Twelve Days

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… a flashmob proposal.

All Kevin wants is to spend the rest of his life with the woman he loves. He’s been planning the perfect proposal for months. He never planned what would happen if she said ‘no’.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… a diamond ring.

The last thing Laurel wants or expects for Christmas is a big flashy diamond ring. She’d been hoping for a pile of books or perhaps a cashmere sweater. In her experience, marriage is the quickest way to kill a happy relationship. When Kevin gets down on one knee, she panics and runs.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me… a rescue puppy and a trip to Hawaii.

He knows he’s pushed too hard and too fast. Now he’s scrambling to hold on to the best thing that’s ever happened to him, while she’s running hard and fast in the opposite direction. How could it all go so wrong in just twelve days?


What readers are saying

“Sad-cry + happy-cry = *happysigh* (all in only 35 pages!)” – Kelly at Instalove

“You know what I liked best? These people are grownups. They didn’t communicate as well as they could have and they hurt one another. They talked it over, gave themselves and the other person a little breathing room, and then talked it out to a resolution both could live with. They didn’t expect mind-reading, and they didn’t throw the whole thing into the garbage over one misunderstanding. Nobody capitulated, nobody surrendered, nobody lied, nobody was guilted or coerced. They worked it out.

It made me feel all warm and happy inside, the ending worked for me, the whole book worked for me” – Marilyn at Mean Fat Old Bat

“This sweet, feel-good holiday story is a quick read that’s sure to leave you satisfied!” – Aimee Carson

“Ros Clarke’s enchanting Twelve Days is a beautifully written tale of one young couple and how they work through a major road block on the bumpy road to true love. Real, emotional and wonderfully life-affirming with an added dash of Christmas sparkle, it’s a must-read to get you in the mood for the romance of the season.” – Heidi Rice, USA Today Bestselling Author

On The First Day Of Christmas

“Stay there.”

Laurel stayed. They’d had another six inches of snow overnight, but Kevin had already shoveled part of their driveway. She stood on a dry patch, wrapped in her charcoal gray woolen overcoat, with a soft blue cashmere scarf and matching hat pulled on tightly to cover her ears. Her feet were thrust into sheepskin boots, but even so the chill of the ground was starting to seep through. She shifted from one foot to the other and sipped at her coffee, grateful for its warmth.

“How much longer?” she called to Kevin, who was attaching something to the garage door. He stepped back and she could see it was a camera. What on earth had he planned?

“Any moment now,” he yelled back. “Hold on.”

He’d woken her ten minutes earlier with a cup of her favourite Starbucks caramel latte and then told her to come outside for her Christmas gift. She’d been hoping for jewelry. Maybe perfume and a couple of books. Nothing on her list was too big to fit inside the house. She’d bought him a leather iPad cover and a sage green cashmere sweater to match his eyes. It would be really, really awkward if he’d bought her a car. Or a pony. She didn’t even like ponies, but she couldn’t think what else she would need to come outside for.

Kevin had disappeared completely. Laurel squinted to see if he was in the car, or hidden behind the large pine tree. The camera was still on the garage roof, and it seemed to be pointing in her direction. Someone began singing a carol. Even on Christmas Day, eight o’clock in the morning was a bit early for singing in Laurel’s opinion—especially the one about the partridge that went on forever.

A group of workmen strolled down the street, carrying their ladders and tools. Someone must be paying them good money to work today. Kevin’s house was in a great neighborhood just outside the city limits. It wasn’t large, but it was plenty big enough for the two of them. Around the corner, though, the streets were lined with vast mansions owned by the super wealthy and the old Philadelphia families.
Other people had joined in with the carol singing. Laurel had no idea where Kevin had gone to get her present, but there was plenty to distract her. A woman in a scarlet coat had stopped on the sidewalk opposite Laurel and set down a big pot with a tree in it. Two large pears hung from its branches and a plush bird had been tied on top.

A partridge in a pear tree.

Behind the woman, the workmen were setting up a simple scaffold on which one of them hung a bird cage holding two turtle doves. Well, that’s what she assumed they were, though they looked more like pigeons. The singers had already reached the three French hens verse, and on cue a chicken ran across the road. Two more followed, running rings round the man who was attempting to herd them into a cage underneath the scaffold. The whole song was coming alive around her.

Everyone was singing and Laurel had begun to grin, caught up in the infectious enthusiasm of the performers. The workmen had gone to stand behind the scaffold, and at the start of the next verse, four cut out cardboard birds popped up, each holding a large telephone to its ear.

Four calling birds.

She groaned and laughed simultaneously. Then, with a dramatic pause, the whole chorus reached the climactic moment of the song.

Five gold rings.

Laurel looked around, but no one came forward with anything to represent the rings. The singers took a breath and continued through the calling birds, the French hens, the turtle doves, and the partridge in a pear tree. The rest of the song was pure carnival. Six geese had to be herded into place by seven ballerinas in costumes from Swan Lake. Eight dairymaids and nine ballroom dancers paraded down the street, joining the carefully choreographed performance. Ten men in crimson and fur robes pretending to be lords leapt and pranced their way into the dance, eleven bagpipers marched proudly up the road, and finally twelve drummers in solemn formation lined up in their allotted places. It was a Christmas flash mob, and it was fabulous.

Half the neighborhood had come out to see what was happening. Cameras clicked, children were hoisted onto their fathers’ shoulders, and everyone joined in the carol. A glorious cacophony of voices, birds, bagpipes, and drums celebrated Christmas in the old song. The impromptu choir took a deep breath and began the final verse:

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…

As each group was mentioned in the song, they bowed to Laurel. She smiled and waved in acknowledgement, laughing at the sheer ridiculous exuberance of it all. The geese squawked through their line and the singers continued. Five gold rings. The notes hung in the air and everyone watching was silent. The performers shuffled slightly to create a path through the crowd. Kevin came forward, his lips tilted into a nervous smile and his eyes glued to hers.

Laurel’s mouth went dry. Her hands clenched into fists inside her pockets. He couldn’t mean to… not here, not like this. Not now.

He knelt down in front of her, heedless of the damp slush seeping through his jeans. Laurel shook her head, desperate for him to understand. To stop. He didn’t, and the next moment he pulled a small black box from his coat pocket and opened it. A flash of light where it caught the morning sun told her everything she needed to know. She didn’t even hear his words, though she saw his lips moving. She just stood, frozen with horror, conscious of all the eyes on her, expecting an answer. Expecting the right answer. The answer she couldn’t give.

December 2012
10,000 word short story
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