Christmas With Family

Chirstmas With Family
Sequel to Flight To Paradise
©1999-2000
By Sarah
Chapter 3


        "Come on, please?"
        "No, Sarah, I refuse."
        "Come on, Nick, please, for me?  Weíve been best friends for what seems like forever, you canít miss out on another Christmas.  Please, just come to Kentucky, please."
        Nick paced around his living room, glancing out the window, waiting for his wife to come home with his two-year-old daughter.  They were late, very late.
        "Sarah, I canít go to Kentucky, I canít.  And Iím sorry Iím missing out on another Christmas with you guys, but Iím not going to see my family either, Iím staying right here in Tampa."
        "Nick, none of us have seen you since you and Sheryl had Maggie.  Come on, please just fly up here, please, if only for a day."
        "Sarah, I canít.  Too much has happened, I canít face everyone again, I just canít," Nick insisted, sitting on the couch.  He glanced at the clock on the mantle across from the couch and looked out the window again.  Sheryl and Maggie were suppose to be home more than two hours ago, and Nick had no idea where they could be.
        "Nick, I know what happened, I was there, remember?  But you canít let it affect you like that, just let it go, its over, youíre fine and healthier than Iíve ever seen you."
        Nick shook his head as he heard a beep.  "Sarah, hold on, I have another call."  He pulled the phone away from his ear and hit the flash button.  "Hello?"
        "Hello, Mr. Carter?"
        "Yes, who is this?"
        "Mr. Carter, this is Gina at the Day Care Center, Maggie is still here and her mother has not arrived or called.  Are you suppose to pick her up today?"
        Nick shook his head and stood up.  "No, I wasnít, but Iím on my way."  He hit the flash button again as he hurried into the hall to grab his jacket.  "Sarah?  Iíll call you back in a little while, I have to go pick up Maggie, Sheryl didnít get her today."
        "She didnít?  But wasnít it her turn?"
        "Yeah, I donít know what happened, so I have to go get Maggie."
        "Ok, Nick, call me back at Brianís.  And Nick, we will be continuing this conversation when you get back."
Nick sighed.  "Fine, bye Sarah."  He hung up the phone and tossed it on the recliner before running out of the house and to his Durango.  He sped to the Day Care Center and hurried up to the door where Gina was waiting with Maggie, who was singing to herself and coloring a picture.
        "Thank you, Mr. Carter, I was going to leave when I saw Maggie playing in the corner of the room and I realized that your wife hadnít come yet.  Is there something wrong?"  Gina asked as Nick bent down and picked Maggie up.
        "I hope not, thank you, Gina, Maggie and I will see you tomorrow morning," Nick said, zippering up Maggieís jacket.
        Gina nodded and smiled.  "No problem, Maggie is such a sweet child, one of the more well behaved ones in the Center.  Have a good night!"  She called as she walked down the stone walkway and to the parking lot.
Nick sighed and looked at his daughter.  "How was your day, Maggie?"  He asked, carrying her to the car.
        "Good, Daddy, I went for a walk with Gina today and we saw a frog in the pond," Maggie said.
Nick smiled and sat her in the child seat in the back and buckled her in.  "Really, what else did you see?"  He asked as he climbed into the driverís seat.
        "We saw so many little fishes and we saw squirrels," Maggie babbled on and on, describing her full day at Day Care as Nick drove down the street and towards their home.  He pulled into the driveway and got out, going to Maggieís side and helping her out of the child seat.  He walked inside with her and noticed that it was very dark, very quiet.
        ĎWait a minute, didnít I leave on the hall light?í  Nick asked himself, flipping the switch and flooding the hallway with yellow light.  ĎYeah, I did.  Did Sheryl come home?í  He hurried to the kitchen and spotted a note on the counter.  He picked it up and leaned back against the counter, all feeling fleeing from his body as he read it.
        ĎDear Nick.  Iím so sorry, but I canít stay here.  You know this was bound to end sooner or later, we canít get along like we used to.  I only wish that you can be the best parent and give Maggie everything sheíd ever need.  I know youíll do better than I ever would, Iím not cut out for that sort of thing.  Again, Iím very sorry.  Love, Sheryl.í
        "Daddy?"  Maggie said, tugging on his pant leg.  Nick looked down at his daughter, her ebony black hair that matched her motherís and her bright ocean colored eyes that were a stark contrast, matching her fatherís eyes.
        "Daddy, why did Mommy say she was sorry this morning and start to cry?  She was so sad, Daddy, but she didnít tell me why."  Maggieís bright eyes lost their sparkle and she started to cry.
        Nick knelt down and took his daughter into his arms, hugging her tight.  "Because she was sad, baby, and she is sorry.  But sheís not coming home tonight, or tomorrow either, or the next night."
        "Is she going on a trip like you do sometimes?  Going far away and then coming back and bringing me a big teddy bear or the yellow tiger in the toy store?"  Maggie asked, excitement seeping in her voice.
        Nick shook his head and held back tears.  "No, baby, sheís not coming home."
        Maggie looked quizzically at him, then smiled.  "Donít be sad, Daddy, Mommy will come home, I know she will."  The little girl skipped out of the kitchen, going into the playroom and to her toys.  Nick got up off the floor and took the portable phone from the cradle and brought it with him to the table.  He dialed quickly, holding the phone to his ear.
        "Hello?"
        "Hey, Harold, its Nick, could you put Sarah on?"  Nick said, trying to sound cheerful for Brianís brother.
        "Yeah, sure, man, hold on.  Sarah!  Phone!"  Harold yelled from the other side of the line.  Nick sniffled as he heard Sarah pick up the extension.
        "I got it!  Hello?"
        "Sarah, its me."
        "Oh, hey Nick, whatís wrong?"
        Nick felt tears running down his face and looked at the crumpled note in his hand.
        "Nick, youíre scaring me, whatís wrong?"  Sarah asked again, panic in her voice.
        Nick took a deep ragged breath and tried to exhale.  "Sheís gone, Sarah, Sheryl left me," he said.  The tears coursed faster down his face and he bent over, sobbing.
        "Oh my GodÖ" Sarah said slowly.  "Nicky, you arenít serious."
        "She left a noteÖsaid that she couldnít pretend anymoreÖshe said it wouldíve ended anyway," Nick managed to get out.  He took another deep breath and sat back up.  "She said goodbye to Maggie this morning when she dropped her off at Day Care, she has no intention of ever seeing her or me again."
        "Ohmigod, Nicky, if thereís anything I can do," Sarah offered.
        Nick looked at the counter, at the day planner that kept all his appointments straight and organized.  He stood up and crossed to the counter, looking at the dates.
        "Yeah, there is, do you think Brianís mom would mind if Maggie and I came and stayed for Christmas?"  He asked.

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