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Snow (Hounds of Hell MC 2)
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2023 Jamie Targaet
“Wait. What?” Emily Frost couldn’t have heard that right. The annual Christmas event they held in Mercy each year for the town’s children was two weeks away. “What do you mean Andy isn’t going to be able to play Santa Claus this year?”
While she listened to the elderly man’s wife explain why he wouldn’t be able to be Santa this year, Emily was fighting off hysteria. She understood that he’d taken a nasty fall and told his wife she was very sorry he’d broken his leg. Automatically, she asked if there was anything she could do. She did care. But she really wasn’t listening for a response.
What was she going to do?
Emily carried on the rest of the conversation as best she could, taking a deep breath when she ended the call.
“Fuck!” Her yell echoed through the quiet bakery.
Could things get any worse? She was blinking back tears as she finished counting the register and got all the goodies that hadn’t sold today boxed up. And there was a lot that hadn’t sold today.
The planning committee for the Christmas event was meeting tomorrow. Each member of that committee had jobs to do to make the event happen each year. Liza Austin and her husband owned a greenhouse in town. Each year they provided a beautiful wreath for the door. A live potted Christmas tree for the event was displayed in her bakery shop’s window throughout the holidays. Liza had a key to the shop to take care of the tree so it could be replanted later.
Myra Michaels handled the guest list, answering questions from parents and guardians about the event. She also handled donations that came in. Mina Dock had passed away this summer, but her granddaughter had moved back to town and was taking her place on the committee. Jade Dock and Emery Phillips oversaw setup, using folding chairs and tables Emery used at his bar, Sackett’s, for special events. They got out the decorations they used each year. Most had been donated by Jade’s grandmother Mina.
Emily had been a part of the committee since its first year, five years ago. Her job was supplying all the baked goods for the event and, with help, filling stockings with candy and treats for the kids to take home.
And she’d been the one who found their Santa Claus, Andy Wilder. Each year the elderly gentleman arrived as Santa and was just the best part of the entire event in her opinion. His warmth and sincerity made him a perfect choice. Plus, he could handle anything from kids scared of Santa, to those who were acting up and rowdy.
But he wasn’t coming this year. That was just the latest calamity this week and it was just Thursday night.
Where were they going to get another Santa Claus with two weeks to go?
Locking the door on her way out, she carried the box of goodies out to her SUV and got in. Emily crossed her fingers that the damn thing would start because it hadn’t been running right for the last several weeks. She knew her transmission was failing. What she didn’t know, since things had been so slow at the shop, was where she was getting the money to fix it.
In five minutes, she reached Mercy’s homeless shelter, delivering what she didn’t sell as she did every day the bakery was open. Heading for the back door, Emily rounded the corner and almost collided with someone.
“I’m sorry,” she muttered glancing up into gray eyes.
There were two men, both tall and wearing leather vests with their biker gang name on them, carrying a bed frame into the shelter. The one closest to the door was blond and nice-looking. The one she almost ran into? He was just as tall and muscular with a dark beard and mustache and almost entirely white locks of hair were in disarray on his head. She did a double take because hair that color didn’t usually go with a younger face. His eyes were pale gray and stunning.
The Hounds of Hell had long been a part of Mercy according to Liza, and she spoke of them fondly. Emily didn’t know much about motorcycle gangs and none of them ever came to her bakery. She really wanted to keep it that way. They were a little scary for her.
That gray-eyed gaze moved over her until the blond lost patience. “Snow, we still moving this frame?”
Snow returned his attention to the task, and someone else walked over to her.
“Emily, how are you?” Jade Dock asked. “Making your deliveries?”
Emily smiled. “I am. How are you?”
“Donating some things,” Jade said, watching the men carry the bed frame carefully through the shelter door. “At least I have some strong help to move them.”
Jade walked with her into the shelter. As she always did, Emily placed the box of treats on the receptionist’s desk just inside.
“Who’s your friend?” a deep voice behind her asked.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Guys, this is Emily,” Jade said, motioning to the two bikers who were apparently with her. To Emily, she said, “This is Hero and Snow.”
Emily shook hands with both, noticing the one she called Snow wasn’t too quick to release her hand. By the time he did, she noticed the blond had his arm around Jade’s waist. So they were a couple?
“I’d better get going,” Emily said. “It’s nice meeting you.”
“I’ll see you at the meeting tomorrow?” Jade called as she walked back to the SUV.
When I get to tell the committee we need another Santa Claus, and we just have two weeks to find one? Yes, wouldn’t miss it.
“I’ll see you there,” Emily said over her shoulder as she reached the door. And as she headed back to her SUV, she just hoped the damn thing would start and not embarrass her in front of the bikers.
* * *
August Crowe, Snow to his MC, watched the petite blonde rush back to her SUV, the long braid of her hair dancing behind her. She looked so perky in her soft sweater and form-hugging slacks. He’d never seen an ass like that on such an uppity girl.
“Who’s that?” Snow asked Jade as he helped Hero get the old box spring out of the truck bed.
Jade watched her drive away in her SUV before turning back to Snow. “That’s Emily Frost. She owns Whisk and Whimsy in town. It’s a bakery.”
Frost, huh? That had Snow grinning. They sounded like a matched pair.
“Say that five times really fast,” Hero said from the other side of the furniture they were moving.
Figures. She looked like someone you’d find in a bakery, making treats. If he thought she’d give him the time of day, Snow would become a bakery patron real fucking fast. But from the look she cut him, he probably wouldn’t have a lot of luck.
“What meeting is tomorrow?” Hero asked Jade, holding one end of the box spring and guiding Snow who carried the other.
“Planning committee for the annual kids’ Christmas party,” Jade explained. “It’s only two weeks away.”
Jade had mentioned it recently. Doing an event for the poor kids in Mercy sounded like a good plan to him. If Miss Uppity was in on it, she had a good heart.
“If you need help with that, let me know,” Snow said. It earned him a look from both Jade and Hero, but he meant it. There had been a few times when he’d been a kid that he and his family wouldn’t have had food if not for the kindness of others. He liked the idea of paying it forward.
“Thank you, Snow,” Jade told him. “I’ll keep that in mind.”
Hero shook his head as they reached the shelter door.
“What?” Snow asked. “Something wrong with wanting to help kids? Razor did say we should do some community outreach.”
“Not that,” Hero said. “The blonde. I’d forget that if I were you.”
“Why?” Jade asked. “Emily’s nice.”
“Maybe so,” Hero said. “But I’d be willing to bet someone in an MC isn’t exactly her type.”
“I might have said the same thing once,” Jade didn’t look convinced. “You can’t assume things like that.”
She had a point.
“So the party is for any kid in Mercy?” Snow asked as they maneuvered the box spring through the shelter door.
Jade followed them. “Technically. We have to leave it open for anyone to avoid singling people out, you know? The ones who really need help.”
“Good approach,” Snow said.
“I’m told each year we have a tree and decorations. There’s an older man who comes to play Santa Claus. There are treats for everyone and everyone gets a gift from Santa. We identify the kids who really need help and they get different gifts than the ones we give the other kids that show up.”
“Makes sense,” Snow said. “What do the poor kids get?”
“The smaller ones get a toy, some candy, and a gift card this year,” Jade explained. “The older kids get candy and a bigger gift card. Santa tells them they can’t open their presents until Christmas Eve. Liza said most of the time that works.”
It was thoughtful.
They set the box spring down, heading back out for the mattress.
“Offer stands,” Snow said to Jade. “Let me know if I can help. Even if it’s just setup.”