Day 2: The Card cont.

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"What are you doing here? Were you here waiting for me? What kind of creepy stalker are you?" The questions flew from my lips hot and fast, my hands balling up into fists and my nails digging into my palms. Though, I worried about what kind of scene I was making in such a public place, no one gave us any notice as the bus moved its way down the road, the vehicle shaking with the constant stops it had to make.

"I'm here to see you," he said, straightening himself up in his seat and adjusting the hat on his head. "I was, in fact, waiting for you. Though, admittedly, I couldn't be certain you'd decide to take the bus. And no I'm not a stalker, though my boss certainly is often characterized as such. It's a common misconception, but I can understand where that reasoning comes from."

"How is it that you are not a stalker when you just admitted to waiting on this bus purely to see me?" I asked, my hand edging towards my purse and the bottle of pepper spray I kept inside there. "How would you even know I would be taking a bus? A series of unfortunate events landed me here, this is not something I typically do."

"A series of unfortunate events, you say?" he replied with a mischief rise of one of his eyebrows. "You know, considering your logic, if I was a malicious individual, I wouldn't have known to go on the bus since this isn't routine behavior."

"Unless you've been watching me," I hissed pulling out the pepper spray and thrusting it towards him so that it stopped an inch from his face. "Tell me who you really are or I will have you scratching your eyes out."

"Well, you have accepted my gift, so I think we're at a point where we can be forthright with each other. However, it will be easier to talk without a weapon in my face."

"Too bad," I replied with a smirk. "Get talking or I'll be seasoning those green eyes of yours with the finest selection of pepper."

"Fine," he sighed, rolling his shoulders and shifting his weight so he could look past the little canister and instead focus squarely upon my eyes. I tried not to shiver as the strength of his sincerity washed over me. Just because he's handsome, I told myself, doesn't mean he's a good guy. "My name is Alistair and before you ask, no I don't have a last name. I come from a magical place that is generally filled with joy and bliss, but it also has its shortcomings — individuality being one of them. Anyway, I've spent the past few centuries working as a carpenter for the Claus Workshop. I generally worked on dollhouses and clocks, but spent a time crafting the occasional rocking horse and train set. After all those years, my displeasure at this monotonous life became apparent to my superiors and I was offered a release from our compound. However, I have to work a desk job first to confirm this is the life I want to live and to acquaint myself with the world outside of the North Pole. I've had several jobs now and despite what I think has been stellar performances, I still haven't been released and you just happen to be my next project."

"Your project?" I mumbled, my lips loose as my mind slowly tried to decipher the madness he was spewing.

"Yes," he said, taking a deep breath and leaning in slightly, "I'm to find that little girl who once wrote to Santa Claus with passion and joy. I'm to remind Jess Sullivan, of the value of gifts that have been given by reminding her what it's like to have nothing at all."

"Santa Claus?" I asked with a squint of my eyes.

"Yes."

"The man in a red suit and white beard? Says 'ho ho ho' and enjoys sliding down chimneys on cold winter nights?"

"Only one night, really, but in general, yes, that is correct."

"And you used to make toys?" I continued, the hand holding the pepper spray lowering as Alistair's posture remained casual despite the grip of tension in his jawline.

"Yes."

"Are you telling me you are one of Santa's elves?"

"Yes, I am."

The bus trundled to a stop as we both continued to watch each other with unsettled expressions. Finally, I broke.

"That's the most absurd story I've ever heard," I said with a bark of laughter distorting my words. "You're an elf," I continued in a mocking tone, "and Santa Claus has sent you to save my mortal soul."

"I think you've gone a little too far there, we don't work in the soul trade, just trying to take someone off the naughty list and add them back on to the nice list."

"Naughty, am I?" My hand slapped my knee, as the other hand still clutching my pepper spray rose up to wipe the tears of laughter from the corners of my eyes. "Okay, Mr. Elf. Whatever you say."

"You don't believe me."

"Of course, I don't," I hissed, my laughter coming to a hard stop as the bus returned to its route and the passengers continued to ignore my outburst. "I'm not four."

"You were at one point."

"So what? I'm twenty-six now. I'm a grown woman who can take care of herself." I gestured at him with my pepper spray to remind him how well I could defend myself. "I don't know what kind of ploy this is. I don't know if you were hoping to bank on the fact Christmas is less than a month away or you thought batting those sharp green eyes of yours would make me swoon so that I'd believe anything you said, but this is too ridiculous for words. I have no idea what you're hoping to accomplish, but I want you to stay away from me." I rose up and grabbed on to a nearby handlebar as I maintained my pepper spray's aim upon his penetrating gaze.

"You may find yourself regretting that request."

"I highly doubt it," I answered, glancing out the window to find we were pulling up to my stop.

"Well, on the off chance that you do wish to follow up on this conversation, I'll have you know that you can find me wherever the Christmas spirit is. Call me and I'll be there."

"I don't have your number and I don't want it," I growled as the bus stopped at my plaza and the doors swung open.

"Are you sure?" he replied from his seat at the back of the bus. "It sounds like I almost had you swooning."I glared at him from over the tops of various heads, some of which had now glanced up at me to see what my answer would be. I responded with a one finger salute before walking down the steps and out onto the sidewalk.

***

Is Jessica going to regret telling Alistair off?  And do you believe he's actually one of Santa's elves?

At home sick today with my son who's also home sick, though he's doing a lot better.  Still managed to get a chapter out.  Got to appreciate the small things in life!

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