"You okay?" Charlie bent over the elderly man who'd slipped on the ice.
"I'm fine. Maybe a little bruised"
Charlie noticed his bare hands and dug in a pocket for gloves. "It's freezing out. Here, put these on." He glanced along the sidewalk, deserted Christmas Eve. "Are you alone? It's not safe."
"My friends are around the corner." The stranger touched Charlie's face, his smile dazzling. "Merry Christmas, Charlie."
Charlie gave him a closer look. "You too," he said, not sure how the stranger knew his name. He watched him amble off, then continued to his apartment. Once inside, he put on an old movie for company. Couldn't be helped that Ken had walked out two months ago, taking Charlie's joy with him.
He fought his loneliness, but the hurt seeped out anyway. "Why did you go?"
"He was a fool."
Charlie stared at the apparition in front of the couch. He should be terrified, but instead warmth spread through his body. He knew this man, had dreamed of him.
"Are you the ghost of Christmas present?"
The man chuckled. "I'm an elf. Stefan. Kris said you wished for me."
"The man you helped earlier." Stefan’s smile started a flutter in Charlie’s heart. “He said you could use a friend.”
"You'd stay with me?"
"No, I'm taking you home with me. Say yes."
Charlie thought of his lonely life. There was nothing for him, and Stefan was his dream…
"Yes," he whispered.
"Merry Christmas, baby," the elf murmured and pulled him into his arms.
Dianne is the author of paranormal/suspense, fantasy adventure, m/m romance, and anything else that comes to mind. Oh, and a floral designer, which is the perfect job for her. When not writing, she can express herself through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage.