Loving Lill, A Christmas Romance

byLadyMireille©

I didn't know what to say to that. I was usually good at reading him, but at the moment, I couldn't tell if he was goofing or being serious. Better to say nothing than get it wrong. So, I remained silent.

With a slight smile, he changed the subject. "So, what do you say? Wanna go?"

My gaze slid to sleeping Blake and then I smiled, looking back at Logan. "Why not? I haven't been ice skating in a few years, and I was really looking forward to it."

"Ok. But don't say I didn't warn you. I will skate circles around you."

I laughed, my grin widening. "There you go again, egomaniac."

"Nope. I'm just stating a fact," he said nonchalantly.

I gave his shoulder a friendly push. "I guess we'll see about that."

Logan slipped on a navy peacoat, looped a navy and gray plaid scarf around his neck, and pulled on a gray beanie. I grinned at the few curls that poked out from under the edge of his cap. The navy brought out the deep blue of his eyes. The gray was a nice contrast to his brown, groomed-stubble chinstrap and mustache. It wouldn't surprise me if a gaggle of girls was drooling over him while we were skating. Kirstin was lucky to have snagged him. What's wrong with her?

Blake didn't wake up, and Logan and I left to find the skating rink.

*****

It turned out that the skating rink was in the same park that Blake and I had walked through the night before. Beyond the lighted display, just down a hill and around a bend was where they used a large section of a parking and built the skating area. It even had walls, most likely for crowd management. It seemed safer to have designated placed to get on and off the ice rather than a free-for-all.

Logan parked his Rav4 and we climbed out. We rented skates in the rental building and headed for the ice. There was a wide iced path that led from the grass to the walled-in rink. Just before setting foot on the ice I froze. My nerves got the better of me and my legs just stopped working.

Truth be told, it had been four years since the last time I'd been ice skating, during my senior year high school. I hoped it was like riding a bike and that it all came back to me, but I won't deny it—there were a hundred butterflies flitting around in my stomach.

Logan was a few paces ahead of me when he realized I wasn't next him. He turned and came back. "What's up?"

I put on a brave face, "Just a little nervous all of a sudden. It's been a few years. I don't want to look like an idiot."

A smile slowly crept onto Logan's face. He put a hand on my back and leaned closer to me, never taking his eyes from mine. "You could never look like an idiot, Lill."

"Not even if I fall on my ass and go sliding across the ice?"

He wet his lips and shook his head, "Not even then."

I pushed his shoulder playfully, "You're full of it."

He laughed. "Well, I won't let you fall, okay?" He held out a gloved hand.

"Okay," I sighed, placing my gloved hand in his.

Logan held my hand while we entered the rink. As soon as we were on the ice, I felt my nerves begin to subside. I was a little embarrassed for having prematurely overreacted. I was just fine.

"See. There you go! You've got it. Nothing to worry about."

Letting go of his hand, I drifted along with more confidence. Yes! It was like riding a bike.

Watching him skate, it surprised me to learn that Logan was quite skilled. He wove in and out between other people, and then he turned and skated backward with ease. I suddenly wanted to know how he'd learned.

He caught my eye and came gliding over to me, while I made my much slower way around the rink. "Sorry to have left you behind."

"Oh, no. It's fine. You're good! It wouldn't serve you to skate with me."

"I don't know about that," he mumbled, then grinned widely. "Wait. Stay right there." He stopped me in the center of the ice rink. Then, he started to skate around me forward and then skating backward.

"What are you doing?" I mused.

"Skating circles around you," he replied. "I promised. Remember?"

I laughed so hard that tears came to my eyes. "You're a clown."

Logan suddenly stopped right in front of me. "Seeing you laugh is worth being a clown," he said, his voice low and intimate, and then a second later, he circled me once more before stopping in front of me to laugh himself.

We both began skating again, and he stayed by my side.

"How did you get to be such a good skater?"

"I played ice hockey as a kid and on a team in high school."

My mouth dropped open, and I almost tripped. "How did I not know this?"

He made an amused noise, "Well, you don't know everything about me, Lill."

I scrunched my face. He's right, of course. How would I? But why did I feel so much like I wanted to? "Well, we've been friends almost a year. I would think it would have come up."

"Well, now you know," he grinned.

"Why don't you play anymore?"

"I wasn't good enough to get recruited onto a college team, I guess. And there's no rec league here. But I do still skate. I help coach a team of kids back home, so I'll be doing that over winter break. Some weekends I go home to help with practice and games during the season, too."

"Oh! So, that's why you were gone so many weekends last winter!"

Logan's smile faltered a little when he replied, "Well, yeah. That was one of the reasons."

Just then, a little boy pushed a little girl who was skating in front of us. She went spinning, her arms flailing and eventually fell on the ice, sliding several feet away. I nearly tripped on her, but managed to dodge, setting myself off balance. My heart was thrumming frantically over the scare of almost running into her.

When I regained my footing, I glanced back just in time to see Logan arrive by the little girl's side. The rink was packed and skaters whizzed by. I was worried that the two of them were going to get mowed down by the other skaters. But he swiftly scooped the crying girl up off the ice, and skated away, like it was the most natural thing in the world. It was sad that he seemed to be the only one who noticed what just happened—or the only one who cared.

He exited the arena, and I was close behind. There were bleachers set up outside the rink for onlookers, and Logan set the little girl on the bottom bench, kneeling in front of her.

"You're safe now. It will be alright," he soothed, patting her arm. "Are you here with your mom or dad?"

His voice was so kind and caring, I couldn't help but smile. He was so sweet with her.

Before the girl had an opportunity to respond, a woman came running toward us yelling, "Emily! Emily!" She sat down next to the girl and pulled her into a hug. "Emily! Are you alright? What happened?"

The little girl, who must have been six or seven, just cried and hugged her mom.

"She fell on the ice," I informed.

"A little boy pushed her and she fell in front of us, ma'am," Logan clarified. "I didn't want her to get injured further by another skater, so I brought her off the ice."

"Oh, Emily! Where are you hurt, baby?" the mother asked.

"My leg and my hands hurt," she sniffled.

Logan hesitated a moment before speaking to the child, "Can you show us where it hurts, Emily?" He smiled at the mother, trying to set her at ease. "I coach a kids' ice hockey team and I'm first aid certified, ma'am. If it's alright."

Smiling weakly, she nodded.

Emily sniffled again, but she took off her gloves and spread out her fingers palm up. "See?"

Logan grinned and exchanged a glance with Emily's mom, "Oh, yes. I see. They are pretty red. That must have hurt. Can you bend all your fingers?"

Emily nodded and bent and wiggled all her fingers.

"You are so good at that, Emily. Do you play the piano with those fingers?"

She beamed and sat up a little, nodding excitedly. "Yes!"

Her mother was also smiling, her arm wrapped protectively around her daughter, "Where's your brother?"

"He pushed me!" Emily pouted.

"If he was the little boy that pushed her, I saw him skate by a moment ago. Would you like me to call him over for you?" I offered.

The woman glanced out at the people on the ice, then replied, "I see him. It's alright. I will deal with him in a minute."

"Are you hurt anywhere else?" I heard Logan ask, and my attention shifted back to him and Emily.

"My knee," she whined.

"Can you show us?"

Emily stuck her leg out at Logan. He looked at Emily's mom, put his fingers on the hem of Emily's pant leg, and asked, "May I take a look, ma'am?"

"Yes. Thank you."

Logan pushed up the little girl's pant leg to reveal a red knee. It didn't look swollen, and there were no abrasions.

"It's a little red, Emily, but it's not bleeding." His fingers gently moved up her leg, and I could tell he was feeling for broken bones or swelling. "Are you able to bend your knee?"

Emily complied.

"How about roll your ankle in a circle?"

She happily did that.

"Good. Now, can you try and stand up?" Logan held out his hand for her.

Taking his hand and one of her mother's, she slowly, carefully, stood—first on her other foot, and then putting some weight on her injured leg. She limped a few steps, holding Logan's hand, and then smiled.

Looking at Emily's mom, Logan said, "It doesn't appear that anything's broken, though I'm sure her knee will be sore later. You can apply some ice, twenty minutes on, twenty minutes off." Then he chuckled, "If you think she will sit still long enough." The mom shared in his chuckle. "But I'm no doctor, so..."

Bending down in front of Emily, he said, "I hope your knee feels better tomorrow. And don't let a little fall like that keep you from ice skating, okay? You were doing great, and it's not your fault that you got knocked over." He ruffled her hair a little when he said the last few words.

"Thank you..." her mother began, leaving room for Logan to fill in the blank.

He stood and held out his hand for her to shake, "Logan, ma'am."

"Logan. That was very kind of you." She shook his hand, and then turned to me. "You're a lucky girl. Don't let this one go."

"Oh. We're not... he's not..."

"Sorry. My mistake. I saw the two of you skating earlier, and I... Well, it doesn't matter. Thank you. And Merry Christmas to you both."

*****

I couldn't stop smiling the rest of the afternoon. Logan and I skated for a while longer, then had a late lunch at the little café that was just across the street from the park. We returned to the skating rink, but as it got later, it got colder, and my cheeks were beginning to sting. So, we decided to warm up a bit in the café before heading back to campus. Logan returned our skates at the rental building, while I went ahead to the café.

I was already sitting at a table by a window when he arrived and sat opposite me. I pushed one of the steaming paper cups of cocoa toward him.

"Thanks."

Wrapping my fingers around the cup, the heat soothed my chilled fingers. I leaned my face over the rising steam smelling the sweet goodness. "Mmm. Cocoa. The perfect end to an awesome day."

"It was pretty awesome," he beamed. Reaching for his cup, he bumped my hand accidentally and pulled it away like he'd been burned. He took a small sip from his cup and his smile slowly faded away.

I wondered what had caused such a change in his mood, and I could tell he was contemplating something inside that curly-topped head of his. "You okay?" I asked, placing my hand on his forearm to get his attention.

He breathed deeply, and let it out. A smile formed on his lips, but I could tell it was fabricated. "Of course."

Then it dawned on me. There we were ice skating and having cocoa together. It was kind of a romantic setting. He must have been missing Kirstin. Wishing he was there with her instead of me. That made me kind of sad. It also made me realize I hadn't thought of Blake all day.

*****

Monday, December 18

*****

Sophie had come back to the dorm late on Sunday to gather a few things. She decided to stay at her boyfriend's apartment for the week. They were trying to squeeze in all the time they could before winter break. They're so cute.

Having the room to myself would sure make things easier. I could study, stay up as late as I wanted, and sleep when I needed to.

Monday, I buckled down on my work. First, I finished a paper that was due Tuesday. Working through lunch, I made myself some soup in my dorm room and sat back down to tackle my project for my Advanced Web Development course, which was also due Tuesday.

It was the most complex web application I'd ever attempted, and I was sure it was going to knock the socks off my professor. He had been really interested when I told him what I would be doing.

Coming into Monday my project was already 90% completed. I figured I had a couple more hours to put in to finish the code and run the processes to make sure everything was working properly. Around 4 PM I finished the code and took a break.

When I sat back down and ran my processes, I was surprised that I was getting unexpected results. It had run properly as of yesterday! At 6:30 PM, I still didn't have it fixed, so I texted Blake and told him I wasn't going to make it to dinner.

By eight o'clock, I was panicking. I had identified the problem and just couldn't get the coding right to get my processes running in the correct order. Maybe if I took another break I could come back and look at it with fresh eyes. But it was getting late, and if I needed help I couldn't wait much longer. So, I called my friend and classmate, Juan, and begged him to come over and give it a look. As my luck would have it, he wasn't busy, so he said he would be over around 8:30.

Breathing a sigh of relief, I got up and stretched. My stomach growled. The café was closed. Mac-n-cheese for dinner, I guess. I grabbed one of the instant cups and was about to go into the bathroom to put the water in it when there was a knock at my door. Thank goodness! Juan was quicker than expected.

Holding the mac-n-cheese in one hand, I opened the door saying, "Thank God! I'm freaking out—Oh!" I jumped. It wasn't Juan at the door. It was Logan.

He stood there in my doorway in his navy peacoat, his blue eyes glinting with mischief and his mouth curved into a crooked smile.

My heart was racing, most likely a result of my little startle. I flushed when I realized I was in my Daisy Duke-length cotton pajama shorts and a lace-edged tank top. Dorm rooms didn't have individual thermostats, and it was blazing hot on the third floor despite it being December outside.

I was grateful that I was wearing a bra, but I felt awkward with him seeing me in my pajamas with my hair so haphazardly pulled into a messy bun on top of my head. Then, I wondered why it mattered. After all, I'd stayed with Blake several times when Logan was there. It's not like he hadn't seen my pajamas or my morning hair. I guess it was just that I was surprised by him being there.

"Hey, Lill."

"What are you doing here?" I didn't mean it to sound like an inquisition, but it kind of did.

He looked apologetic, "Sorry. Am I bothering you?"

"Uh—no. I just... I was just about to make some dinner." I held up the mac-n-cheese.

Logan's prize-winning smile appeared. "Glad I caught you then." He held out a paper bag to me.

"What's this?"

"Dinner."

"But... How... You..." Good grief. I botched that up. I couldn't decide what to say, so instead, I said one word from each of my thoughts.

"You weren't at lunch or dinner. Blake said you were busy studying. I thought you might be hungry."

I think I looked dumbfounded. In fact, I hope I did because the alternative was that I just looked dumb.

Logan's smile shifted to one of amusement. "I brought you a Reuben. And fries."

"Ohmygod! Reubens are—"

"Your favorite. I know."

"Where did you get this?" I knew that no place around campus served them except the cafeteria. But they never let you take food out.

"It pays to be nice to the cafeteria staff. I told Judith that you were stuck studying and asked her if she couldn't make an exception about the -no food leaving the café- rule, just this once."

"She let you?"

"Yep," he said smugly, his smile matching his tone.

"You're lucky. I don't think she would do that for just anyone. You know, it's probably because no woman can resist your charm when you flash your lady-killer smile."

"You must be immune then."

"What?"

"Nevermind," he mumbled, looking down.

"Well. Thank you. It was very thoughtful."

"You're welcome. Food for thought—literally."

I chuckled. He cracks me up.

"Well... I should let you get back to it."

He took a deep breath. I thought he might say something, but then Juan appeared next to him in the doorway. Looking Logan up and down, he frowned disapprovingly.

"Excuse me," he said impatiently.

"Hi, Juan," I greeted.

Logan straightened up to let him enter my room. "Well, then. Good luck with the project, Lill."

I watched him walk down the corridor and disappear into the stairwell.

*****

Once in the stairwell outside Lill's hallway, I leaned against the wall and wrung my hair in my hands. A battle of the wills warred in my head.

What the hell are you doing? Have you lost my ever-loving mind?

Maybe.

What do you think Blake would think about the ice skating and bringing her dinner?

He probably wouldn't be happy. Oh, hell. I couldn't help it. It's just who I am.

You shouldn't be alone with her.

Yeah. I get it. My 'arm's length' rule worked well until the last few days, and then it went by the wayside. I'm not doing it on purpose. I just love being with her.

You are a lovesick fool. Stay away from her.

I know you're right. Life would be so much easier if I weren't in love with her.

*****

Tuesday, December 19

*****

With Juan's help, I finally fixed the problem and finished my project around ten o'clock. Now that it was complete, I couldn't wait to share it with my professor.

Tuesday went by in a blur. I turned in my paper and went for my conference with my web development professor. His reaction had been even better than I expected. Not only did he praise my skill and ingenuity, he told me is was one of the best projects he'd seen in his ten years of teaching.

We had a long discussion about my future plans, and in the end, he offered to network for me with some of his connections in the industry, with the intention of getting me either interviews or meet and greets with execs in some of the top I.T., web and application development companies in the country. I was ecstatic!

I couldn't wait to tell Blake and Logan at dinner. I called my parents with the great news, but then my nose was back to the books. I had an exam on Wednesday, and though I was pretty confident about the material, I still wanted to make sure everything was fresh in my mind.

Blake and I ate dinner in the café, but we were alone. He said Logan had eaten early so he could have more uninterrupted study time. He also apologized for not going ice skating and promised to take me another time. With no exams the next day, he decided to go out with some of his friends that night, and we made plans to meet up for lunch the next day.

Close to 11 PM, I closed my textbook and notebook. I decided maybe I would turn in early and get extra sleep or maybe I would curl up and read a little from my new Holly Martin holiday romance novel.

Just when I finished brushing my teeth in the adjoining bathroom and was about to crawl into bed, I was jolted by banging on my door. Quietly, I crossed the room and looked through the peephole. It was Blake.

I bristled. What was he doing there?

The minute I opened the door, I could smell the alcohol permeating from his pores. He wreaked and wasn't steady on his feet. Damn it! He was quite often obnoxious when he was drunk. I stood sandwiching myself between the door and the sill, keeping entry to my room blocked. I didn't want to let him in being in that condition. Who knows how much sleep I would get if he was either sick or wanting sex.

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byLadyMireille© 6 comments/ 13258 views/ 38 favorites

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