Mya Cotton was only half-listening to her friend, Mercedes, as she chatted away on the phone with her, but then Mercedes knew Mya was alone with nothing else to do and nowhere to go this Christmas Eve. Mya understood that Mercedes felt sorry for her and while she was moved by her friend’s consideration, she wished she could get her to understand that her sad circumstances could change any moment and Mya would rather be left alone to wait and watch and listen for that moment.
“Mya? You still there?” Mercedes said.
Mya reined in her wandering mind once more in an attempt to better concentrate on what Mercedes was saying.
“Um, what was that?” Mya asked, switching the phone to her other ear.
Mercedes sighed. “Are you okay? You seem a little distracted.”
Mya nibbled on her lower lip. “Yeah, no, I’m fine. It’s just that, well, it’s Christmas Eve and Santa Claus is due here any minute to bring me my present, you know. I’m trying to listen for his sleigh and all.”
Mercedes laughed lightly, but it sounded a little forced to Mya. There was a long stretch of awkward silence between them before Mercedes continued.
“Mya, listen to me. There’s still time for you to hop on a plane. You could be here by morning. You can spend Christmas here and have dinner with me and my mom and dad. My aunt’s coming, too, and so are my cousins. We’d love to have you. Please say yes.”
“Aw, thanks, really,” Mya replied, pacing a little circle on her kitchen floor. “But as wonderful as the idea of spending Christmas with you and your family sounds, I can’t. I just…can’t. He might come this year and I want to be here if he does.”
Mercedes made a sound of disapproval in her throat. “Sounds like you really are waiting for Santa Claus to show.”
Mya smiled. “Well, my version of him anyway.”
“I just hate knowing you’re all alone out there in that big, empty rectory house on Christmas. You’re not even sure he’s coming. This year could be the same as the rest.”
“Or not,” Mya answered. “Besides, even if he doesn’t show up, I’m not out here alone. I’ve got a whole cemetery full of people I can visit in my backyard.” She wanted to lighten the mood Mercedes had gotten in, but her friend didn’t sound all that cheered when she replied.
“Don’t you want to spend Christmas with someone…alive this year?”
Mya cracked a smile. “C’mon. Have a little faith.”
Mercedes emitted a sigh of clear frustration. “If it was anybody but him, I’d have to insist you come and spend Christmas with me and my family.”
“But it is him, and I know he’ll be here if he can. He knows how much I want him to be.”
“Mmm hmm. And I suppose if you can’t trust an angel, who can you trust, right?”
“Exactly,” Mya confirmed and stole a glance at the clock. It was ten already. Only two hours to go until Christmas, but there was still a chance.
She took heart in knowing Mercedes hadn’t referred to the love of her life as an angel just by way of a sweet endearment. Pershabael, or Percy, as he was more often called, was in fact, a genuine angel. Mya’s guardian angel, who had come to her in her greatest time of spiritual need a few years back. He had taken her by the hand and helped her make it through, steering her back down the right path in life.
Being a supernatural angel of God, Percy was physically gorgeous. He was also the kindest, most caring, loving person Mya had ever met and she kind of couldn’t help but fall madly in love with him. He was just as in love with her, and now, she and her genuine angel were in a genuine committed relationship of sorts.
Being in love with an angel did have its drawbacks, however. One of them being…he was an angel. He belonged in heaven and was obligated to do any number of angelic things at any given time, especially at Christmas. Percy had explained to Mya how he wasn’t able to be with her as often as he liked because of that. He had told her how busy angels were around Christmas time and Mya had understood. It didn’t mean she had to like it. Having spent so many Christmases alone now because she’d nixed any travel plans on the off chance he just may be able to stop by, was playing havoc with her Christmas spirit. Getting to spend Christmas with someone was the only thing she put on her wish list each year now. Mercedes was right. Mya was lonesome and despite what she’d said, spending Christmas in a graveyard wasn’t her ideal way to celebrate the holiday.
But there was still hope. Mya clung to it. Any minute now, Mya expected to hear the pulsing beat of her angel’s powerful wings on the wind. It was one of the reasons Mya was having a hard time focusing on her phone call with her friend; she kept listening for that tell-tale sound of Pershabael’s wings.
“Well,” Mercedes went on. “Just know you can always change your mind and come here. I’ve got a big, beautiful Christmas tree and an even bigger turkey with enough fixings to feed an army. If you come here, we could all go to church together in the morning and then spend the afternoon watching old Christmas movies, stuffing our faces with treats while we putter in the kitchen cooking dinner. You have to admit, that sounds like a nice way to celebrate Christmas.”
Mya licked her lips. She was so tempted to just say yes, but she also realized she wasn’t ready to give up on this Christmas just yet.
“It does sound nice, but no thanks. Maybe next year, huh?”
Mercedes sighed. “Yeah. Well, I guess I’ll let you go, then. I’ve give you a call tomorrow. Have a merry Christmas, Mya. No matter what, okay?”
“Okay,” Mya agreed. “Merry Christmas, Mercedes. Bye now.”
Mya hung up the phone and set it down on her kitchen table. She went to the window over her sink and looked outside. She couldn’t see much past the rectory’s security lights, however. It occurred to her to step out on the back porch to watch for him. She grabbed up the coat that was draped over the back of one of her kitchen chairs and pulled it on as she slipped outside.
The air was cold, but invigorating in a way. Mya peered up into the star-filled sky and paused to listen, practically holding her breath in anticipation. Her eyes swept from one end of the sky to the other, but in spite of how clear it was, there was nothing to see but stars. She continued to listen for the sound of his wings, however, knowing she’d most likely hear him before she’d see him, but after awhile it became obvious that she was out here alone.
Mya sighed and shifted her gaze to Idlewild, the eight acre cemetery which stood a mere twenty yards from her renovated rectory house. Yep, quiet as a tomb out here, she noted wryly.
She had inherited Idlewild from her father after his untimely passing. He hadn’t explained why he’d left her a cemetery in his will, and Mya hadn’t even known he owned one until after he had died. As it turned out, Idlewild was where her father had met her mother and the place had become so sentimental to them over the years, they’d even gotten married out there.
Mya wrapped her arms tighter around herself to stave off the night chill. She closed her eyes and tried to imagine Percy’s arms around her, holding her, filling her with that sense of security and love she always got in while nestled in his embrace.
“Come on, Santa,” Mya murmured to herself. “Don’t let me down this year.”
Mya’s phone rang just then, startling her out of her wistful reverie. She turned and hurried back inside the rectory to answer it, grateful in a way, to have an excuse to get out of the cold.
Mya peeked at the caller I.D. before answering her phone. She cracked a smile when she recognized the Atlanta area code, pleasantly surprised, but a little wary too. This conversation could go in all sorts of directions she didn’t particularly care to go, but Mya still felt compelled to answer the call. It was Christmas, after all.
Taking a deep breath, she settled into the nearest kitchen chair to talk.
“Hello, Mazriel,” she greeted.
Her former probate attorney and ex-boyfriend all but purred in reply into her ear. “Hello, baby. Merry Christmas.”
Hearing that from him surprised Mya. Then again, she knew who and what he was.
“You’re a fallen angel, Mazriel. I didn’t think you celebrated Christmas,” she pointed out to him.
He chuckled. “On the contrary. I just enjoy the more secular aspects of the holiday. Wine, women, and song, if you know what I mean. And food. I love all the fine foods that crop up this time of year. It’s a month-long party with endless festivities. Lots of meaningless presents. Even more materialistic greed. What’s not to celebrate?”
Mya grinned. “You’re shameless,” she accused the dark angel. “That’s not what Christmas is about.”
Then again, Mya knew that was exactly what this holiday was about for someone like him. Being a fallen angel, whom Mya had met under the guise of the more mortal estate attorney, Marco De La Zahn, she knew Mazriel loved to indulge in all the sinful temptations holidays like Christmas had to offer. She also knew he would readily encourage all the lost and wayward souls he victimized this time of year to give in to those temptations as well. After all, how could anyone resist sinning when Mazriel was such a shining example of the rewards such indulgences reaped? Mya knew better than to give into his temptations, but it didn’t ever stop him from tempting her.
“It just so happens,” Mazriel continued, “I’m taking over as Santa Claus this year and offering you one of two first class tickets on a red eye fight to Monte Carlo tonight as a Christmas present. Now, before you flat out say no, think about it. You and me on the French Riviera, high-stakes gambling, a luxurious hotel suite, the finest Russian caviar, and all the while, we’ll be drinking Dom Perignon like it’s water. You have to admit, that’s the right way to celebrate Christmas. What do you say?”
Mya had to admit she was touched by his offer. She almost hated to turn him down, but then she knew she was only the person at the top of a long list of wealthy, comely candidates he’d make his way through until he found a taker. Mya also realized the very next woman on that list would most likely jump at the chance he would give her, so it wasn’t like he’d be spending Christmas alone.
“Thanks, hon, but no thanks. I’ve got my own plans for Christmas and they involve staying at home.”
Mazriel growled in her ear. “Staying at home alone again, I suppose. Waiting. Watching. Hoping.”
Mya felt her throat tighten with emotion. He made what she was doing sound so stupid and futile, like she was no better than a child who wasted Christmas Eve waiting to catch a glimpse of Santa Claus.
“I’m not going to be alone,” she replied with defiance.
Mazriel chuckled again, but there was no humor in it. “Not if you come with me to Monte Carlo, but you will be alone if you keep putting your faith in the chance your angel will think to grace you with his presence this year when he hasn’t bothered in years past.”
Mya bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling. “Don’t be mean,” she scolded him, but the damage had been done. The seed of doubt he’d sowed had already taken root.
“Mya, please,” Mazriel said, softening his dulcet voice as if to soothe her. “I just want you to think of yourself for a change and let your own happiness matter for once. Come away with me.”
Mya didn’t answer. She just sniffed into the phone.
Mazriel sighed heavily. “Very well, my lovely. But if you should change your mind, you know where to reach me.”
“He’ll be here,” Mya said, more to herself than to Mazriel.
“I hope so,” the dark angel replied in a quiet tone. “For your sake. Merry Christmas, Mya. Regardless.”
Mya took a deep, cleansing breath. “Merry Christmas, Maz.”
With that, she hung up the phone and turned it off. She didn’t want to talk to anyone else tonight. Not that anyone else would actually call her. There was no way for Percy to call her and let her know he was on his way, but running late. He’d simply be here when he’d be here. If he’d be here.
Mya looked at the kitchen clock again and frowned. It was half-past eleven now. Only thirty more minutes until Christmas. Maybe Percy would show up right at midnight, when it was Christmas day. Maybe he wouldn’t be able to get away before then.
All Mya could do now was wait, watch, and hope, just like Mazriel had said. She’d listen, too. She’d give anything to hear the sound of his wings tonight. That’d be like music to her ears, but the more silent minutes that ticked by, the more depressed Mya became.
She ambled into her living room and settled into the recliner across from her Christmas tree so she could admire it. The recliner proved a little too comfortable, however, as Mya caught herself dozing off a few times.
It had been a full day. She had volunteered at the church, helped out with the town toy drive, and assisted at the soup kitchen manning the stoves. She’d prepared her ham for tomorrow’s dinner and baked two dozen chocolate chip cookies.
The cookies were an act of faith. She had baked them for Percy. The angel loved them and could down an entire batch in one sitting. She’d even prepared a plate of them and set it by the Christmas tree.
It looked like she was going to have to wrap them up and put them away, but Mya was too tired and depressed now to bother. The reality of her situation hit her when midnight came and went, and it hit her hard.
“Merry Christmas to me,” she murmured to herself and trudged upstairs to brush her teeth and change for bed. Everything now was a monumental effort. Everything seemed pointless and futile. There wasn’t anything left to do but go to sleep.
Crawling under the covers, Mya noted the early morning hour and sighed in surrender. It looked like this year wasn’t going to be any different from the year before and the year before that and the year before that.
Mya squeezed her eyes shut, but it didn’t stop the tears from streaming down her cheeks.
“Percy, it’s all right,” she began to pray. “I know you’re probably off doing what angels are supposed to be doing at Christmas like performing good deeds and helping people. It’s your job to spread love and peace and I wouldn’t take that away from you for the world, it’s just that I was kind of hoping…” Mya let her voice trail off. Maybe she was being selfish wanting to have her angel all to herself at Christmas when he could be out giving comfort to the poor, the sick, and the needy. With newfound resolve, Mya cleared her throat and wiped away her tears. “It’s all right, really. I love you. I’ll just…see you later, okay?”
Mya pulled the covers up to her chin, rolled onto her side, and promptly surrendered to her fatigue.
It was a low, guttural rumbling sound that woke her, but what it was didn’t fully register in Mya’s conscious mind until it came to a stop. Then her eyes popped open as realization flooded her head and filled her heart with new hope. She’d been wrong to listen for the sound of his wings riding the air currents. Apparently, she should have been listening for the sound of him riding on a motorcycle, instead.
She’d kind of forgotten that when he was in the guise of a mortal and didn’t have wings, he typically got around on a Harley-Davidson. No wonder he was a little late getting here. It always seemed to take him longer to get from point A to point B when he didn’t fly.
Suddenly, Mya heard the front door open and then close. She let out an exhilarated squeak hearing that. She scrambled to get out of bed and then bolted from her bedroom and darted down the hall, tripping on the stairs in her haste. She didn’t stop until she got to the living room; then she was struck motionless as the sight of him seized her with nothing short of unadulterated rapture.
He stood next to the Christmas tree, helping himself to the plate of cookies she’d left there for him like he didn’t have a care in the world. To Mya, he looked rakish and handsome and downright mouthwatering decked out head-to-toe in black leather the way he was. It hugged every one of his sculpted curves, silhouetting his rather brawny build against the filtered morning sunlight coming in through the window behind him. His boots were shined to a mirrored sheen and he carried a leather satchel bursting with small wrapped gifts. The silver studs on his belt and his jacket reflected the Christmas tree’s multi-colored lights and speckled muted hues across his body and his face. His long strawberry-blond hair was mussed and hanging in his azure blue eyes which were twinkling with a brightness that rivaled the blinking star sitting on top of Mya’s tree.
When he licked smears of chocolate from the cookies off his fingertips, Mya practically swooned. He was a breathtaking sight to behold and Mya was so bedazzled by him, it took her a moment or two before she could even speak.
“There really is a Santa Claus,” she declared.
That earned her one of the angel’s more dashing smiles. “Ho, ho, ho,” he said and winked at her.
Mya knew she had a goofy grin plastered across her face now, but she didn’t care. She was beyond happy. It was Christmas morning and Santa Claus had just brought her the one gift she had longed for with all her heart.
“You sure are a sight for sore eyes. I have to admit, I was starting to wonder,” Mya confessed.
Percy cocked his head to the side. “Well, I had to wait until you fell asleep. You know Santa can’t appear until you’re asleep.”
Mya’s jaw dropped. “I thought that part was just for parents,” she argued. “But all’s well that ends well, right? I mean, I don’t even mind that you’re not dressed in a red suit or sporting white whiskers. You’re here, you’re real, and you’re mine.” She emitted a giddy laugh. “Merry Christmas to me.”
Percy laughed, too, and tossed his head to shake his unruly bangs from his eyes. “I reckon I should ask if you’ve been a good little girl this year.”
Mya fought hard not to blush. “You would know.”
The angel appeared to consider that. “Hmm. I seem to recall you were good for the most part. But there were times when you were naughty.”
“Uh-oh!” Mya exclaimed and chuckled. “I had forgotten about those times. I was kind of hoping you had, too.”
Percy grinned back at her. “Well, I guess I could always make an exception and go ahead and give you a present anyway.” He bent to set the satchel underneath the Christmas tree and started towards her.
Mya raised her arms in a welcoming gesture. “Please do,” she whispered, licking her lips. She stretched up on her toes as Percy slid into her embrace.
“All right,” he said with a crooked smile. “Considering you’re my Christmas present, I think I will. How ‘bout I put you under the tree with the rest of the presents?” He turned his head to capture Mya’s mouth with his.
Mya smiled and let her eyes fall shut in anticipation of his kiss. “You can have me under the Christmas tree, too, if you’d like,” she said, letting her hands suggestively rove the contours of his supernatural physique. “I’d like. What do you say?”
Without hesitation, Percy wrapped Mya up in his arms, holding her tight. He kissed her with the kind of passion that made her all but melt.
“Merry Christmas to me,” he said with a clear sigh of contentment as he eased his mouth from her lips.
“Yes. Merry Christmas, Percy,” Mya said and kissed him again deeply in reply.