Christmas carols a roman.., p.1
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       Christmas Carols: A Romantic Holiday Story, p.1

           Rusty Fischer
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Christmas Carols: A Romantic Holiday Story
Christmas Carols:

  A Romantic Holiday Story

  By Rusty Fischer, author of Christmas in Snowflake

  * * * * *

  Christmas Carols

  Rusty Fischer

  Copyright 2015 by Rusty Fischer

  * * * * *

  This is a work of fiction. All of the names, characters, places and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or, if real, are used fictitiously.

  Cover credit: © fotografiche.eu – Fotolia.com

  * * * * *

  Author’s Note:

  The following is a FREE short story edited by the author himself. If you see any glaring mistakes, I apologize in advance and hope you don’t take it out on my poor characters, who had nothing to do with their author’s bad grammar!

  Happy reading… and Happy Holidays!

  Enjoy!

  * * * * *

  Christmas Carols:

  A Romantic Holiday Story

  “Are you crying?” Macy asks, wringing her powder white bonnet in her smooth brown hands.

  “No,” I lie, using mine to wipe my nose when none of the customers are looking. “Are you?”

  “Yes,” she admits, dragging a corner of her Holly Day’s Diner apron across her face. “Yes, I am, dammit!”

  “I can’t help it,” I say, leaning against the waitress station divider, watching Rafe play “Silent Night” on his old guitar. “This song is just so beautiful.”

  “I know,” she sighs. “I know…”

  Our voices trail off, the night shift almost done, customers waiting to hear the last, mournful notes from Rafe’s battered red guitar as he closes out his last set before Christmas.

  “Thank you, folks,” he says, kindly, gently, his voice so soft and soothing compared to his riffing guitar. “And Merry Christmas.”

  Applause fills the room, long and loud, as busboys, hostesses, waitresses, waiters and customers alike stand to give the night’s entertainment his props.

  I join them, blushing with pride as he stands on the small raised platform in the corner of the room, olive complexion cast in shadows from the twinkling Christmas trees on either side of him.

  “Girl,” Macy says, nudging me with her shoulder. “Look at you. If Rudolph’s too busy, Santa can use your blushing red face to guide his sleigh tonight!”

  I smirk and watch as Rafe’s adoring fans rush the stage. True, most of them are middle aged women in ugly Christmas sweaters, but he always treats them like they’re VIPs anyway.

  “I can’t help it,” I sigh, snapping myself out of it and tallying the night’s last checks.

  “Thinking about your big date tonight, huh?” she asks, counting her tips.

  I nod, waiting for my receipts to inch out of the small printer by the monitor. “Still no idea where he’s taking you?” she presses.

  “Not a hint,” I muse, tearing the final check off and sliding it in a black billfold. “He says it’s a Christmas surprise.”

  “Tall, dark, handsome, plays the guitar and way romantic? Alex, you better snatch him up before I do!”

  I giggle and circulate around the room, pre-bussing my last two tables while laying down their checks.

  It’s funny, seeing the place start to empty out so early on Christmas Eve. You would think, being a year-round Christmas restaurant, Holly Day’s Diner would pretty much stay open 24-7 during the holidays.

  It’s actually quite the opposite. Holly Day – yes, she’s a real person – insists on her workers being home with their families for Christmas. I guess it makes sense, if you think about it. We bring Christmas to the customers 364 days out of the year.

  The least they can do in return is give us Christmas Day – and half of Christmas Eve – off.

  As if reading my mind, the tables pay and wish me “Merry Christmas” and drift away, clutching the little candy canes wrapped in plastic we give out with each check.

  I watch Rafe out of the corner of my eye, smiling as he signs the last of the night’s autographs on one of Holly Day’s gingerbread house shaped coasters.

  I finish my side work and drift through the kitchen, where heavy metal Christmas carols serenade the cooks and dishwashers as they celebrate a much-deserved night off.

  I am wished, and wish, “Merry Christmas” at every turn until I finally reach the small ladies locker room. Inside, I change out of my frilly green skirt, lacy white shirt and red server’s vest into black jeans and a soft, maroon turtleneck.

  It’s our first date and when he’d asked me out a few weeks earlier, I’d pressed Rafe for details about where we were going, how I should dress, that kind of thing. And every day since.

  He just smirks and says, “You’ll see.”

  Since he won’t give me any details I decided to go semi-casual with the jeans, and semi-formal with the sweater. I finger brush my long red hair, re-apply some maroon gloss to my lips, walk through a cloud of perfume and, well… that’s about the best I can do after working all day.

  I drift back through the kitchen, blushing at the well-meaning catcalls and poking my head into Holly Day’s office on my way by.

  “Merry Christmas, Holly,” I say, brightly, to my boss, mentor and friend. She stands from behind her desk, sandwiched between two blinking Christmas trees, a fake fireplace mantel filled with snow globes in the corner.

  “Merry Christmas, Alex,” she says, hugging me tightly before stepping back and pushing her maroon glasses up her nose to admire my outfit. “I hope you and Rafe have a great time tonight.”

  I roll my eyes. “Does everybody know?” I chuckle.

  Wisps of gray hair curl around her pretty face as she nods. “Holly Day’s is like a really small, really gossipy family,” she explains. “Word gets around.”

  I blush and drift toward the door. “Thanks for the night off,” I say, waving.

  “Make it count,” she says, eyes wistful as her glance drifts toward a maroon painted wall where several hand drawn sketches of Santa Claus hang in a jumble of different sized frames.

  Legend has it that an elf drew them for her, personally, while working as a busboy at Holly Day’s one summer while on vacation from Santa’s Workshop in the North Pole. No one believes it, of course.

  I guess that’s what makes it a legend.

  I linger in the office doorway, listening to the fake fireplace crackle over the muted sounds of a heavy metal version of “The 12 Days of Christmas” from the dishwasher’s pit.

  “You okay?” I ask, hand on the door.

  She looks back at me, a weary smile on her face. “Just a little dose of the holiday blues,” she admits, crossing her arms over her chest and leaning back slightly in her chair. “But I’m used to them by now. In fact, I’d miss them if they didn’t roll around this time of year.”

  I don’t know what to say to that. It seems funny to me that a woman who runs an all-year Christmas restaurant should get sad on Christmas Eve, of all nights.

  I brighten for her benefit. “Some of the gang is going over to Books ‘N Beans after their shift, for a little coffee and chocolate, if you want to join them?”

  She smiles, eyes glistening with unshed tears. “That’s sweet of you, Alex, but… you run along and enjoy your date. We can’t keep Holly Day’s most eligible bachelor waiting, now, can we?”

  “I guess not,” I chuckle, slipping from the cheery room and back into the kitchen. Macy is there, marrying her ketchups near the salad room, and I reach across the counter to hug her tightly.

  “Merry Christmas,” I growl, smelling gingerbread in her hair and hot chocolate on her tip apron.

  “You too,” she say
s. “Text me when you get home? Let me know how everything went?”

  I smirk and nod. “Have a safe trip home to Myrtle Beach for the holidays,” I call over my shoulder.

  “Yeah, right,” she sighs, hands on her hips. “Maybe I’ll get a flat on the wy there and some sexy trucker will pull over to help me.”

  “Stranger things have happened.” I lean back into the salad room and whisper, winking. “Look at me. Whoever thought I’d be spending Christmas Eve with a guitar man?”

  I hear her laughter echo through the swinging kitchen door as I drift back onto the dining room floor. One of the hostesses must have turned the canned Christmas music back on, but even with Holly Day’s impeccable taste the smooth jazz version of “O Holy Night” just doesn’t hold a candle to Rafe’s.

  Then again, I could be partial…

  “You look great,” he says, stepping down from the stage, clutching his battered black guitar case protectively.

  He leans in and kisses me lightly on the cheek, his cologne smelling faintly spicy. I admire his trim, athletic physique in his trademark charcoal slacks and maroon dress shirt and say, “Well, since you wouldn’t tell
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