Bryan watched Holly go and felt a hollowness in his gut. He’d seen her walk out of his office more times than he could count, but he’d never watched her walk away. Or felt so empty without her by his side.
He knew he was an ass. He’d been so focused on making the company successful he never gave a second thought to the people around him or how he treated any of them. Seeing how upset Holly was, and how quickly she jumped to the conclusion that he was trying to fire her, really made him see himself as others saw him.
And made him realize how much he needed to change.
That Friday night Bryan dressed in his suit again, securing his beard and checking his reflection before going out the door again. When his grandfather first set up the Winter Wonderland he made sure Santa would have a private changing room and entrance. At first Bryan figured it was because he basically stripped to his boxers to get into the suit, but now he realized the true intention. No one knew who played Santa. Not the elves who stood beside him, not the kids who sat on his lap, not the parents who took endless pictures of him.
Bryan knew he had to keep himself hidden, especially from the kids, but all he could think about was Holly. She’d left early every day that week, something that made him smile. He hoped giving her an easier day would mean she would keep her job and it would satisfy Bobby’s Christmas wish.
His too, if he were honest with himself.
Once settled in his seat, Bryan nodded to the elves to start letting the children up to see him. He listened and laughed and told the kids to be good for their parents, but the whole time he was thinking about Holly. There was no reason to think she’d show up again, but he hoped she would. Seeing her outside the office, seeing her as a woman instead of his assistant, was something he craved. Almost as much as he craved her.
Something that both scared and excited him.
As the line started to die down, Bryan’s heart sunk a little. He knew Holly would have Bobby home. The boy was only five and there was no excuse for him to be out this late when Holly was getting off work at a normal time. He was out of luck.
The last kid climbed off Bryan’s lap and he stood, ready to get out of his suit and go home. If he was lucky his leftover Chinese food was still good and there might be a beer or two in his fridge.
“Hello, Santa,” she said from behind him. Bryan couldn’t stop the smile from spreading across his face before he even turned and saw her.