Clare Chase left us at the starting line of the Santa Dash yesterday – now it’s time to take a run with Jane Lovering for today’s Christmas Round Robin instalment! Who is the mystery woman, and why is Julian acting so shifty?
Remember to read right until the end if you want to take part in today’s competition. In order to enjoy the story, make sure you read Part One by Kathryn Freeman HERE and Part Two by Clare Chase HERE before you start on Jane’s extract.
The Santa Dash – Part Three
Suddenly Ellie found herself in a confused melee of red suits and white nylon hair as the more sporty of the dashing Santas took off along the prom. For a moment she lost sight of everyone she knew, found herself spun around by the press of bodies around her, disorientated and even ran a few steps in the wrong direction to the amusement of the watching crowd. Her hat had slipped down over her eyes again and her beard was riding up to meet it, so she could only see the world through a reddish hairy filter and wondered, idly, as she managed to get herself facing the right way, if this was what Hell would look like from inside. Probably less hirsute, she thought, getting her legs under control and managing a credible jog considering the vast amount of stuffing she’d shoved under her jacket for verisimilitude. Sally had tried to tell her that the Santa Dash wasn’t aiming for absolute Santa-ness, it was the Dash that was important, but Ellie suspected that was just so that Sally could get away with something more figure-hugging, since Julian was going to be there.
Where was Julian? Ellie peered around the crowd of bobbing hats and beards. Surely he’d be somewhere out in front, after all he regularly played in the hospital rugby team and, judging by his muscles, must also work out. She puffed a little bit, her padding was working its way around to the back as she ran and the beard was itchy, plus the little black boots that came with the outfit didn’t have very much grip.
‘Good sea air!’
The voice came from next to her and Ellie saw Jamie, recognisable from the way his eyes were gleaming atop the beard.
‘Sorry?’ She was a bit ashamed to find herself puffing more.
‘Nothing like a run in the sea air to clear the tubes.’ He didn’t seem to be even mildly out of breath, jogging along beside her as though this was a gentle stroll.
They ran along together for a moment, buffeted by the faster Santas who, scenting the finish line further along the esplanade, had picked up speed.
‘So,’ Ellie felt duty bound to make conversation, although she had to admit, this was perhaps the most bizarre place she’d ever found herself doing ‘polite chat’, ‘how do you come to know Julian?’
Jamie did a peculiar double-step, at first Ellie thought he’d stumbled, but he turned out to be avoiding a woman pushing a buggy with two small children in. To Ellie’s surprise, the woman saw Jamie and gave him a big, beaming smile.
‘Oh, it’s you!’ she said, and Jamie slowed down. ‘Sorry! Didn’t mean to be in the way, but Liam was just so excited to see the Santas running …’
Jamie gave her a grin in return. ‘No worries, Gemma,’ he said, and Ellie was only mildly annoyed to notice that he wasn’t even breathing hard. ‘Nice to see you. But I’d better …’ he gestured to the mass of gently heaving red nylon that was surging ahead. ‘Sponsored, you see.’
‘Do you know everyone?’ Ellie panted, hoping her face wasn’t quite as red as her suit yet, but figuring that most of it was concealed by her beard anyway.
‘Not quite. Only the less – how shall I put it – less financially fortunate,’ Jamie turned to her and his eyes were positively gleaming. ‘After all, I don’t know you yet, do I? Coffee, after the run?’
And, without waiting for an answer, he put his head down and began running, overtaking the back markers of the pack and weaving his way through. Ellie watched the white bobble on his hat making its way through the runners.
When she turned her head to try to catch her breath, she saw that Melissa, the gorgeous red-head who’d been talking to Julian, was standing alongside the taped off track. And her eyes were also following Jamie’s running figure, with an expression somewhere between hero-worship and despair.
Ooh, the plot thickens! Join us tomorrow for another instalment from one of our debut authors, Victoria Cornwall!
If you enjoyed Jane’s writing, why not try and win a copy of her novel, I Don’t Want To Talk About It … we’ll even throw in some Christmas chocolate too!
To be in with a chance of winning, simply read Jane’s extract and answer this question …
Who does Jamie have to sidestep to avoid running into during the Santa Dash?
If you know the answer, email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. The winner will be selected at random and will be announced at the end of the week. Good luck!
Read Part Four by Victoria Cornwall HERE