“I know you disagree, Cupid, but this is a terrible idea. Having a Dockal—”
“Calder,” Cupid corrected politely. “His name is Calder.”
Donner summoned patience. How could Cupid not see? “Very well. Having Calder under the same roof as Jack Frost is a terrible idea.”
Cupid blinked up at him innocently. “Jack was the one who offered his home for my training.”
“Yes.” Donner lowered his voice. “So that he could keep a close eye on Calder.”
“Excuse me, but I can hear you,” Calder stated, his smooth voice a deep rumble. “Turning away from me doesn’t stop me from still being in the room.”
Donner spun on his heels and glowered at the ridiculously tall elf. Honestly. What elf needed to be so blasted tall? Or wide. Or… square jawed. “Then stop listening to a conversation that doesn’t concern you.”
Calder arched an eyebrow at him. “You’re speaking about me, so it concerns me. Greatly. This whole encounter concerns me greatly.”
Donner bristled. “Just what are you implying?”
“You’re a perplexing elf.”
“And you’re… you’re very… tall. And irritating.” Donner wanted to smack the amusement right off the infuriating elf’s face. His eyes were also very unsettling. As if staring into them for too long might cost Donner his immortal soul.
Calder nodded slowly. “I see.”
“No, I don’t think you do.” Donner marched up to Calder, then jabbed a finger against his chest. Plum pudding, that hurt! He discreetly pulled his hand behind his back to shake it off. Was the elf made of granite? “Mayor Kringle might have thought it a jolly good idea for you to train Cupid, but you shouldn’t be here. And I don’t mean here in Jack’s palace—though you clearly shouldn’t be here either—but in North Pole City. No good can come of it.”
Instead of getting angry, Calder leaned forward, his smile wicked. “It would seem, my little dear, that you could use some bad in your pristine and perfect life.”
Donner’s jaw dropped. He sputtered madly. “How dare—what did you call me?” He turned to Cupid. “Did you hear what he called me?”
Cupid bit down on his bottom lip and nodded. Was that amusement in his eyes? The traitor! Donner spun back to Calder, unaware the elf had moved closer. They were practically nose to nose. Donner retreated swiftly, tripping over his own feet and letting out a squeak as he fell. A strong arm caught him midfall, and Donner stared up at Calder.
“Everything all right in here?” Rudy asked as he walked into the room, Jack at his side.
Donner gasped. Trust the Prince of Frost to catch him in a compromising position with a Dockalfar. Not that he would ever do anything remotely compromising with this beast. Of course Jack and Rudy didn’t know that. Oh, the gossip would be terrible!
“Take your hands off me, you cad!” Donner swung his book, letting out a yelp when the arm around him disappeared, and he hit the carpet with a thud.
“Donner!” Cupid ran over to help him up. “Are you all right?”
“No thanks to him,” Donner seethed.
Calder shrugged. “You asked me to release you.”
“Have you no manners at all?” Donner scrambled to his feet and quickly straightened his clothes before running a hand through his hair. He glared at the smug Dockalfar. “Perhaps treating others in such a manner is acceptable in whatever dark cave you crawled out of, but out here, where elves are civilized, we do not go about manhandling others and dropping them on their backsides.”
“Oh?” A wicked smile spread across Calder’s face. “I’m intrigued. What do you do with their backsides?”
Donner’s jaw went slack. “You… you….” He waved his book at Calder. “You, sir, are reprehensible!”
“Better reprehensible than a prude,” Calder replied pleasantly.
“All right, that’s enough,” Jack reproached them. “What’s going on in here?”
Cupid stepped in front of Calder, as if his tiny elf frame was any match for Jack Frost. His trust in his brother was admirable, if not sadly misplaced. The elf was deplorable.