Chapter 6

Isaiah awoke in the morning amused to realize that it was Christmas Eve and further amused that he was okay with that. Did last night's good night kiss with Katha have anything to do with his cheerful mood? Was he finally catching on to the Spirit of Christmas?

He went through his routine morning ritual of getting ready for the day, the thought of skipping work flashing through his mind which was unusual for him. Most of the house was still asleep when he made his way downstairs except for his parents – his father also up and ready for work, his mother ready for an early start on preparations for the many festivities.

Isaiah went so far as to grab one of the many red Santa socking hats lying around the house and he wore it to work which caught some of his co-workers by surprise because he had been such a serious manager since his arrival earlier in the year. He was actually whistling a Christmas tune as he entered the dealership, carrying some Christmas treats he had purchased from the bakery on his way to work.

"Are you okay?" Donna, his Customer Service Representative asked when she saw her boss acting all…..Christmasy.

"I'm getting there," he grinned as he headed for his office.

It turned out to be the best day of work Isaiah experienced since joining the dealership team. He laughed more in three hours that morning than he had in the past three months. He had more conversations and interactions with Staff than he had in his entire tenure with the business. He greeted every customer he saw with a smile and hello, making small talk. Isaiah's father finally called him into the office near the end of the day.

"Are you drunk?" He wanted to know, semi-serious in his tone.

"Not at all, Dad," Isaiah laughed. "It's Christmas Eve, that's all."

"I didn't think you'd notice," Mr. Dalton admitted.

"I didn't either," Isaiah admitted.

The old man grinned. "Ah," he said, nodding his head with approval. "Katha!"

Isaiah left work early and stopped at Donovan's Department Store to buy the gifts he hadn't bothered thinking about before. The Christmas Eve Department Store Staff were more than happy to help him pick out various items all of which were giftwrapped He looked like Santa himself when he strolled through the front door of the Dalton house which was full of laughter, chattering, Christmas music and good cheer. Katha had a huge smile on her face when she saw how cheerful Isaiah was acting.

"Merry Christmas," she said.

"Merry Christmas," Isaiah replied with a huge grin on his face.

The Dalton Family tradition on Christmas Eve was to chow down on homemade corn chowder and bread. The dinner conversation was lively and fun with many happy conversations. Katha mentioned that A Christmas Carol was on television that night.

"Which version?" Mr. Dalton wanted to know.

"George C. Scott," Katha revealed.

"He does a good job," Mr. Dalton replied with approval.

Isaiah sat on the couch with Katha and Cindy watching the movie with his parents who were in their Lazy Boys. Kevin and Barb were wrapping presents in their bedroom while the kids came and went, watching some of the movie but also listening to music on their IPhones and playing computer games on their IPADS. Mrs. Dalton served her delicious Eggnog with a dash of rum in it and Isaiah enjoyed watching the movie sitting next to Katha.

Mr. and Mrs. Dalton actually made it to the end of the film before turning in. Cindy joined Kevin and Barb in the kitchen for some cards with the oldest daughter. Isaiah said his goodnights to the family and started for the stairs, just a tad tipsy from the Eggnog.

"I'll walk you to your room," Katha offered and if she had said that a few days earlier Isaiah would have gone off on her with anger and resentment but tonight he smiled and let her wrap her arm around his waist and help him up the stairs.

Katha assisted Isaiah into his bedroom and he dropped onto the bed in a sitting position.

"My stumps are killing me," he said.

"Take off the prosthesis," Katha suggested. She knelt down by his feet. "I'll help if you want."

"It's easier without the pants," he said, unbuckling his belt and unbuttoning the waist. He leaned back and dug his shorts out from under the pillow.

Katha slipped the pants down his (fake) legs and folded them, placing them on a nearby chair. Isaiah showed her how to unfasten the legs from his stumps and she carefully set them against the bed table once they were off.

"Sometimes just rubbing the stumps helps," Isaiah said quietly.

Katha nodded her head without saying anything as she placed her hands on the end of his stumps and gently rubbed the scar tissue and bottoms of his shortened extremities.

"This is the way it would be every day," Isaiah said softly after she had massaged his legs for a while.

"I know," she said.

She rubbed for a while more. "I'll be right back," she said, standing and slipping out of the room.

Isaiah put his shorts on over his underwear, took some of his nighttime medications and he repositioned himself on the bed. Katha returned - wearing her candy cane pajamas and a red Santa hat on her head.

"I wasn't sure if you were going to come back," Isaiah admitted.

"Don't be ridiculous," she said, glancing at the clock on his bedside table. "It's almost Christmas for real." Katha climbed onto the bed and positioned herself next to him. "Aren't you Merry?"

"I am," said into her ear. "Thanks to you."

Katha stared at him. "I just wanted you to have a Merry Christmas," she whispered and then she plowed her mouth into his.

"Are you going to move back, Katha?" Isaiah wanted to know when they finally broke the kiss.

"Do you want me to?" She asked, searching his face.

"Yes," he realized before leaning in and kissing her, slowly and sweetly. "You can't imagine what I've been through, Katha," he sighed.

"Shh," she said, biting his bottom lip. "It's almost Christmas. Santa will bring you all the presents you need."

"Can you see yourself with a double amputee?" Isaiah asked nervously.

"Intimacy requires vulnerability," Katha replied. "Physically, emotionally, and mentally. It's how people grow in love."

"I'm not sure I can still perform the same way I once did," Isaiah warned honestly. "Certain positions are not as easy anymore."

"I don't care about that," Katha told him sincerely. "I love you as a person - your personality, your kindness. I remember everything you ever said to me or did for me from the day I moved into the neighborhood."

"I never knew you noticed," Isaiah said.

"You always made me feel attractive and confident," Katha replied. "You were inspiring and you had a positive effect on me."

"I'm not sure if I'm still that same person," Isaiah admitted.

"Listen, I-Man, when you love and care for someone, it does not matter how many legs they have," Katha told him. "We all change physically with age but true love is more than skin deep."

"I guess," Isaiah sighed.

"Oh, look!" Katha laughed, jumping from the bed and rushing to the window. "It's snowing!" She glanced at the clock. "And it's past midnight! It's Christmas!"

"Merry Christmas, Katha," Isaiah said warmly.

She smiled as she shimmied her candy cane pajama bottoms down her legs and unbuttoned her top, letting that fall to the floor too so all she was wearing was her red Santa hat.

"I'm you present," she smiled as she glided to the bed.

"You're the best present I've ever seen unwrapped!" Isaiah said with wide eyes and that caused Katha to laugh with delighted pleasure. "Am I your Lt. Dan?" Isaiah asked.

"No," she assured him as she fell onto the bed and maneuvered herself on top of him. "You're my Sam Elliott." She giggled as she kissed him. "Merry Christmas, I-Man."