Looking to extend the holiday season? Then check out fellow Word Wench Lizzie T. Leaf's Forget the Mistletoe.
Marta's cold on the retail holiday season, but warming to the hot hunk from home office, even if he loves Christmas.
Linc Blanchard’s family owns the chain of retail stores and shows up in Denver to make sure that Marta, the temporary manager, doesn’t affect the bottom line of that store’s Christmas season with her lack of appreciation of his favorite holiday.
Mix in Claude, an elf with attitude that has been sent into the human world to help Santa correct the mistake he made with Marta when she was a little girl and you have a hot, humorous fantasy to relieve the stress of your holidays.
ExcerptAspirin. A whole bottle would be great about now Marta thought as she followed Linc to yet another department. His suggestions covered every area of the store. He asked, never told, managers to consider moving merchandise around. Change a display here, add something to a display there he said with too much enthusiasm for her taste.
In the fur department, he suggested to the manager that she and her employees wear the fur collars and scarves. He even pulled Marta over and demonstrated what he had in mind as he arranged a fur scarf around her shoulders.
They left the department with the manager salivating at his every word, just as all the managers in the prior departments did.
Personally, she’d rather have left with one of the sable coats, but that didn’t fit her budget now. She envisioned being wrapped from head to toe in sable.
Someday, she thought. Someday.
Linc strolled through the various departments greeting employees and customers alike. “There’re lots of very nice people in Denver. I can understand why my grandfather chose this to be one of the five cities for our stores.”
He left the employees fawning in his wake as he oozed charm and smiles. Marta didn’t know how much longer she could keep the grin on her face plastered in place. If this goodwill tour didn’t end soon she would have to excuse herself to puke.
“One more department to go, and then it should be time for lunch. We’ll eat in the fourth floor dining room. Does that work for you, Miss Holt?”
No way would she let his charm affect her. Instead, she ignored the reference to lunch and said, “From my calculations the last area to cover is the toy department. Right?”
“Thought we’d save the best for last.” Linc headed toward the back of the store.
Marta dreaded what ideas he’d throw out when they reached their destination. She didn’t trust this man since his suggestions turned out to affect everything she and Mr. Peterson thought worked. Who knew what he had in mind for toys? Then again, maybe he’d put Mr. Pain in the Ass elf in his place.
“Claude.” Linc greeted the head elf like an old friend.
“Linc. Good to see you again.” Claude reached up to shake hands with the man who loomed above him.
Good heavens, they’re on a first name basis.
Wonderful, Marta thought as she observed the interaction between the elf and her employer.
“Marta, you look a little pale today.” The little man turned his attention to her.
“Thank you, Claude. Nice of you to notice.” Yep, she needed to strangle the little shit.
“Claude, Marta and I are going to the dining room to grab a bite of lunch. I hope you can take a break and come with us. I’d like to hear more about the ideas you mentioned last night.” Linc placed his hand on the small man’s shoulder and the men walked away leaving Marta to follow.
Damn, damn, double damn. Marta felt like the outsider here. No way would they shut her out through their male bonding. She rushed to catch up.
Lunch confirmed what Marta had come to suspect when she and Linc toured the various departments. He loved Christmas. She fought to keep her lunch down when Linc and Claude got on the subject of Santa Claus. It sounded like the fools still believed, especially the pointy-eared fellow. Heaven save her from idiots.
“So shoot, Claude. What other ideas do you have that would make this season our best ever?” Linc poured himself another cup of coffee as he encouraged the elf to reveal his thoughts.
“Yes, Claude. Please share.” Marta clenched her teeth to keep the smile in place. Obviously head elf made more of an impression on the big shot than she did.
“I think things in the toy department are pretty well under control.” Claude stirred the coffee to dissolve the six packages of sugar he’d added. “I hear through the grapevine that the malls are offering incentives to lure the customers back to their Santas.” The elf wiggled his ears and continued to stir his coffee. “There is one suggestion I have, but it would affect the whole store.”
“I’m always open to new ideas. What do you have in mind?” Linc encouraged.
Marta watched in disbelief. With Claude she could understand the need to stir his coffee friggin’ forever with all the sugar he added, but why in hell did Linc start stirring the liquid in his cup? He took his decaf black. It must have something to do with the male bonding thing. Men were strange creatures.
“I think it would be a great idea to place mistletoe around the store in various areas. When an employee catches a customer of the opposite sex standing under it, they’d go over and give them a quick kiss on the cheek.”
The swallow of coffee that Marta had just taken spewed across the table. “That’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard and you’ve come up with some doozies since I met you.” Marta glared at the elf.
“No. Wait a minute.” Linc held up one hand for Marta to stop as he picked up his napkin with the other and wiped off the coffee she’d deposited on his face. “This is an interesting idea. I can see merit here. Something no other store has done, and if we do it right… Yep, I can see the customers getting a good laugh out of it.”
“I disagree. Screw the mistletoe idea. Forget it. We’ll be the laughing stock of Denver.” Marta couldn’t believe he actually took the preposterous suggestion seriously.
“I don’t think so, Miss Holt.” Linc’s flashing dark eyes left no doubt in Marta’s mind she’d lost this argument.
To find out what happens next, you can check out Forget the Mistletoe here.