“Maddy, wait up,” Luke said as he chased after her.
“No, I’m going home,” Maddy said as she walked towards Luke’s car.
“Babe, don’t allow Leslie to ruin a night that was supposed to be special for us,” Luke said as he caressed her face. “Look we can still hear the music that was supposed to be for our dance.”
Luke put his hand out as if he were asking Maddy to share a dance with him.
Maddy smiled and grabbed his hand. She then wrapped her arms around his neck and laid her head onto his chest.
It was freezing outside, so Luke removed his tuxedo jacket and placed it over her shoulders.
“Why did she do it, Luke,” Maddy asked?
“You know why she did it, and trust, she’s going to get hers.”
Luke kissed Maddy on the forehead, and the two of them slowly danced in the parking lot.
“Now, we’re going to go get some food with our friends when this is over and then we’re going to enjoy the rest of our night, okay,” Luke said.
Maddy nodded and smiled.
“If I could stop time right now and it just be you and I dancing here at this moment I most certainly would,” Maddy said.
“Well, technically — ”
Maddy stopped before Luke could get a word out.
“The more magic I use, the easier it is for The Hierarchy to figure out that I exist,” she said.
“Damn, I’m not excited at all about when my powers develop. What’s the good in having them if I can’t put them to use,” he said.
“Well, you’ve gotten until next summer to learn about everything, and you’ve got me to teach you,” Maddy said as she looked up at Luke and smiled.
The Ice King and Queen’s dance was always the last song of the night, so when the song ended, floods of students came rushing from the gymnasium. Multiple of them stopped by to comfort Maddy and also to congratulate her on her win.
“Don’t let her get to you, Maddy,” Logan said as she handed Maddy her crown. “You dropped this on your way out. You won fair and square.”
Logan placed Maddy’s crown on top of her head and gave her a hug. Dillon who was right behind her didn’t say a word even though she despised Logan. She wanted to be in the moment as well.
“Are we still going to The Hub,” Ash asked as she and Mitch walked over to meet everyone else?
“Yes, Hell Yes,” Dillon said.
Mitch danced with excitement.
“I’m going to get my boys and then tell them where we’re going,” Luke said to Maddy.
She nodded and got into the car.
“Where’s Josiah,” Maddy asked Dillon?
“He’s in the car rolling up the rest of our weed,” Dillon said smiling ear to ear. “You don’t expect me to eat at The Hub sober, do you?”
Maddy shook her head.
Luke had made it back, and the crowd was starting to die down. Everyone had apparently heard about The Hub, so now half of the senior class was going.
While in the car, Luke was still attempting to comfort Maddy.
“Hey, if you don’t want to be around a crowd right now, we can definitely ditch and go somewhere else,” he said.
“No, I’m fine,” Maddy said. “Just let me hit the joint we rolled earlier and I’ll be fine.”
Luke reached into his gloved compartment and passed her the joint. He then smiled and rub her left though. “While We’re Young” by Jhene Aiko was blasting through the speakers, so he turned it down.
“I love you, Maddy,” he said. “Today while we were dancing made me really realize that I love you so much. I’m so glad that we found one another.”
Maddy was speechless. This was the first time Luke had told her that he loved her.
Jhene sang, “I’ll go everywhere you go,” as Maddy cleared her through.
“I um… I love you too,” she said.
“Look, you don’t have to say it back if you don’t mean it,” Luke said. “I just wanted you to know how I felt.”
“No, Luke I do mean it. I mean it with every fiber in my being,” Maddy said. “I’ve loved you since the first day I laid eyes on you. I just wasn’t expecting that.”
She leaned over and kissed his cheek. Luke smiled and interlocked his fingers into Maddy’s. He then brought her hand up to his lips and kissed it.
“Now let me light this before we get to The Hub,” Maddy said laughing.
“Do yo thang, ma’am,” Luke said laughing.
The two of them smoked the rest of the joint they’d started before they got to the dance, and then they went inside of the diner to meet their friends.
The Hub was everybody’s second favorite spot to hang out after Hole in the Wall. The Hub stayed open 24 hours, and they served all types of food through the night. They were more famous for their breakfast though.
When she stepped out of the car, the smell of old cooking oil wrapped around her nose. She was also met with freezing cold air, so she asked Luke if she could wear his jacket again. He handed it to her and then grabbed his basketball hoodie from his back seat. Maddy turned around to head into the restaurant, and as soon as she did, she saw her friends sitting together through the dimly lit dirty windows.
“What is she doing,” she whispered under her breath.
Dillon was arguing with Todd who was standing next to everyone else. He was trying to sit down, but she had propped her legs up on one side of the bench that she and Josiah were occupying.
“Madd, I saved y’all a seat my me and Josiah,” Dillon said. “I know you don’t wanna sit beside Ash and Mitch’s horny asses.”
Ash through a napkin across the table at Dillon.
“So what exactly was that,” Ash asked?
“What was what,” asked Dillon?
“You know, what happened at the dance,” she said.
Dillon looked at Maddy and then tried to change the subject.
“Was it me, or did the punch have too much damn ice in it,” she said.
“Dillon, I know what you’re trying to do,” Ash said as she shooed Dillon away.
Maddy was very uncomfortable at that moment and didn’t want to talk about it so she completely ignored the question.
“Christmas is in two days,” is anyone excited?
Everyone nodded their heads except Ash. She was rolling her eyes.
Dillon went on to tell everyone what her mom had gotten her for Christmas.
“How do you even know all of this,” Todd asked?
“Well, my mom isn’t that good at hiding our gifts, so I just went through every closet in the house and boom,” she said.
“Does that not ruin the element of surprise,” Luke asked?
Dillon shrugged and took a sip from of glass of lemon ice water.
“I hate surprises.”
The night seemed to be going pretty well. Everyone was getting along and enjoying each other’s company. At one point, they all had begun to sing Christmas carols. The Hub was filled with warmth and so much love at this point. Not even Leslie could bring down the spirit.
After they’d all gotten finished singing, Maddy and Luke headed home. They had planned a long day of last-minute shopping the next day. Dillon and Josiah left after they did, and everyone else followed suit.
“Call me in the morning,” Maddy said to Dillon as she gave her a hug.
Dillon blew her breath into the cup of her hands.
“Okay girl, but let me get in the car! It is cold,” she shrieked.
The car ride back to Maddy’s house was silent. It wasn’t an awkward silence, it was a comfortable silence. When they arrived, Luke kissed Maddy and told her that he loved her again. She said it back as she got out of his car. She was smiling ear to ear as she walked to the door. A final wave to Luke and she was inside.
The house smelled of Nana’s favorite pine scents. She bought it every year because she said that it put her more into the spirit of Christmas than anything else. Maddy hated the way it smelled.
As she walked through the house, she heard the tv in the family room still running. She turned the corner to find Nana and Grandpa cuddled on the couch as the credits of the movie they’d been watching played through. Maddy laughed and headed up to her room. Tonight had been a great night.
The next day, she and Luke got up and out early. They hit all of the stores and got everything that they needed. They had already gotten each other’s gifts because they didn’t want to ruin the surprise. Today, they were shopping for their other friends and family members.
“I’ve already gotten Nana and Grandpa their gifts, but I want to get them something else,” Maddy said. “Earrings for Nana and a watch for Grandpa”
“Sounds like two very viable options,” Luke said. “What do your grandparents do for a living? You always have all of this money to just spend.”
“Well, my grandad owns the largest lumber exporting company in the south, and my nana is a professional housewife,” she said. “Nana used to be a teacher, but she retired a few years ago.”
“That explains why your grandfather is built like he’s been working on the railroad all his life. That man is massive,” Luke said laughing.
“I mean, also take into account, he was once an actual angel,” she said.
“It’s weird they stripped him of his powers, but not of his strength,” he said.
Maddy shrugged and headed to the jewelry store.
“What do your parents do? Your house is just as big as mine, and you drive a freaking Benz.” Maddy said.
“My dad works at a bank. He’s the CFO, and my mother is a writer. She writes children’s books,” said Luke.
“All this time, and we never knew these things about one another,” Maddy asked?
“I mean, we are dating each other and not our parents,” Luke said laughing.
Maddy rolled her eyes.
“Yes, I’ll take the sapphire earrings, and that gold JBW watch,” she said as she handed the cashier her card.
The cashier smiled and wrapped up the gifts.
Luke stood in place shaking his head.
“What,” Maddy asked? “We’re blessed. They take really good care of me, and I get whatever I want. Why not return the favor?”
“I didn’t say a word,” Luke said. “I just hope my gift is just as nice”
“I guess you’ll just have to wait and see now, huh?”
They left the jewelry store and headed over to the food court.
After eating, Maddy went back home to wrap the remainder of her gifts.
“It smells great in here,” Maddy said as she entered the kitchen.
Nana had just placed the Christmas ham into the oven.
“You know I gotta show your Auntie Rosalyn how it’s done,” she said.
The smell of freshly baked cakes and dressing filled the air.
Maddy laughed and ran her finger across the top of one of the cakes, scooping up some of the icing.
“Did you make this icing yourself,” she asked?
“Now what do you think,” Nana asked smiling.
Nana was a great cook. That’s the reason they always had holiday’s over to their house. Everyone always brought something, but most of the cooking was done by Nana. Aunt Roz always tried to outdo her, but Nana’s food always won by a landslide. Aunt Roz’s pans were never completely emptied like Nana’s were.
“I’m going to go wrap these last few gifts and then I’ll be down to help,” Maddy said.
As she began to wrap the gifts, she got a call from Dillon. The two girls talked about what had happened the prior night.
“Did you tell Nana yet,” Dillon asked?
“No, not yet,” Maddy said. “I’ll tell her later. I haven’t really seen her since it happened.”
Maddy could here Dillon’s mom complaining on the other end of the phone.
“Girl, let me go help her with this damn food,” Dillon said.
Maddy laughed and hung up.
She was done wrapping her gifts by the time she’d gotten off the phone with Dillon, so she went down to help Nana finish cooking and setting up for the family coming over the next day.
“Maddy, would you be a darling and add all the rest of the ornaments to the tree,” Nana asked?
Nana had a huge Christmas tree in the foyer of the house. It was only one of many. She had a total of 5. The Christmas tree that was in the foyer is where she put all of the family Christmas ornaments. She’d had them personally made with every single person in the family’s picture and name. She had arranged them by family. All of her siblings and their kids were put together by who was the oldest. The tree also had a star on the top. The star represented Maddy’s mom and dad. It was a way for the family to remember them.
As Maddy was putting the ornaments onto the tree, she ran across Uncle Nolan’s ornament and she began to smile. She began to think about the gift he’d given her and about the fact that he had been adopted by Nana’s parents.
Before she knew it, she had finished and so was Nana. The two of them sat at the bar and shared a cup of hot chocolate.
“How was last night,” Nana asked? “We haven’t had a chance to talk.”
“It was great. Luke made my night everything that I could have asked for,” Maddy said smiling.
“That’s wonderful. I really enjoy him,” Nana said.
“There was a slight incident,” Maddy added.
Nana looked with concern.
“Leslie,” Maddy said.
Nana took a deep breath.
“She somehow found a way to play my dad’s journal entry over the speaker at the dance last night,” Maddy said.
“Jesus,” Nana said. “She’d better be glad I’m not the person I used to be because she’d surely get a taste of my mine.
“It’s okay, Nana. She’ll get her,” she said. “Luke made up for it.”
Nana caressed her cheek and kissed her forehead.
“Well I’m gonna get some sleep,” Maddy said.
Nana smiled and sent her off.
Maddy spent the rest of her night talking to Luke on the phone until she fell asleep. She woke up the next day exactly at 10:10.
It was the sound of Aunt Roz’s loud laughter that had woke her up. She got out of bed and went to give Nana and Grandpa their gifts. Grandpa shook his box as if he was trying to see what Maddy had gotten him.
“What did you get me,” Aunt Roz asked?
Maddy looked off to the side.
“Your hair looks nice,” Maddy said with a smile.
Aunt Roz laughed and shook her head.
Maddy went upstairs and showered so that she’d be ready for her cousin’s arrival. By the time she was done, everyone had finally shown up. Grandpa was wearing his new watch, and Nana her earrings. All of her cousins were wearing their cleanest of Christmas fashions, and Maddy had risen to the occasion as well. Uncle Nolan was fashionably late, and rightfully so. If Maddy could’ve given out a best-dressed award for the night, he would’ve won it.
Christmas went just the same as it always did. The family ate and bickered at the table. Then they exchanged gifts and sang Christmas carols with one another. Uncle Ryan came with another new conspiracy, and surprisingly; Aunt Leanne had the same boyfriend from Thanksgiving. It was the perfect Christmas until Maddy got around to opening one of her gifts.