I was momentarily confused when I awoke in the morning and discovered the bed was empty beside me but when I was able to focus my reality around me I saw that Catherine was standing in my bedroom window in the early morning light, naked just as she had been on that memorable summer day three years ago.
I slipped off the bed with the bread spread and I stood behind her, wrapping us both in the cover.
"Will I ever live a normal life?" Catherine asked with a sigh, resting her head against my sternum. "From a crazy family to a homeless existence. What did I do to deserve this?"
"Nothing," I assured her. "Happy Thanksgiving," I added, kissing the top of her head.
"I never imagined myself here with you like this," she said.
I buried my face in her hair, breathing in the scent of her. She turned and kissed me and then she lay her head against my chest.
"I wish it could stay like this forever," she sighed.
I hugged her close and listened to her heart beat against my chest through the softness of her breast.
We heard noise downstairs and realized that the Thanksgiving Day had begun. Catherine stepped out from the bed spread wrapped around us and searched for her panties and sweats. I dropped the cover and stood naked in front of her just like that day we discovered the truths about each other before she left my life in obedience of her parents, a decision that may or may not have led her to her current situation.
We both quietly dressed. Catherine left the room to use the bathroom while I made the bed and then it was my turn to use the bathroom. We went downstairs together to discover that the twins were arguing over something irrelevant. My mother and Aunt Helen were already busying themselves in the kitchen.
"Are you two going to the football game?" My mother asked. "It's actually kind of nice out for November."
"Na," I said. "We can listen to it on the radio."
Watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on the television was a family tradition we would repeat again this year but it wasn't on yet. Catherine and I sat at the kitchen table eating cereal and listening to my mother and Aunt Helen conversed about the unfolding day in front of us.
It felt strange to realize that Catherine and I had actually made unexpected but wonderful love the night before and I wondered if anybody suspected us of carnal interaction on Thanksgiving Eve.
Others in the house eventually began appearing. Diana, Charlie, my Dad, Uncle Ken and Steve elected to go to the football game while the rest of us stayed home and listened to it on the radio while watching the parade on television.
The twins got into an argument over their IPAD and Aunt Helen put them to work in the kitchen for a while to restore law and order.
Catherine seemed to enjoy the parade and Hillsboro was playing Greenville tough on the radio. The Giants beat the Hurricanes in the end and while I felt bad for my alma mater I wasn't really invested in the outcome, having missed the last two years of football because of my injury.
Steve and Charlie were pumped up from the game when they got back so most of us went outside in the backyard and played some tag football – Charlie, Catherine and Annie against me, Diana and Bethie with Steve acting as the snapper for both teams.
We actually had a good time – it was nice to see Catherine laughing and joking around with the others and my Dad and Uncle Ken even joined in on the fun for a while.
The game plan, of course was for Charlie to cover Diana and me to cover Catherine so we could have interplay and the twins could get some of their aggression out on each other, with Steve playing the role of ref for close calls.
The physical activity allowed us to work up our appetite and we were ready for the feast when we returned to the house which was basked in the aroma of turkey and apple pie.
We started in on the appetizers as we stood around the kitchen and living room blabbing on about our just completed football adventure and other topics while Mom and Aunt Helen listened to all the reports and laughter.
The NFL game was on the television and drinks were served from the bar in the corner of the living room with my Dad acting as host and bartender, even making the twins some Shirley Temples.
Diana and Catherine helped Mom and Aunt Helen with the final preps and the rest of us were summoned into the formal dining room for our Thanksgiving Day Meal.
I couldn't remember the last time we had so many people gathered around the table – my parents on each end, Uncle Ken and Aunt Helen on each side of the middle, and the rest of us seven, filling up the chairs, Catherine across from me, Charlie across from Diana, Bethie across from Annie, and Steve the odd man out!
"At least I didn't get sent to the little kid's table," he joked.
My father gave a gracious pre-meal prayer, thanking all of us for being there, talking about the future and how we were all growing up and life was changing for us fast but that we would always be a family no matter where life took us.
Then my mother and Aunt Helen's two days of preparation disappeared in a the blink of an eye as the delicious food was consumed over lively, interesting, and personable table talk.
It was one of those experiences that I wished would never end because even when you were in the middle of it you knew it would never be the same again. Would Charlie and Diana make it as a couple? Would I ever see Catherine again? Would Uncle Ken and his family keep coming back for visits now that we were all getting older?
Catherine was engaged in the various conversations taking place around the table – most of them going on simultaneously! – and several times she looked across the table at me with a huge grin on her face, happy to be a part of it. It had to beat a community meal at the Salvation Army.
For a young woman who had been repressed and emotionally abused by her family and tossed out like a pair of old shoes, I was impressed at how socially adapt Catherine was fitting in with my family and not worrying about how she was perceived.
The meal was eventually consumed and some of us retreated to the living room while others helped Mom and Aunt Helen with the cleanup.
After more socializing and goofing off, it was time for pie and coffee, mostly in the living room. By then the second football game was on the television and I sat with Catherine on the couch along with the twins.
There was talk of a Black Friday trip to the mall and some early season skiing up North. The twins set up the scrabble board for another round and this time Catherine and I played. Bethie, a self-proclaimed genius, won.
Later, I trapped Catherine in the hallway for a gentle smooch.
"It was a perfect day," I told her, giving her a meaningful kiss.
"I'll always be grateful for you for rescuing me for this day," Catherine let me know.
"It doesn't have to be just for this day," I told her.
"You'd want me to stay?" She asked with surprise.
"Of course," I assured her.
She bit on her lip. "I'm sure your parents would have their concerns."
"They'd be concerned knowing you were back out on the streets," I replied, kissing her again.
"You know what was so amazing about this day?" Catherine asked.
"You," I grinned, giving her another kiss.
"It's how unrestricted and free everybody is in this family," she observed. "If I fought with my sisters the way Annie and Bethie are always going at it I'd be locked in my room for a week," she said. "And to be able to say whatever I wanted at the dinner table!? Sex. Politics. Oh My God, the only thing we talked about at my house on Thanksgiving was why we were thankful for God."
"I'm thankful for you," I smiled.
"What would I do if I stayed here?" She worried.
"Enroll at BCCC," I suggested. "Get a job at Serguci's with me."
"Do you really think your parents would let me stay?"
"They let you stay last night," I reminded her.
I gave her another kiss to let her know that everything was going to be okay and then we heard the giggles of the twins who were sticking their head around the corner of the door at the end of the hall watching us play lovey-dovey. That broke up our little mini make-out session and soul searching and we returned to the living room to hang out with the family for the rest of the evening although most of us were exhausted from the active day and heavy meal.
Eventually, people started to disappear for the night and Catherine and I headed up to my room, dragging ourselves after gorging on so much food and pie and although I was feeling closer to Catherine than ever before I wasn't sure if she was going to be in the mood after a four thousand pound meal. We were both probably going to slip into a food coma no matter how rendezvous we may have felt.
"You are the nicest person I've ever known," Catherine let me know as we stood in the center of the room. "You have been so kind and you've made me feel like a part of the family."
"I'm glad you're here," I assured her. "You are such a beautiful person."
She lifted her hand up to her facial acne. "I don't always feel that way," she admitted.
I pulled her close and kissed her softly. She responded by sticking her tongue in my mouth and that was the first hint that she wasn't about to fall asleep in my arms.
"I've heard that turkey can affect the sex drive," I said.
She purred into my mouth and then she stepped back and slipped out of her sweats so effortlessly that I hardly even noticed until she was completely naked in front of me again.
"I've never forgotten that first time we saw each other like this," she said as she watched me undress.
"Me either," I replied.
"We should probably try the laziest sex positions invented though," Catherine told me as she slipped onto the bed.
I lay down next to her from behind. "Spooning?" I guessed, rubbing myself against her buns.
"I want to see you face," she said, rolling over and looking into my eyes while tossing her leg over my hip.
Soon I was inside her and we lay on top of the mattress with the lights on looking into each other's eyes while slowly moving together without a whole lot of exertion to toss the turkey and pie around.
"I think dinner was the foreplay," I told Catherine. "Watching you across the table made me want you all the more."
We caressed and we kissed while we made slow and easy yet passionate and exciting love.
Catherine was locked on my eyes. "Thank you for rescuing me," she whispered.
"Happy Thanksgiving," I smiled in return. "I'm most grateful to have found you again."
I knew it wasn't a temporary escape this time. And it wasn't a rescue either. I knew it was meant to be all along.