e seemed genuinely annoyed. “Why did you do that?” He asked.
Because I don’t want to go. I want to stay here with you,” she answered honestly. It was the honesty which struck a chord with him. She thought he was going to get mad about it but he didn’t, he simply thanked her and then asked about them going and choosing a Christmas tree.
They finished work early on the Thursday evening and went to the local garden centre to pick up the tree and all the trimmings. They put the tree up over the course of a few glasses of wine. Her South African accent came out the more wine she drank. Liam raised the question again of why she had wanted to stay with him and not return to South Africa for Christmas with her family.
“You’re all alone. Rory would want me to stay with you,” she said. Liam pointed out that Rory wanting her to stay with him and her wanting to stay with him were two completely different things. “No, I want to stay” she said more forcefully. She wanted him to know she wanted to be there. She wanted him to know he was wanted somewhere. She wanted to make up for all the Christmases that had been a wash out when he had been a child. They had always ‘gone’ somewhere; like Aspen skiing and had never spent a Christmas at home. It had never been like ‘family’ and somehow she wanted to make up for that.
Liam put a Santa hat on which he had tied some mistletoe to. Cass laughed; he’d have to take that into the office the following day which was the last day before the holidays, all the girls would have a very happy holidays if he did.
Liam had been shaking his head, making the mistletoe swing round and acting the fool making her laugh. He stopped and just stood looking at her. Cass became worried she had something on her face or had dripped red wine down her white jumper or had said something wrong as he was suddenly so solemn.
He took her hand and led her to the lounge; she could feel something serious coming up and it worried her so she followed him without protest. Had he fallen off the wagon and gone back to betting? Or did he have to tell her he had met someone and that after her cancelling her trip he wouldn’t be here for Christmas after all. That thought disappointed her but it wasn’t to be unexpected, he couldn’t spend the rest of his life alone.
He sat her down on the sofa. He held her hand for a moment, “I’ve fallen in love with someone…” he said. Cass’s face lit up, “I am so pleased for you! What is her name? How did you meet? I must know it all!” He waited for her to calm.
“It came on so gradually I didn’t even realise it was happening…”
Cass smiled trying to guess who it was Liam had fallen for… “Brandi?” she said when she really couldn’t think of any woman of Liam’s acquaintance that she knew of, or he had shown any preference for other than her.
“No silly; it’s you.”
Cass sat and looked at him blankly. “But I’m an old woman…” she said. “I am nineteen years your senior.”
“Did you love my father?” he asked honestly.
“Yes of course I did!” Cass said defensively.
“And he was twenty five years older than you…”
Cass nodded; yes Rory had been twenty five years older than her, and she had loved him with all her heart.
Liam pulled the mistletoe to the front of the hat and kissed her.
“Because I’ll never meet another man like your father,” she had said. But she had, Liam was just like his father.