Romance Fiction posted November 30, 2017


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Julie attends a Christmas party with a guy she doesn't like.

Blind Date

by Ellie707

Dating romance Contest Winner 
I hummed along with the radio playing I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas. Fred's annual Christmas Eve party resonated with the promise of meeting eligible bachelors, especially the handsome Brandon Parker and Ryan Henderson. Wow! A golden opportunity to mingle and meet other singles.

My sister Mary came bounding up the steps singing, "Oh, J-u-l-i-e. Your date is here!"

Bewildered, I asked "Date?" I sprayed myself with Chanel No. 5.
"I don't have a date."

"Well, you do now!" she informed me, eyes twinkling. "Fred's downstairs all dressed up in a suit. He said you're his date tonight."

"Fred!" I plopped onto the bed, recalling his invitation. "Oh, no! He misunderstood me. It's not a date. I never said I'd go with him. I just said I'd go to his party." Flustered, I wrapped a long strand of hair around my finger thinking of tall, skinny plain-looking Fred with the horn-rimmed glasses. No way.

"That's what you think. He thinks it's a date, and he's waiting to escort you. Fred talked Dave into making it a double date." Fred and Dave were best friends. Amusement danced like two little fairies in her eyes at my predicament.

The silence was deafening.

"Oh, Julie, you can't hurt his feelings! Dave said Fred told everyone that you're his date. He'll look foolish if you show up alone."

"This will kill my chance of meeting anyone," I moaned.

"Maybe. Maybe not. Besides, Fred is kind and has a fantastic personality." Reading my mind, she added, "After all, looks aren't everything."

"Oh, sure, easy for you to say." Mary's fianc�?�© resembled Brad Pitt!

Kind-hearted Fred might be; handsome, not so much.

I was in a quandary. Fred had been our town's newspaper boy for eons and everybody knew and respected him. Several years ago, he had inherited his father's hardware store. It was well-known fodder that at twenty-eight Fred was hunting for a girlfriend as seriously as an unemployed person seeking a job. And I didn't want to be his quarry!

"I don't want to hurt Fred, but if I go to the party with him, my coffin is sealed." After all, this was my golden opportunity to meet other singles.

"It's just a date, Julie," Mary said.

I took a deep breath, smoothing my red sweater. "I'm going down to clear up this misunderstanding." Like a convicted felon going to the chair, I headed downstairs.

When I entered the living room Fred's face beamed, his blunt fingers wrapped around a long-stemmed red rose.

"You look beautiful, Julie." Shyly, he extended the rose.

"Thank you, Fred," I murmured.

I cleared my throat. Time to speak up or forever hold my peace.

Before I could say a word, Dave sagely assessed the situation and intervened.

"Fred played Santa Claus for the County Orphanage today. We're crunched for time and should be going," Dave said with a fiendish gleam in his eyes.

Mary cast me a pleading look as Fred picked up my coat.

Yep. In my mind's eye I watched the coffin's lid slowly descend.

Sighing, I silently submitted to my fate - I mean, date - and slipped my arms into the coat.
* * *
Gay laughter burst through the door as we entered Fred's house. His mother, Mrs. Wallace, her plump face flushed, warmly greeted us, a hopeful matchmaking twinkle in her eyes. I suppressed a groan as Fred handed her my coat.

The sound of Deck the Halls drifted throughout the household. The aroma of freshly baked cookies spiced the air, and trays of food and drink abounded. Pine scented cones strung along the fireplace and mistletoe scattered throughout the rooms invited a holiday mood.

After my second cup of punch, Mary cautiously approached me. "How's it going?"

I released a long sigh. "Well, you were right about one thing -- Fred is funny."

"Told you," she winked. "Dave says that he really likes you. Fred waited for you to get over your break-up with Jim."

I groaned. The coffin was definitely being lowered now and I mentally shuddered as it clunked the ground.

The sound of jingling and jangling of bells interrupted us. "Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas!" cried a jolly Santa Claus standing by the fireplace, a bulging sack slung over his shoulder.

"That's Fred!" Mary whispered.

I giggled, wondering what secret ingredient had been added to the punch. I observed Fred as he interacted with the guests, distributing bottles of wine to the men and boxes of candy to the women. I had to admit Fred possessed an easygoing personality that others enjoyed. And I was beginning to enjoy also.

Santa approached. "A Merry, Merry Christmas, Julie, my dear!" Santa handed me a brightly wrapped package, his blue eyes twinkling mischievously. He looked much better with the fake Santa Claus wired-rimmed glasses. An awkward moment passed. From the corner of my eye, I detected both Brandon and Ryan gawking and smirking at us.

Was that clods of dirt I heard pelting the coffin?

Untying the silky red ribbon, I parted the wrapper to discover a beautiful porcelain angel playing a golden harp. How did he know that I collected angels?

I swallowed hard. Touched by his thoughtfulness, I murmured, "How lovely, Santa. Thank you."

Beaming, Fred ambled over to a wheelchair-bound old man.

"Mary, who's that?" I asked, taking a sip of punch and watching the tender exchange between the two men.

"That's his grandfather. He lives with them."

"Oh, I didn't know that," I said, curiously touched.

Throughout the evening I watched Fred graciously host and simultaneously serve his grandfather.

The party turned out great, except for Fred's many and varied attempts to catch me under the mistletoe. Even I had to laugh when he produced his "mistletoe-to-go" and hung it over my head in an attempt to get his "Christmas kiss." I deterred him by announcing it wasn't "officially" Christmas yet, which he reluctantly accepted.

Just as I thought, no man even approached me, fearful of jeopardizing Fred's "good fortune." I enjoyed the party, but I was glad to leave. Before we left, however, Fred quietly slipped away to help his grandfather to bed. What a sweet guy, I thought.

At last, we arrived home. Dave kept the car idling while making last-minute plans with Mary. I kept a steady dialogue going to avoid being asked out, or worse, receiving the dreaded goodnight kiss.

Undeterred, Fred interjected and bellowed, "Time for a goodnight kiss."

"No! Uh . . . uh, it's not Christmas yet," I stalled.

"Oh, yes, it is," Dave, blurted with a chuckle. "It's 12:03."

Well, that's all it took. Instantly two strong arms encircled me. The warmth and passion of Fred's kiss surprised me. Even more unexpected was my enthusiastic response.

Well, there have been many more Christmas Eve parties at Fred's. Or, more accurately, at Fred and Julie's . . . and the rest, as they say, is history.


Dating romance
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