Where we left off:
“I’m guessing you wanted company that couldn’t run away. Look at that hair! Scary.”
I flipped him off at that and booked it out of the room. “Take me back!”
Grumpy grimaced. “Just look at you. What a loser.”
I’d like to say I was offended, and deep down, I guess I was. But even I had to admit he was right.
We stood at the foot of my couch, looking down at my sleeping self. Resigned to spending Christmas alone, I hadn’t bothered to get dressed. I wore old sweats and a t-shirt with an ice cream stain over my right boob. My hair was plastered to my forehead, and with a grunt, I turned onto my side and began to snore.
“You got two men looking like that?” Grumpy gave me a critical survey and shook his head in disbelief. “It’s a fucking Christmas miracle.”
“Stuff it,” I said, smacking him on the back of the head.
“Ouch. Should’ve known you’d be violent, too.”
I ignored him and studied my sleeping form again. What the hell was I doing? Gabe and Drew were both alone that night, and if I weren’t so stubborn, I could be with one of them. But of course, there was the rub. Which one would I choose?
Panic rippled through me. If I didn’t choose, would I end up the poker hound of the retirement world? Bad hair and all?
“You’re right,” I said, sliding to the floor. “I’m a loser. I know I need to choose between them, but I don’t know how to do it.”
I sat there, legs crossed, waiting for the elf to say something. After a few minutes, I stole a peek up at him. He rolled his eyes at my expectant face.
“If you think I’m gonna get all Dr. Phil on your ass, you’re out of your mind. Solve your own damn problems.”
With that, he snagged a couple more beers from the fridge and made for the door. “Later.”
“I thought you were supposed to help me!” I yelled after him.
“Help this,” he said, flipping me off. “They don’t pay me enough to deal with this shit. You’ve seen it all, figure things out for yourself.” The door slammed in his wake and I blinked after him, dumbfounded.
“Jesus. What a grump.”
I stopped. A slight fizzy sensation started at the top of my head and spread down into my body. Then I was falling.
I sat up with a start, blinking into the dark room. I flicked on the lamp beside me and let my eyes adjust to the sudden light. I was back in my living room—the sweats, the stained T-shirt, the sad tree in the corner —everything was back to normal. Hand clapped to my forehead, I lay back and closed my eyes, willing the memory of all I had seen to go away. But it wouldn’t.
I knew what I had to do.
I threw back the covers and got dressed.
It took a while to find him, but I did. At a corner pub around the corner from his home.
He sat at the bar, his broad back to me. He had changed into jeans and a T-shirt, an untucked flannel shirt finishing the look. He was nursing a beer, and had a couple of empties in front of him.
A pang of guilt hit me in the chest. Would he even want me here? I nearly turned around then, but forced my feet to keep moving forward.
The bar was mostly empty, but there were a few people around the pool tables at his back. One of the women kept throwing him sidelong glances, and I felt a surge of relief that her attentions went unnoticed.
I could do this.
Without a word, I slid onto the stool beside him. He glanced at me, surprise and something else warring for control of his features. But then he smiled, and I took that as a good sign.
“Hey,” he said, motioning to the bartender to bring me a beer. A bottle landed in front of me with a clink, and I took a tentative sip, my throat having gone dry.
He watched me for a long moment, finally breaking the silence with a jerk of his chin toward the item in my other hand. “What’s that?”
I twirled the sprig in my fingers and met his eyes. “Mistletoe.”
His brow quirked up at that, but he said nothing. Waiting.
“It’s for you,” I blurted out, feeling as foolish as a school girl on her first date.
The corner of his mouth turned up, but his eyes were serious on mine. “That’s a serious flower you’ve got there.”
So many things went unspoken in that moment.
Was this what I really wanted? Yes.
What about Him? I’m here with you.
For how long? For as long as you want me.
And just like that, the moment passed. He dropped his eyes and took a long pull from his beer. I felt my heart sink a little and prepared to beat a hasty retreat.
I was such a fool.
“Well, then…” he said smoothly, straightening the collar of his shirt and swiveling our seats so that we faced one another. “I accept.”
I met his eyes and felt some of the pressure in my chest loosen. Hands at my waist, he pulled me toward him as I lifted the sprig above our heads.
“Merry Christmas,” I whispered, a moment before our lips met.
His mouth curled against mine. “It is now.”
Then he kissed me again.
Umm, you didn't really think I'd tell you WHO the guy is, did you? :)
Merry Christmas, everyone!