Disclaimers: None really necessary. This is the latest story to be extracted from my brain.

Love/Sex/Language Warning: All of the above plus a bag of chips. J

Violence: Not this time.




By DS Bauden


Six weeks… it's only six weeks. I have to remember that. As cold as I am in the suburbs of Chicago, it's only going to be for six weeks. I know ForOthers, Inc. realizes how lucky they are that I'm a nice person. I don't know how many other people they asked before me, but I'm sure they all said no to this particular job. I'm sure I'll see some interesting people during the holidays up here.

The people in this area are pretty stuck up. I usually deal with people in the city. I know how to deal with suburbanites, I used to be one, I just don't necessarily want to do so. It's a whole new world out here. At least the company pays for my commute. I know I couldn't afford to live out here. I'm sure my parents would love to see me now. They could probably see me if they look hard enough from their window.

Well, there's certainly some eye candy coming my way. Nice suit. Nice body in the suit.

Nice everything.

You aren't kidding. Maybe this won't be so bad afterall.

Won't mummy and daddy love that?

Like I care.

You don't?

Do I?


I can't wait until Spring. This cold stuff is for the penguins. I hate the holidays. Nothing but asshole customers complaining that we didn't give them our first born. I just don't get it. We pay people to do their jobs and enforce our policies. When people don't like our rules, we are automatically expected to back down and give them what they want. It's so ridiculous. The customer is always right.

My big fucking ass they are!

Helloooo, who is that? Poor thing must be freezing. God she's adorable look at that face. Nice packaging, too. I'll warm you up, darlin. Yeah right. I lost my nerve a long time ago. I could ask her out. I could.

Then drop her like a lead weight as soon as she gets attached.

Unless she leaves first so I don't have to be the asshole.




Bite me.


Chapter One


As the cold winds blew against my face, I was forced to realize that my shift still had six hours left. The bell in my hand almost froze to my mitten as the snow continued to fall.

I really hope that next year finds me in a better place. God, if you are out there, please send me to the sun. It's cold out here.


"Thank you ma'am, happy holidays, " I shivered to the nice patron that dropped some change into my bucket.

God, I remember Christmas mornings in my parent's house; we started off the day with a huge warm breakfast. Everything you could imagine was put on our plates. From eggs to pancakes, we never wanted for anything. My parents watched over me and took care of every need I ever had. Who knew my life would end up like this.

It seemed like it was yesterday, when in actuality, it's been over five years since I have seen or talked to my parents. I never would've guessed that they were so cold hearted. We've all had our wake-up calls, unfortunately, that was a call I never expected to get. I came out to my parents when I was 20 years old. The look in their eyes, when I came clean about who I was, was a look I will never forget. If I had a knife and drove it through their hearts I would have seen the same expression.

I never meant to hurt them, I just couldn't lie anymore. I never knew this would happen from just being honest and truthful with my parents. Jonathan and Elise McGovern were two people that meant the world to me. I was their only child in a marriage of 35 years and still they chose to forget me.

So here I sit in the cold winter air earning my living asking other people for money. It's not that I mind the job; I like helping others. I'll just never get used to it. Every season it's something else but I think winter is my least favorite season. I'm sure you can imagine why that is.

I raised my jacket sleeve to look at my watch. I knew she would be coming soon, she always did. She was by far the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen. She had milky white skin, surrounded by a mane of dark brown hair with the sea.te, be coming soon. i eyes as blue as the sea.

She must work around here since I see her so often. I wonder what she does for a living. I'd bet she's never had to ask for money in her whole life. Even if she had, I'm sure it was given to her. Who could deny someone like her?

I know I never could.

Looking past the two taxis lined up on the street, I saw my mystery woman walking towards me. I wonder if she'll speak today. I can see in her eyes that she wants to say hello. I wonder if she's as afraid as I am. Our worlds are so different. She's wearing Armani; I'm wearing the blue light special. Who knows? Stranger things have happened. I wouldn't mind getting to know her, either.

Among other things.

Don't you ever go away?


She's walking towards me. Oh God, I can't breathe. Oh wait, someone called her name. I heard her name; it's Kelly. What a beautiful name; so fitting for her. She turned around to face the person calling out with a large smile on her face. Even without a smile on her face, I thought she was beautiful; but with one she is breathtaking. She always wore the finest clothes that money could buy. You could tell by her walk that she was a confident woman in control of her life.

You get to do to a lot of people watching, with my job. I have learned to pick up on things; someone's expression can tell you so much about their day. The lady on the corner who works in the boutique for example, to the blind eye you would think she never had a bad day. But I see her after those phone calls, after he comes in to see her, she hurts inside. I wonder if she knows that I can see through this façade she puts on every day. I wonder if she'd even care.

Oh God, here she comes. She looks like she's gonna throw money into my bucket. God, I hope that's not all I am to her. Jesus, Susan, get a grip on yourself.


There she is just like every other day. I don't know where she gets her motivation. She is out here braving the cold weather without batting an eye. God, I don't think I could do what she does and still feel the way I do. She sees so much on a daily basis. I see a whole different world. She sees on the outside what I see on the inside. Working retail is no prize, but working outside ringing a bell to make money for the less fortunate… well that takes some balls I think. I mean, I work for Saks, I have to dress to the nines, I hope she's not intimidated. I wonder if she'd like to have coffee and swap stories sometime.

Among other things.

God, don't you ever go away?

You know the answer to that question.

I can see her looking my way. I wonder if she notices the fact that I walk passed her every day after work. Jesus, I feel like a predator. This is absolutely ridiculous. Maybe I'll ask her out for coffee. God, do I need another headache? Shit, Kel, get a grip it's just coffee for Chrissakes. I need another lover like I need a hole in the head.

You need something.

Shut up, already. The last thing I need is to have my conscience come to life again.

"Kelly? Kelly!" the voice shouted at me.

I turned around to find a co-worker of mine from a few years ago smiling at me.

"Sheila, how've you been? You liking your position?" I asked smiling back at her.

"I'm loving it, thanks to you and your new promotion," she smiled.

"Yeah, well, what can I say?" I smiled back pointing towards the store. "Are you going in?"

"Yeah, I thought I'd check out my old haunts for a bit and pick up some tips from the master," she teased.

"Well, don't go recruiting under my nose. It took a lot of work getting the right people into that store!" I kidded.

"Oh, don't worry, Kel, I promise. I'm here to look, not touch," she promised.

"Good. Well, I won't keep you. Thanks for stopping me. I hope you have a happy holiday!" I cheerily said.

"You too, Kelly. Take care, it was good to see you," she replied.

"You too, Sheila. Bye!" I waved.

Well that was a nice surprise. I hadn't seen Sheila since I took the position of Regional Director. I wasn't happy though to find out that she wasn't going to be a part of my team. She's a great employee. I'm glad she's happy though.

That was a nice interruption. I have to pass the bell girl now. God, I feel like I'm gonna puke my stomach's in knots. I can't believe I'm feeling like this. I don't even know her. Before you even chime in, yes I know I want to.

Oh God, she made eye contact with me. God, she has beautiful brown eyes. I wonder if anyone's ever told her that. I need to say hi… today. I've got to build up the courage and give her the business card that I've had in my pocket for a week now. I'll give it to her today. What she does with it, is her choice. Yeah, I'll leave it up to her. Ok, take a deep breath, Kel. You can do this.



Oh God, she's so close! I have to say hi. I wonder what she's gonna give me.

Susan, say hello! Be a big girl.

Shut up! I have to do it my way. Ok, deep breaths here she comes.


"Hi," they said simultaneously.

They both laughed and looked shyly at each other.

Kelly got the courage to speak first. "I've seen you here everyday ringing that bell. You've got to be cold," she smiled.

"Yeah, but I've got a warm coat, so I'm ok. I've seen you around here too. Do you work nearby?" Susan asked.

"Yeah, my office is in the Saks building on the corner," Kelly pointed.

"Oh, I see," Susan nodded.

Silence struck the two ladies and they sat there and stared at each other for what seemed several minutes.

"Were you gonna give a donation?" Susan chimed in directing her stare at Kelly's hand in her pocket.

"Um… not exactly. I was going to give you my card. If you weren't busy after your shift, I was gonna ask you if you wanted to grab a cup of coffee or something to eat. You know, to warm up after being out here all day," Kelly explained with a slight blush to her wind chapped cheeks.

"Oh, that would be nice. When would you like to do that?" Susan replied not hearing Kelly tell her she wanted to do this today. Susan was completely taken off guard by her request.

"Well, tonight, if you'd like, but if you have other plans then we can make it for another time. " Kelly said.

"Thank you, I'd love to," Susan replied.

"When would you like me to pick you up?" Kelly asked.

"I'll be off at 7:00 p.m. I'll be out front of the Salvation Army building. Will that be easy for you to find? " Susan asked.

"Yes, that'll be fine. I'll meet you then," the taller woman replied.

"Great, I can't wait. See you then!" Susan exclaimed.

"Can I get your name?" Kelly asked.

"It's Susan, " she replied with a smile.

"It is nice to meet you, Susan, " Kelly said.

"You too, Kelly," she said with a smile.

"How did you know?" Kelly asked with a puzzled expression.

"Let's just say I do a lot of people watching here," she smiled.

"I bet you do," she smirked. "I'll pick you up around 7:00 then?" Kelly asked.

"I'll be here," the smaller woman answered.

"I hope so," Kelly said as she walked away.


God, I've never done that before in my life. I cannot believe that I accepted an invitation to have coffee with a complete stranger. My brain must be frozen.

At least she's a good-looking stranger. Mama always said I had good taste. She just never knew I'd have good taste in women. She just never banked on having a gay daughter. Who plans for that anyway? Obviously, she didn't.

What am I going to say to Kelly? We have absolutely nothing in common. What? The weather? Oh God, tell me we'll talk about more than that.


"Thanks mister, happy holidays!" I said to the man walking away from my bucket.

Oh, Christ.


I did it! Way to go, Kel! I'mt proud of you. What's great is that she said yes! Woohoo! Now what are you gonna do for the next few hours? You've gotta go home and take a sedative or something. She's not gonna want to see you again if she thinks you're neurotic.

Good idea, no more coffee today.

I'll catch a cab home and try to calm down a bit before our date. Date? Jesus, I haven't had a date in forever. Do I even want a date? I've got some baggage that she doesn't need to deal with. I'm sure she's got plenty of her own shit to deal with. We all do.

"Hey, Cabby!" I shouted to the slowing cab.

Whoa, next time don't stand too close to the curb, genius. That cab almost took out your shins. Just get in, shut up, and calm down.

"Pine and Churchill, please." I stated to the driver.

"Yes, ma'am," he replied as he cranked the arm of the meter.

I sat back and tried to relax as I thought of topics of conversation that Susan and I could talk about.


What a beautiful name. She has such a beautiful face. I could look into those eyes forever. I can't wait to get to know her better. Well you need to come up with something more to say, rather than talking about her eyes all night.

But it's such a nice topic.

Well, I'm sure we'll think of something. With a week before the holidays we'll have plenty to come up with.

I hope.


Chapter Two


I glanced down at my watch again, hoping that it has sped up since the last time that I looked down.

6:20 p.m.

God! I can't believe how nervous I am. I just don't want to seem like an idiot. I mean you take a look at the two of us and it is quite apparent that we are completely from different sides of the world. At one time, that wasn't the case. I had the clothes, I had money, but my mistake was thinking that it was mine. It was my father's. He was the wealthy one, not me. I'm reminded of that every day.

Enough of that "feeling sorry for yourself shit" Susan. You've got a date with an incredible woman in forty minutes. Just think about what you're gonna say to her when she comes to pick your ass up.

Thanks a lot. When I lose my nerve and can't think of a damn thing to talk to Kelly about, I better have some suggestions coming from you, BigMouth.


"Thanks, ma'am, happy holidays," I chimed.

Just ten more minutes and I can turn in this damn bucket. It was a good day today actually. People have been very generous this season. I wonder what crawled up their asses to change their minds so drastically. Usually I just get stares and people walk around me and pretend they don't see me. It's really ridiculous. It just makes me laugh. Some actually mime having blinders on their eyes, it's just priceless.

Beep Beep

Oh my God! There she is. Look at that car! I know that cost more than what I'll make in five years. God, I miss having money.

"Hey, Kelly! I'll be done in about five minutes or so," I smiled as I waved.

"Sure thing! I'll go park by the office. See you soon!" Kelly shouted back.

God, she's beautiful. Why would she want to take me out? I'm so out of my league here.


God, she looks so damn cute out there. What I wouldn't give to get her out of the cold. I could get her a job at Saks. She wouldn't have to worry about the cold ever again.

Yeah, but is that what she wants? You made that mistake once already.

Thanks for bringing up such a happy subject. It was only a suggestion. I wasn't gonna offer until I was sure anyway. Get off my back, dammit.

I gotta find a spot to park in. She'll be finished soon. I hope she likes where we're going. I have the biggest desire to wine and dine her.

What is it about her? I don't know what's come over me. I don't think I even care what it is. I just hope whatever it is, doesn't go anywhere soon.

Knock Knock

I looked up to find a smiling face staring at me through the window. I didn't think I could move. Her eyes are just so incredible. They leave me breathless.

"Can I get in?" Susan shouted through the closed glass.

Oh, damn!

I opened my door and walked Susan around the car. She sat down and I closed the passenger door and ran around to the driver's side. I got in and smiled at my new passenger.

"All done for the night?" I asked quickly.

"Yep, thank God. It was starting to get really cold out here," Susan replied.

"Are you up for some dinner?" I asked hopefully.

"So you don't want to get coffee?" The petite woman asked nervously.

"Well, we can get coffee, but I just thought you'd like to grab some dinner as well. Maybe get some pie for desert and wash it down with a good cup of coffee. What do you think?" I suggested.

"That sounds really great, but I'm kind of on a budget and I don't really have the money to eat out," she answered sounding a little embarrassed.

"Hey, I asked YOU, remember? That means that I'm paying. Don't worry about it. Ok?" I tried to calm Susan's nervousness.

"Can I ask you something?" Susan questioned.

"Sure." I answered.

"Why me?" She practically whispered.

"What?" I wasn't sure what she meant.

"Why ask me out?" She clarified.

"Why not you?" I asked back.

"Don't answer my question with a question," Susan said sounding a little unsure of herself. "I really hope that it's not a charity thing, because… "

"Ok, " I placed my gloved finger on her lips to stop what was coming next. "What I meant to say was, why shouldn't I ask you out? I just thought it would be nice to have dinner together. Don't you want to have dinner with me?" I asked as I put on my best puppy dog eyes look.

I watched Susan's eyes roll as she caught on to my ploy. "You know, you could probably rob a bank with that look," she kidded. After thinking for a bit to herself she looked up. "I would love to have dinner with you." Susan finally answered.

"Great. There's a great crab house a few miles from here. Do you like seafood?"

"I love seafood." She smiled.

"I figured you for a shrimp lover."

"Hey, that's not a height joke is it?" Susan asked mocking anger.

"Not at all," I joked back.

"Good, I wouldn't want our first date to start out on a bad note," she smiled.

Date? Did she just say date? Oh I think I'm in trouble here.

Control yourself, Kel. She might not have meant it that way. Calm down.

"Kelly?" Susan brought me back to reality.

"I'm sorry, what did you say?" I recovered.

"I asked, if the restaurant had a dress code. I'm not really dressed for an elegant meal," she gestured to her clothes.

"You look great. Don't worry about it. OK?" I smiled and winked at my dinner guest.

"OK. Thanks, Kelly," she said to me.

"You're welcome. Let's go eat!" I said excitedly as I pulled out of the parking space.

"Sounds good," she agreed.


We pulled up to the crab house and I was extremely nervous. I know she'd said not to worry about paying for the meal, but I can't help it. I could never afford to eat in a place like this. I just hope I'm not just a charity case to her. I couldn't take that. I won't take that shit from anyone.

Not even her.

The engine was turned off and she smiled as she got out of the car. Kelly walked around to my side and opened my door for me. I guess chivalry wasn't dead yet.

"Thanks," I smiled.

"You're welcome," she smiled back. "Are you hungry?" Kelly inquired.


"Good, then let's get in there, because I'm starving!" Kelly exclaimed.

We walked into the restaurant and the Maitre d smiled at Kelly.

"Ah, Ms. Cavanaugh how nice to see you again," he smiled.

"Nice to see you too. My regular table available?" Kelly gestured towards a table.

"Absolutely! As soon as you called, we made sure it was ready for you," he sucked up a bit more.

She must tip really well.

"Lead the way, Leonardo," Kelly motioned with her arm.

We walked past several tables and I watched as heads turned as Kelly walked by. I don't blame them one bit. She's a knockout.

What the hell am I doing here again?

"Susan?" Uh oh, I definitely missed something. The host sat me in my seat and I looked blankly at Kelly.

"Yes?" I said softly.

"Would you like something from the bar?" Kelly smiled.

"I'm not a really big drinker…" I was stopped by Kelly's smile.

God, how did she do that?

"Come on it's the holidays. You sure you don't want some eggnog or something?" Kelly teased.

"Well, alright. I'll have a glass of Chardonnay," I acquiesced.

"Two, please," she smiled at the waiter.

"Yes, right away Ms. Cavanaugh," the jittery waiter said as he practically ran to get our drinks.

She really must tip very well.