The Elf Who Fell To Earth.
“Ouch!” A hard bump. Followed by a somersault. Tabitha’s eyes traced crazy circles, the light of a street lamp, stars in a velvet sky, and suddenly she was buried face deep in sweet smelling grass.
Tabitha righted herself and gave her head a shake. Rubbed her neck, no damage to speak of. Guess it helped being small.
Now, put in a call, Tab, get them to turn right around and come and get you.
Santa would not be happy, he was on a tight schedule. But what else could she do? At least they only delivered to kids under five these days. Social media ensured anyone older than that knew Santa wasn’t real.
Oh Yeah, right!
Quite frankly there must have been a breeding spurt lately, because Tabitha had never wrapped so many presents in all her life.
She fumbled around in her pocket. Nothing. Her sleigh locater was gone.
Holy toledo! Now what?
On all fours, and careful to keep an eye out for large feet, or worse, bounding paws and snuffling snouts, Tabitha scrabbled around. Without her locator there was no way of contacting Santa’s Little Helpers Inc., besides they’d be miles away by now. Rudolph had been speeding again, his sudden acceleration had sent her diving off the back of the sleigh, and all she could manage was a quick knee-to-chest tuck before she tumbled to… to where exactly?
Australia, for goodness sake!
With an indignant huff Tabitha gave up, splayed her sparkling legs out in front of her and smoothed out her skirt. Even in the gloom she could tell she was in a small park surrounded by a smattering of houses with corrugated roofs. Most were swathed in darkness, only one had a glowing window. It was patently clear she needed shelter. Dodging human inhabitants was a lesser risk to her safety than early morning magpies and curious kangaroos.
She’d hide under a bed or in a wardrobe, and work out what to do next.
And if all else failed, she still had Aunt Elvira’s three wishes.
Tabitha gave an even louder huff. No way. Those wishes were special. What had Aunt Elvira said? These are life changing Tabitha, only use for your heart’s desire, don’t fritter them away on fluffy stuff.
Well, being abandoned in a small outback town could hardly be considered fluffy. Downright scary more like.
Adjusting her boots to hover mode, Tabitha skimmed across to the house in question. Hopped onto the window ledge and peered inside. A frown scurried across her brows.
What! No tree? No presents? Clearly adults lived here without children. But– not even a morsel of tinsel?
Not everyone celebrates Christmas, she reminded herself sharply. They’d attended a lecture this year at the North Pole Convention Igloo on multiculturalism and not forcing unwelcome gifts on people. Being obsessed with Christmas, Santa had grumbled, but of course he’d taken it on board eventually.
Making it easily through the open window, she had to scoot behind the curtain as a figure entered the room. A guy. A young and gorgeous looking guy, talking on his phone while he paced up and down.
Tabitha’s breath hitched at the tousle of auburn hair being tugged at by long fingers, the boyish jawline offset by a touch of scruff. There was a crease above his nose she’d love to smooth out, and those eyes, big and brown and fringed with dark lashes, seemed, well, to be honest, a tad troubled.
As she watched, he slumped onto the sofa, jean clad legs flung wide. Tabitha gulped at the play of strong thighs under denim.
“Yes really Mum, I’m fine.” She heard him say. “Christmas isn’t the same here anyway. It’s too hot to celebrate.” She watched him nod, bend forward and play with the laces on his trainers. He bobbed his head in quick motions and made Ah-ha and mmm noises for a minute or two. “Yes I did get your present, and the mistletoe thanks. Though how it got through customs, Christ only knows.” He let out a laugh. “Bit dried out, but not to worry, haven’t got anyone to kiss under it.” He started to fumble with a button on his shirt. Tabitha held her breath as he undid it and slid a hand around his chest. A glimpse of perfect pecs set off a thrum in her magical places.
“No! No, Mum, I’m ok, you don’t have to book a flight. You and Dad stick to the original plan and come over in March. No, I don’t miss her. We were driving each other nuts long before she left… I know, I know, she could have chosen a better time than just before Christmas, but well, shit happens, right?”
Tabitha couldn’t peel her eyes away. The hand was now rubbing the back of his neck, as if to ease away pain. “Yeah, I’m working Boxing Day. And on call tomorrow, I told you how short staffed the hospital is here. Sure Mum, sure. Talk tomorrow. And love to Dad and Nanna.”
He threw the phone down with a sigh. Stared at nothing in particular, his lower lip jutting. It was a beautiful lip, as was the upper one, full and soft, yet firm too. Tabitha yearned suddenly to kiss him and got herself in such a tizzy that she did a strange little skip and lunged off the window sill.
Ouch! This time she bit back the word. Her eyes smarted as her butt hit wooden boards. She didn’t need to look up, she could feel the vibration of footfall that signalled he’d moved over to check out the sound.
She found herself staring at the hem of his jeans, the spot where sock met tanned calf, and a smattering of dark hairs. Even his ankles were gorgeous and oh, flaming frankfurters, now he was looking down and any moment…
Three wishes Tabitha. Grab your wishes. She put her hand up to the locket round her neck, said the magic word and begged, make me human, give me a broken down car, and please, please please, let him kiss me.
The next moment she was outside the front door, still dressed in an up-sized version of her elf outfit, a car on the verge behind her with its engine steaming. Her heart was beating so loud she hardly thought she’d needed to knock. But she did. Tap, tap, tap.
Think Tab, a good story, you need a really good story.
The door flung wide.
Tabitha gulped hard, her pulse pounding. Life size, oh-my-god-oh-my-god, so-oo utterly divine!
Chocolate brown eyes widened, one eyebrow shot up, gifting a sexy rumple to his forehead. “An elf on my doorstep? Are you for real.”
The words stunned her, before the upward quirk of his lips made her realise it was meant as a joke.
Tabatha went hot all over. Even hotter as his eyes trailed down her body, all green satin and sequins, and the quirk turned into a full-blown grin.
She willed words out of dry lips. “I – I’m sorry to trouble you, I’ve been at a fancy dress party and my car broke down right outside, which I guess is really fortuitous because yours was the only light in the whole street, and I wondered…”
He hung onto the door nonchalantly and cast a glance past her shoulder. “That’s bad luck.”
Tabitha plucked at the hem of her petalled skirt, then stopped abruptly. As an elf that might be ok, but as an adult human, seriously?
“I’ll take a look, I’m not a mechanic but I can fix the basics.” His smile was genuine and he looked really quite… concerned, which had her heart tap-dancing against her ribs.
“Hang on while I get a torch.” He said and headed inside. In moments he was back, throwing over his shoulder as he strode towards the car. “I’m Sam by the way.”
“Tabitha.” She answered, trotting behind him.
He opened the bonnet and the torch light bobbed. “Now let’s see if we can get this baby working.”
Aunt Elvira, don’t you dare let that happen, she whispered, trying not to ogle Sam’s firm butt as he bent over the engine.
Half an hour later, after Sam had fumbled with wires and got her to keep trying the key in the ignition, he straightened and lent on the bonnet with a puzzled look. “Can’t understand it. Nothing seems wrong, but nope, it’s not going anywhere tonight.”
Tabitha tried to look disappointed. “Oh dear.”
“I’m really sorry.” He was doing that cute pout with his lower lip again. Tabitha’s spine tingled, and without thinking, she licked her own. For a second his gaze went there, she saw him draw in a sharp breath.
He slammed the bonnet shut. “I’ve got a spare room, you can bunk down for the night if you want.” He said gruffly.
What she wanted was to squeal with delight and wrap her arms around his neck but she merely nodded.
Sam’s expression softened and he gave a chuckle. “Don’t worry, I’m safe around elves.”
Oh no, please don’t be…
“I’m a doctor at the local hospital.” He explained as they trudged back to the house. “Better at fixing bodies than cars obviously.” Adding with a rueful grin, “though I do make a mean iced tea.”
Tabitha couldn’t help a smile spreading like fairy lights across her face. “Thank you, that would be really nice.”
Sam showed her the spare room. The bed neatly made, the room looked like it belonged to somebody’s granny with frilly curtains and lace doilies on the dressing table.
“Not my choice of décor.” Was he a mind-reader and if so could he read how much she wanted to kiss him? “I’m renting, on a working visa from the UK for a couple of years.”
“Ah, I see.” Tabitha expelled a sigh. That made sense of his rather lovely accent and the phone call.
She glanced up to find dark eyes steady on her face and the heat crept higher on her cheeks.
Sam cocked his head. “And you? I haven’t even asked. What do you do Tabitha, apart from dress as an elf and get lost in small outback towns?
Her fingers fluttered to her mouth, still sore from hours of wrapping. “I – um—” come on, Tab, brain in gear. “I work for a packaging company.”
Where the hell were they in the world? She racked her brain to remember all the sleigh flight paths criss-crossing the map at HQ. “Um – Perth.”
He looked shocked. “That’s four hundred kilometres from here!”
“Yes, I got kind of lost.”
Sam raised a quizzical brow. “Lost?
“Yep, took a wrong turn.” She heard herself squeak.
He burst out laughing, “You sure did, elf girl. You can tell me how that happened over iced tea.” Then he smiled at her, really smiled, showing beautiful white teeth and Tabitha was sure she saw his cheeks flush.
“The rate things are going, you and I will be opening our Christmas stockings together.” He said softly.
What a lovely idea, thought Tabitha as she followed him into the kitchen.
A short while later, as they downed delicious iced tea on uncomfortable chairs, Tabitha gabbled out an almost plausible story of being a drama student doing holiday work at the supposed packaging company. Well, Sam seemed to buy it, he nodded in all the right places. She was vague about the party whereabouts and turned the subject quickly away from herself.
“Living here alone?” She trilled, putting her glass on the coffee table with a clunk and almost winced at her motive for asking. She’d always been such a.. a demure and shy elf… up until now.
But then, she wasn’t an elf any more, was she?
Sam gave a nod, staring into his tea. “Yeah, my girlfriend and I split a couple of weeks ago. Mutual. It’s been coming for ages, all we ever did lately was argue. She’s a doctor too, but hates the bush, too many flies and snakes she reckons, so she’s hightailed it back to the city.”
“Are you sad?” Oops, that popped out didn’t it? Well, he’d looked sort of pensive on the phone, and the last thing Tabitha needed was to kiss a guy who was on the rebound. There was a serious wish at stake here.
He gave a shrug, placed his glass down. “Not sad, just, you know… lonely I guess.” A hand came up and rumpled through his hair. “Hell, that sounds pathetic doesn’t it.”
“No, absolutely not!” She burst out. “Why can’t a guy say he’s lonely?” Tabitha didn’t believe in all that chest-thumping he-man nonsense. Watching fathers at Christmas with their kids, she knew men were just as emotional as women, sometimes more so.
“Well, I guess this guy can.” Sam lent forward, elbows on knees and gazed at her steadily. “–At least to you.” Tabitha’s skirts rustled as she fidgeted away a frisson of delight.
”It’s weird, I feel like I can say anything to you. Like I’ve known you all my life.” His voice was deeper, husky and it settled deep inside her like it belonged there.
“I feel the same.” She murmured. Something intense and sweet filled the air between them and Tabitha had to look away. Her eyes landed on a twig on the coffee table covered in white berries. She frowned. Where had she seen something like this before? That’s right, every December in cold countries, wound into door wreaths and hung from ceilings and adorning tablecloths ready for Christmas lunch.
Mistletoe. For kissing under.
Involuntarily she reached out and picked it up. “What’s this?” she tried to sound innocent.
Sam rolled his eyes. “Oh, God, mistletoe. Can you believe my mum sent it through the post? I’d better destroy it right now, Australia is super strict about foreign plant matter.” He jumped up and skirted the table just as Tabitha jumped up to hand it to him.
They sort of bumped, soft against hard. Sam’s hand came up and steadied her elbow, his eyes gazing down at her, the warmth of his fingers setting off a drum beat in Tabitha’s belly. Mesmerised, she pushed the mistletoe between them.
“You’re supposed to hold it over our heads.” He was making no effort to step away, if anything he was even closer. The air peppered out of her lungs, she could see the golden flecks in the deep brown of his eyes. Sam’s lips parted and his breath quickened in time with hers.
Make it happen, she begged silently, make him kiss me.
She wiggled her arm up between their bodies, until the twig of mistletoe hovered above them. Closed her eyes and tilted her chin.
It was soft and sweet, the tentative brush of Sam’s lips on hers. Tabitha went up on tippy-toes and lent in to him, her own parting under the gentle pressure. Suddenly daring, she let her tongue sweep along the indent between his top and bottom lip and with a groan, Sam’s arms circled her waist, his mouth crushing hers and everything became hot and urgent.
Tabitha dropped her hand, the mistletoe fell to the ground, as lips and tongues and bodies melded deliciously together.
It seemed like an awfully long time before either of them came up for air. Even then, gasping and panting, all they could do was stare wide-eyed as if they would never get enough of each other.
“What a Christmas present!” Sam laughed and reached up to push the hair away from her face with fingers that shook. “You’re beautiful,” He sighed. “Feels like I’ve been waiting for you to arrive forever.”
“Feels like I’ve been waiting to arrive forever, too.” Tabitha smiled, recalling her tumble to earth and wondering if maybe Aunt Elvira had planned it all along.
Sam was playing with one of her wayward curls, he wound it round her ear and broke into a grin. ”You’ve got the cutest ears. Sort of pointy.”
“Yes,” Tabitha giggled, letting her fingers trail across the contours of his chest, a chest she intended to explore in a lot more detail very soon. “I’m descended from elves.” She said. “Now would you mind very much if we did that Mistletoe thing again? I think I need more practice.”
“Mmm, I think we both do.” His breath against her ear sent delicious tingles into every cell. “And we’ve got all Christmas… and beyond to perfect it.”
© Davina Stone 2018