Read the first three chapters of Madeleine Taylor’s ‘Santa’s Favorite’!

Chapter 1

Is he really staring at me again? I narrow my eyes at Santa, who’s been ogling me each time I walk past. His big stage on the ground floor has been strategically placed at the far end of Bergman’s, and he’s sitting in an elaborately decorated sleigh filled with presents, led by a group of animatronic reindeer. The Norwegian pines that surround the stage look like a real forest, and the long winter wonderland walkway that leads up to him is simply irresistible to kids; moving trees, fake snow and Santa’s deep voice welcoming everyone with a ‘Merry Christmas’ draws them in like bees to honey.

While parents are perusing the aisles of this exclusive department store in Manhattan, kids wait in line for their turn on his lap, to hand him their letters and to have their picture taken with him.

His beard has come loose on one side and his gold half-glasses are sitting crooked on his nose. I can feel his eyes on my behind and let out a groan of frustration as I realize I’ve forgotten the item I came to pick up in the first place. Fuck. Now I have to walk past him again.

My mind is all over the place today; it’s the third time I’ve been lost in my own thoughts, forgetting stuff on the wish list that keeps growing on my tablet. Unfortunately, my personal to-do list keeps growing too, and as I’m working overtime at Bergman’s over my Christmas break, I’m lagging behind on my studies. Just six more days, I tell myself. Then it will be full steam ahead and I’ll be able to focus on my exams and apply for my legal internships.

The store’s VIP customers have an easy life when it comes to their Christmas shopping. All they have to do is send through their shopping list and underpaid suckers like me make sure their gifts are wrapped up beautifully and sent to their family members, kids, wives, husbands or lovers along with a handwritten card so no one would ever entertain the idea that they haven’t put the effort in themselves. We even have phone consultations with the big spenders and give them suggestions on additions or upgrades.

I turn back and head for the jewelry counter to pick up the gold watch with inscription. Bergman’s spans six floors and over a million square feet, so wasting fifteen minutes before arriving upstairs empty handed is not an option, especially over the busy holidays. As much as this job bores me, I need it too, and I don’t intend to get fired just before Christmas.

“All done.” My colleague who mans the jewelry counter hands me the watch and I turn it around to check the inscription that says, ‘For Renate, with love, Henry’. Henry didn’t even pick it himself; I did that. He told me he wanted to buy his girlfriend a watch and that he believed she preferred gold to silver, although he wasn’t entirely sure. When I asked him what inscription he would like, he asked me for suggestions. Ninety percent of my clients are men. They love the easy way out, and more often than not, they ask me to pick something for the ladies in their lives.

“Everything is in the box,” my colleague continues. “Warranty, extra strap in camel leather, receipt for you to email. Do you have any more inscriptions for me today?”

“So far, no. But the last minute orders keep coming in so I might be back.” I give him a smile and a wave and brace myself for another walk past creepy Santa. I could make a detour, but since I’m wearing a Bergman’s name tag, shoppers assume I’m part of the floor team and stop me every few steps for enquiries, so I’d rather take the quickest route to the staff elevators.

The ground floor always annoys me as it’s where most of the festivities happen. ‘Santaland’—an area that provides the whole Christmas experience for adults and kids alike—currently covers three quarters of the ground floor. There’s the winter wonderland walk with Santa’s stage, the interactive nativity exhibition with real animals and actors playing Mary and Joseph, and there’s the huge fake Christmas tree in the atrium that reaches all the way up to the third floor. The VM team have sprayed it with something pine scented that’s so synthetic it’s making me nauseous. Each booth representing a brand, or a range of products, has its own little twist on Christmas and with all of them competing under one roof, it’s culminating into an insane mix of decorations, lights, glitter, sounds and smells that clash like thunder. Our customers love it though, and Bergman’s has been awarded Best Visual Merchandiser three years in a row.

I’m not a big fan of Christmas and working here right now is giving me Christmas overload. The carols that are constantly on repeat, the artificial smells that are way too strong to be pleasant, and the annoyingly chirpy ‘Merry Christmas’ messages and enquiries from colleagues each time I pass them. ‘What are you doing over Christmas?’, ‘How’s your tree looking?’, ‘Big family gathering?’

The excitement they display is beyond me. My family consists of my mother and me, and neither of us cares. We don’t have the best Christmas memories and my mom was never able to afford decorations or presents when I was younger. She even used to take me to work with her at the diner on Christmas Eve, as she was unable to find a babysitter over the holidays. I didn’t mind back then as I was quite happy keeping myself busy with a coloring book and a hot chocolate, but it did sting sometimes when friends from school told me about how their parents had spoilt them with lavish gifts when we were back at school. Now, looking around and seeing what Christmas has become, I despise it even more. It’s a commercial circus and everyone falls for it like a fool.

Quickening my pace, I keep my eyes fixed on the elevators ahead of me as I pass Santa again. Thankfully, he’s got a toddler on each knee and is too busy to notice me this time. I hear both the children and the parents surrounding him burst out in laughter and find it hard to imagine that he’s actually funny. Perhaps he’s not that bad at his job, but I’d still rather see him go. I’ve worked here three years now and the Santa we had before was a lovely old man, but I guess he’s retired now.

“Lucy, wait!” I smile when my colleague and friend Bridget quickly slips into the elevator with me before the doors close. “Don’t you just love Christmas?” she asks, holding up a huge cinnamon cookie wedged between a napkin. “Free cookies and lots of happy people.” Pressing the button for the sixth floor where the staff break room, the mail room and our gift-wrapping room are situated, she takes a bite and holds it out for me. When I decline, she laughs and shakes her head. “Never mind. I know how you feel about Christmas.”

“Sorry. Just not hungry,” I say, not wanting to come across as a miserable Christmas grinch. Bridget never complains about her job. She’s one of those super optimistic people with a wonderful work ethic and sometimes I wish I could be more like her. We’re polar opposites, but we got along from the first day I started here, and she makes me laugh when I’m going through stressful times. In the looks department, we couldn’t be more different either. I’m dressed in a pencil skirt, a white blouse and high heels that make up for my height. My black shoulder-length hair is immaculately styled and my ever-present red lipstick reapplied hourly. Bridget is dressed in black slacks, the same white blouse Bergman’s provides, and comfortable black flats. Her dark curls are sitting on top of her head in a messy jumble and she rarely shows off her shapely hourglass figure I’m so envious of.  Even though eating outside the break room is against the store’s policy, she somehow manages to snack all day long without anyone noticing, and she’s constantly on her phone too.

The elevator ride always seems to take forever but there’s something soothing about the silence in here. The ground floor is for jewelry, cosmetics, and Santaland, the first floor is womenswear, the second menswear, the third childrenswear and toys, the fourth interior, the fifth electronics and besides the various staff areas the sixth floor also houses an assortment of restaurants and a small ‘adult’ section.

“Anything saucy?” I ask when I see her grin while scrolling through her messages.

“Yeah. This guy Jack sent me an interesting picture. Wanna see?”

I laugh and raise a brow at her. “Gross no. Unless Jack is short for Jackie, I’m good.” Bridget’s divorce got finalized six months ago, and she’s been hooked on dating apps ever since. “Are you going to meet up with him?”

“Maybe. There’s someone else I like more, but I’m leaving him hanging in case I get a better offer. It’s almost Christmas, so it’s not like we’ll be meeting up until January.” She changes the subject as the elevator stops on the third floor and another staff member steps inside. “Anyway, I know it’s temporary as you just want to earn some extra cash, but how are you finding your first full-time week?”

“It’s actually harder than I thought,” I say. “Tiring more than anything. I don’t know how you do this day in, day out. And especially right now… Fake enthusiasm, the carols and so much sparkle that my eyes hurt.” I rub them demonstratively. “And then there’s Santa downstairs. He’s been undressing me with his eyes each time I walk past and I’m thinking of taking it to HR. He even winked at me the other day. That’s not okay, right?”

“Santa?” Bridget stares at me, open-mouthed.

“Yeah.” I return her stare. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

She laughs as we step out onto the sixth floor. “Santa’s not a man. Santa Claudia as I’m calling her this year is actually a woman.” Reaching the black door that says, ‘staff only’, she swipes her pass and lets us into the small gift-wrapping room that we share with the team of personal shoppers, then switches on the kettle.

“What?” I put the watch aside because wrapping it can wait until we’ve finished this intriguing conversation. Taking a striped candy cane out of the large bowl next to the kettle, I start picking at the wrap while perching on the edge of the table. “You’re messing with me, right?”

“No, I’m not; I saw her in the dressing room this morning.” Bridget adds tea bags to two mugs and taps her fingers impatiently while she waits for the water to boil. “If you came in early and got changed here like you’re supposed to do instead of crossing town in your uniform, you would have seen her too. You know what? Come to think of it, she did look a little…”

“A little what?”

“A little gay?” Bridget chuckles and winks at me while she pours the water and hands me a mug. “It was her energy, I suppose. Not sure how to explain it, but I felt this vibe coming off her.” She quietly studies me to gauge my reaction. “So, the fact that she’s checking you out might not be a bad thing.”

“Even if she’s a woman, that doesn’t mean she can behave like that,” I say, pretending to be unaffected by this new information. Truth is though, whether it be wrong or right, knowing Santa is a woman changes everything. It’s not very often that women flirt with me as they just assume that I’m straight, and I suddenly feel oddly flattered.

“No, I suppose not.” Bridget dips the rest of her cookie in her tea and leans over the table. “Well, if you want my advice, just tell her that you’re not interested. If she doesn’t stop, then take it to HR.”

Chapter 2

Hearing a whistle behind me as I cross the ground floor, I turn around. My mouth falls open when I realize it’s Santa, who’s tidying her ‘workspace’ after her shift.

Santa pulls down her beard to give me a crooked smile while she bends down to pick up a piece of red wrapping paper. The department store gives out small presents and candy to the kids and despite the cleaning team of elves who sweep the floors three times a day, there’s still wrapping paper and pieces of ribbon everywhere. Now that Bergman’s is closed and the kids are gone, Santa’s less subtle with her flirtations and she stares me up and down like I’m dinner.

I walk up to her, pretending to be offended, but I can’t help but smile back when our eyes meet. Hers are very, very blue. “Are you flirting with me, Santa?”

“Maybe.” Santa’s eyes pull into narrow slits and although her beard has snapped back into place, I know there’s an amused expression behind it. “Are you trying to get my attention…” Her big, fake belly bounces as she jumps off the stage and her eyes lower to the name badge on my chest. “Lucy?”

I let out an exasperated gasp and stare at her. “I’m most certainly not.”

“Then why did you just walk past me three times? In that sexy pencil skirt.”

“It’s my work uniform.” I roll my eyes. “I’m sure you’ve noticed all the women here wear it.”

Santa inches closer and lowers her voice. “Not true. Most of the women wear slacks.” She lowers her gaze, resting her eyes on my cleavage. “And even if they do wear a skirt, they certainly don’t wear it like you. Not with killer heels and a white blouse that’s buttoned down just enough to show the edge of a black lace bra.” She points to my legs. “And not with sheer pantyhose. Or are they thigh high stockings? I have a thing for stockings.”

My slight annoyance is replaced by a blush, and I hope the lights from the Christmas tree next to her stage work in my favor. I should be offended by her objectifying me like this but instead, it sends a twitch between my legs. The fact that she’s standing so close doesn’t help either; I can feel her breath on my face and her voice sounds deliciously intimate.

Maybe this whole Christmas spectacle isn’t going to be so bad after all if I have some entertainment in the form of flirtation to look forward to. I’ve seen her smile now; it’s dazzling, and her piercing eyes have captured my curiosity. Ignoring her last question, I shake my head and do my best to paint on a more serious expression. “Do you flirt with all the women who walk past you?”

Santa looks around to make sure no one is listening, and then turns back to me, her eyes burning into mine. “Only with the ones I’d like to fuck.”

“What?” My eyebrows shoot up and I bring a hand to my mouth. I’m a little outraged, my body is doing its own thing and I feel hot and flustered. Being a law student, conflict brews inside me. This is so wrong, yet I seem to like what’s happening here. Subconsciously I rake a hand through my dark hair and wonder if my eyeliner is still in place.

Santa simply shrugs. “You heard me.” Her confidence is through the roof, and I can’t help but laugh because she’s just too much.

“How come no one has reported you to HR yet?”

“You’re the only one I’ve flirted with so far.”

Her flattery is working and although I’m pretty sure she’s lying, I still like her answer. “How do you know I won’t report you?”

“I’m hoping you won’t.” Santa pauses. “I’m hoping you’ll just tell me to back off if I’m overstepping. Tell me, and I’ll leave you alone. Do you want me to stop?”

I decide not to answer her question as I’m not ready to admit how much I’m loving the attention. “How do you even know I’m into women?”

“Trust me, I know. I’ve seen you looking at me.”

“Have you now?” My voice is dripping with sarcasm but truthfully, she’s right. Ever since Bridget told me she was a woman I’ve been on the ground floor an awful lot. Remembering I’m supposed to finish my order, and that there are another six lists for me to complete before midnight, I hold up the box I’m carrying. “Well, I’m just here because I forgot to bring this; It needs adding to a jewelry order. I’m sorry to disappoint you but I wasn’t walking past to get your attention.”

“Hmm…” Santa nods slowly as she finger-combs her long white beard, never taking her eyes off me. “Do you work in the jewelry department?”

“No. I’m a personal shopper. Just getting the Christmas madness out of the way before we close next week.” I study her with an amused smile, not quite ready to leave just yet. Her straightforwardness is setting me on fire, and I don’t even know what she looks like. “But my guess is you’ll be working over Christmas.”

“True. I am Santa after all. I’ll be here until next week, and then I’ll be spreading the Christmas joy in private New York households.” She points to my package. “With bags full of the goodies you’re preparing.”

“Is that how it works? I didn’t know.”

“Yeah. Wealthy people pay good money to escape the Christmas stress. They put in their order, you collect the presents, wrap them up beautifully and personalize them, then someone prepares the Santa bags, and if they pay the extra thousand dollars, Santa personally drops them off on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.” She pats her chest. “With Santa being me and a dozen other Bergman’s Santas.”

I tilt my head and study her. “Forgive me for saying this, but I’m actually surprised Bergman’s gave you the gig; you’re not the most convincing Santa I’ve ever seen.”

Now it’s Santa’s turn to gasp, and she pulls down her beard again, giving me sight of luscious lips and a neat row of very white teeth. “Are you saying I suck at being Santa?”

I laugh and shake my head in amusement. “Come on; you have to admit that your beard and your glasses aren’t the best props and despite the subtle face paint, you still look too young. I just think that they could have easily found someone a little more convincing. Plus, you’re a woman.” Holding up a hand, I add: “Truthfully, I didn’t register the fact that you’re a woman at first, but surely the kids must notice when they sit on your lap and hear your voice.”

“You mean this voice?” she says, putting on a low and raspy voice that sends a chill down my spine. She climbs back on stage and sits down on her sleigh, her arms resting on the ornate, red velvet covered armrests. When she widens her legs, hunches her back and leans forward, her whole demeanor changes and I must admit that she’s actually very good. “It may be my first time as Santa and I might have to get some better glue for my beard as toddlers keep pulling at it, but believe me; the kids love me and they totally fall for it,” she continues in her Santa voice, drawing the words out slowly like an old man would.

I’m silent for a beat, admittedly impressed by her performance. “Okay, you sound pretty convincing.”

“Thank you.” Santa’s gaze drops to my legs again, no doubt still wondering about my stockings, before she turns her attention to the package I now have clutched against my chest. “So, what have you got in that little box, Lucy? Want to come sit on Santa’s lap and share?” 

My manager calls my name from the bauble section, and I straighten myself and clear my throat, letting Santa know our conversation is over. Fuck. Her request has aroused me and now all I can think of is sitting on her lap.

“No, I have work to do.” Curious to find out what she looks like without her Santa disguise, I’m contemplating going up to the dressing room for a while, assuming she’ll be there to get changed, but I really don’t have time. “What’s your name?”

“Zelda.”

“Oh.” I kind of expected her to stay in her Santa role and I’m pleasantly surprised that she didn’t. “I like it.” Giving my manager a wave to let her know I’m coming, I add: “It was interesting to meet you, Zelda. I’ll see you around.”

Chapter 3

It’s two a.m. by the time I’m in bed. Even naked on top of the covers, I’m warm and I wonder if I turned the heating up too high. After a quick shower and a pack of instant noodles, I still feel shaky and I realize it’s not from hunger or tiredness.

Santa—or Zelda—has my mind spinning with fantasies and I know I won’t be able to sleep unless I can find a way to relax. Replaying our conversation and remembering her smile, an intense flash of arousal shoots to my pussy, making my body ache with need.

‘Only with women I want to fuck.’ Jesus, could she have been any more direct? It’s been a while since I was so sexually drawn to someone. Sure, I’ve had the occasional fling here and there, but I don’t remember the last time I craved someone that specifically or fantasized about sex. I’ve only talked to her once but clearly that was enough for her to capture my undivided attention. God, I’m a sucker. One day I’m considering reporting her and the next, I’m having erotic daydreams about her.

Confused and conflicted, I let out a deep sigh as I glance at the pile of draft application letters for legal internships on the desk opposite the bed. I need to make sure they’re absolutely perfect before I post them in January, and I planned on editing at least one of them tonight but I’m too tired to move. I asked for overtime in my winter break so I’d have a small financial buffer for next year, when I’ll be doing internships and may have to cut down my hours at Bergman’s. Once I graduate and have my J.D, I’ll hopefully find a job as a paralegal while I focus on my bar exam, and then I can finally quit working as a personal shopper.

Studying is time-consuming and women have been the last thing on my mind for the past three years. Bridget keeps telling me that I should be dating at twenty-seven, but I just don’t know where to find the time and anyway, I’m never interested in taking it beyond the first night.

Unlike most people in my class, I don’t come from a wealthy family, and although I have a scholarship, I still have to work on the side to pay for the rent on my dorm room and to cover my living costs. Lucky for me, my lovely but noisy roommate Shelley is with her parents over the Christmas break, and the silence is blissful without her laughing out loud while she watches Netflix in bed and crunches her way through at least three packets of potato chips a night.

Between studying and my part-time job, there’s little time left for fun and I’m okay with that. Shelley and Bridget keep me entertained when I need it, and with only one year left before I graduate, I don’t want to waste money I don’t have. I’ll start having fun once I receive my first proper paycheck and I’m already dreaming about splashing out on some expensive lingerie before meeting co-workers for cocktails downtown. I’ve worked hard to get to where I am and I usually won’t allow myself to get distracted, but Zelda is distracting beyond belief and I’m loving it.

I can’t even say it’s a physical thing as I’ve only seen her in her Santa disguise. No, the attraction is different with her. It’s her energy and her confidence that is drawing me in. Her boldness and playfulness have me curious, and there’s so much I want to know. Why is she working as Santa? What’s her background? Her name is interesting, and I can’t imagine traditional parents naming their child Zelda. But most importantly—what does she look like? All I know is that she has an amazing smile, intense blue eyes, and that she’s into women, of course. Somehow, she knew I was, too.

Most people assume I’m straight, as I look very feminine. My hair is always immaculately styled and my signature feline black eyeliner and red lipstick never out of place. I’ve been told many times my near-black eyes are my selling point, which is why I accentuate them. With a beautiful Venezuelan mother and from what I’ve heard, a very average looking American father, I’m lucky to have my mother’s exotic looks.

Even when I’m not at Bergman’s, I tend to wear the same type of clothes I wear at work; pencil skirts, white blouses and black heels. Keeping it simple and timeless is key as I don’t have the budget to stay on top of fashion, but I need to look presentable in class. I guess you could say I look fairly conservative, although some—like Zelda—may argue that it’s rather sexy. My thigh high stockings—Zelda was right about them—are my only small form of rebellion. What I wear under my clothes is a treat to myself, my little secret, which is why I never get dressed at work. The black, lace bodice that I wore today is extremely low-cut at the front and with the matching garter belt, my lingerie is not meant for my colleagues to see.

A shiver runs through me as I imagine Zelda pulling me onto her lap and finding what’s underneath my skirt as she hikes it up with her white-gloved hands. Is she into lingerie? I’d be surprised if she wasn’t. With another week to go before Bergman’s closes for Christmas, it’s likely that we’ll see each other a lot in passing, and I might even get the opportunity to talk to her again. I might even get the chance to sit on her lap… That last thought drives me crazy and unable to stand the throbbing in my pussy any longer, I blindly reach for the vibrator on my nightstand, turn it on to the highest setting, and slide it between my legs. With Shelley gone, I’ve been using it every night, grateful for the privacy I’m so rarely blessed with. A groan escapes me as the device hits my clit, and I slowly roll my hips as I get used to the intense vibrations that will soon soothe my aching need. As I slide it up and down between my folds, covering my pussy in my own juices, my thoughts are with Zelda. I think of kissing her and it only takes me seconds to balance on the edge of an orgasm. Fuck. Why am I so into her? Removing the vibrator, I lie very still, my breathing quick and heavy as I stare up at the ceiling. Withholding is hard, but I know it will make my orgasm way more intense if I do.

After a minute or so, I slowly bring the vibrator back down and try to concentrate on the memory of Zelda’s lips that flashed a smile at me when she pulled down her beard. God, what I wouldn’t give to have those lips between my legs right now. This toy is great, but nothing compares to the real thing. I moan as my climax builds, and I lift my hips with a quick intake of breath. Shaking wildly, I let the warm waves of ecstasy wash over me while I murmur a curse. As expected, it’s intense and the throbbing in my clit almost hurts before it slowly starts to subside, bringing me back to reality. I breathe in deeply and run a hand over my swollen pussy, drawing out the last aftershocks until I finally fall asleep.

Curious to find out what will happen between Lucy and Santa?

‘Santa’s Favorite’ is now available for pre-order!

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