“I can’t believe this,” I groaned. “It’s Christmas Eve. On the other side of that wall there are beaches with sugary sand and gin clear water. Pool boys just waiting to bring me fruity drinks with little umbrellas in them. And here I am stuck with you.”
I glared across the cell at Marius. His long hair hung in charcoal waves around that smug bastard face. His moustache and goatee twitched as he sneered.
“Oh, you think this is how I’d choose to spend a holiday? Trapped with a prude like you? Not even a drop of wine to make you the slightest bit more interesting. And of course on that beach there are the bikinis to talk about. Thongs, Catherine! I’m missing nubile women of loose morals in thongs!” He let his head fall back. “This, Miss Sharp, is hell.”
“Are all satyrs drama queens or is it just you?” I asked.
His lip curled in disdain as he turned away from me. There wasn’t much space to maneuver in this bulbous prison, but Marius did his best to draw up his human-looking legs and fit into the curve of the wall.
Marius and I had been sent on a business trip of sorts. Our boss is Eris, the Greek goddess of discord and bitchery. When she sent me to Belizefor an all-expenses-paid Christmas getaway, I should’ve realized that this was no present. I’d made it to the tropical paradise, but our job landed us in this spherical cell with the goatfucking satyr.
“Fucking Eris,” I said. “She can’t give fruit baskets or a bonus check. When Eris stuffs your stocking it makes you wish she’d handed you a bag of flaming dog shit.”
Before my eyes, a fire appeared. In the center of the blaze, a brown paper bag curled around a lumpy mass. I gagged at the stench. Marius jerked and stamped to put out the fire, smearing the contents of the bag on the golden floor.
“What the bloody hell was that for?” Marius shouted. “These shoes cost more than half a year’s rent on that hovel you call an apartment!”
He slipped off his shoe and began scrubbing the sole clean on my pants.
“Jesus, stop! I didn’t do it!” I kicked him back onto his side of the sphere and let out a frustrated growl. “Spending Christmas locked up with you and now I’ve got shit on my jeans. Just fantastic.”
Marius tossed the soiled shoe to the other side of the cell. “As if it’s such a chore to be near me. At least I know how to have a good time. We wouldn’t be here if you weren’t so work, work, work all the time.”
He may have had a point there, but the bastard isn’t allowed to be right about anything. It’s true, though, that if I hadn’t been so hellbent on finishing the job, the djinn might not have woken up when we tried to steal the lamp. How was I to know about the shrieking idols?
Miserable, I curled into myself. “It doesn’t even feel like Christmas. I wish I had my pajamas.”
Marius’ eyes widened.
“What?” I asked.
He pointed a slender finger at me. “Just how did you do that?”
I looked down to see that my stained jeans had been replaced by my favorite pair of red-and-black fleece jammy pants. Stunned, I muttered, “I have no idea.”
Marius’ eyes shifted conspiratorially. To no one in particular he called, “I wish we had a good bottle of port.”
A smile spread across his face as a black bottle appeared between the satyr’s feet.
“Lovely,” he said. “Now, I need a corkscrew to open it.”
“Well, bugger,” he said. “It was worth a shot.”
I held up a hand. “Wait. I wish I had a corkscrew.”
Instantly, I held the tool.
“Oh, now this could be fun,” I said.
“You have no idea,” Marius leered.
Exposing the golden apple brand on his forearm, Marius rolled up his sleeves, cracked his knuckles and set to work. By the time he’d finished making a score of requests, he’d filled our cell with more wine, a duck glazed with raspberry and shallot sauce, buttered snow peas, and a shortcake trifle. Our feast presented itself on glittering silver trays and gilt plates.
“Take some wine,” he said filling a crystal goblet. “You might actually become bearable company.”
Though Marius had wished for elegance, I shook my head. “This doesn’t feel like Christmas at all.”
At my command, strands of colored lights wound around the walls. A pumpkin pie joined the food with a can of whipped cream, and the air filled with the sound of Bing Crosby.
“This is Christmas?” he asked incredulously.
“Oh, wait.” With one more wish, he wore a red Santa hat. “Perfect.”
Spying the fluffy white ball dangling over his face, Marius rolled his eyes. “Bon appetit.”
It’s not every day you find yourself trapped in a genie’s lamp with a rat bastard satyr. But, with his decadent tastes and my touches of home, Marius and I crafted our own version of the holiday. For a little while on that one day, I didn’t want to kill him.
When the duck was little more than a carcass and the trifle had been reduced to crumbs, Marius sat back swirling wine in the bottom of his glass. He muttered something that I couldn’t quite catch. I may have been spraying whipped cream into my mouth. “What was that?” I asked.
After draining his port, he shook his head. “Nothing.”
I sagged, full of yummy food and warm from the wine.
“You know, Catherine, there is one thing missing from this gay yuletide celebration.”
He pointed to the ceiling. To my horror, I saw a bundle of green leaves and white berries dangled there.
Marius smiled and bounced his eyebrows.
“I wish we were back in Vegas,” I said.
And just like that, the holiday was over.
If you enjoyed this story, please consider reading the Cat Sharp novels WILD CARD and UNVEILED.