“Come with me.”
“No. I’m not ready.”
“Puh-leeeeze? What do you need? I’ll do anything at this point.”
Veronica raised her feet in the air, bringing her heels down soundly on the wall above her bed as she let out a small groan of displeasure.
“Now you’re trying to bribe me? Really, Logan?” An exasperated huff following her words.
“Veronica, I will do anything not to have to spend the holidays alone with my Mom. Any-thing,” Logan replied.
The clock on her bedside table flashed exactly 10 p.m. Veronica’s phone conversation with Logan had officially hit the one hour mark – short by their normal standards of talking until after midnight – but tonight it felt like they had talked forever. It was clear from the hesitation in his voice through the last hour that he was gearing up for something, but this was not the direction she expected things to take.
Sitting up, Veronica grabbed a pillow and dropped it behind her head before flopping back down on her bed with a groan.
“Logan, I just don’t know...” she said, her voice dropping slightly. Veronica’s eyes fixed on the cracked, peeling ceiling above her, trying to focus on something to keep her emotions in check.
“Veronica, I know this is going to be a hard Christmas for you with New Year’s Eve and all,” Logan said, his voice taking on a soft, soothing tone. “but you’re my best friend – who are we kidding, you’re my only friend – and I really can’t do this alone. Not this year.”
Veronica closed her eyes, taking a deep, slow breath through her nose to calm her nerves. “Almost one year since Dad died.”
“Yeah, I know,” Logan said. “Almost one year since the accident. And two-years since Lilly left me at the altar. And three years since Duncan and Meg ran off together.”
“Christmas is a curse,” she muttered, dropping her arm over her eyes.
“I know. But this year, I need your help to break that curse,” Logan continued. “My Mom – she’s in a bad place. Like Norma-Desmond-locked-in-her-mansion-ranting-about-the-old-days bad. Mrs. Navarro called me and told me if I don’t come over the holidays, she thinks my mom may do something...to herself.”
A dull ache rose in Veronica’s chest – the one that came and went as the holidays approached each year. Once upon a time, when they were teenagers, Christmas was a time of fun and festivities, not anxiety and dread.
Logan and Lilly.
Veronica and Duncan.
The four best friends.; beautiful and vivacious Lilly Kane and her brother, smart and charming Duncan Kane; Logan Echolls, the handsome son of two movies stars; and Veronica Mars, the pretty and wholesome daughter of the county Sherriff. Their teen years were the stuff of privilege -- sneaking bottles of champagne out to the pool house during Aaron and Lynn Echolls’ annual holiday party; partying on the beach all night during summer holidays; taking off to Catalina on someone’s yacht for the weekend.
Veronica’s skin prickled as she remembered the cold nights in the hot tub at Lilly and Duncan’s house. Making love to Duncan for the first time one New Year’s Eve. The engagement ring for Lilly from Logan, tucked into her Christmas stocking one morning. Looking back, she should have known, it all seemed too magical to be real.
But then, High School ended, and Veronica and Logan moved across the country for University – Veronica at NYU School of Law, Logan at Harvard working towards his PhD in Sociology. The first Christmas they returned to Neptune, Veronica was greeted with the news that Duncan had been cheating on her with Meg. What Veronica did not know at the time was that Meg was pregnant, and since her family didn’t approve, quietly, on Christmas Day, she and Duncan ran off to parts unknown, leaving Veronica broken hearted. The following Christmas – after two years of careful and expensive preparations – Logan and Lilly were to be married on Christmas Eve in a lavish ceremony (photographed and reported on by both People Magazine and InStyle). That was the plan – until Lilly had maid-of-honour Veronica deliver a plain white envelope to Logan on their wedding day. The enclosed letter explained in great detail how Lilly couldn’t marry Logan because she was in love with his father, Aaron. Last Veronica heard, Aaron and Lilly lived in a villa in Italy where Aaron produced low-budget European movies and Lilly hosted dinner parties with George Clooney and Matt Damon on the guest list. Then last year, two days after Veronica returned to New York from visiting her family in Neptune, Keith Mars was killed when a drunken Lianne Mars drove their car into a tree on New Year’s Eve. Veronica didn’t even know where her mother was in the world this Christmas, and she really didn’t care.
“Please, Veronica,” Logan said again. “I can’t lose her too. You and my Mom are the only people I have right now. I need your help.”
Veronica shook her head back and forth, but her lips were a different matter. “Fine. Fine. You win.”
“Yes! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you, Vee.”
“Okay, but I’m going to set some ground rules,” Veronica continued, removing her arm from over her eyes. “Number one...you have to pay the exorbitant airline fees to get me across the country during the holidays.”
“Deal! I’m pulling out my laptop to start looking at flights ASAP,” Logan said, shuffling around on the other side of the call.
“Second, I don’t leave your Mom’s mansion. No going out to relive old fun times. No trying to get me to visit my Dad’s grave to give me ‘closure’ or anything stupid like that,” she said.
“Veronica, I would never – ” Logan began.
“Yeah, well, I just want to make sure you’re not going to pull the best-friend card and do something that you think will help me when it clearly won’t,” Veronica said, a twinge of anger in her voice. “And third, I need the ingredients for Snickerdoodles stocked because that was what I was going to make myself for Christmas dinner this year.”
Logan let out a low chuckle. “You were going to eat nothing but cookies for dinner?”
“I’m a single woman in New York. I was looking forward to a lovely holiday with the Die Hard movies, Snickerdoodles, and my vibrator to keep me company this year,” she snarked, dropping her feet from the wall and rolling onto her side.
“You can bring those too if you want,” Logan said, a hint of mischief in his voice. “I like Die Hard. And I’ll make sure Santa brings you some extra batteries in your stocking.”
“Ha ha ha,” she replied sarcastically, swinging her legs over the end of the bed to sit up. “But be sure to put me in a bedroom far away from your Mom’s...you know...just in case.”
Veronica rose from the bed and took a few steps towards the window in her tiny apartment. The snow fell gently that evening and each flake catching the streetlights causing them to twinkle and dance as they drifted to the ground. The old metal radiator hissed and she made sure to stay a safe distance away, should it begin to rattle and shake as it often did at two in the morning. She could hear the sounds of Christmas music floating down the hall and it snuck under her door, along with the faintest smell from someone smoking Pot somewhere on her floor. Glancing around her one-room apartment, she let out a deep sigh. She really wasn’t looking forward to spending the holidays here, but Neptune didn’t seem much better right now either.
“Veronica,” Logan said, his voice becoming deeper. “Thank you for doing this for me.”
“Okay,” Veronica replied quietly. “Let’s just try and get through this, okay?”