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Authors: Debra Druzy

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Sleeping With Santa

BOOK: Sleeping With Santa
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Table of Contents

Excerpt

Sleeping with Santa

Copyright

Dedications

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Epilogue

A word about the author...

Thank you for purchasing this publication of The Wild Rose Press, Inc.

“Going in or coming out?”

“Sorry.” As Lily jumped aside to free up the doorway, she recognized Nick’s superlative smile beaming like the sun, warming every cell in her body. His nose was rosy, and his quizzical eyes shimmered with moisture as if he’d been in the frigid wind for too long. She bit her tongue to prevent any wild thoughts from rushing past her shivering lips.

“Hey, are you following me?” He winked.

“I, um…” His distinctive musk and cinnamon scent derailed her train of thought. She hid her smile while brushing away an escaped curl tickling her chin. Did her best to contain the butterflies fluttering in her belly.


Well
?” Nick cocked his head in scrutiny. “I’m cold and hungry. How about you?” He grimaced, underdressed for the blustery weather in a black leather jacket with a red scarf tucked into the collar. “Care to join me?”

Sleeping

with Santa

by

Debra Druzy

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales, is entirely coincidental.

Sleeping with Santa

COPYRIGHT © 2014 by Debra Druzy

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author or The Wild Rose Press, Inc. except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.

Contact Information: [email protected]

Cover Art by
Angela Anderson

The Wild Rose Press, Inc.

PO Box 708

Adams Basin, NY 14410-0708

Visit us at www.thewildrosepress.com

Publishing History

First Champagne Rose Edition, 2014

Print ISBN 978-1-62830-737-5

Digital ISBN 978-1-62830-738-2

Published in the United States of America

Dedications

Happy Birthday to my little sister,

December-baby,

and favorite redhead—Cindy

Thank you for the inspiration to write this story.

~*~

To KP, KVP, JLP, & TB

Thank you for being…everything to me!

xo~kisses & hugs~ox

~*~

To My Loving, Sweet, Devoted Mother

Thank you for feeding my family so I can write!

And everything else!!

~*~

To Dad

Thank you for believing in me & babysitting!

Can you believe I wrote a book?

~*~

For Grandma Violet, Grandpa Harry,

Grandma Jean, & Grandpa Honey

I miss you every day.

~*~

As Violet always said,

“I don’t love you—I’m
crazy
about you!”

~*~

XOXO

Chapter One

Lily Lane stepped into the warmth of Ray’s Liquor Store with twenty minutes left to her lunch break, a wad of cash, and a mile-long Christmas list.

Well, not exactly a mile, but it was long enough to require a shopping cart. And the wad was just crumpled singles and fives she’d collected in the tip jar throughout the last two months, specifically for this pathetic shopping spree.

From his perch at the counter, the gray-haired owner peeked over his reading glasses and put down the newspaper. “Let me guess…cheap champagne?”

“Oh, Ray, you know me so well.” It wasn’t the greatest gift, but it wasn’t the worst either. And it was better than giving nothing at all. As her mother used to say,
it’s the thought that counts
.

“How much? And how many?”

“Well…” She choked on the bitter taste of pride and winced. “I got two-hundred bucks. And I need…twenty bottles.”

At least Ray didn’t flinch this year. He offered four cases of six bottles, calling it even. They settled the deal by the stockroom door just as the jingle bell announced another customer’s arrival. A
real
customer, no doubt.

“I’ll bring the cart back later.”

Poised to leave, she spied the person’s face—a
new
face…make that a
handsome
new face—and changed direction. She had to be sure he wasn’t a mirage or just one of the neighborhood dirt bags all cleaned up.

The trouble with knowing everybody in this godforsaken speck of a suburban town meant knowing everybody’s personal business. She didn’t want anyone knowing any more of her business than what they probably already knew. In her book, dating local guys was as taboo as dating a fireman.

The stranger followed Ray down the aisle until all she could see was dark hair over the stacked boxes of margarita mixers.

She ducked behind the rack of dusty wine bottles to sneak a peek.
Turn around, turn around. I don’t have all day. Turn around already.

When he stepped into her narrow line of vision, her heart stopped. She clamped her palm over her mouth to stifle the stunned gasp at
Adonis
in a black leather jacket.

Broad shoulders tapered toward a trim waist and lean legs in fitted jeans. Relaxed but not sloppy, neat but not boring. Sculpted cheeks. Strong chin. Dark slashes for eyebrows. His nose had a slight bump at the bridge as if he’d broken it at some point in his gorgeous life. Full, bow-shaped lips made her think of kissing…

One way ticket to Swoon-City, please.

She’d love to get him in the barber chair if only to run her fingers through that thick mane. By the threads of silver sparkling around his temples, he had to be over thirty.

He was
hot
. Totally hot. The total-package kind of hot. The kind of hot that made her want to know what he ate for breakfast so she could serve it to him in bed. If she had a type, he’d be
it
.

His swagger radiated the confidence of an alpha that lured her out of hiding in order to get a better look, and she walked right into his wave of musky cologne.

“You’re still here?” Ray asked.

“Something’s wrong with the, uh, wheels,” she lied with a clear conscience.

“Let me take care of the gentleman first. Then I’ll help you move those cases to another shopping cart.”

“Take your time. I can wait.”

It was impossible not to stare at
the gentleman
at such close range. He looked like a gorgeous grizzly bear. She pretended to study the clever advertisements on the walls. But every time their eyes touched her system screamed:
WE HAVE A WINNER!
—like the bells and blinking lights on the High-Striker hammer game at the carnival.

“That’ll be three hundred and fourteen dollars,” Ray said.

For two bottles of booze?

Adonis pulled out a fat roll of cash and paid with hundred dollar bills. “One bottle’s coming with me. Ship the other to this address.” He scribbled on the back of the receipt and handed it to Ray.

Then bedroom eyes wandered toward the contents of Lily’s cart and continued to rove up her body. Electricity surged under her skin—a
zing
if she ever felt one.

Every cell in her body vibrated the confirmation:
He. Is. The. One
!

A slow lethal smile spread across his clean-shaven face. “Havin’ a party?”

Why—you wanna come?
Lily shook her head no. With her heart pinned in her chest, it was impossible to breathe, never mind speak.

“You know what they say, ‘When you need a shopping cart in a liquor store you mean business.’” He winked, making her knees wobble.

The wheels rolled from under her weight, and the cart bumped into the wall without damaging the merchandise. “Oh, would you look at that? Must have fixed itself.”

“I’ll get the door for you,” Adonis offered on the way out. His delicious drawl sounded so wonderful, she wanted to hear it whispering in her ear. Late at night. Under the covers.

“Uh, okay.” Lily choked on the simple words. She wiped clammy palms on her velour track pants before gripping the handle.

“Where’re ya parked? I’ll help you load it into the car.”

Thank God for the brisk wind to cool her face, flaring with heat. “It’s in the lot all the way around back. But that’s okay—I work three doors down.” She pointed to the red, white, and blue-striped pole. “I’ll leave it in the shop until closing time.”

He strolled beside her like a happy puppy, swinging his purchase in a brown paper bag, choking the bottle by the neck. His long legs seemed to reach the height of her shoulders, but he kept his stride in time with her slower, shorter steps.

“They sure decorate early around here.” He nodded toward the procession of telephone poles being dressed in green garland and scarlet bows.

“A little
too
early.”

“Oh, I’m not complaining.
Red’s
my favorite color.” His voice dropped a sultry octave.

Lily pushed windblown copper curls out of her eyes, wondering what he meant by the remark. Either he was hitting on her or
really
liked Christmas.

Outside the barbershop, Adonis made himself comfortable on the bench reserved for customers, while she stood, squeezing the cart handle like a foam rubber stress ball. Eye to eye, his were so dark she couldn’t tell the pupil from the iris. And their lips were in perfect alignment for
kissing

“It’s real pretty around here.” His gaze narrowed on her face.

No doubt, he was referring to the town, but for a moment Lily swore he was talking about her.

“Strange seeing Halloween and Christmas together.”

“I know. But that’s how we do things in Scenic View. Just can’t do one holiday at a time.” She looked away in order to break the spell before she lost her balance, considering she already lost her cool, helpless to control her babbling. “We, um, also combine New Year’s with Valentine’s Day from December twenty-sixth to the weekend after February fifteenth. And if you spend enough time around here you’ll realize we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day all year—”

Cut off by the clamor of screeching tires and honking horns, their heads snapped in the direction of Mr. Lucky’s Pub further down the sidewalk. The hellacious uproar was for some dude staggering across Main Street after an apparent liquid lunch. Thank God no one got hurt.

“Wow. Now, that’s some luck of the Irish,” Adonis said. “You know a lot about this place.”

“I should—I’ve been living here forever. But not for much longer.”

“Oh, yeah.” He lifted thick brows. “Where ya going?”

“Closer to the city. Brooklyn. Maybe Queens. I’m not sure. I wish I could live in Manhattan, but it’s so expensive. All I want is a cute little apartment and a job in one of those fancy salons. Or maybe a day spa.” Gushing to a total stranger felt like free therapy. He nodded as if he were paying attention, even silenced his cell phone ringing inside his jacket, so Lily kept chattering. “It just seems like such a big process.”

“Deciding to change who you are into the person you wanna be
is
huge. Some folks never figure it out. At least you know what you want. It’ll happen when the time is right.”

His profound words resonated with everything she’d been feeling for so long. She wanted to reach out and touch him to be sure he was real, because right now he seemed too good to be true. It’d been so long since she discussed anything on a personal level, communicating beyond the barber chair felt like a lost art.

“I just put my house on the market. You wanna buy it? Just kidding—it’s a burden more than anything else. Needs a lot of work. A handyman’s nightmare.” Lily forced a laugh. “What brings you to Scenic View?”

“My uncle left me some property—a little bungalow on the beach—so I came to check things out. It seems like a nice town if I decide to stay. Maybe. I dunno yet. By the way, I’m Nick.”

Caught off-guard by his interjected introduction, she nearly forgot her name. “I, um…I’m Lily.”

In the perfunctory code of politeness, he offered his palm in a handshake. “Nice to meet you, Lily.” Her name rolled off his tongue like an incantation.

BOOK: Sleeping With Santa
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