The Millionaire's Christmas Wish

By: Lucy Gordon

‘I dare say he’d find it inconvenient as well,’ Alex said sardonically.

She whirled on him like an avenging fury.

‘It’s easy for you to sit there and mock, but you don’t have a crowd of children who are expecting Santa to arrive with his sack and give out presents, and you’ve got to tell them that he isn’t coming.’

Alex was saved from having to answer this by the arrival of Corinne.

‘Mrs Bradon, I’m so sorry,’ she said at once. ‘Jimmy’s got a broken collar-bone and a cracked rib. I’m afraid he can’t be Santa.’

‘But can’t he be Santa with a broken collar-bone?’ Mrs Bradon asked wildly. ‘The children won’t mind.’

‘It’s being set now. He’s in a lot of pain,’ Corinne explained.

‘Well, they can give him something for that.’

‘They are giving him something, and it’s going to send him to sleep.’

‘Oh, really! That’s very tiresome!’

Alex’s lips twitched. He couldn’t help it. Mrs Bradon’s single-mindedness would have been admirable in a boardroom, but here it was out of place.

‘There must be a way around the problem,’ he said.

‘Like what?’ Corinne confronted him, eyes flashing. ‘This is your fault. You ran Jimmy down, driving like a maniac.’

‘I was doing ten miles an hour, if that. He slipped on the ice. He always was a slowcoach.’

‘Well, he can’t be Santa, whatever the reason, and it was your car.’

The sheer injustice of this took his breath away.

‘What does it matter whose car it was if I didn’t hit him?’

‘Jimmy says you did.’

‘And I say I didn’t.’

‘Will you two stop making a fuss about things that don’t matter?’ Mrs Bradon said crossly. ‘We have a crisis on our hands.’

‘Surely not,’ Alex said, exasperated. ‘How hard can it be to play Santa? A bit of swagger, a ho-ho-ho or two-anyone can do it.’

‘Fine!’ said Corinne. ‘You do it!’

‘I didn’t mean-’

‘What a wonderful idea!’ Mrs Bradon cut across him. ‘You’re about the same height so the costume will fit you. You have got it?’ This was to Corinne.

‘Yes, it’s in the car. And you’re right, the size is fine.’

‘I’m sure you don’t need me,’ Alex said defensively. ‘This is a hospital. There must be a dozen men around-’

‘There are a hundred,’ said Mrs Bradon firmly. ‘But they are doctors, nurses, ward orderlies. Which one of them do you suggest should be taken off his duties to save you from having to do your duty?’

‘It’s hardly my-’

‘You deprived us of our Santa Claus,’ said Mrs Bradon implacably. ‘It’s your job to take his place!’

‘Look, ladies-’

Alex met Corinne’s eyes, seeking her support. But she was looking at him angrily.

‘After all,’ she echoed him, ‘how hard can it be? A bit of swagger and a ho-ho-ho or two.’

‘All right, all right,’ he snapped.

‘Splendid!’ Mrs Bradon hooted triumphantly. ‘You’d better get to work right away. Corinne will show you what to do. Hurry up!’

She bustled away.

‘You’re finding this very funny, aren’t you?’ Alex growled.

‘It has its moments. When was the last time someone spoke to you like that without you flattening them in return?’

‘I can’t remember,’ he admitted.

‘I’ll get the costume and you can get to work.’

‘Corinne, wait.’ He detained her with a hand on her arm. ‘Must I really do this? Surely-’

‘Aha! Backing out!’ She began to cluck like a hen.

‘I am not chicken,’ he said furiously.

‘Sez who?’ she jeered. ‘You’re just afraid you’re not up to it. That’s the first time I’ve heard you admit that there is something you can’t do better than the next man.’

‘I didn’t mean that.’

‘No, you meant that it’s beneath you.’

‘I just think that there has to be another way.’

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