Letting Go (Peppermint Twist) by Sara Jay
Magic, Christmas, Elves
Snow Queen Erika has never been lucky with love. Her powers have made it difficult to find intimacy with anyone safely, so she's written off romance for good. Jack Frost has been after Erika's heart for centuries. This winter, with a little help from a naughty elf, he may just get his Christmas wish.
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"Do you wanna build a snowman?"
Jack jerked his head in the direction of the gruff Bostonian accent. Twinkle, his favorite Elf and co-mischief maker, casually tossed a fluffy snowball in the air and caught it, quirking an eyebrow at him.
Jack grinned. "Not now, Short Stack. I'm plotting." He used his long, slender staff to make a slender but well-proportioned female figure in the snow.
This time Twinkle's eyebrows shot up under his mop of black hair. "What are we doing today? Closing schools? Messing with Mrs. Claus's ovens? Freezing the pipes in Parliament?" He waggled said eyebrows with anticipation, the last word stretched out like Paaahlahmint.
Shaking his head, Jack pointed his long, gnarled staff at the snow palace beyond the mountains. "Nope. I'm gonna go see her."
Twinkle snorted at the non-inclusive activity, this time hurling a snowball at Jack. "Erika? The Snow Queen? Jack, that ship has sailed. She's only turned you down a million times." Swirling his fingers in the frosty arctic air, he separated another snowball into three and began juggling.
"Bit of a glutton for punishment, aren't you?"
"I like a challenge." Jack snapped his fingers to brush the snow off his face instantly. He grinned, picturing the feisty snow goddess of his dreams. Her impossibly long white hair -- sometimes braided, sometimes coiled around her head like a crown-sparkled brighter than the snow itself. Those violet eyes, so cold, yet fiery at the same time, mirrored the queen's own attitude. That kissable heart-shaped mouth...
Erika was his perfect match. She just didn't know it yet.
"Yeah, and you must like failure, too. Jack, she always sees through your schemes," Twinkle insisted. "Like the time you said you were there to fix a broken terrace."
Shrugging, Jack said, "I was being helpful."
"She threw you off the freakin' roof! And what about the time you dressed up in a suit and tried to bring her flowers?"
Writing "Erika" in the snow with his bare toes, Jack muttered, "It was romantic."
"It was moronic! She saw you coming a mile away and didn't even open the door. The fake blizzard, the ice dinosaur, the poinsettias in snow -- Jack, you've tried hundreds of times and none of them has ever worked." Twinkle's pained expression revealed more compassion than doubt for his friend, but he wore the doubt, too.
Pursing his lips, Jack stared over the mountains at the home of the woman who owned his heart. As children, their friendship had been easy -- effortless, even. Since they grew up to be stewards of the North, Erika refused to have anything to do with him.
"At some point, don't you think you need to give it up, Jack? Find a nice Elf or snow dryad, and move on."
Picturing Erika's violet eyes, her sparkling snowflake laugh, Jack shook his head. "Never. I'll never give up on her."
Twinkle shook his head. "Well, you're persistent. I'll give you that much. But you've got to do something really different if you want her to even talk to you, Jack."
"This time will be different. She won't see me coming." At least, he hoped not.
Twinkle didn't seem to hear him. "Last time she chased you off with a snow beast."
"And if you recall, Ice is now my pet," Jack reminded him, whistling for the creature. The shaggy, white beast bounded around a snowdrift, a lot like a Tibetan Mastiff. Ice just happened to be much bigger. With even more drool.
Ice panted, waiting for his master's command. Jack pointed at the snow and a giant bone crystallized. With a flick of a finger, he sent it soaring over the mountains and smack into the queen's courtyard. "Fetch!"
Ice's bark reverberated off the actual ice and into the vast permafrost, carrying the sound for miles. Snow flew behind him as he bounded toward his new toy, much of it landing on Twinkle. The Elf grunted in disgust, clapping his hands to magically clean off the powder.
"Oops," Jack smirked, pointed once again toward the palace. "Looks like I gotta go get my dog."
Twinkle slapped his forehead. "Oh, brother."