Saturday, November 25, 2017

A Merrily Matched Christmas - Holiday story anthology - AVAILABLE NOW!

I'm super excited to share that our Christmas anthology is available NOW!!

A Merrily Matched Christmas

Unwrapping in time for Christmas 2017.

Snuggle up with new holiday favorites for a kiss under the mistletoe. From handsome strangers to second chances, this collection will keep your heart warm and toasty this holiday season! So grab some eggnog and a blanket and curl up by the fire with a sexy new book boyfriend!

And for my blog pals, I have a special treat! You can read the first chapter of my story, A Merry Matchmaker Mess, free!! See it below!

Chapter One
A beard could hide a lot of things, or at least that was Ronnie’s first thought when she spotted Elijah Conrad coming out from under her car. A veteran and genius like him had to have seen a lot of things, yet his dark hair and beard kept her from reading his expression exactly.
He’d been the talk of Evergreen Springs, their small town, from the day he came home. Two years later, and it hadn’t died down… mostly because he was the enigmatic brilliant type. Elijah seemed pretty oblivious to everyone’s interest in him—he just kept his head down and worked a lot. Too much, in her opinion. Then again, he was partner in the engineering company her brother started. Due to that, he’d been pretty busy securing government contracts and doing a lot of math, so far as she’d seen. He needed to get out more, live a little.
She considered herself gifted at helping others, be it rescue animals or people in need of a little love, so she wasn’t fooled by the sexy lumberjack kind of facial hair. No, it was in his eyes—just there!—that she could spot it.
He hurt. And he was lonely.
Eyes like that begged for a friend or… even better!
They begged for romance. Eli Conrad needed someone to love who would love him in return.
Also, she’d probably been staring at him too long. His lips, even under the rugged beard, were slowly tilting up and the smile almost reached his gorgeous brown eyes. “Veronica?” he inquired in a voice deep enough to curl her toes.
No one ever called her Veronica. She was Ronnie, had been since about seventh grade. Only Eli bothered to even remember that she had a full name. She didn’t know why that was so touching to her, but it was.
Yeah, whichever woman Ronnie set up with this guy would be a lucky lady indeed. This man screamed sensuality in a way that should be impossible, especially covered with oil. Ronnie cleared her throat before managing, “Yeah, about the car…”
“Did you call your brother when it started making the noise?” Eli asked. He rubbed a rag against his huge hands and Ronnie bit her lip. He really was far too hot for small town life, but she’d find him a match. It was what she did.
“Yes,” she answered. “He told me I should get it looked at.” She burrowed a bit deeper into her winter coat. The wind smelled like coming snow, and the leaden color of the sky agreed. She’d been lucky that Eli was also on his way to work and saw her alongside the road. Since she was running late, it wasn’t like many others would be headed toward work at this hour and the shop was on a dead-end road in a mostly deserted industrial park, especially on a Saturday.
Did you get it looked at?” he asked.
She nibbled her lip. She’d meant to follow her brother’s implicit directions when she’d bought the new car. Check the oil, check the tire pressure, check the blah blah blah. Sadly, there was always something else more important to do. When the warning light popped up last week, she’d asked her brother Mac to check it out… and his advice was to take the car to a mechanic.
She hadn’t had time. Or, more honestly, she hadn’t remembered other than when she was driving the car, and it wasn’t like she had a handy blow up mechanic doll in the glove box.
She darted another look up at those sad eyes of his. Was it wrong that she wanted to tug him into a hug? Probably, since she planned to hook him up with someone else. She shouldn’t send mixed signals.
“No. In my own defense, it has been a really busy week.” She was on the planning committee for a bunch of holiday events for their small town, plus she had work, and the new palette from her favorite makeup company released, so she’d had to film and edit a video reviewing it… after she’d preordered it and waited for it to arrive.
Busy. Really busy. She liked to keep very busy.
“You probably should’ve listened to him,” Eli pointed out, gazing back at her car.
“Well, I didn’t. Did you figure out what was wrong with it?” she asked, trying not to focus on how very nice Eli’s ass looked.
“You’re going to need to get it towed,” he said simply. “Hop in my car. I’ll give you a lift to work.”
Not exactly how she planned to get close enough to him to research who’d best fit him, but it would do. Cheerfully, she followed him to his car and hopped in. She wasn’t that worried about her car, but she was concerned with her projects.
And although Elijah Conrad might not realize it, he was for sure her next project.

Mac’s little sister Veronica worked with him, but for the most part, he hadn’t talked to her since high school. She was part of the marketing and media team, so it wasn’t like he needed to interact with her at work.
If he had his way, he probably wouldn’t interact with anyone. His work took up most of his concentration—the mathematical certainty of it all consuming his thoughts. Which was how he liked things.
Real life was uncertain—full of sticky emotional and social interactions that he would rather not bother with, given his preference. He hated the abstract, and feelings were almost always just that. Even knowing that about himself, he had to admit he’d cast more than one glance in the general direction of Veronica Murray.
He understood polar opposition, and Veronica was likely as close to a living version of his opposite as humanly possible. Where he was quiet and liked to take things in and consider them, she was constantly talking, ever in motion, and seemed to light up whatever room she entered.
Which should’ve annoyed him. Usually, he found that distractions were a bother. But something about Veronica always tugged his eyes up from his computer screen or microscope. She had this hair, all wild and platinum white, but with colored streaks that peek-a-boo-ed out when she shifted and moved. Her pretty little oval face was always sparkling in some way, whether it was some glittering color on her lips or some shocking splash of vibrant hues around her already lovely eyes.
Her clothes seemed to be equally haphazard—from boots with cartoon characters emblazoned on the leather to scarves of surprising patterns. Always in motion, always glittering, she fascinated him on some weird level he didn’t quite understand.
But the constant talking? He didn’t know how she did it, to be honest. He almost always thought carefully before speaking, considering his words and their possible impact before bothering to say a thing.
She was like this stream of sound, rising and falling in a way that soothed his ear yet was often more sound than words.
In the close confines of his car, the rattling flow of chatter was surprisingly absent. Instead, she sat with her hands tucked into her coat pockets and her eyes on the road ahead. One of her feet—this time, clad in an almost knee-high boot of brilliant yellow—tapped on the floor, and she practically twitched with energy.
“You’re awful quiet,” he pointed out as he turned into their lot.
“I was thinking,” she answered, surprising him a little. Based on his interactions—few though they might have been—with Veronica, thinking before she spoke was something he would’ve figured she wasn’t a fan of.
“About your car?” he began. An understandable concern, as he didn’t have high hopes that her engine survived what looked like severe neglect. “I can call a tow truck and have it taken to a garage for you—”
She waved a hand, face scrunching in annoyance. That was something else he’d noticed about her. That pretty little face of hers seemed a mirror to whatever mood or thought she might have. He wasn’t sure if he’d ever met someone quite as expressive as Veronica, and he’d bet she sucked at poker.
“I’m not worried about the car,” she muttered.
“You’re not?” He would be, if he was her. From the looks of things, she’d been driving it either without oil or without an oil change…
And, either way, she’d probably destroyed the car.
“I was thinking about you,” she answered, hopping out of the car on her side. He’d parked in his spot, and sat there for a second after she’d gotten out, trying to decide why thinking about him would’ve caused the consternation he’d noted on her face.
They were practically strangers, really. What exactly was she thinking about him?
He met her gaze across the top of his car then considered her petite face as a gust of wind caught and tousled her hair. That peek of color popped out again—hot pink—and he wondered why he found it so damn appealing.
“About me?” he said, at a loss.
“You’re single, right?” she replied.
He blinked at her, more than confused. Was she asking him out? He couldn’t recall a time in his life when a woman had done just that, so it would be novel. Would he say yes?
Part of him was curious about her—had been for quite some time—but it probably would be a bad decision.
For one, she’d get bored with him pretty quickly. She was so lively and colorful and vibrant. Compared to that, he was a dull gray. A blob of dull gray.
He was the masculine equivalent of a potato.
For two, why would she? Because he happened to be running late and saw that she was having car trouble?
She was still looking at him, so he locked the car and ushered her toward the door. He wasn’t sure how to answer her unexpected question, so he simply didn’t.
Once inside, she stomped her feet twice on the rug and looked at him again. “Well, you didn’t answer? Are you seeing someone?”
He opened and closed his mouth, furrowing his brows as he again tried to think of a single reason why she’d be asking.
He couldn’t come up with even one logical possible reason.
“I’ll call for a tow and see about your car getting into a mechanic,” he answered, heading toward his office. When in doubt, as his father used to say, just don’t answer.
She dogged his steps, catching his arm before he could hide behind his office door. “I forgot to say thank you,” she said.
She was shorter than him, he noticed. Not too short for kissing, but shorter. “No problem,” he answered.
With that, he closed his office door and tried really hard not to overthink possible reasons she would be curious about his dating life. Better to focus on the tangible—get her car towed, into a shop, alert her brother, and then back to work.
Math wasn’t abstract, it was logical and almost always ended in a solid solution. Veronica Murray, however, was complicated.