Finding the Perfect Gift
by Judith Freudenthal
1998

Nick entered the mall wanting to get Natalie something more personal this year, especially since they now knew that their feelings were mutual. He window shopped, hoping something would catch his eye.

After working his way down most of the first floor an outfit in the window of the next store caught his eye. He entered, looking around for the outfit he wanted.

"Nick?" A voice asked.

Nick turned around surprised to see his partner there. "Hi, Schank."

"You and Nat are just friends, yeah right," Schanke teased, knowing that you don't shop in a lingerie store for a friend.

Nick noticed some of the other items and almost blushed. "Myra likes this stuff?"

"Some of it.

Nick found what he was looking for and picked out a grey pinstriped top with buttons down the front, matching pants and a white tank top.

"Nick, you have to get her something sexier than that. When she sees the box, she'll be hurt if this is all she finds inside." Schanke said. "Trust me on this."

Nick pondered the suggestion and then started looking around for something more seductive, but not too outlandish. He figured that if he bought something too strange she wouldn't wear it.

"If you pick the right thing, you might even get her to model it for you," Schanke teased, swearing he saw a slight blush creep into his partner's very pale cheeks.

"How's this?" Nick asked, not believing he was asking Schanke for advice. A man who had moose pajamas and a duck lamp, who thought that plaid skirts and knee socks were a turn on.

Schanke examined the royal blue silk robe, and matching long nightgown with spaghetti straps.

"That's better." Schanke was beginning to wonder if they had been telling the truth. He knew his two friends were in love, but wasn't sure that they had admitted it either to themselves or each other. "It will look lovely on her."

Nick smiled, pleased that Schanke liked it.

"Which one are you getting?" Schanke asked?

"Both. I thought the gray outfit would be nice for when we watch movies. The silk one will be a bit chilly in the loft and probably a little confining."

"You're right. If you really want to make her feel good, how about something even sexier?"

"I don't know. I don't know if she'd like some of that stuff. How about some nice bath beads? She does like to soak in the tub."

"Good idea," Schanke said. "Now that you mention it, I can't see her in most of this stuff."

The two gentlemen paid for their purchases, had them gift wrapped and headed home.

 

Christmas morning arrived.

Natalie arrived to find Nick waiting for her by the door, the twelve foot Christmas tree twinkling with lights and ornaments.

"Merry Christmas, Nat," Nick said as he kissed her, deepening the kiss when she responded.

When they broke off so Natalie could breathe, she looked up and saw the mistletoe hung in the doorway and smiled before kissing him back. When she needed her next breath they broke off again. "Merry Christmas, Nick," she said.

Nick lead her over to the couch. She noticed the festive cookies, cheese and crackers on the coffee table along with two glasses of wine.

Natalie sat down, noticing Nick sat right next to her, a gift in his hand. She knew it hadn't been there a moment ago.

"Who wants to go first?" She asked.

"You can."

Natalie handed Nick the first of his two gifts, hoping he liked it.

Nick ripped the colorful holiday paper off the box, opened it to reveal a royal blue silk robe with matching pajamas. Nick's smile caused her to smile as well. "It's beautiful. Thank you."

"I thought your nighttime wardrobe could use a little color."

Natalie handed him a second box, this one a bit heavier. He opened it to find an archeology book inside. "I don't have this one. It's been out of print for years. How did you get it?"

"I was out browsing and found it in a second hand bookstore. I don't think they realized what it was." Natalie was pleased that it was something he truly wanted but hadn't been able to find.

"Your turn." Nick handed Natalie the first box. Once she ripped the glossy silver paper off she blushed slightly as she saw the name of the store. She opened the box finding the gray lounging outfit inside.

Nick carefully watched her expression, hoping it didn't hurt her feelings.

"It's beautiful. The fabric is so soft It'll be perfect for movie night. Thank you." She smiled one of her warmest smiles at him, and was rewarded with a smile from him.

Nick handed her the next gift. "There's a story behind this one. I'll tell you afterwards." He was a little embarrassed, but knew she'd find it amusing.

Natalie's eyebrow quirked, her curiosity peaked as she ripped the silver paper off and saw the same pink and white box. She eagerly opened it and was a little surprised to find the beautiful silk robe inside, even more so when she saw the matching nightgown.

"This is gorgeous. Thank you. What made you pick this out?" Natalie asked, genuinely curious.

"I thought you might like it." Nick said.

"Where's the story?"

"I saw the gray outfit in the window and knew you'd like it. I had no idea that Schanke was inside. Apparently Myra likes the store too. Well... when I picked out the grey outfit Schanke told me that if I gave that to you, I'd hurt your feelings. That you don't buy something like that in a lingerie shop. He said I needed to get you something sexier. I knew you wouldn't like most of the stuff in the store so I tried to find something that was a nice balance between sexy and practical. I found this and he liked it too, so I got it. He even admitted that he couldn't see you in most of the stuff in the store."

"You were right. I wouldn't like most of that stuff. Sometimes I think it might be nice to have something really sexy, lacy... but I quickly realize that it isn't me and I wouldn't wear it."

"I almost forgot this last one." Nick handed her a tube wrapped in the same silver paper.

"This had better not be underwear in a tube," she said, only partly joking. She ripped the paper off to find the bath beads. "This is perfect. I just ran out a few nights ago and hadn't had a chance to restock. Thank you."

"When I explained that you liked to soak in the tub he agreed that it was a perfect gift." Nick said, he couldn't believe he was telling her all this stuff. "I can't believe I asked the advice of a guy with moose pajamas, a duck lamp, and gets turned on by plaid skirts and knee socks."

"It is a little surprising, but I can see you asking someone you trust for their opinion," Natalie said. She saw something in his eyes and wasn't quite sure what it was. Does he want to see me in the gown and robe? she wondered. "I probably should try them on... to make sure everything fits."

"That would probably be a good idea," Nick said, trying to sound like he didn't care, when he couldn't wait to see her in the blue outfit.

Natalie took her new clothes and headed for the downstairs bathroom to change. While she was changing Nick slipped into the pajamas and robe. Just as he finished, the bathroom door opened and she stepped out in the nightgown and robe.

Both couldn't help but stare at the other, loving the way their gifts accentuated each other's best features.

The end.

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