Chapter 2

Christmas Eve Will Find Me by Emily


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Synopsis: David as Laura must now seek out her ex-boyfriend to buy a new tree.

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Claire and I arrived at her home. Apparently this is also Laura’s childhood home as well. I’m a stranger to this place so I most certainly did not make myself at home, despite Claire’s insistence. Instead I stood leaning against the threshold between the kitchen and living room.


“Lunch?” Claire asked.


“Yes, please.” I replied. I realized I never finished that TV dinner I left back at my house. I was certainly hungry.


I returned my focus back to the cellphone in my hand. I couldn’t get anything to work. I wanted to see where I was. What was the quickest way back home? Does home even exist? If I’m trapped in a movie, how do I get back to reality?


“What’s wrong with the internet?” I said in frustration.

 

Claire had her head in the refrigerator. “The service here has always been limited.”


“Where are we?” I asked.


She pulled a bowl out of the fridge and looked at me like I didn’t have amnesia. “Fairview.”


“What state?”


“Seriously Laura, this is going to get old.” She returned to having her head in the fridge again.


I wanted to scream, but decided that wasn’t the way to get answers and get the hell out of this hell hole.


I typed “fairview” into google, and a wiki page actually came up. Nice.


“Fairview, population 6000, hosts one of the largest Christmas parades in the country.” the wiki read. Followed by pictures, information about climate and vague geography. No state. No county. Since I’ve kinda accepted I’m actually in a fictional town, I’m not at all surprised.


“You shouldn’t waste time.” Claire said, breaking me from my frustrations. “Your Christmas Tree problem isn’t going to solve itself. Mr. Diggs is a powerful man.”


“Fine.” I said. I was about to ask, where I can find this friend John, when I realized it’s likely in Laura’s phone. I opened up contacts and there was John near the top. Because of course he is.


Let’s get this over with. I pressed dial on the contact and the phone started ringing. 


He answered “Miller Tree Service. How may I… Laura?”


I took a deep breath. “Hi” I said. “I need to buy a 30 foot tree.”


“Ohh.” he said. “I heard about that.”


Well, of course he did. “Listen, can we cut to the chase, I’m running out of time and I really need this - like yesterday.”


“Sure, stop by this afternoon and you can pick one out.”


“Thank you,” I said.


“See you in a bit,” he said.


If I fix the town Christmas tree, this movie is over right? So I have 2 days to fix the tree and go home. I just need to avoid any B plots and any other cliché stuff that will prolong this movie. It seemed like a decent plan.


“Now I just need a car.” I mumbled.


“You can take mine,” Claire said, finishing up by putting a huge spread of food on the counter. Bowls, platters, leftovers containers, and condiments. From the looks of it, the refrigerator was likely empty.


“What’s all of this?” I said to the huge spread.


“Lunch”


* * *


After lunch - I only had a sandwich - I found myself driving Claire’s car to John’s tree farm. Before I left, Claire directed me to Laura’s room where I found another coat to wear. This one was a white coat with matching ear muffs. I’m not really an ear-muffs kinda guy. But, it made me look cute - I mean Laura. Every time I look in a mirror, I get weird feelings in my stomach. Was I attracted to Laura?


It’s funny. Google started working once I put the farm’s address in. It successfully gave me directions from Claire’s house to John’s farm. When I tried zooming out, it froze again. Almost as if there’s nothing outside of Fairview. All of the evidence suggesting I’m living in a fictional town is piling up.


I slowly drove into the plowed dirt driveway to the farmhouse. It was a quaint looking house on a hill, with perfect rows of trees of incrementing sizes behind it. With the blue sky and snow covered landscape it really was quite picturesque. I turned off the car and got out of it and looked towards the house.


A ruggedly attractive man was standing on the front porch of the farm house. He wore a smile and perfectly groomed stubble on his face. The rest of him was wearing a flannel shirt, perfectly fitted jeans and work boots. He looked like a male model for a log cabin retreat. He certainly has the lumberjack-chic thing going on. This guy must be John, the male lead of this awful movie.


“Laura Williams.” he said walked off the porch and up to me. “I did not expect to see you drive up to my house ever again.”


How does one respond to that? “This is not what I expected to do on my day off either. I wanted to be working today.”


“Come on in.” he said with a welcoming smile. He walked back into the porch, his boots’ footfalls echoing off the boards. He opened the door for me.


John escorted me into the kitchen of the farm house where a very attractive brunette with her hands in a bowl of… cookie dough… looked up at me. “You know my sister,” he said.

 

“Hi Laura!” cookie dough hottie said.


“Hi.” I said. She came over and extended her dough-covered hands and gave me a hug, carefully avoiding getting cookie dough on my coat. Is everyone in this town drop dead gorgeous? The sister had a cute “girl next door” look going on with her hair tied up in a messy bun. The sister of the male lead? I bet she’s written into this movie as the best-friend type.


John opened some kitchen drawers and pulled out a key ring. “Liz, I’ll be right back. I’m going to drive Laura over here to look at the mature trees”


“Have fun,” Liz said. “Good luck!”


John put on a coat and stopped at the door and looked back at me impatiently. “You coming?”


“You want me to go with you?” I asked. “I can stay here with your sister.”


“Oh no, you’re not getting out of this so easily.” John smiled. “You’re the one who crashed into the old tree and the one is paying for the new one. The least you can do is pick it out.”


I groaned. “Fine.” 


John led us back outside. On the side of the farm house was a 4-wheel ATV. One ATV. He climbed aboard. “Hop on,” he said.


Where's the other one? Does he really want me to ride with him? “There’s only 1 seat there.” I said.


John chuckled. “We used to do this all the time.”


I stood there in silence for a moment. The quicker I get this over with the quicker I get home right?


I climbed onto his ATV.


“Hold on,” he said.


“To what?”


“Me.”


I repeated encouraging thoughts to myself. Get this over with. Get this over with.


I gingerly put my arms around him. He smelled like a pine tree. It wasn’t a bad smell considering this was his occupation. I have a pine scented car freshener in my car. Just then he accelerated the ATV through the snowy field, which made me hug him tighter so as to not fall off.


We drove through rows of baby evergreens, with wind blowing through my hair and the wheels kicking up a snowy mist behind us. I felt a smile form on my lips. OK. Maybe this was a little fun. I actually always wanted to do this, but I grew up in suburbia. I’d rather be riding with John’s sister Liz, though.


We came to a stop next to a forest. Well, it looked like a forest because all of the trees were massive. “Take your pick.”


“That one right there” I said pointing at the first one I saw.


“You haven’t even looked at them.” John complained.


“Fine” I said, getting off the ATV. Once I stepped out, I realized I was standing in several inches of snow. My feet were instantly cold. I guess Laura’s boots are not snow boots. 


John, for his credit, didn’t judge, or didn't notice my choice in footwear. I mean, even if I knew we’d be walking around in snow, does Laura even have snow boots in Claire’s house?


I examined the row of massive trees there. “What am I looking at?” I said. Really any tree will do right?


“Well, you want to look at how full it is. When it’s in the town square everyone will see the tree from all angles.”


I pretended to care and walked around a few trees before settling on the second one. “This is will work.”


He looked into my eyes and smiled. “Alight. Let’s return to the house and I’ll get the paperwork ready.”


“Paper work?” I asked.


“Yeah.” he said. “It’s not like you can fit a 30 foot tree in your mom’s car.”


I smirked. How did he know it was Claire’s car?


He took my smirk as a sign I was flirting and had a bigger smile than before. 


We made eye contact.


I looked away. I am not falling into that trap. This is a movie about a Christmas tree, not a movie about a city girl falling in love with her country ex. Wait, did I just call myself a city girl. Crap. I need to get my head in the game.


“Let’s go then” I said, walking back to the ATV. 


“Do you want to drive?” John asked.


“Really?” I said. “Hell yeah.” Whoops, I should’ve played it cool and shown as much excitement. I’ve always wanted to drive an ATV through open wilderness.


I climbed on board, and he came up and sat behind me putting his arms around me. OK. So maybe this was his ploy for him to hug me.


I started the ATVs and started driving through the snow. 


“What happened to us anyway?” John said over the roar of the engine.


Oh, come on! I did expect him to try to rekindle a romance with Laura. I just didn’t expect it after only 10 minutes. “I don’t know.” was the best I could say. I could claim amnesia like I’m doing with Claire. I swerved around trees as I steered the ATV down the hill.


“I should’ve gone with you to New York,” he said with regret.


Are we really having this conversation? Fine. “But you had your own things going on.” I wonder what his reason for not going was. 


“Yeah well it didn't work out.” he said. “How is your job?”


“Well, my career is good. My boss just gave me the week off. He’s hinting at a promotion after the new year. I get along with my co-workers.”


“Boyfriend?”


I scoffed. “No.” 


“So there’s still hope for me?” he said with a smile.


“Absolutely not.” I replied.


He chuckled. Did he think I was joking?


I didn’t see a boulder protruding from the snow and one of the wheels hit it and I felt John’s arms let go.


Shit. 


I hit the brakes and stopped the ATV and looked behind me. John was laying on his back in the snow a few yards away. He wasn’t moving.


Oh no, I killed him. Sure he’s a fictional character, but oh shit! I jumped off the ATV and ran to his side and skidded on my knees in the snow. “Shit! John, I’m sorry!”


I saw him giggling to himself. When I saw that he was alright, I punched his shoulder. “Asshole. I thought you were seriously hurt.”


“The snow cushioned my fall” he said, getting up.


“It wasn’t funny.” I said walking back to the ATV. “You know I got a concussion last night. It’s no laughing joke.” Speaking of which, I noticed I felt no discomfort from my accident anymore.


“Sorry, Laura” he said as he climbed back on the ATV and resumed his position of holding onto me. I shook my head, started the ATV and we drove back to the house.


* * *


After a quick ride, we both walked back into the farm house. I stopped between the living room and kitchen again, watching Liz continue with her baking. I could hear music coming from Liz’s cellphone playing “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree.” John followed me and stood there with me at the threshold.


“You should dry off your boots and socks by the fire” he said.


I already noticed my feet were numb and uncomfortable, but chose not to think about it.. I looked down at my boots. They were soaked. Definitely not snow boots. I may have to write a note to Laura. “Dear Laura, your boots were cute, but they do a lousy job at being boots.”


I pulled off the boots, and soaked socks and put them by the fireplace. Wow, that’s nice and toasty. I stood there by the warm fire and wiggled my toes. This is the first time I really noticed my dainty feet. They were small and the toenails were painted the exact red and green my fingers were.


I returned to the kitchen where John was leaning against the threshold. Liz was still there baking.


I made eye contact with John and gave him a weak awkward smile. I then noticed him glance above us. I followed his eyes to mistletoe hanging right about the threshold. Shit.


“No.” I said flatly.


“But it’s tradition,” he whined.


“No, it’s called boundaries. Jesus, I’ve been here for only an hour and you’re trying to sneak a kiss.”


I heard Liz give a giggle. Oh you laugh, Liz. If she was under the mistletoe I would’ve wanted the same thing. Wait, am I a hypocrite?


John looked a little dejected. “I’m gonna get the paperwork ready and arrange to get the tree delivered. I’ll be in my office.”


He has an office in his farm house? I could read between the lines and I think he really wanted me to follow him. I don’t recall giving any signs or signals that I was interested. God I hope I never acted like this in the real world. I didn’t want to spend another moment with this guy and his yearning puppy dog eyes. He is barking up the wrong tree. “I’m going to stay here and keep your sister company.”


John looked disappointed and excused himself to make the calls.


Liz who was watching all of this, smiled at me and continued looking down at a recipe on the kitchen counter. 


Liz reminds me of a few girls I tried to date over the past few years. She’s certainly my type. I don’t want to spend any more time in this movie world than I have to, but a part of me wants to have a little fun here. I wonder what happens if I try to actively resist this cheesy movie world and try to go after the Male Lead's sister instead of him. Can I make changes to the outcomes? 


I looked at Liz, hard at work. “So whatcha doing?” I asked.


“I’m baking cookies for the town’s baking competition.” she replied.


I let out a chuckle. Why am I not surprised? 


“Want to help?” she asked.


“Sure,” I said. I took off the coat and earmuffs and draped them on a near-by chair. I walked around the counter to stand right next to her.


“In this bowl, can you beat flour, sugar and eggs?” she asked. 


I did what I was told and started mixing the ingredients together. I’ve never been good at flirting. Usually my flirting involves copious amounts of alcohol. I don’t see any alcohol on hand at the moment.


“So what have you been up to Liz?” I asked.


“Well, I haven’t gone anywhere since graduation.” she said. “I ran the family business when our parents got sick and eventually passed and while John was away.”


“I’m sorry to hear that,” I said.


“How is life in the big city?” she asked.


“It’s great. I’m enjoying it. You should come visit sometime.”


“Chocolate Chips are next” she said, pointing to a bag next to me. “1 cup”


I placed the spoon down and opened the bag of chocolate chips and poured chips into a measuring cup and then the bowl.


“I don’t know what a country girl like me is going to do in the big city.” she said.


“You never know,” I replied. “There’s a lot to see. A lot to do.”


“I think I’m more of a stay at home, cuddle by the fire with a nice glass of wine kinda girl.” 


Me too! Well - guy. “We could totally do that too,” I suggested. The idea actually sounded nice. I don't own a fireplace, but I do have some nice wines and a couch large enough for two.


She pointed to a small bottle with black liquid on the counter. “Add 5 drops of that.”


“What is it?” I asked, looking at the bottle.


“My secret ingredient.” she said. “A family blend of various extracts and spices. A splash of alcohol. It gives my cookies that extra ‘wow’ factor.”


“Nice.” I said picking up the bottle and counting out 5 drops.


She looked at me with an infectious smile. “Maybe I should take you up on the offer then I can bring the wine.”


Silently I was cheering. I feel like I wasn’t as inept at flirting in this world. Of course, I can’t take her to my real home can I? And if I’m successful, I won't be here in Fairview after Christmas. But, I’m having fun with this role playing either way. How far can I push it? “Seeing anyone?” I asked. 


She laughed. “I’m perpetually single.” she said.


“What?” I said, hiding my excitement. “What’s an attractive woman like you still being single?”


“I never found the right person.” she said. “Or maybe the universe just wants me to stay single.”


“I doubt that,” I added. Maybe the writers want her to stay single.


We both reached for the spoon and our hands touched each other. Her hand on mine was electric. There was an awkward glance at each other a moment before she retracted her hand. “After you.”


I picked up the spoon and started folding the chocolate chips into the cookie dough.


“Plans for Christmas?” she asked.


“None.” I replied. “I don’t really do Christmas.”


“Oh why not?” she said, disappointed.


Usually when my co-workers ask this I brush them off. But I was enjoying talking with Liz. Since she’s a fictional person, I suppose I can open up to her. “Since my parent’s divorce…” I stopped. Wait. I don't know Laura’s history. Should I be telling her mine or Laura’s?


She looked at me with empathy. “Some of my friends have divorced parents. They still like Christmas.”


Ok, I’ll talk about my own history. “But my parents fought over it.” I said truthfully. “It became a chore. They’d fight over who would give Santa’s gifts and how much. They fought on where I would spend the holidays.”


“That sounds awful,” she said.


“It was,” I confessed. “I remember being 6 and it was like just after midnight or something. I heard sounds from my living room and muffled talking. I thought it was Santa.” I paused for a moment and laid the spoon down. “I… I came out of my room to find my parents screaming at each other. My dad threw a present across the room.” I paused again to see Liz was looking at me in shock. “They didn’t see me…”


Liz held my other hand as my thoughts drifted off. OK, I may have gone off script. Shit, and I wasn’t even drinking. That was more than I had ever shared with anyone. Here I was pouring my heart out to a fictional girl I just met.


“It’s OK.” she said to me. “Oh God, Laura, I’m so sorry.”


Her words were a little comforting, but they couldn’t heal an adolescence of pain. Something interrupted my thoughts. The smell of smoke. “Do you smell that?” I said.


“Oh shit!” she said, rushing to the oven. As she opened the oven door, smoke billed out of it. More than should’ve come out for only cookies.


The smoke detector started going off.


Liz started coughing. I grabbed a kitchen rag and waved it around, but it wasn’t helping anything.


“Are you OK?” I asked. When Liz didn't answer and kept coughing, I grabbed her hand and led her out of the farmhouse. Once we went out of the front door, I remembered I was barefoot. I ignored the stabbing pain of snow on bare feet as I focused on getting us to safety.


Immediately after we left the house, John followed us. “What happened? I leave you girls alone for 5 minutes…”


As Liz was coughing, I spoke up. “We burnt the cookies.”


Suddenly on-cue a fire truck came rolling up the farm property siren blaring. That was quick.


Within seconds, two firefighters hopped off the truck with fire extinguishers and ran into the house.


John, Liz and I awkwardly looked at each other. Maybe I should break the silence. “The fire department is prompt in this town.” I said.


I hope this doesn’t take long. My feet are getting numb.


The two firefighters came out of the house. “All clear.”


“I’m so sorry” Liz said between coughs.


The first firefighter gave Liz an oxygen mask and upon breathing it she seemed fine. 


He removed his own smoke mask, to reveal a handsome face and looked directly at Liz with a cocky smile. “It’s ok, '' he said. “Everything is fine, nothing is damaged. I wasn’t able to save the cookies though.”


Liz smiled at him and let out a flirtatious giggle. “It’s OK. I could always make more for you.” She paused out of embarrassment. “I mean I can always make more.”


“I’d like that.” the firefighter said.


I watched the firefighter and Liz stare into each other’s eyes. You’ve got to be shitting me. Is the movie universe trying to push back on my attempts at resistance?


“Thank you so much” I said to the firefighter, interrupting their moment.


The firefighter nodded to Liz, said, “Ma’am” looked at me and said “Ma’am,” again and returned to the truck, and the fire engine drove away as quickly as they came.


The 3 of us returned to the house. 


I went straight for the fireplace. Oh yes. That feels nice. I could smell the scent of burned cookies in the air. “I’m so sorry Liz,” I said. “It was my fault.”


“It’s fine.” she said from behind me. “I’ve burned my fair share of cookies.”


“Laura,” John said interrupting. “I made the arrangement to have the tree delivered to the town square tomorrow morning.”


“Great” I said. At that point I realized I no longer have a reason to stay here. I looked at Liz. “I guess I should get going then.”


“Now you just have to find a way to decorate it.” John added.


“Wait, what?” I said.


“Christmas lights.” he said. “Ornaments.”


“I have to do that too?” I said.


“I’d assume since you destroyed everything with your car.” He smiled. Is he trying to be cute, ‘cause it’s not working.


I shook my head. “You don’t happen to own a Christmas Tree Ornament Shop do you?”


“No, sorry” he said. “Do you want me to join you?”


“No thanks” I said.


“Can I make you a thermos of hot chocolate before you go?” Liz chimed in.


I looked at her and smiled. “I’d love that.”


I retrieved my socks, boots, coat and earmuffs, and Liz poured some hot chocolate into a thermos and I waved bye to my two new friends. As I walked back to Claire’s car, I thought to myself that this afternoon wasn’t as bad as I thought. My socks and boots were miraculously dry too.


* * *


“Mom, I’m home” I yelled out to Claire.


“Hi Honey” I heard from the kitchen.


I walked into the kitchen and found her surrounded by pots, pans, ingredients, and spices. She was chopping something on a cutting board.


“How did it go?” she asked. “How was John?”


“I got a tree. John is fine. I got to spend time with Liz and made some cookies.” I said. I didn’t say I nearly killed John with an ATV and burned their house down with cookies. Oh and I nearly got frostbite. It would’ve been a shame to have to amputate these cute toes.


“Sounds like a pleasant afternoon.” she said as she handed me a full glass of wine.


“Thank you.” I said. I took a sip. Not bad. OK, I can get used to this. “I need to go back out and buy Christmas lights and ornaments for the tree.”


“We can go after dinner.” she said.


I was willing to go by myself, but having Claire there would certainly help things go by faster. “What’s for dinner anyway?”


“Butternut squash soup.” she said.


Well that beats the TV dinner I had last night.


* * *


And now I’m stuffed. Claire can cook. That’s more food than I’ve had in a long time. And wine. I was actually feeling pretty good. Of course I still had things to do. I’d really like to sit down in front of the TV with the rest of that bottle of wine, but instead I have to buy Christmas tree accoutrements.


Claire drove us to the nearest Big Box Store. Literally. That was the name of it. “Big Box Store.” I guess the movie couldn’t afford a named brand to sponsor them. 


I got one shopping cart. Claire got another.


“I’ll do lights.” I said. “You do ornaments.”


As I was walking through “Big Box Store”, I noticed guys looking at me more. It was weird and creepy. One guy couldn’t hide it. After I passed him, I found him staring at my ass. 


“Dude, seriously?” I said.


He turned red in embarrassment and resumed his shopping.


Eventually I found the section of the store for Christmas lights. 


How many strands of lights do I need for a 30 foot tree? I started throwing in spools of 300 light strands into my shopping cart. Is 15 enough? Let’s throw in another 5 for good measure. The car was overflowing and I had a hard time keeping the last 3 spools in the cart.


As I was pushing my cart around the store to find Claire, I ran into Mr. Diggs who was in the toy section.


“Good evening Ms. Williams,” he said. He looked at my cart. “I’m glad to see everything is going well.”


“And what are you doing in the toy section?” I asked. “Shouldn’t you be suing somebody?” The moment I said that, I realized it was mean and uncalled for. He hadn’t really done anything to me other than hold me accountable for destroying the town Christmas tree. He didn’t really deserve my wrath.


“Ms. Williams, I’m buying gifts for the Christmas donation drive.”


OK. Now I feel even more like an ass.


I shook my head in embarrassment. “Sorry, Mr. Diggs. It’s been a long day.”


“It’s OK,” he said. “It looks like you've been productive. Will you be joining us for the festivities Friday night?”


“No,” I said. “I just want to put this behind me and go home. The sooner the better.”


“I was really hoping you’d get into the Christmas Spirit.”


“No.” I replied. “I’m good. I don’t do Christmas. I resent that I have to do all of this. I don't want to be here. I don't want to be in this town. Hell I don’t really want to be home either. I just want to be at work so I can pass through the holiday season quickly.”


Diggs shook his head. “Seriously David, just relax and learn to let go of your past.”


“Yeah but…” I paused. What did he just call me?



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Emily

Hi, I'm Emily and I'm writing Gender Transformation Fiction! This site is a place for my to keep all of my stories in one place. I'm also a software developer in the daytime, so this site will also be a proving ground of cool new features that pop into my head. Feel free to message me on Twitter or at my Discord Server! You can also find me on TGStorytime.com and FictionMania.tv.

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