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Charlotte sat at the bus stop wondering whether she would make the naughty or nice list this year. Last year she had rescued a stray kitten and therefore considered herself most definitely “nice”. This year she had broken Daniel’s heart into a million tiny pieces, so “naughty” seemed to be the only answer. There’d be no Santa Claus coming down her chimney anytime soon. – Georgia Beyers
Not that she had a chimney on the 26th floor of her Hell’s Kitchen apartment building. If Santa wanted to leave anyone at Manhattan Towers a gift, he had to get past the doorman, take the elevator, and jimmy the lock with a credit card. Charlotte’s stomach clutched tight when she thought about how bare her little studio apartment would look without a tree.
Daniel had a chimney. Together , they’d decorated the mantelpiece with white embroidered cloths he had from his gran’s house, and an antique nativity set. Everything in England was impossibly old. That kind of history suggested permanence. The yellow streaks of the cabs, and the flashing neon of Times Square reflected off the mirrored buildings of New York felt like it could all disappear in a flash. Like her father had on Christmas when she was seven years old. Charlotte felt dizzy. She leaned against the metal and plastic of the bus shelter, and closed her eyes, making sure she had a tight grip on the handle of her suitcase.
She could almost smell the wood smoke in the fireplace at Daniel’s back on Charles Street. ‘Did I lock up when I left?’ she wondered, heart pounding. As rich and cozy as the inside of the house was, things could be shady, that close to the sea front. She couldn’t bear the guilt of being responsible for Daniel losing all of his lovely antiques and belongings on top of his losing… well…
Copyright © Lynn Marie Hulsman
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