“I don’t know, Dad,” I sighed, peeling open three packets of artificial sweetener one at a time and dumping them into my iced tea. “This feels seedy.”
He forked a few pieces of Caesar salad into his mouth and nodded, “It is, but things are going to get more desperate the longer we wait.”
As a general rule I enjoyed mortal low-budget dining, but the batter-encrusted onion thing in front of me just seemed like too much grease for an already uneasy stomach. The situation had to be desperate if we were forced to hide out in a place like this for a business meeting. I watched middle-class mortal families all around us, chowing down on overpriced thinly sliced hunks of poor quality beef and felt gloom gnawing at my insides. And that’s quite a feat when you’re a being magically imbued with inherent good cheer fostered by insanely jolly folk for nearly two-thousand years.
“Ah, here he is,” Dad clasped his hands together and almost squealed with glee. It really isn’t dignified to see a man of his advanced years twitter like a kid in a candy factory, but I knew he couldn’t help it. Dad had gotten the good cheer magic juju at full dosage. I was definitely grateful that the power seemed to wane with each generation.
“Mr. K,” the new arrival at our table greeted my father curtly, then to me, “Karol.”
“Julesvenn, is that you?” It was so hard to know who was who in the mortal spheres. Dad and I could take on any living form we liked – as could Mom and Kane. Elves were a different sort, though. They could morph into any damn thing they wanted – furniture, farm animals, supermodels. Outside the Pole, anything could be anyone, and vice-versa.
“Yeah, it’s me,” the handsome woman in the chair across from me looked like a schoolteacher with a nasty temper as she picked up her briefcase and thrust it onto the table, shoving aside my batter-dipped onion flower and Dad’s salad. “I can’t believe the two of you waited until now to start taking me seriously. You know the minute Halloween is over we’re working at a PR disadvantage. All an elf has on their mind right now is how to meet quota in crunch mode.”
“Yeah, well,” Dad waved his hand, ignoring Jules’ scolding, “I didn’t think the bitch would go this far.” His face was plastered with that mandatory smile of his, but his eyes showed a vicious zeal.
“Dad,” I breathed instinctively, “Let’s just let it go.” I expected my father to start listing the reasons why we had to put up a fight, but it was Julesvenn who couldn’t hold his silence.
”Let it go? Are you mental?” Jules chirped in a sing-song schoolmarm disapproval he couldn’t help. “The Pole is getting out of control faster than Frosty sires bastard snowcones. You need to get in gear for this fight, girl, or resign yourself to being a spectator instead of a Pole power player. Mrs. K isn’t looking for a share of the mincemeat pie, she wants the whole thing and you’ll be lucky to end up lobbying for control of whipped cream.”
I looked back and forth between them. “I just want what’s best for the Pole. This bitter division is hurting our output and quality,” I tried to not smile while sipping my saccharine-enriched iced tea, but you know, it’s hard for any of us to stop smiling.
Julesvenn rolled his eyes. “What the fuck do you think I’m here for? The oh-so-authentic Australian atmosphere and cuisine of central Ohio?” Without waiting for an answer, he produced a number of folders from his attaché and leaned in close. “Now, I’ve got some polling numbers together and we’re not as bad off as we could be. But we’ve got to do some damage control and get on offence.”
Dad seemed to relax slightly. He was used to going up against Mom. Their battles and power struggles were old hat to him. Except it had been two thousand years since her last attempted coup. I was only five hundred or so – just a babe. The details were hazy. “Let’s have the worst of it,” Dad piped.
“Well,” Julesvenn shuffled papers. “The worst of it, of course, is elves over sixteen hundred. The women have always objected to the inclusion of sex toys into the work shop catalog.”
“Yeah, well, they’re a different generation. The good news is that only twenty percent associate that initiative with Karol, most of them consider that to be your work, Mr. K.”
“But those were my idea,” I reminded softly.
“All the best ideas were yours, hon,” Dad smiled his maniac smile supportively, patting my knee under the table.
“Well, yes, and we’re going to let them keep hold of that particular misconception while we remind them of the facts behind Karol’s other achievements.” Julesvenn puffed out his Liz Claiborne clad chest. “While we’ll underplay the sex toys, we’ll remind them that Karol pioneered the whole Saint Nick changeover. Most Elves these days forget the way it was before we reformed. I mean, the nights we spent terrorizing spoiled and naughty brats trying to issue out comeuppance just because their parents invoked our services. It was day-in, day-out rotten hellspawn patrol. And kids back then didn’t take a beating without a fight. There was none of this nonviolence mindset and lazy MTV generation. They came at you tooth and nail. You’d show up to issue a simple spanking and some little maggot would have his father’s hunting club to fend you off with – or they’d shove handfuls of bedbugs down your pants.” Julesvenn winced as if recalling a particularly unhappy memory. “That all changed when Karol came up with the positive-reinforcement strategy. The Pole became a place of industry and an elf could walk around feeling like they’d really done some good for the world – without bedbug scars. We’ll just invoke some pleasant nostalgia.”
“That was all Karol,” Dad gushed proudly. “I was up to my ass in alligators presiding over Saturnalia festivals. Karol ran a pilot program on the Dutch. She saw this Christianity craze coming way before anyone else.”
“I know my history,” Julesvenn interrupted so crisply it took me by surprise. Sure, we all knew that given the chance Dad would go on all night, but it was still a sign of disrespect. When an elf like Jules forgets his manners, things are worse than they seem. This was far more serious than a little tousle for power against Mom. Jules was worried. Dad must have been, too, because his eyes darkened dangerously in his grinning face.
“Sorry, big guy,” Julesvenn apologized quickly. “But we haven’t got time to rest on our laurels here. You’re ready for retirement and everyone has always assumed Karol would take over. No one saw this power play coming out of your wife’s camp and we’ve got to regroup before we’re stuck with Kane for a few dozen millennia.”
“If mortal society lasts beyond a decade of him,” I mused aloud, recalling Kane’s stubborn enthusiasm for trying to spread Christmas to the Middle East. Even the Elder Gods had steered clear of that traffic-accident of humanity.
“Exactly,” Jules nodded. “Now, they’re running a salt-the-ice campaign on something the old broad has dubbed ‘Elvin Values’ and it’s really selling to the older set. I mean, there are a lot of old pointy-eared coots that just don’t think a pair of tits can run the kind of operation we’ve got going these days.”
I eyed our advisor with a bit of resentment.
“I know,” Jules said with a drop of contrition in his tone. “I admit, I was one of them, and I was wrong. You’ve got to remember a lot of us didn’t like it when you pushed your Dad into giving elf women equal pay. We wanted to come home to clean igloos and attentive spouses. It didn’t feel right at the time and we all just figured the Old Guy was whipped.
“I was,” Dad gave me his ‘you’re my special girl’ wink. It still worked on me and I blushed despite myself.
“Will you two cut it out,” Julesvenn fussed. “It’s that kind of behavior that’s opening this window for the old bag and your idiot son to pull this moral high-horse thing. She’s making sure everyone knows you two have been having this -- relationship of yours -- for centuries.”
“Well, hell. Everyone knows that,” I said dreamily. Dad almost had me giggling like a schoolgirl as he continued to rub my knee. “It’s not like there’s a singles scene at the Pole. It was either hump an elf or a family member.”
Julesvenn straightened up in his chair. “Be that as it may, it has always been a ‘don’t-ask-don’t-tell’ kind of confidence. Your mother is making it a platform. Together with the sex toy thing she’s making your father look like a dirty old pervert and you look like a home-wrecking jezebel.”
“Home wrecker?” I tried to frown, but it hurt so I stopped. “Are you kidding? Mom had moved out to the second residence before Dad and I even…”
“Revising history is your mother’s forte,” Dad grunted in the closest thing he had to an annoyed tone.
I wasn’t going to be daunted. “History is one thing, but what about the here and now? Kane has fucked the entire female population of the tot-toy assembly line,” the hypocrisy was frustrating. “And he started performing as Mom’s personal stud service way before Dad and I ever…”
“Karol, honey, you know I love you and your father,” Julesvenn sounded like a parent reluctantly lecturing an idealistic child about the cruel realities of the world. “But you’ve got to stop thinking in terms of truth and fairness. We’re talking about politics. Honesty and merit have nothing to do with it – it’s all about what you can make the elf populace believe. I mean, they’re my people, but let’s call a snowflake a snowflake. The upper five percent of us do all the thinking and the rest want to think as little as possible so they can focus on their jobs and families. They need simple life guidelines. Sex toys bad. Santa fucking Karol bad. Complex thought bad.”
“So Kane just gets a ‘boys will be boys’ pass?”
“Yes,” Jules replied, unflinchingly. “And stop acting like that’s news.”
We hushed as the waitress came to the table and topped off Dad’s coffee. “You all didn’t touch your salads and appetizer. Are you sure that you’re ready for your steaks?”
“A few more minutes, beautiful,” Dad winked at her. The young woman blushed and hurried off. Dad did that to women. Lord knows he did it to me.
“So, what do we do, Julesvenn?” Dad shifted in his chair. I couldn’t resist reaching across to push a bit of his shoulder-length hair behind his ear. He liked to walk around mortal towns like some aging hippie college professor with long white hair and a red velveteen sweater with black patches on the elbows. It made his pot belly all the more lewd.
“You stay away from each other until after Karol’s new administration is in place. You can’t be all touchy-feely anymore. In fact, Big Guy, you need to fade into the background completely. Remind people that you’re just the public face and it’s Karol who keeps the mistletoe harvested and the sugar plums dancing.”
Dad almost fell out of his chair. “Fading into the background I dig, but we’ve been touchy-feely for over a thousand years, Julesvenn. Do you really think a few months of keeping our hands off each other will make a difference?”
“Well, at the very least it would prove that you two could keep your hands off each other for a while,” Julesvenn quipped. “Which is a matter of some debate in the elf public mindset. You’re seen as two parts of a single unit. Karol needs to get out from your shadow. Into her own house. It’ll make her look stronger and more independent. Not just Daddy’s little helper. Then we can shift the focus onto the old bag and Kane’s relationship and his indiscriminate trysts with young elf girls. We’ll turn her own campaign tricks against her.”
“Won’t they just do the same thing? Take separate residences and all?”
“If they do,” Jules smiled thoughtfully, “it would make them look like they were following our lead, which still gives us the edge. Besides, it won’t matter once I get visual proof of their escapades into the public mainstream.”
“What are you going to do, catch Mom and Kane on tape and broadcast it on NPN?”
I gaped. “Jules. No. I won’t be a part of that. That’s just plain wrong!”
“Honey,” Dad put his hand on the back of my neck, using his thumb and forefinger to ease the tension there. “Let’s hear him out.” I never could figure out which of us had the other wrapped around their finger.
“Thanks, big guy,” Julesvenn said. “Look, we’re not going to offer up a porno to North Pole News, okay. All we’re going to do is leak a few photos to the Reindeer Roundtable.”
“That rag? No one will believe it. Ever since they ran that spread on the Abominable Snowman and Elvis’ secret love nest they’ve lost all respectability.”
“Sure they have,” Julesvenn agreed. “But female Elves do the grocery shopping and they still buy it at the checkout because they can’t resist. And when they see the old broad and Kane doing the nasty…”
Placing my moral objections aside, I couldn’t help being curious. “Just how exactly do you intend to get these photos? I mean, Mom is a fortress unto herself. She the one who really knows when you’re sleeping or when you’re awake. She knows whose been bad and good. That’s powerful mojo she wields and it can certainly detect intruders. Do you really want to go up against that well-developed and wicked streak of vengeance?”
“Her magic only works on mortals,” Jules reminded.
“Don’t kid yourself,” I said seriously. “An elf once tried to pose as a pair of panties in her boudoir to act out some bizarre fetish fantasy and she figured it out. He ended up as a Tickle-Me Elmo display case and was never heard from again.”
“Yeah, we all know the stories,” Julesvenn nodded tiredly.
“They’re not just stories,” Dad insisted. “They coined the phrase ‘hell hath no fury as a woman scored’ because of what she did after she caught Jack Frost betraying her with Berchta.” There was always a little pain in Dad’s eyes when he talked about Mom’s early affairs. Of course, he was no saint, either. But it was always clear that her early exploits were wounds that hadn’t healed, even after thousands of years. I often forget how much in love they were once. “And we all know what she did to them.”
“Yeah, Mrs. K is a bad old hag, I’m not denying it,” Julesvenn agreed. “But I’ve got a plan. It’s better if I don’t tell you who’s involved. But he’s the one that broke that whole Dasher and Dancer thing wide open.”
I gritted my teeth. “They were the best lead team we ever had. And they are one of the most secure, healthy couples…”
“Look, Karol, after you take your father’s place I don’t care if you want to make gay reindeer marriage legal or not. It’s really a non-issue as far as most elves are concerned. But you can’t bring it to the table right now and put it in play. So let it go.”
“So Karol and I stay away from each other,” Dad sighed in resignation, and the corners of his mouth tugged downward ever so slightly. It took so much effort for Dad to frown. I was both touched and worried. “And you try to bust my wife and son for their incestuous affair and my son for his elfcapades. And Karol puts any controversial initiatives she’s working on to the back burner. What else?”
Julesvenn cast a suspicious glance at me. Dad was clearly willing to risk it all to win, but Jules knew me better. “That depends on Karol.”
I tried to cling to one last rope of my sense of decency. “What if we just run on the issues?” I pled softly. “What if we just remind them about Kane’s lost years, when he was AWOL from sled duty? What if we remind them about the disastrous business ventures that left so many elf investors up the creek while Dad bailed him out time after time?”
“Karol,” Dad interrupted me. Both he and Jules were shaking their heads, amused expressions on their faces. “God, no wonder I can’t live without you. How, after all this time can you be so naive?”
“It’s a curse,” I reminded him glumly. The statement was anything but figurative. With great power comes great responsibility – and, generally, a curse to balance things out. Dad got that whole hopelessly jolly thing, Mom got the knows-if-you’ve-been-bad-or-good complex, and Kane got that handicap with public speaking. Me? I got eternal Pollyanna optimism. One day the Elder Gods and I were going to go round and round on that one.
Jules started gathering up his folders. “So we’re going to keep the photo sting for our post-December surprise. Karol is going to remind elfkind of all her innovation over the centuries and show what an independent, snowballs-to-the-wall businesswoman she is. We’ll see if we can schedule a debate or two. Kane keeps flubbing his press conferences; making him speak side by side with Karol will make him look even more inept. And then, when I’ve got you back in the front seat of the sleigh, Karol, your Dad makes his retirement official and you take over with the full backing of the elf workforce. Coup d'état averted, no work-stoppage. The Pole will run like clockwork again. The way it did before the old broad and Kane tried to look like they were a part of the team. Kane can go back to managing his Elfball team. He was good at that.”
“I should never have let them talk me into letting them take over the sporting goods division,” Dad lamented. “It all started when they got that first taste of power. But I really thought that it was finally a way to get Kane involved in the family business. And, let’s face it, who knew sporting goods would turn into such a power corner? It was all dumbbells and bathing suits when we started it.”
“Yeah, well, we all make mistakes big guy,” Jules tried to be comforting. “I’ve still got a Betamax in my basement somewhere.”
I looked over at my Dad’s grinning face. There was only one part of the plan that worried me. I could swallow my integrity for the short term. Hell, I’d had to do it lots of times when mortals began adding things to their Christmas lists that made my guts cringe. But Dad wasn’t ever good by himself. He’d end up swilling down his cellar full of vintage Rumple Minze and quaffing fruitcake by the loaf. “How long do we have to stay apart?”
“A few months. Maybe six.”
“Six months,” I almost felt tears in my eyes. Dad and I hadn’t spent more than a night apart since that time he got kidnapped by the Martians.
“I can manage, honey,” Dad promised. Jules will have a staff on me at all times to make sure I don’t step out of line.”
Dad always knows when I’m worried. I sometimes forget about that whole mind-reading thing. “If we have to be apart for that long, then we need a few days all to ourselves,” I insisted. “Try and get it out of our system enough to make it through.”
Dad’s eyes glistened at me. If he’d winked I’d have started crying.
“I figured that,” Julesvenn said without a trace of surprise. “I’ll handle security – you guys just name the place. I’ll put out a press release that says you’re researching a new line undercover or something.”
“Vegas,” we answered in unison. And Dad and I laughed together. We were like that.
Jules’ schoolmarm lips pursed disapprovingly. “Next you’ll tell me you want the Rain Man Suite.”
“No,” Dad shook his head. “No, our place is on Fremont Street. I’ll give you the details later.” He wouldn’t stop looking at me. I couldn’t look away from him.
“Fine. Whatever,” Jules huffed. “I’ve gotta get out of here.”
“Sit tight, Jules,” Dad ordered, catching the eye of our waitress. “I need some fuel and I’m not leaving here without a steak. We’ve still got some details to hammer out. Besides -- what’s your rush? Traffic getting back to the Pole this time of day is a bigger hassle than rush hour in Winter Wonderland.”
“I’m wearing heels,” Jules complained tritely. “And a thong. It’s like having a candy cane shoved up your ass all day.”
“Take it like an elf,” Dad grinned without sympathy. “Try being forced to maintain a cheery expression non-stop for ten thousand years without a break and then we’ll talk about discomfort.”
So, mine wasn’t a conventional childhood and, let’s face it, I was kind of an accident. Mom and Dad were on the outs just as I was entering the prime material plane. They say a couple thousand years of marriage is hard on any relationship, but I think Mom just wasn’t ever the marrying type. It ran in the family. Her younger sister’s marriage, to that poor schlub, Adam, only lasted a few days. Dad didn’t like to talk about it, but I always got the impression that there were sexual problems. Rumors via the elf-vine indicated that Mom always liked being on top and, well, Dad wasn’t what you’d call submissive.
Modern mortals cringe at history that talks about the Elders and even some of the Lessers incestuous relationships, but you know, when you’re a mystical being there aren’t a lot of options. Other mystical races have their problems. And inner-species dating poses dangers way beyond taboo. I mean, sure a harmless little tryst with a naga sounds compelling, but when your gorgon baby wants to know why she’s got a snake’s tail…well you have to answer carefully or she ends up turning people to stone for a living. Given all the possibilities, my two-hundred year journey through puberty into adulthood wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
At the Pole, there was only Dad, Mom, Kane, and me. Other than that it was reindeer and elves. Sure, the occasional traveling ghost of the future, but, you know, a girl can’t really depend on anyone the way she can depend on her Daddy. So, when Mom split and Kane followed, I just sort of stayed behind. The ultimate Daddy’s little girl. We both tried being good, but the Pole can be a cold, lonely place. Then one night I woke up and felt his hand rubbing my belly and his husky voice murmuring in my ear to let Daddy touch me, stroke me, please me.... And let me tell you, when your first experience has a few thousand years of exploits under his belt, there aren’t a lot of options but to fall head over heels in lust.
Vegas was special for us. Maybe because Daddy had such an affection for all things outrageous. Mom never got that about him. Tinsel and multicolored lights and tawdry, hulking home-made ornaments and cheap strings of popcorn garland. Those were all Dad’s ideas. He just loves the stuff. If it glitters with over-the-top flash and pomp, that is a house that’s going to get an extra little oomph in their stockings, let me tell you. You should see our house – straight out of the Siegfried and Roy home decorator’s journal.
Every year when we go out together on 25-D Deployment, we always rendezvous at Vegas. It just got to be a habit. We had, after all, watched the little patch of sand go from nothing to the capital of glitz. In the early days it was a hideaway to burn off some energy. Dad and I with our hands all over each other in the back of a room, dressed to the nines, listening to Sinatra croon and make eyes at Ava Gardner. And before that watching all the outlaws play real cops and robbers. It was seedy and without apology and just the place to wear out the sex drives of two hopelessly in love immortals.
You just don’t understand the kind of adrenaline you have to work off after a Deployment, but an elf once told me it’s like going flat-out on a highway for an hour and then suddenly finding yourself in bumper-to-bumper traffic. I don’t know about that, but I can tell you that if you don’t let some of that pent vigor out to play before getting back to the Pole, you’ll end up drunk and dangerous and wondering why there are a hundred naked elves passed out in your bedroom.
Or, so I hear tell.
Our hotel was called the Golden Gate, although it had been the Hotel Nevada the first time we ever checked into it. It was a relic now, dwarfed by all its neighbors, but we weren’t loyal for the extras. Sure, Dad liked the shrimp cocktail and he’d been known to waste a few hours at their slots, but that was only if I needed time to recover. No pool, no spa, no wedding chapel – just a bed and room with a view of all the blinking bad-taste outside. A quiet little oasis in that town bursting with multi-colored lights. We brought our own Chinese food and champagne. By Deployment-Night you’re so sick of sugar cookies and peppermint schnapps you could puke.
I made it to our room first. In the new Vegas, managers and bell hops barely stayed put in one place long enough to remember you, but in our case it was impossible. I could hardly show up in the same mortal guise for a hundred years running. So, I tried out different looks. Sometimes pert and perky, often trashy, and, on rare occasions, prim. This time I opted for a leggy blonde with fake tits in leopard print spandex. It was shameless, but easy to remember. It’s harder than you might think – keeping track of all these shapes and styles the human form comes in. I once checked out with a different body than I checked in with and even in Vegas that stands out.
Once in our room, I tossed my just-for-show suitcase onto the bed and headed straight for the bathroom mirror. When you’ve had the same lover for over a thousand years and you both have the ability to take on any facade at will, you pretty much try them all out at least once. But there are favorites. Old standbys. The ones that always push each other’s buttons. It only took me a few minutes to decide which to focus on.
A tight, young little thing with a succulently, slender frame. Daddy was always a sucker for the little gals. Slight, sensual and curvy with budding breasts tipped with puffy oh-so-tugable pinkly perfect nipples and sinuously swaying hips. Dad puts a lot of candy into a lot of stockings and it’s just the way of the world that naughty girls of all ages wait up to try and glean a few extra sweets from the ultimate sugar daddy. Sure, he dips his candy cane into a little marshmallow cream now and then, but it’s the ones he can’t have that keep him up nights. And, you know, just because he can’t have them on the job doesn’t mean I can’t don the duds and pout the pout. So long as Daddy’s up all night, I’ll be up on him.
It’s hard to know the mood he’s in when it comes to personal grooming. He goes through phases. Sometimes he likes it all natural with a lightly furry mound and pits, and other times it’s bald as a babe. I opted for the latter. Except on my head. I let my auburn curls unfurl all the way down my back until they ticked the cheeks of my ass. Lots for him to grab onto. He loved yanking on fistfuls of my mane when we were in the throes of passion. I looked down and made sure my nails were at a sensible sporty length and then ran through a number of reds before I opted for a clear wash with some glitter polish. Tres white trash. Just tacky enough to make him happy. Looking down, my toes followed suit. Cut short and glistening. I never knew when he’d take note of some detail like my toes. And I wasn’t about to leave any detail unattended. Not tonight.
Eyeing the leopard-print I’d left out to remind myself of how I arrived, I puckered my lips and smeared them with a flat red that reminded me of the stains left behind after feasting on pomegranates. Nail polish was an exception, but I generally didn’t like the look of modern cosmetics. Cleopatra had it all over Elisabeth Arden in my opinion. I outlined my eyes heavily in Egyptian kohl paint and opted for a blue across the lids. Cleopatra had preferred the green of her special malachite paste, but she had darker coloring than the succulent little vixen I was painting on for Daddy. And, you, know, neither Caesar nor Mark Antony were all that hard to please anyway.
Deciding on clothes, however, was always a chore and I stepped back and vaulted through a departments store’s worth of wardrobe before I simply had to sigh and remember my original goal. Simplicity. Button-pushing simplicity.
I went back to the basics. White thigh-high stockings with candy-cane striped garters and little red ribbons that laced up the back. The old-fashioned kind of stockings that women used to have to tug up when walking down snowy streets. Little red velvet panties that fastened on the sides with silver snaps. A matching bra. Simple form-fitting red velvet. What was not to like?
Of course, I couldn’t resist a little bling. Some silver anklets that jingled like bells when I walked and an appalling plenty of platinum bangles up and down my arms, imbedded with jewels for the right kind of sparkle.
That got me as close to perfect as I figured I was going to get, so I climbed up onto the big king-sized bed and tried to find the perfect lounging position to greet him in. I briefly entertained the notion of adding pair of fuck-me pumps, but decided stocking feet was best for this sort of thing. It was tricky gift wrapping myself by using a shiny red ribbon and some curly silver foil to bind my wrists to the headboard, but I managed it. I’m a very resourceful girl that way.
I wasn’t long to wait, although I would have waited hours. I’m also a very patient girl when it comes to Daddy.
He barged into the room with a cardboard box overflowing with little containers of Chinese food under one arm and a bottle of Cristal in his other hand. “Daddy’s home, Pricilla, darlin’,” he drawled and I couldn’t help but giggle when he stepped fully into the room.
“Oh, Elvis,” I tittered.
Of course, he was. The white jumpsuit was smothered in multi-colored sequins, his collar turned up all the way to his pompadour. He was the King all the way to his rhinestone-encrusted sunglasses and the sneering curl of his lips. A Vegas Elvis, with a full belly thrust forward.
Kicking the door shut behind him, he slammed the food and booze down on the dresser and gave me an approving whistle. “Pricilla, you look nummier than a fried peanut butter and nanner sammich!”
“Then take me, King! Take me!” I giggled in a mock-swoon, flailing back and forth on the bed in squealing excitement.
As it always did, the over-the-top personas we put on melted into just he and I quicker than we planned. Bending down beside the bed, he kissed my unrouged cheek, nuzzled my hair. “Any requests, princess?”
I looked into his eyes, able to discern the shadow of them through the dark glasses. “I just want you, Daddy.”
“Close your eyes.”
I obeyed. There was a slight rustle of wind, like a draft briefly wafting over linens.
Again, I obeyed, and found myself smiling in delighted affection.
We’d gone though a million different Saint Nick prototypes before we launched the final project. And, after all the beta testing and trials, what we’d ended up with was mostly just Dad. His burly thick-shouldered barrel of a body all the way down to his Jerry Garcia pot belly. He looked like a cross between an over-the-hill Roman gladiator and a road-weary biker. My favorite of his features was the shock of violently white hair pulled back into a ponytail and tied with a leather thong. It was that ponytail that had started the whole 60’s hippie movement, but that’s a whole other story. Let’s just say Dad was test driving the concept of “free love” when the baby boomers were just primeval goo waiting for ape genes.
His beer-gut appearance was misleading, however, because anyone who was silly enough to try and find out learned that he was husked like a teamster – sure, he was a big guy, but take a swing at him and it would be like slamming your fist into brick. No one thinks of Santa like that, but that’s because no one saw him kick Gilgamesh’s ass all over Babylonia. You won’t find that story in library of Ashurbanipal, let me tell you, but I know elves who were there to see it and they say it made Ali vs Frasier look like a sweetheart’s dance.
The only part of the Santa guise that wasn’t Dad was the damn belly-length beard. The Germans were so adamant about that with all their Father Christmas jive and well, you can’t beat the Germans for propaganda. The bearded Santa just permeated the market until we had to go with it like some ZZ Top nightmare. Which is not to say that Dad was clean-shaven. He did have a beard, but it was a sensible, well-groomed number. His white mustache framed his mouth and accented those hedonically thick lips. While his chin was pleasingly downy, he tapered the mass to stubble along his jaw line on either side. No mutton chop sideburns, thank you. Well, not unless he was Elvis. And, you know, Daddy only did Elvis in Vegas.
I blushed when I realized he was totally nude. Looking at him like that still made me all girlish on the inside. It was so damn naughty.
“There isn’t any call for me to get all gussied up like you, baby girl,” he cooed in my ear. “Having to undress just puts me one step further away from fucking you.” Dad wasn’t much for small talk.
I shivered deliciously. “Oh, Daddy, you’re so very wicked.”
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