Avoiding My Merry Birthday

by Sonja Gunter

Avoiding My Merry Birthday by Sonja Gunter

What would life be like to share your birthday with millions of people?

Gloria White was born on December 24th, Christmas Eve and is celebrating her 35th birthday when things go terribly wrong. Single ane with no love interest in sight, she leaves work only to find her car won’t start. The arrival of the tow truck brings Nick Klaaws, who she has known since grade school, as the driver.

Shocked at seeing him, she loses her balance, falls and hits her head. This brings on a visit of a ghost resembling her boss, Mr. SC Rouge. They travel back in time, where he shows her that her soulmate has been in front of her the whole time and takes her to two possible futures.

Once back in real time, will fate allow Gloria to make the right choices for love?

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Release Date: November 8, 2022
Genre: Contemporary | Holiday Romance

A Pink Satin Romance


Chapter One

“Ten minutes, Miss White.”

“Okay, thank you, Mr. Rouge.” Gloria sighed, the end of another day for some, but not for her. She brushed a stray strand of her brown hair from her cheek and hooked it behind her ear.

The artificial pine Christmas tree next to the store’s exit caught her attention. It flickered in the now dim lights, and beneath it were red and white wrapped packages. They almost appeared comical or ridiculous along with the never-ending holiday music blaring through speakers in the ceiling.

“Bah humbug. ’Tis the season,” she muttered under her breath.

She had every reason to be cynical, being one of those unlucky people to have been born on Christmas Eve, December twenty-fourth. Friends never wanted to go out and celebrate her birthday.

How could she blame them? They were either traveling to spend time with their families for the holidays or didn’t have time with the Christmas rush. And then there were the non-existent presents. When she did receive one, nine out of ten times it was a combination birthday and Christmas gift, or for one day, and the other day forgotten. She’d learned to simply tell colleagues and friends her special day was the twenty-eighth instead of the real date.

But today was a harsh reminder that besides turning thirty-five, she was alone.

No husband. No boyfriend.

Long gone was her childhood dream of finding Prince Charming. That fantasy had crumbled into never-neverland when her dad had walked out on her and her mom. The years since it happened hadn’t healed the hurt and probably never would.

Gently, she tapped a wayward hanger in order to get it back in line with the others. Tucking a price tag here and there, because none should show per management, she wandered through the rows of clothes absentmindedly straightening them.

This was her life for the past two years.

A salesperson. Not even a manager or a key-holder.

So much for the expensive business degree she had earned. She only had herself to blame. The fast-paced executive jobs and career chasing sleazebags had ruined her outlook on what being successful really meant. That too was in the past, but she was moving forward.

Her mom said time would help. Something she didn’t think she had.

The store’s music began to play, “Baby, please come home. I remember when you were here...”

Gloria cringed. Not now. Not that song. It had been their song, hers and Jacob’s, and triggered memories of what a fool she’d been for five years. She had actually been blinded by love—no blinded by someone she believed loved her. She’d missed all the signs that her fiancé, the newly appointed CEO of Marley & Associate’s Company, had been cheating on her with of all people, her own secretary.

“Can I turn off the music?” The song hit the chorus lines, setting her nerves on end.

“Yes.” Mr. Rouge looked up for a second and then continued punching the keyboard. “Five more minutes.”

Hurrying to the counter, she bent over and flipped the switch. Thankfully, the offensive song ended, and the store became quiet, except for the sounds of Mr. Rouge closing the registers. He didn’t even flinch when she walked past him.

Maybe it was time again to find a different job; one that would insure no male interaction. Men were on her list to ignore. She never wanted one in her life again for as long as she lived.

Gloria shook her head negatively. Wasn’t this job to have been her safe haven? When she left Boston, her six-figure position along with her ex-fiancé and despicable secretaries, she’d chosen a new career that wouldn’t involve men, a women’s clothing store. It hadn’t turned out very well so far.

Refolding a blouse that a customer had so haphazardly folded, she smoothed it roughly and frowned. So much for all her well-intended plans. It had only taken two weeks into the onset of her new career, at the Crat-Chit store, for things to go sour. Holly, the manager quit, and Mr. Rouge had been hired.

“Miss White, have you finished straightening the store?”

“Yes, I have.” She responded by snapping to attention, not wanting to incur his short temper. It seemed she could bring it on easily more often than not.

“Are we ready to leave?”

The sarcastic reply she had been ready to deliver got caught in her throat. She looked around, certain he would find something, anything wrong or inaptly folded. Offering him a nod, when she found him simply standing there staring at her as if she’d grown horns, she then returned to the counter and removed her purse from the cupboard. Swinging the strap over her shoulder, she turned to him. “I am ready now, Mr. Rouge.”

Inwardly she smiled at the use of his name. He had a habit of introducing himself to customers by using his full name, Stan Christopher Rouge. But if you put his initials together with his last name they made, Mr. SCRouge.

He and the character, Ebenezer Scrooge, from The Christmas Carol, could have been twins; both cut corners and overworked their employees. You would think he owned the company, instead of just being an employee himself. Since his first day as manager, several employees had quit, and she’d been expected to take on the slack each time. Which she had done of course, with no extra pay or recognition and she swore at herself for allowing that to happen.

The sound of metal scraping, shifted her attention toward Mr. Rouge who held the front door open. Gloria walked outside, stopped, and waited for him to turn on the alarm and lock the doors.

“Remember we open at seven a.m.” He buttoned his suitcoat and smoothed down an invisible wrinkle.

“Yes, I know.”

They were probably the only store in the world that opened on Christmas Day. But it was a holiday tradition and more of a private five-hour event for the store’s best customers. Only invited guests were able to shop and receive the gifts the Crat-Chit company handed out.

It was sort of fun with the high energy and festive atmosphere, she told herself. The plausible excuse wasn’t convincing. The real reason she agreed to work was because the company gave out the annual bonus and two free articles of clothing to all the employees. She needed both right now. The bonus in her bank account and the new clothes in her wardrobe.

“Try to arrive on time, not late like today,” Mr. Rouge added.

She raised her eyebrows. One minute. He had the nerve to criticize her for that one stupid minute she punched in late today. “I’ll be here bright and early. Have a good evening.”

He didn’t even bother to acknowledge her reply or wish her a happy birthday. She knew he had to have known it was her day being the manager. He simply turned on his heels and walked to his car. Jamming her hands on her hips, she huffed at his so obvious disregard of her as if she was nonexistent.

Goodness, the man needed to get a life. Or an attitude adjustment.

Sighing, she strode through the empty parking lot to her car. Since all the store employees weren’t allowed to have their phones on the sales floor, she pulled her phone from her purse to check her for text messages.

Only the date and time lit up on the scene. No notifications of messages or missed calls. Zilch.

How could that be?

She’d been at work for more than six hours. Today was her birthday.


She was the one who should get a life.

A few steps before reaching her car, Gloria pressed her key fob. The usual beep didn’t sound. What the hell? She aimed the key fob at her car door and pressed it harder; once, twice and a third time.

“Who am I kidding? Like that would make it work,” she mumbled after doing it.

Nothing happened. No beep, no flashing lights.

“Crap,” she said out loud. “How much worse can my birthday get?”

Looking around for someone to help, she found no other cars in the parking lot. Even Mr. Rouge was gone, he’d taken off as fast as he could.

She tapped her contacts on her phone and pressed AAA.

“Thank you for calling Triple A,” a woman’s cheerful voice stated. “How can I help you?”

“Hi.” Gloria leaned against the side of her car. “I think my battery is dead. My member number is D4A21G92.”

“I’m sorry you’re having trouble. Thank you for your member number. Is this Ms. White?”

“Yes, that’s me.”

“Great. Let me check to see what our estimate service time frame is.” The line went quiet. “Okay Ms. White, it looks like I can have someone there in an hour or so.”

“An hour?” Gloria glanced at the screen of the phone for the time. “By eight-thirty. If that is the earliest, I guess that will have to do. At least it’s in the upper seventies here in Naples, Florida. I don’t have to worry about snow.”

The woman on the other end of the phone laughed. “I’m in the Minnesota call center and its minus one degree here. Will you be safe to wait that long alone?”

“Yes. I’m in the mall parking lot and it’s lit very well. A security guard should be around soon.”

“Excellent, then I’ll place the service call. I have your location as, 11535 Fashion Drive, Estero, Florida. Is there anything else I can help you with, Ms. White?”

“No, thank you. Have a Merry Christmas.”

Ending the call, she manually unlocked the car door and got into the driver’s seat. She tried the ignition, just for the heck of it, but the engine did not even make a grinding noise. She hit the steering wheel with the palm of her hand, and cried out, “Ouch.”

It hadn’t been worth the effort. She massaged her hand. Deciding to make the most of her time, she checked Facebook to see if anyone had left her a birthday message there. When none came up, she clicked off her phone and sat in a lonely silence.

An unusual bright light reflected in her rear-view mirror. Squinting, she tried to make out who had joined her n the parking lot. Was that the tow truck? How could help have arrived so soon? A low hum of music seeped through the air. Frowning, she tilted her head for a better angle to hear where it was coming from.

“Dashing through the snow, in a one-horse open sleigh...”

Grimacing at the driver’s choice of songs, Gloria slid out of the driver’s seat to watch a red tow-truck with a wreath on the grill come closer. The Christmas music was now blaring so loud she was tempted to cover her ears. The driver must really like the age-old song, she thought.

The truck stopped in front of her car, and she bent over to retrieve her purse from the car.

“Ho, ho, ho. I heard you’re having a problem.”

The deep voice struck a chord to a long-ago memory from her childhood.

“Aren’t you into the holiday spirit?” She straightened and turned. “Sorry you had to come out on Christmas Eve—”

Gloria flung her arms outward to gain some balance as she felt herself falling. “Ohhhh, nooooo...”

Unable to evade the expected outcome, she held out her hand as she hit the ground hard. Her body jerked and then fell backward, causing her head to hit the pavement. Pain like a mother migraine surged from the back of her head to her forehead. She felt strong arms wrap around her upper body, lifting her. Before the expected blackness took over, she was able to fixate on a familiar pair of blue eyes.



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