Charlotte meets old friend from North Pole

Max hugged Charlotte tightly before stepping back to look her in the eye. “You’ve grown up.”

“I was grown up when you last saw me,” she said with a grin.

He waved her comment off and smiled. “You know what it’s like at the Pole. Everyone is childlike. To me, you were just a little girl, no matter how old you got.”

“Eighteen is hardly a little girl, Max,” Charlotte said with a laugh as she beckoned him inside, shutting the door behind them. She looked from the elf to her family.

“Max, this is my daughter Hannah.”

The elf stepped looked up at Hannah from underneath the unruly black hair that stuck out from his stocking cap. Hannah held out her hand.

“Nice to meet you, sir.”

“Sweet Hannah. I’ve waited a long time to meet you in person. You’re a very good girl you know. And special,” he said, tapping her nose with his finger. Hannah giggled and breathed in the strong scent of cocoa that radiated off of him.

“And this,” Charlotte continued “is my husband A–“

“Adam,” Max finished for her, shaking Adam’s hand. “No introduction needed for you. Maximilian Twinkletoes at your service. You’re being watched, you know. More than probably anyone else. And I’m pleased to say you’ve never disappointed.”

“That’s … both good to hear, and terrifying,” Adam said, raising his eyebrows at Charlotte.

“So Max,” Charlotte said, clearing her throat. “What brings you here now, after all this time? I didn’t send for you.”

The elf looked confused “Why, I’m here to escort miss Hannah back to the Pole.”

“But how did you know …”

“You know your father,” Max said with a grin. “Always watching. And your mother, well, she’s been waiting for you to make this decision for a long time. They miss you very much you know.”

“I know. And I’ve apologized in every email and every annual update, but Max, I did what I had to do. For me. And I am so happy.”

Max smiled. “You seem happy. And that makes me happy.”

“How old are you?” Hannah blurted out.

“Hannah!” Charlotte scolded. “Manners, please!”

“It’s quite all right,” Max said, winking at Hannah “I am very old. When your mother was your age, I was in my 90s and I was her best friend!”

“You were my only friend,” Charlotte muttered.

“Oh hush. Everyone loved you!”

“Maybe, but none of them wanted to understand me. Especially my parents.”

Max clapped his hands together cheerfully. “Well, let’s not let gloom settle in on this happy day! Now, Hannah, are you packed?”

“Um,” she said, glancing helplessly at her parents.

“Max, we just started discussing it right before you arrived,” Charlotte said. “And we’re actually thinking that maybe we should invite Mom and Dad here for a visit.”

“Charlotte, it’s a week before Christmas. You know that’s not possible,” Max said gently.

Charlotte crossed her arms. “Well then, they don’t want to know their granddaughter well enough. I’m not ready to ship my daughter across the globe without me and I can’t miss work this week, we’re in the middle of closing a huge deal.”

She looked at Hannah. “I’m sorry, sweetie. But I just can’t let you go.”


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