Hi all!! *gasp* Can you believe there are three days till Christmas?!?! It's craziness! Well, today on the 9th day of the "12 Days of Christmas", I have part one in a Christmas story for you guys. This ended up a bit longer than I expected, so each part is longer than what I normally post... hopefully you all won't mind! ;)
So, without any further ado, part #1 of "As in Olden Days"!
~December 1939, Topeka, KS~
David leaned against the corner of the barn as Lily’s shrill laugh ran out across the silent, snowy world.
She ran as fast as she could in the snow, but Gil was on her heels, and it one smooth moment he’d grabbed her around the waist, and twirled her around. “That’s what you get for saying that David was more gentlemanly than I.”
Even from the distance, David could hear the smile in Gil’s voice. Lily’s reply was quieter, and his ears didn’t catch what she said.
David chuckled to himself. He was more gentlemanly than Gil. At least Lily had gotten that right.
The sound of footsteps behind him caused him to turn, and he saw Rafe walk up behind him, bundled in winter clothing.
“What are you watching?” Rafe asked as he came and stood beside him.
David pointed to Gil and Lily, who were headed back into the warmth of the house. “Them. They’re smitten with each other and it’s great fun to watch.”
“Hey, Dave, I got an idea.” Rafe rested a hand on David’s shoulder. “What do you say we, you and I, make this a Christmas Gil and Lily won’t ever forget?”
David cocked his head to meet his brother’s eyes. “Just what are you planning?”
Rafe’s gaze held a dangerously innocent look. “Oh, nothing much. Just lots of fun for the two lovebirds.” Rafe raised his eyebrows. “What do you say, big brother? You in?”
David didn’t even have to consider it. Whatever Rafe had planned, he knew it would be worth any opposition they encountered. “Of course.”
Rafe grinned and slapped his brother on the shoulder. “I thought as much. Come on, let’s make this a Christmas the lovely couple won’t forget for as long as they live.”
"Hey, David, come here." Rafe caught David's sleeve as they left the dinning room as soon as breakfast was over. Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan, as well as Janie, had left for town to do some last minute shopping, leaving the three older Sullivan children, as well as Gil, Elaine, and Lily, at the house.
Rafe pulled David into the living room, which was empty. The brightly lit tree stood at the far end, of the room, surrounded by brightly wrapped packages. Against the same wall stood the sofa and easy chair, and just kiddy-corner, there was a table with a radio, and the entrance that led to the dining room. Just across from that was the door to the front porch, and the staircase that led up to the second level of the old farmhouse. The wall next to the door boasted a large fireplace, that added many a comfort to the cold, winter nights. The far wall was empty, save for a small piano that sat silent.
David cast a furtive glance around the room to make sure neither Gil nor Lily were in hearing distance, and then gave his attention to Rafe. "What?"
Rafe grinned. "We've got a job to do. We're going to hang some mistletoe."
No matter how hard he tried, David could not keep the smirk off his face. "Mistletoe?" He paused, and then raised an eyebrow. "Have you ever thought that that plan may backfire?"
Rafe frowned. "Backfire? What do you mean?"
"Lily isn't going to be the only person who happens into a doorway with the mistletoe hanging above it. What if Elaine stand beneath it? Or even mother or Anne?"
"Aww," Rafe brushed a hand to the side as if dismissing all of David's worries. "If it's Elaine, you can kiss her, on the cheek, of course. And if it's mother, we'll go find dad."
"And," David insisted. "If it's Anne?"
At the mention of their sister, Rafe ran a finger through his hair. "If it's Anne, I'm sure one of us will be around to do the job."
At that, David tried unsuccessfully to hold in a laugh. As the sound filled the room, Rafe slapped a hand over his brother's mouth. "Hush!" He hissed. "You'll attract attention, and that's one thing we don't need."
But it was too late for that. A moment later Gil came around the corner, his eyebrows making a "v" in his forehead. "What's going on?"
"Going on?" Rafe tucked his hands in his pockets and looked around the room with the most innocent gaze he could muster. "Nothing. Everything's going just fine.We're just . . .talking. About Christmas."
"Yeah, sure." Gil didn't look convinced, and his eyes shot to David. "With you two there's always something going on, and this time I'm not exactly sure it I want to know what it is."
David grinned and walked to Gil, slapping him on the shoulder. "Come on, Gil. Nothing's going on. We're talking about . . . Christmas. Just as Rafe said."
"Hmm." Gill still didn't seem convinced.
David shook his head. Gil knew him too well.
"Come on." David tried to change the subject. "Let's see if the girls are finished and we'll head out for some sledding."
Gill still didn't seemed a bit wary, but he turned and stepped out of the doorway, and David followed him into the kitchen. "Hey, we about done here?"
Elaine looked up from the dishes with a smile. "Almost. Here." She reached over to the counter, picked up a dishtowel that was laying there, and threw it at David. "Make yourself useful."
David heard a chuckle behind him, and he turned and gave Gil a mock frown as he headed over to the sink. "Don't laugh, Gil."
Lily had a twinkle in her eye, and she handed Gil the broom. "You can make yourself useful as well."
It was David's turned to a chuckle.
Gil started sweeping, but then suddenly stopped. "Hey, why ain't Rafe in here doing something to help?"
Anne, who had been working on re-stacking the china plates used for breakfast, exchanged an impish grin with David. "Wait here, I'll go track him down."
She left the room, and for a moment the only sound in the room was the dish towel and the broom against the floor.
Moments later, a frowning Rafe was ushered into the kitchen, with Anne hot on his heels. "Now, Rafe, you can hand me these dishes that David dries, and I'll put them in the cupboard."
Rafe stepped in next to David, and leaned close. "How'd we get stuck with this?"
David shrugged. "Beats me."
"Ahh, this is perfect," Lily said, stepping back with a twinkle in her eye. All our menfolk in the kitchen working with us. This was the way it was meant to be."
David rolled his eyes, and Gil scoffed. Rafe shook his head and muttered, "how come I'm always gettin' paired up with my sister."
Anne sent him a death glare, but Rafe ignored it and turned to Gil. "Hey, want to trade gals?"
David coughed, trying to cover a smirk. If how Gil and Lily was acting this morning was any indication, Gil wasn't going to be trading anyone.
"Ahh, well you're sister is a lovely woman, Rafe," Gil said as he put the broom in the corner. "But I'm afraid I can't bear to switch." He wrapped an arm around Lily's waist, and she laid her head on his shoulder.
"Even is she does make me clean the kitchen."
Everyone laughed, and Rafe leaned closer to David. “They are all over each other, aren’t they?”
David grunted. “Yeah, they are.”
“Kinda like you and Elaine, aren’t they?”
David nodded absentmindedly. “Yeah, they-- Hey!” He elbowed Rafe, who grinned.
“I love how you get lost in your thoughts at times. I can make you admit to almost anything.”
David glared at Rafe who only grinned.
“Well, are we about ready to head out?” Gil asked, as Anne placed the last glass in the cupboard, and Elaine folded the dishrag she had been using.
David surveyed the kitchen. It looked quite spotless. He nodded. “Yes.” He turned to Elaine. “You all ready for some snow?” His tone held a challenge, and Elaine raised an eyebrow.
“You better believe we are, Mr. Sullivan.”
“Alright, Ladies.” Anna allowed Rafe to help her down from the counter, and then she removed her apron. “Follow me and we’ll get dressed to head outdoors.”
Elaine and Lily followed her out of the kitchen. As they left, Gil stretched and then reached for his coat which hung on a hook by the kitchen door. “While the girls get ready, I gotta head over to the farm and make sure everything is in order for the afternoon.”
“Good idea.” David, ran a hand through his hair. “Say, Gil, when will your parents be back?”
Gil shrugged. “Can’t really say. They’re hoping to be back by New Years, but you never know. It depends on how Grandma is doing.”
“How is she doing, Gil?” Rafe asked. “Any better?”
Gil buttoned his coat, and wrapped the scarf around his neck. “The fall hurt her hip real bad. But they’re hoping she’ll be back on her feet soon.”
“That’s good to hear.” Rafe’s voice was encouraging. “She’s in our prayers.”
Gil smiled. “I know, and I thank you. Well, I guess I’d better get going before the girls come back.” He slipped his feet into his boots, and opened the door. “See you boys in a few.” His eyes lit up mischievously. “Be ready to give the girls the time of their lives.”
“Be ready to give Gil and Lily the time of their lives,” Rafe corrected as Gil closed the door behind him.
David turned. “Okay, what’s your plan?”
Grabbing him by the arm, Rafe pulled David into the adjoining living room. “All right, here, I grabbed some sprigs of mistletoe this morning after feeding the animals. Now we gotta work quickly before the girls come down and Gil gets back.”
David grabbed the sprigs of mistletoe that Rafe shoved at him, and wrinkled his nose. “You know how the seeds of these things are spread, don’t you?”
“No one cares." Rafe shrugged. "It’s not like we’re gonna make them eat it.” He reached up and started attaching it to the corners of the living room doorway.
David hook his head. “I don’t know how I ever let you talk me into this.
Rafe shot a grin over his shoulder. “With my charm and uncanny ability sway my big, older brother. I’ve still got the touch.”
David shook his head in mock disgust. “Don’t be too humble, Rafe. Too much humility is not good for a man.”
“Ah, sarcasm. Not we’re going the whole ten yards.” He pitched one of the sprigs at David. “Just get those hung, would you? They’ll be down any minute!”
“Naw.” David shook his head as he situated the mistletoe in a inconspicuous place above the mantle. “Knowing girls, they’ll be up there another ten minutes.”
Rafe only grunted, and for the next few minutes the room was quiet as the brothers worked. Then suddenly, Rafe paused and cocked his head. “What’s that?”
David listened for a moment. “Sounds like the radio.”
“Thanks, Dave. I thought is was the cows in the barn.”
“Ahah, who’s the sarcastic one now?”
Rafe reached across the mantle and punched David in the arm. “I meant who is on the radio.”
“I know.” David grinned. “It’s that Crosby fellow it seems all the girls are all crazy about.”
Shaking his head in mock disgust, Rafe sighed. “Gil had better watch out or he’ll lose Lily to Bing. Or someone else who can sing like him.” He stepped back and took a deep breath. “Siiillllent Night. Hooolllllyyyyy night. Alllll is calm, alllll is bright. Round younger viirgggiinnn, mothhher and chhiild.
David snickered. “Lily’s not going to leave Gil for someone who can’t croon to save his life.”
A frown narrowed Rafe’s eyes, but before he could reply, Anne appeared on the stairs. “Seriously, Rafe? You ruined the song!”
For a moment silence fell over the room, and then Rafe and David exchanged a glance. The mischievous look in his brother's eyes caused David to burst out laughing, and Rafe joined him.
Anne descended the rest of the way down the steps, and stood, her hands on her hips. “It’s not funny.”
Rafe didn’t seem to hear as he slapped his knee and howled with laughter. David couldn’t help but laugh along. Anne made quite the picture standing there all bundled up, her hands on her hips, and her face doing it’s best to keep an annoyed look.
“You could hear me all the way upstairs?” He asked, as soon as he had quieted enough to take a breath.
“Yes. And you just happened to interrupt the best singer ever!”
Rafe’s eyes twinkled. “Siiiilllent Niighhhht. Hooolyyyy Nighhht. Alll is Calm. Alllll is bright.”
Anne stepped forward and was about to press her hand over Rafe’s lips when David grabbed her around the waist, and flipped her over his shoulder.
“Round young viiirrrgin, motthhher and chilllld.” Rafe continued to sing as best he could, his eyes dancing with laughter.
David twirled Anne around the room, while Rafe’s voice drowned out her screams of protest. She pounded his back with her fists, but he hardly felt it.
“What in the world is going on here?”
Rafe and David suddenly stilled and turned toward the door. David was surprised he hadn’t even feel the blast of cold air that swept through the room when it opened.
Gil stood just inside, his cheeks red and his hands stuffed in his pocket.
At the same time, Lily and Elaine came down the stairs, bundled up in winter clothing.
Gil looked between them, and Rafe and David. “Dave, why is Anne hanging over your shoulder like a sack of potatoes?”
“Gil, help me, please!” Anne’s pleas were muffled by the scarf that had fallen over her face.
Gil surveyed David for a moment. “Will you let me rescue the lady in distress?”
David grinned. “Come and try.”
Gil walked over, placed his hands around Anne’s waist, and lifted her off David’s shoulder. As soon as she was free from David, Anne struggled to be put down, but Gil kept a firm hold on her. “Who’s to say I can’t tease you now?”
Before Anne could reply, Rafe whisked her from Gil and set her down on the ground. “There you go, little sis. Your handsome singer to the rescue.”
Anne stepped back till she was out of reach, and re-wrapped the scarf around her head.
That done, she glared at Rafe. “You’re the one who got me into this to begin with. Don’t pretend to rescue me.”
“So, um, are we ready to go sledding?” Elaine ask from where she stood on the stairs next to Lily.
Gil chuckled. “Yeah, I think so. As soon as David and Rafe get ready, that is.” He turned to the girls. “Since we’re ready and these guys are not, will you allow me to escort you to the barn where we can locate some sleds?”
Lily nodded, and Elaine shrugged and smiled. “Sure!”
Gil turned to Anne, who shook her head. “You three go on ahead. I gotta go re-pin my hair, thanks to my brothers.” She sent David and Rafe a deadly look.
“Well, that’s settled then.” Rafe started toward the stairs. “Make sure you grab all three of the sleds.”
“We will,” Gil assured him as he opened the door and ushered Lily and Elaine out ahead of him.
“We’ll be out in a sec,” David yelled as he followed Rafe up the stairs to their room. Anne followed closely behind them.
As Anne disappeared into her room, Rafe turned to David. “Did you finish hanging all the ones I gave you?”
David nodded. “Yeah, just before you started your little serenade.”
A grin was Rafe’s only answer as he ducked into their room. David followed. The room was small, but not uncomfortably so. The hardwood floor gleamed, and the pale yellow walls seemed to catch every ray of sunlight that danced through the window above David’s bed.
The brothers took no time in layering sweaters and socks, making sure they dressed warm enough to spend several hours in the cold, outdoor weather.
Once finished, David led the way down the stairs and into the kitchen, where he stuffed his feet into his boots, and grabbed his jacket from the hook , where he had tossed it earlier.
Rafe came into the kitchen a moment later. “Anne’s on her way down.”
“Finally,” David grunted as he wrapped a scarf around his face. “It’s taken her long enough.”
“Well, we weren’t exactly ready and waiting for her,” Rafe pointed out as he tucked his pants into his boots, and slipped his own coat on over the layers of sweaters.
“You ready?” Anne stepped into the kitchen, her hair firmly in place, and her head and ears covered with a scarf.
Rafe nodded. “Yep, come on.” He held out his arm. “May I escort you, my lady?”
Anne rolled her eyes, but took his arm. “Normally I’d say no, but I know the snow is deep and I’ll probably need a bit of help to keep from falling.”
Performing a half bow, Rafe said, “We men aim to serve the ladies in whatever way we can.”
David chuckled and offered his arm on Anne’s other side. “With two gentlemen, you’ll be assured of a smooth walk, my lady.”
“Yeah, sure.” Anne’s eyes twinkled as she grasped his elbow. “Either that or a walk to remember where I end up dumped in the snow.”
Rafe gasped, and his eyes cut to David. “We would never do that, would we, brother?”
“Never! The thought wouldn’t even cross our minds.”
Looking as though she didn't believe him, Anne pulled them towards the door. “Come. You left Gil with two ladies. Let’s go and assist him.”
“Whatever you say, miss.” David opened the door, and they all stepped out into the blinding brightness.
After slamming the door behind them, Rafe paused. “I think I hear laughing.”
“Yeah, you do.” Anne grinned. “Come, David. Let’s go and rescue your Elaine before she falls for Gil.”
David grinned. His Elaine. He had never imagined that his sister’s best friend from nursing school would be the woman he fell in love with. Nor would he have imagined Gil, his best friend, falling in love with Lily, Elaine’s best friend.
He shook his head. Life never seemed to play out quite like he expected. But he wouldn’t have it any other way.
What did you think? Are you enjoying it so far? Do you enjoy sledding?
What did you think? Are you enjoying it so far? Do you enjoy sledding?