Welcome to the Twelve Days of ‘Down Under’ Christmas promotion – 12 authors from ‘Down Under’ who are each giving prizes away, plus a joint $50 Amazon eGift Card for one lucky winner!
Here’s the schedule so you can see who’s taking part. Don’t miss your favourite authors!
Day 1 – Kris Pearson
Day 2 – Joanne Dannon
Day 3 – Cassandra O’Leary
Day 4 – Annie Seaton
Day 5 – Monique McDonell
Day 6 – Kate O’Keeffe
Day 7 – Cathryn Hein
Day 8 – Tracey Alvarez
Day 9 – Leeanna Morgan
Day 10 – Wendy Vella
Day 11 – Charmaine Ross
Day 12 – Aislinn Kearns
I don’t know about you, but I LOVE Christmas! Always have. The food, the family and friends, the fun. Spending it in New Zealand means it’s in summer, so it’s usually hot and sunny. On the ‘Big Day’ there’s usually a BBQ, some sitting in the sun enjoying a glass or two of wine, and a game of beach cricket, too (not necessarily in that order, of course).
I’m a total dog person (please, don’t tell my cat) and so of course they’re on Santa’s list each year. And how could they not be? Just look at those faces! Here they are, waiting patiently for their Christmas treats. Can I hear an “Awww”?
They get bones, rawhide, the occasional dog toy, and sit patiently under the table, waiting for morsels to be dropped at their feet (which happens all too often).
Although they look like puppies, our girls are almost 10 years old. They’re puppies at heart, that’s for sure. They get into the Christmas spirit, although they are more likely to be sleeping off their Christmas treats in the shade somewhere than acting as fielders for the beach cricket event. More’s the pity. Our Christmas cricket fielding can be woeful (maybe it’s the wine beforehand? Who can tell?).
Okay, down to business. What am I giving away? I’ve got 3 copies of my fun Christmas novella, I’m Scheming of a White Christmas up for grabs. All you have to do is comment below, saying what you love about Christmas, and you’ll go on the list.
Here’s an excerpt from the novella, involving a dog (of course) . . .
I heard someone beside me clear his throat.
I snapped my head up, embarrassed, noticing a figure standing in front of me. I slid my dark hair behind my ear, hoping he hadn’t noticed me daydreaming about snow—suspecting I’d just been totally busted.
“Happy Holidays! Can I help you, sir?” I asked brightly, remembering my Marlowe Department Store’s obligation to be cheerleader-at-a-pep-rally perky at all times.
“Yes. That would be great,” the man standing in front of me replied.
I quickly sized him up. He was the total cliché: tall, dark, and handsome, a smile spread across his Hollywood star face.
I looked into his eyes. The hamsters in my brain began to whir on their wheel as a flood of memories washed over me.
Oh. My. God.
“I’m sorry, I don’t have an appointment. I think I’m meant to have one of those to use your personal shopping services, right?” He looked at me questioningly.
In an instant, I was back at my Westchester high school, seven years ago, with braces, zits, and a frankly ill-advised hairstyle, lusting after Brady McKinnon: football god and all ’round Mr. Popularity.
I blinked at him. “Hi, ah . . . B-Brady,” I stammered, flushing as red as the synthetic Santa suit Randy Rodney was currently sporting on Level Two.
The man standing in front of me shot me a questioning look, his smile slipping a fraction. “Do I know you?”
“I, ah, yes. Sort of. We went to high school together. Senior year? I was an exchange student from New Zealand. We were in history class together, I think.” Ha! Like I would have ever forgotten. “So yes, we knew each other, but only a little.”
I cringed. So not smooth, Tilly.
Brady McKinnon had the grace to smile, his eyes sparkling. “Of course. How are you—” he glanced down at my chest, “Tilly?”
He remembered me? Brady McKinnon remembered me? And not only that, he’d checked me out? The hamsters shot down en masse to my belly.
When I didn’t respond, he asked, “That is your name, right? Tilly?”
My hand darted to the nametag on my lapel. Of course. My heart sank. “That’s what the nametag says!” My tone was bright, belying the disappointment rushing through my body, lancing vital organs with its progress. “Yes, it’s Tilly. Tilly Grayson.”
He gave me a sideways glance. “History class. Yeah, I remember you. How are you?”
“Good. Great. Amazing, actually.” As I beamed at him I suspected my eyes had taken on a maniacal glint.
He nodded at me. “Great to hear. It’s good to see you again. So, Tilly. I need some new clothes and this is the personal shopping area, right?”
My mouth was so dry it was like it was filled with sand. “Yes, yes, it is,” I managed.
I had to snap out of this.
He smiled, looking relieved. “I could really do with some help. I’m useless at dressing myself.” He chuckled self-deprecatingly, his smile broadening into a grin.
My eyes skipped over his body, my heart rate kicking up a notch or two. He was dressed the way most guys our age are in a sweatshirt, jacket and jeans, but somehow his broad shoulders, athletic build and long legs did stuff to his clothes. He looked so good he could have stepped out of Men’s Health magazine. I sighed. He’d barely changed since high school. Damn him! After what he did to me back then he could still make my legs turn to jelly.
I shook my head, coming back from my unpleasant walk down memory lane. I caught my boss out of the corner of my eye, shooting me a disapproving look.
Snap to it, Tilly.
“Sorry.” My blush threatened to spark internal combustion. It’s probably not the best look, spontaneously bursting into flames in the middle of the menswear department. “You were saying?”
“Do you think you could help me?”
Pulling myself together with super-human strength I replied, “Of course I can.” My tone was purposefully light and breezy, like Brady McKinnon didn’t make me want to crawl under a rock and die—after I’d kissed the lips off him for several hours, that is. It was complicated.
I detected a rather sizeable note of relief in his smooth-as-silk voice.
“Why don’t you tell me what sort of thing you’re after and I’ll get some choices for you?”
“Well, I need a suit for my sister’s wedding. My sis said to use you guys as I have no clue about fashion. I’m under strict instructions to look good.”
“Sure, of course,” I trilled, my voice unnaturally high. I couldn’t imagine Brady McKinnon not looking good. “Let’s get your size worked out and I can see what we can do.”
“Okay. Good. Great.” I grinned at him like some sort of love-struck loon for a moment. Thankfully, I managed to remember to do my job. “Right then. Come with me. You can sit down and relax and we can talk about what you need. Would you like a cup of coffee while you wait?”
“Sure, thanks. White, no sugar.” He took a seat in one of the comfortable chairs in the waiting area.
With shaking hands, I poured coffee into a cup, spilling it over the sides. There was more on the counter than in the cup. “Dammit,” I muttered under my breath. I grabbed a cloth and mopped it up, shooting Brady a furtive glance. He smiled back at me. Busted. Again.
I poured in the milk, gave it a quick stir then placed the mug on the table next to his seat. Trying not to shake with nerves, I sat down opposite him.
“Tell me, what sort of suit did you have in mind?”
He bit his lip. “Umm, one with a jacket and pants?” He grinned at me. His teeth were so perfectly straight and white they were almost blinding.
I laughed, my body relaxing about seven point three per cent—don’t ask me how I measured it. “All right. That’s a start. Maybe you could tell me a little about the wedding? Is it a traditional church wedding? A registry office affair? On the beach?”
“Probably not on the beach in New York in December.”
“Ah, no. Got it.”
“It’s a traditional church, white wedding kind of thing. My sis wants me to be in a regular suit.”
He gave me his color preferences, sizing and budget. I took notes, trying to look as though Brady McKinnon’s sudden appearance in my life hadn’t knocked the wind right out of me, my confidence deflating like a punctured balloon.
All the relevant information gathered, I left him to his second cup of coffee and blueberry mini muffin as I headed out on my mission.
I went straight for the suits, channeling the successful personal shopper I am—usually. I knew fashion and I knew what worked on men. I’d been a personal shopper in my native New Zealand for years. Put any man in a well-tailored suit and he’ll look a million bucks. Not that Brady needed a suit to look good.
I selected about six different suits and set him up in a dressing room, throwing in a couple of shirts, ties, and shoes to complete the look.
I stood and waited patiently for him to come out, thoughts running through my head. I had the biggest crush on him in high school. He still looks the same, only better. He’d made my senior year pretty darn hellish. Did he remember me?
I tried not to picture him in his boxers, what his abs must look like, how broad his shoulders were, how tight his …
His voice punctured my thoughts. “What do you think of his one? I quite like it.”
Brady stood in front of me, dressed in one of the suits, an uncertain look on his good-looking-enough-to-be-a-daytime-soap-star’s face. With the cut of the suit emphasizing his athletic build and the white shirt showing off his olive skin to perfection, he could give James freaking Bond a run for his money.
My breath caught in my throat. “It’s good,” I squeaked.
He looked from his reflection to me in surprise.
I cleared my throat. “Sorry. Something . . . caught,” I bluffed, my blush returning with a vengeance. “The cut of the suit works well with your . . . err . . . physique.” Nice. “And it fits you well across the shoulders.”
“You don’t think it’s too tight?” He flexed his muscles like he was The Hulk. It took a mammoth effort to push the image of him breaking out of the suit in a fit of sexy, manly rage from my mind.
“No, not at all. You have to feel comfortable. You’ll be in this suit all evening.”
“I’ll go try on the next one.”
We repeated the same exercise for all six suits. Each and every time he stepped out of the changing room, he looked just as hot. And each and every time he closed the door to change, I gave myself a stern talking to.
Sure, he’s still my dream guy but he was a total ass back then. And he probably still is today. Do. Not. Touch.
Finally, after wrestling with my emotions—and libido—for what felt like a week, he decided on the first suit and purchased it along with one of the shirts, a tie, and a pair of shoes.
With sweaty hands, I handed him his tissue-wrapped purchases inside the store’s Marlowe monogrammed paper bag.
As he was about to leave, he turned to me. “Hey, there’s this Christmas party coming up. There’ll be a few people from high school there. It’ll be fun. Do you think you might like to come?”
I blinked at him, speechless. Brady McKinnon was asking me out?
“Tilly?” he asked uncertainly when I didn’t respond.
“Sorry. Ah, thanks, I …” I searched my brain for an excuse, those hamsters bouncing off the walls of my belly like a bunch of wrestlers in the ring. All I came up with was a lame: “I’m sorry, I’m . . . ah . . . busy that night.”
He chuckled, shaking his head. “I haven’t told you when it is yet.”
How do you get that confident?
“Ah.” I shot him an embarrassed smile, cursing my pale complexion and easy blush-ability.
“Come on, Tilly. It’ll be fun. It’s at Tobey Thomas’s parents’ roof garden. The view alone from up there is totally worth it.”
Tobey Thomas. I narrowed my eyes as I recalled the strapping captain of the football team, one of Brady’s cronies in high school. Seeing Tobey “The Tobester” Thomas was right up there with having hot needles inserted under my fingernails, as far as I was concerned. No, scrub that: hot needles under my fingernails would be a vacation in comparison with being in the same room as The Tobester again.
Without waiting for my response, he picked a pen up from the counter. “Have you got a piece of paper?”
On automatic pilot, I pulled a notepad out from under the cash register and handed it to him.
He wrote something on the pad. Pushing it over toward me, he said, “Here. Say you’ll come.”
Geez, for a guy who quite possibly couldn’t remember me an hour ago, he sure was persistent.
I plastered on my best Miss Universe smile. “Thank you, Brady. I’ll take a look at my calendar and be in touch.”
He beamed at me. “Awesome.” He picked up his bag. “And thanks for this. You were a great help. It was real nice seeing you again.”
I watched as he walked away, my heart rate mercifully returning to normal for the first time since I’d clamped eyes on him. I glanced down at the notepad. Without even reading it, I ripped the page off and scrunched it up, throwing it into the trash.
What sort of masochist would want to see Brady McKinnon surrounded by all his high school buddies again?
Not this masochist, that’s for sure.
To win a copy of my novella, simply comment below with what you love about Christmas. The 3 winners will be drawn on December 13, and announced on my Facebook page.
Plus, don’t forget to enter the grand prize to win a $50 Amazon eGift voucher through the Rafflecopter draw!
Next up is Cathryn Hein! Thanks for stopping by, and Merry Christmas to you all!!