Kisses at Candy Cane Lane
Kisses at Candy Cane Lane
Noelle, a hotel, and two hearts that fell . . .
Holidays are turning out to be something of a special time for me. On Halloween I got pregnant, and now that we're heading for Christmas - who knows?
When I tell the father of my baby that that he’s a daddy, he surprises me by not running away. Even though all we had was one night, he's willing to see where this goes, and so am I.
Little do Cal and I know that what we started on Halloween night just might see us through the rest of our lives.
"Welcome to The Gingerbread House." This is the phrase I spend most of my days saying, and I love it. “Do you have a reservation?”
The couple in front of me have eyes for only each other. The way they're smiling softly and attached at the hip is what I love to see when couples come into my boutique hotel.
"We do," the man answers, pulling his wife closer to him. She in turn presses her head back to his shoulder, tilting it so that their eyes meet. "We're the Taylor's."
"Here for a babymoon." The woman grins as she runs her hand over her burgeoning belly. "I'm due in late January."
"Congratulations." I smile back at her. "I'm so happy you've chosen to stay here for the . . ." I check their reservation, "week before Christmas."
"It's our last one as a family of two. We wanted to make it special."
"We're going to do our best to give you the best Christmas experience you've ever had,” I assure them. “I just need your ID and a form of payment, and we'll get you settled."
I finish the rest of the transaction on autopilot. When we're done, I direct them to one of my other team members so they can be taken to their room. Their best celebration ever is about to start. When they're gone, I take a seat at the bench by the large bay window, and inhale deeply, hoping that it will settle my queasy stomach. It’s my favorite spot to sit, and one of the reasons I like working the front desk.
"You alright, Boss Lady?" Jessica, one of my front desk workers asks, as she gets a look at me.
Nodding, I put a hand on my middle section, focusing on breathing through my nose and out through my mouth. "Perfect, but I'm gonna go take a break if you've got the front?"
"I've got it; take your time. Sorry I was a little late."
"It's okay. I know the roads are trash. They said we'll get more snow over the next week too. I've saved rooms for staff, so don't worry."
Jess gives me a look. "I never worry about you having our safety and happiness at the forefront of your mind. This is the best place I've ever worked, and you're the best boss I've ever had."
My cheeks heat at the praise. "Thank you, I'll see you in a little while."
Once off the hook, I hurry to my office and shut myself inside. Leaning back against the door, I sigh heavily. I don't know how much longer I can keep this secret especially with this being the busiest time of the year, and the biggest year we've ever had.
After walking over to my desk, I pull out the chair and take a seat. I haven't moved my calendar from the night my life changed. Halloween will always have a special place in my heart, and I have to decide if I want to tell the man I spent that night with about our predicament.
The only problem?
He is my employee, and has been my crush since I was thirteen years old. On Halloween, things got infinitely more complicated between us, but also my dream came true. It’s one I'm not prepared to let go of yet.
Reaching into my desk drawer, I feel around for the package of peanut butter crackers I carry with me now. Gone is my daily Starbucks, replaced by what I've told others is a new hydration routine. Really, my insulated cup carries Sprite at all times.
With shaking hands, I struggle to open the package of crackers. Once I do, I pull out one and munch on it gratefully. It's starting to have a placebo effect. As soon as the flavor hits my tongue and the crunch sounds in my ears, my stomach starts to settle. Already feeling better, I sink back in my chair, closing my eyes for a few minutes. I've been exhausted lately and grabbing catnaps wherever I can.
Today? My attempt at sleeping is not helping.
There's so much I need to do, and all I want to do is go home, curl up, and not show my face until tomorrow.
But this is my dream, and I'm determined to make it work. I've put every single bit of extra money I have into this hotel. Not only does it need to provide for me, but now for the little family member I'm going to have. Pressure mounts, but I know I can handle it. I've wanted this since I knew what it meant to be a mother.
There's nagging at the base of my skull, though. I have to tell him. It's not a secret I can continue to keep to myself. Not in good conscience. I just haven't found the right time.
But when is the right time? The voice in the back of my head questions me.
If you wait for the right time for everything you'll be waiting your entire life. As I'm trying to make a plan that has the potential to work, my office door slams open and I'm greeted with the man I've been thinking of.
He looks at me like a soldier ready to do battle, which he was not so long ago. His dark eyes are full of fire, his face is set as if he’s determined to get answers, and his mouth a grim line. The tattoos he came back to Blizzard Bluff with are on show along his delineated forearm as he holds the door against the wall. While everyone else is buttoned up and excited about the perfect Christmas weather we're having, he's wearing short sleeves and a grimace.
"Cal . . ." I give him a wan smile.
"Why didn't you tell me? When were you going to tell me?" he demands. "How long have you known?"
It's not easy to be on the receiving end of his annoyance and anger, but I knew as soon as I started keeping this secret that that's exactly where I would be.