Mistletoe Wishes, an all-new steamy holiday read from JJ Carlson, is available now!
The last thing Keaton wants is to be stuck in the small town his father owns for the holidays. The only thing he detests more than Christmas is small towns that make a big deal over the holiday. Especially a holiday Keaton associates with his mother’s death. Keaton plans to get rid of his father’s investment as quickly as possible, but what he doesn’t expect is to get tangled in tinsel with the beautiful Harper—a feisty little baker who is determined to push his limits.
Harper wants nothing more than to make her bakery, Mistletoe Wishes, a successful franchise. She’s worked hard to get to where she is today and isn’t about to let anything—or anyone—stand in her way. With relationships and romance being at the bottom of her list, Harper finds herself in unfamiliar territory when she meets the sexy Keaton Snow. His aversion and distaste for Christmas and her home town are the only things she doesn’t find attractive about him.
Will Keaton open his heart up to Harper and let the joy of the season, and a promise of a future, deter his plans to sell the town he grew up resenting?
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My eyes move down to her pouty pink lips, where it lingers for a bit longer than it should. I’m glad when a knock on the door breaks the spell this woman has me under. I don’t know what it is about her, but there is something.
“Just in time,” she says happily, handing me her decoration. She opens the door, and a staff member pushes in a tray. She thanks the woman at the door, and wheels the tray inside, before shutting the door behind her.
“What is all this?” I ask in wonderment.
“Cookies, because we didn’t have any this morning, eggnog and some warm apple cider—extra kick. I wasn’t sure which you would prefer.”
“Both.” I grin and swipe a cookie off the tray. I groan in delight as it melts in my mouth. “Now, this here is a mouth-watering cookie,” I say looking her up and down in the process. And the cookies were mouth-watering, but so was Harper. I notice the scarlet flush creeping across her cheeks.
“Get your mind out of the gutter, Harper.” I tease.
“What?” She giggles, and I swear it’s my new favorite sound. She lifts her mug of eggnog, so I do the same. I clink my glass to hers, taking a sip of the best eggnog I have ever tasted.
After I’ve eaten too many cookies, she gives me the rundown of how and where to place the decorations after I string up the lights. She warns me that she is the creative genius behind this process, and any urge to change things will not be tolerated. I have never laughed so hard in my life. When we’re intoxicated from the cider, I wrap some tinsel around her neck and playfully pull her closer. There’s a flash of alarm, followed by a twinkle of lust in her eyes, and I feel my throat constrict. I should kiss her, and finally taste those luscious lips of hers that I’ve craved since that first night stranded in the snow.
“I’m dizzy.” She giggles,suddenly pulling away from me. Her absence leaves me longing with an impulse to pull her close to me again. To smell the vanilla scent of her hair.
We sit at the foot of my bed and stare up at what I concede to be the most beautiful tree I have ever laid eyes on. I may be sitting on the floor of a lodge in an ugly sweater, but I have never had this much fun. I glance her way and decide that Harper Clifford is the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes upon. Ever.
“This is the best part,” she says, her eyes twinkling when she looks at the lights. “Sitting down after a job well done and being able to appreciate your creation and handiwork.”
“We make a pretty good team.” I lean slightly and nudge her shoulder.
“That we do.” She looks up at me with a smile so bright it makes me feel warm inside. I can’t remember the last time I felt this way, not with my family, nor with Ana. Being here in this small town in the middle of nowhere with a woman who is as gorgeous as she is smart, I realize I have never truly felt at peace until this moment. I also know that I have to be honest with her about everything.
“What would you do if you weren’t a hotshot businessman?” she asks casually.
I look away from her, then back. “I’d write books.”
“Yeah?” She turns a little toward me. “What kind of books?”
“Tragic love stories.” I smile at her. Maybe, I’d write stories about women like her and men like me who meet at the wrong time in their lives.
“Why not the smutty kind?” She bites down on the corner of her lip. Holy fuck! Maybe I’d write about what I’d like to do to that pretty little mouth. I have to look away.
“Harper, I should tell you—” She looks up at me, and for a second, I believe in miracles. She closes the distance, her lips brushing against mine. There is an undercurrent of pure unbridled desire, but it’s mixed with something else. She lowers onto her knees beside me, her eyes holding mine hostage. Small hands cradle my face, and the sweet scent of her is intoxicating. I want to lean in closer, watch her unravel beneath me, explore every curve of her body in front of the fireplace. She is perfect, everything I want but I don’t deserve. Her eyes flutter closed. The urge to kiss her is so strong. I pull her closer to me, but instead of kissing her, I hold her to my chest. I can feel her breathing quicken, as she tenses in my arms.
“I’m sorry,” she says, pulling away from me. She stands, and I lean my hands on my knees, watching her walk away. I should go after her and explain, but I find myself looking up at the tree, getting lost in all the reasons I shouldn’t. Maybe I’m a coward. Perhaps I’m a fool. One thing I am not is the man who deserves a woman like Harper.
About JJ Carlson
JJ is a storyteller who believes that love has its own unique language, and that if you listen close enough, you’ll hear it’s song. She writes about love in a way to shatter barriers.