The Gift

by Kim (KP) Pritekel

Disclaimers: Though these lovely ladies may resemble characters belonging to RenPics, that is where the resemblance ends. These ladies are mine, all mine, do you hear me!! But I'll be nice and let you enjoy them for awhile.

Subtext: Yes, this story belongs in the annals of women who love women. I mean, what else is there in life? This one isn't too bad, though. Nothing really graphic. (I'd prefer to keep this one just a simple Christmas story). So if you weren't able to participate in the Gore/Bush mess, you have no business reading this. So go away.

Violence: I seriously doubt it, that is unless Santa decides to go nuts, or something. Hey, it could happen.

Note: This is an Uber/Alt that takes place at my most favoritist time of year: Christmas.

Author's Note: Christmas is my most favorite time of year, and has been since I was a kid. I want to tell all of you a neat little story of how I have already been touched this year by the feeling of giving to others. Now, this story may be disturbing to some, or you just may simply not feel the same, and if so, please just take it for what it's worth.
I run a library in a medium/close security prison, and my inmate clerks were asking me if we could decorate the library for Christmas. So I said okay. I went out and bought a little 2 foot tree, little ornaments, and two long strings of lights. I set my offerings on the Circulation counter and said, "Have fun." I went back into my office for about a half hour, and when I came out again I just stood there, transfixed as I watched those four guys turn the front into their very own version of a Christmas wonderland. They were so happy, laughing, and lit up brighter than any Christmas tree. I knew then that any doubts I may have had of my actions were completely unfounded, and I was filled with an incredible sense of peace.
I wish that feeling on each and every one of you, as well as a very Merry Christmas. KP

If you would like to tell me what a wonderful writer I am, or that I royally suck, feel free at:

I could tell that this was going to be an extremely long day. The crowds were already filling into the mall like packs of wolves ready for the kill. And in a way I suppose they were there for the kill, well, the hunt, anyway. The hunt for the all mighty sale. It was Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, the biggest shopping day of the year.

I stood at my post as the chief elf for the Marlando Mall Santa Clause. Today was the first day for the big guy in red, and the children of New York were eating it up.

"Here they come." Tony, or better known as Santa, said, his words muffled by his huge fake white beard. I stared down the long main hall of the mall, and my green eyes nearly bugged out of my head. A mob of children were heading towards us, their excited, shrill voices filling the large space, and echoing off the high ceiling, drowning out the Jamaican version of Oh Come All Ye Faithful. "Dear God, who art in Heaven," Tony crossed himself, and put his big Santa-like smile in place.

I adjusted my big, green and red floppy hat that had never fit right in the two years that I had done this, and waited for the first in line so that I could shake their hand, ask them their name, and place them on Santa's lap. Are there really people out there who are so desperate for extra money that they'll put themselves through this, twice?! With a sigh, I smiled.

The day had gone fairly smoothly so far. Only one kid had peed on Santa's lap. I was pleased. It was finally time for lunch. I walked down the seemingly never ending corridors of the huge mall doing my daily window shopping, looking at all the things that I would love to have, but could never afford. My folks were long dead, and my brother didn't talk to me anymore, so I had no one to shop for. Maybe I would buy myself a gift this year. At least my tree had one package under it; a gift for my psychotic cat, Sabor.

I glanced into the large picture window of a new store that had moved into the mall just before Halloween. The store would be open year round, and specialized in holiday decorations. Anything ranging from scary masks and fake blood to tree ornaments, and cornucopias for Thanksgiving. I looked at my reflection in the freshly cleaned glass. I had to chuckle at my floppy hat, green vest that was fringed with gold and tiny little bells that announced my presence, and the tight fitting red turtleneck under it, then down to my green velvet knickers that ended at my knees. The red and white striped tights that ended in the ridiculous red pointed shoes with a bell at the end of each point.

I looked up into the store, and stopped dead. Looking at a half wall full of goofy Christmas stockings was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. She stood taller than me, but then that wasn't hard considering I was all of five feet three and a half. She had long black hair that was so shiny, so healthy that it looked like it had been brushed hundreds of times. I could only see her profile, but that was enough. Her features were strong, her jaw confident, her dark brows arched just enough to show power, but not to look bitchy. I was in awe. She stood with her arms crossed over her chest, her purse strap hanging precariously from the shoulder closest to me. Her stance was that of someone who meant business, almost cocky. She-


I was spun around in just enough time to see the little brat who had run into me running down the hall, pushing people out of his way.


I was spun around once more to see the backs of the running mall security as they chased the stupid kid. I yanked my hat back into place, and looked back into the window. I was mortified. The woman was staring right at me, her incredible blue eyes were smiling, though her face remained stoic, almost like stone. Our eyes met, and I had to look away. I hurried down the hall. I could not stand the thought of her seeing me again in this stupid elf costume. Like it mattered. One, why would she be interested in what I wore, and two, she was probably straight. God, how embarrassing. I found a bathroom, and ducked into it as I felt a severe blush rise up my neck and stain my face crimson. I leaned on the counter and looked into the wide mirror anchored on the wall. My hat was lopsided again.

"Damnit." I pulled it off, and ran my fingers through my reddish-blonde hair, trying to get the long strands into some semblance of order. No good. The felt material of the hat had made my hair staticky and difficult. I plopped the hat back on my head, and headed back out into the throes of the holiday rush.


When I finally got out of that mad house, I headed home to my small apartment with its one tiny bedroom, and combined kitchen-living room. I plopped down on my thirty year old green couch that I had bought for twenty bucks, and closed my eyes, my head resting against the back. With a deep sigh I allowed my mind to wonder back over my day. Inevitably the woman from the holiday shop passed before my eyes. Who was she? I know New York is a big city, but someone like that would have stuck in my mind, surly.

I opened my eyes as I felt a cold nose nudge my hand. Sabor was looking at me through bluish/greenish/grayish eyes, his tail waving gracefully through the air as he waited for my attention.

"Hey, little man." he began to rub his head on my hand, and I rubbed between his ears, and down between his eyes. He purred, and plopped down on the couch next to me. I stared at the wall across from me as my hand absently worked through my cat's soft fur. What was I doing here? I was from the other side of the country, Washington state, or Seattle to be exact. I had decided to venture out here 3 years ago, when my parents were killed in a plane crash. I'm a writer, well, sort of. That's what I want to be. In reality I am just Sarah Bronson, part time elf, full time waitress at a small diner eight blocks from my apartment, and frustrated writer extraordinare.

By nature I am an optimist, but even that was beginning to slip. I had few friends, and I felt as though I was just spinning my wheels, and getting nowhere. It's an awful feeling. I looked around my place, the deep shadows of late evening painted everything in shades of gray. I could easily pack up everything, pack it into my car and head back home to Seattle. I still had friends there that could help me out until I got back on my feet. Then my giant isore of a computer caught my eye from the corner where my desk was shoved between a book case and the wall. I had had one short story published. Maybe I should stick it out. It takes time, and I was still young at only 24. Then the woman from the mall popped into my head yet again. What was it about her? She was incredible. Something was telling me that I would see her again.

"Of course you will. You work in a mall." I grumbled to myself as I stood and stretched my aching body. I pulled that stupid hat off and threw it on the couch. Sabor sniffed it, then walked away. Even he doesn't like it. I grinned and started to go through my pathetically empty cabinets. I hated to buy food. Anything but that. Such a waste. Finally finding nothing interesting, with a resigned sigh, I headed to bed.


The sun was blinding as I made my way out of my building. The five inches of snow we had received last night had the city buzzing. I glanced down at the drifts that were piled against the waist high brick fence that surrounded the property, its white brilliance marred by dirt and muck from the passing cars, and yellow stains periodically where some idiot had let his canine urinate. I sighed as I headed toward the diner. It seemed that no matter how early I woke, I was never able to see the snow clear and white before the city got to it. Oh, well. Some day.

"Sarah! Hey, girl. How's it going?"

"Hi, Rachel. Fine. You?"

"Hey, not bad, not bad."

The diner was already hopping at seven in the morning. Don't people sleep anymore? I looked around at all the customers who were crammed into the limited seating space. I hurried to the back room and grabbed my apron out of my little itty bitty cubby, and tied it around my waist. Having few clothes, I could not afford to ruin any with the greasy food that was served here. I always marveled at how none of our customers keeled over with clogged arteries.

I raced out to the counter where a line of waiting, hungry, grouchy, impatient people eyed me with hope mixed in there with their hungry, grouchy, and impatient glances. I took a deep breath, grabbed the coffee pot, and put a smile on my face.

"Who wants coffee?"

Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho

The mall was as busy as it had been yesterday, even more so considering it was a Saturday. As soon as I had gotten off at the diner at nearly six, I had had to catch the subway and hurry here. Santa was already packed, my junior elf, Marla taking over for me when I had my other job. She looked flustered. Not a good sign.

"Hey, Marla. How's it been?" I asked quietly as I hopped the red velvet rope that marked off Santa's territory from the kiosks around us.

"Not horrible. But the Bernard kid was back today. Isn't seeing Santa six times enough?"

"I think he's obsessed. Kid needs help." Marla chuckled, and placed a hand on my shoulder.

"Good luck, Sarah. You're gonna need it."

"Thanks." Marla passed the bucket of miniature candy canes to me, and made her way through the throng of anxious children, and finally escaped.

The one good thing about this job was that because we stayed so busy time went by really, really fast. Before I knew it, it was already eight, and time for a break. We had exactly two more hours before we could head back to the North Pole for the night.

"Sarah, you heading to Arby's?" I glanced at Tony.

"Yeah, want something?"

"Yeah, get me a mocha shake, will ya?"

"Sure. Be back."

"Hey, and don't forget the straw this time! Last time I was picking fake hair out of my mouth for two days!" Tony called to me. I chuckled, and raised my hand in acknowledgment as I walked away.

Arby's was just as crowded as the rest of the mall. People everywhere. I always thought to myself on nights like these that this was the perfect opportunity for a thief to collect, and collect big. No one was at home. Easy pickings.

"Hello!? Can I help you?" I jumped, turning a startled face to the girl behind the counter. She looked hot, tired, and thoroughly irritated at me.

"Uh, sorry. Hi." I smiled at her. She glared back. Alrighty, then. "Give me a large mocha shake, with a straw, and a large-"

"You get the straws out there." she pointed at the condiment counter behind me.

"Oh, okay. Thank you ever so much. You're very helpful." I was having a really hard time keeping the bite from my voice. This little teenaged pain in the ass was ticking me off. We were all tired, hungry, grouchy. I mean, hell, we worked at the mall during the Christmas rush, right? We were all suicidal. We all had to stick together in the face of madness.

"And?" she prompted.

"And a large lemonade, and yes that will be all." her mouth clamped shut, and she began to punch some keys on the register. Ha! I can play, too. She gave me my total, and I shelled out some money, taking my prize out into the mall. I was, by some act of god, able to find a place to sit at one of the benches that were scattered around huge planters that, for some reason people mistook for ash trays.

I tore the paper from my straw, and stuck it into the hole in the lid of my lemonade, and drank a third of it in one gulp. I closed my eyes in relief and wiped my mouth. When I opened them again I nearly choked. There she was again! The woman from the holiday store. She was walking out of the Orange Julius, which was right next door to Arby's. I watched her as she took a sip from her drink, then suddenly her gaze turned and she was looking right at me. I tried not to look too stupid as I smiled. She smiled back. Then to my utter horror she walked over toward me.

"Santa give you the night off?" she asked with the slightest bit of a twinkle in her cobalt blue eyes. I was mesmerized by them.

"Nah, just a break."

"Hmm. I'm sure you needed one." she smiled again, then walked away. I followed her with my eyes. Ohhhhh, god! Who are you? Why are you here? Who sent you to torment me?

I slowly made my way back to my post where Tony was waiting impatiently for his shake.

"Where ya been? We have to go back on in three minutes!"

"Sorry, Tony. Lines were long." I handed him his shake, and sipped my drink as my mind wondered into places where it really had no business going considering I was dealing with very small children in two and a half minutes. I often wondered just how crazy their parents would go if they actually knew what thoughts ran through my head as I helped their children on to old Saint Nick's lap. I grinned, and put my cup down, out of sight of curious eyes.

Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho

it was Sunday, and the gods were smiling, and so was I, because I had the day off from both jobs, Hallelujah! Sunday was my only day off, period. I didn't bother getting out of bed until nearly eleven, and when I did I stood in front of the window and stared out at the winter wonderland. Over night we had gotten dumped on again. Most of the people I had come across complained about the weather of the east coast, but coming from nothing but rain, which I also loved, I was in hog heaven. Bring it on, I say.

I showered, quickly, as my tiny little water heater tank only held enough hot water for about a four minute shower, and dressed in a pair of worn jeans, a thick, heavy sweatshirt, and hiking boots.

I walked out into my living room/kitchen, and grabbed a bottle of Gatorade out of the fridge. I plopped down on the couch next to Sabor, and stared dumbly at my near naked Christmas tree. Last year I had only had enough money to buy a four footer, so this year my giant six footer was poorly decorated.

"We've got ourselves quite the Charlie Brown tree, huh, Sabor." my cat lifted his head and glanced at me, then fell asleep. With a sigh I stood, and grabbed my coat and my keys. I shoved my wallet in my back pocket, and headed out to... you guessed it, the mall.

The subway was busy with people bustling from here to there with arms loaded with bags from every kind of store. I found myself wanting to drift off from the lull of the subway car as it raced through dark tunnels, and well lit loading platforms, then to shoot out into the light of day, only to return to the tunnels like they were the place that the trains felt the safest. I got off at my stop, and walked the few blocks to the immense mall complex.

I hurried by the Santa and his impatient helper. I hated to rub in their faces that I was off, and didn't have to deal with the crying, the hollering, and the attitudes of children grown up to fast. Instead, I headed toward the holiday shop. Since Christmas was just around the corner, and they were a new store who needed business, maybe they would have some good sales. Plus I got my whole whopping 10% discount for being a mall employee.

Walking into the holiday store, or, actually it was called All Ye Faithful, was like walking into a child's wonderland. The store was decorated to look like a toy workshop complete with elves placed strategically around tables with half-made toys and decorations, and the elves were moving, their arms slowly hammering in that last wooden nail, or adding that last touch of a smile onto the yellow duck. A long train replete with whistle and smoke coming from its stack, was roaring around the store on wooden tracks. A large smile spread across my face. I was completely enchanted.

I headed toward a peg board wall where hundreds of small, glass ornaments hung. Some were just plain glass, others were painted, or had gold or silver glitter on them. I held one in my hand, holding it up to the light to catch the reflections in its beveled edges.

"So Santa does give his elves time off."

With a yelp of surprise, the ornament fell from my hand, and hit the tiled floor with a crash. I spun around to see Her standing behind me. She looked down at the pile of glass and glitter, and a smile crept across her lips.

"Woops." she looked at me, our eyes meeting. She looked over my shoulder and smiled again. I followed her gaze to see the small white sign with bold black letters that read: YOU BREAK IT, YOU BUY IT!
"Guess I just bought myself an ornament, didn't I?"

We both turned when we heard the irritated sigh of the clerk who stood behind us, staring down at the mess with her hands on her hips.

"We had an accident." my dream woman said.

"Uh huh."

"Don't freak. It'll be paid for." she said, hiding her sarcasm behind her sweet tone. The clerk walked away shaking her head. The woman turned back to me. "Didn't mean to startle you."

"Oh, that's okay. It's not hard to do."

"Really? Why's that?"

"Uh, well, I don't know." I smiled stupidly. I had just said that to try and placate her. She seemed to sense this, and smiled.

"We really must stop meeting like this. But since we seem destined to, my name is Christian." she extended her hand. I looked at the long fingers, then took them into my own hand. Her handshake was strong, confident, like everything else about her.


"So, is it your day off?"

"Yes. Finally." I smiled, and said with probably a bit more relief in my voice than I should have. She lifted a brow.

"Santa hard to work for?" she grinned. She had strikingly white, even teeth. She was just as incredible close up as she had been from afar.

"Yeah, well, no, it's just all the kids. They can be so demanding." she looked down, and I followed her gaze. She was looking at our hands that were still joined, and continued to pump up and down. She looked back up at me with a smile.

"I'll kind of need that back."

"Oh!" I dropped her hand. "Sorry." God, what an idiot!

"So what are you doing at work, so to speak, on your day off?"

"I need to buy some ornaments for my tree."

"Ahh. Is your tree already up, then?"

"Oh, yeah! I put it up last weekend."

"Oh. I've never really been one for the whole Christmas thing. I don't even own a tree." she looked away from me, and began to gaze at all the festive wonder of the store. God, am I that boring that I can't even hold her attention? "So have you eaten?" I was ripped from my self-deprecating thoughts.

"What? Oh, uh no."

"Well, then let's go." she smiled at me, a heart-stopping, soul melting, turn you into pudding kind of smile. Without a word I followed her to the counter where she dropped a fifty dollar bill to the confusion of the clerk. "For the ornament." she said as she headed out of the store.

"Uh, Christian, there is no way that ornament cost that much. Maybe twenty, but-"

"Don't worry about it. She can keep the change to pay her hospital bill from the heart attack she had when I broke it."

Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho

Christian picked a small, quiet place that served everything from Italian to Mexican to good ol' American.

"Have you ever been here?" she asked as she wiggled out of her heavy leather trench.

"No." underneath she wore a beautiful sweater with a black background, and winter scenes done in brilliant blue to match her eyes. Her jeans were expensive, and tight fighting. She was amazing. I struggled out of my old worn jean jacket, and placed it on the back of the chair. I pulled out my wallet to survey how much money I had. I could not imagine finishing a wonderful lunch with her, then not even having enough money on me to pay for it. I had exactly twelve dollars, and my Visa.

"No. This is my treat, Sarah. Don't worry about it." she said with a casual smile.

"No, I couldn't. I have money, I-"

"My treat." this was said in a way that told me not to argue.

"Oh. Well, thank you. What for?"

"Why not?" she picked up a menu and handed it to me.

"You don't need one?" she shook her head.

"No. I come here often. I know exactly what I'm having. You, on the other hand, get anything you want. Their pasta here is to die for, or if you're more into Mexican food try their sampler. Everything on the menu, but miniature. Truly wonderful."

"Oh. Okay." I smiled nervously, and opened the large brown menu, and began to peruse its mouth watering choices. I don't think Christian had any idea what she had gotten herself into. I had a voracious appetite. But I think today I'll keep it down to a dull roar. Later on I could always swing by the corner store and get a snack.

A half hour later I was nearly done with my Mexican sampler, and Christian was still picking at her lobster salad. She shook her head in amazement, her eyes sparkling with a hidden smile, at my ability to eat all that was placed before me.

"You know, I don't think I have ever seen a woman of your size barrel through that entire platter. Once I did, of course I had the help of my date to do it. Don't you eat on a regular basis?"

I groaned inside. Just the conclusion I hoped she wouldn't come to. "Yes, I eat. I just have always had an appetite that can put most men to shame." I smiled, then blushed profusely as I felt some hot sauce running down my chin. Quickly I mopped it up with my napkin. "Sorry."

"Don't be. I think it's absolutely charming." I raised my brows in surprise. She thought that my completely piggish table manners were charming!? What on earth was she taking, anyway? "So," she said, pushing her plate away and sitting back in her chair, arms crossed over her chest. "Tell me about yourself. What do you do, besides work for the jolly one?"

I quickly chewed, and attempted to swallow a large bite of chicken burrito, but it was too big, and I felt myself beginning to choke. God, kill me now, please!! Christian's smile slid from her lips, and was replaced by a look of concern.

"Are you okay, Sarah?" I nodded enthusiastically, though I could not breath. She stood from her seat and moved around the table to my side. She began to pound on my back, causing me to almost take a dip face-first in my plate. But I felt the bite beginning to loosen, and I was able to get it down, though it felt like it had sprouted spikes, taking chunks of my esophagus with it. I coughed, and tried to clear my throat. "Are you alright?" she asked, beginning to rub my back. Oh yeah. I could get used to this. Part of me wanted to keep the drama running just a bit longer so she'd keep rubbing, but I was far too embarrassed by the whole thing to do anything other than nod.

"Thank you." I finally managed to blurt out. I couldn't look at her face. She is never going to want to have a thing to do with me again. Sarah, you have set new standards of idiocy. I just wanted to crawl under the table and die.

"Now," Christian said, sitting in her seat once more. She was looking at me completely amused when I finally got the courage to look at her. "Where were we? Ah, yes. You. Tell me about you."

I took a drink of my water, cleared my throat, and pushed my plate away. I was still a bit hungry, and there were still some really yummy looking mini tacos left, but all in all choking once was enough for one night.

"What do you want to know?"

"Oh, I don't know. Where are you from? Are you an original New Yorker?"

"No. I'm from a distant land called Seattle."

Christian chuckled at this. "I've heard of it. Why so far from home?"

"Three years ago I moved here, hoping to get a writing career off the ground." she quirked a dark brow.

"A writer? What do you write?" I panicked. How could I tell her that I write lesbian fiction? I mean, I was pretty sure by this point that she was a lesbian, too, but wasn't sure enough to share this with her. So I opted for vague.

"Well, a lot of different kinds of things. All fiction, of course. Some poetry, but that's not my main passion."

"So what is your passion, Sarah?" she asked as she sipped her iced tea. She studied me over the rim of the glass. I gulped.

"Uh, I don't know." I grinned, and began to play with the edge of the table cloth, accidentally yanking a bit too hard, I sent an empty flower vase in the center of the table toppling over. Christian caught it before it could hit the table. She righted it, and looked at me expectantly.

"You're having a rough day, aren't you?" she grinned.

"Yeah. So it would seem. Would you mind if I just disappeared into the wallpaper?" I asked. She laughed loudly. She had a wonderful laugh, full, boisterous.

"You are too adorable." I just stared at her, not sure what to say, so I said nothing. "So is your family still back in the heartland?" she sipped her tea again.

"No. My parents were killed three years ago, and my brother and I don't speak anymore."

"Oh, Sarah. That's awful." she reached across the table and squeezed my hand before letting it go. "What happened?"

"Freak plane crash. My father was an expert pilot. He flew for United for over ten years. He owned a small passenger plane, and so he decided to take my mom to Hawaii for their anniversary. Somewhere along the way..." my voice trailed off. Even though it had been three years, I did not mind talking about it in an over the surface way, but I could not bring myself to delve into too many details. Christian seemed to sense this. She smiled kindly at me.

"And your brother?"

"Oh," I breathed, a slight pang of hurt and guilt tugging at my heart. "Well, he's ten years older than me, and a minister. He doesn't agree with how I live my life."

"Really? That's too bad. So he doesn't agree with the writing?" she asked, but for some reason I had the feeling that she knew exactly what I was talking about, and just wanted to hear me say it.

"Uh, well, that yeah, and other things." I stumbled.

"Other things?"

"Yes. Other things." I met her challenging gaze. Well, for a second, anyway before I looked away, suddenly utterly entranced by the wallpaper design.

"Such as?" Ugh! She was really going to make me say it! I could lie, I suppose.

"He doesn't agree with the people I chose to surround myself with."

"Such as?" she asked again. I knew it! I see that sparkle in your eyes, Christian. She was just playing with me. I decided to play, too.

"All the women." I met her gaze, tossing up my own challenge.

"All that many, Sarah? I'm impressed." she purred.

"No." I said honestly. "But there have been a few." I came clean.

"Hmm. I'm sure there has. When's the last time you saw or spoke to him?"

"The day of my parent's funeral." I said quietly. Again I felt that reassuring hand on my arm. I looked into her intense blue eyes.

"I'm so sorry, Sarah." she said quietly. I smiled my appreciation.

"Me, too. I have a nephew I've seen once, and a niece that I've never seen."

"How do you know?"

"I still have some friends back home. They keep me updated."

Christian looked out the large windows that fronted the place, and turned back to me with a smile.

"It's snowing."

"You like the snow?" I asked, my excitement building.

"Absolutely! Don't all New Yorkers?"

"Not that I've met."

"Bah, let's go walk in it!" before I could respond Christian was out of her seat, and pulling her coat on. "Come on!" she said, grabbing the ticket from the table, and pulling out her wallet from her purse. She paid the bill, and led me out into the late afternoon. Taking a deep breath, Christian closed her eyes, a melting smile on her lips. "Smell that." she breathed.

I took a deep breath. "What, the gas fumes from the cabs?" I looked at her, my brows drawn.

"No," she looked at me, and swatted my arm. "The snow, the smell of the cold."

I took another deep breath, and she was right. Once your nose was able to get past the smell of smog, sulfur, and car exhaust, the snow smelled wonderful!

"Come on." she laughed, and began to walk down the sidewalk, her arms outstretched, her gloved hands catching the large flake, quickly turning the black leather gray, then white. I walked after her, shaking my head in amusement. This woman was so amazing. Who would have thought she'd have such a childish side to her under that tough, formidable exterior. She stopped suddenly, nearly causing me to plow right into her. She turned to me, her eyes bright with an idea. "Let's go to my place. I have a huge backyard full of snow, virgin snow. We can make a snowman!" I just stared at her.

"Uh, a snowman?"

"Yeah! Come on!"

"Wait-!" I tried to protest, but she grabbed my hand and yanked me back toward the restaurant, and her Jeep.

The streets were busy, but Christian maneuvered her black and silver SUV with a casual grace borne of a true New Yorker. As we headed toward this house of hers, I began to realize that I knew absolutely nothing about this woman. Where she was from, what she did. Nothing.


"Hmm?" she said absently, her attention on the icy roads.

"You haven't told me anything about you."

"Ask away." she looked over her shoulder as she squeezed between a VW Bug, and a rather large Pepsi truck.

"Well," I began, my fingers grabbing the door handle a bit tighter as I watched the progress of the Pepsi truck in the side mirror as it got closer and closer. "Are you a native?"

"No. I was born in Greece. My father was in the military, and we lived all over the world until I graduated from highschool in England, and decided I wanted to go to college in the states." she glanced over again as she moved back into our original lane.

"What do you do?"

"I'm a stock broker."

"Really?" I asked with interest. "Like Michael Douglas in 'Wall Street', type broker?" Christian grinned at me.

"Yeah, like that. But not quite as crooked."

"Well, I guess you're in the right place to do that." I said, still impressed.

"It's taken me a long time to get where I'm at now."

"How old are you, anyway, Christian?" Christian looked over at me and smiled. "What?"

"I like the way you say that."


"My name. I like that. And I'm thirty next month." she clicked on her turn signal, and turned off to the left on the next block. I stared out the window in awe. We were in rich territory now. Far too rich for my blood. "What about you, Sarah?" she met my gaze, one brow raised in question.

"I'm twenty four." she smiled and turned back to the road.

"Twenty four. That's a good age."

"It's a confusing age!" I exclaimed. "I want to hit thirty, and then stop."

"Why thirty?"

I smiled. "Because then people actually take you seriously. At this age I'm still taken for a kid. It can be very frustrating sometimes." Christian placed her hand over mine on the seat.

"Don't wish your life away, Sarah. It'll come in time. See, now is the time when you're supposed to make your mistakes. When you're thirty, you're not allowed to make them anymore." she took the warmth of her hand from me, putting it back on the steering wheel. She made a right turn, then another, and then we were heading into a long, circular drive that fronted a two story dark brick house.

"Is this your house?" I asked, my voice filled with amazement, and awe.

"Home sweet home." she killed the ignition, and unbuckled her seatbelt. I glanced up at the massive structure, and widows framed with shutters painted dark green, the front door with its beveled glass design. Beautiful.

"Wow." I breathed. "I think you could fit my apartment in just your bathroom." Christian laughed.

"Come on. All that snow awaits."

We didn't even go in, but went through to an equally massive backyard through a side gate. A white wonderland, with, true to her word, virgin snow. No footprints, no yellow stains, and no city grime to interrupt its perfection.

"Wow." was all I could say. Christian was smiling at me.

"I knew you'd like it." the next thing I knew I was plastered in the face with a snowball. "Gotcha!" she howled. I reached down and grabbed a handful of the white stuff, and balled it up, packing it nice and tight as Christian began to back away from me. "Hey, you know we still have that snowman to make, Sarah. We better get started on it before it gets too dark," SPLAT! Right in the kisser! I nearly fell to the ground with laughter. "So, you want to play rough, huh?" Christian wiped the melting snow from her face, and the race began. I ran, knowing that any sort of head start would be beneficial, considering her advantageous height. I screamed as I heard her beginning to follow in hot pursuit.

"No! I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" suddenly I was tackled from behind, and was forced face first into the powder. "Pah!" I exclaimed as I spat out a mouthful of snow.

"How sorry are you?" was breathed into my ear. I closed my eyes as a shiver passed through me.

"Really sorry?" I guessed.

"What are you going to do to make it up to me?"

"You started it." I said, my voice weak from the cold, the weight on my back, and from being completely and totally aroused. She chuckled in my ear, causing another shiver.

"And I intend to finish it." I felt myself being lifted like a ragdoll and turned over on my back. I looked up and saw that Christian was straddling my body; her knees on either side of my hips, hands on either side of my shoulders. She was staring into my eyes, her warm breath coming in puffs of frosted air. I couldn't read her expression. She kept herself so guarded. "Sarah?" she whispered.

"Yes?" I whispered back.

"That day when I saw you standing outside the window of that shop, you were standing there in that cute little elf costume." she smiled, and so did I.


"I wanted you that day. I looked up, saw you for a second, then you were gone."

"I was embarrassed, you know with being plowed into by that stupid kid, then by the security guys, and that stupid costume, all the bells, my hat nearly fell off again," I knew I was rambling, but I couldn't take my eyes off of her lips, and it made me nervous. Then those lips began to lower until finally I felt them press softly to mine, cutting me off in mid-sentence. I reached up and cupped the back of Christian's head, pulling her down deeper. I felt her mouth open, her tongue sweeping across my lips, seeking entrance which I immediately granted.

"Sarah." she breathed into my mouth. I felt one of her hands begin to caress my hair as the other one rested on the side of my face. I ran my hand down the length of her back, pushing slightly until she got the hint, and laid herself down on top of me. A shiver passed through me as her added weight pressed me further into the cold snow.

Christian broke the kiss, and trailed her lips down my jaw, and onto my neck. I raised my chin to give her better access, my eyes closed. She made her way back to my mouth.

"Let's go inside." she breathed.

Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho

Christian's house was as incredible on the inside as it had been on the outside. Hardwood floors, polished to a shine with beautiful Oriental rugs scattered underneath antique furniture.

True to her word, not a single Christmas decoration in the entire place.

Her bedroom was no different. The room was huge with the centerpiece being a huge king-sized antique four-poster with lace drapings. Along the right side of the room was a large bay window with cushions of every fabric imaginable to sit on. The left side of the room held the master bathroom replete with a huge sunk in tub, and separate shower stall. Queen Anne chairs, and antique cherry wood dressers of the same period lined the other walls in the bedroom.

Christian led me to the bed, and stopped just beside it. She wrapped her arms around my waist, pulling me to her. I ran my hands over her back, and up to her neck. I could feel her body heat, nearly burning me where I stood. She ran her hands down my back, stopping at the hem of my sweatshirt. She looked deep into my eyes for a moment, perhaps waiting for me to give her the okay. In answer I brought her head down, and kissed her, softly, tenderly, then passionately. Christian moaned, then I felt her warm hands wonder up under my sweatshirt, caressing the skin of my back.

"So soft." she breathed. Her hands ran up my spine, tracing the curve all the way up under my bra strap, then her fingers began to work the hook, releasing me. The two ends fell uselessly down my back and to my sides. I shivered slightly as I felt the front loosen, the cool air of the room racing up my shirt to breath on my naked breasts.

"Do you want me?" she breathed into my mouth.

"Yes." she slowly pushed me toward the bed.

Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho

I stood at my usual Wednesday evening post at Santa's side. I stared out at the crowd of faces, expectant parents, excited children, bored teenagers. No Christian. It had been nearly two weeks since I had seen her. Not since that incredible night I had spent with her.

For days after I kept waiting for her to call, or to show up unexpectedly at one of my jobs, or my apartment. Nope. I had not heard a single word from her.

"Lady! Hey, lady!"

"What!" I barked at the hand that was tugging at my vest. Immediately I regretted my harsh tone. The little girl with rosy cheeks stared up at me with shock and fear in her clear, blue eyes. Eyes like Christian's. "Yes?" I said, forcing my tone to be sweet, though I wanted to rip the kid's snow cap off her head, and tear it into little pieces.

"Is it my tun to go sit on Sanna's lap now?"

Awww. My resolve melted, and I kneeled down to this adorable little girl. "What's your name, sweetie?" I asked.



"Uh huh." she said with a dramatic nod. I smiled.

"What a great name." she beamed up at me.

"Ho, ho, ho!" there's my cue.

"Okay, Sarah. It's your turn now."

The rest of the night drug as my mind wondered through every possibility of why I hadn't heard from Christian. Maybe she was out of town. Yeah, right. I hadn't heard of too many traveling stock brokers. Maybe she is in the hospital somewhere? Plausible if you hadn't already checked them all. Maybe, just maybe she didn't like you at all. Just used you.

"That can't be it!" I screamed to my empty apartment. Sabor stared at me as if I had lost my mind. Hell, I have lost my mind! I had called her house four times, only leaving a message twice. But she probably had caller I.D. and thinks I'm a stalker. I had even taken a cab by her house once. No lights had been on, so I hadn't bothered to stop. Thirty bucks for what? I was at wits end, and completely depressed. I really liked Christian. I didn't really know why. I mean, yeah, okay, so she is beautiful, had a good job, an absolutely incredible house, and was really, really good in bed, but it went beyond all that. There was just something there that I could not deny. It was tearing me apart. I felt like I had finally found something, and now it had been taken away.

Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho

Two weeks later, I quickly untied my apron, more than ready to go home after my incredibly long, twelve hour day at the diner. Rachel had called in sick, so Ronnie, the owner, asked me to stay an hour or so. Yeah, right. Then the rush had hit, and I had had to call in sick at the mall. God, I could not wait until Christmas was over! This was quickly turning into one of my worst.

"Hey, thanks for your help, Sarah. 'Preciate it."

"Sure, Ronnie. See you tomorrow." I mumbled as I staggered out of the diner that was beginning to fill again. I pushed open the glass door as I searched through my pockets for my gloves. It was anther cold night in New York.

"We missed you at the north pole."

My head shot up, and my eyes narrowed as they met two cobalt blue pools.

"Yeah, I'm sure you did." I said. I surprised at how harsh my voice sounded. I had never been able to tell people exactly how I really felt, or what I really thought. My tone of voice took Christian by as much surprise as it had me.

"I'm sorry." she said, as I walked past her.

"For which part?" I asked, as I continued to make my way carefully down the icy walk.

"What do you mean, which part?" she asked, walking with me.

"I mean," I said, glaring at her. "Which part. The part where you used me? The part where you didn't return any of my calls? The part where you made me feel like a damn fool!" I was really angry now, and began to walk faster.

"Wait up, Sarah. Please, can't we just talk about this?"

"No!" I swung around. "No we-!" I felt my feet start to slip, and then both my legs were grasping wildly for any kind of purchase on the thick layer of ice I managed to find. WHAM! Right into Christian. She caught me, nearly falling herself.

"Are you okay?" She grinned as she looked down at my half turned body. I felt her warm body against my side, her arms around me. I swallowed, and met her gaze.

"Yes, I'm fine. Thank you for catching me." I said quietly as I slowly disentangled myself from her. I wanted to cry, feeling so stupid. I pulled away when I was once again standing. "I have to go. It's late, and I'm tired." again, I started to walk down the sidewalk in the direction of my building.

"Wait, Sarah. Let me drive you home." she grabbed my arm to stop me. "Please?" I stared down the dark street, my breath billowing out of my mouth in wisps of white. It was a cold night in New York, alright. "Fine."

Christian was quiet during the short eight block drive, her gaze fixed on the street ahead.

"So why did you come tonight?" I asked finally.

"Because." she turned to face me. "I wanted to talk. To explain."

"Oh. This is it." Christian pulled the Jeep to a stop in front of my building. She glanced up at it through the passenger window.

"Nice place." she said.

"Yeah. From the outside." she smiled. I opened the door and climbed out. "Sarah?"

"Yeah?" I turned back, my hand on the door, ready to close it, closing Christian out of my sight, and possibly life.

"I still want to talk. I came by the diner tonight to see if you'd be willing to have dinner at my place on Friday."

"Friday? That's Christmas Eve." I said, my brows drawn.

"Yeah. Do you have plans?"

"Well, I really don't know. Maybe I-" I cut myself off. This was ridiculous. Let's try to act our age, shall we? "No. No, I don't." Christian smiled.

"Good. Neither do I. Like I told you, I'm not a Christmas person. How about I pick you up at seven?"

"Okay. See you then."

The next few days were spent trying to figure out what on earth Christian wanted. I had never been so torn in my life! Part of me was so hurt with her, while another part wanted to be with her more than anything. Finally Friday came around. I decided to wait outside for Christian, not wanting her to see my dismal apartment. To my surprise her black Jeep was already there. Christian looked up startled when I opened the door.

"I was just looking through my purse to see if you had given me your apartment number. I was going to come up and get you." a tinge of disappointment lined her voice.

"Oh. I just figured it would be easier if I met you down here."

Christian leaned over the front seat, and surprised me with a soft kiss. I stared at her, not sure what to say, or what to think.

"I've missed you." she whispered, staring into my eyes.

"I missed you, too." I admitted. She smiled, and started the engine.

We reached Christian's house, and she pulled into the drive. With a reassuring smile, she opened the driver's door, and walked around to my side and met me as I closed my door. Without a word she grabbed my hand, and led me to the front door. I looked up at all the many windows that faced the street. They were all dark. Strange.

At the front door Christian stopped, and turned to me.

"Close your eyes." she said softly. I looked at her for a moment, not sure what to do. She was smiling at me like a kid. The little girl from Santa's line popped into mind, and I grinned, closed my eyes. I heard the heavy door open, and warmth hit my face, as well as wonderful smells of freshly baked bread, pumpkin pie, turkey, and smell of a roaring fire. "Watch your step." Christian said in my ear as she guided me through the front door. I stepped up, and entered the house. Once again she took my hand, and began to lead me through what I knew was the main hallway, and into what I thought had been the massive living room. "Okay. Open those beautiful green eyes, Sarah."

My breath caught as I stared at the wonder before me. A huge, eight foot tree that was at least four feet around graced the middle of the room, layers of lights, tinsel, glass balls, and little silver and gold angels were strewn around it, leaving barely any of the green to show through. Tons of beautifully wrapped gifts surrounded the trunk. The only lights in the room was that of the tree, and the fire in the huge fireplace in the corner.

"Well?" Christian asked, worry in her voice.

"I'm speechless." I breathed. "It's beautiful."

"So is the woman who inspired it." Christian turned me to face her. "Sarah, the reason that I don't, or I should say didn't used to get into Christmas, was because I had no one to share it with. No special person to give to. No one to love. Until you." I just stared at her, my mind and heart in a whirl. Was she really saying this? "I know it sounds crazy. Really all we had was that one day. I can't explain it." she looked away, as if trying to find the words. She turned back to me. "You changed me somehow, Sarah. Does that make sense?"

"Yes." I whispered. She smiled, encouraged.

"See, why I've stayed away was because in the beginning I was using you. You were right. You were beautiful, young, and lots of fun. Perfect conquest. But as the days went by, you would not leave my mind. I kept seeing you in my arms, in my bed, and in my life. Sarah, I feel like I need you. Like, like," she swallowed. "Would it sound crazy if I said I think I love you?"

"No. I feel the same way. Since that first day I saw you through the window." Christina caressed my face, so gentle, full of love.

"Yes. Me, too. Sarah, you are a gift to me. Will you please forgive me? Forgive me for being so stupid?"

I placed my hand over Christian's on the side of my face, and kissed her palm.

"Yes, Christian. I forgive you. You are a gift to me, too. I love you."

"I love you." Christian pulled me to her for a searing kiss that left us both breathless. "Merry Christmas, Sarah."

"Merry Christmas, Christian."

The End.

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