“You can’t catch me!”
“I bet I can! Wait a minute, you’re cheating!”
“Catch up slowpoke!”
The memory nearly brought Chimney to tears as he stared at the picture. In it, he and Kevin were on their new bikes that his dad had gotten them for Christmas. Chimney gave a watery smile as he remember how pissed his dad had gotten after that picture because they rode right through the flower beds he told them not to. He put the picture back in the photo album it fell out of, placing the album back on the bookshelf. As he sat on the couch he wiped the moisture from his eyes, not wanting Maddie to see him and worry.
Looking in the kitchen, Chimney could see her, happily stirring cookie batter and singing along to Christmas carols. He couldn’t wait for his... Kevin’s parents to finally meet her. Diane’s been begging him to bring her to meet them ever since he finally told them about her. Maddie’s also expressed interest in to wanting meet them. He decided it was finally time for the people that mean so much to him to finally get to know each other.
It would be the first holiday he’d spent with the Lee’s in a few years. He didn’t mean for it to be so long and he made sure to contact them, but between work and other things coming up, he’d found it difficult. There were also the remnants of guilt he was powering through that still made being around them hard. But this year he’d resigned himself to doing this. He had no excuses, nothing stoping him from following through. He needed to do this.
“Chimney!” The sound of Maddie’s voice broke his thoughts, startling him slightly.
“What?” He turned quickly to see Maddie behind him, holding a plate of cookies.
“I called your name a few times,” she squinted her eyes as she looked at him, “are you okay?”
He hadn’t know he’d zoned out like that. “Oh yeah,” she still looked at him like she was unsure if she believed him, “yeah,” he said with a bit more confidence, “I was just thinking about how excited I am for you to finally meet the Lee’s.”
The skeptical look on her face morphed into a smile. “I’m excited to meet them too. Which is why I want to make sure these cookies are okay. Don’t wanna poison anyone.”
She took a cookie off the plate to hand to him. Instead of reaching out, he held is mouth open, just to see what her reaction would be. Rolling her eyes in jest, she stuck the cookie in his mouth, allowed him to bite down on the sugary treat, before handing him the rest.
He saw her looking at him expectantly as he chewed. It was delicious, but he wanted to play with her a bit. So, he started coughing, not putting any force into it, just enough to make it look like it was bad.
Her eyed widened in pure horror, much to his amusement. “Oh my god! It was that bad?”
He cleared his throat, straightening his posture. “Actually it’s pretty good. Great really.” He popped the rest of it in his mouth, rubbing his hands together to wipe off the crumbs.
He looked up at her to see the shock on her face and the anger in her eyes. She shook her head at him. She opened her mouth as if she was going to say something, but decided against it and walked back towards the kitchen, leaving Chimney laughing.
“Babe,” Maddie ignored him, “babe, come on,” Maddie still ignored him, “you gotta admit that was funny,” he was still met with silence, “you know I didn’t mean anything by it,” a few chuckles were still escaping him, “can I, at least, have another one?”
“Absolutely not!” She hollered at him.
He looked up to see that Maddie was still a little mad, but he also saw a bit of a smirk when their eyes met, signaling that he wasn’t completely in the dog house. He intended on going into the kitchen to smooth things over with Maddie and steal a couple more cookies. As soon as he rose from the couch, the power went out, encasing the house in darkness with only moonlight peaking through the windows.
“What the hell?” Maddie asked as she walked into the living room.
As he looked out the window, it appeared that the entire neighborhood had gone dark. He grabbed his phone, turned on the flashlight and went outside to get a better look around. “Yep, the entire block’s out, street lights and all.” He commented as he came back in the house and closed the door.
“why though? I mean, we would’ve been the first to know if they were doing a rolling black out. And there’s no sign of a storm.”
“I don’t know, but I’m sure it’s fine. It’s probably a surge. The power should be back on soon.”
So, they waited, not being able to do anything else. The first hour passed, no power. The second was ticking by, still no power. By then his “soon” theory had been thrown out the window. They decided it was time to call the power company.
“Alright, they said that they’re aware of the issue, it’s throughout the whole city, they would not give me a straight answer about what’s going on, but their working on it. Oh, and they also don’t know when they’ll have the power back on. Given the number of people affected, could be tomorrow.” Chimney told her, making sure that he’d said everything that he was told. He put his phone on the coffee table.
“Of course they said that.” Maddie said in annoyance. His mood matched his.
She stood up rubbing her hands together, blowing into them. She started to pace and pulled the sweater she was wearing tighter around her. He couldn’t blame. The heat from the kitchen had worn off some time ago and the temperature starting dropping. It was fine, it was only a record breaking 30 degrees outside. As if Maddie could read his mind she said, “this would happen on one of the coldest nights of the year.”
Hating that didn’t have another heat source other than his thermostat, he thought of another idea. “I’ll be right back.” He went to back bedroom and returned with several cozy blankets.
As he spread the blankets over the couch, he could see her watching him. “What are you doing?” She asked as he continued.
“You’ll see.” He spread the last blanket where he wanted it, “okay, perfect.” He sat down on the blankets, summoning her over, “come here.” She walked over to him, totally unsure what to make of what he was doing. “Sit.” She did. “Wrap your arms around my waist, lean in close and put your feet up.”
“I swear this is going somewhere you’ll like.”
Maddie still look skeptical as she did as he instructed. He reached over her and pulled the first of the blankets around, making sure it was the thickest blanket covering her. He reached to his other side and pulled in the blanket to cover himself and his feet. He reached behind pulling the third blanket around their backs and shoulders for extra warmth, fully cocooning them.
“Since I don’t have a heater, which I am sorry about and will be rectifying tomorrow, I thought I could make do with what I had. Huddle together to keep warm right?”
She looked up at him, “I haven’t fully forgiven you for that little stunt you pulled earlier,” he pouted and she smiled at him as she snuggled into him, “but this is winning you some brownie points.”
“I’ll take it,” he said, wrapping his arms around her tighter already feeling his body react positively to the warmth.