secret santa

Hopper stood in front of the scented candles for a long moment, deliberating. He didn’t know what kind of scents women liked, particularly older women. Roses? Beaches? “Starlit Evening”?

“Why are we looking at candles?” El asked.

He heaved a sigh. “I got Flo for Secret Santa.”

El furrowed her brow. “Secret Santa?”

“Yeah. It’s this dumb game people play where you draw someone’s name from a hat and you have to get them a present, but they’re not allowed to know who it is until the end. I drew Flo’s name.”

El’s eyes widened. “And you’re just getting her a candle?!”

“Well…yeah?” He looked a little troubled. “Is that…bad?”

“Flo is always taking care of you! She deserves more than a candle!” El huffed.

“There’s a ten dollar spending limit…”

El took his hand and dragged him to the home goods section. “Get her a crockpot.”

“That is way more than ten dollars.”

“Get her a teapot.”

“Does Flo even drink tea?” he asked uncertainly. He genuinely didn’t know.

El gave him a long-suffering look. “She keeps chamomile tea in her drawer for when she gets stressed out.”

“She must drink it a lot, then,” he joked.

She gave him another look. “She said she didn’t start until you became chief of police.”

His face fell. “…ah. Uh, yeah, let’s get the teapot.”

El beamed.


On Christmas Eve, Hopper found Flo at the station Christmas party and handed her a box wrapped in bright paper. He and El had tried and failed miserably, so they’d gotten Joyce to wrap it for them.

“Merry Christmas,” he said gruffly.

Flo opened the box and let out a little gasp when she saw the rose-printed teapot inside. “Oh, Chief, this is the nicest Secret Santa present I’ve ever gotten!”

Hopper smiled despite himself. “I’m glad.”

Flo leaned in so only he could hear her. “Make sure you thank that daughter of yours—she has good taste.” And she sauntered off, proudly carrying her brand new teapot.

Hopper scratched his beard. He should’ve known Flo would figure it out. Flo figured everything out, one way or another.