Eric has been in love with Callie since the day they met, one month after someone else put a ring on her finger. Since her engagement ended Eric has been biding his time, waiting for her to be ready. Until he finds a naughty list of Christmas wishes hidden between her couch cushions with his name on the top.
He’s willing to do anything to make Callie happy, including take on the role of dominant Santa Claus and spank her to a blow-your-stockings-off orgasm. But is she ready for everything he wants? Does she want his love?
“This is really what you want to do with your birthday?” Callie asked, looking up at Giselle with a quizzical stare. Personally she’d rather be in a bar, drinking peppermint martinis, but it wasn’t Callie’s choice.
“Yes.” Giselle responded quickly, handing out holiday pens like she did to the children in her classroom. Grabbing a sugar plum ballpoint for herself, Giselle dropped down on the cream-and-rose-striped couch beside Callie.
Giselle’s elaborate ranch-style home, decorated in every shade of beige, was at least much quieter and less crowded than a bar. And due to the crystal bowls filled with potpourri upon every end table and bookcase in the house, with the smell of pine and cinnamon to celebrate the season wafting from each dish, it probably smelled better too.
“How exactly does this work?” asked Amy, their friend and the drama teacher at their school, her bright smile infectious as she helped propel the gathering forward.
“Write down what you want you want in a partner on the page.” Giselle motioned to the elaborate holiday paper stacked on the Chippendale coffee table around which Callie and their three best friends sat. “Once you have the determination to ask for what you truly want in a man, the universe finds a way to guide him to you.”
Callie sucked on the end of her silver bell pen, thinking of the different traits she wanted to write down. Caring, empathetic, loves children, crystal-blue eyes, soot-black hair. There was no point in writing any of it. The man who fit that description felt nothing for her. Why seek to guide him her way?
“Like what kind of characteristics?” Mallory asked with a devilish glint in her almond eyes. “Big cock. Talented tongue. Stamina.”
Amy giggled. Giselle scowled.
Callie admitted the idea had promise. Her body heated as she fantasized of a thick cock buried deep within her, a black head buried between her legs, a warm, wet tongue stroking her sensitive flesh. She’d always been bored with a man buried between her thighs before, but with her Mr. Right she’d be willing to try again.
“If that’s all you want in a man,” Giselle snapped, and Mallory nodded enthusiastically, a large artificial smile spreading across her face at Giselle’s biting tone, “then yes.”
“How does it guide him to you?” Krista asked, hazel eyes bright with curiosity. From anyone else the question would have sounded sarcastic or insolent, but Krista’s tone was straightforward, the mathematical part of her incapable of discounting any theory without testing.
“Through positive thinking,” Giselle responded, as if such information were common knowledge.
Callie huffed out a breath. She’d always considered herself optimistic, but where had that gotten her? A bitter broken engagement, robbed of confidence, and in love with someone else who didn’t want her.
Mallory turned toward Krista, cupping her hand around her mouth to mimic whispering a secret. The words projected loud and clear from her lips. “Otherwise known as magic.”
Giselle rolled her eyes, her hands fisted on her hips. “Not all of us can spend our days sleeping around with rock-and-roll trash.”
Mallory only smiled, her lips turned up in malicious glory. “Maybe you should give it a try. It might loosen you up a bit.”
Giselle’s jaw clenched, her face as bright red as Santa’s suit.
With such polar opposite personalities, Giselle and Mallory hardly ever agreed, but were still close as sisters. They came to each other’s aid whenever needed. Just as they had when Callie’s lying ex-fiancé Josh’s secret was discovered.
“Where’d you get this idea?” Amy shouted across the circle, attempting to distract the group, always the peacemaker. Her normally small, soft voice paralleled her slender, short frame.
“Oprah, of course,” Giselle respond, to no one’s surprise. Giselle worshipped at the shrine of Oprah and Martha Stewart.
“Of course.” Mallory swallowed her red wine, using the glass to camouflage an exaggerated eye roll.
“It’s my thirtieth birthday, and you all agreed we could do anything I wanted tonight.” They hadn’t actually agreed, but Amy had, dragging everyone else along with her.
“I don’t get it. What’s the point in making a list for only one type of guy? There are tons out there.” Mallory shifted her long black hair streaked with green stripes, the ends dangling below the waistband of her dark jeans.
“It’s not for finding ‘a’ guy.” Giselle arched one golden brow. “It’s for finding ‘the guy’. Your soul mate.”
Mallory brushed away the ancient notion of loving, long-term monogamy with a sweep of her hand. “What’s the point? Guys are like Christmas toys. What’s all the rage this year will be thrown in the garbage by Easter, and then you’ll be looking for something new.”
“Some of us are just looking for a toy worth playing with.” Callie chuckled.
Around her, her friends’ faces dropped, laughter and jokes ending on a deep sour note Callie hadn’t intended to play. She meant to sound like any other single thirty-year-old woman, but instead everyone still saw her as a betrayed, wounded soul, nursing a broken heart.
“Don’t worry, you’ll find someone.” Amy’s eyes glowed with concern, bordering on pity.
“Someone who deserves you,” Mallory added, placing her hand on Callie’s with a comforting squeeze.
Callie bit down on the inside of her cheek to prevent herself from groaning, the sympathy around her so thick it was choking.
Everyone forgot she’d called off the engagement. The discoveries of Josh’s life on the road, released to the paparazzi days after she’d returned the gaudy ring, overshadowed that truth.
Callie refocused on her paper, the pressure of her friends’ concern weighing on her neck, forcing her to stay harnessed to her pain, like a reindeer to Santa’s sleigh. She wrote “What I Want” across the top of the page, nibbling on the end of her pen as she tried to envision her perfect man. But every physical attribute she considered, every personality trait she desired, returned to one man. Eric.
She’d been in love with Eric for longer than she could admit. He’d been caring, sweet, and devoted since she’d called off her engagement, but that wasn’t what she wanted. Not anymore.
She wanted red, hot, raw. Her fantasies about Eric were dark, uninhibited, and rough. Exactly how Eric would never see her. To him she was a good friend—sweet, not sexy. She couldn’t be in another relationship like that, even if he set her heart flying and her stomach tumbling.
She gripped her pen tighter, staring down at her paper, visions of Eric and her tangled together dancing before her eyes. Their bodies twirled in every position she’d ever heard her friends mention, and some she’d even researched online. All the fantasies Josh hadn’t been interested in fulfilling, too busy satisfying his own. Her heart pumped heavily as she turned back to the title of her page, finishing the sentence with “Eric to Do to Me”. Her pen flew across the sheet, detailing every erotic fantasy she conjured up around her best friend.
She smiled as Giselle gave her a nod. If her friend had any idea what she was asking the universe for, it might cause her perfect bobbed hair to stand on end.
* * * * *
“Ready to go?” Eric smiled at the small sneer covering Callie’s lips as she stood posed in the entryway of her home, blocking him from the warmth within. Her dark red hair tousled about her head. He fisted his hands at his sides to stop his needy fingers from smoothing down those silky waves, stroking their long, coiled length.
They had plans to go to the local theater and see It’s a Wonderful Life, a favorite Christmas tradition of theirs. Callie said a theater was the only way to appreciate such a movie. All Eric cared about was spending time with Callie.
“I thought we were meeting there.” Her eyes gleamed like emeralds, sparkling in the elaborate Christmas lights she’d arranged around her door, regardless of the irritation curling her lip.
Callie loved Christmas. She decked her small Cape Cod cottage each year, turning it into a Christmas wonderland complete with a porcelain snow-capped village and Mariah Carey singing about what she wanted for Christmas. The entire house smelled like pine, sugar cookies, and home. Warmth and comfort radiated from every corner, just like Callie.
“We were, but I thought you’d like a ride.” He knew she hated it when he tried to take care of her, even with a simple ride to the theater, but he couldn’t help it. She might try to deny it, reassuring everyone that she was fine, that she’d healed from what happened with Josh, but he knew better.
He noticed the crinkles around her mouth, the heaviness of her brow, and the dull pain that always rung in her voice, regardless of how happy she appeared on the outside. She still held the incident with her, tucked in her heart, where she wouldn’t allow anyone. The urge to go to the ballpark and bash Josh into mincemeat grew stronger every day. And he would have to, if Callie hadn’t made him promise to leave the bastard alone. She claimed she only wanted to move on, but she hadn’t.
Besides, a few more minutes with Callie, or seeing the way her eyes lit up for a special gift, were well worth her prickliness.
Callie put up a hiccup of a fight before holding the door open, allowing him into her cozy home. “Fine. Come in. I was just about to get ready.”
He snorted. Knowing Callie, she hadn’t been planning on getting dressed for another fifteen minutes.
Most women, if ambushed early, would be half dressed, maybe hair up, or makeup half done. Not his Callie. She was still in her pajamas. More annoyed that he’d deprived her of a few more minutes in her comfy flannels than her prep time.
“You don’t have to change on my account. I think you look quite festive.”
Callie smiled, twirling in front of him to show off her cuddly Christmas pajamas. Reindeer with bright red noses, long flirty lashes, and gigantic pursed lips molded around her legs as she spun. Red ribbons and sparkling snowflakes curled around the most gorgeous heart-shaped ass he’d ever seen.
Eric swallowed to prevent himself from making any noise. His cock pressed against the rough denim of his jeans, his balls tight and heavy as ceramic tree ornaments. If Callie knew the truth, knew how much he wanted her, their entire relationship would change. He couldn’t pressure her like that.
Across the stretchy red tank top covering her small, perky breasts, large silver block letters spelled out Sexxy Vixen. Unconsciously he bit his tongue, tasting the faint metallic trace of blood in his mouth. Everything about Callie was sexy. Even her flannel pajamas.
His nails bit crescents into his palm. He wanted to rip that tank top off her, touch her breasts, hold her hands down as he sucked her nipples until she bucked and begged for more.
But Callie was too fragile to handle his aggression, the frantic need that had been growing within him for four long years. Since the day they met.
He couldn’t push himself on her. She still needed time.
“It may be a Christmas movie—” she grinned “—but I don’t think I should be dressed this festive.”
“I don’t mind. No one’s going to see you in the theatre.”
“Actually—” Callie’s gaze shifted to the plush taupe carpet. Eric’s gut clenched. Callie only avoided his stare when she had really bad news to deliver. “Krista and James are going to meet us there.”
Eric groaned. “James is weird. You know he doesn’t even watch football. Last time I met him he told me he didn’t watch the Super Bowl last year—he finished the school board budgets instead. What kind of person does that?”
“I know, but she’s one of my best friends, and he’s the principal of the school, and they’re having a hard time so—”
“I’ll be nice to him and on my best behavior all night.”
“Exactly.” She laughed, playfully slapping his right biceps. If he grabbed her hand he could pull her into his arms in seconds, and his mouth would be on hers a second later.
And the next moment she’d be pushing him away, their friendship ruined.
“I’ll just be a minute,” Callie replied, her hand brushing along his arm as she stepped behind him to her bedroom. “I’m going to slip into something less comfortable.”
“Take your time,” he called, holding his breath as he waited for the bedroom door to click closed.
He’d fantasized about that bedroom so many times. The dark navy comforter, the soft baby blue sheets decorated with smiling snowmen she used all winter long. He imagined them so many nights. The smell of her skin along the sheets, the feel of the fabric wrapped around him as he perched above her, soft against his back as she straddled him, keeping them warm as they drifted off to sleep, Callie tucked into his side.
The doorknob snapped shut and Eric jumped to attention. He wouldn’t have long. Callie was always quick getting ready. If he wanted a chance of finding any evidence of what Callie wanted for Christmas, he’d better move fast.
Callie and he had an ongoing bet to find the most heartfelt present for the other. The loser had to be the other’s designated driver for New Year’s Eve. And Eric had lost for the last three years.
If she hadn’t been newly engaged he probably would have lost four years ago too, but when he’d found the picture of her parents’ wedding he’d had the brilliant idea to have her friend Amy make a duplicate of her mother’s veil. Callie had cried when she opened the box and had worn the veil for the rest of the holiday party. Eric had never done anything so right as commissioning that frilly lace train.
It wasn’t that he minded losing. Callie was funny when she had too much to drink. She told racy jokes and got overly touchy, which as long as she was only touching him, was worth being sober to ring in the New Year.
But after all she’d been through this year, calling off her wedding and finding out the truth about Josh, he wanted to make all her Christmas wishes come true. Starting with the perfect present, even if he had to snoop to find out what she wanted.
Eric looked around the room, frantically searching for something she might need. He tipped his head to look into the trash, inspecting the contents for clues, hoping to find some recently broken appliance or family heirloom he could repair that Callie’s elementary gym teacher salary wouldn’t allow.
A sliver of light green between the arm and cushion of Callie’s mocha-colored couch drew his eye. The bright color protruded from rich leather, one of the few pieces of furniture in the room besides an inherited coffee table and elaborately decorated Christmas tree. Taking two steps to the couch, he gripped the spearmint object between his thumb and forefinger, pulling the folded holiday paper from the crevice. Why would Callie shove a piece of paper between the couch cushions? Why would she need to hide something in her own home?
Eric unfolded the paper, expanding the corners into a large, flat sheet. Twirling red ribbons and shiny gold ornaments decorated the page and snowflakes dotted each line. The written words stopped his breath. Callie’s tight, neat script whispered his greatest fantasy.
His throat closed, trapping the oxygen in his chest. His eyes blurred as he read the words over and over. His vision must be playing a trick on him. Callie would never be interested in this kind of sex, and she would certainly never be interested in him.
He’d been in love with Callie since the day he’d met her, which happened to be one month after Josh had slipped a three-carat diamond ring on her finger. He could still remember the bite of that hard rock into his palm as he shook her hand, thanking her for volunteering at the special needs event for thirty kids with physical handicaps, several his cases, that her fiancé’s team was hosting. The small pinch reminded him their meeting was not a dream. This funny, interesting, beautiful woman was real.
He may have denied his feelings at first, but he’d long since accepted he’d never have her, and forced himself to become just her friend. In all that time he’d never imagined she could return his affection.
He wasn’t her type. Callie went for athletic pretty guys. Hell, Josh had been a professional baseball player. How was a social worker supposed to compete with a guy like that? Awkward, gawky, and broke to boot—what a catch Eric was. She deserved better.
His stare remained glued to her naughty Christmas list. His gaze drifted to the top of the page where she’d written his name. He reread each increasingly kinky line. How long had she been thinking about him like this? Since she’d broken off her engagement? Before? If he’d only known, he would have already fulfilled all these wishes and then some.
A wicked smile curled his lips. His body burned stronger than the fire in the chimney Kris Kringle would soon be coming down. His cock pressed against his jeans, hard, hot, wanting. The confinement was a sweet pain he’d become used to after years of being so close to the woman of his dreams but unable to touch her.
There was no time like the present.
“Ready to go?” Callie asked from the bedroom door. He raised his head, cramming the list under his thigh as he drank in the poinsettia red sweater hugging her curves. His mouth watered at the rose blush staining her cheeks. He’d do better than that.
Eric nodded, his tongue no longer working properly. Callie’s curls fluttered as she pulled on a white puffy jacket, making the most adorable candy cane he’d ever seen as she walked to the door. One he couldn’t wait to taste.
Eric trailed behind, stuffing the holiday page into his back pocket. Christmas suddenly looked a lot brighter.