Christmas Extravaganza 2019
Noelle Starr hates her name and her Christmas Eve birthday. This year, as she works as an event coordinator for a huge Christmas gala, she is dealing with a handsome corporate assistant who has big plans and effusive faith. Can she make it through this season with her sanity intact?
Rudolph Cameron was named for his great-grandfather and grew up being teased for his unfortunate penchant for looking rosy-cheeked and red-nosed in the cold Wisconsin winters, but that never dampened his thrill of celebrating the birth of Christ. This year, a certain woman is sweetening the Christmas season...except she hates this time of year! Now if he can only get her to look past her own name to see the real reason for the season.
Noelle crossed her fingers. The holidays always brought out the worst in people.
And sometimes, if one was fortunate, the best. She hoped for the latter.
She was dressed for the initial meeting with the company representative. Working thirty hours a week at the library gave her time to dream and to eagerly pursue her passion of being an event planner. She’d done parties before but nothing this big—and it wasn’t even Thanksgiving yet.
She fluffed her perpetually flat hair, walked through the pristine glass doors of the building and found her way to the elevator. Punching the button for the fourth floor she leaned against the mirrored paneled walls. Deep breath. You can do this. She needed to remain positive, be up-beat, not let on how much she disliked Christmas. So why did her biggest break occur at this time of year? Why couldn’t it have been a wedding? While there was no romance in sight for her, she loved weddings. If this event had been a wedding, it would have been a breeze.
She sighed. She needed to get over herself. Next up might be a major award event or a larger corporate celebration in the greater Milwaukee area. This Christmas party was just another event—a stepping stone to that dream. The season didn’t matter. She was capable and ready to make this opportunity open bigger doors for her. Taking a deep breath she swallowed to quiet her quivering nerves.
She exited at her floor and glanced down the hallway. There it was. Mankai Investments. She took a few measured steps to the door and with another deep breath, opened it and stepped in.
It was almost like walking into a classy hotel, with the beauty that surrounded her. Ahead of her, a tall desk in the rich wood-toned setting bespoke of wealth and elegance. The woman behind it styled her hair in a classic updo and wore a business suit.
Noelle stepped to the dark wood barrier, and the receptionist raised her eyebrows and stood. “May I help you?” the silky-toned voice inquired.
“Miss Starr from Starr Main Events is here for Mr. Cameron.”
“I’ll inform him. Please take a seat. Can I get you anything to drink? Coffee, water, a soda?” The woman pointed to a refreshments area surrounded by beautiful rich-toned leather chairs, side tables, and magazines.
“No, but thank you.” Noelle gave a nod to the woman and went to the seating area. She set down her briefcase and began to take off her coat.
“Let me help you with that,” a voice from behind said. Hands took the coat and slid it down, freeing her arms.
“Thank you.” Noelle turned toward the voice as the man hung her coat on the rack.
“You are welcome, Miss Starr. Rudolph Cameron at your service. If you’ll follow me, we can talk in my office.” He turned to the receptionist as he passed by. “Thank you, Mrs. Meyerson.”
The woman gave a nod. “You’re welcome, Mr. Cameron.”
Noelle tried to walk as gracefully as possible past windowed offices that were as opulent as the foyer. Used to wearing more sensible heels, her two-inch-high ones made her as graceful as a galloping giraffe as she scampered to keep up with the much-taller gentleman. Mr. Cameron opened a six-paneled oak door and into a spacious office.
“Why don’t we sit over here?” He motioned to an area that equaled the size of the living room in her cozy shared apartment. “Can I get you some coffee, herbal or black tea, or anything else? Chai latte? I’m not a coffee drinker myself. I picked up an extra chai on my way in if you want it.”
“Chai? That would be lovely.”
He brought over two cups labeled from a coffee shop that was in the lobby of the building. “I add extra cinnamon to mine. It’s not even Christmas yet, but I do love the trappings of the season, in spite of the impending cold that’s predicted.”
Sipping her sugary latte, she closed her eyes. “This is like a warm hug.” She took a deep breath, intentionally relaxing her shoulders before setting the cup on the dark wood table. “Thank you. That was thoughtful of you. What if I didn’t like chai?”
Mr. Cameron shrugged. “I’d drink it later—just reheat it in the microwave in the break room.” He sat to her right. “Shall we get down to business?”
Noelle dragged her laptop out of her bag and opened it up, knocking over the cup of chai. Mr. Cameron grabbed a handful of tissues from a box on the table and righted the cup as she snatched her computer off the desk.
“I’m so sorry. I’m not usually this clumsy,” she blurted. Oh, dear. Why was she so nervous around this man? Had she ruined her chance already?
“No worries.” He pushed aside the sopping wad of tissues and then retrieved paper towels from a closet.
She sighed and held out her hand for some of the paper towels. “I lied. I tend to be particularly clumsy when I’m nervous.” She wiped away more of the damp area on the table while balancing her laptop in one arm. At least he was being nice about this. Perhaps she still had a shot at this contract.
Mr. Cameron grinned. “Nothing to be nervous about, Miss Starr. It was only a little spill after all. And I don’t bite.” Taking her wet towel, he tossed them into the brushed nickel garbage can to the side of the table and settled back into his seat.
She placed her laptop back on the table and logged in, opening up her document.
“Why don’t we use first names? Maybe that would be more comfortable. We’ll be working with each other often during the next two months as we prepare for this gala. You can call me Rudy.”
“That’d be nice. I’m Noelle.” Her heart skipped a beat at the warmth in his voice. He wasn’t an enemy and was doing everything to make this as easy as possible.
“A Christmas baby I suspect?” Rudy asked.
“Wow. That’s either really cool or uber-disappointing.”
Uber? “More the latter. My parents like to joke I was the first star born as well since I’m the oldest child. And the jokes about my name at the holiday season are tedious.” Noelle hoped he’d change the subject. She didn’t need the reminder of the most irritating moments of her life. It was bad enough having to live through the jokes when they happened; reliving them was the ultimate torture. What had her parents been thinking, anyway?
“Did you get double gifts?”
She shrugged. “Not really. I received one small birthday gift on Christmas Eve and we didn’t open our Christmas presents until Christmas morning. My birthday became lost in the shadow of Santa Claus.”
Rudy frowned. “I’m sorry to hear that. Christmas can be a crazy time, but Christmas Eve has a magic of its own. When I can, I try to make the candlelight service at church. There’s something holy and wonderful about the way God worked to bring salvation through Jesus coming in the flesh as an infant.”
Great. Just what she needed. Someone who loved Christmas. “Yeah, well, now that my siblings all have families of their own, we don’t usually celebrate until before or after the holiday. Christmas Eve is just another day on the calendar. Now. What is the date and a location for your event?”