No one would consider Joshua Maxfield shy or standoffish. Fact is, he’d never had a hard time enjoying the holidays. Not this year. This Christmas, he is feeling lonely and insecure for the first time in his life.
Josua Miranda had always been an aggressive lawyer, however, for matters of the heart, he is reserved. He saw Joshua enter his firm as an intern three months before and immediately recognized fate's intercession.
One thing I know about holiday-themed parties, I don’t like them. There was just something so fake about the whole idea. The forced, wide smiles on peoples’ faces, the never-ending supply of alcohol, not to mention the over-glittery decorations which dust almost always got into my eyes and hair. Fake. All of it. Most especially the people. The way they smile, it was as if they were desperate to show everyone how festive they felt, when in fact, I knew they felt none of it. I didn’t like how they shrieked out their greetings, like what my colleagues were doing right then.
Give me Noche Buena anytime. I loved the traditional Christmas dinner my honorary mother, Tita Jo, threw every year. I couldn’t wait to experience it all over again in two days. Tita Jo was my dad’s best friend’s wife. She had been my nanny and her son, Zachary Parker, had grown up with us. I consider him my best friend as well as brother. My eardrums reverberated from the combination of loud noises. They felt as though they would burst anytime.
I forced a smile on my face and looked around the hotel function room hired for the night. However, I could not hold back my wince when the feedback from the microphone someone had turned on overrode the loud Christmas music playing in the background.
The first time I had attended these types of company parties had been two years ago. I had applied for an internship at a firm where we were requested to bring a unisex gift that we’d had to surrender at the door. Each present had been tagged a corresponding number. At the end of the night, everyone attending could pick a piece of rolled paper placed in a bowl passed around. The paper had a number which corresponded to a specific gift. It was all meant to be for solidarity and all that crap. A lot of my co-workers were excited to find out what they picked out. Some presents were better than others, and then there were the presents that our bosses gave. Those were considered the prize of the night.
Then there was that second Christmas party I’d had to attend. Someone had received a jeweled watch worth thousands of dollars. It had been donated by one of the firm’s partner’s mother. Ridiculously inappropriate. No one had hidden their envy when someone from the janitorial services won it. Thankfully, the new firm had no such nonsense. Especially this year, when I had no money to spend for extras. I’m usually not without money, but things had gone down beyond my control. My mother being one of them.
The thought of my mother angered me. She’d done a lot of things a regular human being would consider inhumane and abusive. I hadn’t been abused, but that hadn’t stopped her from taking out her problems on my younger brother. Of course, I had to help him out after she’d cleaned out his life’s savings. He hadn’t wanted me to help, but I insisted. If it meant not having the money to buy presents for everyone, then so be it. My dad had taught us that money was something to enjoy, not dictate our lives. And anyway, there was always the family I could rely on, my dad, brother and sister, her husband, and of course our extended family. Thinking about the Parkers only made me grateful that they were a part of my life. The sound of a glass breaking brought me back to the reality of a loud party.
I scrunched my nose but quickly replaced it with a smile. I reached for a glass of champagne off a tray being served by a waiter and then backed off into a corner. From there, I could observe the goings-on without having to be in the middle of the rowdy crowd. And the crowd really was rowdy. I shook my head when I spotted a secretary from the fifth-floor turn the corner into a room. Following right behind her was a floor manager whom I knew had a wife and three kids. The whole atmosphere would have been fun years ago. Now though, I was into my last year of internship. How did I get to be so jaded? I’m only twenty-six years old and already feeling older than most of the people here.
The shriek of my name was followed soon after by an arm wrapping itself around my waist. The hair at the back of my neck stood up. I don’t know what it was about these parties, but I definitely did not like being groped like that. Also, I recognized the voice as that of the office slut. What I had ever done to her to get her to believe I had one ounce of attraction beat me. Maybe I should just come out and tell her that, lovely as her offer may be, I had no intention of getting trapped in the grasp of the clapping flaps of female bits.
I held back my shiver of revulsion and fear. If there was one thing that gave me nightmares, it was the image of vaginas. I think I’ll have to come right out and tell her the truth. I may be out to my family and friends, but as none of them were connected to this firm, I had held back. Maybe not such a great idea, now that there’s this vamp stuck to my side.
“Hi, Camille,” I said as I slid out from under her. I bit back the laughter when she put on a ridiculous pout. Her overly plump lips looked fake. Just like all of the decorations around us. “Having fun?”