I had so much fun writing my story for Sweet Christmas Kisses 3 – “Christmas Eve Wedding”. It's a romantic comedy about a maid of honor who is swept up in the chaos of planning her best friend’s spur-of-the-moment Christmas Eve wedding. The best man happens to be the guy she shared her first kiss with as a teenager. Back then, he was a nerd and their kiss was completely unexpected. The memory of that night has made her cringe all these years. And now he’s back, and he’s determined to kiss her again, for real this time.
Jillian Hughes was frantic. The Main Street Coffee Company website had received a new batch of orders, and she wasn’t sure how they would be able to fulfill them by the date they had promised. As part owner of the small shop, it was her responsibility. She and her sister, Judy, had started the website a few weeks ago for the customers who enjoyed their coffee at the hotels that they distributed them to, but they hadn’t anticipated such an overwhelming response.
On top of that, she was running late to her best friend, Allie’s, dinner party, which was scheduled to begin in less than a half hour. And Allie’s brother, Al, who she had shared her first kiss with, would be there.
The bell on the front door chimed, and Judy rushed inside the small storefront, which was decorated with a few Christmas trimmings amid the displays of flavored coffee. The cold air and the scent of wood burning fireplace followed her from outside. “Hey, sis,” she said, sounding out-of-breath and looking frazzled. “Sorry I took so long to get here. Traffic was a nightmare.” She gave Jillian a hug and stepped back, admiring her outfit. “You look nice.”
“Thanks.” Jillian adjusted her form-fitting black dress, tugging at the sides to pull it down. “Does this look too tight? It fit perfectly two weeks ago. I didn’t realize Christmas cookies had so many calories.”
“Do they? That explains why I had trouble buttoning my pants this morning. Don’t worry. The dress looks fine. You’re beautiful no matter what you wear.”
“Aww. That’s so sweet. So are you.”
“I appreciate that.” Judy made her way to the back office. “So, what’s the story with the online orders?”
“I have good news and bad news,” said Jillian, following her. “The good news is, we’ve received more of them. A lot more. The bad news is, we haven’t finished shipping the ones we already had. I think we need to hire more staff.”
“We can’t afford to hire more staff.”
“I know, but if we don’t, we’ll have a lot of angry customers on our hands when Christmas Eve arrives and they haven’t received their orders. We did promise they would receive them by then.” Jillian swept her long chestnut hair, which she had styled in soft waves, over her shoulder, and reached for her red velvet lipstick from inside her handbag. “Seriously, I never expected to have so many sales. I’m sorry you’ve had to spend your whole visit on work.”
“Hey, I’m just as much part of this shop as you are.” Judy had come all the way from her home in Scotland to visit for Christmas. She and her husband, Graham Ferguson, had met right here at the shop before it was Main Street Coffee Company, and Judy had moved overseas to be with him. “I’ll take a look at our finances and see what we can do.” She pulled off her jacket, which was lightly dusted with snow, and hung it on the coat rack. She stopped and studied Jillian who painted her lips in front of a mirror on the wall. “So, what’s the occasion?”
“Allie invited me to her marriage proposal.”
“You’re kidding. Romeo is finally popping the question?”
Romeo, AKA Romero Romo, had been Allie’s boyfriend for years.
“Nope,” said Jillian. “Allie is proposing to him. She bought him a man-gagement ring a few days ago.”
Judy scrunched her eyebrows together. “A what?”
“You know, an engagement ring for a man. He has no idea.”
Judy clapped her hands together in delight. “This is great. I hope you’ll take a picture of the big moment. I would love to see the look on his face.”
Jillian grabbed her phone, which was clad in a rhinestone-studded case, and held it up. “My camera is all set and ready to go.” She slipped it, along with her lipstick, back inside her handbag. She reached for her faux leather jacket and flung it around her slender, petite body.
“Wait a minute. Why are you invited? Does she need a witness to make him feel pressured into saying yes?”
“She didn’t invite only me. She invited her whole family.”
“Seriously? Poor Romero. Talk about being cornered. I mean, if he hasn’t proposed to her himself by now, he probably isn’t ready.”
“I’ll let you know what happens.” Jillian reached for her handbag. “Anyway, I have to go. I talked to Allie just now. Everyone else is already there.”
“Is Alfie there too?” Judy raised a curious eyebrow.
Jillian stopped dead in her tracks. Alfie. That was a name she hadn’t heard in a long time. She and Judy grew up with Allie and her younger brother, Alfie, who now went by the name Al, which was short for Alfred Schwartz, Jr. They all went to the same schools together when they were kids. The years had pulled them apart, but she and Allie had reconnected. She had mentioned her brother now and then. He and their parents moved away after Alfie graduated from high school, and he had come back to town to visit a couple of times when Allie moved back here, but Jillian hadn’t seen him.
The mere mention of his old nickname made a sick feeling radiate through her stomach. Alfie had been the school nerd. Taller and skinnier than everyone else in the class. The boy none of the other girls ever liked. The memory of their kiss still made her cringe. If only she could go back in time and erase the events of that night.