The Winter House by Danielle Lee Zwissler

“Janice, get me those blueprints, will ya?” Jason Billings said as he was putting his laptop in its case. He was running late for yet another meeting. He owned his own design studio and worked all hours of the night, most of the time not even noticing the things around him.
The Winter House
The Winter House by Danielle Lee Zwissler
“Do you even know what today is, Jason?” Janice Corday, his secretary, said annoyed. She grabbed the blueprints and put them in the slim casings. “Here, now can I go?” “It’s Wednesday, why? Oh shit… is it your birthday?” Jason wiped his brow, and ruffled his hair with his fingers. “I can’t believe this! I’m so sorry.” Janice shook her head. “No it’s not my birthday, you oaf! It’s the day before Thanksgiving! Most people get the week off around here, but not us! Nooooo… we have to work all of the time! I have so much stuff to do, Jason! Now, can I go?” Jason couldn’t remember the last time that he looked at a calendar. He mostly just got his information from Janice. Too bad she was a newly married woman. He needed a life, and all he had was Janice, the newly married woman that desperately needed to get home and figure out how to make a damn turkey. “Sure, you can get out of here. I’m sorry, Janice. You know you really should remind me of these things earlier… When Christmas comes around, just schedule the week off and let me know.” Jason winked and grabbed the blueprints out of Janice’s hands. Her shocked expression said it all. “So… you mean to tell me that you want me to just do your schedule?” “You’re in charge, Janice. Just let me know. How long do you need off? A week, two? I can’t see that I’m going to need you the rest of the week… I wasn’t planning on Thanksgiving, but then again… now that I’m thinking about it, don’t people go shopping the day after?” “Uh, yeah… Jason, are you feeling all right? I know you’re not married an’ all, but I’m sure you know about all of the sales! Black Friday? How do you not know about Black Friday?” Janice was outraged. How did anyone survive around here without knowing where the sales were? No wonder the guy was alone. “I’m fine. I just, well, I just don’t get into that stuff. My mom and sister were always doing that while dad and I watched the game. It has been years since I’ve had a Thanksgiving dinner. “ Janice felt awful. It was times like this when she knew she should just shut up. “Jason, I’m sorry. I forgot all about…” “It’s not your fault. You didn’t do anything, Janice. I still can’t believe they aren’t here. Maybe I’ll go to the cemetery this weekend to celebrate with them.” Jason had to swallow down the pain that was coming. He didn’t want to cry, especially in front of his secretary. “Still, Jason. If there’s anything I can do… would you like to spend Thanksgiving with us?” “No, that’s okay, Janice. I’m going to have a nice quiet meal for once, and maybe I’ll catch the game. It has been a while… I don’t even know who’s playing.” Jason laughed, and then couldn’t help himself. He laughed some more. “Are you sure you’re going to be okay?” “I’m sure, Janice. You have a great weekend. I’ll be back on Monday. Just leave my appointment book on my desk and let me know when you’re coming back. I’ve got to fly. See ya later.” Jason smiled once more, grabbed his stuff, and headed out the door. *** The holidays were here, and Katelyn felt even worse. It was always around this time when she thought of her family. She walked over to the fireplace and glanced up at the mantle. Pictures were gathered there of her beautiful daughter, her husband, and her parents. She smiled at each, and said her daily prayer for them. She couldn’t believe that it had been three years. She hadn’t seen them in three years, and she hadn’t seen herself. She destroyed all of the mirrors in her home; took away all of the things that made her into what she hated the most: herself. Twenty minutes later she heard the knock at the door. She started to panic. Her throat constricted, and she braced herself for who was on the other side. The last time she heard a knock, it was bad news. People knew not to come over. They hadn’t since the funeral. They just up and forgot all about her; forgot all about the life that she had taken away from her, the sweet love that she had for her child, the reason why she was holed up in this place in the woods. Walking to the door, she pulled an afghan off of the couch and wrapped it around her tightly. One deep breath and she turned the knob on the door and opened it. “Ma’am?” Tears came down Katelyn’s face in relief. She didn’t have a clue who the stranger was, but it wasn’t the police, and that made her feel so much better. “Yes, I’m sorry, did you need something?” Katelyn’s voice was coarse. She had a hell of a time. “No, well, yeah, I guess I do need something. My car, it’s not working. I was wondering if you could call a tow truck for me. I’m right over there.” The stranger pointed to the side of the road. It was her private driveway. “Is there a reason why you are in my driveway?” The man coughed, and put his head down. “I…” he sighed, then started again, “My family. They are just over that hill. I was coming for a visit. When I came back down the hill, my car started sputtering. It’s never done that before, and to be honest, I don’t know what to do with it, so I thought I should call a tow. And of course, I left my cell phone in my jacket pocket, which is sitting on my couch in my apartment. Janice let out a giggle, and covered her mouth. Surprise showered her face, and then she blushed. “I’m sorry, I…” “No, I’m sorry,” the man said, then chuckled. “I don’t know when I became so long winded.” He switched his weight to his right leg, and leaned against the door. “I don’t know who you were trying to visit, though. You must have the wrong directions. I’m the only one up on this hill.” “Living.” Janice felt a chill go down her spine. Suddenly, she was frightened. She took a step back and went for the door. The stranger sensed her movement, and spoke shortly. “What I meant was, my family is buried up on the hill. We used to live here.” Janice covered her mouth once again, and sobbed. “Oh.” “Are you, okay? I’m sorry; I really didn’t mean to make you cry.” His shoulders slumped and he felt awful. “Please don’t cry…. I’m sorry; I don’t even know your name.” “Oh, it’s Katelyn. And, you?” He smiled. “My name is Jason. Very nice to meet you. I’m sorry about my manners; I really am not around people that often. It’s not like I live in the woods or…” Jason flinched. “It’s okay. I don’t talk to anyone either. Actually, you are the first person that I’ve spoken with, in person, in three years.” Janice moved to the side. “Would you like to come in? Have some coffee, and I’ll call your tow.” Jason smiled. “That sounds wonderful.” He moved into the house. He was a tall guy, if she were to guess, around 6’3”. “You can sit over there if you want.” She pointed to a large, brown suede couch and walked over to grab the portable phone. “You have a beautiful home. Is that your daughter?” He smiled and stood when she walked towards the couch. Katelyn closed her eyes and waited for the flood of tears. “She was my baby. Her name was Lilly. She was two years old when it happened.” Jason closed his eyes and moved towards Katelyn. “Oh, Katelyn. I’m so very sorry. She’s lovely.” “Thank you,” she said, trembling. “I haven’t talked to anyone about it. I’m…well, she is lovely, isn’t she?” Katelyn said, looking at the photograph. “Yes she is.” He noticed the man as well, but for as well as he was doing now…he wasn’t about to ask about him. He looked over to her ring finger. Nothing was there. She didn’t wear any makeup, and she was bundled up so tightly in the afghan that he couldn’t tell if she had a body. She looked like a modern day mummy. The time was starting to get away from him, but he was enjoying the conversation. It wasn’t as if he had anything else to do. “So, what are your plans for tomorrow?” He walked over to the couch and sat down with the phone. He crossed his legs and waited for her to answer. She sat down on a chair adjacent. “Oh, same old, I guess. I don’t do a lot of anything these days.” This was the most that she has spoken in a year. She couldn’t bring herself to go to a doctor for her problems; she just took out her rage and grief on her garden outside. But now that fall has set in, she had nothing to do but wait ‘til spring. “So, no Thanksgiving plans then?” How could she forget? She was ashamed of herself for the first time in years. Sure she was upset. Who wouldn’t be, but to forget a holiday such as Thanksgiving, she must have been pretty bad. “No, uh, actually…” “I forgot, you know? I’m so busy working all of the time that I actually forgot. My secretary was outraged because I didn’t give her the day off. She was snapping all day at work, and I had no idea what she was freaking out about. Of course, Janice would want to go to the sales.” Jason laughed, and caught Katelyn’s eye. “Oh, no,” Katelyn said, then laughed. “You didn’t?” Jason smiled, “I did, and she gave it to me. I had no choice but to give her the week off. I told her to just let me know when she was coming back. I’ve been off for a while.” “What do you mean, off?” “Well, when you forget something like Thanksgiving, you have to re-evaluate the importance of life, you know? My parents, and my sister…they died in an automobile accident three years ago. I haven’t done much since; I haven’t talked to anyone about it either. You and I…we have a lot in common.” Katelyn’s heart gave a little sputter. She looked at him and smiled. “Yeah, I suppose. My husband and my daughter were in an accident as well. I don’t have anyone either. My parents died before I had my family, so I haven’t had much to live for.” “I’m so sorry that you’ve had to go through something like that. I don’t know what I would have done.” “It has been awful. I don’t want to live anymore. I haven’t wanted to for a while. When living is just going through the motions, what is the point?” Hearing someone else say what he had thought for a while only confirmed one thing. He didn’t want to go on living the way he was anymore either. “What are you doing tomorrow?” Katelyn looked at him again, this time she looked confused. “Um… nothing. The usual, remember?” “Yeah, I know, well I guess I was… I’m asking if… would you like to spend Thanksgiving with me?” Katelyn’s bottom lip trembled. She remembered a famous line from a movie, “Start living or die trying.” It was time to start living. She swallowed back her tears and nodded her head. “Yes. I would. I would love to spend some more time with you. Thanksgiving? I would love to spend Thanksgiving with you.” Jason smiled at her blunder, and looked at the phone. “I’m looking forward to it.” Chapter 2 “Katelyn?” It was Jason. She took a deep breath and smiled. She had been seeing him for a week now. It sounded absolutely ridiculous, she knew, but it was a start. They haven’t been separated for more than 12 hours the entire week. “Jason, hi!” she felt silly. It was like an enormous weight had been lifted off her chest. He was sweet, an ear to air her problems, a friend. They spent that first night together just talking. He called for a tow truck, and it never came. It was like fate had intervened for one moment, and sent her an angel. They hadn’t talked about anything at all but her and his family. It felt so good to hear about his mom, and sister... and the times that they had fun, and it felt wonderful telling him about Lilly and Mark. “What are you doing?” “You know what I’m doing. I’m just sitting here at my desk, trying to get some work done.” She transcribed medical journals for hospitals. She got the job when she was pregnant with Lilly. She wanted to be a stay at home mom desperately. She and Mark didn’t have a ton of money but made up for it with love. They loved Lilly more than anything. “Ah, and I’m just sitting here thinking of you. Would you like to see a movie tonight?” “I have Netflix. I can make popcorn.” It was still hard for her to leave the house. She didn’t even leave to get groceries; everything was delivered. Canned foods were a staple, and of course, she had a garden and canned excess food herself. So she had plenty of stock. “Sounds good. I’ll bring over some food; we can cook a big meal. I’m pretty good with spaghetti.” “Me, too.” A few hours later, Jason showed up. He had two large grocery bags in his hands. Katlyn walked over to the door and let him in. “Hi.” “Hi, yourself. So, I’ve got loads of stuff in here… I’m looking forward to a nice meal. I’m so tired of takeout and canned foods. Not your vegetables, just the well… chef Boyardee variety.” Katelyn smiled. It was nice of him to clear that up. She couldn’t blame him for thinking she was crazy. She just hoped he didn’t. “Well, I’m looking forward to it, too. What would you like to watch?” Jason was staring at her. He couldn’t help it. She was the only woman that he had ever known that looked like sunshine without makeup. “What?” “Oh, nothing. I’m… you’re beautiful.” “Oh.” She couldn’t do this. “You have to go. I’m sorry. I just, I can’t do this. You have to go. Please.” Jason nodded, and swallowed down his objection. Turning he walked down the steps and towards his car. “I’m sorry, Jason.” He turned back towards her. “You will never know how grateful I’ve been for this week. I finally know what day it is. And for some wonderful reason, Katelyn, they all revolve around you. Don’t forget to live. That’s what Thanksgiving is all about. And mine this year was all about being thankful for you. I’m so glad that my car broke down that night. When I got it back to the house Thursday night, it worked just fine. What does that tell you? It was fate, Katelyn.” Jason felt awful. She looked like she did that Wednesday when he met her. He hated that he was the cause of it. “Don’t say that, Jason. You don’t know me. You know nothing about the way I am now. I’m disposable.” The last comment angered Jason the most. He couldn’t help himself. His voice rose when he spoke. “Don’t you dare tell me that I don’t know you! I know you better than I know myself right now. And don’t you ever talk about yourself like that! You’ve made me see, Katelyn. You are very important. You are important to me.” Tears came down her face. She nodded then turned around and shut the door. Jason felt completely closed off. Pissed, he walked to his car, slammed the door, and then drove off like an idiot. A few minutes later, he remembered the turn where his family lost their life, and slowed down. *** Jason walked into the office and put his computer on his desk. Janice was sitting at her desk with a big smile on her face. “So, where were you all week, Jason?” Jason wasn’t in the mood. “Any calls, Janice?” “What happened?” “Nothing, okay? I just want to get my call sheet, Janice. “Oh… okay. Well, I’m happy to announce that I’m going to need some time off in August!” Janice beamed. “Oh, yeah? Going on vacation?” Jason said absentmindedly. “Jason, come on! Do the math! I’m pregnant!” Jason closed his eyes, took a deep breath then looked at Janice. “That’s great, Jan. I’ll mark that down. You can probably do most of the work from home, if you want.” “Wait a minute here, you… write it down? Jason, what the hell happened to you this week?” Janice looked shocked. He must have been pretty bad before. “Nothing happened, I just thought. Well, a lot of women, after they have their babies, like to stay at home… I know you and your husband don’t make a ton of money, so I thought you could work from home. I can have the calls transferred to your home.” Janice was dumbfounded. “Jason,” she said, walking over to him she felt his forehead. He flinched. “Are you sure you’re okay? Are you dying or something?” Jason shook his head absently, “I was already dead. I’m fine now. Have my call log ready, please; I have to get some drawings done.” With that he went into the office and started on his designs, leaving Janice to pick her jaw off of the floor. * * * It had been nearly two weeks since Jason’s last visit. It was exactly one week until Christmas. It was such an awful few weeks that she could barely stand her own company. She missed Jason. She missed Mark. She missed Lilly. Hell, she missed Christmas. She wanted to see the house all lit up. When she bought the house, she just signed a mortgage payment. She didn’t look at the structure, or the beautiful fireplace that would house her family pictures. She saw the desolation that it represented, and didn’t hesitate. She needed the house, and now, the house needed her. She went up into the attic where she kept all of the boxes that she brought from her house in Summersdale. She grabbed the one that had “Christmas” clearly labeled on it and pulled it out. * * * “Jason, I’m going home now. Here’s your log book, and your planner for the next week. You will have off the two weeks of Christmas that go into New Years. I don’t have any new appointments until January 3rd. So, if that’s all then, I’m going to head home. My in-laws are still here from Thanksgiving. Can you believe we will be out again in another week?” Janice looked a little too happy about that. “Yeah, Christmas is coming up.” “And yet, you still know about that?” Janice teased. “Yeah, I’ve been keeping track. Have fun with your in-laws.” Jason smirked. “Always,” Janice said sarcastically. Nothing like spreading holiday cheer with Mr. and Mrs. Scrooge themselves. * * * The box had to weigh at least 50 pounds. How in the hell did it even get up there? Katelyn dragged the box down the hall and opened it up, pulling out the proverbial boughs of holly. She walked around spreading out all of the holiday cheer in hopes that Jason would forgive her for being such a girl. It was around eight that night when the cheer had run out of gas, so to speak. Katelyn sat on the couch with her feet up, thinking about taking the next step. Going into town. It was going to be a day of new things, and she was going to try to do all of them. She got up and walked over to the closet and grabbed her coat. The grocery store was still open; she just hoped that her car still worked. * * * Jason was sitting in his living room when he pulled out the old newspaper. It was time to face some things. It was time to live and not to dwell on the things that he couldn’t change. He had a lot of nerve talking to Katelyn the way he did, when he hadn’t even faced his own problems. Glancing down, he saw the wreckage. The newspaper article about that night three years ago showed two cars, both were damaged beyond repair. They reminded Jason of accordions. He closed his eyes and thought about the loss of both families and thought about his own life. He wished he was in the car several times since that night. He was supposed to be there. Three years ago… “Jason, are you ready?” Kasey Billings said. She was packing her suitcase, getting ready for the Holiday cruise that the family had been planning for months. “I’m sorry, Kasey.” “Don’t say it, Jason! We’ve been planning this trip for a long time. Don’t you dare back out now?” Jason could tell this wasn’t going over too well. “It’s not that I don’t want to go, but the pricks aren’t going to let me. They said if I do this last job, they will offer me a partnership with the firm. I’m sure you can understand.” He felt like a heel. It wasn’t the first time he backed out of a family event. “Jason, don’t you realize they keep doing this to you? It’s always the last one before the offer! They can’t keep doing this to you. You need to stand up for yourself and let them know you aren’t staying, unless they have it in writing.” She was outraged. Jason wasn’t the type of person who took a stand. He was the relaxed, sweet guy, that everyone knew how to take advantage of. And sadly, she was trying to work him over herself. She wanted to have that vacation with him. “Sis, I know. I just. I can’t right now. I have the loans, and the rent to think about. I really need this job, and I’m afraid if I don’t stay, they’ll fire me.” “Jason, don’t you see. They aren’t going to fire the one guy that always lays down as a damn doormat for them. Where are they going to be? Home? It’s Christmas, Jason. Mom and dad have been looking forward to this, too. We were supposed to do this as a family. I’m sure they are going to be with their families! No one is open on the holidays, Jason. No one. Look around. It’s a damn ghost town. Why do you have to be the one person that stays at the office, while everyone else around gets to enjoy life?” She started to cry now. It was always the same sad story. Jason didn’t have a life, and she felt sorry for him. This trip was for him. She planned everything down to the sports-bar for him and dad. “Well, you can be the one to tell mom and dad. Another year of disappointment… is that your gift to us?” Kasey could just be mean sometimes. “No, Kas… I’m so sorry. I’ll make it up to you, I promise.” “One day, you are going to be all alone, and wonder why your life has passed you by. Remember your family, Jason. We love you very much. We look after you.” Jason nodded and swallowed back his retort. He felt like an asshole. Kasey walked out the door a few hours later, with their parents. They didn’t say much, only that they were a little disappointed with the turn of events. His dad, as usual, was the understanding kind. Fifteen minutes after that, he received a phone call from one of his buddies. The call had changed the course of his next three years. His family was dead. He put his coat on, and drove to the scene. The car was smashed. It was a fairly new Pontiac Grand AM; its top was completely crushed in. He could see his sister’s pale face through the window. Patrol cars were everywhere. Jason just stood there, unable to move. The next thing he knew; he woke up in the hospital. The present… Jason wiped his eyes. His breath stuttered as he looked at the photo. He read the article and stopped when he saw two names that until recently, he didn’t know. * * * “Katelyn, how are you?” Carolyn Jefferies said. “I haven’t seen you in a long time.” Carolyn worked at the local Wal-Mart. It had since turned into a superstore, and was now open twenty-four hours. The convenience of it was another chance of fate. “I’m great, thank you, Carolyn. I… I can’t find anything here. Everything has changed.” “Oh, you haven’t been coming here?” Her look was one of complete shock. Katelyn practically pulled up tent to this place a few years ago. Between diapers and everything else, she may have just moved in if it weren’t for Mark. “Well, let’s just say I haven’t been doing much these days. I’m going to start, though.” She probably sounded weird. Her voice was a mixture of pure elation and weirdness… almost cryptic. “Okay, well, what do you need? I can steer you in the right direction.” “It may just be easier for me to give you this,” Katelyn said, and handed her the list. “Oh, dear.” * * * Jason didn’t know what he was going to do. If possible, he felt like he did three years ago. Walking over to the window, he pulled the curtains shut. Re-living that day was a huge mistake. Who was he kidding? He wasn’t ready for anything. As he walked back to the couch, the phone rang. It was Katelyn’s ringtone. He wanted to answer. He didn’t want to answer. Hell, what the hell was he supposed to say? Do you remember the night we met? Oh, you do? Which time? Instead he settled for hello. “Jason? Hey, it’s me.” She paused, and took a breath. And sounding very unsure of herself, she uttered, “Katelyn.” “Hi, Katelyn.” He was still mad; she could tell. “Well, I just wanted to tell you that I’m living. I’m really doing it, Jason. I’ve… I’ve gone shopping! I’ve decorated for Christmas. I just bought makeup!” She sounded so happy that he wanted to go over there and kiss her. It would be their first kiss. Sadly, they hadn’t gotten to that part, and he was already in love with her. Love. It’s a funny thing, isn’t it? It happens when you least expect, with the people you wouldn’t expect at all. And for him, the person shouldn’t at all be Katelyn. “Jason, are you there?” He had to quit daydreaming. “Yes, I’m here. Is there something that you needed?” He sounded like a dick, but she was the last person, and the only person that he wanted to talk to. He needed help. “I’m so sorry. I just. I don’t want to bother you, but I was wondering… do you have plans for Christmas?” His heart started hammering. She wanted to see him. “I, um.” “Actually, do you have plans tonight?” Jason turned and looked at the clock. It was now eleven p.m. and he was sitting in his boxers. He should just see her and get it over with. Nothing like ruining her newly found freedom. “I don’t know, Katelyn. I’m not good company right now.” Katelyn’s shoulders fell. The hope that she had had run short. She had hurt him pretty badly. “Jason, I know it’s late, and I know that I don’t deserve it, but if you let me make it up to you, I promise you will be fine. It’s going to be great, Jason. I’m going to make cocoa.” Her voice rose at the end, like a little kid’s would. She was excited about cocoa. He smiled. “If you’re sure? I have to talk to you about something tonight, Katelyn.” “Okay. Please don’t be mad. I really am sorry for the way I acted towards you.” She was almost desperate in her pleading. “I’m not mad at you, Katie. I just.” “What did you call me?” “Katie. I’m sorry, is that okay?” Katelyn blushed. The things his voice did to her should be illegal. She wanted more than anything for him to be the one for her. She thought Mark was the first and last of her life. She loved Mark, but she couldn’t wait to be with Jason. It was almost as if her life depended on it. “It’s wonderful, Jason.” Her voice sounded sexy. It was low, and he could tell that she was starting to feel the same for him. He stood up quickly, and went to his closet for some clothes. “I’ll be to your house in a half hour.” “Sounds wonderful.” Three years ago “Katie, I’m going to take Lilly into town to get some cat food for Simon. Need anything?” Mark called from the kitchen. Katelyn was sitting at her computer finishing up on some medical transcriptions. It was hard to concentrate sometimes. Having a two-year-old was a tiring event, but she wouldn’t trade it for the world. “That would be great, Mark. I need a little bit of quiet. Lilly’s been wild today. I think she must be teething again. You would think she’d have all of her teeth by now.” “Yeah, poor little girl. Her nose has been running all day. Do you need anything, baby?” “No, well maybe just a kiss from both of my loves. You first,” she said seductively. He leaned down and she pulled him to her lips. “I love you, Mark.” “I love you, too, Katie.” Thirty minutes later… “I’m coming!” Katie called from the computer desk. Mark must have forgotten something. It hadn’t been that long since he left. “Did you…” she said as she opened the door. Two policemen were standing on her steps. She couldn’t say how she knew, but she did. She collapsed to the ground. One of the officers helped her to a chair. “Where are they? Where are they?” Katelyn cried. She was in hysterics. “My babies, where?” “Ma’am I’m sorry. They are at Union General right now, but I’m afraid they didn’t make it.” Katelyn collapsed in sobs, and the officers did the only thing they knew. They waited for her, and took her to the hospital. “Three others were there as well,” the officer said. Katelyn was sitting in a chair beside her husband’s bed. Her daughter was in her arms. She couldn’t believe this was happening. “Three? Are they okay?” she said quietly. She could barely breathe. It felt like her insides were crushing. “Were they hurt?” “I’m afraid not, Ma’am. We believe the hit was instant for all involved. The couple that died had one son who is in the next room. One of our other officers brought him here while we were getting you.” Katelyn looked up from her baby into the officer’s eyes. “Could you please let him know that I’m sorry?” “Yes, ma’am.” The officer stood up and walked towards the door. “I’m so very sorry, ma’am. Is there anyone that you would like me to call?” “No, they were all I had.” She started crying heavily and moved her head to her daughter’s. She still smelled like the baby lotion she put on earlier. Her baby was dead. How was she going to go on? Forty-five minutes later, she walked out of the room. They had to take Mark and Lilly to the funeral home, and she was just supposed to go home, and do what? She didn’t know what to do with herself. She started walking down the hallway. The hall was bare, with the exception of one man. His hand was in his hair, and he was up against the wall. She could tell that he was crying. His shoulders were slumped and he was alone. She couldn’t explain why she did it, but she walked right over to him and put her arms around him. They stood like that for what seemed like hours and just held each other. Present Day The doorbell rang and took her out of her dream-state. She opened the door and saw her sadness reflected into Jason’s face. “It was you,” she cried. “Yes, and it was you,” he said. “I’m so sorry, Katelyn. I only just figured it out.” “Your family?” she said. Her shoulders shook. He nodded his head. His eyes were red. “Yes,” he croaked. “You were here a few weeks ago, why?” “I used to live here. I know this house. There up on the hill… is where my family’s buried.” Katelyn closed her eyes. She hadn’t been up there, but she knew from the realtor that there was a small cemetery on the hill. She thought it was a very old site. “They hit the car?” Jason nodded. “They told me that with the snow it was impossible to see. They didn’t know how it happened.” “They told me the same,” Katelyn said. “What are the odds that you would show up here?” “What are the odds that you would buy the house?” Katelyn walked further into the room. The cold from the outside flew into the house, blowing snow on the hardwood floor. Katelyn grabbed the afghan from the couch again. “I love you, Katie.” Katelyn turned and Jason was standing in front of her. “I’m so very sorry about that night. I don’t know what to say, I should have explained to you about the house, but I didn’t realize. I haven’t been back since. I haven’t been able to. My sister said something to me before they left that day. And I think she did this. I think our families did this.” “What did she say?” Katelyn said. Her hand moved up to his face and cradled his jaw. He put his arms around her waist. “She said that one day I would find myself all alone, and not even realize that life passed me by, but she said that she would always watch out for me. I thought it was odd at the time since she was my little sister, but I think she brought us to each other. Our meeting was fate, Katie.” “I believe it is, Jason. I love you, too.” They finally kissed and the feeling of love was all around them. They stood like that for hours it seemed, in each other’s arms. When they finally moved to sit on the couch, Jason turned to Katelyn. “So, do you have any plans for Christmas?” Katelyn smiled, “I do now.”

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