Welcome back to Sweet Saturday Sample! All excerpts here are rated PG-13 or milder. It’s December! Christmas is right around the corner, so I’m giving you a sample today from my collection of Christmas Stories, All Wrapped Up.
This is a collection of four short stories, each with a Christmas theme. The one I’m sampling today is called “Sing a Christmas Carol.” It’s a contemporary, set on a college campus where a young man is trying to give some bad news to a member of his chorus–like you’re fired. But he finds this increasingly hard to do.
Chase knocked again on the door in the upper hallway of Duke, the upperclassman girls’ dorm. The sound of Christmas music drifted through the door, something older, like Bing Crosby, maybe? Was that “White Christmas?” At last the wooden door jerked open and Chase found himself face to face with Lana, Lauren’s roommate. Dressed in jacket and scarf, she looked ready to leave.
“Hey, Lana. Is Lauren here? I couldn’t get her on her phone.”
“Not surprised. Welcome to Christmas Central.” She waved toward the dimly lit room, awash with Christmas lights. “I think her phone’s set to ‘Jingle Bells,’ so she doesn’t realize it’s ringing. Lauren!” She turned toward an inner door that was cracked open, and raised her voice to be heard over Bing. “Chase is here!” When there was no response, Lana shook her head. “Go on in, she’ll be out of the bathroom in a minute.”
Chase stepped back as Lana adjusted her shoulder bag and brushed past him. “Where’re you off to?”
“Anywhere that’s not so ‘Ho, ho, ho-riffic.’” She continued down the corridor without a backward glance, just a wave of her hand.
He glanced around, then tentatively stepped inside and shut the door. The dorm room had been transformed into a winter wonderland all right. A small artificial tree sat in the bay window that overlooked the quad. Its lights flashed red and green in counterpoint to the multi-colored strands strung over the windows and around the perimeter of the room. Bing finished “White Christmas” and moved on to “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas.”
Chase had to admit, the man’s voice was incredible in its richness and timbre. Lauren might not have a good voice, but she had an ear for quality.
Decorations filled desktops, stuffed Santas and snowmen perched on the beds, well, on the bed to his right. The one to his left contained a single pillow, non-holiday themed, which he assumed to be Lana’s. Lauren’s decor was cute, just like her, but he could understand Lana’s need to escape Santaland.
The bathroom door opened and Lauren walked out, head bent to the side as she rubbed her long wet hair with a towel. Thank God she wore a robe! A skimpy, plush red robe with white collar that made her look like an erotic version of Mrs. Claus. Chase shook his head. Where the hell had that idea come from?
“Chase?” Her eyes grew bigger and she straightened. First she pulled the robe closed across her breasts then tugged it down over her behind. It barely covered the essentials. “What are you doing here? Where’s Lana?”
“I think she went out to study. You want me to wait outside until you get dressed?”
She shook her head then pressed the towel to her damp hair. “I’m fine. What’s up? Is there an extra practice or something? You could have texted me.”
“Yeah, I tried to call, but you didn’t pick up. No, there’s no practice. I just wanted a chance to talk to you.” This was going to be even worse amidst all the Christmas cheer.
“Really?” Her face lit up, her smile genuine and warm.
He was suddenly reminded of Cindy Lou Who from How The Grinch Stole Christmas. That was it. He was the Grinch, about to steal Lauren’s Christmas.
“Why don’t you sit down?” She motioned toward her bed and Chase sat on the edge, careful not to disturb the Santas.
She hung the towel over the headboard then sat beside him, and pulled a cheery Santa into her lap. Big blue eyes reflected the sparkling lights. They seemed to expect something wonderful. Her dazzling smile devastated him.
Chase took a deep breath. You can do this. “I’ve been meaning to talk to you, Lauren.” That breath had been a mistake. The soft scent of lavender rose from her hair, mixed with a pure, soapy clean smell that combined to make him utterly aware of her as a woman for the first time. His mouth dried as though he had swallowed sand.
Never had he given Lauren a thought as more than one of the group; but now that he could see the truth, he couldn’t un-see it. She sat there, a sweet smile on her lips, unaware that she now appeared to him as some erotic, seductive elf. A Christmas package he itched to unwrap.
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