By morning the snow had ceased falling outside, but had left a soft blanket of white over most everything. Birds sang their morning song outside the window of the inn, which is what awoke the mouse that morning. As her eyes fluttered open, she saw the room lit up by the morning light. She tilted her head and looked at the clock on the night stand. It was 8:36. With a sigh, Minnie closed her eyes again and huddled under the warm covers of the bed. Suddenly her ear twitched at the sound of the furnace turning on. She pulled her head out from under the covers and with a soft groan, sat up. She yawned as she stretched her arms over her head, stretching her spine and tail as well.
She looked toward the window, forcing her vision to clear. She pulled the cover off herself and stood, stretching once more as she stretched her legs. Thankfully, the furnace in the inn kept the place nice and cozy. Walking over to the window, she glanced out.
She saw the white sky common of winter out the window. Below, there were already a few people out and about, going to the store, putting up Christmas decorations or shoveling their driveway or sidewalk. A few cars were out on the road, people going to work or making early morning rounds, along with the snow plows keeping the roads clear and delivery trucks delivering fresh food to the stores. She quickly saw the window fog up from her breath just after a few breaths, and felt a shiver go through her, knowing how cold it was outside. The mouse turned from the window and sat back down on her bed. Opening the top drawer in the nightstand, she pulled out a notepad and and pencil and started to write down a few things she needed to pick up at the market. If she was going to be here on earth for a little while, she'd need some things. Just because she was an angel didn't mean she didn't eat or drink. Some fruits and vegetables, some soda and water, definitely some cheese and hot chocolate. She tapped the eraser against the notepad as she went over what she needed in her head.
"Eek!" Minnie squeaked in surprise, jumping several inches off the bed, and quickly glanced up to see the source of the voice. A white feathered female duck that looked to be near Minnie's age but maybe older by a year or two, was standing near the door, leaning against the wall. The duck was an angel as well, but how long she'd been an angel for Minnie wasn't sure. She wore a gray sweater and a pair of jeans, along with black snow boots. "Oh... It's you..." The mouse took a deep breath, calming her nerves. "Think you could drop by like a normal person, say using the door and knocking? And not scare the heck outta me?"
The duck smirked as she walked over and sat down in the recliner, crossing her legs. "I could, but I don't roll that way."
"So I noticed..." Minnie mumbled, leaning back against the headboard again. "So what're you doing here?"
The duck shrugged. "Oh, just thought I'd drop by and say 'good morning', and see how you're enjoying the job."
"Mickey's not a job, Daisy, he's a person," Minnie corrected a little sternly. The idea of calling a mortal a job was an insult in her book. She used to be one them after all.
Daisy laughed. "Sorry, girl, didn't mean to get your tail in a knot. Sooooo... what do you think of it?"
The mouse smiled. "I'm gonna like it."
Daisy laughed. "Good. So what do you think of the town?"
Minnie glanced up at the window. "I love it. It's so cute and simple. I know it isn't perfect, but it's still a really cute little town. Most everybody seems to be in a festive mood."
Daisy smiled. "Like that town in that old black and white TV show, huh?"
"Yeah. Most people are in such good spirits around here. I really love it."
Daisy sighed. "I remember back when that old sitcom was brand new..."
Minnie quirked a brow with a grin. "Jeez, how long have you been an angel?"
Daisy laughed. "Honey, I was an angel before you were even born! I've been around awhile."
"And no, I'm not old!" Daisy added quickly. Her own wings materialized and spread out as she grinned. "One of the perks to being an angel; no botox ever, baby!"
Minnie fell back onto the bed on her side laughing. Daisy was crazy, rhetorically speaking, but she was hilarious at times.
As her wings faded away, Daisy relaxed. "So what do you think of Michael?"
Minnie finished her snickers and sat up, trying to hide the fact that the mere mention of his name turned her cheeks pink. "He's really..." Sweet. Cute. "...humble and kind, and seems really swell."
Daisy grinned. "You like him."
Minnie tried to hide her cheeks by getting up and staring out the window, placing the notepad and pencil on the nightstand. "W-Well... Yeah, of course I do. But I mean it seems everybody likes him."
"Let me rephrase it," the duck said as she leaned forward. "You like him, like him."
"W-Whaddaya mean?" Minnie couldn't deny that her heart and thoughts were in a frenzy right now due to just thinking about him.
"Well, you sure warmed up to him awful quickly yesterday. Not sure if that's in the angel book of dating..."
Minnie turned to Daisy with an expression of shock and anger. "Were you watching us?"
Daisy held up her hands. "Relax, I wasn't butting in or being nosy. I was just checking up on your progress. I need to know how things are going. I am your supervisor, newbie, remember?"
Minnie sighed, and turned back to the window as she lifted a hand to rest on the glass. "He's just a really sweet guy, that's all," she said. "I was just being polite."
The duck snickered. "Oh, is that what you kids are calling it nowadays? A guy and girl, alone together... Doesn't take a genius to see where things can lead to. You do know how to control yourself, don't you?"
"Yes, Daisy, I am fully capable of controlling myself," Minnie deadpanned in annoyance.
"Oh, you know I'm just messing with ya, girl. I've been around awhile, lemme have a little fun," Daisy chuckled.
Minnie rolled her eyes as she found herself beginning to grin.
"Anyway, serious talk... So do you want to stay here and be his angel?"
Minnie turned to the duck with a quick nod, her cheeks returning to a pink tint. "Of course! I..." She turned back to the window. "...I want to be his angel. I want to watch over him. He's alone..." Her voice felt heavy in her throat at the mention. "...and he shouldn't be alone. Especially not during Christmas." She turned to the duck. "I wanna stay, and be his guardian angel."
Daisy nodded with a smile. "Okie dokie! Just wanted to make sure you wanted to stay. So how are you adjusting to using your powers?"
Minnie turned from the window, and held up her hand. A soft white glow began to emanate around it before it disappeared again. "I'm getting the hang of it. No big deal," she said with a sure smile.
Daisy nodded. "I'm impressed. You've only been an angel for three days and you're taking to it like, well..." She laughed. "...like I did to water!" Then she stood up. "Anyway, guess I better head back. Remember, you've got power, but not a lot right now. Think of what you know you can do, and be careful. Some people don't believe in us and despise us."
Minnie nodded in understanding.
The duck pointed a finger at the mouse. "And keep an eye on that mouse."
Minnie chuckled. "It's what I'm here for."
Daisy made her wings appear and spread them. "I'll check in again later."
"Please do it like a regular person this time," Minnie grinned.
Daisy laughed before a gold light began to glow around her. "Why? Scaring you is too much fun! Ha ha!" She gave a wave before disappearing, tiny golden particles falling softly and then vanishing.
Minnie shook her head as she smiled lightly, a chuckle escaping her. "How she's an angel I'll never know..." The mouse glanced at the digital clock on the night stand. Then she glanced back to the notepad she'd set down and sat down on the bed again. She leaned back against the headboard, pulling her legs up near her chest.. "Lesse... Whaddo I need to get..." She listed off a few small things that she needed to pick up at the market, then tried to remember where Mickey showed her the grocery store was. Then she thought of him again, and her heart fluttered about thinking of his face, his smile, his eyes, his laugh... And his singing. Oh, gosh, his singing. She was pretty sure if any girl heard him sing, he'd have them swooning in a heart beat. It certainly had that effect on her when she heard him yesterday. She then wondered then if he was up yet.
She couldn't stalk him, that wouldn't do. But she could just run into him casually. She could just turn invisible and watch him, but she hadn't gotten the hang of that ability yet. In her three days as angel, she'd learned to fly and use some ability. She could sense the very near future sometimes, but it wasn't something she controlled. It just happened. And she could teleport herself, but she hadn't mastered that trick yet either. She wondered why Daisy had even given her the option of being someone's guardian angel when she'd only become an angel three days before. What was she thinking? Was she hoping Minnie would screw up? She shook her head. No. Daisy wouldn't do that, nor did she seem like the type that would. She supposed their was a reason Daisy had chosen her, but it wasn't meant for her to know yet.
Minnie leaned her head back against the headboard, letting her eyes drift shut and her mind wander. She was still getting used to being an angel. It was definitely something new to her. Learning to fly was actually a breeze. And when she picked up a harp, she quickly adapted to it. But invincibility and using her grace in different situations was something she had yet to master. However, truth be told, she really didn't have much time to practice. It was like, boom, you're an angel. Boom, you're someone's guardian angel. She wondered about Daisy's sanity. She giggled. Maybe Daisy had lost a marble or two. Maybe hit her head while flying.
Minnie looked back down to her list, and suddenly remembered something. As her eyes lit up, she wrote down to look for decorations. She loved Christmas, and wanted to decorate her room in a festive fashion. Now all she had to do was find something that would work. She looked up at the room and began to think. She imagined a small tree, nothing big and fancy, placed in the corner of the room. Maybe some tinsel along the foot of the bed, and a wreath for the window. She smiled as she went over the possibilities in her head. With a sigh, she moved her legs over the side of the bed and stood. With the notepad and pencil in hand, she walked over to the dresser where her purse sat and placed it inside. Then she walked over to the wardrobe to find something to wear. She picked out a pair of blue jeans, a white turtleneck, and as she started to look for a jacket, blushed when she remembered the jacket Mickey had given her the day before. She turned to the recliner near the door and saw the said jacket where she had laid it the night before. As her blush deepened, she walked over and picked it up. Memories of the previous evening came flooding back into her mind, and with a slight nod, decided to wear the coat. As she walked back over to the wardrobe, she picked out a pair of white snow boots to wear, along with her white bow. She also pulled out some white mittens as well.
After getting dressed, she got her purse and headed out into the hall. She tiptoed, unsure of whether or not the Rugby's were still asleep, or any of the other tenants for that matter. However, her nose quickly caught the delightful scent of pine and vanilla, and when she reached the bottom of the stairs, her ears twitched as she heard someone in the kitchen just through the parlor. She turned to see Mrs. Rugby walking out of the room, wiping her hands off with a festive Christmas washcloth.
"Good morning, dear," Mrs. Rugby smiled, her grandmotherish tone a welcome site for anyone.
"Good morning, Mrs. Rugby," Minnie smiled.
The older dog gave a wave as she chuckled. "Oh, don't be so formal. Call me Anna."
The mouse nodded gently with a smile. "Hm-hm, okay."
"Heading out this morning?"
"Yes," Minnie said as she took the last step off the steps. "I wanted to pick up a few things at the market. Would it be alright if I bought a few decorations for my room?"
"Why, of course, dear," Mrs. Rugby replied. "In fact, I encourage it! No reason why you shouldn't. It is Christmas, you know."
"Wonderful! Thank you!" Minnie replied, now excited at the idea of decorating.
The older woman gave a gesture into the kitchen. "Would you like some cookies, dearie? I just baked a fresh batch."
Minnie gave a gentle shake of her head. "No, thank you. But I appreciate the offer."
Just then, Mr. Rugby poked his head around the doorway, a cookie already in hand. "You sure, kid? They're real good!"
Mrs. Rugby turned around, seeing her husband, who suddenly looked like the kid that stole a cookie from a cookie jar. "Albert! What are you doing?"
Mr. Rugby just stood there, cookie in his mouth. "I uhuo," he said through a cookie-filled mouth. Then he pulled out the other half and held it up. "Bite?"
Minnie couldn't help but smile and giggle softly at the display.
Mrs. Rugby shook her head. "What am I going to do with you..." She then turned to Minnie. "Why don't you take a few? If you're heading out without breakfast you need at least something in your stomach." She turned to get a few cookies off the plate on the counter
"I really appreciate the offer, Anna, but I couldn't."
"Nonsense now." The older woman dropped some rather large cookies into a brown paper bag, folded up the top, then walked into the foyer. "Might as well take a few, dearie." She grinned as she looked back to her husband. "Before someone gobbles them all up."
Mr. Rugby just gave a grin. "I, uh... think I need to go fix something... in the other room!" And he disappeared from sight, making the young mouse giggle again.
Mrs. Rugby shook her head, but Minnie clearly saw the smile. As she turned back to the young girl, she smiled kindly. "Here you are."
Minnie accepted the treats, and carefully placed them into her purse. "Thank you, Anna. I really appreciate it."
The older spaniel smiled. "You're welcome, Minnie. Now have fun, and be careful in the snow."
Minnie nodded. "Don't worry, I will! And thanks again!" She sprinted toward the door, glancing back over her shoulder as she waved at the inn keeper. "See ya later, Mrs. Rugby!"
"See you later, dearie," Mrs. Rugby waved as the mouse stepped out into the snow and closed the door.
Up above, Minnie could see small specks of blue sky beginning to break through the gray clouds as she was met with a cold breeze outside. She smiled as she tightened the jacket around her. She carefully stepped down the steps and out to the sidewalk, making sure to avoid any ice. She remembered where Mickey had said the store was, which wasn't very far from the inn. She could walk the distance. Plus, she could enjoy the town while she walked. Moving forward, she began her small journey to the store.
As she walked, Minnie passed by some kids in a yard building a snowman, which made her giggle as she recalled the countless ones she'd built. However, there was one little difference... She built snowmice. She exchanged waves with the passersby that she encountered as she walked down the sidewalk. She heard the scrapping of snow shovels on driveways, the buzzing of some of the blow up lawn decorations, and the swoosh of cars that passed by her occasionally. She hadn't been in town but a couple of days and already it felt like home. She also found herself looking around hoping to spot a certain someone... But alas, she hadn't spotted those round ears of his anywhere, which she was sure she'd be able to spot.
It didn't take very long for her to find the little grocery store, which was just 9 minutes from the inn by walking. It was small and quaint, but a cute little store. As she trekked inside, she got a shopping cart and started shopping. One by one, she crossed things off her list. Hot cocoa, some bananas, a few oranges and apples, some cheese, some mac and cheese, and some marshmallows. Couldn't forget those. A few cans of soup, some soda and water, and some orange juice.
Coming out of the store, Minnie found the bench outside the shop and set her bags down on it. She took a deep breath as she sat down. "Okay... I think that's it." She pulled the notepad out of her purse and glanced over it to see if she'd forgotten anything. She didn't even hear the vehicle pull up or the sound of a door closing until...
She recognized that voice. She'd know it anywhere. She quickly looked up to see him walking up to her, smiling ever brightly. "Didn't expect to see you out this early," he said as he stepped onto the sidewalk.
"Oh, I just needed to do a little grocery shopping," she replied, giving him a smile as she gestured to her bags.
He leaned against the lamppost beside him. "Ah. Well, I'm glad you found the place okay." He glanced over at her shopping bags, noting she had three sitting on the bench, then back to her. "Need some help with those?"
She shook her head with a smile. "Thanks, but I can carry them. They're not heavy."
He quirked a brow. "It's quite a ways from the inn."
"It's not that far."
"If yer not carryin' somethin', sure. But ya are, sooo..." He walked up to the bench and picked up the bags. "I'll give ya a ride.
She quickly waved her hands. "Oh, no, no, I couldn't ask you to do that."
He chuckled as he turned back to her with a wink. "Ya didn't. I offered. Completely different." His mind made up, he turned to his truck and started toward it.
"Are you sure?" she asked, uncertain.
He placed the bags in the bed, then walked up to her and offered her his hand. "Positive. Now... Need a lift, Miss?"
Minnie smiled warmly, her heart twirling as her cheeks suddenly felt much hotter. "Thank you, Mickey. But you really don't-"
"Ahup up up!" He shushed her, holding up his hand. "I want to." He held it out again.
She smiled, and fought a sudden powerful urge to kiss his cheek, having to bite her lip to do so. Which he happened to notice, and thought was purely adorable. She took his hand and stood, relishing the warmth his hand gave off. He led her over to his truck where he opened the passenger door for her. She gave him an appreciative smile and slid inside the Ram and buckled her seat belt. He closed the door and got in on the other side, then buckled up and started the vehicle.
"So how didja like the store?" he asked. He glanced over at her, making sure he didn't see her shivering. He turned the heater on full blast when he got in, hoping to keep her from freezing.
"I really like it. They seemed to have everything in there," Minnie remarked as she turned her head to him. She couldn't help but snuggle into the jacket she wore, happy to feel the heat from the truck's vents as it warmed up.
Mickey chuckled. "Yeah. You can find most o' whatcha need in there."
"I got everything I had on my list, plus a few more things that I didn't even think of." She exhaled quickly. "Now I just need to find some Christmas decorations..."
His eyes lit up with excitement as he snapped his fingers enthusiastically. "Christmas decorations? Ha! I know just the place. Tim's place has everything ya could want. Whatever yer lookin' for, he'll have it."
"Really?" she asked, curious.
"Of course! Tim is the go-to guy when it comes to holiday decorations. He has normal stuff, and totally off-the-wall stuff."
She giggled. "Sounds like a really exciting place."
"Trust me, you'll love it," he assured. Then he grinned, noticing she was wearing the jacket he'd given her the day before. "Like the jacket?"
Her cheeks pinkened as she shifted shyly, avoiding his gaze. "Yeah. It's really warm and comfy." She lifted her eyes to meet his. "Thanks again. For the jacket, and for giving me a ride."
He shrugged modestly. "Happy t' help."
She wondered if he was really just being courteous or if he was being that way because of her. She honestly hoped it was the latter.
"I'll give ya a lift back t' the inn before we go check out what Tim has."
"Are you sure you don't mind doing this?"
He gave a lighthearted chuckle. "'Course I don't mind. I'm happy t' help ya!"
She couldn't hide the blush that came to her cheeks at that moment, nor could she ignore the flutter of her heart. "Thank you." Nor could she pull her eyes away from his smile as the two shared a warm smile.
"Yer welcome." After a moment, they broke eye contact and he put the truck in drive.
As they started down the road, Minnie happened to notice the police scanner in the middle of the floorboard. She also noticed the jacket that was behind him hung over the seat was a sheriff deputy's jacket.
"You didn't tell me you were a cop."
He shrugged. "Eh, didn't figure it was worth mentioning. No big deal." He'd started working as an officer when he came back home for the holidays. He knew the police chief, had helped him out with a few cases a few years back. So the chief of police offered Mickey the job. Mickey took it, since he could make ends meat with it while he was home. "I'm really more into doin' detective work than workin' in uniform."
Her eyes widened. "You do detective work too?"
He nodded shyly. "Yeah. I'm just doin' this until after the holidays. Kinda hard to do detective work when everythin's so quiet around here, heh."
The younger mouse giggled. "Wow, you're just full of surprises! Hee hee!"
He kicked a ball of snow with the tip of his shoe. "It's nothin' really..."
"Are you kidding? It's cool!" she said. "You get to help people. You get to be a hero to them."
He smiled. "Gee... I try. But there's not a whole lot that goes on around here."
"Be thankful for that," she said. "If you lived in some big place, you'd never see any peace."
He titled his head, her words sinking in. He'd never really thought of it like that before. "Yeah... I 'spose yer right."
"So are ya a fireman too? A paramedic?" she asked playfully. What more did this one fellow have up his sleeve?
He shook his head with a laugh. "Nah, I'm not that." He gave her a playful wink. "Yet." Both chuckled.
"So how long have you been a cop? Er... detective?" she asked after a brief silence.
"Quite a while," he explained, keeping his eyes on the road as he drove. "I just enjoyed helping people, tryin' t' make a difference. So I joined and here I am." He gave her a glance as he chuckled. "But I still do detective jobs from time to time, especially when the chief needs the extra hands."
"Do you like it?"
He shrugged. "There are some stressful days, but when I get to help someone, it makes it all worthwhile." He turned and gave her a smile before turning back to the road.
She could sense he was honest in his words, and that he really did find enjoyment in what he did. "Well, you get to be a hero to people."
He chuckled. "I'm no hero."
She giggled. "Oh, you'd be surprised at who you could be a hero to." Like me.
"Heh. Maybe little kids."
"Maybe. But there's others too. People you might not expect." She smiled satisfactorily, knowing exactly who he was a hero to.
"I 'spose... So what about you? What do you do?"
That question caught her off guard. In her current situation she'd have to change the truth a bit while still being honest. ...Well, as honest as possible. "Well, I actually opened up and ran a little boutique back home."
He gave her a quick glance. "No kiddin'?"
She giggled, thinking back to the little shop. "Yeah, it wasn't much. It was a small shop, but I liked it."
"What didja sell there?"
Minnie lifted a hand as she began raise her fingers as she counted. "Some bows, shoes, dresses... Heh. That was basically my whole inventory."
Both shared a chuckle.
"Well, the important thing is that you enjoyed it," he said, giving her a smile. Just then he pulled the truck to a stop in front of the inn. Unbuckling his seat belt, he gave her a smile as he pulled the keys from the ignition. "Here we are, M'lady." He opened the door and exited the truck and she quickly followed suit, unbuckling herself and opening the door, unsure of his intentions.
To her surprise he was already on his way to the back of the truck to get her groceries out. It dawned on her he was intending to carry her things inside.
"Thank you for the ride, Mickey, but I can can carry them from here."
He gave a light, set smile. "I've got 'em. I wanna." He closed the tailgate and started for the front door of the inn. She quickly stepped past him and opened the door, giving him a gentle smile. "Thank you."
"Yer welcome," he replied and stepped inside the inn's foyer.
The warmth from the furnace greeted the mice as they stepped inside. The faint scent of pine filled the air from the Christmas tree in the living room area, and gentle Christmas music played from the room from the musical Christmas lights strung around the tree.
A familiar face stepped around the doorway leading into the kitchen and greeted the mice. "Hello, Minnie. Hello, Micheal."
"Hello," Minnie greeted as she took off her boots.
"Hello, Mrs. Rugby," Mickey greeted back, sliding off his own boots. He fumbled with them because of holding the girl's groceries, and Minnie noticed. She giggled and knelt down to help him.
"Here." She helped him slide off his boots and placed them in the corner next to the door, next to her own.
"Heh, thanks," he said with a sheepish smile.
"Did you finish your Christmas shopping?" Mrs. Rugby asked as she adjusted the glasses on her nose.
"Not yet. I did get some groceries, though." She stepped around Mickey to stand next to him. "I still need to get the decorations."
"Well, I'm glad you found what you were looking for grocery-wise," Mrs. Rugby smiled. "Can I get you kids anything?"
"No, thanks." Both mice looked at each other as they realized they spoke at the same time. Their muzzles flushed as they shared a soft chuckle.
Mrs. Rugby grinned. "Will you be staying, Micheal?"
"Oh, no, uh... I was jus' helpin' her with her groceries," Mickey said, readjusting one of the bags so he didn't lose blood circulation in his fingers.
Both mice saw the grin Mrs. Rugby now sported. It only took a moment for it to dawn on them why she was grinning.
"Honest!" Mickey said. Minnie just stood with a shy, innocent blush, yet with just as much surprise as the other mouse.
"Uh-huh. Well, if you kids change your mind just let me know." Her kind smile returned.
"Thanks!" Again they spoke at the same time, and both shared a glance before Minnie started up the stairs, glancing back to Mickey. "C'mon, I'll show you to my room."
"Lead the way." Mickey started up the stairs behind the younger mouse as he glanced back to Mrs. Rugby, who still wore a grin once again. "I'm just helpin' with her groceries!" he said a little quietly.
"Uh-huh," the older woman said, then waved her finger. "You be good to that girl."
Since his hands were inoperable, he raised his tail around to his front to give a salute. "Yes, Ma'am." He turned back to the stairs and resumed his trek upward, leaving Mrs. Rugby with a satisfied grin as she turned and walked into the living room.
Mickey followed the girl up the stairs to her room. It didn't take long to reach it either.
She stopped and reached into her purse for the keys. "Here we are." She opened the door to the room and stepped inside, holding it open for him as he carried the bags inside.
"Right around the corner." She pointed to where the kitchenette area was and he promptly made his way around the corner to it, setting the bags on the counter.
"There ya go, Madam," he said with a cheerful smile.
"Thank you," she giggled, noting how infectious his smile was as she stepped past him and started getting the groceries out of the bags.
"Need some help?"
He'd given her a ride, carried her groceries upstairs and was asking her if she needed any more help? The kindness and generosity he was showing was truly mind blowing. The more she learned about him the more she saw how big his heart was.
She closed the small refrigerator door and turned back around to the bags, giving him a smile. "No, but thank you anyway."
He glanced back around the room then. "So what kinda decorations are ya looking for?"
She placed another item in the cabinet above the sink, talking as she worked. "A small tree, maybe a wreath and a little tinsel. A few little ornaments." She put the last item up and turned back to him, moving her hands to show him where she thought of putting everything. "I was thinking of putting a tree over here," she pointed to the corner of the room, "maybe hanging a wreath on the window," then she pointed to the foot of the bed, "and some tinsel on the foot board." She glanced back up to him. "So what do you think? Too Christmassy?"
Too Christmassy? He laughed. "You can never have too many decorations!" He turned and stepped a few steps to the center of the room. "You could get some decorations for the dresser, a train set for the tree, some decorations to hang from the ceiling at the window..."
As he went on she couldn't help but giggle softly. She had no idea that he was so into decorating. As he pointed to this and that, elaborating on what decoration could be put there, she saw the excitement he had for it, and realized she wasn't standing with a rookie decorator. No, she was standing in the midst of a veteran decorator.
"I take it you've done this sorta thing before," she spoke aloud, grinning as he stopped his descriptions and turned back to her, his cheeks turning a faint pink as he scratched the back of his neck.
"I mighta decorated before..."
"C'mon, buster, that wasn't the words of a rookie just a second ago," she grinned. "Spill it."
He chuckled, holding up his hands in defeat. "Okay, I mighta entered the town's decorating contest a few years before... No biggie."
She tilted her head. "Didja win?"
He shrugged modestly. "Three times."
She blinked. "Whoa." Then she giggled. "So what would you advise, Sir Expert Decorator?" she asked with a cute grin.
He kicked his foot lightly against the floor. "Gee... I'm no expert. Buut..." He glanced around the room, and titled his lips in thought. He knew she had limited space to work with, and he also knew that how she might decorate would differ from how he'd do it. So he thought of the basics. "Well, ya definitely need a tree and wreath. And I still say a train set would be good. Tinsel, definitely." He glanced back to her, not even thinking when he said it. "Ya gonna get any mistletoe for the doorway?"
The blush on both of their muzzles was clear.
He'd said it off the top of his head, not even thinking about it. His brain, in hardcore decoration mode, just thought of the common item for decoration above doorways and fireplaces and didn't stop to think who he was saying it to. Cheeks obviously red, he quickly tried to patch it up. "I-I mean, it's k-kinda a common decoration, y'know..."
She was smiling. She was trying to hide it, but her lips were curved up into a smile. Her muzzle was warm and almost hot pink, but she decided to not go into it too much. It was obvious he felt silly for saying it, and she didn't want to make him feel worse. "Oh, w-well, I hadn't really thought about it." She grinned a little. "I could, but then I'd have to kiss everyone that came through the door."
He made a mental note to drop by. A lot.
"'Course I could get some and just hang it up when I wanted to... Like when someone came by that I wanted to kiss..." She decided to leave that hang over him, hoping he'd get the idea.
"Yeah, ya could..." He cleared his throat. Yep. He'd definitely have to stop by now. "So, uh, ya ready to go to Tim's?"
She titled her head, giving him a light smile. "Are you sure?"
He laughed as he gave a wave of his hand. "Pssh, naw. I don't mind. Don't worry."
"I feel like I'm being a burden."
He shook his head. "If I didn't wanna, I wouldn't offer." He stepped over to the front door and opened it for her. "Now then... shall we?"
"You're the tour guide," she said as she walked past him into the hall. He closed the door behind her as he followed her down the stairs. Reaching the bottom of the stairs, the mice picked up their boots to put them on. As Minnie started trying to get on one boot, she lost her balance. As she started to fall sideways she suddenly found herself caught by the boy. His hands on her hips, he gave her a light smile.
Her cheeks were red, she knew. She swallowed softly, her eyes momentarily unable to tear away from his gaze. "Oh, um... Heh... Thanks."
"Here." He picked up her other boot and held it for her, allowing her to put it on. Feeling her cheeks get warmer, she slipped her foot into the boot, keeping a hand on his back for support, all the while her mind was thinking of the part in the story of Cinderella where the prince placed the shoe on the foot of the girl. Minnie bit her lip as she fought to suppress the giddy squeak she felt threatening to escape.
"T-Thank you..." Her voice was partially failing her as she was almost too stunned to speak. As he stood up, giving her a smile, she realized her heart was thumping rather forcefully against her chest wall.
With a gentle smile, he proceeded to put one of his boots on. She picked up his other boot and offered it to him, returning the favor. He glanced up to her, seeing her warm smile. "Thanks." After slipping on his other boot, he stood up and opened the door, allowing her to step outside.
She gave him a grateful smile and stepped out outside, and waited as he closed the door. Making their way side by side down the walk, Mickey sped up his pace just enough when they neared the truck so he could open the door for her.
She couldn't help but giggle. "So you don't do taxi services as well?"
He laughed as he leaned against against the door. "Nah. This is a special offer." Her cheeks flushed at that. "Besides, I don't charge fair. And ya get t' ride up front."
"I'd say that's much better than a taxi, then," she grinned before getting in the truck.
He closed the door and walked around and climbed in. "So what size tree ya wantin' ta get?"
"I'll have to get one that's small enough to fit in the room."
"Pfft, don't worry about that. Get one as big as ya like. It'll fit in my truck."
"No, it's all right. I'll get a small one. That's all I want anyways."
"I don't mind hauling a bigger tree in my truck," he said as he buckled his seat belt.
"I really appreciate the offer, Mickey, but I can't ask you to do that. What with everything you've done already. It's really sweet of you, but I couldn't let you do that."
"I didn't mind, and I don't mind. I'm happy to do it for ya! I want to."
"I know but I-"
"Really." The smile he gave was genuine, nothing forced about it. And she could sense that he really did mean every word he said. He really just wanted to help her out. It surprised her the kindness and generosity he offered. Granted, she knew people were capable of such, but she'd never had it offered to her like this before, much less to this degree. She honestly didn't know what to say except...
"Thank you." Those were the only words she could form at the moment. She might have been an angel, but she was sure he was one as well. He just hadn't got his wings yet.
As the two rounded the corner, a raccoon in her late 30's started waving both hands toward the truck, flagging them down.
"What's goin on here?" Mickey said quietly to himself as he pulled the truck up and parked it. As both mice exited the truck the woman made her way up to them.
"Oh! Thank you for stopping, Micheal. Can you get my dear Mr. Scruffles out of the tree?"
Mickey cocked his head. "Uh, whut?"
The woman pointed to the nearby tree. "He climbed up there and now he's stuck. I don't know how long the poor soul has been up there."
Mickey waved a hand sideways. "Don't worry, I'll get him down." He walked over to the tree and looked up, seeing the gray cat sitting on a branch. He turned to the woman. "Ya got a ladder?"
"Of course! Just a moment." The woman took off into her yard, leaving the mice alone.
"You really think you can get him down?" Minnie asked, glancing up to the tree then back to the mouse.
Mickey grinned. "Aw, it shouldn't be a problem. Just go up, get 'im, then bring him back down."
Minnie tilted her head a little skeptically. "You a cat person?"
Mickey was still looking up the tree. "I'm more of a dog person but I still like cats." He glanced back down to her. "Why?"
"Can't are picky about who touches them. You have to be careful."
Mickey chuckled. "Aw, he looks like a little angel." He looked up at the cat. "Aren't ya, Mr. Scruffles?"
The cat gave a low meow.
Mickey looked back to her. "See? Heh..." She was sure she saw a sweat drop on the side of his head.
Just then, the woman came through the front yard carrying a ladder. Mickey took it and set it up, then made sure it was steady.
"Welp... Here goes..." He started up the ladder as Minnie took hold of the legs for support.
The woman looked down at the younger mouse. "I don't believe I've seen you before. You new?"
Minnie glanced up to the woman briefly, giving her a light smile, before turning her attention back to the other mouse climbing the ladder. "Yeah. I'm just passing through town for the holidays."
"Oh, I see. Well, my name is Lucy."
The mouse glanced back to her. "Minnie. Nice to meet you."
"Have you known Micheal long?"
"I just met him the other day." She watched as Mickey neared the cat. "Careful."
Mickey made it to the branch the cat sat perched on and saw that the cat didn't looked frightened. Actually, he looked pretty content. "Yer not gonna make this easy, are ya, fella?" The cat gave a short, low meow. "Yep. Didn't think so."
The raccoon below continued her discussion. "You know, Micheal just happens to be single..."
Mickey had heard it. Luckily he was so high up they couldn't see his crimson face. "Uh, h-hey, Mrs. Smith! Umm, is there anything I should know to help get yer cat down?"
Minnie looked away, hiding the blush she wore on her own muzzle. She knew Mickey was trying to change the subject and lucky for him it worked.
"Oh, Mr. Scruffles is a dear. Just talk to him and he'll come to you."
Mickey glanced back to the cat. "Okay, fella... we can do this the easy way or the hard way. I vote the easy way."
The cat turned away.
"Yer gonna turn me into a scratchin' post, aren'tcha?"
The cat turned back to him. Was it grinning?
"Aw, c'mon... Yer just a big ol' softy, aren'tcha?" Mickey steadily inched his hands closer to the cat.
What followed was series of hisses and growls from the cat, and some painful yelps from the mouse.
He made his way back down the ladder, with a few tuffs of fur hanging from his ears. When he reached the bottom, his deadpan expression said it all. "Okaaay, any other ideas?"
Minnie looked him over and couldn't help but giggle and smile sympathetically. "You okay?"
He nodded. "Oh, yeah, fine. Just got turned into Swiss cheese but I'm good." He shook his hands. "Man, that thing has sharp claws..."
Minnie took his hands to examine his gloves, which were now torn and looked like he'd been through a war. A war with a furball. "I got some hand sanitizer in my purse if you need it. I've also got some bandages."
He shook his head, giving her a light smile. "Nah, I'm good. I've got a first aid kit and bandages in the truck. I also keep a spare set of gloves, heh."
She gave a grin. "Don't tell me you run into this sorta thing often."
He laughed. "Not too often. Only on Mondays, ha."
Minnie deadpanned. "It's Wednesday."
"Well, then I'm startin' early for next week, heh."
"Oh, dear... How will we get Mr. Scruffles down?" Lucy asked.
Minnie gave a slight shrug. "I can give it a shot."
Mickey and Lucy both looked at the female mouse, the former with a glimmer of hope, the latter with concern.
"Ya sure, Min?" the male mouse asked.
She gave a little smile. "I like cats. I think I can handle it."
"Oh, please, dearie, if you could get Mr. Scruffles down I would would be so grateful!"
Mickey glanced up the ladder at the height then back to the girl, an unsettling feeling in his stomach. "It's awful high up."
She rolled her eyes. "Trust me, I've dealt with much higher altitudes." That said, she stepped over to the ladder and placed her foot on the bottom step.
Mickey gripped the ladder, giving her a sure smile. "I've got the ladder for ya."
She looked at him, and smiled. "Thanks. Be back in a sec." She started climbing the ladder.
"Careful. That cat's the spawn of Hades!"
Minnie was snickering as she climbed the ladder. She gently made her way to the branch where the cat sat. "Well, hello, Mr. Scruffles." The cat turned to her. Minnie giggled. "Gee, you look like Grumpy Cat." The cat gave a low meow. "Aw, you're just a pretty little kitty, aren't you?" The cat's tail swished. Minnie held out her hands and gently neared the feline. "C'mon... How about we get back down on the ground, huh?" She reached for the cat and gently picked it up and cradled it in her arms. "Aw, you're just a little fluff ball, aren't you? Yeah." She started petting the cat, hearing and feeling it begin to purr.
From below, Mickey watched with awe and amusement. "Well, I'll be... Heh. She did it."
Minnie slowly made her way back down the ladder, carrying the cat on one arm as she used her other for balance. When she reached the bottom, she handed the cat to its owner. "Here you go, Mrs. Smith."
"Oh, thank you, Minnie!" The woman then turned to the cat. "Mr. Scruffles, you know better than to climb up high." She turned back to the mice. "Thank you."
Minnie smiled with a nod. "You're welcome."
Mickey folded up the ladder and picked it up. "I'll put this back for you, Mrs. Smith."
As Lucy started walking away, carrying her feline friend with her, Mickey gave Minnie a light smile. "She's a card, isn't she?" He trekked through the yard, carrying the ladder as Minnie stood on the sidewalk.
He was cute. She already knew that. Mickey was cute, sweet, funny, and always willing to lend a hand. He was definitely a rarity. A gem. He was special, she could tell. Before she had time to think much more she saw him round the side of the house, waving back to Mrs. Smith who had just gone inside. Before he turned around he tripped and stumbled over a water hose. She gasped at first but then smiled and giggled, thankful he hadn't fallen as she watched him straighten himself up and rub the back of his head sheepishly as he walked up to her.
Yep. Adorably funny.
He stumbled up to her and opened the door of his truck. "Ready to go?"
She giggled as she climbed inside. "You're the driver."
He slid inside and started the truck. As the two headed on down the road, they didn't get too far before a white object suddenly landed on the windshield, blocking the view of the road. Both mice squeaked in surprise and Mickey quickly brought the truck to a stop. As the two got out to inspect the object, they found it to be an inflatable lawn decoration. It was white, with a carrot nose and a black top hat.
"I think Frosty, here, 's tryin' t' catch a ride," Mickey chuckled.
Minnie giggled. "Well, if he's going to town, I don't think this is the way to do it."
The mice grabbed hold of the decoration and pulled it off the truck. Then Mickey started checking his truck over for any damage. Just then, they heard someone running up to them.
"Oh, I'm sorry about that, Micheal. It popped and I couldn't catch it before it, well... took flight." The man was an older turtle, in his early forties. "I hope it didn't damage your truck."
Mickey just smiled as he waved his hand. "Nah, don't worry. No harm done." He chuckled as he pointed to the deflated decoration. "But ya might wanna keep ol' Frosty doesn't get away from now on."
"Yeah, this time I'm using larger stakes," the man said, then took the inflatable. "Thanks for finding it."
Mickey laughed. "I'd say it found us first."
"Well, thank you kids anyway." The man turned and started back down the walk toward his house, turning back to give the mice a wave. "Thanks again!"
The mice waved back, then Minnie turned to Mickey. "You ever hit a snowman before?" It was obvious she was holding back laughter.
Mickey shook his head, starting to laugh. "Nope. This would be a first, ha ha." Minnie started to laugh with him. "C'mon. We better get outta here before we get run over by a reindeer!" he said as he stepped back and opened the truck door.
Minnie chuckled as she opened the other door. "But it's not Christmas Eve yet."
"Hey, if we can hit by a flyin' Frosty, I ain't takin' any chances!"
"Oh, Mickey, ha ha!"
The two climbed inside the truck and started down the road once more.
Tim's shop, officially called Knick Knacks, was a simple two story shop at the edge of town. The shop was the ideal place for whatnots, porcelain figurines, antiques, and a large array of this and that. Close to holidays, Tim would decorate the entire first floor with decorations, and the exterior would always be decked out in festive decor as well.
Minnie made the store out before they even got to it, noting the inflatable Santa and snowman out front. As the car rolled to a stop, she couldn't help but gawk. "Wow. I see what you were talking about."
Mickey laughed as he quickly unbuckled himself. "Oh, that's just th' outside. Wait till ya see th' inside! Come on!" He flung the door open and exited the car, displaying the excitement of a child going into a candy store. She smiled at his enthusiasm and unbuckled her seat belt. As she exited the car. she looked at the exterior of the shop. The window displays held a couple of classic made sleds, some fake presents wrapped and stacked in the corners, cotton spread out across them to look like snow, and a little Christmas tree displayed and illuminated in the right window. On the sled in the same window sat a stuffed doll and in the other window was a display of a small Nativity. The shop was quaint in appearance, nothing big and fancy. Yet she wondered if the inside held more than the outside.
The other mouse had already beat her to the door and was now holding it open for her, ushering her inside. She closed the door and walked the several feet to the door, giving him an appreciative smile as she walked in. As she entered the shop, her mouth fell open.
The inside of the job was decorated with wreaths, bows, holly, smaller ceramic and hard plastic Santa's, snowmen, reindeer, elf figurines sitting on a shelf behind the counter, and twinkling Christmas lights adorning the railings leading up to the second floor and along the front of the counter. It had a rustic charm to it, like something out of a classic Christmas magazine or photo, yet with a festive modern flair to it.
She shook her head, snapping herself from her Christmas stupor, and turned to see the other mouse standing next to her, smiling a big, knowing smile. "I love it! Wow, this place looks amazing!" It was a cute, beautiful little shop. She could understand his excitement for coming there.
He laughed, and took a few steps past her. "Toldja ya'd like it. Now let's find you some decorations, hm?"
Just then, a fox in his early thirties poked his head around a display shelf. He saw the mice and smiled, and came around the corner to greet them. "Micheal! Good to see you again!" He walked up to Mickey and leaned down. "Didja come by to pick up some decorations?" He patted the mouse on the back, rather hard, causing the poor mouse to stumble forward with a "Oof!". "Of course you are! Hey. Let show you what I got in." The fox disappeared into the back in an instant, leaving Mickey reeling from the sudden pounding on his back. He coughed a few times before shaking it off.
Minnie giggled. "He's sure excited to see you."
Mickey cleared his throat, giving a sheepish smile. "I'm sorta... a regular customer, heh. Bought a lota decorations off of 'im."
Just then, the fox returned, holding a list of inventory. "Here you go. Take a look and see what tickles your fancy."
Mickey rubbed the back of his neck. "Actually, Tim, uh... I'm not the one shoppin' for decorations." He pointed to the girl standing next to him. "She is."
The fox tilted his head. "Ohhh, I see." He smiled, a smile which Minnie and Mickey had seen on Mrs. Rugby. They tried to pay no mind to it, mentally wondering if the other would notice it as well.
"She's stayin' at th' inn and wants some decorations for her room."
The fox stepped around the counter. "Ah, well, welcome to my shop. Name's Tim."
Minnie smiled as she gave a little nod. "Minnie. Nice to meet you." She looked around. "This is a very nice shop you have here. It's decorated really beautifully."
Tim placed his hands in his pockets, giving a proud smile. "Well, thank you, young lady. I'm glad you like the place. I've got lots of decorations here so just take your time and see what you like."
"Thank you," Minnie said.
Tim stepped back around the counter and sat on the stool behind it. "Meanwhile, I'm going to see if I can put this dang shelf together." On the counter sat a smaller display shelf for small items.
Minnie gave a soft chuckle then turned back to Mickey, gave a smile, then stepped further into the shop to check out the decorations.
Mickey watched her as she started looking at the ornaments. He couldn't help but think of how cute she looked as the twinkling Christmas lights gave a soft glow around her as she browsed.
"You know, some special items can't be bought in a store."
Mickey shook his head briefly, turning back to Tim, who sat at his desk with a smile, his glasses tilted downward. "Huh?"
"How did you run into her anyway?"
Mickey turned back to the mouse, seeing she was now holding up a little snowman figurine. "I ran into her at the park. She jus' walked up and sat down on th' bench." He kept watching her. She turned back slowly, seeing him still watching her. She smiled shyly as her cheeks turned pink, then placed the snowman back down as she turned to look at some other decorations.
"She staying through Christmas?"
Mickey looked on, watching her. "I hope so." He said it softly, mostly to himself, not realizing Tim had heard.
"Why don't you ask her? Maybe she wants you to."
Mickey's cheeks flushed. "I can't ask 'er! I can't..." He sighed, and turned back to the girl. "I can't make her stay if she doesn't want to."
Tim grinned. "Who says she doesn't?"
Mickey looked up at him, going over the words in his head. He turned back to the mouse. What if Tim was right? She said she might stay if she had a reason to, so what if he gave her a reason? He realized it would be pointless. She didn't want to hurt her. And if she found out... He wouldn't ruin her Christmas. Just then he saw her turn to him, smiling brightly, and start waving excitedly for him to come over. Without missing a beat, he made his way over to her.
"Whatdoya think?" She pointed to a little tree, about four feet tall. "Cute, huh?"
Mickey tilted his head. Yeah, it was, if you were aiming for a step up above Charlie Brown. "Um, yeah, it's... It's cute, but, uhh..." He rubbed the back of his head. "Don'tcha want somethin' bigger?"
She shook her head. "Nope. This one right here. It's big enough to decorate, yet small enough to fit into the room and not take up a lot of space. And it'll fit in the back seat/trunk of the car."
He rolled his head back. "Mins... don't choose one just because it'll fit in the car."
She looked up at him, smiling cutely. "Too bad. This is the one I want. Really. Honest."
He sighed and smiled. "All right. So didja see anything else ya liked?"
Minnie stepped over to a shelf and pointed to a couple of snowmen, one about four inches tall and the other six. "What would you choose, Mr. Decorator?"
Mickey looked at them, then back to her with a grin. "The big one. Annnd..." He looked on the lower shelf and saw a Santa the same size. "Gotta get one o' these," he said, holding it up.
"I want this," she said, holding up a stuffed Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer plush.
He chuckled. "Can't ferget him. And ya need a little train set..." He moved to the next shelf where he spotted a small one. "Ah-ha! This is whatcha need."
She looked at the train. "Oooh! Cute!" Next she showed him a box of ornaments she found. "Look at these. Good for a classic Christmas look."
"Nice." He snapped his fingers. "Ya need a wreath, lights, and some tinsle." The two made their way over to the next aisle where the tinsel and lights were. Mickey got the tinsel while Minnie got the lights. Then they picked out a wreath for the window.
"Now there's just one more thing." She pointed to a little Nativity display."
He smiled. "Definitely."
"Oh! And, uhh..." Minnie smiled cutely as she held up some mistletoe. "This."
Mickey's heart and brain stopped. "...Yep... Can't, uh... Can't ferget that."
The mice made their way to the front counter with everything, save for the tree. After placing everything down, Mickey went back and got the tree that was till in it's box and brought it up to the counter.
"That everything?" Tim asked as he opened the register.
"Yep. That's everything," Minnie agreed.
Tim rotated on his stool, leaned down, and picked a small box, placing it on the counter. "I just got these in today. Maybe you might want to look at them before you go." He opened the box and pulled out an ornament.
Minnie's muzzle turned as red as Mickey's truck as Mickey's turned as white as the snow.
The ornament had two gold hearts intertwined with a little white banner below that read Our First Christmas. Mickey would kill Tim. Yep. Sure would.
"O-Oh, wow..." Minnie looked at the ornament, unable to not think of Mickey and her as she gazed at it. "It's beautiful." she said fondly.
Mickey motioned quickly, behind Minnie so she couldn't see, for Tim to move onto the next one. The fox gave a smirk before placing the ornament aside and pulling out another ornament. It was a polar bear on a red sled.
Minnie giggled. "Ohh, that's cute!"
The next ornament Tim pulled out was a little white mouse popping his head up out of a Christmas present. "Awww!" Minnie gushed.
"That's all of 'em," Tim said.
"I'll take the little mouse ornament," Minnie said.
"I'll take the polar bear," Mickey spoke up. She glanced up to him, a grin forming on her face.
He grinned sheepishly. "What? It's cute, okay?"
She giggled. She couldn't help it.
"You got it." Tim rung up the items and bagged them, then handed them to the mice. "Thank you. Come again. And Merry Christmas!"
"Merry Christmas!" the mice said in unison as the exited the shop.
"So, was it worth the trip here?" Mickey asked as he walked up to the truck to unlock the door, then placed what he carried in the bed.
"Oh, yes! I got everything I was hoping to get, plus a little more, hee hee!" Minnie placed the bags she had in the bed.
"Now we just need to get ya back to the inn so ya can decorate."
"Thanks again, Mickey. I really appreciate this," she said, walking around to the right side of the truck.
"Yer welcome," he replied nonchalantly as he opened the door for her before she had the chance.
"Please let me repay you. There must be something I can do."
He shook his head. "Nope. Yer not payin' me back."
"But I feel bad."
"Then don't," he smiled. "I toldja; I want to."
She thought for a second. Then it hit her. "Then how about I bake you something?"
He shook his head again. "Nope."
"C'mon. At least let me do that. Pleeaase?" She batted those long lashes at him, showing her big brown eyes.
No man on earth could resist those. His resolve crumbled like a cookie. "Ahh... All right. If yer sure ya don't mind."
She chuckled. "You kidding? I'd love to!" She realized how excited she sounded, but then that's how she felt. "How about some nice, soft, cheese cake?"
Did his stomach just rumble? He wasn't sure, but he believed his stomach just agreed to her offer. "Cheese cake?"
She nodded. "Mm-hm. With butter cream frosting that will melt in your mouth." She was trying to entice him, to persuade him. The way to a man's heart was to his stomach, or so she heard, so she was going to find out if it was true for him.
"And ya don't mind?"
She shook her head, smiling. "Nope. Don't mind at all. It's the least I could do for you. When you get time, why not stop by the inn tomorrow evening? I'll make you a scrumptious cake that will make your tail curl!" She giggled, imagining that cute tail of his curling and twitching as he took a bite.
"Ha ha! Okay, you've got yourself a deal!" he agreed, then closed the door and walked around to the other side. He started the truck and the two mice headed back to the inn.
When they arrived, Mickey helped Minnie carry everything up to her room. Setting everything down, he straightened his back, feeling his fingers regain circulation. "Now yer ready to decorate!"
She giggled, pulling off her coat and laying on the back of the chair. "I sure am. Thanks to your decorating skills."
He bashfully toed the floor as he moved his hands behind his back. "Aw, it's no big deal." Just then, his cell phone went off. He found it on his belt and answered it. "Hello? Yes, chief? What?" Mickey smacked his forehead. "All right. I'll be right down." He ended the call. "The chief wants me down at the station for a briefing."
Minnie gave him a smile. "Go on. I've got this here."
He nodded. "All right. Sorry."
She shook her head with an understanding smile. "No worries." He smiled as he waved, then opened the door to leave.
He stopped, turning back to her. "Yeah?"
She smiled warmly. "Thanks."
He smiled back, feeling his heart flutter. "You're welcome." There was a brief moment as both just stared before he spoke again. "I'll see ya later."
"See ya. Be careful."
He waved as she waved back and he slipped out the door. Then he suddenly opened it back up enough to poke his head through. "Oh! By the way... got any ice skates?"
She blinked, taken aback by the question. "Uh, yeah? Why?"
He nodded. "Good. Why don'tcha meet me in the park this evenin'? Say when the street lights first start comin' on?"
She chuckled. She wasn't sure where he was going with this but she agreed. "Okay. I'll be there."
"Good. See ya then."
"See ya then."
With that he closed the door. She sighed as she sat down on the arm of the chair, thinking back to her morning. It started out good, but once he showed up... It got a lot better. She turned back to the decorations, thinking how he'd helped her pick out some, as well as helped her get them back to the inn. Her heart flutter and her cheeks got warmer as she looked at the bag that had the mistletoe inside. She made a mental note to hang it somewhere the next day when he arrived.
"Oh, my!" She realized that he was supposed to show up the next day, and that she was supposed to bake a cake for him. She suddenly remembered she didn't have her old cookbook with her. She stood up, and paced back and forth a couple of times. Her cookbook was back at her old apartment. Or used to be. It was probably back at on her parents' farm now. And she couldn't show up like she was now and get it. She closed her eyes as she tried to go over the ingredients in her head. As she went over them, she realized that she had some of the ingredients but not all of them. She'd have to make another trip back to the grocery store. She quickly grabbed a pen and notepad from her purse and began to write down what she needed.
After she was finished, she glanced back to the decorations still in their bags on the floor. She decided to decorate now and go out early tomorrow morning. It wouldn't take long to go to the store, get the few ingredients she needed, then come back and bake the cake. It would be easy as, well, a piece of cake. She giggled and placed the notepad back into her purse before walking over to pick up the tree box. It was time to make the room merry.
It wasn't quite dark out yet. Still evening. But the night was very close by, as the streetlights had just came on. He looked up at the sky, seeing it was still getting dark, but there was no flakes this night. Ah, well. It was still peaceful. He glanced back down, seeing the snow sparkle in the light of the street lights. He leaned his head back, thinking over the events of the day. He started out heading to the bank to make a deposit when he encountered her. That beautiful, adorable, sweeter than honey young mouse that made his heart feel like it had wings when he saw her.
The way she laughed, the ways she said his name, the ways she spoke... was there anything that didn't sound like sweet harmony to him? He grinned. He knew the answer. There wasn't, nor would there ever be. His thoughts lingered on her, replaying the images of the day. Her eyes, her smile, her giggle, the way her tail twitched when she was excited. Yeah, he noticed that, too. That way her cheeks turned pink when she sometimes said something to him. Did they get any cuter than her? Again, he knew the answer. He could search the world and there would never be another girl that would make him feel even half like the way he felt now. Though his body was chilled from the cold, his heart was as warm as could be with thoughts and feelings for her inside.
That voice. He'd know it anywhere. He turned to see her standing just off the side of him in front of the bench, a pair of white skates in her hand.
He blinked, once again, the beauty of the mouse maiden making his brain stall. "H-Hi."
"Would you like some company?" Again, she offered her usual warm smile, the same one that she gave him so many times already.
He nodded his head, still shocked at her presence. "S-Sure."
She moved up and sat down next to him, placing the purse she had on the bench next to her. For a moment there was just silence, save for a soft whisper of the night wind around them.
"So why didja want me to bring my skates?" she asked finally, turning to him.
He just sat there with a grin. "I jus' wanted t' see how good ya were at it."
She blinked, stunned by his sudden idea. "Well, I'm rather terrible at it."
This seemed to brighten him up more. "Want me t' teach ya?"
She chuckled. "I think you'd be wasting your time."
He shrugged. "If ya have fun, then it's not a waste."
She was impressed by his attitude, and flattered. She actually thought the idea of him teaching her to skate was... romantic. "Sure. If you want to."
"All right! Gear up and we'll start." He bent down and pulled the skates he had from beside the bench in front of him and started putting them on.
"I'll still say I'm gonna fall on my butt," she said with a giggle, setting her skates down at her feet.
He looked up to her with a grin. "That's why I brought this." He reached beside him and pulled out a pillow. "Just in case."
She smirked and gave him a playful nudge. As she bent down and started to put her skates on, she realized how long it had been since she'd actually skated. She had a pair with her but never thought she'd actually be using them. Much less with a boy she was falling head over heels for. Much less one so incredible as him. She started to undo the strings but found they were stuck.
He'd seen her obviously, as he finished putting on his skates then scooted off the bench and knelt down in front of her. "Here. Lemme help ya."
Her cheeks burned as he slipped one of her boots off, her heart rate increasing. "O-Oh... T-Thank you..." She couldn't stop smiling as he pulled off her boots and slipped the skates on her feet. She also couldn't help notice how gentle and delicate he was. After they were on and laced up, he stood, and offered her his hand.
She placed her hand in his and stood. "Ready."
"Then come on!"
He led her out to the pond where he gently helped her to step onto the ice. With his hands on her hips, causing her cheeks to burn hot, he helped her to maintain her balance. She took a deep breath, allowing herself to relax.
"Have ya ever skated before?"
"A little. But it's been awhile."
"Well, then, let's see what ya can do." He moved behind her, placing his hands on her hips again. "Just remain still and let me do the work." He gently pushed off, pushing the both of them forward. She wobbled a little at first, but then the memory of how it felt to skate started coming back. As they moved forth across the pond, she started to maintain her balance. "Doin' good, Min. Now I'm gonna let go of ya." He did just that. And for a couple of seconds she was able to stand. But then her skates decided to do their own thing, and she started waving her arms frantically. With a fearful squeak she started to fall backward.
But she didn't. As she collected her bearings, she realized she'd been caught. By the strong arms of the guy she was with.
"I gotcha, Min," he said with a gentle smile, arms around her waist.
She turned her head and adjusted her body in his arms so she could see his face over her shoulder. "T-Thanks, Mickey." She realized then just how safe she felt with him, and how unafraid she was. And him having caught her just reinforced that and made it stronger.
"Ya did good. Ya might be a little rusty, but you can do. Now just breath and relax."
Somehow, with him encouraging her, she felt even more determined. With a nod she straightened herself back up, ready to go again. "I'm ready."
He pushed them off again. She maintained her balance for several seconds without missing a beat. Then her gently eased the grip up that he had around her waist.
"Okay, I'm gonna let go."
She focused. She felt him let go, and it was all her. She breathed, then pushed herself off. She started moving her feet, gaining a little more speed. She turned left, then right, then doubled back to him. She turned her skates and skidded to a stop just a couple of feet from him. "How was that?"
"Wow, yer a quick learner!" he complimented.
She blushed. "Heh, thanks. Maybe it's 'cause I have a good teacher."
It was his turn to blush now.
"So, uhh... Shall we continue?" she asked with a smile.
"Right beside ya," he replied.
For the next hour the mice skated along the pond together. Mickey showed Minnie a couple of small tricks but it was mostly to impress her. She knew it, but she thought it was cute. Finally they retired back to the park bench where they sat looking up at the sky.
Minutes passed, neither saying a word. they just sat together, enjoying each other's company and listening to the gentle whisper of the wind.
"Thanks for comin' out here tonight, Min," Mickey said, getting her attention as she looked at him. "I'm really glad ya came."
Minnie smiled, her heart fluttering. "Me, too. Thanks so much for inviting me."
The two shared a gaze, neither wanting to look away. It felt right in that moment. Just the two of them, with the whole world seemingly frozen in time around them.
Then she remembered the treats from earlier that morning. She reached over into her purse and pulled out the little brown bag Mrs. Rugby had given her. "Cookie?"
He looked at the bag, then nodded. "Sure."
She pulled one out and handed it to him, then pulled out for herself. "Mrs. Rugby gave me a few of them this morning."
He leaned his head back with a smile as he took a bite. "Yeah, she's like that, heh."
She glanced up to the sky again, seeing the clear air above. "Too bad there's no flakes tonight."
"Yeah, but there's other ways to enjoy the snow."
"Yeah, like watching it sparkle in the light."
He turned to her, a bit of surprise written on his face. "You've watched it before? I didn't think anyone else really noticed."
She nodded. "Every winter. I love how it twinkles at night when a street light or the moon shines on it. It's beautiful."
He smiled, and looked out over the pond again. "Yeah, it is." He heard the bag rattle once more.
"There's one more left."
He turned, and saw her holding it out to him.
"Nah, you eat it. Thanks though."
"How about..." She pulled the cookie in half, then offered him one of the halves. "...we share?" The cute smile she wore was causing his heart to melt. He was surprised there was wasn't a pool of heart around his feet right now.
He smiled as he reached out to accept it. "Thanks."
She gave an adorable smile, partly hidden behind the cookie half, then took a bite. He followed suit, also taking a bite.
He turned to her, and she snuggled closer to him until her body was pressed up against his. "Thank you. For everything. I've had a wonderful day today."
His heart had stopped, but finally resumed beating again. He slowly moved an arm around her, and allowed himself to relax. "Yer welcome, Minnie. I have, too."
To be continued...