Christmas music played over the sound system as my two sisters and I sat in a coffee shop, chatting. The mall was crowded with people ready to start their holiday shopping. It was December first, and I was so ready for Christmas. Like every year, I became excited the moment Thanksgiving dinner ended, and the fact that Mikaela and Jordan were here visiting made it even better.

Unfortunately, they would be leaving soon. Our trip to the mall was our last outing before they got in separate Ubers and headed to two different airports. Mikaela would be headed back home to Idaho, to our family’s ski lodge, and Jordan would be going back to Texas.

“I’m so glad we get to see each other again in about three weeks,” Mikaela said, sipping her drink. “I’m going to miss you guys so much.”

“I’m not going to miss the mess you guys made out of my apartment,” I teased. Not that I was always the tidiest myself, but they’d made it even worse than usual.

“Hey, at least we helped you load the dishwasher,” Jordan pointed out. “And Mikaela salvaged the French toast.”

“True. If you would’ve let me make it for you, it would’ve been inedible.” I had never paid much attention when Mom was teaching us how to cook. I would’ve rather been reading a book.

“Can I get you lovely ladies anything else?” a male voice sounded behind me, causing me to turn around and look up.

Tall with a thick head of lustrous dark hair, the young male barista who had fixed our drinks stood staring down at me, ignoring my sisters as he batted long lashes over bright blue eyes. He was built with broad shoulders and massive biceps. He looked like he should’ve been working at a nutrition store, not a chain coffee shop.

“Uh, no I’m good,” I told him, trying to brush him off. He might’ve been good-looking, but as a rule, I didn’t date guys who didn’t have careers. I needed a man with ambition, someone who knew what he wanted in life and went after it.

“Okay, well, you just let me know if you need anything, all right?” He literally winked at me and then turned around and walked away.

As soon as he was gone, I turned to my sisters, wide-eyed. They both broke into a fit of laughter, which eventually sucked me in as well. “What the hell was that?” I asked.

“You always get hit on by the hot guys,” Jordan said, still giggling.

“Yeah, but he’s either a college student working his way through college, which makes him way too young for me, or he’s content to serve coffee for the rest of his life. I could never date a guy who doesn’t want more out of life.”

“That’s our Victoria,” Mikaela teased. “Always looking for the best of the best.”

“Well,” I said, a bit defensively, though I knew she was teasing, “would you date a guy who worked here?”

“I hope she says yes so we can win the bet,” Jordan pointed out, taking a sip of her drink.

I laughed at that. She had a point. We had both just bet Mikaela a hundred bucks that she would have a boyfriend by Christmas. Odds were that Mikaela would be making bank on such a bet since she never dated, but I had a feeling this Christmas was going to be different.

Mikaela worked hard, and she deserved to find someone to love her. So did Jordan, for that matter. Maybe I should make a similar bet with her. But no, that might be overkill.

“I don’t know,” Mikaela said with a shrug. “I think I like to get to know a guy before I decide whether or not he’s the guy for me. I do get what you’re saying about drive, but I think sometimes there are reasons for people’s situations in life that shouldn’t be discounted.”

I knew what she was saying. Mikaela had gone to college and had gotten a degree, but she chose to stay at our family business and work there. Some people looking in from the outside might think that made her lazy or that maybe she hadn’t even gone to college, but she had, and she’d done really well. Far from lazy, she had taken over the business for my parents recently so that they could semi-retire. As long as they lived at the lodge, they’d never completely back down from helping, but Mikaela had taken on the brunt of the work to keep the business in our family, and Jordan and I both appreciated her for it immensely.

“What about you, Jordan? What do you think about dating a guy with a job like that?” Mikaela asked her.

Jordan took a deep breath and tapped her chin the way all three of us tended to do when we were thinking. “I don’t know. I think it depends on how we met. I mean, if it was at a party or something and I didn’t know what he did but I really liked him, it wouldn’t matter. But I wouldn’t respond to a hot guy asking me out in the coffee shop if he worked there either, unless he owns the place. And since that older lady back there just shouted at that guy to go clean the toilet, I’m guessing he’s not the owner.”

We giggled at that last bit. “Probably not,” I agreed. “Unless he’s a hands-on kinda boss.”

“That’s the kind of guy you’ll end up with,” Mikaela told me. “The boss that does it all. Some rich dude, maybe a lawyer or a business owner, who has the same sort of drive and ambition that you have.”

A smile formed on my face as I imagined the kind of guy she was talking about. I could see him—tall, dark, and handsome. But not necessarily rich. “It’s definitely more about ambition for me than actual net worth,” I clarified.

“For sure,” Jordan concurred. “But a guy like that will end up rich eventually. And married to a successful lawyer? Hell, you’ll be a millionaire in no time at all.”

I laughed, thinking how strange it was that everyone thought I had more money than I did just because I was a lawyer. “I’m not in that kind of law,” I told them. “Business law is not that lucrative.”

“We’re still super proud of you, sis,” Mikaela said, patting my shoulder. “Now, my coffee is gone, and we have a few more stores to hit up before we go.”

“All right,” I agreed, finishing my drink as well. “Jordan, didn’t you want to go to Manhattan Dresses? It’s down here just a little way.” I pointed off to my left, down the crowded hallway of the mall.

“That would be awesome,” she said. “I just love fancy dresses, even if I rarely get to wear them.”

We all got up and tossed our cups in the trash as we headed out. “You should’ve got that red dress at the last store,” Mikaela reminded her. “It wasn’t that expensive.”

“True. I just thought that velvet fabric might’ve been too hot for the Texas weather.” Jordan led the way as we headed through the mob.

“I can’t believe you moved to a place that isn’t cold at Christmas,” I told her. “After growing up at a ski lodge.”

“It’s been an adjustment,” Jordan admitted. “But it’s starting to grow on me.”

Christmas decorations greeted us as we walked into the fancy retail store and headed to the dress section. I knew that my sisters would have to leave soon, and my heart felt heavy as we took turns picking out dresses for one another. After an incident in the dressing room that almost left Jordan needing to buy a ten-thousand-dollar gown, we decided to head out. We visited a couple more stores, and then I walked out with them to the parking lot so they could get their luggage out of my car and catch their rideshares.

“How long is it going to be until we see one another again?” I asked, trying to hide the sadness in my voice.

“Twenty-three days,” Mikaela replied. “Not that long.”

“A lot can happen in twenty-three days,” Jordan reminded us. “Especially at Christmas.”

“It’s the most magical time of the year,” I chimed in.

We all looked at each other with sad smiles before wrapping our arms around one another in tight hugs.

“Who knows?” Jordan noted, stepping away. “Maybe Mikaela’s new man will have brothers.”

We all laughed, breaking the tension, and I held back my tears as their cars pulled up. I had to hug them each goodbye again as they got in. Then the cars pulled away. I stood there, waving, until they were gone.

Then, I wiped the tears from my eyes, took a deep breath, and transitioned my mind away from my family for a bit. I would be seeing them soon enough, but December wasn’t just about Christmas this year. I’d made myself a promise that I was going to make a name for myself at work this year, and time was running out.

So, tomorrow, I’d go into Tillery and Tillery and make sure my boss knew that I was willing to take on the next big challenging account where he needed someone who was willing to give it her all and never back down. It might be only thirty days until the end of the year, but I was going to prove myself, no matter what.

Even if it took a Christmas miracle.



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