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Secret Santa

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Taylor opens the paper he’d just pulled from the hat and looks down at the name; Alaina Elliott.  Of course he would get someone that he barely knows.  He looks across the room to where Hannah is standing with his sister.  Okay, maybe that’s a good sign.  He could get something out of Jessica, right?  Alaina had started here nearly six months ago and Taylor’s lucky he knows her name.  He remembers meeting her on her first day.  She seems to keep to herself a lot.  Though, he does also remember seeing her with Jessica a lot.


When lunch rolls around, Taylor makes his way over to Jessica’s desk.  “Hey,” he says as he pulls up a chair.  “I need your help.”


Jessica raises an eyebrow.  “Why?” she asks.


He sets the paper on her desk.  “Because you know her, I don’t.”


She smiles at her brother.  “Oh, big brother.  It’s your lucky day.  She and I are heading out to lunch.  Why don’t you join us?”


He wrinkles his nose.  “Okay.”


Taylor follows Jessica and Alaina into the diner and over to a table.  He watches as Alaina doesn’t even bother to take a menu.  Jessica gets his attention and motions for him to start talking to Alaina.  “Where are you from, Alaina?” he asks.


Alaina looks at him.  “Small town in Iowa,” she answers.  “Middle of nowhere kinda place.”


He nods.  “What brought you out here?”


“I wanted a change.”  Alaina glances at Jessica.  “I wasn’t going anywhere back there.”


“How long have you been here?”  He shakes his head.  “I’m sorry.  I’m asking too many questions.”

“No, it’s okay.”  She smiles a little.  “I moved here about nine months ago.  I’d ask you, but considering you’re Jessica’s brother, it’s safe to say you’ve lived here your entire life.”


Taylor laughs softly.  “Yeah, I have.  Though, I did go down to Texas for college.  Came back after I graduated though.”


“Did you go for marketing?”


“No, I actually went for photography.  It worked out well for me coming into marketing though.”


“Photography?  Really?  Are you still doing that?”


“A little, yeah.  Not as much as I would like to, but work keeps me pretty busy.”


“Sounds like me.”


“You’re into photography too?”


“Art actually.  I used to draw all the time.  Which I mean obviously.  That’s what I do here.  But I don’t do it for fun much.  Not enough time.”


Taylor nods.  “Maybe we should both make time.”


“Maybe we should.”


He hadn’t expected to figure out what to get Alaina so easily.  He throws a quick look at Jessica and smiles.


Taylor watches as Alaina is handed the wrapped gift.  He just hopes it’s something she likes.  He had help from Zac on what to get for sure, considering there were many options.  As Alaina rips the paper, Taylor sips at his beer.  


“Wow,” Alaina says with a bright smile.  She drops the paper to reveal the art set, including a few small canvases.  She looks around and spots Taylor.  She doesn’t have to ask to know it was him.


“Who had Alaina?”


Taylor lifts his hand.  “I did,” he answers.


“Thank you,” Alaina says.  “It’s perfect.”


Taylor nods.  “You’re welcome.”


After they get through everything, Taylor goes back to mingling with some of his coworkers.  He glances over to see Alaina walking toward him.  He excuses himself from the group and turns to step toward her.


“Hi,” Alaina says.


Taylor smiles.  “Hey,” he says.  “I hope the set is okay.  I wasn’t sure what you did for sure.”


“No, it’s perfect.  It’s funny.  I was just talking to Jessica the other day about needing to get out to get myself a new set like that.”


“Please tell me you didn’t.”


“No, I was waiting until the new year.  Not much time to do anything right now.”


He nods.  “Good.  I hope I’ll get to see something soon.”


Alaina smiles at him.  “You’ll be the first to know.  Jessica will make sure of that.”


Taylor laughs.  “Doesn’t surprise me.”