Baby, It's Cold Outside

★ Marilee ★

Every holiday I closed the restaurant so my employees could be with their families. Every holiday I ate alone.

Not this year.

An idea came to me. I wanted a delicious Christmas meal and some conversation too. So, I sent an e-vite to our newsletter subscribers, explaining that I was hosting a Lonely Hearts Christmas Dinner. But I messed up, forgetting to limit the number of guests. Of course, I didn't expect more than a handful of people to be interested.

When I discovered my mistake fifty-seven people had RSVPed. I now had to figure out a menu for nearly sixty while thwarting a mini breakdown. What had I gotten myself into?

★ Girard ★

I wandered into Marilee’s office wondering what all the commotion was about. Our GM was a lot of things: Smart, funny, and exceedingly beautiful. What she wasn’t, what she’d never been, was prone to irrational freakouts. So when she told me she’d overbooked this little Lonely Hearts Christmas shindig she’d planned, I knew exactly what I needed to do. Offer my help. After all, I had no place to be on Christmas.

We spent hours crafting a menu, taste-testing new recipes, selecting the perfect wines, and reconfiguring seating to accommodate the large group while still making it feel homey. Banquet table. Lots of candles. Somehow all came together.

Something else came together too. I grew real feelings for Marilee and I suspected she had feelings for me. Now I had to make her own up to them. When things got hot in the kitchen, it made me decide, Marilee you got to stay with me, because baby, it’s cold outside.

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