Linda yawned for the umpteenth time since arriving for work. Her head rested on the box she was stuffing with ceramic Santas. New Year’s Day should be a work holiday! Most people are hung over anyway and should stay home. She stifled another yawn. Damn Christmas stuff could wait one more day to get packed away.
Linda raised her head. “I’m awake,” she lied to Bud, a co-worker.
“Sure you were.”
“ I am. I just ...”
“Don’t worry. Your secret’s safe.”
She sniffed. “Is that what I think it is?”
He handed her a Dixie cup filled with a sparkling, popping liquid. “Here. Alka-Seltzer. It’ll help the hang ..., uh headache.”
Linda wrinkled her nose.
He persisted. “Come on, then you can chase it with this.” He held another cup. “Starbucks. Double latte. You may stay sleepy, but your eyes will be wide open.”
Linda downed the seltzer. Gasping, she reached for the coffee and took a swig. “Ow!”
“Easy. I forgot to tell you it’s very hot.”
“Thanks a lot.” She licked her burnt lip, then took a moment to savor the coffee’s rich aroma. Immediately, she felt her partied-hardy, drowsy brain begin to clear.
“Johnny working today?” Bud asked.
“No! Not that it’s any of your business what my boyfriend is doing today.”
“Don’t start. He didn’t force me. I was having a good time.”
Bud shrugged again. “Let’s get busy. We’ve another display to build.”
“Already?” Linda moaned and grabbed another Santa.
“Yep. Happy Valentine’s Day.”
Linda turned to find Bud holding several heart-shaped candy boxes. Bud’s smile was gone. His expression was that of a sixteen year old looking at his first set of wheels. Linda nearly dropped the Santa. They’d been co-workers for over a year. If she thought of him at all, it was akin to having a big brother.
How did I miss it?
Bud recovered quickly by managing a silly grin, then turned and began stacking the hearts on the empty shelf space vacated by the ceramic Santas.
“Bud, I …”
He kept stacking the boxes. “I’ll get over it.”
“I never …”
“So, you know. Doesn’t change anything, does it?”
“I don’t know what to say.”
“Like I said, doesn’t change anything.” He handed her a Santa. “Let’s get to work.”
Linda took the Santa, but made no move to pack it away.
Bud worked with the hearts. “Maybe it’s a good thing. You know, I’ve been trying to work up the nerve to let you know. So, who knows,” he paused and handed her one of the hearts. “Maybe someday you’ll need to know there’s a heart, sitting on a shelf, waiting.”
He grinned, took the heart back and continued shelving. “Come on, girl, get to work.”
They finished changing the display without further comment. Linda picked up the boxed Santas and headed for the stockroom. At the end of the aisle, she looked back.
Bud glanced up just in time to catch her looking at him like she’d never seen him before. It only lasted a moment, then she was gone.
He turned back to his work and smiled. Bud had a feeling the day was coming when he’d have to thank Johnny for being such an asshole.
Thank you for taking the time to read my little romance moment. I hope you enjoyed being a witness to what could turn out to be the moment when ‘The One!’ meets ‘Mr. Right’.
About the Author: Sharon Poppen – Winner of awards from Arizona Authors Assoc. and National League of American Pen Women. Her novels After the War, Before the Peace, Hannah, Abby-Finding More Than Gold and Regardless are available at Amazon Books and her website. Publications include A Flasher’s Dozen, Desert Treasures, Skive, Offerings from the Oasis, A Long Story Short, Apollo Lyre and Laughter Loaf. Her workshops on Journaling, Short Story Writing and Memoirs bring rave reviews.
Find Sharon online at www.SharonPoppen.com.