Desperately Seeking Santa
Erotic Romance: Contemporary
Cover Artist: Brenda Porter
Editor: Red Rose™ Publishing
Word Count: 16,210
Release Date: December 4th, 2008
Dreams and fantasies are just that for Mandy Brooks, assistant manager of Wentworth’s, an upmarket department store. Work always gets in the way. But then that is exactly how Mandy likes it. Until Christmas comes round again and she’s forced to play the part of Mrs Santa.
Christmas day five years ago, Tate Sullivan left town. It was also the day Mandy ditched him at the altar. Forced back because of his father’s death, he knows he’s got unfinished business with Mandy Brooks. He wants her back in his bed on his terms, his way. He’s out for revenge.
It’s meant to be sweet, isn’t it?
“Mrs. Santa’s pissed. The whole bottle this time. You’ve got to do it, Mandy. You’re the only staff I can let loose on those...”
Mandy Brooks’ boss leveled his gaze on the raucous tide of children already beating a hasty path through lingerie, jewelry and the cosmetics counters with one destination in mind.
He turned decidedly green as each sticky hand sideswiped the delicate lingerie in passing.
Mandy knew the color well. In fact she was intimate with it right at this moment. Play Santa’s helper? Hell no.
“You are joking, right? Me. Wear that!” With distaste clearly souring her mouth she picked up the infamous Mrs. Santa’s costume. Infamous because there was barely anything of it. “Lordy, if this was a fancy dress party, or some sleazy bar, I’d understand, but why subject kids to this?”
“It was all they had left.” Fraser Maxwell’s tone took on a decided whine; a sound she’d come to recognize, and hate over the last eighteen months of working at Wentworths. Thank God he was leaving, sectioned off to another of the exclusive store’s outlets. The buzz was there was a new owner. Hence Maxwell didn’t want to look bad and she had to play Santa’s sidekick, Mrs. S.
Damn it. Mandy hated Christmas. Everyone having fun. Spending far too much. Leaving.
Shut that thought off, Brooks. Mandy clamped down her frustration. Shame she couldn’t do the same thing to her brain. But hell, it was the same every year. Every Christmas. Memories. Man, she hated them.
You made them, don’t forget.
As if! She didn’t do Christmas. It was a time for family, fun and friends, and she had decided five long years ago the whole kit and caboodle was definitely overrated.
That’s because Tate Sullivan dumped you.
Did not. She’d been the dumpee, she argued silently.
Yeah, but on Christmas Day. Not a good look, Brooks.
She silenced the internal argument because right now she had a different problem. One look at Maxwell and his oversized belly protruding over a definitely too tight belt and she knew his suggestion was no joke. His sour face dared her to refuse.
She tried a different tack. “But I’m the assistant manager.”
“Exactly my point,” he reiterated. “Your job is to fix problems.”
“And I can fix it by wearing this?” She dangled the offending skimpy number in front of her.
“Well, what are you waiting for?”
“For a way out,” she answered truthfully.
Her boss offered her no hint of sympathy and mopped his sweaty brow with a once white handkerchief. “There isn’t, not if you want to stay employed at Wentworth’s,” he said destroying any remaining smidgen of hope.
Bug eyed, Mandy realized she had been soundly roped into a corner. She didn’t like it. Oh, no siree, not one little bit, but what’s a career girl to do?
Whatever it takes, Mandy Brooks. Whatever!
“Thank goodness it only comes once a year,” she grumbled and sidestepped Maxwell.
“Don’t forget your costume.”
Mandy stilled. Damn. She’d hoped he’d forget it and she could have chosen something a tad more discernable.
She eyed the outfit with increasing distaste. “I’m not wearing...”
“Oh, yes you are.” He snapped his fingers. “Come on, time is money, your money, if you get my drift.”
Oh she got it all right. She snatched the offending outfit from his chubby fist and stomped off to the ladies’ bathroom. She could have gone to the changing rooms, but there was no way on this earth she would change into Mrs. Santa’s outfit, something out of a Victoria’s Secret catalogue, in front of other shoppers.
Ensconced in the ladies’ bathroom, Mandy shucked out of her suit. Her very expensive Armani suit. Okay, so it was a knock down, but it was Armani nevertheless.
“And I have to replace it with this.” She held up the tasteless outfit between forefinger and thumb.
The dress was short. Far too short.
She yanked the zip down and slipped it over her head. The silk caressed her skin as it slid down her length.
This...was...oh, my God, it virtually had no front. The neckline plunged low and the barely there boa feather covered...well, hell fire, absolutely zip. Nada.
This was bad. Very, very bad.
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