“Seasons greetings and all that, Dear Mia. I know you said you didn’t want anything for Christmas, but as your great aunt and only living relative, I find myself unwilling to let it slide. Since you wouldn’t tell me what you want, and I know you probably didn’t even put up a tree or decorate, I took the liberty to hire a decorating crew for you. I found the advertisement for them in your local paper. They are supposed to be doing personal home decorating for the holidays to raise money for needy families. I do hope you enjoy their efforts.”
Mia read the note from her grandmother’s sister, which had been tucked into a Christmas card, over and over, a feeling of dread mixed with morbid curiosity churning in her stomach. She lived alone in the 150 year old Victorian house her father had left her when he died. She also lived off the wages of a maid at a hotel, since that was the only work she could find in Talbot’s Peak. She had a house but no money to furnish it or even heat all of it, though it was only a two-bedroom place. It was old with an antique furnace that gobbled natural gas at a much higher rate than a modern furnace would.
She shivered and looked back at her front window. There was definitely someone—several someones—in there. The front drapes were pulled closed, but there was some light leaking through a narrow gap at the top. She eyed the note again, trying to decided which of the many ads for fund raising her batty but lovable relative had called on. One way to find out, right? She straitened her spine and walked up to her front door and opened it.
The scent of baking ginger snaps filled the air, competing with the smell of cinnamon and fresh pine. There was the sound of her little, ancient boom box playing Christmas carols coming from the living room. Mia paused after closing the door. Oh no. She had no decorations. What were they using to decorate? She closed her eyes and swallowed her pride. She was next to dirt poor but she didn’t have to be ashamed of it. And she didn’t know what package her great aunt had bought for her, either, so she might as well go take a look at things before she began thinking the worst.
She rounded the corner into her huge living room and stopped. She felt her jaw drop and she thought maybe she felt a bit of drool running down the corner of her mouth. So that was the “personal decorating package” her great aunt had gotten for her. The one offered by the Hancock pack, which included, full decorating and home baking—all provided by a crew of the customer’s choice. And all done in the nude. Mia had to admit, if her relative was going to spend $500 on a present for her, naked studs decorating her tree and baking her cookies was pretty awesome!