Happy Release Day to ME!
Or, happy re-release day to me. A version of this story was included in an anthology last Christmas, A Very Alpha Christmas. That anthology is what allowed me to say that I was a USA Today Bestselling Author. To say it was an incredible feeling would be an understatement.
I haven’t re-released my story from that collection until now because I wanted it to come out at Christmas. I’ve doubled the word count, added a bit more back story and a few additional characters than weren’t in the original telling. I do hope you’ll like it. It’s fun and fanciful and charming. And it’s open-ended enough that I could write additional books if there’s enough interest.
I’ll be adding additional formats for sale soon.
The picturesque town of Snows Fall has a new resident: Rand. Lead reindeer and… Santa’s son.
Rand has some pretty big doubts about humanity’s inherent good versus their apparent greed. But doubts aren’t tolerated in the North Pole where wonder and magic rule the kingdom of Christmas.
The one thing Rand does believe in is an elf named Blix. She’s the owner of Wishes Bakery and the future Mrs. Only, she doesn’t know about that last part. Rand didn’t have the chance to tell her before waking up in a snow covered cabin far from home with more questions than answers.
Now he’s alone, just days before Christmas with nothing but a basket of Blix’s magical cookies and a few wishes of his own.
Is it too late for Rand? Will he be banished forever? Or do the holidays, his parents, and the town of Snows Fall have a few tricks up their collective sleeves to help restore his faith in humans and the holiday season?
Inside Wishes Bakery, a long line had formed, starting at the register. A fresh batch of cookies must’ve come out. He loved when they were just out of the oven, when one of the elves brought out a tray of them for the customers. They would melt in a spicy mix of goodness on his tongue when they were warm.
Rand took a spot behind a group of elves who, once they saw him, turned away and started to whisper and giggle. That wasn’t a new thing. His role on the sleigh team this year was a well known fact and he was some sort of celebrity among the citizens of the North Pole. He grinned down at one of the elves when she glanced over her shoulder at him. He winked and her eyes widened.
He didn’t mind the extra dose of popularity. He minded that he could never get near the one elf he wanted most. The one coming from the kitchen carrying a large stack of gift boxes. The one who just tripped and started falling forward, disaster written all over her face. Rand jumped from his place in line and stretched out his arms as the boxes began tumbling down. He caught all of them, lifted them high, and put his body directly in front of her. She fell right into him. He hardly felt the impact.
Beneath the sparkle of her eyes lurked embarrassment accompanied by a blush staining her already rosy cheeks. “Rand,” she said, breathless and hushed.
“Hey, Blix.” He raised his brows. “You okay?”
She righted herself quickly and let go of where she’d grabbed his shirt. She was barely five feet, and the small heels on her shoes helped minimally, but her soft curves and plush weight was felt in every region of his body. He’d been the buffer between her and the floor and if he let his mind wander, it’d wander straight to wanting to take her to the floor, a bakery full of curious eyes or not. He didn’t care. He wanted to kiss her. He wanted to hold her. He wanted to make love to her.
He simply wanted her. There was no way around it and there was no way to fight it.
“Yeah, Rand. I’m okay.” She flipped her hair over her shoulder and straightened her dress. Red and silver, a scoop neckline and a skirt that swished around her knees when she walked. “Thank you for catching the cookies for me.”
“You’re welcome. Where were you headed with them?”
“Oh, the display table behind you and the front window. They’re the first chocolate sugar cookies of the season and I wanted to make sure there were plenty ready. I got a little over excited.”
“I see.” He’d like to see her a lot excited, but right then and there wasn’t the time or the place for it. “Let me help you set things up.”
“T-that’s not necessary. Really. I can do it.”
“I’d still like to help.”
She nodded after a brief hesitation. “All right. Sure.” She took three boxes from the stack he held. “I’ll take these to the window, if you’ll put yours on the table.”
“Any particular way?”
“A pyramid is fine. It’s what I was planning to do until I brought out some other things.”
Rand smiled. “A pyramid it is.” He was aware of the stares from the line behind him, but he didn’t give anyone the satisfaction of looking at them. They were curious and he’d let them be. Blix had disappeared into the opening of the display window where she painstakingly arranged and rearranged her three boxes.
Was she avoiding him? Was she trying to take as long as possible so she wouldn’t have to talk to him again? Was she still embarrassed about having almost fallen? Whatever it was, Rand wasn’t going to let her get away with it. She was going to have to face him, talk to him just a little bit more before he went away.
At the window, he positioned himself so that when she turned around, she’d come face to face with him. She’d be the perfect height for a kiss. A kiss he couldn’t give her in such a public place, but a kiss he’d love to give her nonetheless.
She stepped once, twice, and her heel caught on the edge of the display platform. Rand’s arms shot out again, but instead of catching boxes of cookies, he caught Blix as she grasped for purchase where there was none.
“How have you survived without me?” he asked, lightly, with a chuckle at the end of his question.
“I’m kind of wondering the same thing.”
Rand eased her down the front of his body and held onto her a little longer than he should have. When he finally let go, she spun to face him. “You okay?” He brushed hair from her face, behind her delicately pointed ear. Rubies hung from her earlobes.
“I am. I’m not usually this clumsy. I am so sorry.”
“I don’t mind at all. I’m glad I was here to catch you.”
She smiled up at him and Rand’s heart stopped in his chest. The little elf had no idea what she did to him. “Admit it. You’re even more glad you saved the cookies from crashing to the ground.”
She was teasing him and oh, how he adored it. “That’s a definite perk. I mean, I can eat cracked and even crumbled cookies, but I’d rather eat whole ones. Even better if I could share a box with someone.”
“Oh. Of course. Why wouldn’t you want to? I’m sure she, ah… What I meant was… Your, ah…” Blix closed her mouth, pressed her lips into a tight, thin line, and blushed scarlet. He’d never heard her stammer like that. She stepped around him, grabbing the box from the top of his pyramid. “Take these. On the house. For helping to save them. I’m sure your date will love them.”
“Blix, I don’t —”
But she didn’t give him a chance to finish his sentence. She scurried back into the kitchen and out of sight, leaving him staring after her, with a box of chocolate cookies in his hands. He shook his head, certain confusion was written all over his face. “Elves.”
Merry Christmas, Y’all!