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Wrapped Up: In Christmas Magic

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When Lucy volunteered to wrap gifts at the mall she never thought she would run into Callum Harding but once she does, she can't stay away. Trigger Warning - 18+ Language, Sex

Romance / Drama
Amber Rose
4.9 11 reviews
Age Rating:

Let Downs


“Harding! You’ve got to come down, it’s time for dinner,” the rookie we lovingly call Pepperoni calls to me from the door.

I look up at the night sky, dotted with only a few stars because of the light pollution of the city. I don’t want to go down there and eat dinner right now. Today has been so intense and all I want to do is breathe. I took my Lieutenant’s exam today and bombed. That’s what I think anyway.

I don’t understand what happened, the Assessment went well, I was one of the first to finish but the written was tough, harder than I thought it would be. Admittedly I didn’t study enough, I thought that I would just know a lot of the answers. It turns out that knowing what to do in the field is different from knowing how to explain it in technical terms. I can take the exam again, and I don’t mind waiting, but my family already hates that I’m a firefighter. If they find out that I failed the exam they’ll just get more evidence to their side.

I begrudgingly make my way down the narrow staircase that connects the roof of the firehouse to the rest of it. When I walk into the kitchen my squad is already sat around the table and there are dishes of food lined up in the middle. We eat family style because we’re a family, in every sense of the word. I take a seat down near the end of the line and hope to escape notice but it’s too late.

“I knew you were hiding around here somewhere, how was your exam?” Zeke pokes in a joking manner.

“Not good,” I admit.

“Really? We thought you’d crush it,” Eddie chimes in.

“To be fair I don’t know for sure, I aced the physical tasks but when it came to the written portion, it was a lot more detailed than I thought it’d be.”

“You can take it again, right?” Pepperoni asks.

“Sure, yeah,” I say as I start to dish up some food for myself.

It’s Cap’s linguine tonight and I’d be a fool to miss out, he’s a great cook. He says he cooks at both of his homes for both of his families. He seems to like being the patriarch and if I eat maybe it will deter attention.

“Harding, if I knew I’d tell you but we don’t know yet,” Cap adds as he passes me the Parmesan cheese.

He knows I love cheese, what even is food without cheese? I thought I didn't want to come down here but sitting here is making me feel better. The truth is that over the last few years Cap has been more of a father to me than my own dad, my squad loves me and I'm safe here.

“I know, I’m trying to be positive but it was all Greek to me.”

“There is no way it was all Greek,” Zeke insists.

Zeke Chen is my best friend, we hate each other almost as much as we love each other but we always keep it real. He tries not to judge me because of my background and I don’t judge him based on his. My parents have money and my name has power, but that’s not me, I’m just happy being a friendly neighborhood firefighter and so is Zeke.

“We’ll just see what happens, I’m ready for this day to be over.”

“Hey, if the last hour of our shift is spent eating Cap’s linguine I’d be happy,” Ed adds.

We all tuck into our meal and it seems like everything is normal. I guess it would be okay if I didn’t make Lieutenant, it seems like my squad has my back no matter what. Almost as soon as we finish our meals the next squad shows up for shift and Cap feeds them too. I collect my belongings and go home, trying to remind myself that I am happy as a firefighter, a driver, the engineer, that is enough for me.


I’m having the worst day today. So far it’s been one of those days when it seems like the world is against me. The power went out last night due to the snow, of course I didn’t know that until my alarm didn’t go off this morning. That’s what I get for staying up late doodling on my phone. The only reason I went to bed was that it was at one percent and I was tired of cricking my neck to use while it charged.

That was irresponsible and now I’m paying the price. I convinced myself last night that staying up late to doodle was a form of self-care. It’s the busiest time of the year for my side hustle, I sell my drawings online and specialize in portraits. I just have a few more to finish up before the holiday shipping cutoff date but I took on too much. When it’s like this drawing feels more like a job than an escape and I just wanted to feel inspired again.

Now that I slept in I didn’t get to shower and blow dry my hair this morning like I had planned. Usually my hair is not that important to me, especially when I’m just going to volunteer but that all changed this year. Every year I wrap gifts at the mall, I have the time and it benefits something near and dear to my heart. I’ve never had a problem or even a hiccup until he started showing up. He is the six-foot five, olive skinned, curly haired, blue-eyed wonder of a fireman who comes to help with Toys for Tots.

Their table is right across from ours and whenever he walks into view I freeze, I can’t breathe, he is the most beautiful man I have ever seen. I’ve tried to think of a reason to go talk to him, I’ve tried to ignore him, nothing works. I’ve even tried just not looking up from my work at all but that gets awkward when I’m talking to people about their gifts all day. I swear it’s like my body knows when he’s around too. The hair on my arms stands up, or I feel prickles on my back, sometimes I shiver, but it’s the pleasant kind. He has such an effect on me from across the mall I don’t even want to know what I would think if I was up close to him.

Today was going to be the day though. I thought I’d blow out my hair, wear a super cute outfit and I’d finally go talk to him. Maybe I’d ask him about the toys and what they needed most, but no matter what I’d find something to say to him. I have to just to make sure I’m noticed, that he knows I exist. Now my hair is flat, I used too much dry shampoo so I sort of look like I’m going gray and I don’t even want to talk about the cardigan I was going to wear this morning. Mimi Lemonte made sure that wasn’t going to happen.

Mimi is my Grammy’s cat, she was left to me when Grammy passed away. When I took over Mimi’s care she was still mostly a kitten but she already had the attitude of a Hollywood Starlit. Not that I blame her, she learned from the best, that was my Grammy through and through. Apparently my beaded cardigan was too shiny for her taste and she had to eat the flowers off. So I’m left with a thrown together layered look and some really special hair, maybe today is not the day. I blow out a puff of air as I try to cover the blemishes on my chin and the freckles on my nose with make-up. This is like a losing battle, I’ll never feel ready enough to talk to him.

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