Begin Again Excerpt I

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When Teri-Lyn told her there was a holiday event going on at the Tomcats stadium the next day, Anna Beth had no idea she’d be dressing up like an elf.  She signed in when she arrived and reported to Mimi, the head cheerleader, who was in charge of assigning costumes.  Mimi gave her a quick once over and said she was the perfect height to play an elf.  The nerve of her! She could have been Mrs. Claus. Last time she checked, Santa’s wife wasn’t a supermodel.  She grabbed the costume and ventured further into the locker room to change and was overwhelmed by a cloud of perfume and hair spray.  The ladies were grooming themselves like it was a game day.

          She listened to the chatter around the room while she stripped out of her sweater and jeans.  Logan Holbrook would be donning the Santa costume and they were eager to put in some face time with the handsome bachelor.  Apparently there had been bickering earlier about who would be Mrs. Claus when Mimi announced she’d be playing the part.  The other ladies grumbled but they didn’t contest her decision.  She had the feeling little miss hot stuff would be getting a lump of coal in her locker from one of her squad mates. 

          A few minutes later she was dressed and ready to go.  She pulled on the red and white striped tights and tugged on the hem of her elf costume.  It was a little short for her tastes but luckily she’d only have to wear it for a few hours.  She loosened the belt hoping the material would give, she’d be grateful for an extra eighth of an inch at this point but it didn’t budge.  She just hoped she wouldn’t have to bend over or do a cart-wheel.  She slipped on the elf shoes with the gold balls on the curved, pointed toe tips and took a few steps. Finally she put on the hat and took a look at herself in the full length mirror against the wall.  It was official.  She was a dork.  She whipped out her cell phone, took a selfie and sent it to her brother.  Surely he’d get a kick out of it.  

          She left the locker room and made her way to the giant gingerbread house on the field. Anna Beth looked around and sighed.  There were a few people in there snacking and talking. Logan was putting on his Santa suit. This event would have been something Corbett would have enjoyed.  She’d had such big plans for them for the holidays before he went and wrecked everything.  

          “Anna Beth.”  Logan called out as he adjusted his suspenders.  

          “Hi Logan.”

          He did his best to hug her but the padding got in the way.  “Seth told me you were coming.  You look cute in that elf get up.”

          “Thank you.  This ensemble was a hit at Milan Fashion Week.”  She laughed and did a little twirl.

          “Green is a good color on you.” 

          “I bet you say that to all the elves.” 

          “Only the really hot ones.”  He winked.  “What do you think?  Am I big enough?”

          “Excuse me?”  Anna Beth stammered.

          “Do I have on enough padding?”  He gave her a sly smile.

          “Oh.”  She smiled.  “Let’s see.  Santa still looks like he works out at the gym.  I’d stuff it a little more.”

          “Thanks.”

          She noticed Mrs. Claus standing behind Logan, shooting her a dirty look to cut it out.  She smiled even harder.  She wasn’t one of her underlings on the squad.  She could flirt all she wanted.  Wait.  Was she flirting with Santa, uh Logan?

           “It’s so sweet of you to play Santa.”

          “It’s under duress.  I got the short straw.”  He laughed.  His cell phone rang. He retrieved it from his jacket that hung on a nearby chair and looked at the display.  “It’s Seth.  I have to take this.”

          “Of course.  The boss’s job is never done.”

          He stopped in his tracks.  “There’s going to be a get together after the event at the Kick Off restaurant on the third level for the volunteers.  What do you say to a dirty egg nog and some five alarm buffalo wings?”

          “Elf yeah.”  She laughed.

          “It’s a date.” He smiled and left to return Seth’s call.

          What just happened?  Logan was handsome, fun and more importantly, not Corbett Connelly.  She knew he was single because Cassie told her.  Perhaps she’d get to know him a little better at the party. 

          

          Logan’s call from Seth must have run longer than he’d expected because the next time she saw him was when he strutted out of the gingerbread house bellowing “Ho, ho, ho!” and took a seat on the giant red velvet chair on the mini stage.  That really got the crowd of kiddies in a tizzy.  He was really hamming it up using a deeper voice as he greeted the kids and gave the elves commands.  It was amazing how the padding and costume had transformed him.  She hardly recognize his voice. 

          While she assisted the kids, she’d catch him staring at her.  Which didn’t sit well with Mrs. Claus.  After another little one had given Santa their list of toy requests, she handed the boy a parting candy cane but he dropped it.  Ugh!  She was dreading this.  The last thing she wanted to do was to flash her bottom at the kids and their parents.  She did an awkward half squat away from the crowd so she could retrieve the fallen sweet treat.  She’d almost had the candy cane in her hand when she felt a light caress of her backside and lurched up.  She looked at Santa but he was looking in the other direction.  Maybe she’d imagined it.

          She tried to compose herself and ushered the next group of kids through the velvet rope.  A half hour later she needed a break, so she motioned for the elf next to Santa’s sleigh to come over and relieve her.  She went into the gingerbread house to get a bottle of water.  Santa came in a few minutes later.

          “The kids look so excited, don’t they?”  She scrunched her nose. 

          Santa smiled.  “Ho! Ho! Ho!”

          “I thought you were going to lose it when that little boy asked who was in charge of cleaning up the reindeer poop.”  She giggled.

          “Ho! Ho! Ho!”  Was his reply again.

           “Speaking of your signature phrase.  I’m pretty sure Mrs. Claus wouldn’t mind giving you a lap dance.”

          “Ho! Ho! Ho!”  He moved closer to her.

          She was as dedicated as the next person to the performance but he was taking it too far.  Something was up. 

           “Did you study drama in school?  You refuse to break from this Santa character.  Not that there’s anything wrong with it.  I think it’s wonderful that you–”

          Before she could finish he closed the distance between them, put his hands on her hips and planted a kiss on her.  His lips felt so soft and would it have been great if it hadn’t been totally inappropriate. She pulled away and slapped him across his bearded cheek.

          “Santa!  I mean Logan!  What the hell!”  She shrieked and picked up a giant prop candy cane off the table.  “Did you get an early start on the dirty egg nogs?”

          He pointed up.  Damn it.  They were standing under the mistletoe but that warranted a quick festive peck, not slipping someone the tongue.  Still his touch, the smell of his cologne, the taste of his lips was familiar.  Which was crazy because she’d never been intimate with Logan.

          “Mistletoe isn’t symbolic for a free tonsillectomy.”  She scowled at him.  “What do you have to say for yourself?”

          “Surprise.”  He finally said, removing the beard from his face.  It was Corbett standing there with a goofy grin on his face.

          “You!”  She whacked him with the cane. 

 

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Copyright © 2016 Rhonda Laurel.  All Rights Reserved.

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