It’s Christmas, and Murphy’s house looks like a perfect little slice of gingerbread. Snow is falling, and making frosting patterns on the roof. A tree is evident in the window, twinkling with little lights. The scent of cookies baking is in the air, even more overwhelming than the clean scent of snow.
I’m afraid to go near it, so Mouse and I stand on the sidewalk, a good distance away. I can imagine what sort of chaos I’d create. What sort of electronics are there, being used to present this image that calls to me, makes me almost want to walk up there, risk it anyway.
But I won’t. For all I know, Murphy’s got her family coming – even if she’d rather not – or even Kincaid visiting. And maybe Ivy, if Kincaid comes, and I’m not going to destroy a Christmas scene for her.
Mouse shakes his ruff, and lets out a low bark, his tail wagging. A cold breeze whips my coat around from the force of his tail and I realize the door’s open, and Murphy’s walking down the sidewalk – carefully – they’re slick. “What are you doing here, Harry?”
“Smooth as ever.” She’s tiny, and wrapped up in her own arms, and tilting her head back to look at me. “Is this a visit from the ghost of Christmas present?” At Mouse’s grumble, she patted his head. “And his dog?”
“Harry, Harry.” Murphy’s smile warms me more than I want it to. “Let me get a jacket, and we’ll go get a drink at MacAnally’s.”
“But,” I try to protest, but she’s already heading back to the house, disappearing inside. Mouse looks up at me, a doggy grin on his face, his tail beating against my duster. “Oh, shut up. Don’t read any more into this than what’s there on the surface – a couple of friends getting a drink. On Christmas eve.” I realize what I’m saying and mentally groan. I’m really a loser. At least, until I see Murphy again, and her smile, and she slips her hand through the crook of my arm, and maybe…maybe I’m not.