An Unexpected Present
by Ginger Solomon
Tammie woke earlier than normal the next morning. It was only a little after eight. The deep, rich smell of coffee roused her senses. She didn’t like to drink it, but loved the aroma. She’d stayed with her parents instead of heading home the night before, so she wouldn’t have to drive over this morning. She stretched and climbed from the bed. Glancing down, she determined that her Santa jammies were decent enough to wear in front of her dad. After brushing her teeth and running a brush through her hair, she skipped down the stairs to the kitchen.
“Merry…” She stopped short. A man sat in the kitchen with her mom. His back was to her, so she couldn’t tell who it was. His black hair had been recently trimmed, if the slight tan line on his neck was any indication.
Her mom looked up and smiled. “Good morning, sleepyhead.”
The man turned around.
She took a step back. Matthew.
He’d gotten a haircut since she saw him yesterday, and he looked good. Better than good.
His gaze took in her pajamas, and his lips curled up. “Nice pjs.”
She squealed and ran back upstairs. Yanking on a pair of jeans and her favorite Christmas sweatshirt, she mumbled, “I can’t believe Mom invited him over this early in the morning and didn’t warn me.”
Dad greeted her as she opened the door. “Did you say something, baby girl?”
“Did you know Mom had invited a guest to come for breakfast?”
“She told me last night. I told her to warn you, but she thought the surprise would be more fun.”
Tammie grunted. “For whom?”
“You know your mom. You should have expected some lonely soul for Christmas dinner. She just happened to do it a little earlier than usual this year. Nice, young fellow.”
“Dad.” She rolled her eyes as she pulled the word out into two syllables, just as she’d done as a teenager.
He smiled and kissed her on the cheek. “Come on. Let’s go eat the cinnamon buns your mom slaved over.”
“She popped them out of the can, and you know it.” She giggled her way down the stairs. She stopped in time to hear Matthew speak.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have come, Mrs. Bright.”
“Nonsense. Tammie will get over whatever sent her squealing from the room.”
“Ruth’s right, Matthew. Tammie is just fine.” Her dad sent her a wink as he walked past Matthew to Mom and kissed her on the cheek.
Heat blossomed in Tammie’s cheeks, knowing she’d made Matthew uncomfortable with her quick departure. “They’re right. It’s fine. I’m used to Mom inviting unexpected guests for Christmas. They don’t usually show up this early, though. I’m not sure my jammies were appropriate for company.”
“I liked them. You looked very festive.” Matthew looked at his hands as his ears turned bright red.
She wanted to avoid any more talk of her pajamas, so she turned to her mom. “Are the cinnamon buns ready?”
Mom flipped on the oven light and peeked in. “Almost.” She turned back around. “Matthew, do you want more coffee or perhaps some milk to go with the cinnamon buns?”
“Milk, if I could.”
Tammie glanced at him, surprised. He didn’t strike her as a milk drinker. “Got it.” She pulled four glasses from the cabinet, filled them, and placed them on the table.
Mom took the buns from the oven and lathered them with icing. Tammie’s mouth watered at the sight and smell, even if they did come from a can.
After breakfast they opened presents. Somehow Mom had purchased and wrapped two gifts for Matthew—one of which had Tammie’s name in the from spot. An Auburn t-shirt came from Mom and Dad. A silver arrow, with black flames carved into it, hanging on a black leather cord had been in the box from her. He put it right on, and it rested just above his black shirt’s open collar. It made him look incredibly sexy.
When the wrapping paper and boxes were cleaned up, she excused herself to finish getting ready. She’d help her mom with the last minute dinner preparations later. As she put the last pin in her hair, a knock sounded at her door. “Come in.”
She turned and saw Matthew standing there, a gift in his hand. He looked down at the box then back up at her. “You look beautiful.” He swallowed. “I…I brought you a gift, but was too embarrassed to give it to you in front of your parents. Your mom said it was okay for me to come up.”
“Come on in. Sorry for the mess. I sort of changed in a hurry this morning.” She smiled and raised her eyebrows at him, trying to get him to relax.
He took a step in, but only one.
“Come on. I don’t bite, and I won’t throw you on the bed and ravish your body either.”
He mumbled something, and then his ears turned bright red.
“Was that last thought something you want to share?”
He shook his head. “Not a chance.” He ran a hand through his shortened hair. “I’m not very good at this.”
She got up from the chair, motioning for him to take it. After she snagged the gift from his hand, she plopped onto the bed. With infinite care, she removed the shiny red paper from the expertly wrapped box. She lifted the lid. Inside rested a pair of beautiful, emerald earrings. “Wow. These look expensive. You needn’t have—”
“I wanted to. Every time I looked at them in the store, they reminded me of your eyes. I knew I just had to give them to you. I couldn’t remember if your ears were pierced, but I hoped they were.”
“They are.” She set the box on her lap. With great care, she took the earrings out and slid them in the holes in her ears. “What do you think?”
He smiled. “They match your amazing eyes perfectly.”
She stood and so did he. Her old room wasn’t very big and with both of them standing, they were quite close. She looked up at him. His dark, brooding eyes smoldered.
He fingered a strand of hair she’d left hanging in front of her ear. “You’re so beautiful.”
She looked down at the necklace hanging around his neck. “Thanks.”
He tipped her head back up. “I know this is sudden, and feel free to say no. I have this intense desire to kiss you right now. Would that be okay?”
He leaned down and touched his lips to hers. Sensations unlike any she’d ever thought possible shot through her. He broke the kiss way sooner than she wanted.
She gazed up at him for a few seconds, amazed. “I hardly know you, but it feels like we’ve known each other for an eternity.”
He pulled her closer. She rested her head on his chest and wrapped her arms around his waist.
“I agree.” His chest rumbled beneath her ear as he spoke. “Would you go to dinner with me tomorrow?”
She leaned back to look at him. “I’d love to. Merry Christmas, Matthew.”
“Merry Christmas, Tammie.”
He pressed another kiss to her lips, then they walked down the stairs hand in hand to celebrate their Savior’s birth.
I hope you have enjoyed Tammie and Matthew’s short story. I pray that as you spend this day with family and friends that it would be the best you’ve ever experienced, not because of the gifts you received today, but because of the gift we were all given over 2000 years ago.
Luke 2:10b-14, “‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.’ Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in highest heaven, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.'” (NLT, emphasis mine)
May your day and the coming year be filled with God’s peace.