Noelle had decked the halls with boughs of holly and now she just wanted fa la la la into a wine glass and a hot bath. Instead of a ratty bathrobe and Forensic Files, Noelle was at Frosty’s Bar &Grill with a pitcher of cheap beer and stale popcorn. It was JoJo’s going away party. Her best bud JoJo had worked along side her at Martini’s department store for five years. They were the internal marketing department, dressing windows and designing displays. There department used to be six full time employees with part time help during the holidays but now it was just the two of them. No scratch that just her alone to integrate designs, enhance customer engagement and deal with Mr. Ebenzer. Noelle focused her thoughts on her boss and a furious red curtain crashed down. Mr. Ebenzer, head of in-house marketing, who couldn’t find his own butt with two two hands and search engine optimization. Mr. Ebenezer who was handed the job because dressed nice and knew all the right people. Scowling, Noelle downed her beer and poured another. JoJo was grinding up against the Ivan in Women’s Shoes & Foot Apparel. He waved drunkenly to her from the dance floor. Noelle waved back. She was happy for JoJo. Right after Mr. Ebenezer announced they would have to work on Christmas to do a complete store redesign for Easter. JoJo who had just received a job offer as set designer for the Old Nic Playhouse announced in colorful language exactly where Mr. Ebenzer could shove his Christmas tree. Noelle laughed at the memory, then frowned, and chugged another beer.
“What’s so funny?” Candy from Housewares asked. Candy had been necking next to Noelle in the booth with Sean from Toys & Sporting Goods to make Dion from Electronics jealous. Dion was flirting with the bartender.
“Funny? Nothing’s funny. I was just thinking how much fun it will be to work alone Christmas night while my boss with his big fancy salary and his big fancy house flies off to Cabo San Luca for the holidays. He even left me his security code to check on his guinea pig,” Noelle said slurring. “Stupid penny gig.”
Sean handed Noelle a shot of tequila. “You need this more than me. I don’t know how you handle that guy. I delivered playstations to that assbucket’s house and he had a full arcade and theater room and only tipped me a dollar. A dollar! With all his dough his mansion must be a fortress.”
Noelle gulped the shot, winched, and chugged another pint of beer. “Thank you Sean, you are so much nicer than Candy’s real boyfriend. No old man Ebenzer is penny wise and pound foolish. Most of his security cameras are dummies and the only the first floor is alarmed. You could rob him blind with a ladder and a butter knife.”
Noelle looked down into her empty beer glass. Her head sloshed back and forth. The bar’s lights twinkled emerald green and ruby red. Father Christmas Give Us Some Money was rocking on the sound system. For some reason, Candy and Sean were arguing on the dance floor and Noelle felt every emotion all at once. Happy for her friend, sad for herself, mad at it all. Noelle needed to do something, anything.
And then there it was. A golden frothy mango daiquiri with pineapple chunks, maraschino cherries and a lime green paper parasol appeared in front of her. Holding this marvelous frozen concoction was a six foot two muscled ginger Adonis in a tight tee shirt with a Santa hat. His eyes twinkled with interest and Noelle’s whole body turned into a bowl full of jelly. Noelle accepted the drink and hot Santa slipped into the booth besides her. Conspiractorially hot Santa leaned close and whispered in her ear. “Hello beautiful I’m Dolph. My crew and I couldn’t help but overheard about your bad boss and his undeserved riches begging to be—shall we say—liberated and gifted to the needy. I wondered if you would like to join us for a little after party to discuss some—let’s just call it—reindeer games. What’s gonna be, Beautiful?”
His warm breath tickled the side of her neck and Noelle took a sip of the daiquiri. Her eyes flitted to the bar lights, to her work friends laughing and fighting and dancing and leaving while she stayed at the same headend job year after year to the handsome and dangerous stranger. Dolph’s smile was mischievous as he watch Noelle watch him. She sipped her cocktail and considered. The Waitresses’s Wrapping Party came on. JoJo and the entire Shoe department started a conga line around Frosty’s singing Merry Christmas Merry Christmas loudly and off key.
Noelle met Dolph’s stare and walked her fingertips up his chest. “Ho, ho, ho, Santa tell me more.”