Yule Love Her
Jodi Hutchins © 2018
All Rights Reserved
Bec was late for work. Snow flittered throughout the streets in front of her, obscuring her field of vision as she hurried down the sidewalk to catch the next metro bus. She chewed nervously on her lower lip as she clambered up the stairs, paid her toll, and found an empty aisle seat. The vehicle smelled of burnt dust, sweat, and coffee, the familiar morning aroma swirling around her. The phone in her coat pocket buzzed, making her curse under her breath before plucking it from its hiding spot to check the screen. It was her boss, of course. She answered with great reluctance. “Bec Strom.”
“Where the hell are you, Becca?” Christina Macre snapped. Bec could visualize her boss sitting behind her desk, heeled feet propped on the surface among the paperwork with her hands wringing the strawberry-shaped stress ball as she scowled at the Bluetooth speaker. Bec took a deep breath and readied her excuse.
“I’ll be there in five, Chris. I’m sorry. The idiots above my apartment flooded their bathroom again, and the place was a mess. I had to move all my crap to the unit across the hall so it wouldn’t get ruined. The disaster made me miss my bus.” Bec had hoped Christina was in a good mood that day, but from the sound of her response, she was anything but.
“I don’t give a shit what your excuse is today. You should’ve been here twenty minutes ago, and I needed that report an hour ago. You better hurry.” She disconnected the call. Bec sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. In hindsight, she should’ve taken a damn Uber, but with her metro card paid through work, she felt a waste of money. She had to take in the scant benefits her employment offered so she wouldn’t quit on the spot.
“Sounds like a rough start to your day,” a voice beside her said. Bec shot her head up, having not realized another person occupied the window seat in her haste to answer the phone call. The woman smiled, obsidian eyes meeting hers and tanned cheeks holding a pink tinge from the cold. Her black hair was pulled back into an adorable messy bun and a thick scarf adorned her neck.
Bec chuckled lightly. “Oh, yeah. It’s one hell of a way to start a Monday.” She looked down at her phone as she received a text from Christina.
I hope you stop by Starbucks on the way up. I’m going to need caffeine to get through today.
Why the hell did she continue to put up with Chris’s horrible attitude? Oh, yeah, money and quite a bit of it; plus, her boss wasn’t always a raging monster. Bec shook her head before slipping her phone into the pocket of her wool coat. She met the woman’s gaze again. “It’s such a lie about the holiday season,” the woman began. Bec found the woman more striking the longer she stared at her. Little flecks of gold shimmered in her eyes as the sunlight filtered in through the windows of the moving bus, dark freckles scattered over her bronze cheeks and nose.
“What’s a lie?”
“People are nicer during the holidays. It’s the opposite. Have you been to the South Center mall this month? Absolute insanity. Even the little boutiques downtown are crawling with rude and inconsiderate people. I’m thankful in this day and age we can order stuff online and have it delivered to our doorsteps,” she said.
Bec laughed because the woman was right. “I can’t say I’ve ever willingly gone to the mall, but the last time I was there, it was still nuts and it was July. I’m sure last Friday was hell on Earth, though.” Bec paused before extending her hand. “I’m Bec.”
The woman laughed as she reached out a gloved hand. “Joy. You wouldn’t catch me dead anywhere near the mall on Black Friday.”
“Me either.” The bus halted abruptly, their handshake cut short as they both grabbed hold of the seats in front of them to stifle the jolt forward.
Joy looked out the window, frowning. “This is my stop. It was nice to meet you, Bec. I hope you have a better Tuesday.” Bec stood and stepped into the aisle to allow Joy to pass. She didn’t sit back in her seat until the woman exited the door, her eyes lingering on the woman’s lean figure and long legs. She admitted to herself that she wasn’t at all upset about missing her usual bus.
The line at the Starbucks beside her office building was long, much to her dismay, and the Christmas music made the wait that much worse. Bec tried to ignore the numerous text messages, no doubt from Chris, as she ordered her boss’s usual soy latte and a muffin. The elevator was cramped as she rode it to the eighteenth floor and when she exited, she nearly bumped into a coworker. “Hey, Becca! How are you?”
“Hey, Kenny. I’m good; kind of running late though.” I don’t have time for this, Bec thought as she smiled at him. Her fellow assistant was usually in good cheer and they traded stories about their equally crazy bosses with each other. However, Bec’s time was limited today.
“Nice. I see you’ve got your usual late-to-work placation treat for Chris,” he chuckled, eyeing the coffee and paper bag in Bec’s hand before meeting her gaze. “The guys and I are going out to grab some drinks later tonight. Do you want to come?”
“I’d love to, but I’ve got a lot going on right now. Thanks anyway. I have to get to Chris or she may very well find a new assistant. Maybe I’ll see you in the lounge later?” she offered as she headed off in the direction of her office. She watched Kenny nod as she turned the corner. The sound of the telephone ringing welcomed Bec with open arms as she stepped into the front office adjoining that of Chris’s. “Christina Macre’s office. How may I direct your call?”
After assisting the caller with their needs, Bec took a deep breath before knocking on the office door to the right of her desk. Chris shouted for her to enter, and she opened the door with a faux-confident air.
“It’s about time, Bec. I’d be surprised if my latte is still warm. What took you so long?” Chris rose behind her desk, her black Louboutin pumps clicking across the granite-tiled flooring as she stalked closer to Bec. Although Bec held a mild disdain for her boss, she couldn’t deny Chris was beautiful even twenty years her senior: long legs showcased in a tight pencil skirt, matching blazer over a cream-colored blouse dipping low to expose her pronounced collarbones. Her blonde bob was cut sharply, natural highlights accentuating the health of her hair. She worked out daily—spin class in the morning, Pilates in the afternoon, swimming in the evening. Bec knew because she’d set up all those activities as well as many others in Chris’s calendar. Her body showed every bit of her vigorous exercise routine, from her well-toned muscles to her flexibility. This combined with her fierce sense of competition and determination gave Chris the ultimate sex appeal. Too bad she was such a bitch.
“I apologize, Chris. Here.” Bec handed her the coffee, paper bag, and a piece of paper. “Daniel Brent from photography called about the cover for the invitations. He’ll be sending over a variety for you to take a look at,” she said, referring to the call she took before entering her office.
Chris looked uninterested, rounding her desk and sipping the tepid coffee as she eased into the highbacked chair. Her blue eyes narrowed at Bec before she turned to the computer screen. “You check it out and narrow down some choices for me. Twenty-five is far too many to choose from. Also, there’s a list of contacts I need you to add to the invite list. I’ve got a conference call with BI later this afternoon, and I’ll need that report.” She held up a folder and finally looked at Bec, her eyes scanning her body. “And, please, for the love of God, if you come to the banquet, could you dress a little more feminine?”
Bec rolled her eyes at Chris, who in turn chuckled. “You know I don’t do Christmas parties, and I don’t recall anything in the dress code demanding I wear frilly little dresses and crap. I’m comfortable in this.” Bec gestured to her black jeans and button-up shirt. She didn’t look bad, and her clothes weren’t wrinkled, but she definitely wasn’t girly. The comment was made to Bec at least once a month, if not more often, and it always led to a humorous conversation between the two women, one that Bec had come to enjoy. At first, Bec had kept her mouth shut when Chris provoked her in regard to her wardrobe choice, then, after a few times, Bec voiced her reasoning, prompting their amicable banter.
Chris scoffed, shaking her head and finishing her latte before she retorted. “Two years and you still wear the same dreary apparel you did your first week here. Do you think your tomboyish looks will get you a date?”
“Yeah, with a woman.” Bec heard her phone ring from the other room. She sighed. There was a long list of people she needed to add to the banquet invite list. It was one of many things on her to-do list from Chris, and she knew it was going to be a long day. “Let me know if you need anything else, Chris. I hear my phone ringing.”