Mistletoe and Fire Glow
A Holiday Romance Short Story
Nicole R. Locker
Copyright © 2016 Nicole R. Locker
Copyright © 2016 by Nicole R. Locker
All rights are reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any way or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the author, except for brief quotes used in book reviews.
First published in Ebook Edition December 2016.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
The smell of spiced cider wafted through the small, sparsely populated and festively decorated diner as a waitress brought over a steaming cup and laid it on the table in front of Cordi. A smile and a nod, and the waitress was off, leaving Cordi to bask in the dim, hanging lights to sip her cider and wait in solitude.
What was she waiting for? The more appropriate question was who, though she really couldn’t answer that, either. Her friend, Marta, had insisted she be set up with a guy she knew through her own boyfriend, Jake. Cordi, as usual, had her doubts. She agreed to the date, but she wasn’t getting her hopes up that Graham was going to be anything short of disappointing.
Now, there was a word she was used to in the dating department. Disappointment seemed to follow her around like a persistent house fly. She was convinced she was a magnet for guys who still lived at home in their parents’ basements or expected her to pay for dinner. If she met one more guy who ghosted her after only a couple of weeks, she thought she would just give up dating altogether. At thirty-two, who needed it?
She watched out the glass door covered in blinking Christmas lights, green garland, and red bows as the agreed meeting time drew closer. The wind howled as it whipped an empty, Styrofoam cup in circles on the sidewalk outside. It sent a chill through Cordi as she looked further past the door and up toward the clouds that held a promise of snow. She cupped her cider in both hands, taking in its warmth as she huddled in her chair.
When a guy matching Graham’s description – dark-brown hair, chiseled jaw, and piercing blue eyes – approached the door and entered, Cordi found her hopes rise ever-so-slightly as she waited to see if her assumption was correct. Could this hottie be her date?
Her eyes followed him as he stepped inside, paused to look around the empty room, and then turned in her direction drawing closer to her. She was just about to stand and greet him when he took a seat at the table next to hers, effectively quashing the hopes that had involuntarily continued to build.
Of course this fine-looking dude wouldn’t be her date. She should be looking for someone a lot less yummy, she had no doubt. It was never her luck to get the guys she was instantly attracted to.
She settled back into her chair as she continued to wait, in the meantime watching the hot guy as he shrugged out of his wool coat and gave his order to the lone waitress, black coffee and buttermilk pie.
Michael Buble sang [+ Feliz Navidad+] in the background as Cordi stole glance after glance at her watch, wondering what was keeping her date. When she got to the bottom of her cup, the waitress came back around asking if she’d like another, and she agreed. If her date hadn’t arrived by the time the next cider was done, she was out of there.
“You waiting for someone?” the guy asked once the waitress headed off toward the kitchen. His voice was deep and smooth, Cordi noticed.
She looked over to see him looking her way. He was talking to her, she realized, as her heart leapt in her chest. Who else would he be talking to?
“Yes, blind date,” she admitted. Her hands motioned dismissively in the air, aiming for nonchalance. “You?”
“I’m here for the pie,” he said as a grin spread across his face, lighting his handsome features.
Cordi gave a knowing nod. The local diner was known for their pies, and had it not been for the impending snow storm that was scheduled to hit later that night, the place would have been packed as usual. As it was, it seemed everyone in the neighborhood was already settling it in before it got too bad out. Everyone, that is, except for Cordi and this gorgeous lad at the table next to hers.
“The pies are amazing,” Cordi said. “The cider isn’t half bad, either,” she added with a smile as the waitress returned with her second cup.
“I guess that means I’d better try it, then,” the guy said, looking to the waitress to make sure she heard and understood the order.
Cordi nodded, but remained quiet, not wanting to encroach on the gentleman’s time. Another minute passed before he spoke up again.
“Would you like to join me until your date gets here?” he asked, using his foot to push out the chair sitting next to his and motioning to the empty seat as he looked to her for her response. “I could use the company,” he added.
Cordi hesitated for a moment. What would her date think when he walked in to find her sitting there with this insanely attractive guy? If he walked in, she supposed. At this rate, she was beginning to think she had been stood up, anyway, and if not, then Graham was certainly not getting off to a good start being this late.
“Alright,” she agreed. Then she stood, pushing her own chair back as she grabbed her coat hanging from the back of it, along with her cider that she picked up from her table, and moved the few steps over to join him.
“I’m Cordi, by the way,” she said as she held her hand out for a handshake once she sat down beside him.
“Cordi, nice to meet you. My friends call me Russ,” he replied as he returned her handshake.
The heat of his touch radiated through her, warming and comforting her in a way that she hadn’t felt before. She thought how different she expected this night to go. She had been nervous to meet a new guy, a date that she would feel obligated to impress. She had thought she’d be on edge all evening, trying to play the game of getting to know someone new.
Sitting there with Russ felt different. She felt at ease without the added pressure of expectations, and she found herself hoping Graham really had stood her up after a half hour of easy and light-hearted conversation.
The snow began falling around a half past nine, and Cordi decided she had better get going if she was going to get home before it really started coming down. She lived in an apartment just up the block, and it was going to be a cold walk home.
Even though Graham had never shown up, she couldn’t help but feel a giddy sense of contentment at the direction the night had taken. She figured those warm thoughts would get her through the cold, the wind, and the falling snow on her way home.
“It was nice to meet you, Russ. I’d better get going. Maybe you should, too, if you don’t want to get caught in the storm,” she suggested, pulling on her coat.
He insisted on paying for her ciders before offering to walk her out, and she wasn’t going to protest to either. She really hated for this evening to end.
Once they got outside, Cordi began heading down the block toward her apartment as Russ went to open the driver side door of his hard-top Jeep. He turned to look back at her and noticed her walking onward down the block in the freezing cold.
“You’re not walking home, are you?” Russ called to her through the biting wind.
She pulled her collar up around her neck and wrapped her arms tight around her as she stopped and turned to look back. “Yes,” she called back to him.
He motioned for her to come back. “Get in. I’ll drive you home.”
She thought about declining the offer. It wasn’t that far, after all. The wind whipped past her once again, chilling her to the bone. The warmth in his eyes was all the convincing she needed, and before she knew it, she was climbing into the passenger seat next to him.
“Where to?” he asked her with a wide smile.
“Thirty-fourth and Main.”
When Cordi booted up her laptop to work from home the following morning, having been snowed in from the overnight snow storm, her thoughts kept wandering to the night before, to Russ and his infectious smile. It put her in a good mood, and she hummed along with Christina Aguilera crooning on her living room Bluetooth speakers, [+ Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas+], as she logged into her company’s network.
It wasn’t long before a notification popped up at the bottom of her screen, a video chat request from Marta. She clicked Accept, and her friend’s expectant expression immediately appeared.
“Well? How did it go last night?” Marta asked.
“It went fairly well, considering your guy never showed up,” Cordi answered, crinkling the skin between her eyebrows.
“What? That’s not right. Jake talked to Graham last night and he said he had just gotten home from his date. He said he really hit it off,” Marta explained in a defensive tone, shaking her head.
“I don’t know who he hit it off with, but it wasn’t me. Graham never showed up to the diner last night. I sat there alone for a while, and ended up chatting with another guy who came in by himself to eat some pie. He still wasn’t there when I left around nine-thirty.” Cordi shrugged, matter-of-factly.
“That’s crazy. I just can’t believe Graham would stand you up. He always seemed like a pretty nice guy from all the times he’s hung around Jake and me. I wonder if he just lied about it, or if he went out with someone else.” Marta was looking down and away from the computer screen, and it seemed like she was talking more to herself than to Cordi at that point.
“Hey, Marta, it’s really not a big deal. Besides, the guy with the pie was great company,” she admitted, not realizing she was smiling at the memory of Russ and their playful banter.
“I know that smile! Tell me more about this pie guy,” Marta urged, eager to get the scoop.
“There’s nothing to tell, really. He came in, sat at a table next to mine, ordered pie, and offered for me to join him while I waited on my blind date to show up. We just kind of talked and laughed until it got late and the snow storm started moving in. Then he offered to drive me home so I wouldn’t have to walk in the cold,” Cordi recounted with nonchalance.
“He drove you home?” Marta asked, digging for more details.
“Hey, I wasn’t going to turn down a warm ride! It was snowing already, and the wind was freezing,” Cordi said.
“So, then what? Did you invite him up?”
Cordi laughed at her nosey friend. “Uh, no! I just met the guy. Anyway, I’ll probably never even see him again. He was just a nice stranger who kept me company while I was being stood up by your so-called nice-guy friend,” she said in an accusatory tone.
Marta’s face contorted in a cringe. “You didn’t even get his number? Seriously, nothing?”
Cordi shook her head no. “Marta, how could I ask for his number when he knew I was waiting on a date when we met? I mean, what would that have looked like? I wanted to. Don’t get me wrong. I just… it wouldn’t have been right.”
Marta wasn’t sure who, between the two of them, Cordi was trying to convince.
“I guess,” was Marta’s response, though it was clear that she didn’t agree.
“I’ve got to get to work. Call me later,” Cordi said as she reached her hand toward the mousepad, ready to end the video chat, but waiting for Marta’s goodbye before she hit End and got back to work.
When she came to a lull in her duties after a couple of hours, she decided to get up and grab a snack from the kitchen. Again, her thoughts went to Russ and the previous night.
Why hadn’t she asked for his number? She would like to see him again, but it wasn’t like he had asked her for her number, either. He was probably just a nice guy, and she would’ve looked like a desperate clinger if she had assumed his friendliness was anything more than that.
But would it have been so wrong to ask?
No, she did the right thing, she thought. She didn’t want to look desperate. At least, not any more than she must have already, considering she was sitting there all alone, waiting on a date who never bothered to show up, when they had met.
When [+ Last Christmas+] by Wham! came on over the Bluetooth speakers, she couldn’t help a slow nod of her head, relating to the message of the song. She sang along, coming to terms with her utterly-single status, and vowing that the next guy she decided to give her heart to would, undoubtedly, have to be someone special.
As she sat back down to her laptop to get back to work, she felt hopeful. After all, she thought, it was the season for miracles. She was completely clueless to the fact that her luck was about to change.
Russell “Russ” Graham had known from the moment he walked into that diner that the girl with the supple lips and rose-tinted cheeks was Cordi, the girl his buddy Jake’s girlfriend had insisted he go out with. Had he known she would be that pretty, he would have agreed to it much sooner.
Russ knew from experience that everyone always had somebody he just had to be set up with, especially this time of year. What was it about mistletoe and fire glow that put everyone under some kind of holiday love trance?
At his age, rounding on thirty five, most of his friends were married, and some even had kids by now. Jake and Marta were the closest thing he had to single friends, since they weren’t married yet, and he joined them out-and-about often enough. For the past few months now, Marta had persistently gone on and on about her single friend from work, hoping Russ would give in and go out with her.
Maybe it was an unfair stereotype, but Russ was sure that single women who had to have their work pals set them up always came with a huge but. No, not butt. That, he wouldn’t have minded. This was the kind that negated the assets of said women. She was great, but…
Of course, he never found out about the but until he was smack-dab in the middle of an awkward date, or worse, and third or fourth date. He wasn’t taking any chances this time around, even if she was a sight for sore eyes.
He knew that Marta would have introduced him by his last name, Graham. It’s what all the guys in their group called him, and he wasn’t sure Marta even knew his first name, since it was never used, even in mixed company.
“My friends call me Russ,” he had told Cordi, and it was true enough. Maybe not all of his friends, but this gave him a chance to tell the truth without giving too much away too soon. He needed to get to know her a little bit and somehow set up a scenario where she would show him the real her that he knew wouldn’t come out if she was nervous or trying too hard to impress, as anyone admittedly tended to do on a first date.
He hadn’t counted on her being amazing. She was funny, easy to talk to, and wasn’t afraid to dig into a slice of buttermilk pie. When he took her home, it was almost like he was seeing stars as she thanked him and got out without even giving him a chance to ask if he could call her sometime. Maybe the stars had been the twinkling Christmas lights that lit a path to her apartment entrance doorway, but even those paled in comparison to the brightness of her eyes as she smiled and waved before closing the Jeep door.
Now, as he passed all the shops and buildings that lined the streets, each decked with lights that shimmered their reds, greens, blues, and silvers against the snow-covered ground below, he drove himself home from a long day of work. He just nearly caught himself pulling the Jeep over outside her apartment building, wanting to drop in just to see her again. He decided against it, partly because he didn’t know which apartment she lived in. Also, what kind of creep stalker would he look like if he just showed up on her doorstep? He thought better of it and carried on down the icy street in four-wheel-drive.
He turned down the radio playing The Piano Guys’ rendition of [+ Angels We Have Heard On High+] as he pressed the Bluetooth button on the steering column and stated his command, “Call Jake.”
The sound of the phone ringing filled the cab of the Jeep, and Jake’s voice came over the speakers. “Graham, what’s up, buddy?”
“Hey, did Marta invite Cordi to your Christmas get-together this Friday?” Russ asked, getting straight to the point.
“I’m guessing so. Why? You want me to ask her?” Jake suggested.
“Yeah, go ahead.”
Russ could hear Jake’s muffled voice calling out to Marta. “Hey, babe? … Graham wants to know if you invited Cordi to our get-together this Friday…”
Then Jake answered back into the phone, “Hold on. She wants to talk to you.”
Russ groaned internally, rolling his eyes up to the hardtop of the Jeep, but greeted Marta cheerfully when she got on the phone.
“Graham?” she said.
“What the heck, Graham? Cordi said you never showed up last night. What gives?” she admonished.
“I’m sorry. You must think I’m a jerk,” Russ admitted. He couldn’t tell her the real story yet without risking her telling Cordi.
“I think you probably have a darn good reason, but if you don’t, then yeah, I’m going to think you’re a jerk.”
“That’s why I called. I was hoping I could have a do-over. Is she coming to your party this weekend?” Russ asked, trying to come across as casual and not too eager.
“I’m pretty sure she’ll be here. I invited her to come. But you’re going to have to step up your game, now, because she met a really nice guy she hit it off with last night while she was waiting for you not to show up at the diner,” Marta told him, trying to put the guilt trip on him for ditching her friend.
Russ tried to hold back a smile, realizing that Cordi had mentioned him to Marta, and that she thought they had hit it off, too. Maybe there was still a chance.
“Okay, Marta. Thanks. I’ll see you guys Friday,” he said before pressing End on the steering column, just as he was pulling up into his driveway.
At that, he got out and trudged through the thick snow that had accumulated on the sidewalk, dusting off his boots as he slipped through his front door.
He had a renewed sense of anticipation as he started planning how he would approach Cordi at the Christmas party in just a few days.
Jake and Marta’s home was covered from one end to the other in tinsel, garland, candles, and snacks of various sweet and savory varieties. A fire was blazing in the fireplace, radiating warmth throughout the large living room as their friends made their way in from the cold, some in twos and some, like Cordi, alone.
When Cordi entered the front door, she took in the scents of cinnamon and warm pastries, taking in a deep breath to let the comforting aromas fill her. She shrugged out of her coat and winter scarf, handing them to Jake as she greeted him with a nod and a smile, which he returned.
She loved this time of year. It had a sort of sweet sadness to it. She was surrounded by friends and family and all the beauty that Christmas held. But still, she couldn’t shake that all-too-familiar feeling of being alone. She found that with each passing year, her hope was waning. She never thought she would be that girl who, at thirty-two, was still single. No husband or companion to kiss beneath the mistletoe. No laughter of children to spread the Christmas cheer with.
She walked around the party, maneuvering between the other guests who stood conversing, holding their flutes of champagne. She found Marta, and shimmied up to her as [+ Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree+] played softly in the background.
“Your party is beautiful, Marta. I love what you’ve done with the place,” Cordi said to her friend as she smiled and they hugged.
“You made it! When did you get here?” Marta squealed in excitement before handing Cordi her own bubbly glass.
“Just now. Don’t act so surprised! I told you I would come, didn’t I?” Cordi said as she took the glass and brought it to her lips for a sip.
“Yes, but I had my doubts.” Marta said with a raised brow. She shook her head and waved the thought away to segue into a new topic. “I have a surprise for you!”
“What? What kind of surprise?” Cordi asked, feeling guilty that she hadn’t brought a gift for Marta, as well, if Marta had gotten her something.
“Keep an open mind, okay? It’s a guy.” Marta took Cordi by the elbow and pulled her around to face the crowd that had accumulated in her living room and throughout her home. She looked around, checking to see if Graham had arrived yet.
“A guy? Haven’t you already tried to set me up once this week? We both know how that turned out,” Marta said, the skepticism evident in her voice.
“I know, I know, but just give it a chance. I talked to Graham a couple of nights ago, and he said he felt like a jerk for standing you up and wanted a do-over.”
Cordi didn’t utter a word, but gave her friend an unamused glare.
“I know what you’re thinking, but trust me. I wouldn’t have went to all this trouble to set you two up in the first place if I didn’t think you two would really like each other,” Marta explained in defense.
Cordi took another sip from her glass. She gave a slow shake of her head. “I can’t believe I let you drag me into these things,” she said, half-joking and half-serious.
Marta laughed and squealed enthusiastically. “You’ll thank me someday,” she said.
A couple approached and greeted Marta, so she introduced them to Cordi before telling Cordi to mingle around a bit while she made the rounds with her other guests, so that she wouldn’t seem rude. Cordi took the opportunity to walk around, taking it all in.
Even though Cordi felt slighted that Graham had stood her up that few nights ago, her curiosity ended up getting the best of her, and she found herself looking around to see if she could spot him, realizing she still didn’t actually know what he looked like. Maybe he hadn’t arrived yet. Or maybe he wouldn’t show up at all, essentially standing her up again. Wouldn’t that be just about par for the course?
The background music switched to an old, familiar song by Dan Fogelberg, [+ Same Old Lang Syne+], and the slower melody brought on a wistful feeling that Cordi was trying hard to shake. She couldn’t help but feel even more alone at that moment, and she thought about bundling back up into her coat and just heading back home.
When she felt a chill of cold, night air blow across her skin, goosebumps raised her flesh, and she turned to see who had come in the front door.
She couldn’t believe her eyes, and she blinked in shock.
Russ had noticed Cordi the moment he opened the door. His heart skipped a beat and his breath caught in his chest when he saw her. She was even more beautiful than he had remembered, dressed up in a form-fitting outfit that accentuated the sensuous curves of her body that the layers she had worn the other night had hidden.
He closed the door behind him, and Jake greeted him, taking his coat.
“Hey! Come on in, man. Grab a drink. There are snacks on pretty much every flat surface in the place. Take your pick,” Jake said, welcoming him with a laugh.
He nodded, having to tear his eyes away from Cordi momentarily as he returned the greetings with Jake. When he turned back around, she had disappeared. His eyes swept the room, darting from person to person, trying to see where she might have gone, but she was nowhere in sight.
When Cordi had seen Russ coming through the door, it had sent her mind spinning. She panicked, and darted into the kitchen where Marta was arranging tiny squares of white chocolate, peppermint fudge on a festive tray, preparing to set it out for the guests. She lifted the tray and held it up when Cordi approached, offering Cordi a piece.
Cordi shook her head. “No thanks. Marta! You’re not going to believe this, but Russ, the guy I met at the diner the other night? He’s here!” Cordi’s voice was quick but quiet, communicating her urgency and confusion.
“You’re kidding. Who did he come with?” Marta asked, also in a hushed voice, mirroring her friend.
“I have no idea. I just saw him walk in the front door, but I didn’t see anyone come in with him. Marta, what am I going to do?” she asked, as her eyes signaled her plea for help.
Marta thought about it for a moment. What should she tell her? She knew Cordi had hit it off with this Russ guy the other night and had heard the excitement and longing in her voice. But Graham would be here any minute, and he was expecting tonight to be a do-over with Cordi.
Marta knew that Cordi would like Graham if she’d only give him a chance, and likewise for him. Why had they both been so stubborn and difficult about this?
“Cordi, I don’t know. What about Graham?” Marta asked.
“I know, but in case you haven’t noticed, this Graham guy still hasn’t shown up yet, and he’s already stood me up once. What if he doesn’t show up again? And what are the chances that Russ would show up here at your party tonight?” It was clear that Cordi had a specific direction she wanted to go in, but wanted Marta’s blessing to do it.
“Well… I guess-”
Marta’s sentence was cut short when she saw Graham and Jake walk into the kitchen. “Graham! You’re here!” she called out with excitement.
Marta turned to look at Cordi to introduce her to Graham, but was silenced by the wide-eyed, open-mouthed expression on Cordi’s face staring at him.
“That’s Graham?” Cordi asked, pointing her hand at him as he halted his approach toward the two girls.
Confused, Marta glanced between her friends, now seeing the serious expression that had taken over Graham’s face as well.
“Yes…” Marta said in a long, drawn-out syllable. “Have you two already met?”
“You said your name was Russ,” Cordi said, now directly to him. She felt confused, but worse, betrayed. “You lied to me?”
“No, I didn’t lie. Graham is my last name, Cordi. Russell Graham.” He was beginning to realize that this situation was going south, and fast. He had to fix this, but how? Maybe he had made a mistake, he realized.
“So you just let me believe that I had been stood up. Is that it?” she asked him.
Russ’s head hung slightly in shame, realizing how he had made her feel, which had not been his intention at all. His hand went to rub the back of his neck in a nervous gesture while he tried to think of what he could say to salvage this.
Marta and Jake stood by in awkward silence, watching the scene unfold together.
Russ moved forward, closing the distance between he and Cordi, but when he got to her, she took a step back. She shook her head no, and darted out of the kitchen, heading toward the coat closet where her coat and scarf hung. She was obviously planning to leave.
Marta, Jake, and Russ stood looking at each other with disbelief.
“Wow,” Marta said. “You really messed that up.”
Jake nodded in agreement. They stood quietly for a moment, not knowing what to say, as Tim Halperin could be heard singing, “I need a [+ Miracle+],” low on the living room speakers. Then, they heard the front door open and close.
Russ’s eyes went wide, and panic welled up inside him. Did she really just leave?
“I’ve got to go after her!” said Russ as he sprang into motion. He had to find her. He had to make this right. He needed a miracle.
Cordi felt like such an idiot. Was this some kind of game being played at her expense? She had really liked Russ, and now? Well, now she didn’t know what to think.
She had taken a cab to get to Marta and Jake’s house that evening, and it was going to be a long wait or a long walk in the freezing cold. Now that she thought about it, it probably hadn’t been a good idea to just run out on everybody. It was an impulsive move that she already regretted.
“Cordi, wait!” She could hear Russ calling after her, or was it Graham? She didn’t know what to call him now, and wasn’t sure it even mattered.
She turned to see him jogging toward her, as quickly as he could in the snow and ice. When he caught up to her, he slowed, as though he were afraid he would scare her off once again.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “Please come back inside. I’d like to explain myself if you’ll let me.”
The lights from the house and neighboring houses blinked, and their glow shone on his face as she looked up into his eyes. Could she trust the look of sincerity, or did Christmas lights make everything look pure and magical? She hesitated, not knowing what she should do, and began shivering as her breath formed a fog of ice crystals in front of her.
Russ shrugged out of his coat and moved to wrap it around her over her own. “Here. Please, it’s freezing out here. Let’s get you back inside where it’s warm and we can talk,” he said, hoping she would allow it and go back in with him.
At last, she conceded, and he wrapped an arm around her as he walked her back inside.
Once they got back in, he suggested they go talk in an empty bedroom. “Go ahead, and I’ll meet you there,” he said. “I’ll get us something warm to drink and I’ll be right in.”
When he came in with two cups of hot cocoa, he found her standing at the window, looking out onto the snow covering the front yard. She turned to see him and took one of the cups from him, letting it warm her hands.
“Why didn’t you just tell me who you were at the diner the other night?” she asked in a calm, resigned voice.
“I know it looks bad, but I wasn’t trying to deceive you. At least, not in a bad way. Wait, that didn’t come out right.” He was fumbling with what to say, and he had a feeling he was only making things worse. She said nothing, but her eyes widened.
He sighed, frustrated with himself, and sat down on the bed. “What I meant was, I just wanted you to feel comfortable talking to me, and I wanted a chance to get to know the real you without the expectations that go along with being on a date,” he explained.
“Expectations? How do you know what my expectations would have been if you don’t even know me?” she asked. “You know something, though? Maybe you were right, because the only thing I expected going into that date was to be disappointed. Turns out, I was right.”
Russ stood and went to her by the window. “Don’t say that. The truth is, I had a great time with you that night. I’ve just had a lot of bad dates, and didn’t know what to expect, myself.”
That resonated with Cordi, and she found herself slowly warming to him once again. She thought back to the carefree banter they had shared that night, and had to admit that it would have undoubtedly gone a lot differently had she known that Russ was the guy she had been there to meet.
She looked down to her feet, and when she looked back up at him, he could see the warmth that had returned to her eyes. He took her hands in his and moved in closer so that only inches were left between them.
“Can we start over?” he said, barely above a whisper, as he looked at her expectantly.
She nodded her consent. “I think I would like that,” she said.
When they rejoined the party, another Tim Halperin song filled the room, [+ Under That Christmas Spell+]. Russ and Cordi were hand in hand, and Marta squealed in delight as she watched them approach.
“I knew you two would work it out,” Marta bragged as she snuggled up to Jake who stood beside her.
“I guess we owe you a thanks for introducing us,” Russ said to Marta, before smiling back at Cordi. Cordi’s heart warmed even more.
Marta gasped as though she had just gotten a grand idea. “Oh! Come over here by the fireplace. I want to show you something,” she said, and darted off for the others to follow.
Once they got to where she wanted them, a mischievous grin spread across her face.
“Marta, what is it?” Cordi asked, suspicious of what her friend was up to.
Marta didn’t speak, but her eyes trailed up to the ceiling. They all followed her gaze and realized she had them standing beneath mistletoe that had been hanging from an exposed wooden rafter.
Russ and Cordi chuckled, but Russ looked down at her, a question in his eyes. Cordi nodded, excited at the thought of their first kiss, and Russ decided to go for it.
He brushed a thumb across her cheek as his mouth drew closer to hers, and her eyes closed in anticipation. Then their lips pressed gently together, and she could taste the sweet cocoa on him as he moved in and pulled her closer to him.
It was over all too soon, and when Cordi opened her eyes again, she couldn’t wait until the next one.
Mistletoe and fire glow, she thought, as the fire warmed them from the hearth, her growing feelings for Russ warmed her from within, and Barbara Mandrell sang to them what began their first of many Christmases together.
[+ It Must Have Been the Mistletoe+].
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this sweet little Christmas love story, Mistletoe and Fire Glow. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
If you did enjoy it, please pass it on to someone else you think would like it, and don’t forget to leave a review.
[+ Mistletoe and Fire Glow – Full Spotify Playlist+]
You can find other books I’ve written at . I write Contemporary, New Adult Romance. You can also find me on the Social Media listed below.
Follow Cordi as she learns to believe in Christmas miracles when a chance meeting turns into something more.