When they got back to her house, Molly started to prepare lunch and Sean helped her, although his idea of helping tended to hold up proceedings. Molly chuckled as she wriggled out of his arms after about the tenth time he had kissed her.
‘If you hope to eat today then you have to show some restraint. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. But it’s rather difficult to peel sprouts when you’re kissing me like that—it’s very distracting!’
‘Sorry, Chef!’ Sean held up his hands in apology. ‘I shall behave myself from now on. Promise.’
‘Good,’ Molly said firmly, although he could tell from the smile that twitched the corners of her gorgeous mouth that she had been enjoying his attentions every bit as much as he had enjoyed lavishing them on her. The thought made him groan and he saw her look at him in surprise.
‘What do you want me to do?’ he said hurriedly before he managed to break his promise to behave himself. ‘I’m a dab hand at peeling sprouts, if you’d like me to do them.’
‘All right. If your hands are otherwise occupied then maybe we can eat Christmas dinner actually on Christmas Day.’ She handed him the bag of sprouts along with a knife. ‘Don’t forget to put a cross on the bottom of each one, will you? It helps them cook faster.’
Sean saluted smartly, laughing when she rolled her eyes in response. He set to with a will, nevertheless, amazed that something as boring as sprout peeling should be so enjoyable. But there again, why should he be surprised? he thought. Everything he did with Molly took on a whole different light and became much more fun. The thought simply strengthened his determination to sort out his life. No matter how difficult it turned out to be, he had to do it. For him and for Molly.
Especially for Molly.
* * *
It was the most wonderful Christmas Day Molly could remember since she was a child. Although they had done nothing more taxing than playing board games after they had finally eaten their dinner, it had been perfect. They had both been on night duty so they had driven into work together in Sean’s car. Thankfully, it had been fairly quiet for once so both she and Sean had been able to file their reports about what had happened the previous night. She had even had time to pop up to the Maternity unit to visit Karen and baby Nicholas. Karen’s husband was there as well and Molly brushed aside the couple’s thanks for what she had done. As she told them truthfully, she had been only too pleased to help.
By the time she finished work, Molly was feeling far more confident about the future. Once again Sean stayed over at her house and they made love again. Although it didn’t seem possible, each time they did so, it felt even more wonderful than the time before. She fell asleep, snuggled up against him, feeling happy and sated, and she was still smiling when she woke up in the early afternoon. Being here with Sean was the most perfect experience ever.
Rolling over, Molly went to tell him how she felt but the bed was empty and the sheet on his side was cold when she ran her hand across it. A frisson of alarm scudded through her as she hurriedly got up and dragged on her dressing gown. Surely Sean hadn’t left without saying goodbye? Maybe it was silly but she wanted to hold him, kiss him, send him off to do what he had to do knowing how much she loved him.
She ran down the stairs and came to an abrupt halt when she found him in the kitchen, hunched over a cooling mug of coffee. He looked up when he heard her footsteps and smiled but she could see how tense he looked.
‘Hi! I hope I didn’t wake you up. I tried not to make too much noise.’
‘No. It’s time I got up,’ she said quietly, pulling out a chair. She took a quick breath but the words had to be said. ‘Are you going over to see Claire’s parents?’
‘Yes. I’ve already phoned my parents and told them I’m coming.’ He shrugged. ‘It shouldn’t take that long. They live just outside Leeds so it’s a pretty straightforward drive along the motorway.’
‘It shouldn’t be that busy today either,’ Molly murmured. ‘With it being Boxing Day, there won’t be as much traffic on the roads.’
‘Probably not.’ He pushed back his chair and stood up. ‘I suppose I’d better get going. I’m in work tonight so I shall need to get back in time for my shift.’
Molly bit her lip. She wanted to beg him not to go and stay with her but she knew that it would be wrong to do that. Sean had to deal with this in his own way and she mustn’t try and stop him because she was afraid of the outcome. When he came around the table and pulled her into his arms, Molly hugged him tightly against her, willing him to feel how much she needed him even though she knew it wouldn’t be fair to tell him so at this moment. She mustn’t try to influence him in any way.