North of Light(2)

By: J.M. Paul


Who does this guy think he is?

Whoever he is, I instantly like him, but he doesn’t have to know that.

“You’re rude. And I’d like more water since some fartknocker just dumped mine out,” I gripe.

He chokes out a laugh. “As I’ve stated, drinking nonalcoholic beverages the night before Thanksgiving is sacrilegious.”

“Why?” I’m not sure what makes me encourage him to keep annoying me. I have work to do, and if the person I’m waiting for doesn’t show soon, I’m leaving.

“It’s an age-old tradition for everyone to get drunk and stupid, so they can forget about being forced to spend an entire day with their family tomorrow. In Alcoholville, they can deny the fact that getting a slobbery kiss on the mouth from ninety-year-old Great-Aunt Mea is okay and enjoyable.” He shivers dramatically. “The women bitch about cooking while the men grunt and yell at football games on TV. The mini humans run around, screaming, touching everything, and spreading their germs so that we get sick a couple of days later. It’s fun times.”

“Sounds like you have anger issues with Turkey Day, dude.” I tap my pen against the bar top.

“No way. My family’s awesome, and I love Thanksgiving. The holidays rock.” The twinkle in those gorgeous green eyes informs me he’s not kidding.

I roll my eyes.

He points his finger in my direction. “I saw that.”

“You saw nothing. I don’t know you, but I can already tell you’re as blind as a bat.” I bite my lip and start to shade in the 3-D heart I doodled.

“I’m not blind. I’ll have you know, I have twenty-twenty vision”—he points at his face—“and it just saw you roll your lovely brown eyes at me.”

“Listen, Bat Eyes, you saw nothing.” I fold my arms on the shiny surface in front of me in an attempt to challenge him.

“What’s your name, Journal Girl?” Turkey Head leans his elbows onto the bar and stares at me. When I don’t answer, he starts drumming his fingers against the hard granite.

“Noel.”

“No shit.” His full lips take their time in curving into a delighted grin. “Well, isn’t that fitting?”

“Fitting for what?” I sit back in my stool and pull at the cuff of my sweatshirt.

He waves his arm around, indicating the people, noise, and festive mood swirling around the bar.

“To encompass the spirit of the holidays.”

His grin grows, and my Grinch heart shrivels further.

“No.”

“No?” Humor is evident in his voice.

“No,” I repeat.

“Why is it a no?”

He tilts even closer until he’s encroaching into my space, and there’s no way I can ignore him.

“It’s not just a no.” I sigh, slap my pen down on the notebook, and glower at him.

“Hmm,” Turkey Head hums before a smirk twists his mouth. “I like specifics.”

He straightens, adjusts the bird thighs on his hat, cracks his knuckles, shakes out his arms, and then rests back on the counter, waiting … for something.

I don’t know him, but I’m a pro at reading people, and his type will let me know what he expects me to say.

Butterball stares at me with interest, and I lift my eyebrows.

“Explain,” he says.

“There’s not much to explain.” I shrug. “I don’t like the holidays, Christmas specifically. And having a name that literally means the garish day you can’t stand? Well … it sucks.”

His eyes almost bulge out of his head, and his jaw drops open.

“You hate Christmas?” It comes out in a horrified whisper.

“Yep.”

“Oh my God. You’re one of those.” Turkey Head points and gapes at me like I’m some sort of science experiment gone wrong.

Then, it hits me, and my eyes widen. He’s a Christmas freak, and I don’t play well with his kind of crazy.

There goes our cookie-cutter house with a white picket fence, two-point-five children, and a dog.

I pick up my pen and draw a large, sharp arrow piercing my scribbled 3-D heart along with droplets of blood dripping down the page.

We could have had such a wonderful life together.

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