Home > Snowed In for Christmas

Snowed In for Christmas
Author: Sarah Morgan



   Lucy Clarke pushed her way through the revolving glass doors and sprinted to the reception desk, stripping off her coat and scarf as she ran. She was late for the most important meeting of her life.

   “There you are! I’ve been calling you. I’ll take that—” Rhea, the receptionist, rose from her chair and grabbed the coat from her. “Wow. You look stunning. You’re the only person I know who can look good in a Christmas sweater. Where did you find that one?”

   “My grandmother knitted it. She said the sparkly yarn was a nightmare to work with. Feels weird wearing it today of all days, but Arnie insisted that we look festive so here I am, bringing the sparkle. They’ve started?” She’d hoped she might just make it, but the desks around her were all empty.

   “Yes. Get in there.”

   Lucy replaced her running shoes with suede boots, hopping around as she pulled them on. Her fingers were so cold she fumbled. “Sorry. Forgot my gloves.” She thrust her bag toward Rhea, who stowed it under the desk.

   “What was it? Trains not running?”

   “Signal failure. I walked.”

   “You walked? You couldn’t have grabbed a cab?”

   “Everyone else had the same idea so there wasn’t one to be had.” She dropped her scarf on Rhea’s desk. “How is the mood?”

   “Dismally lacking in festive joy given that we are all waiting to lose our jobs. Even the Christmas sweaters aren’t raising a smile, and there are some truly terrible ones. Ellis from Accounts is wearing what looks like a woolly Christmas tree and it’s making him itch. I’ve given him an antihistamine.”

   “We are not going to lose our jobs.”

   “You don’t know that,” Rhea said. “We’ve lost two big accounts in the last month. Not our fault, I know, but the end result is the same.”

   “So we need to replace them.”

   “I admire your optimism, but I don’t want to raise my hopes and then have them crash around me. I love my job. Companies always say we’re a family and it’s usually a load of rubbish, but this one really does feel like a family. But it’s not as if you really need to worry. You’re brilliant at what you do. You’ll get another job easily.”

   She didn’t want another job. She wanted this job.

   She thought about the fun they all had in the office. The laughter. Late-night pizza when they were preparing a pitch. Friday fizz when they had something to celebrate. The camaraderie and the friendship. She knew she’d never forget the support her colleagues had given her during what had undoubtedly been the worst couple of years of her life.

   And then there was Arnie himself. She owed him everything. He’d given her back all the confidence that had been sucked from her in her first job, and he’d been there for her at her lowest moment. She’d worked for Arnie for six years and she still learned something new from him every day. She had a feeling she always would, because the company was small and nimble and everyone was encouraged to contribute, whatever their level of seniority. That wouldn’t happen if she moved to one of the major players.

   “Do I look okay?”

   Rhea reached out and smoothed a strand of hair out of Lucy’s eyes. “You look calmer than the rest of us. We’re all in a state of panic. Maya has just bought her first flat. Ted’s wife is expecting their first baby any day.”

   “Stop! If you keep reminding me of the stakes I’ll be waving goodbye to calm.” Lucy pressed her hands to her burning cheeks. “I ran the last mile. Tell me honestly, does my face look like a tomato?”

   “It has a seasonal tint.”

   “You mean green like holly, or red like Santa?”

   “Get in there—” Rhea gave her a push and Lucy sprinted toward the meeting room.

   She could see all of them gathered around the table, Arnie standing at the head wearing the same red sweater he always wore when he wanted to be festive.

   Arnie, who had set up this company over thirty years ago. Arnie, who had left his family’s Christmas celebrations to be by her side in the hospital when her grandmother had died two years earlier.

   Lucy pushed open the door and thirty heads turned toward her.

   “Sorry I’m late.”

   “Don’t worry. We’ve only just started.” Arnie’s smile was warm, but she could see the dark shadows under his eyes. The situation was hard for all of them, but particularly him. The unexpected blow to their bottom line meant he had difficult decisions to make. The thought of it was obviously giving him sleepless nights.

   She’d seen him working until midnight at his desk, staring at numbers as if willpower alone could change them. It was no wonder he was tired.

   She sat down in an empty seat and tried to ignore the horrible burn of anxiety.

   “It’s a Christmas campaign,” Arnie returned to the subject they’d been discussing before she’d interrupted. “Think festive sparkle, think Christmas trees, think snow. We want photographs of log fires, luxurious throws, candles, mugs of hot chocolate heaped with marshmallows. And fairy lights. Fairy lights everywhere. The images need to be so festive and appealing that people who think they hate Christmas suddenly fall in love with Christmas. Most of all they need to feel that their Christmas will not be complete unless they buy themselves and everyone they know, a—” Arnie looked blank. “What is the product called again?”

   Lucy’s gaze slid to the box on the table. “The Fingersnug, Arnie.”

   “Fingersnug. Right.” Arnie dragged his hand through his hair, leaving it standing upright. It was one of his many endearing habits. “The person who advised them on product name should rethink his job, but that’s not our problem. Our problem is how to make it the must-have product for Christmas, despite the name and the lack of time to build a heavyweight campaign. And we’re going to do that with social media. It’s instant. It’s impactful. Show people looking warm and cosy. Has anyone tried the damn thing? Lucy, as you were the last one in through the door and you always forget to wear gloves, you can take one for the team and thank me later.”

   Lucy dutifully slipped her hand inside the Fingersnug and activated it.

   They all watched her expectantly.

   Arnie spread his hands. “Anything? Are you feeling a warm glow? Is this life-changing?”

   She felt depressed and a little sick, but neither of those things had anything to do with the Fingersnug. “I think it takes a minute to warm up, Arnie.”

   Ted looked puzzled. “It’s basically a glove.”

   “Maybe—” Arnie planted his hands on the table and leaned forward “—but running shoes are running shoes until we persuade the public that this particular pair will change their lives. There are few original products out there, only original campaigns.”

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