A Sweet, Hot, and Christmassy Anthology
Experience the magic of romance this Christmas. Holiday Kisses is a festive collection of eight exclusive Christmas stories that will make you fall head over heels in love. Are you ready to take a journey with us? Get into the Christmas spirit with these swoon-worthy romances this holiday season.
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Holiday Kisses released today! The antho includes my short story, I'll Be Home for Christmas. This is a straight-up Christmas story. And, much like the movie whose plot it borrows (It's a Wonderful Life) and my own personal favorite Christmas Film, 1947's The Bishop's Wife, while there are romantic elements--and a HEA--it's really not a romance. In part this was because there's only so much you can do with 15K. It really didn't allow for a romance sub-plot. I might revise it for next year and make it longer, add more scenes, catch up with a few more Oberon characters in their alternate reality, but overall I'm pretty happy with the story as-is...well, other than the typos which STILL found their way into the finished version despite multiple sets of eyes on the MS and TWO rounds of edits. Besides, I also have another Oberon Christmas story idea on the calendar for 2022, and a FUN new cover (see below).
Meanwhile, here's an excerpt from I'll Be Home for Christmas:
Where are you? Standing inside the terminal, suitcases at my feet, I scan the crowd for a glimpse of my husband. I’m starting to worry. I’d expected to see him when I cleared the gate. Or at least by the time I’d collected my bags. But even after an unprecedented, twenty-minute wait for my luggage, Nick still isn’t here. I’ve called home, called his cell; I’ve tried texting—nada. Even his voicemail isn’t picking up.
He could have gotten stuck at work. When you’re a cop, disruptions are a way of life. But it’s not like him not to have called or left a message. Unless he did, and it hasn’t downloaded? It’s not impossible. There’s something about the area surrounding Oberon that plays havoc with cell signals—which is why so many of us still rely on landlines. The locals will tell you it’s the magic, but I’m sure there’s a more prosaic explanation. But, anyway, belatedly realizing that that’s probably what’s happened, I decide to go outside, where the signal is (hopefully) stronger, and check again. But as I’m reaching for my carry-on, the bag is snatched from my hand.
“Hey!” Glancing up, I find myself face to face with Edge.
“What’s taking so long?” he scolds as he slips the bag’s strap over his shoulder. Then he grabs the rest of my things, as well. “I got you a car. Let’s go.”
“We’re out here,” he says as he heads for the door.
“There is no ‘we,’” I mutter, hurrying after him.
“Look, I appreciate the thought, but I don’t need a car. I have a ride coming.”
He glances at me over his shoulder. “You’re waiting for Nick?”
“Not that it’s any of your business, but yes.”
“I figured. That’s off the table now.”
“Nick. He’s not coming.”
“Why not?” I ask, almost tripping in my haste. “What do you know?”
Edge waits until we’re outside before he answers. “I realize there’s a lot here for you to process. And it’s gonna take time to adjust—no question. But it’s all part of your Christmas gift.”
“Gift?” Ideas dance in my head like sugarplums. “What gift?” Could Nick have bought me a new car and sent this joker here to deliver it? No. Impossible. Nick would never expect me to get into a car with a stranger; in fact, he’d be furious with me, right now, for even following Edge outside. “I’m not taking another step,” I say as I glance around, hoping to catch sight of a security guard—or anyone who could come to my aid. “Not without an explanation. What gift are you talking about?”
“My gift to you. A new life.”
“A new…what? Look, you’re clearly playing me, so—”
Edge looks perplexed. “Why would I do that?”
“How the hell should I know?”
“Whoa,” he says with a flinch. “Could you not use the H-word?”
“I’ll say worse than that if you don’t give me back my bags right the fuck now.”
“Already done,” he replies, tossing them into the back of a shiny, red Mustang convertible that has me doing a double-take. “See? You’re all set.”
“I…don’t understand.” I’m looking at the twin of the car I was driving when I first returned to Oberon, feeling a sense of unease so strong it borders on nausea. Even by Oberon standards, this is one hell of a freakish coincidence.
“Remember how you said that the fear of losing everything was always there, hanging over your head, that you couldn’t be happy because of it?”
“That’s not exactly—"
“And how no one would have even noticed if you’d never come back? That everyone’s lives would’ve gone on just the same—with or without you?”
“I did not say that.” It’s true, of course, but…
“But you thought it, right? And, while I don’t happen to agree, I figure it’s your life, your choice. So, I gave you what you’ve been wishing for: a do-over, a clean slate, a fresh start. You’re free to build a new life now, one that will make you happy, one you can believe in. Okay?”
I open my mouth, then shut it again when I can’t think of anything to say.
“Right. So”—Edge digs a set of keys from his pocket and presses them into my hand—“here you go. Merry Christmas.” I
frown at the familiar keychain. Even that’s identical to the one I’d used five years ago. When I glance up again, Edge is already on his way back inside. “Wait! Where are you going? I can’t take your car.”
“Sure, you can,” he replies as the doors slide shut behind him. “And it’s not mine—it’s yours.”
I start after him, stopping only when I realize I’d be leaving my bags unattended. Before I can figure out what to do, the security guard I’d been praying for a moment earlier suddenly materializes at my side.
“Move along,” he snaps impatiently, giving me no opportunity to explain. “Nope, don’t want to hear it. Just get in your car and go. If this were any other time of the year, I’d already be writing out a summons.”
If it were any other time of the year, this probably wouldn’t be happening, but there’s no use arguing. I might as well go home, I decide, as I pull away from the curb. I can call Larry from there. Surely, he can tell me how to contact Edge and return his car.
* * *
And coming next December (maybe): Oberon's magic strikes again. This time, Lucy's stuck in a time loop where she experiences Christmas every day. The. Exact. Same. Christmas. And it will just keep repeating until she gets it right. It's like Groundhog Day, only in December.
One of these days, she's really going to learn to stop wishing for the chance to do it all over again.