Authors: Sharon Kleve
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Josey’s Christmas Cookie
Josey’s Christmas Cookie
A Books to Go Now Publication
Books to Go Now
For information on the cover illustration and design, contact [email protected]
First eBook Edition –November 2012
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This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, any place, events or occurrences, is purely coincidental. The characters and story lines are created from the author’s imagination and are used fictitiously.
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Last year, the phone on my desk wouldn’t stop ringing. It was three days before Christmas, and somehow I knew it had to be bad news. If I let it keep ringing, would the bad news go away? It didn’t. I eventually picked it up and it was my sister, Karen, telling me our mom and dad had been in a car accident and killed instantly. In a desperate need to get home for Christmas, an overworked semi-truck driver fell asleep at the wheel, crossed the center line and hit them head-on.
Our parents had a substantial estate, which was all accounted for in their will, along with their living trust. They had planned everything out to the last detail. All expenses were covered: the service, the burial, and the gathering afterwards. They’d even picked out the flowers they wanted. I wish I’d inherited one-tenth of their organizational skills.
Their prized turn-of-the-century home was located in one of the oldest parts of Seattle, Madison Park. My sis is a year younger than me with an ever-growing family. Karen and her husband live in Oregon with their three kids, two dogs, and a three-legged cat. Mom and Dad knew they wouldn’t want the responsibility of such an old home, so they left it to me. After the funeral, I moved in and tried to make it my own. I haven’t succeeded yet. I do love the songbirds, though. I don’t know a lot about birds, but I think they’re called Mourning Doves. They ‘coo-OO-oo’ morning, noon and night. Not that I’m home at noon, but I’d like to imagine they never stop.
My parents used to call me a workaholic. What would they think of my hours now? The sad fact is my job doesn’t even require me to work so many hours. I do it because I have nothing to go home to. Karen suggested I get a pet—something to hold, and take care of. She thinks it’ll help my disposition. I don’t happen to think my disposition needs help.
Karen is a computer geek and always sends me links for this and that. I like looking, but I never buy anything. Today she sent a link to a pet adoption site. I’ll look at it tonight—not that I’m planning on adopting anything.
“Coo-OO-oo. Harry, there’s only one week until Christmas and look how sad Josey is. We have to make this Christmas extra special for her,”
said the mourning dove to her mate.
“Coo-OO-oo. I know, Beatrice my sweetness, but she never goes anywhere. She leaves for work when it’s dark out and she returns home in the dark. How are we supposed to help her find her happiness if we can’t get her to do anything other than work?”
“Harry, it’s almost been a year since Mr. and Mrs. Carlson died and Josey still sits in her father’s office and cries herself to sleep. My heart breaks for her, darling. Her lovely sister Karen invited her to go to Oregon for the holidays, but she said she had to work.”
“Sweetness, it’s in our nature as mourning doves to wish everyone happiness. All we can do is point her in the right direction. She has to want to be happy,”
“I know you’re right. What if we’re losing our touch? Clint the veterinarian has been avoiding our matchmaking for two years now. I thought we’d have him married by now. Remember that sweet girl we sent to him last year? You faked a broken wing right outside his office. She walked you in, dropped you off and went out to lunch with a Starbucks barista.”
“We haven’t lost our touch. He wasn’t ready, that’s all. I’m afraid Josey might not be ready either.”
“Harry, she’s lonely. Of course she’s ready. Christmas is one week away. We can accomplish a lot in one week.”
“Josey, as your boss and friend I’m ordering you to go home. You’ve been working more and more hours as we get closer to Christmas. Please, for the sake of the rest of the office, go home.” Jerry, my boss of ten years said.
“What? Are people complaining about me?” I wanted to know.
“Complaining no, concerned yes. I know how you feel. I lost my mom to cancer five years ago and it still hurts. My dad’s in his mid-70’s and he’s dating a woman he met playing bingo. I like her. She’s coming over for Christmas Eve dinner.”
“Are you suggesting I play bingo to get over the pain of my parents’ tragic death?” I knew I was being mean-spirited, but I didn’t want to go home to an empty house.
“Josey, we all care about you. I know your parents’ death was horrible, but I know you and that’s not all that is bothering you. I’m speaking for everyone in the office; Kyle was selfish, self-centered, and an emotionally stunted prick. You’re better off without him,” Jerry said candidly.
“Wow, don’t hold back, tell me what you really think.” I knew it was the truth, but it was hard hearing it. “I know, I know. But why did he have to leave me right before the funeral? I needed him and he just left a message on my phone, ‘I’m sorry about your parents. I can’t deal with your negativity right now. I’m in the middle of closing a major real estate deal. Call me when things settle down.’ It still hurt to realize he never really cared for me.”
Jerry asked, “Did I mention he was materialistic too?”
“I know he was. All he ever talked about was money. He would have me guess how much I thought a person made, by the way they dressed. I hated it. The funny thing was, Kyle had no idea how wealthy my parents were because they never flaunted it. If I told him how much I inherited, he’d be scratching at my door, within the hour. Don’t worry; I’m never going to tell him, Jerry.”
“I’m not worried about Kyle coming back into your life, but I would like to see you have a life outside of work. Before I forget, Suzie made me promise to ask you if you’d come over for Christmas Eve dinner.”
“Is Bob going to be there too?” I know a setup when I see one. The look on Jerry’s face confirmed my suspicion. Jerry’s wife had been trying to set me up with her brother Bob for several months. He’s a divorced plumber with part-time custody of his three kids.
Jerry looked sheepish. “Hey, Bob’s a nice guy. He might be bald and overweight, but he’s got a good heart.”
“Jerry, it’s not what he does or his looks. I’m just not ready to date yet. If he’s not taken, ask me again in the spring, okay?”
“Don’t worry, he won’t be taken. Don’t tell Suzie I said that though. She loves her brother.”
“I won’t. Tell Suzie thanks, but I have other plans,” I lied.
“Right, other plans my ass. You’re going to mope around in that big house all by yourself.”
“Well, maybe not. I’ve been thinking about getting a pet. What do you think?”
“That would be terrific. What kind of pet?” Jerry asked.
“My sister Karen sent me a link to a pet adoption site. I guess I haven’t thought much about what I want. I’m going to look and see if anything catches my eye.”
“That’s great. Now go home. Have a wonderful holiday and I’ll see you January second.”
“Wait, I didn’t plan on taking that much time off. I’ve got work to do.”
Jerry said sternly, “I’ve already told Kim she’ll be taking over the Stein account for you. That’s the only thing pending. You have ‘use it or lose it’ vacation and you’re going to use it. Shut down your computer and go home. Be sure to keep me updated on the pet search.” He gave me a pat on the head and left. With a week and a half off, I could either go crazy or go find a pet to keep me company.
“Look, my sweet. Josey is home early this evening. Let’s serenade her.”
“Oh Harry, you’re such a romantic. Look, she sees us. Are those tears in her eyes? She’s breaking my heart.”
“My love, she’s home early today. That’s a start. We’ll think of something to make her smile. I promise.”
Beep, beep, beep, beep. Oh crap, I forgot to turn my alarm off. I guess I won’t need that for the next week. I might as well get up and go for a run. I hadn’t had the energy or inclination for a while. I wondered if my exercise fanatic, next-door neighbor left for his morning run yet. There was only one way to find out, I thought as I picked up the phone. The phone rang several times before it was answered.
Gary said, “Hello?”
“Hi Gary, this is Josey, next door. How would you like a running partner for the next week or so?”
Gary sounded excited. “I’d love it. When can you be ready?”
“Ten minutes. I’ll meet you out front.” It was too bad Gary had a partner or I’d snag him for myself. He cooked, cleaned and was the nicest guy I’d ever met.
Three miles later I was panting and out of breath. Gary was disgusted with me. “Josey honey, do I need to call the medics?”
“No, I’m okay.” That’s all I could muster.
“For your own good, we’ll meet at 6:00 a.m. every morning. When we’re done running, I’ll blend you a refreshing kale, carrot and avocado smoothie. Darling, I’ll have you whipped into shape in no time,” said Gary.
In shape for what, I wanted to ask, but I couldn’t utter a word. After downing a disgusting smoothie made of a green and orange substance, I made my way back to my house. I felt as though I’d been out on the range riding a horse; my legs wobbled all over the place. After soaking in my tub until my wrinkles had wrinkles, I dried off and put on my mom’s favorite lavender velour robe. I lay down on my parents’ bed—now mine—and stared at the ceiling. It was comforting. Peace was getting closer…
Then the phone rang.”Hey sis, did you get my email with the pet adoption link?” Karen asked.
“Hi Karen. Yes I did. If I can get my fat butt off the bed, I’m going to check it out.”
“You? Fat butt? I don’t think so. I might have inherited Dad’s thick chestnut hair, but you got the ‘legendary’ Taylor sexy butt from Mom. Remember how all the boys in school would stare at Mom’s butt? We’d get embarrassed and Dad thought it was great. You have that to look forward to: buns of steel. Oh yeah, you got Mom’s straight auburn hair, you’re tall, athletic and you have large beautiful blue eyes. Need I say more big sister?”
“Can you call me every morning and pump up my ego? Karen you have such a big heart, you’re beautiful inside and out. I love you!”
“I love you too and I want you to be happy. Back to business: all the local shelters are bringing in their animals to one location so you should have a wide variety to choose from. I’ve heard it’s like a huge garage sale; you need to get there early to get the good stuff. It starts at 9:00 a. m. tomorrow morning and goes until 4:00 p. m.”
“Sis, they’re animals, not someone’s junk.” I was defending something I wasn’t even sure I wanted.
Karen said, “Well, of course they’re not junk. I was pointing out that you need to get there early rather than later, is all.”
“Okay, I promise I’ll be the first one at the door. Now, don’t get your hopes up. I’m not promising that I’ll come home with anything. An animal is a big commitment and I want to be sure it’ll be a good fit.” Who was I fooling?
“Look my darling, Josey is up and running with that handsome neighbor of her’s again. Isn’t that wonderful?”
“Yes Harry, it’s wonderful. They’re just friends though; he has a mate of his own.”
“Are you sure my sweetness?”
“I’m very sure; we’ll have to look elsewhere for a mate for our sweet Josey.”
After our run, Gary blended a strawberry and parsley smoothie; it was pretty tasty. After I drank it he told me that he’d snuck in a chunk of tofu for protein. I didn’t complain; I haven’t felt this good in a long time.
I’d checked the adoption link and knew exactly where the event was being held. They had pictures up of an assortment of available animals. I was overwhelmed with the need to adopt all of them and I hadn’t yet seen or touched any of them. The phone rang as I was getting ready to leave, “Hello?”
“Hey sis, I was hoping you’d already left. You are going, right?”
“Karen, please stop pressuring me. Yes I’m going, but I don’t even know what kind of animal I want. What if I can’t make up my mind and adopt all of them?”
My sister laughed at me, “Josey, that’s so you. They’ll have people there who can explain the needs and care of each animal. Call me the minute you get home. Better yet, take a picture of whatever you chose and send it to me from your phone.” You’d think I was adopting a baby.
Karen was right again. The parking lot at the community center was packed full of cars, minivans, and trucks. There was even a Pepsi truck, Doritos truck and a couple pet food vendor trucks. It was a like a Christmas bizarre. I checked to make sure I had my coupon for a free bag of pet food with me; it didn’t specify what kind of pet.
I walked through the double doors and was overwhelmed from the sounds. Mostly from the people, “ooh-ing” and “aah-ing.” With my iPad in hand, I decided to move counter-clockwise through the booths of animals, make notes and then revisit the ones that I thought would be a good fit.
Well, in theory that was a great plan, except the first booth I came to wasn’t full of animals. It was a really cute guy advertising his veterinary clinic. It was a good thing I wasn’t shopping for a boyfriend. I must’ve been staring because he laughed and handed me his brochure.
He said, “Hi, I’m Clint. I run the Kline Emergency Animal Hospital on Beacon Hill. Can I answer any questions for you?” I think I saw his eye twinkle. Who was he, Santa Claus?
I was speechless, but not dumb, “Hi, I’m Josey and I haven’t had a pet since I was a little kid. I’m not sure what’s best for me. Do you have a suggestion?” I might not have a pet yet, but I’d chosen my new vet.
Clint said, “Why don’t you look around for a while? Keep an open mind; sometimes a pet finds you. If you still haven’t found anything by noon, I’ll make a suggestion. Take this map; it shows the layout of the center. If you continue to your right you’ll find the cats and then the smaller critters, like rabbits and chinchillas. Then finally, the dogs. They’re my favorite.”
I pulled away from his mesmerizing eyes, “Thank you, I’ll do that.” I tried not to trip on the carpet as I walked away.
“My sweetness, did you see that? Clint was flirting with Josey. I’m glad we followed her here.”
“Harry, please move to the right just an inch or two. There, now I can see better through the window. Yes darling and I also saw Josey flirting back. She looked a bit rusty though.”
“Oh, take it from me; I guy likes it when a girl acts a little shy.”
“Harry, the only thing you know about females is what I’ve told you.”
“True, very true, my love.”
I stroked and petted at least twenty cats and kittens and none of them reached out to me. They were all soft and playful, but not what I was looking for. There was a donation box where the cats and kittens were. My mom and dad had numerous outdoor cats over the years. It seemed fitting to donate five hundred dollars in their name.