GREY AND CARRIE’S CHRISTMAS
December 23 – Four P.M.
Grey inched his Jag XK into traffic and moved slowly toward the West Side Highway along with the other drivers anxious to start their Christmas holiday. Thrumming his fingers on the steering wheel, impatience tugging at his nerves, he wanted to get home.
Stupid fucking asshole accountant. Grey had spent the week going over every entry in the company books for the whole year with a by-the-book accountant. Digging out paperwork to support every accounts receivable, every accounts payable entry, he was totally out of patience. At three o’clock the maddening man finally left and Grey was more than ready to begin his five days of Christmas bliss, starting with a tasty meal cooked by his gorgeous fiancée, Carrie, to be followed immediately by passionate lovemaking. He was hungry.
At the red light, he texted Carrie he was on his way home. He knew she was at their townhouse redecorating. How did I ever find her? Damned lucky. Painting in the bedroom today? The bedroom… A grin broke out on his face as a vision of her stripped bare filled his thoughts.
Carrie went over her elaborate plans for turning his bachelor-pad townhouse into a comfortable home for them to share with him but Grey was sometimes too distracted to pay close attention to all the details. He interpreted it to mean when it was all done, their house would feel like a palace compared to how spare it was when he lived there alone. She texted back but traffic was moving now so he couldn’t check it.
The snarled traffic magnified Grey’s agitation so by the time he got home, the first thing on his mind was a stiff vodka and tonic. As he pulled into the garage, he could swear he picked up the faint aroma of his favorite dish, Beouf Bourguinon, simmering in the oven. He was yanked open the door to the house and barged through, trying to turn his tight frown into a smile when he bumped into a huge mass of tangled furniture. His nose was assaulted by the pungent odor of fresh paint.
He turned his head toward the kitchen but could detect no aroma of anything cooking. Picking his way around the pile of chairs, lamps and end tables he moved into the living room.
“I don’t care what your plans are Enrique, you can’t dump this here now! We had an agreement. Yes, bring the furniture NEXT Thursday not today!”
Grey stood tapping his foot on the polished wood floor, annoyed Carrie didn’t notice him.
“We’re leaving tomorrow morning! No, I can’t. No. No and that wasn’t our agreement. What? You’re going where? When? You knew this all along, didn’t you? The other rooms aren’t ready. They have to be painted first. You expect ME to carry that stuff up the stairs? Well that’s too bad! Come back and pick it up! What? What did you say?? Same to you, Enrique!”
Carrie slapped her phone closed, color rising in her face when she turned and jumped to see Grey.
‘Oh my God! I didn’t know you were home.” Her head jerked up and her hand flew to her throat.
“What is all this?” Grey stretched out his hand and swept it over the area taken up by the stacked furniture.
“This is Enrique dropping off my furniture a week early!”
“Crap. Where’s dinner?”
“Yeah, you know that meal we eat at the end of every day?” He walked into the kitchen and pulled down a tall glass.
“Oh, dinner. I thought we’d eat out. I’ve been struggling all day…”
“You’ve been struggling! I had a terrible day,” he said, slamming a handful of ice cubes into the glass, then unscrewing the vodka bottle.
Carrie stood and watched him as he sloshed vodka into his glass then drowned it with tonic water. He stirred it with his finger, took a gulp, noticed the silence and looked up at her.
“Were you going to offer one of those to me?”
“You want one?”
Grey turned to get a spoon to stir her drink and noticed the bedroom, his bedroom was torn apart and the bed was missing.
“What happened? Where’s my bed?”
“It’s upstairs, against the wall. OUR bedroom was painted today.”
“We have no bed? Dammit!” He slammed his fist down on the counter.
No dinner. No sex!
Carrie stood still and looked at him. She had paint in her hair and on her jeans. She wore an old shirt of his rolled up at the sleeves which was spattered with paint, too. Her silence commanded his attention again and his eyes roved over her form.
“What happened to you?”
“I had a few run-ins with paint today. I should have stayed out of the room when Ramon was painting but I needed a few things…did you know rollers spray a fine mist of paint?”
“I do now,” he chuckled in an unkind way.
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