There was this girl. She was young. She was pretty. She worked at the chocolate shop.
I am not a scrooge, honest. I have come to not so much as hate Christmas as to just be annoyed with the whole holiday build up. The shopping especially annoys me.
Because of classes, I really haven't opportunity to shop at that time of year and haven't the organizational skills to do it through the rest of the year. I usually do all right, but only barely all right, by getting gifts for my parents and the girl, who until recently, waited for me back home.
This all does have a point (trust me), and that point is this; about the time I'm getting thrown out of the dorms, I always end up with the last minute panic over what to give my extended family for Christmas. I have the car packed with dirty laundry, ready to make the long drive across the state, except that I need to stop some place to get my aunt, uncle, and the cousins something.
It's very annoying.
Anyway. Once again, I found myself getting snowed upon in a parking lot in front of an empty dorm without those last few gifts. I, also, lacked a clue where to look for something to give someone who already had enough University sweatshirts. Just before turning over the ignition, I remembered the small chocolate shop across from campus next to the little cafe where I did much of my studying.
Guessing that a few boxes of chocolate would solve the problem, I made the short drive into town. My headlamps illuminated the dark and empty street. The liquid remains of a snowflake or two barely necessitated using the wipers to clear. They swished their path across the glass making the occasional groan or squeal to protest the lack of work.
With the student body gone for break, I was only car or person to be seen on the short, dark trip to the car park behind the building holding the two shops. The beat of the heavy pop music playing over the radio made for poor company and hardly distracted me (even during the short drive) from my mild guilt over the gift thing or the dread of this particular homecoming and the memories associated with it.
I had my choice of any space in the lot, and I took one close to the rear entrance to the shop. Like both town and campus, the shop was dead. As best as I could tell at first, I was the only person in the store. There was plenty of chocolate (a good thing seeing as how it was a chocolate shop and all).
I started to look over the selection of candies behind the glass of the display cases. They were all of the familiar varieties, but unlike the machine-borne perfection of the typical box chocolates, each had the flawed appearance of individuality that suggested something special. Thinking that maybe this would work, I smiled. I also looked up from the candy at the sound of someone entering the store.
Rather than a jacket, she wore a green apron of the style that had a strap that went around the neck to hold up a flap that would protect the shirt. The belt ties were wrapped around to the front and knotted into a sloppy bow. She grasped a large paper cup with the coffee shops logo in her left hand.
"Oh. Hi." She sort of cringed but with a smile. "Sorry, I really didn't expect to have any customers tonight. I hope you weren't here long."
"No, I just stepped in. I haven't really had much of a chance to look over what you have."
"Okay." Her smile relaxed with her entire body. "Let me know when you need any help."
I nodded and went back to looking at the chocolates. At least, I was half looking at chocolates; the other half was looking at the clerk, who leaned on the counter near the till sipping from her cup.
She stood at nearly average height, maybe a centimeter or two less, as I could best guess because of her relaxed posture. She, also, had a slightly thinner then average build that was still more ample than us guys is supposed to like. I found her to be healthy and very womanly in appearance. I paid very close attention to her arse on the couple of occasions she had stood in the right position.
Her round face with a small upturned nose over pouty lips had very little if any make-up. She watched me with blue eyes through a pair of glass that had thick, black plastic frames that had short, wide lenses. Her blonde hair was pulled tight against her scalp into a long ponytail.
I finally made up my mind and looked up to her. She quickly put down her coffee and ran over to me. I noted a modest amount of jiggle beneath her apron. She stopped close enough to give me a chance to take a discreet glance down her white oxford shirt. Her nametag declared her to be Beth
"Yes. I would like three one-pound boxes of chocolate covered cherries and three half-pound boxes of the mixed chocolates."
"Any in particular?"
"Okay," she said with a wink as she began to put together my order. "Are you a student?"
"Yep," I answered. I watched her short, thin fingers pick up chocolates to keep from staring at her cleavage. "I'm a fifth- year senior."
"And I thought you all had left on holiday."
"I had a last minute project to finish, so I couldn't leave until the last minute." I looked up from her hands and noticed her playing a tongue stud against her teeth. "Besides, aren't you a student, too."
Her smile turned into a weak frown. "No, I'm a local. I was accepted by the university this year, but even with student aid, I couldn't afford it after the tuition hike."
"Yeah, I had to take an extra year because I couldn't pay for all my courses last year." I sighed. "I hoped to get a job teaching after the term, but with the cutbacks because of the economy, I think I may have to take an assistantship the professor I work for is offering me."
"Oh," she replied as she finished the last box of cherries. She started to pack the first of the mixed chocolates, the tongue bar clicking against her teeth. "Well, at least your girlfriend is getting a nice present."
"I'm sure she is. She got married to a stock broker who is making a mint short selling stocks," I said in a voice without bitterness or any other emotion. "These are for my relatives."
"Oh." For a long time, we were both silent as she continued to fill my last box. With the last chocolate in place, she looked at me. "So you aren't seeing anyone right now?"
"Neither am I."
It appeared to be my turn to say, "oh."
"Yeah, but it's okay, though. He was a jerk, but I do miss the sex." She looked into my eyes and licked her lips.