How to Ruin Christmas for a Vampire
By Dahlia Rose
A hot and feisty next door neighbor leads Jarreth to decimate the gingerbread men with gumdrop buttons littered his lawn. The cold of many lonely winters has frosted his eternal heart, until Diana strolls in with her garish Christmas music, which he can't stand. He denies his feelings for her, until he finds Diana is threatened by his old vampire flame.
Throwing aside the vow never to love again, Jarreth steps in and saves her only to find out he could lose her one again.
“Jingle bells, Jingle bells, Jingle all the way,” Diana Kringle sang along softly to the music on her radio. It was twenty-two days until Christmas and she was busy in her kitchen making Christmas cookies for the senior citizens center down the street.
God, I love Christmas, she thought as she buried her hands in the dough for gingerbread men. She had already made almost five dozen cookies and she was enthusiastically getting ready to make five more. Diana knew she probably went overboard around the holidays but she could not help it. From the time she could even remember she was bounced around from foster home to foster home. Some of them were definitely not the greatest places to be and some she never wanted to leave. But she always had to eventually. Either the family could not afford to adopt her or when the checks came late they sent her back to the home. One thing always stayed the same, Christmas. Each place she ever lived had some kind of tradition for the holiday and each year whatever she had saved from her meager allowances or what she could earn, Diana bought a Christmas trinket. From an ornament for the tree, to a bobble head Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Where ever she went, they went. Now at twenty-eight years old, she had amassed quite a collection, actually a garage full of Christmas cheer.
She had moved from Philly to New York after she had saved enough to buy a small house in Long Island. She moved to New York for one main thing—this was the place to be on the holidays. It started with the Thanksgiving Day Parade where Santa came to town, Rockefeller Center and the big tree in the center with people ice skating around it, and the picture windows in the big department stores in Manhattan. The whole city seemed to come alive around the holidays. For a long time when she was growing up she pretended that Santa and Mrs. Claus were her real parents that is why she had the last name Kringle. As she grew older and the awful predicaments she was in at some points made her rethink that theory. But she never stopped loving this holiday or what it meant. Good cheer, peace and love to all men. Yeah, Christmas rocked.
Diana dusted her hands against her candy striped apron and went over to the oven when its buzzer went off. Another batch of gingerbread men ready for gum drop buttons, she thought with a wide smile. She happened to pass her window when she came back from her oven and looked out at her decorations. The lights that were strung around her porch glittered merrily. All her new neighbors loved her Christmas montage on her front lawn and most of the other houses had some form of holiday cheer. All accept one, her neighbor directly across the street. Half the time there was no light even at night time and no one saw him in the daytime. On a few occasions she saw him leave his house at night with his long black coat.
He looked dangerous and made her shiver, was it from fear she really couldn’t tell but he intrigued her. She did have the sneaking suspicion he was causing her elves to molest each other and made Santa give Rudolph the finger plus broke a few of her candy canes. She woke up and found a few of her things wrecked but never mind she always had replacements. If anyone ever saw her garage they would think that the North Pole had permanently taken up residence. She replaced the trashed candy canes, fixed Santa’s fingers. Her elves were stuck in that very naughty position so she had to put them away and bring out the spares. Her holiday would not be ruined by a few pranksters who did not know she was the queen of Christmas.
By the time she was done with her first set of cookies, it was time for the Christmas party at the senior center. She boxed up the finished ones and made sure to tie each package with a large pretty bow in red or green. She had made an extra package for her neighbor. No one that young and handsome should be alone or cranky on the holidays. She took off her apron from over her tight wool sweater and even tighter blue jeans and put on her winter coat. It was blue with black feathers around the cuffs and collar. Her dark hair was pulled up in a ponytail. Diana checked her face in the mirror by the door and made sure her shimmer cherry gloss looked particularly luscious against her creamy brown skin.
“Why are you doing this? He probably isn’t even home anyway,” she muttered to herself. She put the rest of her cookie packages in the back of her car before crossing the street.
Her boots crunched on the soft snow and the dim evening light reflected off the powdery substance as she crossed the street. She looked up at the darkened house that somehow reminded her of the ghost houses she had seen in a few horror movies. She felt a chill go up her arms as she opened the gate and it creaked ominously every millimeter she pushed it. She looked up at the window once again expecting to see him looking through the thick drapes because he heard the gate open.
“Oh, for goodness’ sake!” she muttered. “You are a grown woman and there is nothing to be scared of!”
Diana gave the gate one big shove and gritted her teeth against the noise it made. The only sound she could hear was her boots against the gravel and snow. She looked up at the steps, there were only seven but somehow they looked like a whole lot more. “Let’s get this over with,” she said under her breath. The steps were wide and not even cleaned off from the snow. Obviously he did not give a damn if he came out and it was covered in ice and he broke his neck one morning. She reached the fifth step and decided that was enough. Diana reached over to put the box by the door when it opened inward and she was looking at two very large black boots standing there. Her eyes traveled from the boots to the long black coat that hung down to the ankles. It felt like slow motion as her gaze went up to the black jeans on lean hips, past the dark shirt and to even darker eyes.
Diana felt like screaming and running away like kids would when they got a scare. Instead she swallowed the lump of fear in her throat and stood up to her height of five six meeting his gaze and pasting a smile on her face. “Hi! I was going to leave this for you but since you are here, Merry Christmas!”
“What is it?” His short answer made her smile falter for a minute.
“It’s Christmas cookies, gingerbread men to be exact!”
“What am I supposed to do with them?”
Was he serious? Diana looked at him with an expression of surprise. “You eat them of course.”
“Lady, do I look like I eat cookies?” He asked. He leaned against the door jam and folded his arms. “Does it look like I do this whole Christmas thing?”
Diana let her gaze go to his chest. Damn he was rude and didn’t even crack a smile. “I don’t know, but you’ve never tried my cookies! And maybe you didn’t have time to decorate, I could come over and loan you a few of my things…”
“God, no! I don’t want any of that multi-colored crap anywhere near me! So what makes your cookies so good lady?”
“My name is Diana not lady and they are made fresh and with a healthy dose of Christmas cheer.”
“Then I definitely don’t want them…Diana what?”
“Your name, you said Diana. Diana what?”
This conversation had gone completely off course. “Diana Kringle.”
He made a sound of amusement. “You’re kidding? You must have been teased unmercifully.”
“No I wasn’t.” Diana was getting irritated. “Listen, do you want the cookies or not? And since you know my name I should at least know yours.”
“Jarreth.” He supplied. “I’ll take your cookies. Maybe I can find some use for them.”