The Greatest Gift

Synopsis:

Jerry Ruiz thought he had it all. However, when he asks his newest secretary out for drinks, he finds that the greatest gift is yet to come.

Story:

One Week Before Thanksgiving…

Nobody noticed when the young woman stepped through the wall into the bus station.

The woman glanced around for a few moments, wanting to make sure that no one had inadvertently spied her entrance. She did it in spite her new supervisor assuring her that a sighting hadn’t happened in over twenty years. When she was finally satisfied that no one had seen her, she flipped her blonde hair back, hefted her briefcase and strode towards bus seventeen.

The woman was not used to being around so many non-magical people at one time. She was having a little trouble keeping her bearings without the magical signposts that adorned the traveling locations that she normally used. However, she managed to reach the door of the bus a few moments before it pulled away. She was quite pleased with herself when she remembered to have her bus ticked out and ready to be verified by the driver.

For the most part, the population of the bus ignored the blonde-haired woman. A few men gave her appraising glances, but her conservative business suit dissuaded them from making any unwanted advances. However, there were a few other men who looked as if they might not take no for an answer. For those individuals, the blonde simply cast a few distraction spells on them and any potential problems were solved.

The woman sat near the back next to a pregnant black-haired woman who looked quite distraught. The black-haired girl didn’t even notice the blonde sitting down as she was too engrossed in studying the checkbook in her hand. The blonde glanced at the small book and cringed slightly. If the numbers on the checkbook were indicative of the amount of money that the young woman had, then she was in deep financial trouble, especially with a child on the way.

Then, much to the blonde’s surprise, the black-haired woman burst into tears. A few of the passengers glanced back at the two women. A good portion of them gave the two women dirty looks, annoyed at the interruption of their quiet bus ride. The blonde was a little shocked at how little the people on the bus cared for the plight of this poor woman.

“Is there anything I can do to help?” she asked softly to the woman next to her.

“Not unless you can rewrite history,” the black-haired woman said through her sobs.

“What do you mean?” the blonde asked.

The black-haired woman looked at the blond for the first time. The blond was taken aback by the pain and anguish in the woman’s eyes. She sensed that the woman’s problems were far deeper than the amount of money in her checking account.

“The only way you can help is by creating a world where Jerry Ruiz doesn’t exist,” she said as tears continued to pour down her face, ruining what little mascara she had on.

“Who’s Jerry Ruiz?” the blond asked. “And what did he do to you?”

The blond could sense the other woman’s hesitation. Obviously, what affected her was deeply personal. But the blond also sensed that whatever was plaguing the young woman also had her quite scared. Remembering what her supervisor had told her during her interview, the blonde made a decision. She cast a gentle trust spell on the other woman.

“I might as well tell someone what really happened,” the black-haired woman said after the spell had started to take effect.

The blond listened carefully to the woman’s entire story and found herself appalled. She found herself wishing that individuals like Jerry Ruiz didn’t exist in the reality she had chosen to call home.

Finally, when the black-haired woman was done, the blond gave her a gentle hug, then smiled at her warmly. The bus came to a halt a few moments later. The blond glanced out the window and realized that she had arrived at her stop.

The blond stood and glanced down at the black-haired woman.

“I’ll see what I can do about Mr. Ruiz for you,” she said.

The black-haired woman looked up at the blonde. “What? How?”

“Don’t worry about it,” the blond assured her. “But rest assured that your Christmas wish will be granted this year, at least for a time.”

As the blond walked towards the front door, the black-haired woman simply shook her head. At least she felt a little better. Maybe this Christmas wouldn’t be so horrible after all.

The Week After Thanksgiving…

Jerry Ruiz careened through the streets of Capian City, cursing at the groups of families around the local mall. He was already late for work–again–and he didn’t want to listen to the Senior Partner bitch again.

Jerry was having difficulty these last few months with the increased stress and workload. Since Jerry had a reputation of being willing to do anything to reach the top, including betraying those who worked with him, he couldn’t trust anyone to delegate his work to. He was too worried that someone would try to ruin him in and act of revenge.

Jerry slammed his horn at another family that was trying to get to the other side of the street. He glared at them as they jumped back onto the sidewalk and he ran the red light, splashing slush onto them as he sped by.

“I hate Christmas,” he muttered to himself as he neared the office complex. Everywhere he turned people where far too happy and singing those inane songs all day long. In his little corner office, he had told his secretarial staff that the first one he hears playing any Christmas music would be out on their rears instantly.

Finally, Jerry arrived at the underground parking lot, swiped his access card and sped into his spot. He quickly grabbed his briefcase and jumped out of the car, being careful to lock the late-model Lexus securely before jogging to the executive elevator.

He slapped his access card to the plate again and waited for the elevator to drop down to retrieve him.

The only good thing that would probably happen today was the arrival of his new secretary, Tracy Davids. Jerry had to admit that he hired her more for the way she filled out her outfit than her typing skills. She would definitely make an excellent notch on his bedpost. He knew that he was getting older, having already passed his forty-seventh birthday two months ago, but he also knew that he still looked good. Jerry always made a point to do a good morning’s workout everyday, though he had been letting that slide in the last several months.

The elevator door opened and Jerry stepped into the empty room. He did his best to ignore the Christmas music being piped though the tiny speaker above his head and returned to his thoughts about the gorgeous Tracy. He knew he had a bad reputation with the ladies. Therefore, if he ever wanted to have some fun with someone in his little corner of the office, he had to do it quickly before the other people could warn off his conquest.

Jerry decided that the best course of action was to keep Tracy so busy that she didn’t have time to speak with any of the other girls.

The door before him dinged softly and opened up on the fifteenth level of the Keller, Waterman and Rockfield Building. Jerry strode out of the door and hoped that no one would recognize his tardiness. If he managed to get to his office, he wouldn’t have a problem, because his secretarial staff would never be so foolish as to rat him out.
Jerry was lucky this morning. No one saw him as he threaded his way through the offices and cubicles until he finally reached his own small office. He nodded to the head secretary, Marlene, who merely gave him a glance. Marlene had been one of the first secretaries he had ever bedded and managed to keep a relationship going for a few weeks before he got bored with the redhead.

“As soon as Miss Davids gets in, send her into me,” Jerry ordered.

Marlene looked at him with something that bordered on pity. “Yes, sir,” she responded.

“And no extra comments to her,” Jerry reminded her. “We don’t want to have to suspend you before Christmas.”

Marlene glared daggers at him. “No, sir,” she practically spat.

“Thanks, Marlene,” Jerry said in a sugary voice. “You’re the greatest.”

Marlene simply ignored him and went back to work.

Jerry grinned and stepped into his office. After putting on a pot of coffee on the small credenza next to the window, he sat down at his desk. He took a few moments to gaze at the accolades and accomplishments that lined his walls. Many of them were newspaper clippings about cases he had won.

In the entire room, there was not a single photograph that involved anyone else but him.

Jerry took a deep breath, powered on his computer and started his work.

He was deeply into the details of the Jacobs case when his intercom buzzed. Jerry blinked a few times and then slapped the response button on his phone.

“What is it?” Jerry growled into the phone.

“Miss Davids is here,” Marlene said over the intercom.

Suddenly his annoyance was gone. “By all means, Marlene, send her in.”

The intercom clicked off and Jerry set his computer into standby mode.

A few seconds later, the door opened and in walked one of the most stunning blondes he had ever seen. Jerry stood and came around his desk as his eyes once more ran over the curves that were accentuated by the woman’s business suit.

“Miss Davids,” Jerry said warmly as he took her hand. “It is wonderful to see you again.”

“Thank you, Mr. Ruiz,” Tracy said a bit shyly. “It’s an honor to work for you.”

“Yes, it is,” Jerry said with a grin. “Why don’t you take a seat? Can I get you a cup of coffee?”

“Yes please,” Tracy said as she took a seat on the couch near the window. “Two sugars.”

“Of course, my dear,” Jerry said as he complied with the woman’s order. A few moments later, a steaming cup of coffee was in the woman’s hand. Jerry sat down next to him and surreptitiously ran his eyes over the woman’s curves.

The two of them spoke for several minutes about Tracy’s personal life and her reasons for joining the firm. After that, they spoke for some length about her duties as a junior secretary for Jerry.

“I’m afraid that all of the new girls often get quite a bit of work dumped on them,” Jerry said. “It’s just the nature of the business. As you move up the ladder, things will even out.”

“I understand, Mr. Ruiz,” Tracy said.

“Please, call me Jerry,” he said as he softly put his hand on her leg.

Tracy looked down for a brief moment at his hand, but she didn’t protest. Mentally, Jerry chuckled. He knew that she was already halfway into his bed.

“Okay, Jerry,” she said shyly.

Jerry nodded happily then stood. “Well, I don’t want to keep you any longer. I know that you’ll have a lot of work to do.”

“Thank you, Jerry,” Tracy said as she followed his lead and stood.

“It’s not a problem. Marlene will have your duty list for the day.”

Tracy nodded and headed out the door. Jerry made a point to enjoy the view of her departure. When she closed the door, Jerry sat down in his chair and realized that today wouldn’t be such a bad day after all.

The hours rushed by for Jerry. He managed to keep himself occupied with work for the most part, but his mind kept wandering to the mental image of Tracy in a slinky outfit on his bed. He suspected that she would be quite entertaining between the sheets. In his experience, the ones who were quiet in the outside world were tigers in the bedroom.

Finally, closing time came and Jerry paged Tracy to his office. When he heard the knock on the door, he mentally reviewed the story he would give to Tracy. When Tracy opened the door, he spied Marlene looking inside. She noticed his annoyed look and quickly turned away back to her desk where she was finishing some paperwork.

“Yes, Mister Ruiz?” Tracy asked.

“It’s Jerry, remember?” he said with a warm smile. “Why don’t you come in for a moment?”

Tracy nodded and shut the door. Jerry saw Marlene give him another quick look before the door closed.

“I’ve looked over your work for the day,” Jerry began. “And I think you have a lot of promise.”

“But it’s only been one day, Mist…Jerry.”

“I know,” he said. “But when you’ve been in the business for as long as I have, you pick up certain things. Especially on the people underneath you.”

Tracy smiled shyly.

“So, I was wondering if you wanted to go out for drinks tonight so we can discuss where you intend to go in this company.”

“I don’t know…” Tracy said, glancing down at the floor.

“I will be a perfect gentleman,” Jerry said, then mentally added, “Until we get to the bedroom.”

“Do you ask all of your new employees out to drinks?”

“Yes, I do,” Jerry said, knowing full well that he had her cold. “In fact, some of the men have complained.”

Tracy laughed lightly.

“Well, I don’t see the harm in it,” Tracy said.

“Excellent!” Jerry proclaimed. “I know a great little club down on Sullivan Street. Now grab your coat and we’ll get moving.”

As the two of them departed the office, he simply smiled at Marlene. Her face was expressionless, but her eyes were boring into him. Jerry chose to ignore it.

A little after seven o’clock, the two of them were comfortably seated in the Wellington Club, a ritzy social club that catered to the powerful of Capian City. Jerry had made sure that Tracy was well supplied with as many drinks as possible. And since Jerry knew the bartender well, he knew that the drinks were a little stronger than normal.

“So enough about the firm,” Jerry said after fielding questions about some of the cases he had worked. “Tell me about yourself.”

Tracy flipped the hair out of her face and smiled at him. “Nothing real exciting to tell there,” she said. “My parents worked for the government for years and they’re retired now. They do the occasional consulting bit, more to stave off the boredom than anything else.”

“Any siblings?” Jerry asked.

“Well, there’s Alicia, my younger sister. She’s puttering through college in Forest Cove. And I have an older brother, Jeffery. He’s currently working in the government in a position similar to what my parents used to do. He’s the good one, married a few years ago to some girl he met on assignment.”

“What about you? Any prospects right now?” Jerry asked. Jerry felt himself tense a little. This question had a tendency to make or break the evening.

“Me?” Tracy asked, looking a bit startled. “Oh no. I’ve always been a bit of a free spirit, much to my parent’s annoyance. Right now, I’m just trying to enjoy life. I’m too busy to get tied down.”

Jerry was starting to think all of this was too good to be true. Not only was she gorgeous, but she considered herself a free spirit. This was going far easier than his past few conquests.

“There’s nothing wrong with being a free spirit,” Jerry said. “I know I’ve enjoyed a few flings in my time.”

“I’m sure you have,” Tracy said with a rather silly grin. Then suddenly, her eyes widened and she covered her mouth with her hands. “Did I really just say that out loud?”

Jerry laughed delightedly. “It’s okay. I know I have that effect on women.”

“Oooh,” Tracy teased. “Aren’t we cocky?”

Then Jerry took out his best woman-killing smile. “I’d like to think that I have good reason to be.”

When Tracy took a slight but noticeable breath at his smile, he knew that his work was done. “I think you do,” she said.

“You know,” Jerry said conversationally. “I’m starting to get tired of this place, Tracy.”

“Oh?” Tracy said. “And what would you rather be doing?”

“Taking you back to my place,” Jerry said, knowing that at this stage, the best approach was the direct one.

Tracy responded even better than he had hoped. “How about taking me back to my place?”

“We can do that,” Jerry said with a grin.

A half-hour later, Jerry pulled his Lexus up to an upscale apartment complex in the south end of town. He turned and winked at Tracy, who simply smiled demurely at him and stepped out of the car, then took a moment to stick her head back in.

“Why don’t you join me for a cup of coffee?” Tracy said.

“I’d love to,” Jerry said.

In a few moments, Jerry was inside her apartment. However, there was something strange about it. It looked as if it was only partially lived in. The two-bedroom apartment was large, but one of the bedrooms was completely empty.

“Do you live alone?” Jerry asked as Tracy bustled in the kitchen, making the coffee she had suggested.

“I’m actually looking for a roommate right now,” Tracy called. “I have a few prospects right now, but nothing definite.”

“I see,” Jerry said as he glanced into Tracy’s bedroom. It was decorated tastefully in a feminine style, exactly as he expected from her. His favorite part was definitely the King-size bed that dominated the room.

“Why do you ask?” Tracy asked from the kitchen.

“Oh just curious,” Jerry said as he took a seat in the living room. “I want to make sure we aren’t interrupted this evening.”

“Don’t worry,” Tracy said as she brought in two cups of coffee. “I won’t let anything spoil our evening.”

Jerry grinned happily as he took the cup of coffee. Knowing the routine quite well, he took a single sip.

“Excellent blend,” Jerry commented.

“Thanks,” Tracy said with a smile. “I got it from a special friend of mine.”

“Special friend, huh?” Jerry asked as he took another sip. It didn’t occur to him that in all the cups of coffee he had in situations like this, he had never taken a second sip.

“He’s fairly good at getting hard-to-acquire items,” Tracy said nonchalantly.

“Hard to acquire?” Jerry repeated as he took a deeper drink of the coffee. “Did he smuggle this in from Colombia or something?”

“Nothing so mundane,” she said as Jerry quickly downed the rest of the coffee. Then he decided the moment was right.

Tracy smiled at him as he started to lean closer to her, ready to give her a soft kiss that would only make her beg for more.

He made it about ten inches before he collapsed.

The Next Morning…

Jerry awoke with a pounding headache in a room that seemed vaguely familiar. He groaned as he turned over in the bed, seeking to snub the sun for a little longer. However, when he turned, something seemed wrong. He ignored it for a moment, taking it as a sign that he had far too much to drink last night and flipped over onto his stomach.

And then he knew something was wrong.

He pushed himself up on the bed and looked downwards. Then he screamed. A very loud and very feminine scream.

He heard footsteps pounding outside the door to the room and suddenly the door was thrown open. Tracy came in with a worried expression on her face.

“Jamie?” Tracy asked. “What’s wrong?”

“Who the hell is Jamie?” Jerry shouted as he scrambled up to his feet. He then glanced downward again and saw more than the breasts he had woken up to. He saw fairly wide hips and a thin waist, all wrapped in a soft green nightgown.

“What do you mean who the hell is Jamie?” Tracy asked. “You’re Jamie!”

“Listen,” Jerry said. “My name isn’t Jamie! It’s Jerry! Jerry Ruiz!”

“Who?” Tracy asked, looking utterly befuddled.

“I’m the man who took you to drinks last night and drove you home! I’m the man you work for!” Jerry said in a panicky voice.

“What are you talking about, Jamie?” Tracy asked, her eyes wide in confusion. “The only person I went out for drinks with was you when you finally decided to move in with me!”

“No,” Jerry insisted, feeling like his hold on reality was slipping away. “I’m Jerry Ruiz! And I’m a forty-seven year old man! I took you out to drinks last night and we hit it off! We headed back to your place so we could spend…a little more time together.”

“Jamie, you really should lay back down,” Tracy said.

Jerry did what he was told. In truth, he felt like the entire room was spinning. He glanced at the mirror on the wall for a second before turning away and looking through the feminine bedroom. That’s when he realized it. He was in the second bedroom of Tracy’s apartment. And if he was still in Tracy’s apartment, that meant that she had done something to him.

“What the fuck did you do to me, you bitch?” Jerry snarled.

Tracy stepped back a few feet, shocked at the vehemence in Jerry’s voice. “What are you talking about?”

“Yesterday, I was a successful partner at Keller, Waterman and Rockfield,” Jerry said accusingly. “Now I’m a twenty-something girl!”

Tracy looked at him as if he was out of his mind. “Jamie, we’ve been friends ever since college five years ago. We both moved to Capian City together, looking for work. You stayed with your boyfriend for a few years before you broke up and I suggested you move in with me.”

“That’s not possible,” Jerry said firmly. But something inside of him told him that Tracy was being completely honest with him. She seriously believed the words she was saying.

“Just the other day, we both landed positions as junior secretaries for Dominic Ashburn.”

“Ashburn?” Jerry whispered. “That fool who was stupid enough to let me destroy the Haley case right from under him?”

“What?” Tracy said. “We just met the man the other day!

“But…that’s not right…I’m Jerry…” he muttered softly.

“I’ve never even heard of a man named Jerry Ruiz. And I’m pretty sure that I know my best friend, Jamie Richards.”

Jerry felt something inside of him shift. Suddenly, the memories that he was sure were his became less important and he found himself remembering the events that Tracy was describing. For a brief moment, Jerry became dizzy and felt himself fall onto the bed.

“Jamie!” he heard Tracy’s voice call.

Jamie looked up to see Tracy’s worried expression a few inches above her face. She shook her head softly.

“Are you okay now?” Tracy asked.

With Tracy’s help, Jamie managed to sit up.

“Everything still feels so strange,” Jamie said quietly. “I feel like there are two sets of memories inside my head.”

“Well, unless some guy jumped into your head last night at the bar, I don’t know what to tell you.”

Jamie looked at Tracy with an annoyed glance. “Oh yeah, some guy just dumped his memories into my head for the hell of it.”

“Well, what do you expect me to think?” Tracy exclaimed. “You wake up screaming and claim to be some guy named Jerry Ruiz!”

Jamie was at a loss to explain her behavior, but she knew that a few minutes ago, she had thought of herself as this Jerry Ruiz person. She could remember when Jerry had gotten hired at the firm, when he had received his first promotion and the anticipation he had always felt before trying to bed his newest secretary.

However, from what she could remember, Jamie realized that Jerry had not been a nice man at all. Coworkers and underlings were only stepping-stones to the top of the firm. She knew that Jerry hadn’t had the easiest life, but she hoped that when she was in her late forties, she was nothing like Jerry.

Then again, she also remembered Jerry’s hopes and dreams after he had been hired on at the firm. They were ambitious dreams, but they never involved the cheating and scheming that had hallmarked the memories of this fictitious person that Jamie had somehow created within her mind.

“I think you might want to lay off the drinks for a while, girl,” Tracy said. “I don’t want any more strange people popping up in your body.”

Jamie laughed warmly. “I think that can be arranged,” she said.

“Okay, enough of this silliness,” Tracy said firmly. “We need to get our butts to work. I am not going to be late on the second day!”

Tracy stood and left the room, leaving Jamie alone. She walked up to the mirror and glanced at herself. It was the same face she had always had. Her soft and pretty features were all intact, along with her brown hair and blue-green eyes. Her modest breasts were still intact and the simple, yet beautiful form she worked on every other day in the gym was still there.

So why did she feel like she was seeing herself for the first time?

A few hours later, Jamie watched as Tracy swiped her card to get into the underground parking complex of the firm. When Tracy immediately pulled right and started to search for a spot to park, Jamie had to bite her tongue and not protest that they should have turned left into the executive parking section.

As Tracy finally found a spot, Jamie shook her head and wondered why these strange memories were still in her head. She could not find any way to explain it. But people didn’t just have two lives. So once again, Jamie pushed the thoughts to the back of her mind and tried to concentrate on the moment.

Tracy unlocked the doors and the two women stepped out of the car, grabbing their purses on the way out. Tracy led the way to the normal employee elevator and the two waited for the elevator.

“Tracy, I feel like I’m really losing my mind here,” Jamie said quietly as a few other employees approached them.

“What do you mean?” the blond asked.

“These weird memories of this Jerry guy won’t go away. When we were pulling in, I had to stop myself from telling you to turn left instead of right.”

“But the left side is for the executives,” Tracy said reasonably. “Are you telling me that you were an executive with the firm or something?”

“No!” Jamie said a little too loudly. The others waiting for the elevator glanced their way for a moment before returning to their newspapers and coffee. “But why am I remembering someone else’s life?”

“Like I would know,” Tracy said with the slightest hint of annoyance. “Listen, Jamie. You might want to keep a lid on this whole ‘previous life’ thing. I don’t think it will endear your to our bosses if you go around claiming to be an executive. Or a man for that matter.”

Jamie took a deep breath when the elevator dinged and they stepped forward. As the elevator began to fill with bodies, Jamie knew that it would not be wise to speak any further of this.

“I suppose you’re right,” Jamie said softly. “Consider the matter dropped.”

Two Weeks Before Christmas…

“This is excellent work, Miss Richards,” Dominic Ashburn said warmly after perusing the file she had just handed him. “It’s beyond excellent. I have trouble believing that you’ve only been here two weeks and you’re already putting out work of this quality.”

“Thank you, Mister Ashburn,” Jamie said, blushing slightly. She had worked for so long on the files for the Valdez case. She was delighted that her boss thought so highly of her work. She just wished that he would stop looking at her just as an employee and more as a woman.

As Dominic continued to check on the files, Jamie laughed a little inside her head. Two weeks ago, she had such a crisis, thinking that she was someone else. And the idea still nagged at her a little, because she knew things about the firm that she shouldn’t have known. However, the strange memories that had popped into her head after she had moved in with Tracy hadn’t always been right. There had been inconsistencies.

Once again, she mentally laughed. Of course there were inconsistencies. Because in those memories, she had been a man named Jerry Ruiz.

“I can’t find a single mistake in here,” Dominic said, bringing her back to the present. He looked up at her with that smile and Jamie felt shivers rushing through her spine. She watched his eyes carefully and smiled every so faintly when his eyes made a quick drop to look at the rest of her.

“I’ll send the rest of this to be processed right away,” Dominic said as he neatly put the large file in a tray on the left side of his desk. “Why don’t you head home for the day as a bonus?”

“Really, Mister Ashburn?” Jamie asked, a little stunned. She knew from the office gossip that Dominic only let people go home early if he was extraordinarily pleased with their work.

Dominic laughed. “Yes, really. You’ve done some fantastic work and I hope to see more of the same.”

“Thank you, Mister Ashburn!” Jamie said with a grin.

“You’re welcome, Miss Richards,” he said.

Jamie turned to head out the door, but just as her hand touched the doorknob, Dominic spoke once more.

“By the way, I like that perfume you’re wearing today, it’s wonderful,” he said.

Jamie felt another little shiver pass through her. She decided that she might as well make the next move.

“I’m glad you like it,” Jamie said warmly. “I got it for someone special.”

Jamie glanced backwards to see Dominic looking at her with an intrigued expression. “Anybody I know?” he asked.

“You know him quite well,” Jamie said with a slightly mischievous grin. Deciding that that was enough for the day, she quickly exited the room. Marlene looked at her and upon seeing the expression on her face, her eyes lit up.

“He noticed?” Marlene asked quietly. “And he said something?”

Jamie nodded quickly and happily.

“You are something else, Jamie!” Marlene said. “I’ve seen all sorts of women go after that man and he rarely comments on anything like that!”

“I know!” Jamie said, grinning. “And he said I can go home early!”

“You are so in!” Marlene said. “Get your butt home and tell Tracy!”

“Yes, ma’am!” Jamie said with a soft giggle. She glanced back at the office door with a smile then practically skipped to her desk, collecting her items before heading to the elevator.

A half hour later, Jamie was happily retelling her story to Tracy, who had taken the day off due to the flu. The two of them were like giggling schoolgirls.

“You did fall awfully hard for him, Jamie,” Tracy said after her roommate was done.

Jamie had a dreamy look in her eyes as she thought about her words. “I know, but he is gorgeous!”

“You do always fall quickly for them, don’t you?” Tracy said teasingly.

“Pfft,” Jamie scoffed. “Like you’re any different! But I think there’s something special about this one.”

Suddenly, Jamie let out a brief cry as a splitting headache descended on her. In an instant, she found herself reliving several of Jerry’s memories. What was strange was that all of the memories were of Dominic.

The memories went by so quickly before her eyes that Jamie had trouble keeping up with them. Apparently, Jerry Ruiz had once been Dominic’s partner. However, Jerry had decided to let Dominic take a very high profile case on his own and had secretly damaged the evidence files, so that when the case finally went to trial, the judge made a fool of Dominic.

And all of it was because Jerry thought that Dominic was doing too well. He felt that Dominic was a threat to his ambitions. So Jerry destroyed the man’s career.

When Jamie’s thoughts returned to the present, she found herself shaking uncontrollably, though only a few seconds had passed. Tracy leapt to her side and held her. The simple embrace of her friend was enough to make Jamie stop shaking, but the horrible memories of what Jerry had done to poor Dominic were still there.

“What happened?” Tracy asked quietly as she slowly stroked Jamie’s hair.

“It was another of those memory flashbacks,” Jamie said in a trembling voice. “And it was about Dominic.”

“What about him?”

“In whatever reality he existed in, Jerry betrayed him. He stabbed him in the back.”

“Literally?” Tracy said, sounding horrified.

“No,” Jamie assured her. “He damaged evidence files regarding an important case that Dominic was working on. He was cashiered out of the firm because the Senior Partners saw it as a lack of preparation.”

“Oh my,” Tracy said.

“Tracy…why won’t these strange memories go away?” Jamie pleaded. “Am I living a past life in these thoughts? Am I just plain crazy? I’m imagining things happening to the man that I…” Jamie trailed off.

Tracy didn’t miss it. “That you what?”

“That I think I’m falling in love with,” Jamie said quietly.

“Really? Like real love, not just ‘Jamie-wants-a-good-time’ love?”

Jamie nodded.

“Well, that’s something I never expected.”

“Maybe that’s why I’m falling for him so fast,” Jamie said. “Maybe I’m trying to atone for a previous life or something.”

“I don’t know,” Tracy said. “All I do know is that you just need to live out your life and not some imaginary person’s life.”

Jamie fell quiet for a moment. “Do you think he’s falling for me too?”

Tracy smiled. “A wonderful person like you, how could he not be?”

One Week to Christmas…

Jamie bit her lip as she glanced around the employee lounge. It was quiet in the lounge, as it usually was right before the lunch crowd came in. In fact, there was only one other person in the room. The person she had been lightly flirting with for the last week.

However, that was all it was. Jamie didn’t know if Dominic actually felt anything for her or if he was simply engaging in playful banter. She hoped that it was real. She didn’t know if she could take it if it wasn’t.

She looked at his handsome figure, reading the morning newspaper and sipping on a cup of coffee, obviously enjoying the quiet in the heretic place they worked. She knew what she wanted to say. She had even gotten permission from Tracy and her brother for what she was about to propose.

Her preparations were complete.

But she was still so scared. Her mind began to think of all the ways he could turn her down. A second later, Jamie forced herself to stop it. It was only a question. There was nothing wrong with asking a question.

Jamie steeled herself and walked to Dominic’s table. It took him a moment to realize she was there, but when he did, he smiled that smile that made her knees shake.

“Hey there,” Dominic said. “You care to join me?”

“Thanks,” Jamie said, all too aware that her hands were shaking. As she sat down, she tried to calm herself. She hadn’t been this nervous since the Sadie Hawkins dance in high school.

Dominic noticed her discomfort. “Are you okay?”

Jamie nodded weakly. “I’m just…just trying to…”

“Trying to what?” Dominic asked. His attention was now fully on her.

In one quick rush, Jamie blurted it all out. “Do you want to have Christmas dinner with me?”

She froze for a moment, not wanting to look him in the eyes. The world stopped for a brief second as she waited for the man’s answer.

Dominic’s laugh brought her eyes to his. To her immense relief, he was smiling. “Sure,” he said. “The rest of my family is going on a Christmas cruise, but I can’t go because of the Vanderbilt case.”

“Really?” Jamie asked, then immediately slapped her hands over her mouth and went beet red with embarrassment.

Dominic laughed again. “Yes, Jamie, I’d love to.”

Jamie felt her head spin. Not only had he accepted her proposal, but he had actually used her first name.

“Well, it wouldn’t really be just me,” Jamie said nervously. “Tracy and her brother and his wife will be there.”

“I’m sure it won’t be a problem,” Dominic said as he gently put his hand on hers. Within seconds, the trembling had stopped, only to be replaced by a warm shiver running up her arm.

Jamie let out a sigh then smiled happily at him. She would have to make sure to get a very large sprig of mistletoe.

Christmas Eve…

“Can I talk to you for a minute?” Tracy said as she came into the living room. Jamie was sitting comfortably on the sofa next to the Christmas tree, wrapped up in a blanket and drinking hot chocolate.

“Sure!” Jamie said cheerfully. She had been walking on air since Dominic had agreed to have Christmas dinner with them. She had spent over an hour picking out just the right piece of mistletoe to hang above the door.

Tracy sat down on the couch opposite of her with a look of trepidation on her face. She was obviously worried about something.

“What’s wrong, Tracy?” Jamie asked. She didn’t want her friend to be upset about anything, especially on Christmas Eve.

“It’s time for the truth, Jamie,” Tracy said reluctantly. Her eyes were fixed narrowly on her shoes.

“Truth? What truth?”

Tracy took a deep breath and then managed to pull her eyes up to Jamie’s.

“I’ve made a decision about my Christmas wish,” she said.

“Christmas wish? What are you talking about?” Jamie was completely at a loss.

“You see, it’s tradition for sorceresses to grant wishes for Christmas. The wishes usually start right after Thanksgiving and last until Christmas Eve. However, the wish that I got was a little more complicated than most.”

“Sorceress? Wishes? Have you been drinking too much eggnog?”

Tracy sighed. Then her hand shot out and in the middle of the room, a large black panther suddenly appeared from nothing. Jamie let out a scream and scampered up the couch, her hot chocolate spilling to the ground unnoticed.

A second later, Tracy gestured again and the panther vanished. Jamie lowered herself to the cushions only to have a fresh cup of hot chocolate appear in her hands, the puddle from the previous one gone as if it had never been there.

“I met a young woman named Kelly on the bus right before Thanksgiving. She told me of a man named Jerry Ruiz who she used to work for as a secretary. The two of them slept together a few times and she got pregnant. He hadn’t wanted the scandal, so he forced her out of the company. The black mark ruined her chances of getting another job. What’s worse, she was unable to afford a procedure she needed so that she could have her child. Without that procedure, she and the child would die in childbirth.”

Jamie sat there stunned. “Do you mean…”

“A little under a month ago, you were a man named Jerry Ruiz.”

“No!” Jamie cried. “That’s impossible!”

However, even as Jamie protested, she had to admit that the entire affair made sense. She simply could not explain that she had the full memories of a man who did not exist. While it horrified her to think of it, what Tracy said could very well be true.

“You just saw that I can indeed do magic. It took a lot more effort to change reality and recreate you as my college friend, Jamie Richards, but I did it with the help of a few friends.”

“You can’t just rewrite reality!”

“We did,” Tracy said reasonably. “And I think everybody is better off in the world without Jerry Ruiz. Dominic Ashburn, instead of being cashiered out of the firm, is now a successful Partner who will most likely make Senior Partner sometime next year. Kelly Ashwin is now working for the firm and is engaged to be married to a gentleman in accounting. A lot of people are very much happier.”

Jamie sensed that there was more, so she simply sat there and listened.

“But the term of the wish is up and it’s no longer Kelly’s prerogative.”

“So, what are you going to do to me?” Jamie said fearfully.

“I intentionally left the memories of Jerry Ruiz in your mind so that you would realize what you had done in your previous life. You have several options. Option one is that you continue exactly as you are, as Jamie Richards with the memories intact of your life as Jerry Ruiz. The second option is that you give up your previous memories and forget that Jerry ever existed, leaving you free to live your life however you see fit. Option three…”

“Yes? What’s option three?”

Tracy sighed heavily. “You can go back to being Jerry Ruiz, with all of your memories of your month as Jamie.”

“I can turn back into a man?” Jamie asked.

Tracy nodded. “That’s how wishes like this work. The one most affected by the wish gets to choose their fate in the end.”

Jamie was silent for a long while as she pondered her options. It was almost a half hour later when she finally spoke again.

“I want to be Jamie. And I want to forget that the horrible person known as Jerry Ruiz ever existed.”

Tracy smiled. “Easily done!” she said happily.

“But,” Jamie added. “I want to keep my memories about the firm, so I can continue to impress Dominic.”

The blond woman laughed. “I think I can sneak that in.”

“So what do I need to do?”

“Just close your eyes,” Tracy said. “And embrace the new life you’ve been given.”

Christmas Evening…

“You did wonderfully, little sister,” Jeffery Webb said as he looked at Dominic Ashburn and Jamie Richards under the mistletoe. The two of them were simply staring at the sprig and each other. It was rather comical to watch.

“Why thank you,” Tracy Webb Davids said.

“You were far more generous than I or the Old Man would have been,” he said. “If one of us had done it, she would have been happily screwing away at the local brothel.”

“I felt that the problem needed something a little more thoughtful,” Tracy said.

“True enough,” Jeffery said as he glanced back at the couple as they slowly moved closer to one another. “Did you actually…”

“Cast a love spell on them?” Tracy finished for him. “Nope. That was entirely them. I think Jamie was right when she said that maybe she was trying to atone when she fell for him.”

“Perhaps. It’s a good little mystery and in this city, who will notice one more.”

The brother and sister smiled when Dominic and Jamie finally kissed.

“So why did you choose this life for young Jamie?” Jeffery asked.

“Because in the end, my dear brother, the greatest gift anyone can ever receive is a second chance at life.”

“And at love?” Jeffery said as he glanced at his wife, Jessica.

Tracy smiled happily. “Especially at love.”

Notes:

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