Continuing Tales

All I Want for Christmas

A Power Rangers Story
by Cheryl Reynolds

Part 6 of 7

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All I Want for Christmas

Tommy reached for the carved chest on the top of the bookcase. Glancing over his shoulder to make sure the girls were still occupied with getting ready, he raised the lid and unburied a small black box. Opening the case, he smiled, grateful to know the contents were still there.

You would have had this six Christmases ago if I'd have had it paid off, he mused, studying the glittering piece of jewelry thoughtfully. Why he had never taken it back, he couldn't say. Perhaps he'd been hoping against hope . . . . Maybe if you would have had this with you back then . . . .

However, there was no point in dwelling on the past. Just then, the phone rang, and Tommy tucked the box away. Soon, he promised himself.

"Tommy, can you get that?" Kim called out as the incessant ringing continued.

"Got it!" he confirmed. "Hello?"

"Tommy? It's Kenny."

"Hey man, what's up? Do you want me to get Kim?"

"Nope. I just wanted to tell you mission accomplished. Go ahead and send your letter."

Tommy had held off sending his missive to Mrs. Dumas on the advice of Kim's dad. Ken recommended that he and Kenny work on Caroline first to smooth the way for his note.

"That's awesome! How'd it go?"

"It wasn't easy. Mom was as surprised as all get out when I told her that I had found Kim, but the minute I started talking about the rape and the baby, I'm afraid she started in on that 'no good, long-haired, son-of-a-bitch of a boyfriend of hers' . . . ."

"Gee, and I used to think that she liked me," Tommy mused wryly. "How'd you change her tune?"

"I offered to fax her the hospital and police records that Dad subpoenaed. Mom got really quiet after that, so I went on to give her the details as if I didn't know she already knew about them."

"You didn't accuse her of turning her back on Kim or anything, did you?" Tommy asked anxiously; he'd been so careful not to do that in his letter, not wanting to make it any more difficult for Caroline to talk to Kim again than it already was going to be. He had even pulled Kim's journal entries from the packet.

"I didn't need to; I could almost hear her doing it to herself. You know, I almost feel sorry for Mom."

"What would you have done if she had asked for the faxes? Your dad didn't really subpoena the records --did he?" How could Ken have done that? Wouldn't he have needed Kim's signature or something?

"He sure did. One of the papers he had Kimberly sign while they were busy with the paperwork was a release form; although, I don't think she knew what it was."

Tommy remembered Kim and her father going over some financial papers --something about a small inheritance from an aunt. "Your dad isn't planning on doing anything like dredge all this up again, is he?"

"Dad would love to nail those bastards for miscarriage of justice or dereliction of duty

or something! With the descriptions Kim gave of her attackers, the police should have been able to find those creeps! It doesn't look to me like they even tried!"

Which had been Kim's perception, too. "Kenny, Kim may not want him to open the case again," Tommy pointed out worriedly.

"Dad knows he can't do anything without Kim's say so."


"Tommy, we're ready!" Olivia sang out as she scampered down the hall.

"I'll be right there, Princess," Tommy assured her. To Kenny, he said, "I've got to run. I'll get that sent out right away. Thanks, man."

"Thank you for doing this for Kim. Good luck; you're going to need it."

Tommy hung up the phone as Kim emerged from her bedroom.

"Who was that on the phone?" Kim asked.

"A salesman," he fibbed. As they headed out the door, Tommy paused to retrieve an envelope--stamped and ready to go --from the computer desk. "Do you mind if we stop by the post office on the way to the mall?"

Since Kim's father and brother had been in town the whole of Thanksgiving weekend, the three had had to postpone their visit to Santa. Secretly, Tommy had been hoping that the mall would be less crowded since it wasn't the official opening weekend of the Christmas shopping season (and really, Christmas shopping season opened way before Thanksgiving anymore); however, his hopes had been in vain. He, Kim, and Olivia bided their time in quite a lengthy line to have a talk with ol' St. Nick.

"I don't believe this," Kim sighed.

"How long we've been standing here?" Tommy wondered.

"No, I have to go to the bathroom," she sighed.

Tommy chuckled softly. "I thought you went before we left."

"I did," Olivia piped up.

"I was so busy worrying about you that I completely forgot about me."

"You can go to the potty, Mommy; me and Tommy will stay in line," Olivia offered.

"But I don't want to miss your visit with Santa."

Now Kim really did sound like Olivia --too busy and not wanting to miss anything to take a break for the necessities of life, like the bathroom or sleep! However, Tommy did his best not to laugh out loud. "Don't worry; we've got quite a while yet. We'll probably still be right here when you get back."

With another frustrated sigh, Kim slipped under the que rope and hurried off.

"I didn't want to say anything to Mommy, but I'm kind of scared," Olivia whispered as she clutched Tommy's hand more tightly.

"Why? You've been to visit Santa before, haven't you?"

Olivia shook her head. "Mommy would try to take me, but something would always happen and we couldn't get to see him before he was gone."

Intentional or coincidental, Tommy wondered. He could understand why Kim would have been reluctant to let Olivia visit Santa; if she'd asked for something Kim couldn't have afforded . . . Kim wouldn't have wanted Olivia to be disappointed. "Surely Santa brought you presents at Christmas."

"He did. Mommy would help me send him a letter when we missed him."

"Well, you don't have to worry about meeting him, Princess; Santa is the nicest person you could ever know."

"Tommy, is Santa really real?"

"Of course he is," Tommy answered.

"But that's not the real Santa up there, is it?" Olivia pursued. "He can't be because there's a Santa here, a Santa at the other big mall . . . there are Santas all over the place; they can't all be real."

Tommy had to think fast. Other interested ears were listening besides Olivia's. "The way my father explained it to me is that the Santas you see in the stores and everywhere are Santa's deputies; even Santa needs to have a little help. He can't be everywhere at once except on one special night of the year when his magic is the strongest --Christmas Eve. Santa gives his deputies each a little of his special magic so that whatever they hear, he hears. This is also how he knows who's been naughty and nice throughout the year."

"Nice save," the woman standing directly behind Tommy remarked.

"And he has other helpers --the elves to help him make the toys," Olivia added brightly. However, her little brow furrowed in consternation. "In Kindergarten the other day, Mrs. Blackman showed us a picture of the North Pole --where Santa's castle is supposed to be, but there was nothing in the pictures. How come?"

"More of Santa's magic," Tommy asserted. "Only those people who really believe in Santa can see it and then only on Christmas Eve."

"I bet that keeps it safe from the bad people who don't like Santa," Olivia reasoned. "Do you believe in Santa, Tommy?"

"I sure do, Princess," he replied, recalling a certain Christmas from what seemed like a lifetime ago.

"But not everybody believes in Santa," she pointed out. "Jamie from my class doesn't believe in Santa; she's Jewish, and her family has something called Han--han . . . ."

"Hanukkah," Tommy supplied.

"That's it. It has something to do with lots of candles," Olivia continued.

"There are lots of people all over the world who don't believe in Santa Claus."

"Does that make them bad people, and does Santa hate them because they don't believe in him?"

"Sweetheart, Santa doesn't hate anybody," Tommy said. "Just because someone doesn't believe in Santa doesn't mean he or she is a bad person. Santa loves everyone regardless of what they believe, and he respects their beliefs --just as we all should.

"You see, Santa and Christmas, however it's celebrated, are all about goodness, kindness and love. Other people may have other beliefs, but I think it's pretty safe to say that all people believe in goodness, kindness, and love. That's what really matters, not how you celebrate those things."

To Tommy's embarrassment, several of his listeners softly applauded.

"Well said," murmured a passerby who wore a yarmulke.

"More difficult questions?" Kim asked with amusement as she returned.

"Tommy was just telling me all about Santa," Olivia responded.

"So I gathered," she murmured; she gave Tommy's had a squeeze. "You never cease to amaze me."

"So --um-- what are you going to ask Santa for?" Tommy wondered, trying to extricate himself from the more difficult topic.

"I'm not sure. Can Santa really make your wish come true?"

"If you've been a good girl . . . ."

"Have I, Mommy?"

"I think so."

". . . and it's something that you really, really want with all your heart and soul," Tommy continued then noticed Kim's inquiring gaze. "That's what my folks always told me. Mom and Dad told me not be greedy or selfish but to ask Santa for the one thing that I wanted more than anything, and if it was the right thing for me, Santa would grant my wish."

"Does Santa ever not give you what you wish for?" Olivia asked worriedly.

"Only very rarely," Tommy answered.

"But with his magic, can't he do anything he wants?"

"He won't give you something if it's hurtful to others or yourself, and there are some things that even Santa can't change." His tone was suddenly sad.

"What didn't Santa bring you that you wanted with all your heart?" Kim wondered, picking up on his melancholy.

"My real parents," Tommy replied. "The year I found out I was adopted --I was about Olivia's age-- I asked Santa to bring my real parents back."

"And I thought not getting an elephant had been devastating," she murmured, thinking of her own childhood Christmas disappointments.

"I was so hurt that Christmas morning . . . and my folks tried to explain, but I wouldn't listen. I was pretty disillusioned about Santa until we got a letter a few weeks later. It was addressed to me from Santa. He said he tried, but all that he was able to find out was that my real parents were dead, and that not even he could bring back someone who died."

"That was sweet of your folks," Kim whispered.

Tommy nodded and whispered in reply, "They were so good about the whole thing; instead of being hurt, they really seemed to understand." For Olivia's benefit, he continued, "At least I knew Santa had tried, and sometimes, when you make a wish, it doesn't come true for a long time --until the time is right."

"Oh?" Kim queried.

Tommy flashed her an impish grin. "The year after that I wished for a brother!"

"So, Sweetheart, do you know what you'd like Santa to bring you?" Kim asked, returning to the original questions. Olivia's turn was next.

"I sure do!" she chirped.

"Gonna enlighten us?" Tommy wondered.

"I can't. If you tell a wish, it won't come true," Olivia insisted, and then Santa's helper came over to escort her up to Santa's chair.

"Now how are we supposed to find out what she wants for Christmas," Kim sighed with exasperation.

"We could always do what my dad did with me: take her to a toy store and see what grabs her attention," Tommy suggested.

"Sh! Maybe we can overhear . . . ."

"So, Olivia, what is it you want for Christmas?" Santa queried.

"All I want for Christmas is . . . ." Olivia leaned forward and whispered her request into the Santa's ear.

Tommy would have given anything to have known what Olivia said because he had never seen anyone look as completely flabbergasted as Santa did as Olivia sat back.

"What did she ask for?" Kim hissed, also taken aback by the man's expression.

"That's all you want for Christmas?" Santa gulped, trying to regain his composure.

"Uh huh," Olivia asserted.

"That's a pretty big wish, and Santa might need a little help with it."

"Just try, Santa. Please?" Olivia flashed him her biggest, most sincere puppy-eyes.

"Very well. However, is there anything else that you'd like?"

"I don't know; a pink bike of my very own so I don't have to ride Tommy's old one all the time would be okay, but I really want the other thing more."

With that, Santa handed Olivia a candy cane and sent her on her way. Before Kim or Tommy could slip away from Olivia to ask Santa what Olivia's request had been, another child scrambled up into his lap. They were left to puzzle over the mysterious request as Olivia all but dragged them off into the mall.

"Can we go see all the pretty trees and lights now?"

"You know something, Mommy; it sure doesn't seem like it's almost Christmas," Olivia complained on a particularly dreary Sunday afternoon.

Kim was inclined to agree. Christmas was just slightly over three weeks away, and yet for some reason, it just didn't feel like the holiday was right around the corner.

"I think I know why," Kim finally realized.


"Look around. What's missing?"

"Christmas decorations!" Olivia exclaimed.

Between working and trying to sneak in the shopping, the trimmings had gotten lost in the shuffle. They didn't even have a tree yet.

"Right. Why don't we fancy this place up while Tommy is out helping his uncle," Kim suggested.


Kim looked around to see if she could find Tommy's decorations but couldn't seem to locate them. He had to have some somewhere; Tommy always loved Christmas time. However, even though they couldn't find his holiday baubles, she knew were theirs were. She and Olivia may not have had much, but at least they had always managed to deck out their small room for the season.

It wasn't long before Kim had popcorn popping so they could string it for garlands, and Olivia was busy cutting and pasting colorful strips of paper to make a chain.

"How about we cut some snowflakes for the front window?"

"I'm big enough to help cut them this year," Olivia asserted.

Kim retrieved a pile of paper from the printer tray and started folding. Olivia looked to be the soul of concentration as she notched the paper with none-too-sharp safety scissors.

"Mommy, will I ever get to see real snow?" she asked suddenly.

"Of course you will. How about next Saturday after Tommy and I get finished with work, we all drive up to the ski resort in the mountains, and you'll get to see lots of snow."

"Really? All right!"

Tommy's nose was filled with the aroma of fresh popcorn as he opened the door, and the sights and sounds that immediately impacted him thereafter left him all but speechless. There were paper snowflakes and stars taped to the living room window, paper chains hung about the doorway, and on the coffee table sat a tiny Christmas tree. It couldn't have been more than the top portion of an artificial tree, but it was hung with colorful, homemade ornaments. Kim, her back to the door, was winding a garland of popcorn around the branches, and as she worked, she sang:

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Everywhere you go . . . ."

He had forgotten what a beautiful singing voice she had.

"Olivia, stop eating the popcorn!" Kim chided suddenly.

Tommy felt his heart swelling with his surging emotions. He hadn't given decorating for Christmas a thought. Last year, he hadn't bothered. His heart just hadn't been into it, and it seemed pointless since he had spent the holidays with his folks. But seeing what a difference the simple touches Olivia and Kim made drove home the fact that his apartment had been very, very lonely this time last year.

"Mommy, where can I hang my sock?" Olivia queried, holding up a red and white bootie with her name emblazoned in glitter on the cuff.

"And how will Santa get in here to fill it since we don't have a chimney?" Tommy asked, announcing his presence.

"He'll come in through the window just like he did in Florida," Olivia answered, her tone telling Tommy that he was being dense.

"So, what do you think?" Kim inquired.

"You two have done an awesome job," he replied. "I should have done this sooner . . . I have a whole bunch of ornaments and things around here somewhere --stuff Mom's been saving for me for years."

"I looked but couldn't find anything."

"I think I know where they're at."

"Mommy, can I ask you something? What does Santa do if you ask for a present that won't fit under a Christmas tree?" Olivia wondered.

"He'll find some place to leave it," Kim assured her.

"Well, if you asked for something too big to put under a little tree, we'll just have to get us a tree big enough to put big presents underneath," Tommy interjected, his eyes lighting up at the thought. "Come on; grab your coats and let's go."

"Go where?" Kim asked.

"To get a Christmas tree."

"But we have a tree already," Olivia insisted.

"And it's a wonderful little tree, but I want to get a special one for our first Christmas together."

"Slow down, Tommy," Kim scolded as she struggled with her end of the plastic-bagged bundle. She was still shaking her head in amazement at Tommy's behavior. He was almost as giddy as a little kid.

"Whoa!" Tommy yelped as he momentarily lost his footing on the stairs and their burden shifted.

"Thomas Oliver, don't you dare fall on me!"

"Don't squish Mommy!" Olivia squeaked.

"Just open the door, Princess; this is heavy," Tommy grunted. None too soon they squeezed their load through the doorway and scarcely had it inside when Tommy started undoing the bindings.

"Why don't you wait until we know where we're going to put it," Kim recommended reasonably.

"How about right smack dab in the middle of the room?"

Kim merely gave him a hands-on-hips, don't-be-absurd look, which took none of the air out of Tommy's bubble of happiness.

"Okay, how about against the far wall in front of the painting?" he compromised.

"Are you sure this tree is going to fit?" Kim wondered. Tommy had spent what seemed like hours searching for what he considered the perfect tree. "It's awfully tall."

"It's not that much taller than I am, and I clear the ceiling with room to spare."

"You're not going to be propped up in a tree stand either."

"Don't worry; it'll fit." So saying, Tommy stood the tree up on its trunk --or rather tried to stand it up. Kim rolled her eyes and shook her head. Olivia giggled.

"So we need to take a little off the bottom," he conceded sheepishly.

"I'll go down to the truck and get your tool box," Kim offered, biting back her laughter.

"There," Tommy declared happily, standing back and regarding the evergreen with satisfaction. It as yet sported no trimmings, but it was standing up straight --finally.

"We are going to be picking up needles for a month of Sundays," Kim sighed, wincing as she stepped on a sharp quill. "Why a live tree? Wouldn't an artificial one have been a lot easier?"

"Just take a deep breath," he instructed, inhaling. Then, he let out a pleased sigh. "Doesn't that take you back to Christmas time when you were Olivia's age?"

Indeed it did. Kim could remember bubbling over with excitement, scarcely able to sit still while her father and brother set up the tree. She had wanted to start decorating right away! Oh, and how the smell of that pine tree would fill the house. She could remember just sitting there watching the twinkling lights and smelling that wonderful fragrance.

"A real Christmas tree," Olivia breathed in wonder, her eyes saucer-wide and bright with excitement.

Kim felt warm all over as she basked in her daughter's joyous glow. Then, she noticed that Tommy wore almost the exact same expression. "As gorgeous as it is, don't you think we should fancy it up?"

"Come on, the boxes are under my bed," Tommy said, and the three of them quickly retrieved them.

"Where did you get all these?" Kim wondered as she began unpacking the ornaments.

"My grandparents mostly," Tommy explained as he attempted to untangle the lights. "Every Christmas since I was a baby, my Grandma and Grandpa Michaels would give me an ornament for Christmas. After they died, Aunt Elsa continued the tradition."

"That's a very good idea," Kim said with a meaningful glance at Olivia who was busy ogling the star for the tree top.

"Already taken care of," Tommy assured her softly.

"Some of these are absolutely gorgeous," she murmured as she examined a delicate angel of blown glass.

"Dad would bring things home from the places he'd travel to on business trips. Grandma Sarah divided up her ornament collection a few years ago, and my folks set Dad's share aside for me. That's where the lights and a few other goodies came from. The treeskirt was one my grandmother crocheted."

"That is so neat; I wish my family had traditions and stuff like that."

"You're welcome to share mine," Tommy offered.

Kim found herself blushing, wondering if Tommy realized just what that sounded like.

After several hours of tangled strings of lights, burned out bulbs, ornaments placed here then moved there, knotted garlands, and needle pricks, the trio stood back to admire their handiwork.

"Only one thing left," Tommy declared, holding up the star.

"Who gets to do the honors?" Kim wondered.

"Can I?" Olivia asked eagerly.

"How about we all do it," Tommy suggested.

"What do you mean?" Kim queried.

"Olivia, you take the star; Kim, you pick up Olivia while I pick up you."

Kim yelped as Tommy hoisted her up, and the three nearly toppled over into the tree, but they somehow managed to get the star in place.

It was almost dark outside, and Tommy shut off all the lights in the apartment except for the tree lights.

"It's the most beautifulest Christmas tree I've seen in my whole life," Olivia murmured.

"You know what, Princess; I think you're right," Tommy agreed.

As they stood in the glow of the colored lights, he slid his arm around Kim's shoulder, and she leaned into him. She noticed that they each had a hand on one of Olivia's shoulders, and she remembered her childhood again, standing with her parents before the newly decorated tree just as she and Tommy and Olivia stood now.

* * *

Tommy groggily rolled over and looked at the clock as the clamoring of the phone pulled him out of a sound sleep: 05:30.

"Aw, man, go away!" Tommy groaned. Who in the hell would be calling at this hour of the morning? He was seriously tempted just to roll back over and bury his head under his pillow until the infernal device stopped ringing; however, the caller was being very persistent, and he was the one who had forgotten to turn on the answering machine. If he didn't get it, the noise was liable to wake up Kim and Olivia. Blearily, he plodded into the kitchen.

"Hello," he mumbled around a yawn.

"Is this Tommy Oliver?" a tremulous, accented voice on the other end queried.

Not at this hour of the morning! he thought with a surly grumble. "Speaking."

"I'm sorry . . . I know it's early there, but I just got your letter, and I simply couldn't wait any longer . . . ."

"Who is this?"

"Caroline Dumas. Kimberly's mother."

That was more sobering than a whole pot of sludge --which Tommy promptly put on to brew. Before he could say anything further, Caroline continued to ramble on anxiously.

"Did you really mean what you said in your letter --about Kimberly wanting to talk to me? Please, Tommy, you have no idea . . . . I'm sure she must have told you what happened between us. I never meant to do that to my baby! I never meant to cut her out of my life, but I was just so hurt and angry . . . when she told me, I didn't want to believe her . . . . I wanted so much for Kim, and her life was ruined just like mine was . . . I blamed her. I blamed you . . . ."

"Calm down, Mrs. Dumas," Tommy said when he could get a word in edgewise.

"I didn't want her to have to give up everything the way I did! I just didn't think . . . I didn't know she'd react like that . . . . I didn't mean to say such hurtful things! I wanted to apologize, but I didn't know how. I've wanted to talk to her for so long, but I was afraid that she hated me --and deservedly so . . . . Oh, God . . . .!"

"It's all right, Caroline; just take it easy," Tommy tried again to soothe her, feeling rather at a loss as to how to handle Kim's distraught mother. He'd been more prepared for cold fury, not repentant tears. "A lot of things got said and done in the heat of the moment that folks didn't intend to say and do. All that matters now is putting those things to rights."

"Can you ever forgive me . . . for what I said about you . . . for what I've done . . . ?"

"It isn't my place to offer you forgiveness; that's Kim's. However, I would never have sent that letter if she wasn't willing to work things out. Do you really want to talk to her and get things straightened out?"

"More than anything! Will you help me get in touch with my daughter?"

"Of course, Caroline."

"Bless you, Tommy . . . ."

"Tommy?" Olivia interrupted sleepily, tugging at the legs of his pajama bottoms.

"What are you doing up, Princess?" Tommy wondered.

"The phone woke me."

"I'm sorry, Tommy. I should have thought . . . I didn't mean to wake your daughter," Caroline apologized.

"Actually, that's Olivia," he replied, inspiration hitting.

"O-Olivia? You mean Kim's daughter?"

"Yes. Would you like to talk to her?"

"Who are you talking to, Tommy?" Olivia wondered.

"Mrs. Dumas; she an old friend of your mom's. Do you want to say 'hi?' I've gotta run down the hall a minute."

"I guess so."

"I'll be right back." Tommy handed Olivia the phone and as soon as the tot began to talk, he hurried down the hall to Kim's room.

"Kim," he called out as he entered.

"Huh? Wazzat the phone?" Kim mumbled.

"It's for you."

"Me? At this hour? Who is it?"

"They said it was important," Tommy answered evasively, trying to bite back a grin.

"Okay, I'll be right there."

Leaving Kim to get out of bed, Tommy returned to the kitchen.

"Okay, Princess, I'm back," he announced.

"Aw . . . ." Olivia pouted. "I gotta go, Mrs. Doo-ma; Tommy's here. Yeah, it was nice talking to you, too. Bye!" Olivia handed the receiver back to Tommy.

"Enjoy yourself?" Tommy queried as he took over.

"T-that was my granddaughter? She's such a bright little thing."

"She's a very special girl --just like her mother."

"I-is Kimberly there as well?"

"Uh huh, and here she is," Tommy declared as Kim ambled into the kitchen.

"Tommy, wait, I'm not sure I'm ready . . . ."

But Tommy never heard the rest of Caroline's protest as he handed the phone to an expectant, sleepy Kimberly.

"This is Kim . . . ." she began uncertainly, and Tommy hastily grabbed a chair as Kim went white and an expression of shock filled her face. She sank limply into the seat. She flashed Tommy a wild, almost frightened look, and he urged her on with a smile and a nod. "M-mom?"

"Come on, Olivia; let's give your mom some peace and quiet," Tommy suggested softly, ushering the puzzled little girl into the living room, allowing Kim to have her reunion in private.

"Why did Mommy call Mrs. Dumas 'mom?'" Olivia wondered.

"Because that's who she is."

"You mean that was my real grandma?"

"Sure thing."

"Wow!" Olivia gasped. "How come it sounds like Mommy is crying?"

"Sometimes, when grown ups are very, very happy, they cry," Tommy explained.

"That sounds silly!"

Cartoons weren't even on yet, and Olivia was much too excited to go back to sleep, so Tommy popped a video in the VCR for her. They had scarcely fast forwarded through the previews when Olivia announced, "I'm hungry; can I have some cereal?"

On his way to the kitchen, Tommy picked up the box of tissues. His back was to Olivia, but he caught a movement out of the corner of his eye; turning to look, he found the girl standing before the Christmas tree fingering this or that ornament. It'd been more than a week since they had put up the tree, but she was still fascinated with it. Tommy watched her for a few moments but didn't say anything. Kim had told Olivia not to play with the ornaments, but she wasn't hurting anything. He smiled fondly then headed on to the kitchen.

Clearing the doorway, he noticed that Kim had pulled the chair over to the table; the way she leaned against the surface gave him the impression that the piece of furniture was the only thing holding her up. She hadn't the strength to do it on her own. Tears coursed down her cheeks in tiny rivers, which she made no move to wipe away. Without a word, he set the tissues down next to her; however, before he could set about fetching Olivia's breakfast, Kim caught his hand and held him fast.

"Uh huh," she mumbled into the receiver, her voice choked with her overwhelming emotions. She gave Tommy's hand a fierce squeeze as she beamed up at him. "Yes . . . me, too. Okay, Mom . . . I'll talk to you later . . . I-I love you, too."

Almost in a daze, Kim hung up the phone.

"That was a quick call," Tommy noted softly.

"She's going to call back later when I'm more awake and we're both calmer," Kim said numbly.

"Sounds like a good idea to me," he agreed.

"Oh, Tommy, you were right! It was just like you told me," she sniffled. "Mom never meant for this to happen, and she's been just as scared to get in touch with me as I was to get in touch with her."

"So now what?"

"We still have a lot of things to discuss. We both know it's going to take some time to get everything worked out and rebuild our relationship, but . . . I have my mom back!" Kim threw her arms around him and hugged him tightly. "Thank you, Tommy; thank you so much. First my dad and Kenny, now this . . . ."

"Hey, all I did was send a letter; you and your mom were the ones who decided to take the risk and try to reach out to each other after all this time," he replied, returning the embrace and softly stroking her hair.

Just then Olivia wandered into the kitchen. Tommy noted her arrival and was puzzled by the look on her face. She regarded him and Kim as if she knew something they didn't.

"What's wrong, Mommy?" she asked, concerned.

"Nothing, Sweetie," Kim assured her, wiping her eyes and opening her arms to her daughter. Olivia scampered into the hug.

"Then why are you crying?"

"Because I'm happy."

"Are you and your mommy friends again?"

"Yes, honey, we are."

"Goody! Now I have another grandma!"

Kim gave Olivia a jubilant squeeze, and Tommy laughed and tousled her hair.

"Tommy, I'm still hungry," Olivia declared plaintively.

"You're always hungry," Tommy teased. "Maybe I should start calling you 'Rocky.'"

Olivia giggled and stuck her tongue out at him.

All I Want for Christmas

A Power Rangers Story
by Cheryl Reynolds

Part 6 of 7

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