The smell of pine needles hangs in the air like a perfect smoke ring. A gentle dusting of snow covers every surface in sight like a lace tablecloth. Patches of evergreen peek through the white, hinting at the lucky cousins being decorated in houses everywhere, mirroring the wreath she has hung on the door and the telltale trap of mistletoe above it. Christmas in New York. There's nothing quite like it...but she has never known any other so she can't compare.
As she sits on the porch, clutching a mug of steaming chocolate in her cold hands, and stares out at the blue-black curtain of night, Gia Campbell wonders if the sky is this dark in Greece. If the air in a Greek December smells precisely this way. She wonders if he ever had Christmas before he came here. He must have. But this is their first together.
Not that they are...together.
No, she and Nikolas Cassadine merely share the same living space.
It's a convenience.
Or so she tells her mother...or so she tells herself.
A scalding sip of cocoa burns a trail down her throat and she knows her tongue will be throbbing for hours...much like the rest of her throbs.
She throbs in the morning when the whole house smells like imported coffee and she can hear the shower running...and she can picture him in it, all that olive skin covered in lather. She throbs as they fight over the orange juice carton and their hands brush and his full lips quirk into a smile. She throbs as she watches him exercise Sheba and marvels at how something as simple as a man on a horse can be so damn beautiful. She throbs as they drive into town together and she can smell his cologne even after she climbs out of the Jag.
It hangs in the air like a perfect smoke ring.
Like everything about him.
She throbs now because she can't help wondering if he's going to come home. Is he at Wyndemere with his uncle? Is he with his mom and sister? Is he with Lucky and his friends? Is he with people who are more than just a 'convenience'... people he has spent past Christmases with on this shore and on foreign ones? People he loves?
She sticks out her tongue, inhaling huge drafts of cool air, hoping to alleviate the charred tastebuds. The wind tastes crystalline, pristine, untouched. Like a rendition of the "Nutcracker Suite" that her mom used to put on the turntable back in Brooklyn. Like the gospel choir in church singing Handel's "Messiah". Like Nikolas throwing a freshly packed snowball in her face as she bounded down the porch steps this morning.
She puts her mug down beside her, reaches down to pick up a cool handful of flakes from the smooth white path before her. Immediately, the snow begins to melt and trickle through her fingers, but there is enough of it to place on her tongue. It is sharp. It is clear. It stings. Like him. She yelps slightly as her mouth goes numb.
She hopes that the rest of her will go numb, too, but she knows that is one holiday wish that will not come true. If anything, the cold, the ice, the snow...all of it just makes her burn hotter. It makes his smile brighter. His eyes darker. It makes him into some beautiful fantasy figure from every childhood dream. The Nutcracker Prince. Jack Frost. The Snow King.
Gia laughs softly, tilting her head back and letting fresh snowflakes spill across her face. She is fairly certain winter is making her just a little bit crazy. Her thick wool coat can keep out the chill, but not her imagination. Just like a locked bedroom door can keep out the mythical Lord of the Manor that her mother thinks is after her virtue...but not the damning desire to let the real version IN.
If he wanted in.
She lifts the now lukewarm chocolate to her lips and the liquid slides over her soothed tongue like a knife through holiday pudding. There is a stillness to the night and she can hear Sheba's whuffs and whinnies from the stable.
Pine needles and snow. Mistletoe and holly. Christmas in New York. She knows what she wants...the best present. The perfect gift.
A visit from Saint Nikolas.
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