Title: Under the Mistletoe
Written By: I'm Random Girl
Donated to : Heather Jones
Beta'd by: ManiacMotherland
Summary: Twilight Fanfic Advocacy Secret Santa
I stood in front of the door and took a deep breath; I can't believe I'm actually doing this again. It's my second day on my job, a job which I hate with a passion. A job that my parents insisted I have while home for my winter break from school.
"Nice suit, bro!" Emmett chuckled while passing me, pushing open the double doors that led me to my destiny. Or demise, depending on how you looked at it.
"Shut the fuck up!" I mumbled under my breath, and made no attempt to actually move. This was all his damn fault anyway. Well, his and my parents, but I needed someone to blame and right now he was the closest one.
I let the doors close, but I couldn't force my feet to move. I told them to, but they wouldn't cooperate. Apparently they knew what awaited us inside those double doors.
As the doors shut, I couldn't help but stare at my reflection in the glass door. I looked utterly ridiculous, and that was putting it lightly. Red definitely was not my color.
I turned around to make a mad dash back to my car. Sure, my parents would be pissed, but they would get over it. Their approval was not worth my humiliation.
Just as I took my first step towards my new destination, the door swung open hitting me in the back, causing me to stumble.
"Edward, what the hell are you doing out here?" Mr. Webber, my boss, asked. Not even bothering to apologize for making me almost face plant on the asphalt.
He didn't give me time to reply, just continued on his rant. "There's already a line forming! Now, get your ass in there and be jolly. I'm not paying you to stand outside all damn day."
He then turned back toward the door and held it open for me to step inside my own living hell.
"I'm fine. Thanks for asking," I mumbled while shooting him a dirty look, though I doubt he could see it through all this hair on my face.
I took a deep breath and stomped past him to my spot. Fine, I would do the job, but I certainly wouldn't be jolly while doing it. He didn't pay me enough for that
I walked past the line of screaming children, through the fake snow, to the entrance of Santa's workshop where my seat of torture awaited me.
Yes, I am that guy.
Who dresses as Santa at the mall.
Who wears an itchy costume, huge red hat, white curly wig and fake beard.
Yes, my life officially sucks.
As soon as my butt hit the chair my helper elf, an annoying blonde girl with bright red lipstick, was leading the first child my way. I held my hands out to stop the boy before he could climb in my lap.
"Ummmmm..." I addressed the girl, wishing like hell I could remember her name. "Ms. Elf, did you remember my special Santa blanket?"
"Oh yes! Just one minute."
She then ran to the back of the workshop and retrieved the blanket I had requested at the end of my shift yesterday.
Because, yes, I had been peed on yesterday.
My first day on the job.
Yes, you can say it, fuck my life.
I placed the blanket over my legs, then helped the little boy in my lap and listened to him prattle on about the Transformers, remote control cars, and video games he wanted for Christmas.
I pretended to listen intently then did my customary Ho Ho Ho before I told him what I was instructed to tell all the children who sat on my lap.
"I know that you have been good this year, so I will do my best to get you what you want, but remember there are a lot of children in the world and my elves can only make so many toys."
Yeah, it seemed lame, but apparently last year's Santa earned the store a lawsuit when he had promised a five-year-old a Hummer for Christmas. Shit, I wish it were that easy. I'd like a hummer myself. Just not the one that requires gasoline.
I directed him towards the camera, smiled my cheesy smile, not that they could see it through the beard, but whatever. Then I pushed the tyke off my lap and instructed my elf to bring on the next rug rat.
Four hours into my shift, I got to break for lunch, and thank God for that. While my blanket did keep me from getting peed on again, it didn't help with the drool, snot, and getting bitten twice. Damn kids.
My hour lunch didn't last nearly long enough. All too soon, I begrudgingly made my way back to the dreaded chair. At least, this time, I had a full stomach and the happiness of knowing that my day was at least half way over. I may have taken a nip or two from a hip flask full of vodka as well.
I tried to settle in comfortably into the big chair before looking to the mile long line of awaiting children. This day could not end soon enough.
The first person in line was a petite lady with short black hair that stuck out in every direction. She kept looking at her watch impatiently, like I was messing up her damn schedule or something.
I mean God forbid I get a break to eat and take a piss. People can be so rude sometimes.
I couldn't see the child behind her so I made a quick guess of whether it would be a boy or a girl. A stupid game I had come up with yesterday to help pass the time. I would look at the parent and try to decide by their appearance what gender of child they had. So far I haven't been correct too many times, but it's just a stupid game, so whatever.
My guess for her was a spoiled rotten little boy. She looked tired, worn out, and flustered. A telltale sign of having a little hellion at home.
I nodded my head, letting my elf know I was ready. I was quite surprised when the lady didn't usher a child my way, but walked up to me herself. She stood before me, hands on her hips, looking annoyed as hell, so I did the natural thing.
I patted my leg, with a big cheesy grin. "Come tell Santa what you want for Christmas."
She let out a loud huff before coming to sit on my knee.
"Have you been a good girl this year?" I asked trying to keep the humor out of my voice.
I got an immediate eye roll. "I'm not here for any funny business. I'm just trying to make this believable for my daughter."
Damn, I had guessed wrong again. A girl. Must be a real handful, that little girl.
"Okaaaaay," I drew out, a little lost as to what the woman on my lap was talking about.
"My daughter, over there." she continued while glancing back to the line at a cute little girl with long dirty blonde ringlets. "She has had a really tough year, and I want her to have whatever she wants for Christmas. Only, she won't tell me a single thing she wants."
I nodded like I was really paying attention, but really I just wanted her to get to the point.
"So when she comes up here next, whatever it is that she asks for, I want you to promise her that she will get it."
"Ma'am, I can't…" I started, knowing I couldn't do what she was requesting. It was against the rules. I could get fired. And as much as I hated the job, I didn't really want to get canned.
"I know about the stupid store policy, but I really really reallllly need this. I assure you whatever it is that she wants I can get it, I just need to know what it is."
Her eyes were pleading and I could tell that this was important, so I gave a slight nod.
"My friend Bella is behind her and she will come up after my daughter has left. All you have to do is tell Bella what it is that Alyssa wants. Do you think you can handle that?" Her tone told me that this was not up for discussion, and really, honestly, what did I care? She was the one that would have to deal with an upset child on Christmas if she didn't deliver the Figit or Barbie Ultimate Dream House or whatever it is that the kid wanted.
The tiny, elfin lady then said a quiet thank you and quickly walked away to stand on the other side of the red velvet rope. I watched her walk away and noted to myself that she was a nice-looking lady, but something was just…off. I couldn't quite put my finger on it.
I turned my attention to the line of awaiting children and watched as the little girl walked in my direction. She was cute—five, maybe six if I had to guess-her cheeks were rosy and her hair bounced as she walked. But there was such a sadness in her eyes that immediately made my heart ache, and I knew I would tell this sad little girl anything she wanted to hear, just to make her smile.
She stood in front of me and cast her eyes downward showing a shy demeanor, nothing like her mother. Ms. Elf (damn it, I needed to ask someone her name soon) helped the little girl up into my lap, but she still made no attempt to meet my eyes.
"Well, little lady, it seems you have been a very good girl this year. What can Santa bring you for your good behavior?" I asked in my deep Santa voice.
She wiggled in my lap a little and fidgeted with her hands before finally looking up at me.
"How do you know, for sure, that I have been good this year?" she finally peeped.
Her question caught me a bit off-guard; I assumed most kids would lie and say they had been good, even if they hadn't. That was part of the game.
"Because I checked my list." I told her sincerely "Twice." I added just to make it believable.
"What about Johnny Flugelheim on the playground?" she asked with small tears filling her eyes. "I hit him, but he started it first by putting gum in my hair. So… I don't know if I am still on the good list."
I couldn't help but chuckle at her confession. Oh, if life were so simple, as an adult.
"I decided to overlook that incident, since he started it, like you say," I assured her, before asking again. "Plus you are being honest, which makes for a lot. So, what do you want for Christmas?"
She smiled slightly before straitening her posture and looking me square in my eyes. "All I want for Christmas is for my daddy to come home. I miss him so much, and mommy is so sad when he is away."
I was taken aback by her request and didn't really know how to respond. "I...well... I…"
"Please!" She begged, breaking my heart. "You don't have to bring me a single present for the rest of my life! And I'll be good anyway! I promise! Just bring my daddy home for Christmas, please."
I know I was under strict orders to agree to whatever she wanted, but something told me this was something that even her mother wouldn't be able to pull off.
Still, there was no way I could crush the little girl's spirits.
"I'll do my best." I told her in a small voice, hating the words as they left my mouth.
She smiled brightly before hugging me and telling me thank you over and over. We smiled for the camera and she hopped off my lap to run to her awaiting mother.
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath trying to prepare myself for what I would have to tell the mother's friend. Something told me this wasn't going to go over well at all.
When I opened my eyes, I was stunned speechless. Before me stood the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Her long chestnut hair hung in waves draping over her shoulder, her big brown eyes studied me carefully, her porcelain skin was a stark comparison to the crimson that heated her cheeks as she waited nervously biting her bottom lip.
I motioned her closer with a wave of my hand and then patted my lap, inviting her to sit. Her cheeks burned brighter as she assumed the position on my right leg.
"How ya doin', toots?" I asked, trying hard to be sexy in this fucking Santa suit. It didn't really work.
She looked at me a little strange before replying. "Ahhh… I'm...good. And…uhhhh… how are you?"
I couldn't help but chuckle at her nervousness.
"Something tells me you haven't been on Santa's lap in quite a while."
"Very perceptive, big guy Yes, it's been a few years, but my friend," she pointed to the other woman and the little girl waiting by her side. "She convinced me to do this for her. It seems kind of silly, now that I'm actually here…sitting in your lap…but she can be very convincing."
"Well, I, for one, am glad she convinced you." I told her laying on the charm.
Yeah, I was shooting wild. But it couldn't hurt, right? Maybe I'd get a date out of this miserable day of work. Make up for being peed on the day before.
"So, tell me, little girl, are you on my naughty or nice list this year?" I asked seeing if she would play along.
"Well that…" she said, pulling slightly on my beard. "That is up for debate. What exactly do you consider naughty?"
She was totally playing along. This could be fun.
"Oh, I think my personal definition of naughty might take me a while to explain, and as you can see," I nodded my head in the direction of the growing line of waiting children to see me. "I don't really have the time right now to do it justice. But tell you what. My shift ends in a few hours and I plan to head out to Schooner's bar tonight. Perhaps you would like to meet me there, and we can talk about it in greater detail? And how you can atone for your naughtiness, if you didn't make the nice list. Which, ironically, will involve being even more naughty."
She smiled slightly and rolled her eyes before replying.
"I'll think about it." There was an awkward silence before she spoke again. "So what did Alyssa say she wanted for Christmas?"
I couldn't meet her eyes as I told her what the little girl wanted most.
"She said all she wanted was for her dad to come home. I told her I would try; I didn't really know what else to say, not really knowing the situation of where he is."
She groaned telling me that the little girl wouldn't be getting her Christmas wish.
"Thanks for trying, anyway," she said, defeat lacing her voice as she started to stand up.
"Not so fast!" I told her quickly, grabbing her waist and pulling her back down to my lap. "We haven't taken our picture together yet!"
She rolled her eyes but sat back down and smiled for the camera. She surprised me by turning to hug me before she stood again.
"It's good to see you again, Edward, and red is so your color."
Edward? She knows me? What the fuck?
Before I could reply, however, she was up off my lap and meeting her friend by the photo print-out counter to get her picture.
"Wait! What… the… how… wait!" I called after the woman.
"Bella. It's Bella," she responded, before I even got the question out. "Think, Edward, think. And you will figure it out eventually. Merry Christmas!"
Oh… My… God. I thought it through. She was a band geek in high school, wasn't she? And then, there was that summer. Fuck me!
The rest of my afternoon did not go so well. I was kicked in the shins by a kid who yelled loudly that I wasn't the real Santa. Then my beard was pulled down and snapped back to my face by another child, probably leaving a mark.
And then, finally, the icing on the cake. I was puked on twenty minutes before my shift ended.
The only good thing about it was I got to leave early, because even my boss agreed that no child wanted to sit on a puke-covered Santa. I headed home, smelling and feeling totally disgusting.
I showered and changed my clothes three times before heading out the door to drop my costume off at the cleaners, for a second day in a row. Then I ran through the car wash to clean out my car and get a new air freshener. Finally, I headed to Logan's to meet Emmett and Jake for dinner and drinks before hitting the bar.
I quickly told them about my run-in with Bella and how fuck-awesome she looked after all these years. Emmett gave me the run-down on her, that she had moved back about six months ago to run her family's bed and breakfast after her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.
I asked about any guys she might had been dating and he looked at me like I was fucking crazy and asked me when I'd grown a vag. Apparently, he didn't keep up with the local gossip ring. We had a few beers and bull-shitted about nothing important before paying the bill and heading to the bar.
I was way more excited than I should have been about the possibly of Bella being there. I hadn't seen her since the summer after we graduated three years ago. We had spent that summer casually flirting but knowing that we were both heading in different directions in life, so nothing could really come of it.
Still, I was never able to fully get her out of my mind. The what-ifs have always haunted me, and maybe I would finally be able to do something about it.
That is, if she ever showed up, because she sure as shit wasn't here when I arrived.
I ordered a beer and sat at the bar, catching up with a few locals I knew. Then ordered another and played a game of pool with Emmett. Then ordered another while I sat at a table watching the band.
I had pretty much given up on her and decided I was going go take a piss before calling it a night.
After all, I did have to get up early in the morning to pick up my suit from the dry cleaners. Again.
I walked out of the bathroom and spotted Emmett. I was on my way to tell him I was out of there when someone tapped me on my shoulder. I whirled around with a wide grin on my face, thinking it would be Bella. I was sadly disappointed when I found it was only my elf, whose name I quickly learned was Jessica. Because she said it about a dozen times as she oozed all over me.
She was obviously drunk as she prattled on about how happy she was to work with me, and how much she hated the other Santa whose shift was after mine. Apparently he was "like 40 and smelled really bad". I was bored out of my mind and knew the minute she offered to "blow me" the next day in the workshop that I needed to get away from her fast.
I was scanning the room desperate to find Emmett or Jake so they could come to my rescue when I spotted her. Her head was thrown back in laughter and I immediately felt jealousy that someone else had made her laugh.
"Excuse me, Jessica. I see that my friend has finally arrived." I nodded in the direction of where Bella was standing with Emmett and a few other people. "I need to go say hello."
She opened her mouth, probably to protest, so I made a quick getaway before she could say anything.
I walked toward Bella, wondering what my opening line should be. Shit I should have really thought this through a little better. I was mere seconds away from bolting out the door when she spotted me and waved me over. I really needed to get my nerves under control if I was going to be able to work my game that night. I already was a little too hammered, as it was.
"Well, if it isn't Santa, himself!" she greeted me with a beautiful smile.
"I do try to keep myself grounded by mingling with the little people from time to time." I countered with a grin of my own. "Can I buy you a drink?"
"I would love a drink, thank you." She replied before following me to the bar.
She pulled out a stool and seated herself so I followed her lead.
Apparently, we were sitting at the bar, which was fine with me; I certainly don't mind a little privacy.
Once I got the bartender's attention, I ordered a Budweiser and looked to her to see what she wanted.
"I'll take one as well," she chimed in.
"A girl after my own heart." I teased bumping her elbow. "Nothing's hotter than a girl that drinks beer."
She laughed at my revelation. "I don't know about how hot it is, but I can't stand the girly drinks. I mean, if you come to a bar, then you should drink beer. It should be like a law or something."
"You are just too damn cute." The words poured out of my mouth before I could filter them.
She laughed again, and it squeaked a little, and I desperately wanted to hear her do that one more time.
"So tell me about you," she started just as our beers were set on the counter in front of us. "How did you end up as Santa Claus? Something tells me this will be an interesting story."
I chuckled a little. It was probably best to just get this over with.
"Well, I hate to disappoint. There are no life-changing, magical powers that were passed onto me one Christmas Eve night by an elf on a shelf. Actually, my parents insisted that I get a job while I was home for winter break, and Emmett, being the prick that he is, told me they had a position open at Bass Pro Shop. So I told him to hook me up, and he did. He just failed to mention that the job was being the mall Santa. When I showed up for work yesterday, expecting to be selling fishing poles and life jackets, you can imagine my surprise when I was handed a red suit and a white wig."
She had a good laugh at my current predicament before saying the only thing that needed to be said,
"So, it seems Emmett hasn't changed much since high school."
"Nope," I agreed wholeheartedly. "He hasn't changed one bit."
"But you two keep in touch?" she hedged, seeming a little unsure of her question.
"Yeah, kinda. I mean, we aren't like pen-pals or anything. But he's my boy, so we talk and e-mail and when I'm in town we always hang out. He's even been up to visit me at college a few times."
"It's great that you've been able to remain friends after all these years, living so far apart."
I nodded in agreement. "So, how about you? Did you keep in touch with anyone from high school?"
"Not really. I mean, I didn't really care for the girls back then, so no point in talking to them now, "she laughed before taking a sip of her beer. "I have accepted a few friend requests on Facebook from some people from high school, but I don't really go out of my way to talk to them."
"I can understand that," I nodded again. "The girls back then were vicious. I can only hope that they have matured over the years."
The roll of her eyes told me that probably was not the case.
"So, what about that woman you were with earlier today?" Maybe I was no better than a gossipy high school girl, but I was curious about her story. "She seems to be a good friend."
"Oh, Alice Brandon," her eyes lit up as she said her name, and I knew she must be someone special. "She is absolutely amazing. I met her right after I moved back, and we just clicked. She is such a sweet person, and her daughter, oh my god, she just owns my heart."
She took another sip of her beer as I waited, a bit impatiently, for her to continue.
"What's the story there?" I asked, unable to wait any longer. "Where is the father at?"
Bella then launched into a long, heart-wrenching story about Alice's husband Jasper, who was currently deployed. At this point, with forced stop-loss measure, he had been gone for a little over two years, and while they understood the importance of him serving his country, they both missed him terribly.
Alyssa just turned five and could barely remember her father beyond pictures and the rare occasional phone calls. If I weren't afraid to appear less than manly, I would have cried right there on the spot.
"So do they know when he will be able to return home?" There was sadness to her voice that I hated to hear. I hoped like hell there would be a happy ending soon.
"No, they have no clue," she said, peeling the label from her bottle as she spoke. "There have been two times in the past that he had dates set to come back, but something always came up and he had to stay. Each time, it has broken their hearts all over again. So Alice finally told him not to even tell her about it anymore. Just come home as soon as possible and surprise them, because they simply can't handle the disappointment of another let-down. Especially not Alyssa."
"Wow, I can't even imagine what that might be like." I told her, completely sympathetic to her friend's circumstance. Maybe I had grown a vag after all.
"Enough about all that, though," I said, needing to change the direction of our conversation. "Tell me all about you. School, being home, career, pets. I want to hear everything!"
She laughed softly before taking a long pull from her beer.
"That will have to wait for another time, Edward. It's getting late and I really need to be getting home."
"If I didn't know better, I would think that you planned this so you can see me again," I teased, hoping she would know I wanted nothing more than to see her again. "Show up, pique my interest, and leave me begging for more."
"Whatever works," she said with a shrug and a wink.
"Well, in that case, when can I see you again?" I was never one to be subtle, no point in starting now.
I got an eye roll and another laugh but she did pull a pen out of her purse and write her number down on a napkin.
"Call me sometime, and we'll see what we can work out."
I would take that. I told her goodnight, wondering if I should offer to walk her to her car, but not wanting to come across as creepy. So I settled for a hug before she walked out the door.
I went to tell my boys I was out and immediately went home to friend Bella on Facebook. Why had I never thought of this before? God bless the Internet and all its wonders.
The next few weeks passed in a blur. I continued my work as mall Santa just to keep my parents happy, but I found myself having to get my suit cleaned almost daily.
I chatted with Bella daily, either via text, phone call or Facebook. I made sure I talked to her as much as possible. We were able to go out a few times, but our schedules seemed to conflict quite often, so I wasn't able to spend as much one-on-one time with her as I would have liked. Still, the time spent with Bella was beyond amazing. It was nice to see that we still had that same spark that we once had the summer after high school.
We talked about our hopes and dreams and what we saw for our future. She planned to stay here and continue running her family's bed and breakfast, and somehow over the course of the last few weeks, I had decided that when I graduated in the spring that I would move back home to pursue my career locally. I mean, I was majoring in Business Management, so I could do that just about anywhere, and I couldn't think of any other place I want to be. My home was there, my friends, my family, and most importantly, Bella.
Christmas Eve night, I was a nervous wreck. I was meeting Bella at her house, and then we were going to attend Alice's annual Christmas party. Together.
Basically, I was her plus-one, but hey, I'm not picky. I'll take what I can get.
I had heard so much about Alice over the last few weeks that I felt like I knew her personally. I knew how important the best friend's opinion is, so I was hoping like hell she would approve of me once she got to know me as Edward and not just "that mall Santa guy".
We arrived at the modest-looking house and I took a deep breath before getting out of the car and walking around to open Bella's door for her.
"Don't be so nervous," she said while looping her arm around mine. "She is going to love you."
"Thanks." I said, trying to look confident. Hopefully, I was pulling it off. But I wasn't so sure.
When we knocked at the door we were greeted with the cute little girl I had met weeks ago. She eyed me up and down, obviously trying to figure out who I was.
Not sure of what the proper protocol was there, I held out my hand.
"Hi, it's nice to meet you," I smiled.
She didn't accept my hand but continued her curious stare.
"Alyssa, this is my friend, Edward." Bella tried to make introductions, sensing that this wasn't going well. "He is my date for the party tonight. Can you say hello, please?"
"Have I met you before?" The little girl finally asked, still not accepting my hand.
Feeling like a complete dumb-ass, I finally lowered my hand.
"I.,. uhhh... I don't think so. I would have remembered someone as pretty as you." Yes, I was using my charm on a five-year-old, but something told me I needed her approval just as much as Alice's.
She gave me a funny look before opening the door wider and allowing us inside. The night progressed much better than it started off. We talked, we mingled, we ate. Overall it seemed to be going really well. I seemed to have gained Alice's approval and so my plan was set in motion.
It was getting late and people were starting to leave so I discretely motioned Bella over to where I was leaning against the arch way to the kitchen. She slowly walked over to me. I wrapped my arms around her and looked up knowing she would follow my gaze and see that I had her under the mistletoe.
When I looked back down to her she met my eyes with a beautiful smile on her lips. "I like the way you work Cullen." She teased.
"Bella I wanted to tell you that I think you are amazing, we have this…connection that I have never felt before. I would really like to see where this can go." She opened her mouth to interrupt me but I placed a finger over her lips to stop her. "Let me finish, then you can say whatever you want." She nodded her head so I moved my finger. "I know that I have to leave in a couple of weeks, but I will be finished with school soon, and I plan on moving back here. So if we can just make it through the next few months I really think we could have something great."
She smiled and I wanted desperately to kiss her, but I needed to finish my plan. "Now I really, really want to kiss you right now, but I need to know before I do. Is this a friend kiss, or is this a beginning of a relationship kiss?"
She laughed at my corny line but quickly recovered and rose up on her tippy toes to chastely brush her lips over mine. I opened my eyes to meet hers.
"That was a friend kiss." I could feel my heart sink as she said the words. "Because friendship is the most important part of any relationship."
"This is the beginning-of-a-relationship kiss." She continued, and I felt hope.
She whispered the word "beautiful" all breathy and low before she ran her hands through my hair and attacked my lips. There were teeth and tongues. Biting and licking. Whimpering and moaning.
Okay, so maybe most of the moaning was coming from me, but holy hell. It was the hottest kiss ever.
However amazing the kiss was, it was cut too short by a loud screams coming from the living room.
We quickly pulled apart and rounded the corner to see Alice and Alyssa in the arms of some guy I had never seen before. Bella gasped before covering her mouth with her hand. She looked like she had just seen a ghost, and I couldn't help but wonder who this person was.
Time seemed to stand still as everyone in the room just stood silent watching the exchange of the three of them standing in the doorway.
Eventually, Alyssa pulled away and ran in my direction, pointing her little finger.
"You! You... you're… you…you're Santa. From the mall."
I stood there silent, because really what could I say? Yes, I am the jolly old elf himself?
Thankfully, I didn't have to respond, because she wasted no time throwing herself in my arms for a death-grip hug.
"You…br… brou… you brought my daddy back to me. Just like… yo… just like you said you would!" she tried to talk through her tears and it suddenly all made sense. "Thank you. Thank you so much!"
She hugged me tight for a few more seconds before she released me and looked to Bella in complete bewilderment. "You're dating Santa Claus?"