Thursday, December 1, 2016

A Sing-ular Tradition; Part One by Margo Hoornstra


Happy Holiday Season and Merry Christmas and welcome to Mistletoe Magic presented by The Roses of Prose. As has become a tradition here at The Roses of Prose, we bring you short stories every day for the month of December. Although our offerings have a little twist. Each story begins with the same first line. The winner for 2016 is: This was the absolute last time she kissed anyone under the mistletoe.

We diverse authors take it from there. My contribution follows:


 

A Sing-ular Tradition

Part One

This was the absolute last time she kissed anyone under the mistletoe.
For good reason. No other kiss for the rest of her life could possibly surpass the wonder of this one. She merely paused in the doorway to fix the sandal strap that slipped off her heel. The next thing she knew, warm fingers lifted her chin and inviting lips touched lightly on hers to send tiny shock waves of pleasure rolling up, down and all around her insides. Or was it the arm that came sure and strong at her waist?

The one that somehow seemed meant to be there?
With her eyes closed, Kenzie Adams had absolutely no idea who the near perfectly utilized mouth belonged to. If she had to guess, her boss maybe? The wildly successful investment guru with looks, money and charm to spare. Though, quite honestly, she never had gotten close enough to know for sure about that last one.
“Thanks for being a good sport.”

As she lowered her left foot and lifted her lids, it sure wasn’t the eyes of handsome Marshall Simms, Founder and President of Simms and Associates Investments that held her gaze. The incredible blue eyes locked in a stare down with hers belonged to the less affluent, but equally handsome Derrick Something or Other, from the downstairs mailroom.

“I must say that was some welcome.”

Being brand new to the company, Kenzie in no way wanted to make a scene. If, however, this was standard behavior for this group at the investment firm, she’d tender her resignation, effective immediately, and start this fresh beginning of hers somewhere besides Jacksonville, Florida.

“I probably shouldn’t have done that, except…” Lowering his gaze, Derrick shrugged. “Guess I got too caught up in the Christmas spirit.”

He did have a point. Appropriate holiday music flowed through a sound system usually reserved for the dry, monotone speeches from various company VPs regarding sure-fire investment strategies. Strands of green leaves and red holly berries were draped in scalloped fashion from the conference room ceiling. Artificial wreaths in glittery gold were hung at even intervals in between.

Regardless, by all rights she should have been offended. Would have been too, until he punctuated his words with a sheepish smile and genuine blush.

“That’s okay.”

Her actual response was a far cry from the one she’d planned when she was first ambushed as she walked into the employee Christmas party. That initial reaction would have involved the palm of her right hand coming up, hard, against the cheek of the offending intruder.

Shocked. Befuddled. His priceless expression had stopped any mean-spirited reaction from her dead in its tracks. Eyes wide in alarm, it was as if he couldn’t believe what he’d just done any more than she could. Plus, the mouth that had just lifted from hers formed the most endearing O. Startling good looks didn’t hurt his cause either.

Or are you so conscious of becoming an old maid you’ll lower your standards and your morals for any and all male attention?

She ignored the sass from her internal censor. Was it too much to ask for maybe a few pleasant dinners after work with someone other than a talking head on TV? A movie on the occasional Saturday night with a friend?

“How long have you worked here?” Despite the festive atmosphere, all she could come up with to talk about was job related.

“Three months next week. I was hired just a short time before you.”

“You started out in the mail room then.”

“I needed a job that afforded me some precious down time I can use to study.”

“Study? What are you studying?”

“Human anatomy this term. Chemistry, bio-engineering. I’m in the pre-med program at the University of Florida.”

“You’re going to be a doctor?” Funny it never occurred to her he was anything but Derrick the mail guy.

“Hopefully. If I work hard enough to make it through med school.”

How ironic she’d often thought he had an amazing resemblance to that actor who played a doctor on television. The one they referred to as Doctor McDreamy. The one they killed off when he wanted out of his contract. Even so, her impromptu comparison fit perfectly. Dark, wavy hair, clear blue eyes and, surrounded by one sexy as hell five o’clock shadow, those marvelous lips she’d recently been introduced to.

Blood rushed up to heat her cheeks. “Somehow I think you will.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

If memory served, the television character was a neurosurgeon. “What specialty are you going into? Neurosurgery?”

He shook his head. “Probably not. My interests lean toward the non-surgical. Internist maybe. Pediatrician. I enjoy being around kids.”

There it was; he’d opened the conversation up to personal matters. She dove in with both feet. “Do you have any of your own?”

His brow creased. “Not yet. I have to find a wife first.”

That’s usually how it’s done. The words sailed into her mind, and she opened her mouth only to shut it again. Surely she could do better, come up with some witticism in response? His gaze met hers, and those mesmerizing eyes zeroed in on her lips. As the frown cleared, he quirked up one corner of his mouth. The most appealing dimple appeared and her breath caught.

“Hey, Derrick. You have to hear this one.” The voice of John, the mid-level manager from IT broke the spell.

Suddenly witticism became only a word in the dictionary, right there on the same page as withdrawal.

“Be right there.” Her version of McDreamy pulled his gaze free of hers to glance over. In the next instant, he was focused on her again. “The king of off color jokes. I’d ask you to join us but…you know.”

“Yeah. I know.” She gave a short nod. Disappointment cutting deep caught her off guard. “Don’t let me keep you.”

“It’s not that.” Shaking his head, he raised both hands her way. “It’s just. If I don’t go over there, he’s bound to come over here to share his latest. You might be offended, and I wouldn’t want that.”

She had no immediate response. Was he being overly sweet, if not maybe a little sexist? Or does he just want an excuse to get away from me?

“Derrick!”

He took two steps backward. “Gotta go.”

“I understand.” Shaking off an unexpected loneliness, she turned to walk further into the room.

“Kenzie, good, you’re here.” Wanda Marks, Kenzie’s co-worker from two offices down placed a hand on her arm.

“Wouldn’t miss it.” Only because the interoffice email invitation had a definite you will be there tone.

“It’s so nice to be out for an evening without the twins.”

One of the first to befriend Kenzie when she arrived, Wanda had quickly shared she’d been happily married for close to five years and had two beautiful babies to show for it. Another success story of that ever elusive happily ever after.

“I imagine.” Kenzie came out with the first thing to pop into her mind then winced at its truth.

Single and childless, all she could do was imagine, fantasize really, about what it must be like to have a loving husband with all the trimmings. Not that Kenzie really needed a soul mate to share her life, the requisite number of children and possibly even a family dog. She did have her career.

“I so needed some adults only company and conversation.”

Kenzie’s thoughts scattered. “That’s what we’re here for.”

Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer began to play through the speakers.

Wanda glanced up and grinned. “My kids love this song. They dance to it all the time at home, wiggling their little tushies to the music and jumping around. It’s so cute.”

“I know exactly what you mean.” Stacy from accounting stepped over to join the conversation before Kenzie could respond. “Mine, too.”

With four kids of her own, Stacy seemed to embrace Wanda’s family anecdote as the two moms went on to compare motherhood notes.

Kenzie used the opportunity to excuse herself and head outside to get some air.

A towering artificial fir, hardly indigenous to this tropical climate, graced one corner of the lobby. Its metal and plastic branches were loaded with shiny gold tinsel and sparkling white lights all winking at her as she walked by. Nice enough as decorations go, but that’s all they were, adornments with no real meaning behind them.

Not that she’d done any holiday decorating of her own to speak of. The chores associated with unpacking boxes and settling into new living quarters had been overwhelming enough. Not to mention settling into a new life.

Headed for the side entrance, she pushed out into the warm Florida night. Stars twinkled in welcome as she stepped onto the open cement patio. That was something. Walking past three square picnic tables with attached benches to the redwood porch swing at one end, she sat on the cushioned seat. An instrumental version of Deck the Halls floated over her from an opened window in the two story building.

“Fa-la-la.” Her feeble attempt to sing along drifted into silence as an ever present sorrow took the form of a ten-ton weight dragging down her heart.

It had been hard for her, no downright impossible, to get into the Christmas spirit this year. Constant sunshine and eighty degree temperatures weren’t at all synonymous with the holiday season to a girl who grew up way north in the land of snow, sleet and below zero wind chills.  A place she’d left far, far behind. Along with former fiancé, Elliott.

Closing her eyes, she lifted her face as a warm breeze drifted over her features.

“I thought I saw you walk out here.”
 

Join me here tomorrow for Part Two of A Sing-ular Tradition.

For more about me and my other stories, please visit my WEBSITE
 

18 comments:

Christine DePetrillo said...

GREAT way to start my December!!! Love it!

Brenda Whiteside said...

Nice Christmas romance to start up off!

Barbara Edwards said...

Great start to the season. Eager to read the next chapter.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Aren't you just full of surprises, Margo? Nice lift-off of our Christmas Story Days! See you here tomorrow!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Chris, Strong words 'love' and 'great' ;-) Thanks so much.

Brenda, It's a thrill to be first in line this year.

Barb, Glad I've got you hooked.

Rolynn, You like it? See you tomorrow, too.

Jannine Gallant said...

Great kick-off to our stories, Margo. It's always fun to see how you incorporated my edits!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Ha, Jannine! Let the fun continue.

Diane Burton said...

Such a charming beginning, Margo. Can't wait to read the rest. I won't peek ahead, I promise. LOL

Margo Hoornstra said...

Thanks, Diane. I'all hold you to that promise. ;-)

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Peek? We can peek??? No. It would spoil the delight. I have been known to stay up to after midnight to read the next section of someone's story, but that's not cheating. It is the next day, after all. And, Margo, I loved yours so much I feel a late night coming on. Sigh... You did good, kiddo!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Aw, thanks, Vonnie. Such sweet words. Raising a virtual glass of spirits to your late night dedication. Enjoy!

Alison Henderson said...

This is going to be a fun one one--I just feel it!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Spoiler Alert, Alison. There is a HEA! LOL!

Alicia Dean said...

Awww, love this! I am kind of fond of Dr. McDreamy myself, although I haven't watched the show since the second season. :) I did use him as a model/inspiration for my cop hero in my Northland Crime Chronicles series. Enjoyed your opening and can't wait to read more!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Thanks, Ally. Full disclosure, I never watched the show myself, but, well, there's that inspiration thing. ;-) I'm pleased you enjoyed my contribution today.

Andrea Downing said...

Roll on December if this is what's in store!

Leah St. James said...

Love the unexpected co-worker story line! He seems like a cutie!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Awww, thanks, Andi.

Leah, hope you like him in the future.