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by C. L. Scholey
Description: When it comes to a few of her favorite things, raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens aren't exactly what Candy has in mind at Christmas. Those things are fine if your head is in the clouds. A high powered lawyer doesn't have the luxury. When her car is run off the road by a deviant--a sexy deviant, she finds herself in a compromised position--horizontal. If she wants to stay warm and alive, she doesn't have a choice but to keep him close. While a blizzard rages, the only heat she and Cain are able to turn up in his truck is sexual attraction, and they have it on high.
Dog bites and bee stings are nothing compared to what Cain feels when his emotions are slammed into high gear. What would a sophisticated woman want with a struggling author who can't pay his bills? Nevertheless the Winter Wonderland surrounding them temps them into melting a spring thaw. But can they sustain the passion and find the joy of the holidays when danger passes?
eBook Publisher: Whispers Publishing, 2011 2011
eBookwise Release Date: January 2012
2 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [85 KB]
Reading time: 46-65 min.
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It was five days before Christmas, and Candy wandered around the shopping mall. She admired all the hard work put into the numerous displays. The fifteen-foot Christmas tree was breathtaking, as it was every year. Santa's workshop was a bustle, with children big and small wanting pictures, a treat, or a dream of a new toy.
She looked into windows, checked out the sales. She picked up stuffed animals and racing cars, only to lay them back upon the shelf, shaking her head. There really wasn't room in her car for anything else; the vehicle was filled to the brim with ribbons, packages, and bags. She needed to unload her treasures at the hotel in town. She really should be there by now, but she just couldn't resist the draw of the excited crowds.
She brightened momentarily when her gaze settled upon a lifelike, beautiful doll. She lifted her hand to touch the lace on the dress with a shaky finger. It was delightful. The image of an old dress, given to her by her foster mother years ago for her doll, flashed through her mind. The colors were basically the same. But it was different too. Her doll had been in handmade clothing, the fabric was worn, the patterns beyond faded. A discreet patch, in the shape of a flower, had adorned a small part near the hem where lace had once resided.
They had been so poor, her foster parents. Lilly, her foster mother, stayed home to watch the children while, Mark, her foster father, did odd jobs, if and when he could find them. The doll was found at a secondhand store, so they said; more than likely it had been salvaged from someone's garbage bin, but she had loved it nonetheless. It wasn't the gift or where it came from; it was who had given it to her. Lilly had tried so hard to make Christmas a special occasion for their family. And, bless her, she had. Every single, wonderful year.
They'd strung popcorn, made paper chains out of the colorful cartoon section of rummaged newspaper, and collected pinecones to decorate the small tree, all the while singing Christmas carols. Every room held a heavenly smelling fresh sprig of pine branch, a glorious odor to add to the festive occasion. The angel for their treetop had been handmade, used every year, until it was faded and worn. Candy remembered the fried bologna, instead of a fine turkey supper. Kraft dinner replaced the stuffing, mashed potatoes, and gravy. For dessert it was baked apples; sometimes they even had brown sugar to sweeten them. The dinner was the best in the world, or so she had thought.
As she grew older she realized the extent of their poverty, she always realized the magnitude of their family wealth. Her foster parents had truly tried. They had loved all five children within their tiny home. They had provided as best as they could, but they had loved all that they were able and then some. No one had ever been turned away; never had she gone to bed hungry. Her clothing wasn't stylish, but her foster mother didn't let them run around in rags with tears or rips; everything was neatly sewn or patched. Never had she gone to bed feeling sad or alone or lonely.
On a whim, Candy bought the doll. It was silly, really, to do such a thing. She had no use for it. Perhaps she could find it a home with the other purchases she had made. There was no one to play with it at her house. She was alone now.
In her last year of high school, her foster father had died unexpectedly. It had been a devastating blow; unfortunately more were to follow. Her foster mom, so distraught with her overwhelming grief, had succumbed to death soon after. The children had been separated and sent off to new foster families, all except for her. Candy had been given the option of living on her own. She had eagerly jumped at the chance. After all, she had grown up with four siblings not her own, crowded and annoyed, in a tiny four-room home. A life of solitude had been too good to pass over. She had searched for an apartment. The one she found had been reasonable, quiet, safe...boring. Her own "bachelorette pad." She'd never realized how much she would miss her foster siblings. Her foster sisters had gotten into her makeup; her foster brothers had to be bribed to leave the room if she brought home a boyfriend. She was surprised how happy she was to be part of a family, to be surrounded daily with love, until it was gone, and it had been gone for years now.
Over time she had lost touch with her foster siblings, as they changed homes or moved away. She was a grown woman who had worked her way tirelessly through University and law school. She was grateful for the scholarships she had earned. She had a wonderful career she had worked hard on. Never again would she lack financially. And yet, through it all, there had never been a special someone to give her back what she lacked. No one to share her dreams, her hopes; no one to offer her support, no one to offer support to. It all seemed so terribly empty at times. Perhaps one day she could have it all, success, family...love. What a wonderful Christmas gift it would be, she thought, and then shrugged her shoulders with a sad smile. Christmas wishes were for children.
Candy left the store, the doll cradled securely within her arms, a cold gust of winter wind whipped her long brown locks around her heart-shaped face. For just a brief moment her high heels slipped on a small patch of ice, and she lost her balance. She would have fallen if not for a man grabbing onto her arm to steady her. Candy grasped at his coat sleeve, fearful of hitting the ground and found herself suddenly crushed to an amazingly hard, warm, chest.
She looked up and gazed into the most beautiful green eyes she had ever seen. The man was gorgeous, tall, with the looks of a mythical Geek god. He had stunning, midnight dark hair and was perhaps near her age or just a tad older. She could feel herself quiver at the heated, sexy stare he offered her. She felt suddenly like a charmed schoolgirl and tingled all the way down to her toes. She smiled and was about to give her thanks, when the man spoke.
"Careful, princess, you could have hurt yourself."
His condescending tone gave her pause. She blinked hard. The man was indeed incredibly handsome, or at least he would be, except for the sudden snide twist of his full pouting lips. He was in a worn, old leather jacket, a pocket torn, and faded blue jeans with holes in the knees. The sweater he wore under his open jacket had seen better days, and the word "slovenly" automatically popped, unbidden, into her mind. Perhaps he was looking for a handout.
It was a frosty day to have to panhandle. He must be very cold standing out here, and she was unable to hide the look of pity that she knew fleetingly crossed her face.
She noted that he assessed her through narrowed eyes. His appraisal trailed over her expensive attire with a look resembling that of repugnant scorn. She found his judgment of her to be incredibly uncouth. What an obnoxious beast! Perhaps he wasn't quite so mesmerizing after all! Candy shoved herself away from his grasp, as his hands had begun roaming.
"High heels are a stupid mistake in this weather," the man continued. "Nylons are a stupid mistake too."
"Really? Well thanks for the advice," Candy replied. She scowled darkly at him and turned to search for her car as the snow began to fall in earnest.
"You're welcome," she heard him shout as she began to cross the parking lot.
Candy stopped, once more angered at his rude, obnoxious tone. She turned, and slowly approached the man. She squared her shoulders, held her head regally, and walked her no-nonsense lawyer walk. His look was impassive, all except the mischievous twinkling in his eyes. He locked those disarming eyes on her and stared down into her upturned face. He was a good head taller, even though she wore heels, and Candy tilted her head high to glare up at him.
"What is stupid is an ill-mannered, pompous, uncouth jerk, commenting on a woman's attire. What is stupid is an impolite hooligan, condescendingly calling a woman princess. What is stupid is a grown man wearing tattered running shoes and an open coat in the snow!"
"What's stupid is an itty-bitty woman calling a man twice her size stupid while clutching her little dolly! Really, I'm terrified of your mean, angry eyes!"
"Well then, the smart thing for me to do would be for me to ram my little dolly up your stupid..."
"Is there a problem here?"
Startled, both Candy and the man looked over at a security guard standing not two feet from them. His hands were crossed over his narrow chest, and he was scowling angrily at the man Candy was confronting. It was apparent he had overheard their conversation. Candy felt herself blush, happy she hadn't prattled out her last heated expletive.
"Nope, no problem," the man said; he gave an arrogant salute to the guard, winked at Candy, and swaggered into the parking lot.
"Are you all right, miss?" the guard asked.
"Yes, I'm fine. He just annoyed me, that's all."
"Even still, I think I'll walk you to your car."
Candy smiled as the security guard tucked her hand around his arm. The aging man was not much larger than her, and she thoughtfully wondered what on earth he felt he could do to protect her. But his actions were admirable, and she wasn't about to rebuff his act of kindness.
They reached her Porsche, Candy thanked the man. She climbed behind the wheel, but before she could close her door the guard spoke.
"You be careful, miss. Looks like it's turning into a bad storm. Hope you haven't got too far to drive."
"No, not too far."
She smiled as the man tipped his head to her and closed her door. She carefully pulled out of the parking lot, but slammed on her brakes seconds later, as a huge, battered-looking, black truck raced past her. She heard the blast of a loud horn, and growled deep within her throat as the arrogant, good-looking man, smiled and waved as he whizzed past her. "End Excerpt"