Hey readers! I've been ho, ho, ho'ing since June to bring you this year's crop of Christmas stories. My latest is Santa's Pet, a story about a football player and a tech genius CEO of her own social media company. Santa's Pet is a Jingle Belle Romance, full of steam and fun and Christmas cheer.
Brittney Reed’s life is boring, according to her flamboyant talk-of-the-town sister who drafts Brittney to be the sexy elf at this year’s Pet Rescue event at their Christmas Tree Farm.
~ Brittney ~
“Why do I have to look sexy?” I tug at the cheap polyester fabric of my sister Lacy’s skimpy elf costume. My boobs are bigger than hers, and even with the fake fur trim, my cleavage is as big as a sumo wrestler’s butt crack.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not overweight, but having double D’s means I’m top heavy, always in danger of toppling, or even worse, busting out with a wardrobe malfunction. Which is why I prefer to be behind the counter of our parents’ Christmas Tree farm or even better, facing a huge computer screen and writing code, not on display as an elf helping Santa give away rescue pets.
“Sexy sells,” Lacy says, handing me fishnet stockings. “Put these on under the fluffy furry boots.”
Uggs they’re not. These “boots” have six inch spike heels, and fur.
“Seriously?” I dangled the stockings sold only in adult specialty stores or online and delivered in brown paper. “I’ve never seen an elf wear fishnet stockings. Where’d you throw the candy cane striped ones that came with this?”
“Trust me,” my sexy sister, known as Racy Lacy, says. “You don’t want candy cane legs. They’re unflattering and will add twenty pounds to you.”
“Only because I’m wearing this mini dress. It’s so short and tight, I can’t even bend down.”
“Yes, you can.” Lacy’s eye glints with mischief. “And won’t old Santa get an eyeful.”
“Oh, you’ve gone too far.” I roll my eyes back until they scrape my frontal lobe. “I’m supposed to be helping kids find pets to rescue, not flirting with Grandpa Powers.”
Every year, the Powers Pet Store helped the Ragamuffin’s Rescue charity run an adoption event at our Christmas Tree farm during the weekends leading up to Christmas. Dogs, cat, birds, bunnies, farm animals, and an occasional squirrel are brought in from rescue centers all over the Bay Area and given the opportunity to meet prospective owners. The highlight of the event is taking a picture with an authentic Santa Claus, that is, one who is well over seventy years old and has a real white beard, a jiggly jelly belly, and a hearty deep ho, ho, ho.
My outgoing, flirty elder sister, Lacy, had always been the elf who helped the parents, usually the fathers, decide to spring for the pets. But this year, she’s pregnant and none of the maternity Christmas elf costumes are racy enough for her. Since Grandpa Powers is my grandfather’s best buddy, I’m stuck substituting for the pet rescue gala.
“You’re a natural.” Lacy brushes blush over my pale, sallow cheeks. “Blonde, blue-eyed, so white you look like you came from the North Pole. Won’t Grandpa Powers’ eyes twinkle when he puts you on his lap.”
I slap at my sister’s fluttery hand. “I’m not sitting in his lap.”
“You used to. It was the highlight of your year. You couldn’t wait to sit in Santa’s lap.”
“That was before I knew he was Grandpa Powers.” I can’t believe we’re having this discussion. “I was a baby.”
“Oh, come on, you were fifteen before you stopped sitting on Santa’s lap. I’m sure he’ll be glad to see you. Dad says his health hasn’t been the best.”
“In that case, I better wear something more modest, like maybe an angel costume.”
Lacy clapped her chest. “Heaven forbid. You might scare him straight to the next world. You look beautiful. Go to the barn and do your job. We’ve got over a hundred pets who need new homes. Last year was such a big success we doubled the number of animals.”
Grrr … My sister’s a marketing consultant. She has people skills. She’s sparkly and charming, a real extrovert. She could talk penguins into buying snow tires and mosquitos into giving blood. Me? I’m a computer nerd. I started my own software company before I was out of braces. I don’t socialize, I social media. I don’t gossip, I instant message. I don’t flirt. I use emoticons.
And I have no idea how I’m going to help Santa give away a hundred pets.
I’m so screwed, I need a miracle.
~ Ben ~
Ben Powers was too big for the Santa suit. At two hundred and forty pounds, he was looking to be one of the top pro draft picks next spring until his team blew the season with a 6-6 record. What horrid luck to end his senior year season with no chance of a bowl game appearance.
Now, he wasn’t sure he’d be ranked high enough, despite leading the regular season with stops and slamming quarterbacks left and right, earning the nickname of Bamm-Bamm Powers from the press.
“I’m not sure you want me ripping up your suit,” Ben said to his grandfather, Jon Powers, the usual Santa who represented his pet store at the annual Christmas Rescue event being held at the Reed Christmas Tree farm.
“No time to find another one,” Grandpa said. “You’ll just have to fit into it without the fake belly.”
Ben stretched the suit over his broad shoulders, unable to button the top. “This isn’t working. Isn’t there a Santa agency where you can call for a substitute?”
“Not this close to Christmas. The kids will be so excited about the puppies and kittens, they won’t notice. Besides, the fake beard will cover your chest area, so you can leave it unbuttoned.”
Grandpa had suffered a mild heart attack earlier this week and had been ordered by his doctor to take it easy, which meant no picking up children and bouncing them in his lap. Some of the toddlers could be pretty hefty, and oftentimes, parents wanted their twins and triplets to all climb aboard for a single photo.
Since his playing season was over, Ben had volunteered to help out Grandpa. Anything was better than going home to a snowy, windswept ranch in Wyoming where the entire town lived and breathed football, and every family gathering centered around the large screen TV. Usually, he wasn’t home since had had to train with his team for the bowl game, and he knew that the entire town would tune in to watch him play.
Ben pulled up the pants and cinched the generous waist. “The legs are too short.”
“Don’t worry. You’ll be wearing boots.” Grandpa hobbled to the closet and dug out a pair of shiny plastic boots with fake fur lining. “These might be a squeeze too, but you won’t be walking much.”
Ben snagged the boots, shaking his head. This gig was going to be a shit-show. Not only did he have to wear this hot, uncomfortable and itchy outfit, he’d have to endure grubby fingers pawing him and slobbery kisses from the little darlings.
But he owed it to his grandfather for helping him escape the ranch. Ben’s father had married a widow whose husband had left her with a huge spread. Suddenly, twelve year old Ben and his elder brothers, Damon and Nash, were shipped from San Francisco to a sprawling ranch outside of Buffalo, Wyoming near the Bighorn mountains, to blend in with an existing family full of kids.
“How many hours do I have to be in this costume?” Ben tugged the boots in place. Yep. They were tight and pinched his toes at the tip.
“Woorrroooaahh!” Treat, Grandpa’s elderly basset hound raised his head, howling his disapproval. Either that, or he was begging for a treat.
Grandpa bent over and scratched his dog all over his neck and ears. “You silly dog, that’s Ben pretending to be me. It’ll only be eight hours in the suit, but it’ll go fast. The elf will bring the kids and pets to you, and all you have to do is sit still while she arranges them for the picture. You don’t even have to smile since no one can see your face behind the beard.”
“Buh-buh beard?” Ben rubbed his smoothly shaven jaw as horror dawned on him. Not only was he going to be stuck for eight sweltering hours in a barn surrounded by barks, squawks, and howls, but he’d be behind a mass of yucky hair or polyester or whatever fake beards were made of.
“That’s the most important part of the costume,” Grandpa said. “Mine is one of the finest—made of hair from a yak’s belly. You’ll see. It’ll make you look and feel like a real Santa. Of course, I don’t use it anymore since I grew my own.”
[Snip. Please pre-order Santa's Pet and be the first to find out what happens when Brittney sits on Ben's lap].
While you're waiting, please pick up big sister Lacy's story, Christmas Flirt, from your favorite retailer today.
Lacy Reed is the ultimate bad girl, and she doesn’t care what anyone thinks—until her naked selfies show up on her boss’s cell phone.
Brandon Cole never smiles, ever. Not even when Lacy’s indecent selfies appear on his phone. He’s got an image and reputation to protect. Already a VP before age thirty, he doesn’t need flirtatious and nosy Lacy to get close and discover his well hidden secret.
When hackers break into their company’s network, Lacy and Brandon walk into a trap where Brandon’s past catches up with him. What will he risk to free himself in a gamble that Lacy’s flirting has turned to love and grant him his secret Christmas wish?