Drink Me Sweetly
Santa’s Helpers (multi-author series)
by Adera Orfanelli
eBook BIN: 06100-01958
When Tony Laverde accepts the job as Cora Bellagio’s newest barista and coffee elf for the holidays, she starts wondering what it would be like to drink from him, especially when she catches him in his candy cane boxers as he’s changing into his elf suit.
Tony’s muttered curse stopped Cora cold. She paused, knowing he should have been tending the counter. Morning rush might have ended, but lunch patrons would just be starting to come into the store. A metal shelf rattled, no doubt banged by an errant elbow, and Tony muttered something under his breath. The deep, gravelly voice never failed to dampen her panties. It was partially the reason why she’d hired him a month ago to fill in during the holiday season. She needed an elf. The launch party tonight for the holiday season at The Bitter Bean would be the start of her big promotion. She hoped to parlay this into a second shop across town.
Cora took a deep breath, then winced as she inhaled the rich, hot scent of his blood. He must have cut himself.
She stepped forward, unable to keep from peeking into the storage closet. The door was closed, but not quite, because she got a view of a bare back and candy cane boxer shorts. She started to laugh, clamping a hand over her mouth to stop the noise. A vampire of her age and status shouldn’t laugh, not at a mere mortal, even one as perfectly formed as this. She’d known he’d been hiding a killer body beneath his loose button-down shirts and jeans, but that ass…
Her nipples pebbled. Heat instantly rolled through her body even though she hadn’t fed for at least eight hours. Maybe a sip of something would cool the fever rising in her blood. A sip of him might heat things up further. She grinned and stepped back.
The heel of her stilettos caught on the open flap of a coffee filter box. She wobbled, only her heightened senses keeping her upright. Through the door she watched masculine hands pause in the act of pulling up a pair of jeans.
“Someone out there?” he called.
I’m not here. I didn’t see you. Liar, she called herself, and backed away from the sight of the rounded globes of his ass covered by novelty boxer shorts and the muscled, tanned back revealed when he’d changed his shirt. Who changed clothes in a supply closet anyway? She figured he’d duck into the bathroom. That was where normal people went to change clothes. Except nothing about him was normal, and that was why she was considering — no, she never broke her own rules. But damned if he didn’t tempt her all the same.
She hurried back to the counter, thankful she’d had centuries to master the art of walking quietly in high heels, and stood there with a serene expression on her face as he came out of the closet dressed in a clean, blue denim button-down shirt and jeans.
“Better?” Cora asked.
“Yeah. Glad I keep spare clothes here in case accidents happen.” Tony slid past her, the woodsy soap fragrance of his skin teasing her senses. Warmth from his body radiated into hers, and she wanted to arch her back and purr at the sensation. Her fingers flexed against the counter. “Just glad it got me instead of the customer.”
“We were lucky,” she replied, thinking she was the lucky one who’d caught a view of his body. A view that would haunt her for a long time to come, she figured.
The bells above the door jingled. No holiday music played in the shop’s sound system; she refused to bombard her customers with it. The young man came to the counter and ordered an espresso, double shot, to go.
Efficient as ever, Tony made the drink while she swiped the customer’s card at the register. Just as she was finishing up the transaction, Tony had the cup containing brown, liquid gold passing across the counter. The patron left. With his absence, the shop was empty for the moment.
“You okay with the party tonight?” Cora asked. She glanced at a couple outside. They paused, heads bent together intimately as they spoke. A moment later the woman straightened, shook her head, and the two walked off. Damn, she envied those two. Never before in her hundred and fifty years had she felt the need to partner beyond mutual sexual needs.
“Sure. I wear my elf suit, pass out complimentary drinks, and watch for people imbibing too much.” Tony smiled, revealing a dimple in his cheek. “I got it.”
Cora found herself answering his smile. “Good. I’m going to spend the afternoon in the office. See you later.” She ducked past him, working hard to keep from pressing against him in the close confines behind the counter. “Use the intercom if you run into problems.”
“I’ll be fine. Don’t worry.”
She nodded, knowing it was him she was worried about.
* * *
Tony LaVerde glanced discreetly at his employer from his perch behind the bar and served up yet another eggnog latte sample to a customer. Cora Bellagio didn’t appear to be a day over thirty, her long black hair cascading like a waterfall of midnight down her back. Her hips flared just enough to make him want to skim his hands over the faux red velvet skirt she wore. A skirt that should be fucking illegal, or illegal for making him want to fuck her. His cock hardened, not for the first time that night, and he stilled it with a reminder that she wrote his paychecks.
He grabbed a Bailey’s and coffee — not his first of the night — and drank it down. The buzz of Irish Crème, which was a hell of a way to get drunk in his opinion, filled him with warmth. He set another eggnog latte on a serving platter, then made another Bailey’s and coffee for the patron at the bar. Normally the coffee shop didn’t serve alcohol, but tonight for the fundraiser Cora had obtained a special bar license.
Cora rang a bell. “Last call. Our festive evening will end in ten minutes. Thank you so much for being here. I’m pleased to announce that we’ve raised three thousand dollars for the children’s cancer ward at the local hospital.”
A round of cheers and applause greeted her words.
“Please remember that’s why we’re here. Don’t forget to give generously in the goodie bags, and if you haven’t already, please take your ticket over to Theodore and he’ll exchange it for your gift.” Cora gestured to a dour man who would have been better suited to playing Scrooge than an elf.
Bushy gray hair stuck out from beneath the brim of his pointed elf hat, and although Theodore always wore a frown, it seemed his expression had darkened in response to the festive, red and green outfit. He’d disdained the shoe covers, fussing to Cora that he’d be standing behind the table. She’d laughed. Theodore stood behind a table heaped with extravagant gifts donated by local merchants and some not-so-local establishments.
Tony knew a few of those were vampire-owned; he wondered if his employer had pulled some strings. Thoughts of her pulling things, albeit gently, had his cock springing to attention again. He watched the guests start to drift toward the door, then Cora sashayed past again.
Some fragrance, a hint of orchids and musk, teased his nostrils. She paused, almost as if she knew his thoughts, because she drew her fingers along the long, slender line of her throat, letting the red-tipped nails pause on the swell of her right breast. She tapped once, twice, on a blue vein, then swept across the room to gift her goodbyes to some good friends.
Tony watched, though his thoughts were on the swell of her breast, the way those scarlet lips had parted, and what he’d do to get them around his cock. At last, the final guest was out the door, and Cora made a show of locking it.
“Theodore, you were splendid,” Cora said with a beaming smile for her old friend. “Why don’t you go home? Tony and I can clean up.”
“And get out of this dreadful suit? Why would I do that?” He smiled, though it looked more like a grimace. “Thank you. I’m glad we had a successful night.”
“Me too,” Cora said, her gratitude genuine. She was well known in the community for her generous heart; it was one of the reasons why he’d come to work here. His last job as a personal assistant to a young male vampire might have been interesting, but he wanted to settle down. Jet-setting all over the globe had its high points. It also lacked stability, and he hated not being able to go out with his buddies for beer or to a game because he’d be in some foreign country. Of course, no job within the vampire community paid any less than fifty grand, even something as “simple” as being a barista.
His pay wasn’t on his mind as Theodore left the room and Cora bent over to pick up a decoration that had fallen on the floor. The flared hem of her skirt rode up, revealing the top of her black stockings. The wide bands of lace and straps of her garters held his attention. His mouth went dry. She straightened and turned, caressing the edge of a folded paper snowflake.
“You did well tonight,” she said, setting the decoration on the table. She crossed the space between them with long strides. “The cleaners are going to do most of this. We just need to put the liquor away and move some of the coffee supplies back to the storeroom.” She paused in front of his table and poured herself a spiked coffee. She drank it down, her throat working.
Tony’s gaze fixed there as if he were a vampire. Not for the first time, he imagined licking her neck, tasting her, before moving lower to nuzzle and suckle her breasts.
Cora set her paper cup down on the table. The empty glass wobbled and tipped, the soft clatter drawing his attention back to the present.
He withdrew from his sexual reverie to find Cora smiling at him with seductive promise. Vampires weren’t supposed to read minds anymore. He frowned, wondering if she were reading his, then figured it didn’t matter. He was a red-blooded male; he had needs.
“I can start hauling equipment back to the storage room.” He offered to take the heavier job though Cora’s strength surpassed his. He couldn’t stop his chivalrous side.
“I’ll take care of the liquor then, and come back to help.” She reached across the table and cupped his arm. “I know you’re strong, but there’s a lot of equipment.”
Heat sizzled from her touch down his arm, down to his cock. “I’m sure you can handle it better than I can.”
She laughed, a husky chuckle full of promise and passion. “We’ll have to see about that.” She released him to check the lids on several bottles and pick them up. Turning, she carried them back to their storage place in her office cabinet.
He watched her go, then unplugged the warmers and brewers, and started winding up cords to take them back to the storeroom.