“Secret Santa”

“…With some decorations brought by Aunt Tiff—”

“Stop!” Mia threw up her hands, frustration spreading throughout her body. How many times could Aimee possibly get lyrics wrong? She pinched the bridge of her nose. “Bought at Tiffany, not brought by Aunt Tiffany.” 

Aimee’s mouth grew slack. “Huh? That doesn’t make any sense. What’s Tiffany?”

Mia’s blood boiled. What the hell does Bob see in her? She struggled to bite back the barrage she wanted to unleash on the headliner.

“I got this.” Josie rested a hand on Mia’s shoulder. “Go have a cigarette. I’ll get you a coffee.”

Relief washed over Mia. Josie always seemed to know what she needed. “Thanks, sweetie.” She grabbed her peacoat and stepped out the backdoor of the club as Josie took Aimee aside. “That woman has the patience of a saint.” Mia slid a cigarette and a lighter out of the case in her pocket and leaned back against the cold brick wall, clicking the Zippo to life.

Snow flurried around her as she inhaled deeply, then blew smoke out of her nose, trying to relax as she thought about how disastrous this “Holiday Extravaganza” was becoming. Aimee had the bright idea—which Bob of course listened to. Think with the big head for once, Bob, think!—to change the name at the last minute. “But, Bobby, people might get offended,” Mia mumbled, mocking Aimee’s high-pitched voice. “No one’s gotten offended in the last five years. Dumb cu…” She trailed off as the backdoor opened.

Josie offered up a steaming mug, a huge grin on her face. “Has the subzero weather done its job yet? I could see you ready to explode.”

“Mmmm…” Mia took the mug, passing the cigarette to Josie. “Lake effect snow may be the only thing saving that dumbass right now. I’d be afraid of breaking my frozen hands on her face.” She sipped her coffee. “Wouldn’t it be nice if she could have a little tumble down the stairs à la Showgirls?”

“It would probably improve her dancing. The way she grapevines makes me physically ill. ” Josie laughed. “I sent everyone home, by the way. I know the show’s the night after tomorrow, but we’re mostly set. Aimee’s the only holdup. Go home, have a glass of wine. Tomorrow’s practice will be better.” She wrapped her arms around Mia and kissed her on the cheeks. “I promise.”

Mia smiled as Josie walked down the alley. “That girl always knows what I need.”

***

Mia opened the club doors, mentally preparing herself for another run-through. Maybe Aimee would get it right today.

Josie handed her a coffee. “Everyone’s here.”

“Wait, no.” Mia glanced around the room. “We’re missing Aimee.”

“You didn’t hear? Aimee slipped on her way home. Broke her ankle. She’s out for a good while.” A dark smile passed over Josie’s lips. “Guess Santa gave you an early Christmas present.”

Mia returned the smile. She always knows what I need.

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