All I Want for Christmas – Chapter 2
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This short Love & Found Story is a gift to YOU, my beloved reader. It hasn’t yet been formally edited yet, so please excuse any typos or errors. Happy reading and Happy Holidays, my friend!
Did you miss Chapter 1? Click HERE to start from the beginning.
I had two screws between my lips, one more in my hand and I was lying flat on my back in the bed of Dennis Thompson’s pickup. My phone started ringing in my back pocket, but I was determined to get the last of the fasteners set so that I could get the hell out of this damn truck before my back broke. First ring… one screw set… second ring… next screw… third ring and I dropped the screw, but in between expletives I caught it before it fell into the bed and got lost.
As soon as I had the last screw tightened, I put the battery-operated driver aside and fished the phone out of my Dickies before it rolled into voice mail, “Yeah!”
“Lukey! Lukey, where are you dear?”
I rolled my eyes and grimaced as I scooted to the tailgate of the truck and onto my feet. The weather was starting to turn slightly cooler in the evenings, but I was still sweating like a pig, so I grabbed my rag from my pocket and rubbed at the back of my neck.
“I’m on a job, Aunt Betty. I’ll try to get to the bayou before long.”
“Lukey, you’re working entirely too hard as it is. Now shut down and come this way. I refuse to let them serve until you…”
I shook my head, “I still have to tighten up the…”
“… no, no no, don’t you argue with me, young man. I want you here within half an hour.”
“No, Aunt Betty, I can’t. I promised Thompson I’d fix the steps…” my voice trailed off when I realized she’d hung up on me. A string of foul words passed my lips and I grabbed a water from my cooler. Chugging the entire thing in one long draw, I tossed the empty bottle into my trash bag.
“Getting dark out. Tomorrow’s good enough to finish this job,” Dennis told me as he stepped out of his workshop and approached, walking around puddles to get to me. It had been raining for a few hours and his yard looked like a swamp.
“Nah,” I shook my head, “I have a flashlight if I need it. Shouldn’t take me long to tighten up those steps for you.”
Dennis chuckled and folded his arms over his chest. He had a belly that stuck out so far it looked like his arms were supported entirely by his stomach. His girth was the reason he said he liked to hire me for jobs like these. It was getting harder and harder for him to get around, much less lay down under a pickup truck. Eyeing him, I realized he probably wouldn’t be able to fit under there even if he wanted to try it.
“Appreciate it, Luke. I really do. Especially when I know that was probably Miss Betty on the phone demanding you get on over to the beach. I wouldn’t want to disappoint her, no sir-ee.”
I snorted a laugh as I crawled down beside the driver’s side of his truck and inspected the loose step. The bolts had reamed out a little so I sat up and pulled the toolbox over to find a size larger.
“Well, Aunt Betty won’t like me being late, but I figure she’ll get glad in the same pants she got mad in.”
Mr. Thompson hooted a laugh, slapping his knee as he leaned against the truck to watch me work. I listened to him blather about how he’d almost broken his leg when he fell out of his truck a few weeks ago and how that was when he decided to have me fix the steps and then how he’d found a great deal on the truck toolbox, so wanted to kill two birds by having me do both.
Finally, about an hour later, he counted out the agreed-upon bills, surprising me with an extra fifty. “Everyone can use a little extra for Christmas,” was his excuse and I gladly took the offering. I could use it. I could use every penny I’d get my hands on. I was still about a thousand dollars short of my goal and time was running out.
I was bone-tired when I jumped into my diesel and started for Simoneaux Bayou. I’d been working virtually seven days a week for the last month or so, only taking time off for a quick trip to see my girl Lacey in Santa Fe. I knew she was missing me and didn’t like the fact that I hadn’t been available for lunchtime calls and evening chats as often. But for now I just couldn’t help that.
It was still a marvel to me how fast I’d fallen for that girl. I’d been living on my own for years, enjoying my freedom and being able to come and go as I pleased. I’d had month-long spates when some of my guy friends moved in and lived up the bachelor life. But I was tired of that.
My best times now were when Lacey could spend a long weekend with me. Comfortable dinners at home and hours in bed together. Beer and laughter with the bayou family while we exchanged glimpses at each other across the patio. Hell, I even enjoyed the red splotches on her face when she got mad at me during our few arguments.
I was so caught up in thoughts of her, that I almost didn’t recognize her vehicle parked beside all the others near Percy Davis’ patio. My mouth twitched into a wide grin and I wiped a hand over my mouth. I was scruffy, having not shaved in a few days. Aunt Betty kidded that it made me look old.
I briefly wondered if I should run over to her place and shave real quick, but I was too late for that. I felt her eyes on me even when I looked over and saw Lacey glancing over towards me. She looked unbelievably cute in matching pink top and bottom sweats, the cuffs of the legs and arms contrasting purple. She reached up to put her hand on one of the cabin piers and when she did her top inched up and I got a delectable peek at her midriff.
“Did I screw up?” I asked as I jumped out of the truck and started towards her. She shook her head and met me halfway, looping a hand around my neck and reaching up to kiss me. I pulled her in close, enjoying the easy way our bodies melted together.
“Surprise,” she said a hint of shyness in her expression, “I hope a good one. Aunt Betty says you don’t like surprises.”
I laughed, nibbling her neck and enjoying the scent of her. She squealed and I remembered too late my beard. Her hand reached up to run the spot where I’d scratched her, but there was an amused smile on her face, “When did you decide to grow that?”
I shrugged, “Just been working too hard to worry about shaving. I’ll cut it off in the morning.”
Her head quirked to the side and she studied me, “I don’t know. I might like it.”
With a playful growl I bit at her neck and stroked my stubble down her tender flesh towards her chest and she giggled and pulled back but not entirely away.
“So how long do I have you for? Leaving Monday?” that had been the norm. She’d arrange to go into work later in the day on Monday so that we would have a full Saturday and Sunday together.
“Well… “ she hesitated to answer, slipping her fingers down to the pockets of my Dickies and looping them so that she could slink in closer to me, “The bigger surprise is… I’m here through Christmas.”
“Yep,” she laughed, “And then I have to go back home and finish up a few things for my replacement before… before I start my new job in Beaumont.”
“You’re moving here?”
“I am! Can you believe it?”
My mouth dropped open, and I wasn’t sure what to say. She looked so excited. So hopeful. So filled with happiness.
All I could feel was panic.
Are you enjoying this Love & Found Christmas short-short? Stay tuned, the next chapter will appear in your inbox in just a few weeks.