To Put You In the Mood

I don’t know what type of mood you were thinking about, but I’m writing about getting in the mood for the upcoming holidays. Sorry if you were expecting something else!

So, to get the festive spirit moving, I thought I’d share a bit of my book STUBBORN HEARTS. Let me set it up for you. The Christmas Concert is in full swing in the one room schoolhouse where Beth teaches. The children have worked very hard to make this year’s concert the talk of the town. But Beth has just found out she was supposed to choose among the men someone to be Santa. She is flabbergasted because no one told her she was expected to do that. Desperate to save the concert from disaster, she asks Tom Carver, the local blacksmith, if he will do it. Lucky for her, Tom is just beginning to take an interest in Beth.   Please read on:

“Tom, I need to speak with you,” she whispered.

Tom frowned. “Now?” he whispered back. “Can’t it wait until the concert is over?”

“No, I’m sorry it can’t. Please.” Conscious of disapproving looks cast upon her, she quietly slipped to the back of the room to wait.

She watched Tom excuse himself. As soon as drew closer, Beth pulled him into the cloakroom and closed the door behind them.

“What’s the matter?”

Beth wrung her hands, not certain which would be the best way to approach this. Finally she just blurted it out. “Tom, I need you to be Santa.”

“What?”

“I never realized it was up to me to find someone. I thought—well, never mind, it doesn’t matter now what I thought. Oh Tom, please just say you’ll do it. Otherwise the children will be devastated and the concert will be ruined and it will be all my fault.” She reached out and grasped his forearms. Realizing she was squeezing them a bit too much, she released her grip, and clasped her hands nervously between her breasts.

“But I don’t know anything about kids.”

“You’re good with Davy.”

“You think so?” Tom smiled. Suddenly, he shook his head. “I can’t be Santa. What if Davy recognizes me?”

Beth shook her head. “He won’t. He’s so wound up, he wouldn’t even recognize me if I were Santa.”

“Good. Then you do it,” he said, taking a step toward the door.

Beth grabbed his arm again. “Please.” Her bottom lip began to tremble. “I’m begging you.”

“Oh, all right, I’ll do it. Where’s the suit?”

“In the cellar, but I’m too afraid to go down there to get it.” She handed him a wall lantern.

*          *          *

Tom lifted the trap door in the floor and grimaced. He could understand why she didn’t want to go down there herself; the place had always given him the willies. Lantern in hand, he proceeded down the stairs into the dank smelling cellar. Above his head, the schoolroom’s floor reverberated from activity and dust from the floor joists sifted down onto his shoulders. He looked around, and sure enough, he found a large box marked “Santa Suit.” He set the lantern down and carried the box awkwardly up to the cloakroom, and then went back to retrieve the lantern. When he returned, Beth was shaking the creases out of the suit.

She held the pants for him. “Hurry, we haven’t much time.”  While he stepped into them, draping the loose suspenders over his shoulders, she delved into the box and came out with a silky white wig and beard. She slipped the beard over his head, unmindful of the stinging snap she gave his chin with the elastic, then slapped the wig on his head and topped it off with the red stocking cap.

“I’ll need a pillow or something,” Tom said, holding the red pant’s expansive girth away from his body.

“Here.” She grabbed a couple of coats off the stack on the table and stuffed them down inside.

Tom grinned lasciviously from ear to ear behind the beard. Who’d have thought the prim little school teacher would be shoving her hand where she definitely had no business shoving it. When he felt himself becoming aroused, Tom grabbed the coats from her. “I’ll do it. Get the jacket.”

She held it while he shoved his arms into the sleeves and then came around front of him and buttoned it over his lumpy girth. As if he were a helpless child, Tom held his arms out as she wrapped the wide black Santa belt around his waist and cinched it tight to hold the “belly” from slipping down a pant leg. She stood back to scrutinize the Santa before her.

“How do I look?”

“Passable, but your suit’s all creased.”

“Well, what do you expect?” he retorted, “I’ve come all the way from the North Pole in a sleigh.” His eyes twinkled behind the beard, like the jolly old man himself.

Beth laughed in relief, hugged him around the neck and kissed his bearded cheek in gratitude. Then embarrassed, almost mortified—her cheeks flaming nearly as deep red as the flannel suit—she shoved the empty box under the table.

“The class is going to recite ‘A Visit from Saint Nick.’ Come in anytime near the end.” She slipped back into the classroom and Tom hoped no one would speculate about the school teacher’s heightened color.

He stood listening at the door for his cue, unable to ignore the sweet familiar scent of her hair lingering in his silky beard nor the memory of her arms around him. He’d been as surprised as she was by the impulsive hug and kiss. He wished he hadn’t been wearing the beard. Then he would have felt her lips upon . . . Stop it! He was beginning to be aroused again. Wouldn’t that make a great entrance? Santa walking in with an erection.He forced himself to think of the children and what he should do when he got inside.

“and laying his finger aside of his nose.” Oh hell, that was his cue. Taking a deep breath and nearly choking on a bit of beard fluff, he opened the door.

I hope you enjoyed this sneek peek at my book!