The Christmas Ballet – Excerpt

Stefan smiled as he thought about the look on Laura's face when he'd stroked her. Maybe she was more interested in him than she either believed or cared to be.

Then he thought of something. "One more thing, Laura," he called out to her, and she stopped at the door and turned around. "On the nineteenth, the law firm is hosting the annual Christmas party. It's quite grand and lasts all evening long."

"You want me to be sure to be available to babysit Maria," Laura said.

"No. I want you to plan to come with me."

"What?"

"Remember that beautiful green velvet dress we saw at Macy's? I want you to get that dress, and the accessories to go with it, and attend the party with me."

"Stefan, really. You know I don't go to those types of events, and I don't wear those kinds of clothes. I'm not comfortable with either of those things."

"You need to get comfortable." He smiled.

"This is not a part of a job for the nanny and teacher. It's out of the range of the job description. You need to get Ginger to go with you. I'm not going." She gave him a defiant look.

"Laura, I want to take you to this event. I'm not taking no for an answer. I will arrange for Rhonda to take you shopping to help you get what you need. You will charge all the purchases to a credit card I will give you that's for your use only. This is the first of many social parties you will be attending."

He watched her as she clenched her hands into fists and released them.

"Who do you think you will get to care for Maria on these…occasions?" she asked.

"Usually Lillian is available."

"Stefan, it's my job to care for Maria, not be your date to your parties. I don't like being told what I will or won't do. I don't like social parties, and I don't like wearing expensive clothes. It's not me, and you're not going to change me."

"I don't want to change you. I want you to attend an event by my side. It won't hurt you to have some beautiful clothing to show your feminine side. I want the world to see the beauty I see. Be glad I want to show you off. Some men might decide they don't want others to see what they see."

"Flattery doesn't work with me. You can tell me what to do as far as Maria is concerned, but my personal life is off limits to you."

"That's good to know. At least I know you won't get carried away and escape my grasp by someone making flattering remarks to you. Your personal life interests me."

"Stefan, you just don't get it. I am not going to this party," she said, enunciating each word slowly and carefully. "Besides, your mother would be horrified to see me walk in with you." Her face hardened as she stared at him.

"Look at it this way—you'd be doing me a big favor."

"How?" She raised an eyebrow.

"I'm not interested in the other women that come to this social party looking for an eligible bachelor. With you on my arm, it would send a clear message to all the others that I'm taken."

"God, you're impossible. Ginger is more than capable of providing you that kind of service."

"I don't want Ginger. You have the grace, quiet beauty, and finesse I want in a date, and I will not take no for an answer. After Maria's recital, you and Rhonda will set a shopping date. And one more thing. When you get your hair done, I'd like you to wear it down." He smiled at her.

"This is not going to happen." She put her hands on her hips and glared at him.

"It will. I'll just have Maria work on you." He eyed her.

"What?"

Stefan grinned. "You heard me. You'd never turn down anything from Maria."

"Grrrr." She growled and stomped up the stairs.

He laced his hands and put them behind his head. Oh yeah, it'll be a night she'll never forget.