The Twelve Dates of Christmas: the third date

thirddate

Chicken Tacos and French Kisses

On the third day of Christmas, I lay on the couch contemplating the meaning of that not-quite-a-kiss kiss. Would Chris have given me a proper kiss if that jackass hadn’t threatened to tow his car? Or had Chris seen it as an opportunity to get away and give me a nothing of a kiss when he felt pressured to kiss me but really didn’t want to?

I had barely felt him at all. A slight pressure, then nothing. My lips longed to feel his lips. I wanted a real kiss; a real kiss and a good word to describe his hair. Another beer commercial– what channel was I watching again? All the ads were for beer, cars, or ED medication. Malted barley, roasted hops, liquid amber ale. The color was close, but the connotation of beer wasn’t sexy enough. It didn’t play right across my tongue.

Beer just didn’t stir my loins the way a good description of Chris should: kind of blondish, with dark blue eyes. It just didn’t do him justice. Dark blue almost wasn’t the right color either. His eyes were indigo. Now that’s a sexy color, mysterious and comforting. Sigh. I was enjoying hanging out with Chris, last night’s date had been so much fun. I just hoped I wasn’t reading more into all of this. There are girlfriends, and there are girl friends. That space between words is all the difference. That space is the “friend zone,” a wonderful platonic location or the pit of hell. In my case, that space is the writhing cesspool of doom. And that kiss, well, it really wasn’t enough to properly close that gap between words.

My phone rang.

“Hello?” I answered.

“Movies start in forty-five minutes, I don’t have time to come get you. Meet me?”

Sigh. Chris had the nicest voice. I closed my eyes and let the tones of his voice caress me. I hadn’t heard a thing he said. “What?”

“Movies, you’re still doing this right?”

“Oh right, yeah.” I sat up forcing my body to focus.

“Meet me at the theater. I ran out of time and I can’t pick you up.”

“We never really arranged that, but yes, I’ll meet you there in thirty.” I shoved my feet into sandals. Fortunately, I was already dressed, even though my hair was still wet. Oh well. I didn’t have time to get all gussied up. Chris would have to take me as I came: damp hair, no make-up, and ratty jeans.

Unfortunately, on the drive to the theater, I had time to panic about my wash and wear state. Look if Chris didn’t like me this way, then he really wasn’t interested. This was how I was on most non-work days, and pretty much as soon as I got home from work. I wasn’t going to change for him. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t feel a touch of panic for not dressing to show off my better assets, read: the boobs. It just meant I accepted that this was me. I needed a boyfriend who accepted me this way. I more than kind of hoped that would be Chris.

Somehow, overnight I forgot how cute Chris was. He stood there with his hands in his pockets waiting for me. For me! Broad shoulders and beer colored hair. I started to pull my wallet out of my bag. Chris’s big hand was on mine and pushing my purse down.

“I’ve got this.” He said reaching for his own wallet.

“I invited, so I pay. Besides, you paid last night.”

“Last night was practically free, thanks to your clever chest.” He smirked. He made a circling gesture in front of his own. “How’s the burn? They gonna be okay?”

“It’s still a little pink, but it will be fine. You get the tickets, I’ll get the popcorn?”

“Sounds good,” he nodded and proceeded to purchase the tickets for the two movies we agreed to see.

Lunch was theater hot dogs and more popcorn.

We sat shoulder to shoulder as the credits of the second movie scrolled past. We were the only ones left in the theater.

“I always stay till the end,” I said munching on more popcorn.

“You never know.” Chris completed my thought. I really liked this guy. But I still didn’t know was I in the friend zone gap or not?

“Man those guys are unreal. I think they have CG muscles.” He tossed another handful of popcorn into his mouth.

“You’re pretty buff.”

“I’m not ripped like that. That’s almost inhuman.”

I laughed. “You could get like that with focus and training.”

“Naw they are too unreal. Their shoulders are so freaking wide.”

“Only in comparison to their hips. It’s these muscles here.” I reached under his arm to poke him in the ribs. “That make them look so wide.” He squirmed and giggled. I tickled him some more.

He reached over and began tickling me in the ribs. Next thing I knew, the armrest between our seats was up and out of the way, his hands were on my back, and his mouth was on mine.

I sank my hands into his hair, whatever color it was. And pulled him in. I consumed him hungrily, and he consumed back. Tongues twined and breath mingled. He tasted like popcorn and salt.

A light hit us in the face. “Hey movie’s over! Get a room.”

Chris grabbed the bucket of popcorn and my hand. We were both laughing as we ran past the kid who had hit us with his high-beam flashlight. I smiled like an idiot. No gap, no friend zone. That was definitely a girlfriend kiss.

We ran all the way to the parking lot. Chis stopped by his car, dropped the popcorn, and pulled me back into his embrace. I liked kissing him, I liked being pressed against him. He was built like one of the movie guys with nice broad shoulders and big muscles. Okay, maybe not as big. He didn’t work out professionally, but he was still firm and hard, and I liked being squished against him.

“Now what?” I asked when I came back up for air.

“Dinner and more necking.” He suggested.

I couldn’t think of a better plan.

“I buy dinner, we neck on your couch?” I asked.

He shook his head. “Roommates. I buy dinner, we neck on your couch.” He countered.

“Sounds like a plan. What do we want to eat?”

We both said tacos at the same time. We laughed and he looked into my eyes. “I like how you think Natalie. Where to? Lead and I will follow.” Why did I want to think he was talking about more than tacos?

I led Chris to a corner with a terrific local taco truck. I ordered three chicken tacos, he had four. We ate them leaning against the hood of his car. I kept blushing and glancing over at him. He kept doing the same.

Back at my apartment, my nerves got the better of me. I turned on the TV for a distraction. “You want something to drink?”

“Sure what you got?”

“Beer, wine, soda, water.” I gave him an inventory of my kitchen.

“Wine.”

“Chardonnay ok with you?” I asked as I brought out the bottle and two glasses.

He smiled and watched me sit down, then pour and hand him a glass.

I watched him over the rim of mine as I took a sip. He reached forward and took my glass. I followed his motions as he set it on the coffee table next to his. He reached for me again, this time hooking his hand around my neck and pulling me forward to him.

“I’m done with wine. I’m here for you.” His lips slid across mine. I closed my eyes and breathed him in. My face began to feel raw from all the kissing. His hands never traveled higher than my ribs. He kissed the side of my face and sucked on my ear. I know I moaned. It felt wonderful.

We didn’t come up for air for what seemed like forever. And when we did, it was never for very long. Mostly it was tongues and lips, and teeth.

Chris pulled back and looked at me. His mouth was red, and beginning to look like it might be getting sore. His hair was a mess. I’m sure mine was too. I gently ran my fingers across his lips. He closed his eyes and kissed my fingertips, “I,” his voice was raspy. He cleared his throat. “I should get going.” He said.

I nodded. I would have loved to have him stay, but we were clearly still in the necking phase of things. Of course, I could change all that by pulling my shirt off. But I didn’t. I kind of liked that this developed on a daily basis.

We stood up and awkwardly adjusted our clothes.

“I have a long cold shower to take.” He said as he made his way to the door.

I followed him, a smile on my lips. “I’ll see you at work tomorrow?” I asked.

“Absolutely.” He leaned in for another kiss. “I’ll see you tomorrow Nat.”

“Night Chris.” I leaned against my door as I watched him walk away. It was a really nice view.

Sigh. Tomorrow was work after a long weekend. I sighed again. I looked forward to getting back to work, the first time since that new job honeymoon phase had worn off. Tomorrow I would see Chris again. And maybe we could neck some more in a back stairwell.

the second date

the story continues tomorrow with the fourth date

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

The Twelve Dates of Christmas: the Second Date

seconddate

Turtle Sundaes and Purple Doves

I’ve been thinking about color all day. Well, two colors specifically. Purple and yellow. Well, not yellow exactly, but a golden amber, almost the color of a nice beer. But beer isn’t a romantic description, and dark blonde tends to make people think of light brown. Blonde is too pale, too yellow. And he’s not a ginger, he does not have orange hair. His hair is more like amber waves of grain. His hair is the color of beer, scotch, hell I could even say whiskey, but that just makes me sound like an alcoholic. I’ve been obsessing over Chris’s hair all day, and how to describe it. I want it to feel good on my tongue, the way thinking of him does.


I really hope this evening’s date is good. And that brings me to the other color I’ve been thinking about: purple. Purple is not a Christmas holiday season color. At least not in the stores that I was willing to brave this morning. So I stood in front of my mirror, dressed in all black, hoping that I had just enough purple streaks in my hair (thank you hair extensions) to be acceptable for a Price review show.

I waited for Chris to pick me up. I freaked out because I was going to be in a car with Chris for around four hours. The first two hours were either going to be really painfully long and full of awkward silence or what I really hoped for, not long enough to be with him. I had been running pretend practice conversations with myself all morning. Making sure I had topics to introduce, and that my light tinkling laughter didn’t sound like a rabid barking squirrel.

I didn’t expect him to knock on my door, but to text letting me know he had arrived. But he knocked.

“Hi, Chris.” I beamed when I opened the door.

It wasn’t him, it was the UPS guy delivering a day late, my “Christmas” present from Mom. A box of hand-me-downs. Mom still didn’t quite get my personal professional dress aesthetic. Nor did she fully grasp that I worked in an extremely business casual setting, or that it wasn’t 1985 anymore and I don’t wear pastel colors.

My phone buzzed. /knock knock I’m here/

Now that’s what I actually expected from Chris. No one I know in my age range knocks on doors or rings doorbells. It’s getting to be a lost art.

I threw open the door. “C’mon in.” I was simultaneously distracted by the box of fugly clothes from mom, and Chris on my doorstep. My insides twisted in an excited twitterpated manner.

“Uhm, you thinking about going all out eighties style for this?” Chris gestured at the blouse I had draped across my chest. Side buttons, shoulder pads, and ruffles that ran from the shoulder to the bellybutton in a V-formation. Oh, and it was yellow. I look terrible in yellow.

I snatched the offending garment from my person and tossed in back into the box. “No,” I said a little too loudly. “My mom just sent me a box of clothes from when she started working. I guess she thought that fashion recycles, maybe I could use them.” I shivered.

I noticed Chris still staring at my chest. Score! I typically downplay the boobs, since they can be distracting at times. Today was not one of those times. Full cleavage exposure. Colliding boobs and a low plunge bra were my weapons for this evening. Chris’s distraction proved that they worked.

I locked up, and he led me out to his car. Let me rephrase that, he escorted me. Allowing me to walk in front along the narrow walkway, placing his hand on the small of my back to guide me around the block, he even opened the car door for me.

So far, this was better than my idea of spending the day at the movies. This was a date with a gentleman. Damn, he had manners. I cannot even begin to express how incredibly sexy it was. I didn’t expect it, after all, he texted me from outside my front door when he could have knocked. I was not going to think about that, I was going to enjoy it.

“I like your purple tie,” I said as he slid into his car.

I hadn’t really paid much attention to the car last night, after all, he drove us into the hills to look at Christmas lights in the dark. In the daylight, I noticed it was spotless. I’m pretty sure it hadn’t been so spit-polished clean last night. I grinned like an idiot. He had cleaned his car for me.

“Thanks, I like the purple hair.” He replied.

“I actually don’t own too many purple clothes that would be acceptable for the theater,” I confessed. “So do you really like Prince? Why is this all the way up in Santa Barbara?” I asked.

“My sister really likes Prince, and therefore everyone really likes Prince. He is great, no denying that. I think she got these tickets more for her, but since I’m somewhat local, I was the excuse. My parents live in Santa Barbara, so it’s reasonable to expect that I would be there for Christmas. And honestly, it really isn’t that far away.” Chris explained. “I’m not sure what this place is, we are going to. I think it’s a theater. When I looked it up for directions they had a lot of stage-shows listed. We’ll see.”

I watched Chris’s profile the entire drive up. His hair, the color was still giving me fits for a name, golden amber like scotch, swept up and away from his brow. Mirrored aviator sunglasses covered half of his face, but did not hide his chiseled good looks at all. I never really stared at him, or focused on his features before. Typically it was notice Chris from the fifth floor, get flummoxed, blush and run away.

The drive to Santa Barbara took no time at all. I never once had to resort to one of my practiced conversation topics.

Chris drove by the theater first, to make sure he knew where we were going. It looked like a dive bar to me, with big banners advertising the Prince Review featuring Smokey Haute. If nothing else, we were in for an interesting time.

“You like Italian?” I said yes, and he took us to a little family owned restaurant he said he had been going to for years.

I thought dinner was going really well until I fed the boobs. My boobs are practically an entity all of their own. They seem to require feeding daily. It does not matter how hard I try to not spill, but I always do, and I always spill right on the boobs. Sometimes I wonder if they leap out to save my lap. Are they purposefully collecting food to later? Are they god-lings I am not adequately offering sacrifices to? Maybe I should just always offer my first bite of the day to my boobs, and then maybe I wouldn’t have grease stains in the middle of all of my shirts.

Well, tonight my clothes were saved the shame of marinara sauce stains by raw boob flesh. Unfortunately, the delicate skin of my décollitage was not spared the hot sauce. I may have screamed. Chris may have jumped up and wiped a napkin across my chest before he realized he was fondling me in public. He was beet red from embarrassment when I returned from the ladies’ room after cleaning up. My glorious cleavage was bright pink, and a bit tender.

“I am so sorry.” His eyes bounced between my eyes and my cleavage. “Are you okay?”

I laughed, “I’m fine. They got a little excited from being let out, and forgot not to jump after hot foods.”

I pressed a cool damp napkin to my chest. “Ow. Isn’t this just great? My best asset, and I have to burn them.”

Chris leaned in conspiratorially, still blushing. “You still look terrific, and, uhm. They do too.”

It was my turn to blush.

It was my own clumsiness, but the restaurant still comped my meal and gave us free desserts.

We thought we had plenty of time to get back for the show. By the time we parked and made our way to the entrance, a line had already formed down the street. Based on how everyone was dressed, this was a night club, and not a dive bar. I was glad I wore flats, then I could dance. Looking around at who was in line, it was hard to say, but I was fairly certain we were at a gay bar.

By the time we made it inside, I knew it was a gay bar.

We found a small table near the stage, and Chris got us drinks.

“I thought this was going to be a play of some kind. I feel overdressed.” He said as he slid a pink frothy drink in front of me. The glass had almost as many curves as I did, and the fruit spilling from the top made it look more like Carmen Miranda than a cocktail. He loosened his tie and undid the top button on his dress shirt. My mouth went dry at the sight of his neck. I took a quick sip of my drink.

“Maybe it’s a cover band?”

“Is this okay?” He asked, looking around. “You aren’t disappointed?”

“What that it’s not a play? Not at all. I think with this many gay guys and a Prince Review we are in for something interesting.”

Interesting really didn’t begin to describe Smokey Haute when they took the stage. Gender fluid to the extreme, and sexy as hell, Smokey took Prince’s feminine twist and masculinity and tied it all up in knots. Dressed like the purple rock god’s early days of the 1980s, Smokey defined cross-gender sex appeal.

I leaned into Chris’s shoulder, “I’m not sure if that’s a he or a she, but day-um.”

“I know what you mean. I’m drawn to the her, and confused by the him. They have me questioning my sexuality.” He confessed.

“Which is?” I asked.

“I’m firmly hetero.” I was pleased with that answer, mostly because he directed his gaze straight back to my boobs, as if to confirm that they did, in fact, hold some attraction for him after witnessing Smokey Haute.

It turned out that Smokey was our MC for an evening of drag performances of nothing but Prince tunes. It was fabulous. I don’t think that stage ever saw so many purple sequins and feathers before, or since.

The show ended with Smokey telling all of us to go dance. I jumped up and grabbed Chris, dragging him to the dance floor.

“I don’t dance.” He complained.

“So you can hold my drink.”

“I’m not going to be your floor table.”

“Then just stand there and pretend to dance. Please?” I begged.

His smile told me he surrendered. Chris was right. He didn’t dance. He sort of twitched back and forth, and not on rhythm at all. He moved like a jerky sloth. It was pitiful. But he moved because I asked. I on the other hand, danced like a spaz on speed. I more than made up for his lack of movement.

A long, glittery, sweaty arm draped over my shoulder. I turned to see the overly made up face of Electra Shock, one of the queens from the floor show. “Honey, tell me he screws better than he moves. I don’t think dance lessons could help that boy.”

I laughed and probably blushed. I had no answer for her yet, but I certainly hoped so.

“I saw him earlier, and I thought hmmm, mmm, mmm that man is fine. He is so well dressed, I bet he swings both ways. But now I have seen him dance. He is all yours. Straighter than a stick.” Electra Shock swiveled her head and snapped her perfectly manicured fingers before sashaying away.

Chris leaned in. “What did she say?” He had to yell so I could hear him.

“I’ll tell you later,” I yelled back.

Chris put up with my spastic gyrations for one more song before grabbing my wrist and pulling me from the floor. “Let’s get out of here.”

I nodded.

He drove for a few minutes before parking the car. He opened my door and helped me out. He had driven us to the beach walk. The evening was cool with the wind coming in from the ocean. The waves roared as they washed up on the beach. It was a welcome relief after heat and noise of the club.

“Oh, this is so quiet after the club. That was fun, thank you.” I spun around. My skirt twirled out a little further than expected. I giggled nervously as I patted it back into place.

“That was. So, are you going to tell me what that drag queen said that made you blush? Or are you going to blame it on the lighting?” He slid his hand into mine.

I couldn’t think for a moment, his hand felt so warm. No, I wasn’t going to tell him all that Electra Shock said, because if I did then I would blush even stronger. So I edited. “She said she could tell by your dancing skills that you were straight.”

“That’s not all she said.” He laughed and tried to coax me to tell him the rest.

“I’ll tell you that later. Like next week or later. When I know you a bit more.”

“But you’ll tell me?”

I agreed.

“You know what I want?” He suddenly asked.

I shook my head. To kiss me?

“Ice cream.”

“We had dessert,” I told him.

“That was hours ago. Let’s go find some ice cream before I have to drive us back.”

Apparently, Chris already had a place in mind as he pulled up to an all night diner. I slid into the booth across from him. We both ordered turtle sundaes with caramel sauce, hot fudge, pecans, and lots of whipped cream.

“So,” he cleared his throat. Then he nodded at my boobs. “You plan on feeding them again tonight?”

I laughed, “no they have had their allotted quota.” I tenderly poked at the still pink flesh. “Besides, it’s still a little tender.”

“Well if you do. I volunteer to lick any ice cream off.” He smirked.

I know I lit up like a Christmas tree. I was speechless, flustered, confused. Part of my brain said I should slap him for being impertinent. Part of my brain was ready to dump the entire sundae into my cleavage. All of me buzzed. Chris’s intentions were pretty clear, and while my body said ‘oh hell yes.’ I did need to make sure he knew I wasn’t that kind of girl, exactly.

“I’ll keep that in mind.” I managed to say when I finally found my tongue. “But not on the first date.”

“So are you the kind of girl who has dating rules?”

I cocked my head to the side and looked at him like he just grew three green heads.

“You know, kissing but no tongues right away, no sex until the fifth date. I don’t get to see you in your underwear until I meet your parents. Sex right away, but no sleeping over for at least six weeks. That kind of thing.” He explained.

“That sounds like entirely too much work. I take it you have encountered that a lot?”

“You have no idea.” He answered.

We finished our ice cream, I did not feed the boobs, and Chris began the long drive home.

“Do you need that kind of structure while dating?” I asked. What were my rules of dating? I didn’t like to sleep with guys on the first few dates, but it doesn’t mean it never happened. When it did it also typically turned out to only last a few dates, thanks for the shag have a nice life.

“No, I don’t need those kinds of limitations for dating.” He laughed.

“How about we play it by ear, and see what happens? Does that work for you? I mean, do you want to keep seeing me?”

“You saved my Christmas, Nat, and I had a really good time tonight. Yes, I would like to keep seeing you. And I don’t mean running into you in the break room at work. Playing it by ear sounds like a good plan. No pressure for expectations by deadlines.”

Again the car ride took practically no time. I had Chris pull in behind my car in the car park. “You can’t stay here long, or they will tow you.”

“Do I have enough time to walk you to your door?”

I nodded, “and that’s about it.”

“Fair enough.” He followed me upstairs to my front door.

I proceeded to become incredibly shy. I wanted to kiss him, so I shoved the shy down and began playing with his neck tie. “I had a nice time. What are you doing tomorrow?”

“Hanging out with you and watching movies?” He answered.

“Move this car or I’m having it towed!” We heard someone yell.

He kissed me quick, then took off down the stairs. “I’ll call you in the morning. Night Nat!”

“Good night Chris,” I called out after him.

“Shut up!” Someone else yelled.

 

the First Date

this story is continued with the third date on Dec 27

©2016 Lulu M Sylvian. The Twelve Dates of Christmas

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 me 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.