Torn between running to calm Iris and giving her the space to cool off, Jordan chose the latter. He watched Iris’s petulant stomp to the craft store while enduring the curious glances from the people who saw the whole fiasco of a conversation.
In all the years Iris and Jordan had been friends, they had never had an intense argument. Iris was always patient and forgiving of Jordan’s shortcomings. Until this one issue, Jordan wheedled to soften her independence.
It was like Iris flaunted that she could get along fine without him. She had done it at the Holly Jolly Christmas Dance. Jordan never got a chance to dance with Iris. She was always with someone else. Granted, the men Iris danced with were old enough to be her father, but that was beside the point.
Jordan shook his head and accepted his defeat like a man. Iris didn’t need him. Well, two could play that game. He shoved his hands in his pockets and went back to work. He’d be fine without her, too.
He parked his work truck outside the garage and took the back door to his office. The equipment neatly organized by how frequently it was used suited him more at the moment. At least they made sense. People’s obsession with bows, trees, Christmas balls, and everything red and green aggravated the uneasy feeling Jordan knew would subside with time.
Until the lingering buzz from his disagreement with Iris settled, Jordan opted to avoid all things Christmas. He’d buried his focus into the productivity report he was writing when Brad knocked on his door. Jordan managed the manpower; Brad managed the finances. They both started working at the telephone company around the same time and grew into their roles to form a cohesive team.
“I’m going to leave an hour early,” Brad leaned against the door with his arms folded in front of his chest. His arm underlined the Paradise Hills Phone Network lettering embroidered on his shirt pocket.
“Christmas shopping?” Jordan tried to sound pleasant.
“Something like it,” Brad replied. “I’m taking my neighbor grocery shopping.”
“Ah, impress her with your domestic skills. I didn’t know you were dating anyone,” Jordan joked.
“No, it’s nothing like that,” Brad invited himself to the chair across from Jordan’s desk. “My neighbor Betty is seventy-years-old. Her grandkids are out of the state, so I take her shopping and whatnot. She bakes me cookies, and we hang out.”
“I had no idea.” Brad was a larger guy that usually talked about hunting, football, and hockey. Jordan always interpreted his personality as the Hemingway manly man type.
“When Serena got that Holiday Kisses gift, I got to thinking,” Brad said.
Jordan groaned inside. The one topic he wanted to avoid was being thrown in his face by none other than Brad. The only guy in the office who didn’t have his desk decorated like a winter wonderland.
“She was so happy with something so simple. Especially after Iris took her kid for a couple of hours. I wanted to do something like that. So, I stopped by Betty’s to check in on her. You know, ask if she needed anything. She was out of milk and bread. I took her to the store and found out Betty’s a feisty woman. I’m being as true as a rain gauge when I say, it was fun.”
“That’s it?” Jordan expected a speech about doing kind things for people over the holidays. Not “it was fun.”
“What else is there supposed to be?”
“I just figured you were doing it to promote awareness or something like that.”
“You sound like a politician,” Brad joked. He pressed his hands into his knees for leverage and got up to leave. “It’s time to head back to my desk. I just wanted you to know where I was if anyone asked.”
“Thanks for letting me know,” Jordan watched Brad leave.
He noticed that instead of feeling better about his disagreement with Iris, he felt worse. Thinking maybe a night with the guys would blow off some steam, Jordan ventured to the utility room, where he found a guy named Dan.
Dan was one of those people who loved to play cards and darts while drinking beer. A mindless activity was exactly what Jordan needed to solve his problem. He approached Dan, who was focused on a circuit board.
He waited for Dan to finish soldering a wire to the board. Dan set the soldering iron in the holster and perched his safety glasses on his forehead.
Jordan said, “I stopped by to see what you’re doing tonight.”
“I’m hanging out with my sister and her boys.”
“Oh, is the school having a performance.” Jordan made a note to check the community events calendar on the website. He’d have to be careful and choose events he knew Iris wouldn’t attend. There were so many in Paradise Hills; it wouldn’t be hard to avoid her.
“It’s movie night. I think we’re watching The Christmas Movie. The boys love it when the best friend’s tongue gets stuck on the pole.”
Then Jordan remembered. Dan begged off from a couple of other guys’ nights by explaining that his nephews had been giving their mother a hard time. He hoped by being more of a father figure, the boys would learn by example how to appreciate their mother.
“It’s a challenge.” Dan’s face softened, showing the love he felt for his sister. “I’ve spent most of my life antagonizing Suzie. But I can tell it means a lot to her and the boys.” Then he motioned like he was shooting a dart. “Who knows. Maybe I can get the boys into darts, and when they’re older, we’ll have a team.”
“Recruit ‘em young.” Jordan was a little envious of Dan. Dan had a heart of gold and had found a purpose. “I gotta head back to work,” Jordan went back to his office to check the events calendar. The day was blank. There wasn’t one organized activity for the next three days. And on Friday, the only scheduled activity was the tree decorating ceremony and the light parade.
His phone rang, and he picked it up. “Hey, you ready to get your Santa on?” It turned out he wasn’t going to be alone after all. It wasn’t with the person he wanted to be with, but it was better than brooding.
Jordan, Jordan, Jordan. He gets it but he doesn’t. I promise he will by Christmas. If you want to find out for yourself, get a copy of Holiday Kisses. It is 99¢ at your favorite online ebook seller.
Iris Sinclair looks forward to the day after Thanksgiving. It’s the day her Holiday Kisses season begins, and she leaves little presents to brighten people’s days.
The Paradise Hills promise of a magical happily ever after is tested when the best friends are forced to choose between their blossoming love or the secret.PREORDER HOLIDAY KISSES
Things change when Iris’s best friend, Jordan, notices something special behind her quirky personality. The change couldn’t have come at a more inconvenient time. Iris’s nemesis has recruited him to enlist Iris in a partnership she would never agree to without his influence.