Under The Mistletoe

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Chapter 1

Snowflakes slowly drifted down while Linda walked up to her mother’s Curio shop. It was going to be a white Christmas – just like it was five years ago. Snow always brought back memories which were both pleasant and bitter. Memories tumbled out from the recess of her mind where she had carefully packed them off. But they refused to stay there. She thought about Rich and the first time she met him. She could feel her heart pounding and her legs go weak. How naïve and innocent she had been. She had fallen for his charms and got bruised badly. Hmmmm ……. Letting out a sigh she braved the snow and walked towards the shop. This is how it was five years ago when Linda offered to help her mother run the shop…………

It’s that time of the year when the entire world gets ready to enjoy the festival of Christmas. For Linda   festive season brought happiness, joy and ecstasy.   Oak Lawn, the sleepy Chicago suburb had a special place in her heart. She walked down the road watching everyone in the suburb   happily getting ready to welcome Santa Claus into their homes. The kids were out in the streets playing.   She could hear chatter and laughter from several homes. She imagined the elders’ busy decorating x-mas tree with bulbs, trinkets and colorful ribbons. It was in  this  season that Linda’s mother’s shop did great business selling Christmas gifts, streamers, balloons, sparkling lights, small decorative items to be hung on the tree and finally not to forget the mistletoe.   

She has come back to Oak Lawn for Christmas after five years.  It was the chilly wind blowing on her face, which made her go back in time. Heaving a sigh she thought about what happened five years ago……………

Linda was just out of college with dreams of becoming an online entrepreneur.  A degree in business economics was perhaps the best education she could have got to get into this highly competitive market. She had planned things nicely when her mother fell sick. Her mother was a sweet lady who never interfered in Linda’s life. But Linda knew that she required her at this time to run the shop.   There was also another incentive.  Her mother’s assistant Lizie was Linda’s best friend since childhood. Unlike Linda she was bolder and more vocal about everything. Lizie had already switched two boyfriends and was in the process of finding a third. Linda was sure that she will not have any problem finding another, as she was a vivacious girl who could attract men like a magnet. Thinking about Lizie brought a smile to Linda’s face. Surely she could spend some wonderful time with Lizzie.

On the other hand it was Linda who was shy and demure.  Her mother worried about her ever since she turned eighteen because she didn’t have a single boyfriend. Though she had several friends from high school and college, Linda’s idea of love and dating was rather old fashioned. She wished to be a one man’s woman and till love happens with her ‘soul mate’ she was ready to wait. Lizie had teased her about this often saying ‘Sweetie, there can be soul mates’, but Linda had been adamant about this. At five feet five inches tall Linda was very pretty with a heart shaped face and innocence written all over it. Her straight and simple nose was perfectly well set between almond shaped eyes that were basically blue in color. But when she got emotional they changed a shade green and made her look prettier than before. Her well proportioned body and tapering hips were accentuated by the jeans and blouse she wore under the thick cardigan. Her slender and shapely fingers were covered with woolen gloves to keep off from getting frozen. 

‘With looks like yours I could have any man ’, Lizzie often teased her. Even her friends in college said the same. Unaware of her beauty Linda only concentrated on furthering her career.

“Hi darling, hurry up. Soon this place will be filled with customers”, Lizie shouted to her from the shop.

Linda ran the few remaining steps to enter the shop and closed the door. She had to adorn the shop, put up the tree so that people could see the items/products that were available in the shop. She also had to decorate the display window as well as take a look at the inventory to see that there is sufficient material available. Making a mental note of all this she walked up to the coffee maker and poured herself a cup. As she was sipping it, Lizzie came out with the decorated tree to place it on display. Linda was helping her with the tree when Lizzie asked,

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