Jingle Ball - Page 19

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Once she was gone, he sat at her desk and stared at the tree until the lights blurred. If he’d ever felt more alone, he didn’t remember it.

It didn’t have to be that way. They could both be alone or they could be together. Fuck the consequences.

He pulled out his phone. He’d have to get his ass in gear if he had any hope of pulling this off.

* * *

Christmas Eve and what was she doing? Giving herself a pedicure while crying over It’s A Wonderful Life. Later she’d give her props to Santa by curling up in her winter’s nest with her vibrator.

Fa-la-la-flipping-la.

Wendy wiped her damp cheeks. Van had called to make sure she was okay and she’d lied through her teeth. Sure, she was dandy. So what if she was alone on the worst night of the year? She’d chew up her loneliness with the same zeal she’d disposed of Aunt Gert’s fruitcake.

No regrets here, baby.

At least her purple passion toenails looked all sparkly. She’d just paint the strip of silver polish on the tips and—

The doorbell rang and she nearly jolted off the couch. The bell didn’t exactly ring so much as give a depressed fart of air that passed for music. Had Mom decided to have Aunt Gert drive her back early? If so, where was her key?

Cursing her toe separators, Wendy hobbled to the door. On the way she cast a glance at herself. Her hair was still in pigtails and she wore ripped leggings and a hot pink sports bra. They kept the apartment at a zillion degrees to make sure her mom didn’t have a relapse with her pneumonia, so the minute her mom took off, Wendy stripped down.

She peeked out the curtain, though the porch light of their two-family house was out yet again. “Who is it?”

No answer, but her mom was hard of hearing. Just in case, she dumped the silk flowers out of the vase on the side table and swung it above her head, ready to strike, as she yanked open the door.

Oh, shit.

She blinked, almost wishing it was a lunatic intent on robbing her of all three of her worldly goods. Because then she wouldn’t have to mentally berate her floppy hair and raggedy clothes and the fact that Des was carrying the world’s tiniest Christmas tree and a wrapped gift as if he were bringing joy to the poor and decrepit.

Which he kind of was.

He looked her up and down, not smiling. Not reacting at all until he noticed the vase she still gripped like a weapon. Then he started to laugh.

“Don’t hurt me, please. I come bearing gifts.” He held out his miniscule tree and the wrapped box, slaying her with a grin that made her hold turn slippery on the vase. “Can I come in?” he prompted when she only stared.

“What are you doing here?”

“It’s stupid for us both to be alone on Christmas, don’t you think?”

“But—”

“Let me in, Wendy.”

She stepped aside and he walked inside, bringing a wave of cold air with him. She shivered as he shut the door, but she didn’t let go of the vase. Right then she needed something to hold on to.

“A little chilly for that kind of outfit, isn’t it?”

When she didn’t speak, he sighed and set down his pathetic little tree—the last from the lot at the end of the street, by the looks of things—and his gift, along with a plastic bag that he’d procured from under his coat. It smelled like Chinese food.

Her belly rumbled and he smiled, arching a brow. “So you don’t want me or my tree, but you’ll take my eats, huh?”

Smiling weakly, she shoved the silk flowers back in the vase and set it on the table. Her gaze darted from the shabby multicolored rug to the equally threadbare sofa to the crappy dollar store pictures she’d framed and hung in an attempt to give the place some life.

And Des stood in her hall in his spendy leather coat and pricey sneakers and designer jeans. She wanted to throw up.

“What’s wrong?”

“You shouldn’t be here.” She flung a glance at her boxy old-fashioned TV where little Zuzu was talking about an angel earning her wings. Lines scrolled across the bottom, for God’s sake. “I can’t do this.”


Tags: Taryn Quinn Erotic
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