In the following scene, Christian logs onto a hookup app after his friend made him an embarrassing profile with the username SantaWantsYourChimney:
I finally opened the app that Barry had installed on my phone.
Time to change this ridiculous profile—or maybe delete it altogether.
There were a handful of notifications. Huh. I had some match requests, more than I would have expected given the lack of any real photos on my account. But my notifications also included men who had accepted my request—a neat trick since I hadn’t made any yet.
Barry, you scoundrel…
I should delete the whole lot of them. Why would a normal guy go for this Santa schtick? With great skepticism, I took a peek at one of the messages.
I want to ride Santa’s pole!
Charming. I checked the guy’s stats. He was older, at fifty, but clearly not mature, as my profile—well, the one Barry had written for me, at any rate—had requested. He wasn’t bad looking, slim but handsome. His user name, Best_You’ll_Ever_Have, didn’t encourage me. It was too close to my ex-husband’s brand of ego. Fynn was beautiful, and he knew it. He’d used it to his advantage on more than occasion. But when that didn’t work…Oh, he became furious. His ego was huge but fragile. Even for a single date to a work party, I wanted a guy who’d be a little more even-keeled. The last thing I needed was some ridiculous drama playing out in front of my colleagues.
I bypassed him to review another match. This one in his sixties.
If you’re tired of naughty boys, maybe Santa needs a Daddy.
I picked through a few more, not overly impressed with the offerings—until I reached CasualDad.
I almost passed him by—until I realized this wasn’t another Daddy wannabe. This was an actual dad. Was that good? Not for anything serious—I wouldn’t know the first thing about dealing with a kid—but luckily I only needed a date to a party. No commitment required.
I checked his profile for red flags.
It read: I’m a dad first. Just looking to relieve some stress and have fun. Open to casual dating, but I don’t have the time or energy for anything serious.
Well, that sounded perfect. Plus, he’d accepted a match request Barry sent on my behalf—rather than seeking me out—so perhaps he wasn’t a weirdo turned on by a pixelated Santa. Why he’d accepted the request was a still a mystery though. Maybe he didn’t see it actually going anywhere. Why would he, when the guy requesting a match was a fictional person?
CasualDad’s pics were enticing.
He had a broad, firm chest with script over his pecs that read Love leaves no room for regret. A nice sentiment, though I didn’t know if I agreed. My love for Fynn had created plenty of regret. But I didn’t have to agree with the man’s tattoo to take him on a date. Preferably, a date that ended very pleasurably for us both.
I’d gotten on this app to find a date to a work party, but these pictures reminded me that my body had its own needs, which had been ignored for some time now. Maybe I could get more than arm candy for a boring night with my colleagues out of this.
My mouth watered as I studied the various pics showing his chest and stomach, not overly muscled but solid. There was no direct face shot, but there was one shot of him in profile. He had nearly shoulder-length hair, which was blowing across his face. Water—maybe a lake—filled the background of the image. I could just make out the edge of his smile—and it was mischievous, maybe a little amused by someone off camera.
Jaxson Hicks flashed through my mind for a split second. His smile as he took pot shots at my Santa performance had that same edge of mischief. But I shut that thought down. I’d set my filters to hide anyone under thirty-five—and a quick look at CasualDad’s profile confirmed he met that threshold. Jaxson was much younger. He’d dropped out of college about seven years ago. If my math was correct, he would be somewhere around twenty-six or twenty-seven.
Even if he were old enough, Jaxson and I had never been anything but oil and water since we’d first met as student and adviser. He hadn’t liked what I’d had to say, and the feeling had been mutual.
Better to focus on this guy in front of me. This delicious-looking guy.
I decided to send him a quick message.
Hey, there. I like your pics and your profile. You seem like someone I’d like to know better, maybe over drinks? Apologies for the ridiculous username and profile. I’ll update soon.
His response came just as I was putting aside my reading for the night and turning off the light.
CasualDad: The name gave me a good laugh. If you change it, does that mean you won’t be cleaning my chimney? And is that a euphemism for what I think it is?
I groaned, mentally cursing Barry again.
SantaWantsYourChimney: My jerk of a friend thought it was funny. Obviously I need a new friend. If this doesn’t work out, you can have the spot. As long as you can resist matchmaking and setting up ridiculous profiles for me on dating apps.
CasualDad: That’s a high bar. I don’t know if I can meet it. I kind of want to see where a Santa kink could go 😉
SantaWantsYourChimney: But I hate Santa, and Christmas, and all this seasonal nonsense.
CasualDad: That only makes this name funnier. Now you have to keep it.
I dropped my head back on the pillow. It seemed as if I were destined to play Santa in all aspects of my life. But even I had to admit it had served as a pretty good ice-breaker with CasualDad. His easy teasing made me smile.
Maybe I can keep the name if it means you chat with me again, I typed.
He was quick to reply: Maybe I’ll chat with you again if you send me some sexy Santa pics.
Oh, hell no. Volunteering as Santa was bad enough. But posing for X-rated Santa selfies wasn’t happening. I sent him a reply, then turned off my phone before I could be tempted into embarrassing myself.
Listen, I’m just not that kind of Santa. I don’t rush down anyone’s chimney. But I do hope we can chat again…
When I woke the next morning, the first thing I did was check the Thrust app for his reply.
Hahaha, okay, Santa. We’ll play it your way. Message me again when you’re ready. I’m not going anywhere.