Julie pulled into the parking lot, her tires crunching over the day old snow. If she hurried up, she would be right there when the coffee shop opened. She slipped into a parking spot, slammed the car into park, yanked out the keys, and flung her scarf around her neck. Her long, chestnut hair tumbled over the collar of her winter coat. She loved living in Manchester, New Hampshire, but it sure got a lot of snow. She opened the door and rushed over the snow covered ice patches in her high-heeled leather boots. Her boss, Sam, was twisting the keys in the coffee shop’s door. With a final rush, she lunged for the door, brushing shoulders with a male customer. They both squeezed through the door at the same time, but he lost his balance and grabbed the candy cane coffee display near the entrance to prevent him from falling.
Julie grabbed the man’s arm, helping him catch his balance. “I’m so sorry.”
He turned to look at her. She expected a scowl. Instead, his cobalt blue eyes softened, as if he’d seen… an angel?
He stood up, stiffening his shoulders, as two customers walked around them. “It’s all right.”
“Jules, start taking orders with Renee,” barked Sam.
Julie quickly went into the back room, grabbed her apron, and put it on. The apron was done up in Christmas colors with the store’s logo, “Cup o’ Joe” on the front. She joined Renee at the counter.
Renee served Mr. Cobalt eyes a coffee and a cheese bagel. Julie turned her attention on her customers, focusing on her job. After the initial rush died down, she peaked over the counter.
He sat next to the window overlooking the store’s courtyard and the Merrimack River, reading the local newspaper. The benches were covered in snow.
Renee leaned over. “He’s kinda’ cute.”
Julie bit her lip, nodding in agreement. He was tall, broad shouldered, with thick, wavy black hair and chiseled red cheeks. His ears seemed just a bit pointed at the tip. Pointed? Julie blinked. His ears were pointed! He looked like an elf, especially with his red and green stripped sweater that had a white zig-zag strip across the middle.
“He’s been stealing glances at you,” added Renee.
Julie wrinkled her nose. Was he mad at her for running him over? She couldn’t blame him. She was always in a rush because she was always late. She didn’t trust anyone. Well, not since Vince, her ex-boyfriend, dumped her three months ago. She scowled more than she smiled. At least that’s what her boss told her.
Renee gave her a blueberry scone. “Here – give him a 'peace offering' scone.”
“A ‘peace offering’ scone?”
“To apologize for your bad behavior.”
Julie huffed, took the breakfast plate, and walked over to his table. “Hi.”
He looked up over the newspaper, squinted his eyes, and then a slow smile graced his lips. “Oh, it’s you.”
“I brought you a scone. It’s blueberry.”
“I like blueberries.” He pointed to the seat across from him. “Have a seat, Julie.”
She plopped herself in a chair. “How do you know my name?”
He pointed to her apron. “Your name tag. I’m Blitzen.”
“Blitzen?” She wrinkled her nose. “That’s a reindeer.”
“Do I look like a reindeer?”
“Elves have names like Donner and Cupid and Blitzen, too, you know.”
“So, you’re an elf?”
“I didn’t say that.”
Julie paused, not knowing what to think.
He cut off a piece of his scone and handed it to her. “Hey, it’s Christmastime. You shouldn’t be so uptight.”
She nibbled on the scone. “Uptight?”
Blitzen shrugged his shoulders. “That’s what I’d call it.”
“Wouldn’t you be if you were staying up late to study for finals, working a spare job as a pet setter to pay off the credit card you had to use to buy a new muffler for your old car, and getting only five hours of sleep a night?”
He reached out and placed his warm hand over hers. She hitched her breath. He had the softest skin. The unexpected touch was soothing.
“And, ah, my boyfriend dumped me, too,” she added.
“Let me help.”
She swallowed, a little nervous, but a little willing to consider the offer. Sure, he was a little weird, but when she looked up into his eyes, she saw something she hadn’t seen in a long time – concern.
“Okay, but how—?”
He chuckled. “Do you have any more finals?”
“Just one – criminal law.”
“After your shift, we’ll go to the library and I’ll help you study.”
“I’m yours until Christmas.”
She bit her lip. She could definitely get hung up on Blitzen. “And after Christmas?”
He chuckled. “We’ll see.”
“Hey Jules, get back to work,” barked Sam from behind the coffee bar.
Julie smiled at Mr. Gorgeous Christmas Elf and took her spot at the counter. It started to get busy. Julie found herself working steady and to her surprise, Blitzen waited patiently, nibbling on his scone and reading his newspaper.
After a flood of customers, Julie caught her breath and leaned toward Renee. “Do you think he’s for real?”
“He said he was an elf.”
Renee giggled. “Get out.”
Renee studied him, rubbing her chin. “Well, he does have pointy ears.”
Sam suddenly appeared between the two girls and put his hands on their shoulders. “Look, elves don’t come cheap, so you treat him right,” he whispered.
Julie looked at her boss. “You got me an elf for Christmas?”
“You’re a good worker, Jules, but you needed something to snap out of your ‘all-work, no- play’ funk you’ve been in the last few months.”
Julie looked at Blitzen, back to her boss, and back to Blitzen again. The elf’s eyes sparkled like diamonds. This was going to be an interesting Christmas.
“Thank you,” she whispered to Sam.
He chuckled and walked off.