Santa's making a list, checking it twice, and keeping all the other holidays in check. But when an upstart Valentine's Day out for revenge infects one of Santa's precious Think Tank Elves with a true soul mate, the claws come out. Now he's going to see to it that his Elf and the naughty human to whom he's bound have a very Merry Khristmas... or else.
Praise for Santa's Claws
"SANTA'S CLAWS is a fun read for anyone looking for a Christmas read that defies convention. It's wickedly fun."
- 5 Blue Ribbons from Chrissy, Romance Junkies
White Hot Christmas: Santa's Claws
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2011 Stephanie Burke
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Noel looked around at the wreck of her apartment and added another tick to her mental column, Why I hate Christmas.
In addition to having family drop by, expecting her to cook all kinds of holiday treats, there was the added bonus of having them suck down all her booze in moments, making her house drier than a schoolteacher during Prohibition.
And for what? For them to tell her things would get better? That she was lucky to have her shitty job as a code monkey? That all she needed was the love of a good man, woman, pet, plant, inanimate battery operated device -- insert the one that works for you, hon -- in her life?
She slammed another empty container of potato salad -- the potato salad she'd made herself to supplement her lunch of holiday ham sandwiches -- into the trash and tried not to scream. The spiral cut ham North Pole Industries had given its employees in lieu of a Christmas bonus this year -- cheap bastards -- was gone too. Now she'd have to go shopping for sandwich fodder.
Last time she'd been forced to shop on the twenty-fourth, she'd gotten elbowed in the eye by a new wife frantic for candied yams. The final straw had been getting elbowed by a granny with a fierce walking stick over a bag of marshmallows. "I need this for hot cocoa after fireplace sex!" she'd ranted, brandishing the cane. Noel conceded on that point, but she did make off with a pizza and felt no guilt for it.
And now she was going to be forced to go back into the cold night to hunt down food. No one would be open on Christmas Day, and she had to be at work on time on the twenty-sixth or she'd risk losing her holiday pay.
"Ho-fucking-ho," she muttered, reaching for her coat. She checked her pocket for mace and her brass knuckles along with her wallet. This year, she was going in prepared.
She opened her door and flinched at the sound of annoyingly cheerful jingle bells.
"Someone needs to turn that stupid music down," she muttered, picking up her garbage bag and stepping out of her apartment. They'd been forcing her to listen to holiday cheer since before Halloween. By now she was right tired of all Christmas music, from "The Christmas Song" to "All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth."
Hell, all she wanted for Christmas was for it to go away.
She had just turned to lock her door when a blast of cold made her spin around. Noel's mouth dropped open when she got a gander at what was going on in her hallway. It was snowing.
Yes, there was a light dry snow falling, coating the carpet, killing the inside fichus, and just being so wrong that it shocked her into silence. Her keys dropped to the snowdrift building in front of her door.
It was snowing in her hallway, and that just wasn't supposed to happen.
"What the --" Her words were cut off as a gust of wind knocked her off her feet, and something hard landed on top of her.
By the time she blinked the snow out of her eyes, she was more than ready to call it a night, with or without food. But the thing on her chest shifted, and she looked up to see the most intense pair of black eyes she had ever seen.
They blinked at her, looking as confused as she felt, and she looked down to take the whole of him in.
God, he was gorgeous. His hair was a tousled mass of dark curls. His face was narrow with a strong jaw line and a stubborn chin over which sat the most enticing set of full, red lips. They made her think of oral sex and hours of kissing fun. He wore a velvet jacket that did nothing to hide his muscular body.
He rose up enough to rake the hair back from his face, exposing a set of ears that would have made most Star Trek fans green with envy. Noel felt her eyes go wide as the damn ears wiggled. And not in a mechanical, costumed way either. She knew what robotic motions looked like. These ears moved naturally. No costumer in the world could perfectly duplicate that reflex motion or the flush of red that flowed from his face to the tips of his ears.
"Hello." His voice was deep and mellow, curiously gentle and soothing to her wound-tight nerves.
"Uh, hello?" she responded in a squeak. Certain body parts grew swollen and moist.
"Yes, hello," he repeated, his voice oddly accented. "How are you?"
The word wanton rolled through her mind, but she repressed the urge to be that honest. "Fine," she replied, noting the oddity of having a conversation with a man practically sitting on your crotch, but carrying on anyway. "And yourself?"
"I am wonderful." He smiled fully, and Noel no longer felt the cold of the snow she was lying on. Lust had set up camp and wasn't going anywhere soon.
"So..." She fought back a giggle. A giggle! She hadn't giggled since mullets were cool. And mullets had never been cool in her book. But here she was, acting like a schoolgirl speaking to her crush for the first time. Never mind the fact that the man was a perfect stranger with ear disabilities, she wasn't knocking him off her lap and running for the hills. Something was not quite right.
"So..." He let the word trail off. "Ever have sex with an Elf?"