At two as promised, the reception room bells jangled and she opened the door to a grinning man with a luxuriant mane of shiny white hair pulled back in a ponytail and a huge, handlebar mustache. He wore a tuxedo jacket over a white pleated dress shirt and, to both her surprise and her delight, a red and green plaid kilt complete with sporran.
“Glenn Magnuson, at your service.” He bowed deeply and extended a beefy fist holding a clear plastic box tied with red and green straw and gold bells. “Glenn the Magnificent to my friends,” he added. “And I am honored, dear lassie, honored to be escorting such a fine...” He drew the word out in a rolling Highland brogue—fi-i-i-i-i-ne. “...lady to the day’s festivities.”
The box contained a corsage of white gardenias and tiny red rosebuds. She couldn’t help giggling as she opened it.
“You’re not going to believe this,” she said, “but this is the first corsage I’ve ever received.”
He wrapped an arm around her waist, lifted her off her feet, and planted a very loud, and not at all unpleasant, kiss on her lips.
“And I am proud to be the one what gave it to you.”
She watched him as he helped her secure the extravagant corsage on the shoulder of the evergreen velvet shawl she had draped herself in and decided she liked him. His big eyes reminded her of Zeke’s.
Glenn the Magnificent drove a twenty year old gold Mercedes with a finish that had mellowed to the color of an old coin. He drove the coastal route where waves crashed with an exuberance that seemed almost celebratory of the day. A Highland Christmas boomed from the CD player as he rambled on giving his opinion of Christmas and how it got to be that way. She was stunned into silence.
At the top of a pine-covered hill stood a long railroad station with an orange tile roof. “The boys”, as Glenn called them, had rescued the derelict building from scheduled destruction and spent six years turning it into a home and studio. Guests were received in the old passenger waiting room where stiff wooden benches had been replaced with deeply cushioned red leather sofas and the old, gold-lettered ticket windows now served as a bar. The entire back of the building had been removed and a long wall of glass windows offered panoramic views of the Gulf of Maine including a direct view—complete with telescopes—of a clothing-optional beach, though Derreck assured her it wasn’t very interesting at this time of year.
The food was extravagant, the company delightful. A fifteen-foot Christmas tree was decorated with bubbling lava lamp lights, holographic tinsel, and ornaments made from vintage paper dolls of Forties and Fifties goddesses of the silver screen in various exotic costumes. The entertainment ran the gamut from inspired to insane. Glenn unpacked a set of bagpipes and played a jazz version of Good King Wenceslas followed by a sweet and poignant What Child Is This.
Maggie shocked herself, and delighted Derreck and James, when motivated by far more hot mulled wine than she could recall drinking, she stood up wearing a fantastical gold and silver bow on her head and trilled La vie en rose in a creditable Piaf impersonation. Everyone hooted and applauded and she sat down blushing furiously and downed another cup of the perfectly wonderful wine.
Glenn the Magnificent proved an amiable date, pleasant but not hovering. He provided her with an exhausting workout as they jitterbugged to a Brian Setzer Christmas tune and rescued her more than once when she got trapped under one of the many mistletoes with an amorous but inebriated celebrant. It was nearing ten o’clock when he came up behind her and, snatching her around the waist, bent her over into a deep, theatrical kiss then whispered in her ear, “If I have to listen to one more goddamned Ella Fitzgerald Christmas carol I’m going to barf.”
They said their good-byes.
As sparkles of snow drifted lazily down through the lace of black tree branches, Glenn changed the raucous zydeco CD for one of the dreamy Windham Hill Solstice ones and drove her back to the abbey. It was all she could do to stay awake.
He pulled into the parking lot next to the chapel and shifted the car into park. Then he shifted himself closer to her.
“Come here,” he murmured as he drew her against him and lifted her face. His kisses were very nice and she was sufficiently intoxicated not to protest.
“When was the last time you necked in a Mercedes?” he whispered.
She shook her head. “Shhh,” she said. “Keep kissing.”
He obliged her. He lifted her across the console into his lap and if one of them was more eager for their caresses than the other, she couldn’t have told which it was. His hand was under her sweater kneading her breasts and she was very aware of the bulky hardness pushing against her buttocks through their clothes. This is what I need, she thought. Something totally stupid and uncomplicated. He was very good at what he was doing—his hands traveled over her back and breasts then up under her skirt to caress the warm flesh above the lace of her stockings.
“Are you ready to find out what I have under my kilt,” he whispered in her ear nipping at her lips with tiny, tantalizing bites.
She pulled back, looked into his teasing eyes, and nodded.