Today, I want to post a short story I recently wrote featuring two characters from my upcoming novel, tentatively titled Second Chances. The novel will be a contemporary romance. I hope you all enjoy this sneak peek into my creative brain. Please let me know what you think!
The dark green fir tree stood more than twelve feet tall, towering over the crowd gathered around, waiting patiently for the tree lighting to commence. Everywhere you looked, men and women snuggled together, bundled up against the cold as their children inched closer to the front of the crowd, eager to be the first to see the Christmas lights.
Annie knew that Christmas was Britney’s favorite time of the year. That had never been a secret. But Britney hadn’t attended a public Christmas event outside of the museum in years. Bringing her into town for Milwaukee’s annual tree lighting ceremony in front of City Hall felt like the perfect opportunity for Annie for the couple to make their first public appearance as lovers.
While the entire staff at the museum where Britney and Annie worked as curators knew the women were officially an item, they hadn’t done anything to scream it to the rest of the world. When the museum director, David, asked Annie to capture photos of this event for the upcoming newsletter, she happily accepted and started planning an entire day of events for the pair. She knew Britney wouldn’t hesitate to agree to come along. The day had been perfect so far, and Annie was grateful that things had worked out so well.
This morning, both women had gotten dressed in skinny jeans, ugly Christmas sweaters, and tall black boots. Britney had gathered her thick brown hair into a high ponytail secured with a pretty red sequined scrunchie. Annie had carefully spiked and gelled her short purple hair, then slipped several bright green bobby pins in to hold back her wispy bangs.
Annie hadn’t told Britney where they were going, but Britney trusted her completely, so she didn’t ask any questions. When they had arrived at the winter carnival, Annie had nearly exploded from the huge smile on Britney’s face. Everything about her was glowing, and Annie was so happy she was responsible for it.
The day had been an absolute whirlwind of excitement. First, the women had tasted a variety of seasonal coffees and cocoas while munching on donuts and chatting with the baristas at a trendy coffee shop downtown. Each of them had kept enough distance between them to fit an entire person, but Annie’s goal was to surprise Britney with a kiss under the mistletoe before the day was over. Brit was “newly out” and nervous about public displays of affection, but Annie wanted to shout from the mountaintops about their relationship.
Baby steps, she kept telling herself. Annie would focus on baby steps toward that end goal. She didn’t want to spook Britney or cause problems in the new relationship. Despite the ten-year friendship and roommate history between the two, everything felt brand new now, and Annie wanted to be cautious.
After the coffee shop, the pair had explored the holiday displays inside the Mitchell Park Domes for a few hours, taking in all of the plants, decorations, and colors contained within the three massive sun-filled domes. For lunch, the women tried a new fusion restaurant. Britney hated the food, but they had a great time anyway. The rest of the day was spent walking the streets downtown, stopping to shop whenever the urge struck them. As the sun started to descend, they took their packages back to the car, then found a nice spot near the Christmas Tree. Annie took a bunch of pictures of their adventures all day, positioning Britney in many of them to share with her school tour groups. As the sky darkened, the crowd around the tree started to grow. Vendors with push carts ventured into the area, selling hot dogs and festive drinks.
The city’s current mayor, Agnus Johnson, was joined by his family and Santa Claus around eight p.m., and the official tree lighting ceremony commenced. Annie had to leave Britney’s side to take pictures and capture the event. On the left side of the tree, Santa greeted the children, asking questions and smiling merrily. On the right side, a small group of identically dressed carolers emerged, situating themselves in two rows. The mayor greeted everyone, made a statement, then joined Santa in plugging in the tree. The carolers erupted in an upbeat rendition of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas,” and Santa waved joyfully to the crowd.
As soon as the lights were on, she was back at Britney’s side, slipping her hand into Britney’s, where the other woman grasped it firmly and pulled her close. Annie pulled Britney into her, both women facing the tree, and they admired the scenery around them.
Brilliant white twinkle lights glowed softly, glittering off of the large red and green glass balls dangling evenly throughout the massive Christmas tree. A white picket fence had been constructed to surround the tree, with green swags of evergreen boughs draped along each fence panel. A thin layer of beautiful crystal-like white snow on the ground complements the wintery scene perfectly.
After a while, the crowd began to disburse, moving slowly away from the tree. Annie held Britney, waiting for the other woman to move first. When Britney finally did, she didn’t pull away as Annie had expected. Instead, she turned around and wrapped her arms around the taller woman’s neck. Annie could see several tiny tears pooling in the shorter woman’s eyes and felt a prickle of moisture at her own eyes. Britney looked into Annie’s eyes, and all they could see was love. Slowly, Britney raised herself onto the tips of her toes and pressed her lips to Annie’s, ending the perfect day with a perfect kiss.
I hope you enjoyed this story! Until next time!
Cathy Marie Bown
Don’t forget to grab your copy of A Covid Christmas Story, out now. Find it here!