“I’m not worried about it. You and I have a mistletoe history that’s worked out fine, if you’ll recall.”
Grandma opened the door wide and even though the party was in its early stages, the happy cacophony of the soiree spilled out into the chilly air.
I drew Kyle into the foyer with me. “Kyle, this is my grandma. I’m sure the rest of my family is around here somewhere. Grandma, this is Kyle, my Zumba buddy from the gym.”
Grandma extended her hand. “Kyle, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I’ve heard good things about you. Eliza says she’s hardly missed a workout since you two started partnering up at the gym.”
I playfully flexed my biceps. “That’s right. It’s amazing what a year of friendly motivation will do for you.”
My grandma excused herself to answer another knock at the door and I helped Kyle skirt around the mistletoe. “I’m planning on bringing you back here to introduce you to Lauren when she shows up. I’m hoping we haven’t missed her already. Let’s grab something to eat and then we’ll hang out in the great room. It has a perfect view of the foyer.”
“You know, I’m not sure about this Lauren thing,” Kyle confided. “I know you’re hoping to set us up, but I finally worked up the courage to ask out Amy.”
“Amy? As in Amazing Amy, the Zumba instructor?! Good for you!” We had arrived at the buffet table and I picked out a few of my favorite items from the family bakery for Kyle and set them on his plate. I steered Kyle toward the great room. “I’m not giving up on Lauren though. Sometimes you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your handsome, or rather, beautiful princess.”
I led Kyle near the fireplace and we plopped down on one of Grandma’s comfy couches in the corner with a view of the front door. I introduced Kyle to a few of the other family members and friends who lounged there too. It was fun to chat up some of the friends I didn’t get to see as often. One of my cousins settled down near me on the sofa and told me that she had just seen my boyfriend come into the house a few minutes ago.
I sat up straighter and a smiled. I didn’t know he would be here so early—funny I hadn’t seen him come in. He had a meeting in the city and we didn’t think he would be back until later on when the party was in full swing. We had decided that I would bring Kyle so I could introduce him to Lauren and that he would come straight to the party when his meeting was done. I whispered to Kyle that I would be right back and went to look for him. As soon as I turned around, I ran straight into Bradley.
“Looking lovely as usual, Eliza,” Bradley said, squeezing my shoulder familiarly and giving me a quick peck on the cheek. “Have you tried this eggnog?” he asked handing me one of the two glasses he carried.
The woman I had replaced temporarily on Bradley’s trivia team decided to move permanently and so at Bradley’s urging, I sweated my way through several weeks of matches. I finally convinced my sister Charlotte to come check out the trivia circuit. Her encyclopedic knowledge of all things arcane, weird and wonderful immediately earned her the respect of the team and I was only too glad to bequeath my spot to Charlotte when they recruited her. Bradley soon found that he was as passionate about Charlotte as any scientific principle he had ever studied. They were a perfect match. After a quick engagement, they got married shortly after school let out for the summer.
Bradley was all that I could ask for in a brother-in-law. He was smart and fun and I only got him in small doses at family dinners and staff meetings.
I thanked Bradley for the eggnog and continued the search for my boyfriend. Kyle called to my retreating back. “When you track down Harry, tell him I need to talk to him about that house on Taylor Street with the cracked foundation.”
I waved my hand in acknowledgement and went to discover where my early arriving boyfriend was. Kyle and Harry had hit it off from the first day I introduced them. It didn’t hurt that their jobs complemented each other so well. Urban sprawl was creeping closer and closer to our little town. What had once been a sleepy community was now being considered a prime location for those who wanted some space and were willing to commute into the city. Younger couples were snatching up many of the older homes. Kyle was a real estate agent and he was happy to introduce his clients to Harry who was brought in to convince the family the home could be transformed to their taste. Harry was doing a brisk business with his designs to modernize and update the tiny kitchen and bathrooms while maintaining all the original craftsmanship and charm. The business was young, but word of mouth kept Harry busy.
Not surprisingly, I found Harry helping himself to the buffet. His face lit up when he saw me. “The clients loved the plans. I got out early and was able to beat traffic,” he explained. “I just snuck in through the kitchen door a few minutes ago. I don’t think your grandparents even know I’m here.”
“Trying to avoid the foyer and mistletoe?” I laughed, squeezing his hand.
“It was no guarantee you would be the one to catch me under the mistletoe when I arrived,” he teased back. “Better safe than sorry.”
I remembered back to last year. “You had sparkles in your hair the first time I kissed you there.”
“It was all part of my charm. I knew my agility on the ladder and a magical head full of glitter would be hard to resist.”
“No, just you being you is all that I needed. No magic necessary.”
“You know, I’ve never mentioned this, but I was a little disappointed in that first kiss; it didn’t last nearly long enough. Grandma had led me to expect a little more from you.”
I cocked an eyebrow at him, surprised. “Grandma told you what she was up to?”
“Don’t worry,” Harry said, pulling me close. “Grandma has a matchmaking reputation to uphold. You can’t blame her for talking you up. I think she had you in mind for me from the moment I walked through that door.”
I remembered I had given Grandma such a hard time. I made a mental note to thank her for her meddling before I left tonight. I looked Harry square in the eyes. “Well, please excuse last year’s anemic kiss—although I do believe it was enough to get you interested. I vow that this year’s kiss under the mistletoe will not leave you disappointed.”
“Hold that thought and follow me.” Harry escorted me from the dining room into the foyer. He led me until we stood underneath the mistletoe where we had first met.
“Now, before we get to that kiss, I have something to ask you.”
“Are you sure it can’t wait? Because, even in front of a crowd, this year’s kiss promises to be spectacular.”
Harry dropped to one knee. Hands shaking slightly he produced the engagement ring from his pocket. “Eliza Turner, please do me the honor of becoming my wife.”
My heart thumped wildly and a grin so big it nearly hurt spread across on my face. I pulled Harry to his feet. The resulting kiss more than made up for last year and left no doubt in anyone’s mind—especially Harry’s—as to my answer.
The party-goers erupted in applause and cheers as he slipped the diamond on my left hand. As we locked fingers and made our way through the happy well-wishers, Harry whispered in my ear, “I bet you saw that one coming.”
“Maybe. I was hoping.”
“I’m glad you said yes,” Harry murmured.
I knew Harry wasn’t perfect and I certainly wasn’t either. But, we might just be perfect for each other. We were willing to accept each other—warts and all. Harry had definitely turned out to be one frog worth risking a kiss on.
“I’m glad you’re a man worth saying yes to.” I kissed him again. No mistletoe needed.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned next week for a little more Christmas and a New Year's story from the Six Chicks.