“I have a Santa emergency and I desperately need your help.”
Sigge isn’t exactly a grinch when it comes to Christmas, but he’s not a fan of the holiday either. So when his new neighbor Kristian shows up in a panic, begging him to help by donning a Santa suit, Sigge’s gut reaction is to say no. But Kristian is cute and funny, rendering Sigge powerless against his heartfelt plea -- especially after a promise of spending more time together -- so he agrees.
The instant connection deepens as they share mulled wine and conversation as easy as breathing. But is it just holiday magic swirling in the air, or is it something real? Something that will last into the new year and beyond?
I’m lounging on the couch, another bottle of mulled wine warming over a tealight with Plan 9 From Outer Space playing on the TV when the knock finally comes on my door. It’s already close to nine pm and I’d been starting to wonder if he’d show up at all, but I guess the family obligations dragged out for longer than he expected.
I rise and force myself to walk like a normal person, quashing my urge to rush through the house, throw open the door, and fling my arms around him.
My breath catches in my throat when I let him in. He’s changed the suit for sweats and bundled up in a thick jacket with a rainbow-colored knitted scarf wound around his neck. He’s holding a container of what I assume are leftovers, but it’s his hair that steals all my attention. It’s still damp after a shower, and it looks like he’s done nothing else to it than run his fingers through it.
I knew he’d be even hotter all messed up.
He flashes his crooked smile at me. “Still up for company? I know I’m late, they never wanted to leave, and then I had to shower.”
My eager nod doesn’t even embarrass me. “Of course. Come inside.”
He hands me the container and unwraps himself from the outerwear. “I figure everyone loves a good Christmas ham sandwich, so I brought bread and ham.” Then he straightens as though something occurred to him. “Unless you’re a vegetarian. Oh gawd, you’re a vegetarian, aren’t you?”
I shake my head with a chuckle. “I’m not. Don’t worry so much. Come help me assemble the sandwiches. I’m starving and I’ve got mulled wine waiting.”
In the kitchen, we work together in companionable silence. Side by side, close enough for our shoulders to brush against each other on occasion. We add mustard and thick slices of ham on crusty, homemade bread until we have enough sandwiches to feed the entire neighborhood.
“Looks great,” I say.
He hums and slides into my space, pressing his side against mine, still looking straight ahead. “I didn’t hallucinate the attraction between us earlier, did I? I’ve been thinking all afternoon that it can’t be true. I knocked on my new neighbor’s door with a wild request on Christmas Eve, and not only was he cute, but he also seemed to think I was cute, too. Things like that don’t happen in real life, do they? Only in cheesy movies, so I must’ve imagined it.”
He sounds so insecure, so unlike the outgoing man from before, as though he peeled off his confidence with his suit. I can’t resist reaching out and touch him, skimming my fingertips over the back of his hand. His response is immediate; he slides his hand into mine and laces our fingers together.
“I’m not an expert on those kinds of movies,” I say, “but if you’re imagining things, so am I.”
I squeeze his hand. “Yes.”