Alone For Christmas(3)

By: Ashley John

“Sleeping in his office?” asked Amy as she exhaled cigarette smoke through her nose like a dragon. “Are you sure?”

“Why else would there be a sleeping bag?”

Noah wafted the smoke out of his face and climbed over the mess in his flat to open a window. He tripped on the wire of the fairy lights on his pathetically small Christmas tree, which dropped to the floor.

“It’s probably for the best,” said Amy as he picked up the tiny Christmas tree and set it back on the side table. “It’s hardly the John Lewis vision of Christmas in here.”

“This is my first Christmas alone,” he said as he straightened the £1 angel on top of the tiny tree. “I’m not in the mood to celebrate.”

“I still feel bad about that,” said Amy, dropping the lit stub of her cigarette into her almost finished glass of wine. “If my Grandma wasn’t so strict about ‘family only’, I would have invited you to my place.”

“It’s okay,” he said with a wave of his hand, trying not to think too hard about it. “I’m just going to let it pass me by. The only way I’ll even know it’s Christmas is the crap TV and the silence of the city.”

Noah tossed back the last of his white wine. He went to pour himself another glass, but they had polished off an entire bottle in the hour since Amy had turned up in her silver gown.

Amy brushed invisible lint from Noah’s shoulder and straightened up his tie with a soft smile on her cherry-red lips.

“You look beautiful,” he said as she adjusted his waxed hair for him.

“I should,” she chuckled. “Do you know how long it took me to straighten this bush out? Two whole hours! If it weren’t for Steve Banks, I wouldn’t have bothered.”

“Are you still trying to make out with Steve Banks? You’ve been trying for the last two Christmases.”

“And I feel like this is my year.” She stepped back and assessed him with a satisfied nod. “You’ll do. You might even get your own kiss under the mistletoe.”

Amy pulled a mirror out of her small, silver clutch and reapplied her lipstick for the third time since arriving. He laughed off her suggestion. Noah had always found it difficult to find guys he was sexually attracted to, and the one guy who occupied his fantasies and dreams was straight, divorcing his third wife, and unlikely to show up to his own Christmas party.

“You know Clark in Finance has a thing for you,” offered Amy, who had always been able to read what was on his mind. “Beth told me so.”

“Clark?” Noah wrinkled his nose. “Which one is he?”

“Glasses and curly hair,” she said. “He’s cute. Bit nerdy, but cute.”

“Beth is probably talking out of her backside, as usual. Remember when she told us she was dating a footballer and we all believed her?”

“Well, he was a footballer,” said Amy, “if you count Sunday league down at The Crown pub.”

Noah laughed as he picked up his phone and pushed it into his inside pocket. He thought about his last visit to the Finance Department and his brief interaction with Clark. He was pretty new at the office and they had talked about the weather for about forty-five seconds.

“That’ll be the taxi!” exclaimed Amy when his intercom speaker buzzed. “How do I look?”

“Snog-worthy,” he said, giving her two thumbs up.

“Not shag-worthy then?” she said with a sarcastic wink as she linked her arm with Noah’s. “Let’s go get pissed and dance the night away.”

It suddenly sounded like the only thing he wanted to do, even if he couldn’t stop his mind from wandering to Chip Harington spending the evening alone, drinking whiskey in his office before collapsing into his sleeping bag.

The taxi pulled up outside of Resurrection, a posh bar in West London that Chip Harington had booked exclusively for Harington Publishing House’s Christmas party.

“Bloody hell, this beats last year’s art gallery,” mumbled Amy as she crawled out of the taxi, an unlit cigarette already pressed between her lips. “Shame ol’ Chippy won’t be here to enjoy it.”

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