Santa's Helper: Drink Me Sweetly
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Copyright ©2012 Adera Orfanelli
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Tony's muttered curse stopped Cora cold. She paused, knowing he should have been tending the counter. Morning rush might have ended, but lunch patrons would just be starting to come into the store. A metal shelf rattled, no doubt banged by an errant elbow, and Tony muttered something under his breath. The deep, gravelly voice never failed to dampen her panties. It was partially the reason why she'd hired him a month ago to fill in during the holiday season. She needed an elf. The launch party tonight for the holiday season at The Bitter Bean would be the start of her big promotion. She hoped to parlay this into a second shop across town.
Cora took a deep breath, then winced as she inhaled the rich, hot scent of his blood. He must have cut himself.
She stepped forward, unable to keep from peeking into the storage closet. The door was closed, but not quite, because she got a view of a bare back and candy cane boxer shorts.
She started to laugh, clamping a hand over her mouth to stop the noise. A vampire of her age and status shouldn't laugh, not at a mere mortal, even one as perfectly formed as this. She'd known he'd been hiding a killer body beneath his loose button-down shirts and jeans, but that ass...
Her nipples pebbled. Heat instantly rolled through her body even though she hadn't fed for at least eight hours. Maybe a sip of something would cool the fever rising in her blood. A sip of him might heat things up further. She grinned and stepped back.
The heel of her stilettos caught on the open flap of a coffee filter box. She wobbled, only her heightened senses keeping her upright. Through the door she watched masculine hands pause in the act of pulling up a pair of jeans.
"Someone out there?" he called.
I'm not here. I didn't see you. Liar, she called herself, and backed away from the sight of the rounded globes of his ass covered by novelty boxer shorts and the muscled, tanned back revealed when he'd changed his shirt.
Who changed clothes in a supply closet anyway? She figured he'd duck into the bathroom. That was where normal people went to change clothes. Except nothing about him was normal, and that was why she was considering -- no, she never broke her own rules. But damned if he didn't tempt her all the same.
She hurried back to the counter, thankful she'd had centuries to master the art of walking quietly in high heels, and stood there with a serene expression on her face as he came out of the closet dressed in a clean, blue denim button-down shirt and jeans.
"Better?" Cora asked.
"Yeah. Glad I keep spare clothes here in case accidents happen." Tony slid past her, the woodsy soap fragrance of his skin teasing her senses. Warmth from his body radiated into hers, and she wanted to arch her back and purr at the sensation. Her fingers flexed against the counter. "Just glad it got me instead of the customer."
"We were lucky," she replied, thinking she was the lucky one who'd caught a view of his body. A view that would haunt her for a long time to come, she figured.
The bells above the door jingled. No holiday music played in the shop's sound system; she refused to bombard her customers with it. The young man came to the counter and ordered an espresso, double shot, to go.
Efficient as ever, Tony made the drink while she swiped the customer's card at the register. Just as she was finishing up the transaction, Tony had the cup containing brown, liquid gold passing across the counter. The patron left. With his absence, the shop was empty for the moment.
"You okay with the party tonight?" Cora asked. She glanced at a couple outside. They paused, heads bent together intimately as they spoke. A moment later the woman straightened, shook her head, and the two walked off. Damn, she envied those two. Never before in her hundred and fifty years had she felt the need to partner beyond mutual sexual needs.
"Sure. I wear my elf suit, pass out complimentary drinks, and watch for people imbibing too much." Tony smiled, revealing a dimple in his cheek. "I got it."
Cora found herself answering his smile. "Good. I'm going to spend the afternoon in the office. See you later." She ducked past him, working hard to keep from pressing against him in the close confines behind the counter. "Use the intercom if you run into problems."
"I'll be fine. Don't worry."
She nodded, knowing it was him she was worried about.