All I Want for Christmas – Chapter 1
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!
“Don’t worry, Mom. I’ll be fine.”
It was raining like cats and dogs and the last thing I really want to be doing was arguing with my mother. Again. But she was so upset by my sudden decision and I was feeling so guilty about making her cry, that I couldn’t bring myself to end the call.
“But this might not work out. What if you don’t like it? They might not be as gratuitous with their raises as you had at your old job. And he’s nice, but there might be others out there…”
“Maaaaa,” I said it in a long, drawn-out whine, pausing to be sure she’d stopped talking and hadn’t just gone silent to get a breath of air, “Ma, I need you to trust me on this. I don’t do crazy things. I’ve thought this through and I believe, I know this is right for me. Okay?”
“Baby…” she sniffed and my belly clenched when I realized she might be crying. Again, “I do trust you. You’re a smart girl. I’m so proud of you for that. But moms worry, you know?”
A grin spread across my lips, partly because of her words and partly because I saw the Pleasure Island Bridge on the horizon. Thankfully it had all but stopped raining. In less than an hour I’d be back in Simoneaux Bayou. I couldn’t wait to see the look on Luke’s face.
“I know you worry mom. And I appreciate it. But I got this, okay?”
We finally said our “I love yous” and I hit the button the hang up the phone, grateful I could devote all of my attention to getting across the enormous bridge on the rain-slicked streets. As soon as I got back onto the straight highway towards the bayou, I mentally replayed our conversation.
My confidence in my decision was mostly bravado. I was secretly terrified I was making a horrible mistake. There were so many reasons this could all go wrong. It was entirely possible this new job I’d just taken with the Michener Brothers Grocery chain in Southeast Texas would be a disaster. It was a step up, career-wise and the pay was better than I was making at Genevere’s Department Store. But it was still frightening and intimidating to venture into a new career as the human resources manager of a very large corporation.
More than that was the move itself. I was jubilant at the idea of being closer to Luke, but I was starting to regret the bright idea to make my transition a surprise. We’d been dating for over six months and had said the I love yous and made the promises a committed couple would. We’d worked through issues of the long- distance between us and I knew without a doubt that I wanted to be with him for the rest of my life…
… but he’d never said a word about that. Nothing about marriage. About living together. About so much as moving closer to each other.
It was Sunday afternoon and the normal crowd was gathering for the weekly cook-out at Porpoise Beach. Aunt Betty (she’d insisted I call her that the second time I came to the bayou for a weekend visit) recognized my vehicle and her face split into a humongous smile as she set her drink down and headed my direction.
“What surprise!” she announced as she grabbed me into a bear hug, “That nephew of mine didn’t even tell me you were coming.”
Hugging her back I laughed to cover my nerves, “Well, that’s because he didn’t know. I thought I’d just do something spontaneous and pop in on him.”
“Oh, my dear, he’s not one for surprises, but I think he’ll like this one,” then she hooked her arm into mine and tugged me towards the center of activity.
“Hey, Lacey,” Mary waved at me as she reached into a cooler, “Want a drink?” her hand emerged with a beer and knowing she was too young to drink I wasn’t surprised when she placed it into Pas Bon’s waiting hands.
“I think I’ll wait,” I told her, “Thanks.”
“It’s a typical mild night on the beach,” Clara Broussard, Mary’s mother said, “But we’re pretending its cold and having hot chocolate with Kahlua.”
She motioned to the setup and I could tell it was an invitation, so I nodded, “Well in that case, sure. I mean who can turn down spiked hot chocolate?”
The sea breeze made it chilly enough for light jackets, but not much more than that. Still, the allure of chocolate was more than I could rebuff. I hadn’t spotted his truck, but I still let my eyes scan the area just to be sure he wasn’t there. My disappointment was palpable, as was my increasing nervousness. He’s not one for surprises… I was really starting to get concerned about my brash decision.
Clara handed me a mug and I blew a few times on the steaming, dark liquid to cool it while I found an empty chair and sat down beside her.
Just as I was taking my first sip I heard Aunt Betty’s voice, “Lukey! Lukey, where are you dear?”
My eyes widened and I coughed as the hot drink went down wrong, then I flew to my feet and waved at her as I whispered, “Aunt Betty, don’t…” she only put her hand to the receiver and shushed me.
“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… no, no no, don’t you argue with me, young man. I want you here within half an hour.”
She pressed the end button on the phone and winked at me.
Pas Bon shook his head and chuckled, “Dat boy dere in trouble fa sure now…”
Aunt Betty lovingly smacked her dear friend on the back of his head and as raucous laughter rose up from the rest of the crowd, she leaned down to kiss his scarred forehead.
Aunt Betty put her arm around me and hugged me painfully. “Trouble, bah,” she muttered, “He’s never been in better trouble than Lacey.
I chuckled to cover the nerves churning back up in my belly. I certainly hoped Luke wouldn’t see me as trouble and that my big news would be good news to him.
Are you enjoying this Love & Found Christmas short-short? Stay tuned, the next chapter will appear in your inbox in just a few weeks.