Camping for Christmas

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Chapter 15

December 26, 2020

Ranger Hicks chased after Emily as she walked to her car.

“Wait,” he called to her, “I almost forgot your Christmas gift.”

Emily was delighted that the ranger seemed to care so much. She took the carefully wrapped box from him, wondering if it were something from his herb garden

“It’s a phone number,” Emily frowned as she pulled a scrap of notebook paper out of the box with 10 digits scribbled on it.

“My phone number,” Michael beamed.

Emily decided to accept the gesture as cute. “I suppose I’ll be talking to you soon.”

“I hope so,” he replied. “I’d like to know if you find your cooler.”

Emily gave him a nod and started to get in her car.

Michael stopped her again. “There’s actually one more thing under the tissue paper.”

“What, your address?” Emily quipped.

“No, I didn’t think you needed that. I live here.”

Emily lifted the tissue paper that had been resting under the ranger’s phone number. There, at the bottom of the box, was some dirt.

Emily raised an eyebrow at Michael.

“I planted some mint for you,” Michael explained. “I know you said you don’t have a green thumb, but mint is easy. Just don’t forget to water it.”

Emily decided her earlier thought was right, the gift was cute.

As they drove away from Agape Poppy, Emily was already planning their return trip. She couldn’t wait to get back.

Rylan was quiet for most of the trip. They had been through a lot, it was good to have a peaceful car ride to decompress.

Emily was stricken with anxiety when they got home. Her renter taped a note to the fridge reading “CALL ASAP!!!” She did just that.

“Hello?” A cheerful and musical female voice answered.

“Hi, Mrs. Lacey. This is Emily. I just got home and read your note, is everything okay?”

“It will be if you agree to be my new manager,” Mrs. Lacey replied lightly.

“Manager of what?” Emily definitely did not understand.

“My new restaurant, Sunny Sage.” She stated matter of factly. “I already have a gardener and a chef. But I need someone with administrative experience, good customer service, and a penchant for flavor. After sampling the contents of your cooler, I believe you are my manager.”

Emily and Mrs. Lacey met four years ago through work. Mrs. Lacey is the chair of the Southeastern Holistic Medicine Consortium (SHMC). Emily oversaw a grant project gifted to her employer by the SHMC. By working on this project together, she and Mrs. Lacey became fast friends despite the age gap.

Mrs. Lacey is the usual tenant at Emily’s condo when she takes her annual Christmas vacation. Mrs. Lacey has family in Cedartown that she likes to visit at that time of year, but she is a devoted resident of North Carolina.

Managing Sunny Sage sounded like a dream job. Emily couldn’t believe that leaving the cooler behind had resulted in such an opportunity. She was up for a promotion at her current place of work, though. The decision would be a difficult one.
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