The Reindeer's St. Patrick's Surprise (Reindeer Holidays Book 2)

By: E A Price


“I would appreciate it if a member of the family could attend the party.”

“Of course, I always liked Candace.”

She used to bring Harlan and his siblings candy from the different countries she visited. She started his lifelong love of gummy wasabi fish – which were an acquired taste, but not one he could shake.

His uncle smiled wanly. “Thank you. My assistant will send you the details.”

Harlan opened his mouth, considering whether he wanted to probe his uncle about his love life, then quickly snapped it shut again. He wanted to know about his uncle having sex only a little less than his mom… who had only ever had sex three times because that’s how many children she had. Nope, whoever his uncle was seeing could remain a mystery.

He turned to leave, and Uncle Clay said, “I heard about Corinne being in town.”

“Of course you did,” said Harlan. He looked at his uncle expectantly. “You going to warn me to stay away from her?”

Clay cocked his head to one side. “No, just wanted to tell you that I’m here if you want to talk.”

Harlan raised his eyebrows in surprise. “Talk?”

“Well, not for the next couple of weeks because I’ll be in the Caribbean,” continued his uncle only in mild embarrassment. He wasn’t the touchy-feely type and rarely admitted to having feelings. “But I am only a phone call away.”

Harlan smiled. “I appreciate that, but you don’t need to worry,” he said with confidence he didn’t truly feel. He wasn’t sure whether he wanted to kiss or kill Corinne when he saw her, and neither of those things would work out well for him.





Four

Temp said hello to various volunteers as she sashayed her way through the center. Temp was thankfully rarely short of volunteers – she could bully and charm people in equal measure. Though really, most of the volunteers were parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents who had kids in some of the many programs the center ran.

Temp placed a coffee on the desk of her deputy. Marion was one of the few people who drew a wage at the charity, and she was worth every penny. She acted as deputy, secretary, chaperone on most of the trips they organized – she was a wonder, and Temp couldn’t run the place without her. Marion was a single mother with three kids, and they met when Marion brought her kids to the center. At the time she was busting her back working three jobs, but when Temp saw how capable she was, Temp quickly snapped her up for a job.

“Good morning,” said Temp.

“Thank you. I’ve been through the expenses, done a Costco run this morning and I’m in the process of arranging those tickets for Luna Land. Also, I baked last night, so there’s fresh blueberry cake in the kitchen.”

“You’re a marvel,” murmured Temp, who felt guilty that she had spent her morning fretting over the pregnancy tests – which all turned out to be negative.

Marion beamed happily before her expression turned a little pained. “Also, It’s your dad.”

“Oh. Yeah, I’ve been meaning to call him back.”

She didn’t have regular contact with her dad – hadn’t for years. Usually, he was traveling with his latest girlfriend or wife, steaming his way through his own trust fund. Exploring an exotic corner of the world he hadn’t been to yet – he was running out of places in the world to visit, though he hadn’t yet ventured to Antarctica, so maybe one day…

But, contrary to usual behavior, he had been calling and calling her recently. She was always busy so hadn’t managed to connect with him yet, not that she had particularly tried hard to call him back.

Temp moved towards her office.

“Wait, no, I mean…” Marion called, but it was too late.

“Pumpkin!”

Temp gaped. Her dad – who she hadn’t seen in person in over three years was here, in her office, grinning at her like the cat who got the cream, the canary, and the mouse.

“Dad, you’re here,” she exclaimed in surprise, staring at him.

He threw open his arms. “No hug from my best girl?”

Her cheek ticked but she plastered a smile on her face, and they hugged awkwardly. She patted his back. They hadn’t hugged in over six years.

He let go of her, and she bustled behind her desk, trying to cover up her flustering at the situation. She wasn’t sure her dad had any clue she ran the charity, never mind where their center was located.

He smiled and dropped into her visitor’s chair. “You know this is not exactly the best neighborhood. I’m not sure you have the best security,”

Temp shook her head, ignoring that. Her dad taking an interest in her life was a new experience, and not one she really wanted to encourage. He couldn’t ignore her for twenty years and then waltz in and tell her what she was doing wrong.