With a smile of thanks, she jogged toward the elevators. The one on the left was just closing, so she hollered, "Hold the door!" and leaped forward, slipping her arm between the doors and taking a step that jammed the stiletto heel of her boot right into the crack where the elevator car met the floor. She teetered unsteadily, praying she wouldn't break a bone.
The doors lurched open and, as they did, she lost any hope of staying upright. She tumbled inside, heard the snap of her boot heel breaking, and then tumbled onto another occupant, knocking them both to the barely padded floor.
"Oh no, I am so sorry!" She rolled to one side before sitting up to see who had cushioned her fall. The best-looking man she'd ever seen lay on the floor, grinning up at her, making no effort whatsoever to get to his feet.
"My pleasure." He propped his arms under his head. "Truly."
She jumped to her feet, forgetting she'd lost a heel in the door, lost her balance and fell again. At least she managed to land on her hands and knees above him, like a bridge, and didn't squash him.
"Sorry." She crawled to the door and wiggled the broken heel back and forth until it came out, wondering why the doors hadn't tried closing on her fingers. She glanced over her shoulder to find the man sitting up with his finger on the Door Open button.
"No problem. What floor?"
"I need the penthouse, please."
"That's where I'm heading, too."
She pivoted away from his lopsided grin and nearly stepped on a rather small, ashen-faced man leaning in the corner. His body shuddered when the doors closed and the car started to move.
"Oh-kay...." She was stuck between Drop-Dead-Handsome Man and Pasty-Faced Man and had to figure out how to do her routine with a broken-heeled boot. She tucked said heel into one of the many pockets in her slicker lining and left the coat hanging open. She hoped the boot could be repaired, but because it was only a week before Christmas she doubted she'd have any luck with that.
It was a little like the time, eight years before, when she'd performed an aria for the school Christmas program unaware that two buttons on her dress were undone, thereby flashing the front of her ancient white bra complete with holes and safety pins.
"So, you were invited to the party upstairs?" Handsome Man broke into her thoughts. He climbed to his feet and moved to stand beside her.
"I wasn't aware it was a costume party."
She crinkled her nose and shook her head. "I wouldn't know. I'm only the entertainment."
"Ahhh." He reached out a hand and flipped the bells on her collar. "So, Mrs. Claus, is the mister showing up tonight? Because, to be honest, I haven't been very good this year."
She had opened her mouth to speak when the lights cut off and the elevator ground to a halt. Oh, dear heavens, she'd done it again.