“I had no idea Nick could be such a jerk,” I muttered.
“Hmm?” Nikki said, all her concentration on her letter.
The awkward silence stretched on for a moment. I really wanted to know what was in Nikki’s letter, but it would be rude—potentially dangerous—to read over her shoulder, so I didn’t.
“Want any hot chocolate or something? I’m afraid I don’t carry any O+ to spike it with.”
“That will be fine, Matthew.” She said absently.
I could bring her holy water and she probably wouldn’t notice. Must be some letter.
I busied myself in the kitchen making the hot chocolate according to Ma’s recipe as best I could, but I didn’t have any peppermint candies or extract. Instead, I crushed up some Wint-O-Green lifesavers and stirred a bit into one mug. I tasted it, didn’t die, then smiled as it tasted really good.
Ma will hate that I improved on her recipe.
My stomach rumbled, so I made some old-fashioned cinnamon toast to go with it. It was the perfect Christmas morning repast for the lazy bachelor and his vampire guest. I returned to the living room with the tray, putting a mug topped with whipped cream in Nikki’s free hand.
She drank reflexively, at first confused by the taste, then smiled slightly at the taste.
“This is very good, Matthew. I expected coffee because of your obsession.”
I shrugged. “It’s Christmas.”
“Yes,” her voice became slow and thoughtful. “Yes, it is. Even when I was a girl, we were expected to outgrow St. Nicholas and Kris Kringle. Life was too harsh to spend our wishes on fancies that could never happen. I still got gifts, when my parents could find the means, but I knew they were not from a supernatural gift-giver, for such could not exist. I still remember the last gift I got from my father, when I was nine, a wooden doll he had made by hand. It must have taken him months to carve the face just so.
“And later, it did not occur to me to believe that Nicholas might be real, just as I was a vampire. I was firmly on the naughty list, as it were, and I just continued to write it off as childhood fantasy. But now, now I have this.” She offered me the letter.