Having gotten little sleep because she’d been up twirling ribbons to create new and original ornaments for the packages, Lea’s brain was fuzzy. She missed what Mia had just said to her across the table. Yawning over the fluffy bread roll that was part of the mid-day meal, Lea looked up at her friend.
“I’m sorry. What did you say?”
Mia shook her head. “Didn’t you sleep last night?”
Her friend knew her too well. They’d been roommates up until they were promoted to lead Elves. One perk of becoming a lead Elf? They got their own quarters, which was fabulous.
“No,” Lea admitted. “I was working on some twirled ribbons and today, I’m going to place those on the packages in place of those ancient bows.”
Mia quirked a brow at her. “Are you sure that’s a good idea?”
“What?” Of course it was a good idea. “You haven’t seen what I’ve come up with, Mia. They’re gorgeous and I used so many different shades other than cheery red and cheery green. I can’t wait for you to see them. I can’t wait for the world to see them.”
“I’m sure whatever you came up with is just fine, Lea.”
Fine? Lea snorted.
“Thomas has been looking over here ever since we sat down for our meal.”
That got Lea’s attention. Of course the first thing she did was glance over her shoulder at the table where the head Elf sat with Joseph and other Elves who had been around for who-knew-how-long. His gaze locked with hers, some emotion sparkling in his piercing green eyes as he smirked at her. Smirked.
Like any hot-blooded she-Elf, Lea found Thomas to be heartbreakingly gorgeous. He was tall with broad shoulders and long, muscled limbs. His inky black hair was pulled back from a face that was a pale study in perfection, all hard angles, and lines. Except for his mouth. More than once Lea had wondered what those lips would taste like, what he could do with them.
Lea would have been over the moon that he noticed someone like her at all — if it had been any other day. That she’d drawn his attention the day after she’d pulled bows from some two hundred and thirty-seven packages, well, perhaps that wasn’t a good sign. Maybe Mia was right to try and caution her.
The intensity of his gaze forced hers away and she took a calming breath. Okay. She’d just finish her lunch, make a conscious effort not to look back in that direction until the meal was over, and get back to work. The new ornaments were in her locker and waiting for her shift at the conveyor belt. She’d get them placed on the packages and once the Elves with final package approval, and maybe Thomas himself, saw how damn beautiful her efforts were, surely she would be commended.
It was with that happy thought she went back to her sleepy efforts to pick at her food.
Mia shook her head. It looked as if her friend was trying not to laugh.
“What?” Lea wanted to know.
“You’re honestly not worried?”
“Worried about what, Mia?”
“I don’t know. Pulling off all those bows without permission? Dozens of bows?”
“Two hundred and thirty-seven,” Lea pointed out.
“Wow. So you did that. Now Thomas is staring over here every few seconds and you’re just sitting there picking at that bread roll like a starving raccoon? You’re really not worried at all?”
“I think if I were going to be in trouble, I would be by now, right?”
Mia seemed to consider that thought. “Maybe. But then again, how would we know? We’re new.”
New indeed. Still…
Just as she planned, they got through the meal. Afterward, they all headed off to their evening tasks. Hours were longer now because Christmas drew ever closer and Lea was happy. Longer hours meant more time she had to deploy her idea. And it was a good one. She was on her way to being someone in the workshop.
She said goodbye to Mia at the lockers, slinging her sizable but light green bag of twirled ribbons over her shoulder and heading for the quality control room. It was time. Her heart fluttered in excitement as she reached the room, about to walk inside.
A long masculine arm blocked her way. Joseph, Thomas’ second in command, gazed down at her with a mostly blank expression on his handsome face. Like Thomas, he was tall and lean. His blond hair was cut short, his features less sharp but appealing nonetheless. His dark blue eyes gave away practically nothing.
“Thomas wishes to see you in his office,” Joseph informed her.
That wasn’t a good sign.
“Now?” Lea tried.
“Now. Come with me.”