This is part two of a Christmas story I wrote for my readers. Part one was posted yesterday. Part three will post tomorrow.
The Unexpected Present
by Ginger Solomon
Matthew moved away from the attractive brunette with effort. It took all of his self-control not to glance back.
He boxed the snowman. Should he wrap it? She hadn’t asked for it, but—no. She may want to add a personal touch to it. He set it to the side and went in search of the person who’d come in with her. Maybe he could find out her name.
“Good afternoon. Is there anything I can help you find?”
The older woman looked up.
“Oh, hello, Mrs. Bright. How are you this joyous Christmas Eve?”
“Good, good. How are you, Matthew?”
“Business has been better today than I expected since I just opened last week. Did you have something to do with that?”
She smiled. “I may have mentioned it to a few people after we spoke on Sunday.”
“My sincere thanks. Now, can I help you find anything?”
She lifted her hand basket and grinned at him. “I found most everything I need while you and my daughter were staring at one another.”
Heat crept up his neck into his ears. He glanced toward where the brunette stood looking at the stuffed animals, humming O, Holy Night, his favorite Christmas song. “Oh.” He looked back at the woman beside him. “She’s your daughter?”
Mrs. Bright beamed at him. “Yes. Tammie is my only child and has been a true joy her whole life.”
“I can imagine.”
“You should go see if she needs any help. I’m good here, just browsing.” She winked at him. Actually winked.
The heat in his ears increased. At least the hair he desperately needed to get cut covered some of the evidence of his embarrassment.
Mrs. Bright grabbed his elbow and twisted him toward her daughter. “Go on. I happen to know she’s not dating anyone at the moment and is free tomorrow evening.” She stopped and a glint lit her eyes. He wasn’t sure he liked it. “Why don’t you come over tomorrow and spend Christmas with us?”
“Oh, no, I couldn’t intrude on your family time.”
“Do you have other plans?”
He looked down. “No, ma’am.”
“Then I won’t take no for an answer. No one should spend Christmas Day alone. It is a celebration of Christ’s birth which should be shared.”
She laughed. “Only when I know best.”
He nodded. “I know when I’ve been beat. What time?”
The glint in her eyes reappeared. “Are you an early riser?”
He frowned. What did that have to do with anything? “Yes.”
The smile that appeared on her lips lit her eyes as well. “Good. Come around eight. Don’t eat first.”
Chuckling, he shook his head. “I have a feeling your daughter is not going to like this, but I’ll be there.”
“It will be our secret. I can tell she likes you.”
“We just met.”
“Do you deny that you like her?”
Just when he thought his ears might be returning to their proper color. “No, ma’am.”
“See. If I know you like her, don’t you think I can tell when my own daughter is intrigued by a nice looking man like yourself?”
“Yes, ma’am.” He grunted. “I think I need to leave this conversation. If I don’t, you’ll have us married before we can even exchange a handshake.”
Mrs. Bright guffawed. “You go right ahead, young man. Go see if you can help my daughter finish her last minute shopping. And don’t forget to shake her hand.”
She chuckled behind him as he walked toward Tammie, who swayed to the music she hummed to herself. He really needed to get the stereo system hooked up so soothing music would filter through the store. Getting the merchandise out and the doors open had taken the majority of his time. He expected plenty of down time after Christmas to be able to get it hooked up. He’d even considered coming in tomorrow to do mark-downs and maybe get to the list of things he had yet to accomplish, including the stereo, but spending time with Tammie and her family sounded infinitely more appealing.
“Finding everything you need?”
She jumped and dropped the stuffed penguin she’d been holding. “Oh.” Pink tinged her cheeks. “I didn’t hear you come up behind me. Again. You walk really softly for such a big guy.”
He bent down and picked up the black and white animal. “I apologize for startling you. Again.” He handed her the penguin. “Let me know if you need anything.”
“Well…I could really use some advice.” Vivid, emerald green eyes gazed at him. “My cousin, Jeremy, he’s fifteen. I don’t know what to get him. I’ve looked and looked.” She rolled her eyes. “I can’t afford the electronic gadgets popular nowadays. What are my options for say thirty dollars?”
“Well, I can tell you for sure that he won’t like the stuffed penguin.”
She laughed. A beautiful, tinkling sound. “This isn’t for him. It’s for his ten-year-old sister.”
“Ah. She’ll like it much better than he would. What types of things does he like?”
“He’s a big Dr. Who fan, and he plays basketball.”
“We live in Alabama. Need you ask?”
“Auburn or Alabama?”
“I’m an Auburn fan myself, but I do carry Alabama paraphernalia. I also have some Dr. Who stuff. Love the show myself. I don’t have much in the way of sports equipment though.”
“Lead the way to the Dr. Who items first.”
He guided her to the back of the store to the section he reserved for die-hard Whovians. Himself included. He already owned many of the things he kept in stock.
She squealed beside him as she picked up an Exploding Tardis throw. “This is perfect.”
Come back tomorrow for the final installment.