The Santa Dash: Part Four by Victoria Cornwall

Round Robin vc

There’s been so much mystery and intrigue in this Round Robin that we honestly have had no clue where it’s going to go next! But no the Santas are on the run and it’s time for Victoria Cornwall to take up the reins for the penultimate part of our story…

Remember to read right until the end if you want to take part in today’s competition. In order to enjoy the story, make sure you read Part One by Kathryn Freeman HERE, Part Two by Clare Chase HERE and Part Three by Jane Lovering HERE before you start on Victoria’s extract.

The Santa Dash: Part Four

Sally, who had somehow hitched a lift with two burly rugby players, enthusiastically waved at Ellie as she passed her. Ellie smiled and waved back, but, in reality, she was struggling. Her trousers billowed like two elongated balloons whenever the sea wind caught her and if she was not careful she was at risk of being blown off course. It was time to sort them out or she would never finish the race.

Ellie attempted to hitch them up as she jogged, but her suit had other ideas and fought back. Thanks to one dragging trouser hem, a mistimed step and being temporarily blinded by her hat, Ellie finally tripped up and went sprawling to the floor. Self preservation made her keep her head down, as a few trailing Santas jumped over her prone body. Finally, when all the grunting and puffing around her went quiet, she dared to look up. A Santa, with a large stomach that swayed to its own rhythm, was running towards her. Relief flooded through her when she saw it was Jamie.

He squatted beside her. ‘Are you hurt or are you just taking a rest?’ Despite the quip he looked genuinely concerned.

Ellie sat up and removed her beard. Well, a girl could only take so much.

‘I think I’ve twisted my ankle a bit,’ she said, testing the movement inside her boot. Her boot was so big it didn’t even move. Ellie winced and pulled off her hat too. ‘I’m not going to finish now. My ankle is not too bad, but I can’t run on it.’ Ellie felt as miserable as she sounded. She had hoped to raise money for her ward and now she would have to face everyone and confess she hadn’t finished.

‘Are you sponsored too?’ asked Jamie. Ellie looked up at him and was surprised to discover that he was gazing at her lips.

‘Yes,’ she whispered. He really did have the bluest eyes. They were the sort of eyes that entered your soul and touched something deep inside you.

Jamie swallowed and looked up to meet her own lingering gaze. He suddenly smiled. It was enough to break the spell that held her.

‘No problem,’ he said cheerfully under his beard, ‘I have an idea.’ Ellie noticed the glint in his eyes had returned and grew wary. ‘Don’t look so worried,’ he reassured her. ‘I’ll carry you.’

Ellie found herself looking at the world upside down, ‘You are a fireman, aren’t you?’ she asked, speaking to the profile of a well shaped bottom in scarlet trousers. He also had good taste in cologne, as he smelt far better than any Santa she had ever met before … or any other man, come to that.

‘How did you guess?’

‘Just had an inkling.’ She tried to crane her neck to look at him. He looked so serious and determined. He was a man on a mission to finish the race … or he was finding her too heavy. She hoped it wasn’t the latter. ‘Is that why you’re so well known?’ she asked.

‘I think it has more to do with F.A.C.E.’

‘Face?’

‘Firemen Against Christmas Exclusion.’ Jamie repositioned her slightly which made her grunt in a very unladylike way. She hoped he hadn’t noticed. ‘We raise money to ensure families who have lost their homes to fire have Christmas presents for their children.’

Ellie smiled. ‘That explains a lot.’ She wanted to ask more questions, but Jamie was beginning to puff. Talking, while running and carrying a woman, was perhaps too much to ask for, which was a pity as she would love to know what music he liked. Did he have a pet? A girlfriend? A wife? Oh please, not a wife! Despite their physical closeness of having his arm threaded through her thighs and one of her legs hitched over his shoulder, she felt she might be taking advantage of the situation if she asked too many questions right now. She returned her gaze to his bottom and fought the urge to play it like a bongo drum. This race was turning out rather fun after all.

Jamie came to a stop and eased Ellie off his shoulder. They had passed the finish line and she hadn’t even noticed or cared. Perhaps he would finally take off his beard and she would see the face of the man who had carried her. They stood for a moment, looking at each other with renewed interest. His hands still held hers to keep her steady, although they both knew she could stand without him.

‘Jamie!’ shrieked a woman’s voice. They turned to see Melissa hurrying up to them, her auburn locks flowing gracefully in the wind. Jamie let go Ellie’s hands and braced himself while Ellie absently ran her hand through her own hair. Her fingers snagged on a knot and she hastily gave up.

‘Melissa,’ Jamie breathed as his face drained of all colour.

‘You know her?’ asked Ellie, needlessly.

‘Yes,’ he replied, his voice as brittle as ice. ‘She was my fiancé, until that smarmy git came along.’

‘Which smarmy git?’ asked Ellie as she noticed Julian heading their way.

Jamie followed her gaze, ‘That smarmy git,’ he replied, his jaw tightening.

Ellie’s heart sank. Julian wasn’t as perfect as he claimed to be and Jamie still had feelings for his ex. It was going to be a Santa bloodbath when they met. Evie looked up to the sky for divine intervention. She wished she was anywhere but here, preferably on some exotic beach with a Pina Colada in her hand. Instead she saw David, the ward porter, dressed in a Santa suit and gesticulating wildly as he floated down towards her.  He was doing his first sponsored parachute jump, and more worryingly still, he was heading straight for her.

Now that’s a cliffhanger and a half! Will Ellie choose Jamie or Julian, or are both men off-limits? And, more importantly, will she be knocked out by a falling Santa? Have to admit we might have decided on our favourite between Jamie and Julian now ;)

Come back tomorrow for the final part of the story by Laura E. James!

COMPETITION TIME

If you enjoyed Victoria’s writing, why not try and win a digital copy of her upcoming novel, The Thief’s Daughter … we’ll even throw in some Christmas chocolate too!

To be in with a chance of winning, simply read Victoria’s extract and answer this question …

What is the name of the organisation Jamie is a part of, and what do they do?

If you know the answer, email it to info@choc-lit.co.uk. The winner will be selected at random and will be announced at the end of the week. Good luck!

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Read the final part of the story by Laura E. James HERE.

The Santa Dash: Part Three by Jane Lovering

Round Robin

Clare Chase left us at the starting line of the Santa Dash yesterday – now it’s time to take a run with Jane Lovering for today’s Christmas Round Robin instalment! Who is the mystery woman, and why is Julian acting so shifty? 

Remember to read right until the end if you want to take part in today’s competition. In order to enjoy the story, make sure you read Part One by Kathryn Freeman HERE and Part Two by Clare Chase HERE before you start on Jane’s extract. 

The Santa Dash – Part Three

Suddenly Ellie found herself in a confused melee of red suits and white nylon hair as the more sporty of the dashing Santas took off along the prom. For a moment she lost sight of everyone she knew, found herself spun around by the press of bodies around her, disorientated and even ran a few steps in the wrong direction to the amusement of the watching crowd. Her hat had slipped down over her eyes again and her beard was riding up to meet it, so she could only see the world through a reddish hairy filter and wondered, idly, as she managed to get herself facing the right way, if this was what Hell would look like from inside.  Probably less hirsute, she thought, getting her legs under control and managing a credible jog considering the vast amount of stuffing she’d shoved under her jacket for verisimilitude. Sally had tried to tell her that the Santa Dash wasn’t aiming for absolute Santa-ness, it was the Dash that was important, but Ellie suspected that was just so that Sally could get away with something more figure-hugging, since Julian was going to be there.

Where was Julian?  Ellie peered around the crowd of bobbing hats and beards. Surely he’d be somewhere out in front, after all he regularly played in the hospital rugby team and, judging by his muscles, must also work out.  She puffed a little bit, her padding was working its way around to the back as she ran and the beard was itchy, plus the little black boots that came with the outfit didn’t have very much grip.

‘Good sea air!’

The voice came from next to her and Ellie saw Jamie, recognisable from the way his eyes were gleaming atop the beard.

‘Sorry?’ She was a bit ashamed to find herself puffing more.

‘Nothing like a run in the sea air to clear the tubes.’  He didn’t seem to be even mildly out of breath, jogging along beside her as though this was a gentle stroll.

They ran along together for a moment, buffeted by the faster Santas who, scenting the finish line further along the esplanade, had picked up speed.

‘So,’ Ellie felt duty bound to make conversation, although she had to admit, this was perhaps the most bizarre place she’d ever found herself doing ‘polite chat’, ‘how do you come to know Julian?’

Jamie did a peculiar double-step, at first Ellie thought he’d stumbled, but he turned out to be avoiding a woman pushing a buggy with two small children in.  To Ellie’s surprise, the woman saw Jamie and gave him a big, beaming smile.

‘Oh, it’s you!’ she said, and Jamie slowed down. ‘Sorry! Didn’t mean to be in the way, but Liam was just so excited to see the Santas running …’

Jamie gave her a grin in return. ‘No worries, Gemma,’ he said, and Ellie was only mildly annoyed to notice that he wasn’t even breathing hard. ‘Nice to see you. But I’d better …’ he gestured to the mass of gently heaving red nylon that was surging ahead. ‘Sponsored, you see.’

‘Do you know everyone?’ Ellie panted, hoping her face wasn’t quite as red as her suit yet, but figuring that most of it was concealed by her beard anyway.

‘Not quite. Only the less – how shall I put it – less financially fortunate,’ Jamie turned to her and his eyes were positively gleaming. ‘After all, I don’t know you yet, do I? Coffee, after the run?’

And, without waiting for an answer, he put his head down and began running, overtaking the back markers of the pack and weaving his way through. Ellie watched the white bobble on his hat making its way through the runners.

When she turned her head to try to catch her breath, she saw that Melissa, the gorgeous red-head who’d been talking to Julian, was standing alongside the taped off track. And her eyes were also following Jamie’s running figure, with an expression somewhere between hero-worship and despair.

Ooh, the plot thickens! Join us tomorrow for another instalment from one of our debut authors, Victoria Cornwall!

COMPETITION TIME

If you enjoyed Jane’s writing, why not try and win a copy of her novel, I Don’t Want To Talk About It … we’ll even throw in some Christmas chocolate too!

To be in with a chance of winning, simply read Jane’s extract and answer this question …

Who does Jamie have to sidestep to avoid running into during the Santa Dash? 

If you know the answer, email it to info@choc-lit.co.uk. The winner will be selected at random and will be announced at the end of the week. Good luck!

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Read Part Four by Victoria Cornwall HERE

The Santa Dash: Part Two by Clare Chase

Round Robin

Kathryn Freeman started us off with a Santa Dash yesterday, and now Clare Chase is taking us right up to the starting line. And just what will happen with those two rival Santas? Will Ellie have to choose between them? ;)

Remember to read right until the end if you’d like to take part in our competition! In order for the story to make sense, you will need to read Part One by Kathryn Freeman first, which can be found HERE.

The Santa Dash – PART TWO

Ellie felt a blush creep up her neck. Thank goodness her Santa beard was so thick. But the guy’s flattery didn’t entirely distract her. What was his connection with Julian? Suddenly, she realised she’d left an awkward pause in their conversation. ‘What were you doing anyway, running before everyone else had started?’ she said, quickly.

‘Ah!’ His eyes were twinkling again. ‘Yes, sorry about that. I got a bit held up and I didn’t want to miss the start of the race. My phone’s at home and,’ he tapped his wrist, ‘my watch packed up a week ago so I couldn’t check the time. I don’t need to clock watch for work so I haven’t got around to getting it fixed.’

Ellie was about to ask him what he did when an elderly lady with a blue rinse squeezed her way between two especially rotund Santas.

‘Ah there you are, Jamie,’ she said, beaming up at the man Ellie had knocked over. ‘It took me ages to spot you in the crowd. I’m so glad I didn’t make you miss the race. I wanted to thank you again.’

Ellie wondered what ‘Jamie’ was being thanked for, but at that moment, Julian tore himself away from the gaggle of women who’d surrounded him and caught her eye, his handsome features made all the more irresistible by a smile. Within a moment he’d ushered her towards the front of the throng of Santas. ‘Don’t want to get stuck at the back with the stragglers, do we?’ His hand was still on her shoulder as he guided her into the front row of queueing runners. ‘I hope Jamie wasn’t making a nuisance of himself.’ She noticed his jaw was taut now, and his smile had faded. ‘I’d be curious to know what he said about me.’

Ellie felt the warmth of his hand through her Santa suit. It was definitely lingering on her shoulder longer than was necessary. She tried to concentrate on what he was asking. ‘Well, I gathered you’re not the best of friends, but he didn’t seem keen to talk about it.’

Julian’s smile was back. ‘No, well, he wouldn’t. Whatever he told you wouldn’t reflect well on him. Still if he didn’t elaborate, I won’t either.’ He moved his hand from her shoulder and touched what would have been her cheek, but was currently just nylon beard. She squirmed with embarrassment. It really was too unfair that she was finally within a hair’s breadth of him – dressed as a fat, ageing man with glue-on eyebrows. ‘Don’t worry,’ he said, as though reading her mind. ‘You carry off facial hair very nicely.’

At that moment, Ellie noticed a woman with cascading auburn locks that shone in the winter sun. She was standing at the edge of the Santa dash course, wearing a mini skirt, suede jacket and long boots. Distressingly, she seemed to be trying to attract Julian’s attention. When the woman caught her eye and gesticulated, Ellie realised she’d have to give in and let him know.

‘I think someone in the crowd’s waving at you,’ she said, nudging him and pointing.

Julian looked round and spotted the glamorous woman. As Ellie watched she was surprised to see him look startled, and then hesitate before responding. It took at least five seconds for him to muster a smile.

‘Melissa!’ He shouted at last. ‘I’d no idea you’d be here.’

‘Mum said you were running. I thought it would be a hoot to come along and see you. Mind you, I imagined it would be much harder to pick you out.  I might have known you’d barge your way to the front though. Why on earth aren’t you wearing a beard?’

Rather than replying, Ellie noticed Julian suddenly seemed preoccupied with the crowd of Santas behind them. His brow was furrowed and his shoulders tensed as he craned round. She followed his gaze, and found she was looking into the eyes of Jamie, three rows behind them. Then, after a second, Julian looked back at the woman called Melissa again.

‘What is it, Julian?’ Ellie asked.

Suddenly his eyes were back on her. ‘Nothing,’ he said.

And at that moment, a man with a loud hailer distracted them both. ‘Marks, set, go!’

Curiouser and curiouser! Of course Clare Chase’s part was going to end with a bit of a mystery! Can’t wait for tomorrow when Jane Lovering will be taking us for the next mile in our Santa Dash … 

COMPETITION TIME

If you enjoyed Clare’s writing, why not try and win a copy of her novel, You Think You Know Me … we’ll even throw in some Christmas chocolate too!

To be in with a chance of winning, simply read Clare’s extract and answer this question …

What is the mystery woman’s name? 

If you know the answer, email it to info@choc-lit.co.uk. The winner will be selected at random and will be announced at the end of the week. Good luck!

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Read Part Three by Jane Lovering HERE

The Santa Dash: Part One by Kathryn Freeman

Round Robin

Ho ho ho! Not long until the big day and we’ll be with you right up until the 23rd with our fab Christmas Round Robin story – it’s super fun and Christmassy and we know you’re just going to love it! What’s more we’ll be running a Christmas competition every day this week too. Read to the end of the story to find out how to enter!

Kathryn Freeman starts us off and sets the scene. It’s time for a Santa Dash …

The Santa Dash: Part One

Ellie scanned the sea of red and white bodies crowding on to the sea front and started to giggle. There couldn’t be many sights more bizarre than the town’s annual Santa Dash. In ten minutes time there would be over a hundred Santa’s of all shapes and sizes, running – sometimes waddling – along the prom, all in the aid of local charities.

Sally elbowed her. ‘Hey, what are you grinning at?’

Ellie turned to her friend, white Santa beard hanging precariously from her mouth, red hat nearly in her eyes. ‘Just thinking how ridiculous we all look.’ Unconsciously she glanced across to the one member of their incongruous Santa line-up who still managed to look good. ‘Well, nearly all of us.’

Sally followed the direction of her gaze and sighed. ‘I reckon Dr Faulkner could dress like a turkey and still look amazing.’

Julian Faulkner was the new consultant in charge of their A&E unit. Six foot one inches of dark, brooding gorgeousness. And did she mention single?

With her eyes trained on the suave consultant, who had rather cheated by not wearing a beard or hat, or indeed anything to disguise the athletic frame beneath his red Santa suit, Ellie didn’t notice the Santa who’d started his dash a little too early. And in the wrong direction.

With a shriek she ploughed into him, knocking him clean off his feet. He landed on the promenade with a mighty thump, the air rushing out of his lungs as he let out a strangled groan.

‘Oh my God, are you okay?’

Feeling terrible, Ellie crouched over him and started to check him for broken bones. ‘It’s okay. I’m a nurse.’

A pair of blue eyes blinked up at her. With his hat and white beard covering most of his face, the eyes were all she could see of him.

To her shock, they looked like they were laughing at her.

‘What?’ she demanded, miffed since she’d been so concerned about him.

‘Sorry.’ His voice was muffled by his beard. ‘Just wondering what we must look like to passers by. You know, Father Christmas lying prostate on the floor and Mother Christmas straddling him. Hope no kids are watching.’

Ellie looked down and gasped in horror. Oh boy, in her rush to check he was okay she’d practically crawled on top of him. Hastily she scrambled to her feet. ‘Well it looks like I don’t have to worry about you. You don’t sound in pain.’

‘I think I’ll live.’ Those eyes, a vivid blue against the stark white fluff of his hat and beard, smiled as he gingerly climbed to his feet. ‘It’s been a while since a gorgeous woman has swept me off my feet.’

Ellie felt another giggle coming on but it was squashed at the sound of a deep voice behind her. One she’d recognise anywhere.

‘Everything okay over here?’

Her brain froze, as it always seemed to do when Julian was around. Luckily Sally answered for them. ‘Ellie just knocked over Father Christmas.’

‘Ellie?’ Julian’s dark eyes swept over her, making her pulse race.

‘I’m good.’ Heavens, she sounded like a mouse. She cleared her throat. ‘Thank you. It’s Father Christmas I was worried about.’

The man in question was busy trying to realign his disheveled red suit. After tugging his padded belly back into position over his shiny black belt, he finally looked up. Blue eyes that had danced at her, looked stormy as he turned to Julian.

‘Well, well. If it isn’t Dr Faulkner.’ He let out a short laugh as he surveyed Julian’s outfit. ‘It’s not really a Santa Dash for you, is it mate? You’re more Man in a Red Suit.’

Julian gave the blue-eyed stranger a cool smile and ran his eyes deliberately up and down the other man’s crumpled red suit. ‘At least I have the dash part down. You never could manage that.’

Ellie heard blue eyes muttering under his breath. Words like stuck up and arrogant prick were clearly audible but Julian wasn’t looking at the man uttering them. The focus of his gaze was entirely on her. ‘Shall we go to the start line?’

Feeling ridiculously giddy, she nodded. ‘Umm, yes. Of course.’

With Sally nowhere to be seen, Ellie started to follow Julian but within seconds his tall figure was swallowed up by the Santa swarm. Only in this case it was a flirty group of female Santa’s she recognised from the hospital staff.

‘Can’t understand what they see in him.’

The man she’d just flattened wasn’t looking like happy Santa as he stared at Julian’s broad back.

‘Why do I get the feeling you two know each other?’

‘Because we do.’ For a split second anger flashed in his eyes but then it disappeared and he yanked down his beard, flashing her a broad grin. ‘But I’m far more interested in knowing you.’

Oooh, looks like Ellie might have two rival Santas to choose from! But which one will it be? Come back tomorrow when Clare Chase will be picking up where Kathryn left off. Can’t wait to find out more! 

COMPETITION TIME

If you enjoyed Kathryn’s writing, why not try and win a copy of her novel, Search for the Truth … we’ll even throw in some Christmas chocolate too!

To be in with a chance of winning, simply read Kathryn’s extract and answer this question …

Ellie runs into a Santa before starting the race. What colour are his eyes? 

If you know the answer, email it to info@choc-lit.co.uk. The winner will be selected at random and will be announced at the end of the week. Good luck!

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Read Part Two by Clare Chase HERE