Christmas Eve felt extra magical this year. The bright lights of downtown Santa Monica shined down on my restaurant and like the North Star, people began to show up. People who were not only hungry, but happy. They wanted good food and a good time. It was such a pleasure to serve and the tips made me borderline euphoric. The only time that I truly felt sad was when I realized it was closing time.
The night was cold for Southern California. I drew in a sharp breath as I locked the door and saw a sign of my own breath. It was really kind of cool. I began to walk home and again was in awe of how beautiful the lights of the city were. The decorations and the colors of the rainbow picking my spirits back up again. Was this what my future would look like? If I could open restaurants in colder climates such as Chicago or New York or even Paris, could I even begin to describe how magical the holidays could be then? All this before me but with snow? The image made my heart happy and I thanked God for being God. He is so good.
I knocked on the door before I entered the apartment. It was my usual signal to the girls that it was me coming home: two knocks.
"Hey, Jack," I heard Janet mumble as I turned on the light. My heart dropped as I saw she had been crying.
"What's wrong, sweetheart?" I asked as I made my way to the couch where she was laying down.
"It's A Wonderful Life was on," she said as she wiped her eyes with a tissue.
"The TV is turned off," I noted.
"It's over," she said as she sat up. I realized quickly that she was wearing a bathrobe and nothing else. I did my best to look her in the eye.
"She's working 10pm to 2pm, remember?"
How could I forget? Terri always tried to get a double in if holiday pay was involved. I looked at the floor and saw one of my wine bottles next to the couch. I looked over to the coffee table but saw no sign of a wine glass.
"Straight from the bottle?" I asked looking her in the eye again. She gave me a guilty grin.
"I don't think you're funny," I said with a smile. She's so cute.
"I got a little lonely," she admitted.
"You could've come to the restaurant, you know? You could've called Larry or Mr. Furley."
"I wasn't that lonely."
I picked up the bottle and was shocked to find she drank three-quarters of it. I looked back at her and she began to giggle then immediately thought the better of it. I just kept staring at her because I didn't know what to say.
"Am I showing?" She asked.
"Do I need to close my robe?"
"Not if you don't want to."
I said that to make it known that I knew she was doing that on purpose. She can talk about guys drinks going straight to their hands, but she's not that innocent when she's drunk, either. I got news for her. Then again, I won't hold it against her.
"Come here," she said as she tied up her robe.
"No," I was kind of teasing her now.
"C'mon, I want my Christmas kiss!"
How could I say no? I got on my knees and let her take my face in her hands as she kissed me long and hard on the mouth. I pulled her into a hug as she began to suck on my neck. I tried hard not to moan at the fact that this woman was going to give me a hickey for Christmas. I've had worse Christmas presents.
"Come here, you!" I shouted as I flung her over my shoulder. She laughed as I ran her to her bedroom and plopped her down on her bed.
"Hey," I said as I pulled her covers over her and up to her chin.
"Merry Christmas," I said as I kissed her again. She moaned.
"Go to sleep."
"I love you."
"I love you, too. Go to sleep."
I made my way to the bathroom. I could float on air. A quick look in the bathroom mirror proved that I got a hickey for Christmas. She loves me and I know it.