The halls vibrated with the music that flowed through them. Organ music swelled through the huge, drafty church and out the open doors. Passing people stopped and listened to the familiar tunes and the harmonic voices of the worshippers as they sang a ‘thank you’ to God for the birth of his son. After they had dragged themselves away from the church and the nostalgia that had surfaced, many of the people out on that cold Christmas night felt more in the spirit of the holiday. Spare change turned to a ten-dollar bill thrown into the hat of a homeless man.
Those who had once turned an indifferent shoulder to the woman who dropped all of her shopping bags in the snow now bent cheerfully to lend a helping hand. Christmas spirit passed from person to person, spurred by the beautiful music coming from the pristine church on 5th street.
Joy. That was her name. Yet when she saw the smiling crowds of children after the service, or the throng of adults sharing gossip over a cup of steaming hot chocolate, she felt no joy. She was an outsider in this world she had longed for, but now loathed.
She stood leaning against the far wall of the church basement, her eyes following his every movement. Her husband certainly moved a lot, but that was to be expected as he was most certainly glad-handling people and encouraging them to use him as their insurance agent. Suspicious slits watched as David approached a woman younger than her with a flirtatious smile and a warm handshake. As she disappeared in a swirl of long black coat and red skirt, she felt several cold eyes on her back.
But what did she care? The whole church had disapproved of her marriage to David in the first place, and she knew more than one person had told him that marrying her was a bad idea. She was young, poor; he was older and rich by comparison. She had no church background, and he had been a member of St. Mary’s since before she had been born. It was obvious that their marriage was now in trouble. The snake-eyed women talked about her constantly, even when she was near them. “Gold digging hussy,” was what they called her, in addition to “tramp.” What did they know of her problems?
She really only had one problem. She wanted to have children. David couldn’t. She had talked to him endlessly about the possibilities of adoption, sperm donors; but David would have none of it. Now she cried herself to sleep at night and David slept in the guest bedroom. He was cold, indifferent, so changed now. He was unrecognizable as the man she had fallen in love with and married.
She had only been 20 when she met the charming, older insurance man, but she had fallen head over heels for him. Sure, there was a 30-year age gap between them, but neither of them had noticed really, or even cared, until they had announced their engagement. That’s when the flurry of resistance had started; her mother had told her flat out “Don’t do it. He’s too old for you.” David had encountered the same reactions from his co-workers and his church friends. But the two of them had been in agreement: they were in love and they WERE getting married.
Half a year later, wedding bells chimed from the steeple of St. Mary’s. Joy McAllister and David Skreenes converted to Mr. and Mrs. David Skreenes. For the first time in her young life, Joy had been content. She was finally where she was supposed to be. As they walked back down the aisle as husband and wife, Joy just knew that despite what the naysayers thought, she and David would be a happy couple.
Another year and a half, and now here she was, wondering why she had ever believed that the relationship would work. She shook her head and tried to stop the tears that were threatening to spill down her cheeks. Her feet took her automatically to the car and after brushing snow from her open-toed sandals, she slipped into the front seat to wait for David.
Amazingly, he noticed her absence. As she sat in the passenger seat, the door on the driver’s side suddenly opened and he slid into the car brushing snow from his shoulders. “It’s fine if you do this at home,” he said, looking mightily annoyed with her. “But at church it’s just embarrassing.” He put the keys into the ignition and started the car.
“You’re acting like a child, you know,” he chided as the pulled away from the church. No doubt the scolding would last all the way home, but Joy didn’t mind. At least now he was talking. A welcome change from the silence she faced at home.
“I’m not the one who won’t tell the woman he supposedly loves why he doesn’t want to have children. Now that’s childish.” She turned to face him. “I thought we agreed that we would always tell each other everything.” She watched his handsome face contort with anger, and knew that she had touched a nerve. But still, he said nothing. Indeed, the only sound to be heard was the swoosh of the wipers against the windshield, and the low rumble of cars around them.
Joy turned to face the window again. “I can’t understand unless you tell me what bothers you, David.” No response and she didn’t bother him again. Instead, she pictured what it would be like to have a child in her arms, and the thought nearly brought tears to her eyes.
He pulled into the long circular drive, letting her out at the front door as was his custom before he pulled into the garage. She watched him maneuver the big car effortlessly, her strong husband who was perfect in every way, except one. She resolved that she would find out his secret, and help him through it whatever it was, before their marriage dissolved to pieces.
She entered the house and unlocked the garage door for him, letting him into the kitchen. She always made him a late night snack and she did so tonight, not bothering to ask if he was hungry or not. It was one of the few things that allowed her to feel close to him now, one of the few things that he appreciated.
It was past one o’clock when she delivered a steaming cup of coffee and a plate of scrambled eggs to him in his office. A kiss on the cheek and muttered thanks before she was all but shooshed out of the room like a bug. “I set up an appointment for marriage counseling,” she said softly as she backed out the door. “Whether or not you attend is up to you, but something needs to happen David. I can’t go on living like this.” He paused in his work, but didn’t look up; her watery brown eyes regarded him sadly as she closed the door. It was Christmas, and she was alone. Hardly the way a Christmas ought to be spent.
Joy climbed the stairs to the master bedroom, feet padding softly over the carpet. She frowned at herself in the mirror before pulling off her coat and hanging it on the back of the door. The red dress came up and over her head, and as she pulled it off he was there. Standing in the doorway with arms crossed, watching as she disrobed.
“You’re right,” he sighed. She hesitated, waiting for him to say what was on his mind. “I don’t want to go to marriage counseling. We can work this out between the two of us.” She nodded to indicate that she was listening and then slipped beneath the bed covers, naked. She watched as he too stripped down, admired his form as he slid into the large bed beside her. She propped herself up on an elbow, waiting for him to spill the secret.
“The reason I’ve been slow to consider this adoption thing…” A loud sigh and a deep breath. “Well, when I told you about my loving family, I lied.” She looked at him in disbelief. He nodded. “My father was a raging drunk who beat my mother and us kids. The truth of the matter is, I hate fathers and never wanted to be one.” The words spilled out of him, along with a shuddering kind of sob. Her hand went to his face, caressing it gently.
“Why didn’t you tell me this before?” she asked gently, trying not to upset him further. She scooted her body closer to him and he pressed his face into her cleavage.
“I thought I was okay with it,” he murmured from between her breasts. “I haven’t thought about him in years, and I never worried about it until you started talking incessantly about adopting. And you wanted to talk about it. I just wanted to forget.” He paused and looked up into her face, searching it to see if she could possibly understand how he felt about the matter. “I don’t know, Joy. Having a child to love would be amazing.” He stopped and ran a hand over his world-worn face. “But I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I did something wrong and the kid ended up hating me.” He nestled between her lush breasts again, taking the comfort they offered.
Knowing what she did now, Joy didn’t want to push his limits. She desperately wanted a child to call her own, to make memories with, and to love. But she loved her husband and didn’t want to see him in pain. “We’ll work through this,” she thought as her hands tangled in his hair.
David’s hands found the edge of her white lace bra and lifted it; his tongue found a nipple and began to work. Joy tensed with the sudden pleasure of it and rolled onto her back, forcing him to come with.
“God,” he said as his mouth traveled further upwards. “I’ve missed you.” He met Joy’s mouth in a gentle, yet passionate kiss, breaking the fast that both of them had been going through for the past couple weeks. His tongue slipped into her mouth and caressed hers, making her feel warmth at last. Soft lips moved against her own and she enveloped her husband, pulling him closer to her.
“I love you, David,” she said softly as he broke the kiss and again moved downwards to flick his tongue across her now hardened nipple. A moan escaped her lips as she felt his hand move down to stroke the soft skin at her hip. His touch tickled but also brought with it a spreading warmth between her thighs. She lifted her hips slightly, pressing against the bulge that was already springing up stiffly in his boxers.
“I can tell you missed me,” she said teasingly between sharp gasps as he nipped gently at her nipple. She grinned down at him and could just see the corners of his mouth as he smiled around a mouthful of breast. She felt much better, now that he was with her again, now that he had trusted her with her secret. Together they were passionate, fire, they could conquer the world together; alone she had felt lost, cold.
She groaned loudly as he drew his hand away from her hip; she needed his touch, needed him so badly. His tongue continued to work at her nipple and she felt the juice leaking out from between her legs. Wet, because she needed to feel him inside of her after all that time going without. It was absolute torture to feel him so close, but not where she wanted him.
Her hips bucked up against him more forcefully now, her pussy aching to be filled. David responded to her needs quickly, moving aside her skimpy white panties and pulling his own boxers just far enough down his legs to slide his length inside her steaming slit. Ever so slowly though, as if to drag out the torture. His eyes widened a bit when she dug her nails into his back, urging him, begging him to fill her.
He took her not-so-subtle hint and buried himself inside of her, grunting as he pushed hard to make sure every inch of her was filled. Joy moaned in delight as she felt his balls shoved up against her ass cheeks. “God, that feels so good,” she breathed as he unsheathed slowly, only to be cut off as he slammed against her.
His strokes came fast and furiously, causing Joy to scream in a mixture of pain and pleasure. The adrenaline rushing through her body soon stopped the pain and she knew it would only be much later that she would feel the bruises of his hips pounding into hers. David’s green eyes focused clearly on her and she felt the love and desire in them.
She cried out as he drew himself over her sweet spot and he kept the position. His groans of passion soon mingled with hers and filled the room. She opened herself further to allow him deeper access and he took the space, pushing farther into her than she had ever thought possible. Her whole body was flowing quickly towards orgasm. She was a pool of lava ready to explode as he stroked, faster, harder.
“Oh, GOD!” she cried as he made the death stroke. Her whole body convulsed with shudders of pleasure and her pussy clamped and unclamped around his still pistoning cock. She could feel her toes curling as he continued to pump her, and the orgasm was continuous. His grunts were drowned out by her loud scream of satisfaction.
His cock swelled within her and he threw back his head as he came, grunting with the force of the orgasm. She felt him as he twitched and moved in her pussy, still cumming, and the pearly strands of cum as they leaked out around his cock and down her ass cheeks.
Her muscles tightened around him, milking the last drop of cum from his softening cock. Her brain felt as if she were coming out of a fog, but she felt his body atop hers and felt when he rolled off and collapsed next to her. “Perfect make-up sex,” she thought before the fog shrouded her mind and she fell asleep.
The next morning, Joy awakened with a song in her heart and a bruise on her hips. David was still sleeping next to her and she kissed him lightly on the cheek before climbing out of bed and throwing on a terrycloth robe. He muttered something incoherently and she smiled as she left the room and headed downstairs.
She hummed as she made breakfast, happy that she was no longer at odds with her husband. Half hour later, she pulled a scrumptious-looking breakfast casserole from the oven, impressed by how perfect it had turned out. It was as if a huge burden had lifted from her shoulders and although David had not yet given a definite answer, she felt that it was only a matter of time before she would have the long-awaited child in her arms. The world was perfect and she fairly skipped as she took a plateful of the egg dish up the stairs to a still sleeping David.
“Baby?” she called softly. “Hun, wake up.” David’s eyelids fluttered open lazily and he squinted as he focused on her.
“Wow, something smells good,” he said, sitting up in the bed. “Looks delicious too. Thank you, love.” He leaned over and gave Joy a kiss on the cheek, then rubbed the last sleep from his eyes and took the plate she offered him.
“Hurry up,” Joy said happily, as he took small bites. “You know I can’t wait to open my Christmas presents.” She smiled at him, a knowing look. They never really got each other Christmas presents, but rather wrote out ‘gift certificates’. Joy traditionally gave him a certificate stating, “You pick a day and for that entire day we will have sex wherever, whenever, and however you want it”. David usually reciprocated with “For one day I will do whatever you ask me to without complaint”. She liked that one because it meant she was pampered all day.
“Oh crap, I forgot your coffee.” Joy jumped up and ran back downstairs to the kitchen, returning minutes later with his coffee. She handed it to him carefully and then settled back down in the bed.
“Thanks.” She saw that he had already finished the egg casserole and was now downing the cup of coffee quickly.
“Guess you’re just as eager to open presents as I am,” she grinned slyly. David laughed and handed her the empty cup.
“Can you take that downstairs and then I’ll be right down, ok?” Joy nodded and hurried downstairs with plate and cup in hand, rushing to get to the Christmas tree. She took a present from the towel drawer and hid it in the pocket of her robe as she heard David descending the stairs. She hadn’t been sure she was going to give David the gift, but now was eager to see his face as he opened it.
“Hurry up, Joy!” David called. “I don’t have all day you know,” he said teasingly. She laughed and hurried to the front room, fist closed tightly around the small package. She plopped down squarely in front of the Christmas tree like a little child. Christmas always brought that out in her. Although she knew she acted childishly a lot, Christmas was the only time when David never got upset by it, sometimes even joined her in immature behavior.
“You go first,” she said gleefully. David picked up the stack of envelopes that she had placed under the tree last night before church and began to open them. He laughed at some and kissed her for others. As he opened the last envelope, which she knew said “I promise to love you every day for the rest of my life”, she thought she saw a little tear drop from his eye, but when he reached over to take her hand and give her a tender kiss, it was gone.
“Ok, your turn,” he nodded at her. She picked up the pile of envelopes with her name on them and joyfully opened them, savoring the love she knew was put into each one.
“Aww,” she cooed, as she read one, which promised her the pet of her choice. She had always wanted a cat, but David wasn’t very fond of them so she had put the thought in the back of her mind. Her ‘pamper day’ certificate was last and she kissed him passionately after opening it. “I love you so much,” she said, emotion choking her. The corner of the hidden gift in her pocket poked her and she withdrew it, holding it out for him. “One more, baby.”
“What’s this?” he asked waggling his eyebrows at her in curiosity. She shrugged her shoulders as if to say, “I don’t know” and he took it from her outstretched palm. His deft fingers pulled the packaging from the box and laid it carefully aside. The box was a deep red and obviously from a jewelry store, however David made a little show of shaking it gently and holding it to his ear like a child would to try to figure out what it was ahead of time.
“Just open it, silly,” she laughed. He grinned at her and took the lid off the box, shaking the smaller box out into his opposite hand. Joy’s heart swelled with pride as he opened the box and looked wide-eyed at it for a moment before taking the gold bracelet out of the box. The bracelet had his name on one side and “Loving you forever. ~ Joy” engraved on the back. “It’s so you can always take me with you,” she smiled.
“It’s perfect, sweetheart.” She helped him to clasp it around his wrist where the bracelet shimmered in the sunlight that was streaming into the living room. It looked good on him. “Thank you.” He kissed her full on the lips, pressing lovingly against her. “I have something else for you too,” he said as he broke the kiss and reached into his own pocket. He pulled another envelope from the robe and handed it to her, somewhat hesitantly.
Joy looked at him wonderingly and slowly opened the envelope. “I want you to be happy. Let’s adopt.” said the slip of paper. Joy looked up at David, jaw dropped open, amazed that he was willing to go through with it. “Are you sure?” she asked, still in a bit of shock.
“As sure as I’ll ever be,” he replied and in the next moment, she was on him. Both arms wrapped around his neck, as she squealed happily, knocking him over in the process.
“I love you so much,” Joy cried, covering his face in wet kisses as the tears began to fall from her eyes. “We’ll take things slow, baby. I won’t rush to do it and I’ll listen to any hesitations you have, I promise!” The tears running down her cheeks were tears of joy and they mingled with David’s as the two of them lay on the floor hugging. For Joy it was the best Christmas ever and proved more than ever that her husband did love her.
They went to church again that evening. Joy joined in the songs of praise that were sung to the heavens. No longer at odds with her husband, the rest of the world didn’t seem so bad either, and she warmly greeted the old church friends whom she had not spoken with in some time. She didn’t tell anyone about the plan to adopt; she would wait for David to be ready.
Over the next few weeks, she spent hours on the internet, looking at adoption resources and the things they would need to get ready with. They needed a social worker to do a home study and she joyously called a friend from church to help with the process.
“That’s fantastic news, Joy,” said Alexandra Johnson, after Joy had barraged her with the news. “I’ll get started on your home study right away. Do you have an age in mind already?”
Joy paused and thought about this for a moment. She had always imagined adopting an infant, but she knew there were older children that also needed “forever families”. “I’ll have to ask David,” she answered thoughtfully.
“Or you could always adopt siblings,” Alexandra responded. That was something Joy had never even considered, but something that would need to be talked about. If David had room in his heart, why couldn’t they adopt more than one child? After setting up an appointment to meet with Alexandra, she hung up and continued her internet activities.
David wasn’t home from work yet, so she had plenty of time to surf around the lists of ‘waiting children’. Instead of just clicking on the pictures of infants, she now scrolled the entire list, including children as old as 13. Page after page came up on her screen, hundreds of children who had no home and needed to be loved. She began to feel a little sad; amazed by the number of children who were alone.
The 19th page stopped her dead in her tracks. A picture of three children called her attention and she clicked on it, waiting for the description page to load. A baby boy, a little girl, and an older boy stared at her and she found herself unable to break her gaze at the picture. Something about the children’s eyes called to her and she suddenly was hit with a sense of “this is it”. She tore her eyes away from the picture long enough to read about the three siblings.
“Maikel (12), Isabella (5), and Ismael (9 months), at an orphanage in Colombia. These three siblings are looking for their forever family to adopt and love them. All three children are in good health, with no signs of mental or physical problems. All three have their abandonment papers and the Colombian government has released them for adoption. If interested in these children please contact:
Sunshine Adoption Agency
413 Main St.
Joy’s heart sickened at the word abandonment, and only further assured her that these three children were meant for her and David. Joy’s paternal grandfather was Cuban and had taught her Spanish; David had taken it in school and still remembered a fair bit. The kids would fit in perfect,” Joy thought excitedly.
She shut off her computer monitor, leaving the picture and description on the screen so she could show David when he came home. He would be home soon, and she had nearly forgotten about dinner. She threw a quick meal together and waited for the noodles to soften.
David breezed through the door 20 minutes later, smiling happily and greeted her with a kiss. “Smells good, darling,” he said, his eyes twinkling merrily as he took his coat off and washed his hands.
“Baby, I wanted to talk to you.”
David looked up at her with a concerned look on his face, obviously thinking something was wrong. “What’s up?”
“Well I talked to Alexandra Johnson today about the home study that we need to get done, and she’s more than happy to do it. But she also talked to me about adopting an older child, or a sibling group…and I was wondering what you thought about it,” she took a deep breath, hoping and praying that all her hopes weren’t about to be dashed.
David sat down at the kitchen table and looked at her seriously for a moment. “From the way you’re looking at me, I’ll guess that you already found something.”
Joy nodded at him sheepishly and he let out a deep sigh. “How many and how old?”
“Well there’s a baby, a five-year-old, and a 12-year-old.” She paused as David’s face took on a look of shock. “Come see their picture, please! I know if you see them you’ll feel just as I do,” she pleaded.
David was oddly calm as he rose from his seat and followed Joy into the office. “If you think it’s a bad idea…well…I’ll understand,” she said sadly. She was already getting “no” vibes from him and she didn’t like it. She pushed the monitor button and the screen flicked on. Maikel, Isabella, and Ismael smiled out at them, and Joy again felt as if these were the ones.
David collapsed into the computer chair, his eyes glued to the screen. She saw them jump as he read the description. Still, his face gave no hint as to his answer. “So have you called them?” he asked, motioning to the phone number listed for the adoption agency.
“Not yet,” Joy said softly. She held her breath, awaiting his answer of ‘yay’ or ‘nay’.
“So what are you waiting for?” David smiled up at her and checked his watched. “It’s only 2:00 on the west coast, they should still be open.”
Joy’s eyes widened. “So that was a yes?” David nodded at her and once again she released her barely contained happiness by showering him with kisses. “They’re so perfect! You’re so perfect,” she said giddily as she planted a firm kiss on his lips. “I love you!”
“I love you, too,” David responded with a large grin. “Now hurry up and call them.”
Joy spent the next couple of hours on the phone with the Sunshine Adoption Agency. The social worker with whom she spoke was pleased of their decision and informed them that the three children in question had been waiting for some time. Joy knew that her heart had made the correct choice when the social worker told her of the awful conditions the children had lived under.
Months passed. David and Joy were on their way to Colombia to visit the children before the adoption was completed, and they couldn’t have been happier. Their time with the three kids was short, but both of them left Colombia with a smile, knowing that soon they would be a family.
Time flew by, and after several difficult tries to get the paperwork processed by the Colombian government, Alexandra called to tell them that they could go pick up the children on December 14th. Joy made a calendar and counted down the days until they would finally bring their children home. She was saddened every day that she was not able to be with them, but David comforted her and reminded her that there were only a few weeks left.
December 13th arrived. David and Joy made their finally journey to Colombia. They signed all the paperwork and drove to the orphanage to get the kids. Little Ismael was now almost 2 years old, Isabella was six, and Maikel was already almost 14. The three siblings were waiting outside the orphanage with their caretakers as David and Joy pulled up.
Tears flowed freely as Joy and David hugged the children, the caretakers, and each other. Ismael was still a little shy around the couple, but they knew it was only a matter of time until he warmed up to them.
Maikel approached Joy and hugged her around the middle. “Thank you,” he whispered in Spanish. Joy looked down at him happily. “Thank you for choosing us.” Fresh tears sprang to her eyes and she hugged him closer, emotion choked her and she was unable to say anything.
Hours later, all five of them were on a plane back to the US; Isabella and Maikel stayed awake, amazed by the huge plane. Joy held a sleeping Ismael snugly against her body, watching his eyelids flutter as he dreamt. Every now and then, David’s hand squeezed hers, letting her know that he was just as happy as she was.
The drive from the airport to the Skreenes’ house was almost two hours, and all three children slept as David drove ever closer to home. Christmas carols sounded from the car stereo and Joy beamed at David as he drove; she felt as if she would burst from the happiness welling within her.
It was nearly morning when the pulled into the long circular drive. David parked in front of the door and turned off the car, twisting in his seat to see the sleeping children. Maikel stirred as Joy opened her door to get out and soon he was awake. He looked at the house and his eyes widened; he began to shake his sister, waking her as well.
“Wow!” he shouted as David opened the car door for him and he leapt to the ground. “You have a big house!” Joy laughed as she plucked Ismael from the infant seat. She had never considered their home big, but she looked at it through Mikael’s eyes and realized it must have been gigantic.
“Let’s get out of the snow, shall we?” asked David and the three of them walked to the front door. Joy followed behind closely, still cradling the sleeping toddler in her arms. David unlocked the door and the five of them stepped over the threshold together. A feeling of magic and of warmth shot through her body as she realized, “We’re finally here; we’ve crossed the finish line!”
David and Joy exchanged looks as the two older kids crept slowly into the living room, fascinated by the huge Christmas tree set up there. They gasped as they saw the boxes with their names already on them. Isabella reached for a present.
“No, no sweetie,” Joy said with a chuckle. “You have to wait till Christmas. Then you can open them all.” Isabella looked at her sadly before asking, “All of them with my name on them?” Joy nodded happily at her and the little girl’s eyes shone with glee.
Joy sat next to David on the couch as their new children explored the house. They had done it, completed a dream together, and just in time for Christmas. The children and David were the only gifts she could have ever wanted. Joy sighed contentedly as she snuggled closer to David, at peace at last.