When Jake introduced me to the concept of secret Santa, I was sure, painfully so, that it had to be something kinky.
Call it the story of my life, the itching on my bones. A person doesn't get involved in at least five murder investigations, a shooting or two, have a heart attack close to an operation date, without picking up a thread of sarcasm and possible psychic power.
Jake still had friends, not that I’ve seen very many of them, and I had my own. But the number of willing secret Santa participants was suspiciously low. Further fueling my notion of this obviously being a kink scheme in a private club somewhere, where leather daddys were all laughing themselves silly at the non-practitioner in the art of pain, playing father Christmas with all of them.
Jake remained, Jake, and frustratingly silent on all my speculations. Which was a new trait of his that I loved to hate, his loss of patience with me was something I never thought would sort of fade away.
Apparently I was some sort of secret glutton for punishment. Not in a physical sense. Never.
Jake’s detective instincts told him I was spying on him, and they were right, I needed to be inspired for my own secret Santa gift, and if kinkdom was the theme, my only source of decent information was the one who snored softly next to me in bed.
But he was like the ninja to my pirate, quite elusive.
Which is when I thought backup would be handy, and enlisted the help of author, friend, and master of the art of paranoia and suspicion, Christopher Holmes. The raging monster of jealousy that was author J.X. needed no sort of prodding in joining the game. Christopher wasn’t enthused about the prospect of gifting strangers, but my plight and plea, doctored with my suspicions and theory, won him over.
I shuddered to think about a Miss Butterwith book with whips and chains, but figured the greater good would prevail. Then I recalled her expertise in botany, and my own research into ginger roots and figging and wished my mind would turn off sometimes.
No one liked to be made a fool of, and no one wanted to be manipulated into anything, and I wasn’t facing either, just this weird inkling that I was being tested, and wining would be affirmation, and losing would be? Losing would be the providence of what boring is, especially now that all my challenges seemed to be, purely domestic.
It was with a few glasses of drink, one eye covered, and an incredibly early hour that I made my online purchase at an online sex toy shop, curtsey of Guy, and his lust-crazed, sex-magic brain addled Harry Potter.
The gift-wrap option saved me from traipsing around the house with it and dealing with the wrapping myself. The would all be sent to a friend of Jake’s who would then randomly shuffle them towards different recipients.
Dooms day, or Christmas, which was spent home, despite Lisa’s wishes for us to join in on their celebration, arrived.
There were two boxes that lacked an actual sender’s name, one in Jake’s name, and one in mine.
The golden wrapping was accented with a wide, red and cream sash, thin golden threads weaved in. The card simply said, Happy Holidays.
The cards were both the same, probably the handy work of Jake’s friend. I tried to rattle the box, hoping for a cue, when Jake’s presence, amidst the delicious smells of food, made themselves pronounced. Task abandoned, I went to stock up on fuel for my body and something for my soul.
It was much later, after warm food, languid kisses and a few stray and eager hands, did we sit down for the task of opening our surprises. I waited for Jake to open his, unexpectedly excited about what it held, being proven right, and that one continuous thought of triumph driving me mad.
The cuff-links were elegant, not really Jake’s style, golden and tipped with a black stone. I willed my mind not to come up with a kinky use for them. Maybe a nipple thing? Ugh.
I worked the wrapper off, pealing it back and revealing a normal box, padded with shredded paper and several rolls of...
Cat socks. In every color I’d never wear, were socks that had cats on them. There was a chocked, pained sound coming from Jake’s direction, that I didn’t want to analyze, lest I flung all my socks at him.
I leaned back into the couch, digging fingertips on both sides of my temple, and sighed.
“You could have just said something.” I glared at Jake.
“And deprive you of a mystery?”
I snorted, always the scout. I paused my brain massage and wondered who’d managed to get my gift?
Little did I know that miles away in Frisco, Kit was cowering in a corner of his new house, staving off the wicked advances of a J.X., armed with a pink ball gag.