Seriously Serendipity





KELLEY HUNTER



Chapter One
Camille makes an imperative wish and a most solemn vow, but not before contemplating kicking some elf’s butt.

December 13th
The elf got lippy and nearly ruined everything, which wasn’t the plan at all. Camille’s plan had been so simple, too. Sneak into the mall, plead her case to Santa, and haul it to Ella’s party—that’s all the Universe had to let her do. But of course, per her usual luck, it chose to mess with her and all hell broke loose instead.
No sooner had Camille stepped out of the taxi then the cabbie refused to give back her last ten dollars in change. (She didn’t care what he said. It wasn’t her. She didn’t sharpie “I’m an old fart who smells like cheese” on the back of his seat, even though she could completely sympathize with someone who would.)
She then stepped into the mall only to find a line jam-packed with shoppers who wouldn’t know what a bottle of deodorant was if it smacked them upside the head, repeatedly, and that she’d have to endure waiting in this line listening to bad Muzak interpretations of Christmas carols for oh, forever. And if all that wasn’t bad enough, there was the mortification of some child mistaking her for Kleenex and coughing the most disgusting mucousy stuff all over her coat.
Her new coat.
Her only coat.
Still, a plan was a plan, and Camille had stuck to her plan since leaving her apartment that morning. But then the Universe had gotten really nasty and sent the elf to mess up her plan.
“Piss off,” the elf said, just because she wouldn’t get out of the line leading to the North Pole. So Camille discreetly flipped her off under her jacket and just prayed none of the kids saw, which definitely wasn’t the plan either but certainly seemed appropriate at the time.
The bottle blonde elf in too tight spandex glared at her in return. Granted, it fell sort of flat given the scary-long felt hat perched on her head. Her every movement sent the bell on its tip flying through the air. Her every other movement threatened to dislodge her substantial cleavage, which was already straining at the flimsy fabric. Her nametag had “Jessica” scribbled across it in purple crayon. But there was genius for you, because underneath it said “manger-in-training.”
“Ha-ha, nut job.” The elf leaned forward, and lowering her voice, said, “How about you just keep your fat butt out of line? Huh? How about that?”  Her breath actually smelled of stale candy canes.
“Or, you could just watch as I take my butt back over to the line and rat yours out to Santa?”  Camille asked. And to be honest, it sounded like a really good plan to her too.
“What is your problem?” Jessica shook in agitation just like one of those small yappy dogs and sent the jingle bell on the tip of her elf hat jangling furiously. It whipped through the air and smacked her on the forehead. “This line is for kids!”
She was wrong, of course. Technically, it wasn’t. But if there is one thing Camille had learned during her twenty-two years on this planet, it was that it was impossible trying to argue with some people-and she was pretty sure that included fashion-challenged people sporting elf costumes and bad attitudes that were named Jessica. So she turned and dropped back into the snaking line of waiting children instead, cutting in front of a little girl with carrot-colored pigtails.
“Thanks for holding my spot.”
The child eyed the elf warily. “No problem, I think.”
“Foul-tempered creatures, aren’t they?” she asked.
“Oh, yeah. And did you see her nametag? I mean, I’m only six, and even I can spell manager. How dumb is that?”
“That’s it!” The spandexed elf stormed over and grabbed her sleeve. Her acrylic-tipped fingers bored right into Camille’s one and only coat.  “You are so out of here. No one calls me dumb! Get out of line now.”
She couldn’t believe it; Camille wasn’t even the one who’d called her dumb and now the elf was molesting her.
“Take your hands off me, you freak. I’m not going anywhere.” Camille shoved her hand away. “I can’t believe this. I’ve been assailed by an elf.”
“You need to leave.”
Camille pointed at the wooden North Pole sign burrowed in mounds of fake snow. “You’ve got two seconds to show me where it says that. There’s no height requirement, no fine print that I.D. is required.” She knew, too, because she’d checked. Just to be safe. “Nowhere does it say this line is just for kids.”
“But you’re a grown woman,” the elf said. “Why the hell do you want to see Santa?”
The kids in line gasped and parents’ heads shot up. The little girl in pigtails pointed at the elf. “You said a bad word. I’m telling Santa.”
The elf shook her head, sending the jingle bell flying. It thwacked her on the nose. “No, I didn’t, and no, you’re not.”
The kids nodded their heads. “Yes, you did,” they chorused.
“You did,” the girl said. “A really bad word too. And everyone knows elves aren’t supposed to swear.”
Camille had to agree. It was shocking, really, such a potty-mouthed manger-in-training. “You did. We all heard you.”
“You stink too.”  The little girl scrunched her face in disgust. “You smell like the candy cane air freshener in my dad’s car. Yuck.”
The elf’s face flushed a deep red that matched her hat so perfectly Camille couldn’t help but be impressed, even as upset as she was. Who would have thought it was even possible to turn such a spectacular shade of burgundy?
“That’s it. Get out of line,” she said. “Now!”
She was mistaken, though. There would be no now for Camille, thank you. Not after she'd spent almost two hours waiting in a line packed with kids and gawking parents. Not after the elf had called her butt fat and manhandled her coat. And not after she’d been humiliated and shamed for no good reason. Oh, no. She wasn’t going anywhere after all she’d been through.
Camille did, however, say, “You’re the one who singled me out for doing nothing wrong. So I’m waiting in line to see Santa, and there’s no law that says I can’t.”
The kids nodded more feverishly. A few parents stepped forward. A few more covered their children’s ears and looked ready to call the authorities.
“Now do us all a favor and go take your scrawny elf-butt back to the North Pole,” she finished.
The children broke out in laughter and cheered. The elf’s face went from that deep red to a Concord grape purple that Camille had to admit was equally impressive.
“Fine.” She huffed. “But I’ll get you for this. Just you wait and see.” She swiveled on her bell-tipped booties and flounced away through the crowd.
Relief flooded through Camille as the woman disappeared, and tears sprang to her eyes. The Universe may have tried hard to stomp on her plan and it may have thrown obstacles of snot and elves in her way but she’d done it. Camille had actually done it. She’d gotten her way and was going to see Santa. And to be honest, she really needed to talk to the Big Guy. It was imperative.
She peered down at the children huddled around her and felt a tear slip free. “Thanks for backing me up, guys.” She wiped at her eyes. “She was one vicious elf.”
A small tow-headed boy in a cowboy hat winked up at her. “That was great.” He snorted. “Get your elf-butt back to the North Pole. You got guts, lady. Santa’s not going to be happy.”

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