Sara sighs. Angels. She hadn’t been to Midnight Mass in ages, not since she was home home and she can’t remember when that was. Even after the restrained conversation with Em, she feels peace, a restfulness she finds difficult to accept there in that cottage with that man as if she were home under the blankets trying to listen for reindeers and bells, her mother comforting her and humming a Christmas lullaby. She runs her eyes over the pages of a book but is unable to read.

a knot in her chest quivers, but she pushes it back, trying to give no meaning to the evening

Sitting on the sill, with his shirt unbuttoned and untucked over the other, Adrián reminds her not of a big cat but a hunter. He is not what he seems, is stronger than he leads her to believe. The wind keeps disrupting her thoughts, although the sky is now dark and clear. The words on the page blur one into the other, and, giving up pretenses, Sara places her hand on top of them.

“It must be Saint Nick.” It is barely audible, a half-question and amused remark.

Adrián closes the newspaper on his lap and throws his head back to watch her from a different viewpoint. “Let’s go to bed. He may not come in if we’re down here.”

º

Barely up a couple of steps, she sees crystal balls and glittering snowflakes hanging over the bed from strips of organza. Moonlight through the window on the loft shines its silver-blue light onto every surface. Bedspread and sheets and floor are covered in luminescence with sparkles in the shapes of moons and snowflakes and stars. “What is this?”

“merry christmas”

Sara slips off his embrace and stands one step above him. “I can almost hear it tinkle.”

“I bet you do.”

She goes up another step, then looks back at him. “This is my Christmas gift, isn’t it?” Silver mesh and glitter, revolving around her like a breeze, touching and fleeting. Like, yet so unlike, another memory.

“No, Saint Nick will get your gifts from their secret place, and I will give them to you tomorrow morning like you want.”

They climb to the loft, from where they count the shimmer above them, keep an eye on Saint Nick if he is to come at that time and under such impertinent weather,

and alert their senses to the wind and the ocean, to the fire below, to their souls

Like A Blue Thread

Shimmering Blanket of Diamonds