A Christmas Maggie - Part 2
Part 2 is dedicated to the Canucks of my heart - Alyssa Palmer, Ben Wiebe, and Mark Lidstone. Alys is my beautiful muse. Ben is my most cherished kindred spirit. Mark is my webmaster and the dearest of friends. Read Daniel's first adventure here and his second here.
A Christmas Maggie - Part Two
by Tiffany Reisz
Daniel didn’t bother asking any more questions. How Maggie got there...why she was there...he couldn’t care less. He came out of the chair, dragged her to her feet, and held her more tightly in his arms than he’d ever held anyone in his life. He didn’t know what to do--hold her for eternity or drag or to the ground and make love to her for the rest of his life. While he decided, he kept his arms around her, pulling her even harder against him.
“Good thing I’m dead,” Maggie gasped in his ear. “Or you might kill me.”
Daniel laughed through tears as he buried his face into her hair and inhaled. Vanilla...Maggie’s hair always smelt faintly of vanilla.
“Don’t say that. Don’t say you’re dead. I know I’m dreaming so at least let it be a good dream,” Daniel whispered, pulling her even closer, so close he could feel her heart beating against his chest. He loved that feeling--heart to heart. After sex he would stay inside her a few moments just to relish that sensation as long as possible.
Maggie reached up and pinched him viciously hard on his arm. Flinching, Daniel laughed and pulled back to look at her face.
“You’re not dreaming, Daniel.” Maggie grinned at him.
“Then how are you here?”
She shrugged and her eyes gleamed with secrets.
“Someone upstairs decided you needed something for Christmas. Something that wouldn’t fit into a box. Not even one this size.” She held up the tiny box of Tiffany blue.
“Look...I can explain-” Daniel began but Maggie cut him off.
“I’ve been gone a long time.” Maggie kissed him quick and soft on the lips. “You’re allowed to move on, fall in love, get remarried...”
Daniel shook his head.
“I know I’m allowed. I even know that’s what you wanted...” In the months before Maggie died, she’d brought up Daniel’s future without her several times. She did everything she could to persuade him that not only should he move on after she died, she wanted him to. Even in her last hours she’d whispered to him, I’m going to die but you’re going to live for a long time. Promise me you won’t live alone...you’re the best man I’ve ever known. Don’t let that go to waste...don’t give up on love, on life...promise me... And through his tears he’d nodded and replied with a hoarse, I promise, Mags.
“Then what’s the problem?” Maggie arched an eyebrow at him. How many times had she asked him that question during their marriage? He’d never figured out a good answer to that question.
“Anya...She’s...too young, too...” Pausing to search for words he could only sigh. “She’s not you.”
“Very true.” Maggie nodded sagely. “And for that you should be eternally grateful.”
Daniel’s eyes widened in shock. “What is that supposed to mean?” He glared at her. “You were the best thing that ever happened to me.”
“And you were the best thing that ever happened to me too. Our marriage was strong most of the time. I didn’t know I could love anyone as much as I loved you. Didn’t even think I was capable of that kind of love and happiness. But.”
Maggie smiled at him again, a mysterious other-worldly smile. In life he’d never seen her smile like that.
“But...for such an intelligent man, you have a very bad memory,” Maggie teased as she raised a hand and ran it through his hair. She tapped him on the forehead.
“I remember nothing but amazing days with you. And even more amazing nights,” he said, running his hands up her arms. She wore red silk pajamas, a pair he’d gotten her for Christmas one year. Boxy and boyish, they hid her incredible curves but she needed something to wear when family came around. And nothing turned him on more than stripping her out of them and slowly revealing the female figure beneath the masculine cut.
“Really?” She pursed her lips at him. “Let me show you something. Close your eyes.”
“I always loved this game,” Daniel said, closing his eyes as she’d asked.
“Don’t get your hopes...or anything else up, you Wicked Man. Open your eyes.”
Daniel opened them and inhaled in surprised. The dark and quiet living room had suddenly been transformed. Light came in from everywhere--the tree, the Christmas candelabras in the windows, the lamps, the red and green candles...voices filled the room, laughter. Two dozen people--Maggie’s family and Daniel’s family mixed together as Christmas music played in the background.
“Shit.” Daniel grabbed Maggie’s hand and pulled her against the wall as another Maggie passed them holding a bottle of wine and three empty glasses.
“No one can see us,” she said, squeezing his hand. “This is just a memory we’re in.”
“A memory?” Daniel glanced around. He saw himself standing by the fireplace with Maggie’s sister Carol talking softly and smiling. He knew this memory. Christmas number three with Maggie--the Christmas they’d decided to invite everyone in both families to her house in the country. “God, it is. I do remember this. You gave me a watch that year.”
“A Daniel Roth watch--seemed fitting.”
“And I gave you...”
“This.” Maggie held up her hand to show a three-stone diamond ring on her right ring finger.
“One diamond for each year of happiness you’d given me.” Daniel took her hand and kissed the ring.
“I loved being married to a man who knew how to buy jewelry.”
Daniel grinned as he surveyed the scene. “This was a good Christmas. I loved having my parents here, your parents, the sibs...”
“The kids,” Maggie said, nodding toward Rachel and Jayson, Maggie’s niece and nephew.
“Yes. The kids.” Daniel swallowed as eight-year-old Rachel stuck a bow on top of four-year-old Jayson’s head. Jayson ripped it off and slapped it onto Rachel’s head and the screeching laughter of the children echoed off the walls.
Maggie led Daniel toward the fireplace where he and Carol whispered back and forth while sipping at their wine.
“So will you finally talk my sister into having children?” Carol asked, smiling at Rachel and Jayson who now had become enamored of the toy train that wound around the Christmas tree.
“She says she doesn’t want kids,” Daniel watched himself say. “I think she means it.”
“Motherhood would be so good for her. She’s just a Type A, always has been. Having a baby would calm her down. All your priorities change when you have children. You want them, don’t you?”
Daniel watched the younger version of himself inhale deeply, saw his eyes soften as he looked at Jayson staring with silent fascination at the toy train.
“I do. Very much.” Daniel knew “very much” had been an understatement. Once the shock of being married to a goddess like Maggie had worn off, all he’d wanted was to have a child with her. A daughter with Maggie's mind and wit, a son with his love of books...he ached to add to their family of two.
“Talk to Maggie. Maybe she’ll come around.” Carol smiled at him. “Do it soon. She’s running out of time.”
“I’ll talk to her tonight.” The younger Daniel lifted his wine glass to his lips while the older Daniel could only wince.
“I remember that conversation,” Daniel said as Maggie took his hand and led him away from the fireplace, away from the memory. “It didn’t go as I’d hoped.”
“I remember it too. It went a lot like this.” Maggie bent over and blew out one of the candles. Every light in the room went out but for the ones on the Christmas tree. In the darkness, Daniel heard harsh whispering.
“Keep your voice down,” Younger Daniel ordered. “The kids are sleeping downstairs.”
“Yes, let’s worry about the kids,” Maggie from the memory said. “They matter so much more than we do.”
“I never said that.”
“You don’t have to say that. I told you before we got married I didn’t want children. I have my work. I have my life with you. I have everything I need or want. Asking me to have kids is like asking me to take on a second job. Why would I do that when I love my first one so much?”
“But having kids...it’s not supposed to be a job.”
“What would you call something that involved non-stop manual labor, Daniel?”
“Are you actually angry at me for wanting to have children with you?”
“Yes. Yes, I am. It’s not who I am. It’s not what I want. You’re asking me to be someone and something I don’t want to be. How would you feel if all of a sudden I decided I wanted us to be vanilla? No more kink, no more submitting to you in bed...and elsewhere? No more you being in charge in the bedroom?”
Daniel watched his younger self blanch at the question.
“I’d be furious,” he admitted. “And I’d hate every second of it. But it’s not-”
“It is the same thing,” Maggie countered. “Exactly the same thing. Deciding we’re going to be a vanilla couple from now on is just like you asking me to be a mother. It would be a total betrayal of my very self. So either you accept that kids are just not part of our future or I’m not part of your future. What will it be, Daniel? Your decision.”
And Maggie in the memory had fallen silent. And Daniel watched his younger self fall silent too. Neither of them spoke.
Not a single word.
“Close your eyes, Daniel,” Maggie whispered and Daniel obeyed readily wanting to get out of this memory as quickly as possible. When he opened them again, they’d returned to the present, to his living room with his Anya still angry and secluded upstairs in her room.
Daniel could barely meet Maggie’s eyes.
“I hated myself for weeks after that,” Daniel said. “Not for talking to you about having children. But because I didn’t answer when you asked me ‘What will it be?’ I should have answered immediately. I should have said, ‘You, Maggie. No matter what.’ I’m sorry. I’m so, so-”
Maggie stopped his apology with her fingertips on his lips.
“It’s all right. You were upset and hurt and sad. You had dreams, and I crushed them.”
“You had your own dreams that I was asking you to give up.”
“You were. But I stood my ground. That night and every single time we had the fight about kids.”
“We didn’t fight that-”
Maggie snapped her fingers and before Daniel’s eyes a parade of memories flashed.
We’ve discussed this before. I’m done talking about it.
We can adopt. You don’t even have to-
How many times do I have to tell you-
You would be an amazing mother. Once you had a baby, you would-
What? Be miserable?
And on and on it went...seven years of marriage, heated conversations, subdued fights, resentments waxing and waning...
The ghosts of a hundred arguments past went silent and Daniel could only press his hand into his forehead to steady himself.
“You know, if I hadn’t gotten my diagnosis,” Maggie said, gently prying Daniel’s hand off his forehead, “we would have gotten divorced in a couple of years.”
Daniel shook his head. “No. That...no.”
“I’m not conjecturing. I know.” She smiled sadly at him. “I know,” she repeated.
“Divorced...you and me?” Daniel reeled from the very thought of it. They’d had such a good marriage. Divorce seemed utterly inconceivable. And yet...so many fights he’d forgotten. Time had erased all those bad memories.
Maggie sighed. “Divorced. Yes. And the consequences wouldn’t have been pretty.”
“I can’t...” Daniel said. “No. I don’t-”
“But you need to, Darling. You need to see...” Maggie touched his face, closed his eyes for him, and Daniel braced himself.
When he opened his eyes, he found himself standing in Maggie’s office at her Manhattan law firm. She’d been a partner and had made millions in her practice. Her office gleamed with money and success and power.
“Maggie...no...” Daniel whispered as his eyes came into focus. She said nothing, only crossed her arms over her chest like she always did when embarrassed or nervous. Another Maggie sat at her desk. No, not sat. Not really. Slumped over would have been the words Daniel would have used. This Maggie, the divorced-from-Daniel Maggie he’d never met, reeked of alcohol. A dusting of white powder marred the otherwise pristine surface of Maggie’s black desk.
“I never told you that in my late twenties I had a little bit of a drug problem. Manhattan law firm. High-powered. High stress. Me trying to deal with all the pressure. I indulged more often than I should have. Behaved much better in my thirties. But after you and I divorced I threw myself into my work and all those old bad habits came back.”
Daniel said nothing. He walked around the desk to get a closer look at this Maggie he’d never met before. One tiny drop of blood had leaked from her nose and onto a contact.
“She’s alive.” Maggie nodded at herself. “Physically, at least. Emotionally, spiritually...gone. It’s Christmas Eve and this Maggie is supposed to be auditing a contract. But this Maggie will work herself into an early grave by age fifty. She won’t need cancer to kill her. She’ll do it to herself.”
Daniel knelt by her chair. He started to touch her hair but pulled his hand back.
“She’s not real.” Daniel stood up and walked back to his Maggie. “I refuse to believe she’s real.”
“She’s not. She’s merely a shadow of what could have been. Let me show you another shadow.”
Maggie exhaled heavily.
With a single blink Daniel disappeared from the penthouse office and discovered he now stood in a cramped and dingy apartment. Glancing out the window he saw narrow brownstone houses, trash in bags piled high on the street, plastic faded Santa Clauses illuminating the dirty front porches. It appeared to be Queens or the Bronx maybe.
“Where I am?” Daniel asked. He’d never set foot in this place before.
“Home sweet home. After we divorced you refused a cent of alimony from me. You took the first library job you could get. Small branch in the Bronx. You spent most of your days at work trying to keep homeless people from moving into the bathrooms.”
Daniel shrugged. “At least I’m working in my field. Sort of.”
“You took the first job you could find after our divorce. And married the first woman you dated after our divorce.”
“I did?” Daniel stared at Maggie in shock. She nodded.
“You did. A page at the library named Mara. A couple years younger than you but already with two small children.”
At that Daniel had to smile. “I’m a step-father?”
“You were a step-father. The marriage lasted about six months. You bonded with the kids far more than the mother. Mara was jealous that you seemed to love them more than her. And you did. Vanilla woman, wouldn’t even consider any D/s in the bedroom much less anything kinkier. She left you and took the kids, and this is your Christmas two years after our divorce.”
Daniel heard a key in the door and saw a different version of himself come in. That Daniel looked tired, haggard, older than he had any right to. In his hands he carried a bag of Chinese take-out.
“Your family in Canada invited you back home for Christmas. You had too much pride to tell them you couldn’t afford the airfare this year. You lied and said you had a new girlfriend and wanted to spend Christmas with her. But it’s just you alone with Chinese food. It’ll be the same Christmas after Christmas. You’ll give up on love, on marriage, on your dreams of fatherhood. And this will be you until you die...”
Daniel watched himself sink into a battered arm chair and turn on the television to an American football game. He didn’t even like American football. But it was noise, light, movement...Dozens of women during his life had told him he was sexy, handsome...he’d even gotten gorgeous a time or two. But this Daniel had gone soft around the stomach, a heavily-lined face, and nothing in those blue eyes of his so many women had swooned over. Nothing at all.
“I’m a wreck.”
“Yes, you are. At least you don’t have a nose full of coke and a fridge full of vodka.”
Daniel looked at Maggie.
“You’re telling me that it’s for the best you died of cancer? I can’t...I won’t believe that.”
Maggie gave him a look of deepest compassion.
“I’m telling you that things happen for a reason. Even the bad things. That’s all.”
Daniel turned away from the vision of himself.
“Can’t you show me something good? Something that doesn’t make me feel like throwing up? Please, Mags?”
Maggie took his hands again and kissed his now bare ring finger.
“I can show you something absolutely beautiful if you really want to see it.”
“I do. Please let me see something beautiful. A good Christmas memory. We had as many of those as the bad ones. Didn’t we?”
“We did, my Love. We absolutely did. But I won’t show you a good memory of us. Not yet anyway.”
“What could be more beautiful than you and I having a good Christmas together?”
Maggie raised her hand, snapped her fingers, and Daniel now stood outside the bedroom where Anya had hidden herself away from him.
“What your Anya is doing right now.”
Maggie pointed at the door and Daniel looked at her in embarrassment.
“She locked me out.”
“Smart girl. You need locked out every now and then so you can get your head on straight. But she didn’t lock me out.”
“I hope you’ve got a key then.”
“Oh, Daniel...” Maggie said, clicking her tongue. “Where I’m from we don’t need keys...”
And with that she took him by the hand and swept them both right through the door.
To be continued... Click HERE!