This was my entry for The Giggle/Snort Christmas Cracker Anonymous One-Shot Contest...and I won! I still can't believe it ;) Special thanks to my beta and bestie Coldplaywhore, and to loss4words81 and heatherdawn for the WCs. I heart all of them.

I don't own Twilight, but I do rock antlers on Christmas Eve.


Say something to her.

I glanced down at the screen of my phone, quickly reading the text and shoving it back into my coat pocket. I could hear Emmett laughing, not so discreetly, from his desk a few rows behind me and it was all I could do to not turn around, rip his arm off and beat him with it. Instead, I just shook my head emphatically and focused on the work in front of me. I knew exactly what he was doing and it was not going to work. I'd talk to her in good time, when it was right. Junior level Spanish was hardly the time or place for me to make my move.

I was not surprised when I felt the buzz again.

Dooooooo it.

I was going to kill him. Thankfully, there were only five minutes left before the bell rang, not only signifying the end of class, but also the end of the school day. After that, Emmett and I, well… we were going to have to have a talk.

And again my phone buzzed. Good fucking God. When it became obvious that I wasn't going to respond or even look at my phone for that matter, a wadded up piece of paper landed on my desk.

You know you wanna do it.

"Do you have something you'd like to share with the rest of us, Mr. Cullen?" Mr. Berty looked a bit irritated as he called attention to the note in my hand. I shook my head emphatically and quickly stashed the paper in my book bag because there was no way I was reading that note out loud. Shuddering at the thought of how much social damage that could have caused, I glared behind me at Emmett, who was now suddenly very interested in our assignment.

Yup, we were going to have to have a very serious talk.

Do you want me to say something to her for your? Because I will. I got your back, man.

Again with the texts.

Fuck it. I finally shoved my phone down into the depths of my book bag, hoping that Emmett would take a hint and stop with the messages. He may be fine with coasting through his senior year of high school, but some of us still had a thing or two to prove to college admissions.

Having had enough, I whipped around and said through severely clenched teeth because I was trying to remain somewhat composed so as to not draw any more attention in our direction than necessary from the girl sitting beside me, "Emmett. Back the fuck off."

A stifled cough from my right broke the death glares I was shooting in Emmett's direction and I turned slowly back around in my chair. I wanted desperately to see the look the girl's face, but I was also trying to not look so pathetic. See, I was completely infatuated with her and yet scared to death of her at the same time.

Trust me, I didn't understand it either.

Still, I could do one of two things at this particular time. One, I could start talking to her and apologize for the disturbance brought on by my idiotic best friend or two, I could just pretend that nothing happened and get through the class just like I have every day since the first day of school. Just as I was about to muster up the courage to apologize for disturbing her studying, the bell rang.

I watched her leave the classroom, a flying fury of brown hair and strawberries, and I threw my books in my bag as I mentally chastised myself for letting yet another opportunity to talk to her go to waste. I looked around in the hall, seeing every other girl that went to Forks High, waving at some, smiling at a few standing over by the stairs… hiding from that one… yet when it came to Bella Swan, I was a total disaster.

"Do you ever check your texts? I sent you one like an hour ago." Emmett was waiting at my locker when I arrived after the end of the day's last class. Considering we left class less than thirty seconds before, I took his statement as complete and total exaggeration.

"Do you ever stop talking?" I countered. "I just got to my locker. How the hell are you ready to go already?" I started grabbing the few things out of my locker that I would need for the weekend and made room for the things that I didn't. After a few minutes hesitation, I grabbed my Biology book back out of my locker and put it back in my bag.

"I thought you just had a test. He gave you homework too? That's a bit harsh don't ya think? I don't understand why you take those upper level classes. Our High School years are supposed to be the best years of our lives and yet you're managing to spend most of them with your nose in a book. I don't understand you academic types".

I hit Emmett in the back of the head as we walked down the hall because if his schedule had allowed it, he knew as well as I did that he'd be in that class too. He pretended to be a goof, but he kept up with us 'smarties' in the academic department, he just didn't need to take AP Biology to get him into school. Football had already taken care of that responsibility when he signed his Letter of Intent with USC last month.

Looking at us from the outside, it made no sense that Emmett and I were best friends, but we were and we had been since Kindergarten, when I swooped in at the last minute and saved him from being lunch table buddies with Jessica Stanley. Some things defy all common sense and logic, much to my chagrin, but over the years I'd learned that it was better to accept them than try and fight them. It was what it was and there was nobody in this world I trusted more than him. Then again, there was also nobody in this world that irritated me more than Emmett.

"We don't have homework; I just wanted to make sure I understood everything for the next chapter. It is not easy to concentrate in there, you know, since Mr. Banner keeps it somewhere around eighty-seven degrees in there…."

"Rosalie looked hot today. Did you see her in that sweater? When she walked into Calculus this morning, it was totally like that scene in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back; you know when that chick comes in the store with Bad Medicine playing. Dude, she makes me think filthy things."

Knowing the only way to get him to stop was to pretend like he wasn't talking, so I continued. "…and he plays this music that is supposed to stimulate academic learning or some bullshit like that."

"Heh, you said stimulate." I swear there was a reason we were friends, but right now I wasn't exactly sure what it was, so I continued to ignore him

"Anyway, like I was saying, he plays this music and the heat and…"

"And Bella is in that class."

"And Bella… no wait, that's not it at all." Yes it was. "Fuck off man."

"I knew it!" He started hopping around the parking lot fist pumping and whooping it up, looking like a baboon on crack, but thankfully nobody thought anything of it. He was always going on about something, so to most of the student body this act wasn't anything out of the normal, except for Bella Swan who stood under the breezeway watching in horror.


Bella Swan was a bit of an unknown. She had transferred to Forks High School from somewhere in Arizona and completely knocked me for a loop. For whatever reason, she made me lose all of my swagger, all of my coolness and my ability to function like a human being. She rendered me incapable of speaking in full sentences and walking in straight lines, which was why I had to bring my Bio book home on the weekend. I needed to get ahead on the work for the next chapter so I could watch her breathe… and possibly smell her hair.

Jesus, I was fucked.

I mean, on the best of days I wasn't exactly the smoothest mofo out there, but I did have a bit of a social life and I'd had my fair share of dates – just never the tried and true girlfriend. Nobody ever piqued my interest that much, until Bella, and that just hadn't gone well… at all. Actually, it wasn't that it hadn't gone well as much as it hadn't gone anywhere. The fact that I hadn't managed to say a word to her all year pretty much cemented that deal.

By the time I reached my car and unlocked it, Emmett had managed to calm down. He plopped down in the passenger seat and I looked at him not exactly sure what he was doing.

"Dad took my Jeep away when he found out about the Yorkie incident from last week. Something about frostbite, I don't really remember. Anyway, I told Rosalie we'd help her out with her senior project. I'd rather get punched in the nuts than do it, but she really didn't leave me much choice. She's cut me off once before and I can't let that happen again. I mean, do you have any idea what that is like? Oh wait… of course you don't." He chuckled to himself as he buckled his seat belt and waited for me to start driving.

"Okay first of all, fuck you. I have a plan. And second, you do remember that we both have our own projects to finish right?" Part of the new graduating requirements implemented by the school board last year included twenty-five hours volunteering for a non-profit. I had been spending my Thursday afternoons working with the local Boys and Girls Club kids helping them with their homework. Some of those kids were really really funny, and after spending years hanging out with Emmett, there wasn't anything they could think of that surprised me. At all.

"Um, yes… and I also realize that these hours can be counted towards our own total so shut up and start driving."

Sighing and realizing that there was no way I was getting Emmett out of my car until I took him wherever he wanted to go, I turned the key and started the ignition. I could always just drop him off and he could get a ride home with Rosalie after they're done doing whatever it is that they do. And yes, I know how all that works, I just didn't care to hear about it. "Where are we going?"

"The mall, and before you start scheming, she specifically requested both of us. She said I can't come alone."

"I'm not into that type of thing Em." Okay, I couldn't resist, because when it came down to it, I was a seventeen year old guy and threesomes were just something we thought about. All the time. So I kept thinking about it. "At least not when it's two dudes. Two girls and we can talk. But you, me and Rosalie… not gonna happen." And I was completely serious. He was my best friend, but nuh uh.

Now if it were with Rosalie and Bella… sign me up. Yesterday.

In fact, thoughts of that and how it would work, where it would happen and what I would say - that was what got me through the forty-five minute drive. Emmett was yammering on and on about something, but I couldn't tell you what. I doubt he would blame me if he knew what was going through my head.

It wasn't until we pulled up into the parking lot that I realized that I had no idea exactly what I had been forced into agreeing to do. I mean, we were at a mall and they weren't exactly known for their non-profitness. Non-profitiness? Non-profiteering? Fuck it. They weren't exactly known for their charitable opportunities, what with the whole concept of being a group of businesses that wanted to make money.

"Oh and while we're here, I need your help picking out a Christmas gift for Rose. Apparently, she wasn't too excited about what I planned to give her." Big surprise there. "I don't get it though. Edward man, in the three years we've been dating, she's figured out her Christmas gift early every year. She knew about the scarf Alice suggested, the…," he paused for a minute, looking puzzled before shrugging, "the whatever it was I got her two years ago I can't remember, and the Slanket I got her last year."

"You should have shelled out the money and bought her a Snuggie. Even I know Rosalie Hale is not one for cheap imitations. She's all about the name brands."

"Yeah, I know. Still, this year though, I thought I had her when I decided to make her the coupons redeemable for some Emmett lovin'," he stopped for a minute to do some awkward hip thrusting and grunting along with a few fake ass-slaps, "but fuck if she didn't guess those too."

Before I could start in on the advice, he started braying and I waited while he had his moment. We were halfway to the mall before he stopped. Finally.

"Okay, first of all. Stop with the thrusting. I don't need to see that again. Ever. Second, Rose speaks Pig Latin. So talking about the ex-say oupons-cay at the lunch table didn't exactly help you keep it a secret. Even Doris the lunch lady knows what you were planning on giving her." It was like Pavlov's dog. The second the word ex-say came out of my mouth, he started the gestures again. "Seriously dude, stop with the thrusting. Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is if you want her to be surprised, the best thing you can do is buy her a gift, wrap it, and then forget what you bought her. Really though, why are you so worried about it. So she guesses it? Big fuckin' deal."

"Says the man who's scared of a girl."

"I'm not scared." Okay, now he was really starting to piss me off because I wasn't scared. I was just… waiting for the right moment.

"Uh huh. And remind me again why it took you years to ask Rosalie out?" I nodded across the parking lot to where the object of his affection stood, tapping her foot as she waited for us to get there. I didn't understand what it was Emmett saw in her because she was not the easiest person in the world to get along with but in his mind the two of them were totally meant to be together.

"That's completely different and you know it. We have a history."

"You kissed when you were four."

"Still, there was a past and it had to be treated with respect and reverence. You've never even talked to Bella Swan. You don't have the pressure of living up to any sort of expectation."

Oh Jesus Christ. I looked over at my best friend, rolling my eyes because he was serious. Somewhere in his over processed mind, he truly believed that a kiss in the sandbox thirteen years ago created some sort of cosmic destiny between the two of them. But as nauseating as it was, I could sort of see where he was coming from.

The very second I laid eyes on Bella Swan as she walked across the rain soaked parking lot on the first day of school, I knew that wanted her more than anything I had ever wanted in my entire seventeen years of life. More than the Yu-Gi-Oh cards that came out when I was 10, more than the glow in the dark light sabers, and more than the collector's edition Princess Leia in the gold bikini poster hanging on my closet door – but not more than Princess Leia because some things you just can't top. Basically, I just wanted her. Desperately.

All that being said and speaking from personal experience, seventeen year old boys weren't known to be very discriminating in what they want, so to say I that wanted her more than anything was pretty huge. And true. Basically, if tab A could fit into slot B, well, that was all that mattered and while I really hadn't said two words to the girl, I knew that I wanted Bella to be my Slot B.

Over the past three months, I had been trying to figure out a way to talk to her and convince her that I was destined to be the love of her life. Friday was the last day of school before we got out for Christmas break, so it was do or die. If nothing happened by then, I was facing the possibility of not seeing her for two and a half weeks.

And that was unacceptable.

Almost as unacceptable as what assaulted our ears as we got closer to the entrance where Rosalie was now motioning for us to hurry. Yeah, that was really helping and it may have made me slow down a bit.

Hey, I never pretended to want to be here, especially when I could hear the song that was currently being aired over the mall sound system. It was nauseating, horrific and it made me want to hurl with the way it pandered to the sappy and emotionally unstable. It was like Precious Moments on steroids and completely over the top.

"You know, I love traditional Christmas carols but I really, really love the message that this song conveys." I looked over at Emmett like he had sprouted three heads or aged forty years because there was no way a living breathing teenage boy should like this song.

"Very funny." I rolled my eyes and pulled my hoodie over my ears trying to block it out.

"I'm completely serious, dude. The kid wants to spend his own little bit of money to buy his sick momma some shoes. What's not to love? I mean, it's like the epitome of Christmas spirit." Did he just wipe away a tear? Suddenly, I felt like I had some leverage and an evil grin spread across my face. "What?" he asked, suddenly and rightfully, suspicious.

"Nothing, I've just learned something about you today. You have a pussy. Does Rosalie know she's dating a girl? Do you trade make-up tips and shop for bras together? Dude, you are not who I thought you were. At all." I dodged to the left, avoiding the punch I knew was coming and started laughing uncontrollably until I saw the look on Rosalie's face. Emmett saw it too and I knew I was safe, at least for the time being.

"Thank God you two are finally here, what in the world took you so long? Emmett, I thought you were leaving right after school." Huh, Rosalie was bitching; that sure didn't take long.

I walked inside, leaving the two of them to hash it out, and looked around. I had to admit one thing, as much as I didn't want to be doing whatever it was we were going to be doing, all the decorations and the holiday spirit exuding from the shoppers couldn't help but put a smile on my face. I mean, it was almost Christmas and we were almost out of school and my life was almost perfect.

Then I found out what we were doing at the mall and even worse was what we were wearing.

""I can't believe I actually agreed to do this for you." I growled at Emmett while looking through the bag on the counter that held my uniform for the afternoon. Brown overalls, brown sweater, brown socks. Okay, nothing too awful.


"Do I have to wear these?" I rolled my eyes because I was in no mood to look ridiculous, good cause or not.

"If you don't, Edward, everybody's going to think you're one of Santa's shits instead of one of his reindeer. "

"Touché." I put the antlers back in the bag then I felt it or them, rather.

"No way. I'll give you the antlers," because really, I was in no mood for the Mr. Hanky jokes, "but I'm not wearing hooves or a red nose. No. Fuc…" Rosalie's eyes widened and she looked over at the gift wrapping station where two little old ladies were looking at me with not so amused expressions. "No way," I hurriedly corrected myself. "Besides, who knows where this thing has been."

"That's the nose I wore yesterday" Rosalie challenged.

"Exactly my point," I answered, throwing it back at her. "Then these things," I held up what felt like blocks of Styrofoam that I was apparently supposed to wear on my hands. "How in the hell am I supposed to do anything when I have no fingers." Cue snickering from Emmett. "We get it, you're twelve. Let me guess, you aren't a reindeer. Why do I have to be the beast in this outfit? Why can't Emmett be the deer? He's your boyfriend."

Rosalie sighed and answered in just over a whisper. "We tried it before, but he couldn't stop with the 'me so horny' jokes. Some mom overheard and got offended and I had to sign a contract that I'd never put him in antlers again or I'd lose this job."

"Yeah, Edward. Consider yourself lucky, man. I know it doesn't seem like it, but I'm not exactly thrilled with my costume either. I'm not in the mood to talk about it right now, just trust me." He took his own bag from Rosalie and cringed, before giving her a quick kiss. "Some things you just gotta do."

I had no idea what he was talking about and honestly didn't care. "Whatever. Let's just get going but I can promise you this – if any of the guys shopping in Bass Pro Shop come out of the store in camouflage and start looking at me funny, I'm outta here. The last thing I need is to be shot in the ass and have my head mounted on the wall over somebody's fireplace." Okay, so maybe I was exaggerating a little, but I really, really didn't want to be here at all. "How long is our shift anyway?"

"I've got you two signed up from five until eight, so you have about thirty minutes to change, get a drink and do whatever else it is you want to do between now and then." She took a quick look at Emmett, who had started back with what had become obligatory hip thrusting. "Not that." A surprisingly loud hiccup came from over by the gift wrap ladies and Rosalie closed her eyes and sighed. "Great, you've made Mrs. Cope start drinking again. The last time she did that, she sent Reverend Weber home the wrong gift."

"How did he know it was the wrong one if it was wrapped?" I asked as I watched the lady pretend to be looking for something in her purse, but instead drank from a flask she had stashed inside. While I gave her credit for her interpretation of Christmas spirit, she was not exactly being stealthy about it. She saw me staring at her and winked.

Oh hell no. There was no way that this reindeer was getting anywhere near that Grandma. No. Way.

"It started vibrating on his front seat."

Oh. Oh. Ewwwww.

Church was definitely going to be interesting next Sunday, Emmett's comments about fake dicks notwithstanding. It was a bit much.

"Okay, that's way more than I need to know. Time to move on."

I picked up my bag and walked towards the little temporary Santa's Workshop they had set up to serve as a break room slash volunteer office slash changing area. Considering there were kids already starting to line up behind the velvet ropes, I didn't think it would be good to drop trou right there in the middle of the mall. I opened the door to see Angela Weber and Ben Cheney, I mean, Mrs. Claus and Santa, going at it on the office desk. Nobody should ever witness that; it was like part of my childhood died right then and there.

It was going to be a loooooong afternoon.

"Don't mind me guys, just continue to do whatever it is you're doing. I'll go change in the back."

With a grunt, that I hoped was in response to me and not to whatever they were doing, I made my way to back. There was a giant bean bag chair and a couch and a stereo… for the life of me I couldn't figure out why Angela and Ben were on the desk when they could be here. I just hoped they were finished by the time I needed to get back out front.

Not long after I started changing, Emmett burst into the room.

"Dude, did you see…"


"Did they stop when you walked in?"

"Nope. Hey, can you do me a favor." I realized that I didn't have on the rubber nose. I felt guilty keeping some poor kid from seeing Rudolph, so I figured I'd start out with it on and see how it went. I could always take it off later. "My bag is over in the corner by your feet. Could you reach down and grab my ball."

The silence was deafening. Too bad he couldn't see the gesture I was making inside my hoof.

"Come on dude, grow the fuck up. I need the nose. Just do it man." I heard Emmett grumble to himself and shuffle through the bag. Removing a hoof, I reached behind me and held out my hand, wanting to give Em some privacy while he changed into his own costume. Instead of feeling the ball in my hand though, I felt it being pelted into my kidney. I turned around ready to throw it back at Emmett when I froze.

"Dude… are you?" He was… I grinned… he glared and I bit my cheek to keep from howling. "Nice tights," was all I said to him as I walked past him and into the front office again.

Thankfully, in the time I had spent in the back, Angela and Ben had decided to come up for air. I high-fived Ben on my way out to my post and waited for my shift to start. The little clock at the front of the line said Santa would return from his break at four-thirty, so I knew I had a few minutes to go.

The way it was explained to me, I would be towards the start of the line, Emmett would take over about halfway through and cover the distance between there and Santa. Then the kid would have his little chat and leave through the other side, escorted by Mrs. Claus. I was thankful to have the beginning of the line because at least then the kids wouldn't have been waiting as long and wouldn't be as cranky. I'd heard horror stories from Rosalie when she did this last year. This year she's handing out goodie bags at the end, so she only gets the happy kids.

Damn. I meant to grab a drink to hide behind one of the Christmas trees in case I got thirsty. Glancing down at my watch, I saw that I had five minutes to go. Plenty of time to run to the food court to grab a Coke and maybe a pretzel. I stashed my antlers and nose in a nearby wreath and made my way over to Subway because it was the closest restaurant to the North Pole. I paid for my drink, grabbed the cup and walked over to the drink dispenser.

"I want a six-inch."


"Veggie sub on wheat."

Who orders those? That's like a salad sandwich and there were very few things in this world that appealed less to me. I turned to leave when I realized that I forgot to grab a straw. When I turned back I bumped into her.


While I was dressed as a reindeer, with one hoof. Why, why, why did I have on a hoof?

Fuck me.

"Um, sorry. I just need to…" I reached around her to grab a straw before showing it to her. "I gotta go." So I did.

Smooth Edward. You are an ace.

When I got back Emmett took one look at my face and knew what was up. "What did you say to her?"

"How did you know I said anything?"

"Because you look like you just ran over a puppy. I saw her walk in and head towards the food court. I may not be on the honor roll but I know how to put two and two together. "

"I grabbed a straw and told her I had to go. No hi, no hello, no I want you to have my babies, Bella Swan. I just told her I had to go and then I left."

My dick hated me.

"You have no game."

"Whatever." After I reassembled my costume, I looked over to see our first customer; a mom and a small girl that looked terrified. Awesome. She was dressed in this frilly little thing that was red and lacy and about as wide as it was long and looked incredibly itchy. Better her than me because just looking at it gave me hives.

I walked over to her and started talking to the kid, laughing when she started to giggle and point at my nose. It was easy to get lost in her excitement, in the excitement of all the kids really, and I began to ham it up a bit. I may have even done some sweet dance moves when the song from Charlie Brown started playing over Muzak. Dude, that kid with the shoulder and neck thing… pure win.

I made my way down the line, high-hoofing kids and joking with their parents, but there was one awkward moment when I saw Mrs. Cope near the drink I had stashed in a nearby poinsettia, looking a bit suspicious. I made a mental note to get Emmett to drive me home in case she slipped me a roofie and to let her know that I was on to her, I did that gesture where I pointed at my eyes and then at hers in a 'I'm watching you' type of thing. Again, I was pretty sure the hooves didn't help me any but I felt pretty certain that she got the message.

Emmett seemed to be in his element as well; he was making jokes and pretended to look up the kids in a Naughty/Nice phonebook. That was not to be confused with a similarly titled list that I know he kept in his room… with totally different names and all of them female.

Everything was going great until I heard this little bratty shit of a kid start complaining about having to wait in line. First she wanted a candy cane, then it was all about how she wanted a red stocking, not a green one, then it was this, then that. She was like Veruca Salt, but way worse.

Holy entitlement issues.

Small kid or not, what she needed was a good kick in the ass because she was totally ruining the moment for everyone else. My audience went from joking and laughing to eye rolling and grumbling.

Not cool. Not cool at all.

So I straightened my antlers, buffed my hooves on my chest and turned to walk towards the end of the line. Based on the response I was getting from the eight and under crowd, I had mad skills and using said skills I was going to regain control of the situation if it was the last thing I did. Okay, honestly what I wanted to do was pick the kid up by the neck of her Christmas sweater and stuff her in one of the oversized fake presents that were on display under the Christmas tree, or possibly take it to the UPS store. Surely, I could get my hands on some duct tape and I was pretty sure nobody would rat me out.

Except for maybe her sister.

Holy hell. Demon spawn was with Bella Swan.

She caught me looking and pointed at my get up.

"That explains the hoof then. I was wondering why you were wearing one over in the food court." Her voice flowed over me like sex and I was hard. Thank fucking God for baggy overalls. I looked at her and grinned, surprised at how easy that came to me. Considering I'd never been able to maintain eye contact with her before now, that was huge.

Yes, yes it was.

"They're surprisingly comfortable you know. I'm going to see if I can keep it when my shift is over. Who needs thumbs anyway, right? I'm totally bringing hoofy back."

Oh god, did I really say that?

"Your nose isn't real. You're not really a reindeer."

"Jane, we talked about this. Let's just get this picture taken for your grandparents and we can go do something else. I promised your mom we'd get it done today."

Jane. The annoying as shit child was named Jane. It seemed so….simple and innocent. Esmeralda would have been much more appropriate, or Maleficent or Sue.

"That's not really an elf either. He looks weird." I had to give her credit on that, but as she pushed past me to get a closer look at Emmett I may have been tempted to trip her.

"I didn't realize you had a sister." Fuck yeah, I started a conversation. I totally had swagger and puffed out my chest and may have strutted a little bit, under the guise of following the customers in line, of course.

"Oh. She's not my sister. Are you kidding? The only way I can stand to be around her is knowing that I'm getting paid for it. She lives down the street and I watch her in the afternoons until her mom gets home from work. It's nice to know that you can talk. I'm Bella by the way."

"I know who you are. I saw your name when I was copying your Spanish test last week." She looked confused for a minute and I started to panic when I realized that maybe she didn't think I was as funny as apparently I believed myself to be. My mind was screaming at me to say something witty and clever, but my feet wanted me to run. It was the longest seven seconds of my life until I finally managed to come up with, "I also make jokes from time to time. It's all part of the whole talking thing."


"Ahh, okay." The line started to move and we followed along with it, both of us keeping our eyes on Jane and intervening when we had to, which meant one of us was going after her about every thirty seconds. I mean, somebody had to keep her from unwrapping presents or kicking the other kids or throwing the fake snow up in the air. I swear I was going to hear the words 'Jane, stop' in my sleep. Not that saying it did any good.

"Bella, you might need to ask her to get down."

"Jane, that's not a real candy cane. Stop licking it."

"Um, Jane. Santa doesn't like it when you pick the leaves off his poinsettias."

I watched in horror as she set her sights on a pair of chubby twins. Their cherubic faces and matchy matchy outfits were like a beacon to her evil, she was practically salivating. I could see the wheels turning and I knew I had to do something drastic.

"Hey Jane, come here." She narrowed her beady little eyes and crept closer. I tried not to cower back in horror, but kept my eyes on the prize - her babysitter. "See that elf over there, the one you said looked weird." She nodded slowly, leaning closer, trusting me just a little bit more. I looked up at Bella and winked before motioning Jane even closer and whispering in her ear. She took off like lightning and you could just feel the people around us relax.

I swear the newborn in the baby thingy behind me said 'thank you.'

"What did you say to her?"

"That's between Jane and I. If she wants to tell you, which I don't think she will, then I'll leave that up to her."

With the holy terror gone, Bella and I lapsed into silence. There was lots of looking at the ground and shoe scuffing until she finally started talking in an attempt to put us out of our awkward misery.

"So, why don't you talk to me?" She started to twirl her hair around one of her fingers and but maintained eye contact. I wanted to take her behind the trees and do dirty, dirty things to her.

"You don't talk to me either. Maybe I was just waiting for you to make the first move." That's right, when in doubt, deflect. She took a step forward and I took a step back.

"I just moved. Your turn."

Well played.

There was something about the way she was acting that boosted my confidence a little. She seemed receptive, like maybe she could be interested. I was already wearing an antler and a fake nose, at this point pride was a non-issue.

Suddenly, it was like somebody lowered the flood gates and I just started talking. We talked about everything as we progressed through the line and while I probably should have been worried when we had to step over the garland and unwrapped present in the middle of the line, I didn't care at all.

Not when I saw an elf shoe, or when I noticed that everybody behind us in line had disappeared. Not even when the voice over the PA system made an urgent call for security to report to the North Pole.

I couldn't have cared less. The rest of the world was on hold as far as I was concerned and the only thing that mattered was Bella. I was totally mesmerized by her eyes, her voice and her stories about growing up with a flighty mother and that now, even though she hates to cook fish, it is all her dad has in the house to eat.

And there was my in; I hated fish.

This was huge, but not as big as the scream that finally caught my attention and burst our little love connection bubble.

"! Edddddddddwarrrrrrrrrrrrrd!"

We turned just in time to see Emmett scramble up one of the giant mall Christmas trees, Jane hot on the heels of his curly toed elf shoes. Oh shit. I didn't even think it was possible to climb one of those trees, but apparently it was doable when the motivation was right.

At the same time we both said "I gotta go." I went to make the 'after you' gesture with my arm, since I was absolutely a gentleman and I may or may not have accidentally hoofed her boob.

Best. Day. Ever.

"Edward, seriously dude. You gotta help me." Emmett's whimpers and cries from his perch up in the tree were not helping the situation. Bella and I were circling the tree, trying to corner Jane as well as we could considering we were, well… circling. We needed to back her into a corner, but she was snarling and foaming at the mouth and I prayed that she was up to date on her vaccinations.

"What did you tell her?" Bella asked me as we both leapt forward and both missed.

"I may have told her that Emmett had Justin Beiber in his pocket."

"He does?" She looked so excited and I swear my penis deflated. I wanted to cry because there was no way I could compete with him. I mean, have you seen his hair? "Edward, I'm totally kidding."

Oh thank God!

"The Jonas Brothers are much sexier."


Still going around and around and around the tree, Rosalie finally threw me the end of a length of garland. I waved it at Jane.

"Look! Shiny!" Jane grabbed it and kept circling, the diameter getting smaller and smaller until she ended up wrapping herself up against the base of the tree. With the holy terror finally immobilized, I collapsed in a heap on the floor beside an equally exhausted Bella.

Even her heavy breathing was sexy. I needed to hear it again.

"So, I'm guessing we're not going to get that picture of her with Santa today?"

"Probably not." Mall security had set up a perimeter around the North Pole and kids were crying and parents were complaining. Emmett was still in the tree since they had yet to extract Jane from her tinsel prison. Rosalie was shooting daggers in my direction and all I could do was shrug because it wasn't my problem. I didn't volunteer to do this; all I wanted to do was go home. Still, outside of the whole Jane debacle, I could hardly complain because I was now collapsed in a heap with Bella.

My glee was short lived though when she sighed and said, "I'm probably going to get fired too, not that I really care." I tried to feel guilty about it, but I just couldn't find it in me. The kid was wretched and Bella was much better off without her.

"Is it wrong that I'm not sorry?"

"Not at all. It just gives me more time to spend with you."

Hoof pump!

"You think you want to spend time with me then?" I inched closer.

"Definitely." And closer.

"Even though I don't talk."

"Talking is over-rated."

Fuck yes.

"You should call me when you're finished for the night. Do you have your phone with you? I left mine in the car."

"It's in my pocket." I moved my arms and went to go take off a hoof, but she stopped me.

"Let me get it." In probably the most spectacularly coincidental moment ever, the mall started playing the Hallelujah Chorus over the sound system but as much as I wanted her hand in the side pocket of my pants, I had to tell her the truth. "Um, it's actually the pocket on the front bib of my overalls."


"Next time. I promise."

She got my phone and entered her number in my contacts list then proceeded to dial herself so she'd have my number on her phone as well and we stayed in our position, staring at one another all swoony and shit and I didn't want to move. Ever.

Until we started getting pelted by ornaments from the tree. Apparently, Emmett had had enough.

"I should probably get going. Call me later?" Before I could even agree, she leaned in and I leaned in and my nose fell off and we started laughing, but when her lips finally touched mine… well, yeah. I could get all sappy and shit and say there were fireworks and that it was a Christmas miracle, but in reality it was so much more than that. It was perfect, she tasted like Dr. Pepper flavored chapstick and I growled into her mouth as she bit my bottom lip.

"As soon as I get home." I didn't care how desperate that sounded. I was not about to waste another minute away from my girl.

"Good. Dad's working the overnight shift so you should come over. You can show me how to play your reindeer games."

I was totally keeping this costume.