From The Manse Win­dow

The People's Friend - - News -

Christ­mas Eve.

They’d had to can­cel last week’s Mis­sion Christ­mas meet­ing be­cause they’d been work­ing late.

Be­sides, they all knew what was hap­pen­ing with each other’s goals.

Kather­ine was look­ing slim­mer than they’d ever seen her and Zoe had her dream home.

As for Maria, she sup­posed she could dance a lit­tle bet­ter than she had be­fore.

Zoe loved Christ­mas Eve, and this one was spe­cial be­cause she was spend­ing it with her favourite peo­ple.

GJ, Kather­ine, Paul and Maria were here. So was Adam. She had in­vited him on im­pulse be­cause their date had gone so well and he’d looked de­lighted.

Ear­lier on, Maria had told Zoe and Kather­ine that she was no longer with Noah and that she was fine with it.

Zoe wasn’t sure she be­lieved her. It was a bad time of year for a break-up, but Maria had been res­o­lute that she’d made the right de­ci­sion.

“It’s not a long-term so­lu­tion, but if you’re still look­ing for a flat you’re wel­come to the one above the sa­lon,” Zoe had told Maria. “Mate’s rates.” Maria looked re­lieved. “Thanks. That could work well.”

“How’s the danc­ing go­ing?” Kather­ine asked Maria and she smiled, but then they were dis­tracted by a knock at the door, an­nounc­ing Adam’s ar­rival.

Christ­mas Cot­tage had lived up to its name tonight, Zoe thought now as she sur­veyed her home.

A fire roared in the hearth, light­ing up the gold and green baubles on the tree. The room glit­tered with warmth.

Kather­ine and Paul were glow­ing with hap­pi­ness, and she had to ad­mit she was feel­ing a bit of a glow her­self – a glow that Adam had con­trib­uted to.

As if pick­ing up her thoughts, he moved a step closer to her so they were stand­ing, al­most touch­ing, in the door­way of the snug.

Paul and Kather­ine were in the kitchen. They’d in­sisted on wash­ing up. GJ and Maria were in the lounge.

GJ had just leaned for­ward to say some­thing to Maria, who nod­ded.

Then they were on their feet and Maria was push­ing back the sofa so they could free up some floor space.

They be­gan to dance. GJ was stiff at first, but Maria was show­ing her some steps.

A sim­ple rou­tine, Zoe re­alised, catch­ing Adam’s eye and smil­ing.

GJ had al­ways loved to dance and Maria was a good teacher, as well as an ex­cel­lent dancer.

Her face was an­i­mated as she and GJ moved to the mu­sic.

“Shall we join them?” Adam asked Zoe, hold­ing out his hand.

Tak­ing it, she moved for­wards into the room, grate­ful that she had a big enough lounge to dance in, and no neigh­bours to dis­turb with the mu­sic.

By the end of the song, Kather­ine and Paul had joined in and Mr Timms was eye­ing them all dis­dain­fully from the sofa.

“I’ll sit this one out,” GJ said as the song fin­ished. She smiled at Maria. “Thank you for re­mind­ing me how good it feels to dance.”

“My plea­sure,” Maria replied, glanc­ing at Kather­ine. “Does that an­swer your ques­tion?”

Kather­ine and Zoe both smiled.

“I’d say that was Mis­sion Christ­mas ac­com­plished,” Zoe said, re­mem­ber­ing the first time she’d made that toast.

“I think things have worked out rather well, don’t you?” Every­one nod­ded. “We should have a toast to the fes­tive sea­son,” GJ an­nounced, rais­ing a glass.

“Here’s to the fes­tive sea­son,” she said and they all echoed the toast.

Out­side, in the dark­en­ing Christ­mas Eve, the first snowflakes be­gan to fall. The End.

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