Three days before Christmas, Amelia Martin stood naked before her full length mirror and accessed the damage. Two skinned knees. Two bruised palms. One scraped elbow. And a destroyed ego in a pear tree.

She should sue the bastards. If they were going to keep a rubber mat in front of their doorway, they should make sure the damn thing lay flat, if for no other reason than to protect the klutzes of the world.

It was almost Christmas, for God’s sake, everyone is in a hurry. We don’t have time to make safety checks. That’s the job of the shop owner. Well, so much for responsibility. She shook the thought from her head and tried to regain what little holiday spirit she’d had.

After placing bandages on her wounds, she grabbed the lime green jogging suit and pulled the pants on. She thought back to the incident. From the time her toe caught on the rug until she hit the ground, it was a matter of seconds, but felt as if everything went into slow motion. She landed on all fours and her butt projected a full view for the gathering crowd of onlookers.

Nice of them to take time out of their shopping to enjoy the embarrassment of a middle-aged, overweight, recently divorced, depressed woman with a bad dye job.

And just when she thought things couldn’t get worse, a member of the crowd stepped forward and leaned over her. “Are you okay?” he asked, concern in his voice.

Amelia looked over her shoulder as she struggled to upright herself. Oh dear Lord. Could it be? Please, no.

“Oh my God! Amelia? “

Quinton Wakefield, the one that got away, six feet three of broad shoulders, chiseled features, and teeth like Chiclets, offered his hand.

Amelia’s heart faltered, but she managed to grab his fingers and he pulled her to her feet. She looked down at her palms. Both hands were bruised, swelling already from the palms up toward her wrists.

The crowd broke up and left just the two of them standing together.

“Are you okay? I almost didn’t recognize you. Gosh, I don’t remember your hair being . . . “his voice trailed off.

“Maroon? Yeah, well, about that. I should have known a color with the name of Wildfire had a strong possibility of getting out of control.”

Quinton took one of her hands and held it as if he were going to read her palm. Amelia’s knees turned to holiday Jello-o. She wasn’t sure if it was a residual effect of the fall, or from his touch.

Get control of yourself, you’re a forty-six-year old woman for Christ’s sake. She pulled her hand away.

“Well, it was nice seeing you again, Quint. Have a Merry Christmas.”

“Wait. I heard about your divorce. Why don’t we have a cup of coffee and get caught up. It’s been what . . . ?“

“Nine years. Last class reunion,” she said and thought how delicious his two hundred thirty pounds of heart-break-waiting-to-happen would feel, but then remembered how he’d dumped her after six dates back in college. He could have at least had sex with me, and then dumped me. “I don’t think so, Quint. As I recall, I wasn’t your type when I was younger, thinner, and prettier. I don’t see the need to catch up.”

He flashed her a smile. “At least I didn’t have sex with you and then dump you,” he said.

Bastard. “Maybe when my hair gets back to a normal color and I lose fifteen pounds and get a facelift and the holidays are over and I’m not depressed anymore, then we can get caught up. I’m in the book.” She said and walked away.

Amelia shook the encounter from her head and put the sweatshirt on. God, I look like the Grinch. She ran her fingers through her hair. If there was one thing she didn’t need in her life, it was a man. She’d dedicated herself to the one she’d had for over twenty years and look where that had gotten her.

She walked into the living room. Miranda, her twenty-two-year-old daughter was watching one of those music channels and a new age band singing their rendition of Rocking Around the Christmas Tree.

“I hate Christmas,” Amelia said. “I’ll be glad when it’s over.”

“I remember when you loved it,” Miranda said. “Is it because of Dad?”

“No. It’s everything. You and your sister are grown, so I don’t have the Santa factor anymore to get me excited. Music, decorations, parties, they all depress me. White Christmas, Bing Crosby. Dead. Blue Christmas, Elvis. Dead. Christmas trees. Soon to be dead.” Your dad, should be dead. Amelia smiled at the unspoken thought.

“You know what you need?” Miranda asked.

“A good stiff drink?”

“Oh, I’m thinking of something stiff, but it’s not a drink.”


“Good grief, Mom. You know what they say; the best way to get over a man is to get under a new one. I think you should have coffee with that guy. He was interested. You deserve to have a man interested. You should have some fun. Get your bells jingled.”

“Miranda! You are terrible. Apparently, I’m not fun. Your dad didn’t think so.”

“I love Dad, but he’s a jerk. You’re fun. You’ve always been fun. He just let a younger woman turn his head. He’ll regret it. I promise you that. A few more years when he’s too tired to keep up with her pace, she’ll leave him behind. Then, I bet he wants you back. Besides, it been over a year.”

“Really? It doesn’t seem that long,” Amelia said.

The phone rang and Miranda answered it. “Yes, she’s right here,” she said and put her hand over the receiver. “It’s Quinton,” she whispered, and handed the phone to her mother.

“Hello,” Amelia said.

“I like the color of your hair. It’s festive. And I always thought you were too thin. As for the facelift, you don’t need one. You’re more beautiful now than when you were young, and here’s the best part. Since I’m a psychologist, I can help you with the depression, so I think we should go out to dinner.”

“Quint . . .”

He interrupted. “I’m not taking no for an answer. It’s Christmas. Goodwill toward men. I’m a man. Show me some goodwill. It’s the least you can do.”

Amelia smiled. “Okay, she said and thought, jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way!

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