Alittle christmas romance

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H.M. Ward





Laree Bailey Press




This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.


Copyright © 2013 by H.M. Ward

All rights reserved.


No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form.


Laree Bailey Press

First Edition: Dec 2013

































The elf workingnext to me is going to get bitch-slapped. It’s bad enough that I’m stuck working with chimney-scented Santa, but they also have to pair me up with her? Brittani grins at me in her glittering green elf outfit, and wiggles the tips of her fingers in a cutesy-style wave. She looks like something a unicorn barfed up, and I don’t look much better. We’re both decked out in Christmas tree-colored polyester green uniforms, green tights, and green elf shoes—which means the toes curl and have a bell, because what elf would be caught dead without a set of bells on their toes—along with make-up to make the tip of my nose and my cheeks look rosy.

If someone I know spots me,they’ll laugh their ass off, which is why I’m at the mall in Massapequa instead of the one by my house. I’ve always been the chick that perky girls run away from. But, my normal dark attire is at home collecting dust. I’ve been stuck wearing this tight, itchy, thing for the past month, filling in for girls who couldn’t bother (or were too ashamed) to show up.

To sum things up—this is the worst job ever. I’d rather be a pooper scooper for reindeers, because this is hell. Imagine dressing up like a slutty elf and being forced to stand in the middle of the mall all day long with a passive aggressive Santa and a perky chick who thinks she really is an elf. This is my life.

Ignoring Brittani, I walk over and kneel down in front of the next little kid that’sin line to have her picture taken with Smokey Santa. “Hey, sweetie. Are you ready to see Santa?” Her eyes go wide when I talk to her, and then her gaze lifts to my bright red hair and pointy little cap. Then she sees them—the elf ears.

Her little hand lifts hesitantly andshe points, “Your ears look pointy.”

I smile at her. She’s cute, maybe four or five, with a big red ribbon on the side of her chestnut hair. “It’s because I’m an elf.”

“And you sparkle.” Her awe ispalpable.

“I’m a Vegas elf. We’re all about the glitter. Come on and see Santa. He’sthe real deal.”

The little girl takes my hand as we walk up to the gingerbread house with Santa sitting on his throne, or whatever the hell it’s supposed to be. We walk slowly toward him since Brittani is letting a kid linger longer than she should.

The little girl’s grip on my hand tightens. “How do you know he’s the real Santa? My mom said the real Santa is working tonight.” He should be.NORAD has Santa’s ass in China right now, but the guy is sitting here taking gift orders. Go figure.

Smiling at her, I say, “When you get up there, take a sniff. The old guy smells like smoke. He was out earlier tonight, delivering presents and got stuck in a chimney. True story.” The little girl’s eyes light up and the second Santa’s lap is free, she races over.

Brittani scoffs and heads over to the next group, which contains one preteen boy who looks completely pissed off, and clearly does not want to be standing in line to see Santa. His arms are folded over his chest and he keeps shaking his head. Brittani can’t get him onto the red carpet where he’s supposed to wait his turn, and his little sister is starting to tear up. Not another screamer. Rushing over, I tell Brit to get the next one and lean in close to the older kid. “See Santa’s throne?” The little boy glances at me out of the corner of his eye, suspiciously. I know he doesn’t want to be caught dead anywhere near Santa’s Workshop. That stuff’s for little kids. So I hold up my hand to my mouth and lean in, whispering, “It’s made out of reindeer bones.”

“No way?” He glances over at me with wonder in his eyes. Yeah, too muchMinecraft for this one.

“Way. Touch it when you walk over. The armrest on the right ismade from Prancer’s left leg.”

The little boy takes his sister’s hand and pulls her onto the red carpet. His mom mouthsthank youand I turn around. Only a bazillion kids to go.

After work,the night isn’t even over. I have to show my face at a family Christmas party, and act like I’m fine, before I can head home. Whatever. For the next few hours I work myself to the bone, not wanting to think about the dreaded family festivities that await me. I help little kids get their picture with Santa that all their parents want. They slap down money and shove their child at a stranger in a costume without a second thought. It’s utterly weird when you stop to think about it.

Toward the end of the night, the line shrinks until there are only a few people remaining. I’m dead on my feet, and not really paying attention when I walk over to the dwindling line. My gaze doesn’t lift from the floor and neither do my shoulders. I’m ready to do a face plant and eat carpet. I’m twenty-two, my body isn’t supposed to ache like this until I’m thirty. Somehow, I got shortchanged a few years. Mother Nature is a bitch.

The guy is placing his order with the cashier, and for the first time I zero in on his voice over the crowd noise. My heart shudders as the hairs on the back of my neck prickle.

No. It can’t be him.



I’m almost too afraid to look up. I haven’t seen Chris since high school. He was two years older than me and completely off limits. Well, I could have had him, assuming I wanted to be roadkill. Chris was the kind of guy that’s never serious about anything. I ended up in the friend zone with him, which wasn’t a bad place to be. It was a safe place to be.

Nearly four years have passed since I last saw him, but I’d recognize his voice anywhere. My stomach sinks as I look up. Holy hell, he’s hotter than I remember. Icy blue eyes meet mine as his sexy mouth twists into a timid smirk.

“Yeah, I want the Santa’sSleigh Bells Package, but I want my picture with her.” He says to the cashier as he points at me with a sexy smile on his face.

Gwen is a middle-aged Mom with frizzy brown hair and a bad dye job. She blinks like she’s been sleeping and looks up from the cash register. “Excuse me? Did you say you wanted your picture with an elf?”

“Not any elf,” he points at me, “that elf.” Chris is grinning wickedly, licking his lips and staring at me like I’m the next yummy thing he plans to eat.

For a second, I forget everything and just stand there, shocked, with my pulse racing. He finally speaks to me, which snaps me out of it. “Hey, Brooke.”

I walk over to the cashier and look up at him. Chris is all man now, hard muscle, and a jaw that’s perfectly sculpted, with the body of a Greek god. Yeah, so four years have done him well, but me—not so much. My hips are fuller and I swear to God that I shrunk, because he seems taller. I find my voice and try to hide my shock. “Hey, Chris. Long time.”

There’s a playful grin on his lips. “Alittle too long. Imagine how delighted I was when I wandered by and saw you were a hot elf. All this time you were hiding out at the North Pole. No wonder why I haven’t seen you around.”

I give him a crooked smile and look away. “Yeah, well you know how it is.”

“No, I don’t. I’ve never really talked to an elf before, and the fact that you’re the surliest person I’ve ever met isn’t lost on me, either. How many people did you beat with a penguin today?”

“Just the one.” I laugh, and shake my head as I try to avoid those piercing blue eyes.

He smirks.“So, I’ll be number two.”

“That’s not something I’d go around saying out loud.”

Chris offers me that smile of his. It’s purely sexual with promises of carnal acts that will make my heart skip a beat and explode. Chris’s gaze dips to the carpet and then back up. “I probably shouldn’t tell people that I was standing in line all night to see you, either, but I did.”

Crap. He did not. The pit of my stomach drops as I think about Chris shooting pictures of me all over the internet. “Tell me you’re kidding.”

Tilting his head back, he narrows his gaze and slips his hands into his pockets. “Well, I didn’t hit tweet yet, but I could.” There it is. This beautiful man wants something from me.

Frack. “What’ll it cost me?”

“A picture with me, and maybe dinner.”

I look at him like he’s insane and point out the obvious.“It’s Christmas Eve.”

“Yes, I realize that. If it wasn’t, we’d need to do an intervention, because you look like you recently escaped from the Keebler factory, Brooke.”

I roll my eyes and tell the cashier to let him through. “Fine, but I’m not sitting on your lap.”

“Like I’d offer,” he retorts, dryly.

Santaquietly vacates his seat and goes to stand by Brit. Chris and I stand shoulder to shoulder and look straight ahead at the camera. They all watch us with knowing smiles, but they don’t know reindeer turds. Chris isn’t Mr. Relationship and I’m not looking for a one-nighter. As it is, life is hard. I don’t need another person who’ll use me and run. Besides, Chris doesn’t think of me like that. The entire time I knew him, he never put a move on me. We’re the definition of platonic.

As the photographer gets the camera ready, I mention, “I bet that’s one you haven’t done yet. Sex with an elf.”A satisfied smile lines my lips, as Blane, the camera guy, tells us to smile.

Chris chooses that moment to whisper in my ear, “Actually, I’d hoped to add an elf to my list tonight.”

My jaw drops as the shutter snaps. Turning quickly, I punch his arm and laugh. “Jackass.”

Still smiling, Chris watches me as I walk away, waiting to be rewarded for paying fifty bucks for the worst picture of us in existence. But, he doesn’t say anything. Chris just smiles at me, and waits for his prints on the other side of Santa’s Workshop.