Buford Saves Christmas
Being Santa’s right-hand elf is a demanding job, but it’s one Buford was born to do. He knows Christmas success hinges on one thing: his yearly pre-sleigh-launch good deed. This year, though, he’s not having any luck finding a deed that needs doing.
Santa’s son Michael works at the mall while he studies business and Zach, the cute cashier he manages. But Zach doesn’t seem to even notice Michael, making Christmas less bright than it could be.
Buford decides matchmaking is the perfect good deed to ensure Santa’s flight goes off without a hitch. Can he get Michael and Zach together and save Christmas?
The line for trees trailed into the parking lot, and it only inched forward every few minutes. Michael spent the time catching up on news from home and listening to Buford describe every inch of his new house. Michael understood why he needed to study, but he really wished this MBA thing was already over so he could go home.
Just as his homesickness reached its peak, he reached the end of the line. The selection was sparse, and Michael gave up any hope of salvaging his Christmas.
Then he found himself staring into the gorgeous brown eyes he’d been dreaming of for months.
“Zach.” Michael’s hands shook, so he clenched them into tight fists.
Zach brushed his hair to the side and muttered a line from “O Holy Night.” “Hello, Michael.”
All the other tree farm employees were watching the interaction warily. Mindful of his observers, Michael spoke carefully. “It’s great to see you. I didn’t know you worked here too.”
Hair brush. Muttered words. “Family business. I help.”
Another thing to love about him. Michael tried to quiet his inner Cupid. “I know a bit about that. Going to work at my family’s place after I graduate. A lot of tradition to uphold.”
A shy smile spread across Zach’s face, and his cheeks colored. “Nice to know we have somethin’ in common.”
Michael’s gaze followed the slow swipe of Zach’s tongue along his lower lip. Zach’s long, graceful fingers swept across his brow, brushing his hair and revealing another glimpse of his twinkling eyes. The motion was quickly followed by a soft line of “Silent Night.” But for the first time, Zach didn’t look away or cover his mouth with a shaking hand.
A jerk of his pants leg snapped Michael from his spell. He looked down, wondering what the hell was going on, and remembered. Oh, yeah, I’ve got an elf with me.
“Sorry, Bue,” Michael whispered. “What’s up?”
Buford winked. “I better get back to work.” Wink. “I’ve got that big deadline.” Wink. Wink. “You can pick out the tree without me, yeah?”
“Sure thing. Thanks for coming by to help.” Michael couldn’t resist a wink of his own.
Buford hugged Michael’s legs, and Michael bent down and hugged back. He waved at Buford until he couldn’t see the little matchmaker anymore.
Zach cleared his throat. “Um, is he your boyfriend?” Hair brush. Line of “Please Come Home for Christmas.”
Michael really hoped that last line was an invitation. “Bue? No, he’s just an old friend. We grew up together.”
Zach stared at his feet, but Michael thought he could see a slight upturn at the corners of Zach’s mouth. Zach turned and gave one of his co-workers a head tilt. The man, who was an older, taller version of Zach nodded in response.