Vera's Christmas Wish (Red Velvet Christmas)
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Copyright ©2013 Sarah Mäkelä
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Vera Hayes couldn't believe she'd come back to Finland for the winter holidays, but ever since she'd left last year, she couldn't stop thinking about Pekka, the sexiest -- and only -- elf she'd ever met. Spending Christmas without him stirred loneliness within her. However, how did she expect to find him?
If only she'd thought things through before booking her trip. Right now, she didn't have a plan. Maybe her first stop should be Santa Claus Village on the Arctic Circle. It was a tourist attraction, but knowing that Santa was real, it would be an excellent ploy to hide in plain sight.
The only other thing that stood out to her was the fact Pekka had been around all those reindeer. Perhaps he tended Santa's herds -- not that the realization helped much. She didn't have any idea where to find them.
Vera tapped her foot on the woven rug, staring around the cabin. She'd rented it in the same area as last time, optimistic that she'd spot him nearby. Earlier in the day, she'd been walking around, but there was no way she'd stay out too long this time. While she wanted to meet Pekka again, she didn't want to repeat her previous mistake and succeed in getting frostbite or hypothermia.
At no time on her hike did she spot any reindeer, but she had worn sturdy winter clothes. Not feeling like her limbs were about to snap off had been pleasant. However, the paranoia hadn't faded. She was alone and in the wilds of Finland.
Vera slumped onto the leather sofa. She was running out of ideas and fast. The clock hanging on the wall read a little after noon. There was still time to investigate the Santa Claus Village, but why would an actual elf be there?
Laughter bubbled up her throat. "What am I thinking? Santa Claus? Geez... This is crazy." Her parents had ruined the allure of Christmas by the time she was seven, laughing at the fact she believed Santa existed. Her youthful enthusiasm for the holidays had been crushed, making it hard to get excited when that time of the year came around... until meeting Pekka last year.
Ever since, she'd been counting down the days, excitement coursing through her. Maybe her parents had been wrong. Maybe Santa did exist. She knew there were elves. Pekka had proven that much.
Driving to the tourist spot didn't take too long, but the snowy roads were treacherous, with pockets of ice everywhere. Her hands ached and her knuckles were pale white from gripping the steering wheel when she finally pulled into a parking spot.
With the release of a breath of air she hadn't realized she'd been holding, Vera shook away the fear. It was over. Besides, she'd driven through worse.
People bustled around Santa Claus Village. Laughter and happiness radiated in their very demeanors -- then again, being here brought her a lot of joy too. The place was infectious. After forty-five minutes of searching, she'd visited all the shops and sights but none of them housed her sexy elf.
When she was done, she sat at a table in the restaurant with a cup of hot cocoa. Coming back to Finland in hopes of finding Pekka had to be one of the most insane things she'd ever done. What were the chances of her accomplishing her goal? Zip, zero, zilch.
Vera sipped the hot chocolate, enjoying the rich, delicious warmth. All around her were women with their smiling husbands and laughing kids. What did she have to show for her existence?
Certainly none of that.
Last year, her dreams of finding "The One" had nearly been achieved. She and her ex-fiance were going to live the perfect white picket fence life. Instead, he ended up breaking off their engagement before the holidays because he couldn't keep it in his pants.
Then again, if she was so focused on her love life, then why was she in Finland chasing after an elf who worked for Santa? The idea that their relationship would give her what she needed was ridiculous. But if he felt so right, did it matter?
Swallowing the last sip of her hot cocoa, she set her mug back down with a sigh. Perhaps she was just thinking too hard.