Unwrapped by Katie Lane
Jacqueline Maguire has a problem tying the knot.After fleeing the altar (again), the runaway bride drives off with no particular destination in mind. Which is how Jac finds herself stranded in a snowstorm with a hot, hard-bodied stranger who treats her to the naughtiest night of her life . . . but come morning, he's long gone.
Contractor Patrick McPherson is deeply committed to his bachelor lifestyle. No strings, no rings. As the Christmas season approaches, however, Patrick still can't quite forget his curvalicious one-night stand. Then Jac shows up unexpectedly, and all holiday hell breaks loose. Because this year, Patrick is getting the biggest Christmas surprise of his life.
“Am I a vampire?”
He chuckled at the joke and smoothed the damp hair off her forehead. “No. I don’t change my victims . . . I just snack on them.” She didn’t crack a smile, but her shoulders relaxed, bringing his attention back to the welt. “How badly are you hurt?”
Her hand went to the marks on her neck. “Surprisingly, it didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would.”
Patrick felt his face heat with embarrassment. “I’m sorry. I forgot about the fangs.”
Her gaze flickered to his mouth, and damned if he didn’t get hard again. “Well, I guess since you didn’t . . . umm . . . overindulge, it’s not a big deal.”
Overindulge? Oh, he wanted to overindulge. Especially with those phenomenal breasts just a reach away. But he wasn’t that big of a jerk. “So can you tell me what happened? Are there any other victims?”
“No. No one else was in the car with me when Big Foot—I mean, a deer jumped out in front of the car. I would’ve been okay if my brakes had worked properly. It was almost like someone had tampered with—” She paused, and her eyes widened. “Mr. Darby.” She glanced at the door. “And he’s probably the one who flattened your tire.”
Patrick started to wonder if she wasn’t suffering from a concussion. She seemed to be talking in circles. Of course, most women talked in circles. “I thought you said no one was in the car with you. Who is Mr. Darby?”
“No one was in the car with me. Mr. Darby is the guy who’s trying to k—” She stopped and cleared her throat. “Never mind. It’s not important. So you were saying?”
His brow knotted. Why couldn’t women be as easy to read as a blueprint? He released his breath in a sigh. “I was wondering how badly you were injured.”
“I’m fine now. I was just a little lightheaded before.” She sat up to prove it, bringing her full pouting lips inches from his. He might not be able to read her, but he sure as hell desired her. He had never wanted to kiss a woman so badly in his life. It was like her lips were magnetized and he was solid metal. But before he could kiss her, she got to her feet and started picking up the items that had spilled out of her purse. Since there was a lot of crap, he knelt down to help her.
“So what are you doing up here?” he asked as he lifted her wallet and handed it to her. “I’m assuming by the costume that you were coming back from a party.”
There was a slight hesitation before she nodded. “And I got lost.” She leaned over to reach the tube of lipstick that had slid under the coffee table, and her breasts swelled forth in twin mounds of bodacious beauty. “So if you can’t take me back to Denver, do you think you could get me to a working phone?”
It took her grabbing the lipstick and straightening before he could talk. “I could if I didn’t have a flat tire.” Now that his temper had cooled, he realized that she wouldn’t have had time to flatten his tire. He probably ran over a nail at one of the jobsites, and it had been slowly leaking air all day.
“Don’t you know how to fix it?” she asked.
“Yes, but I’m not going to do it in a blizzard.” He picked up her phone and tried it. There was still no reception so he tapped the screen closed. A screensaver picture of two people popped up. Patrick didn’t know why he was more interested in the skinny guy than the pretty, dark-haired woman. Or maybe he knew why, but just wasn’t willing to admit it.
“Are you married?” he asked.
“Not yet. I’m still working on it.” Before he could figure out what that meant, she got up and took the phone and her purse from him. “So if you’re not going to fix the tire, just what am I supposed to do?”
In heels, or at least in one heel, she was only a few inches shorter than he was and sturdily built. He realized that he liked that about her. He was tired of petite women he had to worry about breaking. This woman looked like she could handle a man who liked things a little rough. And since she wasn’t married, was in no way connected to his aunt’s schemes, and was here . . .
Patrick smiled. “You’re going to spend the night with me.”
“What?” she squeaked. “I can’t spend the entire night with a . . .”
“Patrick.” He held out his hand. “And you are?”
She swallowed hard before answering. “In big trouble.”
Snowbound at Christmas by Debbie Mason
Ex-cop Cat O'Connor is bored working for her sister, Chloe, as a personal assistant on the set of her soap opera. Until Chloe gets an opportunity to audition for the role of a lifetime and asks her identical twin to substitute for her on the soap with no one the wiser. It's a perfect switch-until Cat attracts the attention of the mysterious Mr. Tall, Dark, and Way-too-handsome leading man.
Grayson Alexander never thought being snowbound in the charming town of Christmas, Colorado, for the holiday would get so hot. But between working with sexy, tough Cat on set and keeping his real reason for being there under wraps, he's definitely feeling the heat. And if there's one thing they'll learn as they bring out the mistletoe, it's that in this town, true love is always in season.
“We don’t have time to talk about it,” the older woman said as she helped Cat out of the fur coat. “We have just been presented with the perfect opportunity to put our plan into action.”
Great, Estelle and Chloe had a plan. Cat tugged the sweater’s neckline higher. Her sister may like to show off her girls, but Cat’s were going undercover. And since she didn’t want Estelle to blow her cover, she hoped the older woman enlightened her about their plan.
They were a few feet from the table where Harry stood looking deliciously edible when Nell waved a gingerbread man in the air. “Get a kiss with your cookies, ladies. Two dollars for a kiss and a cookie.”
A horde of women stampeded in their direction.
“Make it count, my dear,” Estelle murmured, shoving Cat at the table.
The push caused Cat to wobble on her heels. If not for Harry reaching across the table, encircling her biceps with his strong hands, she would have fallen on her face. Something her sister would never do. So it was imperative that Cat put on a believable performance. She fluffed her hair, did a flirty head tilt, and batted her fake eyelashes.
“I’ll take two, Harry.” She puckered her lips.
His mouth flattened, a muscle ticking in his clenched jaw. Then he leaned toward her. It’s possible he said bloody hell under his breath as he lowered his head, but she couldn’t be sure because everything went a little fuzzy the moment his warm, firm lips touched hers. She tasted mint, smelled his expensive cologne, and drew closer, placing her hands on his shoulders to avoid toppling over. Okay, so it was an excuse, but she was sure her sister would have taken advantage of the situation in exactly the same way.
Her mouth softened, her fingers tightening on his broad shoulders as her lips parted. She was just getting into the kiss, and it was some kiss, when his mouth left hers. He took what appeared to be a startled step back. She understood the reaction—the kiss had rocked her world, too.
“Hang on, I need a picture for the Chronicle,” Nell said, putting down the cookie to pick up her cell phone. “Okay, go for it.”
In the background, she heard George saying something to Phil about breaking his promise. Harry looked over her head, then back at her. An emotion she couldn’t read darkened his blue eyes, then he brought his hands to the sides of her face and did as Nell suggested. He went for it.
Gently tilting her head so his lips slanted over hers at a precise angle, he gave her a deep, passionate kiss. It was long and lush, and breath-stealingly perfect. Her eyes were still closed, her head tipped up, when she realized she was kissing air. Blinking her eyes open, she stared at him. Acting as though he was completely unaffected, as if he hadn’t felt the same emotional rush of desire, he handed her two cookies.
If that was a kiss from an uninterested man, she’d eat . . .
“That will be four dollars, Chloe.” His words were cool and clipped, his back ramrod straight.
And her heart, that seconds ago had been dancing to a happy beat, froze. It wasn’t her he was kissing. It was her sister.
A Bad Boy for Christmas by Jessica Lemmon
Connor McClain knows what he wants. And after four harrowing years in Afghanistan, that's a quiet life in the lakeside town of Evergreen Cove. But coming home has land mines of its own-the most dangerous of them being long-legged bombshell Faith Garrett. Now getting her into his arms this holiday is going to require more than mistletoe . . .
With a cheating ex behind her, all Faith wants is a relaxing holiday free from man drama. And even though every moment with gorgeous Connor is a sweet temptation, Faith is determined not to give in. But Jack Frost has other plans, and soon Faith and Connor are snowbound in a winter wonderland with only the sparks flying between them to keep them warm. As one hot kiss leads to another, they'll have to decide if they're ready to give each other the best gift of all-love.
She came to a halt at the threshold of the kitchen, her breath clogging in her throat.
Part of it was shock over the fact that Connor was leaning over the countertop inhaling one of her cupcakes. The other part, and the part she was having trouble reconciling, was the fact that there was a tear beneath one of the pockets of his jeans, and the slash of skin she was currently staring at was his bare ass.
He stood, chewing and smiling with his lips closed. She knew because she hastily redirected her gaze to his face. The way he licked the frosting off the corner of his mouth and lifted his brow suggested he may have caught her eyeballing something she shouldn’t.
“Tore them on a nail on the fence this morning.” He turned to look over his shoulder, splitting the tear with his fingers to show her a faint red scratch on one chiseled butt cheek. “Hurt like a bitch.” His eyes found hers and he gave her a sly smile. “Don’t suppose you’d be willing to patch me up.”
She choked on her laughter, shaking her head for effect. “I don’t think so,” she said, trying to sound disgusted and not turned on.
His smile erased as his brow went down like she’d hurt his feelings. “You would deny me medical care in my moment of need?”
Flustered, she stepped past him and snatched the small white box off the counter, determined to change the subject. “I hope you know you owe me a cupcake.”
“Cupcake, I took that in payment for the kiss you never gave me.”
So he didn’t forget.
“You’d rather have a carrot cupcake than a kiss?” Her pulse pounded against her neck. She knew which one she would prefer, and hoped she was doing a good job hiding it.
“Hmm…” He made a show of craning his neck to look at the remaining cupcake in the bottom of the box. “It was a pretty good cupcake.”
Her mouth opened in argument, but the argument never came. And the reason it never came was because Connor covered her lips with his, launching his tongue into her mouth. She tasted sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg from the frosting, and his mouth, which tasted wonderful because it tasted like him. The smell of lavender filled her senses, that earthy, spicy smell mingling in her nostrils and making her lean into him. Cupping the back of his neck, she tilted her chin, continuing their sparring session with fervor.
Noses bumped, his unshaven chin scraped her jaw, and his hands—his big, manly, rough hands—grasped her at the waist and pulled her flush against him.
This went on until finally, she had to pull back to inhale or suffocate. Not a bad way to go, she’d admit. Now she was panting and trying to recalibrate her brain cells, which had apparently oozed right out of her ears since Connor put his mouth on hers.
He looked as dazed as she did for a second before his smile snapped into place. “Nope. That was much better than the cupcake.”
About the Authors
Katie Lane is the USA Today bestselling author of the Deep in the Heart of Texas and Hunk for the Holidays series. Katie lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and when she isn't writing, she enjoys reading, traveling, and cuddling with her high school sweetheart and cairn terrier Roo.
Debbie Mason is the bestselling author of the Christmas, Colorado series. Her books have been praised for their "likable characters, clever dialogue and juicy plots" (RT Book Reviews). She also writes historical paranormals as Debbie Mazzuca. Her MacLeod series has received several nominations for best paranormal as well as a Holt Medallion Award of Merit. When she isn't writing or reading, Debbie enjoys spending time with her very own real-life hero, their four wonderful children, an adorable grandbaby, and a yappy Yorkie named Bella.
Jessica Lemmon has always been a dreamer. At some point, she decided head-in-the-clouds thinking was childish, went out, and got herself a job . . . and then she got another one because that one was lousy. And when that one stopped being fulfilling, she went out and got another . . . and another. Soon it became apparent she'd only be truly happy doing what she loved. And since "eating potato chips" isn't a viable career, she opted to become a writer. With fire in her heart, she dusted off a book she'd started years prior, finished it, and submitted it. It may have been the worst book ever, but it didn't stop her from writing another one. Now she has several books finished, several more started, and even more marinating in her brain (which currently resides in the clouds, thankyouverymuch), and she couldn't be happier. She firmly believes God gifts us with talents for a purpose, and with His help, you can create the life you want. (While eating potato chips.)