That night, Timothy and Judy joined them for dinner. It was good to see Judy again, and Sarah remembered her when she and Lauren cleared out John’s apartment. Sarah chatted away about her first time playing in the snow, talking about the snowman she and her grandpa and Spencer made together.
Kate thought Timothy was more like Spencer than John. Timothy was more outgoing and playful, where John had been serious and reserved. Timothy was taller than John by about three inches and looked more muscular than most who were active duty. Perhaps he worked out more for himself than the Air Force.
Kate amazingly felt at ease here, feeling like she was truly welcome. She didn’t quite understand it, but she would accept it for as long as it lasted.
The lasagna they ate was amazing and Spencer wasn’t kidding when he had said Mrs. Kern was a good cook. Kate had seconds which she hardly ever did, anywhere. Kate took comfort in the cheesy pasta, with sausage, tomatoes, garlic, basil and onion. The fresh bread was soft on the inside with a slightly crunchy crust, just the way Kate liked it.
After dinner, Kate put a very sleepy Sarah down to bed. The fresh air and fun in the snow wore her out too. Earlier Sarah had picked the bed closest to the door.
“If you need me, I’ll be right next door, okay?” Kate sat on the bed, rubbing Sarah’s forehead. She left the lamp on in case Sarah woke up and didn’t remember where she was.
The little girl just nodded, already half asleep. Kate walked back to the living room where the rest of the family were visiting. “Will she be okay in there?” Lauren asked.
“I think she’s out already. She should be fine, thanks.” Kate sat on the sofa next to Spencer who took her hand. She squeezed it but didn’t let go. She simply stared at the flames through the glass doors of the stove and thought she could watch the glowing fire for hours and be quite happy.
“Do you want anything?” Spencer whispered to her. “There’s water for tea or cocoa in the kitchen.”
“I’m still full from dinner, but some cocoa sounds good.”
“One cocoa coming up,” Spencer said. A minute later he handed her a steaming mug and had the coffee pot in his other hand to pour refills for those who wanted it.
They sat around the room, chatting and talking about past holidays. Lauren shared a story about John and Timothy unwrapping presents and trying to hide it. Mrs. Kern said after she realized they were doing that, she would put old socks or dish towels and rocks in the packages. “We were quite nervous that Christmas morning,” Timothy said. “We didn’t know if we were getting rocks or actual presents.”
“I put a stop to that, didn’t I?” Lauren asked, with a twinkle in her eye. She didn’t seem to be the type to get bested by her sons.
“That’s for sure. I told John, if we got rocks and dirty socks for gifts, I’d pummel him.”
Soon after hearing that story, they all went to bed in their respective rooms.
Kate checked on Sarah, who slept soundly. Then Kate went next door to her room and read the paperback she brought with her, but not for long. After their busy day, it didn’t take long before she was sleepy and turned the light off. She snuggled down under the pretty comforter and fell asleep a few minutes later.
This is the last section of Chapter 12!