The familiar notes to “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” filled the air. Cheyenne looked around the mall at all the lights and decorations in agreement. It most definitely was. Excitement hung in the air. If only she could muster up the same feeling. It sounded silly, but maybe she’d make a wish, too. She’d been making plenty of those lately. What was one more?
A flash of red and white caught Cheyenne’s attention. There was a Santa, standing by a well. They’d turned one of the small fountains into a Christmas well. Whoever the Santa was today, he was tall, skinny and shouting plenty of “Ho ho ho”s. The sad thing was, not many people paid attention to him.
“There’s the well, and Santa’s helper, Mommy!” Ben pointed, anxious. His attempt to walk faster was halted by a family with two kids about his age running right in front of him. Once they were out of the way, Ben made a beeline for the Santa.
Ben had his hopes set up so high. Please let there be no disappointment. Ben ran up to Santa’s helper. The man bent down to talk to Ben. Cheyenne couldn’t hear what they were saying until she was closer.
“You came back. And you brought guests! You really wanted that second wish, didn’t you?”
Santa talked to Ben like they were old friends. A twinkle lit in his eyes. Cheyenne couldn’t get a good idea of his features with only his eyes and a little bit of skin showing between the fake beard and hat. He straightened to his full height, towering over Cheyenne by about half a foot. “Hello.”
“I hope we’re not bothering you. My son begged all day to come by here. He has an all important wish that he wants to make.”
“No, no bother at all. I’m glad he came back. And it’s nice to meet you. My name is Jacob.” Santa held out a gloved hand. Cheyenne accepted it.
“I’m Cheyenne. Thank you for what you did for Ben yesterday.” He seemed nice enough. His gaze swept over Cheyenne, then cast them down to look at Desiree.
“Hey there, sweet girl. Are you feeling better than you did yesterday?” The man had a way with kids. But of course he did. How could one play Santa’s helper if they didn’t? Desiree laughed as she reached for his white curls. Before Cheyenne could get to her, chubby fingers fisted and grabbed hold.
“Oh, Desi honey no!” Cheyenne went for Desi’s hand, trying to un pry fingers from Santa’s beard.
Santa laughed. He sure was taking this well. Some would have thrown a fit to have a baby grab at them like that.
“Well, that’s one mighty grip you have there. I bet you learn that from your big brother here?”
“I think she does!” Ben said, laughing. Desiree finally let go, and Santa moved back, standing again. He reached into his coat pocket. Desiree babbled and kicked her legs gleefully.
“Are you having a good day today?” Santa, or what was his real name, asked. Joe? No. Jacob. That was it. Jacob produced a shiny penny and handed it to Ben.
“We just got back from giving food to the homeless!” Ben said proudly, holding onto the penny in the palm of his hand, displaying it proudly to Cheyenne.
“That’s a nice shiny penny. That should give your wish a good head start.” Cheyenne smiled.
Santa’s dark green eyes widened, a smile spread across his face. What did he look like under that beard? His voice gave her the impression that he was young, maybe her age, but one couldn’t tell just by a voice. He definitely wasn’t middle aged, though.
“Helping the homeless? That’s a great thing to do, especially with the upcoming holidays.” He sounded impressed. Was he just making small talk, or did he actually have an interest? He appeared nice enough, but that never meant anything. People were nice often enough, but you couldn’t be too sure what was going on inside their minds.
“Ben helped organize it.” Cheyenne smiled. “He always loves to help,” she bragged. She couldn’t help it. Ben’s amazing generosity made her so proud.
“Did you now? That’s amazing! Good for you, Ben! That’s a great accomplishment.” Jacob met Cheyenne’s gaze. “You have an inspiring son. Teach your sister that same kindness you have, Ben.”
“I will!” Ben said, turning to Cheyenne. “Can I make my wish now?”
“I think so. Ask Santa’s helper if it’s okay to do so now.” If Ben made his wish, there would be no reason to hang around anymore. To her surprise, Cheyenne found it easy to talk to him and wasn’t quite ready to walk away. That was a far cry from the dread she felt earlier. After they walked away, she doubted they would ever run into him again. Why that made her feel down, she couldn’t pin point.
Seriously? What was wrong with her? She knew nothing about this man. Yet she wanted to learn more. Why? What was it about him? She couldn’t even see most of his face behind the Santa costume.
Yeah. You’ve lost it.
Wasn’t that the truth.
END OF EXCERPT, but don’t be disappointed because Nikki has also given us a blurb about her story, and some links you can follow to find this dose of holiday spirit and also more information about her. Thank you for visiting, Nikki!
The magic of Christmas has been lost to Jacob Winston. At the suggestion of his ill sister, Jacob takes a job as a Secret Santa at the mall, hoping to restore his Christmas spirit. Even that doesn’t seem to work, until a special little boy ambles up to make a very special wish…
Cheyenne Jensen is struggling to raise her two kids without the help of her ex-husband who refuses to acknowledge his daughter’s existence and doesn’t provide for the son he does. This Christmas is shaping up to be as heartbreaking as the last, until her son Ben’s kind actions lead a stranger to them.
Ah, but it’s Christmas time and the magic has begun.
When Jacob and Cheyenne meet, neither can deny their immediate attraction to one another. As situations arise that require they spend more time together, their feelings grow stronger and stronger.
With Christmas fast approaching, the pair learn what matters most in life. Now, if only they could ditch the ghost of Christmases past.
Maybe this holiday will bring some wishes come true- for everyone after all.
Visit Nikki Lynn Barrett (Nikki is everywhere, just like Santa!)