page 76

The days sped by, filled with show upon show of The Nutcracker. Our last performance was on Christmas Eve, and the theatre was packed.

The energy was amazing. The audience was just as spellbound as I was, and when the final note played they burst into applause.

A few people stood up, and then there was a wave of motion. I felt my eyes widen. A standing ovation.

We bowed ourselves silly, and even though I was a tired wreck I grinned so widely my face started hurting.

By the time I got cleaned up and Bea did my makeup in the dressing rooms, we just managed to squeeze into one of the dancers’ already-crowded cars as it headed off, following a line of others to wherever it was the afterparty was being held.

I had to say, the Ballet really did love to party. It didn’t help that Bea had put me into a scanty red minidress lined with white fur and a matching Santa hat. I even had long red, high-heeled boots on.

She really liked to put me in uncomfortable situations, but I managed to bask in the attention.

We arrived at a bar and everyone piled out, heading in and starting the festivities.

People quickly started getting drunk. I didn’t touch any alcohol but I felt tipsy anyways, half from the night’s success and half from the wildness of the troupe members. Bea’s makeup magic had gotten me plenty of drink offers, but I politely declined.

I was going to use the bathroom but found Vera and some unfortunate drunk dancer I didn’t know going at it, and coughed awkwardly before backtracking.

I only stayed a few hours, seeing as I had somewhere to be, and headed outside when I found that it was time to leave.

Naturally, Bea wasn’t there and instead of going back to look for her I just pulled out my phone and dialed Raphael’s number, taking the candy cane out of my mouth.

“Sutton speaking.”

“I’m at...576 Derringer street. Pick me up?”

“I’ll be there momentarily.”

I hugged myself to fight off the cold, standing in the doorway so that the heat hit me. Gus was having a small Christmas party, and I didn’t want to miss it for a chance to party with the troupe.

Besides, he’d come to watch on opening night and I wanted to thank him personally.

When the Ferrari pulled up I ran towards it and hopped in before Raphael could open the door for me, turning up the heating with a contented sigh.

I noticed him eying my hat and grinned, cocking my head to the side.

“Merry Christmas, sunshine.”

“Merry indeed.” He replied, “I didn’t think that I was going to meet Kris....or Kate Kringle on Christmas Eve.”

“Would you like to sit in my lap?” I asked innocently, enjoying the look of surprise on his face.

I licked the candy cane still in my hand seductively, watching his eyes following my tongue.

Raphael realized quickly that I was toying with him and turned to the road, sighing.

“That is a nice dress, you know.” He said noncommittally, “But...”

“But?”

“I think it would look nicer on my bedroom floor.”

My chest was buzzing, but I was determined not to let him gain the upper hand.

“I guess I’ll have to add you to the naughty list, then.”

“You haven’t even asked me what I want for Christmas.” He protested, smiling sinfully.

“Fine, then, what do you want for Christmas?” I asked, humouring him only out of my curiosity.

“You, of course.”

I’d walked straight into that one. I kept playing along for the sake of it.

“I’m a busy woman, don’t you know? I’ll be heading back to the North Pole soon.”

“Oh, I don’t think I’d mind seeing you with a pole.”

Jeez, for someone so sophisticated he sure had his brain deep in the gutter!

“You are definitely getting a lump of coal this year.”

“I don’t mind.” He replied, “So long I get to see your stockings too.”

The heat was way too high, and I felt blazing drunk despite the fact that I was sober.

“You naughty, naughty boy.”

“You’re not half-bad yourself, Kate.”

“Just drop me off at my apartment, will you? I have to get changed.”

“All good things come to an end, I suppose.” He smirked, turning to the road.

I looked out the window, hoping to cool down my head with the sight of the snow. I couldn’t believe I’d just had that conversation. 

The End

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