Ah, yes, he doesn’t resemble the rotund fellow garbed in red with whom we are familiar, but Eleanor knows this San Nicola, the original Santa Claus. She has a few wishes for gifts under the tree, and one of them has intense blue eyes, a haughty manner, and–she is sure–a heart she wants to try to win. Will she receive her wish, dear reader?
Of course, Eleanor has heard of San Nicola, the revered bishop of the fourth century, who was known for giving people unexpected gifts, and who is celebrated on May 7 in Italy. Fishermen take his statue out to sea and then bring it back in again, to commemorate his return to Bari. Eleanor is definitely less interested in the ceremony than she is in what San Nicola was known for. An unexpected gift, she muses. What would San Nicola bestow on her? Would it be the ability to stare down that arrogant Lord Hugh? Ah, no, because one look in those piercing blue eyes sets her heart a-fluttering. Perhaps her unexpected gift might be to best Lord Hugh in one of the many altercations they are engaged in over her management of her forests — he calls it “mismanagement,” of course, and his constant accusations of her allowing poaching to run rampant. ‘Twould be a gift, indeed, that one. Then, Eleanor blushes hotly, what if the gift were a kiss from Lord Hugh? That, indeed, would be MOST unexpected….and, she admits, perhaps most welcome…..