Downstairs, the Christmas tree in the corner of the small living room was still lit, casting a warm glow. Jess and her mom must have left it on for some reason when they got home. A few shimmering packages were already stashed underneath. Seeing the presents, she fingered the small horseshoe dangling around her neck. It was the perfect present from the perfect guy. She smiled in the dark and walked over to the tree to shut off the lights.
“Leave it on.”
Cory stopped on the spot. The shadowy outline of her mom sitting in the armchair was partially obscured by the tree. Cory waited and said nothing.
“I like the light. I like to look at it. Looks good, don’t you think?” Her mom turned her face toward Cory.
“Yeah, Mom, it looks great.”
Roni’s eyes glistened in the electric light. She turned her attention back to the tree.
“When you were kids, we used to wait till Christmas Eve to light up the tree. Do you remember that?”
Cory took a breath, realizing she’d been holding it. She nodded in the dark.
“Robert wanted it that way. He said that was what his family did when they were kids.”
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