The house loomed before them; a hulking silhouette against the starry July sky. The night was warm and sweat trickled down Holly’s spine.
“I’m so damn hot,” she said, fanning herself.
“Yes, you are,” Callum said, and he pressed his lips to the back of her neck.
She tried to shake him off. “You’re making me hotter.”
He wrapped his arms around her waist. “Do tell.”
“Now you’re making me sticky.”
“Ooof. Keep talking.”
“Callum.” She gave him a playful shove and watched him laugh as he stumbled backwards. His dazzling smile lighting up the dark. “Can we get this job done so we can go home and take a cold shower.”
“A cold shower isn’t going to help us,” he said, and he leaned in and softly kissed her.
They stood side by side and surveyed the room. The house was a mess. Boxes were strewn across the floor, and a sofa rested on its end against the wall.
“Did the spirit do this? Holly said, in a whisper.
“No. They were moving in when the disturbances began.”
“And they only saw it upstairs?”
“Yes. In the nursery.”
“A haunted nursery. How cliché,” she said, and a floorboard gave a loud creak under her foot.
“And now that cliché spirit, probably knows we’re here,” Callum said, as he loaded iron rounds into his pistol.
Holly grabbed his hand, “Um. It does.” She pointed upwards. “It’s at the top of the stairs.”
Callum shone his flashlight towards the landing. “What is it? What do you see? Are we in trouble?”
“It looks… It looks like… It looks like Santa.”
“Santa? The jolly guy in the red and white suit? That Santa?”
“Yes. That Santa,” and she heard Callum stifle a chuckle. “Oh god no,” Holly groaned. “He just ho-ho-hoed at me.”
And this time she heard Callum laugh.
Holly sat on their bed thankful that the job was done, the spirit was gone, and they were home. She tugged off her sweaty jeans as Callum watched, a smile playing at the corners of his mouth.
“What?” she said.
“Of all the terrifying things we face in our lives, Holly, you’re scared of Santa Claus.”
“He’s a creepy old dude who likes kids way too much.”
Callum snorted. “He’s a nice guy who gives people presents.” and he reached down and gently guided her into his arms. “Listen, I was thinking. Maybe you need to face your fear. We could do a Christmas in July thing. Just you and me.”
“Do you promise to stop laughing at me if I say yes?”
“I promise to stop laughing.”
“No Santa though,” she said, as she began to unbutton his jeans.
“How about just the hat. We’ll start off slow.”
“Okay,” she said, with an exaggerated sigh. She grabbed his waistband and pulled him towards the bathroom. “Nothing but the hat, and I meannothing. Except …maybe the boots.”
“You love it.”
“Yes, I do.”
And Callum had been right, the cold shower didn’t help them at all.
©Amy Hutton 2021