And now for a little bit of Blisse. I’m going to raid the archives today for a snippet from my festive tale Always Christmas in Lincoln. Which was inspired by a real visit to Lincoln! This festive snippet actually happens in the heat of summer…
It isn’t really always Christmas in Lincoln but when Felicity gets her man it feels like it.
Felicity hates Christmas. It reminds her of a traumatic event from her childhood. She thinks the Permanent Christmas shop is tacky, with its windows full of trees and tinsel all year round and would rather it disappeared from her picturesque home town.
When she discovers that Carl, who she lusts over every time she sees him in the tea rooms, is in fact the owner of Ho, Ho, Ho! She’s not quite sure what to think. It takes a sexy meeting in the middle of a fake winter wonderland to make her realise the advantages of Christmas in the middle of summer.
As time passes, Carl and Felicity indulge in more sexy liaisons but as Christmas approaches Felicity doubts whether she is anything more than a sensual distraction for the festive shop owner and when her handsome ex, Sean, sweeps into town on a quest to win her back she finds she has a tough decision to make.
Can Carl and his Christmas cheer win over her hardened heart?
It was too hot for customers, too. Only a few wandered through, and Sunday is usually one of my busier days, with tourists making the most of their coach trips away. The sun baked the cobbles outside and I was sure I would’ve been able to cook an egg on them if I’d so desired. I gave up and shut up shop at three-thirty. I couldn’t stand the stuffiness of my little shop for one moment longer. I had tried to freshen myself up with splashes of cold water and a comb raked through my hair before I trudged up towards Ho, Ho, Ho! But by the time I’d climbed the hill and walked past the Cathedral, its bells pealing out the time, I was hot and sweaty once again.
I moaned with delight when I walked into Carl’s shop. It was cool.
“Good to see you, too,” Carl chuckled, as I opened my eyes and looked at him.
“Oh, sorry, it’s so hot out there, and there’s such a lovely cool breeze in here.”
Carl pointed to the huge, rotating fan in the corner. “People expect cold for Christmas, so I have to give it to them even when there’s a heatwave outside.”
“I’ll have to come in here more often,” I sighed, and walked even closer to the whirring blades of the fan. “This is the coolest I’ve felt all day.”
“Oh, you’re always welcome—visit whenever you like.”
I smiled at his gracious offer.
“I will. Oh, I’ve got some sites to show you. Do you have somewhere I can set up my laptop?” “Follow me.”
Carl located a doorway between the trees and baubles and tinsel, so I followed him through. “Wow,” I gasped, as I walked into a winter wonderland.
“Oh, this is my new display—or it will be. I’ve not quite finished it yet.”
White stretched before my eyes. Cloth and fake snow combined with the blast from another huge fan made me feel like I’d walked into the middle of winter. It was sublime.
“There’s a socket over here.” Carl sat down on the floor and pulled back a piece of scenery to reveal it. “It’s the only free one right now because I’ve not got the lights up in this installation yet.”
“Okay, thanks.” I sat down next to him, pulling on the edges of my skirt in a very prim and proper kind of way. “Sorry it’s not more comfortable—I’m not really set up for computer use in the shop.”
“No problem.” I smiled, trying my hardest not to let my fairly short skirt ride any higher up my legs, especially as that seemed to be exactly where Carl was focusing the most.
“Now, I managed to find a few suppliers for you, but not many. I’ve spoken to others on the phone today and they only stock their seasonal items from October, so I’ve written a list of those down for you.”
I pulled the list from my handbag whilst keeping an eye on the progress of my laptop’s boot-up process.
“Oh, that’s brilliant. I’m always looking for new stock and just recently I’ve been asked several times about retro Christmas ornaments.”
“They’re very popular,” I said. “Even I go through a lot of stock of Santas and reindeer and sparkly baubles during the season.”
“Well not everyone is nutty enough to make it Christmas every day,” Carl quipped.
“Well, you’re always busy,” I replied, hoping he didn’t pick up on my Christmas loathing, “so it must work for you.” “Oh, yes—tourists love to pick up a special bauble for the tree or something to remind them of their visit to Lincoln. I’m still surprised how good my takings are month to month. I fully expected to make the majority of my earnings at the end of the year, but I don’t…anyway, you don’t want to hear all that. Would you like a drink? I’ve got some lemonade in my little fridge if you’d like.”
“That would be lovely.” I smiled. Carl scrambled up and I appreciated the tightness of his jeans when he stood. I couldn’t believe I was lusting over the all-year-round Santa of Lincoln, and as much as my mind told me it wasn’t a good idea for two direct opposites to come together, my body didn’t care one bit.
When Carl came back, he handed me a cool glass and sat down on the floor beside me. We leaned together and looked over a few pages on the screen.
“Oh, those are what I want,” he exclaimed. “Thank you.” He squeezed my arm and I shuddered with pleasure. We continued to talk business for a while and it was quite obvious Carl didn’t just know his stuff—he loved it. He was like a kid waiting to visit Santa.
“Yes, I’m mad,” he said. “I know that. I love Christmas.”
“Oh, no, it’s sweet,” I gasped. “It’s just… I’m not a fan of the festive season.”
“Really, really. It’s not Christmas, just something happened at that time of year and…well; it kind of poisoned my enjoyment of it.”
“That’s awful,” Carl sympathised. “I hope you work out some way to separate the two, because no one should miss out on the joy of Christmas.”
The silence that fell wasn’t particularly awkward. Funny how quickly a stranger can become a friend, but I was on edge because I could feel him beside me, smell his light cinnamon aftershave, and I just wanted to pounce on him and have my wicked way.
“I guess I should be going,” I sighed. “Not that I want to go out there again—it’s so cool and refreshing in here.” “Then stay. I’d be grateful of the company while I finish putting together my North Pole.”
“Well, if you’re sure…”
“Yes, yes, stay. I could do with a second opinion on where to place my candy canes.”
“All right,” I agreed. “Can I give you a hand since I’m here anyway?”
“Well, go on then. I’m used to doing them on my own, but I’ve seen your window displays and they’re always gorgeous. Can you organise the penguins and polar bears for me?”
“Sure.” I smiled, shut the laptop and picked up a polar bear. It’s not often a person gets to say that, I suppose. We chatted amicably as we positioned and re-positioned soft toys, ornaments and gingerbread houses. I’d not felt so relaxed and happy for a long while. The loneliness had sunk into my soul and I’d barely even recognised it. As I pondered what that meant for me and my life, I miscalculated how far forward I needed to lean to place my singing, dancing penguin, and I slipped. I knocked into Carl, yelped and thankfully landed on the soft toys. Carl’s landing wasn’t quite so soft, since he ended up on top of me.
“Oh, fu—I’m so sorry.”
“It’s fine, it’s fine.” Carl pushed himself up, but I was still very aware of his pelvis pressing against mine. “Don’t worry, accidents happen.”
“I’m sorry, I’ll pay for anything I’ve broken, I’ll put everything back in just the place it was…” Carl kissed me.
It was far more complex than that, but at that moment my mind went blank and I just couldn’t think.