Merry Christmas

12

Merry Christmas for those that celebrate. Happy Tuesday to the rest of you!

On the first day of Christmas Natalie met Chris. Follow them as they find love during the Twelve Date of Christmas
http://lmsylvian.com/the-twelve-dates-of-christmas-christmas-day/

An Improper Derailment: Chapter 4

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Chapter four, where Mary falls…

Mary held a kerchief over her mouth, to protect her delicate sensibilities from the spewing smoke of Mr Peterson’s vile contraption.

Charles and Pythagorus were having a mighty fine time, and that was fine by Mary. The more time they spent oohing and ahhing over the noisy machine the less time Pythagorus Peterson spent vying for her attention.

And to think, she had been hoping for a proposal from the man. He had turned into a positively repugnant human being. And she had thought she had known the man.

He had insulted her at every turn, making insinuations and undesired advances. She pursed her mouth and set her brow, at least she had found out how distasteful of a human he was now. She would never have been able to put up with his misdeed if they had gotten married

Janey sat, not saying a word, but she patted Mary’s hand in sympathy. Of course, Mary figured her sister assumed she was upset over the loss of opportunity at a future connection with the Peterson family, instead of what was really upsetting Mary. Py insulted Mary and no one, not Charles, not Janey, had defended her honor.

She claimed to feel faint to avoid their post-luncheon stroll. However, now she felt trapped on the riding platform.

Py’s carriage crawled along at a dreadful pace. He claimed they were traveling at a brisk ten miles an hour. Mary questioned the validity of his claim, as she watched horses, and people of foot outpace them.

They crawled around the corner, and finally made it to the street with Janey’s house.

Mary’s heart lurched, or maybe that was her ride.

A dark figure lurked in the shadows on the porch. Dark full-length duster, dark hat, dark. Mary’s breath hitched, or maybe that was the ride lurching again.

With a cough and a spit they stopped.

The dark figure descended the stairs.

Charles puffed up his chest and jumped from the platform. His attempt at an aggression display brought a smile to Mary’s lips. Charles was so pitiful.

With a sigh Janey declared, “He is so manly.”

Mary stifled a choke. “He is.” She didn’t mean Charles.

Charles puffed, while the other man loomed. He was a giant of a man, not only tall but broad through the shoulder. His face was hidden by the brim of his hat, but Mary could make out the line of a strong square jaw.

Charles returned to their ride and reached up pulling the step stool down.

Janey reached forward and stepped delicately down with the assistance of her husband.

Mary felt a chill slither up her spine. She turned and faced Pythagorus. In full view of everyone on the street, and those who cared to look out their window, Pythagorus pulled Mary against his chest.

With a gasp, she shoved hard against him before e could open his mouth and insult her yet again.

The action propelled Mary out of his arms and to the edge of the platform.

Her heel slipped. She teetered for what felt an eternity. In slow motion, Mary slid backward. She hung in space, the clouds adorable little animals of puff in a perfectly blue sky.

A scream split the silence.

She fell forever, knowing that this was the death of her. She held her breath waiting for the hard impact as she crashed to the pavement.

The hard crack of her death didn’t come. She fell softly and was lifted, her vision heading back up into the sky.

Suddenly she was upright and held firmly against a wall of leather. Slowly she slid down, aware that on the other side of that leather was a man.

“You all right Ma’am?”

The rumble of voice had a soft drawl to it.

Mary looked up into the bluest eyes she had ever seen. The face of her rescuer was rugged, yet majestic, strong yet beautiful.
Breathlessly she answered, “I believe you have saved my life.”

“My pleasure Mary.”

Her name rolled from his lips like thunder and shook her to her toes. A sensation she had only ever experienced during a spring storm full of lightning. His arms still held her close to his body.

She didn’t fight to escape, she didn’t want to.

“You know me? I’m sorry I don’t know your name.”

“Hunt, Marshall Hunt. George Dryer hired me to escort you to San Francisco.”

©2018 Lulu M Sylvian

Come back next month when Mary learns who exactly  Marshall Hunt is

Catch up with chapter 3 where Pythangorus shows off

An Improper Derailment: Chapter 3

Chapter three, where Pythagorus is inappropriate…

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“Oh,” Mary paused as she stepped onto the porch.

Immediately in front of the house, making an infernal rattling noise, and coughing up smoke, a carriage, but no horses rumbled noisily in the road.

Charles climbed up onto the device with the joy of a child.

“Pythagorus, this is astounding!” he called out, loudly so he could be heard about the din.

Py smiled and swaggered to stand next to the contraption.

“Isn’t it just? I’ve the only one in Chicago. I swear the future is steam powered. My uncle already made his fortune thanks to the steam engine. I’m going to make mine with the rail-less passenger compartment.”

“I do believe Charles has found another scheme to invest our income in dear sister,” Janey confided to Mary as the two women stood on the walk gaping in wonderment at the machine.

The wheels, six of them, varied in size from small baby pram sized ones in the front to standard horse carriage ones in the middle to extra tall high wheeler sized ones in the back. Between the largest wheels, an oak barrel bound with shiny copper perched, with what appeared to be a wood-burning kitchen stove attached at the back.

Charles reached down and positively pulled Janey up into the riding compartment, which was barely more than a platform with benches. It was a good thing the weather today was lovely. Mary didn’t think riding this rail-less monstrosity looked to be particularly comfortable. She grimaced at the thought of being hauled up as if she were live stock or having to sit upon it in the rain.. Her face twisted into what she expected to be a most unpleasant continence.

Her sister was married and didn’t need to behave with propriety, but Mary was betrothed to whom she could only assume was a man of position. She needed a means of ascending to the riding platform with decorum. She turned back to look up at Janey’s house. As expected a good portion of the household staff were inappropriately gawping at Pythagorus’s toy.

“Would one of you fetch me a step stool?” she asked the gathering crowd of staff members. A disheveled young boy disappeared in a flash.

“Mary, Mary, Mary why not allow me to raise you to lofty heights in my arms?” Pythagorus lowered his lids to give Mary a positively indecent leer.

Had the subtext of his meaning missed her ears, his expression did not.

“Mr. Peterson you go too far!” Mary reached up and slapped him smartly across the cheek.

“Mary, how dare you?” Janey cried out.

Py chuckled and rubbed a gloved hand over the smarting cheek.

Mary thought she heard him mutter, “Clearly I haven’t gone far enough.”

She shot him a withering glare.

Py gave her a charming grin and made a sweeping gesture at his rail-less metal beast. “I simple meant it is of no consequence for me to lift you aboard. I humbly beg your pardon for my play of words.”

“Miss.” The small scullery lad held up a step stool, presenting his discovery to Mary and Pythagorus Peterson.

“Well done me boy, well done. If this isn’t just the very thing, we’ll take it with us so that when we arrive at our lunch the ladies may descend without difficulty.” Pythagorus swept the stool away from the lad and ruffled the boy’s hair.

He placed the step in the road and held out his hand so that Mary could step up and step again, reaching the platform without incident. Py tossed the stool up before leaping to join his party.

“Hold on my compatriots, we are going to be heading off at the daring speed of almost fifteen miles an hour.”

“I say Py how did you manage to calculate that?” Charles asked. He held onto on the side rails, and leaned forward, not unlike a daring passenger standing at the bow of a ship as it crashed into the oncoming waves.

Janey pulled at his sleeve. “Come back from there it’s dangerous Charles.”

“You know Nate Phillips?” Pythagorus called from the rear of his contraption.

“Nate Nate the one we hate?”

“The very one!”

“Good friend of mine went to boarding school together. Horsey type these days.”

“Precisely, I put the old girl to her paces up against one of his trotters. We took one of his known runners and she was able to match speed.” Py boasted.

“Couldn’t you just as easily timed a measured distance?” Mary asked. Setting up a horse race with this carriage thing seemed like so much fluff and nonsense.

“Where is the fun in that?” Pythagorus turned his attention to some dials and nobs. “Hold on, off we go!”

And with a mighty lurch and a bellow of smoke, the rail-less passenger compartment rolled its way slowly northbound toward their dining destination.

 

©2018 Lulu M Sylvian

 

Join us next month when Mary asks, “Who is that man?”

Catch up from the beginning with Chapter 1

Need a refresher on last month and why did Mary change her gown?

An Improper Derailment: Chapter 2

Chapter two, in which we learn that Grandfather has ruined everything…

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Mary stood and clasped her hands together. “Have Henrietta prepare my puce gown. Janey, you win. I shall be the one to change, green is now too festive for me to wear. Charles, would you be so kind as to write Mr. Peterson and cancel our luncheon? It is no longer appropriate for me to accept his invitation.”

“Good God girl, what has transpired for such drastic actions?” Charles blustered about the sitting room.

“Maybe we could still accompany Mr. Peterson, and explain to Grandfather?” Janey pleaded. At least she understood the predicament their grandfather had put Mary in.

Mary bit her knuckles and faced out the front window. “How can I?” She faced her sister and brother-in-law in the room so quickly her skirts twisted, and twirled one direction and then back in the opposite direction. Mary grabbed a fist of the acidic green skirts to keep the fabric from further movement.

“Janey, show him.” Mary nodded at the crumpled telegraph her sister now held.

Janey held up her hand with the paper to her husband. “Oh, Charles it is simply horrid.”

Charles took the paper. His eyes scanned over the message more than once. “I guess congratulations are in order,” he chuckled with egotistic mirth.

“Oh Charles, how could you?” Janey collapsed against the arm of the couch.

Mary swept from the room and climbed the stairs to her chambers.

Grandfather had secured and accepted a proposal for marriage from a wealthy man in San Francisco. She didn’t even know the man’s name. All Grandfather’s missive said was that she needed to return to San Francisco immediately, a husband has been located for her.

A husband.

Husband.

She shivered. He was probably one of Grandfather’s cronies, old and fat, and slobbery. He wouldn’t have mustaches as handsome as the young Mr. Peterson.

Mary stood numbly as Henrietta changed the festive green dress for the more simple day dress with a smaller, understated bustle.

She descended back to the main floor of the house only to stop in her tracks. She had distinctly remembered requesting that Charles cancel with Mr. Peterson. There had been plenty of time to jot down a note and have it sent out in the post. But here was Mr. Peterson handing over his walking stick and hat.

“Miss Mary, you look well.” His smile was hidden under his waxed and style mustache.

Mary gathered her senses about her and extended her hand in greeting as she continued down the stairs. She had not intended on making an entrance, and yet, here she was, making an entrance.

“Mr. Peterson, I’m caught off guard. Did not Charles send you a note explaining our situation in this morning’s post?”

Pythagorus Peterson pulled Mary into his sphere of space and tucked her hand into the crook of his arm. He stepped toward the parlor.

He held up a folded, yet still sealed, envelope. “This came just as I was stepping out to attend you here. I must confess I have yet to read it. Since I have traveled all the way here why don’t you tell me what this says? Whatever the news I would much rather hear it from your delightful lips.”

A sob escaped Mary’s throat. She turned to hide her face against his arm. “Mr. Peterson you are too bold. You make presumptions.” She pulled away and ran to hide behind the sitting couch, unaware that she posed in the sunlight framed but the front drapes.

Janey stood and reached for Mr. Peterson. “Oh, we have had distressing news, Mr. Peterson. We have only now been made aware that Mary had been betrothed and must return to San Francisco.”

“You see it would be inappropriate for me to dine with you this afternoon,” Mary cried into her handkerchief.

“Nonsense, we are old friends, and we are allowed to dine together. I will hear none of this. Charles would you, your lovely wife, and her delightful sister, please join me for lunch today? The arrangements have all been made, and I am starving. And my dear Mary, now that we have been downgraded to merely friends I insist you call me Py.” He smiled brightly at them all.

Mary blinked tears from her eyes, he was charm itself. She would miss his company once she returned to the bay area.

“Janey you are too lovely in my favorite color not to insist that Charles bring you out this lovely day.” Pythagorus extended his hand to her and pulled her to her feet. He wrapped Janey’s hand around his arm and patted it.

“I expect you to tell me everything you know about Mary’s fiancé, do fill me in.” He guided Janey from the room.

Mary stared at Charles with wide eyes. It looked as if they were headed to lunch at the Palmer House after all, and she was wearing puce.

 

@2018 Lulu M Sylvian

Catch up on last month’s installment, find out why Mary is wearing Puce.

Next month will Py get his cake and eat it too?

An Improper Derailment: Chapter 1

Chapter one, where Mary receives bad news…

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Mary sat, perfectly poised. The crumpled telegram in her fist, and the white knuckles rimmed with red, strained skin were the only clues to her anger.

If the message had been delivered an hour earlier she would have taken to her bed, at least for a few days, maybe longer. But she had already endured the ritual torture of being laced in and dressed. Besides, if she took to her bed now she would miss lunch with Mr. Peterson, a cousin to the Washington Porter. Mr. Chicago fruit himself. Her grandfather should be pleased she was making such prudent and profitable connections.

Janey at least was thrilled that Mr. Peterson began calling on her younger sister. They had a constant delivery of fresh fruits, thanks to the Porter family connection. She told Mary this at every turn.

“Was Mr. Peterson to be expected today? Do you think he will bring us some oranges? Would it be rude of me to ask if he could get us grapes? They ship wine don’t they?”

She always asked Mary with a mischievous wistful air, but she never once spoke of fruit or wine to Mr. Peterson directly.

Mary breathed through her nose slowly. She had to calm her nerves or she would do herself a grievance. This corset was laced a bit too tightly. That was for the benefit of her lunch companion. He had stated he was taking them to the Palmer House, and then a stroll afterward.

Janey and her husband Charles would accompany them to lunch. And then the chaperones would ever so discreetly walk a distance behind them during their stroll so they could discuss matters privately.

Mary anticipated a declaration of some form this afternoon. A request to speak to her grandfather, maybe even an actual proposal, after all, Mr. Peterson was a bit daring when it came to the rules of proper society. He had already insisted that Mary refer to him by his nickname Py. She couldn’t even bring herself to call him by his given name of Pythagoras.

But this telegram changed everything.

“Mary I do believe—” Janey stopped abruptly as she swept into the parlor. “Well, this won’t do. We both can’t wear green.” She coughed delicately into a handkerchief. “You need to go put on that lavender dress.”

Mary did not suppress the glare she gave her sister. If anyone should change it was Janey. She looked dreadful in green. Almost as if she too took on a verdigris pallor emphasized by her color choice.

Charles languidly strolled in after his wife. “I say, that telegraph was inconveniently early.”

Mary wanted to scoff at his complaint as if he were the one to open the door and shoo the poor boy away. At the time Charles was barely awake and in a dressing gown.

“What telegraph?” All thoughts of almost matching dresses gone from Janey’s head in a blink.

The longer Mary stayed in Chicago, the longer she realized how well matched those two were. Selfish to the core. Charles may be self-centered, but he was ridiculously wealthy, and that’s why grandfather allowed Mary to visit for so long.

Grandfather was a forty-niner, and he struck gold. But everything for him became about hitting the next vein of wealth. Mary knew he was living off the remaining dust of his fortune, and he expected his granddaughters to keep him elevated in the financial ranks.

The easiest and only way for this to happen was for them to marry wealthy. Mary was ahead of the game. A match with the Porter family, even a cousin of the Porter family should make the man happy. But he was an interfering bastard.

Mary felt her eye widen and her cheeks flush with the rude thought.

With as deep of a breath as she could manage, she handed the crumpled paper over to her sister.

Janey stumbled as her knees weakened.

Charles led his wife to the settee next to Mary.

Janey gave Mary a look of pained pity.

“I guess lunch is canceled then?”

 

@2018 Lulu M Sylvian

Find out what the telegraph says next month…

The Twelve Dates of Christmas: Christmas Day

TwelveDatesbyLuluMSylvianThe First Date of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas, my true love came to me. I just didn’t realize it at the time.

I spent the morning having breakfast with my family via video chat. I staged a decorated tree and purchased red plaid flannel pajamas. As planned, I made the same breakfast in my little apartment in the big city as mom had over 2,000 miles away. It didn’t matter that I had to get up crazy early, and I had the AC running to keep me from sweating while wearing full flannel pajamas in 60-degree weather. I smiled sweetly and let everyone believe I was having a wonderful time.

Video conferencing was as good as being there. Actually, it was better. I didn’t have to listen to my sister and her future ex-husband arguing for hours at a time. (I secretly held a betting pool with myself on how much longer the two of them would last. Every year the arguments grew louder and longer.) I did not miss my mom fussing at my dad. I did not miss being asked if I had a boyfriend or if I was seeing anyone. I did not miss making up a boyfriend to have Christmas dinner with every few years, just to run away and get people off my back. There was so much I was not missing.

But, also, there was so much I was missing. I missed the Christmas lights in the snow, and the way hot cocoa and marshmallows warmed my toes and my soul. I missed watching the look on my nephew’s faces when they opened their gifts from Santa. Or the way my mom looked as she watched all of us sitting on the floor around the tree, surrounded by shredded wrapping paper. Video conferencing was not as good as being there.

“I love you too. Merry Christmas!” I waved.

“Bye sweetie, call me again tonight.” My mom blew kisses, my dad waved.

I tapped the screen and the video feed winked off. I was faced with a reflection of myself as my camera showed me what it saw. I lay the screen face down on the table. I let my face relax. My cheeks felt like they wanted to explode from my false enthusiasm.

I ripped off the flannel and slipped into jeans and a t-shirt. It was at least a festive shirt and had fake knitting stitches and a reindeer printed on the front.

I opened the front window and switched the AC off. Winter in Southern California was comfortable. All I needed was a light hoodie if it wasn’t raining (which it hadn’t for entirely too long). So drought aside, the weather was perfect. Which is exactly why I planned on spending the day sitting alone in the dark, watching movies.

I shoved another handful of popcorn into my mouth. My lips were beginning to feel shriveled from too much salt and soda. It made complete sense that I got up and refilled the popcorn bucket and my drink.

I crept from the theater, careful not to step on toes in the packed theater. Previews for my second movie of the day were still running, so I figured I had time to refill my goodies and get back to the theater on time. Blake the Beautiful walked past me. I almost dropped my bucket on the way to the concessions stand when he nodded and smiled in recognition at me.

Blake. Now that was a Christmas present I could handle, instead of the Amazon gift cards from mom. Blake was hot, and I not too secretly had a crush on him at work. Of course, there was no one to confide this secret to. No one actually knew that anytime Blake emailed me requesting documents I would pet the side of my monitor as if he had sent me a love note instead of some generic department request, and me being the generic department recipient.

Blake was everything I thought I wanted in a man, slender and yummy, bearded, tattooed and stylish. Not the only problem in our way, but pretty much the only major problem was that I had nothing Blake the Beautiful was interested in. I had boobs and I didn’t have a dick. Blake the Beautiful was gay, so very very gay. And then there was that little issue of never actually talking to each other. He still took my breath away with his beauty.

I returned to my movie and sank deeper into a depression. Alone in a theater, surrounded by strangers on Christmas day, and the closest thing I had to any interest in the opposite sex was a fabulously gay man.

I followed the throngs of moviegoers from my last matinee out into the parking lot. Like a caravan, cars made their way from the theater into the parking lot of the closest Chinese Buffet. Maybe we should have figured out a ride-share plan? Maybe if we all talked to each other we would find out each other’s stories? Maybe pigs will fly.

I waited my turn anxiously. Alone, away from my family, in a strange place (trust me LA is strange when you are from middle America), my Christmas was sucking hard.

“How many?” The hostess asked me.

“One.” Her eyes rolled so far back in her head, I almost expected them to start spinning like a slot machine. She moved on to the next group. They had three. They were seated.

I guess the restaurant had too many singles, and not enough tables, so they were seating groups first. I turned to leave, having had enough humiliation just by being alone today.

I literally ran into the second best-looking man at work. Chris. Running into Chris was like running into a side of beef. He was tall and muscular. And really hot.

“Watch it. Oh hi, Natasha.” He said as he recognized me. Not my name, but close.

I stuttered. “Ha, ha, hey Chris. It’s Natalie actually.” He smiled. I withered inside, he’s so cute. While Blake is beautiful, Chris is handsome with a square jaw, cute with a little nose, good looking with sparkling blue eyes, gorgeous perfect body, and straight. “Sorry.” I frequently dorked out around him. I dorked out on him every freaking time I had to run anything upstairs to his office. My brain stopped all proper functionality when I was anywhere near Chris.

“You leaving?” He asked.

“Yeah, I don’t have it in me to wait. I don’t know why I thought this was a good idea. Everyone and their missing half-cousin are here.” In self-defense, I relied on heavy sarcasm.

He scoffed. “You wanna get out of here? I know a little Thai place that’s open.”

“Aren’t you here with people?” I asked, looking around expecting to see a girlfriend, or a parent or two.

“Flying solo. How bout you?”

“My folks are back in Indiana, I’m on my own too.”

“Great,” he smiled.

Chris’s smile was the best thing to have happened to me in days. I grasped on to that and knew I would cherish this moment forever. The moment Chris smiled at me. At me, and not just in my direction. I had thought it was enough he actually almost knew my name, but to also get a smile, that was great.

Oh, I was in serious high-derp mode.

“Let’s ditch the traditional Chinese Christmas dinner, and try for something a bit different.”

“Sounds good to me.” Squee!

I knew better than to think this was an actual date, but it was still nice to go be a warm body so that Chris wasn’t alone today also.

Maybe it was a date, an impromptu, unexpected date.

“So Nat, why are you here and your folks in Indiana?” Chris asked as he blew on the hot soup, before wrapping his perfect lips around the spoon. This was a friendly dinner, yet every hormone in my body shot off like fireworks.

I sat across from him in a small cozy booth, in a slightly seedy little Thai restaurant, that frankly, had some of the best food I had ever eaten.

I smiled between bites of grilled satay sticks. “My first year out here. Figured I would attempt to save some money. You know, be the responsible adult I have fooled people into believing I am, and not fly home this year.”

“And you moved here for the job?” His lips wrapped around another bite of food. I dearly wished to be a bite of Thai food at the moment.

“Yeah. I stumbled across a job fair at my alma matter, and these guys hired me on the spot. The relocation package was decent, and I’m here living the dream in Southern California.”

“So you’re using Zephyr Tech as your gateway to what? Getting into the movies and making it big?”

“Yeah, no. No dreams of Hollywood. I’m using Zephyr as my gateway to a 401K, and job experience. And the chance to live in California.” I explained.

“I never really quite understood that. Why up and move thousands of miles from everyone and everything you know?”

“Seriously Chris? Where did you grow up?”

“Santa Barbara.”

“Where did you go to college.”

Again he replied “Santa Barbara.”

“And you don’t see why people want to live here?” He shook his head.

“It’s what I grew up with, so I guess I take it for granted.”

“Ok, lets put it this way. Would you up and move to, say Oklahoma City for a good job opportunity, if an equal opportunity was available here?”

Chris scoffed, “no, why would I leave here?”

“Exactly. You’re already here, so you can’t see the point of wanting to be anywhere else. Well, when you live with anywhere else, in the landlocked midwest, you dream. I dreamed of living somewhere near the ocean.”

“Somewhere with traffic congestion and water rationing, and raging wildfires?” The sarcasm was strong with this one.

“Somewhere with ocean, a job that paid enough to cover rent and pay off my student loans, in a location where I didn’t have to spend the rest of my paycheck on seasonal clothes. Honestly, I was actually looking at Chicago before being able to come out here. It was the logical big-city. But moving here was a happy opportunity.” I explained.

“What do you at Zephyr exactly?”

“I’m in Enterprise Acquisitions.” Chris nodded in understanding. This typically meant that the listener had no clue, but didn’t want to appear to not understand corporate buzz terms. It meant the team I worked with was responsible for helping the company get the things it needed to run as a company.

“You?” I asked, knowing he would throw some more buzz words back at me.

“Asset Projection.” I nodded as if I knew what he meant. He meant the group he works with figured out what the company was going to need to purchase in order to run as a company. Basically, his group told my group what to buy.

“Do you think anyone in upper management actually knows what any of us actually do? I mean why am I in Enterprise Acquisitions, and not Purchasing?” I asked.

“With fancier names we can charge the clients more, and you and I can expect bigger paychecks.” Chris winked.

I couldn’t help myself, I giggled.

“There is a neighborhood up in the hills, they do up everything crazy over the top with Christmas lights. You want to go for a ride and look at the lights?” Chris asked. This was turning into an almost real date.

“That sounds like fun.”

On the ride into the hills, I found out that Chris’s folks and brother did the travel thing, and this year they were spending Christmas in Australia. His sister was with her family in Oregon. He wasn’t with them because of year-end issues with work.

When he dropped me off at my car, I more than hoped he would say something that would indicate that this was a date-date. As a modern woman, I wasn’t going to sit on my laurels and wait.

“Chris that was unexpected and pleasant. What are…”

He started talking at the same time. “Would you like to go out again tomorrow?”

“I’d love to go out again tomorrow. I was just going to ask if you had any plans.”

He smiled at me. My toes curled. Damn if my body reacted that way to a grin, I really wanted to know how I’d react to a kiss.

“My sister got me tickets to a production called ‘When Doves Cry,’ it’s some type of Prince review. You wouldn’t be interested would you?”

“I love Prince. That sounds much more interesting than what I had in mind.”

“And what was that?” Chris’s eyebrow shot up. Ooh, he could lift one eyebrow. I’ve tried for years, and never managed to master that expression.

“Hang out and watch movies,” I said shrugging.

“Isn’t that what you did today?”

“Yeah, but there are more movies that just came out that I haven’t seen, and we could share popcorn.”

Chris chuckled. “I’ll pick you around four? We can eat first.”

“Four? Isn’t that early?”

Chris shook his head. “Not at all. This thing is up in Santa Barbara. That should give us time to have dinner before it starts.”

I bit my lip. Chris was asking me to be stuck in a car with him for at least 4 hours of driving time, and to see a live show. Now that sounded like a date.

“It sounds great. I’ll text you my address in the morning.”

“I look forward to it Nat.” He nodded, then gave me a little wave and pulled off.

I had a date and less than twenty-four hours to get ready, lose twenty pounds, look like I had four days of sleep, grow my hair to my butt, and bleach my teeth. I looked down at what I was wearing, jeans, a ratty hoodie, and a food stain right in the middle of my boobs. I groaned. Food on the boobs and he still asked me out. This Christmas day had not sucked.

I needed to go home and call my mom.

 

The story continues tomorrow, Dec 26, the second day of Christmas.

©2016 Lulu M Sylvian. The Twelve Dates of Christmas.