With all the hustle and bustle of the Christmas holidays, Samantha hadn't noticed the small package shoved in her kitchen hutch. It was under the Spode plates and behind the Santa saltshakers. In fact, if she hadn't been trying to find her red Santa dish towels, she may have never found it at all.
It didn't look like anything special. Wrapped in brown paper with red raffia, a hand stamped tag simply said: To Samantha. Love, Me.
It's probably Jeremy, she thought with a flash of warmth that spread from her chest all the way to her toes. Looking at the small box, she bit her lip and tried to ignore the whisper in her brain: Maybe it's a ring.
Samantha and Jeremy had been dating for more than three years now. And true, Jeremy was still struggling in carving a place out for himself at the new law practice he joined. And yes, it was true that he still had tons of student debt and the economy wasn't exactly hot right now.
But the box was small and hidden. What else could it be?
Running her fingers over it, Samantha resisted the urge to give it a shake. Her mind bubbled with images of Jeremy clinging glasses at Christmas dinner for a toast; perhaps sinking to one knee in front of the tree or pulling it out of her stocking with a flourish.
She heard the kitchen door swing open behind her and carefully slid it into her apron. Whirling around, she beamed as Jeremy shimmied toward her with a bottle of wine.
"Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way!" he warbled, swinging the bottle around. "Oh what fun it is to ride a one horse open sleigh!"
"Have a little extra egg nog, darling?" Samantha teased, taking the bottle of wine from him before he broke it.
"Just a little," he admitted, holding his arms out wide. "A tad, a tiny bit. It is Christmas after all."
"It is," Samantha murmured. "And I got you something really special, darling! I think you'll like it."
"Great," Jeremy replied, his eyes focused on the pyramid of cookies on the counter.
Samantha waited a moment, then sidled up to him. "Did you get me anything special?" she purred, toying with his collar.
"Sure I did!" Jeremy said, shoving a cookie into his mouth. "I got you something you'll never forget! Something you'll treasure for your whole life!"
Samantha beamed and tried not to grasp at the package in her apron pocket. "I'm sure I will!"
Planting a sticky kiss on her lips, Jeremy snagged three more cookies and twirled out of the kitchen singing a drunken rendition of "Silent Night." Trying not to giggle, Samantha smoothed her hair and pulled off her apron. She patted the tiny package in the pocket and scurried off to go find her camera batteries. Tonight would be an important night, after all.
If only she had known what was in the package, she would have known just how important it would be. And she would have known just how wrong she was.
To be continued...
Welcome to the final week of Christmas at the Pond! There's all sorts of goodies for you, including a recap of the Shreveport Christmas Invasion 2008, the Babies' letter to Santa and a Christmas story from the Blond Duck's past that will make all your burned turkeys and fallen trees seem minor. We've also got a new Twirl and the end of Kitchen Magic, which will be a book shortly! Stay tuned and have a Merry Christmas!