all that money could buy – third and final part of our christmas tale

by Sharon Santoni

The third and final part in this year’s Christmas tale.  In the first instalment we saw George and Sophia arrive in Paris, and last week we left our couple at the top of the Eiffel Tower, a diamond ring on the table between them.  Will Sophia say yes to George?  Should she spend the rest of her life with him?

Thank you for your enthusiastic reception for my little tale, I hope you are enjoying the lead up to the holidays, and this little romantic interlude has added to your pleasure!

ring by chaumet

“But  George ….!!”

Come on Sophia honey, I can give you everything you dream of.  We’ll have a great life together, we can come to Europe whenever you wish, we can buy your art work.  We’d make one hell of a show …. so what do you say honey?  Will you make me the happiest man in Paris tonight?”

He was holding her hand again now, the people at the table closest to them had seen the ring box slide across the table, and they were smiling and watching expectantly.  Even the waiter seemed to be aware of what was happening as he watched from across the room.

“Thank you George, I am so very flattered …”

“Great, that’s fantastic, oh this is wonderful”, George looked across at the waiter and said loudly “bring us more champagne, the best you have .. she said yes!”   By now the whole restaurant seemed to have their eyes trained on Sophia and, as George stood and lent across the table to kiss her, she heard the other guests clapping and calling out “bravo, congratulations!”

champagne pouring into glasses

The rest of their meal was a blur.  Sophia was conscious of making George very happy, but was so confused about her own feelings.   Had she really said yes?  Could she really marry someone without being completely sure?  In this romantic decor, with George talking non-stop about their future, and his beautiful ring on her finger, it was simply impossible to think straight.

Luckily George did all the talking and didn’t seem to notice how quiet she was.  He talked through the meal, he talked in the car on the way back to the hotel and in the sanctuary of their suite, he didn’t go quiet until they kissed good night “Here’s to a lifetime of good night embraces” he said as he turned out the lights.

The next morning it was Christmas Day and Sophia found herself unwrapping more gifts from George, while she in return had just two little parcels for him to open, a beautiful cachemire sweater …. and a beginners guide to french

“But I don’t need a French book honey,  I’ve got you now!”

She took refuge in a long warm bath, she needed time to straighten out her mind.   Maybe she should just marry George; she enjoyed his company, he was caring and affectionate, he could certainly look after her well.   But what about love?!  What about that crazy, all-invading love that she had always thought would come one day?

 bathroom four seasons hotel

And what about Sébastien?  Did she still love him, as she had done while she lived in Paris, or was that just a passing thing.  “Oh, it’s all such a muddle”, she sighed as a small tear formed at the corner of her eye.

 jardin luxembourg in the snwo

They had two more days in Paris, and she decided not to spoil their holiday and make George unhappy.  She hoped that it would become clear to her, which path she should take.  If she was going to return the ring, she would do so once they were home.  It would still be hurtful, but less painful than doing so here in Paris.

They spent Christmas morning in the Jardin de Luxembourg.  It was stunningly beautiful, with fresh snow on the ground, and bright sunshine.  They walked along the alleys, strangely calm and empty.   George asked a couple of times where she would like to get married, but she remained vague in her answers and brought the conversation back to the beauty of Paris.  After a delicious and lazy lunch in the plush salons of  l’Hotel, rue des Beaux Arts, they found a taxi to take them back to the hotel.

le restaurant, l'hotel, jardin de luxembourg

As they walked into the lobby, George was joking about how much he had eaten since they arrived in the capital, and pretending that his coat was getting too tight.

“Excusez-moi Madame” , the concierge at the hotel reception had spotted Sophia returning to the hotel  “We have a message for you”.

He disappeared from view for a few minutes and reappeared with a huge bunch of red roses.  “Voilà Madame, these were delivered for you while you were out today”

Sophia smiled and turned to George, “Really George darling, you are spoiling me rotten”.  But George looked surprised.  “They aren’t from me, I gave you your gifts this morning!”

Sophia opened the envelope pinned to the bouquet “Pour ma chère Sophia, I need to see you before you leave, S”.

George read the note over her shoulder “What the …..?!   Who’s this S, and why’s he sending you red roses?”

Sophia hardly heard his questions.  Her own head was spinning, what did this mean?  Was Sebastien as touched to see her again as she had been to see him?

She became aware of George’s hand on her shoulder, he didn’t look pleased.  “Sophia, could you please tell me just who is sending you red roses on Christmas Day?!”

 bouquet red roses

“Well George, it is just signed ‘S’, but the only S that I know in Paris, is Sébastien, the guy we saw at the gallery yesterday”

“And why would he send you red roses?  Is he just after your business, or does he have something else in mind?  In fact you never told me how you two already knew each other”

Sophia turned to him, suddenly calm inside.  “George, let’s go to our suite, we need to talk”

They were silent in the elevator, but once inside their suite, George sat down and looked at her expectantly.

“George, I can’t thank you enough for this wonderful Christmas in Paris.  It has been magical and you have treated me like a princess.   Sébastien is a figure from my past when I lived here for a while. I didn’t know I was going to meet him yesterday, and nothing was said, but seeing him again, reminded me of the love and passion that I once felt for him.   I don’t know yet what I feel for him today, but seeing him again has shown me that real love is worth waiting for.”

George sat silent, and rather pale.

“George, I love your company, I love you as a friend and as a companion, but I cannot say for sure that I can love you for the rest of my life.  I should not have accepted your ring yesterday evening, in fact I probably shouldn’t have accepted this trip with you.  You have whisked me along on a merry-go-round of emotions, and it is has been hard to find the suitable moment to step back down to firm ground.”

She slipped the diamond ring from her finger, and bent over to kiss George on the cheek as she pressed the ring into the palm of his hand.

“What are you going to do now?  Run out of the hotel into his arms?”  George sounded sullen.

“No, I’m not.  In fact I don’t know what I’ll do yet.  But when we leave the hotel tomorrow, I shan’t be coming to the airport with you.  I have to stay here for a while, sort myself out, and work out the next step in my life”

The next morning saw George and Sophia stepping out of the hotel and heading towards taxis, waiting at the kerb.  They hugged goodbye, Sophia reached up and whispered,  “Thank you George, I am so sorry to have hurt you”.

George climbed in to a taxi for the airport, and Sophia got into the following one and said confidently to the driver “Place des Vosges s’il vous plait”.   Sitting in the cab, she put her hand in her pocket and found a small piece of folded paper.   She pulled it out of the pocket and read the words

You were my dream, baby, but I understand that you have to follow yours.  I’ll always be here if you need me.  G.”   She smiled, and mouthed “Merci George”, before sliding the paper carefully inside her bag.

place vosges snow

Once in the Marais, she walked into a small hotel that she had noticed while out walking with George.  She felt slightly nervous, but very excited, like someone standing in front of a tall imposing door, wondering what awaits on the other side.

A young woman, happy in the knowledge that she was in control of her own life, and that whatever may happen in the months and years to come, she would have the strength to make the right decisions.


All that money could buy – a Christmas tale

click here for part 1

click here for Part 2


Rochelle Funderburg December 10, 2018 - 7:59 pm

Can we get some more intallments about Sophia now that we know she’s following her heart? Loved this little mini-series.

Freddie Ann December 10, 2018 - 8:00 pm

Awww, I so enjoyed this story. Once again, it made my lunch hour. I’m glad Sophia made the choice she did, not so much as deciding whom to be with or not to be with, but to know herself well.

Thank you,

mimi taylor December 10, 2018 - 8:01 pm

not happy with the ending

tracy brown December 10, 2018 - 8:10 pm

Absolutely, there needs to be a follow-up. We are left hanging!!

Vicki L. December 10, 2018 - 8:19 pm

Sharon, I have followed you for a couple of years now. Even drove over an hour to purchase an autographed copy of “My Stylish Ftench Girlfriends” at your booksigning in Marietta, GA, USA as well as commented previously that you have a novel inside of you just waiting to be written. Perhaps, this well written short story is just waiting to be shared with a magnificently romantic ending. I’ll be watching for this in time. Thanks for this lovely short story, but Sophia’s dream needs to come true.
Merry Christmas. Vicki

JennyJ December 10, 2018 - 8:20 pm

Wonderful story, thank you. What is life without love. Bravo!

Vicky (from Athens) December 10, 2018 - 8:21 pm

Sharon, you just have to do a follow up and let us know what happens to Sophia and Sebastian…if anything.

Elaine Craig December 10, 2018 - 8:47 pm

What a joy is was to sit for a few minutes and read a Christmas romance story. Thank you for a “short visit to Paris”. Don’t keep us waiting too long for the sequel.

Judy Wadsworth December 10, 2018 - 9:24 pm

Your stories are so lovely and I look forward to reading them each year. Hope there will be one for Valentines day also.

Denise December 10, 2018 - 9:35 pm

Yes please, a follow up to this story! or perhaps a continuing saga?

Gina Fleet December 10, 2018 - 10:00 pm

Oh no, there is so much more to this story. I was waiting for something to happen…ahhhh! Great fun though, love what you do Sharon, and for sharing it with us. Cheers, happy holidays.

June rubenstein December 10, 2018 - 10:39 pm

It can’t be over….well written. I loved it…so interesting and anticipating.
Merry Christmas, Sharon
Maybe a continuation for Valentine’s Day?

Heather December 10, 2018 - 11:04 pm

Oh please Sharon put all your short stories in a fireside book….id be the first person to buy it. Love this latest….without love it is just friendship, poor George but he’ll get over it….she made the right choice ❤️

Afn December 10, 2018 - 11:05 pm

Point being, Sophia realized she needed to be in control of her own life and took the reins in her
hands. Bravo!

bonnie groves poppe December 10, 2018 - 11:24 pm

yes, that is the pointof the story, I think.

Nancy potter December 11, 2018 - 5:31 am

The romance was catching. More please.

Bonnie Schulte December 10, 2018 - 11:13 pm

I loved your story, looked for this one, this year, after reading your story last year. Thanks you so much for writing these for everybody. Enjoyed them very much…And, my ending would be, Sophia and Sebastian lived happily together, ever after…It is fun to be able to give your story a happy ending…(Which I thought was coming..grin)

Susan Carter December 10, 2018 - 11:57 pm

I loved every word of your little tale. Thank you.

Aurora ward December 11, 2018 - 12:07 am

Truly enjoyed this story France itself is such a romantic place. I look forward to a sequel. Sophia has got to come back. Maybe she’ll realize she really loved George. Merry xmas

Melissa December 11, 2018 - 12:32 am

I love the note that George gave her. He is a real Gentleman who just happens to be rich, handsome and generous and loves her to bits. It leaves a possibility that Sophie might return to him after all so we are unable to discard him as a possibility. She did break up with Sebastian a few years previously so there is obviously something not perfect enough about him which she might rediscover but she has to explore that possibility and be absolutely sure. Thanks for sharing this lovely story. Merry Christmas.

Beverley December 11, 2018 - 1:15 am

Another couple of chapters….. pleeeeease

Colleen Taylor December 11, 2018 - 1:40 am

Thank you for this charming & enchanting story Sharon. I loved all the anticipation of it. X

Melanie Comins December 11, 2018 - 2:36 am

Delightful. I have thoroughly enjoyed this gorgeous little story. Happy to be left to left my own imagination continue the story but would be delighted should you decide to write a sequel. Thank you for this wonderful romantic interlude in the lead up to Christmas. xx

david terry December 11, 2018 - 8:43 pm

Dear Sharon and Readers,

I have purposefully delayed delivering my response to this “final chapter”, so that I might compose myself and my thoughts. To be quite honest?….I have to admit that I found this conclusion very unsatisfactory and, indeed, upsetting.

It seems, as I feared would be the case, that Our Heroine has thrown off an eminently suitable match for some supposed something…..a veritable chimera of her own, girlish, and entirely impractical imaginings. This girl has blithely tossed away her ONE (insofar as this reader can discern) chance for union with a endowed gentleman who is obviously willing to afford her financial security, desirable presents, AND the assurance that she need never work again. He has mentioned nothing about the need for an heir, so she needn’t feel “pressed” (so to speak) on that account. She could have been a young lady of both Fashion & Fortune….AND leisure.

And, now?….this girl throws her one chance for a financially secure, marital harbor to the winds on the mere chance that some Frenchman will hold true to some vow which, all too obviously (and as anyone with an older eye can perceive) he has perhaps never even made? I should think that we all know the the “love promises” and the accompanying billets-doux of Frenchmen are as but (As Our Dear Keats wrote) “but words writ in water”. What a consummate minx Our Heroine is! She will be the engine of her own undoing! She will be permanently ensnared in a web of her own, foolish prevarication, in the face of obviously more prudent choices. She will succumb and DROWN under the irrepressible weight of practical and financial challenges should she marry the Frenchie…..and that is IF he even proposes an actual marriage.

I happen not to trust the French in such matters.

In closing, all that this middle aged bachelor can do is to recall the wise saying of my dear Grandmother: “The girl who goes through the wood, picking and choosing as she likes, will come out at the end of the wood with a crooked stick or none at all”. Truer words were never spoken.

Well, it seems all too obvious that Our Heroine will have her willful way…..but, when the bill comes due (And, trust me, it will), who will PAY? I’m afraid that Our Heroine will be the one doing so………..(cue ominous, background music….)……..

Advisedly yours as Ever,
The Rev. Dr. David Terry (Bachelor)
Quail Roost Farm
Rougemont, NC

Dottie Monta December 12, 2018 - 5:20 am

David, David, you cannot marry someone you don’t love! Granted, George is a gentleman; he deserves someone who places him on a pedestal, just as he obviously had placed Sophia.
But to expect Sophia to ignore her feelings for Sebastian is unrealistic. Money isn’t everything.
Did she lead George on? It appears she did, and I agree that she may well come to her senses and realize George’s adoration of her (hard to ignore) and reciprocate. By then, it may be too late.
What a dilemma: I sympathize with both of them!
I’m sure Sharon is glad she wrote Finis before “Sophia’s Choice.”
But let’s hope she (Sharon) will expand the delightful tale.
Let’s also thank her for capturing our imaginations these busy days!

Tracey Soroka December 12, 2018 - 5:32 am

No wonder you are a bachelor David Terry – If there is one thing that I have taught my two daughters it is to NEVER depend on or expect anyone else to pay their way in life. Financial independence is key to self worth and freedom.

Marina December 13, 2018 - 12:15 am

I love the ending. Sophia did not choose George, but nor will she necessarily choose Sebastian. She chose herself! And while the Rev. David believes she has ruined her life and thrown away her chance at security and leisure, I tend to have more faith in our dear Sophia’s own wisdom and judgement in the matter of what her life will be. Reading the Reverend, I rather feel I’m in a Jane Austen novel, where the heroine must make a match worth at least 50,000 pounds a year or be doomed forever! Perhaps she doesn’t want a life of leisure. Perhaps she likes working and feeling she is accomplishing something to be proud of, rather than being the dutiful wife of a wealthy man who calls her “baby” all the time. Ugh! Such infantilization! I hope she finds all she is looking for in life, but mostly, that she remains strong within herself, confident of her choices, and satisfied in her many achievements. Thank you for this fun story, Sharon. Merry Christmas!!

Joan December 13, 2018 - 5:27 am

Oooo how I needed a conclusion. For her to sort things out, to possibly reconnect with S if only for a time, to even meet someone more suitable, or even reconnect with G. Something to not leave us suspended in the air.
I once had a college friend who lived a similar tale.
Madly in love with dashing suave fellow and things went poorly. Later met someone very much like George . Adored her and she tried to be engaged to him and plan what seemed like a charmed future
At last she had to break it off . And soon reconnected with first love only to find that though they tried, things were no longer what they had once been. Hearts were broken, but both of them moved on. Eventually she met someone that was more wonderfully suited for her and went on the marry him and have an amazing family. I know because, I stood up for her at that beautiful wedding.

Vangie December 13, 2018 - 6:19 am

I enjoyed the moments of romance you gave us.
Love. Beauty. Being truthful to the love given, received and beauty in all things is a grand life.

Irene Peterson December 14, 2018 - 9:42 pm

I married that someone who would take care of me my entire life. We ended up being divorced and I was able to breathe once again.
A deep love and respect is vital for ones happiness in marriage despite the financial gain. I have mellowed with age but still believe two people can survive together if they both want to. Enjoyed the story!

david terry December 14, 2018 - 11:43 pm

Just for the record, folks?…I’m not a “Reverend” (although my grandfather was an Anglican bishop), although I am, technically, a “Dr.” (but the doctorate is in Literature; so don’t call me if someone’s birthing a baby or been hit by a train). I did specialize in the English novel, circa 1780-1850. Hence?…..I love mimicking all the prissy spinsters, self-congratulatory (and inevitably bachelors) vicars/rectors, etcetera. I’m also (as my grandmother once and memorably said of her uncle) “nice…..but just queer as a box of birds”. It all makes for a rather distinct view on things…..

In any case, I like writing parodies (and, yes, I’m one of the millions who LOVE Lady Grantham), and I think that Our Heroine will do just fine. It’s been while since 1824……perhaps she could move to California, go to work for google, and set the rules on how to do one’s searching?

Sincerely, David Terry
Quail Roost Farm
Rougemont, NC (don’t ask me how I ended up on a 19th century farm with a French name…the hills aren’t, in fact, notably red)

Marina December 17, 2018 - 8:30 pm

I rather gathered you were not actually a Reverend and the tone was distinctly Austen, so I wondered about how serious you actually were in writing your opinion. Having read another series of your comments today on the “red Christmas” theme, I now know you are erudite and hilariously funny and I quite enjoy reading you! Cheers!

Emm December 22, 2018 - 2:17 am

A very sweet little story, and my hope for Sophia is that she ends up with neither George (overbearing, suffocating, controlling, and boring) nor Sébastien (an ephemeral figure, perhaps wonderfully artistic but who knows how real or reliable), and instead finds herself, spreads her wings, and soars.
Then, in time, she may find a soul mate who will support her in more than material ways, and she will have the lifelong satisfaction of having defined herself in her own terms rather than someone else’s.
Right on, Sophia!

Chrissa February 15, 2019 - 12:35 am

I know that Christmas has well and truly passed now but I really loved reading this story! And in particular, I LOVED the ending. It is so refreshing to read an ending that doesn’t rely on the girl only being happy if she gets the guy. I like that you left a bit of mystery regarding what will happen with Sebastien. The point that she came to the right decision for herself (with or without the guy) is so much more important, in my view 🙂

Murie Blumberg April 21, 2023 - 4:57 pm

Thanks for article.

Kaley April 25, 2023 - 12:27 pm

This is such a heartwarming Christmas tale. It’s a great reminder that the true spirit of the holiday season is not about how much money we spend on gifts, but about the love, kindness, and generosity we share with others. This story also highlights the importance of taking the time to appreciate the simple things in life and the people who make our lives better. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story.


Leave a Comment