The lights dimmed as the music came on. Gradually, the gym quieted down after the loud cheers of the new year welcome. Couples took to the floor to dance to the slow beat. Chrissy stood off to the side with a smile plastered on her face for everyone to see.
It wasn’t supposed to have ended like this. The mysterious note John left only made her wonder about her choice of men. What man actually bribes a date out of a woman, takes her out, and then quickly leaves her at the ring of one phone call? And to add insult to injury leaves a note on her door that he’d see her to ring in the new year only to not show up.
So far she was batting a thousand when it came to men. Finding a decent one was not in her cards. She’d just have to face up to it and move on.
Stupid! Stupid! Why did she fall for his bad boy charm? What was it with men like him? Well, it didn’t matter. She was through with the lot of them.
Zack waved at her from across the room. She moved around the edge of the floor to where her partner in community service crime was standing guard over the punch bowl.
“This!” He pointed to the punch. “Somebody spiked it.”
Chrissy laughed. “If that’s the worst thing that happens, I’m okay with that.”
“What if someone under age gets to it?”
“We’ll substitute it. Go get the other punch from the fridge. We’ll make a minor allowed punch so the rest of us can really enjoy the drink.”
Zack shook his head. “I don’t know what is going on with you. But whatever.” He waved a hand in her face before disappearing to get the alcohol free punch.
Chrissy moved to man the table and poured herself a drink. Tossing it back, she sighed. She needed to get drunk. Very drunk.
Two hours later, the last guests left and three volunteers began sweeping the floor. It took only half an hour to clean up with all the hands busy. Four o’clock was nearing as they closed up the place and Chrissy turned the lock.
“Good night, Zack. I’ll see you in a couple of days.”
“Night, Chrissy. Go home and sleep long and hard. I plan on it.”
Chrissy was thankful home was not too far. She was pulling into her driveway only five minutes later. The car off, she pulled the key out of the ignition and stared at the dark house next to hers. Maybe he was gone for good. Well, at least she hadn’t got too involved with him. She didn’t need another broken heart.
Walking up to the side door, she paused in putting the key in the lock. A folded note card was taped to the door. She pulled it off and opened it.
“Apologies are better given in person with a little extra thrown in. Massey Park. Gazebo.”
Chrissy looked around but saw nothing that caught her eye. She could only assume it was John. For a second she almost tossed the note to the ground and went to bed, but curiosity got the best of her. She started walking down the street the three blocks it would be to the park. Crossing the street at the light, she entered between the stone pillars that marked the entrance to the park.
She wasn’t nervous about going alone into the well-maintained park. It was regularly patrolled and crime was nearly non-existent after a large neighborhood watch had been formed several years before. The park had become a frequented place though at the moment it was very quiet. The hour was too early for most and too late for the rest.
The entrance to the park led into an open space where many people picnicked in the summer and played frisbee. Now it was blanketed in snow with a few tracks from animals that had wandered through. The path was cleared regularly so there was only a thin layer of snow that Chrissy walked over.
The gazebo was located over a small hill and just a few yards from the now frozen lake. She followed the path to it. Topping the hill, she slowed down. The gazebo was encased in a soft glow. Small white lights hung from the edges and draped over the opening of it. Stepping out of the gazebo was John.
Chrissy’s heart did a tap dance in her chest as it did every time she saw her neighbor. He was dressed in a suit. That alone made her pause in mid-step. A suit? His usual biker gear had been replaced with a dress shirt and jacket.
She stopped two feet away from him. Shaking her head, she smiled. “I’m not sure what to say.”
“You don’t have to say anything. Come in and let’s celebrate a new year.” He reached out a hand to her.
She looked down at his rough, yet sexy hands. Placing her hand in his, she let him lead her through the curtain of lights and into the most romantic setting she had ever seen.
In the center of the gazebo on the floor was a blanket spread over the wooden boards. On it was a display of small treats with a thermos gracing the middle. It was set inside a ring of daisies. Around the gazebo where a bench followed the inner circle were dozens of brightly lit candles. Around them was a string of wildflowers braided.
She opened her mouth several times before actually speaking. “I…This is beautiful.”
“Sit. I got us some hot chocolate. I know champagne is more traditional, but it would be a little cold out here.”
“That’s okay.” She sat down still in a semi-state of shock.
Before her was fresh fruit ready to eat along with several delicate pastries that made her realize that she hadn’t eaten in nearly twelve hours. She lifted a raspberry and let its juices spread through her mouth. Her stomach rumbled in glee.
John handed her a mug of steaming hot chocolate. The smell was divine as was the view from where she sat.
“Where were you?”
John paused as he poured his own mug. “I had a personal matter come up. Emergency.”
“Everything okay now?”
He nodded. “Sorry I’m late. My plane got caught in a small blizzard.”
She looked around. “Late? And you still managed this?” She couldn’t help the suspicion that nagged at her.
“The guys helped.”
Chrissy sipped her drink. “It’s really sweet. The sweetest thing anyone had ever done for me. I was beginning to wonder if it was me.”
John moved quickly next to her and cupped her face in his hands. “No, don’t even think that. I wanted to be here. Really, I did. I couldn’t think of any way to make it up to you.”
She smiled. “This is a good start.”
“Happy New Year, Chrissy.”
“Happy New Year, John.” Sexy bikers did have a romantic side to them.