Christmas In Newcrest

Hollie Takes The Next Step With Heath To Celebrate Christmas In Newcrest
Some images are slightly NSFW

Winter, Year 6
Emily is 30, Ethan is 27, Hollie is 27, Andrea is 27, Daisy is 24, Heath is 20, Jenna is 4 and Jareth is 2

Hollie sat back and waited for the coffee to brew. She had a few busy days ahead of her and a coffee buzz might be just the ticket to get her through.
It had been over a year since she and Ethan had split up. While she was still hurt that the relationship had ended the way it had, she’d moved on and was in a far better place now. As such, she had invited Ethan and Daisy to spend Christmas Eve with them.
By ‘them’, she meant herself, the children and Heath. She’d been dating him for close to six months and while the relationship did seem to be going well, they had yet to spend a night together. She’d invited him to spend Christmas with her and the children.

She’d be lying if she said she wasn’t a little apprehensive. Ethan didn’t officially know she’d met someone else and, although it was none of his business any more, she did feel a little guilty for not having told him. This Christmas would be the chance to sort that out.

Heath arrived early, before the sun was even fully up, a few days before Christmas.
“You look beautiful,” Heath said as he pulled her into a hug.
“Thank you. You look pretty good yourself,” she replied and smiled into his shoulder. Suddenly, everything felt like it’d be okay.

She made coffee for the two of them and they settled in the small lounge.
“So, your ex is visiting on Christmas Eve, is that right?” Heath asked once they were settled.
Hollie nodded and gulped her coffee. “Yep. It’s only right; he barely saw the children last Christmas. Now that it’s been over a year, the initial anger has faded. And since Daisy’s my sister, I feel I should make more of an effort to spend time with her. She hasn’t really got a friendship group like I have,” she added. “So I hate the thought of her being so isolated, especially with the baby and all.”
“You’re a good person,” Heath said, smiling. “I’m not sure I could be so easy going in your shoes.”
“Well, I got the anger out of my system at the time,” she replied. “So it was either stay angry forever and risk Ethan’s relationship with his children and my relationship with my sister, or find a way to get over it.” She smiled. “Thanks for doing this, Heath. I know this might get…tricky when Ethan finds out about you.”
“Don’t worry,” Heath squeezed her hand. “We’ll be fine.”

Heath took the opportunity to bond with the children. He’d met Jenna and Jareth a few times before but he was looking forward to getting to know them better. He played telephone with Jareth for a while, then helped Jenna make some festive crafts at her craft table.
Hollie smiled as she watched the children warming to him. If they got along with him well this holiday season, then she felt their fledgling relationship stood a chance.
“Listen, Heath,” she said. “I thought it might be a good idea to get the first visit with Ethan and Daisy done before Christmas Eve.”
“That sounds like a good idea. It might prevent a problem on the actual holiday.”
She nodded. “That’s what I thought. A couple of my friends, Andrea and my next-door-neighbour, Emily, wanted to pop round-“
“To check me out,” Heath interrupted, grinning.
“Well, yes.” Hollie giggled, slightly flustered. “I’m afraid so. Anyway, they’re calling round this afternoon so I thought it might be a good idea to get it all out of the way.”
Heath smiled and hugged Hollie again. “Sounds like a plan.”

They decorated the tree together and Heath talked about his childhood Christmases. Hollie found him a lot easier to talk to, and listen to, than she ever had with Ethan.
Not that Ethan was a horrible person. It’s just that she didn’t remember ever feeling really happy when they were together. It was funny how her time spent with Heath was making her reflect on her relationship with Ethan. It helped her to realise that she and Ethan should never have got married when they did.

A little later that afternoon, Daisy arrived on the doorstep to find Andrea and Emily already there. Hollie couldn’t help noticing that Daisy didn’t look wonderfully happy either and she began to wonder if that’s how she’d looked when she and Ethan first got married.
Her friends enjoyed checking Heath out and chatting to him but again, Hollie noticed Daisy stayed well out of it.

Ethan hugged Hollie tight as he came through the door. “How is it you get more and more gorgeous every time I see you?”
Typical Ethan, Hollie thought. Now he can’t have me, he’s back to flattering me again.
Thankfully, Ethan and Daisy didn’t stay too long. The frown and unpleasant looks in Heath’s direction from Ethan weren’t something Hollie wanted to have to deal with tonight. She had plans.

Andrea and Emily had made their excuses and gone home. The children had gone to bed and Heath and Hollie were finally alone.
“This is lovely,” Heath commented as he cuddled Hollie on the sofa.
“I’m glad you said that,” Hollie ventured. “Because I wanted you to come upstairs.”

Once they were upstairs, they didn’t waste any time.
It felt like they’d been kissing for hours when Heath suddenly broke away. He settled himself on the sofa and pulled Hollie onto his lap.
“You okay?” Hollie asked, pushing her hair out of her eyes. “Is there something wrong?”
“No,” Heath said and swallowed hard. “I need to tell you something though, before we…start anything.” He swallowed hard. “Okay, this isn’t the easiest thing to say but…I’m still a virgin.”
Hollie smiled. “That’s okay. Don’t worry about anything, Heath. It’s fine.”

Heath didn’t have a chance to worry about anything. That first night with Hollie was something he wasn’t likely to forget in a hurry.

“How could that idiot ex-husband of yours leave you?” Heath asked gently, much later as they lay together in the glow of the bedside lamps.
Hollie smiled sadly. “He got a better offer.”
It was the first time she’d ever voiced her real feelings over Ethan’s betrayal. She’d always thought that Daisy was prettier than her, more popular than her and just generally better.
“No,” Heath said, stroking Hollie’s face. “I got the best offer.”

They lay together until they gradually fell asleep. Before dropping off, Heath made a mental note to give Hollie the floor to talk about her feelings about Ethan, Daisy and the divorce. The way she’d been talking tonight, he felt there was something deeper there. He was no expert but there was a pain in her voice that suggested to him she was holding a lot to herself.
The thought of Hollie hurting killed him and a protective instinct kicked on. Oh the Watcher help Ethan if he pissed Hollie off at Christmas.

The next morning, Hollie and Heath wrapped the children up in warm coats to take them sledding in the snow! Jenna loved sledding; she’d been before with Ethan two years ago and she’d come home full of excited chatter.

They built snowmen together at the bottom of the hills. Hollie’s heart warmed as she watched her son playing and giggling with Heath.

That evening, Emily had agreed to babysit so Heath could take Hollie out for a visit to the theatre, followed by dinner.
“With the day we’ve got ahead of us,” Heath said as they arrived at The Royal Willow, “we deserve a little pampering.”
Hollie couldn’t argue with that.

“You look stunning tonight,” Heath said as they sat at the bar for pre-dinner drinks.
“Oh, thank you.” She smiled. “I don’t get to dress up that often.”
“Ethan didn’t take you out?” Heath asked.
She shook her head. “Not a lot. It was a bit strange but in the early days, we couldn’t afford it. Then when we could, it was me earning the money and Ethan felt a bit funny about me taking him out.”
Heath chuckled. “So he was the great provider, then?”
“I think he wanted to be,” Hollie replied, thoughtfully. “Not having a degree really did affect him. It’s why he decided to try again a few years after I graduated. He hated not earning as much as I did and I think he wanted it to be more equal.”
“More likely he didn’t like the idea of you earning more than him because it hurt his ego.” Heath frowned.
“You’re probably right,” Hollie agreed.

Before they left the theatre, Heath suddenly kissed Hollie.
“What was that for?” She asked but she was smiling.
“Because you’re wonderful.”

They settled at the restaurant and ordered their meal.
“I’m sorry if I overstepped the mark earlier,” Heath said suddenly. “About Ethan, I mean.”
“Don’t be. I think you’re right.” Hollie sighed. “I think I got into the habit of trying to think the best of him. I don’t like the idea of hating someone and I didn’t want to end up bitter.”
“His betrayal…that hurt more than you let on, didn’t it?” Heath asked, gently.
Nodding, Hollie bit her lip slightly. “Yeah, it did. I could have stood him cheating; I would have been happy to listen, find out what was wrong and try and fix it. It was the fact that it was Daisy he cheated with that broke me completely.”
“You two don’t get along well, do you?”
“We used to. The trouble was, Daisy was the one everybody loved. She’s prettier, always more popular and more athletic. While I was studying for exams and gearing up for University, she was out at parties and generally being wonderful. I love her and don’t begrudge her that at all. It just used to hurt to see all the boys at school practically drooling over her but looking past me. I got the brains, she got the looks.”
“Do you really believe that?” Heath asked.
“I’m not sure,” Hollie shook her head. “People often say we look so much alike. I don’t see it myself but I don’t know.” She sighed heavily. “Both Ethan and Daisy piss me off a lot more than I’d like these days.”
Heath nodded sympathetically. He hated Hollie hurting but he suspected she didn’t want to talk about them anymore tonight.

Instead, they enjoyed their meal and chatted about harmless topics, like Heath’s classes at University, his future ambitions and Hollie’s work. They talked about the children and Hollie’s disbelief that Jenna would be starting school next year.
Ethan and Daisy didn’t crop up in conversation again that night.

The next morning was Christmas Eve. Hollie and Heath set about cooking in the kitchen together to provide some goodies for their guests later on.

Ethan and Daisy arrived in time for breakfast with Heath and Hollie. Daisy didn’t appear to be in the best of moods and Hollie felt a little twinge of guilt. When they were growing up, Hollie used to share everything with Daisy. These days, she hardly told her anything and she felt guilty for cutting her sister out of these things.
This holiday season was going to be stressful.

The family gathered together around the tree to sing traditional songs. Hollie tried to pretend not to notice that Heath and Ethan had, inadvertently, managed to wear almost identical Christmas jumpers.

The day went smoothly with no outbursts or dramas from Ethan or Daisy. Hollie was pleasantly surprised when they’d gone home for the day and she was left having a coffee with Heath in the kitchen.
“I think that went okay,” Heath ventured.
Hollie nodded. “Better than I expected. Ethan was almost impeccably behaved today.” She frowned slightly. “I feel like there’s a catch.”
“Well if there is, we’ll tackle it when it happens.” Heath grinned. “I still think I got the better end of the deal.”
Laughing, Hollie shook her head. “Come off it. Anyway, thanks for today. I don’t think I’d have managed this year without you.”

The night fell on Christmas Eve as Heath and Hollie retired to bed. Tomorrow was going to be busy with the children but at least the stressful part of the holiday was now behind them.

Early on Christmas morning, Hollie’s phone buzzed with a text. To her surprise, it was from Daisy. She’d found a ring in Ethan’s bag and was certain he was going to propose and she couldn’t decide what to do.
Hollie quickly dialled her sister’s number.
“Daisy, what were you doing going through Ethan’s bag?” Hollie asked incredulously.
“Never mind that. What should I say?” Daisy asked excitedly.
Hollie paused before answering. Daisy was her sister and Ethan was he ex-husband. She couldn’t help feeling she wasn’t the best person to be asked this question.
“Daisy, I’m not sure you should be asking me,” Hollie said slowly.
“Yours is the only opinion I trust,” Daisy replied.
“Well…I think you should go for it. You two are obviously happy, things seem to be going well for you. Why not?” Hollie smiled. “Congratulations!”

Putting the conversation to the back of her thoughts after Daisy hung up, Hollie concentrated on the present opening with Heath and the children. She could worry about Daisy later. The children’s excitement was infectious and she was determined to enjoy it.

The day also went smoothly.
As evening fell, Hollie was putting the finishing touches to some brownies she’d made for snacks when the doorbell rang.
“I’ll go,” Heath called out. He’d spotted Ethan waiting on the other side.

He stepped outside and stood opposite Ethan. “What are you doing here?” He asked.
Ethan was surprised. “I came to see my children.”
“It’s past their bedtime,” Heath pointed out, raising an eyebrow. “So why are you really here?”
“Well, I would like to see Hollie,” Ethan began to frown. “You can’t stop me, you know. I bought this house.”
“But you don’t live here now,” Heath pointed out. “Remember, you split up after your affair with Hollie’s sister was found out.”
Ethan could feel a headache coming on. “Just let me talk to Hollie.”

Eventually, Hollie came out to see what was going on. Exasperated, she told Ethan to go through to the lounge. Heath frowned but offered to make coffee and disappeared into the kitchen.
“What the plumbob do you see in that idiot?” Ethan asked as Hollie walked into the room.
“I beg your pardon?” Hollie was surprised. “He’s looking out for me, Ethan. You could have texted, you know.”
“You’re a fool if you believe he’s just looking out for you,” Ethan said abruptly. “He’s using you for better grades at school and you’re too stupid to even see it.”
Hollie winced. In spite of everything, she’d been proud of the fact that she and Ethan had managed to handle their divorce without resorting to insults, so these hurtful comments from her ex-husband caught her by surprise.

She refused to stoop to his level and instead calmly sat beside him. “Why are you here, Ethan. I saw you yesterday.”
Ethan scowled. He’d expected Hollie to respond and defend her relationship with Heath but instead she said nothing. If he was going to be honest, he’d tell Hollie that he was trying hard to find out how serious it was between her and Heath. Was he living in the house? Did the children call him ‘daddy’? Was Hollie in love with him?
Truthfully, he was jealous. Ever since their divorce, Hollie had stayed single, focusing on her career and the children while Ethan had been cosying up with Daisy in their flat. While their finances were tricky, he was still very happy with Daisy yet he had also been content, knowing that Hollie was still single. Seeing her with another man bothered him.
However, he didn’t feel like being honest.
“I wanted to get your blessing. I want to marry Daisy.”
Hollie couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “You came all the way out to Newcrest on Christmas Day to ask me that?” She sighed heavily. “Ethan, your personal life is none of my business. If you want to marry Daisy, then go right ahead. I’m never going to stand in your way. As long as you don’t hurt her, I’ll be happy for you both.”
Somehow, that didn’t feel like the answer Ethan wanted to hear.

Heath came back into the room in time to hear the tail-end of the conversation. “Ethan, you could have done that over the phone. Look, Hollie never pries into your personal life. She lets you get on with it, in spite of what you did. You stalk her constantly; everywhere she goes, you’re there. You pry as much as you can into what she’s doing. You’re so transparent; I know exactly why you’re hear and I’ll tell you now: it’s none of your business. So back off and leave Hollie alone!”
For once, Ethan didn’t argue. He muttered his thanks to Hollie and promptly left.

After Ethan’s visit, Hollie had been incredibly low. Heath had been worried for a while and suggested she visit the doctor. The day after Christmas, she came back with a diagnosis she didn’t expect. It had explained her low mood and lack of energy through the latter part of the year and her interactions with Ethan certainly hadn’t helped.
She sighed. Life was never straightforward.

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