DISCLAIMER: Story © 2006, The characters are borrowed from The Facts of Life, but I plan to treat them gently.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is another prequel to my story "The Impossible Dream", but may be read as a stand alone. No sex. Sorry.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
High school - Christmas time
Jo Polniaczek counted her money again before leaving with the rest of the girls to go Christmas shopping. She should have just enough for the presents she had picked out, plus some left over. Yep, she was ready, all except one tiny detail: what should she buy for Blair? Oh well, no matter what she picked, it probably would not be good enough for Princess Warner. Blair would get that "I'm so kind to accept your lousy gift" look on her face. It didn't matter. Really.
"Jo, let's get a move on!" Edna Garnet bellowed from the bottom of the stairs. Jo shoved her wallet in her pocket, grabbed her favorite leather coat, and bounded down the stairs two at a time. "Daydreaming?" the older woman asked.
"Naw, just making sure I have everything," Jo said as she landed at the bottom. She looked over the other three girls, all shaking their heads. "What?" she growled.
"Mrs. G, they're fighting again," Tootie sighed as she helped her carry the food to the table, avoiding Jo and Blair's customary fighting as they descended the staircase.
"That doesn't surprise me," Mrs. Garret responded as she poured herself a cup of coffee. "It's when they're not arguing that I worry." She smiled as the two older girls finally came down, sniping at each other all the way. "Girls, come on, food's getting cold." The girls all took their seats, and bowed their heads for a brief prayer, then dug into their breakfast, comparing notes on where they were going for the holidays.
Breakfast dishes washed and put away, it was finally time for the gift exchange. Oohs and ahs filled the air as paper was ripped and gifts were revealed. Jo started getting nervous about her gift to Blair, after all, it wasn't from some swanky New York jewelry store. She handed it to Blair saying, "It ain't much, but Merry Christmas, Blair."
Blair took the package and carefully opened it, pulling out the thin bracelet. "Jo, it's beautiful," she said quietly, "help me put it on." Stunned, Jo got out of her chair and knelt in front of Blair, draping the braclet around Blair's wrist and carefully fastening it. Blair held it up to the light, then laid her hand on Jo's cheek. "Thank you," she said simply.
"Um, you're welcome," Jo answered, "I wasn't sure it would be your style. I'm glad you like it."
"I do," Blair said softly, a big smile stealing across her face. "Thank you." She leaned forward, gently kissing the other girl on the cheek.
Many years later, the world had shattered into pieces for Blair. Her daughter died of an aneurysm, her husband irrationally blamed her for Madison's death, and Jo had come back into her life. Jo was starting her own custom motorcycle shop and Blair's company was helping with the funding. Her son, Scott, was starting to college soon, and Blair was packing to go help him move into an apartment. She sifted through her jewelry boxes, looking for something simple, yet elegant, to take with her in case she went out anywhere. Her eye caught a simple gold cardboard jewelry box, and she pulled it out of the drawer, smiling in recognition. It was the bracelet that Jo had given her one year in high school, the bracelet that she had worn until she married. Well, she was about to not be married. Would Jo even remember giving it to her? Only one way to find out - wear it to Texas. She smiled as she carefully fastened the bracelet around her wrist, marveling that it still sparkled in the light. Of all the gifts that she and Jo had sporadically exchanged over the years, this was her favorite, because she knew Jo had given it from the heart.
When Jo arrived at the hotel room, she was surprised to see Blair in dark jeans, a sleeveless cowgirl shirt, and sensible cowboy boots. Small silver earrings, thin watch, and a thin silver rope bracelet completed the look. "Blair, is that the bracelet I gave you for Christmas years ago?" Jo asked, stunned that Blair would still have it.
"Yes," Blair replied simply, "it just seemed right to take it out. I'm ready when you are." Of course I kept it, Blair thought as she followed the other woman out of the hotel room, I love you, you've been such a great support as I've dealt with the death of my daughter, the ending of my marriage, my son moving to Texas.
Jo smiled. "I thought we'd go to Billy Bob's, that okay with you?"
"Sure, Jo, you get to call the shots tonight," Blair said, glancing at Jo's faded jeans, purple polo with the "Eagle Custom Bikes" logo, and polished black ropers. Plain and simple, the essence of Jo, Blair mused as she followed her friend out of the hotel. She'd always heard of Billy Bob's, but of course, had never been there. Imagine, a Warner in a <shudder> country bar! Blair smiled at her own thoughts, mocking herself silently, thinking of the days when she and Jo fought constantly, both snobs, but in different ways.
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