Home > A Little Christmas Romance(2)

A Little Christmas Romance(2)
Author: H.M. Ward

“Why do you look so hot?” I roll my eyes and turn to leave. Chris jumps up and is next to me before I’m two steps down the hallway that leads to my car. “Brooke, wait.” He touches my elbow and sends a current straight through my heart. I don’t mean to, but I shake him off. What the hell was that? His blue eyes slip over my face, like he’s worried that he won’t see me again. “Let me take you to dinner. We can catch up. You can tell me about the one ring to rule them all, and I can tell you how much I’ve missed you.” He was always charming, but this is a bit much. It feels like he wants to say more, but he doesn’t.

I laugh, but it’s of the nervous, defensive, variety. Chris looks at me like he can tell. “Yeah, I’m sure.”

His fingers brush my arm, hesitantly, and a shiver rips through me again, making me feel like I licked a socket. “Which part are you contesting? That you’re dressed like an elf or that I missed you, because I think both points are pretty clear.”

Pressing my lips together, I stop walking just before the glass doors to the parking lot. The PA system in the mall announces that it’s closing time and tells people to get out. A few shoppers rush past us with big bags. I bet their lucky kids get tape and rubber band balls because every store has been picked clean. The only things left are office supplies. Happy Christmas, here’s a stapler.

I bite back what I want to say and just push through the doors. It’s snowing. Great. My coat is in the car, so I sprint for it. Chris is on my heels, manages to catch up, and snatches my wrist before I can get the door open. He yanks it hard, making me spin around to face him. He takes a step toward me and uses his body to pin me in place. Sparks shoot through each point of contact and short out my brain.

He lowers his face so that his lips are right by mine. “Have dinner with me.”

“No.” My voice is gone. It comes out in a breath of frozen air.

“Have dinner with me.” He says it again, but his voice sounds different. Chris tips his head to the side and inches closer to my lips, but he still lingers too far away to kiss me.

I don’t trust myself to speak, so I shake my head once, slightly.

Chris presses his forehead to mine. “Have dinner with me.”

A shiver darts down my spine, but it has nothing to do with the weather. My eyes dart between his mouth and the ground. “Say what you really want, Chris.”

The smile fades from his lips. “I want you, Brooke.”

My heart flutters. He said exactly what I wanted to hear, but he’s said those words to lots of other girls too. “Thanks, but no.” Pressing my hands onto his chest, I push him away, and turn to unlock my door.

“You’re really going to drive away and leave me here?” He gives me a puppy dog face as snowflakes land in his dark hair.

After unlocking the door, I look up at him. “You really want to come with me?”

He nods. “Anywhere. Take me, baby.” He grins and then forces a serious face. “I mean it. Let’s go. Anywhere you want.”

Sucker. I point at the passenger door of my beat up old car. “Get in.”


Aunt Maureen nearly rips off Chris’ cheek when she pinches his face. “He’s so cute! Where’d you find him?”

“At the mall. They had a dozen other models exactly like him.” Grinning, I wink at Chris.

He extracts his face from Aunt Maureen’s grip. “Oh, burn. I’m hurt. Seriously. You think this could be mass produced?” He presses his hand to his chest, like he’s a sight to behold, and he is, but Chris doesn’t need a bigger ego, so I don’t bother looking at him.

“You won’t have a face left after this. All these old ladies are going to pinch it off. Oh, and stay away from Nick and Aunt Chrissy.” I start to walk away, but Chris reaches out for me, grabbing my wrist.

Nervously he asks, “Where are you going?”

I gesture to my outfit. “Elf, hello? Santa needs me.” I wink and disappear through the crowd of crazy people who happen to be my family. They’re loud and most of them are intoxicated. Add in the hyper children and the falling snow, and it’s a scary sight.

My cousin, Rachel, grabs my arm. “Is that—”

“No.” I cut her off before Chris hears and grab her arm, walking away from him as fast as possible.

“But it looks like that guy you used to have a crush on. And he’s totally drooling over you.” Rach follows me back to Aunt Maureen’s bedroom. I’m supposed to help Santa in through the window. Hopefully no one will shoot his ass before I can pull him through. We aren’t in the best neighborhood.

I unlock the window and push it open. My cousin Jimmy is standing outside, wearing a santa costume. “Brookie! Nice elf ears.”

“Bite me.”

Rachel is still needling me. “So, are you guys a thing? Have you seen his thing?” She giggles and sloshes the contents of her red plastic cup, as I try to push the screen out of the window. Jimmy makes a face and the screen falls.

“Nope and no plans to, but if he’s lucky Nick is probably hitting on him right now.”

Rachel giggles, “Or Aunt Chrissy. God, she’s a slut and he’s fresh meat. Both of them are going to be all over him since you walked away.”

Smirking, I turn and look at her. “I know.”

“You’re so mean.” Rachel looks at the window. “What the hell is taking so long? Where’s Jimmy?”

We both stick our heads out the window to look for him, and get treated to a face full of snow. Have I told you that my relatives are asses? We both sputter, wiping the snow off our faces, and pull our heads back inside.

“You little shit!” Rachel screams at her brother and points at her sweater. “This is cashmere! It can’t get wet.”

Jabbing my thumbs at my elf garb, I say, “Polyester. I’m pretty sure this thing could survive the Apocalypse.” I brush the snow off the shoulder of her outfit. “There, it’s fine. No harm.”

“He’s still a buttface.”

“Nice. That’ll show him.” Before I can say another word, Rach tosses herself through the window and lands with an oof on the frozen ground. Jimmy laughs like a hyena and runs. I watch from the window as Rachel manages to slam into her brother and knock him to the ground.

The bedroom door opens behind me and Chris rushes through with Aunt Chrissy behind him. There are hot pink lipstick smears on his collar that match Aunt Chrissy’s mouth. Chris’s eyes are wide with that panicked look that men get when they realize that my aunt is insane.

“Brooke,” he squeaks and rushes over to me. “Tell your aunt that we’re an item.” He has a pleading look that is completely hysterical.

“We used to be, but he just can’t get over me. You can have him.” I gesture for her to take him and look back out the window.

Chris’s voice jumps an octave as he rushes at me. “She’s just teasing!”

I’m laughing at him. “You said you wanted to come.”

“I didn’t know they were all crazy.”

At that moment we look out at my two cousins in time to see Jimmy slip on a patch of ice and go sailing across the lawn, and smack face first into a tree. He falls on his ass and sits there for a second before trying to get up. He’s laughing like he drank a box of wine before he showed up, and wails when he tries to put weight on his leg.

Rachel wanders over to him outside, scolding as she walks. “Shut up! You’re too damn loud!” Her whisper-yell could wake the dead. The drink in her hand sloshes out of the plastic cup, leaving a trail in her wake.

God, they’re so mental. Rachel looks back at me, offers an exasperated face, and points to the ground next to her. Shaking my head, I stay at the sill. “Yeah, I don’t think so. You deal with it and I’ll keep anyone else from jumping out the window.”

Rach glares at me. “Wimp.”

“Yeah, that’s it.”

Chris is standing next to me, watching Jimmy try to stand up with Rachel’s help. When he puts weight on his leg, he yelps and falls over, pulling Rach down with him. I try not to laugh, and notice that Chris is suppressing a smile next to me.

He leans in, we’re shoulder to shoulder at the window, leaning on the ledge and looking out. “So, your aunt really needs a door in here.” I’m about to reply when Chris yelps and spins around to see Aunt Chrissy right behind him with a grin on her pink lips. I’m pretty sure she pinched his butt.

She rolls her eyes like we’re all stupid. “Get the santa suit and get on with it. The kids can’t see Santa hobbling around and then notice Jimmy with a broken ankle. It’ll ruin the whole thing and we’ll have a ton of kids crying their eyes out. Why the hell is he outside anyway?” It was supposed to be so he could surprise everyone. Snapping out the window, Aunt Chrissy yells, “Fork over the hat and jacket right now. The kids are waiting.”

“You’re going to dress up like Santa?” I ask my Aunt.

“Don’t be an idiot. He is.” She practically purrs the last part when she points at Chris.

Chris laughs nervously and holds me in front of him. “I’m with Brooke. Tell her or I won’t do it.”

I eye him. “You’d make little kids cry?”

He whispers in my ear, “I’m going to cry if you don’t get rid of her.”

Chuckling, I finally say, “He’s with me.”


Chris looks great in the santa suit, even though it’s a little bit too big. We have fun with the kids, sitting by the pink plastic Christmas tree. Chris is really good with them, and they’re practically rabid since they’re all jacked up on sugar cookies and eggnog—crazy little bastards—but Chris doesn’t mind. He lets them climb on him, and hands out gifts until every package is gone.

When the little kids finally stop using him as a jungle gym, I can get close to him again. There’s a teasing comment on my lips, but I don’t get a chance to say it before Chris pulls me by the waist, yanking me up against his hard body in that soft santa suit. “So,” he says in my ear, “Did you intentionally abandon me to your horny aunt or was that a bonus?”

I feel the heat from his body through the suit and like the way his arms feel around me. Too bad it can’t go anywhere. Chris is beautiful beyond words, and the pull I feel toward him is only normal. I mean, the guy is charming, hot, and cocky. That’s a trifecta so lethal that it should be outlawed.

God, he smells good.

Glancing over my shoulder, I see my aunt and laugh, before looking back at Chris. “It was a bonus, and a really funny one.” Flicking his fake beard, I add, “You make a nice Santa.”

He smiles at me, but it’s not the flirty grin he throws around. It’s soft and pensive, like he really enjoys what he’s looking at. Releasing his hold on my waist, he looks away and tugs his santa hat down before running his hands through his hair. “Seriously, thanks for that.”

“No problem.” I glance at my watch and wonder if it’s too soon to cut out. I feel like an emotional lunatic and no matter how hard I try to force the feelings away, they keep coming back. If it were possible, I’d cancel every holiday for the next three years just so I don’t have to deal with it.

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