"Are you out of your freaking mind?"
"Lane." Gavin dragged my name out to about four syllables.
"I'm not doing it. It's ridiculous."
"Come on. It will be fun. Put you in the spirit." His grin was nothing less than forced.
"The only spirit it will put me in will be a bottle of vodka. A large one."
"But you're perfect. You have all the right qualities." The fluttering puppy dog eyes were not going to help his case. No way in hell.
I pulled up my shirt to my chin. "Look at these abs, Gavin. Look at them." I nodded my head down toward my stomach. "I work ten damn hours a week to get them looking like this, which you seem to appreciate, and you're saying I have the right qualities? In what odd little twisted world do you live where Santa has abs like these." I pulled my shirt back down with a huff.
He approached me slowly as I glared at him. I watched his hand tentatively reach out for me. I was tempted to jerk away, but honestly, I hadn't seen him all day and kind of wanted him to touch me. A little.
"Not those kind of qualities, sweetie."
I stepped back. I hated it when he called me that. It usually ended in trouble.
He took a step closer, toying lightly with the front of my t-shirt. "Kids love you. You're friendly, cheerful; you like to make people happy."
I took another step back. "Fuck that. I'm none of those things, and the last time I was around a kid I was fourteen. How in the hell do you know kids like me? Dogs don't even like me."
The puppy dog eyes and fluttering eyelashes started up again. "That dog was mentally unbalanced. I just know you'll be good with kids. I know these things."
My snort was less than refined. "You know these things?"
The hand was on my stomach now, a finger twisting in the fabric. "But," he bit his lip, "we'll get to spend the day together that way. I have to work anyway."
"But I don't. I have to work the night before, so why can't I just sleep in and get to enjoy it? It's practically a holiday for chrissakes."
The eyelash fluttering had reached epic proportions. "But Laney, I'm stuck. The guy who usually does it got posted to Caracas. No one else will do it."
"Oh gee, I wonder why." I swore I strained an eyeball muscle on that eye-roll.
"But it's for a good cause. Everyone pays five bucks for the picture, and we give the money to the Toy Mountain people. Think of all those poor little tots getting a toy this Christmas."
I tried to take a step back as he stepped closer and found my back up against the kitchen counter. His hand was now completely tangled in my t-shirt. "Tots? Gee Bob Cratchett, I don't know."
"We have the fireplace video." He raised an eyebrow.
"Seriously? That's your selling feature? A fireplace video?"
His hand had unwound from my t-shirt and somehow found its way underneath and was rubbing on those abs I worked damn hard to get. I hadn't thought the eyelash fluttering could get any more intense, but apparently I was wrong. He leaned his hips into me, and I couldn't help but press back. I tried not to, but it just happened. "I'll be your elf," he sing-songed.
I tried desperately to ignore the fingers running over my stomach and the side to side shuffle of his crotch over mine. "Oh, and what does that entail?" I was not giving in. I was just curious.
"Hmm. I'll be wearing tights." The eyelash fluttering had given way to eyebrow waggling, which caused them to disappear at regular intervals under his blond bangs while huge gray-blue eyes stared at me.
"I don't want people seeing you in tights." I may have gotten a bit growly. I couldn't help it. The idea of someone staring at those gorgeous legs made me crazy. He had legs to die for: slim, straight, and not too hairy. Not that anyone would know that with tights, but that wasn't the point. They were my legs to ogle, not a bunch of civil servants'.
"Sweetie." Oh God, that word again and I had nowhere to escape to. "It will just be some little kids."
I thought my glare should have started his hair on fire. "Those kids don't just show up at your building alone. They're there with parents, parents who'll be looking at your ass in tights."
"Oh, baby. I'll have a tunic on. No one but you will see my ass." His hips gave a thrust and my eyes started to close. "Please?" I didn't know how he managed to make that word a cross between a whine and a pout.
"But what if people find out? I'll be the laughing stock at the bar."
"Who's going to find out, Lane? No one from your work will be there, and you'll have on the whole costume anyway. You'll be anonymous, like a super hero."
I tried to give him the evil eye. I really did, but now his other hand had made it up as far as my right nipple and was starting to flick back and forth. That was totally unfair. "Sweetie? Please? I'll make it worth your while, and it's only for a couple of hours." He pinched the nipple under his fingers which caused my hips to thrust forward, and he met it with a thrust of his own. My eyes crossed. Damn him.
"You come at nine thirty, and we're done by noon and out of there. They always let us go home early."
Why did I not have control over my own body? It was rubbing up against him as if I had no will of my own. "I could..." I gasped as he started to get pinchy again. "I could be home in bed, waiting for you, naked." Both hands were pinching and pulling now. "Oh God, more."
Before I knew it, he stepped back, pulling his hands out from under my shirt. I think I made a whiny sound, I wasn't sure. When I looked at him, he stuck his lower lip out. "I don't know, Lane. I'm not really feeling the mood now, since no one wants to help me with my Santa problem." He ducked his chin and raised an eyebrow while staring up at me. After a pause he let it drop again. "Sweetie?"
Oh fuck. Why was I such a frickin' marshmallow? I was six foot two, I worked out, I dealt with vicious drunks without breaking a sweat, and one "sweetie" combined with big puppy dog eyes and I was fucking sunk. Shit, shit, shit. I needed to grow a spine or something. I would, soon. I'd think about it.
I snapped my arm out, grabbed the front of his shirt and pulled. His body smacked against mine. I enjoyed that moment when his eyes got huge and his mouth gaped open, and then the smirk started. His eyes got that sleepy, sexy look that he always got when he knew he'd won. "You little shit. You are going to owe me big-time." Before he could even answer, I slammed my mouth down onto his. He'd be making this up to me for months.
He had entirely too many clothes on for my taste. As I forced his mouth open and thrust my tongue in, I tasted cinnamon and spice. He'd been buying gingerbread lattes again. I yanked his shirt out of his pants and tried to pull it over his head, pausing when I realized I was strangling him with the tie he was still wearing. Crap. This wasn't working. Now he had the shirt over his head, his arms in the air because the sleeves were still buttoned, and he was making a combination of gagging noises and giggles. I wouldn't laugh, I would not. I was thankful he couldn't see my own grin.
The situation was so ridiculous, I gave up on the buttons at his wrists, bent and grabbed him by the thighs and lifted him over my shoulder. He squealed and was bouncing against my back as I started down the hall to the bedroom. "You are a brat." I gave him a slap on the ass.