The last punch is thrown, the opponent hits the ground, and the champion is announced.
The referee’s baritone voice calls out Jake Pellusi’s name. The crowd roars in response. I only smile, then get up to leave.
The adrenaline rush of watching a satisfying fight is still pumping through my veins as I get to the car.
“Good evening, Mr. Lockhart.” The driver I hired to drive me around during my stay in Liverpool opens the door for me.
“Thank you, Elijah. Take me to the hotel, please.”
“Won’t you be celebrating tonight?” During our conversations, Elijah had revealed that he is a huge boxing fan. He could not believe his luck that he would be the chauffeur of a former boxing champion.
Not too long ago, boxing was my world. It still is, but now I don’t have to throw punches to make my millions. These days, my worldwide boxing gyms and promotion companies bring in all the cash while I drink champagne. No more head injuries and fractured bones for me.
Unlike many boxers, I made my money, then stepped out of the ring, giving up the fight while I was at the height of my career, at the age of thirty-two. That was three years ago and I don’t regret a thing.
Stop when it’s good, my father told me before he died. I promised him that I would. I kept that promise.
My phone rings. I pick up with a smile.
“Congratulations. Another one of your boys won.” Madison’s soothing voice drifts down the line. “I watched the match on TV.”
“Madison, you should know by now that everyone I invest in ends up a champion.”
“I’m not surprised, Mr. Lockhart. You’re a champion yourself.”
“And you are a charmer, Madison.”
Madison Foster is a sweet, fifty-six-year-old woman who started off as my nanny, then my housekeeper. Now she works as my personal assistant. We could not live without each other if we tried. Why should we have to? We’re family now. She’s smart, great with numbers, and loyal to me. I couldn’t ask for more. When I moved from Misty Cove, Florida to Chicago, she followed me, and when her health allowed, she accompanied me on many of my business trips around the world.
“Now that the match is over, will you still fly back in two days?”
I shake my head and gaze out the window at the city lights. “No. I’ll stay on a few more days. There are some business partners I want to meet with.”
Silence plugs the line.
“Madison, are you there?”
“Yes, yes, I’m here. I was just wondering if that means you won’t be playing Santa this year.”
“I’m afraid not. I have way too much to do.” As I say the words, my heart fills with emptiness. I hate to neglect our tradition, but business comes first this year.
“What should I do with all the letters? We have over a hundred this year.”
Early November, I always make sure a box is set up in a mall in Misty Cove, my hometown, where kids can post letters to Santa. For five years now, it has been my mission to make as many of their wishes come true. Once a year on Christmas, I also return home to be the secret Santa at the local mall. Making the kids happy is my chance to give back.
When I was six years old, I was a lonely orphan boy and Santa made one of my biggest wishes come true. He gave me a home and a family. I asked for a father, and Santa Claus offered to adopt me. I was Santa’s son. When Santa died five years ago, I secretly stepped into his shoes and continued the family tradition.
“Do the usual,” I tell Madison. Read the letters and arrange for the gifts to be bought and delivered to the kids who provided an address.
“All right then.” She sighs. “It’s a shame though. It was always fun to set up Santa’s Factory at the mall. I’m sure the kids will miss you.”
“I’ll make it up to them next year.” I close my eyes and lean my head back, ignoring the pinch of guilt. “But you have to join me for Christmas here. I’ll fly you in.” The two of us have always spent Christmas together.
“I don’t think I can,” Madison says sadly. “You know how flying makes me sick these days.”
“Oh, yeah! I forgot about that. Don’t worry. I’ll figure something out. I won’t let you spend Christmas alone.”
“You’ve always been so kind to me, Blake.”
“I can say the same about you.” I pause. “Look, I’ll call you in the morning. I just arrived at the hotel. I have a late night business meeting.”
Madison clears her throat. “What kind of meeting is that? I didn’t see it in your calendar.”
“I prefer not to comment,” I say with a chuckle. “Talk to you tomorrow, Madison.”
When I get to the hotel room, there’s a gorgeous brunette with sexy dimples waiting for me, and a bottle of Dom Pérignon chilling in the bucket. I had paid her to keep me company for the entire weekend.
“I hope you had a lovely time, Mr. Lockhart.” She loosens my tie.
“I have, but I’m ready to end the day with a bang.” My dick hardens at the thought of what I’m about to do to her.
* * *
The morning sunlight spills into the room as I run the tip of my tongue along the spine of the woman panting beneath me. Then I slide my hand underneath her body. She knows what I want her to do. She’s a professional, after all. A smile spreads across my face as her ass points toward the ceiling. I position myself behind her.
Before easing myself into her, I tap her smooth butt with my dick. “Ready, Danielle?”
“Always,” she says into the pillow.
I inhale and blow out a breath, then I enter her warm, wet tunnel.
She gasps, then moans. Her moans soon turn to screams.
This round doesn’t last long. It’s quick, dirty, and satisfying. Once it’s over, she leaves the room to shower while I order room service. It’s delivered ten minutes later with a letter addressed to me.
“This arrived for you yesterday, Sir.”
“Thank you.” I take the letter and open it on my way to the bedroom while my personal butler remains in the dining room to lay the table.
Danielle is out of the shower now and is drying her long hair in front of a floor-length mirror.
“Go and have breakfast,” I say. I don’t lift my gaze from the letter in my hands. “I’ll join you in a bit.”
“Sure.” She leaves the room.
The handwriting on the first envelope belongs to Madison. But inside it is another one addressed to Santa in a handwriting I don’t recognize.
My eyebrows meet in the middle as I open it. Madison mentioned that we received over a hundred letters. Why would she send me this particular one? Why did she feel I have to read it?
I’m surprised that the letter is written in a clear and legible handwriting, definitely not that of a child.
This letter is sure to be different from the ones you normally get. My name is Olivia Murphy. I’m not a little girl, and I’m not asking for a doll or a princess dress.
I’m writing this on behalf of my sister, Celine. She’s not a little girl either (see enclosed photo), but she could use a gift from Santa this year. She’s been through a lot the past few years. She was not only diagnosed with cancer, but her husband walked out on her. If anyone deserves a treat this Christmas, it’s her.
Is there any chance you could send her something from Santa’s bag? Anything that would bring a smile to her face would do.
Before I finish reading, I reach into the envelope to remove the photo the woman sent. The moment I see the woman’s face, my heart slams hard into my ribs and I reel back. I lean against the desk for support. The woman in the photo is stunning, with blue eyes that reach deep into my soul and start rearranging things.
I don’t bother to read the rest of the letter as I pick up my phone from the bedside table to call Madison.
“Change of plans,” I say, my hand buried in my hair. “I’ll play Santa. Go ahead and prepare everything.”
“You will?” her voice sounds like a song down the line. “That’s amazing news.”
“Get me a fuller beard this year. I’ll be flying straight to Misty Cove from here.”
“What made you change your mind?” she asks.
“Fate,” I respond and end the call.