Cody Laughman, a lonely firefighter in New York City, gets a blast from the past when his late father’s lawyer approaches him with news. It has been three years since Cody’s father’s death, the family house needs to be sold. Although Cody is glad to get rid of this part of his life, there is one final thing he needs to do -- fly home to Muffin, Alaska, and make the property presentable.
He expects this to be a quick visit, just cleaning up some old memories he usually ignores. But memories are stubborn, and on top of everything else, he finds a real Christmas elf living in the attic of his house. Not a tiny fairy, but a full-grown, deliciously handsome man. He doesn’t even have pointed ears.
But can Cody open up to the possibility of finding love, when the ghost of Christmas past is still haunting him?
He woke up with a start after too little sleep. A loud noise had jerked him awake. A clatter from the attic perhaps, or the garage. But when he listened intently, it was gone again. Maybe an animal. Especially the smaller creatures sought refuge inside when the winter came. On the other hand, his brain kicked in just as he was about to go back to sleep, small animals didn’t yell “Ouch!”
Someone was in the house.
It was impossible to tell what time it was just by looking outside; the same blackness from before greeted him. Twenty-four hour night. It was entirely possible that he had overslept, it was late in the morning, and this was a neighbor to see what was going on. There could be a perfectly harmless explanation.
But his watch said it was four in the morning, and the voice had come from the attic. The people in this town were curious and they meddled in each other’s affairs, but they drew the line at midnight visits. Or at least they used to.
Cody got out of bed. Reaching for the next best weapon, his old fishing rod -- it had probably been leaning against the wall for over a decade -- he went upstairs towards the noise. His naked feet left prints in the dust.
At the end of the corridor was the telltale trap door with the retractable ladder. The light switch was in the wall below, but of course it didn’t work. Probably a blown fuse. Cody opened the door and saw nothing but a black, gaping hole. He readied the fishing rod and climbed up the ladder. On the last step he paused to listen again. He didn’t hear a voice, but there were sounds of something or someone moving around. Both hands holding on to the rod now, he leaped into the room with a precise jump, an action that might have been terrifying to any possible intruder, had he not been barefoot.
He whirled around, trying to make out any shape in the dimness, but instead of yelling, “Who’s there? Show yourself!” Cody gave a pathetic whimper and dropped the fishing rod in surprise and pain. Pain, because he had stepped on a nail or something, and now his foot was bleeding. Surprise, because someone was indeed in his attic. Before him stood a man in a ridiculously adorable elf outfit, a red and white striped candy cane in his raised fist like a desperate weapon.
Cody’s first intelligible word was much less menacing than he would have liked: “What?”
The elf -- intruder, he corrected himself in his head -- was about just as coherent: “What?”
Then Cody lost his balance and fell down.
“Are you alright?” The stranger’s face appeared in Cody’s narrow field of vision. His striped socks and pointed shoes did, too.
“Are you alright?” he repeated.
Cody groaned. He wasn’t alright. He hadn’t been alright for a very long time. But he said, “I think so.”
“Good,” the stranger replied. His face hardened as he added, “Get out of my house then.”
Cody attempted a confused smile, but feared he only managed a grimace.
“I beg your pardon?” he wanted to know. Using an ancient toolbox, Cody hoisted himself up. The pain was unbearable, he was sure the nail had been rusty and disgusting.
The stranger straightened his back. “I’m sorry, were my words confusing?”
“No,” replied Cody, “but you are. What are you doing in my house?”
“This isn’t your house anymore.”
“Not for very much longer, I hope, but it is definitely now. So who the heck are you, and why are you dressed like a Christmas ornament?”
“If this is your house then why is there dust everywhere?” the intruder shot back. Cody thought he might imagine it, but the face seemed to look triumphant.
Triumph made way for earnestness. “It always is, isn’t it?”
Cody shot the man a dirty look. His foot was throbbing now, he was now sure it hadn’t been a rusty nail but a dusty, wooden splinter. A huge, dirty one.
“What are you doing here?” Cody repeated, patience waning quickly.
The intruder shrugged. “It’s complicated.”
“I’m sure it is.” Because he didn’t know what else to say, the situation was preposterous beyond imagination, Cody added in defeat, “I need a Band-Aid.”
“Downstairs bathroom, cubbie on the left,” the stranger said without thinking twice about it.
“I know,” hissed Cody. “That’s where they’ve always been.”
He turned around and hobbled downstairs. Definitely a splinter.