This hot little holiday book is going to be available in paperback! Eeep! I had so many people asking for it that I had to do it.
Here is a first chapter sneak peek of CHRISTMAS KISSES:
We’ve been creeping along the parkway much slower than usual, because of the snow. It falls from the sky in big chunks and sticks to the windshield of my old car, blinding me. The wipers don’t seem to think that seeing is important. They swish slowly, smearing the melting snow back and forth, barely clearing the haze before another coating of white clings to the glass. My heart is racing and it has nothing to do with the weather.
This is a bad idea. My stomach churns like I ate a glass sandwich and I grip the steering wheel tighter. “What if Ryan’s there?” I glance at my best friend. Everything about her is small and compact, except for her attitude and huge hair.
Mandy gives me a look that says I should hope dream boy is there tonight. She taps the window with her finger, and looks out at the snowy road. “What if you talked? I mean, would it be so bad? You know how I feel about Matt, and sometimes I think that it wouldn’t be so bad if we talked. It’s better than neither of you saying anything forever, right? And it might make things take whatever course they’re going to take. Why delay the inevitable?” I glance at her out of the corner of my eye. Mandy’s my best friend and has been since middle school, but she doesn’t understand.
It’s Ryan Darcy. It’s like this—if there is one guy that you really want, but know you should never have—it’s Ryan. The guy has had me dreaming about him since we were fifteen. He’d flash me a smile and say something witty. I’d flirt back, but it could never go anywhere, not with him. I’m all heart and he’s all testosterone, looking to boink the next girl with a curvy body. At the same time, we have a connection—at least I think we do—I feel it when we talk. I’m just drawn to him. Whenever I’m around him, I have to constantly remind myself that it’s all part of the game, that I’m just another piece of ass, which is hard because it feels real. I want it to be real, but that’ll never happen. It’s not who he is. And just being around him will screw with my brain for the rest of winter break. I’ll wonder if the things he says are genuine or just another shot at my panties.
I shake my head. “Mandy, no. Please, please do this for me. If you see him talking to me, just come interrupt and pull me away. Otherwise my brain will melt and I’ll do something stupid.”
I know exactly what I’ll do. Ryan is too hot to ignore. His eyes have a way of sweeping over my body that makes me feel like I’m naked. And that’s not the worst of it. That connection I feel around him is toxic, making me gulp him in until I’m reeling. For some unholy reason, the guy can see right through me, like Ryan knows everything I think just by glancing at my eyes. It scares the hell out of me. He could turn me inside out and leave me slobbering on myself, if the mood strikes him. I’m not up for that, not now.
It’s five days before Christmas and I feel like an emotional lunatic. I have no boyfriend, no presents, and no clothes since the airline lost my luggage. I’m wearing the only thing I had in my closet, which was supposed to be for a New Year’s party that I’m not even going to since my loser boyfriend cheated on me while I was at college. Long distance relationships don’t work. Real life experience taught me that. Anyway, I got the New Year’s Eve tickets to some swank place on Vet’s Highway before I left this summer. Things didn’t turn out the way I hoped. Now, I have no desire to hang out with a bunch of happy couples waiting to kiss. And random slobber doesn’t turn me on, but Ryan does. If he comes near me, I know I’ll cave in and do something stupid. I feel too strung out, like my string is going to snap and pop me in the face. I can’t take another heart break, not now.
“So, there’s no way you want things to end where you two are together?” Mandy sounds like she doesn’t believe me.
I shake my head. “He’s the wrong guy for me. Ryan’s the love ‘em and leave ‘em type. He won’t spontaneously convert into boyfriend material. He’ll rip my heart out, Mandy.”
I stare at the gobs of white flakes as they race toward me in the inky night. There aren’t many cars out. We’re the only idiots who’d drive in toward the city tonight to see a no-name band. It’s an easy way to see everyone from high school. I’ve been gone for five months at college in Texas. I arrived in New York this morning and by this evening Mandy had me dressed to kill and in my Dad’s commuter car (a.k.a The Beast) driving west, straight into the snow. When Mandy invited me to this gig, it seemed like a good idea. A few of our friends are in the band, while others we know will be there to cheer them on. It’s the first time I’ve been home since leaving Long Island at the end of the summer. It’s the first time that there’s a possibility of seeing Ryan again. I don’t know if I can bear it.
Ryan’s the kind of guy that makes a great friend, but doing anything more would be suicide, mainly because of his roving lips. He doesn’t pick a girl and stay with her long. Ryan leaves a trail of jilted blondes in his wake. Even so, knowing that isn’t enough to deter my mind from thoughts of kissing him until my lips are chapped. The guy rots my brain. He’s like crack, addicting and deadly. My heart wouldn’t be able to take it if something happened between us. I need Ryan to stay in the friend zone, friend with a capital F.
Mandy seems to catch my mood, that I’m not changing my mind about this. She nods confidently. “If that’s what you want, then I’m your wingman. He won’t talk to you. I’ll drag you away before he’s got a chance to say anything.”
She smiles at me and my I’m-gonna-puke-level drops back to normal. Maybe tonight won’t suck after all.
The guys are playing at this tiny Irish bar across from their University. The college campus is across the street, glistening white with the newly fallen snow. When we step inside, the place is packed. The house lights are down by the time we arrive and the band is already playing. Mandy and I grab seats at a tiny table toward the back of the room. There was a RESERVED sign on it with her name. If it wasn’t there, we’d have no place to sit. The place is crawling with twenty-somethings. I sit down opposite Mandy. A partition blocks my view of half the band, but I can still see if I lean forward. I glance around trying to see if Ryan is here, but I don’t see him. Scanning the crowd, I see a few friends that I’ve been looking forward to talking to and then settle back into my chair.
Ryan doesn’t come. His best friend Greg isn’t here, either. My heart stops pounding and I feel my nerves melt like a snowman in sauna. I finally relax.
They continue to play and I actually get to enjoy it. I watch the musicians on stage and recognize Matt and Luke from high school. Matt is singing and has gotten so much better than the last time I saw him. He’s insanely good. His voice, plus his stage presence, is larger than life. I whisper as much to Mandy and she nods at me in agreement.
When they stop playing, the bar fills with applause. We all stand and the band bows, saying that they are going to take five, and the house lights come up.
She leans in to me, “Hole-E-Crap. I had no idea Matt had that in him.” Her eyes have that look she usually has around Matt. She loves him and he has no idea. I don’t know how he can’t tell. Or maybe he can and doesn’t want to hurt her. Matt’s a great guy. He puts others before himself, he always has.
“Me neither,” I reply candidly, still clapping. “Wow. Just wow.”
Mandy, stops clapping and moves to the stage right as the applause dies down. “I’m going to go talk to him.”
I smile sadly. This will drive her insane for months, and yet, I can’t tell her no. “I’ll be here.”
I smooth my black dress and look down at my dark boots. The heels are killing me, but I stand for a moment, mostly because everyone else is. I’m smiling, and see a friendly face when I glance up. It’s Katie. She graduated a year ahead of me, and I hardly see her anymore. She waves at me and I wave back. She holds up a finger to me, saying she’ll be over in a second. I nod and glance around the room.
The same thing happens with a few other friends. They all have new lives, new friends, and are chatting. I stay where I am, at the back of the bar, and see Mandy walk up onto the stage and head toward Matt, who is surrounded by people. Mandy has no fear. She glances at me, before shouldering her way through the crowd, and grins. Her fingers do a girlie wave, where they bend one at a time, and then she turns to Matt and starts talking. What was that about? I look around, but I have no clue.
I’m about to sit back down, when I feel eyes on the side of my face. The hairs on my neck prickle and my heart clenches. It’s like my body senses him before I even see him. Turning slowly, I lift my gaze and my eyes lock with Ryan’s. I feel lost, like I’m falling into an abyss. It consumes me whole. It’s like there is no one else in the room, no one between us. At first he seems surprised to see me, but then something changes. His eyes sweep over me quickly, soaking in my thinner body and the tighter clothes. He walks toward me with that boyish swagger and crooked grin.
Going to hear a college band play on Friday nights has became a habit. I pile in a car with a group of guys. We hang out at the bar until we’re thrown out at close. Tonight, we’re late. The guys pour through a side door and slip into the seats along the far back wall. It’s shitty seating, but it’s not like we’re there to ogle the band.
A prickling sensation slides up my spine. I look around the bar to see what caused it. Nothing’s different than usual. The place is packed with the normal crowd, plus a few new faces. I don’t feel eyes on me. It was more like a premonition that something was about to happen.
I lean back in my seat and listen, chatting to the guys and ordering the normal assortment of greasy bar food. My mind keeps drifting to my ex-girlfriend and wondering how another relationship crumbled into dust. The girl was perky with perfectly straight platinum hair that fell to her shoulders with big blue eyes. Without warning, my mind shifts to Holly Connelly. I can still picture her in my mind, even though it’s been nearly five months since I saw her last.
She disappeared without a word. It stung much more than I thought it would have, not that she had to tell me. We were friends, sort of. I liked talking to her when she was around, and stuff never got past that. Holly was the girl I wanted back in high school, but things never worked out that way. When I was dating someone, she was free. When I broke up, then Holly was dating someone. It was like fate kept us apart. All this time, Holly was burned into my brain. I had no idea how much I wanted her, until she was gone.
Life sucks like that. As soon as I wake up enough to realize what I want, it slips between my fingers. I press my knuckles to my temple and rub. Stop thinking about her. She’s not coming back and it’s not like I can call her. I don’t even have her number.
Greg leans over to me, “Stop it.” He knows I’m thinking about her, how hung up I am. I keep trying to move on, but I can’t. Greg’s known me too long. He can catch my mood without a damn word. Sometimes it’s good, but most of the time it feels like an invasion.
“What?” I whisper, dropping my hand from my face and looking at him like he’s wrong.
He hisses, “You’re thinking about her. Stop it.” Greg doesn’t say anything about it again.
The kid on stage, Matt, is rocking his solos. When they finish for the night, we all stand and clap. I start to look around to see who else is here now that the lights are brighter. Several of the girls from the high school drive out every week, including Mandy.
I’m glancing across the aisle when I see Mandy twisting her way through the crowd and heading straight for the stage. I smile. She has a thing for Matt, but Matt seems to have no clue. I continue to turn, looking to see who Mandy came with this time. My breath catches in my throat. Glee and dread crash into each other inside my chest.
CHRISTMAS KISSES is on sale now for 99¢:
: “One of the hottest books I’ve read this year! This is a MUST READ! Cozy on up to the fire with your cocoa and be prepared
.” -Pereza T.
CHRISTMAS KISSES will be available in paperback shortly! I’ll post the links on Amazon as soon as it’s ready. Thank you so much to everyone who bought this book and recommended it to their friends! You guys rock! When you get a sec, leave a review and I’ll be ecstatic! Reviews are SOOOO great!