This story contains sexual content, violence, coarse language and consumption of alcohol.
It is rated R and is for readers 18+ only.
A Hard Won Smile (Snow Angel)
I woke early as usual. I decided to let my aroused body stay that way. I had too much to do today to linger and finger myself again, besides I like a little tension between my legs. After a grueling workout at the gym, I drove out to the turkey farm to get a fresh bird for my stepfather Donovan to stuff and roast, my mom would watch it as it cooked since Donovan and I had plans. Normally we do an early Christmas day dinner but my brother Elton and his wife Penelope were coming later. Nobody here minded, we were just happy they were coming at all this year.
“Thanks Adley.” Donovan said as I carried the last few bags of groceries I picked up yesterday for dinner.
Donovan was as bald as a man can get with light brown skin and eyes that were always full of humor and cheer. He had a salty goatee that suited him.
“No prob proxy pops.”
We both chuckled. It was a silly joke between us. When he first came for dinner, I was so cold to him. He did everything to make me happy and I only called him fake, phoney and not my dad. Then I broke my arm camping when I was eleven and he carried me ten minutes back to the car consoling me the entire way. I realized then he cared for real. I finally understood he was the kind of man who helped and would never hurt me, my mom or brother.
“Please tell me you’re making that raspberry cranberry sauce it’s such a treat.”
“Well since you brought the berries I’d hate for them to go to waste.” He winked and began putting groceries away.
My mom came into the room in a flurry of humming and busyness as she began peeling apples.
My cell buzzed and I saw a text from Locke.
I smiled at my phone and replied the same but with a snowflake emoji and a tree. Yeah I like the silly graphics.
“Ooh I’ve seen that silly grin before. New beau?” My mom teased.
“Maybe,” Donovan chuckled, “What’s his name?”
I frowned when he dropped the container of crème. “What?”
“As in Wyvern House Imprint Publishing?”
“I don’t know.” I honestly didn’t know what he meant.
“You know them Adley. W.H.I.P. You read those romance books they publish by that Carl Crow fellow and Sarnia something.”
“Kyle V. Crowne and Serenia Sorrel.”
I dug ‘Sky’s the limit’ from my purse and opened to the first page. It was the one I bought while Locke was following me, which meant he knew I was buying a book from his company. There was the winged Wyvern silhouette logo with WHIP beneath it. I read books but that’s the extent of what I do with them. I don’t care who publishes them. These were breathtaking romances staged in crazy once in a lifetime life or death events.
“There are a lot of Wyverns,” I closed the book. “It doesn’t mean he owns the publishing house.”
“So what does your Locke do?” My mom asked handing me a paring knife and an apple.
“I… Don’t know.”
He never actually said what he does. I never asked either. We had talked about so much but he never offered up his job.
“Is he nice?”
“And judging from that sly little smile he meets your overly grotesque and unrealistic romance needs.” Donovan said then shared a knowing look with my mom.
“Ugh, yeah.” I picked up another apple to peel.
“Did you ask him what he does?” My mom asked.
“No. I can’t believe I never asked.”
“Then he probably assumed you knew or he doesn’t brag.” Donovan said as he set the cranberry sauce to simmer.
He then took the bowl of various things my mom had prepped. Donovan smiled as he shoved stuffing in the turkey’s newly vacated cavity with onions, garlic and a bunch of other fragrant things that made the bird taste like ambrosia. The man knows how to cook whereas my mom knows how to bake. Between the two of them we always have exquisite food to eat.
“Fair enough. We have to get to the soup kitchen.” He put the turkey in the oven and set the tablet on the counter with the timer for my mom to baste.
“I can manage,” Mom said as Donovan kissed her cheek. “Go.”
“Oh there are some top ten’s coming for some publicity crap.” Donovan said as we got our coats on.
I rolled my eyes. “Well any news coverage will help with donations I suppose.”
“That’s my girl.”
We got to the soup kitchen before the wealthy people who wanted to ‘do their part’. This was a common thing at this time of year. They bring donations and a camera crew to show their generosity. I wasn’t going to let them play the usual game this year. Once the security guy selected the men and women who looked downtrodden but didn’t smell too badly he had them sit at a specific table.
“Hey Donovan?” I said as we mashed potatoes by hand.
“Can you take that suit on a ‘tour’ I need five minutes tops.”
“What are you up to?”
He shrugged and in less than two sentences had the security guy following him to the kitchen with the camera crew for some shots of food prep.
“Alright ladies and gents, swap tables if you would.”
“Why Adley are you messing with that nice man’s plan?” Tymon an elderly toothless man asked.
“Yes, so up and swap.”
They all did and with an air of mischievousness, three of the more malodorous sat at the first table. They know and don’t care a lick that they reek. ‘It keeps the robbers away’ Ben says to anyone who gets close enough.
The three well-dressed men and one woman came in and the security man, who never told me his name, came running over. The camera that followed sealed the deal and the seating plan was locked in place.
Father Thompson greeted the ‘volunteers’ and went through the spiel. He organized them as I stirred gravy. The security man eyed me suspiciously. Chatty Kathy would tell him what I did but it was too late for him to change anything now.
The plan was for the four to serve the table and greet the people. Talk to them and get a little story if they can.
“These are our regular volunteers. Cliff Morgan, Henry Salt, Donovan Lewis and his daughter Adley.”
That always got a look since they would expect a daughter to have his darker complexion.
We all shook hands with the posers. The woman was golden blonde with eyes so green they had to be contacts. The shortest and oldest of the men was unfazed by the poverty around him. He smiled kindly at the people. The man who the woman clung to screamed of money and his smile was as fake as the Prada scarf I bought in Chinatown five years ago. It was the dark blond man with eyes almost as vibrant as Locke’s that made me nervous.
“Tilly and Thomas Welsh,” Father Thompson introduced them, “Larry Almere and Michael Wyvern.” and my stomach dropped.
I shyly met Michael’s eyes. Would Locke be pissed? Did it matter?
“Adley, that is an unusual name.” Michael said and narrowed his eyes slightly.
If I didn’t own up to knowing Locke now it might be a problem later.
“My brother mentioned an Adley, you wouldn’t happen to be her would you?”
“Locke?” I said quietly and Tilly covered her mouth with her gloved hand.
I bet a thousand dollars those gloves don’t come off until she throws them in the trash on the way out.
“Ah so you are her.” Michael smiled. “It’s nice to meet you. So you work here regularly?”
“At least twice a month,” Donovan said with pride.
I started plating meals while Tilly looked down her nose.
“Who is she?” Larry whispered not so quietly to Michael.
“She showed Locke some kindness after Theodore’s stag party at that charming bar downtown. She was also the one that saved the cake at his wedding.”
“The waitress. Ah.”
“Bartender and server. Waitress is a sexist moniker.” I corrected and handed Tilly two plates with a smile.
“I stand corrected.” She gave me an empty smile and took the plates.
Aside from Michael glancing at me at regular intervals, things went smoothly. As they could anyway. I have to give Michael and Larry credit neither of them flinched or showed scorn for the people they served. They went on to help with the other tables and even sat and had conversations off camera. Tilly moved only when she had to and only when the cameras were on. Kathy who had horrifying breath was a dear to let them know I arranged the seating.
I did not make any friends tonight that’s for sure and it serves me right for being mean. I worked hard hauling stockpots and pans of food to avoid facing the results of my impulse. I was surprised to see Larry and Michael still there when I started plating the pie. The camera operators, Tilly and her haughty husband were gone.
“Thank you.” I said.
“It’s the least I can do.” Michael said and took the last of the pie-filled plates.
I began helping Henry and Donovan scrub and clean pots while Father Thomas started playing the piano. I sang along off-key from the kitchen until we were done and then joined the remaining guests. The regulars would pull the cots out later and sleep in the warm church basement.
“Why do you do this?” Michael asked as I put my coat on.
“Because I can.”
“Yes but why spend your time here regularly?”
I looked around at the people. “The price of a few hours is a bargain for a hard won smile. Goodnight Michael. Thank you for helping tonight. Merry Christmas.”
To be continued…
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