“The Christmas Rescue” is an exclusive short story written by Lily Menon, Nancy Naigle, L. Penelope, and Farrah Rochon during our live episode of “Once Upon a Winter Ever After”! Rewatch the event here.
Simone felt watched. She peeked over her shoulder at the blonde-haired man who was building what looked like a snow Baby Yoda. Damn, it was good. He caught her looking and tossed her a smirk. It was a snow-person/character/creature-building contest, and whoever he was, he was SMOKING her. Dammit, dammit. Simone needed to win this contest. Whoever blondie was, he needed to get hit by a train. Or something less violent.
Simone turned back to her snow angel. Maybe it wasn’t as avant garde as blondie’s Baby Yoda, but it was a classic. It was traditional. It was…shit. In her anger at blondie, she’d made her angel’s face really…evil. It looked more like a snow demon, to be honest.
Simone patted the face, smoothing the snow out, when she felt a tap on her shoulder. It was blondie, now standing next to her, his hands on his hips as he surveyed her angel with a smile. Not a nice smile, either. “Do you need some help?” he asked. “Because it looks like you need some help.”
Simone glared at him. “No, thank you. I’m perfectly fine. And anyway, there’s a time limit, you know. Aren’t you worried your Baby Yoda will fail to impress? Don’t you have to make his ears bigger or something?”
Blondie laughed. “Actually, I’m all done.” He gestured behind him and dammit, he was right. His Baby Yoda was perfect. He turned back to her, grinning. “I’m Flynn, by the way.” He held out a mittened hand.
Simone took it grudgingly. “Simone. Look, I really need to get back to this angel. So if you don’t mind…”
“Sure, I’ll help,” the clueless Flynn said, picking up a handful of snow that he then patted on top of her angel’s head.
Out of nowhere, a gusting wind blew through, grabbing Simone’s oversized scarf and wrapping itself around Flynn’s neck, essentially tying the two of them together.
Simone gulped in the icy air. It wasn’t the scarf. No it definitely was not. It was Flynn warming her up at this moment. Wow. Her arms flew in a swimming motion as she scrambled to untangle herself from her hunky competition.
“You okay?” he asked.
“Yeah. Sure. I’ve just got to get this snow angel done. Are you trying to throw me off my game?”
“I was helping.”
She let out a sigh. She wasn’t convinced. She glanced up at the angel. Man, she still looked like she was snarling. She pulled the scarf from Flynn’s neck and then tiptoed to use it to sweep off the goofy face to start over, but as she reached she slipped, falling forward right into her creation!
“Simone!” Flynn reached for her hand, pulling her to her feet. They stood there staying at the angel sprawled out on the snow. “Sorry. How can we fix her?”
“Lordy goodness.” As if the ugly scouring look on her face hadn’t been bad enough, now she had to start over. “There’s no time.” She dropped her chin to her chest.
“I have an idea,” he said. “Come on. We’ll let her make snow angels. A snow angel making snow angels. That’ll work? Right? I mean she’s already laying down.”
“OMG! You’re a genius.” They both dropped to their knees scooping the snow from around the edges.
“We’ve got this.”
“If we get this done, hot chocolate is on me,” Simone said.
“I’m up for that. I’d be willing to share one with you,” he said leaning so close she could smell his cologne.
“Yeah.” She swallowed hard. She had every intention of getting this done now.
With his help the snow angel was actually coming together, but was it good enough to win?
“Why are you helping me anyway, Flynn?”
His eyebrows shot up like he was surprised she’d asked. “I can’t just do something nice? It’s the holidays, what about the holiday spirit?”
Simone frowned. “Helping the competition? Don’t you want to win this thing?” She had been so focused on this contest for the past few weeks, she couldn’t understand someone entering to not care about winning, especially with his level of talent.
She took another look at his Baby Yoda and even though her snow angel was no longer ruined, it still didn’t compare.
“I like winning as much as the next person,” Flynn said, “but it was partially my fault that your angel was ruined.”
Simone looked at the other competitors and her mood sank. “This contest was my hope at winning enough money… Now it will be too late.”
“Too late for what?” Flynn asked.
“I’m not sure if I should tell you.” Simone decided that it wasn’t over yet and she hadn’t lost yet.
“Would your need to win have anything to do with the Holiday Kitten Rescue?”
She took a step back, looking up at him with shock. His blue eyes held a smile that took the bite off her surprise and growing unease. “You know about my kitten rescue organization?”
He stuffed his hands into his pockets and shrugged sheepishly. “I came across a flyer for the rescue a few weeks ago and went to your website. I know about all the work you’re doing to help the animals and I entered this competition once I saw on your blog that you would be here.”
Simone’s heart melted a little as he continued.
“You came here to meet me?”
A grin took over his face.
“So why is your snow sculpture so amazing? Especially if you know how much I need to win this thing?”
Just as he was about to answer the bell rang at the judge’s table. Simone thought about all those adorable kittens that had been abandoned on the side of the road. She just didn’t have the space to foster them and needed the prize money from this competition. But time was up and she wasn’t sure that her snow angel was up to par.
She stood side by side with Flynn as the final gong sounded and the judging began.
Simone’s heart began to pound like the gong that had just signaled the end of the competition. As the trio of judges moved from one snow creation to the next she turned to Flynn.
“So you never answered my question. Why did you enter this competition?”
He gave her a casual shrug. “I needed something to get me into the holiday spirit. It’s been…a little…tough.”
Her heart sank at the sadness that drifted into his blue eyes. “Do you mind telling me why? I mean, I know we just met and all, but you did ruin my snow angel. I think I’m due an explanation.”
A shy smile tipped up one corner of his mouth. “Well, Peaches, the cat I’ve had since college, went across the Rainbow Bridge. I’ve been searching for a new one.
“It seemed meant to be that you would be here raising money for a kitten rescue.”
Just as she was about to say something about the perfect kitten she had in mind for him, a group of carolers strolled toward them belting out “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”
When she heard “my true love…” Simone’s heart leapt.
The judges came up to their two snow creations. It was evident from their reaction to Baby Yoda that Flynn’s creation would win the competition. When they presented him with the prize and check, he immediately handed it over to Simone.
“This was my intention from the very beginning,” Flynn said.
Simone clutched the check to her chest. “Thank you so much, Flynn! Now how about that hot chocolate I owe you?”