The bell on the lobby counter dinged and Jimmy Mac went to take care of the issue. Carol was still on the couch when he returned.
"Everything okay?" She asked.
"They heard beautiful singing," Jimmy Mac reported as he sat next to her. "They wanted to know if an Angel had come. I said yes."
Carol leaned in a kissed him on the cheek. "You're sweet," she told him, taking his hand in hers. "I always knew that about you."
"You're nice," Jimmy Mac said.
"Merry Christmas to you, too."
"What are we going to do about it?" she asked.
"I thought we were doing it," he answered.
"If you could do one thing differently looking back, what would it be?" Carol challenged
Jimmy Mac didn't reply at first.
"I know it's a hard question," She admitted.
"It's just that I have so many regrets," Jimmy Mac remarked. "So many bad choices, so many irresponsible decisions that led to horrible results. So many disappointed and hurt people. So much damage and misery."
"I was hoping you would think about something else," she sighed woefully. "Before all that. Before you got hurt. Before you got into gambling."
"Like what?" Jimmy Mac, asked confused.
"Like when you first met me," Carol said, slightly embarrassed. "I know I was just a kid but by the time I started working for you I was legal and available."
"I was older," Jimmy Mac shrugged. "I didn't think it would be appropriate."
"Because of Duke, you mean?"
"And because I was the boss," Jimmy Mac said. "Favoritism. Nepotism. All that."
"You married someone who worked for you," Carol reminded him.
"She was older," he reasoned.
"But you thought about me?" She asked hopefully.
"I thought about you," he confirmed. "But that was before I turned into dog shit."
"You're not dog shit," Carol assured him.
"Tell that to my family."
"Look at me," Carol demanded, putting her hand under his chin and turning his face toward hers."
"Yes?" Jimmy Mac asked.
"We've known each other for a long time," she said.
"We haven't seen each other for a long time," he rebutted.
"Nothing's changed," Carol told him.
He laughed. "You sure?"
"Yes," she said confidently. "I always knew the real you."
"I'm a felon," he warned. "A convict."
"You paid for your sins."
"I'd forgotten how optimistic you always were," he grinned.
"I was born looking up," Carol confirmed with a smile.
He looked at her with appreciation. "Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is there's a lot of baggage here."
"It's Christmas Eve," Carol said. "Let's travel light."
He gave her an amused smile.
"It was always a strange love for you," Carol confessed. "I've never felt anything like I before or since. Coming here on this night has to be a God sent miracle."
"For both of us," Jimmy Mac realized.
"I want to make love to you for Christmas," she blurted out.
"It's Christmas Eve," Jimmy Mac reminded her.
"We can start on Christmas Eve," Carol clarified as she stood from the couch.
She went into the bedroom while Jimmy Mac turned off the lights and made sure the lobby was properly secured. He heard Carol go into the bathroom so he went into the bedroom and stripped down to his underwear, not quite believing any of this was actually happening. Was it possible to go from the loneliest Christmas ever to the best Christmas ever in a matter of hours?
Carol appeared in the doorway, wearing nothing but one of his old Greenville Giant tee shirts he didn't even realize he still had. It was the sexist sight he had seen in a very long time.
They made love quietly and leisurely. Midnight came and went. It was two in the morning and they continued their lovemaking waiting to hear Santa on the roof. Carol hummed Christmas hymns and carols as the lovemaking continued.
They slept until noon. She had to leave for her family's Christmas. They made love one more time before she showered and dressed, promising to be back as soon as she could.
"Bring your luggage," Jimmy Mac told her as he kissed her goodbye at the lobby door.
"But no baggage," she smiled.
"My Carol Christmas," Jimmy Mac replied as he watched her leave.