Barnabee struggles with telling Julian the truth about his origins. With events moving so quickly, he has to come clean. While their newfound love is a Christmas miracle, can Julian accept Barnabee for what he is? And when the sheriff comes knocking to bring Barnabee back to Holly Town, what will Barnabee decide? Can this reindeer's Christmas wish be realized or is he up the gingerbread creek without a candy cane?
"If you like imagining what it would be like if Santa Claus and all his helpers were real supernatural beings, if two men from different worlds getting along fabulously are your thing, and if you're looking for a read that is cute, conflict-free, and very sweet, then you might like this short story."
-- Serena Yates, Rainbow Book Reviews
Excerpt from "Sleigh Balls"
It was four a.m. on Christmas morning. The land remained swathed in a blanket of darkness and cold. Outside the snowstorm of the century raged and was predicted to dump at least three feet of the white stuff on the countryside.
Sure, he would wake up to a white Christmas, but it held no joy for him. He had scheduled a business trip, but with the storm he had to cancel. Not that his work couldn't wait, but he didn't want to be home alone on Christmas. It was better if he kept himself busy and didn't think about the emptiness.
The sound came once more. He roused himself and peered out of the window. Swirling flakes of snow filled the air. Trees were bent over, weighted down by the blizzard and the ice from the previous day's melt. At the end of the cul-de-sac where he resided, cars were nestled in their driveways, all snuggled away for their owners to dig them out. His was tucked in the garage. The blink of his neighbor's Christmas lights caught his attention on the roof next door from the sleigh display they had mounted on the roof. Julian moved away from the window and it hit him. The neighbors were spending the holidays in Bermuda and hadn't decorated this year. He looked out once more.
The reindeer actually moved on the roof.
I'm not seeing this. He rubbed his eyes to make sure he wasn't sleeping and realized he wasn't. The deer were larger than anything he had seen before, but so was the sleigh. It seemed to be the size of an eighteen wheeler and yet it fit on the roof of a house. The reindeer were the size of buffalo except, for the lead deer which actually had a red glowing nose that cut through the darkness like a mega flood light. He shielded his eyes when it hit him. Julian watched the sleigh move off of the roof and come toward his house.
The entire building shook. He gazed up at the ceiling and heard a voice muttering in the darkness. He pressed himself to the window and twisted his head up to see if he could make out anything else. Something moved downstairs in his living room where his tree was. He wanted to race down the steps to see if he could spot the red-suited man himself, but instead another large thump hit the roof. A blur rolled off his roof by the window. Julian gazed outside. Something had just landed on his row of holly bushes and then onto the lawn.
Bells jingled above him in the snow sparkled sky.
He looked up, but the sleigh had disappeared from sight. Peering back down, Julian realized a man was sprawled on his lawn. He shoved his feet into his ancient cat slippers and grabbed his robe. He rushed down the stairs and opened the door. A blast of cold air hit him so he could barely catch his breath. However, he sucked it up and waded through the foot and a half of snow to the man who appeared to be some deranged snow angel.
Julian poked him with his foot. "Hey."
The google eyes on his slippers wiggled into a menacing stare. The man moaned. At least he's alive. Julian examined the roof and noticed the trail where the stranger had bowled down and landed on his bushes. Although the evidence of it was already being covered up by the snow. I can't leave him out here to freeze to death. In the pale light, it was easy to see the man had gone through something. If he really did fall out of Santa's sleigh, then there had to be something to him.
I can't believe I'm doing this. He lifted the man from under his arms and slowly dragged him through the snow back to his front door. Julian's feet were freezing, and his cat slippers' fake fur was plastered to their furry blue bodies. lf they had been real cats, they would have been hissing at him. He closed the door to his house and locked it.
He brought the stranger into his living room and got him up on the couch. The light from his tree gave Julian enough illumination to see this man had been in a fight recently. Both of his eyes were black and his lip was swollen. Although underneath all the bruises, he was handsome. And there was something else Julian couldn't put his finger on.
The man murmured something indistinguishable. Motivated by cold and being wet himself, Julian dashed to the fireplace and flicked the switch to get the gas going. When he came back up, he hit his head on one of the stockings he had hung.
It was full. It had been empty when he hung it. He looked over to the bare tree he had erected a couple of days ago and an array of different size presents were now visible under the plastic boughs.
He really did come to visit me...