Fired from her retail position for saying Merry Christmas to a customer, Sonya Simmons chafes at the over-commercialization of the season and the difficulties of finding a new job. If only she’d actually said Merry Christmas instead of Merry Kisses to the tall, good-looking man buying enough toys for at least a dozen children. How embarrassing!
It was fun to fluster the pretty toy store clerk, but Heath Collins, the mall’s volunteer Santa Claus, hadn’t meant to get her fired. When his elf assistant comes down with a bad cold, Heath offers Sonya a few days’ work, only to discover she believes Santa is nothing but a liar and a fraud instead of an opportunity to make a difference in children’s lives.
“Maybe.” She slid back into the chair. “Do you really go to the same church as I do? But that doesn’t make sense. You play Santa.”
It was his turn to be confused. “What’s that got to do with anything?”
Sonya picked a bit of glaze off the top of her doughnut with a pink fingernail and popped it in her mouth. She eyed him and heaved a sigh. “I don’t think it’s right to lie to little kids. They have enough trouble keeping fantasy and reality separate.”
His fingers began twirling his coffee cup again. “I see. So you think my job is right up there with the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy.”
She raised her eyebrows. “Isn’t it?”
“I don’t see it that way.”
“Of course you don’t. Just another day at the office, right?”
Heath couldn’t help his sardonic laugh. “Right. I work ten hours a week for one month a year as Santa, plus a party here and there. You can’t seriously think I’m in this for the money.”
Uncertainty crossed her face. “Okay. But why?”
“Why be Santa?”
“Why pretend to be.”
Heath shook his head. Of course she’d distinguish. “I like making little kids happy. I like their hugs and their shy smiles. I like being a bright spot in their day.”
“But it’s a lie.” She picked another fleck of maple off her doughnut.
“Sonya, I am real. I’m the guy who brightens their day.”
“Only because you’re in that red suit.” She eyed him. “Must take a lot of padding.”
Valerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as their creation-care-centric church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.
Merry Kisses http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017GGWFLC