This is the first part of my take on a Christmas Romance story. I hope you enjoy it.-PG
Randall watched as Jolene walked up to her apartment. He’d just dropped her off after spending the evening at his company’s stockholders dinner. He didn’t know how but he wanted to get out of the friend zone with her. He loved her and she just saw him as her “big brother”, the guy she could count on to keep the sharks at bay.
It had been that way since they were in high school. Jolene had been beautiful even then, and boys were constantly trying to be her boyfriend. She just wasn’t interested and had approached Randall to be her smoke screen. Like him, she didn’t want to be bothered with dating during school. They both wanted to be free to concentrate on their grades and make something of themselves, helping them escape the poverty they both grew up in. So they pretended to be a couple.
Now, after college and through his success the tables had turned. He needed the smoke screen to keep the women who wanted to get their hands on his money away. So their relationship, while it looked like they were a couple, was really still only that of friends. Randall wanted it to be more but had no idea if Jolene would be open to that and didn’t want to make things “weird” between them. He needed an idea to break out of the friend zone and get Jolene to see him as a real romantic possibility. Then an idea hit him and he sped away to start putting it into action.
Jolene returned home after work to find a package sitting in front of her door. It was wrapped in festive Christmas paper and had a card with her name on it attached to a beautiful silk bow on top. She looked left and right, not seeing anyone that might have left it. The card, when she turned it over, said “The first gift of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me was…” She opened her door and went in her apartment. She opened the box to find an envelope. On the outside it said, “to be pampered for a day like a queen.” She opened the envelope to find the following typewritten card. “Tomorrow a limo will pick you up at 10:00 am and whisk you off for a day of pampering at a luxurious day spa. Anything you want has been provided and all expenses are paid for including tips. Enjoy your day my love. Your Secret Santa.”
She wanted to refuse but how do you refuse a gift when you didn’t know who sent it. Whoever it was had already spent the money and she really loved the idea of being pampered for the whole day. Still, who did she know that would bathe her in such luxury? Randall, of course, but he didn’t think of her like that. She wished he would, but they’d been friends so long that he didn’t see her as anything but his shark repellent. She needed to share this with someone so why not call him and see what he thought. She picked up the phone and then thought “No, he might tell me it’s creepy and not to accept it. I’ll call him tomorrow after I get home, that way it will be too late for me not to go.”
She made herself some dinner and then took a bubble bath which was the closest thing to pampering she’d ever experienced. She lay there wondering who in the world thinks they are my true love? Why wouldn’t they just come out and say it? The answer was obvious; everyone who knew her thought she and Randall were dating. That was the plan to keep the money hungry vamps off him and any guy she didn’t want to see away from her. However, it was exciting to think someone else wanted her love and wanted to shower love on her. She slipped from the bath and climbed into bed where she was wooed all night by a lover who worshiped and adored her. The only problem was he always had Randall’s face and voice.
The next day was wonderful. Anything she thought of was provided for her. Her favorite drink and snacks. Her favorite dinner was served to her as well. As for pampering, she had her hair done, a manicure and pedicure. Then a massage, afterwards her body was rubbed with scented oils and then she was allowed to sit in a sauna followed by a hot tub and then a shower. Afterwards she was given a second massage and rubbed again with scented oils. The limo picked her up that night just before the spa was scheduled to close and dropped her off at her apartment. Once inside she sank into bed wondering who had given her such a perfect gift.
Sunday saw her climbing into Randall’s Tesla with an extra bit of pep in her step. “Hey, nice hair-do, and is that new perfume, too? Someone certainly splurged this weekend.”
She smiled over at her best friend. “It didn’t cost me anything. It was a gift from my Secret Santa.”
“Your Secret Santa? What are you talking about, Jolene?”
Jolene told him about the present waiting for her when she got home Friday and the gift her Secret Santa had given her. She left out the part about him calling himself her true love, knowing how Randall would have taken that. He grilled her anyway and warned her to be careful about accepting gifts from strangers. “Next time you want a day at the Spa, just call me. After all, I’m supposed to be your boyfriend.”
“Yeah, right! We both know that’s just for show, Randall, and I didn’t need a day at the Spa. Someone thought it would make a nice gift and they were right. I just wish I knew who it was so I could thank them.”
“If you want I could have someone look into it for you.”
She slapped his arm. “Don’t you dare! You’ll scare them away. Besides, it’s kinda fun trying to figure it out.”
“Whatever, Jolene, just be careful or you’ll lose your heart if not more.”
Under her breath, so Randall couldn’t hear her she sighed, “I wish it were you.”
Randall didn’t say anything but worked hard not to smile when he heard Jolene making such a big deal over his first gift. “Maybe, just maybe this will actually work.” He thought.
Monday had been particularly tough at work for Jolene. She found herself wishing the day would end so she could just rush home and relax and recover from the trials of the day. Just as she was about to head out her phone rang. “Hello?”
“Miss Jolene, this is Harold Clinton, your apartment manager. There is a man here asking to be let into your apartment. He says he’s here to clean for you.”
“Hold on a minute, Harold. I need to deal with something.”
As he had been speaking, a messenger walked up to her desk and handed her an manila envelope with her name on it. She opened it to find a red envelope inside. It said, “The second gift of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me was…”
She opened the envelop to a single piece of card stock with a Christmas design on it and the words, “A night of freedom, with a clean house and dinner waiting on you when you arrive home.”
“Harold, it’s okay, you can let them in. It seems someone gave me maid service as a Christmas gift.”
“OH! That sounds like a nice gift. Okay then have a good evening, Miss Jolene.”
“You, too, Harold, and thank you for calling me.”
Jolene got in her car and drove straight home. When she arrived, her apartment was clean and there were wonderful smells coming out of the kitchen. A man in a tuxedo greeted her at the kitchen door. “Good evening, miss. My name is Jarvis and I am your butler for the evening. Chef says that he needs half an hour more on your meal. I have taken the liberty of drawing you a bath if you would like to soak. I will call you when dinner is served.”
Jolene nodded and then reached out to stop the butler before he disappeared into the kitchen. “Jarvis, one question. Do you know the name of the man who sent you all here?”
“Miss, I was told that you may ask that and I was instructed to give you this.” Davis pulled an envelope out of his jacket pocket and handed it to Jolene.”
She opened it to find this. “It is only natural that you would be curious as to who I am. I am the man who loves you with all his heart. I am the man who knows you’re every like and dislike. I am the man who will strive to make you feel happy, loved, safe and secure every day of his life. My name will be revealed to you, my love, but not just yet. For now I am your secret Santa and TRUE LOVE. When you realize the latter is true then all will be revealed.”
Jolene sighed, one thing was certain; this man knew how to infect a girls heart. She made her way into the bathroom where true to Jarvis word was a bubble bath. She sank into the warm water and just let the cares and stress of the day melt away in the warm suds. Almost before she was ready, Jarvis was knocking on the door. “Dinner is ready, miss, whenever you are.”
Jolene climbed out of the tub and quickly dried off and put on her favorite pajamas. She figured if her Secret Santa wanted her to relax then she would dress the part. She walked to her dining table and sat down. Jarvis nodded and opened the kitchen door. Jolene was shocked to see the Chef of her favorite restaurant carrying a dome-covered plate to her. He sat it before her and lifted the lid to reveal her favorite dish from his restaurant-toasted sesame ginger salmon on a bed of wild rice. There were roasted Brussel sprouts and asparagus on the side. Then, when she was done with all that, the chef brought out a single person cake and sat it in front of her. It was white with rose petals and pistachios on top. “Enjoy your Persian Love Cake, miss,” the Chef said as he put on his coat and left the apartment. Jarvis smiled and said. “Yes, Jolene, enjoy your dessert while my crew cleans up your kitchen. I will inform you before we leave so that you may lock up after us. I hope that your night has been special and relaxing as was intended.”
Jolene took a bite of the exotic dessert and moaned with delight. “It has been exquisite, Jarvis. Thank you.”
“The pleasure was all mine, I assure you, ma’am. If I’m not being too bold, the young man who is doing this for you would be a lucky man if you became his.”
“Thank you again, Jarvis, but I’m not sure if I like someone wooing me without telling me who they are.”
“Well, maybe he will inform you of his identity before the holiday is over.”
“I hope so, if for no other reason than so I can thank him for all this.”
Jarvis half bowed and then disappeared into the kitchen where several people had been cleaning while they talked.
Jolene ate about half of the small cake before it just became too rich to eat another bite. She rose and stuck her head in the kitchen. “I couldn’t finish that cake, Jarvis. Would you make sure the leftovers get put in the fridge for tomorrow?”
“Of course, ma’am, and we should be finished cleaning up in about five minutes if you want to lock up after us.”
Jolene nodded and headed into the living room to watch some TV before turning in for the night.
Once everyone was gone, Jolene locked up and called Randall to tell him about today’s Secret Santa gift. She would never say it but she wished it were Randall doing all these sweet and romantic things, not someone she didn’t know.
After once again offering to find out who it was and cautioning her on being careful, Randall wished her a good night and they got off the phone. Soon after Jolene went to bed, once again dreaming of romance and once again seeing Randall in place of her Secret Santa.
Randall was tickled pink; Jolene was eating his Secret Santa gifts up. If this worked he’d be the happiest man in the world. Tomorrow he’d take care of getting the items for the next gift. He’d seen her eyeing it the last time they’d gone shopping together.