Dreaming of December by Dakota Rebel

 

Chapter One

~ December ~

Oh my god. I’m hearing that damn bell in my sleep now. I pulled my pillow over my face and screamed into it, hoping it was muffled enough to keep Atilla-the-roommate off my ass.

I’d lived here for two months and I was about to take a third job, just so I could afford to break the lease. She’d advertised for a roommate, but I’m pretty sure all she actually wanted was a rent check. Everything I did was wrong. I was too loud, too messy, took up too much space on the sofa during Survivor.

At this point, I just went to work and hid in my room. It hadn’t been so bad, until my cat decided she preferred the roommate’s company to my own. As if it weren’t bad enough to be an old maid, but now the cat had stripped me of my cat lady title.

Pathetic.

I threw off the covers and sat up, cradling my forehead in my palm and wishing the incessant sound of the kettle bell ringing I listened to all day at work would just stop. Just for a minute.

Working as an angel at the mall, surrounded by elves and Santa Claus…is just as fucking terrible and stupid as it sounds. I didn’t ask why they decided to include an angel in the Christmas village they set up. I just accepted the offer of a paycheck and helped calm down screaming kids long enough to get their pictures taken. It sucked, but it helped pay the extra holiday bills not covered by my main job as a receptionist at a dentist office.

Finally, I realized that it wasn’t bells I was hearing, it was my phone ringing in the nightstand drawer where I’d tossed it last night before I fell asleep. Rolling my eyes at myself, I pulled it out and saw three text messages and two missed calls.

All from the boy wonder.

Cody Dear was too persistent for his own good. He was a twenty-three-year-old phenom who’d graduated high school at sixteen, college at nineteen, and now, for some reason, was trying to get me to date him. I guess maybe he’d used up most of his intelligence speeding his way through school.

Come to breakfast with me, his first text said.

I’m going to pick you up in twenty minutes, text number two informed me.

I’m downstairs, according to text three.

His fourth text popped up as I jumped to my feet and started digging through my clothes on the floor for something to pull on.

I’m coming up.

After tugging up a pair of jeans and tossing a sweatshirt over my pajama tank top, I opened my bedroom door and heard the sound of my roommate talking to Cody, their voices low enough that I couldn’t make out the actual words, but recognizing both voices.

“What are you doing here?” I asked him, stepping into the hall.

“We’re having breakfast,” he said, a grin lighting up his face when he saw me. “And look at how festive you are already.”

I looked down at my Sunnydale Community College sweatshirt and shrugged.

Leslie rolled her eyes at me and reached out, tugging at my hair before coming away with a few strands of tinsel.

“Right,” I said, running my fingers through my locks, taking more sparkles away. “I got home late last night.”

“An angel’s work is never done,” Cody agreed solemnly. “You ready?”

“Do I look ready?” I asked him.

“You look beautiful,” he said.

As I completed my eyeroll, I caught Leslie giving one as well. Nice.

“Look, I’m really not up for going out,” I told him.

“Come on,” he insisted. “I want pancakes. You’re not going to make me eat pancakes alone, are you?”

“I’ll go,” Leslie offered.

“Let me get my shoes,” I said, shooting a glare at my roommate.

Nonplussed, she followed me down the hall to my room, then inside and shut the door.

“How have you not snatched that up?” she asked me. “Or are you playing hard to get?”

“What?” I stared at her, dumbfounded. “No. He’s a kid!”

“He’s gorgeous,” she argued. “And obviously smitten with you. Guys like that don’t break down your door to take you out for pancakes every day, Desi. I assume this is the reason you’ve been gone most nights. Hanging out with that absolute snack?”

“We get coffee after my shift sometimes,” I told her. “Just talking. He’s a nice guy.”

He was a great guy. And the truth was, I was totally in love with him. He was smart and kind and funny. Not to mention gorgeous. I’d never seen so many muscles on a man that intelligent. In fact, I could probably count on one hand the number of men in his Mensa group that could bench press two-hundred and fifty pounds.

He was just so much younger than me. And completely out of my league. He was a twenty-three-year-old lead chemical engineer for a massive pharmaceutical company. And I was an overweight mall angel.

He didn’t seem the type to play games, but I just couldn’t imagine what he was doing with me. But I liked him too damn much to put a final stop to it. So, I balked every time he asked me out, but he never gave up and I always gave in.

“You want my advice?” Leslie asked, breaking my thoughts.

“No,” I assured her, stepping into my Keds and shifting them into place.

“Too bad,” she countered. “You take everything that guy has to offer. You’re not getting any younger.”

“Wow,” I snapped. “But you’re getting bitchier.”

“I don’t mean to be,” she admitted. “Look, we’ll talk when you get back, okay?”

“Sure,” I agreed, feeling my brows knit together as I was unable to keep my confusion off my face. Was she actually trying to be nice to me? Weird.

She walked out and I followed, snagging my purse from where I’d dropped it in the chair the night before.

“Ready?” Cody asked brightly, his hand already on the doorknob.

“Yeah,” I agreed and followed him out.