~ The first part of this story can be found HERE! ~
After a twenty minute car journey consisting of Delilah singing merrily along to songs that sing of all of the festive words, George notes that his heart feels settled once again with his best friend by his side. When she taps his arm he knows that it's his turn to sing and they giggle all the way until Delilah pulls over. "Okay, best friend," she smiles as if she is all of the stars in the sky and George sighs a happy sigh. "It's time."
Delilah leads George along the high street and after turning a corner into one of the lanes, she pulls out a key and before George can put two and two together, they are stood in his mother's café. After her marriage and her kids, her café meant everything to her. After she died six years before George's father has kept it running. It was a struggle at first - his dad saw the love of his life in every cake and every pink pillow - but he now sees the ever busy business as one of his salvations.
Although they still often meet at the café, as children Delilah and George would always hang out with his mum, decorating cakes and serving customers for fun. Sometimes they would just sit in the window seat and chit chat for hours. Delilah turns a switch and fairy lights twinkle above the Christmas decorations and George's breath catches. Sat waiting for them are six of the kids he teaches guitar to in his shop with guitars perched on their laps. With the biggest grins on their faces George laughs, intrigued and deliriously happily. "Guys?" He asks.
They shake their heads as if they're not telling. George turns to Delilah and her expression is so soft that he can see she has lost the ability to talk for a few moments. "Best friend, what is going on?"
As if it's her way of answering, Delilah carefully swings her mysteriously large bag round to her front and she pulls out her guitar. George frowns with a grin. George tried to teach Delilah guitar a couple of summers ago. Frustrated but still laughing Delilah concluded that she would always be the girl that plays piano and George, the guy who plays guitar.
As Delilah turns and sits on the empty seat by the children, George notes now that he must savour every moment of this memory his beautiful best friend is giving him. George's father appears from behind the counter with a merry grin on his face and a Santa's hat on his head. In his hands is a tray full of fairy cakes decorated how George and Delilah always made when they were younger. Yellow and blue and green and pink butter icing with white stars on the top.
"Hello son," his dad approaches him and hands him the tray before quickly pulling out two chairs for them both to sit on. After they sit, his dad takes back the tray and hands him a cake, as if it is his cake. George looks down and notices a small scroll of paper perched on top. Unaware of the kids getting ready with Delilah, George unfolds the note.
Merry Christmas best friend. Let's make this the best one yet!
A lump catches George's throat and he doesn't dare look at his dad, his dad being the only one that he has ever discussed his happily unbearable adoration for his best friend. His best friend with dark blonde hair and big green eyes and the most gentle soul there has ever been.
Before he can dwell on how beautiful Delilah looks in her deep green skirt and black jumper, her lips say softly, "1, 2, 3, 4..."
Within seconds it all clicks and George is half laughing and half doing all he can not to cry. In front of him are some of the kids that spur him on every day to carry on with his business that many warned him he was not quite ready to go ahead with. His mother told him he should always be what he wants to be and he knew university wasn't the answer for him, so he jumped in head first and he has had no regrets.
As they almost perfectly strummed the chords and Delilah's pretty voice sings the words to a Christmas song he wrote as an eleven year old entering a school competition, he is thrown back to nine years before. The day of the competition George was shaking so much he didn't know how he would be able to play his guitar. Delilah put both hands on his shoulders and said, "You, Georgie, can do this." He took a breath and he sung the song that won him the competition while the crowd full of schoolchildren grinned back at him.
As the chorus kicks in, Annie and Hannah sing alongside Delilah and George shakes his head. He'd forgotten about this song, but of course, Delilah hadn't. Nine years before as his friends were fist pumping him and singing the chorus at him after he won the competition, Delilah grinned in his face. "When you're stupidly famous and you've forgotten this song, I will remind you of it."
"Because it's terrible?"
Delilah looked offended, "No, because it's brilliant! You're brilliant." George shivers, remembering those two words... You're brilliant. He should have kissed her then, but he never did.
As the song finishes, the children burst into uncontrollable giggles and Delilah briefly looks, sheepishly, at George before hi-fiving all of the kids. "You were brilliant, guys." George's heart almost stops and he closes his eyes with happiness. She really is brilliant. "Now go and grab yourself a cake. No, grab yourself two cakes. I made plenty!"
George's dad pats his back and the kids run over to him. He isn't sure he can move but he pulls himself up and takes a few footsteps to Delilah, who is perching her guitar up against a stool. "You play guitar now, do you?" Delilah turns, replying with the merriest grin. "You're now a triple threat, making myself weaker than you in the music world."
"As if!" Delilah scoffs. "I only learnt four chords."
George feigns anger. "You mean my song is simple?"
Delilah giggles, "Your song was and always will be my favourite song." She pauses as George can't find the words and her excited eyes catch his wet blue eyes. During the summer, I found the video I recorded of you singing the song. When I was off of work and you were at work, I would come to the café and your dad so kindly would teach me the chords I needed. It took a while and the kids completely outshined me every time we practiced towards the end of summer, but..." She trails off.
"Dee, this is completely incredible."
Delilah's cheeks are accompanied by a little pink and she looks down. "I know Bailey's mum," she nods over to the boy with the massive grin and looks back to George. "I asked her if she could find a way to gather some of the kids you teach together during the summer and they were more than eager. Bailey's mum has got them together every Thursday after school to practice."
George's eyes nearly give way to the happiness in his eyes but he bites his lip and looks at his hand. He moves one hand to her hand. "Dee, no one's ever done such a beautiful, thoughtful thing."
Delilah shakes her head, almost sternly. "Everyone has been so kind." Before he can agree but insist she is the most lovely thing he has ever laid eyes on and that he is so grateful, she nods her head forward. "The kids..." she grins. George turns to see six kids grinning up at him and he reluctantly lets go of Delilah's hand and lets his heart feel another type of admiration for the kids he adores teaching and watching grow.
"You guys!" he chuckles as they giggle at him. He scruffs up Bailey's head and says, "You were amazing, you little rascals." He widens his eyes at Sam, "You have absolutely aced your rhythm, Sammy. Lily, Hannah... I didn't know you could sing like angels!" They grin at each other. "Matthew and Dan- you've never looked so confident. And Bailey boy, your ability to grin mischievously and play perfectly will always amaze me." He sighs and closes his eyes before opening again. "As if you kept this secret from me for so long!"
After an hour or so of the kids, George, his dad and Delilah listening to Christmas songs and eating cakes and sandwiches Delilah apparently made in the café that morning, the kids file out of the shop with George's dad closely behind them, ready to drive them home in his minibus. "Merry Christmas!" They all sang to each other. Delilah turns around and George just catches his dad smiling at him with a slow nod.
As the door shuts behind them, George is conscious of the quiet that is more than meaningful. Delilah busies herself by stacking chairs and putting stools out the back. She throws away empty cake wrappers and puts the remaining few in a tub. George feels helpless and can't stop himself from silently watching her as he wipes a side.
"Thank you," George almost whispers. It doesn't sound like nearly enough. Delilah leans on the counter and smiles warmly, "You are more than welcome."
"But..." George is about to ask what he has done to deserve such a beautiful gesture. He watched some of his favourite people sing a song he almost forgotten but most certainly remembers writing as an eleven year old, in the shop his mum adored with his dad by his side.
"Don't even ask why." Delilah packs bits and bobs into her bag and she closes the distance between the two of them. "I knew these last few months of us being in two far away places was going to be awful without you. Almost unbearable. And it was, George." He feels his brows tighten at her saying his name. "I've missed you so damn much."
George's heart can barely believe how lucky he is.
"You've been the best, calling me every day."
"As if I would ever not have!" George exclaims. "Dee, the cakes... Every last detail of this has been so magical."
Delilah shrugs. "I've missed you every day, best friend."
"I've missed you endlessly, best friend." For a moment, the two of them let their eyes linger and everything George has always loved about her is shining brightly like it does every single day. Delilah wraps her arms around him and leans her head into his neck.
George can't feel disappointed at his lack of declaration. The declaration his has so yearned to tell of for so many years... He embraces her warm shoulders and her soft hair. His nose smiles at the scent he bought her years before that she always goes back to. One day, he thinks, he will tell the truth.
Songs & Cakes,
The Girl in the Moonlight.
P.P.S. The next part of the story has now been posted and you can read that HERE!