The mood was relaxed as they drank mulled wine and everyone did their own thing. Jim and Jenna were getting along well it seemed even though Jim was on duty, (which he wasn’t about to neglect even though it would have been tempting) it remained his top priority. He explained in part what he did, while Jenna seemed intrigued.
As evening fell, Emma, Nathan, and Jake took a turn outside to enjoy the lighting which was as festive as always but with a few added twists owing to the pictures Emma had taken in Seattle.
“Dad, how do you manage it? Every year it seems you add some new element but it always works with what you’ve already done. It’s so beautiful. It lights up the sky but it’s elegant entertaining and fun.”
“I get a picture in my head and go with it. It seems right, I do it.”
“Well, those pictures in your head must be beautiful cause your creations certainly are.” Emma hugged him close.
“Walk with me?” she asked.
“Nothing I’d rather do.” He smiled warmly at her.
“So, this new fella, Nathan, seems pretty incredible. What do you think of him?”
“You first.” Emma looked over at him before picking up snow to make a snowball.
“He’s intelligent, articulate, has money (obviously) he seems very smitten with you and he’s incredibly versatile.”
“Yeah, I have to agree with you there. What else?”
“I don’t know him on a personal level, Emma. All I can add to the picture is what I know of him.”
“And what’s that?”
“I knew his parents, not well, but knew of them I guess I should say. They were much the same as he is. He went through a really rough patch when they died, went off the deep end and got himself into all kinds of trouble.” He went on to describe what he knew of Nathan the boy.
“How did you two meet?” he asked curiously.
Emma explained then said, “I really like him, dad. I like everything about him. I’m half in love with him I think. I’m just not sure whether to allow myself to make that final leap. I’ve known him forever, what I know of him now, seems to line up. Although he does some amazingly incredible things for me, he’s romantic (she explained in detail all the special events he’d planned) something is holding me back from total commitment. I guess I wanted to wait to see what your take was.”
“I’m afraid I’m an outsider in this. I can see what everyone else sees. You’re the only one that’s been up close and personal. Everyone has barriers they erect for strangers as a protective mechanism. He doesn’t seem to have done that. He appears to be an open book as it were.”
“I know. That’s the unsettling part for me. Maybe it’s the journalist in me, I don’t know. I’ve never met anyone that was truly an open book. There were always hidden pages that you found later. I guess I’m worried it’s too good to be true.”
“I mean, I adored him as a pre-teen and then teenager. He was everything I wanted and admittedly (in part) I’ve measured every man I’ve met, against him. The reality is pretty spectacular and equivalent to what I’d hoped and dreamed he would be.”
“Since you have all the time in the world, I suggest you take it. Use it, give yourself the space to be as objective as you need to. You’re young, beautiful, intelligent and resourceful. You’ll figure it out.” He hugged her close, a real father-daughter hug the kind he’d always given her as a child.
“Thanks, dad, I love you.”
“I love you too munchkin.”
“If he turns out to be half the man you are, then I’m a winner.”
“Now stop, you’ll make the old man blush.”
“Not a chance!” Emma play punched him on the arm, “You know who you are. That’s what’s so special about you. It’s what all the men in my life have to compete with. You set the bar pretty high you know.”
Jack hugged her again, “I had some pretty awesome material to work with you know. I’ve been pretty blessed with my kids.”