Today I’m welcoming Ayla Ruse to my blog with her Christmas story, RACING WILD.
Thank you, Starla for having me visit today. I love the holidays—Christmastime in particular. Everything is bright, festive and full of love and laughter and joy.
For the past several years I’ve written short Christmas tales set around the North Pole and the variety of elves found in this magical place. This year is no different. My story is entitled Racing Wild and it’s the first in the Reindeer Games multi-author series by Changeling Press. Here’s a little more about this tale…
Varian Swift of the Border Elves has two pressing desires: to win the finals in the annual Reindeer Games, and to find a mate before dawn.
Randolwyn of the Wild Elves runs the Games’ blacksmith shop. Once she thought she wanted a mate, but that was years ago, before a cruel trick made her turn her back on love.
When an accident brings Varian to Randolwyn’s shop, he’s struck with the bone-deep knowledge that he’s found his mate. But she doubts his claim, even as she’s drowning in his kisses.
Games are meant to have challenges, but with love on the line, games should take a back seat. Instead, this Christmas Eve becomes a race against the clock, a race to catch up, and a race to outrun those who dare to break them apart.
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Now I would like to share with you an interview conducted with the elves Varian and Randolywn. Varian is a tall Border Elf and Randi is a slender Wild Elf with short, multi-colored hair.
Can you tell the readers a little about yourself?
Varian: There’s not a lot to tell, really. I’ve worked for Santa, patrolling the borders of the North Pole for too many years to count. I’m ready to settle down and find a mate, but the deal I worked out with Santa to retire is nearing its deadline. I’m racing in the Reindeer Games today, the last day, and I have until dawn to find a mate. I’m hoping to find someone to share the rest of my life with at the After Party tonight.
Randolwyn: First, please call me Randi. My adoptive herd, from the Wild, named me Randolwyn, and even though it’s sweet of them, I prefer the shorter Randi. Ah, what else? I don’t like being near the Pole and would much rather be back in the Wild, tending to and taking care of the reindeer herds there. But they seem to think I should find a mate, so they set me up a smithy shop during the Reindeer Games. Same story every year. I come, I work, I go home alone. I, ah, had a bad experience several years ago, so I’m good being alone. Very good, in fact.
What makes you blush?
Varian: Nothing that I can think of.
Randi: Umm…(she cuts her eyes to Varian), Varian actually.
Randi: You’ve not noticed? I’ve ,well, liked watching you since I first saw you win years ago. Your attention always makes me blush.
Varian: Is that so? Come to think of it, whenever I touch you like this…(he reaches over and runs a finger down her neck and follows the scooped neckline. Indeed, Randi starts to blush and I quickly clear my throat to get back on track.)
What upset your ordinary world and brought you into contact with each other?
Varian: Clyde, my reindeer, got a crack in his hoof—an hour before the last race in the Games. I had to find someone quick to make the repair, and lucky for me, no one was in front of me when we found the Reindeer Repair Shoppe. I walked in to ask the smithy to fix Clyde’s shoe. I left knowing I’d found my mate.
Randi: From my point of view, his coming into the shoppe is where we first officially met. Having the Sweet 5 chase us around all night is what really upset my world. Instead of bringing us together, they almost tore us apart.
The Sweet 5? What’s that?
Varian: It’s not a what, it’s a who. They’re a sweet group of pretty Southern Elves. Five of them, all best friends, who, uh, claim the winner of the Games every year as their own personal prize.
Randi: They’re very possessive and persuasive. Hopefully we’ve seen the last of them.
(I can’t help but note that Varian speaks of them with a slight fondness, even tolerance, while Randi scowls.)
What do each of you think about “love and romance”?
Varian: (he scratches the back of his neck and hedges a little). I think it’s important, but sometimes it has to take a back seat when there’s a deadline looming ahead.
Randi: (she snorts) It’s a bunch of hooey. Don’t’ fall for it, ladies. Nothing good can ever come of either.
Varian: (Takes Randi’s hand) But that was in the past, right? We’re something different now.
Randi: (Her grudging smile turns into a warm grin). Okay. Love and romance has its place. (She turns back to me) But it has to be real. It’s nothing but trash unless it’s real.
Who took the first step in heating things up between you?
Randi: Varian. I’d never have had the guts to do what he did.
Would you rather be caught in a wild moment of passion or tied down and taken?
Varian: I’m pretty much open to anything.
Randi: Caught by whom? I don’t like being spied on and if those five little devious little elves even think of chasing us down again… (she breaks off, her face screwed up. I change the subject, and I hope for their sake those five indeed leave this pair alone.).
What is the kinkiest sexual thing you’ve ever done?
Varian: (whispers) I really don’t want to say right now.
Randi: (overhears) Why not? You’re a legendary lover. Tell all.
Varian turns to Randi and pulls her close. “Nope,” he tells her, resting his forehead against hers, “I think the kinkiest sexual thing I’ve ever done actually hasn’t been done yet, because I’m saving that one for you.”
Randi blushes from her hair roots to her toes and kisses him full on the mouth. I try to ask a few more questions, but it’s obvious they believe the interview is over.
EXCERPT – Racing Wild
“Damn, Clyde. We have one more race before we can walk away with the grand prize. You couldn’t have waited to crack your shoe until after?” Varian Swift, a Border Elf from the Great River Expanse Region, lowered his reindeer’s hoof and shook his head. “Of all the lousy timing,” he muttered, setting his hands low on his hips and turning to look at the vendors scattered around the busy raceway. Peppermint Sticks made fresh, hot buttered rum served in classic peppermint vessels, and the Trinket Booth offered authentic jingle bells to adorn a reindeer’s antlers, but where was the repair shop? He’d never needed one before now, but surely there had to be a smithy somewhere nearby.
“C’mon, Clyde.” He motioned to his disabled reindeer. “Let’s hobble around the corner. Maybe the smithy’s closer to the back end of the loop.”
Varian moved away from the crowded vendors with Clyde doing a three-hoofed clomp behind him. Well-wishers and fans tried to stop the pair, but Varian was on a tight schedule. He didn’t let himself become cornered, but he gritted his teeth into a smile as he shook hands along the way.
For the past five years, he and Clyde had participated in the annual Reindeer Games, and every year they’d won all three divisions. If he won all three this year — which was now in question — he’d receive a bonus cash prize. True, he didn’t need the additional funds to purchase the stretch of land he had his eye on, but it would come in handy to set up his ranch.
He’d been protecting the western fringes of the North Pole for more years than he could count. He was itching for something different; he wanted to settle down. Last year, Santa had granted his permission for Varian to retire. The caveat was two-fold. Varian would have to own and patrol a sizeable piece of land along the western border (the easy part), and he had to find a mate (the hard part). The really difficult part, however, was that the agreement had a one-year term. It became null and void by sunrise tomorrow — Christmas Day. At which point, if Varian didn’t meet the two stipulations, he’d have to sign a new, twenty-year contract to continue patrolling the endless western border.
His reindeer nudged his elbow and Varian shook his head out of his musings to see what the reindeer had noticed.
“Good eyes, Clyde. Reindeer Repair Shoppe. Here we go.”
The vendor’s sign stuck out from oversized open barn doors. He and Clyde walked into the shop. A squat counter sporting an old cash register sat off to the right, and a placard along the wall spelled out services and prices, but other than these, the place seemed empty.
“Hello?” he called out. Faint sounds of metal clanging came from the back. Looking around, but not seeing anything with which to signal whoever was in the back, he shrugged and made his way to another wide opening on the left. He normally wouldn’t barge his way through anyone’s business, but he had a race to win and an Elven mate to find. He prayed that at the After Party, where Elves of all kinds gathered, he’d find at least one female he’d consider taking as a mate. He couldn’t be picky anymore.
The air grew warmer from the huge furnace he noticed on the left as he and Clyde entered the back of the shop.
“Hello,” he yelled, now spying a figure bent over an anvil. The thick apron, heavy gloves and welder’s mask shielded the figure.
After a minute the banging stopped. A sizzling sound sputtered through the shop as the Elf set whatever metal he’d been working on in a large vat of water and looked up, not giving any outward sign to acknowledge Varian’s presence. The Elf set down the tools he’d been using and walked toward him, removing gloves along the way.
The first thing Varian noticed was that this was no Workshop Elf. Too tall.
The Elf glanced at Clyde, made some kind of noise and Varian raised a brow when his reindeer lifted his damaged hoof. Were they talking to each other? What kind of Elf was this smithy?
The Elf nodded back and mumbled something else. Clyde chuffed out… a reply? The next thing Varian knew, the Elf removed the infernal welding mask.
Varian sucked in a breath and did his best not to let his jaw drop.
The blacksmith — a tall, willowy, female Elf — smiled, and he whooshed out a breath of air as if he’d been kicked in the chest by his reindeer. Damn, she nearly came to his chin in height. She sported short hair with streaks of red and black and burgundy. He normally wouldn’t think twice about it, but the multi-colors seemed to make her pale skin glow. An angular face, high-tipped ears and a graceful slender neck also captured his attention, but his gaze locked with her huge violet eyes. That is, until he zeroed in on full lips that promised pleasures untold with every movement.
Movement. Wait, she was talking to him.
“I’m sorry, could you repeat that?” he asked, stupidly. He’d never been tongue-tied before.
Her grin was a little shy and infectious. “I think I have a shoe to fit Clyde. You can stay or come back for him.”
He simply nodded, afraid if he tried to speak he’d trip over his tongue. Love at first sight was nothing more than human baloney, but damn, if it didn’t hit him hard right now. She turned around and his gaze immediately strayed to her slender back and slim waist where the apron strings cinched, to an uplifting, tight, curvy ass.
“Are you going to stay or leave?” she asked over her shoulder.
“I, ah, I’ll wait.”
His heart tripped and something in him grabbed his gut as if to yank him around to say, “She’s the one!”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Handed a historical romance at young age, Ayla Ruse fell in love with love and with happy endings. Having grown up living life tasting a little of this and a little of that has not changed this attitude, but it’s expanded her views. Love isn’t always happy and it isn’t always the way a person “thinks it should be.” Sometimes it’s outside the box, and it’s always a challenge.
Ayla is a stay-at-home mother who also home schools three rambunctious children. In her (cough) free time, she loves the outdoors, reading, and exploring.
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