Page 17 of Sweet Treasures

Memories of Christmas past floated through his mind.

Memories of his mom and his nonnina, his little grandmother, baking Christmas treats that he and his siblings snuck while Nonnina pretended not to see.

Memories of them making huge pans of lasagna, smiling the whole time while they chatted away in Italian. The same scents that lingered in the air back then, lingered in it now.

A longing filled him for a home filled with days like those, with a wife and children, making their own memories.

Someone like Anna. If only he had more time to get to know Anna to see if there could be a future with her or if they could even figure out a solution that would work for both of them. Right now, however, none of that seemed possible and that fact sent a wave of sadness through him. Besides, he needed to talk to God about her and seek His will, not his own.

Enjoy today, Nico. We are not even promised tomorrow.

With that thought settled in his mind, he leaned his hip against the butcher block counter in the center of the all-white kitchen. Well, all white with the exception of the country Christmas decorations and lights, that was. “What can I do to help?”

Taking the lasagna out of the countertop convection oven, she looked up at him and pointed to the cupboard off to the right of the sink. “You can grab some plates and cups out of the cupboard over there and set them on the table if you would please.” She placed a pan of garlic cheese bread on the top rack of the compact oven and set the time and temperature.

Minutes later, they sat down at the kitchen table to a meal of lasagna, garlic cheese bread, salad, and a hot apple cider float. Seeing the Christmas centerpiece made of fresh flowers, pine boughs, ornaments, candy canes and flickering candles made Nicholas feel not only the Christmas spirit but right at home as well. The place mats with the holly pattern on them reminded him of the ones his mother used to have on their dinner table around the holidays. In fact, this whole thing today reminded him of not only Christmas dinners with his family but the many gatherings they used to have; something he missed as they all seemed to be so busy that times of getting together was becoming harder and harder to manage.

“Would you like to say grace?” she asked.

Nicholas looked over at her. “Sure, if you want me to.” His father always said grace at family meals. It was a tradition passed down from generation to generation. Once again, thoughts of having a family of his own filtered down through his mind. With each passing year that dream was becoming more and more unlikely. That was, until he’d met Anna. However, at the moment, that too seemed rather unlikely. Batting those negative thoughts far away from his mind, he reached for Anna’s hand, covering it with his own, and bowed his head. “Father, we come to you in Jesus’ name. Thank You for this food, for this time of fellowship, and for my friend Anna. May all we say and do bring glory to Your name.” And, Lord, if Anna is the woman for me, would You work everything out. If not, not my will, but Your will be done.

♥ ♥ ♥

Anna replied with a hearty, “Amen.” And thank you for allowing me to spend time with Nicholas. Even if it is only temporary.

Nicholas removed his hand, and immediately she missed the feel of his strong hand covering hers. Having him here felt like home. She knew that sounded silly because this was her home, but it felt even more like home with him here.

It was something she could get used to very easily. His aunt’s comment popped into her mind, so she quickly squelched that idea. While he was here, she would enjoy his company, and yes even his kisses if he offered her more, but she knew that was as far as this would go.

“Dessert first, right?” Nicholas winked as he picked up his hot apple cider float and took a sip. Cream lined his upper lip.

Oh how she wanted to reach over and wipe the cream off with her fingertips just to feel those lips again. But the gesture was too intimate, so she fought the urge. “Um, you have some cream right above your lip.” She pointed to it as if he didn’t know where above his lip was. With a mental roll and a lowering of her eyes, she quickly settled her hand on her leg in order to keep it from wiping his mouth.

However, instead of wiping it off, he leaned toward her. “Where’s it at again? Could you show me?”

Anna’s gaze darted up to him. His playful smirk was so stinking cute. He was so stinking cute. Well, there was no way Anna would miss this opportunity to play along with him. “Right here.” She leaned toward him and just as her fingers were about to touch the spot above his lips, his hand grasped hers. He pulled her toward him and kissed her. It wasn’t a long kiss, just a quick peck. He let go of her and sat back in his chair, smiling. “Now you have cream above yours.”