Sophie and the Flash Mob Santa by Aubrey Fredrickson

Sophie stared in horror at her phone. Two million views. Two million people had seen it. Two million?

“I’m so sorry, Soph!” her best friend, Abigail, said. “I swear I had no idea Charlie would upload it!”
Sophie and the Flash Mob Santa
Sophie and the Flash Mob Santa by Aubrey Fredrickson
Swallowing her anger, Sophie gave her friend a tiny smile. “I know.” Turning back to her phone, she stared at the still picture of the crowded New York shopping mall. How bad could it be? There had been so many people, so much noise in the food court. The tiny microphone on Abigail’s phone probably hadn’t caught most of what she and Brad had said. She took a deep breath and tapped the picture. The video began to play. There she was, reindeer antlered headband and all, standing next to a guy in a Santa suit, minus the beard and little round belly. The picture was jumpy and slightly grainy, but even still Brad looked amazing. Way too slender and fit to be Jolly Old Saint Nick. She remembered how she had stumbled when Abigail pushed her towards him, how he had reached out to break her fall. For a moment, she could feel his arms around her again. She watched as the girl in the video—could that really be her?—looked up into the face of the tall, blue eyed Santa and gaped. There was no other word for it. Her jaw hung open soundlessly, her eyes bulging out of their sockets like a startled cartoon character. Watching it was almost worse than living it had been. Until this moment, she had hoped that she hadn’t looked quite as foolish as she had felt. Now that hope crashed like a wave on a rocky shore. “Are you okay?” Brad was saying on the video, loud and clear. Oh, yes…He had been mic’ed for his part in the flash mob. He had started it all, climbing up on a table in the middle of the food court, dressed in his Santa suit. Then he had started singing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and his voice had boomed out over the sound system. Apparently, the whole thing had been set up ahead of time with the mall. Sophie had forgotten about the microphone. Perhaps she had blocked it out in an act of desperate self-preservation. Still…Maybe her half of the conversation wouldn’t be audible. “Um…Yeah…I’m …I’m okay…” One more hope dashed upon the rocky shore of reality. His microphone had picked up her voice as well, amplifying it loud and clear over the roar of the crowded food court. Although, the background noise was starting to subside as she watched. Everyone had quieted down to watch the show. One more thing she hadn’t noticed at the time. She had been so consumed by her embarrassment that she hadn’t had a clue what was going on around them. On the phone screen, her other self suddenly seemed to realize that she was still encircled in the arms of Buff Santa, as she had thought of him before she knew his name. Flushing, she straightened up and pulled herself free. “Thanks…” she mumbled. Brad winked at her and said, “No problem. Vixen, right? Doner and Blitzen were wondering where you’ve been.” The crowd had roared with laughter. Sophie felt again the heat of the blood rising in her cheeks. “Oh…right…” she had stuttered, reaching up to adjust her headband. The antlers had been Abigail’s idea. After a long pause, in which she had “um’ed and ah’ed” a few times, Brad had winked again and said, “Well, I’d better get back to my sleigh.” The video jumped erratically for a few moments because Abigail had stepped forward and prodded Sophie in the back. “Wait!” her voice, not only too loud but also strangely high pitched, said through the speaker on her phone. “I…I need to ask you something.” Brad turned back, waiting with an inviting smile. The small antlered figure on the screen glanced back over her shoulder at the camera, a pleading look in her eyes. She remembered Abigail shaking her head, refusing to let her out of the dare, and gesturing for her to get on with it. Sophie made herself watch as she faced Brad again and got down on one knee. Reaching into her pocket, she produced a bright red ring pop and held it out to him. The crowd laughed. Brad had been so…unruffled by the whole thing. His eyebrows had risen briefly—the only time he had shown any hint of surprise—and then his whole face had broken into the widest grin she had ever seen. “Will you…um…marry me?” she squeaked. There was a dramatic pause. Brad glanced around at the crowd. Watching it now, Sophie realized that he had enjoyed this moment, drinking in the crowd’s anticipation, keeping them in suspense. “Jerk,” Sophie muttered under her breath as on the video, a few people began to shout out advice. “Say yes!” “Say no!” “Hold out for a real diamond!” She remembered how it had felt, kneeling there on the cold tiled floor, center stage in the middle of a play for which she had no script. But Brad had seemed to know exactly how things should go. “I thought you’d never ask, Vixy,” he had boomed out to the crowd’s delight. Then he had bent down, gathered her tenderly into his arms and lifted her to her feet. For a moment, as he gazed deeply into her eyes, she had forgotten her embarrassment, had forgotten that this man was a complete stranger, had forgotten even that they stood in the middle of a crowded shopping mall. Her heart, which had been racing since the moment Abigail had told her what she had to do, slowed and then skipped a beat. Everything fell away except the warmth of his arms around her, the slightly minty scent of his breath, and the soul penetrating look in his clear blue eyes. He leaned closer and brushed his lips ever so lightly against hers. She had had first kisses before, but never one like this. Never one that sent sparks down her spine and stole her breath away. Sophie watched as the kiss ended and Brad smiled down at the girl in the reindeer antlers. Then he leaned in and whispered something in her ear. To the cheering crowd, and doubtless to the two million people who had watched the video on YouTube, it looked like he was whispering something sweet and tender to his new fiancée. But she remembered how his breath had tickled her ear as he said, too softly for the microphone to pick up, “I’m going to pick you up and carry you out of here. They’ll love it. Just keep smiling.” That’s when reality had slammed into her, shattering the beautiful dream that had been born when their lips touched. She was such an idiot! He didn’t like her. He didn’t even know her! He was just playing along for the benefit of the crowd. He hadn’t fallen madly in love with her. Had she really thought that, even for a moment? Like a real actor, he was in love with the spotlight. Her chest felt strangely tight as she watched Brad scoop her up and carry her away through the cheering crowd. The video ended. She stared down at the phone screen, her eyes caught by the title that Charlie, Sophie’s boyfriend, had given the video. Reindeer Girl Proposes to Flash Mob Santa. By the next day, the count had jumped up to almost 5 million. As Sophie walked into the local TV station where she worked, she prayed that none of her co-workers were among those 5 million. “Sophie! You’re famous!” squealed Jane, the front desk receptionist, before the door had even swung closed behind her. “I saw the video on Facebook! It’s a hoot!” Sophie tried to smile. “Thanks,” she said because she couldn’t think of any other response. “Bob wants to see you,” Jane confided with a beaming smile. “Everyone’s so excited for you! I can’t wait to meet your fiancé!” Sophie stared at her. It hadn’t occurred to her until that moment that anyone might think the proposal had been anything but a joke. Did Jane really think she had gotten down on one knee in the middle of a shopping mall and proposed to her boyfriend with a ring pop? But Brad had been such a great actor, playing along the whole time. He had even kissed her. The memory of that kiss tickled her spine, but she quickly shoved it out of her mind as she thanked Jane and headed to Bob’s office. As she walked through the station, people kept congratulating her and telling her what a cute couple they made. She couldn’t bring herself to tell them it was all a misunderstanding—that the whole thing had been a joke. All she could do was plaster on a tightlipped smile and keep walking. The walk to Bob’s office had never felt so long, but finally she was there. She paused, her hand on the door, and stared at the name plaque. Robert Graham, Station Manager. He was going to congratulate her, probably even invite her and her new “fiancé” to dinner at his house. And she was going to have to explain, tell him the whole ridiculous story. “Oh, Sophie, I’m so excited for you! And what a great story to tell the kids someday, huh?” said Amber the intern. “Yeah, a great story,” Sophie agreed and quickly pushed her way into Bob’s office. “There you are, Sophie! Our very own internet sensation!” he said as she came in. Bob stood up and came around his desk, his hand held out. She let him shake her hand, trying to decide where to start. “Congratulations, Sophie. He seems like a very nice young man. Emily wants to have you both over to dinner sometime soon,” he said, giving her a fatherly smile. “Well, we’re not really,” she began, but he didn’t let her finish. “And Harold insisted that we air your interview tonight instead of that piece about the animal shelter.” Bob smiled like he had just handed her a larger than expected Christmas bonus. “My interview?” she asked. “What interview?” Bob laughed. “The one you’re going to have with Harold in about an hour. Didn’t you get his message? This is a great story! One of our own gone viral. Harold practically begged for the interview. And don’t worry…We’ve already contacted your fiancé. He says he’s got a free period from nine to ten, but of course you already know that. That’s why we’re shooting the interview this morning.” Sophie wondered if Bob had suddenly started speaking in tongues. Nothing he was saying made any sense. “Wait…you contacted Brad? How?” “Oh I don’t know,” Bob shrugged. “I just asked Amber to track him down. I assumed she had gotten his number from you.” Sophie didn’t have Brad’s phone number, or even know his last name, and yet somehow Amber the intern had managed to “track him down” before she could even get into work? Had the entire station come in at the crack of dawn to plan this? She half expected someone to jump out from behind Bob’s ficus and shout, “Gotcha!” As she looked hopefully at the ficus, which was far too small to hide an entire human being, something else Bob had said sank in. “Do you mean Brad’s coming for the interview?” she asked, utterly confused. “Of course! It’ll be a tight squeeze with him only having an hour to get in and out, but he said that was the only time he could possibly do it today. Sounds like they keep him pretty busy over at the high school.” “But Brad lives in New York!” she blurted. Bob frowned and picked a slip of paper up off his desk. “Really? He told Amber he lives over on Sycamore and teaches at the high school. Isn’t that right?” Brad lived over on Sycamore? He taught at the high school? Suddenly, Sophie felt the room spinning around her. She sank into a chair and put her head in her hands. Was she going crazy? How could Brad, the stranger she had met by chance in New York City, possibly live in Ohio, only a few streets away from where she worked? “Are you okay, Sophie?” Bob asked, his voice full of concern. She had to pull herself together and get out of Bob’s office. Taking a deep breath, she sat up straight and tried to smile. “Of course. I’m just feeling a little under the weather today. Think I might have caught a bug in New York. Of course Brad lives here. I just…I just meant that I thought he was still in New York. He was supposed to stay on for a few days, but I guess he decided he couldn’t miss today’s classes after all.” Bob was still looking at her strangely, so she added, “I left my cell phone in the hotel room in New York, so I haven’t been able to talk to him since I left. That’s why I didn’t know about the interview either.” There. That made sense, didn’t it? Bob certainly seemed to buy it. It wasn’t until she had locked herself into the lady’s room five minutes later that she wondered why she had lied. After washing her face with ice cold water and pinching her arm until the skin turned red just to make sure she wasn’t dreaming, Sophie pulled her cell phone out of her purse. She had turned it off last night because she hadn’t felt like talking to anyone after Abigail had gone home. As she waited for it to boot up, she wondered how she was ever going to get herself out of this mess. She would just have to go back and explain things to Bob. She could tell him she panicked. Or maybe that she had gone temporarily insane. She had thirty-two texts, seven missed calls, and three voice mail messages. She checked the texts first. Mostly they were from everyone she knew, asking if it had really been her in the video and offering their congratulations. The missed calls were from Harold (one), Amber (two), and her mother (four). The voice mails were Harold (about the interview), Amber (asking for Brad’s phone number), and her mother (demanding to know why she hadn’t bothered to tell her own mother that she was even dating someone, let alone that she was going to propose to him). Sophie felt sick. She needed a plan. And she needed to call her mother. She emerged from the bathroom fifteen minutes later because it had taken some time to explain to her mother why she would do something as crazy as propose to a complete stranger. Amber the intern was waiting for her in the hall. “There you are! We’ve got to get you over to makeup and Harold wants to ask you some questions before the interview.” “Okay, but I need to talk to Bob first,” Sophie said firmly. Whatever happened, she had to stick to her plan: (1) tell Bob the truth, (2) get the interview over with as quickly as, and (3) send out a mass text to everyone she knew explaining that they didn’t need to rush out and start buying her wedding presents just yet. But Amber was shaking her head and pulling her down the hall by one arm. “You can’t talk to Bob. He left five minutes ago for a meeting with some sponsors across town. It’ll have to wait.” The makeup girls fussed over not only her makeup, but her hair and clothes as well. Apparently, she wasn’t very good at dressing herself. By 9:45, they had her looking like a completely different person. They had made her exchange the slightly baggy jeans and orange top she was wearing for a white silk blouse and gray slacks that they had produced as if by magic. Then they swept her hair up into some kind of fancy bun, completely redid her makeup, and tied a green scarf into an intricate knot around her neck. As she examined the result in a mirror, she forgot for a moment what an awful pickle she was in. She looked incredible. She almost didn’t recognize herself. She certainly didn’t look anything like the clumsy, awkward Reindeer Girl in the video. She had decided that she had better give Harold a heads up before the interview, so he wasn’t totally floored when she and Brad turned out to be strangers. But he never showed up. She kept asking people where he was, but no one seemed to know. As ten o’clock came and went, she felt herself growing more and more nervous. She combed the station room by room. Harold was nowhere to be found. At 10:08, Amber found her in the break room. “Sophie!” the intern said, exasperated. “Everyone’s been looking for you! Come on! Brad’s here and everyone’s waiting for you.” “He’s here?” she squeaked. “I need to talk to Harold!” “He’s on set. Come on!” Sophie let Amber lead her to the interview set, where Brad sat on a tan leather sofa, chatting amiably with Harold. He looked different without the Santa suit. Dressed in a pair of jeans and a black button down shirt, he looked even more amazing than he had that night in New York. She wanted to run her fingers through his dark brown hair. Wait…No she didn’t! She absolutely did not want to touch his hair. All she wanted was to get through this interview and then never see him again. Squaring her shoulders, she headed towards the set. “It was so unexpected, Harold,” Brad was saying. “I had no idea she was going to propose.” He looked up and saw Sophie gaping at him at the edge of the set. He rose smoothly to his feet and grinned at her. “But that’s my girl! One surprise after another.” The next twenty minutes flew past in a blur of one absurd lie after another. Once again Sophie felt that she and Brad were performing in a play for which she had never seen a script. Which seemed possible since he actually was an actor. Well, a drama teacher who did a little community theater on the side. The interview went something like this: Harold: We’ve got a real treat for you tonight. If you haven’t seen the latest viral video to hit the internet, Reindeer Girl Proposes to Flash Mob Santa, it’s worth a watch. This charming little Christmas romance currently has over 6.5 million views and is trending on every major social media platform. And it turns out that Reindeer Girl is none other than Sophie Hayes, an assistant producer here at KJAX. I’m here with Sophie and her fiancé, Brad Wright, a local high school drama teacher. Sophie, why don’t you tell us how you wound up proposing to Brad in New York City just two days ago. Sophie: Well, um…My friend Abigail took me to New York for my birthday. Brad: She had no idea I would be there as well. (Putting an arm around Sophie’s shoulders.) Sophie: (Glaring at Brad.) That’s right. I had no idea that Brad would be in New York. Anyway, I had always wanted to be in a flash mob so Abigail— Brad: (Interrupting.) And I cooked up a little surprise for her. We got together with some friends of mine in the Big Apple and organized a flash mob on her birthday. Harold: So the whole thing was in Sophie’s honor? Brad: (Winking into the camera.) Only the best for my girl! Sophie: (Digging her elbow into Brad’s side.) Oops! Sorry. Actually, Harold— Harold: (Interrupting.) So I understand you’re something of an all-around performer, Brad. Had you ever done anything like this before? Brad: (Rubbing his injured ribs and wisely removing his arm from Sophie’s shoulders.) Well, I’ve been in a few flash mobs before, but this was my first time organizing one. I enjoy performing, though. I’m currently playing the staring roll in Beau Jest, which will be showing at the Jackson Community Theater all next week. Harold: I’m sure it will be a sold out show. Especially after all the great publicity you’re getting from your video engagement. Tell me, Sophie, was the proposal a spur-of-the-moment thing or had you planned it in advance? Sophie: Definitely spur-of-the-moment. In fact, Brad and I had never— Brad: (Interrupting.) Talked about marriage before. Although, (turning to give Sophie a tender smile) I know that I for one had certainly thought about it many times. And on and on it had gone, Sophie trying to explain what had really happened, but never allowed to get a complete sentence out. By the end of the interview, Brad had not only convinced Harold that he and Sophie were madly in love, he had even given a fairly detailed sketch of their future plans (including a formal church wedding, a thirty year mortgage, and five children.) “That was great!” Harold said once the cameras had stopped recording. “You two are so perfect for each other, finishing each other’s sentences and all that. People are going to fall in love with you.” We didn’t finish each other’s sentences, Sophie screamed inside her own head. He just kept interrupting me! Harold shook Brad’s hand and walked off. Brad leaned back on the couch and grinned at her. “That was fun,” he said. “What?” she said, losing the fake smile she had kept plastered on her face during the interview. “What is wrong with you? Why did you say all that stuff?” “All what stuff?” Brad asked, looking honestly taken aback by her vehemence. “All that bunk about us being in love and going to be married? Why didn’t you just tell him the truth? That we’d never even seen each other before Saturday night?” His expression clouded over in confusion. “But I thought you wanted to pretend like it was real? I mean, why else did you tell everyone at your work that we’re actually engaged?” “I didn’t!” she screeched. “They just saw the video and assumed it was real! I tried to find Harold before the interview to explain, but I couldn’t.” Brad looked stunned for a moment and then he began to laugh. Throwing his head back, he roared with laughter. “It isn’t funny!” Sophie said, clenching her hands into fists. She had to force herself not to start pounding on his chest. “Do you realize that you just went on television and told the entire world that you’re going to marry a girl you don’t even know?” Still laughing, Brad shrugged. “I doubt the entire world gets their news from KJAX, but even if they did, so what? It’s all a good joke.” Sophie stared at him in disbelief. A good joke? Her mother watched the local news every night. After Brad left to get back to his next class, Sophie went looking for Harold, to tell him they needed to redo the interview, but he seemed to have vanished again. Eventually, she found Amber who said that Harold was doing another interview on location and probably wouldn’t be back until the end of the day. Sophie tried calling him, but only got his voice mail. “Hi, Harold. It’s Sophie. We need to…to redo the interview. Brad was…confused. It’s, well, it’s kind of embarrassing but we really, really need to do it again.” She hung up, feeling desperate. What if he didn’t get back in time to tape a new interview? She decided it was time to confess to Bob. She marched to his office and stood staring at his name plate while she tried a little deep breathing to calm her nerves. It didn’t help. She knocked. No answer. She opened the door and peered inside. Not only was Bob not there, the light and his computer had been turned off. That was unusual. She tracked Amber down once again and demanded, “Where’s Bob? I thought you said he’d be back after that meeting.” Amber blinked at her. “Well, he did come back after the meeting, but he left again about fifteen minutes ago. His son had some award thing at school. Bob won’t be back today.” “But I need to talk to him!” Sophie wailed. “Sorry?” said the intern, slowly backing away from her. “He’ll be in all day tomorrow.” Sophie spent the rest of the day trying to find someone who could help her. It seemed that anyone who might have the power to prevent that interview from airing that night was either home sick or out of the building on station business. Neither Bob nor Harold would answer their phones or respond to texts. The interview was scheduled to air along with the six o’clock news. At five-thirty, she gave up and went home. Her phone rang as she walked through the door into her apartment. She didn’t recognize the number, but she answered it just in case it was Bob or Harold calling from someone else’s phone. “Hello?” she said hopefully. “Sophie?” It wasn’t Bob or Harold. It was Brad. “How did you get my number?” she asked. “That intern girl at your station gave it to me,” he said and she could actually hear the grin. “She couldn’t understand why I didn’t have it since we’re engaged and all.” “Brad,” Sophie said, too exhausted and depressed to find any humor in their situation, “what do you want?” There was a brief pause and when he spoke again, the grin was absent from his voice. “I was just wondering if you were able to convince them not to air the interview.” “No, I wasn’t,” she said shortly. “Oh, okay. Guess I better set my TiVo to record it then, huh? Never been on TV before,” he joked. She wondered if he ever took anything seriously. “Congratulations,” she said sourly. “Look, I’m gonna go now, okay? I’ve had a long day.” “But you’re going to watch the interview, right? Come on, you can watch yourself jab me about a dozen times with that harpoon you call an elbow. I’ve got bruises, by the way,” he said. In spite of herself, Sophie almost smiled. “You deserve them. I still can’t believe you made all that stuff up. Why in the world would I want everyone to think we were engaged?” “Well, I figured you had your reasons,” he said. “You have to look at it from my point of view, okay? There I am in New York, singing Christmas carols in a Santa suit and this girl comes up out of nowhere and proposes to me and then disappears into the night before I can even get her name. I don’t think I’ll ever see her again. And then the next thing I know, I get a call from some other girl who keeps congratulating me on the engagement and telling me how excited everyone at KJAX is and could I come in for an interview. I hadn’t even seen the video. I had no idea what was going on, but I figured if I went along with it, at least I’d get to see you again, right? Hey, how did that intern girl get my phone number anyway?” Sophie was completely taken aback by this flood of information. She hadn’t considered things from his point of view. It must have been pretty strange for him. Not that that excused all the lying, of course. But he had wanted to see her again? “Oh…I don’t know. Amber seems to be all knowing. Some kind of intern magic, I guess,” she said, feeling strangely giddy. “Oh, well, I’ll let you go, but watch the interview, okay? It’ll be good for a laugh.” And as Sophie kicked off her shoes and settled down on her couch to watch the news, she suddenly realized that the whole thing was the teeny-tiniest bit funny. But then the news anchor said, “I understand Harold has something special for us tonight,” and Harold’s face filled the TV screen. Her sense of humor shriveled up into a little, nauseous ball in the pit of her stomach. She closed her eyes, unable to watch. “That’s right, Dan, I’ve got a real treat for you tonight,” Harold began. “If you haven’t seen the latest viral video to hit the internet, Reindeer Girl Proposes to Flash Mob Santa, it’s worth a watch. This charming little Christmas romance currently has over 7 million views and is trending on every major social media platform. And it turns out that Reindeer Girl is none other than Sophie Hayes, an assistant producer here at KJAX. Sophie couldn’t be here tonight, but I’m live with Brad Wright, the Flash Mob Santa himself.” Sophie opened her eyes and started to breathe again “So, Brad, is it true that you had never met Sophie before she proposed at the end of your flash mob performance?” Harold was asking. “Nope,” said Brad, grinning into the camera. “I just turned around and there was this beautiful stranger falling into my arms.” Did you watch? The text appeared on Sophie’s phone only moments after the interview was over. Yes, she texted back. Will you have dinner with me tomorrow night? Yes. Grinning, Sophie checked the video. 7.2 million views. 7.2 million people had seen it. 7.2 million!

0 comments:

Post a Comment

Read free eBooks, English Fiction, English Erotic Story

Delicious Digg Facebook Favorites More Stumbleupon Twitter