The 12 Dates of Christmas: Chapter One

The Ad


“Did you see this?”

Evan Garnett looked up from the history tests he’d been grading to see his sister standing in the doorway of his classroom clutching a newspaper in her hand. As always Kelly was perfectly put together, not a hair out of place, make-up painstakingly natural-looking, and an ensemble that many of his female students would envy.

“I haven’t looked at the paper today at all.” There was no need to. He knew it had nothing good to say about his football team which hadn’t won a game all season. If he didn’t love the sport so much, he’d quit coaching. “I assume they’re calling for me to be let go.”

Kelly looked confused. “What? No, this is more important than football.”

Evan somehow doubted that. In a small town like Merryton, Iowa high school football was a big deal. Nearly the whole town turned out for the games, and there hadn’t been much to cheer about. “If it’s not about football, what is it?”

Kelly smiled triumphantly and laid the paper down on his desk. A full page ad announced applications being taken for some sort of reality show. “Really, Kel? What does this have to do with anything?”

Putting both hands on his desk, Kelly looked at him incredulously. “Did you even read it? It’s a dating show, and you need a wife – desperately.”

“I’m twenty-eight. I don’t think I’m desperate quite yet.”

“The fact that you don’t realize how desperate you are only intensifies the situation.”

“Don’t you have clients to work on? Someone needing a dye job or a make-over or something?”  Kelly was a wonderful beautician. The girls in his class always wanted her to do their styles for prom and homecoming. Right now he wished she were even busier. Maybe then she’d leave him alone so he could finish grading these tests.

“Nope, I’m free as a bird.” She walked over to a desk on the front row and pulled it closer to his desk before sitting down, making herself comfortable and giving every indication of a long chat. Evan sighed. There was nothing to do, but get it over with.

“Okay, fine. You think I need a wife. That still doesn’t explain what this has to do with me. All of those dating shows want a pretty boy millionaire as the eligible bachelor. I am certainly not that.”

Kelly rolled her eyes. “You didn’t even read the ad, did you?” She jabbed her perfectly manicured nail at the newsprint.

We’re looking for a man who is upstanding in his community, regardless of income or background to participate in a Christmas time reality show. The man chosen will go on a date with twelve different women resulting in a Christmas Eve special ending in a proposal. This may be your opportunity to find your soul mate.

“Soul mate,” he snorted. “Go on one date and find the woman you want to spend the rest of your life with? That’s not really an ideal scenario. And you want me to apply for this?”

Kelly nodded vigorously. “And Mom does, too.”

Evan groaned. If his mom was on board with this crazy plan, he’d never hear the end of it until he agreed. “Does Dad at least see how ridiculous this is?”

“It doesn’t hurt to apply. Maybe they won’t even pick you.” Her evasion of the question told him that Dad at least agreed with him. “Come on, Evan! You’re not going to find anyone in this small town. Make a little effort.”

While he still thought this whole scheme was ridiculous, she had a point. Nearly every woman his age in town was married or engaged. His options here were slim. He’d left Merryton to get his teaching degree, and when he came back it seemed like everyone was already coupled up.

He glanced back at the paper. There would be no peace from his mom or his sister if he didn’t at least try for it. Chances were there would be somebody more interesting and better suited for this role anyway. The ad said that he needed to create a video application stating his name, age, occupation, hobbies, and hometown. The video should also show him in his day to day life. “Okay, fine. I’ll do it. Will you leave now, so I can finish grading and get home?”

Kelly squealed with excitement before coming over to kiss his head. “I thought I’d have to get Mom to help me convince you. Before you do the video, come over to the shop so I can trim your hair. Thank you, Evan! You won’t be sorry!” She grabbed the paper and hurried out the door as if afraid he’d change his mind.

He wasn’t so sure he should go through with it, but he wouldn’t have any peace unless he did. Kelly and his mom were formidable when they ganged up together. His dad was more mild mannered, and even if he was on Evan’s side, he would never speak up against the women. No, it was better to do this and let them see for themselves that it was a bad fit.

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