“Santa, In Brief”
By Rolynn Anderson
Part 3 of 3
The softness of Nick’s Santa suit drew Emilia, a cushion against a harsh, disappointing world. But she rose, and instead of resting her head against her golf instructor’s fuzzy collar, she straightened her back. “I was conned. When he knew I’d be alone at Christmas, he showed me a picture of his family, his father, mother, and brother, all to join us here, for a week of golf and holiday tourist stuff.” She paused, considering how Paul had netted her. “He talked about how close he was to his mother and how she’d always wanted a daughter.” Emilia swallowed her despair. “When he added golf lessons, I was hooked. The carefully wrapped Christmas present was the closer.” She sighed. “Maybe he was arrested or he decided it wasn’t safe to claim his package.”
Santa said nothing.
Emilia stepped away, her brain whirling with goals. “I’ll call an attorney. A criminal lawyer, here in Palm Springs. I won’t open the thing until I’ve been given permission, legally, to do so.” She rubbed her hands together and paced a section of the driving range. “As soon as I have all that settled, I’ll persuade my father to fly here. My family agreed to gather in Buffalo for New Year’s instead of Christmas this year, but I’ll explain I’ve changed my mind. At least I can spend Christmas in Palm Springs with my Dad.”
She closed her eyes, satisfied with her plan. She’d put Paul in his place, resolved not to feel less of a person because she was duped by a professional con man. I’m a good woman. Now, a little wiser.
She opened her eyes to see her rented bag of clubs resting against the bench.
Santa was gone.
She turned to the entrance of the pro shop where a bald, slim man stood. Emilia nodded. “That’s me.”
“I’m sorry I made you wait out here while I tried to locate Nick. He just got ahold of me on the phone. His mother is undergoing some emergency surgery, so he’s on a plane to Wisconsin. Wants you to know he’ll be back in three days and promises to make good on the lessons. Apologized for not making his appointment with you today.”
Emilia squinted at the guy, startled at his words. “But I…” From behind her came the sound of golf balls plopping into cups, along with the ‘click, click, click’ of driver heads striking teed-up balls on the driving range. When she turned to look at the six men putting around her and the eight men at their stations on the driving range, she understood she’d only owned the course in her imagination.
The bald man clasped his hands. “He feels awful, ma’am. Hopes he didn’t mess up your holiday.”
She smiled. “Good Saint Nick.”
“You tell him I’ll take him up on his offer. And I’ll think good thoughts for his mother’s recovery.”
The memory of Nick’s eyes, so full of hope and compassion, soft, like his Santa suit, lifted the last layer of disappointment from her week in Paris. She stood by her golf bag, hand on a Santa hat sitting jauntily over her clubs. “And wish him Merry Christmas.”
Thanks for reading my story. For more suspense, read LIE CATCHERS, about two cold cases in Petersburg, Alaska. Check out my books at http://www.rolynnanderson.com