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One hot holiday, p.23

One Hot Holiday, page 23

 

One Hot Holiday
 


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  His friend’s laughter cut him off.

  Spencer glared. “It’s not funny.”

  “I’m betting she doesn’t find you boring, Santa.” Titus slapped a hand on Spencer’s bulging, red belly. “But here’s the thing. You won’t know what she really wants until you ask her.”

  “Ahem.” Frank the Elf tapped his watch again. His green, pointed hat bobbed.

  Spencer’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t push me, Frank.”

  “You have time,” Titus assured him.

  “Not according to Frank.” The annoying elf.

  Titus pushed Spencer toward the sleigh. “No, I mean you have time with Haley. The danger is clear, and now you two can, you know, just be normal again. You can date her. Romance her. Show her how you feel.” He stopped pushing. “Have you told her how you feel?”

  “I—” Shit.

  “Dude. She said she loved you and what did you do?”

  I killed for her. And would do it again in a heartbeat.

  “You are so lucky you have me in your life.” Now Titus shoved him again. “Play Santa. Then find your lady. Tell her you love her. Give her a gesture. Make it a big fucking deal. Then she’ll never think you’re boring.”

  Spencer climbed onto the sleigh. Settled against the red seat. “I loved her from the first moment I saw her.”

  “That is some sweet shit.” Titus tossed him the fake reins. There were no reindeer. Maybe the elves were supposed to be pulling the sleigh? Yeah, it looked that way from this angle.

  Titus cleared his throat. “Spencer?”

  He stopped staring at the elves and focused on Titus.

  “Don’t tell that sweet shit to me. Tell it to her.”

  His hold tightened on the reins. I will. I absolutely will. Because that last memory he had of her? With tears in her eyes as she turned away from him?

  He had to banish that memory. He could not stand her pain. He wanted to give her a lifetime of happiness.

  And, if she’d give him the chance, he would.

  Bells began to ring. Loud and strong. Up ahead, he saw the first floats take flight. The streets were lined with men and women, kids and teens, people of every age, as the parade began. Music filled the air. Everyone was happy. Safe.

  His town.

  His people.

  When his grandfather had passed, when he’d had no family left, these people had stepped up. The librarian had made sure Spencer always did his homework. She’d had a desk cleared out for him in her office. He hadn’t been sent to foster care because the former sheriff—gone for the last year—had taken over temporary custody of him. Cane had been a gruff guy, a grizzly on the outside, and a teddy bear on the inside. He hadn’t had any kids of his own, no wife, and Spencer had become his family.

  Spencer had been at Cane’s bedside when he passed.

  Then the people of this town had voted to make him sheriff. He’d taken the job at first because…this was home.

  He’d kept doing the job because…

  Home.

  The elves were biking ahead of him. Some were weaving a bit. Music was blasting. His fake snow was shooting out of the sleigh, and the whole scene seemed perfect. Except…

  It wasn’t.

  One thing was missing. One very important thing.

  She was missing.

  His gaze scanned the crowd. He was waving as the sleigh headed forward. So many people were there. The kids jumped up and down. Everyone was celebrating.

  Everyone except for the blonde woman who was walking with her head down. The blonde in the flowing, brown coat. The blonde in the tight jeans who was hauling a suitcase behind her.

  A suitcase?

  The fuck, no.

  Spencer dropped the reins. “Haley!”

  She didn’t turn. Didn’t glance up. It was a parade, for shit’s sake. The woman should be glancing up. She wasn’t.

  She was heading away from the crowd and dragging her suitcase with her. And if she was dragging her suitcase, then …she’s leaving.

  She was leaving him? No. No.

  Titus had been right, dammit. He should have said something sooner. Should have done more than just let her walk away with tears in her eyes.

  He bounded off the sleigh. “Haley!”

  One kid asked his mom, “Is Santa supposed to do that?”

  Spencer darted through the crowd. Or tried to dart. It was hard with the costume and belly padding, but he rushed as best he could while fighting to keep her in sight. “Haley!”

  She spun around. Blinked at him.

  Shit. He had on the hat. The fake beard. The giant belly.

  He ripped off the hat and beard. “Where the hell are you going?”

  The folks around them went quiet.

  Her eyes widened. “Spencer?”

  Okay…Where the hell are you going? That had probably not been the most romantic thing ever to say to a woman, but his heart was about to burst out of his chest and he wasn’t exactly thinking clearly. “What are you doing? Where are you going?”

  She looked at him, then over his shoulder. “Shouldn’t you be on the sleigh?”

  No. He stepped forward. Caught her hand in his. “I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.” With her. Where he wanted to be. Because yes, the town had been a haven. But…shit, she was his home. When he was with her, he felt whole and happy. Living, not just going through the motions. “Don’t leave me.”

  Her lips parted.

  “Wait, that’s not right.” He had to make a gesture. Had to do this the right way. He dropped to his knees in front of everyone. “I love you.” There. Much better. The right words.

  “You’re telling me now?”

  “I should have told you the first moment we met.” He shrugged one shoulder. “But I was worried that might freak you out.”

  “What?”

  “Love at first sight isn’t supposed to be real. But, I swear, I took one look at you, and I thought, there she is.” He still thought that. There she is. “I saw you and realized…I’ve been looking for her my whole life, and there she is.”

  Haley shook her head. “You, you—”

  “The more I’m with you, the more I love you. I wanted to wait until you were safe, until you weren’t afraid anymore before I told you. But, God, when you looked at me today with tears in your eyes…” It had ripped him apart.

  She moved toward him. “You were giving up your job for me. You didn’t tell me about that!”

  “I would give up everything for you.” Do anything. Go anywhere. She wanted New York? Fine, he’d get used to the real snow. She wanted the North Pole? He already had his Santa coat. He would do—

  “I don’t want you giving up anything.” Haley gazed at him with her incredible eyes.

  “What do you want?” He was still on bended knee. Still…He let his breath out. “What would it take for you to want to marry me?”

  The people around them were dead silent.

  So was Haley.

  Hell, he’d moved too fast. He should have held back. He should have—

  “You love me?”

  Spencer nodded.

  “You want to marry me?”

  Once more, he nodded.

  She pulled on the suitcase behind her. The damn suitcase. His gut clenched. “You were going to leave. Going to head out without telling me good-bye?” His head lowered.

  “No, Spence. I wasn’t.”

  His head snapped back up.

  “I was taking the luggage to the resale store.” She pointed to the store behind her. “Sally told me that she’d give me two hundred dollars for the case. I wanted to use the money to buy you a Christmas present.”

  What?

  “I wanted to give you something special.” She licked her lips. “And I didn’t have a lot of cash left on me, so I thought I could sell the luggage—because I didn’t need it, I wanted to stay here, with you. I could sell the luggage and get you something nice that you wanted—”

  “You are the only thing
I want.” He rose. Stood in front of her. Wanted to pull her into his arms and never, ever let go. “Just you.”

  “Because…you love me?”

  “Because I would fucking die for you in an instant.” Love seemed far too tame for the way he felt about her. “You want to get me something for Christmas? I want you.”

  Her arms lifted and curled around his neck. “Yes.”

  His brows came together. “Yes?”

  “You asked me to marry you, didn’t you, Sheriff Lane?”

  Fuck, yes!

  His head lowered toward hers.

  “You’re the only thing I want for Christmas, too,” she whispered. “Always…you.”

  He kissed her. Open-mouthed, demanding, wild, possessive. He kissed her and craved her and didn’t care who saw them or what the hell was happening around them.

  He had Haley.

  He had his Christmas wish.

  He had everything.

  Epilogue

  One Year Later…

  She was standing under the mistletoe. A deliberate choice. Part of her careful plan. Haley stood in the middle of her gallery—she’d opened the gallery in Point Hope right before Halloween, just one week after she and Spencer had gotten married—and she absolutely loved the place. Turned out, Point Hope had been filled with artists and those artists needed a keen eye to help them sell their work.

  The windows of her gallery were decorated with lights and tinsel, and she had Christmas music playing on her speakers. Beyond those windows, she saw the wreaths on the street lamps and the occasional elves who weaved by on their bikes.

  The holiday parade had finished about an hour ago. Haley glanced at her watch. Her Santa should be making an appearance any moment, and she couldn’t wait to give him his present—

  The door opened with a jingle. “Damn elves.” Spencer’s grumble. He headed inside, still wearing his red Santa coat. “I told them once, I told them a thousand times, don’t—”

  He stopped. Saw her. His gaze drifted up. Landed on the mistletoe. “Oh, I like this.” He stalked forward. Wrapped her into his arms and lifted her up for a kiss. The kiss made her toes curl and her heart melt.

  No, he did that. Not just his kiss. Spencer.

  “I have a surprise for you,” she murmured against his mouth. “An early present.”

  He kissed her again. Then nuzzled his way down her neck. “You’re the only present I need.”

  That was sweet. But… “Maybe it’s not really an early present. I mean, the present won’t technically be here until the summer so I guess that makes it a late present.”

  His head pulled back. Very carefully, he lowered her until her feet touched the floor once more. “Haley?”

  Her fingers slid down to her stomach. “Merry Christmas.”

  A wide grin curled his mouth as his eyes gleamed. “You’re serious?”

  Haley nodded.

  He kissed her again. And again. And he slowly twirled her around the gallery, and she laughed and she was happy. Happy because she’d found her safe haven, but it wasn’t the town that was her shelter.

  It was the man. He was everything she wanted, and their life together? It was everything she needed.

  And if I have a little girl…we are totally naming her Noelle. “Merry Christmas, baby,” Haley whispered.

  The End

  Ready for another sexy, new romance? Then, check out GHOST OF A CHANCE.

  Ghost Of A Chance

  How well do you know the lover in your bed?

  It was the hottest hookup of her life. When Tess Barrett spent the night in the arms of the too sexy to be real stranger, she knew she was walking on the wild side. Sex with James Smith was the best EVER. How was she supposed to walk away from that? From him? So…she didn’t. They planned secret dates. More body-melting hookups. The white-hot sex should have been enough.

  So why does she start wanting more?

  But they have rules. She has rules. No emotions. No ties. She has a past that is dark and twisted, and she’s worked hard to become a new person. She’s a doctor now. Respected. Controlled. Except…there is no control when she’s around James.

  A bad guy…might be falling for the good girl.

  James can’t keep his hands off his sexy little doctor. She’s buttoned down for everyone else but goes absolutely wild for him. Sure, she doesn’t know his history. Doesn’t know that the man she lets touch every inch of her body used to spend his days working for Uncle Sam and doing some seriously dirty deeds. What she doesn’t know can’t hurt her, right? And if she ever did learn the truth about him, he knew it would terrify his sweet doc right to her core. Terror would make her run. He doesn’t want her running. He just wants her in his bed.

  But then…something happens. Danger sneaks up on Tess. She needs help—a very particular expertise and protective skill set. She needs someone lethal and strong…and James is just the man for the job. After all, lethal is his middle name.

  Hello, dangerous times.

  When James steps in, Tess doesn’t know if she should be grateful or scared to death. Because her gorgeous lover? Turns out he has plenty of mad and dangerous skills. She’s been hooking up with a superhero or…maybe a super villain. It’s sort of hard to tell the difference.

  For the moment, she’s going to go with feeling grateful…but as she learns all of his secrets, Tess wonders what will happen next between them. Will they crash and burn? Burn, baby, burn. Or maybe, just maybe, they’ll actually have a GHOST OF A CHANCE at getting a happily ever after ending.

  Author’s Note: James Smith is one mad, bad, dangerous guy…but sometimes, bad guys fall hard for good girls. GHOST OF A CHANCE is super hot, charged with lots of feels, and, it’s got some pulse-pounding action for you. Dirty words and dirty deeds are dead ahead. Oh, and there’s plenty of fun thrown in, too. Mystery, humor, sexy times, and danger—all of my favorite things in a book.

  Learn more about GHOST OF A CHANCE.

  A Note From the Author

  Thank you so much for reading ONE HOT HOLIDAY! And happy holidays to you!!! If you enjoyed this story, be sure to check out the books in my Wilde Ways series. All of the books are stand-alone romances with guaranteed happy endings. I have a brand-new romance coming out in early 2020…GHOST OF A CHANCE will be here in January! Ghost was whispered about in ONE HOT HOLIDAY, but it will soon be time for him to star in his own book.

  If you have time, please consider leaving a review. Reviews help readers to discover new books—and authors certainly appreciate them!

  If you’d like to stay updated on my releases and sales, please join my newsletter list.

  I’m also active on social media. You can find me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

  Again, thank you for reading ONE HOT HOLIDAY.

  Best,

  Cynthia Eden

  cynthiaeden.com

  About The Author

  Cynthia Eden is a New York Times, USA Today, Digital Book World, and IndieReader best-seller. Cynthia writes sexy tales of contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and paranormal romance. Since she began writing full-time in 2005, Cynthia has written over one hundred novels and novellas.

  More Information

  cynthiaeden.com

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  Her Other Works

  Wilde Ways

  Protecting Piper (Wilde Ways, Book 1)

  Guarding Gwen (Wilde Ways, Book 2)

  Before Ben (Wilde Ways, Book 3)

  The Heart You Break (Wilde Ways, Book 4)

  Fighting For Her (Wilde Ways, Book 5)

  Dark Sins

  Don’t Trust A Killer (Dark Sins, Book 1)

  Don’t Love A Liar (Dark Sins, Book 2)

  Dark Obsession Series

  Watch Me (Dark Obsession, Book 1)

  Want Me (Dark Obsession, Book 2)

  Need Me (Dark Obsession, Book 3)

  Beware Of Me (Dark Obsession, Book 4)

  Only For Me
(Dark Obsession, Books 1 to 4)

  Mine Series

  Mine To Take (Mine, Book 1)

  Mine To Keep (Mine, Book 2)

  Mine To Hold (Mine, Book 3)

  Mine To Crave (Mine, Book 4)

  Mine To Have (Mine, Book 5)

  Mine To Protect (Mine, Book 6)

  Mine Series Box Set Volume 1 (Mine, Books 1-3)

  Mine Series Box Set Volume 2 (Mine, Books 4-6)

  Lazarus Rising

  Never Let Go (Book One, Lazarus Rising)

  Keep Me Close (Book Two, Lazarus Rising)

  Stay With Me (Book Three, Lazarus Rising)

  Run To Me (Book Four, Lazarus Rising)

  Lie Close To Me (Book Five, Lazarus Rising)

  Hold On Tight (Book Six, Lazarus Rising)

  Lazarus Rising Volume One (Books 1 to 3)

  Lazarus Rising Volume Two (Books 4 to 6)

  Bad Things

  The Devil In Disguise (Bad Things, Book 1)

  On The Prowl (Bad Things, Book 2)

  Undead Or Alive (Bad Things, Book 3)

  Broken Angel (Bad Things, Book 4)

  Heart Of Stone (Bad Things, Book 5)

  Tempted By Fate (Bad Things, Book 6)

  Wicked And Wild (Bad Things, Book 7)

  Saint Or Sinner (Bad Things, Book 8)

  Bad Things Volume One (Bad Things, Books 1 to 3)

  Bad Things Volume Two (Bad Things, Books 4 to 6)

  Bite Series

  Forbidden Bite (Bite Book 1)

  Mating Bite (Bite Book 2)

  Blood and Moonlight Series

  Bite The Dust (Blood and Moonlight, Book 1)

  Better Off Undead (Blood and Moonlight, Book 2)

  Bitter Blood (Blood and Moonlight, Book 3)

  Blood and Moonlight (The Complete Series)

 
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