By Michelle Pichette
"The great man is he who does not lose his childlike heart."
Lee looked at all the boxes, frowning. This was delicate work. He had to find out what was in the boxes without leaving behind any evidence that he’d been here. There were booby traps everywhere, all sorts of little triggers that would raise alarms and give him away. He rubbed his chin, considering the puzzle before him trying to note every detail so that he could put things back exactly how they were when he was done. That would not be easy. It was a very complex arrangement. There were lights in the room, but they were dim and intermittent. A brighter, steadier light would surely attract unwanted attention. Not doubt about it, he would have to be very careful about this.
Easing toward the boxes, Lee gingerly lifted the first. There was no external indication as to what might be inside. It was heavy, but not too heavy, indicating something solid within. He gave it a gentle shake, but the soft thump that resulted gave him no clues as to what might be inside. He frowned, about to give box a firmer shake when lights flared on in the room. He looked up from his work, dismayed. He’d been found up.
“What are you doing?” came a sleepy, disapproving voice from behind him. Lee glanced up the stairs behind him to see Rowena Simmons standing up the top, pushing hair back from her face with one hand. “I thought we were waiting for presents until tomorrow when Chip and his girlfriend came over for brunch,” she said, pulling her flimsy robe back up over a bare shoulder.
“Uh... yeah... yes...” Lee stammered, putting the package he was holding back under the Christmas tree, then quickly stood up. “I... um... thought I heard something.” Lee glanced at the box. He still had no clue what Ro had gotten him and it was driving him insane. She had purchased whatever was in there weeks ago and hadn’t given him the smallest inkling as to what it might be, no matter how he’d tried to worm hints from her.
Ro smirked. “Coming from your Christmas present? Why do I doubt that.” Her robe slipped down off her shoulder. “How about you come back to bed and I let you unwrap something there?” she asked him, giving him a look that left no doubt as to what he’d be unwrapping. He gave the box one final glance, then started up stairs, thinking he could wait a few more hours for whatever was in the box. He was greeted with a very nice kiss, despite the lack of mistletoe over head.
“Just a little hint,” he whispered to Ro when their lips parted.
She swatted his chest playfully as she stepped away from him. “Wait until morning,” she said, turning to her bedroom. She let her robe fall lower down her shoulder as she glanced back at him with another one of those come hither looks, then she padded barefoot back into the room.
Lee flicked the light switch by him off again, then glanced once more down at the taunting lights of the Christmas tree. Maybe he would do better with his covert operations next year, he thought as he went to collect on the early present he’d been offered.