Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmastime Romance


Tis the season for snow falling, gift giving, and cuddling up by a warm fire. Romance at Christmastime? What could be better than that? Not much. 

If you found me by way of Veronica Forand http://veronicaforand.com, welcome! This week author Carrie Elks wants to know about our favorite Christmas story. 

This was a hard one for me to answer. I mean, I know what my favorite holiday movie is . . . 

and I've read some books that take place during Christmas (none of which come to mind at the moment), but I don't necessarily have a favorite romance story to share with you. So what's a girl to do? 
Write her own story, of course!  

Let me set the stage. This scene comes from my current WIP featuring Sophie, the tough as nails principal of a struggling charter school, and reckless, bad boy Mateo, a wounded ex-Marine who is struggling to find a new purpose in life. Sophie has asked Mateo to play the part of Santa for the upcoming Winter Festival, in a last ditch effort to raise enough money to keep her school afloat. 

Excerpt
The nerve of that man, Sophie thought as she yanked her sweater over her head, tossing it to the ground. She grabbed an old flannel nightgown from the costume rack. Thankfully Mr. Richardson was a packrat and refused to throw away any prop or costume, insisting it would come in handy someday. 
She breathed a sigh of relief as the gown easily slid over her head and onto her body, effectively obscuring any womanly curves her body had. It fit. The ruffle at the bottom skimmed the floor as she spun around. 
Rummaging through the rack, Sophie confiscated a white apron, grey wig, and old-fashioned nightcap to help her finish the look. It was a far cry from the Santa that the little ones were anxiously waiting to see, but maybe seeing her dressed as Mrs. Claus would help appease them. 
Her mind swirled as she finished dressing. She should have known he’d disappoint the kids like this. From the first moment she’d met the infuriating man, Mateo had been a cranky old pain in the ass. What’d she been thinking, bringing him in as a volunteer at a school? A school, for crying out loud! 
The insufferable man was nothing more than a Scrooge, a scrooge who was disappointing more than the kids.  She hated to admit it, but Mateo was disappointing her, too. 
She cast a quick glance in the dressing room mirror.  The wig was atrociously ugly, but as she tucked the last strands of her long tresses away she had to admit, the transformation was nearly done. Gently she arranged the nightcap on top of the wig. 
Something was still missing. She scanned the room again. On a table in the corner of the room, she spied a pair of old glasses. It was the perfect item to complete the look.  Grabbing them on her way out the door, she slipped them onto her face and slid them down the bridge of her nose. 
With any luck, no one would be the wiser. Or at least she hoped so as she took the stage. 
A hush fell over the audience as the spotlight found her. The kindergartners stared at her wide-eyed. From the back of the room came a few snickers from the more cynical of her students.
A rocking chair had been positioned in the center of the stage. She took her seat and leaned forward. “I’m so sorry, boys and girls, but it appears that Santa has been delayed. But you can tell me what you want for Christmas and I’ll be sure to pass it along to Old Saint Nick.” 
A few kids in the front row frowned at her, clearly unhappy with the bait and switch that had taken place. If she didn’t do something fast, the whole event would be ruined. 
Damn that man! She resisted the urge to wipe away the tears that began to fill her eyes. Was it too much to ask that he follow through with a commitment for once? 
The rumblings of malcontent grew louder. She was losing them. 
“Ho, Ho, Ho,” a deep voice rumbled through the auditorium.  
The spotlights suddenly swiveled, trying to find the tardy Santa Claus in the back of the room. The crowd parted as a man dressed in full Santa regalia made his way down the aisle. “Sorry I’m late. You know how bad traffic in L.A. can be this time of night.” He chuckled. 
Hands reached out to stroke his red coat as he tromped past. Behind him he dragged a large red sack that bulged at the seams. 
Presents? That hadn’t been part of the deal. Her heart melted at the gesture. 
Mateo commanded everyone’s attention, hers included, as he hitched his sack over one shoulder, clomping his way up the stage steps, heading her way. Like laser beams drilling into her, his eyes had her pinned to her chair, unable to look away, unable to flee the scene, unable to breathe. Despite the extra padding around his midsection and fake white facial hair, Mateo made one hell of a sexy Santa. His rich baritone voice echoed with each ho, ho, ho and there was no denying that cocky strut of his. This Santa oozed confidence and sex appeal as surely as if he’d been gyrating wearing nothing more than a strand of garland around his hips and a Santa hat on his head. 
Grateful that she was still cloaked in shadow on the dark stage, no one else would be able to see how her face flushed. Hell, her whole body had suddenly flushed with desire, making her want to strip off the granny clothes and beg Santa to spank her for having such naughty thoughts. 
“Well then, boys and girls. Now that Santa is here, I guess I’ll be on my way.” Sophie abruptly stood and backed up. The empty rocking chair rocked wildly in her absence. 
“Now wait a minute, Mrs. Claus.” He dropped the heavy satchel on the ground and gifts spilled out of it. “Is that any way to greet your husband? How about a little kiss?” 
Mateo leaned over and puckered up for a kiss.  Clearly Santa was feeling a little frisky tonight. Had he been drinking? 
A second spotlight found her, trapping her where she stood. Oh God, now what? Clearly they were reading from different scripts. Hell, she wasn’t even sure if there were acting in the same play. 
She gave the audience a tentative smile, playing along. “Well, someone has to take care of feeding the reindeer, right dear?” she prompted him. 
If he knew what was good for him, he’d take the hint. But based on the slow smile that spread across his face, he had absolutely no intention of letting her off the hook. “My elves will take care of Rudolf and all his reindeer friends. Now about that kiss.”
She gulped and took a step to the side. “Not so fast, Mr. Claus.” She put her hand up to stop him from getting any closer. Thinking was impossible when he was too close to her. “I don’t see any mistletoe hanging around here, do you?” 
The question was aimed at the audience. Seeing anyone past the stage lights blinding her was difficult, but she thought she saw a few heads shook no. 
“You mean like this?” Mateo pulled a clump of mistletoe from his pocket and held it up. 
“Kiss her!” a voice shouted out. 
Traitors.
The room exploded into chanting. “Kiss her! Kiss her!” 
How had she not seen this coming? Fueled by pre-teen hormones, the eight graders had turned the ever-growing audience into a full-blown mob. 
Mateo shrugged, the corners of his mouth curling up impishly. 
“With pleasure,” he said under his breath so only she could hear. He caught her outstretched arm and pulled her into his embrace.  
“Don’t you dare,” she warned Mateo, but his dark eyes glimmered mischievously. Even though his fake Santa beard covered most of his face, his lips - full and inviting - were very, very much real. Her lady parts were doing a jig at the sinfully naughty thoughts that raced through her head. 
“Kiss her! Kiss her!” 
The chanting faded into the background as she stared at his lips, mesmerized. What would he taste like? She imagined coffee or some other manly sort of flavor, like beef jerky or bacon. 
“Can’t disappoint our audience, now can we?” He winked and dropped her into a low dip.  
“Oh!” she gasped. Her hands clung to his shoulders to prevent herself from falling to the ground. Thick corded muscles flexed beneath his costume. 
“That’s the sound I want to hear you scream, over and over again,” he whispered, his gaze smoldering, setting every inch of her body on fire. 
His breath smelled of peppermint. Like he’d been sucking on a candy cane only moments before. She wondered if his lips would taste sticky and sweet. 
He dipped his head and her eyes drifted shut in anticipation. 
Mateo’s lips brushed hers, so softly that she wasn’t entirely sure she hadn’t imagined the whole thing. She held her breath and waited for him to claim her mouth again. Waited for a kiss that never came. 
That’s it? she thought. After all that . . . that . . .foreplay, all she got was a barely-there peck on the lips? Her eyes flew open and she searched his face for some hint as to what was going through his head. 
But there was no chink in his poker face. The perfectly disciplined solider was back. She found her feet and righted herself, more than a little embarrassed by her public display of passion. 
“Smile for the audience,” ‘Teo hissed, and turned away from her, leaving her more confused than ever. “Mrs. Claus, everyone!” his voice boomed. 
The audience erupted in whistles and applause as she bowed and then exited the stage on shaky legs.
“Now who wants to be first?” 'Teo said as he sat down in the rocking chair.
Shouts of "Me! Me!" and "I do!" filled the air as Sophie escaped to her office to soothe the disappointment she felt. What the hell just happened? 

There you go. A little glimpse into the lives of Sophie and Mateo and their Christmastime romance. Is this scene worth keeping? Comments and suggestions are always welcome! 

Next up on the blog hop is Brenda Margriet http://www.brendamargriet.com/blog. See y'all next week! 

7 comments:

  1. Smiling so huge at this guy - what a trip, nicely done Elizabeth!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Loved the excerpt and White Christmas is one of my favorite movies too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I've always had a soft spot for musicals thanks to my parents.

      Delete
  3. Very nice - loved that scene. Sounds like a fun and interesting plot - Mr. & Mrs. Claus - great idea. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete