—  Ken and Vesta  —

Wedding and Portrait Photography

541 773-3373

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Santa wanted to go to the Paris on his tenth day of wandering the world. Fifteen more till the big day and he had a lot of places he both wanted and needed to visit. But, just as he was about to kiss Mrs. Claus goodbye, Reggie, his head taylor elf, came bursting into his living room, carrying a gift wrapped package.

“Wonderful, wonderful news, Santa.” He was obviously very excited.

“You’re getting married,” Santa said. “And your wedding is going to be at the South Pole, so we’ll all have to pack up and travel half a world away to attend?”

“No, Santa.” Reggie blushed. Everybody knew he was even more bashful than the bashful dwarf name Bashful when it came to lady elves. “All of us at the taylor shop felt so badly about the Father Christmas suit mixup, that we made you a new one. So you can go back to London with two new suits, both stunners.”

“Thank you, Reggie, that is exciting news.” But Santa wasn’t all the excited. Not really, because never in all the years of his Twenty-Five Days of Christmas, had he wandered to the same city twice in the same year. The same country, sure, but never the same city. Now he was going to have to go back to London. Either that, or insult all the taylor elves.

He sighed, even Santa couldn’t do what he wanted all the time, not if he cared about other’s feelings, so with a smile, he accepted the new Father Christmas suit from his happy elf.

And so that is why he was enjoying sundown at the Stones as Rudy and Crew breezed low as thy passed Stonehenge on their way to London. The Stones held secrets that even Santa didn’t know. After all, he’d only been around just shy of two thousand years. The Stones had stood in place for something like five thousand.

God was the only one left who new what secrets they held and he wasn’t talking.

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Rudy set them down in an alley near the London Eye, which pleased Santa, because he loved the ferris wheel and loved going round on it. And if he didn’t have two new Father Christmas suits to show off and a little Christmas tree to drop off at a pub he loved, he’d ride it tonight. Even though he knew better, he was vain about his suits. It was his one hobby, after all.

Besides, he went about the world doing good in them. So he didn’t think his little vanity was all that bad.

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From the Eye, he went to Oxford Street, a favorite of his at Christmastime and on the way he did a quick change and was surprised to find the new suit Reggie was so enthusiastic about, was a little understated. In fact, he felt it made him look a little like an aging, hooded terrorist. But he decided to give it a try and when he started across the street, a girl came along side and said, “Nice suit, Santa.”

He turned and she took his picture. “You think so?”

“Yes, it’s beautiful. simple and elegant.” She was crossing the street with him and he wanted to spend more time with her, because she was such a wonderful connoisseur of Santa suits, but as soon as he got to the sidewalk, his Santa sense put him on alert, so he said goodbye to the girl and headed down the street to the Rich Man’s Pub, which was a place that would be hard put to ever have a rich man in it.

But still, it was a favorite of Santa’s. And besides, it was his destination anyway, and now it seemed he was needed there. Destiny was almost as mysterious in her ways as the Big Guy was with His.

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He quick changed back to his more friendly suit, before entering. And once inside he saw his friend, Willie, sitting at a table, drinking a larger. Willie owned the pub, spent most of his life in it, loved everybody who drank there. He was a good man, ran a good business and Santa was proud to call him a friend.

“Santa,” it was Willie’s wife Wanda. “Let me get a picture of you and Willie.”

“Okay.” He stood behind Willie, held the tree up and looked into Wanda’s camera. Two pictures in one night. He sighed, then smiled to himself, wondering just how many photographs he’d been in over the years.

Then all of a sudden a chill passed through him and he remembered his Santa sense warning from earlier.

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The was a girl across the room and evil radiated from her like heat from the sun. Even if his Santa sense hadn’t’ve been turned on high, he’d’ve know there was something wrong with her, because she was drinking an American Budweiser in a pub which served the world’s finest beers and ales, Corona included.

But not Bud. Willie didn’t served Bud. She’d conjured that up.

He went to her table, knelt beside her, put a hand on her shoulder. Was about to touch her cheek with his.

“That won’t work with me, Santa.” She turned away from him.

“Can’t look at me?”

“Don’t want to!” She hissed her words, like a snake. Like the way Lucifer talked.

“You’re one of the Devil’s minions.” Santa scowled. “No, worse, you’re a Dark Angel.”

“And I have a message for you to deliver to the Big Guy.” She laughed, an evil sound if ever Santa had heard one. “We’ve turned Willow.”

And then she was gone, vanished in a puff of black smoke.

Willow was Gabriella’s younger sister and another of God’s favorite angels. Actually, the Big Guy held a special place in his heart for all his Earth Angels. It wasn’t that he didn’t love those who lived in Heaven, he did. But it was the few who lived among the humans who he cared for most deeply. And he would be devastated if he lost Willow.

And sadly, there was nothing He could do about it. His power stopped at the Devil’s door. And though mostly, the immortals—God, the Devil, Santa, Destiny and Death got along, there had always been this back door tug-of-war between the Big Guy and the Devil.

However, Santa’s power didn’t stop at the Devil’s door. They were equals, but Lucy didn’t have any reindeer on his side. But before he could find and bring back Willow, he had to find her and he knew just the Dark Angel to ask.

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He said goodbye to Willie and Wanda, then quick changed back into the Father Christmas terrorist’s looking suit and made for The Early Grey Pub. Years ago, The Earl Grey had been declared neutral territory. God’s Angels and Dark Angels, the Devil’s minions and men of the cloth, could frequent the place. However, it was off limits to God and the Devil, by prior agreement between the two, because they felt there should be a few places on Earth, where the two sides could rest, relax and not have to be players in the battle between good and evil, at least for a few hours.

And it was where Rosella hung out. She’d been the darkest of the Dark Angels, before she gave up the game. God had tried to win her back, but unlike all others before and after her, she’d just given it all up. Heaven or Hell, she believed, was your choice and she wasn’t going to interfere. Immortals and humans, be damned. Just leave her alone, that’s all she asked. And mostly everybody did.

But not Santa. He’d kept in contact, because he’d always liked her. He was a people person after all.

And the thing about Rosella is that she knew almost everything. Though she wasn’t powerful like God or even as powerful as the immortals, she knew stuff. Even more stuff than God. So if anybody knew were Willow was, it would be Rosella.

Santa speed across town, made it to the backstreet where any who cared, could find The Earl Grey. He looked around, found the street deserted, then he dashed across the road and into the pub.

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Billie and Bruce were making drinks at the bar. They were human and neither had a clue as to who and what a good portion of their customers were, especially the regulars.

Santa said a quick hello, then looked around the pub for Rosella.

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He pulled off his hood, put on his most serious face and made his way to Rosella’s table. And like always, she had a drink in her hand. It was impossible for her to get drunk, but she never stopped trying.

“She’s in Kiev.” Rosella didn’t turn around, didn’t say hello, just those word’s, “She’s in Kiev.”

Santa lightly gripped her shoulder. “Thank you.” Then he turned back the way he’d come and was out the door in a flash.

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Back in his sleigh and flying over the Tower Bridge, he was temped to go straight to the Ukraine, but he thought better of it. He needed to go home, get some rest for the contest ahead and most of all, he needed his Ukrainian Santa suit, because he was going to have to fit in if he was going to find Willow, because folks who lived in the former iron curtain countries tended to be suspicious, so it was important that he blended in and looked like a local.

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