Home > Head Over Hooves (Boys of the Bayou Gone Wild #5)

Head Over Hooves (Boys of the Bayou Gone Wild #5)
Author: Erin Nicholas





Autre, Louisiana was a little less merry and bright and a lot more crazy and garish. But there was no doubt this was where Drew Ryan was supposed to be.

There was fake snow, lots of red and green and white, an instrumental version of “Santa Clause Is Comin’ To Town” blaring over the loudspeakers, and a giant wooden cutout of a cartoon alligator wearing a red Santa hat and holding a sign that read, “Santa’s Village”.

And if that wasn’t enough to convince him, the elf chasing the eight tiny reindeer with the person-sized candy cane would have.

After all, eight tiny reindeer came right out of the poem ’Twas the Night Before Christmas.

But the poem left out the gorgeous elf in the skimpy red dress, thigh-high black boots with candy cane striped stockings peeking out of the tops, and bright green hair.

It was a good thing she wasn’t working at the North Pole. She’d freeze very important body parts in that dress.

Not that it was hot in Louisiana in December, but Drew appreciated not needing his heavy winter coat right now and definitely appreciated that the elf wasn’t feeling chilly enough to cover up.

The entire scene was the very definition of chaos, and he had no idea what to do. So, he just leaned his arms on the top of the fence that surrounded the barnyard/Santa’s Village—which he assumed was the Boys of the Bayou Gone Wild petting zoo under normal circumstances—and watched.

The “reindeer” were actually baby goats wearing reindeer antlers and the elf was trying to herd them toward the barn using the giant plastic candy cane as a shepherdess hook. But they seemed to think they were playing tag and scattered in eight different directions.

Clearly fed up, she tossed the candy cane and lunged to try to grab one with her bare hands.

She missed.

“You little bastards!” she exclaimed.

Just as the music abruptly shut off.

“Bastards is a bad word.”

The woman turned and Drew looked to his left. There was a little boy standing there eating a red and white snow cone.

A snow cone. In December.

For an Iowa-born-and-raised boy like Drew, that was weird. But at least the red and white was festive.

“Oh, hey, Samuel,” the woman said, pushing her neon green hair back from her face. “Didn’t see you there.”

“I know. You probably wouldn’t have used that word if you did.”

The woman didn’t look entirely convinced of that. “Are you sure it’s a bad word?” she asked him.

He nodded. “Very sure.”

“Maybe not in… elvish.”

“You weren’t speaking in elvish.”

“Do you speak elvish?” she asked.


“Exactly,” she said with a nod. “So what I said sounded bad in English but in elvish I was saying, ‘You guys are so cute!’”

She and Samuel stood there looking at each other for a long moment.

Neither blinked.

“Say ‘have a Merry Christmas’ in elvish,” Samuel finally replied.

“Oh. Um.” She scratched her neck, clearly trying to come up with something.

Drew pushed away from the fence and walked toward the gate that would let him into the main yard of the petting zoo. “I’m going to need your name and date of birth.”

Samuel and the woman both swung to face him.

Drew stepped through the gate and looked at Samuel expectantly.

“What for?” the kid asked.

“For the Rudeness Report I’m filing with Santa, of course.”

“Rudeness Report?” Samuel asked. “What’s that?”

“When a kid is being rude to one of the hard-working elves who are just trying to make Christmas nice and festive and happy for everyone, we file a report with Santa. He doesn’t like his helpers being treated badly.”

Samuel looked him up and down. “What about what she said? Santa is okay with that?”

“You mean when she called the goats cute?” Drew asked. “I don’t understand the problem.”

Drew glanced at the woman. She had her arms crossed and was watching, amused. Samuel looked suspicious.

“Who are you?” Samuel asked.

“Santa’s nephew,” the women interjected before Drew could respond. “He’s here to inspect the village.”

Just then there was a loud crash somewhere behind the little shack with the wide front porch where Drew assumed Santa would sit with the kids.

The elf closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Little bastards,” she muttered as she let it back out.

“They really are cute,” Samuel said.

Drew fought a grin.

Clearly bored with all of this—and not actually buying that he was being written up for anything—Samuel started toward the other end of the petting zoo, but after just a few steps, he stopped and turned back.

“When I call my sister a little bastard later and tell my mom that Rory told me it means cute, we’re all going to be in trouble, you know.”

So, the elf’s name was Rory, huh?

Rory sighed. “Or you could just…not do that.”

“I could.” Samuel took a bite of his snow cone, considering that.

“I can file more than one report,” Drew said.

Samuel nodded. “Yeah, but Santa probably already knows I’m impotent.”

Drew managed to disguise his laugh as a cough at the last minute. Surely the kid meant impertinent, right? “I don’t think that’s the word, man.”

“Do you know my grandma?”


“Then I probably know better than you what she calls me.”

Yeah, he definitely meant impertinent.

That kid was destined for the naughty list, Drew decided.

Drew watched the boy disappear around the snow cone stand several yards away. “What are the chances he calls his little sister a bastard and you get in trouble?” Drew asked the elf.

“About eighty-seven percent. That kid is kind of a button pusher.”

Drew chuckled as another crash came from around the back of the Santa shack. “Like the goats?”

“You mean the reindeer?” Her lips twitched.

Just then one of the goat-reindeer came barreling around the corner, his antlers hanging under his chin. “Yeah, that’s what I meant.”

Another goat came trotting after the first. He stopped when he saw Rory and gave her a quick, “Behhhh!” Then started toward the snow cone stand.

Drew took a single step to the left and leaned over to scoop the little animal up. The goat bleated again, but Drew held him firmly.

Rory's eyebrows rose. “You're a goat wrangler?”

“Goats, alpacas, even actual reindeer.” He shifted the goat so he could extend one hand. “I'm Drew Ryan.”

“Oh, you're the guy from Iowa. You’re bringing us real reindeer.”

Rory took his hand, and Drew noticed that they both more or less just held on instead of actually shaking.

“I am. You've heard of me.”

“This is obviously a Boys of the Bayou Gone Wild thing, but I’m in charge of putting Santa's Village and all of the activities together,” Rory said. They were still holding hands. “Jordan told me they had a friend who had actual reindeer and he was going to loan us a few. Pretty cool.”

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