Hello Rudolph!

2. Introduction

"I hope my nose isn’t that red." The guy chuckles.

"No, your nose is perfect," I say without thinking. Again. Duh. "I mean it's not red at all. It's nice and straight, and..." I try to fix the situation, but according to the heat I feel in my face, it doesn't work at all. "I suppose I should shut up now." I try to give him my best smile, hoping to look less pathetic.

I can see a spark of interest as he searches my ever-growing red face… Probably wondering if I would get a nosebleed. My skin is so fair, even a normal amount of blushing looks like I might burst into flame. A very uncomfortable feature.

"I don't mind talking about noses, so please don't worry," he says smiling. "You know, you guessed my name right? Well, almost. Rudolf is my middle name, but with "f" at the end, German version." He pauses a little, biting his lip. "And... I've just accidentally told you a secret no one knows, but my creative relatives and now you." Almost Rudolph snorted. "Now it's your turn to spill a secret of yours so we’re equals." His eyes gleam with anticipation.

"I'll tell you my first name as a trade because my relatives were not creative enough to give me a second name." I giggle, take a step forward, and reach out for a handshake. It is not usual for me, but at this moment I feel a necessity to touch this person, to make myself believe he is real and I’m not imagining a handsome model-like guy with blue eyes talking to me. "My name is Alice, nice to meet you." 

I feel the warmth spreading from the tips of my fingers through my palm right to my heart, the moment our hands touch.

“Nice to meet you, Alice," my new acquaintance replies.

We stay this way, hands holding (no shaking), grinning at each other for some time. I am waiting for him to introduce himself.

"Should I call you Rudolf then?" I ask, trying not to melt under his gaze.

"No way, it's still a secret." he winks. "My name is Den, Dennis."

"Dennis, Alice, easy to remember." I smile and return my hand to the mitten.

"I've been walking here for twenty minutes already and you are the first one who looked at my beautiful antlers with a bright expression. I'm afraid that people have lost the spirit of Christmas," Den says, looking mischievous.

"I think that you bring joy by the way you look," I say, and the next fraction of a second I only think of his eyes, full lips, powerful jawline, broad shoulders… Den is handsome. I feel myself blushing again, so I avert my eyes from him to concentrate. "You're like those good people who put up Christmas lights on their houses to make the mood of the Holiday. I like it."

"You should see my house. Mom decorates it every year as if we're participating in the "Whose house is fancier" competition with other houses on our street… or the country most likely."

"Do you live far from here?" I am eager to go there when the sun will start setting. "I want to take a look."

"Great. That's the fastest I have persuaded a beautiful girl to go to my house." Den chuckles and I join in, not sure though if he is joking.

"Nice pickup line," I admit. "I suppose I won't  be alone standing behind the fence, admiring the light show."

"I hope you will be standing next to me, and you are the first beautiful girl I’ve invited with me tonight," Den says with less fun in his voice.

I am thrilled with the compliment he said twice, referring to me as a "beautiful girl", but "tonight" makes me realistic.

"So we have…" he's looking at his wristwatch, "three hours till the sunset. What shall we do?" He asks, waiting for my response, with a small smile and a raised expressive eyebrow.

My heart starts to beat faster. How is it possible to ask such an easy question making me feel as if the answer decides my fate? So ludicrous. So tempting.

"I-I…" I stammer when usually, I wouldn’t. "I have no idea. What were you planning to do before we met?" I finish, trying to sound nonchalant. My heart still cannot find its normal rhythm. As if now is Den's turn to choose my destiny.

"I need to meet my friends now. Walking with the antlers is not part of my agenda, but the dare I got from them." Den replies, looking apologetic. "You see, we were playing "Truth or Dare" the Holiday style, and I was dared to go for a walk wearing the reindeer costume. I had to meet an astonishing girl with bright green eyes and mermaid's hair the color of sweet pumpkin pie." His smile widens. "You see, I dared and was rewarded after all by meeting you." Den bows, hiding from me his pretty smile.

I don't know what to think. Is he joking again? Are we talking seriously? He has described my appearance in general. My long ginger hair is the color of a pumpkin pie, though I never heard such a comparison. Today I left it loose, probably really look like a mermaid. And I’m impressed that he even noticed the color of my eyes. I never pay attention to other people's eyes, when I'm not interested in them. I've already noticed his eyes are wonderfully blue…

"Ok," I think to myself. "Let's get to know you then and find out what you are, Den."

"Thank you?" I reply and sound more as if I'm asking than thanking him. "My pleasure as well," I add solemnly and curtsy to play along with his bow.

We laugh a little and I like the sound of his laughter. It is so soft, sincere, and nice. I wonder what kind of friends he has.

"So, will you go with me so I could return these?" He points to the plush antlers. "And then we can go for some coffee because three hours is too long to spend outside when it’s going to be rainy again soon." Den shivers a little.

"Sure. I wanted to find a place with good coffee. I don't know anything about this area yet. I've just moved here. Do you have a jacket, by the way? Have you heard it's December now?" I chuckle.

"Really? Just moved?" the handsome guy is surprised.

Наталия Арчер

Edited: 16.01.2021

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