This chapter is the conclusion to my 2020 Winter Holiday Contest story entitled "Christmas Past, Christmas Present..." That story was originally complete, but there were a few possible loose ends, so this continuation was partly inspired by SisterJezabel, who suggested a key element of the plot. Thanks, SisterJezabel!
As noted in Chapter 1, the "current" year in the story is one where the coronavirus pandemic isn't an issue.
Thanks for reading and for your feedback through any votes, comments, favorites, or follows!
Saturday, December 10, four years ago...
With the lights turned down low, Angela Garner sat close to the window of their top-floor suite, watching the snowflakes gently swirl just on the other side of the glass in the early evening darkness. With the snow falling lightly, she would pick an individual flake as it came into view of the building's lights and then follow it in its course until it was lost to the darkness in the distance or to the floors below.
Snowflakes dancing in myriad patterns on the wind was a beautiful sight that had always captivated her; now, they reminded her of long-ago, youthful days when she'd danced on the ice with skates and floated down slopes and across drifts on skis. Now, she could only stand for minutes at a time, if at all.
Nisha Patel, her friend and confidant of nearly thirty years and her doctor for the past fifteen had given her the bad news early the previous morning.
"Angie, you're too weak for another round of treatment right now. Your body just can't take it, so we need to take a break and try to help you build up your strength before—"
Angela had patted her friend's hand as she shook her head knowingly. "Nishie, don't bullshit me, my friend. You were too honest a person to do it when we were college freshmen, and you haven't gotten any better at it with age. I've been getting noticeably weaker by the day. How long do I have? Realistically?"
Nisha hung her head, sad that there was nothing she could do for her friend and former roommate. "Angie, there is a chance we can build up your strength, but...it's really, well, practically infinitesimal, and then you'd have to start treatment again..."
"And, I know, there's no guarantee for that, either. So, how long do I have?"
Nisha looked pained, on the verge of tears. "Angie, at best, it's probably a matter of a few weeks, possibly even just days." Her voice broke when she continued. "I'm so sorry."
The two women had hugged and held each other, with the tears slipping down Nisha's cheek. When they separated, Angela looked at her friend and said, "Nishie, please don't cry, and whatever you do, do not let it slip to Bruce. I'll...I'll tell him this weekend."
"Angie, isn't this the weekend of the party? That's the last thing you should do! Your immune system is shot, so exposure to anyone with just about anything, even the simplest cold, could be the straw that breaks the camel's back. This is too important for you to attend a silly party."
She shook her head. "Bruce and that party are the most important things in my life right now. Now shush up, dry your tears, put on a happy face, and get Bruce back in here." As Nisha had been leaving to get him, Angie added, forcefully, "Remember, Nishie: don't say a word!"
A reflection crossed the glass causing Angela to refocus on the present. She moved the wheels slightly to turn the chair toward her approaching husband without having to turn her head.
"How do you feel, Honey?" he asked as he stopped beside her and touched her hand, sliding his fingers around to gently cup it.
The medicine she'd taken a short time earlier had entered her system, easing her pain without dulling her senses too badly. She hoped it would be enough. Placing her other hand around his hand holding her, she said, "I'm fine, my love, but I have an idea."
"We still have over an hour to kill before going downstairs to the party. My good wig's ready and I'm not going to waste a lot of time on makeup, so I was just thinking...maybe we could make love while we watched the snow fall, before the party. I'll be too tired afterward, I'm sure."
"But Nisha said—"
"Psssh! Bruce, Nishie's an oncologist and one of my very best friends, but she's all work and no play, like she's always been. She wouldn't have a clue on how to have a good time if she didn't have Arun, her kids, or her friends to basically force her into it; I practically had to drag her everywhere when we were in college."
"Oh, I don't know about that, Honey. Just how many kids does she have? Is it four or five?" he asked with a grin.
"Okay, maybe she knows a little about fun, but I really suspect Arun has a little something to do with her interest in that department. Just like someone else I know," she added with a suggestive rise of her brow.
He smiled. "So you think you're up for it? Making love, I mean? I really don't want to hurt you. After that last time..."
She smiled, hoping it didn't look too forced, as she pointed to her bag. "End pocket. Get the bottle of lube; we'll use plenty. Just go slow, be gentle, and I'll be fine. Now, time's wasting! Help me up, okay, dear?"
Gently, he helped her rise from the chair before she turned and stood by the edge of the bed. She started taking off the thick robe, but her grimace brought Bruce to help.
"Are you sure about this, Angie? I don't want—"
"Bruce, hush up and get this off of me. I want to get under that duvet and you inside me. When I get well, I think I'm going to get one just like this," she said, running her hand across its softness. "We'll make love on top of it where I can look at how sexy you are, but not tonight. You turned up the thermostat again a while ago, but I'm still just too damn cold right now."
He started to object again, but the look she gave quieted him at once. She felt bad about lying to him, but this was his night and she wanted it to be perfect for him. Or at least, she thought, as perfect as it could be with a cold, dying woman on his hands.
Bruce helped remove her robe and she undid the front clasp on her bra, letting it fall to the floor behind her. She'd been forced to make a lot of changes since she'd been ill, but a bra that closed in front was one of the least objectionable.
Bruce glanced at her breasts with a smile, causing a little grin of her own, before he took her arm. Gently, he started to help her sit back on the bed to get her under the soft, thick cover, but she shook her head. "Panties, too, silly. I'm wearing these tonight so you're not going to mess them up. Put them on the nightstand so I can reach them, okay?"
He smiled, sliding her underwear down her once perfect legs, with his freshly-shaved cheek rubbing against them. In addition to her skating and skiing, Angela had run track in high school, had danced in high school and college, and had kept herself in great shape throughout their marriage, but the cancer had changed that. She hadn't been able to run or participate in her exercise class in over a year, and the treatments had left her almost constantly nauseous with little appetite. The resulting loss of weight took her from a sexy, vibrant woman to what she claimed was a hollow shell of her former self. Bruce had continued to praise her despite all of this, saying she was still his beautiful soul-mate going through a very dark time before she would emerge on the other side. Angela knew better, but she had to give him this night.
Angela smiled as she felt his hands run over her legs and his lips give a brushing kiss of her thigh before she stepped, gingerly, out of her panties. She longed for the days when his kisses wouldn't stop, running up the insides of her thighs, and with his lips, his tongue, and his oh-so-dexterous fingers, he would repeatedly take her to heights unimaginable. The cancer and Nisha's continual warnings about her immune system had put a stop to most of that, but the memories warmed her soul at that single, tiny kiss.
Bruce picked her bra up off the floor and set both where she'd asked, before pulling the duvet back a little farther and helping her lie back on the mattress. She stifled a groan as she tried to shift back, further onto the bed, before he helped her and covered her with the down comforter.
Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath, feeling the softness of the mattress cradling her, easing the pressure on her back, and the willowy warmth of the cover over her. Opening her eyes, she looked at her husband of early 24 years and smiled. "Are you coming or are you just going to stand there all night? A girl has needs, you know."
Bruce, who'd been looking at her apprehensively as she lay in the bed, quickly shed his clothes and climbed in beside her, sliding an arm around her now-frail form.
"I love you, Honey," he said, making butterfly kisses up her arm and then switching, seamlessly, to her breast and nipple. Her breasts weren't the full, firm globes that he'd once enjoyed, but even as relatively thin and pillowy as they now were due to her illness and weight loss, they were still her so he loved them and loved on them, just the same, switching from the little kisses to something more intimate, more stimulating, as he took hold of them—
"Ah! Your hands are cold!" she squealed with a giggle, kissing the top of his head.
"Sorry. Give me a minute to warm them," he replied, tucking them under his arms as he returned to kissing and nuzzling her nipple, sucking gently, leading her to moan softly.
"Mmmm, glad to see that still works," she whispered. "No hands but no stopping for a while, either, okay?"
"Mmm-hhuh," he replied, nursing lightly on her nipple, running his tongue around the tip to give more stimulation.
She laughed lightly when he started rubbing his hands under the cover. "What?" he asked, looking up at her before sucking her nipple back into his mouth, resuming his nursing-like action.
"Bruce, it's like back in third grade, remember those days?"
Her nipple, harder than it had been in months, slipped from his lips when he shook his head. "What do you mean?"
"Did you ever have the bigger kids ask if you could walk, chew gum, rub circles on your head while patting it, all at the same time? Or something stupid like that? The big kids try to make the little kids look silly, but I suspect you'd have been really good at that," she teased, leading him to shift up and kiss her.
Their kisses had been limited to light, closed-lip smooches for months because of Angela's compromised immune system and Nisha constantly harping on the risk of other illnesses, but this time her lips opened and her tongue probed against his lips, seeking entry.
Bruce's eyes widened, but she only gave him a hint of a smile as she stopped and said, "It's okay," before reengaging with him with as much vigor as she could. She tired rapidly and knew that she wouldn't last long, so she wanted to excite him so he could take over. Her tongue slipped into his mouth, tangling with his in a happy dance while his lips closed on her, only for the situation to switch moments later, just as she'd hoped.
She moaned into his mouth as their kiss continued before she reached down to find and rub his manhood, hard and stiff as she'd so often enjoyed it. Her thin fingers circled him and made short, gentle strokes a few times before their kiss ended with a flurry of smaller, kisses that they'd also avoided in recent months.
"It's time," she gasped. "Lots of lube and be gentle, please."
His hands finally warm, he applied a few drops of the lubricant to the tips of his fingers and rubbed it gently, hoping it would warm a bit, while dipping below the cover to look at her hairless mound. Angela had been a waxer for years, leaving only a tidy little strip, because she hated the razor stubble and ingrown hairs that sometimes resulted from shaving, but this wasn't from waxing or shaving either. He knew she'd hated losing her hair, all of her pretty, dark-auburn locks, but she'd also told him the loss of her hair from her pubis and legs was the one bright spot to it all.
"You'll have to find it without my pointer," she'd laughed, "but the good part is no waxing my pussy or shaving my legs until I get better!"
"Lucky for me I have such a good memory," he'd quipped in reply before they made love that evening. In the weeks and months that followed, their sessions had become less frequent until they stopped altogether when it became too tiring and then too painful for her.
Now, he placed his fingers at the top of her labia and rubbed ever-so-gently to open her folds, exposing the top of her hood. Sliding them down, one on each side, he brought them down and then in together over her clit, hidden just below the fold. Several times he did this, leading Angela to moan lightly.
With a bit more lube, he did it again but this time with his ring and index fingers. He stopped at the end and spread his fingers to widen her cover. Using his other hand, he moved it back, exposing her little nub, which he proceeded to circle with his middle finger, with the other two going, massaging her labia majora.
"Oh, Bruce," she panted, grasping his shoulder and arm. "Please!" Her body, so frail for so long, writhed under his touch, her legs coming up to open herself to him as fully as she could as she felt the tingle begin. It was like a slow wave, building up, washing in time after time, until she reached the crest and she released a long, quiet sigh as she felt her orgasm flood through her.
"Enough," she begged, her legs going limp against him as she tried to pull him away. "Take that, Nishie!"
Bruce, stopping, emerged from under the duvet and asked, "What? What about Nisha?"
Angela pulled him to her and held him as her brain raced. "Ahem...that was so good...ah...Nishie said it would be a while before I'd be well enough to do that again. She obviously doesn't know my lover."
Bruce was grinning, happy that he'd been able to pleasure her so much for the first time in so long, but also at his wife's compliment.
"Honey, I'm so glad, and so glad you're improving. I'm sorry it's not happening fast enough for you to enjoy tonight more, but every bit helps so you can get back to yourself as you want to be."
Her heart in her throat, she wrapped her arms around him and pulled him close to keep him from seeing the tears in her eyes. When he started to pull away, she resisted. "Hold me tight and get in me, Bruce. Make love to me, slow and gentle, like our first time, my love."
With her holding him relatively tight even with her weakness, he had trouble finding the lube and adding it in her passage. She writhed against his fingers as he did it, tiny motions in comparison to the past, but something, trying to give him all she could. He added a few drops of the lubricant to the head of his shaft, smearing it up and down, before positioning himself at her entrance. With slow, gentle movements, he rubbed her lips a few times before settling into her hole. Once positioned, he rocked his hips forward, feeling her flesh against him.
"Unghhh!" she grunted as his head barely entered her. She gripped tightly, scratching his back without knowing it, before she was able to relax herself and let him move back and then in again, a bit further this time. Slowly and tenderly, he continued his motions until he was fully within her.
"Now, keep going just like that," she whispered, still holding him close so he wouldn't see her tears.
Bruce was close to her, holding his weight off of her with his elbows as he gently thrust in and out of her. He kissed her shoulder and the base of her neck, sucking on them in turn, as he continued on, over and over, feeling her walls clinging to him. It had been so long since they'd done this, the rise started far sooner than he wished but increasing quickly as he rolled his hips, trying to feel every part of her vagina on his member. As he got closer and closer, his balls feeling as if they would burst, his thrusts became a bit harder, a little faster, before he finally shot over and over into her.
"Oh, God, Angela! That was—Honey! You're crying! Did I hurt you?" he cried out as he saw her tears. He started to rise but she held tight, shaking her head, before kissing him, over and over.
"No, dear, you didn't hurt me at all. It was wonderful and these are happy tears," she lied. "Now, though, help me up so we can get ready. We have a party to attend."
Angela felt exhausted after their lovemaking, so she took another painkiller when Bruce wasn't watching. She wasn't supposed to take many, but she knew this one wouldn't matter in the long run.
They skipped the reception to let her rest; they arrived just before dinner, with Bruce wheeling Angela into the room in her chair. To their surprise, they were escorted to the front, center table where Jack Riley (the firm's chairman and CEO), Nelson Elders (the company president), their wives, and a couple of the senior VPs and their spouses sat. After dinner, Elders took the stage to announce his retirement at the end of the following year, with a national search for his replacement to occur in coming months.
"That doesn't mean that my replacement will necessarily come from outside; we already have a great many highly skilled people here in the firm now, so every potential candidate will receive proper vetting and next year, when I turn over the reins, you'll know you're in the best possible hands.
"For now, though, we have some corporate awards to highlight a few of those shining stars that have done so much for our firm over the past year or number of years. The first award is..."
Elders and Riley took turns doing the award announcements and giving out the plaques until they reached the last one. "And, as most of you who've been here for any length of time know, the firm's Most Valuable Performer, our MVP award, goes to the person who has done the most over the previous year or period of years to make us the most successful and profitable firm in our industry. This year, we honor a person who'll be taking over as head of our New Product Development team on a permanent basis next month—"
He used his hands to try to quiet the thunderous applause. When it was reasonably calm again, he continued, "This is after becoming interim head of the group early last year after the sad and very unexpected passing of Darren Thomas, our previous director. As interim director, he's not only led us to expand several of our existing product lines, he's also helped us develop three new products that look as if they'll be highly profitable, with several more promising items in development. Normally, I'd introduce our MVP at this point, but this time, we need to note that this year's award is a bit different, in that our MVP didn't do it all by himself. His lovely wife has been quite ill since shortly after he became interim director, but she's done everything in her power to help him get through these rough times and help our firm grow. Therefore, this year, we have our regular Most Valuable Performer award for Bruce Garner—"
There was another round of applause for Bruce before Mr. Elders raised his hand and added, "—and a very special Very Valuable Assistant award for Mrs. Angela Ingles Garner. Come on up, folks!"
Angela had been called by Mei Wong, Bruce's personal assistant of the past several years, who'd informed her, on promise of secrecy, of her husband's award, but Mei hadn't mentioned anything about Paula receiving an award of her own. Therefore, as Bruce wheeled her up the ramp to the raised platform to receive their awards, Paula, as proud of her husband as she'd ever been, felt tears running down her cheeks again, but this time, they really were happy tears.