Recently divorced from his Hollywood screenwriter husband, Nick Holly returns at Christmas to the home of his childhood in Vermont to start a new life in his familiar hometown. Almost immediately he runs into his best friend and crush from high school, Jolly Whitaker, who is also recently divorced and as sexy as he ever was.
With Nick’s mom encouraging him to see if there is anything still between him and Jolly, Nick embarks on a holiday of discovery and the knowledge that coming home to Vermont is more welcome than he believed. Perhaps this Christmas it really will be a Holly Jolly Christmas.
Over the next couple of days I got settled into Willowbrook again. Took walks, checked out the town, and what had changed. No place is stagnant I guess, and certainly my hometown was no different.
Growing up there had been no chain restaurants, not even fast food ones, but there were a few now. Some even had help wanted signs out and I briefly considered applying. I’d done my share of waiting tables in Hollywood, like most wannabes. But I was okay for a couple of months at least and so I decided to wait as I originally planned with Mom.
Friday, on one of my walks I found myself outside of Willowbrook Elementary School. Jolly and I had first met there in the fifth grade. We sort of hung around the same group of friends, but weren’t that close then. Didn’t get to be that way until Junior High, called Middle School now.
The school had a chain link fence now that it didn’t have when I was a kid and it was through the fence I stuck my fingers as I stood looking at it and dealing with long forgotten memories.
Even then kids had called us that. It started then. It amused me now, especially now at holiday season.
As if I had conjured him up, a car pulled up to the curb behind me. I turned to see Jolly himself get out. He glanced at the school and smiled.
I laughed. “Jolly.”
He walked up next to where I still had my fingers in the links of the fence. “Walking down memory lane?”
“Yep. For a few days now. I haven’t been around much in Willowbrook since I left all those years ago. When I did come back for visits it was only to see my parents.”
Jolly nodded. “I was on my way by from picking up the Santa Claus suit for the parade. I saw you standing here and decided to stop. I haven’t stopped here myself in a while. Seems a million years ago.”
I smiled. “It was.”
“You got any plans for lunch?”
“Not anything in particular. I want to do some Christmas shopping this afternoon in the downtown area.”
“Come have lunch with me. When we’re done, I’ll drop you off for shopping and then I’m going to go get my dad. He’ll stay the night with me since we have to get started so early.”
I almost said no, but I wasn’t even sure why. So I shrugged. “Okay. Sure.”
He gestured to his car, a small SUV I noticed. “Your chariot awaits.”
Lunch turned out to be at a small diner on the south side that was only open for lunch and dinner. Place was called Martin’s and was one of the new places. As far as I was concerned anyway.
Jolly told me that he knew the owner.
It was the kind of place that had a counter with seats and just one row of booths by the window. A Greasy Spoon sort of place.
An old man greeted us, and I saw by his nametag that he was Martin.
“Hey Martin. Brought an old friend of mine from my childhood.”
Martin studied me. “Yeah?”
“Hi. We went to high school together.”