Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Santa's Second Chance Part One by Margo Hoornstra

        She’d never seen a Santa suit used in quite that way. One red velvet pant leg was tied to a matching sleeve and suspended from the railing above like bed sheets knotted together for a jail break. What was more amazing, dangling spread eagle from the fur tipped end of the other sleeve was a man. A nicely-developed man.
      Against her better judgment, Stephanie strode across her living room toward the sliding glass door for a better look. He was hanging there buck naked, except for a pair of bright white skivvies, matching crew socks, and high end running shoes.  About to drop onto her third floor balcony.
      Surprise, curiosity, even amusement rippled through her. Oddly, fear was nowhere to be found. Why should it? He certainly had no place to hide a weapon. As she edged closer, a brisk blast of wind howled by. Caught unaware, legs flailing, he catapulted outward with nowhere to go but over the rail then down.
      Palms pressed to her cheeks, her mouth gaped open. For a split second Stephanie forgot to breathe.
      Eyes wide, she finally exhaled on a gasp.  “No!”
      Outside the glass, bare legs pumped wildly, tight together then apart. Like an Olympic gymnast preparing for a well-practiced dismount, on one final heave of body and limbs, he landed with a thump. Feet going in opposite directions on the ice slicked surface, he finally jolted to a stop. His death grip on the suit loosened and he let go. Firmly attached to the balcony above, bright red fabric flapped up and out on more wintery gusts. His back was to her as he stilled. Probably needing a moment to collect himself. Unable to help it, she completed a hasty one, two appraisal. Solid legs sprinkled with dark hair, a nice, tight tush. Muscled back. Broad shoulders. Well-structured arms. All turning around to face her!
      Full attention jerked up to his face, she immediately locked gazes with eyes the clear blue of a sun kissed glacier. That disturbing indigo gaze regarded her with swift recognition.
      Good God. I’m not ready for this.
      Regardless, she had to do something. Not only was the temperature well below zero, insult to injury was at play. Icy raindrops showered down in a sudden rush, hitting like tiny shards of glass. That has to be painful on bare skin. Once frostbite set in, the results could be devastating. Plus, it was Christmas. Her favorite holiday always brought out the Good Samaritan in her.
      Without a second thought, she unhooked the latch and slid open the door. “You need to get inside before you freeze.”
      “Good idea.” Sliding at first, he recovered himself to walk toward her.
      She quickly backed up so he could step inside.
      A grin flashed as he slid the door shut behind him. “Told you we’d meet again real soon.”
      Exactly what he’d said from outside her door the night before. When he tried to initiate a conversation she wanted no part of at the time. She’d hurried into the bedroom and turned the radio on to drown him out, doing her very best to ignore him.
      There was no ignoring him now. “I’ll give you that. Now that you’re here, I’d like you to leave.”
      The smile vanished. Those impressive eyes widened in surprise before his gaze dropped. “Like this?”
      His arms came out to the sides like some model on the runway giving the hard sell of a well-fitting suit. Except, there was no suit. Or clothes of any kind save the tighty whiteys. Powerless to resist, she joined him in the impromptu visual journey. The front view was definitely better than the back. Hard to believe those shoulders appeared even broader. A rock hard chest, six pack abs, cut short by the waist band of his briefs…
      “Surely you wouldn’t throw me out like this.”
      Her regard snapped back to his face. The grin had returned, along with a definite glint in those hypnotic eyes.
      “Don’t be so sure.” One hand came up to clutch together the opened collar of her red button down blouse. Taking a breath, she prayed her cheeks weren’t glowing to match.
      “I stayed with a buddy of mine last night.”
      As if she gave a rip where he’d spent the previous night. “Really.”
      “He lives in the apartment directly above this one.” Hands clasped in front of him, he shrugged. “One thing led to another, and here I am.”
      “Do say.” More irrelevant information shared. It seemed he was compelled to keep talking. Releasing her grip on the blouse, she swept her arm out toward where he’d come from. “Did your friend put you up to this?”
      He shook his head. “Totally my idea.”
      Why doesn’t that surprise me?
      “I figured arriving like this would give us a chance to talk.”
      Shifting her weight to a more solid stance, she folded both arms over her chest. “Are you serious?”
      “Absolutely.” Even white teeth flashed, the mirth of this smile just missing his eyes. “Unless you have somewhere you need to go. A date maybe?”
      “I thought I had a date for this afternoon. It got cancelled.”
      “Which means you’re available?” He took a step toward her.
      She moved an equal distance back. “Not necessarily.”
      The glimmer in that hypnotizing gaze dimmed, and he stopped short. “I swear I don’t intend to hurt you.”
      She stared at him through narrowed eyes. “That’s your opinion.”
      Face aimed toward the kitchen, he sniffed. “Something smells good.”
      She took her eyes off him long enough to glance that way. “I’m making cookies.”
      “What kind?”
      “Christmas cookies.”
      “What kind of Christmas cookies?”
      “All kinds.” Starting to give him a rundown of the varieties she took pride in baking and sharing every year, she clamped her mouth shut.
      “To take to the local nursing home.”
      “Assisted living facility.” Her lower lip came out. “Where my grandmother, the only surviving relative I have, resides.”
      Grin completely gone, gaze dark and serious, he actually winced as her words sunk in. “You got your tree up.”
      She didn’t bother to look over at the six foot artificial fir sparkling from the corner. “Last night. I couldn’t sleep.” The shrug she followed up with was meant to convince him a sleepless night didn’t bother her at all.
      “Same thing happened to me last night. Tossed and turned. When I wasn’t tossing and turning, my mind was revved up. Running a mile a minute. My buddy’s couch wasn’t all that comfortable or nearly big enough.”
      Despite her sensible side putting up a show of resistance, the rest of her, the part which contained her heart, had no trouble coming up with the picture he painted. Him stretched out, full length on his back. Right arm cocked behind his head, left resting on his stomach. Eyes focused on the ceiling.
      A head shake to dispel the image failed her. To banish it once and for all, she glanced over at the tree. Red, green, yellow and blue lights winked at her from within its snow-flocked branches.
      “Not only did I not sleep well last night. I didn’t realize how cold it was outside until I was halfway down.”
      At the sound of his voice, her gaze swung back toward him. Solid biceps flexed as he hugged his arms over a broad chest.
      Wrapped inside of them was like being home.
      Hot tears threatened, a lump edged up to the back of her throat. On a quick breath, she looked away.
      “It’s also pretty cold in here.” He actually shivered then bounced from foot to foot.
      “I might have something you can put on.” For your comfort or mine?
      With one final glance, she turned away to walk to the other side of the living room then reached behind the half opened bathroom door. Lifting the dark blue sweat pants and shirt off the hook, she drew them out then returned to hand them over.
      “Thanks.” As he reached out, their fingers brushed. Heat formed.
      She drew back first. “You’re welcome.”
      The clothes fit perfectly as he slipped into them.
      Why not? They belonged to him.

       Join me here tomorrow for Part Two of Santa's Second Chance! Also, please visit my website.


Loralee said...

Great opening for what looks like a verrry interesting story! Look forward to reading the rest.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Morning, Loralee. Glad I got you hooked. ;-)

Christine DePetrillo said...

Nice beginning! Lots to think about.

KatB said...

Definitely an unexpected entrance - this is great and can't wait to read part deux! :)

Patricia Kiyono said...

Love it! I can't wait to find out what they argued about, and why his clothes didn't leave with him.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Thanks, Chris. Hope I entertained you.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Kristen. He is a desperate man. See you tomorrow.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Patty. Men are so impulsive! ;-)

Donna Michaels said...

Love it, Margo! I've just got to know how the heck she has his clothes! ;-)

Jannine Gallant said...

Great opening, Margo! We're certainly producing some awesome stories this year. Looking forward to part two!

Alicia Dean said...

Nice!!! Love the banter and the fact that he was hanging outside her apartment nearly nude. BUT, I really love the hook. Well done...can't wait for more!

Diane Burton said...

Oooh, what an ending. You've got my curiosity up.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Donna. Thank you. Come back tomorrow ;-) to find out.

Jannine. I've been enjoying myself this month. We do, collectively, have a lot to offer.

Alicia. Music to my ears. Thank you.

Diane. Take one to know one, right?

Margo Hoornstra said...

Diane. Takes one to know one, right? (Didn't proof myself!)

Alison Henderson said...

What a visual, Margo! Can't wait for tomorrow. (I've got an inkling about where this is going. Have to see if I'm right.)

Melissa Keir said...

Sounds like a wonderful hottie! Can't wait to read more!

MJ Schiller said...

LOVE. IT! Can't wait to read the rest! Yeah. You got me all right. Well done!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Alison. If it turns out you are right, let me know. Thanks so much for the 'what a visual' comment.

Melissa. Thanks for the compliments. Hope I don't disappoint.

MJ. I soooo appreciate that. Thank you. Makes me smile!

Barbara Edwards said...

You Hooked me. I have to find out the secret.