Jingle All The Way (Collection)
by Judy Mays
eBook BIN: 04053-01297
What do you do with a two-hundred-pound stripping Santa who’s freezing his jingle balls off? Warm him up and drop him into your hot tub, what else? Then make very sure he’s completely thawed out…
Jingle Balls [Book 1]
“Fuck, Richard, I’m puking my guts out here.”
“And this is my problem, why?”
Large beads of sweat rolled down Ed’s face. “Damn it, I need your help.”
Richard shook his head, grimacing when his brother stuck his head back in the toilet and puked some more. Ed was suffering, poor guy. Still, there had to be someone else who could fill in for him tonight.
A soft clucking sound came from down the hall.
Richard rolled his eyes and moved back out of the way as their mother bustled into the bathroom. She always thought she could cure anything.
“Here, dear, drink this. You’ll feel better.”
Moaning, Ed wiped his mouth with a warm washcloth and stared at his mother. “Anything I drink comes right back up, Mom. If you don’t mind, I’d like to stop throwing up.”
She smoothed his dark hair back off his sweating forehead. “It’s ginger ale, dear. If anything will help calm your stomach, this will.”
Richard snorted. Last time he’d been sick, she’d showed up at his apartment and poured cod liver oil down his throat while he was still asleep. He’d puked his guts up for two hours. But Ed got ginger ale. He crossed his arms across his chest. She always did like Ed better. He was her baby, after all.
The sound of bells jangling drifted up the staircase as the front door opened followed by their father’s booming voice. “I’m home, darlin’. Where’s my little sex kitten?”
Her hands flying to her mouth as she blushed scarlet, their mother hustled to the bathroom door. “John! The boys are home! We’re all up here in the bathroom.”
Richard cocked an eyebrow at his brother. “Sex kitten?” he mouthed silently.
Ed groaned and leaned over the toilet again.
“What the hell are you all doing in the bathroom, Abby?” John bellowed as his broad form filled the doorway.
Standing on her tiptoes, she kissed his cheek. “Eddie’s sick, poor dear. He’ll be spending the night so I can keep an eye on him.”
Richard grimaced as his father peered over his mother’s head and frowned at Ed. Then he switched his glare to Richard. “You boys can’t take care of yourselves when you’re sick? Why, when I was your age…”
“We know, we know,” Ed moaned from the floor, “you puked out your guts in the morning, went to work, and finished puking your guts out after you got home that night.”
“Now, that’s enough,” Abby said after another quick kiss, this one on her husband’s lips. “Ed’s staying here tonight in his old room, and Richard will fill in as Santa Claus for him at the Prior’s store.”
“Bullshit!” Richard growled as he snapped to attention. “I’m not dressing in a stupid red suit so a bunch of snotty, spoiled kids can whine to me about all the crap they want for Christmas.”
“Richard Allen Cassidy!” Abby snapped as she whirled and stomped over to him.
Richard stepped back. Shit. She’d used his full name. That meant she was really mad. His mother barely came up to the middle of his chest, but she was still the scariest woman he knew.
When her finger jabbed into the middle of his chest, he stepped back again only to have his ass bump against the sink.
“Richard Allen Cassidy,” she repeated. “You will fill in for your brother tonight. What’s more, you will be pleasant to each and every child who sits on your lap. And if I hear of anything to the contrary, you will rue the day you were born.”
He raked his fingers through his hair. “Damn it, Mom.”
Another jab in the chest. “And who said you could use language like that to your mother?”
Behind her back, his father grinned at him. “Best do what she says, son. You know she’ll get her way. She always does.”
Gritting his teeth, Richard reviewed every obscenity he knew — silently. Santa Claus. He was gonna have to be fuckin’ Santa Claus. “Fine. I’ll do it tonight, but that’s it — and I’m not working any overtime. Where’s the freaking costume?”
His father’s grin widened. “Downstairs in the closet. Come on, I’ll make you a sandwich. Gotta keep up your strength to face all those kids.”
Cursing under his breath, Richard followed his father downstairs.
Groaning, Ed put the toilet lid down and leaned his head against it. “I hope you’re happy, Mother.”
Smiling slightly, Abby patted her younger son on the shoulder. “You did very well, Ed. You could win an Oscar for the performance you put on.”
Ed choked. “Acting? Who’s acting? What the hell did you put in my food?”
“That’s my secret.” Another pat on the shoulder. “Don’t curse, dear. It’s not polite. You had to really be sick you know. Richard would have known if you were faking.”
Moaning, Ed pushed himself to his feet, bracing his hand on the sink when he swayed and almost lost his balance. “It would have been easier to get shit-faced drunk until I puked. Richard better appreciate what I’ve done for him.”
Abby chuckled. “He will, dear, in ten or twenty years. I wouldn’t tell him before that.”
Ed gulped the ginger ale. “Are you sure this blind date crap is going to work?”
A smile lit up Abby’s face. “Of course it will. Your Uncle Nick promised it would. I’ve met Jessica. She’s a wonderful girl, perfect for Richard.”
Ed gulped more ginger ale. “I don’t know, Mom. You know how Richard is about blind dates. Fixing him up with Uncle Nick’s sister-in-law might not be such a good idea. Hell, we haven’t even seen Uncle Nick since we were kids.”
Abby patted her son on the shoulder. “Everything will be fine, dear. My brother may be a bit eccentric what with living in the wilds of Canada and not wanting to visit civilization very often, but he married a wonderful woman. And her sister is just as nice. Jessica’s the outdoorsy type — just like Richard. They’ll get along wonderfully.”
After another gulp of ginger ale, Ed shook his head. “Just promise me you’ll never try to play match-maker for me.”
Chuckling, Abby turned, sauntered out of the bathroom, and hurried down the steps where she caught Richard at the front door. “Smile, dear, tonight won’t be so bad. You might even enjoy yourself.” Standing on tiptoes, she kissed his cheek then opened the front door, hustling him out.
Red suit tucked under his arm, Richard cursed all the way down the street until he got to his truck. There, he tossed the offending garments onto the passenger seat, stomped around the front, wrenched open the door, and slid into the driver’s seat. How in the world did he let himself get talked into this one? If he hadn’t seen Ed puking himself, he’d suspect his mother set up some scheme to hook him up with some girl. But Ed was sick. The entire bathroom stank.
Snapping his seatbelt into place, he stared out the windshield. Playing Santa Claus. Him. Richard Cassidy. Probably the only guy in the entire US of A to have not one but two serious relationships broken up by Santa Claus. Well, some fucking assholes dressed like Santa Claus. Bad enough that Carla had broken up with him with the “jolly old elf” standing right next to her, but Alison — what a bitch. Richard had walked into their apartment to find her boinking St. Nick three years to the day that Carla had dumped him.
Now, Richard hated Christmas. Even more, he hated Santa Claus. Except for the great meal his mom always cooked, the holiday sucked.
Sighing, he pulled out into the sparse traffic on his parents’ street. His life could be worse. His mother could have decided to start playing match-maker again for him. Even worse, she could have found out that for the last five months he was the lead male stripper at Studs and Suds, the hottest club for women in the area.
* * *
Sighing, the nattily dressed man with the neatly trimmed white beard tiptoeing toward the door set his boots on the floor and straightened. “Do you want something, my love?”
Hands fisted on her hips, his wife glared at him from the kitchen door. “Do I want something? Where do you think you’re going?”
He smiled weakly. “Why, I’m just meeting the boys at the Moosehead for a pint or two.”
Penelope stamped her foot. “The Moosehead? A pint or two? Who do you think you’re fooling? You know very well that Jessica is coming to dinner.”
Closing his eyes, Nicholas groaned silently. He knew damn well she was coming to dinner. How could he possibly forget his dear sister-in-law, Jessica? The woman who insisted on wearing an old bearskin coat and riding around in a dogsled like it was a Porsche. Blast and damn! And he’d been roped into the crazy plan she and his sister Abby had cooked up to get Jessica and Abby’s son Richard together. Shit! He had so hoped he’d be able to sneak out before Penelope knew he was gone. Opening his eyes, he smiled at his wife. “I’m sorry, dear. It slipped my mind.”
Penelope’s expression was unconvinced. “Humph! I’ll just bet it did. Now go on down to the cellar and get a nice bottle of wine.”
“Red or white,” he asked with another sigh. He was not getting one of the really good bottles.
She snorted. “Red, of course. We’re having a nice beef roast.”
Stamping into his boots, Nicholas headed for the door to the cellar.
A loud knock reverberated through the house.
Penelope wiped her hands on her apron. “She’s early again. I must see to my roast. Get the door, dear.” Turning, she bustled back into the kitchen.
Nicholas glanced at the fluffy white cat curled on the padded bench sitting in the hallway. “She’s here, Sebastian. I suggest you go on upstairs if you want to keep your dignity intact.”
The cat’s ears flipped forward. His nose wrinkled. After a quick hiss, he fluffed out every hair on his body, jumped from the bench, and galloped up the stairway.
Nicholas shuffled to the door. “Lucky cat.” Grasping the knob, he pulled the door open and stepped back.
A series of woofs, yelps, and barks, accompanied by jingling bells, erupted into the house to be followed by eight large, furry bodies.
Nicholas stood stoically as seven of the eight cold noses were shoved into his crotch one at a time. Then, all eight voices whuffed as each nose sniffed the spot where Sebastian had been lying. Anticipatory whines trickled out of eight throats as eight pairs of eyes stared longingly up the stairway. However, all eight dogs remembered how dangerous Penelope could be with a broom. All eight decided that discretion was the better part of valor.
A huge bundle of dark fur followed the dogs into the house.
Nicholas sneezed. “Why do you have to ride in a dogsled? Why can’t you be normal and use a four-wheel drive or a snowmobile like everyone else? And must you wear that old bearskin!”
The fur fell to the floor to reveal a head of unruly honey-blond hair and a lush body.
Once her outerwear was shed, Jessica turned to her brother-in-law. “Nice to see you, too, Nick. Dogsled, huh? Isn’t that a rather stupid question to come from a man who rides around in a sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer?”