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 …
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. The winner will be selected at random and will be announced at the end of the week. Good luck!
Read Part Three by Jane Lovering HERE