Santa Slept Here
Published by: eXtasy Books
Author : Tim Smith
Word Count :10220
Publication Date :2017-12-17
Series : #
Heat Level :
- Product Code: 978-1-4874-1539-6
Two former high school classmates revive an unrequited crush over a lonely holiday.
Scott Burke wasn’t looking forward to spending his first Christmas alone after his divorce. His family was scattered over different parts of the country, his friends had plans, and he didn’t really want to partake of the annual community Christmas dinner with strangers. Add to that a general malaise he was feeling about a career that was going nowhere and you had all of the elements for a miserable holiday. A chance meeting with a former classmate on Christmas Eve changes things, when Scott runs into Lisa Berger, stranded on her way home due to a car breakdown. Can the two high school friends rekindle a flame that died out years ago, or will they say Auld Lang Syne when the holiday is over?
It was a kitschy dollar-store Christmas tree, barely a foot tall with small cheap lights, held up by an inferior plastic stand, adorned with shoddy plastic snowflakes and a plastic star at the top. It leaned to one side and refused to stand erect, no matter how many times it was adjusted. If someone wanted to give someone else a gag gift at the office Christmas exchange, they could have at least sprung for a scented candle or a box of candy.
Scott Burke sat behind his desk, his elbow resting on the arm of his chair and his chin in his cupped palm. He stared at the plastic monstrosity, almost mesmerized by its tawdriness. I don’t know who drew me in the Secret Santa exchange, but I’d like to find out so I can pay them back next year. At least I would’ve shelled out for a gift card or a tin of those God-awful cookies from Denmark.
He rocked his chair and looked around his cubicle in the office of the Westerville, Ohio, Daily Register. His eyes drifted to the computer screen on his desk and the story he had been working on. It was a thrilling account of a city council meeting, where the hot-button topic had been whether to impose a fee for disposing of used Christmas trees left at the curb. No doubt about it, Burke. You always manage to grab the Pulitzer material when they hand out assignments.
He saved the document to the archive, then let out a sigh. His mind drifted to his upcoming Christmas plans. Since his divorce six months ago, he hadn’t managed to develop any relationships that would yield an invitation to spend Christmas with a member of the opposite sex.
He had initially planned on going home to visit his parents in Rocky River, outside of Cleveland, but his mother had gotten lucky in a church raffle and won two tickets for a cruise to Jamaica. Unfortunately, a third ticket wasn’t part of the package. Scott had put on his best game face and told her and his father to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He thought he could fall back on his brother’s standing invitation to come to his place in Cincinnati, but his sister-in-law had already promised that they and their spoiled kids would be in Louisville, Kentucky, with her family for Christmas this year. He had once again plastered on that same smiling face and assured his brother that he’d be all right.
His daydreaming was interrupted by a paper airplane coming in for a landing on his desk. He looked up and saw J.T. Briggs, one of his co-workers. He was slim, black, with short-cropped hair and a trimmed mustache that made him pass for Denzel Washington’s twin. Scott crumpled the plane, then teasingly tossed it at him.
“Hey, man,” J.T. said. “Aren’t you ready to pack it in for the long weekend?”
“Thinkin’ about it. What about you?”
J.T. looked at the clock on the wall. “The man says work until one then we can cut out early. Five more minutes and I’m history, baby.” He paused. “What you gonna do for the holiday?”
“Oh, I have big plans,” Scott exaggerated. “I’ve been invited to a Christmas Eve bash at Lebron’s place, then one of the Kardashians is sneaking into town to drink a toast with me at midnight. Didn’t know I had so many high-toned friends, did you?”
J.T. laughed. “Man, even I know that they wouldn’t waste a holiday on a skinny white cracker like you. Seriously, why don’t you swing by my place tomorrow for dinner? We’ll have plenty of food.”
“Thanks, but you have your family coming in, and I wouldn’t want to crash your party.”
“That’s my point. One more plate at the table won’t be a problem.” He leaned in close, then lowered his voice. “Did I tell you that my uncle Willie is comin’ up from Lexington and he’s bringin’ some of his special homemade moonshine for the holiday? Guaranteed to put hair on your chest.”
Scott laughed. “And make me blind before my time. Thanks for the invite. I’ll keep it in mind.”
“Okay. Just hate to see you spend Christmas alone. Call me if you change your mind.”
“You got it. Have a merry Christmas, and give my best to Jasmine.”
“Thanks, I will. By the way, it was her idea to invite you.”
Scott’s eyebrows arched. “It was?”
“Yeah. For some reason, she likes you.”
J.T. went back to his cubicle in the sports department while Scott logged off. He stood, grabbed his coat, then joined the herd bustling out of the office, everyone anxious to begin the long holiday weekend. He patiently waited for the elevator while exchanging pleasantries with his co-workers and overhearing snippets of conversation, all detailing their plans while complaining about the last-minute shopping still to be done.