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Christmas Fiction Romance

I kissed momโ€™s wrinkled cheeks. No matter how much effort she put in going to the beauty salon and trying to ease the saggy skin it was hopeless. We all have to age one day.ย 

โ€œBye mom, take care of yourself,โ€ I instructed.

โ€œI willโ€ฆ wish youโ€™d stay for my special lunchโ€ฆ itโ€™s Christmas.โ€

โ€œAww mom, Iโ€™m deeply sorryโ€ฆ maybe next year?โ€ I countered.ย 

She nodded, pasting a fake smile on her face just for my sake.

โ€œMerry Christmas,โ€ She handed a silver box in my hands.

โ€œCookies,โ€ She mouthed.

โ€œThanks mom,โ€ We embraced, โ€œIโ€™ll come soonโ€ฆ should take about a week.โ€

โ€œGood luck.โ€

I got in my red Volvo, a present from my dad last year for Christmas actually. My parents had divorced when I was ten, dad moved to NY. Working at Apple, he would have to make a ton of money to afford my expensive gift.

I edged to my seat, zooming off to the highwayโ€ฆ taking the fastest route possible to make it at the airport in time. My dance instructor Justin had apparently given me a late warning last night about the upcoming tour.ย 

People stared at meโ€ฆ I felt their sharp glances coming from every direction. I walked straight, trying not to attract attention as much as possible. But as usual people crowded over meโ€ฆ demanding signatures and taking a quick selfie.

I pasted a fake smile, tried to do several things at once before telling my โ€˜fansโ€™ that I was getting late.

They promised to see me during the tour.

โ€œI canโ€™t wait,โ€ I sarcastically added.

Finally able to breathe normal I proceeded to the check out.ย 

โ€œVanessa, glad to see youโ€ฆ again,โ€ I felt the tone of Justin a bitโ€ฆ off. I nodded, showing the security my ID and passports.

โ€œSame here,โ€ I told him.

โ€œIโ€™ll meet you in the plane.โ€

I gave him a thumbs-up. Justin must still be having a hard time over my refusal yesterday. Heโ€™d proposed to me but Iโ€™d denied it. He must still have not gotten over the fact that he doesnโ€™t amuse me.

The flight was a bumpy ride. I felt sick to my stomach as we landed. Justin helped me off, Katy on my other side. Katy was my partner, weโ€™d perform together often. I enjoyed working with her.

โ€œIโ€™m gonna set upโ€ฆ see what the others are up to, why donโ€™t you girls explore a bit,โ€ Justin suggested.

โ€œWeโ€™d love to,โ€ Katy intervened before Iโ€™d have a chance to say anything.

I shrugged, exploring sounded nice. Especially with hundreds of strangers following you.

โ€œWowโ€ฆ isnโ€™t New York beautiful.โ€

โ€œYaโ€ฆ hey maybe I should give a visit to my dad.โ€

โ€œOhh, we could surprise himโ€ฆ or call him, hmm, now Iโ€™m lost.โ€

I laughed as Katy and I checked out the latest trends at the clothing stores.

By the end of our shopping trip we were pooped, bags from multiple stories lined up in our hands.

โ€œHow will we ever manage to pack all these in our suitcases?โ€

โ€œShould have thought of that before,โ€ I answered.

โ€œWeโ€™d have to split themโ€ฆ maybe Lexi can stuff a few things in her suitcase.โ€

โ€œCanโ€™t hurt to ask,โ€ Lexi was another dancer, she was also the youngest dancer, she was still in her last year of high school. Somehow she managed to find time in dancing and attending tours while juggling school and studying for upcoming exams at the same time.

We talked all the way through the hotel doors, people gathered around much to my dislike.

โ€œAh, right on time girlsโ€ฆ why donโ€™t youโ€ฆ get settled,โ€ Justin eyed our bags with a sighโ€ฆ Girls.

โ€œAlrightyโ€ฆ we have so much to do,โ€ Katy grabbed my hand and practically dragged me to the flight of stairs.

โ€œOh and Iโ€™ve arranged an assistant for you,โ€ He pointed at me.ย 

โ€œI donโ€™tโ€ฆโ€ I started but Katy heaved me out of the room before I could finish.

โ€œLetโ€™s go shopping,โ€ She exclaimed, her blue eyes lit up in excitement at the sight of our room.

โ€œIโ€™m tired, maybe later,โ€ But Katy didnโ€™t stop to listen to my complaints, she settled in perfectly into the room.ย 

I rolled my eyes, grabbing our belongings and towing them inside.ย 

The second I closed the door someone knocked.ย 

โ€œHello?โ€ย 

โ€œOh hi, you must beโ€ฆโ€ He reached out for a paper tucked into his pocket, โ€œVanessa?โ€

โ€œThatโ€™s me.โ€

โ€œIโ€™m Jordan, a pleasure to meet you Mrs. Alm,โ€ He smiled, I felt butterflies in my stomach. A queasy feeling when I get perplexed.

โ€œJust call me Vanessa please.โ€

โ€œOf course Mrsโ€ฆ I mean Vanessa.โ€

I nodded in satisfaction.

โ€œSoโ€ฆ can I help you with anything?โ€

โ€œNot yet, Iโ€™ll let you know if I need assistance.โ€

He nodded, his hazel brown eyes met mine and turned around.

I closed the door, breathing heavily.

โ€œWho was it?โ€ Katy inquired.

โ€œโ€˜My assistantโ€™,โ€ I quoted, showing the quotation sign with my hands.

โ€œLucky.โ€

โ€œWhat?โ€

โ€œHeโ€™s cute,โ€ She giggled under her breath. I was flabbergasted, unable to speak. I blushed, turning on the TV for a distraction.

โ€œKaty, Iโ€™m gonna buy my dad a gift before I go meet him, wanna come?โ€ It was late in the afternoon, the show was at 10 tonight.

โ€œUm, Iโ€™d love to but I have to paint my nails, plus Mark asked me out for coffee.โ€

โ€œHave fun,โ€ Mark was Katyโ€™s boyfriend, they wouldnโ€™t last a day without each other.ย 

โ€œYou too,โ€ She absentmindedly said.

I searched for the mall that seemed to be popular here. The city was bustling with people of all ages, gender and color. Occasionally some would recognize me and ask for my signature.ย 

It took me about twenty minutes to reach the mall, I couldnโ€™t find the correct shop where Iโ€™d find something for dad. He loved golf, maybe Iโ€™d buy him a golf-cart. If I managed to find one.

I laughed at the idea.

I wasnโ€™t paying attention to where I walked when I crashed into someone else.

โ€œSorry,โ€ We mumbled in unison.

I felt someoneโ€™s secure hand grab mine and hustle me up to my feet.

โ€œHeyโ€ฆ Vanessa!โ€

I stared into those deep brown eyes, his hair was a mess. His dimples reminded me of my brother. Drakeโ€ฆ my little brother who died last year. I couldnโ€™t shake off the feeling of missing my baby brother. Tears stinged my eyes.

โ€œWhat's wrong, are you hurt?โ€ His eyes were full of compassion, he didnโ€™t ask if I was famous, he didnโ€™t care if I was rich, he treated me likeโ€ฆ a person.

โ€œIโ€ฆ Iโ€™m fine,โ€ I shuddered as he helped me to a nearby seat. Keeping his hands still in mine, he glanced at me wordlessly.

โ€œThank you.โ€

He nodded, โ€œMy pleasure.โ€

โ€œSo, what are you doing here?โ€

โ€œI run a charity,โ€ My eyes went wide in surprise.

He seemed to read my mind as he continued to explain, โ€œItโ€™s for kids whoโ€™s parents canโ€™t afford to buy them gifts, we ask for donations and help fulfill their wish listsโ€ฆ after all they deserve a good Christmas.โ€

I nodded attentively. Feeling the pain those kids would feel if Jordan hadnโ€™t stepped up to the job.

I never had to beg for anything in my life. Iโ€™d been born in a sustainable family. No need to save up money. Those kidsโ€ฆ they arenโ€™t like that. I didnโ€™t even know if they get to have a full meal enough to satisfy their hunger.

โ€œThis is a wonderful thing youโ€™re doing.โ€

โ€œYou think so? I just love to see those kids' faces brighten up when they see all those toys people donated,โ€ He pointed behind him.

I felt the butterflies in my stomach erupt again. Something was going on whenever he was nearby. I never realized how I felt about Jordan until now. He was so caring, never mentioned how rich or famous I was. Treated me like anybody. Was he the one?

โ€œYou good?โ€ I shook off the feeling.

โ€œYeah, just a mild headache.โ€

โ€œBetter get some sleepโ€ฆ oh right, the showโ€ฆ are you sure you're up for it?

โ€œI hope so,โ€ Justin would kill me if I dropped out now.

โ€œWellโ€ฆ โ€˜cya around, good luck,โ€ He grinned, showing me a thumbs up.

โ€œThanksโ€ฆ Iโ€™ll need it,โ€ After what Iโ€™m about to do. What I should have done a long time ago.

โ€œJustin, I need to talk.โ€

โ€œSorry Vanessa, I gotta help out backstage.โ€

โ€œItโ€™s important.โ€

โ€œFine, whats up?โ€

โ€œIโ€ฆ Iโ€™m not going to participate.โ€

โ€œWHAT!!!โ€

โ€œIโ€™m sorry, you have to do the show without me.โ€

โ€œNo, your kidding right,โ€ His palms were sweating.

โ€œIโ€™m serious, you know I never joke around.โ€

โ€œSo you're justโ€ฆ quitting? In the middle of a show?โ€ His teeth grinding.

โ€œLike I said, Iโ€™m sorryโ€ฆ I changed my mindโ€ฆ being famous and all, itโ€™s notโ€ฆ me.โ€

โ€œAre you insane?โ€ Some of the people in the building looked at us. Justin was practically shouting in my face.

โ€œNo.โ€

โ€œHowโ€ฆ how, look missyโ€ฆ if you drop out then Iโ€™ll never accept you back.โ€

His words stung. Never able to dance. I didnโ€™t like to think of thatโ€ฆ but I wanted to devote my life to something greater than myself.

โ€œIโ€™m still not changing my mind.โ€

โ€œListen Vanessa, if you donโ€™t stop being adamant then Iโ€™ll have your reputation destroyed.โ€

โ€œI donโ€™t care.โ€

โ€œFine, leave then,โ€ He stormed out, leaving me baffled.

I sighed knowing ahead of time this was going to be my case. I packed up my stuff before Katy realized about the quarrel and checked off at the lobby.

The flight back home wasnโ€™t until New year morning. We had another show tomorrow and New years eve. But of course I wasnโ€™t going to participate.

I couldnโ€™t let mom know of my dilemma. Sheโ€™d kill me if she found out that I dropped out. Maybeโ€ฆ I knew someone who would love to have me home.

โ€œDad!โ€

โ€œOh Vanessa, how long has it been since I saw you last,โ€ His warm comforting voice helped soothe my pain.

โ€œI was in high school last time, let's see 2โ€ฆ no 4 yearsโ€ฆ maybe not,โ€ Math wasnโ€™t my strong suit.

โ€œWell kiddo, heard you're doing a showโ€ฆ canโ€™t wait to see you perform,โ€ I hated to break his excitement.

โ€œUmโ€ฆ that's why Iโ€™m hereโ€ฆ I kinda dropped off?โ€

โ€œWhyโ€ฆ I thought dancing was your thing?โ€

โ€œWell, it is but I never intended to be famousโ€ฆ I wanted to be like a dance teacherโ€ฆ or something, the only reason I went to the tours was because of momโ€™s persistence.โ€

โ€œOh, wellโ€ฆ youโ€™re kinda reminding meโ€ฆ of me,โ€ He laughed. โ€œI was like that too, and wanted to do what I thought was right.โ€

โ€œGuess it runs in the genes.โ€

โ€œIโ€™ll set up your bed,โ€ Dad said, realizing I needed some โ€˜me timeโ€™.

I nodded absentmindedly. Justinโ€™s words revolved around my head. I better not go out anytime soon and have an angry mob after me.

โ€œWe are here today live in town square, apparently Vanessa Alm who was the spotlight of the flor del crima dance show went missing. Locals say she ran off. We are live with Justin Menz who is the host of the show.โ€

*Switches to Justin talking*

Kevin: โ€œYa, she justโ€ฆ left, I tried to stop her but I guess all she cared about was fame and money. She just made a lottery here and now sheโ€™s on the runโ€ฆโ€

โ€œYou heard it folks, liveโ€ฆ weโ€™ll inform you if we find Mrs. Alm or any clues that pinpoint her whereaboutsโ€ฆ thank you and Merry Christmas.โ€

I turned off the TV. Great now people believe that Iโ€™m the culprit, that I lied to them. I never cared about money, I just had a passion for dance.

It was Christmas morning and yet dadโ€™s hot cocoa and gifts that heโ€™d bought the night before werenโ€™t enough to cheer me up. I needed to go outside, get some fresh air.

I looked over at the closetโ€ฆ bullseye. The same wig that I used to play dress up as a girl. It was blond but itโ€™ll do. I also wore a heavy jacket, something I never envisioned wearing. And my dadโ€™s sunglasses, they were old but durable.

โ€œDad, Iโ€™ll be back,โ€ I closed the door behind me softly.

โ€œHm, oh sure,โ€ I heard him murmur from his phone.

I walked down main street, keeping my head low in case anyone still recognized me apart from my get out.

My disguise must have been a success because no one paid attention at all to me. I was loving every moment of peace and quiet I got. Maybe I should do this more often.

The smell of coffee led me to a nearby Starbucks. I quickly slipped in. A young woman around my age didnโ€™t seem to overlook me. Keeping her eyes focused on my specific orderโ€ฆ Caramel mocha with chocolate and whipped cream.

I sat down on one of the tables, still keeping tabs on people who entered and left. So far so good.

โ€œHey, mind if I take a seat,โ€ My attention wavered to the voice. His brown eyes, the messy brown hair Iโ€™d recognize anywhere. What was he doing here?

โ€œUm... ok?โ€ I tried to make my voice a pitch or two higher. Keeping my eyes wrapped around the drink.

โ€œSoโ€ฆ howโ€™s your Christmas going?โ€

โ€œFineโ€ฆ how about yours?โ€ I asked. Curious of what plans he had.

โ€œItโ€™s ok, I guessโ€ฆ I wish someone special to me was with me to celebrate,โ€ He sighed, sipping his coffee.

โ€œOh, who would that be?โ€ It wasnโ€™t my business but I legibly wanted to know.

โ€œYou may have heard of herโ€ฆ Vanessa Alm?โ€ My eyes went wide, I clutched my teeth tighter so I didn't say anything I wouldnโ€™t say if I wasnโ€™t me.

He really wanted to be with me? Didnโ€™t he hear the news?

โ€œOh herโ€ฆ heard sheโ€™s a rip off,โ€ I tried to sound like I really hated me but my voice cracked.ย 

โ€œWhat? No sheโ€™s not, sheโ€™s super sweet,โ€ He countered.

โ€œSheโ€™ll just break your heart,โ€ I really didnโ€™t want to give him any ideas. He should stay away from me.

โ€œLike I saidโ€ฆ sheโ€™s the most beautiful, sweetest person Iโ€™ve ever met,โ€ For a second I thought he recognized me but he remained silent.

My heart melted hearing his thoughts about me. He was so different from all the othersโ€ฆ he genuinely cared for me.ย 

โ€œThank you,โ€ I whispered, then closing my mouth. He didnโ€™t seem to notice my slip up and continued to glance at the posters that surrounded us.

โ€œI better goโ€ฆ oh one more thing, I heard youโ€™re organizing a charity,โ€ I reached into my jeans pocket, taking out a check and handing it to him.

โ€œUmโ€ฆ thanks,โ€ His eyes lit up at the sight of the amount Iโ€™d donated.ย 

โ€œWow, this would really help a lotโ€ฆ thank youโ€ฆ?โ€

I realized he was waiting for my name, โ€œJessica.โ€

โ€œThank you Jessica,โ€ He finished, grinning.ย 

โ€œMy pleasureโ€ฆ I better go,โ€ I turned around to leave.

โ€œWaitโ€ฆ have we met before?โ€ I froze.

โ€œUmโ€ฆ no?โ€

โ€œHm, you remind me of someone... oh well, must be my imaginationโ€ฆ thanks anyway.โ€

โ€œNo problem,โ€ I rushed out of the cafe before he noticed something else.

โ€œHey kiddo, howโ€™d your day go?โ€

โ€œOk, Iโ€™m gonna just read a book,โ€ I settled in.ย 

โ€œYour mom called.โ€

โ€œWhat did you tell her?โ€ย 

โ€œOh that youโ€™re doing great, donโ€™t worry I didnโ€™t mention the part where you dropped out.โ€

I sighed a sigh of relief. Dad chuckled.ย 

Justin hasn't contacted me since yesterdayโ€™s outburst. I was worried, what is he up to?

The next day,

The doorbell rang, I masked my identity. No one apart from Katy knew that my dad lived here but she doesnโ€™t know the address. I held my breath as I opened the door.

โ€œHey,โ€ I almost fainted at the sight of him.

โ€œWhatโ€ฆ are you doing here?โ€ I forgot to make my voice sound distinguished.

โ€œAh, Jordanโ€ฆ do you know my daughter here?โ€ My dadโ€™s voice came from behind me.

โ€œSort of.โ€

โ€œYou know my dad?โ€ I whispered.

โ€œYeah, he helps me organize the charity actually.โ€

โ€œReally?โ€ I looked at dad.

โ€œSurprise!โ€ He did his jazz-hands.

โ€œWaitโ€ฆ that braceletโ€ฆ I saw a similar one onโ€ฆ Vanessa?โ€

I gulped, handing my head shamelessly. Iโ€™d been caught.

โ€œYa, it's me.โ€

โ€œWhyโ€ฆ whyโ€™d you run away?โ€ He laughed at my disguise. I rolled my eyes.

โ€œCome in, Iโ€™ll tell you everything.โ€

I explained my problem, he understood.

โ€œIโ€™m glad weโ€™re on the same page now,โ€ He said.

โ€œYou donโ€™t hate me?โ€

โ€œNever,โ€ He blushed, โ€œDid I just spill my crush on you at the cafe?โ€

I looked down, blushing red, โ€œKinda?โ€

He laughed.

New Years day,

โ€œWill you marry me, Vanessa?โ€

Tears glistering in my eyes.

โ€œYes,โ€ I breathed. After all these years Iโ€™d found the right man for me. Someone who actually cared for me.

โ€œItโ€™s a fresh start,โ€ He whispered in my ear.

โ€œIt sure is,โ€ I agreed. I had made a perfect choice.

December 25, 2020 20:01

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49 comments

Hey Varsha! Just asking, are you planning on writing any stories for contest #74?

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Akshaya โœจ
05:39 Dec 27, 2020

Hi Varsha! I loved this story! It was so sweet, especially the ending! I love how Vanessa decided to carve her own path! Your portrayal of fame was really accurate, and I'm certain that's exactly how famous people feel, without much peace and quiet! Keep writing! I hope you had a great Christmas!! :)

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Akshaya โœจ
06:02 Dec 27, 2020

And Congratulations on reaching 1000 points!! :D

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Akshaya โœจ
06:36 Dec 29, 2020

Of course! We're there to help one another! :)

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Akshaya โœจ
08:45 Dec 30, 2020

:D

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Hey Varsha!! So, here's the thing. I just figured out that I didn't give you a Christmas Present...so I decided to upvote you in the middle of the night. Is that ok? Will you accept that as a "Post-Christmas Present" or is that just weird? Anyways, have a happy day! :)

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Jane Andrews
08:56 Jan 01, 2021

Hi Varsha. I'm glad Vanessa got her happy ending after all - and it's kind of cute that her dad and Jordan work for the same charity. This is actually quite a sweet story as Vanessa's developed from being a rather shallow dancer in the first part of your story to realising that there are more important things in life. I liked how you used the rom-com trope of her disguising her appearance and then bumping into Jordan (who conveniently told this 'stranger' all about his crush on Vanessa). One quick grammar point, though - you wrote from Va...

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Thank you Jane so much for reading! Yes, I saw that mistake, thanks for pointing that out. Thank you again! P.S I'm working on a novel(I'm just starting) but I'd be happy if you looked over it when I'm done!

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Jane Andrews
17:09 Jan 01, 2021

Hi Varsha. Yes, I'd be happy to do that for you. I've beta-read quite a few novels for other people as well as proofreading another author's books to pick up on things her editor's missed. I've also edited a couple of anthologies for writing groups. If you're just starting your novel, the best thing to do is just write until you have a finished first version - you'll probably end up rewriting lots of it, but the important thing to begin with is just getting the story down. Once you have a completed version, you then ask people you know to b...

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Kate Reynolds
15:20 Dec 26, 2020

Hi Varsha! This story was such a sweet romance!!!!!!! I'm so glad that Vanessa followed her dreams!! Great job! :D

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Kate Reynolds
20:57 Dec 30, 2020

I just posted a new story! :D

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