A Gigolo for Christmas

BOOK: A Gigolo for Christmas
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A Gigolo for Christmas
A M Jenner

Copyright 2012, A M Jenner

All Rights Reserved

Table of Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter
Seven

Chapter
Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter
Eleven

Chapter
Twelve

About the
Author

Books By A M
Jenner

Connect with
me online

Chapter One

Sheila looked around her
apartment. At least it was clean, and as ready for the party as she could make
it. She still wasn’t quite sure how Miss Jacobson, the office manager, had
persuaded her to host the division’s annual Christmas party. Actually, she knew
how it had been managed. Miss Jacobson had sent her a memo telling her she was
the hostess, and setting the date for tonight, and then had changed the subject
every time Sheila had tried to explain that she really didn’t have the space to
host a party, and that her complex had strict curfew rules, especially for
Sundays.

Her tiny apartment was certainly
too small to comfortably house even those who worked in the office, and would
certainly never hold the sales force too, not to mention that everyone was
expected to bring a spouse or “significant other”. When and how had the terms
“boyfriend” and “girlfriend” fallen out of use?

The complex manager had wanted a
huge deposit to use the clubhouse and pool area; a deposit Sheila couldn’t
afford, and one that the practically non-existent office party fund Miss
Jacobson had handed over along with the injunction that every cent must be
accounted for, wouldn’t cover.

Sheila’s third-floor apartment
included an empty balcony only large enough for a barbecue grill and one chair.
Her living room would be hard pressed to hold more than a couch, love-seat and
entertainment center, although it was spacious enough with her meager
furnishings -- the bean-bag chair left over from her college days and the old
CRT television/VCR combo which sat on an unfinished board balanced on two
stacks of pre-med books.

The cooking space was a
refrigerator, stove, sink and a single counter all lined up against one wall,
while a half-wall and table-height work-surface formed the other boundary. A bedroom
only large enough to hold her double-height full-sized air mattress and the
plastic organizer drawers she used for a dresser, and a tiny bathroom not large
enough to hold two bodies at once completed the apartment, unless you counted
the empty exterior storage closet that opened off the end of her balcony. All
of her possessions not in her dorm room had been destroyed last year in the
fire that took her parents, her home, and her chosen career from her.

Sheila went over the expected
guest list again. There were fifteen salespeople, each of them had a full-time
support person in the office handling their paperwork for them, plus three
supervisors, Miss Jacobsen, the owner Mr. Thomas, all of their spouses, and the
Thomas’ five year old who roamed through the office at will, since his parents
wanted him to “grow up with the business”. She just hoped they wouldn’t all
come at once, because there was simply no place to put seventy people.

Sheila glanced over her hors
d’oeuvres, such as they were. She had purchased several veggie and deli trays
from the local supermarket. One of each was carefully balanced on the half-wall
between the kitchen area and living room. A stack of clear plastic plates and
red and green cocktail napkins rested near each of the trays, and the spare
trays waited in the refrigerator. A large, clear plastic bowl and ladle from
the party outlet had been pressed into service as a punch bowl. Cherry Kool-Aid
spiked with 7-up for a little fizz was her punch offering. A stack of clear
plastic cups sat rim-down on a napkin next to the punch bowl, which was also
balanced on the half-wall.

She was a little uneasy that it
would be rather easy to spill things balanced there, but the wall was nearly
six inches thick, having been intended for holding potted plants and other
decor. Besides, her kitchen was too small for people to go in and out of to
serve themselves, and she didn’t have another stable serving surface in the
house.

The Christmas gift she’d
purchased for the office’s name drawing was neatly wrapped and sitting in one
corner of the room underneath the construction paper tree she’d spent three
days creating. She had scrupulously stuck to the announced twenty-five dollar
limit, scouring discount stores and coming up with an individual coffee maker
the receptionist could keep at her desk, because she was seated so far from the
break room that she never had time to get fresh coffee between phone calls.

Although Sheila rather liked her
tree and the other decorations she’d made largely from construction paper, she
was well aware that they were a far cry from what most people would expect. The
clear push-pins that held them to the walls had been inexpensive and wouldn’t
make much visible damage to the apartment.

From the bedroom, Sheila’s cell phone
gave a single chirp and fell silent. She ignored it. The single chirp meant a
calendar item, and she had only one item on the calendar for this evening. It
was eight thirty, and time for the party to begin.

She heard footsteps pounding up
the cement and steel stairs, and squared her shoulders. For better or worse,
she had done her best. It would have to do. She just hoped she would still have
a job when the party was over.

The footsteps reached the top of
the stairs, and there was a knock on the door. Sheila pulled the apron from her
waist and quickly flung it in the tiny linen closet, then crossed to her door.
She pulled the door open, and her heart sank to her toes. Miss Jacobson stood
at the door wearing a floor length black evening gown and an ermine wrap,
apparently escorted by James Bond.

Chapter Two

Sheila swallowed hard, her breath
moving in and out quickly, but not apparently doing her body or brain any good.

“Come in,” she finally managed,
stepping aside to allow Miss Jacobson and her escort entry.

Tuxedo man held out two parcels
wrapped in gold paper with large silvery iridescent bows to her, and Sheila
took them, setting them carefully down next to her small package in the corner.
One of them was obviously a bottle of something alcoholic, while the other was
in a square box with a tag dangling from one corner.

Miss Jacobson stood in the center
of the room and gazed around her, an unreadable look on her face.

Tuxedo man held up Miss
Jacobson’s wrap. “Where can I put this?”

Sheila’s mind raced. She didn’t
have a coat closet, and in this climate, hadn’t really expected anyone to be
wearing coats. “Um, why don’t you lay it across the bed?” she answered,
gesturing toward the bedroom door. He nodded and moved in the indicated
direction.

“Your decorations are
quite...unique,” Miss Jacobson said. “Where on earth did you find them?”

“I made them myself,” Sheila
replied.

 “Are we early, or are you
running late? You’re not dressed yet?” Miss Jacobson commented as she retrieved
the wine bottle from the corner. “And the wine isn’t for the gift exchange; I
brought it as a gift for you, as a thank you for hosting the party this year.”
She handed the bottle to Sheila.

“Thank you.” Now what? She didn’t
drink, and she didn’t know anyone who did. She tucked the bottle into her
refrigerator, just to get it out of her hands, and hoping it was the correct
response. How on earth did she get herself into this mess?

“And...I am dressed. No one told
me this was supposed to be formal, and in any event, this,” she gestured at her
deep purple velvet pantsuit, “is the dressiest thing I own.” Despite feeling
the rush of blood warming her cheeks, she held her head high, refusing to be
publicly humiliated by her comparative poverty.

Miss Jacobson’s eyes flicked once
more around the apartment. “I see.”

The two women stood looking at
each other, and Sheila could see that Miss Jacobson had no more idea what to
say next than she did.

Tuxedo man returned from the
bedroom with empty hands, offering one of them to Sheila.

“Hello, I’m Anders Adamson.”

Grateful for the distraction, Sheila
turned toward him, shaking the proffered hand. “I’m Sheila Everett.”

“It’s very nice to meet you, Miss
Everett.” He met her eyes as he spoke to her, and she knew that for that
moment, she had his undivided attention. She felt her cheeks flush with another
wave of blood.

“It’s nice to meet you, as well,
Mr. Adamson, but please, call me Sheila.”

He smiled, the lonely dimple in
his left cheek winking at her. “In that case, I’m Anders.”

She nodded an acknowledgement.
Miss Jacobson tucked her arm through Anders’ and pulled him across the room to
stand in front of the paper Christmas tree with archly murmured comments about
how
original
and
refreshing
the hand-made decorations were. The
tone of her voice left Sheila no doubt that she thought a classroom of fifth
graders could have done a better job.

Sheila stood in the kitchen doorway,
unsure of herself on several levels. She didn’t know what to do with her hands,
since she had no pockets, and couldn’t really fill them with food while she
needed to be available to answer the door. Miss Jacobson’s dress and manner had
left her feeling insecure about the reception of her hand made ornamentation,
her social standing, and the acceptability her hard work would find among her
co-workers.

Fortunately, more footsteps came
tromping up the cheap stairs that doubled as the world’s most reliable burglar
alarm, and Sheila had an excuse to be doing something more than watching
Anders’ dark head as he listened patiently to whatever Miss Jacobson was now
saying about her origami nativity. She moved toward the door and was able to
answer it just as the next arrivals knocked.

As the party progressed, she was
kept busy answering the door, carrying expensive wraps and coats into the
bedroom, pointing her guests to the hors d’oeuvres and punch, tucking presents
on the growing pile in the corner, directing people toward the restroom, and
sliding several more wine bottles into the refrigerator as the hostess gifts
continued to arrive. At this rate she might be able to open her own liquor
store.

Sheila felt incredibly out of
place. All of the guests were dressed formally; even Jimmy Thomas was wearing a
miniature tuxedo that matched his father’s. The women all wore floor-length
dresses, most of them in dark colors, although Jenny, a member of the sales
support staff who worked in the office next to hers, was wearing a white gown
that appeared to be a re-purposed Greek Halloween costume, except that the
chains or cords that would customarily wrap around the bodice had been removed.
The cut of the gown appeared to be nearly authentic, Sheila had thought, as the
dress seemed to fasten together only briefly at the shoulders and hips. Jenny
had been moving very carefully in the generously-cut gown, and had only showed
brief flashes of leg from time to time.

She hadn’t had a moment to eat
anything, or even grab a drink of punch. Her feet hurt in the unaccustomed high
heels she had bought last week to go with the new velvet jump-suit, and she
really just wished that all the people would go away and let her have her home
back again. She would have left the party long ago, if she wasn’t the hostess.

By this time the small apartment
and balcony outside was so full of people that considerable heat had built up.
The door and both the bedroom and living room windows had been opened wide in
an attempt at ventilation. Sheila didn’t mind the windows so much, but several
moths and who knew what other insects had found their way indoors, and she was
the one who was going to have to live with the bugs in the next several days.

Sheila sighed. The punch bowl was
empty. She slipped into the kitchen and lifted the bowl down from the wall onto
the counter, setting the ladle in a small bowl she’d set in the sink for just
that purpose. Within moments she had emptied a Ziploc baggie of pre-measured
sugar and Kool-Aid into the punch bowl, and was filling a pitcher with water
from the tap. She added two quarts of water to the bowl, and stirred it until
the sugar was completely dissolved, then pulled a two-liter bottle of 7-up from
the refrigerator and poured it slowly into the bowl, giving it just a single
stir to mix it when she was done pouring. Not really stirring it after the soda
was added was her secret to not letting the punch get flat. She added some ice
cubes and replaced the ladle, then attempted to lift the filled bowl back onto
the half-wall. The small work surface was in her way, and she didn’t have enough
leverage to get the bowl quite high enough.

BOOK: A Gigolo for Christmas
3.13Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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