Thank you for reading A Christmas Witch. Harper and I really hope you enjoy this bonus chapter.
One year later…
Noah opened the closet door once again, scanning its contents. Like the other ten times he looked, he didn’t find what he was searching for. He bent over, looking under the sole desk in the large back office of the art gallery, and again came up empty. The sharp click of high heels and Avery’s cheerful voice drifted to him from the front room pausing his hunt. He sighed in relief, thankful his savior had made it back. How he found anything before she came back in his life was still a mystery.
“Vee, sweetie, where is my jacket?” Noah called, fumbling around in search of the coat which shouldn’t have been hard to find considering it was bright red and trimmed with fluffy white fur around the collar and wrists. “Avery. Where’s my…”
“Right here babe,” Avery said as she stepped into the office holding the missing Santa suit jacket.
It dangled from her outstretched hand in front of his face, but Noah couldn’t activate the motor functions needed to take it. Every part of his body was on strike from doing anything other than soaking in the devilishly stunning image of Avery.
Her floor length red cocktail dress sparkled even in the dim light. The plunging neckline made him want to shove his face between the ample cleavage it exposed and never come up for air. Her silky chestnut brown hair was swept up in a curly bun, with a few stray strands hanging loose and curling at her nape of her neck. A dab of makeup highlighted her features without overwhelming her natural beauty.
“DAAAA-YUMM!” He leaned toward her as if pulled by an invisible magnet. “Bed. Now!”
Avery chuckled as if he’d said something funny, but he was completely serious. How could she expect to be in his presence looking like she stepped off a Hollywood red carpet and him not want to strip her out of that slinky dress and act out his greatest fantasies?
“So, I take it you like Kate’s handy work?”
“Like it? I’m going back to the store and buying Kate whatever present she wants this year.”
Avery laughed, lighting up her already stunning face. This glamorous look was way out of the norm, but Noah made a mental note to make sure it happened more often. He loved Avery as she was paint splattered sweatpants and all, but hey, he was a red-blooded man after all. Who didn’t like their lady to get dolled up every once in a while?
Noah’s mouth watered, like a starving man at a feast fit for a king, as he stalked toward Avery. He wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her close. “Give me five minutes Vee,” he crooned as he nuzzled her neck. His voice deepened, desire adding a sensual huskiness to it. “I promise to make them the best ones of your life.”
Avery melted further into his embrace, tilting her head to the side to give him better access to her neck. “I want to. I really, really want to. But we have a gallery full of kids ready to meet Santa.”
“Yes, yes. The kids. Right.” Noah straightened, his mind snapping back to the present and the reason they were there in the first place. This was his company’s annual Christmas with Santa celebration, where he dressed up and passed out toys to the children from the inner-city youth group. Once the children left, the charity auction of Avery’s artwork would begin, to raise the money for next year’s presents.
“Fine,” he said, prying his hands from her luscious hips and forcing himself to take a step back. “But tonight, you owe me for that dress.”
Avery’s faced morphed into the epitome of seduction, with her pouty lips and hooded eyes she knew he couldn’t resist. She straightened her back, pushing her cleavage further in his face. “How about I let you peel it off me with your teeth?”
Noah growled low in his throat. “You will be the death of me woman.”
He swallowed hard, trying to regain an ounce of control of his raging libido. Placing a quick peck on her cheek, he snatched the jacket from her hand and ran from the room like the hounds of hell nipped at his heels. If he didn’t hurry up and get out of there, he couldn’t promise he’d be able to restrain himself from doing all the things he wanted to Avery for daring to come to this event looking so sexy.
He tossed on the jacket and adjusted his fake beard before walking out of the office and picking up the bag of presents on the other side of the door. When he passed Kate on the way to the staged Santa’s Workshop area, he stopped and gave her a quick kiss on her cheek.
“Thank you,” he whispered.
She laughed, needing no explanation of what he meant. “You’re very welcome.”
Noah winked at her before getting into character and becoming one with his inner Santa Claus.
“Ho, ho, ho. Merry Christmas,” he bellowed as he entered the area where the children were gathered. They immediately swarmed around him, cheering and begging for his attention.
“Santa! Santa!” a little girl in a snowman covered dressed yelled, jumping up and down with her hand frantically waving back and forth. “I was really good this year.”
“So was I,” called a little boy who was missing his front two teeth.
“No, but I was really good this year,” the girl sassed.
“Well, I was better.”
“Now, now children,” Noah said, interrupting the two bickering kids. “I’m sure you were all very good this year. In fact, I have something for all of you, so don’t worry. Your parents sent special letters to me at the North Pole and told me what you wanted.”
The impending brawl momentarily squelched, Noah sat in his Santa chair, ready for the children to come get their presents. Dressed in an elf costume that included a way too tight pair of red and green striped leggings, Joe brought the first child forward. Noah snickered to himself, watching the fabric stretch to its limits over the big man’s frame. It’d been a shocker to find out they even made one big enough to fit him. Although, barely.
“And who might this little boy be?” Noah asked in his best, jolly fat man impersonation.
“This is our good friend Sam,” Joe said in his too deep to be an elf voice.
Noah patted his lap, inviting the little child to come to him. Sam didn’t hesitate to scamper up and tell him every toy his little heart desired. Noah listened intently, his heart-warming at the animated way the boy showed him how a remote-control car worked. He loved this. Seeing the joy on the children’s faces. Being a part of the reason the season meant so much to so many people. Last year he’d been blessed with two of the greatest Christmas gifts ever. His curse had been lifted, and Avery had given him a second chance.
Like he’d promised, he’d spent every day since trying to show her how grateful he was for it. His gaze strayed to Avery standing in front of one of her paintings, laughing and chatting with another couple. Perfect. That was the only way he could describe this last year with her. He wanted her by his side for the rest of their lives and tonight he would make that happen.
“You know,” Kate said, coming up beside Avery. “For someone who Christmas used to be his least favorite holiday, Noah sure has gone full native.”
Avery followed her line of sight to Noah, shaking hands with a few of the charity auction stragglers. The event had ended half an hour ago, but they still lingered, talking and schmoozing like they had all the time in the world. No doubt he was saying something witty and brilliant, which is why there wasn’t a moment not filled with laughter from their small group.
“He has, hasn’t he? He looks completely in his element in that Santa suit, fake fat belly and all.”
“Maybe he can drum up a little Christmas magic and get one of them to up their donation.”
“We can only hope.”
Hobnobbing with the rich and famous wasn’t her cup of tea. It wasn’t even in the wheelhouse of things she knew how to do. That was why she and Noah made such a great team. She created the art, and he handled the donors. Since opening herself back up to ghost last year, her career skyrocketed. Once again, she couldn’t paint fast enough to keep up with how fast Kate could sell her work. Last Christmas had changed her life in so many ways for the better, and she was grateful for every one of them.
“Well, we have to get Elsie to bed. She’s been getting a little cranky for the last twenty minutes.”
“Of course. Go home. Tell her aunty loves her.”
Avery pulled Kate in for a hug, then watched her join Jeff, who waited by the front door with their sleeping toddler cradled in his arms. One day she wanted that with Noah. A little human who looked like a mix of both of them. She hoped they got his beautiful wintery blue eyes.
“Hey sweetie, you ready to go?” Noah asked as he approached.
His group of raving fans made their way to the exit, leaving them alone in the gallery.
“So, how’d we do tonight?”
“We made three-hundred and twenty thousand.”
Noah let out a long whistle. “Wow! That’s wonderful Vee. I’m so proud of you.”
“Thanks.” Avery stood a little straighter feeling ten feet tall under his praise. “Needless to say, we’ll have more than enough to get presents for the kids next year. And I think I want to expand the number of kids we serve.”
“We can make it happen. Whatever you want to do love. If you think we can make it happen, I’m on board.”
Avery knew she could do it. She’d gotten her creative groove back, and she had no plans of cutting herself off from her muses any time soon.
“Let me grab my wallet from the office and then we can head home.” Noah kissed her on the cheek before jogging off.
She waited patiently, but as the minutes ticked by her stomach knotted, the old fear of his Christmas curse nudging the back of her mind. She chided herself for giving the foolish thought a second of her mental energy. Noah wasn’t hurt. His curse was lifted last year and she knew it. But when five minutes passed without him coming back, she walked toward the office. It’s only in case he needs help.
“Noah. Noah, sweetie, are you…” The rest of her sentence logged in her throat when she walked into the room that was no longer an office. It’d been transformed into a romantic Christmas wonderland.
Sparkling snowflakes hung from the ceiling. A Christmas tree covered in blue and silver ornaments, and twinkling white lights took up an entire corner of the room. The large round window was frosted over, and the floor was dusted with fake snow. No, it wasn’t snow. Avery leaned closer. It was white rose petals. In the middle of the beautiful scene, Noah kneeled on one knee, a small black jewelry box held open in his hands. Avery’s hands flew to her mouth as tears ran down her face, no doubt ruining her picture perfect makeup. When did he have time to do all this?
“Avery Marie Jones, I sat for hours trying to come up with the perfect speech to give you right now. Trying to decide which words would be enough to perfectly capture my feelings for you. And then I realized that there aren’t any. How I feel about you transcends words and even reason. There is literally nothing on this earth I won’t do for you. The joy you bring to my life is a gift that I can never repay, but I’ll strive every day to do just that. I fall short in this endeavor on a regular basis, so I thank you for your patience and forgiveness. That alone is worth me trying with every fiber of my being to keep a smile on your face. So, will you do me the honor of spending the rest of my life trying to keep your heart filled with love? Will you marry me?”
Avery didn’t have to think about her answer. She threw her arms around his neck and kissed him fiercely, pulling away only long enough to mumble, “It’s about time!”
“About time?” Noah released a hearty laugh, shaking his head. “Very true. It’s way past time. I guess I’m about nine years late.”
Avery traced his jawline with her lips, not caring about their years apart. She’d forgiven him for that already.
“No, not nine years. You’re six months late. I swore you were going to get me a ring for my birthday.” She stepped out of his embrace, then slowly gathered the fabric of her dress, easing it up her leg in the seductive way she knew drove him crazy. Noah’s eyes followed the movement until she stopped just short of revealing the slinky silk lingerie Kate made her buy. Adding the perfect amount of sass to her voice she taunted him. “Come on, Noah. How did you miss all my hints?”
Noah growled low in his throat before rushing forward and gathering her back in his arms. He hooked his arms around her thighs and lifted her with ease. Avery’s lips curled into a satisfied smile, as she basked in the triumph of still having the power to make Noah wild with desire for her. She wrapped her legs around his waist as he walked backwards, then set her on the desk. She went in for another kiss, but he placed a finger on her lips, stopping her advance. Ugh! What was he up to now? Besides trying to make me combust from pent up passion.
Noah pulled the gaudy platinum engagement ring, encrusted with diamonds, from the little black jewelry box and held it out between them. “So, is that a yes?”
“Yes! Yes! You betcha.” Avery held out her hand and Noah slipped on the ring that fit perfectly.
She extended her arm out to the side, examining the way the ring sparkled even in the dim lighting, and allowed the promise it held to sink into her core. Noah was hers, and she was his for the rest of their lives. Eyes filled with wonder, she turned to the man who made her heart soar. There was only one perfect way to finish the night.
Her fingers trailed up his chest, stopping on the top button of his dress-shirt. She loved that he’d gotten all fancied up for her after playing Santa. One by one, she undid the buttons.
Noah gave her a heated knowing grin and quirked an eyebrow at her. “Here? In your gallery?”
“You got a problem with that?” She teased, running her tongue over her lips.
“No problem at all.” His hands ran up her thighs, lifting the dress to her waist.
She spun around to the window behind her and laughed at the frosted snow obscuring the view of anyone outside. “You had this planned all along!”
Noah glanced over his shoulder. “No, not planned, but sometimes life has a way of working itself out.”
Wasn’t that the truth?! Here Avery was, back in NYC with the only man she ever loved. But now wasn’t the time to dwell upon that. Now was the time to savor everything her soon-to-be husband had to offer.
Thank you again for reading A Christmas Witch.
Make sure to also check out the following books by authors Harper Ash and Joynell Schultz.
Quarter Witch Chronicles (Joynell Schultz)
Angels of Sojourn Series (Joynell Schultz)
Drakon Academy Year One (Harper Ash)
Did you enjoy this epilogue? How about the entire story? Feel free to comment here or leave a review somewhere out there on the internet. 🙂 Thank you.