Christmas -- a time for Santa, elves, and angels. But they don't exist. Or do they? Alex is about to find out.
Alex loves making Christmas special for the customers who visit his shop, despite his own sadness and loneliness. He employs Michael as his store Santa, and when a young would-be shoplifter, Jackson, is caught, he's persuaded by Michael to give him a chance. To Alex's surprise, he's attracted to Jackson, but he really has no idea how to deal with it.
Will Alex get a touch of the heart from an angel to help him find the love he deserves?
From the safety of his mezzanine, Alex watched Michael walk through his store. Michael appeared just like everyone else in his shop, except for a certain something that Alex couldn’t quite out his finger on. He peered harder. Then he clicked his fingers. Michael had an aura of serenity around him. He didn’t look harassed or rushed. He smiled, or laughed, instantly cheering those around him.
He looks made for this job.
In real life, Michael’s blond hair was almost white, he was well-built without being Santa-fat, but in a red suit with a decent fake beard, he’d be perfect. Alex hurried back into his office, sat at his desk, and waited for the knock on his door.
“Come in.” Alex rose and extended his hand as Michael entered the small room. “Thank you for coming at such short notice. I really appreciate it.”
“Thank you for considering me.”
“Please sit down. In regards to the job itself, well, you wrote to me, so what did you have in mind?” Despite having his own preferences, Alex wanted to see what ideas Michael had. Alex thought that would also help him get a feel for how Michael would fit in with the rest of his staff.
“Well, this time of year tends to be increasingly stressful. So, I thought I could be a distraction for children as their parents enjoyed your coffee and pastries. Provide the adults with a little oasis of calm among the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping. I remember that last year you offered coffee or a mince pie as people walked around. A little sit-down does wonders for rejuvenating the soul. If it’s all right with you, I’d also like to have small gift sack. Nothing expensive inside, mind you. I think little books, crayons, things to stimulate the mind. I know you have enough expense, but I believe you’d see a big reward.”
Steepling his fingers, Alex leaned forward. He and Michael had very similar ideas, which boded well for them getting along. He had a friend who worked in arts and crafts who could probably get him books, crayons, perhaps even small craft-related gifts at cost prices. Alex nodded.
“I had thoughts that were much along the same lines. Anything else?”
“Well, I guess you’ll want to know a little about me. I have done this kind of work before.” Michael handed over several letters. “I’ve always been well received by the children. There’s also a police check there. Just so you know I’m trustworthy.”
Taking the letters, Alex then flicked through them quickly. Michael had been employed by several big stores around the country, and always seemed to have been a valuable member of the Christmas team. They were all stores whose names Alex knew, and all bigger than his establishment. The police check was very recent. The references and check seemed impeccable. He frowned and looked up from the paperwork at Michael.
“You don’t have anything here other than being a store Santa. Surely that’s not your only job?”
Laughing softly, Michael rubbed his chin. “Well, I actually don’t need to work. In fact, you can use some of that minimum wage you were going to pay me to help fund the kids’ gifts. I like to feel useful. I do other, shall we say, charitable work throughout the year. But at this time of year, I like to join in with Christmas festivities. Goodwill to all men, that kind of thing. I really don’t need the pay.”
That surprised Alex, and he sat back a little. He cocked his head. He’d always prided himself on being a good judge of character. He held out his hand.
“Okay. I’ll call some of these previous employers, and so long as their verbal references match the written ones, you’re welcome to join the team. However, I do intend to pay you. I can probably get what I need for small gifts through trade connections.”
“Thank you. In that case, it will be my pleasure to buy a few little items myself. When can I start?”
“Well, I’m planning on making the changes to the shop to have the necessary space for wrapping this weekend --”
“Splendid.” Michael beamed widely and clapped his hands. “I’ll be here to help out. After the shop closes on Sunday lunchtime?”
Temporarily speechless, Alex nodded. His newest team member clearly knew Alex’s shop and times.
“Perfect. Then unless you have any issues, I’ll see you Sunday.”
Alex stared after Michael’s back as the man left, whistling “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
“Did I pick him, or did he pick me?”