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Decorating Spirit by Zenobia RenquistDecorating Spirit
Santa’s Helpers (multi-author series)
by Zenobia Renquist

Changeling Press

eBook BIN: 06109-01961

She’s making sure Christmas comes more than once this year.

The Spirit of Christmas should be a joyous person who can spread happiness around the world. Spir is anything but. His mood is as dark as the black clothes he wears. Danette is hired to change his clothing in hopes that his attitude will follow. Spir doesn’t want to cooperate. When she finally gets him out of his clothes, Danette discovers something harder than her job and much more enjoyable.

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Chapter One

The dress was beautifully made, and Danette wished she were the one intended to wear it. Buttons from the neck to the floor, the dusky rose-colored sundress had a scoop neck, half sleeves and a flowing skirt. The main attraction was the open basket weave design that started below the bust line and extended down to the top of the wearer’s hips, leaving the majority of the upper torso semi-exposed. It was perfect.
“It’s a circus tent. I’m not wearing it,” Alex snapped.
Danette prayed for strength. She changed her prayer two seconds later to patience. With strength, she might strangle her friend. She tossed her head, which sent her long, black ponytail wagging. “Alex, the elves spent a good amount of time making this dress. You will wear it.”
“No, I won’t. It goes to the floor. I never wear anything that goes past my thighs.”
“When you were a stripper, that was ideal. Now that you’re Mrs. Claus, you need to start dressing appropriately. You’re going to wear this dress.”
“I didn’t bring you here to bully me.”
“No, you brought me to this fairytale dream snow palace in the North Pole to witness the birth of your very beautiful daughter Belle.”
Belle cooed and waved her little arms. Danette thought the little girl was too young at two months to recognize her name, but it was cute thinking she had. Alex and Kris’s daughter took more after her father than her mother. Except for her light brown skin, she resembled a fey child with her wide, jewel-blue eyes that matched her father’s and long, pointed ears. Ears Kris promised would get longer as she got older. Since Kris’s ears extended to the top of his head, Danette didn’t doubt him.
But then, who would presume to doubt Kris Kringle, otherwise known as Santa Claus? Kris looked nothing like the jolly fat man image of Santa everyone knew and loved. That was a glamour he wore for Christmas. The rest of the year Kris was tall, toned and handsome. His platinum hair hung past his shoulders; he was clean-shaven and wore casual suits in either red or green.
The man defined suave while his wife, Danette’s longtime best friend, could be found in streetwalker chic. Getting Alex to change her manner of dress had turned out to be a bigger task than both Danette and Kris first thought.
Danette held out the dress. “You may have brought me here as a friend, but your husband has hired me to make you presentable. Now put on the damn dress.”
Behind Danette, several women gasped. She mumbled a quick apology. She had forgotten to watch her language. The elves of Santa’s home weren’t used to hearing swear words, not even the tame ones. Alex reported one woman had fainted when Alex cussed at her wedding to Kris. Danette hadn’t seen anyone go quite that far with their shock, but she could tell the elves found it scandalous. She tried to curtail her semi-filthy mouth when around them.
Alex said, “You can’t boss me around. You’re not my husband. Even if you were, I still wouldn’t do it.”
“No, I’m not your husband. In about five seconds, I’m going to stop being your friend.” Danette put on her best disapproving teacher expression which made Alex flinch. “Now.”
“Fine!” Alex snatched the dress off Danette’s arm, stalked into the dressing room with it and slammed the door.
Danette breathed a silent sigh of relief before winking over her shoulder at Noël. The man’s smile barely contained his laughter. He had to clear his throat and straighten the cuff links of his suit before he regained his composure. The man was Kris’s personal secretary and had shown up a few minutes ago to assess Danette’s progress with the new dress.
“Wow.” Alex’s awe-filled voice filtered past the dressing room door. She swung it open and exited like a model strutting down the runway. “This is gorgeous.”
“See?” Danette shook her head. “All that fussing for nothing.”
“Yes, yes. You were right. I was wrong. I bow to your expertise.”
“You used to bow to my expertise before you went and got yourself married and pregnant. Now you think being away from me for a few months gives you the right to talk back. I know you, Alex, and I know your style. You used to trust me with stuff like this all the time.”
Before becoming the bride of Santa Claus, Alex had been an exotic dancer, and Danette had been her manager. Danette had been in charge of everything from Alex’s clothing to her music, sometimes even choreographing Alex’s dance routines. They’d become best friends because Alex trusted Danette completely. “I still do.”
“Then why are you giving me such a hard time about all this?”
Alex grinned and stuck out the tip of her tongue. “I love it when you get all stern and stuff.”
“You’re a closet masochist.”
The woman shrugged before she started twirling so her skirt billowed around her.
Danette stepped close to Alex and said in a low voice, “I made sure the skirt was made of enough wrinkle-resistant material so it could be bunched up for easy access.”
“I love you, Danette. You know me so well.”
Noël cleared his throat. From the light blush dusting his cheeks, Danette guessed he’d heard her. Her gaze went to his pointed ears. They resembled normal ears in size and length but with a little point at the top. The size and shape of the ears was a distinguishing feature between elves, which Noël was, and fey like Kris. Danette had been told there were others, but that was the easiest to identify.
He said, “I shall inform sire of the good news.” He bowed and then left the room.
Alex scrunched her nose in his direction. “Such a prude, that one.”
“He’s fine. You’re the one who’s got no morals.”
“I’m also the one who made the Aurora Borealis outshine the stars.”
“Yes, you did. Meteorologists around the world are still freaking out about it. If you and Kris could have sex on a regular schedule, that might lessen the panic in the human population.”
“Regular and sex should never be in the same sentence. Sex should be spontaneous and hot, just the way Kris and I like it.”
“Why do I get the feeling that’s the way you like it, and Kris is just following your bad example?”
“Naughty example. Get it right.”
“Kris is right. You are going to be chronicled as the worst Mrs. Claus ever.”
“I don’t care what everyone else thinks. Kris loves me, and the way I am gets results. Speaking of results, how’s it going with your other problem child?”
“Oh, don’t even ask about him.”
Alex referred to the other reason Kris had hired Danette. Kris’s identical twin brother Spir, who was also known as the Spirit of Christmas. Spir and Kris were identical in every single way except for their hair. Spir’s was black and waist length. The black clothing Spir swathed himself in was the reason he was Danette’s second project. Kris hoped Danette could convince his brother to wear clothing more fitting his station, hoping a color change might somehow improve Spir’s mood.
Danette doubted changing his color scheme would change him. Kris and Spir were day and night, physically and mentally. Kris smiled easily and had a good humor about everything, even his wife’s antics. Spir prowled around the winter palace snapping at everyone and cussing up a storm. Danette never had trouble finding him. She just followed the sounds of horrified gasps and fleeing women.
She didn’t know how other Spirits of Christmas had acted, but Danette was sure Spir would be remembered as the worst. How someone with his attitude could bring good cheer and brotherly love to anyone was a mystery to her. But then, this would be his first year on the job. His uncle, black-haired identical twin to Kris and Spir’s father, had held the job prior.
That was how the House of Kringle worked. When twins were born, and they weren’t born often, their hair color decided who donned the mantle of Santa Claus and who became the Spirit of Christmas. Danette didn’t find that fair, and Spir’s attitude denoted he didn’t either.
But she’d been hired to do a job. She would do it even if Spir avoided her and yelled at her on the few occasions when she managed to corner him. They were at a stalemate, but she had a trap planned today. Christmas was a few days away. Even if a change of clothing didn’t help Spir’s attitude, Danette wanted to know she had tried.
Alex patted Danette’s shoulders. “Good luck.”
“I need all I can get and everyone else’s shares as well. I’ve never met someone so stubborn before. Compared to him, you’re a dream client who does everything I say.”
“I’m not that bad.”
“But he is. And I’m pretty sure he hates me.”
“I think he hates everyone.”
“That doesn’t make me feel better.”
“You’ll figure it out. You always do.” Alex stepped back and gave another twirl. “While you figure out your conundrum, I’m going to show Kris my new dress.” She called over her shoulder to one of the maids as she headed for the door, “Watch Belle for me. I might be a while.”
Danette got the feeling the Aurora Borealis would be shining bright soon. One of the ladies who occupied the room walked over to Belle’s crib, retrieved the little girl and then left. The others watched Danette.
She shook her head. “You all go take a break. I have to go spring my trap.”
They each offered her condolences and wishes of good luck as they left the room. Danette accepted it all, knowing she’d need every bit. With a deep breath and a stiffened spine, she left the room headed for Spir. Today was the day he would give in because she wouldn’t back down.

Buy Now:
Changeling PressAReKindleNook

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