Deck the Shops



Anya stared at the mass of tangled greenery in Tara’s hand. “Are you sure Giles wanted to put that up in the shop?” she said doubtfully. “It’s tied up with some of my bloodier wishes, you know.”

Tara laughed softly. “I know the history of mistletoe,” she said, “but I think he’s going for the happier tradition; trying to make the shop look Christmassy.”

Anya sniffed. “Highly inappropriate, any way you look at it.”

Tara climbed up on the step ladder, stretching high. The ladder wobbled and she glanced down. “Could you just –”

“Of course.” Anya held the ladder steady, the folds of Tara’s velvet skirt brushing her face. “Wouldn’t want you to fall and injure yourself; the insurance premiums on this place are high enough as it is.”

“I promise not to sue,” Tara said, amusement rippling through her rich, low voice.

“’Sue!’” Anya was lost for words to describe the horror of that eventuality.

Tara climbed down and patted Anya’s shoulder. “Stop worrying. See; I’m safe and sound.”

She carried the ladder back to the storeroom and returned to find Anya staring up as the mistletoe, a pensive look on her face. “What’s the matter? Isn’t it where you want it?”

Anya turned. “I’m not quite sure what it’s for,” she admitted. “I feel silly sometimes; all the little details I don’t know about and you all take for granted...”

Tara’s voice was warm with sympathy. “It’s for kissing, sweetie. If someone’s standing under it, anyone’s allowed to kiss them. It’s fun if people are at a party and don’t realise what’s over their heads. That’s all.”

“Oh.”

Anya looked at Tara and then up at the kissing ring...and back to Tara. Tara flushed and then moved forward hesitantly. “Like this,” she said, leaning close. Her lips brushed against Anya’s, soft as snowflakes, intoxicating as egg nog, thrilling as unwrapped presents. She stepped back and smiled at Anya. “See?”

Anya nodded slowly and took a few steps away. “I think we need to move it though.”

“Why?”

“It’s a little off centre; see?”

Tara stepped under it and looked up. “Seems fine from – oh.”

This time, the kiss was as hot as a Yule log and went on as long as the Queen’s speech.


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