I learnt a few new things during the flight. Firstly, that a child awakes with renewed energy after only a couple of hours sleep. When I say energy, I mean Hayden turned his attention to climbing up the back of the seat in front of him. He almost succeeded in launching himself over the top at one point. But there was one more surprise to come and that was Cary stepping in when both of Hayden’s parents were reaching desperation point. We still had well over an hour to go before landing and they were seriously flagging.
To my surprise Cary’s head suddenly appeared around the galley curtain, one row in front. He was talking to a flight attendant and pointing in the direction of Hayden. The boy was jumping up and down in his seat as if it was a trampoline. She pushed back the curtain, giving Cary a very generous, full-lipped smile as she did so. Yes, lady, you can smile but you wouldn’t if you had to work with him. Looks can be deceiving.
As I surreptitiously watched him out of the corner of my eye, Cary seemed to be vandalising one of the inflight magazines. He was tearing out page after page. I noticed that Hayden was watching him, too. The little boy clambered over his dad’s lap for the umpteenth time, eliciting some loud groans – the guy must be black and blue with bruises. But the little lad wandered up to stand in front of Cary, who simply smiled down at him and said ‘Hi, little fella.’ Cary waved at Hayden’s father, who gave him a thumbs-up. Then he continued what he was doing.
It turned out he was making paper planes and when he launched the first one Hayden’s face lit up. As little legs scampered away to retrieve it, Cary continued making them until he had half a dozen on the tray next to him. Every time Hayden brought one back, Cary launched another with amazing precision. I almost laughed out loud as it was very reminiscent of a dog with a ball, but it worked.
One of the flight attendants was so impressed that he joined in to encourage the toddler and rewarded him with an apple. Hayden glowed under their approval and his mood lifted. Cary played with him for about twenty minutes, moving on to entertain him by juggling paper scrunched up into balls this time. I mean that man can really juggle!
Much to Cary’s mortification, when Hayden’s mum finally went to reclaim her son after the seatbelt sign was switched on, she gave Cary a hug. He turned to ruffle the boy’s hair and high-fived him before heading back to his seat.
As I prepared for an anticipated bumpy descent, I found myself wondering if Cary was married and whether he had young children of his own. I certainly wouldn’t have had a clue about how to keep a tantrum-inclined toddler occupied.
After I catch up with Cary on landing, we follow the snake of weary travellers through the terminal. ‘That was some juggling show earlier on,’ I muse.
He smiles and shrugs his shoulders.
‘Hayden is a bright little boy. Full of energy and too young to understand being cooped-up on a plane for all those hours. It’s about defusing situations and distracting them, at that age.’ He sounds like he’s quoting from a textbook on children’s behavioural management. Is everything in life that simple, to him – find the key to staying in control?
However, I am amazed by his response and sense of acceptance, as if Hayden’s behaviour was to be expected.
Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman
About the author
Lucy lives in the Forest of Dean in the UK with her lovely husband and Bengal cat, Ziggy. Her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Lucy won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award.
About the book:
Christmas and romance are in the air…
It’s December 23rd and while everyone else is rushing home for the holidays, workaholic Leesa Oliver is dreading switching on her out-of-office for the festive season. And it seems her equally driven boss, Cary Anderson, isn’t relishing spending Christmas at his family’s country estate either.
So together, they draft an unexpected Christmas contract: They’ll spend half of the holidays with each other’s families, pretending to be a couple. Leesa knows the insufferably good-looking Cary will make her Christmas more bearable, but what happens after the last of the mince pies have been eaten…?
Leesa signed off on a sensible business agreement, but somewhere, amongst the fairy lights and carols something seems to have changed… It seems there might just be some magic under the mistletoe this Christmas!
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