First Chapter (and a few words of the second chapter) of my next Swans Cove Holiday Novella…

This is an unlisted page, just for you 🙂 And those words are not yet revised or edited. This is an exclusive sneak peek.

CHAPTER 1—JULIE

All I want for Christmas is an earth-shattering, toe-curling orgasm. Or two.

And a job that doesn’t slurp my soul out of my body like a demon enjoying its favorite smoothie.

Oh, and to be debt-free.

Dear Santa, are you there? It’s me, Julie. I’m pretty sure I’m on your nice list. So, let’s make sure this goes without a hitch, okay?

Because I’m on my way to get what I want. One more week and my boss will promote me from communications/personal/everything assistant to Communications Coordinator and an orgasm is on my calendar for tonight.

If I can get out on time. And get out of my head. I can never seem to relax.

If Santa did hear me, the pine cone stick I added to the fake Christmas tree on my desk would mask the old microwaved fish smell lingering in the air.  And it doesn’t.

“Julie, dear, did you forget my evening juice? You know I need it at seven sharp.” Mara Sullivan, the Queen Of Romance Novels and President of Love Fairy—Meet Your Dream Partner

is dressed in a red velvety dress for the office party I am not attending. Laughter spills out of the conference room as the team attempts to karaoke Jingle Bells Rock like we’re in a remake of Mean Girls.

“Julie?” Mara snaps her fingers and I glance up at the clock. How is it one minute past seven already?

I open the small fridge underneath my desk. “Here you go.” I force my lips into a smile.

She takes a sip, frowning like I forgot some magic ingredient that would turn her kale-spinach juice into a decadent chocolate caramel treat.

“Has the interview been published?”

I nod. “Yes, it’s been picked up already by E! and Marie Claire.”

“Good. Good.”

Her creep of a boyfriend aka the model on her latest book cover and newest VP of Celebrity Research at Love Fairy (a made-up job just for him) wraps his steroids-induced arms around her waist. “You are a genius. That line about wanting to bring the love you write about into people’s hearts was perfect.”

That interview was my idea, and the messaging was all me, but I don’t need praise from the guy who’s been sending dick pics to women all around the world. Did he think that was a smooth move? Hey Beautiful, Here’s my eggplant.

Yes, he spelled out the word “eggplant” before the actual eggplant emoji.

Smartphones should come with a flashing warning siren before any dick pic is sent. Did the person ask for this? Don’t do it. No one wants to see it. 

He leans forward. And he must have bathed in a bottle of spicy cologne before coming in. “Can you be a doll and print those reports for me, too?” His breath is on my neck and my entire body stiffens. I’ve been monitoring all social media channels to make sure the interview my boss gave to Channel One is covered everywhere. Which it is. And the hashtags are strong. #MaraTheLoveFairy is trending and influencers are re-posting videos, telling their own love story and how they wished they had a love fairy.Mara wants to have the first analysis of the reach and coverage by seven thirty tonight. So, I have now less than twenty-five minutes to draft that report, hurry out of here, take a shower and get Operation Orgasm on the road. Printing an entire report for her boyfriend is not on my to-do list.

But my smile doesn’t disappear as I hand him the stack of papers. “There you go.”

His greasy fingers brush against mine, and again, he invades my personal space. “Thank you, doll.”

“I’m Julie,” I remind him.

“Oh, I know. And I’m Richard, but you can call me Dick.”

Oh, I do.

I purse my lips and step to the side. “If you’ll excuse me, I have a few more things to do for Mara.”

Mara waves at him to join her in the conference room and reluctantly, he says, “Of course.”

After the party, Mara needs me to order her favorite takeout. As she and Dick watch some videos I forwarded to her, she barks my name again. “Julie!”

I pop my head in her office. “Yes?”

She points to the screen. “Logan XXX. You know him, right?”

At least, my face no longer flushes automatically every single time I hear his name. After all, I’m no longer fifteen, desperately crushing on my older brother’s best friend. “Hmm-hmmm.”

“You do?” Dick sounds impressed and his eyes travel from my face to my cleavage as if my boobs were the reasons Logan XXX had heard of me. Not realizing that Logan saw me through all my stages: shy kid, awkward teenager, and more.

Mara nods, tapping her fingers on her desk until Dick stops staring. “Mark told me about them running into Logan into a restaurant once, and he picked up their bills. He was impressed. That’s when I knew my nephew was serious about you, Julie. Mark is hard to impress.” She continues, before I can say anything. “Logan is single, right?”

“It depends on your definition of single. He is unattached, yes.”

“He’d be the perfect client for us.” Mara muses. “You should get me a meeting with him.”

I turn to the screen. Logan—all six-feet of charisma and power—is answering questions with his signature grunt. He clearly doesn’t want to be on this red carpet doing this interview.

“Hmm-hmm,” I reply, noncommittally. Because there’s no way I’m going to ask Logan aka Mister Most Eligible Scrooge to use Love Fairy. Mara doesn’t realize that Logan is allergic to any kind of romantic commitment. He has a relationship with his work. And sleeps with every woman he thinks is beautiful. He doesn’t make promises and the taciturn but funny and sometimes-sweet teenager turned into the grumpiest ruthless CEO ever. Nope. No way.

“Good. Good.” Mara pauses. “Can you update this report before you leave? I’d like to see the trends.”

“Sure thing,” I nod.

By the time I leave the office, it’s almost nine p.m.

Luckily, Mark plays squash with his friends tonight before going for a drink so he won’t be back until at least eleven.

I have time to feed Mr. Whiskers, my friend Bethany’s sister’s cat, take a shower and get myself ready for his surprise.

Operation Orgasm is still a go.

***

I spray Mark’s favorite lavender perfume on my wrists and lay on my side under the Christmas tree. I’m ready to be unwrapped.

Totally ready.

So ready.

So, so, sooooooo ready.

My pep-talk isn’t super convincing. This isn’t me. I sigh. But Mark mentioned he wanted me to be more spontaneous. To be more daring.

His gift for me is daring, for sure. That big box was waiting on my bed last night. And even though I’ve been on my feet for sixteen hours, I went through with my plan to surprise him.

The scrap of red fabric digs into my shoulder and the crisscross on the stomach jabs into the skin. Some XLs are really disguised Ls. It wouldn’t be lingerie I would have picked for myself. The pompons on the breasts are way too much and the bodysuit shape doesn’t flatter my curves.

The fake Christmas tree pokes my back, but it’s all going to be worth it.

I’m daring and sexy and if I pinch my eyes closed, I’m totally manifesting Mark, growling how much he wants me. Okay, he won’t growl. I don’t think I ever heard him growl.

The key jiggles in the door and I tug the teddy down, crossing my fingers that my hair isn’t stuck on one of the fancy décor he insisted we got.

There’s a giggle in the hallway.

And my heart shoots in my throat before capsizing. The humiliation mixed with despair slam into me. This can’t be happening.

He’s not alone.

He’s not alone and I’m underneath the Christmas tree wearing a teddy with a bow and pompons and a string that is probably cutting all circulation in my body.

I hold my breath.

Maybe if I don’t say anything, they’ll move on to the bedroom and I’ll get out from under that Christmas tree I bought for us.

But of course not. Because that would have been too easy.

Can it get any worse?

“You have no idea how much I want you, sunshine.”

Sunshine?

He calls her sunshine?

He calls me sunshine. I thought it was adorable he gave me a nickname. He told me I was the sunshine brightening his shitty dark days whenever he lost a game or got into another altercation with yet another teammate.

Her hand drops down to the front of his pants. “Oh, I think I do.”

I know this voice.

It can’t be.

I know this voice.

I must be wrong.

“My place looks so much better with you in it.”

Uh, gag.

Another giggle. “Oh, Mark.”

I wasn’t wrong. It is her. My so-called friend. The one who told me I was the best ever just last week. After taking care of her cats and plants and oh, Julie, you idiot you, she probably was spending those days with him.

I’m going to throw up on that tree.

I need to them to get into the bedroom so I can escape this hellhole.

With me, he’s all, “I respect you. Let’s wait.”

With her, he’s all, “I can’t get enough of you.”

I should make a scene.

But my throat is burning with unshed tears and the tightness in my chest means I won’t be able to string two words together, thus spoiling the “make-a-scene” effect.

They tumble into the living room, kissing and touching and hurried. I stare at them, my eyes wide open.  Mark shoves his tongue down her throat, his hands traveling down her back to her ass before fumbling back to her front. He rips her buttoned up dress off, revealing…the same teddy I’m wearing.

I groan.

And I must groan louder than I thought because they turn to where I’m hiding. Humiliation wins over fury and I scramble to stand up. The stupid ornament is stuck in my hair and the Christmas tree I decorated without him tumbles into the ground with a very loud crash. The glass ornaments splatter, sending shards everywhere.

I almost mutter I’m sorry before slapping my hand in front of my mouth. What is wrong with me?

“Julie!” Bethany has the decency to look slightly ashamed, but Mark looks more pissed off about the mess I’m creating than being caught red-handed.

I need to get out of here.

I grab my coat.

“That’s mine,” Bethany interjects, and I drop the coat. My fingers find my cardigan. I wrap myself in it. At least it’s large and long. Unlike Mark. But Bethany must already know that. I sprint out of the apartment like it’s on fire. And in one way it is, it contains the ashes of what I thought my life was.

But now, I’m wearing almost nothing in the drizzling city. People are staring. And I’m pretty sure one guy took my picture.

Shit.

Shit, shit, shit.

My feet take me to a dark alleyway between the bakery I love and a gym that’s just opened. My heart thumps in my ears and my fingers are becoming numb. I left my purse, my money, my everything up there and there’s no way I’m going back right now. A loud bang in the distance makes me jump. Someone screams, “Get out of here!”

Is he talking to me?

And a faint meow reaches my ear.

I glance down and a drenched gray kitten missing an eye rubs himself on my legs. “Hi there.” My voice wobbles. “Are you lost?”

Another desperate meow. Another rub.

I bend down and pick him up. He nestles in the nook of my shoulder and closes his one-eye, with what resembles a content smile.

“You’re alone, too?”

I yearn to be back with my family. Forget about my non-existent career and go home. But I can’t.

There’s another noise in the distance and my chest tightens. Maybe I’ve been watching too many Criminal Minds, but XXX and I need to get out of the dark alleyway.

I inhale deeply and stroll back toward the metro, before remembering I don’t have any cash on me. No metro cards. Nothing.

My eyes dart around and with a sinking heart, a neon sign on a tall building gives me the answer I wasn’t looking for: this is one of Logan’s hotels and he lives in the Penthouse suite.

With all the confidence I can scrap off, I stride into the fancy lobby, all decorated for the holidays. The enormous tree reaches the ceiling. The music is soft and inviting.

The concierge is giving me a questioning look as the lady at the reception frowns with purses lips..

“This isn’t that type of hotel, Miss,” the concierge whispers with dignity and a hint of kindness.

The reflection in the mirrors shows my blond hair splattered to my forehead. My carefully applied make-up, the one I thought made my light brown eyes look almost hazel, doesn’t resemble anything anymore—except maybe a raccoon. My cardigan limps around my body, barely hiding I’m not wearing much underneath.

At least, the kitten is still happily sleeping.

“I’m here to see Logan XXX.”

The concierge clears his throat. “Mr. XXX isn’t available.”

And I’m not sure how my body is still attuned to him despite not seeing him for so many years. It must be that damn cologne I sprayed on my pillow more than once a decade ago, when he starred in my diary and barely acknowledged my existence.

The older gentleman straightens even more.

“Julie,” he growls my name and the goosebumps on my skin must be from the cold. “Why don’t you…” Logan glances down at the kitten in my arms. “And your guest follow me upstairs.” His voice isn’t friendly or warm. It’s bossy and cold.

I turn to him, ignoring the way my breath catches in my throat. “Thank you.”

His icy glare drills into me and he doesn’t say another single word as he shrugs off his fancy coat jacket and settles it on my shoulder. It’s like his entire scent surrounds me. I’m bathing in him and … he’s on the move, ladies and gentlemen.

He’s marching toward the glass elevator.

“You might want to follow him,” the older gentleman tells me with a smile.

And I do, unsure of what I just got myself into.

Because one thing I know for sure is that Logan doesn’t like me.

He tolerates me.

That’s going to be fun.

CHAPTER 2 – LOGAN

Stop imagining her body pressed against yours. Stop imagining her begging for you to touch her. Stop imagining her coming apart in your arms.

Those curves are as fucking tempting as they were when she was eighteen and strutted to that house party dressed in a red dress.

I had dared her to.

….

You can already pre-order # Most Eligible Scrooge (but don’t forget you will get an e-copy as a newsletter subscriber before anyone else). However, if you pre-order, then a grumpy book boyfriend learns how to smile…