Varian Swift of the Border Elves has two pressing desires: to win the finals in the annual Reindeer Games, and to find a mate before dawn.
Randolwyn of the Wild Elves runs the Games' blacksmith shop. Once she thought she wanted a mate, but that was years ago, before a cruel trick made her turn her back on love.
When an accident brings Varian to Randolwyn's shop, he's struck with the bone-deep knowledge that he's found his mate. But she doubts his claim, even as she's drowning in his kisses.
Games are meant to have challenges, but with love on the line, games should take a back seat. Instead, this Christmas Eve becomes a race against the clock, a race to catch up, and a race to outrun those who dare to break them apart.
Praise for Racing Wild
"I really enjoyed this Christmas themed romance. It had a good plot and character development for such a short read. This hot read was well done and I look forward to reading more by this author."
-- 4.5 Stars from Haley, DRC Promotions Reviews
"I'd recommend Racing Wild to anyone who is in the mood for something short and saucy."
-- Astilbe, Long and Short Reviews
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Racing Wild (Reindeer Games)
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2015 Ayla Ruse
"Damn, Clyde. We have one more race before we can walk away with the grand prize. You couldn't have waited to crack your shoe until after?" Varian Swift, a Border Elf from the Great River Expanse Region, lowered his reindeer's hoof and shook his head. "Of all the lousy timing," he muttered, setting his hands low on his hips and turning to look at the vendors scattered around the busy raceway. Peppermint Sticks made fresh, hot buttered rum served in classic peppermint vessels, and the Trinket Booth offered authentic jingle bells to adorn a reindeer's antlers, but where was the repair shop? He'd never needed one before now, but surely there had to be a smithy somewhere nearby.
"C'mon, Clyde." He motioned to his disabled reindeer. "Let's hobble around the corner. Maybe the smithy's closer to the back end of the loop."
Varian moved away from the crowded vendors with Clyde doing a three-hoofed clomp behind him. Well-wishers and fans tried to stop the pair, but Varian was on a tight schedule. He didn't let himself become cornered, but he gritted his teeth into a smile as he shook hands along the way.
For the past five years, he and Clyde had participated in the annual Reindeer Games, and every year they'd won all three divisions. If he won all three this year -- which was now in question -- he'd receive a bonus cash prize. True, he didn't need the additional funds to purchase the stretch of land he had his eye on, but it would come in handy to set up his ranch.
He'd been protecting the western fringes of the North Pole for more years than he could count. He was itching for something different; he wanted to settle down. Last year, Santa had granted his permission for Varian to retire. The caveat was two-fold. Varian would have to own and patrol a sizeable piece of land along the western border (the easy part), and he had to find a mate (the hard part). The really difficult part, however, was that the agreement had a one-year term. It became null and void by sunrise tomorrow -- Christmas Day. At which point, if Varian didn't meet the two stipulations, he'd have to sign a new, twenty-year contract to continue patrolling the endless western border.
His reindeer nudged his elbow and Varian shook his head out of his musings to see what the reindeer had noticed. "Good eyes, Clyde. Reindeer Repair Shoppe. Here we go."
The vendor's sign stuck out from oversized open barn doors. He and Clyde walked into the shop. A squat counter sporting an old cash register sat off to the right, and a placard along the wall spelled out services and prices, but other than these, the place seemed empty.
"Hello?" he called out. Faint sounds of metal clanging came from the back. Looking around, but not seeing anything with which to signal whoever was in the back, he shrugged and made his way to another wide opening on the left. He normally wouldn't barge his way through anyone's business, but he had a race to win and an Elven mate to find. He prayed that at the After Party, where Elves of all kinds gathered, he'd find at least one female he'd consider taking as a mate. He couldn't be picky anymore.
The air grew warmer from the huge furnace he noticed on the left as he and Clyde entered the back of the shop.
"Hello," he yelled, now spying a figure bent over an anvil. The thick apron, heavy gloves and welder's mask shielded the figure.
After a minute the banging stopped. A sizzling sound sputtered through the shop as the Elf set whatever metal he'd been working on in a large vat of water and looked up, not giving any outward sign to acknowledge Varian's presence.
The Elf set down the tools he'd been using and walked toward him, removing gloves along the way.
The first thing Varian noticed was that this was no Workshop Elf. Too tall.
The Elf glanced at Clyde, made some kind of noise and Varian raised a brow when his reindeer lifted his damaged hoof. Were they talking to each other? What kind of Elf was this smithy?
The Elf nodded back and mumbled something else. Clyde chuffed out... a reply? The next thing Varian knew, the Elf removed the infernal welding mask.
Varian sucked in a breath and did his best not to let his jaw drop.
The blacksmith -- a tall, willowy, female Elf -- smiled, and he whooshed out a breath of air as if he'd been kicked in the chest by his reindeer. Damn, she nearly came to his chin in height. She sported short hair with streaks of red and black and burgundy. He normally wouldn't think twice about it, but the multi-colors seemed to make her pale skin glow. An angular face, high-tipped ears and a graceful slender neck also captured his attention, but his gaze locked with her huge violet eyes. That is, until he zeroed in on full lips that promised pleasures untold with every movement.
Movement. Wait, she was talking to him.
"I'm sorry, could you repeat that?" he asked, stupidly. He'd never been tongue-tied before.
Her grin was a little shy and infectious. "I think I have a shoe to fit Clyde. You can stay or come back for him."
He simply nodded, afraid if he tried to speak he'd trip over his tongue. Love at first sight was nothing more than human baloney, but damn, if it didn't hit him hard right now. She turned around and his gaze immediately strayed to her slender back and slim waist where the apron strings cinched, to an uplifting, tight, curvy ass.
"Are you going to stay or leave?" she asked over her shoulder.
"I, ah, I'll wait."
His heart tripped and something in him grabbed his gut as if to yank him around to say, "She's the one!"