Christmas With Family

Chirstmas With Family
Sequel to Flight To Paradise
By Sarah
Chapter 13

        Kevin bit his lip nervously as he turned the corner and spotted his cousinís house.  He pulled up in front and looked next to him at Elaina, who was looking at him sympathetically.
        "What if he doesnít talk to me?  What if he totally ignores me and doesnít even acknowledge my existence?  Iím not too sure I can handle that, Laney, he was one of my best friends for so long, and heís like my little brother, I canít believe that things would turn out this way," Kevin said, rambling a little.
        "Kevy, honey, calm down.  Heíll forgive you, I know it.  If not now, then he will soon," Elaina reassured him.  She got out of the car and Kevin followed her in suit, stopping to help Courtney with her seatbelt.  Then three walked up to the door as Kevinís parents and two brothers drove up in three separate cars.
        "And now, to join up with the Littrell clan," Elaina said jokingly as she knocked on the door.
        "Hi!"  Little Brian said as he threw open the door.  "Uncle Kevin, guess what?"  Brian asked, attacking his legs in a big hug, nearly knocking him off balance.
        Kevin smiled at how much Brian reminded him of his father.  "Whatís that, little man?"  He asked, prying the boy off his legs and gently pushing him inside and out of the crisp December afternoon air.
        "Daddy and Mommy got me a new video game and Iíve been playing it all morning and Iím even better than Uncle Nick!"  Brian exclaimed, talking quickly.
        Kevinís features took over a pained look at the sound of Nickís name and glanced at Elaina, who gave him a reassuring look, reaching over and squeezing his hand.
        "Brian, why donít you show Courtney your presents, honey, while all the grown-ups talk, ok?"  Sarah said as she walked in the hall.  Kevin smiled thankfully at her, noticing that she had a bright, but serene smile on her face, almost as if she knew exactly what he was thinking and feeling.
        ĎShe probably does,í Kevin thought as he followed Sarah into the living room, leading them all to where they could relax and set down the bags and packages they were carrying.  Kevin set down a small box last, his present to Nick.
        ĎThis present means so much, I canít believe Iíve never had the guts to give it to him until now,í Kevin thought.  He sat on the couch next to Brian, who was smiling down at a giggling Katie in his arms.  She was babbling a mile a minute, as if she were joining in on the conversations around her.  Kevin smiled down at her, remembering when Courtney was that age and acted the same way.
        "Hey, look at that, youíd think that Kevin was reliving Courtneyís childhood," Tim, his older brother said, interrupting his train of thought.
        All eyes turned to Kevin and he practically blushed.  "Thanks, Tim," he said quietly, looking away from Katie and gripping Elainaís hand from where she was sitting next to him.
        "Donít worry, I did that all the time, especially with you and Brian," his mother said, smiling at him.  "When you were little, Iíd remember when your brothers were born, and then when Brian was little, when you were born, same with Jerald.  Its kind of like a natural instinct thing, you just look at other children and remember when your own were that age," she said, looking down at her oldest son, Jerald, and resting her hand on his head.
        "Ok, ok, enough of the mushy stuff, I think its time we have that huge dinner that Sarah and Jackie spent the entire day making," AJ interrupted, standing up from his place on the floor and practically skipping over to the dining room entrance.
        Kevin nodded and stood up, then helped Elaina stand, and walked with his wife to the dining room.  He froze as he entered, Nick was there, finishing setting the table with his daughter, Maggie.  Maggie had changed since he last saw her, in a picture that Sarah had shown him when Maggie was just a few months old.  She was a beautiful child, long ebony-black hair that was bound in pig-tail braids with bright blue-green eyes, contrasting with her dark hair, but matching her fatherís eyes exactly.  Nick looked up at Kevin and the pretend smile disappeared from his face, being replaced with an expressionless stone mask.  Kevinís hopes fell, his emotions being damaged and crushed.
        "Come on, come on, everyone sit down or no one eats," Brian said, sitting at the second chair from the head of the table and placing Katie in the high chair next to it.
        Kevin sat two seats away from Brian, directly across from the seat that Nick chose.  Nick started to stand, but sat back down, looking towards the kitchen doorway.
        Kevin looked in the direction and saw Sarah standing there, a smile appearing on her face seconds after Kevin saw her.  "Everyone get settled, appetizers are first," she said, setting down a platter in front of Brian.  She wiped her hands on the apron she was wearing and turned around, then returned with another platter, sitting it in front of Tim, who was seated down three seats from Kevin.  The fourteen people at the table all started talking at once, except for Nick and Maggie, who were sitting silently.  Maggie had a smile on her face, happily receiving the stuffed mushrooms and pieces of cocktail shrimp from her father, while Nickís face was again expressionless, though his eyes betrayed a certain sadness.
        "Its stuffed mushrooms!"  Little Brian exclaimed as he and Courtney ran in the room and to their seats.  Courtney sat on Kevinís left side, while Brian sat on his right, leaving a seatís space between him and his father for his mother.
        "Easy, cowboy, leave room for the main course," Brian scolded his son as he loaded his plate with the large pieces of vegetables and stuffing.  Little Brian nodded solemnly, setting two of his five stuffed mushrooms on his motherís plate, then picking up his fork and spearing one of the remaining mushrooms.
        "Jackie, I said sit, I got it," Sarah said as she followed Jackie in the room, both carrying large platters.
        "Sarah, Iíve been doing this for many years," Jackie started.
        "Which is exactly why you should sit, now do it!"  Sarah insisted, a serious tone adding to her smile.  Jackie complied, sitting at the head of the table, sitting directly across from her husband, Kevinís Uncle Harold.  Kevin felt strangely complete sitting at the table, like everyone there was his family and he was happy to have them around.
        "Brian, honey, wait until after Mommy comes out and sits down, ok?"  Jackie said to little Brian, who was stuffing his mouth.
        Little Brian nodded, putting his fork down and sat back in his chair, chewing silently.  Kevin smiled, then looked up at his cousin, who was looking down at his son with a strangely satisfied smile.  Brian chuckled and rubbed his sonís head as Brian looked up at his father and smiled back.
        "Ok, now everyone settled?"  Sarah as she walked in the room carrying another platter.
        "Yes, Sarah, sit down and relax so Brian will stop having a heart attack about not being able to eat," Jackie said, smiling up at her daughter-in-law.
        Sarah smiled as she sat down.  "Which Brian?"  She asked, looking back and forth between the two.  Brian looked at his son and they both nodded.  They started tickling Sarah, but stopped when Harold spoke up.
        "All right, all right, letís pray," he said, laughing lightly at his son and grandson.  Everyone around the table joined hands and Harold took a breath to speak when the doorbell rang.
        "Iíll get that," Brian said, looking up and letting go of his mother and Sarahís hands.  He walked to the front door and Kevin heard it open, then heard Brian exclaim.
        Sarah stood up and ran out into the hallway, and Kevin followed her.  He smiled as he saw Sarah hugging Howie and him hugging her back.
        "Like I could miss a Christmas with all you guys," Howie was saying.
        "Iím glad you didnít, Jackie and I cooked enough to feed an army," Sarah said, backing away from him.
        "Hey, good to see you, man," Brian said, giving Howie a friendly hug.
        "Good to see you too," Howie said.  He looked behind Brian and at Kevin, another smile spreading across his face.  "Train!  Merry Christmas!"  Howie said, walking over to him.
        Kevin smiled and hugged his friend.  "Good to see you, D," he said.
        "Yo, whatís this, a family reunion without me?"  AJ asked as he walked in the room.
        "AJ!  Man, you havenít changed at all!"  Howie exclaimed, walking over to his best friend.
        "Nah, canít change da Bone," AJ said, hugging him.
        "Howie!  Could you help me please?"  Came a plead from outside.
        Kevin watched as Howie ran outside, then came back in with his wife, Sonya, carrying a baby carrier, looking down and smiling at the little boy inside.
        "And who might this be?"  Sarah asked, closing the door behind Howie and looking down into the carrier.
        "This is my son," Howie said proudly, setting the carrier on the floor and picking up the little baby inside.
        "Yes, James Dwight Dorough," Sonya said, coming up next to him and leaning on his shoulder.  Kevin smiled at the two, Sonya was short, with curly dark brown hair and deep brown eyes, fully Spanish.  Howie had met her in Spain after a concert and it was an instant connection.  After nearly two years of them dating, he finally proposed and they were married the year after the group broke apart.  It was the first time since then that anyone had seen Howie or Sonya, theyíd gone to Spain right after they were married and were busy with their work.
        "Howie, come in, please.  Sonya, so nice to see you again.  Come on, everyone, that wonderful dinner in there is getting cold," Jackie said as she rushed in and gave Howie and Sonya a hug.
        "Oh, Sarah, did you cook?"  Howie asked.
        Sarah nodded.  "Yup, me and Jackie, almost all day."
        Howie smiled and looked at Sonya.  "I donít believe that youíve ever experienced Sarahís cooking, she is the best," he said as they walked.
        "No Iím not, stop trying to flatter me," Sarah said, smiling.
        Kevin chuckled as he took his seat and watched as Brian brought out two more chairs for Howie and Sonya.
        "Nick!  Jeez, everyone is here!"  Howie said, leaning over and patting Nick on the shoulder.
        "Hey, D," Nick said, smiling with difficulty.  He looked back down at his plate, his expression returning to the now regular plain and monotonous mask.
        "Ok, now that we are settled and have everyone here, do you mind if we start?"  Brian asked, sitting back down next to Sarah.  Everyone nodded and Brian smiled.  "Good, go ahead, Dad," he said, taking Sarahís and his motherís hands.
        Kevin smiled and looked down, taking Brianís and Courtneyís hands, listening as his uncle started the prayer.

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