward to kiss her softly on the lips, like they used to do so often when they were married, but thankfully he quickly caught himself before he did. Instead he leaned in move over to her side and boldly gave her a soft peck on the cheek. When she didn't react violently, he figured his move had been okay.
Or not, he thought again as he beheld the look on her face, which was somewhere between surprise and horrified, he couldn't quite tell. All he knew was he was probably in for a good smack or two in the next couple of seconds, so he closed his eyes and braced himself. But to his immense surprise, he instead felt a butterfly kiss on his right cheek. He opened his eyes slowly to find that Reba had bid him the same token of appreciation. Brock smiled widely, still able to feel the softness of her lips against his skin. It left him wanting more.
All of a sudden, Jim and Van reemerged from the kitchen with glasses of eggnog in their hand. Reba turned around to face them, revealing the diamond earrings in the process.
"Wow, those are beautiful, Reba! Did Brock give them to you," Jim asked as he made his way over to her side. Reba nodded wordlessly in confirmation.
"Yeah, they're real pretty, Mrs. H. Bet you wish you had a diamond necklace to match," he said coyly as he gave her a very sly smile. Reba covered her mouth with her hand in an attempt to stifle her laughter.
"Yeah, it sure would be nice, Van..."
"BAM," he exclaimed as he whipped out a jewelry box from behind his back. Reba jumped back a bit in surprise and laughed.
"Van, what is this," she asked, trying to play dumb. Van grinned proudly.
"Well, I was gonna buy you those diamond earrings you always wanted, but I figured why settle on such a small, cheap gift?!"
"Van," Brock cried with a roll of his eyes.
"Please Mr. H, I'm trying to speak," he replied quickly, causing Reba to chuckle a bit. "Anyway, so I did you one better! I bought you your very own diamond necklace!" He opened up the jewelry case to reveal a three stone diamond necklace that matched perfectly with the earrings Reba beheld on her ears. She gasped in awe.
"Oh Van, it's breathtaking," she told him.
"I know," he replied with a boastful smile. He carefully removed the necklace from its case and slipped it around Reba's neck. Once he fastened it for her, he stepped back and grinned.
"It looks great on you, Mrs. H," he said to her warmly. She smiled tenderly at him and pulled him into an embrace.
"Thank you, Van. You're such a sweet guy."
"I know, I know," he assured her as squeezed her gently and laid his head upon her own in a loving gesture. After a few seconds of remaining in that position, however, Reba began to grow suspicious.
"Van, are you falling asleep on my head," she asked. When all she heard was a slight snore in reply, she quickly pulled herself out of his embrace.
"Van," she cried out with a laugh as she watched him stumble forward a bit. His eyelids drooped sleepily as he stared at her questioningly. "Go on up to bed," she commanded him. Van readily obeyed.
"Merry Christmas everyone," he called out in between yawns as he trudged up the stairs. After a few sleepy stumbles, he managed to mount them and then disappear around the corner. Reba shook her head good-naturedly at her son-in-law's antics and then turned her attention back to Jim.
"Well, I guess I best be heading back home," he told her as he pulled her in for another embrace. "I'll stop by tomorrow morning, okay?"
"Perfect," she assured him. He bent over and gave her one last tender kiss on the lips before smiling before pulling away.
"I love you, Reba," he told her as he headed for the door.
"I love you too," she replied with a loving smile. Brock watched with a terrible ache in his chest as Reba blew one last kiss to Jim before he headed out the door. He heard her sigh contently before she turned to face him.
"You two seem to be getting along," he told her with a slight frown. Reba smiled dreamily.
"Yeah, things couldn't be going better! I haven't been this happy in a long while, Brock," she admitted with a look of pure bliss on her face. That look quickly faded when she beheld the look on his face and shame slightly tinged her cheeks. She placed her hands in her pockets and looked down at her feet rather awkwardly, feeling a little guilty how she had been flaunting her relationship earlier.
"Well, I guess there's nothing left to do but go to bed," she finally managed to say. Brock nodded in agreement but made no attempt to head for the door. Instead he stared at her with an intense look in his eyes, as if he was trying to decide something.
I gotta tell her, he told himself inwardly. I just gotta how I still feel about her.
"Yeah, Brock?" He opened his mouth to share his feelings with her once and for all, but all of a sudden something shiny dangling from her pocket caught his eye. It was that key to the stable where the horse Reba now owned was contained. That incredibly thoughtful gift that another man gave her; the man that she admitted she was in love with. No matter how hard he tried to deny it, he could tell that she really did love him and he loved her just as much. Brock could see it in the way he looked at her, like the way he himself used to look at her when they were still married. No matter what Brock's feelings were towards Reba, he couldn't tear her away from that. It would be too selfish of him to try and take her back now, just after she had found happiness again. He wouldn't be able to do that, not in a million years. So instead, Brock patted her on the arm and smiled.
"Merry Christmas," was all he managed to say. Reba's brows furrowed a bit in suspicion, as if she knew there was something else he had wanted to say, something deeper and more meaningful. But instead she just returned his gracious smile.
"Merry Christmas to you too, Brock," she told him sincerely. Then without another word, Reba turned around and dashed up the stairs and off to bed. Brock watched after her until she disappeared, even a bit after that. Then he took sweeping glance across the living room and closed his eyes.
He imagined it was thirteen years ago, when Cheyenne and Kyra were just feisty little girls fighting over who got which Barbie doll and Jake was just a little baby asleep in his bassinet. He pictured himself and Reba standing over at the very spot where she and Jim had stood, exchanging gifts and loving words with one another just as they had done. Then Brock would bring out a piece of mistletoe from his pocket just like every year and hold it over their heads, and just like every year Reba would laugh with delight and lean in to give him a sweet but passionate kiss. They would then go on with all their traditions and laugh and share in the spirit of Christmas, just the five of them…the way he preferred it.
Now, as he opened his eyes, he knew things were incredibly different, but his feelings hadn't changed a bit. He still loved Reba just the same, and he still loved spending Christmas with his original family and sharing all the traditions that had been started with the birth of their first child. To be able to still experience that, even after all that had gone on over the past six years…well, it was like his own personal Christmas miracle.
As he proceeded to head out the front door, his thoughts drifted back to the kiss on his cheek he had received from Reba earlier that evening, and the one he had given her as well. It had been the most serious form of intimacy that had shared with one another since they had separated nearly seven years ago. Brock had forgotten how good it felt to experience something so affectionate with her; he had forgotten how warm and alive it made him feel. He hoped the feeling would last for a good long while.
Once finally outside, he walked down the pathway that led out to the sidewalk and took one last look over his shoulder at the house behind him. Sighing with contentment, he smiled and touched the spot where Reba had kissed. That year, it truly had been a Christmas to remember.
Wow, I really didn't realize how mushy I could get until I read over that last paragraph! Sorry about that! Anyway, I hope this enough to tide you over for awhile. See, me and my family are leaving Saturday for California and we won't be back until the year 2007 (January 2nd to be exact)! That means there won't be any updates for my full length story until I return. I'm really sorry about that and I'll see if I can update before we leave, but if not…well, I guess chapter three will be the last installment for this year.
Anyway, so sorry again and I hope you all enjoyed this little seasonal story and I wish you all the happiest of holidays! See you in the year 2007!
P.S. I really didn't mean for it to turn out this long! Sorry!