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Advance Search

Christmas Wrapping

Published by: eXtasy Books

Author : D.S. Dehel

ISBN :978-1-4874-4088-6

Page :105

Word Count :30602

Publication Date :2023-12-08

Series : #

Heat Level :

Available Formats : Christmas Wrapping (prc) , Christmas Wrapping (pdf) , Christmas Wrapping (mobi) , Christmas Wrapping (epub)

Category : Paranormal Romance , Romance , Holiday , Christmas

  • Product Code: 978-1-4874-4088-6

Totally wrap yourself in holiday magic.

Christmas 1985 promises to be dull for Steph Marshall, a computer whiz stuck in a dead-end mall job. Then two small strangers enter her life... and kidnap her as a present for their boss, Nick Claus. When she wakes under a Christmas tree, Steph is furious at her abductors and Nick. But she soon learns that Nick is not like his father, Kris Claus. He’s charming, funny, and most of all, kind to everyone he meets. She finds herself drawn to the Santa-in-Waiting.

But things at the North Pole aren’t like the songs describe. Not everyone is a jolly old elf. This world is too different from all she knows, full of magic and reindeer shifters, and to make things worse, Nick won’t stand up to his father and make the changes the North Pole needs. Can Steph help Nick break from tradition and be the Claus he’s meant to be? Or will Christmas morning come too soon?

1-2-3-4. 1-2-3-4. The tinny, repetitive opening notes to the carol began. Again. Steph Marshall groaned and rested her head on the counter as the guitar riff launched the singer into opining about how bad her year had been. The sad part was that she loved this song, but the store only had one tape of approved Christmas music, and it had been on repeat since Black Friday. The same forty Christmas songs over and over again. If she heard Last Christmas one more time, she’d punch someone.

Oh well, time to check the store, even if no one had crossed the threshold in the last thirty minutes. Extended mall hours were a good idea a week ago, but so far that day, only a few increasingly desperate-looking men had come in, searching for a last-minute gift. Now, no one roamed the empty mall.

As she walked, she automatically ran her hands along the hangers, making sure they faced the right way and were hung by size. So many things like this had become a habit for her over the last four months. HipSociety had only opened in late August. Corporate had taken a gamble by bringing their brand to her mid-sized city in a small state, and in turn, the manager, Kent, had taken a chance on her because she decidedly did not fit the store’s vibe at first. She hadn’t wanted to change her aesthetic—as she thought of it—but needed the money, so she’d toned down her mohawk, dyed her hair a more somber shade, and taken the safety pins out of her ears. Most days she looked normal-ish, but not Preppy. Never Preppy.

At the front of the store, she put her hands on her hips and surveyed her fiefdom. Not bad. Maybe I’ll get to sneak in a few pages. Kent disapproved of reading on the job. He routinely spouted If you can lean, you can clean... But he wasn’t here, and the store was perfect.

Abstract mannequins made of metal sported garland and elf hats along with their more traditional wares. Displays tucked into niches formed by wall-mounted clothing racks enticed customers in with their over-the-top Christmas and Hanukkah sweaters. Display hooks held the oversized socks she could easily stack above ratty sneakers. She loved ridiculously chunky clothing. Scattered throughout the store sat tables laden with trendy graphic t-shirts folded neatly...

Wait. Who messed that up?

On the far side of the store, a tower of shirts sat askew, and two had been bunched and hidden between two stacks.

I bet it was that grubby kid. About an hour earlier, a dad dragging along his two crotch goblins had come in search of a gift for their college-age older brother. As she’d talked the father into a shirt and pants combo, the brats had ransacked the store, rearranging rounders and shifting the shoes. Somehow, she’d missed their tumbling of the tees. Ugh. Kids. The holidays would be so much better without them.

She shoved the sleeves of her oversized sweater up and stormed across the store, relishing the thunk of her punk rocker boots—festively decorated ones, of course—against the concrete floor. HipSociety eschewed carpet.

Shake out. Fold. Fold. Flip.

The action had become routine for her, and she lost herself in the rhythm of the work. Between shirts, a quick glance at her Velvet Underground Swatch—she was only wearing one instead of three—told her that a measly fifteen minutes had passed. Will tonight ever end?

Not that she had much to look forward to.

A flash of green and red threw her ruminating off track. A customer.

“Good evening, welcome to...” The words died on her lips.

In front of her stood a diminutive man dressed in green Lycra pants and a silver spangled sweater, like from a hair band—a child-sized extra in a Twisted Sister video.

He flicked crimped bleach-blonde bangs out of his eyes before smirking at her. “Welcome to?”

“HipSociety. Duh.” A bored voice—not Steph’s—came from the front of the store.

Steph turned to see another small person pointing at the sign bearing the store’s bowler-hatted mustachioed logo, but this one wore red leather pants and a puffy pirate shirt. His face was painted with green and gold. An Adam Ant wannabe

I’ve never seen a little person before except in the movies, and tonight two enter my store. Totally weird. She shook herself mentally and drew herself up. “Yes, HipSociety. Good reading of the sign.”

Beside her, the Rocker man snorted. The New Romantic guy frowned. Kent would kill her if someone complained to corporate. She was allowed to dress sassy but not act it.

She plastered on her best saleswoman smile. “Gentlemen, how can I help you? Looking for a last-minute gift?”

Rocker dude pointed to himself. “I’m Perry.” Then he indicated his companion. “That’s Jack.”

Jack gave her a half-assed salute and a saucy smile.

Totally weird. Most customers over the age of five did not introduce themselves. “Er—nice to meet you.”

She patted the now perfect pile of shirts and crossed to where Perry stood. “So, how can I help you? It’s almost Christmas. You’re running out of time.” Almost time for me to go home.

Jack sauntered over. “It’s for our boss.” He ran his gaze up and down her body. “Something memorable.”

What a dick. Never one to be intimidated by a forward man, she imitated his example by taking her time checking out his outfit. “Did you just come from a bitchin’ office party?” Slang wasn’t how she usually communicated, but corporate wanted trend.

Jack blinked twice, but then an amused smile crossed his face. “No.”

“Our party is tomorrow night.” Perry looked around the store. “It’s a ball with dancing and everything.”

“Wow. That’s a demanding boss.” The words slipped out before she could edit them. “A party on Christmas Eve?”

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Tags: Romance, Christmas, Holiday, Paranormal