Ollie Dickinson, the office Scrooge, hates company parties, especially the yearly Secret Santa gift exchange. Except this year he's drawn Matt Robbins, the hot new junior accountant, who just happens to be the object of loner Ollie's very secret fantasies. Great, right? Not exactly. Matt is the protégé -- and some say boy toy -- of Ollie's cougar boss, and totally out of poor Ollie's middle management league.
Ollie finds out his secret crush on Matt isn't quite so secret when he gets gift-giving advice from co-workers who seem to be pushing him in Matt's direction. Can Ollie find the perfect Christmas gift and win Matt's heart without getting himself fired? Christmas is, after all, the season of miracles.
Ollie Dickinson had just opened the latest departmental audit file when Thelma Johns darkened his office door. Ollie thought momentarily about ignoring her, or glaring at her; either tactic worked well with ninety-nine percent of Ollie's staff.
"It's that time of year," Thelma said in her perpetually cheery voice.
Ollie glanced at his desktop calendar. December 2nd. How could he forget?
"I'm busy, Thelma." He pushed his wire rim glasses tighter against the bridge of his nose.
Thelma raised an eyebrow. "No one's too busy." She jiggled the black felt party hat she held upside down in one hand. A sprig of plastic mistletoe decorated the crown of the hat and paper rustled inside. "The quicker you pick a name, the quicker you can get back to those fascinating reports of yours."
Thelma was sixty, if she was a day. Each year as Christmas rolled around, Ollie found himself hoping she'd retired. Only then could he avoid the office tradition he hated above all else -- Secret Santa.
It was bad enough everyone tried to hit him up for donations whenever anyone had a birthday, had a baby, or heaven forbid, got married. Then there was the annual office picnic, which he managed to avoid thanks to a severe allergic reaction to barbecue sauce. He'd become adept over the years at weaseling out of the office summer softball leagues and winter bowling leagues. He ducked proud parents who hit him up for Girl Scout cookies and raffle tickets and frozen cookie dough to support their darlings' after-school activities. Ollie even managed to avoid his own birthday parties by scheduling his annual checkup with the dentist for the exact time each year when he knew cake would be served in his honor.
Ollie, however, had never been able to duck Thelma, his own personal Secret Satan.
Thelma was to Christmas what Red Bull was to soda. She bore a striking resemblance to Mrs. Claus, right down to the red dress she wore every year at the office Christmas party. Her hair was white and short and curly, her cheeks were round and rosy, and Ollie swore she wore the scent of hot chocolate for perfume. Thelma made sure everyone participated in Secret Santa, even Ollie Dickinson, Director of Accounting, and resident party pooper.
"You spend too much time on this," Ollie told Thelma.
"I do it on my own time."
Ollie glanced at the clock on his office wall. "Ten minutes after three is not your own time."
"Afternoon break." Thelma thrust the hat at him. "Lots of names in here, you just have to pick one."
"The sooner you pick, the sooner I leave." She was positively jolly. No one in accounting should be jolly so close to the end of the fiscal year.
Ollie folded his arms across his chest. "Find someone else."