“What the hell am I doing out on a night like this?” Glenn grumbled to himself, his mood worsening with every passing minute. “Freezing rain, my feet are soaked and I don’t even want to go to this damn office Christmas party!”
No one at his company knew that Glenn was planning to quit on New Year’s Eve. He was sick of his dead-end job, always being passed-over and stuck in a little cubicle all day. There’s got to be more to life than that!
Running into the little gift shop located in his company’s office building, Glenn spotted a small lapis lazuli ornament near the cash register and decided it would make a fine Secret Santa gift. As he reached for it, his hand bumped into a lovely feminine hand with sparkling fuchsia fingernails.
“Hold on, buster! That’s mine! I just left it on the counter while I went to get a gift bag.”
Turning his head sideways Glenn encountered a familiar face; it was the receptionist at his office. He always thought she was pretty but tonight she looked particularly fetching.
“Carrie, isn’t it? Well, I’m sorry but the rule is if you put something down before paying for it, it’s fair game. Besides, I’m in a hurry and I don’t have time to look around for anything else.”
Carrie recognized Glenn immediately. He reminded her of a dreamy Hugh Grant in his younger days – handsome and charming – just not at this particular moment.
“Glenn, right? Well, I’m in a hurry, too. The office Christmas party is tonight and this is my Secret Santa gift. You’re probably here for the same reason.”
“Guilty as charged” Glenn quipped. “Come on, Carrie. It’s been a crappy day. I just want to buy this gift, make an appearance at the party and get the hell out of there.”
“I feel the same way. These office celebrations are the worst! The last place I want to be is at that party but it’s mandatory, as you know. Nothing like ‘forced fun’!”
Glenn had to chuckle at that.
“Look, Glenn. There’s a bunch of other ornaments right over there. Just pick something and let me buy this one, alright? I did see it first, after all.”
“Oh, alright! It’s all yours, Carrie” Glenn conceded and dashed off to look for something else. He quickly found a small gold star ornament, grabbed a gift bag and returned to the register just as Carrie was finishing up her purchase. She gave Glenn a little smile and headed out into the lobby. He couldn’t help noticing her shapely legs as she walked away, heels clicking on the marble floor.
“So, we meet again” declared the voice beside Carrie as she waited for the elevator. She felt a slight rush knowing it was Glenn.
“Or maybe you’re following me” Carrie replied coyly, hoping she wasn’t blushing. She and Glenn never really spoke to each other at work but he always caught her eye. Glancing at him Carrie was struck with how intensely blue his eyes were. At the same moment Glenn was thinking how very kissable Carrie’s lips looked in the shimmering light of the lobby’s chandelier.
They stepped into the elevator, the only two occupants as it made its slow ascent.
“Mind if I ask why you’re dreading this party so much?” Glenn inquired.
“That’s easy!” Carrie replied. “I hate my job! The people are unfriendly, all I do is answer the phone all day and give directions to rude visitors. I’m bored to death and capable of so much more. If I tell you something will you promise to keep it a secret?”
Glenn nodded and gave her the ‘zipped lips’ sign.
“I’m quitting on New Year’s Eve” Carrie whispered.
“No kidding! So am I! I hate my job, too. But mum’s the word, OK?” Glenn whispered back conspiratorially and they stared into each other’s eyes for a lingering moment.
“Any idea what you’re gonna do?” Glenn asked.
“Not really” Carrie sighed “but I’ve always dreamed of running a bed and breakfast in Maine.”
“Sounds delightful” Glenn replied wistfully. “We used to vacation at my grandparent’s lake house in Maine when I was a kid. It’s gorgeous up there – a really great place to settle down.”
The elevator door opened to the office party in full swing. Glenn and Carrie groaned and deposited their little bags on the Secret Santa gift table. He went one way, she went the other but every few minutes they found themselves staring at each other across the room.
After a short time Carrie casually made her way to the elevator. She was just about to make her escape when she heard that familiar voice cry out “Hold the elevator!” and Glenn rushed in breathlessly.
“I was wondering…..” they said at the same time and laughed self-consciously.
“You first” prompted Carrie.
“I was thinking perhaps we could get a drink somewhere and talk about Maine” Glenn suggested.
“My thoughts exactly. Would you .. um .. like to go to my place?” Carrie smiled invitingly.
“I’d like that very much” Glenn replied and slipped his fingers between hers.