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The tension was instantly recognizable. The body posture they exploited was abnormal as she had her hands stuffed inside her pockets with the tippiest top button done on her cream Chiffon jacket, while his left hand strangled the neck of a bottle of Dom Perignon. The wine served as a Christmas gift to Anna, the host of the annual neighborhood Christmas party. Anna focused her attention to her friend and the woman and seemed to slump over beside him; her eyes uncovered any hidden emotions.
“Hello Anna,” was all he could muster in a deep and croaky voice. Anna checked him out. His face was flushed from the cold with blushed cheeks, approaching-blue lips, and a red nose that threatened to begin running. His eyes were big and cloudy making him look rather miserable. Grasping the champagne and taking Andy’s arm in hand, Anna said,
“It was nice of you two to come! Cole, the boys are in the smoking room so go on in there. Me and Andy will be with the girls discussing our latest book read.” Anna could feel her friend’s arm relax as she was taken away with the ladies. Cole almost seemed anxious watching her walk away, with reasons Anna was determined to discover.
He went into the room with cigars and brandy and she was with the ladies in the usual book club group with cups of hot chocolate or tea. Some of the women were keeping a steady eye on the children as they tottled near by, playing with the newest matchbox cars and Thomas the trains.
He began to drink slowly, feeling the pain ease off his shoulders as the latest Packer’s game was debated.
“Favre has never…” the men belly laughed as he sank deeper into the leather chair, totally out of it.
“What on earth was the linebacker thinking?”
“Seriously, only an amateur would ever…”
But this light-hearted conversation was making no sense to him. He did not care who had won the last game because next year! He was more concerned for his relationship which had seemed to end and the woman who had rejected his proposal two hours earlier…
He glared through he French framed doors into the women’s parlor staring at her composed frame. She was not looking back.
Came the moment for everyone to come together and play the all-time favorite game of charades. Without any more thought, the people divide- men versus women of course. But this time, the two most enthusiastic players were silent. Both Andy and Cole try to hide in order to save themselves from acting or speaking in front of each other but eventually, she caved when caught up in the heat of the moment for the tie-making point.
Anna flips the white sand timer allowing for a mere minute of acting. Andy stands still for the first fifteen seconds while twenty something pairs of eyes are staring her down, anticipating her move. It hits her. She walks over and gives Cole a kiss. They finally look each other in the eyes as Anna shouts,
“Love!” and of course, she’s right.