Apparently, I like doing things in parts this year. Today is part one of a short story I wrote just for my readers. Part two will post tomorrow and the last part will post on Christmas Day. It is my gift to you this Christmas. I pray you enjoy it.
An Unexpected Present
by Ginger Solomon
Tammie plopped down in the cafe chair as she waited for their order. Maybe the late lunch would give her the extra drive she needed to finish the day on a positive note. She hated shopping, and it was even worse on Christmas Eve. On top of that, snow flurries filled the Alabama sky, which made driving even worse. “This is the last year I’m doing this, Mom.”
Mom patted her on the shoulder. “You say that every year, pumpkin.”
“I know, but I really mean it this year. I hate all the pushing and shoving, and I can’t even find the gifts I’d like to give.” Tammie sighed. “We’ve been at this most of the day. I’ve spent twice as much as I wanted to and have only gotten three quarters of what I need.”
“Stop complaining, sweetie. We’ll get everything on your list. I know just the place.” A secret smile crept in to place on her mother’s face.
Unease raced up Tammie’s spine. “No matchmaking. I know that smile. I’m dating George.”
A look of feigned innocence appeared in place of the smile. “Don’t you trust me? I promise you will find everything you need from your list where we’re going. God will provide.”
Tammie rolled her eyes. “Whatever. Let’s just eat and get going. Stores won’t be staying open late today. At least, none that I want to visit. Where is our food anyway?”
“Stop being impatient. Good food takes more than the thirty seconds we’ve been waiting.”
Tammie pulled out her phone and checked her texts. She frowned. Nothing from George. They had made tentative plans to spend Christmas Day together, a few hours with his family and a few hours with hers, ending the evening with a movie. She hadn’t heard from him all week, though.
Just as the cafe worker called her name to pick up their food, George walked in. Tammie smiled, but that quickly changed when he put his arm around another woman. Annette? George’s best friend’s sister? Maybe they were out shopping together for Andrew. That had to be it. Then Annette looked up at him, adoration all over her face. He leaned down and kissed her on the lips, and not just a peck.
Tammie gasped and turned away before she could see any more. They’d never said much about their feelings for one another, but she thought—she assumed—with the plans for Christmas that they might take the next step in their relationship and make it a bit more serious—like dating each other exclusively. Not that she’d dated anyone else anyway.
Guess I’ll be making other plans for tomorrow, and scratch off the gift I was going to get him.
She grabbed their food and returned to sit with her mother.
Mom touched her hand. “What’s wrong, pumpkin? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Tammie shook her head. “No, not a ghost. Well maybe a ghost of what I thought was, but isn’t.”
Mom’s eyebrows knit together. “Huh?”
“I just saw George walk in with another woman, and he kissed her like he’s never kissed me.”
“Can we just eat and get out of here?” She tried to keep the hurt from her voice, but her awful Christmas Eve just got worse.
Ten minutes later they’d finished their food. Tammie rose and carried their trash to the receptacle, praying to avoid George. No such luck.
She waved away his stumbling speech. “Don’t bother. I saw you come in.” She smiled, hoping it looked sincere. “I hope you have a Merry Christmas, George. And I pray that Annette makes you happy. See you around.”
He frowned. “Really? That’s all you have to say?”
She smiled bigger. He must have been expecting tears and hysterics. “Yes.”
“Okay. Well, thanks. Merry Christmas.”
Tammie walked away, thanking God for the ability to have that conversation.
“Okay, Mom. Let’s get out of here and buy the rest of the gifts on our lists. Mine just got one shorter.” No need to buy a gift for a person you likely wouldn’t see for months.
She smiled. Maybe that new guy at church, Matthew, could distract her. He popped into her mind’s eye. Yeah, probably so. Tall with dark, slightly too long hair. She hadn’t seen his eyes up close, but she imagined dark, brooding eyes.
Mom told her where to go, and Tammie followed her directions to a little shop in the middle of town.
Tammie smiled at the Charlie Brown Christmas tree in the window, sitting next to an elaborate crèche. “This is cute. I didn’t even know it was here.”
“That explains it.”
They entered the store. Tammie looked around and spied the perfect gift for Jenn, her best friend. A snowman cradling a baby with a halo. It would be a perfect addition to her collection.
Someone cleared their throat behind her. Too deep to be Mom. She turned and almost dropped the snowman.
Matthew. And she’d been right. He had dark, brooding eyes. Delicious, chocolate eyes.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you. Are you finding everything okay?”
She bit her lip and panicked, remembering her earlier thoughts about him being a distraction. “I guess. I just got here. But I found this snowman. It’s perfect for my friend. She collects snowmen.” She swallowed and looked down at the figurine in her hand. “Sorry, you didn’t want to know all that. Can I get this in a box?”
He reached his hand out to receive the knick-knack. “No problem on either count. Did you need help finding anything else?”
She looked up again. Those eyes. Heat filled her face. “I have a list.” She shook her head. “Would it be all right if I just looked around?”
“Absolutely. I’ll get this boxed for you. If you need anything else, let me know.”
She nodded. He walked away without a backward glance.
Come back tomorrow to read part two.